Staff Picks

Librarian Assistant
My Pop Pop and Me
Smalls, Irene
Little, Brown 2006

This month I’d like to showcase an author who has written a wonderful collection of stories about family life. From grandparents, to girlfriends to father and son doing Saturday chores, these stories tell of being together and having fun as well as learning important lessons about growing up. One of my favorites tells of baking a cake with a special Pop. The language is full of rich sounds and the illustrations move with the words for a lively fun storytelling.

Irene Smalls has written gems that still speak to us today. The titles are:  My Pop Pop and Me, Jonathan and his Mommy, Louise's Gift, Because You're Lucky, Kevin and his Dad, Don't Say Ain't, My Nana and Me.

Youth Services Librarian
Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat
Jarrow, Gail
J 616.393 JAR
Balzer + Bray, 2012

Rockford Public Library has some great non-fiction in the Youth Department. Mysterious, mind-blowing and sometimes tragic stories are featured in many newer titles in the juvenile book collection including Blizzard of Glass: The Halifax Explosion of 1917, Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales: Donner Dinner Party, and You Wouldn't Want to Live in a Wild West Town!: Dust You'd Rather Not Settle.  Although some of the non-fiction topics may already be familiar to readers, a new youth book called Red Madness reveals a part of American history unknown to many.  

Just after the turn of the century, a strange and devastating disease ravaged the American South.  Thousands of men, women, and children were becoming ill with a strange red rash, diarrhea, and weakness.  Some people became mentally ill from the disease, and many, many died.  The disease was Pellagra, nicknamed the “Red Madness.” Doctors, researchers, and public health workers worked hard for years to find the origin of the horrific illness and a treatment.  Was it from bacteria?  Bad hygiene?  Or was the disease caused by moldy, decaying corn many poverty-stricken Southerners were forced to eat?  The book Red Madness reveals a true medical mystery and is a fascinating look into how one disease changed history.  (Read the label on the front of your package of bread for a clue to how Pellegra changed how we eat).  For middle to high school-aged readers.

Youth Services Librarian
Korman, Gordon.
Balzer + Bray, 2012

Donovan Curtis has never been known around school for being smart.  He is best known for getting in trouble and pulling all sorts of pranks.  One day, he pulls the worst prank ever:  he hits a statue at his school from behind and suddenly the giant orb the statue is holding is rolling down the hill toward the school gym, packed with students at a basketball game!

The Superintendent takes his name to tell him the consequences at a later time, but his secretary accidentally puts the note with his name on it in with the list of students to attend school at the gifted academy.  After a while at the gifted academy, both the students and teachers realize Donovan is not gifted.  Even though Donovan isn’t gifted, he does know about one thing the other genius kids don’t:  being a regular kid. 
Find out what happens to Donovan and the rest of his friends at the gifted academy in Ungifted