Books & DVDs

Old MacDonald Had a Truck
Steve Goetz
Ages 3-6

We all know Old MacDonald had a farm, but did you know he also had an excavator, a front loader, a bulldozer, and a cement mixer?!  Kids interested in construction vehicles will love the detailed illustrations.  A fun rendition of the classic song. 

Aug 8, 2016
Chicken in Space
Adam Lehrhaupt
Ages 3-5

Zoey the chicken is determined to travel to outer space.  After finding a suitable "space ship," Zoey and her best pig, Sam, set off on their journey.  Though they encounter "asteroids," "comets," and "alien attack ships," Zoey and Sam return safely to earth and begin to plan their next big adventure. 

A cute, quick read for imaginative kids. 


Jun 6, 2016
The Girl in the Well is Me
Karen Rivers
Ages 10-13

"Help me, help me, please!" Kammie is trapped in a narrow well. Did her friends intend for her to stumble in or was it an accident?  Struggling to hold on, Kammie's voice is compelling as she recalls the events leading up to her fall. New in town, her family divided, and desperate to fit into a group, she has agreed to an "initiation" in order to be accepted by peers. Inspired by a true story of a toddler falling down a well, and dealing with issues of family hardship and bullying, this book really holds the reader's attention.

Jun 6, 2016
Maybe a Fox
Kathi Appelt and Alison McGhee
Ages 10 & Up

Ever since their mother died, Jules and Sylvie are nearly inseparable. So when Sylvie mysteriously goes missing, Jules is heartbroken.  In the midst of trying to cope with her sister's disappearance, Jules notices a red fox on her property.  Foxes are meant to bring the fox a sign that Sylvie will soon return?

A beautifully written book, definitely worthy of the Newbery buzz surrounding it. But be forewarned:  it's a tearjerker.  Recommended for children coping with death and loss.  A shouldn't-be-missed book for adults who enjoy reading Juvenile Fiction.


May 5, 2016
The Boys in the Boat
James Brown
Ages 10 & up

Now adapted for younger readers, the original adult version of this book was a New York Times best seller.  "The Boat" in the story refers to a crew of 9 college students and their 60 foot vessel and how the young men learned to rely on each other, working together to achieve victory at the 1936 Olympics. Compellingly, we hear the narrative through the experience of one of the rowers, Joe Rantz, who lost his mother at the age of 4, was abandoned once by his family at the age of 10, and forced to provide for himself from the age of 15.  It's a riveting tale of sacrifice, trust, and friendship in the midst of the Great Depression and the emergence of Hitler's Nazi Germany.  Highly recommended!

May 5, 2016
When Mischief Came to Town
Katrina Nannestad
Ages 9-11

After her mother dies, ten-year-old Inge Maria is sent to live with her grandmother on a small island off the coast of Denmark.  Set in 1911, Inge soon finds that country life is much different than the life she's led in Copenhagen.  Although she tries hard to behave in order to gain her grandmother's love, Inge's high-spirited, quirky personality often gets in the way. 

A funny, touching read that Pippi Longstocking fans will enjoy.

Apr 4, 2016
The Watsons Go to Birmingham—1963
Christopher Paul Curtis
Ages 8-12

The Watsons have a pretty good life living in Flint, Michigan, despite the cold that Mrs. Watson complains about. There is the “cry baby” youngest, Joey, the “smart” middle child, Kenny, and the “bully” oldest, Byron and of course Mr. and Mrs. Watson. When Byron pulls one too many stunts, his parents finally follow through with their threat to send him to his grandma’s house in Birmingham, Alabama. So the whole family packs up and drives to Alabama; but there is civil unrest in the South and the Watson family might be driving into the worst danger they’ve ever faced. 

Although there are serious issues addressed in this book, it is a rollicking story about the lives of one family told from the point of view of Kenny. Kids will be able to relate to Kenny who is often bullied by his older brother or his classmates while being at the age of trying to decide if he’s too old to play with things like plastic dinosaurs. Curtis creates a family that is a joy to read about and travel with as they go from Flint to Birmingham and back again in their “Brown Bomber” car and “Yakety Yak” playing on their portable record player. 


Apr 4, 2016
Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories (Compilation of The Julian Chapter, Pluto, and Shingaling)
R. J. Palacio
Ages 9-12

The three stories reviewed here are off shoots of the fabulous book Wonder by R. J. Palacio which does need to be read first in order to understand The Julian Chapter, Pluto, and Shingaling

Wonder, tells the story of Auggie Pullman, a boy entering school (middle school) for the first time in his life and how he copes with how others treat him. Auggie was born with a facial deformity and is often shunned by those who aren’t closest to him. While most of Wonder is told from Auggie’s point of view, several of the chapters are told from other’s perspectives, including his sister and friends, Summer and Jack. However, we never hear from the bully Julian’s side of things…until The Julian Chapter.

The Julian Chapter briefly recaps the fifth grade school year from Julian’s perspective including the real reason he didn’t go to camp with the rest of his class and his lack of remorse for bullying Auggie (and Jack) throughout the year. The burning question before starting the story was whether Julian would ever reform and realize that his actions were hurtful and wrong. This question is answered during Julian’s summer break, when he goes to stay with his grandmother in France. His grandmother quickly catches on to how Julian had been acting during the school year and decides to tell him a story of when she had to flee from the Germans in WWII and of the boy, handicapped from polio, who hid her until the war was over. The Julian Chapter is worth reading for Julian’s grandmother’s story if not for Julian’s change of heart. 

Pluto tells the story from Auggie’s childhood friend, Christopher’s point of view. Also entering fifth grade, Christopher is trying to deal with his bad habit of always forgetting his school stuff at home, choosing sides in his band group, and his parent’s talk of divorce. After forgetting his school work once again, his mom drives back home to get his stuff and gets into a car accident on the way. The accident makes everyone realize what is important in life. This was an enjoyable short story but not as rewarding as The Julian Chapter

Shingaling tells the story from Charlotte’s perspective, who had been one of Auggie’s “welcome” buddies at the beginning of the school year. Charlotte’s year is full of gossip, figuring out how to change her social status, and of her making new friends with her afterschool dance group who are learning to dance the shingaling. Some of Charlotte’s story was interesting, such as her budding friendships with Summer and Ximena and the mystery of the homeless man, but if stories full of Truth or Dare, quarrels over who sits at which lunch table, and gossip aren’t your thing you probably want to give this one a pass.

J FIC Pal Auggie & Me: Three Wonder Stories


Apr 4, 2016
Steve Light
Ages 3-7

When the Captain's ship proves to be unseaworthy, a young sailor shows his Captain how to barter in order to make the necessary ship upgrades.  A small button is swapped for teacups, teacups are swapped for rope, rope is swapped for oars....soon the two friends are sailing again in a new ship. 

Another fantastically illustrated book by Steve Light. Readers will love the detailed pen-and-ink drawings.

Apr 4, 2016
Ivan: The Remarkable True Story of the Shopping Mall Gorilla
Katherine Applegate
Ages 4-8

This amazing true story is recounted for young children with lovely illustrations by artist, G. Brian Karas.  Ivan was only 6 months old when he was trapped and captured by poachers in 1960s Africa.  For three years, he was raised in a home as a child, wearing clothes, eating a human diet and sleeping under sheets and blankets.  Then, when he got too big for his caretakers to handle, he was placed in a cell in a shopping mall, looking out a window while passersby gazed at him.  Eventually, amidst growing protest, a campaign was mounted to give Ivan a proper home.  Young readers and listeners are sure to be attracted by Ivan's touching and poignant experiences.

Apr 4, 2016

© 2016 William P. Faust Westland Public Library