Liz's Kids Book Recommendations

It Wasn't Always Like This Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616955885
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Soho Teen - May 17th, 2016

As Queen so famously asked, "Who wants to live forever?" IT WASN'T ALWAYS LIKE THIS is an atmospheric page-turner exploring just that question. After an experimental polio vaccine stops the O'Neill family from aging in 1916, oldest daughter Emma and her family find themselves the targets of a fanatic religious group. In 2016, Emma's still on the run, and still--to all outward appearance--a teenager. But Emma's grown colder as she's grown older, and she's not going to let the Church of Light hurt any more people in their quest to rid the world of her. This killer thriller from local author Joy Preble is an awesome pick for a parent-teen book club--your whole family has to read this one.

If I Was Your Girl Cover Image
ISBN: 9781250078407
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Flatiron Books - May 3rd, 2016

IF I WAS YOUR GIRL is a love story, a survival story, and an exposure of vulnerability so wonderful and strong that it's like watching someone's open-heart surgery. This story of a trans teen starting her life over made my heart ache in all the best ways as it unfolded in my hands. I nearly cried at so many things: the strength Amanda finds in honest friendships, the unbridled joy of becoming her true self, her awful and heartbreaking moments of vulnerability, and those best, most cherished moments of being perfectly understood by the people around her. It's a magnificent, emotional, and important book. Find it on our Summer Reading List!

Salt to the Sea Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399160301
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Philomel Books - February 2nd, 2016

SALT TO THE SEA, the newest novel from master craftsperson Ruta Sepetys, follows a Lithuanian nurse, a Prussian runaway, a Polish refugee, and a German soldier as they journey to the sea: four teenagers doing the very best they can in the horrors of wartime, making the choices that will either save their lives--or end them. Ruta Sepetys doesn't flinch from showing any of the horrors of wartime in deep winter, and freezing and starvation even start to seem gentle compared to the gruesome lengths some people take to keep themselves and their loved ones alive. 

As difficult as some parts of this book were, I have to say--I couldn't put it down. There's hope and bravery, kindness and generosity even in bitter cold and terrible circumstances. It's enough to keep spirit alive--for the reader as well as the characters. SALT TO THE SEA is triumphant: illuminating and mesmerizing, and gives a necessary voice to this shockingly-forgotten tragedy. I'm not going to forget this book for a long time

Dumplin' Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062327185
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Balzer & Bray/Harperteen - September 15th, 2015

I’ve never read a book that made me feel as good as DUMPLIN’. Willowdean Dixon is a hero for the ages. Fat, funny, and unapologetic—until she starts to question herself for the first time, when growing pains come between her and her childhood best friend, when the cute boy starts to notice her and, as amazing as she is, she still can’t imagine why… This small-town Texas tale is too big to be contained in a little blurb. The realest of real teens, problems and insecurities that hit so close to home, some awesome Dolly Parton, and the funniest, most feel-good finale I’ve ever read—please read this book right away and come talk to me about it. Go big or go home!

Waiting Cover Image
By Kevin Henkes, Kevin Henkes (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780062368430
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Greenwillow Books - September 1st, 2015

Five toys sit on a windowsill, waiting. Just...waiting. And watching, of course, and talking in their own ways, but this sweet read-aloud tale is designed to share its sense of peace and patience with its small readers. The pastel illustrations, simply and cleverly drawn by Caldecott-winning artist Henkes, leave a whole world to the imagination while including the most important details to know exactly what’s going on in these toys’ heads. I haven’t been so utterly charmed--or felt so completely peaceful--after reading a book in a long time.

The Appearance of Annie Van Sinderen Cover Image
ISBN: 9780399167782
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers - September 15th, 2015

“Stop distracting me, I have a hundred pages left in this book.” “Can it wait? I’m on the last twenty pages.” “Ten pages. Please go away.” I would like to formally apologize to my sister for saying all these things to her when I was reading this book. I was just so hooked.
It starts off simply: a film student captures a mysterious girl on tape--just before the girl vanishes; meanwhile, a girl wakes up at home and something’s not right… It’s an ordinary beginning, but it opens up into something extraordinary with the brightness of Howe’s writing and with smart, emotional protagonists Wes and Annie.  This novel isn’t just a haunting story, or a star-crossed lovers tale--it’s both of those things, yes, but it puts such a fresh, sweet spin on both a classic ghost story and a classic romance that I’m itching to read it again. 

Pretending to Be Erica Cover Image
ISBN: 9780670014972
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Viking Books for Young Readers - July 21st, 2015

Heiress Erica Silverman was kidnapped at age five and never seen again. Teenage con artist Violet has spent her whole life training to replace her. This cunning, cutting novel is more than a heist novel, more than a coming of age story: it’s a layered, complicated drama, dipping deep into Violet’s head as she starts to fall for the sweetness of a normal life, instead of the life of cons she’s always known. Violet--and Erica--demand and command your attention.

Watch the Sky Cover Image
ISBN: 9781484708330
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Disney-Hyperion - April 7th, 2015

Jory’s stepfather sees signs everywhere. The end is coming, the Officials are not to be trusted, and their family is slowly digging a bunker in the canyon behind their house. As Jory’s tentative friendships at school start to draw him out of his isolation, his relationship with his family grows more strained. I loved this suspenseful but sweet story about caring for the people you love and learning to make your own decisions about the world.

The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly Cover Image
ISBN: 9780803740709
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Dial Books - June 9th, 2015

I can’t stop thinking about this mesmerizing YA debut novel. In juvenile detention for aggravated assault, seventeen-year-old Minnow makes a deal with an FBI agent: give her a good recommendation at her parole evaluation, and she’ll tell him about the backwoods-dwelling cult that’s taken the last twelve years of her life. Oh, and both her hands. As Minnow learns to live in the complicated society of juvenile prison, her memories pour out in a nail-biting, but ultimately hopeful, story of freedom gained.

The Merciless Cover Image
ISBN: 9781595147233
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Razorbill - June 9th, 2015

When I read Stephen King’s THE SHINING at age eleven, as an anti-nightmare precaution, I didn’t let myself read it after dark. I really should have done that with THE MERCILESS. When the popular girls at her new school baptize Army brat Sofia into their flock, she thinks she’s finally found friends. But then standard clique friction becomes something real--something deadly--and Sofia finds herself in an abandoned house, staring at a girl tied up in a puddle of her own blood, as her friends prepare an exorcism. And it isn’t just Mean Girls: this is no joke. I kept having to pause to take breaks reading this tightwire YA horror story, because no matter how my heart was racing, I NEEDED to know how it ended. Not for the fainthearted, but a perfect chiller for these last days of summer.

Miss Hazeltine's Home for Shy and Fearful Cats Cover Image
By Alicia Potter, Birgitta Sif (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780385753340
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Alfred A. Knopf Books for Young Readers - May 12th, 2015

As the recent adopter of a cat who is both shy and fearful, this book made me a little misty-eyed--in the best way. Patient and caring Miss Hazeltine is the perfect picture book mama, and the timid kitties clicked on a deep level with the timid kid I used to be. Charming and clever, and gorgeously drawn with just the right mix of humor and sweetness--this is a surefire storytime hit for animal lovers, shy little ones, or anybody who needs a little bravery in their day.

The Imaginary Cover Image
By A. F. Harrold, Emily Gravett (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780802738110
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Bloomsbury U.S.A. Children's Books - March 3rd, 2015

Reading jaw-droppingly creative books like THE IMAGINARY, I’m realizing that I wasn’t the most original six year-old. I didn’t daydream up enormous pink dinosaurs named Snowflake, I just went on adventures with Peter Pan. Still, I think I’m catching up, with the raptures of cleverness THE IMAGINARY’s sent me on. Rudger is Amanda’s very best friend, even if he is an Imaginary. But when sinister Mr. Bunting, who EATS Imaginaries (is there anything more horrifying?), arrives on their doorstep, this sweet story of friendship becomes a gripping race against time to save Amanda’s memory, and save Rudger from Fading away into nothing. This beautiful book, with illustrations by turns whimsical and chilling, is like being ten again, hooking your arm in your grade school best friend’s, and running off down the road in search of adventure.

100 Sideways Miles Cover Image
ISBN: 9781442444959
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers - September 2nd, 2014

Finn Easton counts time by the turn of the Earth—one second is twenty miles—and thinks about the stars his atoms came from (and their collision with the dead horse that fell a hundred sideways miles and gave him epilepsy and a scar on his back, in exchange for his mother’s life). His life is pretty settled now—until new student Julia Bishop comes to town and throws all his atoms out of whack. The ensuing romance and road trip has to be read to be believed. This new novel from Andrew Smith (of WINGER and GRASSHOPPER JUNGLE fame) crackles with Smith’s trademark chatty, vulgar smarts—no one captures teenage years in such sweaty, vivid technicolor. Andrew Smith’s teenagers are real. They swear, they sneak beers, and they make bad decisions. They worry about being “that kid,” about their friends, about wanting their parents to trust them. And, y’know what? They do okay. They have good friendships, good relationships with their parents, and end up with a pretty good sense of self. I've said it before, and I'll say it again: I wish I’d had Andrew Smith’s books to read as a teenager. There's absolutely no pretension to them. 

The Blood of Olympus Cover Image
ISBN: 9781423146735
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Disney Press - October 7th, 2014

At long last, we come to the end of THE HEROES OF OLYMPUS, finishing the adventures of Percy Jackson and all our other favorite demigods. Let’s all take a minute to cry that it’s over. ...Are you done? It’s okay if you need another minute. Good now? Dry your tears, because let me tell you: this book is amazing. For fans of the series, this long-awaited finale is everything you can hope for--every loose end is tied up, every prophecy fulfilled, and nearly every favorite character you can imagine comes back for a last hurrah (Blackjack! Clarice! and I’m not going to say that Poseidon’s tacky Hawaiian shirts DO make an appearance, but I’m not going to say they DON’T). 


THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS races to its conclusion at Rick Riordan’s trademark breakneck pace, and he uses each demigod’s point of view both to break your heart with their wonderful emotional growth--and frustrate you incessantly because he jumps away just when you’re dying to know what happens. There’s true mastery in the way every plotline converges seamlessly at the climax of this book. I was incredibly satisfied--and a little misty-eyed--at the end. Though the final battle scenes are amazing, it was the growth of the characters over the course of the series that really had me tearing up at the end. Parents, treat your kids to this series: it’s got heart, smarts, and style.


The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone Cover Image
ISBN: 9781616953607
Availability: Hard to Find
Published: Soho Teen - August 12th, 2014

This haunting portrait of a young artist reads like the life of Addison Stone herself--charged, explosive, and over too quickly. When art wunderkind Addison Stone falls to her death one night painting a billboard, everyone wants to know about the eccentric girl who made such beautiful work and pulled such crazy stunts. The interviews with her family and friends paint a picture of how the world saw her, her emails and texts give you her own words, and you can make your own decisions from the photos of her sprinkled through this biography--are her eyes sad? Is she smiling or just making a face?--but it’s Addison’s art, printed here in glorious color, that captures this sweet, strange, troubled young woman best. If you think there’s nothing new happening  in young adult fiction, Addison Stone will prove you wrong.

The Girl from the Well Cover Image
ISBN: 9781492608684
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Sourcebooks Fire - May 1st, 2015

This chilling, beautiful ghost story, told by the ghost herself, will keep you up late racing to the finish—but don’t worry, you’ll be able to sleep when you’re done! Okiku is the worst nightmare of the guilty: she’s an onryuu, a ghost, who frees the spirits of murdered children by extracting horrible vengeance on their killers. But for the first time in three hundred years, she finds herself breaking from her habits when a tattooed boy with evil trapped in his skin and his kind, brave cousin draw her attention. 


Okiku’s story is definitely not for the faint of heart (be careful if you find gruesome imagery squicky), but if you can stand the shivers, this book’s phenomenal writing will give you chills of a totally different kind. This gorgeously written story reads like poetry—despite the demons and the violent deaths, Okiku finds beauty in spirits at peace and ordinary human bravery. Okiku sees everything, and her voice is as wise as her years would make her and as passionate as the teen she once was. Whether alive or dead, these characters are more real than some people I’ve met, and I’ve never heard a voice like Okiku’s before in all my years of reading fiction. A must-read for horror fans!

The Lightning Thief Cover Image
ISBN: 9780786838653
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Hyperion Kids - March 1st, 2006

Percy Jackson’s had a difficult life: he attracts trouble like a magnet, his ADHD and dyslexia make school tough, and he’s never met his biological father. When he turns 12, he learns all his problems are down to one thing: his father is a Greek God, so his brain’s actually hardwired for sword-and-spear battles and reading Ancient Greek, and disguised monsters are drawn to the smell of his half-human, half-god blood. Learning his true parentage throws Percy into a brilliant and deadly world of gods, monsters, and half-blood kids just trying to stay alive in an age where demigods don’t last long. This series is perfect for action- and fantasy-loving kids who are still a little young for the last three Harry Potter books, and mythology-savvy parents will love the updated antics of Olympus’ gods and goddesses. Your whole family will devour the adventures of the kids from Camp Half-Blood. And when you’ve finished PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS, check out the sequel series THE HEROES OF OLYMPUS! This follow-up series is even better than the first, with even more gods, even higher stakes, and even more half-blood kids ready to save the world. Catch up with books 1-4 before the final book, THE BLOOD OF OLYMPUS, comes in October!

Grasshopper Jungle Cover Image
ISBN: 9780142425008
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Speak - February 17th, 2015

Austin Szczerba is confused. He’s in love with his girlfriend AND his best friend--oh, and there’s a plague of giant mutant praying mantises running amok in his town, about to destroy the world. This book is not for the faint-hearted: Austin is at times painfully frank about his tangled-up desires, and like any sixteen year-old, his language sometimes leaves a lot to be desired. But that’s what makes this book so great: it’s real. (Despite, y’know, giant mutant mantises.) I wish I could have had this book when I was sixteen--it’s an authentic, funny, and incredibly brave story about kids just trying to figure themselves out...and not get eaten.

Daughter of Smoke & Bone Cover Image
ISBN: 9780316133999
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers - June 5th, 2012

Karou lives two lives: by day, she's an art student in Prague; by night, she runs mysterious errands for her adopted family of chimaera and her intimidating guardian, Brimstone. When a violent encounter with Akiva, an honest-to-life angel (perfect beauty, flaming wings, and all) interrupts both of her lives, Karou faces the unravelling of everything she's known--and that's all I can say, because spoiling anything else about this twisting, turning series would be a crime. Every paragraph holds breath-catching discoveries, and you'll race through these books so fast it might give you whiplash. 


The two worlds Laini Taylor creates feel more real than the "real world"--everything is heightened and magical, yet full of very real emotions and very deadly consequences. The magic in this series is unlike any I've ever encountered in nearly twenty years of dedicated fantasy reading, and the cast of characters is more unique and vibrant than anything on the market today. Karou and Akiva are equally sympathetic and compelling--something it's sometimes hard to say about both romantic leads in a book series. For anyone who thinks they've read it all, the twist at the climax of DAUGHTER OF SMOKE AND BONE blew me AWAY. I never saw it coming. The same held true for DAYS OF BLOOD AND STARLIGHT--don't read that one late at night, or you might scream so loudly you wake your whole family. (Sorry, mom.)

Weasels Cover Image
By Elys Dolan, Elys Dolan (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780763671006
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Nosy Crow - February 25th, 2014

Just try to find every joke and follow every storyline in Elys Dolan's WEASELS! There's a lot going on in this cartoony, laugh-out-loud hilarious picture book about weasels plotting world domination. Dolan's mixed-media illustrations, bursting with detail and featuring a wide cast of weasely scientists and conspirators, will be sure to dazzle young eyes, while the copiously-flowing coffee and James Bond references will provide plenty of giggles for parents and older readers. WEASELS is endlessly re-readable, rewarding keen-eyed kids with something new to laugh at every time they pick it up. Easy to grasp for the littlest of readers and even better once kids are old enough to understand all the jokes, WEASELS is a perfect addition to your family’s library.

Hidden: A Child's Story of the Holocaust Cover Image
By Loic Dauvillier, Marc Lizano (Illustrator), Greg Salsedo (Inked or Colored by)
ISBN: 9781596438736
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: First Second - April 1st, 2014

Every childhood narrative of the Holocaust is different, but Loic Dauvillier's captivating graphic novel HIDDEN brings a unique new perspective to this incredibly important body of literature. In HIDDEN, aging grandmother Dounia tells her granddaughter her story of growing up Jewish in World War II France, where she faced bullying, discrimination, and ultimately years in hiding in order to stay alive under the Third Reich. HIDDEN doesn't flinch from the reality of its subject, but as young Dounia is kept from the worst of things by the adults around her, so is the reader; instead, we're treated to a look at the day-to-day realities of being hidden. Gorgeously illustrated by Marc Lizano and Greg Salsedo, the art of HIDDEN is simple, almost childlike, but still conveys feeling so well it'll give you chills. The true emotion lives in the details: harsh ink lines of someone screaming, a beautiful use of contrast and shadow, and inventive panel layouts that reflect all the latest trends in graphic novels for adults. This poetic graphic novel stands as a strong and necessary addition to the canon of children's Holocaust literature.

Bunnicula in a Box Cover Image
By James Howe, C. F. Payne (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9781442485211
Availability: Not On Our Shelves. Usually arrives in 1-5 Days
Published: Atheneum Books for Young Readers - August 27th, 2013

Quake with fear and laugh until you cry with the delightfully spooky stories of BUNNICULA, a vampire rabbit who drains vegetables dry, and his family: Chester the high-strung cat, Harold the loyal dog, and Howie, the (maybe a werewolf?) Dachshund puppy. Filled with references to classics like Poe and Shakespeare, this series is the perfect read for a budding horror fan!