June 2023 Staff Picks

Recommended by Nancy Bell, Readers' Advisory Librarian

Yellowface by R.F. Kuang

I’ve been waiting impatiently to read Yellowface, as it has been highly anticipated since last year—and let me tell you, for me, to was worth the wait and all of the hype. June Hayward and Athena Liu are two Yale graduate writers. While Athena has found success and is writing a new book about the WWI Chinese Labor Corps, June struggles to write her second novel.

When Athena dies suddenly, and June “accidentally” walks off with her manuscript, edits it, passing it off as her own, never expecting the books to become such a huge success, and bringing her (and her secret) into the social media spotlight.

This fast-paced satire on racism and success in publishing held me riveted with its thought-provoking and darkly humorous content. Highly recommend if you enjoy reading about the ins and outs of the possibly cutthroat publishing industry in books like The Other Black Girl by Zakiya Harris.

The Making of Another Major Motion Picture Masterpiece by Tom Hanks

While Tom Hanks is no stranger to writing, this is his debut fiction novel. We follow the making of a larger than life film, Knightshade: The Lathe of Firefall, which is a mashup of competing genres: superhero Marvel movie, war story, and melodrama.

To make this seemingly unworkable concept, is a group of characters who also, at face value, seem to be unlikely co-workers. We follow this large character cast through (successful?) moviemaking with Hanks making us ever aware of how easily things could derail and come apart. Some consider this Hanks’ love letter to the movie industry, and for me, it was an entertaining read.

Ask For More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything by Alexandra Carter
Alexandra Carter is a clinical professor of law and the director of the Columbia Law School Mediation Clinic. When she was a guest speaker on one of my favorite podcasts (Career Contessa), she spoke about how she was always a great negotiator for other people, but not herself. The introduction of her book describes changing your perspective on negotiation and advocating for yourself.

I’ve read a couple of books recently about communication, and what I love about Carter’s book is how negotiating is more than some kind of manipulation tactic to get what you want, but a back-and-forth conversation about interpersonal relationships to come to an agreement or compromise. While there are these larger themes of negotiation as a whole, there are also more narrowed down tips and tricks for how to negotiate—my favorite one is her chapter on how to respond to a “no” by asking, “What are your concerns?” Definitely a book I’m considering for my own personal bookshelf.

Recommended by Maggie Mueller, Teen Services Librarian

The Counselors by Jessica Goodman
Read on Wisconsin's Digital Library/Libby

Avid murder mystery readers will enjoy this beachy read, recommended for ages 14 to adults. After a traumatic school year, camp counselor Goldie Easton is excited to reunite with her two best friends at an elite summer camp, but when a local boy is found dead on the grounds, all three must reveal a dark secret to find the murderer. 

The Strangers by Margaret Peterson Haddix
Read on Wisconsin's Digital Library/Libby

An exciting sci-fi mystery novel for middle-school kids and advanced elementary readers. Chess, Emma, and Finn Greystone are shocked when they learn the similarities between themselves and three kidnapped children. But before they can ask their mom about it, she goes missing, and the kids must investigate the puzzling clues she left behind. 

Secret Passages by Axelle Lenoir
It’s 1985, and a creative, sensitive, and anxious little girl named Axelle is about to start first grade. This humorous, semi-autobiographical graphic novel about childhood is told through the perspective of a jaded adult and includes plenty of cynical humor. Perfect for millennials, but this will be enjoyed by any teen or adult who can look back at childhood antics with a laugh. 


Chapter Books
Recommended by Lindsay Reuer, Children's Librarian

What-the-Dickens: The Story of a Rogue Tooth Fairy by Gregory Maguire
Read on Wisconsin's Digital Library/Libby

I’ve been enjoying fresh takes on folklore and fairytales lately, so I found this book with its humorous yet spooky tale of “skibbereen” (tooth fairies) delightful.

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
Read on Wisconsin's Digital Library/Libby
Listen on Wisconsin's Digital Library/Libby

From the author of one of my all-time favorite novels, Practical Magic, this whimsical tale won me over with the author’s familiar story of friendship and love triumphing over obstacles, this time in a kid-friendly novel.

Paint the Wind by Pam Muñoz Ryan
Read on Wisconsin's Digital Library/Libby

I didn’t realize how much I didn’t know about horses until I read this book! This coming-of-age tale features a girl named Maya who befriends a wild horse named Artemisia when Maya moves to the wide-open spaces of Wyoming.         

Picture Books
Recommended by Marie Boleman, Head of Children's & Family Outreach Services

Twig by Aura Parker
Just adorable! Can Twig, the walking stick, make friends when it is hard to see her?  In a Jar 

In a Jar by Deborah Marcero
Whether objects or ideas, the jars in this book are a perfect way for Llewellyn and Evelyn to examine and talk about many things in their world. 

I Talk Like a River by Jordan Scott
Listen on Wisconsin Digital Library/Libby

Readers will be moved when they step into a young boy’s world and experience the beautiful things he hears, sees and feels even though he has trouble expressing these things in speech.