In the stacks: New chapter books for young readers

New chapter books for elementary and middle school readers are on the New Book shelves in all the kids’ areas at the public libraries. Look for Lemony Snicket’s new mystery “Who Could That Be at This Hour?” and Kate Banks’ new adventure (illustrated by Peter Sis) “The Magician’s Apprentice” as well as the others below.


“Behind the Masks: the diary of Angeline Reddy,” by Susan Patron.

Patron sets this story of murder in the Wild West in familiar territory: Bodie, California, site of her award-winning Higher Power of Lucky. Angeline doesn’t believe her father is really dead and is determined to prove he’s out there somewhere. Helped by friends, including Ling Loi, a young Chinese-American, and the debonair and mysterious Antoine Duval, and hampered by ghosts and a gang of vigilantes, Angeline works out what’s really going on. Besides being a solid mystery with an admirable heroine, this will also gives a good view of life in a frontier town, complete with descriptions of early doctoring practices, the terrors of vigilantism, and the realities of living in a small mining town.

“Three Times Lucky,” by Sheila Turnage.

I had a hard time putting this book down long enough to write about it: at eleven years old, Moses LoBeau has a best friend (Dale Earnhardt Johnson III), a part-time job (helping out at the Colonel’s café - as long as she doesn’t use the stove), and plans for summer vacation. But fishing, karate lessons, and the ongoing search for her Upstream Mother all get sidetracked when the café’s crankiest customer, Mr. Jesse, ends up dead. Now, people die in Tupelo Landing, North Carolina, sure, but they don’t go around getting murdered! Mo and Dale decide they’re the two most likely to figure out who the murderer is and put themselves to work. This is laugh-out-loud funny with just the right amount of sass and serious.

“The High-skies Adventures of Blue Jay the Pirate,” written and illustrated by Scott Nash.

This quirky and imaginative chapter book might have a hard time finding an audience owing to its inability to settle on an age group, but it will be someone’s favorite book ever. It’s the story of Blue Jay the Pirate, his crew on the airship Grosbeak, the unusual egg they rescue from a raccoon (and what hatches from it), and ends with a brutal battle between the oppressed sparrows of Briarloch and the greedy, bullying crows of Greater Thrushian. Charming illustrations, delicately colored, show Junco the navigator determinedly incubating the strange egg aboard ship, sentry sparrows Henry and Billy standing watch, and Gabriel the goose taking up arms against the crows.

“One Dog and his Boy,” by Eva Ibbotson.

Hal has wanted a dog forever, but his fastidious parents object to the idea of hair on the couches, puddles on the floor, and scratch marks on the furniture. But when Hal turns ten, something surprising happens: his parents take him to choose a dog! He knows which one is for him as soon as their eyes meet, and the little terrier makes it clear he feels the same way. They spend three glorious days together and both Hal and Fleck are deliriously happy, but when Hal comes home from the dentist, Fleck is gone! Worse than gone, really – he’s been returned because his rental period is up. Hal is heartbroken, and, miles away, so is Fleck. And Hal, who’s always been good at making his parents happy, sets out to make himself and Fleck happy instead. Would you believe they join the circus? This is Ibbotson’s final book (she passed away in 2010), and perhaps my favorite.

“The Worm Whisperer,” by Betty Hicks, illustrated by Ben Hatke.

Ellis Coffey’s town holds Woolly Worm Races every year, one where the winning caterpillar’s stripes foretell the coming winter and the winning human gets $1000. That’s enough money to get Ellis’s father the surgery he needs to be able to work again. And Ellis knows he’s going to win because he’s got a secret – he’s discovered that he’s a worm whisperer. Seriously. He’s met a woolly caterpillar that listens when he talks, and, in between doing chores and helping his mom get ready to sell blueberry jams and breads at the fair on the big day, he and Tink are in training. But disaster strikes just days before the race, and Ellis doesn’t know if he can bear to race without Tink. Does this mean Ellis’s dream of helping his dad is done?


Summer Reading is in full swing for kids, teens, and adults — patrons can read for prizes up to Aug.17.

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Margaret Brady Fund scholarship applications now accepted

Area students pursuing artistic excellence may apply for scholarships as part of the Margaret Frans Brady Fund.

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