Historical Series for Kids

If you have elementary age children, you probably already know about the “I Survived” series by Lauren Tarshis. These books have been tremendously popular with kids across the country. Each book is told from the perspective of a child in the middle of a disaster or major event. They’re a fun way to pick up some history while enjoying an action-packed story.

I Survived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871 by Lauren Tarshis I Survived the Children's Blizzard, 1888 by Lauren Tarshis I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863 by Lauren Tarshis I Survived the American Revolution, 1776 by Lauren Tarshis

We also have some older series in juvenile fiction that have been very popular in the past.  Books in the “Dear America” series feature girls as the main characters, while the “My Name is America” books feature boys. Christmas After All is set in Indianapolis and is also written by a Hoosier author, so it’s a great choice for our Fall Beanstack Challenge. These series were both published by Scholastic and written by some of the very best children’s authors. They are notable for the diverse ethnicities of the main characters.

I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly by Joyce Hansen  Christmas After All by Kathryn Lasky West to a Land of Plenty by Jim Murphy So Far From Home by Barry Denenberg

The Journal of Ben Uchida by Barry Denenberg The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung by Laurence Yep The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins by Walter Dean Myers The Journal of Joshua Loper by Walter Dean Myers

The Royal Diary series is all girls; nothing here but queens and princesses. The best thing about this series is that it takes you around the world; it’s not just focused on European royalty.

Marie Antoinette, Princess of Versailles by Kathryn Lasky Kaiulani: The People's Princess by Ellen Emerson White Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile by Kristiana Gregory Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess by Carolyn Meyer

All of these books will enrich your child’s knowledge of the world and give them hours of great reading! Series are actually terrific choices for kids. The standard format of many series makes it easier to get immersed in the story, especially for struggling readers. These books may also start an interest in a person or event that can followed up with some non-fiction reading.

Fall Reads

Fall is my most favorite time of the year. With the days getting shorter and the temperature getting cooler, there is nothing better than curling up with a good book. The changing colors of the leaves, pumpkin spice lattes, Halloween and Thanksgiving are things that embody fall. My favorite genre to read during this time is mystery/thriller with a little bit of science fiction. Here are some of my recommendations!

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley Frankenstein – Mary Shelley

Classic monsters are everywhere during Halloween. Frankenstein is a classic monster but what if the image of Frankenstein was different that what you have been told? Published in 1818, Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus follows Victor Frankenstein as he defies the laws of nature and assemble body parts together to make a monster. This is my all time favorite book. At only 200 pages, this is a quick read and is a great start for those who want to read more classics. Mary Shelley’s writing is simplistic and beautiful and she wrote this novel when she was only 18. She is also one of the pioneers of science fiction/horror. Once your finished, watch the 1931 Frankenstein film, starring Boris Karloff and you will be amazed at how many changes there are.

The Mary Shelley Club by Goldy Moldavsky The Mary Shelley Club – Goldy Moldavsky

This was a recent read for me. Being a big fan of Mary Shelley and Frankenstein, I went into this one with pretty high expectations and I was not disappointed. I found this to be a very enjoyable, fast paced read, and I read it in two days. This follows a girl named Rachel Chavez. She loves horror movies and they help her cope with things that she does not wish to remember. She is recruited by the mysterious Mary Shelley Club. This club does very elaborate pranks or what they call “Fear Tests”. Whoever has the scariest prank wins. The pranks escalate into something more deadly.  Think of this one as Gossip Girl meets Scream and I think that this one is perfect for the fall and spooky season.

Truly Devious by Maureen Johnson Truly Devious – Maureen Johnson

I am a sucker for a private school mystery. This story follows a girl named Stevie Bell, who is invited to be apart of Ellingham Academy. The academy was founded by Albert Ellingham, who wanted to make the school a place for bright thinkers, artists and inventors. When his wife and his daughter go missing, the only clue is a letter signed by “Truly Devious”, a mocking riddle that lists different methods of murder. Stevie’s first year at Ellingham starts with one goal in mind, to solve the cold case. This is the first book in this series, the following books continue Stevie’s story. This is a great mystery for Halloween. The other books in the series are The Vanishing Stair, The Hand on the Wall and The Box in the Woods.

 

New Chapter Books by Best-Selling Authors

Adults who love to read are very good at keeping up with the “book news” and knowing when a new book by a favorite author is being published. We often start placing people on the Hold list months before a publication date. Kids are not always as good at letting us know about upcoming books. Here are some of the new books by some very popular authors of chapter books. We try hard to follow the series, but we sometimes miss one, so don’t be shy about letting us know if we need to order something by your favorite writer.

Chris Colfer is the author of the best-selling series Land of Stories. He’s currently on book # 3 of  the Tale of Magic series, also set in the Land of Stories universe. In addition, he had a graphic novel come out at the end of June that tells the origin story of Goldilocks.

A Tale of Sorcery by Chris Colfer 

Kate Dicamillo is a two-time Newbery Medal winner and a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Her latest book surprisingly has a medieval setting and features a goat! The Beatryce Prophecy is also illustrated by Caldecott winner Sophie Blackall. You’ll recognize Brian Selznick as the author of The Invention of Hugh Cabret (also a great movie) and Wonderstruck. Kaleidoscope is probably best for older kids as the collection of related short stories is described as drifting through genres, time, and even space (Booklist).

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo Kaleidoscope by Brian Selznick

Gordon Korman is the author of over 80 books for children and teens. Linked tackles the subject of prejudice when a swastika is painted on a school wall. Jerry Spinelli is another perennial favorite. On Dead Wednesday, every eighth grader in Amber Springs is assigned the name and identity of a teenager who died a preventable death in the past year. The kids don black shirts and for the whole day everyone in town pretends they’re invisible–as if they weren’t even there. The adults think it will make them contemplate their mortality. The kids know it’s a free pass to get away with anything.

Linked by Gordon Korman Dead Wednesday by Jerry Spinelli

Who are your favorite children’s authors? Let us know what book you are eagerly anticipating!

Under the Big Top

Most of you are probably familiar with Sara Gruen’s break-out novel Water for Elephants. It was written in 2006 and turned into a movie in 2011. But have you read any of the other circus books we have in our adult fiction collection? Here’s a quick summary of six circus-related novels, plus one circus memoir.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

 

When his parents are killed in a traffic accident, Jacob Jankowski hops a train after walking out on his final exams at Cornell, where he had hoped to earn a veterinary degree. The train turns out to be a circus train, and since it’s the Depression, when someone with a vet’s skills can attach himself to a circus if he’s lucky, Jacob soon finds himself involved with the animal acts-specifically with the beautiful young Marlena, the horse rider, and her husband, August.  – from Library Journal

 

 

 

 

 

To Fetch a Thief by Spencer Quinn

 

 

To Fetch a Thief is the third book in Spencer Quinn’s Dog On It mystery series.

  • When the elephant star of a traveling circus goes missing along with her trainer, canine detective Chet and his human partner, Bernie Little, follow the missing elephant’s scent out into the desert, where some dangerous people would prefer that Chet and Bernie disappear. – from the publisher

 

 

 

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

 

 

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors.  – from the publisher

 

 

 

Silence is Golden by Jeanne Dams

 

 

This is Book 4 in the Hilda Johansson series by Hoosier author Jeanne Dams.

The time is 1903; the circus is in town (South Bend, Indiana); and Fritz, a friend of Hilda’s younger brother, decides he wants to join up and become a trapeze artist. Then the real trapeze artists, the Stupendous Shaws, disappear. So does Fritz, who eventually turns up hiding in a barn, brutally beaten and claiming that he was abused. To make matters even more confusing, Hilda’s brother, Erik, also vanishes. – from Booklist

 

 

 

The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day

Did you know that many traveling circuses used to winter over in Indiana. Cathy Day’s book The Circus in Winter is a series of interconnected short stories about the performers in one of those circuses.

Drawing on observations made during her own childhood in Peru, Indiana, home of the International Circus Hall of Fame, Day strips away the grease paint and costumes of clowns, elephant trainers, and steel-nerved acrobats to reveal lives as messy as any found in mainstream America. Meticulously researched and graced with a dozen lovely black-and-white historical circus photographs, this is a fun way to explore a slice of Indiana history.

– from Library Journal

 

 

 

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers

 

 

The Ladies of the Secret Circus shares some of the fantasy aspects of The Night Circus.

Lara Barnes grew up hearing tales of her family’s long-retired circus, and its allure never faded away for her as an adult. After her fiancé goes missing on their wedding day, she is understandably distraught, especially when it seems her mother knows more about the situation than she lets on. As Lara unravels the mystery with the town’s chief of police, she discovers more about her family’s past, including a different, secret circus that remains legendary decades after its last performance. This is recommended for readers who don’t mind genre-bending or who enjoy time-slipping fiction.

– from Booklist

 

Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi

 

Finally, a memoir: Cremonesi never set out to join the circus, yet this young woman from Oregon ends up swimming with sharks and riding an ostrich with one of Italy’s most famous circuses, Circo Moira Orfei. Cremonesi’s memoir is saturated with descriptive language and emotion, as she tells the story of how, at 23, she becomes a dancing girl in a traveling circus and falls in love with Stefano, the passionate Italian elefanti caretaker.  – from Booklist

 

It’s Unmentionable, But It’ll Make You Giggle!

Maybe we can blame it all on Captain Underpants, but the latest trend in books for kids seems to be UNDERWEAR! And nothing is more sure to make a group of kids giggle than just saying that word. Here are some of the newest picture books from the “undies” category.

Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds

 

 

This book by Aaron Reynolds is probably my favorite. It’s perfect for the 4-7 year old crowd, and if you enjoy it, be sure to also check out his book Creepy Carrots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attack of the Underwear Dragon by Scott Rothman

 

 

 

Who doesn’t adore a dragon book? The underwear is just icing on the cake!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster's New Undies by Tad Carpenter

 

 

Monster searches for a perfect replacement pair of underpants in this book by Tad Carpenter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something's Wrong by Jory John

 

 

Everyone has an occasional day when things just feel off. Could it be because you’re just wearing your underwear?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those Are Not My Underpants by Melissa Martin

 

 

Someone has left their underwear hanging near Bear Cub’s house? Which animal will claim the tighty whities?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laughing has been proven to be good for your health, so don’t delay! Go find some kids to share these books with.

Non-Fiction for Teens

The Shadow of the Fallen Towers by Don Brown

We’ve been working to make it easier for our teen readers to find the non-fiction books they enjoy! Now, at both the Aurora and the Dillsboro Public Libraries, there are special collections of non-fiction books written especially for a teen audience. You’ll find a wide variety of topics in these collections – history, crafts, biographies, poetry, social issues, science, and much more. Teen non-fiction even includes some books written in a graphic novel format!

We’ll be adding more books to these areas, so make sure you let us know about your reading preferences. Or, if you want to let us know anonymously, look for the paper surveys in the Teen areas.

Here are a few selections in some of the categories.

History

Bomb by Steve Sheinkin The Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin The Family Romanov by Candace Fleming

Crafts

The DIY Guide to Tie Dye Style by Welker and Spendlove Print Workshop by Christine Schmidt Rip It by Elissa Meyrich

Science

Phieas Gage by John Fleischman  The Race to Save the Lord God Bird by Phillip Hoose  The Secret of the Yellow Death by Suzanne Jurmain

Social Issues

Teen Guide to Student Activism by Stuart Kallen  Pride: Celebrating Diversity and Community by Robin Stevenson  Parkland Speaks edited by Sarah Lerner

Of course, these books are great for adults, too! I’ve found them to be very readable, and they often provide me with just the right amount of information on a subject.

Happy Reading!

Thanks for Sharing Your Talent!

Collage of Children's Books

Already in 2021, the world of children’s book publishing has lost some iconic authors and illustrators. Through the stories they wrote and the illustrations they created, our lives have been enriched beyond measure. Here’s a short statement about each of these imaginative people and some book covers to illustrate their work.

Eric Carle: Both an author and an illustrator, his book The Very Hungry Caterpillar has sold more than 50 million copies in 66 languages. His illustrations were primarily collage, featuring hand-painted papers. He also founded the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to ensure that picture-book illustrations, as an art form, would be celebrated around the world.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Beverly Cleary: Millions of kids have romped through the pages of Cleary’s books with Henry, Beezus, and Ramona. Cleary drew the inspiration for her chapters books from the kids in her neighborhood and the kids she served during her years as a librarian.

Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

Floyd Cooper: Cooper illustrated for some of the best-known children’s authors including Nikki Grimes, Walter Myers, and Carole Boston Weatherford, mostly in books that portrayed the African-American experience. His distinctive painting style created luminous illustrations in earthy tones as he helped to bridge the racial gap in children’s literature.

The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas and Floyd Cooper Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds and Floyd Cooper

  • Lois Ehlert: Author and illustrator, Ehlert was inspired by the beauty of the natural world. Her artwork featured brightly colored snips of paper as well as “found” objects such as buttons or feathers. She related how her parents encouraged her to be creative in her autobiographical picture book The Scraps Book. Her  book Rrralph is not her most beautiful, but it always makes me laugh! Some of Ehlert’s artwork reminds me of the work of Cincinnati graphic artist Charley Harper.

Pie in the Sky by Lois Ehlert Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Patricia Giff: Giff was a long-time favorite with children making the leap to chapter books. She also won critical acclaim with her historical fiction for older children.

Zebra at the Zoo by Patricia Giff Water Street by Patricia Giff Lily's Crossing by Patricia Giff

Norton Juster: Please don’t ask “Who is Norton Juster?” His book The Phantom Tollbooth has been a favorite of elementary students and teachers for many years. Filled with puns and other wordplay, it’s been compared to a modern Alice in Wonderland. Juster’s picture book The Hello, Goodbye Window earned a Caldecott Medal for illustrator Chris Raschka.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster

Kathleen Krull: Krull was the queen of the juvenile biography. I liked to select books for the library by Krull, because I always knew they would be accurate and highly readable. Her books cover people from a wide span of history and popular culture.

Charles Darwin by Kathleen Krull No Truth Without Ruth by Kathleen Krull  The Brothers Kennedy by Kathleen Krull

Ted Lewin: Both an author and an illustrator, Lewin paid for his art studies at the Pratt Institute with a side gig as a professional wrestler. Ted and his wife Betsy Lewin, also an illustrator, took much of their inspiration from their travels to exotic locations. When writing this blog, I was surprised to find that Ted Lewin did the illustrations for The Island of the Blue Dolphins, work reminiscent of the book illustrations of N.C. Wyeth.

Look! by Ted Lewin Horse Song by Ted and Betsy Lewin Balarama by Ted and Betsy Lewin

Ann Rinaldi: Rinaldi is well-known for her historical fiction written for upper elementary school students. Although she didn’t publish any new books in the last years of her life, she remained popular with students. In addition to many stand-alone titles, she also contributed two books to the Dear America series.

The Second Bend in the River by Ann Rinaldi The Redheaded Princess by Ann Rinaldi Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi

It’s never too late to discover these fantastic authors and illustrators!

Nature Magazines for Kids

I hope that you and your family are having lots of fun exploring the world of animals during our Summer Reading Program “Tails and Tales.” We have so many great animal books, but don’t forget to check out the nature magazines we also have for kids. These magazines all feature lots of amazing photographs, fun facts, and short articles. They’re perfect for sharing together or for your children to read on their own. The format makes a magazine an especially appealing choice for reluctant readers of all ages.

 

Reading about nature with your children will encourage their curiosity and increase their vocabulary. That can be reinforced with a nature walk around your community. Another option would be completing the Library’s Animal Scavenger Hunt (for Aurora or Dillsboro).

In addition to our printed magazines, you can also read digital magazines through the Indiana Digital Download Center. Just select the Aurora Public Library District and login with your library card number (no spaces) and PIN. Then look for the Collections tab and select Magazines. All of our digital magazines are simultaneous use, so no waiting ever! You’ll find National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Little Kids, and Animal Tales.

If you ever need help using our digital resources just call 812-926-0646, and we can talk you through the process.

Fun Eco-Fiction for Kids

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

 

 

Carl Hiaasen was well-known as a writer of adult novels featuring a wicked sense of humor. In 2002, he shifted gears and published Hoot for middle grade students. Slapstick comedy and an ecological message have made this a favorite of students and teachers. The book was named as a Newbery Honor Book and was turned into a popular movie.

 

 

 

 

Since Hoot, Hiaasen has written 4 more books for young readers – all featuring the same humor and environmental focus. Any of these would make a great family read-together choice.

Scat by Carl Hiaasen   Squirm by Carl Hiaasen

Flush by Carl Hiaasen    Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Animals by Steve Jenkins

I can tell you exactly why I love reading children’s books about animals. During my childhood, my home-town library had a summer reading program where you could read any kind of book and THEN there was a Smokey the Bear program where you needed to read books about animals. My sister just tolerated the nature books, but I loved them. Thank you, St. Simons Public Library!

I think one of the best author/illustrators of animal books for children is Steve Jenkins. His primary medium is cut paper, and he has illustrated his own books, he’s written and illustrated with his wife Robin Page, and he’s illustrated books for other authors like April Pulley Sayre. Jenkins’ books typically focus on one aspect of the animal world, such as relationships, habitats, camouflage, etc. You are guaranteed to learn something amazing with each of his books!

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins Animals in Flight How to Clean a Hippopotamus by Steve Jenkins

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins Sisters & Brothers by Steve Jenkins

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins  Living Color by Steve Jenkins

Look Again by Steve Jenkins How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? by Steve Jenkins Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails by Steve Jenkins