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December Book Chat with the Youth Services Team

Posted about 12 months ago by Louis Maranski

Happy Holidays, Readers! Welcome to the latest installment in our series of blog posts featuring children’s books we’re currently loving! “Book Chat with the Youth Services Team” features one book recommendation from each of our Youth Services team members. We cover a variety of books from fiction to non-fiction, picture books to chapter books, graphic novels and more! We hope that this month’s reading recommendations get you excited about some awesome new books we’ve added to our collection as well as some oldies but goodies. Enjoy!


April recommends: Nelson Beats the Odds by Ronnie Sidney, II (ages 8 – 14)

Mr. Sidney has written a great book that introduces some sensitive and ignored topics. Nelson Beats the Odds is a graphic novel that deals with disabilities and bullying. This is a great book for anyone age 8 and up, this is a story that has the ability to bring awareness and open dialogue. I highly recommend Nelson Beats the Odds for anyone who has a child with special needs or learning disabilities. What a true and inspiring story.


Ashley recommends: The Bookstore Cat by Cylin Busby (ages 4 – 8)

Learn your ABCs by following the antics of a cat that lives in a bookstore!  With great illustrations and a focus on building vocabulary, young readers will love seeing what the bookstore cat gets into, all while learning something new.  Each page is dedicated to a letter that is used to help describe the actions or behaviors of the cat being depicted.


Beth recommends: Merry Christmas, Big Hungry Bear by Audrey and Don Wood (ages 2 – 4)

I love this 2nd book in the Little Mouse Big Hungry Bear collection. In this story, Little Mouse is checking out all of his presents to open. Then he finds out Big Hungry Bear loves all kinds of presents too. Little Mouse actually locks them up until he finds out Big Hungry Bear will probably not get anything. This inspires Little Mouse to dress up like Santa and deliver presents to Big Hungry Bear at his den. He realizes the spirit of the holiday is really about giving. As he is decorating something BIG comes out of the cave. Do you know what it is? Read this lovely book about giving this season to find out!


Heather recommends: Bear is a Bear by Jonathan Stutzman (ages 4 – 8)

Bear is a Bear tells the story of many childhood toys… beloved friends and partners in crime who are gradually outgrown and then set aside. The detailed and humorous illustrations reflect how many children view their stuffed animals: not just as stuffed animals, but as real and true friends. Although the tale will tug at the reader’s heartstrings at points, it ends on an uplifting note that demonstrates the cyclical nature of life for both humans and their childhood playthings.


Joan recommends: The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst (ages 4 – 9)

“I’ll run and I’ll run with a leap and a twirl. You can’t catch me, I’m the Gingerbread Girl!” The Gingerbread Girl tells the tale of the Gingerbread Boy’s younger, wiser sister. She too ends up being chased by a hungry mob, but unlike her brother, she outfoxes the fox. Not only does she manage to escape her brothers’ fate, there is a delightful surprise twist at the end. Read this book to learn what it is!


Louis recommends: Winter Dance by Marion Dane Bauer, Illustrated by Richard Jones (ages 1 – 4)

A fox wants to know what it’s supposed to do when winter comes, and so it decides to ask all the other animals to find out what they do. This is a cute and beautifully illustrated story that serves as a quick introduction to certain animal behaviors such as hibernation and migration. Fun to read and engaging for children, I highly recommend this book for any young one this winter season!


Mirissa recommends: The Mitten by Jan Brett (ages 4 – 8)

With winter just around the corner, it’s always fun to revisit classic stories like Jan Brett’s The Mitten. Based on a Ukrainian folktale, The Mitten shows what happens when a young boy named Nicki drops one of his mittens on a cold, snowy day. It’s not long before the mitten becomes refuge to a whole host of cold forest creatures, including a hedgehog and even a bear! In classic Jan Brett style, each page contains a cutout to show a peek into what other characters are doing while the main action happens. The illustrations are sure to keep you as cozy as Baba’s lovingly-knit gift to her grandson. (Hint: You can find this book in the folktale section of JUV Nonfiction.


Nicole recommends: Pumpkin Heads by Rainbow Rowell and Faith Erin Hicks (ages 12 – 17)

Say goodbye to autumn with this delightful graphic novel filled with fall festivals, campfires, corn mazes, and – of course – pumpkins! Seasonal friends Josie and Deja come together every year to work at the town’s biggest pumpkin patch. Now that they’re high school seniors, this will be their last year together before they head off to college – and what better way to spend it than to go out with a bang? This lighthearted and hilarious story will give you that wholesome, fuzzy feeling that only the holidays can deliver.


Summer recommends: Red and Green and Blue and White by Lee Wind (ages 4 – 7)

Isaac’s family’s home is the only one in his neighborhood lit blue and white for Hanukkah rather than the red and green of Christmas. One night, someone throws a rock through Isaac’s window. It’s a scary time for his family, but his best friend – and soon, the whole community – rally behind them and show support by drawing and putting up pictures of menorahs. Soon, the whole neighborhood is shining equally blue and white and red and green. This story demonstrates the value of shared community and how solidarity triumphs over hatred, a lesson I find important especially in the current climate of the world.


Well young readers, that’s a wrap. Check back again next month for some more fabulous reading recommendations. Until then, happy reading!

Louis Maranski

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