Category Archives: book reviews

2013 Rhode Island Children’s Book Award Nominations

Nominated by school and public librarians throughout Rhode Island, the annual RICBA nominations are some of the best books recently published in children’s literature.  Best of all, they are all available at your local library.  Click on the titles below to check availability or to place a reserve with your library card.

The PS Brothers by Maribeth Boelts

Grades: 3-6

Sixth-graders Russell and Shawn, poor and picked on, work together “pooper scooping” up dog droppings to earn money for a rottweiler puppy who will protect them from bullies. When they learn that the puppies’ owner is running an illegal dog-fighting ring, they are torn on how to respond.

Author website:

Because of Mr. Terupt

Grades: 4-6
Seven fifth-graders at Snow Hill School in Connecticut relate how their lives are changed for the better by “rookie teacher” Mr. Terupt.

Author website:

Floors by Patrick Carman

Grades: 4-6
Ten-year-old Leo’s future and the fate of the extraordinary Whippet Hotel, where his father is the maintenance man, are at stake when a series of cryptic boxes lead Leo to floors, strange puzzles, and unexpected alliances.

Author website:

Tortilla Sun by Jennifer Cervantes

Grades: 4-6
While spending a summer in New Mexico with her grandmother, twelve-year-old Izzy makes new friends, learns to cook, and for the first time hears stories about her father, who died before she was born.

Jake by Audrey Coloumbis

Grades: 4-6
What is a family? It has always been just Jake and his mom until she is hospitalized suddenly and he finds himself alone. Jake needs help and finds it in unexpected places.

Nation’s Hope: The Story of Boxing Legend Joe Louis by Matt A. De la Pena

Grades: 3-6
When an African American boxer has a 1938 bout with Adolph Hitler’s “Master Race” German heavyweight, it becomes more than just a boxing match: the honor of the entire racially divided United States is at stake!

Author website:

The Cheshire Cheese Cat: A Dickens of a Tale by Carmen Agra Deedy

Grades: 3-6
A community of mice and a cheese-loving cat form an unlikely alliance at London’s Cheshire Cheese, an inn where Charles Dickens finds inspiration and Queen Victoria makes an unexpected visit.

Small as an Elephant by Jennifer Richard Jacobson

Grades: 4-6
Abandoned by his mother in an Acadia National Park campground, Jack tries to make his way back to Boston before anyone figures out what is going on, with only a small toy elephant for company.

Author website:

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Grades: 4-6
Based on the author’s own life, a ten-year-old girl experiences the culture shock of moving to America from Viet Nam; this story expresses both the humor and the heartbreak of this time in her life.

Marty Mcguire by Kate Messner

Grades 3-6
When tomboy Marty is cast as a princess in a school play, she doesn’t want anything to do with it until her parents force her to take part. It’s only then that she discovers that she can adapt and still be herself.

Author website:

Fractions = Trouble by Claudia Mills

Grades: 3-4
When Wilson Williams is struggling with fractions and his parents hire a math tutor for him, he is mortified. He is determined to make sure that no one finds out, not even his best friend, Josh.

Author website:

Sidekicks by Dan Santat

Grades 3-6

In this graphic novel, Captain Amazing feels he is getting too old to be a reliable superhero, so he tries to hire a new sidekick, but his super power pets have different ideas. When the arch villain Dr. Havoc returns to town Captain Amazing finds himself in trouble. Can his pet save the day?

Author website:

Wonderstruck by Brian Selznick

Grades: 4-6
The lives of Rose and Ben, two deaf children growing up 50 years apart, intersect at the American Museum of Natural History. Why is Rose running away? Who is Ben’s father? Are their lives connected? Explore the words and the pictures to discover the truth.

The Great Wall of Lucy Wu by Wendy Wan-Long Shang

Grades: 3-6

Eleven-year-old aspiring basketball star and interior designer Lucy Wu is excited about finally having her own bedroom, until she learns that her great-aunt is coming to visit from China and Lucy will have to share her bedroom with her for several months. Will this and her parents forcing her to attend Chinese school bring an end to her plans for a perfect sixth-grade year?

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy’s Parade by Melissa Sweet

Grades 3-6
As a boy, Tony Sarg invented a method for feeding his family’s chickens while still in bed. As an adult, he created awe inspiring, floating, balloons to star in the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade.

Author website:

My Life as a Stuntboy by Janet Tashjian

Grades: 3-6
Derek Fallon has the opportunity of a lifetime when he gets to perform skateboarding stunts and other disciplines of parkour in a movie opposite teen idol, Tanya Billings. But when he learns that he must wear a wig, and his friends post the embarrassing videos of him on the Internet, he wonders if life can get any worse.

Won-Ton: A Cat Tale Told in Haiku by Lee Wardlaw

Grades: 3-6
A skeptical shelter cat finally finds a home with the perfect boy. Typical in senryu (a form of haiku) with expressive illustrations; this whole literary package is heartwarming and unforgettable.

Author website:

Pie by Sarah Weeks

Grades: 4-6
Alice’s Aunt Polly is the best pie maker in the country. When she dies suddenly, the whole town tries to discover how to make pies like Aunt Polly. Alice, however, is trying to find out who the mysterious stranger is that is lurking around town looking for the answer…

Author website:

The Worst of Friends: Thomas Jefferson, John Adams, and the True Story of an American Feud by Suzanne Jurmain

Grades: 4-6
These two best friends worked together to help form a new nation, but can they fix their broken friendship?

When Life Gives You O.J. by Erica Perl

Grades: 3-6
Zelly Fried wants a dog more than anything, so at the urging of her grandfather, during the summer before sixth grade, she takes care of a “practice dog” made out of an orange juice jug to show her parents that she really is ready for the responsibility, even though she is sometimes not entirely sure about the idea.

Author website:


Suggested Summer Reading


Angleberger, Tom. The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
Grades 5- 6
Is Origami Yoda real? Or is it just Dwight who is answering everyone’s questions with his Origami Yoda? Tommy enlists the help of his classmates, gathering stories and sketches to find out the truth.  Tommy needs to know if Origami Yoda is real because he needs to know if he can trust him with a very important question…

Baskin, Nora Raleigh. Anything But Typical
Grades 5- 6
Jason is a boy with autism. Kids at school think he is “weird” and usually avoid him. Jason finally finds friendship with a girl in his online writing group. Will a face-to-face meeting change their friendship?

DiCamillo, Kate. Bink and Gollie
Grades 3-4
Bink and Gollie, two imaginative best friends, share a tree house and a love of pancakes. In three very funny adventures, without leaving their neighborhood, they climb the Andes, befriend a goldfish, and have a big fight about rainbow colored socks.

Fleming, Candace. Fabled Fifth Graders of Aesop Elementary

Grades 4- 6
When Mr. Jupiter’s class starts fifth grade, the students and their teacher arrive wearing identical toucan headdresses. The moral of the story: Birds of a feather flock together. Mr. Jupiter and his class spend the school year together: learning, and having fun with lessons like singing hamsters and George Washington’s teeth.

Holm, Jennifer L. Turtle in Paradise
Grades 4- 6
It’s 1935 and 11-year-old Turtle moves to Key West to live with her Aunt Minnie. Her Mom is a live-in housekeeper, and her new employer doesn’t want children around. Key West turns out to be fascinating, complete with a Diaper Gang, hidden pirates’ treasures, and first cousins named Beans, Buddy, and Kermit.

Lord Cynthia. Touch Blue
Grades 4- 6
“Touch Blue and your wish will come true.” When the state of Maine plans to shut down her island’s schoolhouse, Tess’s family may be forced to move to the mainland. Will her luck hold out and her wish come true?

Macy, Sue. Bylines: A Photobiography of Nellie Bly
Grades 4-6
Daring news reporter, globetrotter, and advocate for women’s rights, Nellie Bly made people stand up and take notice.

McCarthy, Meghan. Pop:The Invention of Bubble Gum
Grades 3- 5
Accidents can sometimes be fun! The true story of how an accountant at a candy company, who likes a good puzzle, stumbles upon the perfect recipe for bubble gum.

Mone, Gregory. Fish 
Grades 4- 6
Get ready for a swashbuckling pirate adventure! Join Fish as he swabs the decks on the Scurvy Mistress.  When Fish finds himself caught between the noble Captain Cobb and the deceitful first- mate
Scab, he puts his clever nature to good use.  A story of mutiny, sea battles and of course, hidden treasure!

Naylor, Phyllis Reynolds. Emily’s Fortune
Grades 3- 6
Eight year old Emily sets off on a rip-roarin’ ride as she travels by stagecoach in a Wild West adventure.  She teams up with a boy named Jackson to outsmart her wicked uncle who wants her fortune.

Nelson, Vaunda Micheaux. Bad News for Outlaws: The Remarkable Life of Bass Reeves, Deputy U.S. Marshal
Grades 3- 6
It is 1875 and the West needs deputies.  Former slave, Bass Reeves is hired to keep the peace.  He is an honest man with a strong sense of right and wrong.  Through courage and expert marksmanship Deputy Reeves brings 3,000 criminals to justice.

Paulsen, Gary. Masters of Disaster
Grades 4- 6
Henry and best friends, Riley and Reed share wacky and daring adventures.  “Call 9-1-1” as these friends jump off a roof on a bicycle try to break a world record, spend the night in the woods with wild animals, and attempt to solve a hundred year old murder mystery.

Polacco, Patricia. Junkyard Wonders
Grades 3- 5
Young Trish finds herself welcomed into the “junkyard”, a class of very special friends, led by a very special teacher, who all learn to fly as they overcome tragedy and trials to triumph together!

Roberts, Laura Peyton. Green 
Grades 4- 6
Lilybet Green’s 13th birthday begins with a bang. Literally! An exploding present is the start of a colorful adventure. Kidnapped by a trio of leprechauns, Lily is next in line to be Keeper for the Clan of Green’s gold – but only if she passes three tests that could change her
life forever!

Singer, Marilyn. Mirror, Mirror: A Book of Reversible Verse
Grades 3- 6
Presto!  Change-o!  Ever read a poem in reverse?  Prepare to be entertained as you read each poem two ways: top to bottom and…bottom up!

Spinelli, Eileen. The Dancing Pancake
Grades 4- 6
Can eating pancakes make tough times better? When her mom opens a restaurant Bindi gets a taste of a new life with new friends, new experiences and a new apartment.

Springstubb, Tricia. What Happened on Fox Street 
Grades 4- 6
Mo Wren, Dad and “wild child” younger sister live on Fox Street.  The long, hot summer is full of alarming letters, mysterious packages and difficult changes.  Growing friendships and the hope of finding a real fox in her neighborhood inspire Mo to find the courage she needs.

Stauffacher, Sue. Gator on the Loose! 
Grades 3- 5
Carter’s Urban Rescue is the place to call when you find a wild animal where it shouldn’t be. Especially, when it’s a baby alligator – loose at the city pool! Follow the fun and adventures of this delightful family who work together to get the job done.

Viorst, Judith. Lulu and the Brontosaurus 
Grades 3- 4
Bossy! Demanding! Spoiled! That’s Lulu! Is it possible for a polite brontosaurus to be the pet she wants for her birthday?  Or will Lulu find she has met her match and finally change her ways?

Williams-Garcia, Rita. One Crazy Summer 
Grades 5- 6
As they board a plane to visit their mother in California, Delphine and her sisters imagine themselves visiting Disneyland, and meeting movie stars.  Instead they learn about the Black Panthers, and a mother who’s a mystery to them.

Where Did That Baby Come From?!

Do you have a baby on the way?  Do you already have a child that is about to be a new older brother or sister?  Then we have plenty of picture books that can help a new older brother or sister deal with the adjustment of having to share you as a parent.   All of these titles can be requested through our catalog .

Barfburger Baby, I Was Here First by Paula Danziger
Jonathon was there first, but then his interloper baby brother is born and he is none too happy about it.  All that baby does is poop, drool, and pass gas, so what’s so great about it?  Jealous at all the attention the new baby is getting from friends and family, and annoyed that they keep calling him Jonathon Pookie Bear (ugh!), he finds a way to make amends with the new baby and get rid of his old nickname.  Grades PreS-K.

Where Did That Baby Come From? by Debi Gliori
“Where did that baby come from?  And can we take it back?  It wails and squeaks.  It’s diaper leaks.  It’s an insomniac.”  Older siblings will relate to the chaos of sounds and new routines that comes with having a new baby in the house.  Written in witty verse, this story follows an older tiger cub who is aghast at all the noise and smells coming from such a small baby, but who ultimately sees the joy that a new baby can be.  Grades PreS-3.

Sophie Peterman Tells the Truth! by Sarah Weeks
Sophie Peterman is an older sister, and she is here to tell you the truth about babies.  Babies are messy, smelly, whiny, crying things that look like aliens and even when they start walking and talking, that just means they’re turning into monsters who like to get into all your stuff.  But don’t worry, you might start to like that little monster…just don’t tell your parents…because they might bring home another one.  Grades PreS-2.

If you are interested in these books, you might also like:
Baby Baby Blah Blah Blah by Jonathan Shipton
Lazy Little Loafers by Susan Orlean
But I Wanted a Baby Brother by Kate Feiffer
Once Upon a Baby Brother by Sarah Sullivan

2010 RI Children’s Book Award

The results are in and Rhode Island’s students have cast their votes!  Amulet (Book 1: The Stonekeeper) by Kazu Kibushi is the Rhode Island Children’s Book Award winner for 2010.  The RICBA Committe summarizes:

“Emily and her brother Navin are lost in an alternative world of Alledia as they chase the tentacled beast that kidnapped their mother. The key to their survival lies in Emily’s amulet and her ability to control its powers.”

 This series also continues with Amulet (Book 2: The Stonekeeper’s Curse), and Amulet (Book 3: The Cloud Searchers).  These books are recommended for grades 4-6.

 The complete list of nominees for this year were:

Kibuishi, Kazu. Amulet. Book 1, The Stonekeeper.
Scieszka, Jon. Knucklehead.
Korman, Gordon. Swindle.
Schulman, Janet. Pale Male: Citizen Hawk of New York City.
Look, Lenore. Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School and Other Scary Things.
Law, Ingrid. Savvy.
Cox, Judy. Puppy Power.
Nobleman, Marc Tyler. Boys of Steel: The Creators of Superman.
Wolf, Joan M. Someone Named Eva.
Avi. The Seer of Shadows.
Haddix, Margaret Peterson. Dexter the Tough.
Giff, Patricia Reilly. Eleven.
Barrows, Annie. The Magic Half.
Nuzum, K.A. The Leanin’ Dog.
Hurwitz, Joanna. Squirrel World.
Dowell, Frances O’Roark. Shooting the Moon.
Preller, James. Along Came Spider.
Park, Linda Sue. Tap Dancing on the Roof.
Perkins, Mitali. Rickshaw Girl.
Frazier, Sundee T. Brendan Buckley’s Universe and Everything in It.

Children’s Book Week

Children’s Book Week (May 10-17) is a time to celebrate all of the awesome children’s books that are out there to read.  Whether it’s a timeless picture book such as “Where the Wild Things Are”, a fantastical adventure like “Harry Potter”, or a graphic novel like “The Time Warp Trio” that gets you reading, you can be sure that the children’s department of the library has something for you. 

If you are looking for the next great book to read, look no farther than the 2010 Children’s Book Choice Awards List.  This year, over 115,000 school children voted on their favorite books, and this year’s winners are (drumroll, please!):
 Children’s Choices for 2010

Author of the Year
James Patterson for Max (A Maximum Ride Novel) (Little, Brown)

Illustrator of the Year
Peter Brown for The Curious Garden (Little, Brown)

Kindergarten to Second Grade Book of the Year
Lulu the Big Little Chick written and illustrated by Paulette Bogan (Bloomsbury USA)

Third Grade to Fourth Grade Book of the Year
Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute written and illustrated by Jarrett J. Krosoczka (Knopf/Random House)

Fifth Grade to Sixth Grade Book of the Year
Dork Diaries: Tales from a Not-so-fabulous Life written and illustrated by Rachel Renee Russell (Aladdin/Simon & Schuster)

Teen Choice Book of the Year
Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins (Scholastic)

For the full list of all the fantastic finalists for 2010, click here:

Calling all Wimpy Kids!

      The movie ” The Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Greg Heffley’s Journal”, opens today in Middletown and in theaters across the country! Diary of a Wimpy Kid tells about  preteen Greg Heffley’s misadventures  as a “weakling”  in a school of cool kids. In the movie, Greg is played by actor Zachary Gordon. Zachary has been in other movies and has won a Young artist’s Award for his acting. Robert Capron co-stars as Zachary’s friend, Rowley. In real life, Robert comes from Rhode Island, and took acting classes at Trinity Rep in Providence.  READ THE BOOKS!  Author Jeff Kinney, an online game designer, first began writing the series as a comic strip blog. There are four books in the humorous Wimpy Kid series so far. The books are written to look like Greg’s diaries. Greg is pictured in the books as a cartoon character with a big head, big nose, big ears, big backpack and three strands of stand-up-straight hair. Middletown Public Library’s Kids’ Dept.has many copies of the Wimpy Kid books. You can also listen to Greg’s tales on CD. If our copies of this popular series are out, we’ll be happy to reserve one especially for you! Pick up Kinney’s books and get wimpy now!

And the winners are : 2010 Caldecott and Newbery Medal Awards!

   The 2010 Caldecott Medal winner is The Lion & the Mouse, illustrated and written by Jerry Pinkney (Little, Brown and Company for Young Readers). The screech of an owl, the squeak of a mouse and the roar of a lion transport readers to the Serengeti plains for this wordless retelling of Aesop’s classic fable.  Pinkney’s beautifully textured watercolor illustrations masterfully portray the relationship between the two very unlikely friends.

   The Caldecott Medal is named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded each year by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished  American picture book for children .

    The 2010  Newbery Medal winner is When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead (Wendy Lamb Books, an imprint of Random House Books). In the book, twelve-year-old Miranda tries to make sense  of  shifting friendships, a sudden punch, a homeless man  and mysterious notes that seem to defy the laws of time.
These seemingly random events converge in a brilliantly constructed plot written as a first person  narrative.

    The Newbery Medal is named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children,
a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

Click here for the full list of the 2010 Caldecott Award Winners!