Young Readers Advisory Board
A panel of young readers assists Jen Kraar, the children’s book buyer, in making selections for the bookstore. Each member reviews advanced reading copies of selected titles and writes critical reviews. Monthly meetings are spent having fun while sharing literary thoughts.
Applications and job description are available from Jen: jkraar@cityofasylumpittsburgh.
Meet our current panel:
Amelia B. likes Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, and other fantasy stories. When she is not reading she is drawing or playing video games.
Jake B. is a ten years old who loves action books such as Maze Runner: Scorch Trials. He has one dog.
Lilja H M. is a fan of historical fiction who loves reading, watching T.V., playing with friends and Hamilton. She loves cats.
Margo loves to read. She likes Harry Potter and Hamilton. She’s eleven.
Maria M. is an eleven years old who knows Arabic. She loves reading fantasy. A Wrinkle in Time and The Hunger Games are her favorite books.
Paris D. Is 12 years old and loves science and technology, origami, hiking, running, and swimming. His favorite books include Maze Runner, Hunger Games, and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy..
Peri V. likes mysteries and is in fourth grade. She likes the Harry Potter series and the color blue. When she’s not reading you can find her running or drawing.
Quincy S. is a fifth-grade student who enjoys acting, listening to Hamilton, and playing with dogs. She likes mashed potatoes.
Chance is 11 and likes history and reading. He has two dachshunds and spends a lot of his time playing tennis and the cello.
Reviewed by Peri V.
Iris and Lark are identical twins. Iris has always been the brave, smart, and somewhat boring one; Lark has been the artsy, clever, idea-making one. Together they’re Iris and Lark, but when their parents and principal decide that they should be in different classes, they start to change. Iris is not allowed to go to Lark’s after-school art program. Iris turns grim, Lark is... different. All over the city things are going missing. Iris decides it is up to her to keep her loved ones safe.
I liked the strong friendship between Iris and Lark. The kindness and fights with each other showed that they loved each other very much and would do anything for one another.
Reviewed by Amelia
This a good book for animal-lovers. The title tells us that probably a girl named Lety is going to do something that makes her shine. Lety just wants to write animal profiles at the shelter. Lety’s family speaks Spanish, so animal-lovers AND Spanish learners could really like this book. Unfortunately, a boy named Hunter also signed up for the job. So they have a contest that Lety isn’t sure about. The genre is realistic fiction, and it takes place in America (I don’t know where). It was sort of happy. I like when somebody gets a dog in the end.
Reviewed by Jake B.
Note: The author draws inspiration from Korean fairy tales and folklore.
The book is about a girl from a different planet who goes on a journey to save her brother. I liked the book because the characters are interesting. For instance, the main character Min is part human, part fox, so she can have these powers that are different from human ones—she can persuade others very easily, hear things from far away, and magically make things. Also, I liked that the events in the book take place in the year 1447, but humans on other planets have technology that is way more advanced than the mankind has to this day. They have technology that can let them go to different galaxies and planets. I also liked how humans in the book could see ghosts, so if someone you know died, then they become ghost, and they can watch you and do things with you, but the only risk is that ghosts give bad luck to people they stay with.
Reviewed by Maria
Shayla justs want to survive junior high with her friends Isabella and
Julia the "united nations" A good kind of trouble is what it sounds
like even though its like she is allergic to trouble. Realistic
fiction is the genre of this book some of the things that happen in
that book in real life like black lives matter as well the characters
are are easily relatable.One of my favorite part of this book is when
Shayla starst being rebellious like when she wasn't doing the things
her principal was saying.
Reviewed by Paris
This is great for people who like scary books. Sigrun and her family were enjoying a family night when the television show was interrupted by an economist talking about the crisis. A commercial followed that told them to skip the crisis and run out and buy the TimeBox®. Sigrun’s father immediately ran out and came back with three. Each entered their TimeBox® and everything went black. Sigrun woke up. Nothing was the same. What happened? I recommended this book for anyone brave enough to read it.
Reviewed by Jake
This book is about a Canadian-Korean girl Krista who at the beginning of the book does not have a good relationship with a lot of people including her grandmother, sister, and the girls at school. The book tells about how she resolves these conflicts. I like this book because you can learn about the Korean culture, for example, about different foods like kimbap and kimchi (believe it or not kimchi is stinky, so get your nose plug out peeps!). There is also a lot of drama going on in the book, so I would say this is for kids who like drama. I believe this is for 9-year-old kids and older.
Reviewed by Jake B.
This comic tells a story about two teenagers. One is Mera, who is Princess of an imaginary underwater world called Xebel. She goes on a mission to kill Arthur, Prince of another underwater world called Atlantas, that her father wants killed. She thinks that when she does it, she will rule Xebel by herself, and that is what she wants. Mera has many adventures on her way, and her quest turns out to be something different from what she expected.
I liked the book overall because I liked how the events in the book evolved. I really liked how you can easily understand what is going on, because the events do not happen out of the blue. I also liked the characters’ special features--that they can breathe underwater.
Reviewed by Jake
This book is about a time where the human race was shrinking severely within several years from a disease that was in food. The main character of the book is a boy, Griz, who is surviving with his parents. One day a robber steals one of his favorite things in his world—his dog—and then Griz goes after him. So the book tells about Griz’s adventures as he tries to find his dog. I liked it because I liked the setting and the main character’s goal was interesting.
Also reviewed by Chance
A breathtaking book filled with many dark and exiting secrets. The book takes place in an apocalyptic earth where almost all human life has been wiped out. Griz, the main character, is an ambitious kid who has his dog stolen one day. In anger he recklessly pursues the robber in hopes of getting one of his favorite dogs back. While pursuing the robber, Griz finds himself on an epic journey across a desolate wasteland.
Reviewed by Amelia
The Door at the End of the World is a brain-exploding-because-it’s-so-cool book and I would totally recommend it. It is obviously a door at the end of the world, but not in a way that you would think. It is actually one door at the end of one world. There are eight worlds in all. The main character is Lucy Esberlee, and she really wants a peaceful life with her boss, the Gatekeeper. The Gatekeeper guards and lets people through the door. But one day the Gatekeeper goes missing, and the door gets stuck. So they go to the government of the eight worlds, and find out all of the doors are stuck. It is a really good genre, fantasy.
reviewed by Peri
Rain had a brother, mother, and father. Now she only has her mother and her father. There was happiness, and storytelling. There was a large house and a great gardener in the house. Now there’s tense feelings, silence, and fear. There’s the worry nothing will be the same. Rain will find herself longing to go home, race around the school track again, longing for everything to go back to the way it was before the accident.
I liked Right as Rain. I thought the way the characters supported each other was kind and the way they acted towards on another was sweet. I think the age range would be 10 and up. Some of the content was a little harsh for younger ages.
Reviewed by Quincy
Cat and her younger brother, Chicken, are excited to spend the summer in Atlanta, with some of their closest friends. It will be a nice change from being cooped up in their three bedroom apartment in San Francisco. But when their good friends have to fly to India because of a family emergency, Cat and Chicken have no choice but to stay with their grandparents who their mother never even bothered to mention. Gillian McDunn must be an incredible writer, because this book is spectacular. I love the mystery and adventure elements that tie this intriguing story together. I think Cat is a very relatable girl and that’s just one of the reasons why she’s such an amazing main character. I highly recommend this book to anyone who loves mystery, island vacations, and fishing!
Reviewed by Paris
I was scared and excited to learn what was going to happen next in Gregory Funaro’s new book Watch Hollow. Lucy and her brother Oliver go on a journey with their father. There are strange things that are happening in a house. The story makes you get excited and scared while the surrounding forest is getting closer. A monster is lurking trying to get to the house but the sunstone is too strong. All the monster needs is fear. The animals need help or they will fail. There is a clock that needs repair but is quickly getting weaker. The story sucked me in right away. I would read Watch Hollow again.
Reviewed by Quincy
Anthoni Gillis has had a hard time making good friends. She has been going town to town with her mother her whole life helping her sell Beauty and the Bee cosmetics. She had used boxes of stationery writing to friends in many cities, but not a single one ever wrote back. One day, her mother announces that they are going to stay at the Showboat Resort on Thunder Lake. But when she hears rumors about a mermaid living in the lake, everything changes. I really loved this book and thought it was great! I like the smooth mix of mystery, action, friendship, and a little bit of fantasy. I liked how Josephine Cameron showed us so many different sides of the characters that you could really relate to. I absolutely recommend this book to anyone who likes mystery, friendship, and woodland adventures.
Reviewed by Llija
Cady isn’t used to stability after growing up homeless with her dad in San Diego. But when she has to move to Julian to live with her aunt Shell who owns a pie shop, her lives changes, and she doesn’t know if it’s for better or for worse. I loved this book about baking, family and growing up. I recommend this book to nine to twelve year old kids. Margaret Dilloway does an amazing job combining serious moments, funny moments and baking moments.
Reviewed by Charlie
This graphic novel is about girls on a space station with a three-headed cat named Princess Sparkle Destroyer of Worlds. When the cat gets lost, Sanity and Tallulah have to find it. This book was funny because of the situations the characters are in and because of what they say to each other. I liked the artwork and the setting, Wilnick Space Station. If you like graphic novels, I recommend you read this book.
Reviewed by Amelia
I could not put this book down it was so good. The title tells us about how a guy named Sal reaches through time and space and creates a hole in the universe. All Sal and Gabi want is for Gabi’s little brother, Iggy, to be alright. Unfortunately, Iggy is sick, and could die. Sal is a magician, and speaks a little bit of Spanish. Sal has a problem with being a magician and reaching into other universes. He can, without knowing, bring back his Mami, who has died. It is a cool fantasy story.I like the part where, in drama class, Gabi makes a lie detector, and he tells the truth about something, but the class doesn’t know what it is. It is a funny, brain-inspiring book.
Review by Peri V.
Henry and Eva lost their parents in a mysterious boating accident, so their awful Uncle Claude
and his girlfriend, Terri the Terrible take over their parents’ jobs in the house, but they also throw parties. One night, Henry and Eva slip out of the party like always, and they hear a wailing noise. The next
morning their ghost ancestors came and told them that their parents accident might not have been an accident at all. Henry and Eva go on a journey to find out if that’s true. Will they find out the truth? Find out in Henry and Eva and the Castle on the Hill,.
Reviewed by Anna
I love this book! Being a big sister to a Deaf really opens my eyes to a lot of new things, and I thought the author did a fantastic job writing about opening up to difference. I am very thankful that the author wrote this book because It makes me feel like I am not the only kid in the world that has been in a situation similar to this. Jilly had sudden change thrust upon her, and that’s what makes the book so great; it’s not your regular “perfect family” where everything is “ok” this book felt more real. Teaching us that life isn’t all perfect and reminding us to be strong, to stand up for yourself and others, to stand up for what you believe in, and to be open to change and difference.
Reviewed by Anna
I thought the the author was very imaginative about a house having chicken legs! This story is like no other. It had me feeling the character’s emotions, as if I were the character: excited, anxious, and pain went through me as I read this story. Each chapter more thrilling than the last. It really draws you into its world. This book reminded me of just how lucky I am to have wonderful friends and family.
Review by Amelia
This book is one of the best books I’ve ever read (And that’s a lot of books!). The title tells us that something… something, is missing from Charlie. Charlie just wants his little brother back. He also has a friend named Ana. He takes baseball, has a nice coach named Jonathon, and has a mother who has been dealing with severe depression. He finds out where his brother is, only to get stuck there himself! The genre is part fantasy, part mystery, and action-adventure. It was so good I couldn’t describe it! I loved all of it, and I strongly recommend this book for the bookstore.
Reviewed by Jake
This book is about a girl named Caitlyn who moves to a new school where she starts seventh grade. Her new classmates are upset because one of their favorite classmates, Paulie Fink, has disappeared and nobody knows where he is. They decide to have a competition for the position of the next Great Paulie Fink, and the book tells about their adventures during this competition.
I like this book a lot because the story is very interesting and it has many “elements of surprise.” It keeps the reader on their toes throughout. You will never guess who the winner of the competition is. I also liked the weird games that the characters play, like Zombie v.s. Werewolf or Ancient Greece topics, they are a lot of fun to read about, and I learned some Greek words.