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Librarian Top Picks for December

Check out the books JLG member librarians snatched up in December. From Pre-Kindergarten read-aloud picks to a healthy mix of Nonfiction titles, these December favorites appeal to a wide range of readers!

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      A Piglet Named Mercy

      by Kate DiCamillo

      Jul 2019

      Kindergarten Plus

      Mr. Watson and Mrs. Watson live ordinary lives. Sometimes their lives feel a bit too ordinary. Sometimes they wish something different would happen. And one day it does, when someone unpredictable finds her way to their front door. In a delightful origin story for the star of the Mercy Watson series, a tiny piglet brings love (and chaos) to Deckawoo Drive—and the Watsons’ lives will never be the same.

      Full-color gouache illustrations.

      A Wolf Called Wander

      by Rosanne Parry

      Jul 2019

      Intermediate Readers Plus

      Swift, a young wolf cub, lives with his pack in the mountains learning to hunt, competing with his brothers and sisters for hierarchy, and watching over a new litter of cubs. Then a rival pack attacks, and Swift and his family scatter. Alone and scared, Swift must flee and find a new home. His journey takes him a remarkable 1000 miles across the Pacific Northwest. The trip is full of peril, and Swift encounters forest fires, hunters, highways, and hunger before he finds his new home. “The Real Wolf Behind the Story.” Further information about wolves, and about flora and fauna of the Pacific Northwest. Author’s note. Black-and-white illustrations.

      Batting Order

      by Mike Lupica

      Jul 2019

      Sports Middle Plus

      On or off the field, Matt and Ben couldn’t be more different. Ben Roberson is an all-or-nothing player: he’s big, he’s bold, and he’s brash. Ben’s swing can hit a ball right out of the park—but that’s if he can get a hit at all. Matt Baker is small, and shy, and his stutter has him avoiding the spotlight—even if he’s the best all-rounder on the team. But while Matt knows he’s got the chops, a part of him has always envied “Big Ben” and his attention-grabbing charm. So it’s a total shock when Ben asks Matt to help him work on his swing. Because Ben can’t put the ball into play, and his showboating comes at the expense of the team. And even though Matt’s trying to help, Ben doesn’t seem to take him seriously, especially when it means toning things down. The end of the season is fast approaching—is there enough time for Ben to realize bigger isn’t always better? For Matt to understand that sometimes, being the bigger person means standing up for yourself? Or will they have to accept defeat?

      Owling: Enter the World of the Mysterious Birds of the Night

      by Mark Wilson

      Jul 2019

      Science Nonfiction Elementary Plus

      From Hedwig, the Snowy Owl of Harry Potter fame, to Winnie-the-Pooh’s beloved friend Owl, this wide-eyed bird of the night has found its way into young hearts and imaginations everywhere. Owling invites young readers into the world of real-life owls, to learn about their fascinating behaviors and abilities. Wildlife photojournalist and nature educator Mark Wilson presents a one-of-a-kind look into the mysterious lives of these distinctive birds. Dramatic images of the 19 owl species of North America nesting, flying, hunting, and catching prey are accompanied by information about the birds’ silent flight, remarkable eyes and ears, haunting calls, and fascinating night life.

      Glossary. List of places to see owls in captivity. Index. Metric conversion chart. Full-color illustrations, diagrams, and photographs.

      Just Like Rube Goldberg: The Incredible True Story of the Man Behind the Machines

      by Sarah Aronson

      Jul 2019

      Biography Elementary Plus

      Want to become an award-winning cartoonist and inventor? Follow your dreams, just like Rube Goldberg! From a young age, Rube Goldberg had a talent for art. But his father, a German immigrant, wanted Rube to have a secure job. So, Rube went to college and became an engineer. But Rube didn’t want to spend his life mapping sewer pipes. He wanted to follow his passion, so Rube got a low-level job at a newspaper, and from there, he worked his way up, creating cartoons that made people laugh and tickled the imagination. He became known for his fantastic Rube Goldberg machines—complicated contraptions with many parts that performed a simple task in an elaborate and farfetched way. Eventually, his cartoons earned him a Pulitzer Prize and his own adjective in the dictionary.

      Further information about Rube Goldberg. Sources. Reproductions of Goldberg cartoons. Full-color illustrations created with pencil and ink and digitally.

      The Strangers: Greystone Secrets

      by Margaret Peterson Haddix

      Jul 2019

      Mystery Middle Plus

      The Greystone kids thought they knew. Chess has always been the protector over his younger siblings, Emma loves math, and Finn does what Finn does best—acting silly and being adored. They’ve been a happy family, just the three of them and their mom. But everything changes when reports of three kidnapped children—who share the same first and middle names, ages, and exact birth dates as the Greystone kids—reach the Greystone family. This bizarre coincidence makes them wonder: Who exactly are these strangers?

      Girls With Guts!: The Road to Breaking Barriers and Bashing Records

      by Debbie Gonzales

      Jul 2019

      Sports Elementary Plus

      A celebration of the strength, endurance, and athleticism of women and girls throughout the ages, Girls With Guts! keeps score with examples of women athletes from the late 1800s up through the 1970s, sharing how women refused to take no for an answer, and how finally, they pushed for a law to protect their right to play, compete, and be athletes.

      Time line. Author’s note. Bibliography. Full-color illustrations done in acrylic ink and colored pencil.

      One-Third Nerd

      by Gennifer Choldenko

      Jul 2019

      Intermediate Readers

      Fifth grade is not for amateurs, according to Liam. Luckily, he knows that being more than one-third nerd is not cool. Liam lives in the Bay area near San Francisco with his mom and two younger sisters. Dakota is fascinated by science and has a big personality but struggles to make friends; Izzy, a child with Down syndrome, makes friends easily and notices things that go past everyone else. Dad lives across town, but he’s over a lot. And then there’s Cupcake, their lovable German shepherd, who guards their basement apartment. Recently, Cupcake has a problem—she’s peeing in the house. The kids need to make enough money to take her to the vet before their landlord upstairs finds out. And Mom and Dad have said if Cupcake doesn’t stop, they will find her a new home. But the kids will never let Cupcake go. Can they save her?

      Black-and-white illustrations.

      The Next Great Paulie Fink

      by Ali Benjamin

      Jul 2019

      Upper Elementary & Junior High

      When Caitlyn Breen enters the tiny Mitchell School in rural Mitchell, Vermont, she is a complete outsider: the seventh grade has just ten other kids, and they've known each other since kindergarten. Her classmates are in for a shock of their own: Paulie Fink--the class clown, oddball, troublemaker, and evil genius--is gone this year. As stories of Paulie's hijinks unfold, his legend builds, until they realize there's only one way to fill the Paulie-sized hole in their class. They'll find their next great Paulie Fink through a reality-show style competition, to be judged by the only objective person around: Caitlyn, who never even met Paulie Fink. Who was this kid, anyway—prankster, performance artist, philosopher, or fool? Caitlyn's quest to understand Paulie is about to teach her more about herself than she ever imagined.

      Nico Bravo and the Hound of Hades

      by Mike Cavallaro

      Jul 2019

      Graphic Novels Elementary Plus

      Got a problem? At Vulcan's Celestial Supply Shop, you can find the magical merchandise to set things right. The seasoned staff—a kid named Nico Bravo, a sphynx named Lula, and a unicorn named Buck—pride themselves on providing “legendary service and expertise in all areas of the arcane.” But Nico's world is about to be turned upside down, and it's all thanks his latest customer: Eowulf, the pint-size descendant of the monster slayer Beowulf. Determined to carry on the family business, this would-be warrior plans to slay Cerberus, the terrifying, three-headed hound of Hades. There's just one problem—Cerberus is the only thing preventing the hordes of the Underworld from entering the land of the living. Can Nico stop Eowulf from unleashing a zombie apocalypse?

      Full-color digital illustrations.

      Crossing on Time: Steam Engines, Fast Ships, and a Journey to the New World

      by David Macaulay

      Jul 2019

      Nonfiction Elementary Plus

      Prior to the 1800s, ships crossing the Atlantic Ocean relied on the wind in their sails to make their journeys. But the invention of steam power ushered in a new era of transportation that would change ocean travel forever: the steamship. This book artfully explores the design and construction of the most advanced—and last—of these steamships, the SS United States, and the life of its designer and engineer, William Francis Gibbs.

      Gatefolds. Afterword with photographs. Time line. Selected reading. Full-color illustrations.

      The Undefeated

      by Kwame Alexander

      Jul 2019

      Character Building Elementary

      Originally performed for ESPN's The Undefeated, this poem is a love letter to black life in the United States. It highlights the unspeakable trauma of slavery, the faith and fire of the civil rights movement, and the grit, passion, and perseverance of some of the world's greatest heroes. The text is also peppered with references to the words of Martin Luther King, Jr., Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and others, offering deeper insights into the accomplishments of the past, while bringing stark attention to the endurance and spirit of those surviving and thriving in the present.

      Author’s note. Further information on people and events in book. Full-color illustrations.
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