June Book Chat with the Youth Services Team

Posted about 1 month ago by Lisa Wiertel

Welcome to the another 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!

Beth recommends: The Mystery of Locked Rooms by Lindsay Currie (ages 10 and up)

Genevievre recommends: We Deserve Monuments by Jas Hammonds (ages 14 and up)

Avery is a 17-year-old mixed race girl from Washington DC, who is uprooted by her family just before her senior year of high school in order to help her terminally ill grandmother, who has been estranged from the family for Avery’s entire life. Now living in a tiny Georgia town, Avery must face not only a new school, new friendships, and a crush on her vibrant neighbor, Simone, but also the town’s racist past and long-standing homophobia. She must also contend with long buried, dangerous family secrets and the critical tongue of her grandmother as she figures out where she fits in with it all. The book explores themes of Queer identities, self-acceptance, family relationships, generational trauma, and racism in the deep South.

Lisa recommends: I Am Perfectly Designed by Karamo Brown (ages 4-8)

My recommendation for this month is a book by Karamo Brown, one of the hosts of Netflix’s Queer Eye I Am Perfectly Designed shows the sweet and loving relationship between Karamo and his son.  What I love about this book is the reassuring message of acceptance continuously given to his child.  The illustrations by Anoosha Syed depict the city life of a modern, loving family engaging in fun, bonding activities.  Great read for Father’s Day!

Heather recommends: I Survived the California Wildfires, 2018 (I Survived #20) by Lauren Tarshis (ages 8-11)

Sarah recommends: You’re SO Amazing! By James and Lucy Catchpole (Ages 3-10)

Joe is amazing! Or so everyone says… all the time… everywhere he goes. Joe is a regular kid who happens to be missing a leg. The problem is that anytime he does, well, anything, adults tell him how amazing he is! He’s tired of it. He just wants to be seen as normal, like his friends treat him. This is a beautifully illustrated and wonderfully told tale about how letting children be their regular selves regardless of their disabilities and differences. Every adult will benefit from reading this, and children will enjoy the fun story while learning a valuable lesson along the way. Check it out today – it’s amazing (or, just ordinary)!

Katie recommends:  The Curious Why by Angela DiTerlizzi (ages 4-8)

A young child is bored with nothing to do, until the Curious Why shows up at his doorstep. With vibrant and colorful illustrations that take the reader from the prehistoric age to outer space, this book encourages a child to explore, wonder, and create all summer long.

Rachel recommends:  To a Darker Shore by Leanne Schwartz   (ages 14-17)

Plain, plus-sized, autistic Alesta has never fit cleanly into her society obsessed with beauty and conformity. And with the seasonal tithings of a youth to the monstrous Teras, her peculiarities are practically a death sentence…unless Alesta can prove she’s useful enough to her culture and her gods. Her best friend, Kyrian, is just as odd as she is, but he is suddenly heir apparent after the death of the king’s only child, and nobles are virtually never chosen by the gods as tithes. The two swore long ago that if one of them was chosen for tithing, the other would venture out through the poisoned sea to Teras’s den and bring them home.

After one of Alesta’s inventions causes a terrible accident, Kyrian takes the blame to save her, and becomes that season’s tithe. Wracked with guilt and grief, Alesta arms herself with her cleverest (and deadliest) inventions and finds her own way to Teras’s den to kill the monster or die trying. When she finds Kyrian monstrously transformed but somehow alive, what can Alesta do but find some way to bring them home?

To a Darker Shore is a story of survival against impossible odds, the unquenchable fire of love, and the bloody price of perfection.


April recommends: Look How Much I’ve Grown In Kindergarten by Vera Ahiyya (ages 3-7)

This heartwarming story highlights how individuals grow at their own pace and in various aspects. In Ms. Perry’s class, students have made significant progress throughout the school year, but Mason is facing challenges. To support him, Ms. Perry introduces a growth chart where students can document their goals for personal development in the coming months. This book is a wonderful choice for children who may be feeling overwhelmed or uncertain. I appreciate the diverse representation of students within the story. Highly recommended for children aged 4-7.

Mirissa recommends: Worm Loves Worm  by J.J. Austrian  (ages 2-6)

This picture book is great all year round, but it’s one of my Pride Month staples. When worm falls in love with worm, of course they want to get married! Before they do, their bug friends have many questions. Can cricket officiate? Will there be cake? How will they wear their rings? And which one of these genderless worms is the bride and which one is the groom!? In the end, everyone—reader included—realizes that outfits or labels like “bride” and “groom” aren’t what matter. What matters is love. As an added bonus the illustrator, Mike Curato, made a coloring sheet to go along with the book. You can download it here.

Summer recommends: Lunar Boy by Jes and Cin Wibowo (ages 8-12)

Lunar Boy by Jes and Cin Wibowo. This middle-grade graphic novel follows the story of Indu, who was found on the moon as a baby by his space-faring mother. He enjoys life on the spaceship with his mom and the crew, but eventually settles on New Earth, where he struggles with relating to his newfound family, not speaking Indonesian like everyone else, and the Moon trying to beckon him back. A heartfelt story with beautiful full-color illustrations, the diversity of characters also makes this title a perfect read for Pride month. Fans of series such as Steven Universe will enjoy this comic!

Nicole recommends: Canto Contigo by Jonny Garza Villa (ages 13-18)

When Rafael Alvarez transfers to the Selena Quintanilla-Perez Academy, he expects to claim the lead vocalist spot in their renowned mariachi group, Mariachi Todos Colores. Instead, he finds himself up against Rey Chavez, the tenacious current lead with a very familiar, very kissable face. Torn between his old life and the boy who challenges him in the best ways, Rafie must navigate a world of fierce competition, family legacy, and unexpected love. “Canto Contigo” is a heartwarming celebration of Mexican culture and a riveting rivals-to-lovers romance that reminds us to forge our own paths.

Maddy recommends: Small Spaces by Katherine Arden (ages 9-12)

Ollie is an average kid, until she finds a book called Small Spaces…then things start to get weird. As Ollie reads the book, she realizes that things that happened over 100 years ago are happening again. The mist isn’t normal, kids are turning into scarecrows, and ghosts just might be real…

Kayleigh recommends: The Deep & Dark Blue by Niki Smith (ages 8-12)

In recognition of Pride Month, I chose The Deep & Dark Blue by Niki Smith. This is a touching (and at times heart pounding!) story of young twin siblings of a noble family who just manage to escape a violent coup lead by their cousin. They disguise themselves as girls and take refuge in the Communion of the Blue, a sisterhood of women who guard and pass down the secrets of spinning a magic blue thread that weaves the world. But as the time goes on and they become more integrated into the Communion while maintaining their disguises and trying to figure out how to thwart their evil cousin’s plans, one of the twins realizes that her disguise as a woman is truly who she is, and the sisterhood of the Communion of the Blue is where she wants to remain. Both tender and thrilling, this book deftly depicts a young trans girl coming into herself and finding love and acceptance from those around her, while also telling an exciting adventure story of young people saving their noble house and finding their places in life.

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

Lisa Wiertel

Lisa Wiertel is a Youth Services Librarian working out of the Westover Hills branch. She is a native of Buffalo, NY (Go Bills!), but Virginia has been home for a long time. She is a mixed media artist, long distance hiker, and a nature lover. She loves books where she can explore her love of history that also challenge her way of thinking.

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