Kids World

Paper Cowboy by Kristin Levine

Paper Cowboy book cover: setting or rising sun skyline with shadow of boy on bicycleDealing with a sister hospitalized by an event you could have prevented and mother whose temper is unpredictable and unwieldy is hard. But it’s 1953 in Downers Grove and, on top of everything else, the Cold War is heating up. After finding a communist newspaper in the trash, Tommy is determined to prove that his neighbor is involved in communist activity using the paper route he works in his sister’s stead. Finding the truth might be harder to handle than Tommy ever realized.

Readers in grades 4 through 6 who enjoy mystery, history, and a little bit of sweet home Chicago pride will enjoy this saga by the notable author of Lions of Little Rock and The Best Bad Luck I Ever Had.

Find The Paper Cowboy in the Library.

Brittany, Kids World

Shhh! This Book is Sleeping! by Cedric Ramadier

Shh! This Book is Sleeping book cover: a blue cover with closed eyes, a nose, and a softly smiling mouth drawn on it"There. It's asleep! Close the book very gently... Good night!"

This board book is perfect to help a toddler wind down from the day. Step by step, the child is encouraged by a mouse to lead "the book" through the bedtime regime: brushing teeth to going to the bathroom to getting one last goodnight kiss.

Read with a slow, soft voice and you might just have a sleepy toddler ready to be tucked into bed at the end of the book.

Find, Shhh! This Book is Sleeping! in the Library

Celeste, Kids World

Written and Drawn by Henrietta by Liniers

written and drawn by henrietta book cover: a child is drawing people as a cat looks on“A box of colored pencils is as close as you can get to owning a piece of the rainbow.”

Meet Henrietta, a girl with a boundless imagination and, today, a new deluxe set of colored pencils. Immediately, of course, she begins to draw and write her own story while narrating her creative thought process to her cat, Fellini. Her adventure “book” is delightfully amateur and her internal dialogue wonderfully natural and childlike.

I hope that young readers in grades 1-3 will find this and other clever stories in our Graphic Novel section, where, I worry, they get lost among the superheroes and other pop culture stuff. Young creative types will relate to Henrietta’s simple delight in making it up as she goes along, being surprised by her own ideas and, of course, writing herself into the action.

Parents and teachers: Please read “How to Read Comics with Kids” in the back of the book and take a look at the wealth of engaging resources at (including read-along books that can be “read” or subtitled in many languages).

Mary Jo, Kids World

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The Seventh Most Important Thing by Shelley Pearsall

Seventh Most Important THing book cover: seven light bulbs hanging down from wires, two of which are brokenWhen Arthur T. Owens throws a rock at the strange, neighborhood Junk Man’s arm, he doesn’t anticipate hitting him in the head. Or that the Junk Man himself will save him from juvenile detention. By completing 120 hours of community service collecting what the Junk Man calls “The 7 Most Important Things,” Arthur learns a little about following and finding direction, a lot about himself, and even more about there being more to most people than meets the eye.
Hand to readers in 5th or 6th grade who like tales based in truth (like The Marvels by Brian Selznick) or those who might be looking for a way to achieve redemption themselves.

Find The Seventh Most Important Thing in the Library.

Brittany, Kids World

Watch the Sky by Kirsten Hubbard

Watch the Sky book cover image of the night sky with stars shining in the background of what appears to be a toy house"Don't trust anyone outside the family"

Jory has been told for years to watch for signs. He is never told what the signs mean but they are everywhere. He is told that he should keep his head down in school and to not draw attention to himself or ever talk about his family.  He is careful to not let anyone know where he lives until one day the sign they are waiting for happens. Jory's stepfather knows what is coming, but he won't say why the family has to spend their nights digging in the ground. It is all part of the plan,  they will be safe since they watched for the signs. Exhausted from digging at night and pretending to be normal at school finally takes it's toll and Jory discovers a world outside of his stepfather's control.

Find Watch the Sky in the Library.

Tiffany, Kids World

The Bear and the Piano by David Litchfield

The Bear and the Piano book cover depicting a bear cub whose paw is on the keyboard of a standup piano in the woods, red theater curtain frame the sceneWhat happens when a bear finds a piano in the woods? He learns to play it, of course. And what happens when a father and daughter from the big city hear a bear playing a piano in the woods? They offer to bring him to Broadway to star in his own show. Torn between the home and friends he loves and seeing the world, the bear chooses to see what stardom holds. What will the bear’s old friends say when he becomes home sick and returns to the woods?

A heartwarming tale of following your dreams and remembering where you came from, The Bear and the Piano will be enjoyed by budding musicians and big dreamers in preschool through approximately first grade.

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Brittany, Kids World

Batman's Dark Secret by Puckett

Batman's Dark Secret book cover: illustration shows batman from the waist up with a horde of bats flying in the air above him“Nothing scares Batman. Nothing at all, not even the dark.”

This picture book tells the story of a young Bruce Wayne learning to be afraid of the dark and then overcoming his fear.  Be forewarned: the book does cover the death of Bruce's parents, but it handles the traumatic event with eloquence and grace. The focus is not on the individual who committed the crime or even the crime itself, only on how it affected Bruce's perspective of the dark. "First he heard loud noises, then a bang. There was a flash of light, and the smell of smoke. And when he came out of the dark, he was alone. His parents were gone!"

The basic plot is the traditional "origin" one- no new ground broken here. However, that should not be a deterrent for preschool and early elementary aged Batman fans. The concept of self-reliance and overcoming fear is one most kids can relate to. In particular, moving beyond the fear of the dark is often a timely discussion with that age group.

Without a doubt, the real draw is the illustrations by Jon J. Muth, perhaps most noted for his Zen Panda series. Rather than the usual blunt "comic book style" art, the images are soft with the edges often a bit blurred. These gentle illustrations keep the focus on "childhood fear" and facilitates in drawing in the reader.

Find Batman's Dark Secret in the Library.

Celeste, Kids World

Little Kids' First Big Book of the World by Elizabeth Carney

Little Kids First Big Book of the World book cover: photographs of planet eart, a tiger, egyptian pyramid, statue of liberty, tree frog, elephant, castle“Pop-up facts offer tidbits of really cool information. Use these to impress your friends and family with your geo knowledge.”

National Geographic Kids’ books are some of my favorite non-fiction books to share with young readers because of their stunning photographs of the natural world. This book covers all seven continents in 120 pages. The simple text is somewhat spotty and jumpy but I think curious kid readers will be taken in by the engaging spreads of maps, photos, “fact boxes” and “pop-up facts”.

I recommend this book for early-ish readers who might be interested in reading maps and facts. It would make a great browsing book for a car ride or waiting room. What a great offering for curious kids!

Mary Jo, Kids World

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I'm New Here by Anne Sibley O’Brien

I'm new here book cover: three drawing reminescent of school photographs of children from  ethnic/culture backgroundsMaria, Jin, and Fatimah are new to this country. They feel lost, alone, and voiceless. Back home, they each thrived in their schools, but here things don’t make sense. Maria, Jin, and Fatima poetically tell their versions of what it is like to live in a foreign land. Maria and Jin discuss the difficulties of speaking and writing a new language, while Fatimah tells how she can’t find the rhythm of her new class. Gradually they begin to grow into their own with the help of friends and teachers.

This picture book is perfect for anyone who may feel out of place and for those who don’t, so that they can glimpse the experience of being the new kid. Early elementary students may find this particularly enjoyable.

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Rose, Kids World

The Marvels by Brian Selznick

The Marvels by Brian Selznick book cover: purple with gold designs of a ship, moon, flying birdsFirst, in pictures, learn the amazing history of a lone shipwreck survivor, taken in by a theatre family and turned into a multi-generation acting legacy. Then, in words, follow a young runaway boy find his estranged uncle who lives in a strangely preserved historic house. Finally, discover the shocking facts that tie these two stories together and why sometimes fiction is more honest than truth.

This title is recommended for curious readers in grades 4-6 who enjoy multi-layered plotlines and a touch of wonder.

Find The Marvels  in the Library.

Brittany, Kids World