New Book Reviews for Kids

Below are staff reviews of select new books in the Youth Services Department.
For a list of all the new and forthcoming Youth books, click here.

New Book Reviews

The Obstinate Pen

by Frank W. Dormer

Reading Level: PreK-2

Uncle Flood is ready to begin writing his story - beginning with this sentence: "The following story is all true." (A great first line, if he does say so himself.)

However, his pen has other ideas for Uncle Flood's first line:

"You have a big nose."

"You have eyes as large as dinner plates."

"Your hair is like a bird's nest."

Furious, Uncle Flood tosses the rude pen out the window.   Can you imagine what sort of havoc the pen will wreak next?

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More books by Frank W. Dormer

Reading Level: Preschoolers,Kindergarteners,1st Grade,2nd Grade Subjects: Don't Miss These, Humor Location: Picture Books

Stay: The True Story of Ten Dogs

by Michaela Muntean

Reading Level: Grades 2 - 5

After he was seriously injured in a fall from a high wire, Luciano Anastasini needed to come up with a new circus act for himself. That is when five, unwanted "problem" dogs on death row in the pound (and later five more) came along and together they found what their purpose in life was meant to be.

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More books by Michaela Muntean

More books by K.C. Bailey

More books by Stephen Kazmierski

Illustrator: K.C. Bailey and Stephen Kazmierski Reading Level: 2nd Grade,3rd Grade,4th Grade,5th Grade Subjects: Animals--Real, Biographies, Misfits, Non-Fiction Location: J Non-Fiction

The Always War

by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Reading Level: Grades 5 - 8

For as long as anyone alive can remember Eastam and Westam have been at war; battling for control of The Center. Life is dreary in Waterford City. Everything revolves around the war effort. The best and brightest children are sent to military school at the age of eight. Everyone else's work somehow connects to the war too whether it is making weapons, delivering weapons, or recycling scrapped weapons. But when local war hero Gideon returns to town he and his former neighbor, Tessa, will accidentally discover the truth about the never-ending war.

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More books by Margaret Peterson Haddix

Reading Level: 5th Grade,6th Grade,7th Grade,8th Grade Subjects: Adventure, Dystopias, Science Fiction Location: JY Fiction


by Marissa Burt

Reading Level: Grades 4-6

12-year-old Una flits through her school days alone, barely noticed by her teachers or fellow students.  Home is the same.  Her foster mother never talks or even looks at her.  Una's one pleasure is the library where she can sit for hours and lose herself in a book.  She never meant to get lost for good.

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Books by Marissa Burt

Other tales of stories come to life include:

Inkheart by Cornelia Caroline Funke

Knights of the Kitchen Table by Jon Scieszka and

Magic By the Book by Nina Berenstein


Location: J Fiction

Zita the Spacegirl: Book 1: Far from Home

by Ben Hatke

Reading Level: Grades 3-5

If you found a hole out in the grass while exploring, and inside the hole was a meteoroid, and poking out of the meteoroid was a button, you'd probably push it, wouldn't you? (I would.  Zita did.)

You'd probably freak out when your best friend Joseph got sucked into into this weird vortex thing after you pushed the botton... and then when you pushed the button again, YOU got sucked in, plopping out onto an alien planet. (I would. Zita kind of did.)

Zita's best friend Joseph has been kidnapped by a cult of aliens who believe the world is about to end... and the button that brought both her and Joseph to this alien world is crushed accidentally by a huge alien named Strong-Strong.

So now Zita's totally stuck on an alien planet that apparently is about to come to an end, her best friend has been kidnapped, AND she has no way to get home.

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More books by Ben Hatke.

Reading Level: 3rd Grade,4th Grade,5th Grade Subjects: Adventure, Friends, In Other Lands, Science Fiction, Survival Location: J Graphic Novels


by Gina Damico

Reading Level: Grades 8+

16-year-old Lex Bartleby was the perfect daughter, friend and student until she entered middle school.  Almost over night she became an angry, disrespectful, violent teenager.  Her desperate parents have tried everything...talking, grounding, counseling but nothing has worked.  When she is finally expelled from high school, her parents make one desperate effort to save her.  Lex is exiled to her mysterious Uncle Mort's farm where she will spend the summer milking cows and feeding pigs...or so her parents think.

When the terrifying biker guy accosts her at the isolated rural bus stop, Lex gets ready to fight for her life and then he calls her name.  THIS is Uncle Mort?  He is not a farmer but he is a harvester...a harvester of human souls.  And he wants Lex to join the family business.

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Books by Gina Damico

Other tales about death and reapers include:

Meridian by Amber Kizer

Mort by Terry Pratchett and

Shadowland by Meg Cabot


Reading Level: 8th Grade,High Schoolers Subjects: Family, Fantasy, Misfits, Supernatural Location: JY Fiction

Bramble and Maggie

by Jessie Haas

Reading Level: Grades 2 - 3

Bramble is a horse at a riding school, but she finds going around in circles all the time boring so she starts to act up. Finally the owner of the school decides to sell Bramble, but a horse as clever as Bramble isn't going to accept just ANY new owner.

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More books by Jessie Haas

More books by Alison Friend

Illustrator: Alison Friend Reading Level: 2nd Grade,3rd Grade Subjects: Animals--Real, Humor Location: JP Fiction

The Humming Room

by Ellen Potter

Reading Level: Grade 4-6

An unwanted orphan unhappy man...a forbidding estate...a secret...a neglected garden. Is this a description of Burnett's Sercet Garden? No, but it is a literary reflection of that beloved classic.

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More books by Ellen Potter

Other tales of orphan girls include:

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett

Maggie & Oliver, or, A Bone of One's Own by Valerie Hobbs

Liesl & Po by Lauren Oliver and

Listening for Lions by Gloria Whelan

Reading Level: 4th Grade,5th Grade,6th Grade Subjects: Adventure, Family, Misfits, Mysteries, Realistic Fiction Location: J Fiction

Bigger Than a Bread Box

by Laurel Snyder

Reading Level: Grades 4 - 6

Rebecca's life is turned upside down when her mother, without warning, takes Rebecca and her little brother away from their father and home and moves them in with their grandmother. Upset when she learns that this is not a short trip, but a permanent relocation Rebecca goes to the attic to sulk and finds a magic bread box. If she wishes for something that is real AND which will fit inside the bread box, the box will give it to her. But magic, no matter how harmless it seems at the time, always comes with a price.

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More books by Laurel Snyder

Reading Level: 4th Grade,5th Grade,6th Grade Subjects: Adventure, Books for Girls, Family, Fantasy, Friends, Self Image Location: J Fiction

Zombie Mommy: A Pals in Peril Tale

by M.T. Anderson

Reading Level: Grades 3 - 6

When Lily's mother realizes that the mothers in novels for children her daughter's age all die horrible deaths she becomes obsessed with avoiding that fate, especially since Lily has now been a main character in four Pals in Peril novels.  Unfortunately in her desperate attempt to avoid anything that might endager her life, she throws herself quite literally right into the arms of zombies, ghosts and vampires.  Can the Pals rescue her before it is too late and she becomes just another fictional mother statistic?

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More books by M.T. Anderson

Reading Level: 3rd Grade,4th Grade,5th Grade,6th Grade Subjects: Adventure, Books for Boys, Books for Girls, Family, Fantasy, Friends, Horror, Humor, Mysteries, Supernatural, Vampires Location: J Fiction