Monday, December 29, 2014

What WFL Children's Librarians are reading (and loving)

Do you ever wonder what the WFL Children's Librarians are reading?  While we can't read every Children's and Youth book out there, we try to keep up with the best of the best, the most popular books, and also those that interest us personally!

Here are some books that I've read recently (and enjoyed):

Picture Book:

Sophie's Terrible Twos by Rosemary Wells

You generally can't go wrong with Rosemary Wells, creator of the beloved Max and Ruby characters.  I have been reading her newest book, Sophie's Terrible Twos, with my toddler nearly every day for the last few weeks and she can't get enough.  Sophie is a mouse who just turned two and "got up on the wrong side of the crib."  After a grumpy morning she goes out on the town with her granny and comes home with an unexpected surprise!

Children's Fiction:

The Other Half of my Heart by Sundee T. Frazier

This book caught my attention when it was nominated from the Massachusetts Children's Book Award last year, and I'm so glad I finally got a chance to read it! It tells the story of biracial twins who look very different: one with their father's light skin and fine hair and one with their mother's dark skin and curly hair.  The girls travel from their small and very white town in Washington State to North Carolina to stay with their grandmother and participate in the Miss Black Pearl Preteen of America program.  Throughout their trip and experience with the pageant/program, both girls develop new understandings of identity, prejudice, bravery, wisdom, and sisterhood.  While this book could potentially read like an after-school special or a didactic tale, it does neither, instead presenting important lessons along with a rich plot and a story that is a joy to read.

Young Adult Fiction:

Far Far Away by Tom McNeal

I'll be honest that I had no interest in reading this book when I first heard of it.  There was something about the description and the cover (and let's be honest, we do judge books by their covers at times) that seemed unappealing to me.  But after the umpteenth award nomination and starred review, I felt it was my duty to give it a try.  And I am so very glad I did!  Although a completely bizarre premise - it is narrated by Jacob Grimm, who, as a ghost, accompanies the main character throughout his life in small-town America - the plot draws you in and then takes unexpected turn after unexpected turn.  From teenage romance to fairy tales and game shows, there is nothing formulaic or predictable about Far Far Away.  I can't say too much more other than that a very satisfying ending (as opposed to a cliff-hanger) is much appreciated in a YA novel these days, and this book certainly delivered.

Monday, December 22, 2014

Free ebooks for Winter Vacation Reading!

Looking for ebooks for your kids over Winter Vacation?  Visit the Kids Digital Reading Room through the Minuteman Library Network at for free ebooks and downloadable audiobooks!  Be sure to log-in with your library card to view all available titles.

Additionally, this winter StarWalk KidsMedia is offering free access to its 520 ebook collection from December 24 through January 5!  It is completely FREE of charge for anyone with Internet access - no passwords, no logins!  Visit beginning on December 24 to start reading!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Great gifts for Middle Schoolers: graphic novels!

Looking for something new and fun to read?  Look no further than our latest additions to the Youth Room Graphic Novel section! These books would also make great holiday gifts for avid Middle School graphic novel readers!

The latest from Raina Telgemeier (author/illustrator of Smile and Drama) about her relationship with her sister over the course of a family cross-country trip.

The Graveyard book  
Graphic Novel version of the dark Newbery-medal-winning book about a young orphan who is adopted by ghosts in a graveyard.

The Shadow Hero 
Well-known graphic novel author Gene Luen Yang invents an origin story for the not-well-known superhero, The Green Turtle, the first Asian-American superhero character.


Through the Woods 
This is a spooky collection of fairy-tales gone wrong.  Not for the faint-of-heart, grizzly tales are made even more dark by haunting illustrations.


Shackleton: Antarctic Odyssey 
This non-fiction graphic novel portrays the travels of Earnest Shackleton as he explored the Antarctic. 


Lies in the Dust: A Tale of Remorse from the Salem Witch Trials 
A letter of apology from Ann Putnam Jr., a key witness in the Salem Witch Trials, comes to life in this graphic novel.


El Deafo
An autobiographical story about a girl navigating making friends and fitting in while using a hearing aid.

The Dumbest Idea Ever 
This fun autobiographical graphic novel tells of how the author discovered his love of comics and illustrations while bedridden, after missing out on his championship basketball game due to illness.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Happy Computer Science Education Week!

Happy Computer Science Education Week from the Wellesley Free Library Children's Department!

Be sure to check out this month's app list of computer coding apps for kids, also available in paper form at the WFL.  We will also feature science and math apps this month on our wall-mounted ipads.

This Wednesday's Hour of Code program for Middle Schoolers is completely full, but you can still check out free Hour of Code tutorials for kids of all ages at

Monday, December 1, 2014

How to find the perfect book

Today I had an interesting request from a young patron.  They were looking for a historical fiction book for a book review project.  But this was not all...  This young patron specifically wanted a historical fiction book that was funny, that took place in the 19th century, AND that prominently featured animals!  Although the librarian's mental catalog of the right book for the right child at the right time is vast, nothing jumped to mind for this specific request. Luckily, I knew just where to look!  Through the Wellesley Free Library website, all patrons (and library staff) have access to NoveList, a fantastic fiction recommendation website, and even better book-finder tool!  NoveList is so useful because it searches many elements of a book.  Open up the advanced search function and you will find everything from Lexile range, to Author's Cultural Identity, to number of pages.  The general search box allows for a wide keyword search, as it searches full book summaries.  So when you are looking for that book that you read once, and it might have been about a doll and a grandmother and Thanksgiving, these thoughts are usually enough to take you through a successful NoveList search.

Another great feature of NoveList is its read-alikes feature.  If there is a book you have read recently, find it on NoveList and check out the read-alikes listed on the right.  None of those look good to you?  Scroll down to "Search for More" and click the checkboxes next to the aspects of the book you liked the most.  While some kids might like Harry Potter because of the wizardry and the detailed writing style and go for books by Diana Wynne Jones, others might like it because it was suspenseful, fast-paced, and had a boy main character, and prefer read-alikes such as Artemis Fowl or Gregor the Overlander.  NoveList does a great job of helping to pull out the features of a particular book, and find similar books.

Once you have found a book, use the "Search the Minuteman Catalog" link to check if the Wellesley Free Library, or another network library, has a copy available!

Because there are so many features to this tool, feel free to ask a librarian to show you how it works the next time you visit the library! And check out our other book recommendation tools and booklists on our website at