The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M. T. Anderson

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From the publisher: “Uptight elfin historian Brangwain Spurge is on a mission: survive being catapulted across the mountains into goblin territory, deliver a priceless peace offering to their mysterious dark lord, and spy on the goblin kingdom — from which no elf has returned alive in more than a hundred years. Spurge’s host, the goblin archivist Werfel, is delighted to show Brangwain around. They should be the best of friends, but a series of extraordinary double crosses, blunders, and cultural misunderstandings throws these two bumbling scholars into the middle of an international crisis that may spell death for them — and war for their nations. Witty mixed media illustrations show Brangwain’s furtive missives back to the elf kingdom, while Werfel’s determinedly unbiased narrative tells an entirely different story.”


I’ve been in something of a reading slump lately. Nothing sounds interesting and everything I’ve been reading just doesn’t grab me. Fortunately I’ve heard a lot of buzz about The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge and since fantasy is smack dab in the middle of my reading comfort zone, I decided to check it out. And I’m glad I did since it kicked me right out of my book slump! This fantasy adventure/odd couple buddy comedy/spy thriller is witty, exciting, and an excellent look at the effects of propaganda without resorting to a boring lecture about morality. Similar to some of Brian Selznick’s popular books, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge is an illustrated novel, with the art (excellently done by Anton Yelchin) showing Spurge’s magical reports of his experiences in the goblin kingdom sent back to his fellow elves. However these reports are influenced by his cultural misunderstandings and prejudice against the goblins and so frequently contradict the text, which is from the kind and brave goblin Werfel’s point of view. It did take awhile for me to get the hang of understanding the illustrations, but for the kids willing to work through the initial confusion it’s well worth the effort. Kirkus Reviews described it as “Monty Python teams up with Maxwell Smart for a wrestling match with Tolkien,” which is a spot on analogy (that will likely go over its target audience’s heads, unfortunately). Recommended for ages 10-14.

Check it out on the catalog here!


The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee

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As you can probably guess from the title, there is a wall in the middle of this book. The knight repairing the wall tells the reader it protects his side of the book from the scary and dangerous things on the other side. However, as his side of the book fills up with water and a crocodile appears, he discovers the other side of the wall is not exactly what he thought.


Agee uses the page in a really interesting way, with the wall in the gutter (inside margin) of the book and two stories happening simultaneously on each side of the wall/page. The knight thinks his side of the wall is safe and the wall protects him from the scary ogre that would eat him up. But while he’s focused on building up the wall, he fails to notice the rising waters behind him. When he realizes his side of the wall has flooded and cries out for help, it is the ogre from the other side who saves him and the knight discovers the creatures on the other side of the wall are not the terrifying monsters he imagined. The art is simple with muted colors without being boring. Similar to Agee’s Life on Mars, paying attention to what’s happening in the pictures is essential to understanding the story. Learning to interpret pictures into a narrative is an excellent pre-reading and early reading skill! Agee is excellent at pacing and humor for the younger set, though adults are likely to enjoy this gentle story about preconceived notions across boundaries and how wrong they can be as well. Highly recommended.

Find it in the catalog here!


Miss Jessica

The Next Step: Early Chapter Readers


Making the jump from early readers to chapter books can be daunting. Fortunately, authors and publishers are realizing the need for fun, simpler chapter books to help kids make that transition.

Below are a list of book series to start children off on their new reading challenge with some fun reading. Individual books in each series may be easier or harder. In the listing below you will find written the different reading system levels for the first book in each series to aid you in choosing a series you feel will encourage your child’s reading.

Please don’t’ hesitate to ask at the Children’s Desk for help to find these books and for additional suggestions.




Haggis and Tank Unleashed by Jessica Young     J Fic You

Reading Levels: Lexile 480 / Guided Reading  M / Accelerated Reader 3.1

A mix of chapters and comic book panels with full page color illustrations.


Judy Moody and Friends by Megan McDonald     J Fic McD

Reading Levels: Lexile 480 / Guided Reading J / Accelerated Reader 2.5

Judy Moody stories just right for new readers. Lots of illustrations in color.


Mercy Watson by Kate DiCamillo     J Fic Dic

Reading Levels: Lexile 450 / Guided Reading  K / Accelerated Reader 2.7

Kids will adore this lovable pig and her antics. Lots of color illustrations.


Monkey Me by Timothy Roland     J Fic Rol

Reading Levels: Lexile 510 / Guided Reading O / Accelerated Reader 2.4

Thanks to a wacky banana, energetic Clide turns into a monkey when he gets excited!


Nancy Clancy by Jane O’Connor     J Fic Oco

Reading Levels: Lexile 450 / Guided Reading O / Accelerated Reader 3.3

Fancy Nancy is growing up and now is interested in dectective work- but in a fancy way, of course! Illustration in black and white.


Notebook of Doom by Troy Cummings      J Fic Cum

Reading Levels: Lexile 490 / Guided Reading M / Accelerated Reader 3.3

For those young, brave readers who like creepy things such as balloon monsters out to get you. Cartoon type illustrations in black and white.


Owl Diaries by Rebecca Elliott     J Fic Ell

Reading Levels: Lexile 400 / Guided Reading M / Accelerated Reader 3.0

Fun books about friends written in diary form with some speech bubbles. Illustrations in color.


The Princess in Black by Shannon and Dean Hale      J Fic Hal

Reading Levels: Lexile 500 / Guided Reading N /Accelerated Reader 3.2

Funny and action packed—this is not your average princess. Illustrations in color.


Princess Posey by Stephanie Greene     J Fic Gre

Reading Levels: Lexile 380 / Guided Reading  K / Accelerated Reader 2.9

Simpler and calmer than Junie B Jones but just as lovable. Black and White Illustrations.


Ricky Ricotta’s Mighty Robot by Dav Pilkey     J Fic Pil

Reading Levels: Lexile 520 / Guided Reading L / Accelerated Reader 2.9

Has comic book panels, superhero action, and Pilkey’s Flip-O-Rama. Illustrations in color.


Yo-Kai Watch by Kate Howard     J Fic Yok

Reading Levels: Lexile 430 / Guided Reading N / Accelerated Reader 3.4

Fun Yo-Kai characters in chapter book form for young readers. Illustrations in color.

Recent Reads

Welcome to Wonderland: Home Sweet Motel

By Chris Grabenstein (author of Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library)

The  Wonderland Motel is not so wonderful anymore. It’s first year in existence was great. That was before Walt Disney opened his theme park. Now the Wonderland Motel is in serious financial trouble. P.T. can’t imagine the motel being sold and no more free ice cream and room service. Fortunately it’s spring break and one of the guests, Gloria Ortiz, is a bored business whiz kid looking for a project. Together as they dream up some unusual tactics to save the motel they stumble on something from the past that adds trouble and danger to their plans.

A fun read. I personally would recommend anything written by Chris Grabenstein.

First of a series. Available in Book and CD.



My Weird School Fast Facts: Space, Humans and Farts

By Dan Gutman

This book is also by the same author as the Flashback Four series. He also writes My Weird School series and the Genius Files.

This series Fast Facts is a fun way to pick up about the world along with jokes and things to try.

This book covers all sorts of science topics such as the solar system, forces, animals and famous scientists. There is one  chapter called Fakes, Frauds and Fame which talks about how some people have posed as scientists in the past to promote something that wasn’t real, such as the Cardiff giant. The series also includes the books: “Geography”, “Sports”, and “Explorers, Presidents and Toilets”.




Beatrice Zinker Upside Down Thinker

By Shelley Johannes

Beatrice is an upside down thinker, ready to take on the world.  To start the new school year she’s going to wear her ninja outfit and meet up with her best friend. Unfortunately, things with Operation Upside quickly go topsy-turvy as soon as she arrives. In the space of a day things just go from bad to worse but it doesn’t slow Beatrice down. She’s determined that Operation Upside continues.

Beatrice is a fun, spunky character,  who is always finding trouble.





Marty Pants: Do Not Open!

By Mark Parisi

Marty is an artist. He has the heart of an artist and can see things that others can’t see. He also has a very active imagination and a tendency to jump to conclusions without thinking things through.  So when he finds a note that says “An alien is observing you,” he just “knows” that it refers to his short-tempered teacher, Mr. McPhee. Thus begins Marty’s campaign to save the world.  I love the drawings. They are supposed to be Marty’s drawings. Since he can’t draw bikes, when he talks about riding his bike he draws a pogo stick instead. And I love how this story ends. It makes you think about your teachers and wonder who they are when they are not being a teacher!

First in a series.




Nevermoor: The Trials of Morrigan Crow

By Jessica Townsend

Morrigan Crow has more trials than the average kid. She was born cursed. She’s on the official cursed registry, in fact. When anything goes wrong in Jackelfax, she is the person they blame. The worst part of being a cursed child though, is that she will die at the stroke of midnight on her eleventh birthday. That was her fate until a strange man at the last minute with the Hunt of Smoke and Shadow on their heels, whisks her away  to the city of Nevermoore as a Wundrous Society candidate. She can only stay though, if she passes the trials – and one of them requires a special talent which is something she lacks. Has she only postponed the inevitable? Will her curse never end?

You will quickly get lost in this book. It is imaginative, action filled, and suspenseful.

I listened to the CD and looked for reasons to be in the car so I could hear more of the story. It’s currently my favorite book!

First in a series. Available in Book and CD.

Miss Marta

Honorable Mention

Last week you got to read all about our top 10 books of 2017.  We have done a top 10 for  a few years now and it is by far one of my favorite posts to share.  It is also the one I agonize over the most all year.  I LOVE (yes, all caps is warranted) telling people about new books.  I made the tough cuts and took my list from 22 down to 10.  I still wanted to tell you about the other books though!  I couldn’t help myself!  Therefore, I created my own honorable mention category.  These books could have easily been swapped out for others that made my list.  They are that good!  Read on to see what you *almost* missed!





Mighty Jack and the Goblin King by Ben Hatke

Book two in the newest series and everything from the storyline to the illustrations is exciting!




The Legend of Rock Paper Scissors by Drew Daywalt

Amusing take on how a favorite past time came to be.





In the Middle of Fall by Kevin Henkes

Perfect book to read with the birth to four age set to introduce fall.  Large illustrations and limited text really shows off the wonders of this season and builds the vocabulary of little ones.




After The Fall: How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat

Perfect social story to talk about overcoming fears and not letting a bad eggs-perience (Yep, I went there.  Sorry, not sorry!) keep you from having good ones!




Pig the Pug by Aaron Blabey

This hilarious tale of karma speaks loudly to the lesson that sharing is best!




Lockwood and Co, Book 5:  The Empty Grave by Jonathon Stroud

The final installment in a great fantasy series follows Lucy, Lockwood, George, Holly, and Kipps as they finally find the source of “the problem” that has caused ghosts to terrorize the countryside for decades.



Poor Louie by Tony Fucile

Louie’s life goes from easy breezy with his human parents to strange as two sets of things start showing up at his home and his human mom’s tummy keeps growing.  Will there still be a place in the house for Louie?


Miss Marta



#2 of 2017

Only 2 spots left in our countdown for the top 10 new titles in the children’s department!  Get caught up here if you have been missing out on our countdown.


Miss Christina


The Three Billy Goats Gruff by Jerry Pinkney

I love folk tales. I love Jerry Pinkney. This book does not disappoint. This version is simple enough for its target audience, has lots of sounds to incorporate, simple and beautifully rendered pictures and an ending that teaches a lesson. If you are not familiar with Jerry Pinkney’s books, I hope this one will encourage you to look for more. You will find this book in the folk tale/fairy tale non-fiction section, J 398.2 Bil.


Miss Sarah


You Don’t Want A Unicorn by Ame Dyckman

A lesson in being careful what you wish for.


Miss Teresa


The Bad Mood and the Stick by Lemony Snicket

The bad mood is portrayed by a multi-colored, frowning cloud that follows Curly, prompting her to pick up a stick and poke her little brother.  While this makes Curly happy, the nad mood transfers to her mother.  Snicket’s amusing tale continues as the bad mood and the stick travel throughout the town, ultimately setting things right.


Miss Marta


The Hate U Give by Angie Thomas

This Young Adult read is so timely and important, not to mention just darn good! Starr is the only witness to the shooting of her best friend, Khalil (who is unarmed), at the hands of a police officer.  She is getting pressure from opposing sides, both police and people from her neighborhood, as people take to the streets bringing national attention to an unjust killing.  Everyone is asking what happened and only Starr is left to answer the questions.  Inspired by the “Black Lives Matter” movement, the social and political messages that pour out of this book hit readers hard.  It made me personally think about white privilege in ways I hadn’t before. This book is awesome for starting some good converstions about what racial biases there are in our country and community and how we are handling them.  I don’t want to stand on the soapbox too long about the political and social elements of this book because the writing itself is so amazing and the main character Starr is so well developed.  The mixed emotions and raw truth of what she is dealing with is beautifully brought to light.  I have yet to meet a teen or adult who read this book and didn’t love it.



Miss Janna


History’s Mysteries: Curious Clues, Cold Cases and Puzzles From the Past by Kitson Jazynka

When this book came across my desk, I had to stop and read it from cover to cover in one sitting.  National Geographic has written some of my very favorite books for kids, and this was no exception.  Highlighting vanished cities, lost tribes, history’s most infamous heroes and villains, mystifying legends and other fascinating stories, this book is riveting!

#3 of 2017

You made it to our top 3 of 2017!  Check out our previous posts to see what other titles we loved this year.  In the meantime, the countdown goes on!


Miss Christina


Cubetto Playset

This Coding kit is just darn cute. It is also very easy to use. There is a mat you place on the floor for the Cubetto Robot to travel on and an interface board you put different directional arrows on to command the square wooden robot to move. The instruction guide, written like a story, introduces you to the different parts of the kit.  There is another book called Cubetto’s First Day. This book contains a travel story, directions to for moving the Cubetto, information and questions to ask.  It’s a fun introduction to coding!


Miss Sarah


Triangle by Mac Barnett

When you have a devious friend…


Miss Teresa


A Greyhound, A Groundhog by Emily Jenkins

Not only a tongue twister in words, but visually as well, as the greyhound and groundhog whirl and twirl around each other until they’re all tuckered out.  A great read-aloud!


Miss Marta


Charlie and Mouse by Laurel Snyder

This early reader book (which kicks off a series) took me back to my childhood.  Remember how you felt the first time you chuckled at the antics of Frog and Toad?  That feeling comes right back as Charlie and Mouse take you on adventures around their home and neighborhood.  From mysterious lumps under blankets and selling rocks to bedtime bananas, these two will have your little reader giggling.  Big pro to this book?  Just like some of the classic early readers it is broken down into 4 smaller stories for the reader so it won’t overwhelm beginning readers or toddlers just learning to sit through stories.


Miss Janna


Breathe, Mama, Breathe by Shonda Moralis

Bite-sized mindfulness for busy moms.  Each chapter is a page or two, bringing cheerful encouragement and food for thought.