March 2023 Staff Picks

Recommended by Nancy Bell, Readers' Advisory Librarian

Lessons in Chemistry by Bonnie Garmus
Read on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library
Listen on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library

While the cover (and maybe even the publisher summary) may lead you to believe that this is a romance, please believe me when I tell you this is not a romance! Instead, this is satirical, historical fiction about gender roles and sexism in the 1950s and 1960s. These topics are explored through the telling of Elizabeth Zott’s story: her ambition to become a chemist, her want to be known for her own name and not her husband’s, and her rise to fame as America’s most beloved cooking show host. Elizabeth, and many of the secondary characters, are quirky, loveable, and trying to do their best with the cards they’ve been dealt. This book made me laugh, cry, and have a whole host of emotions. If you like this book—I can’t seem to stop talking about it!—I did a Book Buzz video suggesting three readalikes, which might help you recover from the shock that Elizabeth Zott is fictional.

Secret Identity by Alex Segura
Listen on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library
Working as an assistant at Triumph Comics, Carmen Valdez proofreads others’ works, but as a lifelong lover of comics she dreams of being a writer herself. But this is the 1970s, when the comic book industry is struggling, and it’s a male dominated field with every writer trying to recreate the magic of legends like Stan Lee, Jack Kirby, and Steve Ditko. With her boss refusing to give her the chance, Carmen makes her own opportunity when a colleague asks for help when he is on a tight deadline to present a new character. “The Lethal Lynx,” Triumph’s first female hero, is an instant success—and Carmen isn’t listed on the credits. She goes to confront her colleague, and finding him murdered, she finds herself at the center of a comic book worthy mystery. Written with a gritty, grimy, realistic feel to 1970s New York, and a deep dive into how comics are created, this is perfect for readers who enjoy a multi-layered mystery and stories with multiple meanings.

From Scratch: A Memoir of Love, Sicily, and Finding Home by Tembi Locke
Read on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library
Listen on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library
I watched the Netflix drama series From Scratch and during the credits saw that it was based upon this memoir by Tembi Locke. The tv show and the real events of the memoir are similar, but different enough to make both watching and reading worthwhile—and emotionally devastating in different ways. Locke’s memoir details the beautiful, once-in-a-lifetime love story that she had with her husband, Saro. Tembi and Saro fall in love at first sight on a street in Florence, overcome racial and cultural barriers, adopt a child, and ultimately, fight an unwinnable battle against a rare cancer. Locke’s writing is honest and transportive. Her descriptions of food and cooking almost make you hear the sizzle and smell the fresh herbs, and she effortlessly evokes all of the emotions, bringing us with her and Saro to Florence, New York, Los Angeles, and Sicily. If you watch the show or read this memoir, have tissues nearby!

Recommended by Maggie Mueller, Teen Services Librarian

The Nature of Witches by Rachel Griffin 
Read on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library
Listen on Libby/Wisconsin's Digtal Library
Read on Hoopla
Listen on Hoopla
If you enjoy atmospheric books, The Nature of Witches will not disappoint. In this world, witches have seasonal magic which has helped them maintain the climate for centuries, but they are losing their power as the atmosphere becomes more erratic. The entire planet’s future lies with Clara Densmore, an Everwitch whose rare magic is tied to every season, but she struggles to control her dangerous powers. 

Wink by Rob Harrell 
Read on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library
Listen on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library

Middle school readers looking for a humorous and heartwarming story should checkout Wink. After being diagnosed with a rare eye cancer, twelve-year-old Ross discovers how music, art, and true friends can help him survive both treatment and middle school. Filled with comic panels and doodles, readers will love this uplifting story of survival. 

You Should See Me in a Crown by Leah Johnson
Read on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library
Listen on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library
Listen on Hoopla

When Liz’s music scholarship falls through, she realizes the only way to keep her college dream alive is to compete for a scholarship given to the prom king and queen. Anxiety attacks and falling in love with another prom queen contender are just two of the obstacles in her way. Read this one if you enjoy contemporary love stories that tackle some difficult issues. 


Chapter Books
Recommended by Victoria Sheehan, Library Assistant II

Unfadeable by Maurice Broaddus
Read on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library
This is an empowering, well-constructed, realistic story with endearing characters.  The issues are relevant and may encourage a reader to seek additional information. The story topics include inner-city homelessness, poverty, mental health, and the efforts of others trying to help in their community. Great book for discussion.

Twelfth by Janet Key
Listen on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library
What a fantastic, fast paced middle school mystery, full of intriguing characters! I could hardly put the book down! It was interesting to have dual narratives set in timelines from the 1940’s and 2015. The author incorporates clues from the Shakespearean play, Twelfth Night, which was to be performed during summer theater camp.  The acceptance of characters of various gender identities are relevant today. 

Picture Books
Recommended by Kallie Schell, Children's Librarian

The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt
Long ago in the Kingdom of Backgarden lived a fearsome warrior named Rock. Rock was undefeated in battle, and yet, he felt unfulfilled. So, he went in search of a worthy opponent. Little did he know that at that very moment two more warriors were setting forth with the very same idea. When Rock collides with Scissors from the village of Junk Drawer, and the ferocious Paper, who hails from the Empire of Mum's Study, an epic and hilarious battle ensues.

Invasion of the Unicorns by David Biedrzycki
Secret agent Bubble07 has an undercover mission: infiltrate the home of an Earthling Family and decide whether an army of unicorns should invade planet Earth. Danger follows in the form of many weird Earthling customs, like show-and-tell, tea parties, and dog slobber! Will Bubble07 be forced to give up and call for backup? Or will this fluffy alien’s heart be won over by storytime and snuggles?

Alphabreaths: The ABCs of Mindful Breathing by Christopher Willard
In Alphabreaths, children learn their ABCs along the basics of mindfulness through fun exercises and illustrations they’ll want to come back to again and again. There are so many breathing techniques to ground individuals, and this book presents simple techniques that correlate with a different letter of the alphabet. Each letter teaches a simple mindfulness and compassion-based practice to help kids focus their thoughts, hold positive feelings for others, express gratitude and more!