February 2024 Staff Picks

Greetings, readers! It’s great weather for staying inside and reading. Here are some staff picks to keep you cozy while the weather outside is frightful! - Sarah R, Readers' Advisory Librarian

Demon Copperhead by Barbara Kingsolver
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Barbara Kingsolver brings us a contemporary coming-of-age novel inspired by Charles Dickens’ David Copperfield. Dickens’ novel made visible the horrors of institutional poverty and the damage it does to children. Kingsolver transposes that story to the modern day in the American South, telling the story of Damon, nicknamed Demon Copperhead for his red hair, as he navigates life through the death of his single mother, the hunger and abuse of foster care, addiction, loss, and redemption. The story is told from Damon’s perspective, with a strong voice and astute observations on life—sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking. This book won the 2023 Pulitzer Prize for good reason and has been declared by many to be a modern classic, representing the voice of our age.

The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention our upcoming Banned Book Club title. We’ll be discussing Toni Morrison’s first novel, The Bluest Eye, on Tues., March 26 at 6:30 pm in the library’s Lower Level Conference Room.

Toni Morrison’s first novel was, according to PEN America, the second most banned and challenged book in the United States in 2022-2023, having been removed from at least 29 school districts and libraries in formal, informal, and administrative challenges. The book is set just after the great depression and centers around the story of Pecola, a young Black girl who cannot see herself as beautiful. It tells a valuable story about the harm caused by racism, especially when it becomes internalized, and specifically in the context of Black girlhood—an intersection often overlooked in social discourse.

Fuzz: When Nature Breaks the Law by Mary Roach
Since the previous two titles will make you cry, here’s a book to make you laugh. This nonfiction title contains an assortment of tales about the ways animals interact with human civilization, specifically how animals break human laws. How do you stop a moose from jaywalking? You don’t. Mary Roach, named America’s funniest science writer by the Washington Post, offers a hilarious perspective on the crossroads of human behavior and wildlife biology. While these species intersections can’t always end well, the book also focuses on the optimism of peaceful cohabitation.

Recommended by Maggie M., Teen Services Librarian

These Violent Delights by Chloe Gong
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In 1926 Shanghai, eighteen-year-old Juliette Cai, heir of the Scarlet Gang, and her first love-turned-rival Roma Montagov, leader of the White Flowers, must work together when mysterious deaths threaten their city. Fans of Romeo & Juliet can enjoy new histories and fates for their favorite characters, while non-Shakespeare fans will be gripped by the mystery, monster, and madness.

Chunky by Yehudi Mercado
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Hudi needs to lose weight, according to his doctors, so his parents push him to try out for sports. Hudi would rather do anything else, but then he meets Chunky, his imaginary friend and mascot. Chunky encourages Hudi to pursue his true love:  comedy. Can Chunky help Hudi stay true to himself, or will this friendship strike out? This hilarious graphic novel is perfect for upper elementary and middle school readers.

Murtagh by Christopher Paolini
Hated, alone and exiled to the outskirts of society, Dragon Rider Murtagh and his dragon, Thorn, must decide what he stands for in a world that has abandoned him when a new enemy emerges from the shadows of Alagaesia. Readers of the Eragon series will love this new story about fan favorite Murtagh, and new readers can enter the World of Eragon for the first time in this novel.

Chapter Books
Recommended by Lindsay R., Children's Librarian

Hush by Donna Jo Napoli
What first attracted me to this book is that it is based on an ancient Icelandic tale, where a young princess is kidnapped and refuses to speak to her captors or anyone else. The reader is able to relate to Melkorka despite the unfamiliar world she inhabits.

Dust & Grim by Chuck Wendig
A classic tale of sibling rivalry is wrapped in a unique setting: a funeral home for monsters. Delightful and unique.

The Star Outside My Window by Onjali Q. Raúf
A bittersweet story with a unique premise. Aniyah is a foster child trying to cope with her mother’s disappearance. While doing so, she convinces herself that an unusual, recently discovered star is actually her mom, and sets out to prove it.  

Picture Books
Recommended by Kallie S., Children's Librarian

10 Reasons to Love a Penguin by Catherine Barr
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I love penguins, and this picture book is such a fun exploration of all the cool stuff that penguins can do! They may not be able to fly, but they can take flying leaps! They can see underwater where they catch their food! My favorite thing is that they can march for days just to lay their eggs. Each page highlights different penguins, and the creatures they coexist with. This book is a great introduction for anyone interested in this amazing group of birds!

Ten Dragon Eggs: A Book About Counting Down by Lynda Graham-Barber
The first thing that caught my eye for this book were the illustrations. The hatchlings are cute as a button—I almost want my own dragon! What I really love though is that kids can interact with each page. Mama Dragon has ten eggs to hatch and needs to warm them with her breath. Huff and puff, shimmy, and shout along with mama and her hatchlings as they count down from ten eggs to just one egg. This is a great book to practice counting and colors.

The Big Book of Superpowers by Susanna Isern
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Spiderman can shoot webs from his fingers. Batman can fly through the night. But did you know? You have superpowers too! Susanna Isern does a great job of highlighting how each of us has superpowers. From storytellers, to musicians, to simply being brave, we are all super in our own way. I love this book because it reminds kids (and adults!) that the things we may find simply human and mundane, are actually quite amazing!