Staff Picks by Maureen
Following 12-year old recently orphaned Joseph on his quest to get his only family back -his beloved horse Sarah- author Gemeinhart brings together race relations in the late 1800's, western lore and a clear-eyed pragmatism that, coupled with his signature action/adventure plot twists and a kindheartedness thread permeating the story, this wonderful, evocative and first rate middle grade title builds on his exceptional debut (The Honest Truth). This is an author that has clearly established himself as a must read for warm hearted, realistic adventures.
Debut novelist J.J. Gesher tells an intimate, grief-filled story about Jacob Fischer - a sometimes wayward, sometimes obedient Brooklyn Orthodox Jew who breaks down after a devastating loss. Slowly rebuilding and rediscovering himself in a small-town Alabama town, Jacob has support from a cast of well-drawn characters - who also have their own demons to deal with. I loved learning more about the Orthodox Jew and the rich history of its sometimes stifling traditions, butting heads with modern sensibilities and realities. This highly readable title, right down to the very last sentence, is a natural pick for book clubs. A strong debut from the writing pair of J.J. Gesher.
Wow - what a page turner! 8th grader Ryan Quinn has no idea his parents are part of a super secret "Underground Railroad"-type organization that operates in many of the world's most dangerous places. And now he must try to save both of them, with the help of some of his school friends. I loved the way debut author McGee gets inside the head of his protaganist, as well as his technogeek friend Danny. These characters ring true, the action is non-stop and fans of adventure, spy thrillers and plain fun will be eagerly awaiting the next installment.
Readers will enjoy terrific descriptions, action-packed adventure and a superb sense of the brutality, harshness but beauty of the wintery existence that surrounds these characters. It's no wonder dogs are descended from misunderstood wolves, as the bravery and ultimate loyalty of these canines can not be refuted. As with Rooftoppers, Rundell lets readers truly inhabit her world and are fully invested in this satisfying tale. Highly reommended!
This lilting, fun picture book exploding with energetic drawings is a riff on folk tales of old. Author Daniel Bernstrom's debut, with shades of Chicka Chicka Boom Boom, is perfectly suited to Brendan Wenzel's colorful, animated illustrations. Storytime readers will find much to do in this imaginative eucalyptus, eucalyptus tree.
A beautiful retelling of the legend of Snow and Rose, this gentle fairy tales brims with all the requisite traditions: dwarfs, missing person, enchanted forest and strange creatures. As in her highly imaginative picture books, first time middle grade novelist Emily Winfield Martin paints the sisters, Snow and Rose, as not exact opposites, but more like complimentary gears, who thrive on different aspects of the same thing. Recommended as a read-aloud, this beautifully illustrated tale will delight the young and young-at-heart!