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Staff Picks: Books


The Catawampus Cat  by Jason Carter Eaton is the tale of a somewhat off kilter feline who mysteriously arrives one Tuesday morning into an unnamed town.

First to notice the slightly askew cat is Mr Grouse the grocer, who tries to straighten the cat out, but to no avail. In the midst of the cat straightening attempt excitement, the grocer and his wife tilt their heads as well and make a very happy rediscovery!

Next the town barber spots the cat and is so taken aback that he accidentally clips his customer's hair at an angle, much to the woman's delight!

And so it goes on, everyone who notices this unusually positioned cat sets off to try new things with wonderful results. The cat's slightly slanted, catawampus perspective becomes the town's obsession.Even the mayor declares that there be a Catawampus Cat Day in the feline's honor.But when the day arrives and the mayor declares "we are all different now, just like you", the cat responds with something out of the ordinary that dismays his adoring public.

A fun, humorous book with appealing illustrations  by Gus Gordon, that is sure to please preschool, and early elementary kids!

Rolling Thunder

This picture book, with spare text and rich illustrations, captures the emotion of the Rolling Thunder Run, a motorcycle rally held each Memorial Day in Washington D.C. to honor American armed forces.  It follows one young boy’s experience of riding with his grandfather:  “Grandpa rides for Joe and Tom, friends he lost in Vietnam.”  It’s a poignant glimpse of one family’s moment at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. 


Bees: A Honeyed History

While I was passing by the "New Arrivals" cart, this book practically jump into my hands.  In other words, I could not help noticing this gigantic yellow book about my favorite insect.  Bees: a honeyed history is a wonderful oversize book for kids and presents nearly every fact about bees.  Abrams is dedicated to publishing "stunning visual books" and any young reader could easily spend hours going through the pages of this one admiring Piotr Socha's beautiful illustrations. The text was written by Wojciech Grajkowski and translated by Agnes Monod-Gayraud.  

Cute Story

Rose is written by local Kalamazoo author, Jessica Aguilera. It’s a cute story and Jessica did the illustrations herself by using cutouts that she layered together and then photographed.

Rose was self-published.


Round,” a 2017 title by Newbery-Honor winning poet Joyce Sidman, and illustrated by Taeeun Yoo, is a wonderful new addition to our “Concepts” picture book neighborhood. Designed for children aged 4-7, the story explores many of the circular shapes found in everyday life, both big and small, with charming illustrations that inspire interest in the basic geometry of the world.

What Elephants Know

What Elephants Know by Eric Dinerstein is an engrossing read that has garnered effusive praise from numerous reviewers including animal advocate Jane Goodall. It has also won the South Asia Book Award. Dinerstein is a wildlife scientist currently serving as the director of biodiversity at RESOLVE, an organization devoted to wildlife preservation solutions. Earlier in his professional career he spent a great deal of time in Nepal, studying both elephants and tigers. Both Nepal and these two particular species are central to this novel.

It is told in first person by the narrator, Nandu,, who survives being abandoned in the Nepalese jungle by being cared for by a pack of wild dogs or dholes. He is rescued by an old man , Subba-sahib, the owner of an elephant stable used by the king for tiger hunt expeditions. Nandu comes to see the old man as his father and a sweet protective female elephant, Devi Kali, as his mother.

The book's main focus is on Nandu, now age twelve,who is very fond of animals and treats them all with respect.By saving a tigress during a royal hunt, Nandu brings upon himself both praise from the king and scorn from his entourage. The latter hatch a plot to close down Nandu's father's elephant stable, but Nandu tries to save the day with a plan of his own.

This book is a quick-paced fun informative read for all animal lovers from fourth graders to adults.I'ts just that good and that important.

The Kalamazoo Public Library is sponsoring a visit by author Dinerstein scheduled in mid October, not to be missed.

Steven Universe: Art and Origins

Animated series Steven Universe is one of the most beautiful shows on television right now, and has inspired a large and devoted fandom. I think what sets the show apart is that every element of the show is carried out thoughtfully – from the story and development of the characters, to the sound editing, even the tiniest details nestled into the background are often purposely drawn in to foreshadow future events.

It’s always a treat to watch a new, perfectly polished episode of Steven Universe, but it is fascinating to flip through this book and see early character designs and to read Rebecca Sugar’s early thoughts about who the characters were when she pitched the pilot and who they have now become. In this book we get to see rejected episode storylines, unfinished storyboards, and we also get to read about the creator’s childhood, the projects she was working on in college, and the cartoons she watched growing up. A must read for any fan of the show.

The Rooster Who Would Not Be Quiet!

The village of La Paz endures changes that include lots of singing, to no singing, to a rooster joining the community that simply would not be quiet.  The rooster always has a positive side to look at and shares that in his humble rooster way.  Woven into this book are messages about bullying, perseverance, politics, resistance and the strong voices we are all born with.   Read this book with your children and in classrooms and encourage the young people in your life to keep talking so that their voices are always heard.   



When more than one patron and all the youth librarians you know, say you should listen to a particular audiobook, you must listen.  Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan is an incredible book but it might be the best audiobook I've ever listened to. It's so good that I want to keep driving around instead of parking my car and getting to work. It's a story within a story about a young boy named Frederik, living in the heart of the Black Forest, during the early Hitler years. His father, an accomplished cellist, is deemed a Jewish sympathizer and is arrested and taken from Frederik. He's left to figure out how to navigate this most dangerous new world without him. But did I mention, Frederik does carry with him a magical harmonica. And that's just Part 1. Part 2 opens in Pennsylvania! This incredible story is suspenseful and superbly performed, with multiple voices and musical pieces throughout. It's historical fiction and fantasy combined into one amazing story. Available from KPL in print, Ebook, and audiobook as Compact Disc or through our downloadable service, Hoopla.

The Way Home in the Night

The Way Home in the NightAkiko Miyakoshi's new picture book, is truly lovely. The anthropomorphized animal characters in this new picture book are so expressive and the portrayal of a child's thoughts while being carried home through quiet streets at the end of a long day are so sweet. The Way Home in the Night is a beautiful picture book that will leave you feeling better than you did before you read it. Akiko Miyakoshi is also the creator of the highly acclaimed picture books The Tea Party in the Woods and The Storm.

The summer months are a fascinating time to experience night; there's so much going on! But there are picture books about the world at night at all times of the year: Owl Moon, Mr. Moon, The House in the Night, Twenty Yawns, and more. Let's get out there! But first, (so sleepy) we'll just close our eyes for a minute...