Great Books for Kids 2016 – Recommended and reviewed by the Hudson Library Youth Services Staff
Marie Sktodowska aspired to be a scientist from a very young age. Born in Poland in 1867, she grew up in a poor family and lost her mother at the age of 10. As a young woman, she tried to attend the same college as her brother, but they did not allow girls. She moved to Paris to study science, and that is where she met and married Pierre Curie, with whom she would later win her first Nobel Prize in physics. She later became the only woman – to this day – to win two Nobels in different subjects. The simple narrative and illustrations make this series, which includes Amelia Earhart, Maya Angelou and others, a perfect first biography for young beginning readers.
Arturo Zamora is just an average 13 year who plans on spending his hot Miami summer working in his family’s restaurant La Cocina, playing basketball until dark and enjoying his Abuela’s fresh mango smoothies. His summer plans begin to unravel as soon as his mother’s beautiful, tall, poetry-loving god-daughter, Carmen, moves into his family’s apartment complex. Then his home Canal Grove, a small Miami hamlet, is threatened by the evil gentrifying villain Wilfrido Pipo. Can Arturo save his town, the restaurant, get the girl and make his Abuela proud? Arturo knows failure is a part of life, but he never expected to fail so epically. Spanish-American culture abounds in this exquisite coming of age story perfect for tweens. Spanish sprinkled throughout the novel brings depth and life to Arturo’s narrative. Amusing and moving, The Epic Fail of Arturo Zamora by Pablo Cartaya is sure to captivate readers and have them craving a home cooked meal surrounded by loved ones. Recommended for Grades 5-7.
A young girl with an always-smile on her face shows us all her favorite things, from a leaf to a worm to a cloud. This study in mindfulness is a sweet reminder to stay in the moment and enjoy what is in front of us every minute. The acclaimed author/illustrator of Not a Box enchants us again with her comforting combination of ink drawings with pale, earthy colors. Read this with your child and talk about what it means to treasure the here-and-now.
From the Caldecott Honor author who brought you Creepy Carrots, comes a new sort-of creepy, totally charming story. In Aaron Reynold’s newest picture book, Jasper the Rabbit is most certainly not afraid of the dark, or is he? After going to the underwear department store with his mom, Jasper is enamored by pairs of glowing, green underwear, and his mom agrees to purchase a pair. But Jasper quickly grows to fear his “ghoulish” green undies and tries to dispose of them. From throwing them in the garbage, to mailing them to China, to cutting them to bits with his mom’s sewing scissors (used just for the emergency situation), the underwear always return to Jasper. After an attempt to bury them deep in the ground, Jasper suddenly realizes it’s a little too dark in his room without his glowing pair of underwear and retrieves the earthy pair. Better yet, he decides to purchase more pairs and his room becomes aglow with a string light ensemble of glowing underwear. Peter Brown’s use of black and white illustrations except the bright green underwear transforms a story about being afraid of the dark from ghoulish to gentle and brings home the book’s message that things are not always as they appear.
What would you do if you were forced to leave everything you knew and loved for a strange new world? This novel tells the stories of three different children across time and place with one common goal: safety. They are refugees–escaping their home countries because of war, starvation, or mistreatment.
1938, Nazi Germany: Josef and his family make the voyage across the Atlantic with the hope of escaping the concentration camps.
1994, Cuba: Isabel and her family flee ongoing riots and unrest, but will their small makeshift boat bring them all to America?
2015, Syria: Mahmoud and his family embark by on a long journey to Europe and a new life – free from the bombings and violence of war.
Josef, Isabel and Mahmoud all must confront real danger and their own fears to survive. Will they find refuge, a new and safe place to call home? Refugee is a thrilling and important page-turner, helping us better understand today’s refugee crisis.
In Lemony Snicket’s newest picture book, a rainbow-colored bad mood cloud follows around a cast of quirky characters through mood changes. Incidentally, a stick is the cause of much of the mood changes—whether it be the young Curly poking her brother, a raccoon picking up the stick and scaring a man who falls into a puddle, or the ice cream man who finds a cocoon on the stick beautiful. The Bad Mood and the Stick features a cheerfully odd story line that portrays how our own moods and actions affect others and how our lives are interconnected. With delightfully colorful illustrations, this picture book is a great pick for Snicket fans, ice-cream lovers and caregivers hoping to teach children about emotions.
Philip and Erin Stead, and Mark Twain – an incomparable combination! Twain began a story for his daughters about a boy named Johnny who lived in a down-on-its-luck kind of world. He had a chicken named Pestilence-and-Famine, and a grandfather who loved him – Johnny was sure! – but rarely expressed it. When Johnny bestowed an unexpected act of kindness on a fairy in disguise, he was rewarded with a handful of seeds that, sadly, killed his grandfather when he chewed them, but gave Johnny the ability to talk to animals. This special magical skill took him on a few adventures, most notably the attempted rescuing of a bratty prince who had been stolen by Giants. Philip Stead works with Twain’s handwritten notes from an unfinished tale, and Erin Stead’s whimsical illustrations strike just the right emotional chord. A beautiful fairy tale to be enjoyed by all ages.
Independent to middle-leveled readers will enjoy this exciting day of adventure for Pablo, a mouse, and his best friend, Ugly Cat. Pablo cannot wait to go to his best friend’s house to make plans for a day of fun. Pablo has very animated ideas of what their day will be like, and he
is excited! However, when he gets to Ugly Cat’s house, he finds out that his best friend is in a lazy mood. His friend suggests playing with the neighbor, Big Mike, the English bulldog. Although, the other day they were unkind to Big Mike, riding him like he was a rodeo dog, Big
Mike does not care to talk to either one of them. Eventually, Pablo and Ugly Cat decide to go visit the local fair in search of ice cream or in Spanish, paletas! Check this book out to find out what happens with friendships, and how to work together and apologize instead of bullying. Spanish phrases and terms are used throughout the story and create a fun use of text for children to explore. Recommended for ages 7-10.
Does your child enjoy STEAM (exploration through science, technology, engineering, art, and math)? If so, your young, emerging reader will enjoy the third book in this series about the twins Sydney and Simon. In the book, Sydney and Simon are at school when they find out about a contest. Both are eager to compete to win the first prize, the chance to meet a real astronaut, Commander Kris Kornfield. Can the twins come together and build a project using teamwork? Will they realize to make the best project they can use their opposite skills to create a well-rounded project? Short chapters paired with Peter H. Reynold’s lively illustrations will inspire readers to keep reading and shoot for the stars! Recommended for ages 6-9.
The Amazon Rainforest, known as “the lungs of the world” because its trees provide one fifth of the entire world’s oxygen, is home to 10% of the planet’s living animals. That number includes over 5,000 species of fish alone. Among those is a beautiful and shy fish that the locals call peaba – or small fry – that has the extraordinary power to save the people of the Amazon basin from economic disaster. This fascinating story of a community of scientists working to preserve the peaba is accompanied by amazing photography and enough facts and anecdotes to convince even the most cynical reader that this tiny colorful fish is indeed a superhero. Recommended for upper elementary grades.