December 2020 Staff Picks

Adults  |  Teens  | Children

Librarians Michael and Justine share their personal favorites.

One by One
by Ruth Ware
Ware is one of the few authors whose books I immediately put on hold the moment I can. She has been remarkably consistent over the past 4-5 years and has become one of my favorite mystery/thriller writers. Her newest focuses on a group of techies snowed in at a luxury alpine resort and they start dying “one-by-one”! This is Ware doing Agatha Christie and its great. 

Basketful of Heads (on order)
by Joe Hill & Leomacs
I'm a fan of Joe Hill. I'm a fan of comics. Joe Hill is writing more comics! This is a fantastical kidnapping thriller set on a small New England island. June Branch's boyfriend is kidnapped by escaped convicts during a torrential storm. While fighting off one of the attackers, June lops off his head with an ancient Viking Axe. To June's surprise, and the attacker's, the head does not stay dead! June must use all her wits, and an increasing amount of magically reanimated heads, to track down her boyfriend before its too late. It's funny, bloody, and full of twists. 

The Far Field
by Madhuri Vijay
This is a story set in Bangalore, India about a girl named Shalini. After her mother’s death she struggles to find purpose and meaning in life. In an effort to understand more about her mother, she decides she needs to find out more about Bashir. Bashir was a traveling salesman who visited their home in Bangalore all through Shalini’s childhood. So Shalini takes off on a journey to Kashmir in search of Bashir, to learn more about her mother. When she reaches Kashmir she finds a world full of political unrest and danger, but will she find Bashir? And will the trip help her know who her mother was?

Disappearing Earth
by Julia Phillips
Two young girls go missing in a town called Petropavlovsk on the Kamchatka peninsula at the Northeastern edge of Russia. During the year that follows, the women in the communities of the Kamchatka peninsula remember the girls who went missing and yearn for closure. The landscape in this book is vividly painted and characters who at first sight are completely new actually have hidden connections to each other. This is a very unusual and interesting thriller and once you get to the end you’ll want to read it again.

Teen Services Librarian Maggie offers a few of her favorite titles for young adults. For more recommendations, watch Maggie every Wednesday at 6 p.m. on Facebook Live during Shelf Selected. Videos are archived so you can view at your convenience.

The Wicked Deep
by Shea Ernshaw
If you’re a fan of Hocus Pocus, this one’s for you; it’s got strong Hocus Pocus vibes, but it’s a little less Disney and a little more dark: Three sisters, drowned as witches in the 1800s, return for a brief time each summer for revenge, entering the bodies of three weak-hearted girls so that they may seek their revenge: luring boys into the harbor and pulling them under.
Like many locals, seventeen-year-old Penny Talbot has accepted the fate of the town. But this year, on the eve of the sisters’ return, a boy named Bo Carter arrives, unaware of the danger he has just stumbled into. And death comes swiftly to those who cannot resist the call of the sisters. Only Penny sees what others cannot. And she will be forced to choose: save Bo, or save herself.

A Good Girl’s Guide to Murder
by Holly Jackson
YA murder mysteries are hitting their stride and this is one you won’t be able to put down! Five years ago, schoolgirl Andie Bell was murdered by Sal Singh. The police know he did it. Everyone in town knows he did it. Having grown up in the small town that was consumed by the crime, Pip chooses the case as the topic for her final project. But when Pip starts uncovering secrets that someone in town desperately wants to stay hidden, what starts out as a project begins to become Pip's dangerous reality.  

by Courtney Summers
When Sadie’s younger sister Mattie is found dead, Sadie’s entire world crumbles. After a poorly done police investigation, Sadie is determined to find her sister’s killer and takes off with only a few clues. When radio host West McCray hears Sadie’s story, he becomes obsessed and starts a podcast documenting her journey, trying to find her before it’s too late. This is the YA mystery book I compare others to. Don’t miss this one.

Laura Dean Keeps Breaking Up with Me
by Mariko Tamaki, Rosemary Valero-O’Connell (illustrator) 
Laura Dean is a terrible girlfriend. But she’s also super cool and Freddy is totally in love with her, even though they have an incredibly toxic relationship and Laura Dean has just broken up with her for the third time. But Freddy is learning, so she seeks help from a mysterious medium and advice columnist to help her through being a teenager in love. This book gets an A+ for the open and honest way it discusses how hard breakups can be and how teens can get through them in a healthy way. Another A+ for excellent LGBTQ and POC representation.  

Children's Librarian Matthew unveils his favorite selection of picture books. For more suggestions, you can watch Matthew every Monday morning at 9:30 a.m. on Facebook Live during Shelf Selected. Videos are archived so you can view anytime!

Pokko and the Drum
by Matthew Forsythe
“The biggest mistake Pokko’s parents ever made was giving her a drum.” So begins the hilarious story of the irrepressible Pokko the frog and her drum. When asked to play her drum outside, but quietly, Pokko inadvertently forms a forest band. The glowing illustrations add to the mischievous charm of this perfectly paced book.

I Am Every Good Thing
by Derrick Barnes and Gordon C. James
Barnes and James (Crown: An Ode to the Fresh Cut) have produced another slam-dunk of a picture book. Pride and joy burst from the lively verses and rich illustrations. A must read of 2020!

Our Little Kitchen
by Jillian Tamaki
Neighbors come together to prepare a communal meal in this bouncy, action-filled book. The text brings the kitchen to life with “sizzles” and “Chops!” while the illustrations capture the madcap energy of creative cooking. A great reminder of the power of coming together to make a meal. Recipes included!

Chapter Books for older children
Thanks to our storytime leader Miss Cathy for selecting some great December reads for ages 8 - 12.

The Day They Gave Babies Away
by Dale Eunson
When the six Eunson children are left orphans the day before Christmas in 1868, 12-year-old Bob takes it upon himself to find homes for his younger brothers and sisters. This is based on a true story that takes place in Winnebago County. This is truly one of my favorite Christmas stories.

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures
by Kate DiCamillo
After rescuing a squirrel after an accident involving a vacuum cleaner, Flora is pleasantly surprised when Ulysses, the squirrel, demonstrates amazing powers of strength, flight and misspelled  poetry. A delightful laugh outloud story of eccentric and endearing characters.

One for the Murphys
by Lynda Hunt
When Carley is sent to live with the Murphys, she struggles with opening up herself to accept their love. Despite her resistance, the Murphys win Carley over and show her what it feels like to truly belong to a family. The love and encouragement they give her, give her hope for a wonderful and happy future.