May 2023 Staff Picks

Recommended by Nancy Bell, Readers' Advisory Librarian.

The Twyford Code by Janice Hallett

If you loved Mr. Penumbra’s 24-Hour Bookstore like I did, this might be a book for you, as the main characters in both find themselves fascinated/obsessed with complex code-breaking and secret messages within books themselves. In The Twyford Code, Steven Smith discovers strange markings and annotations in a famous children’s book and shares his findings with his remedial English teacher, Miss Iles, who believes that this is a secret code woven between all of the Twyford books. Forty years later, after time spent in a notorious gang and in prison and after the disappearance of Miss Iles, Steven is still haunted by the unsolved mystery of the Twyford code. Told through a series of audio file transcripts, reality and fantasy are all intertwined in this intricately plotted and suspenseful mystery, as Hallett twists and turns the story, which kept me riveted and continually surprised.

Let’s Not Do That Again by Grant Ginder

It’s not too often that I find a book whose main character shares my name (beyond the Nancy Drew series), so I had to read about Nancy Harrison, candidate for Senate, plus I saw in reviews that this book had Veep-like political comedy combined with Schitt$ Creek character development, which sold me on it! Nancy seems to be an unstoppable political force with the right credentials to easily be elected. When a campaign-jeopardizing scandal erupts due to her daughter, Greta, making international headlines for hurling a bottle through a restaurant window during a political protest, Nancy sends her son, Nick, to bring his sister home. An engaging and entertaining read with plot twists I wasn’t expecting from a contemporary family/political drama-comedy. While we’re mostly tuned in to the immediate Harrison family, the supporting characters also shine in this book.

What the Happiest Retirees Know by Wes Moss

Even though I have a…few…years before I can even think about retiring, I love learning about finances and retirement. I heard about this book from a financial podcast I listen to (The Money Guy Show), and I realized that while I have read many things about how to successfully retire and be independent, I haven’t read about life after retirement! Financial Planner Wes Moss conducted surveys with about 2,000 households of retirees or people within ten years of retiring. From those surveys, Moss found overlapping habits, which he goes through chapter by chapter in this book. Some of the habits are not financial at all like curiosity, family, and health, among others. An interesting and informative read, which, I’ll re-read throughout my career as I dream about happily retiring.

Recommended by Maggie Mueller, Teen Services Librarian.

What About Will by Ellen Hopkins

Teens who enjoy realistic fiction about heavy topics will enjoy this novel in verse. Trace’s big brother Will was the best – until Will suffered a traumatic brain injury playing football. Now, Will is angry and addicted to pain pills, but only Trace seems to notice Will’s troubling behavior. 

Monday’s Not Coming by Tiffany D. Jackson

Looking for a hard-hitting mystery? This emotional rollercoaster is highly recommended for ages 14 through adults. Claudia and Monday have always been inseparable, so when Monday doesn’t turn up for the first day of school, Claudia’s worried. When Monday's mother refuses to give her a straight answer, Claudia begins to dig into her disappearance, but no one seems concerned about Monday’s absence.

Unplugged by Gordon Korman

If you like Holes by Louis Sachar, you’ll love Unplugged. Jett Baranov is a spoiled rich kid who pulled one too many expensive pranks and gets sent to the Oasis -- a wellness camp where he’s forced to unplug and turn over all his electronics. This doesn’t stop him from finding trouble though, and while he’s out breaking rules, Jett discovers something much more sinister is happening at the Oasis. 

Chapter Books
Recommended by Kallie Schell, Children's Librarian.

Frizzy (Graphic Novel) by Claribel A. Ortega

This is a wonderful story about self-love and standing up for yourself! Marlene loves three things: books, her cool Tía Ruby and hanging out with her best friend Camila. But according to her mother, Paola, the only thing she needs to focus on is school and growing up. That means straightening her hair every weekend so she could have presentable good hair. But Marlene hates being in the salon and doesn't understand why her curls are not considered pretty by those around her. With a few hiccups, a dash of embarrassment, and the much-needed help of Camila and Tía Ruby--she slowly starts a journey to learn to appreciate and proudly wear her curly hair. 

We Dream of Space by Erin Entrada Kelley

I am a huge fan of historical fiction, and this story captures a moment in history that was formative for many people: the Space Shuttle Challenger. This is the story of Cash, Fitch and Bird Thomas – three siblings in seventh grade in 1986. Each child struggles with their own personal anxieties in a tumultuous household while counting down the days to when they get to watch the Challenger launch into space. Cash loves sports, Fitch loves the arcade and Bird loves outerspace. The one thing they have in common is their very enthusiastic science teacher, Ms. Salonga. In the lead up to this historical day, Ms. Salonga tasks the students with creating and completing a mission as if they were launching a spacecraft. When the fateful day arrives, the children are brought together in important and unexpected ways.  

Freewater by Amina Luqman-Dawson

Did you know that sometimes, when enslaved people fled the plantations, they would survive in the swamps in moor communities? This award-winning novel tells the story of Homer and Ada after they flee Southerland Plantation. In the swamps they find the community of Freewater, comprised of formerly enslaved people and freeborn children. Homer never forgets who he left behind in his escape though, and comes up with a plan to save his mom and his friend. This was such a beautifully written story with some interesting twists. I highly recommend this one for anyone who likes to learn, enjoys a quick read and loves an adventure.  

Picture Books
Recommended by Victoria Sheehan, Children's Library Assistant.

Miss Maple’s Seeds by Eliza Wheeler
Kind, nurturing, magical Miss Maple collects and cares for seeds that have not sprouted yet.  The illustrations are fantastic and the story, fairytale-like.  This is a fun read to have children understand that even the biggest trees started from seeds! 

EIEIO How Old MacDonald Got His Farm by Judy Sierra
What a clever story!  The illustrations are great, and the rhyming text will certainly make one chuckle.  This is a perfect example of reduce, renew and recycle!

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree by Gemma Marino
Wow!  A tree climbing cow, what’s next?  This lovely, illustrated book celebrates the thirst for adventure and the endless possibilities for those who dare.  Honestly, this is one of my favorite books for read alouds.