> For Babies and Pre-Schoolers
> For Ages 4 to 8
> For Ages 9 to 12
> For Teen Readers
Book Sense Picks for children is a seasonal selection of eclectic new books chosen by independent booksellers.
— Winter 2013
— Fall 2012
— Summer 2012
— Spring 2012
— Spring 2011
— Winter 2011
— Fall 2010
— Summer 2010
— Spring 2010
— Winter 2009
— Fall 2009
— Summer 2009
— Spring 2009
— Winter 2008/2009
— Fall 2008
— Spring 2008
— Fall 2007
— Summer 2007
— Favorites of 2007
1. THE WHITE GIRAFFE, by Lauren St. John
"After 11-year-old Martine's parents die in a fire, she leaves England to live on a game preserve in South Africa" — with the grandmother she never knew she had. The kindness of Zulu gamekeeper Tendai, the amazing wildlife, and the mystery of the legendary white giraffe sustain Martine. An exciting, exotic, and magical story."
—Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Books, Seattle, WA
2. SKULDUGGERY PLEASANT, by Derek Landy
"A wild ride of a story that pulls you in from the first page. When Stephanie, a 12-year-old girl who longs for excitement, inherits her eccentric uncle's house, she suddenly finds herself involved in a fascinating new world. After falling in with the wisecracking, sharp-dressing Skulduggery Pleasant (who happens to be a walking, talking skeleton), Stephanie ends up on a quest to save the world from an ancient, dark magic."
—Sandy Scott, The Galaxy Bookshop, Hardwick, VT
3. THE WEDNESDAY WARS, by Gary D. Schmidt
"A distant war in Vietnam casts a long shadow across the world to Holling Hoodhood's hometown, where he is struggling to understand Shakespeare, girls, teachers, friendship, and the gods of baseball. Every time Holling is in another nearly unbearable predicament (like wearing yellow tights and tail-feathers on stage instead of meeting Mickey Mantle), things seem to go from bad to worse. This book is a winner."
—Ellen Davis, Dragonwings Bookstore, Waupaca, WI
4. THE TITAN'S CURSE: Percy Jackson & the Olympians,
Book 3, by Rick Riordan
"The goddess Artemis has been kidnapped and is being forced to hold up the sky so the titan Atlas can make a play at world domination. Percy, Annabeth, and Grover the satyr travel across the country in the company of the goddess' huntresses. They end up in San Francisco, where they try to rescue Artemis and defeat Atlas. Riordan skillfully weaves mythology into everyday life and keeps you on your toes."
—Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX
5. FABLEHAVEN, by Brandon Mull, Brandon Dorman (Illus.)
"Have you always wondered where the fantastic beings lived? Fablehaven provides a wonderful answer. Kendra and Seth's grandparents are the protectors of one of the last preserves for magical beings, which will one day need new caretakers. Might the jobs pass to Kendra and Seth? If you want to believe in fairy tales, this book is for you."
—Keri Holmes, The Kaleidoscope: Our Focus Is You, Hampton, IA
6. DOES MY HEAD LOOK BIG IN THIS? by Randa Abdel-Fattah
"Amal, a Palestinian high school girl, decides to wear the hijab (Muslim head scarf) full-time to show the depth of her faith. Her actions challenge everyone she encounters, including her parents and the leadership at the private school she attends. The scarf becomes a metaphor for individual differences and the discoveries we make as we grow to embrace diversity." —Bev Denor, LaDeDa Books, Manitowoc, WI
7. DRAGON'S KEEP, by Janet Lee Carey
"This book has me believing in dragons! Every page is filled with suspense, Merlin legend, sacrificial and true love, and characters I will know forever. It will be a delight for fantasy readers everywhere." —Chauni Haslet, All For Kids Books & Music, Seattle, WA
8. MY FRIEND IS SAD: An Elephant & Piggie Book, by Mo Willems
"The hilarious and honest Willems is a masterful illustrator whose work will have you uncontrollably giggling even as it touches your heart. The simplicity and charm of this book belies its emotional wallop. You'll walk away remembering that believing in yourself inspires others to do the same, and that the loyalty of a good friend takes many, many forms. Enjoy." —Adjua Greaves, McNally Robinson Booksellers, New York, NY
9. THE GOLDEN RULE, by Ilene Cooper, Gabi Swiatowska (Illus.)
"A wonderful story about a young boy and his grandfather discussing the Golden Rule. The book offers a great explanation of how the rule appears in the world's different religions. Luminous illustrations add to the charm of this sweet story."
—Lisa Fabiano, Wellesley Booksmith, Wellesley, MA
10. A SWIFT PURE CRY, by Siobhan Dowd
"Written for young adults and inspired by the true story of one 15-year-old girl's determination to sustain life and joy in the midst of events outside her control. This book mixes pure pleasure and relentless hardship in lyrical prose."
—Nooy Bunnell, Porter Square Books, Cambridge, MA
FAMILY LULLABY, by Jody Fickes Shapiro, Cathie Felstead (Illus.)
"This book's lyrical text will hit the right note for any family with a little one. It's also a fun read-aloud for preschool story time because it features loving descriptions of all the things a family does to help welcome a new baby into the family circle. Felstead's collages on pastel backgrounds reinforce the theme of a loving and gentle family experience." " —Jeri Lupton, Adventures for Kids, Ventura, CA
HERE'S A LITTLE POEM: A Very First Book of Poetry, collected by Jane Yolen and Andrew Fusek Peters, Polly Dunbar (Illus.)
"This large-format, sunny volume is perfect for the youngest listeners ready for the next step after Mother Goose. Each double-page spread is filled with a single poem, gloriously illustrated by Dunbar. A beautiful new anthology is something to cheer about!"
—Carol Moyer, Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, NC
THE BOY WHO WAS RAISED BY LIBRARIANS, by Carla Morris,
Brad Sneed (Illus.) "Call me an old softie, but I get a little teary-eyed when I discover a book about kids and reading. This story is a celebration of books, learning, and libraries, and the ending is satisfyingly perfect!" —Dana Harper, Brystone Children's Books,
Fort Worth, TX
THE CEMETERY KEEPERS OF GETTYSBURG, by Linda Oatman High,
Laura Francesca Filippucci (Illus.)
"With lovely art and brief text, the story (set during the time of the Battle of Gettysburg) tells of the trials faced by a mother and her young children while husband and father Peter Thorn is away at war. This historical picture book also includes an author's note and the text of the Gettysburg Address." —Janice Card, BYU Bookstore, Provo, UT
COCK-A-DOODLE-HOOOOOOO!, by Mick Manning, Brita Granstrom (Illus.)
"Poor little Owl tries so very hard to be something he's not. Lucky for the hens who are trying to make him into a rooster, he remembers how to be an owl and takes care of the rat situation. A great read!" —Patricia Worth, River Reader, Lexington, MO
DEXTER BEXLEY AND THE BIG BLUE BEASTIE, by Joel Stewart
"Dexter has the misfortune of riding his scooter into a hungry (but rather bored) Big Blue Beastie. Fortunately, Dexter is calmly resourceful and distracts the beast with a series of increasingly entertaining joint ventures, resulting in friendship. The artwork is typically wonderful Stewart, with full, saturated colors and a playful line. More, please!"
—Tina Kugler, Tweedle Bros. Children's Bookshop, Manitowoc, WI
DOG AND BEAR: Two Friends, Three Stories, by Laura Vaccaro Seeger
"I instantly fell in love with these two little characters: an eager, playful dog and his best friend, a sensitive, soft-spoken teddy bear. The three stories and charming illustrations celebrate friendship in a refreshing and gentle way. Seeger has created a new set of pals I hope to see more of in the future."
—Emily D'Amour, Books & Books, Coral Gables, FL
FANCY NANCY AND THE POSH PUPPY, by Jane O'Connor,
Robin Preiss Glasser (Illus.)
"Nancy is back, and fancier than ever. When her family decides to get a dog, only the poshest pocket pet" — a Papillon!" — will do. However, after a Papillon-sitting disaster, Nancy learns that mutts can be just as fancy, and even more fun."
—Kelley Drahushuk, The Spotty Dog, Hudson, NY
THE GULPS, by Rosemary Wells, Marc Tolon Brown (Illus.)
"Join the Gulp family as they head out for vacation. They should be excited about all the places they are going to visit, but no...this group is looking forward to deep-fried Devil Dogs instead. As the family's vacation plans change, so does their attitude toward food and exercise, and they ultimately realize the importance of healthy living."
—Samantha Parker, Butterfly Books, DePere, WI
HOUNDSLEY AND CATINA, by James Howe, Marie-Louis Gay (Illus.)
"Catina wants to be a writer, and Houndsley wants to win a cooking contest. Each discovers that it is best to love what you do, and that being a friend is better than being famous. Not since Frog and Toad have we met such a wise, endearing twosome, and the whimsical illustrations perfectly enhance each page. I loved this book and its sequel, Houndsley and Catina and the Birthday Surprise."
—Carol Moyer, Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, NC
THE HOUSE TAKES A VACATION, by Jacqueline Davies, Lee White (Illus.)
"The concept is delightfully ridiculous! With the front door determined to lead the way, the house decides to see the sea. The basement stays behind (and the roof calls it a 'stick-in-the-mud,') and 'refused to rise to the occasion.' Wordplay and fun art combine to record the adventures of the vacationing house."
—Janice Card, BYU Bookstore, Provo, UT
THE KNOT FAIRY, by Bobbie Hinman
"It's about time someone explained why our hair ends up in knots by morning! This is a charming book about the spirited fairy that tangles and ties knots in our hair while we sleep. The illustrations are beautiful, and the voice on the accompanying audio CD is soothing. The CD also includes a fun, fairy theme song."
—Brenda Spratt, Books On First, Dixon, IL
MARS NEEDS MOMS!, by Berkeley Breathed
"Milo thinks his mom is a 'bellowing broccoli bully and carrot-cuddling cuckoo,' but, when aliens steal her away, he sees how wonderful she really is."
—Janice Card, BYU Bookstore, Provo, UT
MY CAT COPIES ME, by Yoon-Duck Kwon
"A fanciful story about a cat who seems shy but, when her owner turns away, playfully copies her movements. A cute child's perspective on the bond between humans and animals that will be enjoyed by parents as well as children."
—Matt Knarian, Reading & Rhythm, Bad Axe, MI
MY LIFE AS A CHICKEN, by Ellen A. Kelley, Michael H. Slack (Illus.)
"This terrific read-aloud will have kids yelling in chorus, 'Pauline, prevail!' After a lifetime laying eggs, Pauline is sure she is going to become the farmer's dinner, and escapes from the henhouse. She faces many perils in the outside world, but, just when you think that Pauline is done for, she finds herself in the perfect place. Colorful, vibrant illustrations and a wonderful vocabulary make this book a true winner" —just like Pauline."
—Mary McHale, Fox Tale Books, New Durham, NH
NICOLAS, WHERE HAVE YOU BEEN? by Leo Lionni
"Nicolas the little brown mouse is swept up by a hungry bird, but he wiggles and twists until the bird loses its grip and Nicolas falls into a nest full of baby birds. Nicolas' adventure will give readers a chance to think about how they view the world, and this little bit of philosophy makes you wish Lionni was in charge."
—Margaret Brennan Neville, The King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT
OUT OF THE EGG, by Tina Matthews
"This book takes a well-known story, Little Red Hen, and puts a wonderful ending on it to update it for modern times. The new moral of the story: don't expect adults to change their ways. Rather, start off right with children, train them to save the world, and your message will be heard and acted upon. I hope everyone will read this modern tale to their children, and adults will learn from it, too."
—Catherine Carpenter, Cate's Books and Stuff, Louisiana, MO
SCRIBBLE, by Deborah Freedman
"This highly imaginative story combines two distinctively different art forms. Emma and Lucie do not always get along, and they certainly do not like each other's artwork. Freedman's drawings and scribbles bring sisters, princesses, and kitties to an unusual agreement. A very original and engaging tale."
—Kate Eyre, A Book For All Seasons, Leavenworth, WA
THAT RABBIT BELONGS TO EMILY BROWN, by Cressida Cowell,
Neal Layton (Illus.)
"A humorous and lovable tale about a young girl and her rabbit. Emily and Stanley are preparing to blast into space one day when they learn that her stuffed bunny is to be sent to live with Her Royal Highness, the Queen. Of course, Emily Brown has no intention of letting anyone take her best friend" — and takes matters into her own hands."
—Laura Spies, Inkwood Books, Tampa, FL
BLACK DUCK, by Janet Taylor Lisle
"When Rudy and Jeddy find a tuxedo-clad dead body on the beach, they know that this murder is more than meets the eye. This suspenseful story about the Prohibition era will keep you turning the pages to see what really happened on dark nights in the coastal villages of Rhode Island and Massachusetts."
—Kathy Taber, Kids Ink, Indianapolis, IN
THE BEE TREE, by Diana Cohn, Stephen Buchmann, Paul Mirocha (Illus.)
"Mirocha's breathtaking illustrations enhance this beautiful account of the traditional honey gatherers of the Malaysian rain forest. This coming-of-age story relates the high honor of being the one to climb the tall Tualang tree in the annual hunt to gather honey. The book also includes photos and information about the rain forests and the importance of honeybees in our ecosystem. A treasure for all ages."
—Gayle Wingerter, Inklings Bookshop, Yakima, WA
CALL ME HOPE, by Gretchen Olson
"For 11-year-old Hope, the impact of hurtful words is as painful as a fist, and equally hard to dodge. The author knows the clinical side of the verbal abuse issue and has done a good job of turning it into a compelling novel in which Hope's survival strategies are perfectly set up for the intended audience. A book that should be in every middle school library as a lifeline for those who need encouragement and specific suggestions."
—Carol B. Chittenden, Eight Cousins, Falmouth, MA
A CHILD'S INTRODUCTION TO BALLET: The Stories, Music, and Magic of Classical Dance, by Laura Lee and Meredith Hamilton
"After an introduction to ballet history and basic positions, the stories of several ballets, from Giselle to Peter and the Wolf, are presented with accompanying music on CD. A lovely gift for young dancers or Angelina Ballerina fans who are a little older and want to know more." —Kelley Drahushuk, The Spotty Dog, Hudson, NY
DRAGON SLIPPERS, by Jessica Day George
"Calling all fantasy fans! This is great read about a girl who is not only willing to face a dragon, but who makes friends with one" — actually, several. Now, if she could just figure out why those blue slippers she bargained for are so important...and why they make her feet itch!" —Jane Stroh, The Bookstore, Glen Ellyn, IL
FAERIES OF DREAMDARK: Blackbringer, by Laini Taylor
"Magpie Windwitch, a faerie who is granddaughter to the West Wind, travels with a bunch of ruffian crows hunting devils that were unwittingly freed by humans. She has no idea that she is destined to save the entire world" — faeries and humans alike. Magpie is a sharp-talking, courageous heroine for all ages, and her fight against evil is a great story of courage, trusting in oneself, and love."
—Jordan Rosenfeld Pedersen, Booksmart, Morgan Hill, CA
FIRST LIGHT, by Rebecca Stead
"Worlds collide in this exciting, thought-provoking, and enthralling novel. Two strong main characters, Peter and Thea" — plus a great blend of realism and fantasy" — make it easy to recommend this book to many different readers."
—Tegan Tigani, Queen Anne Books, Seattle, WA
GREGOR AND THE CODE OF CLAW: Underland Chronicles #5,
by Suzanne Collins
"This final volume of the Underland Chronicles really packs a wallop, as everyone engages in an all-out war against the rats. Everything you want in a fantasy / adventure is here: memorable characters, fast-paced battle scenes, codes to solve, touches of humor, even romance. Running like a river through it all is a quiet, timely reminder of the folly of war." —Joanne R. Fritz, Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, PA
JUST GRACE, by Charise Mericle Harper
"How could you not love a kid who likes to draw cartoons and whose superhero power is empathy? And who knew empathy could get a person into such a mix-up? Just Grace and her nemesis Sammy Stringer (he of decidedly disgusting habits) manage to combine forces to sort things out for a satisfying ending" — one that leaves the reader looking forward to still more from Grace." —Mary Gleysteen, Eagle Harbor Book Company, Bainbridge Island, WA
THE NEDDIAD: How Neddie Took the Train, Went to Hollywood, and Saved Civilization, by Daniel Pinkwater
"This wacky adventure includes swashbuckling actors, alien cops, a phantom bellboy, and a shape-shifting shaman. It follows young Neddie on a journey from Chicago to L.A., a journey that becomes more than he bargained for when he is entrusted with a sacred turtle. The story is humorous, engaging and heartfelt."
—Debra Horan, Booklovers' Gourmet, Webster, MA
REACHING FOR SUN, by Tracie Vaughn Zimmer
"A wonderful story of a young girl" — Josie, a seventh-grader with cerebral palsy" — coming of age in a world that seems to want to forget about her. This story is beautifully told in a series of free-verse poems, and you'll want to read it again and again."
—Dawn Surowski, Hickory Dickory Books, Temecula, CA
SUMMER BALL, by Mike Lupica
"In this sequel to Travel Team, Danny Walker and his buddies head for summer basketball camp. Danny is anxiety-ridden about whether he'll be able to measure up to the best high school players at the best camp in the country. Aided by his stalwart friends and his girlfriend, Tess, Danny overcomes his self-doubt, and even has fun. This fast-paced story is laced with insight, and integrates the concepts of personal skill and mutual support: key aspects of a successful team."
— Jack Blanchard, Fairy Godmother, Washington, DC
THEODOSIA AND THE SERPENTS OF CHAOS, by R.L. LaFevers
"Theodosia is not your average hyper-intelligent, sassy 11-year-old. She is well-versed in all things Egyptological; isn't afraid to sleep in a sarcophagus; and, when it falls to her to return an artifact to a Pharaoh's tomb in order to save Britain from great peril, she bravely rises to the task."
—Jane Darrah, The Elliott Bay Book Company, Seattle, WA
WELCOME TO CAMDEN FALLS: Main Street #1, by Ann M. Martin
"Ann Martin has embarked on a new journey that follows the lives of families living in a small East Coast town where life revolves around locally-owned businesses, including Needle and Thread (which is much more than a sewing store). Sisters Flora and Ruby move in with their grandmother, Min, whose historic row house is one of several homes that are as colorful and diverse as their residents. This new series is sure to be as loved as Martin's first." —Krista Barsness, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, MN
THE ALCHEMYST, by Michael Scott
"You may think you know the fate of Nicolas Flamel after reading Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone, but Scott has a different view of the immortal magician and his wife, Perenelle. When the Flamels and the book they guard are found by an old enemy, twins Josh and Sophie are drawn into a deadly shadow realm where ancient gods still rule, and the fate of humanity is unsure. This inventive, surprising fantasy will delight you." —Rosemary Pugliese, Quail Ridge Books & Music, Raleigh, NC
BILLIE STANDISH WAS HERE, by Nancy Crocker
"An amazing, heartfelt coming-of-age story, with characters I came to know and love! Billie Standish meets life head-on, overcoming setbacks (including an assault and its aftermath) with the help of Miss Lydia, a neighbor, good friend, and most unlikely fairy godmother. You'll laugh, rant, and cry as Billie comes to terms with her situation, her neglectful parents, and herself."
—Barb Bassett, The Red Balloon Bookshop, St. Paul, MN
EVIL GENIUS, by Catherine Jinks
"How does a boy genius, at age seven, keep his mind occupied while being ignored by his foster parents? He terrorizes and humiliates everyone because he is smarter and better than they are, until, at 14, he is outsmarted by his real family. A page-turning, nerve-wracking story about growing up in an adult world where the rules of the game are not what they ought to be" — and friendship is more important than subterfuge and domination." —Jack Blanchard, Fairy Godmother, Washington, DC
GIRL AT SEA, by Maureen Johnson
"Clio planned to spend her summer working at an art store with her crush. Instead, she's sent to Italy to join her slightly insane, mostly annoying father on a search for an ancient underwater artifact" — but he won't tell her what it is. Or where they're going. Or why he didn't mention he was bringing his new girlfriend. Part teen romance, part emotional journey, part archaeological mystery...all wrapped up with Johnson's lovely, insightful writing, featuring her usual unforgettable characters."
—Melissa Posten, Children's Book World, Haverford, PA
LEAVING PARADISE, by Simone Elkeles
"Elkeles is a hidden treasure waiting to be found. Her writing captures the true essence of a teenager with very real characters and compelling depictions of the emotions teens feel during life-altering experiences. Just as The Book Thief captured the attention of adults and teenagers alike, so, too, will Leaving Paradise. I didn't want to put this book down once I picked it up. It's going to cause a lot of discussion!"
—Jackie Harris, Under the Sycamore Tree, Grayslake, IL
MAXIMUM RIDE #3: Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports,
by James Patterson
"Max and her flock of genetically engineered birds / humans return, and are constantly pursued by the scientists who created them. Desperate to break free and live like normal people, the flock begins to expose the scientists' real intentions. An international army of teens rises up and, once again, provides a great read you won't be able to put down!" —Cathy Berner, Blue Willow Bookshop, Houston, TX
THE NATURE OF JADE, by Deb Caletti
"This book wraps intimate storytelling, wit, and wisdom around tumultuous, dynamic characters. When I closed the book, I wanted more stories of elephants and houseboats and grandmothers who rock, of human hearts, breathless moments, and taking risks." —Amy Carlson, A Book For All Seasons, Leavenworth, WA
THE NEW POLICEMAN, by Kate Thompson
"Where does time go? In Ireland, home of music with origins that transcend time, musically gifted 15-year-old J.J. Liddy has promised to give his mother the gift of time because she doesn't have enough to get through the day. A wonderfully warm, thoroughly engaging novel describing the travails of J.J., his family, and their ancestors, bound together with the songs, tales, and traditions of Ireland."
—Susan Todd, University Book Store, Seattle, WA
THE OFF SEASON, by Catherine Murdock
"D.J. has fallen in love with Brian in this funny, poignant sequel to Dairy Queen. Brian seems to care for her, but only when they are on the farm. In public, he hangs out with his football friends, perhaps ashamed that D.J. also plays football" — on a rival team. Then tragedy strikes D.J.'s family, forcing her to accept new responsibility and make tough choices. Murdock has carefully crafted a likable but tough female character."
—Shirley Mullin, Kids Ink, Indianapolis, IN
PANTS ON FIRE, by Meg Cabot
"Once again, Cabot demonstrates her engaging, empathetic storytelling skills with this highly entertaining work of chick lit. Katie Ellison has a full plate: She's juggling two boyfriends, earning money for a secret ambition, competing in the local beauty pageant, and keeping a secret. It's the summer before her senior year, the pinnacle of a teenager's life" — but life doesn't always work the way you want it to."
—Margaret Brennan Neville, The King's English Bookshop, Salt Lake City, UT
RAT LIFE, by Tedd Arnold
"When 14-year-old Todd first meets Rat, the circumstances are less than ideal, but in that moment a relationship is forged. A friendship based on secrets is tenuous at best, but throw in a dead body, a mysterious past, and the ever-growing 'mythology of Rat,' and Todd finds himself on the wildest ride of his life. Arnold has created an amazing community of mismatched characters" — I promise, you'll be sucked into Rat Life like water down a sewer pipe!" —Collette Morgan, Wild Rumpus, Minneapolis, MN
SONG OF THE SPARROW, by Lisa Ann Sandell
"A lyric re-weaving of the beloved tale of the Lady of Shalott. Sandell sings us a song of love and war, jealousy and courage, and has created a great read-aloud for fans of Camelot or fantasy."
—Mara Lynn Luther, Chapter One Book Store, Hamilton, MT
WICKED LOVELY, by Melissa Marr
"Definitely not your mother's faerie tale! A dark and delicious urban fantasy that's gorgeously written and expertly crafted. I found myself totally absorbed in the dilemma facing Aislinn, the ultra-modern girl who can see faeries. Will she submit to fate and become Keenan's Summer Queen or find a way to stay true to herself" — and to Seth? Teens will devour this." —Joanne R. Fritz, Chester County Book & Music Company, West Chester, PA