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.
Reviewed by Lilja
Mia had always loved living in the countryside of Vermont. So when she moved back there from busy Boston she was pretty excited. When her mom makes her do two-day camps she chooses Launch camp and Warrior camp. At first, Mia has little to no interest in these but when the camps begin she realizes that they aren’t so bad. While trying to save her grandmother’s cricket farm Mia reflects on a traumatic series of events from her past and what she can do about them. I really enjoyed this book about friendship, mystery and female empowerment. I recommend this book for ages 11 and up because it has some elements that are more mature.
Reviewed by Amelia. Amelia is in fifth grade and loves to read fantasy books and play with her French bulldog.
An adventure novel with an interesting story. Lalani lives out on an island in the middle of the sea. Lalani’s mother has fallen ill and she wants to save her. Her best friend, Veyda, tries to help her mother but does not succeed. The only cure to the illness is a flower, but it is out on an island, on a mountain called Ida. Many men have tried to sail out to the mountain but do not come back. It is a fantasy novel, with many stories included in it. It has a tense and suspenseful feeling to the story. I think the bookstore should buy it, in hopes that someone is as interested in it as I was.
Reviewed by Peri. A very inspiring story about a girl who has never met her father because he’s in prison for a crime he claims he never committed. At first, she seems skeptical he’s telling the truth. But, after some researching, her skepticism slowly melts away. It turns out that lots of innocent people have been accused for some terrible thing they never did. It’s up to Zoe to figure out if her father is innocent, and if so, why he was put in prison.This is great story choice because most kids have never experienced having a parent in prison. It really opened a window for me into what would be a very challenging experience.
Reviewed by Chance.
Your father has just died of an unknown cause. What will you do?
Annie Lee Fitzgerald is grieving the death of her father. What she really wants is to have her father back and to go back to her house in the suburbs. She can’t go back to her old house because her mother can not afford to live there anymore. But then the ghost of her father starts to turn the TV on and bake cookies. Could her life get any weirder? The book is in the mystery\action category. It is set in the present day. The mood was sad and humorous. My favorite part of the book was how she made a friend at a school she was new to. It was written in a beautiful way that really captures the reader's heart.
Reviewed by Peri. Peri likes magic and adventure novels and is in 5th grade.
Middle schooler Jade does not like her new home in Cincinnati. At first it seems busy and intense, deafening and active. She misses her Baba and her brother in Syria. Her life in America is so different. Will she be able to deal with the changes? This is not a typical novel, the format is like poetry. It is different and special. It is an important story and experience.
Reviewed by Anna P. who enjoys reading many book genres, but fantasy is her favorite. In her spare time she loves making puppets, photography, documentaries and short films.
I could not set this book down! It is a phenomenal story!! I liked how the author described everything so vividly, it was like an animated movie playing in my head. The main character, Mimi, loves to bake. She always tries to bake from her heart. Each treat that she makes always has a deeper story to go along with it. Mimi gets a chance to bake at a new cafe and finds a new magical friend along the way. Mimi discovers that even though her family doesn’t seem to have time for her, they will always love her just the way she is.
Reviewed by Jace
Finn and Faith are twins. Faith is evil and Finn's whole life he has been lied to by his whole family and is trying to figure out who to trust. He is trying to find a way to get help when everyone keeps leaving him. Eveb though this book is fiction, parts of the plot seem real because of the way the author describes them. I recommend this book because its just so different from many other books I’ve read.
Reviewed by Rhyse. Rhyse is in 5th grade and enjoys drawing, playing soccer, biking and messing around with her cats.
Stargazing is a graphic novel about two unlikely friends, Moon and Christine. Moon’s mother doesn’t make enough money to keep their home, leading them to rent an old unit owned by Christine’s family. At first, Christine didn’t feel so good about Moon, but soon became close friends with her. Overall, I thought that this book was exciting, fun, and shows what a true friend is.
Reviewed by Maria. Maria loves reading all genres while hanging out on her beanbag.
Leah is a girl who just got out of school for summer break and doesn't know what to do with herself until she gets lost and meets her new best friend Jasper on a rock. Together they make a place to hangout and escape the realities of the world. This book is Realistic Fiction with a hint of mystery set in Atlanta. It's about two best friends that would anything for each other. I would recommend this book who like friendship,realistic fiction. Laurel Snyder does an amazing job combing serious and funny moments.
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.
Review by Lilja
Jameela wants to be a writer, and when she becomes the features editor of her school newspaper everything starts looking up. Then her father has to go across the world for at least six months, her sister gets sick and Jameela’s whole world falls apart. I really enjoyed this take on Little Women and think that Hena Khan does a really good job incorporating real life struggles with happiness and the importance of family and friendship.
Reviewed by Marcela
Cog is about a robot who looks like an average twelve year old boy, but is built for what his name is short for, cognitive development. He lives with a roboticist named Gina who works for uniMind, the best company for robotics, and built him. He loves her and she loves him. But after an accident where Cog gets hit by a truck, uniMind takes Cog to a facility and away from Gina. The rest of the book is about Cog going on an adventure to get back to Gina, and on the way, he learns that not all people are nice. I liked this book because it shows how some people only care about money, and think robots should be controlled, and to Cog, that doesn’t make sense, because he was given the power to choose what he wants, and this book emphasizes the power of choice. I think the bookstore should by this book.
Reviewed by Rhyse
This is an excitable, enjoyable novel with many plot twists. Clementine must reverse a curse that was cast on her father and has a hard time deciding if she will or will not follow in her father’s footsteps. Clementine gains friends while straying from the path of evil.
Reviewed by Miriam
When Pippa Park is offered a basketball scholarship to a fancy private school, she suddenly begins juggling so much: basketball practices, difficult math homework, and duties at her older sister's laundromat. Add a mysterious cyber-stalker to the mix, and Pippa has bit off more than she can chew. I enjoyed this book immensely. Pippa Park is hilarious and smart, and her struggles with homework and staying on top of all her responsibilities are extremely relatable. Throughout the book, you will root for Pippa and her friends, wince as the consequences of too many commitments begin to affect him, and cheer at the end.
Reviewed by Lorenzo M. Lorenzo is in 6th grade and speaks Spanish.
Middle schooler, Eleanor Dross spends time with her grandfather. They are preparing for the end of the world, and she hates it. She doesn’t do that well in school, her only friendis is thinking of moving schools, so Eleanor is terrified of being alone. Then, one night while she’s surfing the web, she finds a website saying that an asteroid will crash into earth in April. After this, she tries to do everything to prepare with her grandfather and warn other people, but her dad is convinced it’s a hoax. I really enjoyed this book because it took something that seems like it would never happen, but made it seem like it was somewhat realistic. I also liked it because near the end of the book, Eleanor starts to think that maybe the asteroid isn’t that bad after all, because all the bad things about middle school won’t matter after the asteroid hits Earth.
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 Chance
The fowl twins are the children of one of the world’s most infamous criminal masterminds. When one of the twins find a small toy troll their life quickly changes. The troll is not what it seems. Suspicious corporations and evil humans are on the lookout for this troll. They go from being safe happy and content, to living in fear and constant untrust of the people around them. I recommend this sci-fi / fantasy novel for people enjoy humorous but heartstopping books.
Review by Chance H.
What they want most is to get off the planet they have crashed on.After crashing on a different part of the planet as usual, find mischief. This book is a graphic novel. This book is quite an amazing book. Set in the future and is of the sci-fi genre. I recommend this book to people who like sci-fi and graphic novels.
An eye-opening book about how different a Vietnamese refugee’s world is from my cozy warm-hearted house. A storm hits and floods their home, leaving them with just a little shelter so small that only would fit the family to sleep in and a bag of rice.This book is a soul-warming journey of how Yen's family survives this crisis.
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
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 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 Paris.
This book was hard to put down. The story is great and the illustrations are beautiful. It is about a wolf called Swift who changes his name to Wander by the end of the book. However, one day becomes separated from his pack after running from a rival pack who killed his father. It is about his adventure alone and his encounters with other animals on his journey. This book is great for those who like cliffhangers and a book they just can’t put down. One will have to read the book to learn why his name changed.
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 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.
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 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
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 Paris
Have you ever wondered if your favorite stuffed animal was actually alive? This book reveals the heroic purpose of Teddy bears for even the most skeptical kid. I loved how this story’s main character (a Teddy bear named Spark), loves and protects her kids. This story is full of surprises, creepy monsters that reek of oil, and children going missing. The curious and determined Spark sets out immediately to find the missing children. Will Spark be able to save her kids from the monsters and discover the secret of the missing children? Readers who like scary stories will love the adventure and enjoy the satisfying but not too spooky ending.
Reviewed by Margot
Nora Walker is a witch, like her mother, her grandmother and all the Walker woman before her. And just like all the walker woman, she has control of the Wicker Woods. One night, in the Wicker Woods Nora finds a boy. A boy that has been missing for two weeks. A boy named Oliver. And just like like Nora, Oliver has his secrets. Secrets he would do anything to protect. This book is mysterious, romantic and good for people that love magic and mystery.
Reviewed by Rhyse
This mystery book is about a frustrated girl who loves math. After a popular kid in school asks for her help with a ghost, she finds out about an unexpected legacy. She has to help a ghost to save Elizibeth’s father. She acts like a detective to gather clues about the past. I really enjoy a good mystery, so this book was very exiting to me.
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 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.
Review by Lilja H-M. Lilja is a sixth grader who enjoys reading fantasys, drawing and hanging out with her friends and her cats.
Nandu loves to ride elephants. But when riding his beloved elephant proves dangerous, Nandu must take desperate measures to protect his elephant. This is an amazing, eye-opening book about protecting wildlife and the connection between an elephant and a boy. This author wrote What Elephants Know and many other books about wilderness and animals. Circle of Elephants is the sequel to that book but will make sense even if you haven't read the first one.
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,.