Staff Picks

Title Author Description Staff Review
Cheryle Blackford From winter hunts to picnic foraging, Coyote makes his deliberate way through the seasons in his urban habitat. His adventures come to life in this lavishly illustrated tale. Down at the lake, Coyote is hunting, eager to fill his empty belly. When winter ice crackles, springtime frogs warble, summer thunderclouds threaten, and autumn leaves tumble, Coyote searches for his next meal. He stalks voles, rabbits, snakes, and geese, but there's no guarantee he will catch his dinner. If his stomach growls, he will steal vegetables from a tidy garden or nibble snacks from a trash can, maybe even leftovers from a family's picnic. Coyotes live on the plains and in deserts, on farms and in woodlands; they even live in towns and cities. In this book lush, life-like illustrations by natural history artist Laurie Caple accompany Cheryl Blackford's poetic imagining of a year in the life of an urban coyote. Across the pages, Coyote sneaks, skulks, and scurries in his constant quest to feed himself and his growing family. While Coyote hunts nearby, people enjoy a city park. At the lake, in the marsh, among the trees, children jump, twirl, and play, oblivious to his secret life. But if they listen closely they might overhear Coyote's wild night-time conversations with his mate and pups. Is he planning his next hunt?

"This picture book beautifully illustrates the life of an urban coyote family over the course of a year - hunting, frolicking, raising a family, surviving the elements, and living with humans. This is a perfect book to introduce young children to the wild animals whose world we share." ~Susan M.

Julie Kagawa Ember Hill left the dragon organization Talon to take her chances with rebel dragon Cobalt and his crew of rogues. But Ember can't forget the sacrifice made for her by the human boy who could have killed her-Garret Xavier Sebastian, a soldier of the dragonslaying Order of St. George, the boy who saved her from a Talon assassin, knowing that by doing so, he'd signed his own death warrant. Determined to save Garret from execution, Ember must convince Cobalt to help her break into the Order's headquarters. With assassins after them and Ember's own brother helping Talon with the hunt, the rogues find an unexpected ally in Garret and a new perspective on the underground battle between Talon and St. George. A reckoning is brewing and the secrets hidden by both sides are shocking and deadly. Soon Ember must decide: Should she retreat to fight another day...or start an all-out war?

"Talon and Rogue are the first two books in a series by Kagawa about dragons and their hunters in the modern world.  Both are fast paced fun reads with characters that are interesting.  They have a nice blend of fantasy, budding romance and rebellion against repressive authority." ~ Cindy P.

Julie Kagawa In Julie Kagawa's groundbreaking modern fantasy series, dragons walk among us in human form.nbsp; Long ago, dragons were hunted to near extinction by the Order of St. George, a legendary society of dragon slayers. Hiding in human form and growing their numbers in secret, the dragons of Talon have become strong and cunning, and they're positioned to take over the world with humans none the wiser.nbsp; Ember and Dante Hill are the only sister and brother known to dragonkind. Trained to infiltrate society, Ember wants to live the teen experience and enjoy a summer of freedom before taking her destined place in Talon. But destiny is a matter of perspective, and a rogue dragon will soon challenge everything Ember has been taught. As Ember struggles to accept her future, she and her brother are hunted by the Order of St. George.nbsp; Soldier Garret Xavier Sebastian has a mission to seek and destroy all dragons, and Talon's newest recruits in particular. But he cannot kill unless he is certain he has found his prey-and nothing is certain about Ember Hill. Faced with Ember's bravery, confidence and all-too-human desires, Garret begins to question everything that the Order has ingrained in him-and what he might be willing to give up to find the truth about dragons.

"Talon and Rogue are the first two books in a series by Kagawa about dragons and their hunters in the modern world.  Both are fast paced fun reads with characters that are interesting.  They have a nice blend of fantasy, budding romance and rebellion against repressive authority." ~ Cindy P.

Gemma O’Callaghan Revered author Michael Morpurgo evokes the post-war Britain of his childhood in this unflinching and deeply poignant tale of the physical and mental scars of war. From a young age, Michael was both fascinated by and afraid of his grandfather. Grandpa's ship was torpedoed during the Second World War, leaving him with terrible burns. Every time he came to stay, Michael was warned by his mother that he must not stare, he must not make too much noise, he must not ask Grandpa any questions about his past. As he grows older, Michael stays with his grandfather during the summer holidays and learns the story behind Grandpa's injuries, finally getting to know the real man behind the solemn figure from his childhood. Michael can see beyond the burns, and this gives him the power to begin healing scars that have divided his family for so long.

"Michael is horrified yet curious about his grandfather who was disfigured by war.  What happened and why doesn’t he ever smile?  A soldier’s wounds may effect a family for generations, and Michael  narrates his family’s complicated story directly and with compassion. Best for tweens and older." ~ Betsy B.

Naoki Higashida a very smart, very self-aware, and very charming thirteen-year-old boy with autism, it is a one-of-a-kind memoir that demonstrates how an autistic mind thinks, feels, perceives, and responds in ways few of us can imagine. Parents and family members who never thought they could get inside the head of their autistic loved one at last have a way to break through to the curious, subtle, and complex life within. Using an alphabet grid to painstakingly construct words, sentences, and thoughts that he is unable to speak out loud, Naoki answers even the most delicate questions that people want to know.

"What an insightful read to better understand the world of an autistic person. This unique account comes from a teen who was provided with the ability to write using an alphabet grid. It opened up the world of communication. The book is formatted as a series of his answers to questions. Themes around how he takes comfort and relief (loves nature and jumping) and trying to express the basic inability sometimes of controlling his body, mind and speech is very compelling. As Naoki stated, "...its as if we're remote-controlling a faulty robot" and "my brain is always sending me off on little missions, whether or not I want to do them." ~ Cynthia K.

Kristen Iversen Full Body Burden is a haunting work of narrative nonfiction about a young woman, Kristen Iversen, growing up in a small Colorado town close to Rocky Flats, a secret nuclear weapons plant once designated "the most contaminated site in America." It's the story of a childhood and adolescence in the shadow of the Cold War, in a landscape at once startlingly beautiful and--unknown to those who lived there--tainted with invisible yet deadly particles of plutonium. It's also a book about the destructive power of secrets--both family and government.

"Fascinating story of Rocky Flats.....and the manufacture of plutonium triggers for many years in the name of national security. The story of the plant is interspersed with the author's personal story which offsets everyday life with something that is rather a horror. Interesting to see the recent article in the paper about the new housing development and residents' reaction to finding out the history of the Flats." ~ Cynthia K.

Anna Lyndsey Haunting, lyrical, unforgettable, "Girl in the Dark" is a brave new memoir of a life without light. Anna Lyndsey was young and ambitious and worked hard; she had just bought an apartment; she was falling in love. Then what started as a mild intolerance to certain kinds of artificial light developed into a severe sensitivity to all light. Now, at the worst times, Anna is forced to spend months on end in a blacked-out room, where she loses herself in audiobooks and elaborate word games in an attempt to ward off despair. During periods of relative remission, she can venture out cautiously at dawn and dusk into a world that, from the perspective of her cloistered existence, is filled with remarkable beauty. And through it all there is Pete, her love and her rock, without whom her loneliness seems boundless.

"I found this book to be really moving and beautiful.  Lyndsey has a gift for writing.  You feel her emotions and discover how lucky you are to have sunlight, the outdoors and an unrestricted life.  The narrator does a wonderful job and adds to the experience." ~ Cindy P.

Jacqueline Winspear Four years after she set sail from England, leaving everything she most loved behind, Maisie Dobbs at last returns, only to find herself in a dangerous place . . .

"This is part of a wonderful mystery series starring Maisie Dobbs.   The atmosphere of the time is really brought to life and Maisie’s struggle to both recover from her loss as well as to help solve the murder really draw you into the story.  I was sad to finish the book knowing I will have to wait a while to visit Maisie again to find out the next chapter in her life." ~ Cindy P.

Kate Carlisle When book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright temporarily relocates to her parents’ place in Northern California, she finds that wooden barrels aren’t the only things buried in the wine caves of Sonoma….

"Working in a library I always enjoy a book-themed mystery.  Carlisle always has a sense of fun with her characters and the plot is interesting and well timed. This entry in the series is a little lighter on the book restoration information, but still very enjoyable." ~ Cindy P.

Elly Griffiths The chilling discovery of a downed World War II plane with a body inside leads Ruth and DCI Nelson to uncover a wealthy family's secrets in the seventh Ruth Galloway mystery.

"A buried World War II plane is uncovered, the pilot’s body is in the cockpit.  It turns out he was murdered and not originally buried with the plane. What an intriguing start!

The twists of the story and the relationships between forensic anthropologist Ruth Galloway and Detective Harry Nelson and their colleagues/families make this a hard to put down read." ~Cindy P.

Ruth Reichl Billie Breslin has traveled far from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York and, thus, the world. When the publication is suddenly shut down, the colorful staff, who have become an extended family for Billie, must pick up their lives and move on. Not Billie, though. She is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine's deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the Delicious Guarantee, a public relations hotline for complaints and recipes.

"An entertaining novel with secrets, romance, friendships, recipes, makeovers, forgiveness, and humor. Delightful fun." ~Alice

Rita Williams-Garcia Eleven-year-old Brooklyn girl Delphine feels overwhelmed with worries and responsibilities. She's just started sixth grade and is self-conscious about being the tallest girl in the class, and nervous about her first school dance. She's supposed to be watching her sisters, but Fern and Vonetta are hard to control. Her uncle Darnell is home from Vietnam and seems different. And her pa has a girlfriend. At least Delphine can write to her mother in Oakland, California, for advice. But why does her mother tell her to 'be eleven' when Delphine is now twelve?"

"A rich view of the turbulence of the 1960s for upper elementary grades. The Gaither sisters are really into “Black Power” and they love the Jackson Five! But Big Ma can’t see that change can be good. Isn’t it enough that their Dad has a new girlfriend and their uncle has just returned from the Vietnam War? Conflict is inevitable as everyone struggles to adjust to new realities.
Winner of the Coretta Scott King award .**** (Four Stars, out of 5)" ~ Betsy

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