Category Archives: readers’ advisory

Troll Hunting


Not far from us, at the Morton Arboretum in Lisle, trolls are growing! Artist Thomas Dambo and a crew of helpers are making giant troll sculptures out of recycled wood. Right now if you visit the arboretum you can watch them working. When the sculptures are finished, there will be special activities. You can find out more at the arboretum’s website.

Want to know more about trolls? Here are some stories available from the library:


D’Aulaire’s Trolls by Ingri and Edgar Parin d’Aulaire
Describes the various kinds of trolls found in Norway’s mountains and relates some of the stories associated with them. (This is an older book, and the cover doesn’t give you a hint of the quirky illustrations inside, but it was a favorite of my college roommate.)

The Girl Who Spun Gold by Virginia Hamilton; illustrated by Leo & Diane Dillon
In this West Indian version of the Rumpelstiltskin story, Lit’mahn spins thread into gold cloth for the king’s new bride.

The Tomten by Astrid Lindgren; illustrated by Harald Wiberg.
Tells the story of Tomten, a little troll who talks to all the animals that live at a lonely, old farmhouse.

Picture Books:

Moomin, Mymble and Little My by Tove Jansson
Moomintroll travels through the woods to get home with milk for Moominmamma, meeting Mymble, who has lost her sister, Little My. The Moomins are characters from a comic strip popular around the world and translated into different languages.

The Steadfast Tin Soldier by H. C. Andersen; illustrated by Joohee Yoon
A retelling (with a troll jack-in-the-box) of the tale of the perilous adventures of a toy soldier who loves a paper dancing girl.

The Three Billy Goats Gruff
You can find lots of versions of this story at the library, including a lovely new picture book with illustrations by Jerry Pinkney.

Trouble with Trolls by Jan Brett
While climbing Mt. Baldy, Treva outwits some trolls who want to steal her dog. Jan Brett has written and illustrated several stories involving trolls.

Chapter Books:

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer
When a twelve-year-old evil genius tries to restore his family fortune by capturing a fairy and demanding a ransom in gold, the fairies fight back with magic, technology, and a particularly nasty troll.

Beyond the Deepwoods by Paul Stewart and Chris Riddell
Thirteen-year-old Twig, having always looked and felt different from his woodtroll family, learns that he is adopted and travels out of his Deepwoods home to find the place where he belongs.

Once Upon a Marigold by Jean Ferris
A young man with a mysterious past and a penchant for inventing things leaves the troll who raised him, meets an unhappy princess he has loved from afar, and discovers a plot against her and her father.

The Sea of Trolls by Nancy Farmer
After Jack becomes apprenticed to a Druid bard, he and his little sister Lucy are captured by Viking Berserkers and taken to the home of King Ivar the Boneless and his half-troll queen, leading Jack to undertake a vital quest to Jotunheim, home of the trolls.

Summer Reading Ideas

Once the Summer Adventure starts, you need something to read! Are you looking for some new ideas? Every year, the Association for Library Service to Children puts together Summer Reading Lists for kids of different ages, from babies to middle school students. They have other useful lists, too, like “Evergreen Audiobooks” or “Early Elementary” (beginning readers and early chapter books).

You can also visit the library’s eResources page to find Novelist K-8 Plus, which has lists of recommended books and search features to help you find read-alikes, reading level information and more.

Finally, here are some new lists of suggested books available from our library:

Kindergarten (printable pdf)     Kindergarten (link to library catalog)

First Grade (printable pdf)     First grade (link to library catalog)

Second Grade (printable pdf)     Second grade (link to library catalog)

Third Grade (printable pdf)     Third grade (link to library catalog)

Fourth Grade (printable pdf)     Fourth grade (link to library catalog)

Fifth Grade (printable pdf)     Fifth grade (link to library catalog)

New books featuring the history and culture of India

All about India

I is for India by Prodeepta Das
In this photographic alphabet book, is a celebration of India in all its colorful diversity, focusing not only on the rhythms of the bustling cities, but also on the village life in this vibrant subcontinent.

Indian Heritage by Tamra Orr
Indian Heritage in the Celebrating Diversity in My Classroom series explores the geography, languages, religions, food, and culture of India in a fun age-appropriate way.

Historical Fiction

Ahimsa by Supriya Kelkar
Gandhi asks for one member of each family to join the fight for independence from the British, and when ten-year-old Anjali’s mother is jailed for doing so, Anjali must step out of her comfort zone to take over her mother’s work.

The Night Diary by Veera Hiranandani
Shy twelve-year-old Nisha, forced to flee her home with her Hindu family during the 1947 partition of India, tries to find her voice and make sense of the world falling apart around her by writing to her deceased Muslim mother in the pages of her diary.

Fantasy and Adventure

Aru Shah and the End of Time by Roshani Chokshi
Twelve-year-old Aru stretches the truth to fit in at her private school, but when she is dared to prove an ancient lamp is cursed, she inadvertently frees an ancient demon.

The Serpent’s Secret by Sayantani Dasgupta
Up until her twelfth birthday, Kiranmala considered herself an ordinary sixth-grader in Parsippany, New Jersey, but then her parents disappear and a drooling rakkhosh demon shows up in her kitchen, and soon she is swept into another dimension, full of magic, winged horses, talking birds (very annoying), and cute princes–and somehow Kiranmala needs to sort it all out, find her parents, and basically save the world.

Art and Artists

Following My Paint Brush by Dulari Devi
Dulari Devi, who works in the traditional Mithila style of Indian painting, describes her life of poverty until a job working as a domestic for an artist led her to discover her own artistic talent.

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Outside In by Jennifer Bradbury and The Secret Kingdom: Nek Chand, A Changing India, and a Hidden World of Art by Barb Rosenstock both tell the story of a self-taught artist and his secret art project, the Rock Garden of Chandigarh.

The Patua Pinocchio adapted from Carol Della Chiesa’s translation of the book by Carlo Collodi with illustrations by Swarna Chitrakar
A Bengali artist interprets the story of Pinocchio with art in the style of traditional Patua scroll paintings, making Pinocchio a sort of trickster figure.

Picture Books and Comics

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Three picture books by Sourav Dutta tell traditional stories of Ganesha with comics and rhymes.

Pashmina by Nidhi Chanani
Priyanka Das has so many unanswered questions: Why did her mother abandon her home in India years ago? What was it like there? And most importantly, who is her father, and why did her mom leave him behind? But Pri’s mom avoids these questions and the topic of India is permanently closed. For Pri, her mother’s homeland can only exist in her imagination. That is, until she find a mysterious pashmina tucked away in a forgotten suitcase. When she wraps herself in it, she is transported to a place more vivid and colorful than any guidebook or Bollywood film.

History and Biography

A Children’s History of India by Subhadra Sen Gupta
Take a look at India’s history from ancient times into modern independence.

Gandhi for Kids: His Life and Ideas, with 21 Activities by Ellen Mahoney
Plenty of illustrations and hands-on activities help bring history alive.

I am Gandhi by Brad Meltzer
The popular “Ordinary People Change the World” series continues with a comic for young readers about Gandhi’s life and methods of nonviolence.

Be sure to check out our display in Children’s Services for more books for Asian Pacific American Heritage Month!

When I grow up and you grow down

CSD_Kid bookclubWe’ve noticed some new early chapter books by authors (or featuring characters) that are better known for a different age group.

The newest series is The Zach & Zoe Mysteries by Mike Lupica, better known for his middle grade and teen sports stories. The first two books combine mysteries with baseball and basketball. The mysteries are positive ones (instead of being stolen or even lost, a baseball is featured in a scavenger hunt). If you have a sports lover who needs to read a mystery and doesn’t want anything scary, this is a good choice.

Another series that’s been around a little longer is Calpurnia Tate, Girl Vet. Calpurnia was previously featured in two historical fiction novels. Although she is a little older in the new series, the books are shorter and easier to read. Still interested in nature, Calpurnia helps animals that range from fuzzy newborns and wounded butterflies to an owl and the family dog (who is entirely too interested in porcupines).

The last series is the Amelia Bedelia chapter books. This started with Amelia Bedelia Means Business, in which the familiar adult character from the classic easy readers is now a contemporary girl. She is still causing minor mayhem by misunderstanding figures of speech. In the latest book, Amelia Bedelia Digs In, she searches for buried treasure.

And in conclusion…

Recently I’ve noticed books being published that conclude or continue a series that started several years ago. Pick up a story that’s new to you!

The series: Joey Pigza by Jack Gantos

Starting with Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key, this was the first popular middle grade series to feature a boy who has ADHD. Joey’s stories are realistic and funny, told with lots of empathy. The newest book in the series is The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza.


The series: Tiffany Aching by Terry Pratchett

Beginning with The Wee Free Men, this series features Tiffany (who starts as a nine-year-old girl and grows to be an accomplished young adult witch) and the tiny blue Pictsies (AKA the Wee Free Men, who keep stealing her sheep). In the first adventure, she has to rescue her little brother after fairies kidnap him. This is a great choice for families who want to share the Discworld (and its wacky humor, wordplay and occasional deep thoughts about the real world) with preteens and teens. It also has lots of appeal for readers who love Hermione and other smart witches.

The series: Applewhites by Stephanie Tolan

In Surviving the Applewhites, Jake arrives at the Applewhite family’s Creative Academy after having been expelled from everywhere else. Each book goes back and forth between his point of view and E.D.’s (she’s the practical daughter of the eccentric, artsy Applewhite family). The funny, realistic stories will grab your attention. The whole school takes a cross-country road trip in Applewhites Coast to Coast.


Books for Autism Awareness Month

When Wendy asked if I was writing an article for Autism Awareness Month, I turned to a resource that I recently learned about from other children’s librarians. Disability in Kidlit is a website “dedicated to discussing the portrayal of disability in middle grade and young adult literature” written by people who have disabilities. Their Honor Roll includes two children’s chapter books featuring boys with autism, one a fantasy and one a realistic fiction story:

The Real Boy by Anne Ursu

A Boy Called Bat by Elana K. Arnold

You can find reviews of several more chapter books there, including some mixed ones by reviewers who feel that the authors did some things well but also got other things wrong. Another interesting feature is interviews with authors.

Another resource I have used in the past is the Schneider Family Book Award. This award is for “an author or illustrator for a book that embodies an artistic expression of the disability experience for child and adolescent audiences.” The page for the award also includes a bibliography of some recommended children’s books that feature characters who have disabilities. The list of award-winners and the bibliography both include some picture books for younger readers, which is outside the scope of Disability in KidLit. The jury that decides the award is supposed to be made up of people with “knowledge of disability experiences,” but they might not all have disabilities themselves. Looking through those lists, I only identified one picture book that featured a character with Autism:

Silent Days, Silent Dreams by Allen Say

New Things to Read for Earth Day

All That Trash: The Story of the 1987 Garbage Barge and Our Problem with Stuff by Meghan McCarthy

The Animal Book: Over 100 Incredible Creatures and How we Share the Planet with Them by Ruth Martin

Dark Matters: Nature’s Reaction to Light Pollution by Joan Marie Galat

Down to Earth: How Kids Help Feed the World by Nikki Tate

The Frog Scientist by Pamela Turner

Let’s Eat: Sustainable Food for a Hungry Planet by Kimberley Veness

Maker Projects for Kids Who Love Greening Up Spaces by Megan Kopp

Out of School and Into Nature: The Anna Comstock Story by Suzanne Slade

Sea Otter Heroes: The Predators that Saved an Ecosystem by Patricia Newman

What Milly Did: The Remarkable Pioneer of Plastics Recycling by Elise Moser