Staff Pick of the Month: January 2012

printz award

The 2012 Award Winners

The American Library Association (ALA) announced the top books for young adults on January 23, 2012 – including the Printz, Alex, Newbery, Alex and Morris awards.

Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley – 2012 Printz Award Winner

Honor Books:

Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler

The Returning by Christine Hinwood

Jasper Jones by Craig Silvey

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater

 Why We Broke up The ReturningJasper JonesThe Scorpio Races


John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature:

Dead End in Norvelt by Jack Gantos

Honor Books:

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin – Not currently available in the system.

newbery honor sealInside Out & Back Again


The Dark Is RisingMargaret A. Edwards Award for lifetime achievement in writing for young adults:

Susan Cooper is the 2012 Edwards Award winner. Her books include: The Dark Is Rising

Sequence: Over Sea, Under Stone; The Dark Is Rising; Greenwitch; The Grey King; and Silver on the Tree.






alex awards

Alex Awards for the 10 best adult books that appeal to teen audiences:

morris winner seal


William C. Morris Award for a debut book published by a first-time author writing for teens:

Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley is the 2012 Morris Award winner






Angela Parks, Young Adult Librarian.



Staff Pick of the Month: February 2012

Down the Mysterly River

Bill Willingham

After intrepid boyscout and detective Max the Wolf wakes up in an unfamiliar forest with no memories of how he got there, he naturally sets out to discover what he can using his survival skills. Along the way, he and his new friends Banderbrock the badger, Walden the bear, and McTavish the (monster) barn cat find themselves running from a mysterious group of vicious hunters called the Blue Cutters while trying to unravel the mysteries of where they are and how they got there.

Why I liked it: This is a book with many layers. It's part daring chase, a little bit epic journey, and a good part mystery. But it's also a book that asks bigger questions than just the obvious ones that become apparent from the first pages. (To find out what questions those are, you'll just have to read it!) The story makes you think while also being enjoyable for the adventure that it is.

Three words that describe this book: adventurous, thought-provoking, and mysterlious. Yep, mysterlious.

You might want to pick up this book if: You wouldn't mind finding yourself on a little bit of a heroic adventure in the forest with a group of brave talking animals.

If you liked this book you might like: The Long Way Home by Andrew Klavan, Treasure at the Heart of the Tanglewood by Meredith Ann Pierce, The Princess and the Hound by Mette Ivie Harrison, or Trail of Fate by Michael P. Spradlin.

Reviewed by Courtney Sammis, Library Associate.



Bonus Staff Pick: February 2012

Hattie Big Sky

Kirby Larson

Life on a farm in Montana in 1917 is hard.  Especially when you’re 16, living alone, and know nothing about homesteading.  That’s the situation Hattie finds herself in when her uncle leaves her his claim on 40 acres.  She has to build a fence, plant crops, and harvest it all in order to “prove up” on the claim.  As Hattie endures the extreme Montana weather, less than friendly neighbors, and pressure to sell her home she learns to rely on herself and a group of close-knit friends.

Why I liked it: A solid historical fiction novel that I would easily recommend to interested females.  Larson includes good factual details about life as a homesteader but I enjoyed details about the attitude in America towards Germany during WWI more.  While Hattie faces great adversity as any pioneer must, but the minor characters are particularly interesting, especially when they are stricken by Spanish Influenza.

Three words or phrases that describe this book: female pioneer, independent spirit, historical fiction

You might want to pick up this book if: you like reading about what it must have been like to live on the prairie, alone with just a hint of romance.

If you liked this book you might like: The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi, Pirates by Celia Rees, or Spirited by Nancy Holder.

Reviewed by Stephanie, Library Assistant.



Staff Pick of the Month: April 2012

Unlikely Friendships: 47 Remarkable Stories from the Animal Kingdom

Jennifer S. Holland

Written by a National Geographic magazine journalist, Unlikely Friendships documents 47 amazing animal parings. Take for instance, the Indian leopard that slips into the village to sleep cuddled up with what would normally be his prey – a cow, the greyhound that likes to watch TV with his friend the owlet or the lion, tiger and bear that share the same clubhouse (oh my!).

These stories come from across the globe and are accompanied by lots of candid, heartwarming photos.

Why I liked it: Holland doesn’t just present the stories but offers insight into the relationships as well, such as how the leopard, probably motherless, sought comfort from the cow. Plus, who doesn’t like cute animals?

Three words or phrases that describe this book:  Inspiring, Unbelievable and Aww-inducing

You might want to pick up this book if: You like animals, especially cute animal stories and photos

If you like this book, you may also like:  Zooborns: The Newest, Cutest Animals from the World’s Zoos and Aquariums by Andrew Bleiman, Tarra and Bella: the Elephant and the Dog that Became Best Friends by Carol Buckley, Owen and Mzee: The True Story of a Remarkable Friendship by Isabella Htakoff or Wesley the Owl: The Remarkable Love Story of an Owl and his Girl by Stacey O’Brien

Reviewed by Madison, Library Assistant.



Staff Pick of the Month: May 2012

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate

Jacqueline Kelly

It is the summer of 1899,  Calpurnia Tate is eleven years old, the only girl with six brothers, living in Texas.  She is expected to be ladylike and spend her time knitting, cooking and doing needlepoint.  But what she really wants to do is follow her grandfather around and learn about nature and science.  She also has a plan to cut her hair, one inch at a time so her mother will not notice.

Why I liked it: This book is funny, clever and challenges the notions that girls should be a certain way and that learning only happens in school.  Calpurnia is one of my favorite characters I have ever met in a book.

Three words that describe this book: nature-loving, fun, open-hearted

You might want to pick up this book if: you like history, science, nature or homeschooling.

If you like this book, you might also like: The Help by Kathryn Stockett, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie by C. Alan Bradley, or To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee

Reviewed by Sarah P., Library Associate.



Staff Pick of the Month: June 2012

True Grit

Charles Portis

Fourteen year old Mattie Ross has undertaken the task of tracking down the man who has murdered her father. To accomplish this deed she enlists the help of a U.S. Marshall, Rooster Cogburn, a man she considers to have the quality of “grit.” Mattie and Rooster are accompanied by a Texas Ranger who has an agenda of his own as they pursue the murderer, Tom Chaney. As the story progresses, each character’s motive is questioned: Are they pursuing justice? Revenge? Fame? What do they owe each other? And what will be exacted from each of them before the journey has ended?  

Why I liked it: A good book is one that allows you to ask yourself, “What would I have done in that situation, and why?”  Mattie’s motives are both intriguing and debatable.

Three words that describe this book: Realistic, deceptively simple, challenging theme.

You might want to pick up this book if: You want a book that you can read quickly, but think about for a long time. The voices of the characters will stay with you, particularly Mattie’s.

If you like this book you might also like: The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn by Mark Twain, The Catcher in the Ryeby J.D. Salinger, or A Separate Peace  by John Knowles.

Reviewed by Sharon M., Library Associate.



Staff Pick of the Month: August 2012


       Bernard Beckett

       If the ending of this book doesn’t surprise

    you, nothing ever will!


Anax is facing her intense all-day Examination for acceptance into the Academy. This elite institution rules the remote island where a perfect society has been created after plague has crippled the rest of the world.  Their utopian society stresses education, dedication and order and Anax has dedicated her life to studying to excel. But she will soon discover along with the readers of this book that the Academy is not what she believes it to be. 

Why I liked it: This book surprised me in many ways. It is short but intense and thought-provoking. And I LOVE a great twist ending.     

Three words that describe this book:  original, smart, intense.

You might want to pick up this book if: You like to have books surprise you and cause you to think a bit after you are finished reading them.

If you liked this book you might like: Unwind by Neal Shusterman, Feed by M.T. Anderson, Uglies by  Scott Westerfield, The Maze Runner by James Dashner.

 Reviewed by Janolyn S., Library Assistant.



Staff Pick of the Month: October 2012

By Jessica Khoury 

“The jungle hides a girl who cannot die.”

Click here to view a book trailer

Pia is perfect - literally. Born and raised in a secret laboratory hidden in the Amazon Rainforest, Pia has been created as the first in an immortal and flawless race. Pia, who has never been outside the compound and knows nothing of the world beyond, is content in her role until the night of her seventeenth birthday when she discovers a hole in the electric fence. Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a handsome boy from a nearby indigenous village. Only then does Pia begin to discover her own humanity and uncover the truth about her origin – a truth with deadly consequences.

Why I liked it: Origin is set to be a standalone novel (not in a series) and while I love a good series, sometimes I want to read a story from start to finish in one book.

Three words or phrases that describe this book:  vivid setting, deadly secrets, suspenseful intrigue

You might want to pick up this book if: You like books with a little bit of everything in them. Origin is a mix of science fiction, philosophy, mystery and romance.

If you like this book, you may also like:  The Angel Experiment (Maximum Ride #1) by James Patterson, The Adoration of Jenna Foxby Mary Pearson or Beta (Annex #1) by Rachel Cohn

-- Reviewed by Madison, Library Assistant.


Staff Pick of the Month: November 2012

By Orson Scott Card

Thirteen-year-old Rigg has an unusual talent and something happens that sends him on an adventure.  That’s all I can say without including any spoilers!

Why I liked it:  Orson Scott Card is my one of my favorite writers and this is the first in his new Young Adult trilogy.  Card blends science fiction and fantasy and creates new worlds that are so fun to visit.  Pathfinder is filled with time travel, alternate reality and supernatural abilities, lively characters and a complex (but not overly complicated) plot.

Three Four words/phrases that describe this book:  time travel, critical thinking, intrigue and mystery

You might want to pick up this book:  if you like time travel, science fiction, alternate reality tales, Orson Scott Card or just a really great adventure

If you like this book, you might also like:  Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card, Divergent by Veronica Roth, or Ender’s Shadow by Orson Scott Card.

-- Reviewed by Sarah, Library Associate.



Staff Pick of the Month: December 2012

The Dark is Rising

By Susan Cooper

Definition of frustration? Getting caught up in a terrific series only to find there is a waiting list for the next book. Hurray for the clever person who decided to publish all five of the books in The Dark is Rising series in one volume!

The first book introduces us to three siblings who spend the summer in Cornwall, England, with their Great Uncle Merry. In his attic they find a map that will lead them to a prize – the grail itself. Evil forces are also looking for this powerful artifact, so the Drew children are in danger. In the second book we meet Will Stanton, a boy who discovers just how special he is and his role in the battle between light and dark. When the Drew’s meet up with Will in the third book, the delineation between good and evil becomes clear and the danger grows. By the fourth book, when Will meets the mysterious boy Bran, you will find yourself turning pages rapidly. By the fifth and final book, you may find yourself reading slowly, savoring the exciting climax of the books.

Why I liked it: I particularly like this series of books because of the use of Arthurian legends and Welsh mythology.  Some of the characters have traits that remind me of those in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings  books – strong, focused on the task at hand, accepting the roles they must play to save the world from evil.

Three words/phrases that describe this book: Intelligent  - Susan Cooper expects her readers to be able to follow a fairly involved interweaving of the books.  Detailed – set in large part in Wales, I learned a ton about that rugged mysterious country and its language.  Epic – This story uses many of the great myths and legends of the British Isles about King Arthur. Does it get any better?

Pick up this book: If you like the legends of King Arthur, the Knights of the Round Table, and the Holy Grail, this series is for you.  If you are not yet acquainted with Arthurian legend, this is a great place to start, as it will whet your appetite for more.

If you like this book you might also try: The Once and Future King  by T.H. White, Mary Stewart’s Merlin Trilogy, or The Lord of the Rings trilogy by J.R.R. Tolkien.

Reviewed by Sharon M., Library Associate.