Staff Picks: Youth Services Staff Share Their Recent Reads

Posted by Aaron on

Recently the youth services staff at the Warrenton library went through a fun exercise. We each read and reviewed books from 2015 that have earned at least one starred review during the year. These are books that have been recommended by librarians from around the country.  Here are some of our favorites.

Red Butterfly by A. L. Sonnichsen

I was pleased to discover it is written in verse (other excellent books in poetry form I’ve read this year include Brown Girl Dreaming and The Crossover ).  This fascinating story (based on experiences the author observed when she lived in China) held my interest from start to finish.  It is about a Chinese girl who was abandoned at birth because she had a deformed arm.  She is raised by an older American woman in China secretly, because she has no legal documentation.  Eventually she is discovered by the authorities when her “mother” falls seriously ill and must be hospitalized.  The characters are all very realistic and the story flows smoothly through verse.  I did not find the poetry to be as rich and lyrical as either “Brown Girl Dreaming” or “The Crossover,” but would highly recommend it to others.
∼Ellen, Youth Services Assistant, Warrenton central library


A Handful of Stars by Cynthia Lord

This was an enjoyable read dealing with migrant workers in Maine and the prejudices they face in the communities where their work is so vital. This theme is woven through the main theme of what friendship means and how relationships grow and change. Unlike Pam Munoz Ryan’s Esperanza Rising, this story is not written in a specific time period. (A clue might be that no one has a cell phone!) This gives the lessons learned a more universal appeal to tweens and young teen girls dealing with friendship issues. And I learned a lot about wild blueberry culture, including the fact that Native Americans called them starberries – hence the title of the book!”
∼Nancy, Youth Services Assistant, Warrenton central library


Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

As Astrid looks forward to her last summer before junior high, she’s not prepared for the changes she’s about to face.  Things just aren’t the same when she realizes that she and her very best friend are no longer interested in the same things.

This book is about growing pains and that uncomfortable and distressing time when friends begin to grow up and grow apart …and it’s about Roller Derby!  Astrid is hooked when she sees her first Roller Derby “bout.” She  joins a team, but nothing about this sport comes easily.  So Astrid spends her summer being bumped and bruised in practices, literally –  and in her social life, figuratively.

I enjoyed this book because:

  1. Astrid stays true to herself by following her own interests.
  2. The book highlights roller derby rules and skills.
  3. The body shapes of the team members aren’t mentioned and are never a part of the plot.
  4. The writing seems realistic in that and the positive outcomes don’t come too easily.
  5. Astrid’s relationship with her mother is healthy, but not perfect.
  6. The art is top notch.

All in all, the rough and tumble world of roller derby in “Roller Girl” was made up of regular kids with thoughtful coaches and a healthy attitude of teamwork.
∼Becca, Youth Services Assistant, Warrenton central library 


I Am Princess X by Cherie Priest

“I Am Princess X” is awesome. Full stop. Years after her best friend died in a mysterious car accident, 16 year old May is shocked and disturbed to see depictions and advertisements for the superhero comic strip that they created popping up all over their hometown of Seattle.

This is a fast-paced thriller with great character development that has widespread appeal, but will definitely resonate with girl comic book fans and artists. Surprise twists abound, and the artwork sprinkled throughout the narrative is super cool. Suspend your disbelief for this wild escapist adventure.
Jennifer, Youth Services Librarian, Warrenton central library (who also loves the books that Ellen, Nancy, and Becca recommended!)

Looking for more book lists and staff suggestions? You can find more Staff Picks online or stop by the reference desk at your local library.




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