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Staff Picks: Books

Princess in Black

I have new reader in my life and their favorite book right now is any title from Shannon Hale and Dean Hale's Princess in Black series. The writing is great and the books are entertaining for kids and adults. KPL owns so many books by Shannon Hale and they are all just as excellent. Some are novels and others are graphic novels. She writes for kids, teens, and adults. Other favorites of mine include the Books of Bayern, a retold fairy tale series for tweens and teens, Real Friends, a graphic memoir about middle school, and Dangerous, an action packed dystopian fantasy for teens.

Bee and Me

Alison Jay has illustrated a wonderful, wordless picture book, Bee & Me.  The first time I "read" it, I named the little girl Alice.  Alice meets a tiny Bee that happens to enter her world through her bedroom window in the big city.  The two become inseparable as Alice learns to care for her friend the Bee.  It wasn't until the second time I read the book that I realized I had to give Roger a name (and then I changed Alice's name to Mariah).  The best thing about wordless picture books is the endless adventures that can be created with each reading. The next time I read it, Laura, Nigel and Horace (that’s the Bee) will share a new adventure.


Tickle My Ears is a very sweet and simple interactive board book for toddlers. Young readers help a little rabbit prepare for bed by getting him into his pajamas, fluffing his pillow, tucking him in, etc.

A book with expressive, irresistible illustrations and words by Jorg Muhle, it is meant to be read and reread for the delight of every young child.

This blog is dedicated to the memory of our very smart bunny named Patrick, who lived in our household about seven years . He died in late April from kidney failure at the age of ten. Patrick, you will never be forgotten!

Kizzy Anne Stamps is an excellent story

Virginia schools are integrating and Kizzy Anne Stamps is about to start a new school. Although, Kizzy is strong willed and stubborn she’s nervous about attending school with white kids. Her old-school teacher suggested she become acquainted with her new teacher so Kizzy started writing her letters. She told Mrs. Anderson all about herself, her dreams and her struggles.

This is a great story about a little girl and her border collie dog, Shag. She had a lot of challenges but she met them with strength, kindness and humor.

The Secret Subway

The Secret Subway tells the story of Alfred Ely Beach and his Beach Pneumatic Transit, the earliest predecessor to New York City's subway system, unveiled in 1870. What drew me to this book initially was Red Nose Studio's (Chris Sickels) art: photographs of elaborate dioramas he made from clay and cardboard. But beyond the remarkable art is a story of a person who had an idea and worked for years to try to make it a reality.



Author and Illustrator Emily Gravett has done it again! In "Tidy", she introduces us to Pete the Badger, who happens to be a cleanaholic. Pete was born to clean, scour, tidy up anything and everything; a daunting task if one lives in a forest. No tidying challenge is too big for Pete and he soon gets carried away resulting in a disaster for the forest and its inhabitants.

Luckily, Pete and his friends set things right and Pete learns a valuable life  lesson. Too much of a good thing may not be good after all!

This rhyming book is pure fun and the illustrations are delightful. It also effectively delivers a subtle message about preserving the environment. After all, as the saying goes "you don't know what you've got 'till its gone".

Real Sisters Pretend

Real Sisters Pretend is a simple and moving picture book about two sisters who, while pretending that they are princesses on a hike, talk about how they are not pretend sisters. Real Sisters Pretend is in Kalamazoo Public Library's Grow neighborhood of picture books. The grow neighborhood has picture books about adoption, new baby, bereavement, divorce, first day of school, and more. Sisters Mia, a preschooler, and Tayja, school-aged, reckon with the comments of a lady at the grocery store the day before. The lady had asked them, "Are you real sisters?" and how Momma said "Of course they are." Even though Momma explained to them that the lady didn't understand about adoption, the story is about how the girls talk through their experience through play. While there is a message to this book, I don't think it's heavy handed. Rather, here is a lovely picture book that focuses on the close relationship between two sisters. 

Beach House

Short rhyming phrases tell the story of a family’s trip from city home to beach house vacation: “Breathe salt air / squint at the sun. Hot-foot hopping / Squeal and run.”   The spare couplets are expanded upon in the glorious watercolor illustrations of water and sunshine and kids and dogs and sand and toys and hot dogs and kites and clams.  Beach House is a lovely summertime book!


Bogo, the fox who wanted everything.

As much as I try to not to, I cannot help but fall in love with a story based on the illustrations.  Sonja Wimmer's artwork in this picture book is amazing; the beautiful colors and details on each page really enhance the story. Bogo is a fox who wants to be special, like all his friends in the forest.  He tries to re-invent himself so he can fly like a bird, see like an owl, jump like a frog, and swim like a fish. After several failed attempts, he eventually realizes that he is not only special but unique in his own way. This is a wonderful picture book that sends an important message about being who you are and looking for that something special within.

I Am Yoga

I Am Yoga, written by Susan Verde and illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, is a children’s picture book presenting a journey through various yoga poses. The narrative is carried along with sweeping, imaginative watercolor illustrations, and book ends with a glossary of each yoga pose presented. This short and colorful book is a fantastic way to introduce children to both the idea and practice of calm, focused movement.