Tag Archives: book recommendations

Girl Protagonists with Scientific/Detective Minds

Hello, Sweeteas,

To culminate Women’s History Month, here’s a list of books with girl protagonists with scientific and/or detective minds:

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

12-year-old Willow Chance is a genius with an obsessive-compulsive personality and an extraordinary knowledge of nature and medical conditions who’s in need of a family.

Echo Falls Mystery Series by Peter Abrahams

13-year-old Ingrid Levin-Hill is an amateur sleuth and a budding thespian. Not surprisingly, she’s also a devoted fan of Sherlock Holmes.

Enola Holmes Mystery Series by Nancy Springer

Enola is the 14-year-old sister of much-older and famous Sherlock Holmes. Throughout her investigative adventures she proves that she’s as–if not more– intelligent, talented, and resourceful as her brother.

The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate and The Curious World of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly

11-year-old Calpurnia Tate is happiest when making scientific observations with her grandfather. Her mother, however, wants her to conform to the social expectations of the time period.

Flavia De Luce Mystery Series by Alan Bradley

11-year-old Flavia de Luce has an extraordinary knowledge of chemistry, a fascination with death, and a talent for solving murder mysteries.

The Fourteenth Goldfish by Jennifer L. Holm

11-year-old Ellie Cruz’s grandfather is a scientist who has discovered how to reverse aging and has now returned to being 13. As Ellie helps him with his discovery and predicament, she becomes more and more interested in science.

The Higher Power of Lucky by Susan Patron

10-year-old Lucky has a brain full of questions, which is why she wants to be a scientist. She also wants to find her Higher Power so she can gain special insight into the uncertainties of life.

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett

11-year-old Early’s father has vanished, and she, her mom, and her brother are forced to move into a homeless shelter. Early uses her talent for recognizing patterns and rhythms to solve the mystery of her father’s disappearance.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee

11-year-old Ophelia doesn’t believe in things that science can’t explain. After her mother’s death, her father takes a job at a museum, where she discovers a marvelous boy who’s a prisoner of the magical and evil Snow Queen.

A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket

14-year-old Violet is the oldest of the Baudelaire children. Her talent as an inventor helps her and her two siblings escape many dangerous situations.

Three Times Lucky and sequels by Sheila Turnage

11-year old Mo LoBeau has a wild imagination and is always up for an adventure. With the help of her best friend Dale, she starts the Desperado Detective Agency.

The Westing Game by Erskine

Tabitha-Ruth (Turtle) Wexler, one of the heirs chosen to solve the book’s mystery, is an intelligent and underestimated 13-year-old girl who excels at playing the stock market.

The Wollstonecraft Detective Agency Series by Jordan Stratford

11-year-old genius Augusta Ada Byron (better known as Ada Lovelace, the first computer programmer) and 14-year-old adventurer Mary Wollstonecraft Godwin (better known as Mary Shelley, author of Frankenstein) combine their talents and abilities and set up the Wollstonecraft Detective Agency.

Wonder at the Edge of the World by Nicole Helget

13-year-old Lu Wonder has a thirst for knowledge of the mysteries of the natural world and wants to be a scientific explorer like her father. She embarks on a life-changing quest with her friend Eustace.

A Wrinkle in Time and sequels by Madeleine L’Engle

Meg, the heroine of the story, is an extremely intelligent twelve-year-old girl who has a hard time fitting in at school. Her parents are scientists and her youngest brother–with whom she has a special bond–is a genius.

Lastly, two classic series:

Nancy Drew Mystery Stories by various authors

Nancy Drew is a rich, talented, and intelligent teenager who enjoys spending her time solving mysteries.

Trixie Belden Series by various authors

Trixie is a farm girl who manages to discover mysteries all around her. She solves them with the help of her brothers and friends, who together form a good-Samaritan club called the Bob-Whites of the Glen.

Happy reading!

“There was a teapot, in which Mma Ramotswe — the only lady private detective in Botswana — brewed tea. And three mugs — one for herself, one for her secretary, and one for the client. What else does a detective agency really need?” –Alexander McCall Smith, The No. 1 Ladies’ Detective Agency

Comments Off on Girl Protagonists with Scientific/Detective Minds

Filed under middle grade and YA books

Black History Month / I Love to Read Month

Hello, Sweeteas,

February is Black History Month as well as I Love to Read Month. Awesome.

Here’s a fantastic website to help you find books by African American authors:


And you’ll find the Coretta Scott King award winners here:


The list of award winners includes March: Book Three by Congressman John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell:

March: Book Three is the final installment of the March Trilogy, a black and white graphic novel about the U.S. Civil Rights Movement, told from the point of view of Congressman John Lewis. It has won several awards including the Coretta Scott King (Author) Book Award, the Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in young-adult literature, the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award, and the YALSA Award for excellence in young-adult nonfiction.

Also, here’s the list of Newbery Award winners:


And last, but not least, three book recommendations from different genres:

1- Historical Fiction: Elijah of Buxton by Christopher Paul Curtis:

Of all of Christopher Paul Lewis’s books, Elijah of Buxton is my favorite. It made me laugh and it made me cry. This is the story of eleven-year-old Elijah Freeman, the first free child born in Buxton, Canada, a settlement of runaway African American slaves just over the border from Detroit. The book won a 2008 Newbery Honor Award, the 2008 Coretta Scott King Award, the 2008 Scott O’Dell Award for Historical Fiction, and the 2008 Canadian Library Association Book of the Year for Children Award.

2- Poetry: Poetry for Young People: Langston Hughes edited by David Roessel and Arnold Rampersad and illustrated by Benny Andrews:

Langston Hughes (1902-1967) was an American writer considered to be a primary contributor of the Harlem Reinassance. This is an illustrated collection of some of his best-known poems. It won the 2007 Coretta Scott King Illustrator Honor Award.

3- Folktales: The People Could Fly: American Black Folktales told by Virginia Hamilton:

The People Could Fly is a beautiful illustrated collection of folktale retellings. It won the 1986 Coretta Scott King Award.

Happy reading!

Why hasn’t someone invented an alarm clock that just hands you a cup of coffee? –Anonymous

Comments Off on Black History Month / I Love to Read Month

Filed under middle grade and YA books

2016 Favorites

Hi, Sweeteas,

Happy 2017! I counted the books I read in 2016 to see if I met my goal of approximately 1-2 books read per week (52-100). I read 76 books, so, yes, I met my goal!

Here are my favorites and why:

The Wolf Wilder by Katherine Rundell 2016 *****

In Russia during the reign of the Tsars, twelve-year-old Feodora and her mother teach tamed wolves to fend for themselves in the wild. Then soldiers come, burn down their cottage, and take Feodora’s mother prisoner. It’s now up to Feodora and the wolves to rescue her. Rundell’s writing style is gorgeous, and the story line is riveting.

Raymie Nightingale by Kate DiCamillo 2016 *****

Three unlikely friends each have an important personal reason for learning to twirl a baton and winning the Little Miss Central Florida Tire Competition. But, of course, only one can be the winner. A beautifully-written story with themes of friendship, perseverance, and self-discovery.

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown 2016 *****

A stranded robot learns about life by caring for an orphaned gosling and becoming an integral part of an island’s community of wild animals. But then her makers find her. An unusual and tender story about family and community values.

The War That Saved My Life by Kimberly Brubaker Bradley 2016 *****

Nine-year-old Ada was born with a twisted foot and can barely walk. Her abusive mother has not sought treatment for her and has never allowed her to leave their apartment. But when her brother is sent out of London to escape the war, Ada does something extraordinary: she sneaks out and joins him. What follows is the story of the difficult and tender relationship between Ada and her brother and the woman who is forced to take in the two children. The question is, what will happen after the war ends? Will the children have to return to their cruel mother? An inspiring story about family, courage, perseverance, and hope.

Maybe a Fox by Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee 2016 *****

Two close-knit sisters, Jules and Sylvie, are separated when one slips into a fast-moving river and disappears. Jules is brokenhearted and refuses to believe that her sister is gone forever. But as fate would have it, at the moment of Sylvie’s disappearance a “shadow fox”–half of the spirit world and half of the animal world–is born. A fox with a special connection to Jules. This is a beautifully-written mystical and poignant story about coming to terms with loss.

The Lie Tree by Frances Hardinge 2016 *****

Faith is a smart and knowledge-hungry girl in a time when girls either understood and accepted their place in society, or figured out how to manipulate the system, or rebelled and endured the consequences. Faith’s pursuit of justice and revenge for her murdered father leads her to discover a tree that reveals truth when fed lies. Her decision to use the tree proves to be life-threatening, but as a result of her ordeal, Faith learns empathy and self-respect. An exciting and thought-provoking book.

Chocky by John John Wyndham 2015 *****

Matthew has an imaginary friend. At least that’s what Matthew’s parents initially believe. But then Matthew tells them about Chocky, the being who lives in his head, and things get weird. The story is told from the point of view of the father and explores themes such as environmental stewardship and what it means to be human.

Breaking Stalin’s Nose by Eugene Yelchin 2013 *****

Sacha is a 10-year devoted Young Pioneer in the Soviet Union during Stalin’s Reign of Terror. His world shatters when his father, the best Communist he knows, is arrested. Sacha is suddenly forced to face the cruel realities of life under Stalin’s regime. A simple but powerful story about political indoctrination and oppression.

The Best Man by Richard Peck 2016 *****

Archer, a middle school student, has a bit of a hard time  understanding the complicated world of adults. He has four grown-up models: his grandpa, his dad, his uncle, and his new teacher. Two of his role models are getting married, and he will be the Best Man at the wedding. Archer wants to be the best Best Man he can possibly be. A humorous family and coming-of-age story.

Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk 2016 *****

12-year-old Annabelle is being bullied by the new girl at school. Betty, the new girl, is more than just mean; she’s also cruel, manipulative, and a skilled liar. When Betty turns her attention to Toby, a traumatized WWII veteran, Annabelle knows she has to do something about it. Lying seems to be the only option. But lies, even when told with good intentions, can have unintended consequences. A grim but powerful story about the prejudices that cause people to believe certain lies and the dangerous consequences of lying.

Happy reading!

“It’s coffee time! Coffee! Coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee, coffee!” –from the movie Dante’s Peak

Comments Off on 2016 Favorites

Filed under juvenile books

Spooky Halloween!

Hi, Sweeteas,

What a glorious October! I’m looking forward to a delightfully spooky Halloween. I hope you are too! 😀

Here are two well-known authors who write creepy ghost stories for young people:

1- Mary Downing Hahn (http://www.hmhbooks.com/features/mdh/) has been writing books for children for more than 30 years. She is best known for her “not-too-creepy” ghost stories and mysteries such as Wait Till Helen Comes (AR 4.6)*, The Old Willis Place (AR 4.2), All the Lovely Bad Ones (AR 4.5), The Ghost of Crutchfield Hall (AR 4.4), Where I Belong (AR 4.2), and her most recent: Took (AR 4.3). My favorite is Wait Till Helen Comes:

Twelve-year-old Molly, her ten-year-old brother, Michael, their annoying seven-year-old stepsister, Heather, and their parents move to a country house that used to be a church and has a cemetery in the backyard. Soon after, Heather starts warning Molly and Michael that an angry ghost named Helen is going to come for them. Is the ghost real? Is it really coming for them? And what will it do to them–and to Heather–when it does? A suspenseful, creepy story!

2-Dan Poblocki (http://www.danpoblocki.com/) is a writer of mystery and horror books for young people. His creepy reads include The Stone Child (AR 5.2), The Nighmarys (AR 4.8), The Ghost of Graylock (AR 4.8), The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe (AR 4.8), The Book of Bad Things (AR 5.4), The House on Stone’s Throw Island (AR 5.3), and his most recent: Shadow House: The Gathering (first books in the series) (AR 5.1). I found The Book of Bad Things to be particularly creepy:

Cassidy Bean is spending the summer in upstate New York, in a peaceful town called Whitechapel. But peace disappears when Ursula Chambers, an old hermit and secret hoarder, passes away under strange circumstances. The people of Whitechapel greedily start claiming the items Ursula left behind, which causes Ursula’s ghost to start appearing all over town warning people to return her belongings to her creepy farmhouse. Cassidy decides to solve the mystery behind all the spooky incidents and discovers that there are more bad things in the world than anyone can imagine. This book gave me nightmares!

12 more spooky/creepy books you may enjoy:

The Halloween Tree (AR 4.7) by Ray Bradbury

The Graveyard Book (AR 5.1) by Neil Gaiman

The Night Gardener (AR 4.9) by Jonathan Auxier

The Doll Bones (AR 5.4) by Holly Black

How to Catch a Bogle Trilogy (AR 5.2) by Catherine Jinks

From the Dust Returned: A Family Remembrance (AR 5.3) by Ray Bradbury

Something Wicked This Way Comes (AR 4.8) by Ray Bradbury

Horowitz Horror (short stories) (AR 4.6) by Anthony Horowitz

The Dark-Thirty: Southern Tales of the Supernatural (AR 4.6) by Patricia McKissack

Ghost Fever/Mal de Fantasma (AR 5.1) by Joe Hayes

Skeleton Man (AR 4.8) by Joseph Bruchac

Edgar Allan Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Madness (AR 8.8) by Edgar Allan Poe

Look for these spooky books in your school or neighborhood library.

Happy reading!

*AR = Accelerated Reader reading level

“As long as there was coffee in the world, how bad could things be?” -Cassandra Clare, City of Ashes

Comments Off on Spooky Halloween!

Filed under horror stories, middle grade and YA books

New School Year!

Hello, Sweeteas,

Happy first day of school!

Lots of new and not-so-new awesome books are waiting for you in our lovely library. Here are links to sites you  should become acquainted with this year (if you haven’t done so already) so you can find books you’ll love:

1- Lion: Search for books and other library resources (including online databases) in the Denver Public Schools library system.


2- DPL website: Search for books and other library resources  (including online databases) in the Denver Public Library system. (The NoveList K-8 Plus database is fantastic! [You must have a library card.] Go to the DPL homepage; click on research; enter NoveList K-8 Plus in the search bar; click on search; explore the site.)


3- Follett Shelf: Search for ebooks and audiobooks in our school’s digital collection.


4- AR Finder: Find information about books with Accelerated Reader quizzes.


I’ve read several outstanding books this summer that I plan to order for our library. Come visit me, and I’ll tell you about them (no spoilers, don’t worry.)

The Lie Tree by Francis Hardinge *****

The Chimes by Anna Smaill ****

Grayling’s Song by Karen Cushman ****

Hold Fast by Blue Balliett****

The Wild Robot by Peter Brown*****

Raymie Nightingale by Kate Di Camillo****

A Most Magical Girl by Karen Foxlee****

The Cursed Child by J.K. Rowling, John Tiffany, and Jack Thorne****

See you all at the library!

“Teapot is on, the cups are waiting, favorite chairs anticipating. No matter what I have to do, my friends, there’s always time for you.”  –Author Unknown


Comments Off on New School Year!

Filed under library news, middle grade and YA books

Feelin’ Groovy

Hello, Sweeteas,

Exciting things are happening at our library this month!

1- We have a lot of new, wonderful books in our library. Too many to list on this post! I will, however, mention and rate a few gems:

Beneath by Roland Smith ****

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby *****

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms by Katherine Rundell *****

I Lived on Butterfly Hill by Marjorie Agosin ****

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman *****

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson ****

Noggin by John Corey Whaley ****

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee *****

The Trap by Steven Arntson ****

X: A Novel by  Ilyasah Shabazz *****

You will find summaries of these books in Lion (DPS Library Catalog). (See Blogroll.)

2- February is African American History Month (also known as Black History Month). We have many outstanding books written about or by African Americans. Come take a look!

3- February 14 is Valentine’s Day. We have several sweet books about tween and teen love. Plus I’ll be handing out candy!

4- The Feelin’ Groovy Scholastic Book Fair will take place in the library February 23-25 during the school day and during student-led conferences. The fair will also be online February 17 – March 1. You’ll receive a take-home flier with information soon. Start asking your family for money to buy groovy books! Remember: all sales benefit the school!

And now for some book news:

1- Neal Shusterman won the National Book Award for his YA novel Challenger Deep about a teenager battling a mental illness.

2- Gene Luen Yang, author of the award-winning graphic novel American Born Chinese, was selected as the new National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

3- The American Library Association Youth Media awards are in. It’s the first time a Hispanic author (Matt de la Peña!) wins the Newbery! Here’s a list of the winners:


Some of the above books are already in our library, and others will be coming soon!

Happy reading!

“Put on the kettle and make some tea,
It’s all a part of feeling groovy.” — mod band The Jam

1 Comment

Filed under library news, middle grade and YA books

Holiday Reads

Hello, Sweeteas,

Winter break is just around the corner. I love that so many of you have come to take a look at the Holiday Books and New Books displays and have checked out awesome books to read during the break. 🙂

This holiday season consider reading a Christmas-related classic or two such as The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis or Little Women by Louisa May Alcott or A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens. You could read the books and then watch the movies. Happiness!

Here are more suggestions:



Happy holidays!

“Daughter of Eve from the far land of Spare Oom where eternal summer reigns around the bright city of War Drobe, how would it be if you came and had tea with me?” ~from The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis

Comments Off on Holiday Reads

Filed under holiday books, Uncategorized

Neal Shusterman

Hello, Sweeteas,

One of our favorite writers, Neal Shusterman, just won the National Book Award for his awesome YA book Challenger Deep.

Here’s the link to his website:


Congratulations, Neal!

A cup of tea is a cup of peace. ~Soshitsu Sen XV

Comments Off on Neal Shusterman

Filed under middle grade and YA books

Native American Heritage Month

Hello, Sweeteas,

November is Native American Heritage Month. A few fiction titles written by Native Americans or about Native Americans:

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Hawk, I’m Your Brother by Byrd Baylor

Eagle Song by Joseph Bruchac

Geronimo by Joseph Bruchac

The Journal of Jesse Smoke, a Cherokee Boy by Joseph Bruchac

Sacajawea by Joseph Bruchac

Anacaona, Golden Flower by Edwidge Danticat

The Birchback House by Louise Erdich

The Porcupine Year by Louise Erdrich

Julie’s Wolf Pack by Jean Craighead George

Paddle-to-the-Sea by Holling Clancy Holling

Annie and the Old One by Miska Miles

Sing Down the Moon by Scott O’Dell

All these books are excellent, but we need more, including recent titles.

We also have many interesting non-fiction books and several wonderful poetry books.

My favorite is a simple and beautiful older collection of Native American poems / black & white photographs titled Earth Always Endures. A treasure.

Did you know? The Ute Indians are the only Native Americans currently living in Colorado. You’ll find information on the history of the Southern Ute Indian Tribe on https://www.southernute-nsn.gov/history/ .

Happy reading!

“I’m just waiting to see if my coffee chooses to use its powers for good or evil today.” –someecards.com

Comments Off on Native American Heritage Month

Filed under middle grade and YA books

Spooky Reads!

Hello, Sweeteas,

Fall colors are peaking, and Halloween is 11 days away. Time to read a spooky story! We have several on display, so come check them out. Here are a few titles:

The Night Gardener by Jonathan Auxier

Doll Bones by Holly Black

The Book of Bad Things by Dan Poblocki

The Stone Child by Dan Poblocki

The Haunting of Gabriel Ashe by Dan Poblocki

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Coraline by Neil Gaiman

Wait Till Helen Comes by Mary Downing Hahn

The Headless Cupid by Zilpha Keatley Snyder

The House with a Clock in Its Walls by John Bellairs

The Spell of the Sorceress Skull by John Bellairs

Skeleton Man and Return of Skeleton Man by Joseph Bruchac

Ghost Fever / Mal de Fantasmas by Joe Hayes

Old Devil Wind by Bill Martin Jr.

Several Goosebumps books

A few classics:

The Legend of Sleepy Hollow by Washington Irving

Stories for Young People by Edgar Allen Poe

Frankenstein by Mary Shelley

Dracula by Bram Stoker

Something Wicked this Way Comes by Ray Bradbury

Plus many spooky short story collections including Ask the Bones, Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark, and Horowitz Horror.

The most recent titles on the list are The Night Gardener *****by Jonathan Auxier:

Molly and Kip are orphans who have taken jobs as servants at the decrepit Windsor estate. The family who live there look more dead than alive, and a mysterious gardener visits the grounds every night to take care of a creepy tree that has been growing into the house. It’s up to Molly and Kip to defeat the Night Gardener and break the curse that has fallen over the house and its inhabitants.

and The Book of Bad Things**** by Dan Poblocki:

The people of Whitechapel, New York, are claiming as their own the hoarded items of Ursula, a recently-deceased old hermit, and her ghost is warning the townspeople to return her belongings to her creepy farmhouse. Cassidy, who’s in town for the summer, decides to uncover the truth behind all the spooky happenings. What she learns is that there are more bad things in the world than she ever imagined.

Happy reading!

“Double, double toil and trouble;
Fire burn and caldron bubble.”
Add a bag of British tea;
Brew it strong for you and me. 

Comments Off on Spooky Reads!

Filed under horror stories