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 http://www.wellesleyfreelibrary.org/Childrens/Reading_Suggestions.html.