What’s Your Next Great Read? Book Reviews with Ms. Cecily

Are you looking for great adventure in far off lands or just looking for your first great chapter book?  Or somewhere in between. The library has something waiting for you!

Breaking Through the Clouds by Sandra Nickel Ages 6-9 Grades 1-3

Every wonder about who predicts the weather?  Joanne Simpson (1923-2010) was fascinated by clouds and studied them constantly.  When World War II started the Air Force asked her to teach their pilots about the clouds and the weather changing winds. After the war she stayed at the University of Chicago to study Meteorology even though the professors said a woman could not earn a Doctorate in Meteorology!  Read about this amazing pioneering woman scientist! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Luna Howls at the Moon by Kristin Tubbs Ages 8-12 Grades 3-7 (J TUB, Audio Libby)

This is the dogs story and a cat to tell. Luna is a Labrador therapy puppy and she  helps children with the holes in their lives. She’s a whisker away from reaching her fifty-visit pin that will make her an official therapy dog. But when her “clients”—the children who visit her—are put into a therapy group, Luna’s routine is upended. There are so many feelings to deal with! Like the moon, Luna shows different faces at different times. And her clients each have different needs—Beatrice is tangled in knots of anger, Caleb rushes like a waterfall, Amelia carries fear heavy like a shadow, and Hector is quiet as a rock. To comfort the kids, Luna can be what they need her to be, but can she be everything to them all at once? When Hector doesn’t show up to a session the kids set off to find him. Luna joins to keep them safe and learn the truth. Five wagging tails!

Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan Libby Audio Ages 10-13 Grades 4-7 (J RIO)

This is a Girl Power book! Our protagonist, Ana Dakkar, takes control of the Nautilus that has been lying on the bottom of the  Pacific Ocean under a volcano for 150 years.  She is the last living relative of Captain Nemo (you might want to read  Jules Verne’s 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea)! She is the only one who can unlock  the Nautilus and all it’s power! The first AI machine with many scientific marvels that is keyed to her DNA.  Fun, fast paced and a true girls adventure book.  Take charge you will love this book.  ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Ages 8-12
Grades 3-7

Do you have an imaginary friend? They can be helpful  to get you through hard times. A dog, a frog, a cat… they can be there for you when you feel alone like Jackson.  His family has fallen on hard times. The rent isn’t paid. There’s never enough to eat and his family may have to live in their minivan – AGAIN! It is a magical story about family, friendship, resilience and a very large cat named Crenshaw. ❤️❤️❤️

Absolutely Truly by Heather Vogel Frederick Ages 8-12 Grades 3-7 (J FRE)

Absolutely Truly has just moved from Texas to a small town in New Hampshire. With two older brothers and two younger sisters clamoring for attention, her mother back in school, and everyone up to their eyebrows trying to keep Lovejoy’s Books afloat, Truly feels more overlooked than usual. With her best friend in Texas and having to make new friends in January at a new school in record COLD New Hampshire winter and having to be tutored in PreAlgebra by her father what else could go wrong?  

So she pours herself into uncovering the mystery of an undelivered letter she finds stuck in a valuable autographed first edition of Charlotte’s Web she found at the bookstore that lead Truly and her new Pumpkin Falls friends on a madcap treasure hunt around town, chasing clues that could spell danger.  A good set up for the follow-up books in the series. ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Cress Watercress by Gregory Maguire Ages 8-12 Grades 2-6 (Libby Audio)

The Author of  Wicked turns his attention to Junior Fiction written in the vein of E.B. White or Thorton Burgess’ Old Mother West Wind.  In this animal adventure about growing up, moving on, and finding community. When Papa bunny doesn’t return Cress holds out hope, but her mother assumes the worst. Mama moves what’s left of the Watercress family to the basement unit of the Broken Arms, a run-down apartment oak with a suspect owl landlord, a nosy mouse super, a rowdy family of squirrels, and a pair of songbirds who broadcast everyone’s business. In the timeless spirit of E. B. White this read-aloud and read-alone for animal lovers of all ages features an unforgettable cast that leaps off the page in glowing illustrations by David Litchfield. It invites us to flourish wherever we find ourselves. A delightful tale with well developed characters! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Boris on the Move by Andrew Joyner
Ages 5-7 Grades K-2 (J JOY)

The perfect early chapter book with an unexpected adventure.  Boris lives with his mom and dad in a van that once traveled all over the world. Now it never moves… BUT when it does move, Boris is in for an adventure! Bright lively pictures help move the story along for the emerging reader who wants to move up to chapter books. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Back to School, Mallory by Laurie Friedman Ages 7-10 Grades 2-4 (J FRI & Audio Libby)

Mallory has to go back to school but it’s a new school and the new music teacher is HER MOM! And then there is a play for music class and she is an eggplant! This is the second of the series and a fun read that is full of 3rd grade angst! ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Lilly and Finn: A Mermaids Tale by Cornelia Funke
Ages 8-11 Grades 2-4th (J FUN)

When Mr. and Mrs. Snorkel decide to add a mermaid to their private zoo it spells trouble for Lilly and Fin, two merkids. In this story they learn that the 2 leggeds are mean and that the giant Kraken is actually a loveable sea monster. This beautifully illustrated adventure is sure to capture all two-legged chapter-book readers!  ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Masterminds by Gordon Korman
Ages 8-12 Grades 4-8 (Libby, Hoopla Audio, J KOR)

Another great page turner from Gordon Korman. You live in the perfect town, in a perfect house, with perfect parents, but you have never left  the town. One day you discover that you can’t… Perfect may not be so perfect any more! When you realize that your crime-free community is connected  to some of  the greatest criminal masterminds of all time! What if you found out that you were the clone of a master criminal?  ❤️❤️❤️❤️

Masterminds: Criminal Destiny by Gordon Korman Ages 8-12 Grades 4-8 (J KOR, Libby Audio)

The second book in the action-packed series from author Gordon Korman. The clones of Project Osiris are free—but are being hunted. After their narrow escape from their “perfect” hometown, Eli, Tori, Amber, and Malik are finally in the real world and determined to expose the leaders of Serenity. And Project  Osiris. They evade capture by breaking laws and sneaking into houses, hotels, buses, and cars—are they becoming the criminals they were destined to be?

What they discover will change everything. What they are looking for is any evidence that will convince the outside world to believe the truth. Eli, Tori, Amber, and Malik will stop at nothing to take down Project Osiris! ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Caterpillar Summer by Gilliam McDunn Grade 3-5 Ages 10-12
(J MCD (Bluestem) Libby Audio)

Wonderfully written flawed characters who when things don’t go as planned might fall apart but instead find family and friendship and start to fix some of their flaws. Heart warming story of Family, forgiveness, and growing up. This book started a little slow but  I was sorry when the book ended.


Becoming Muhammad Ali by James Patterson and Kwane Alexander
Age 9-12 Grades 3-7 (J PAT (2023 BLUESTEM ))

In this biographical novel we learn about Casscius Clay a young fighter from Louisville Kentucky. Then we learn why he decided to become become Muhammad Ali. ❤️❤️❤️❤️

What’s Your Next Great Read? Book Reviews with Ms. Cecily

Are you looking for great adventure in far off lands or just looking for your first great chapter book?  Or someone in between. The library has something waiting for you!

The Floating Forest by Linda Chapman

Age Interest: 6-9 Grades 1-4 Rating:4/5 ❤️❤️❤️❤️

This is the second book in the Mermaids Rock series. Mermaids and Mermen romp with their undersea friends. Join Coralie, Marina, and their mermaid friends in the beautiful coral reef at Mermaids Rock! Whether they’re working together to help sea animals in danger or solving a mystery of the deep, the friends at Mermaids Rock will do anything to protect their ocean home and if there is a ripple of adventure they will find it! This is the perfect series for those looking to transition to chapter books from easy readers.  Lots of pictures to go with the text. J CHA

A Girl, A Boy and A Monster Cat by Gail Gauthier 

Age Interest: 7-10 Grades 2-4 Rating: 4/5❤️❤️❤️❤️

This is the tale of Hannah, a know it all, bossy little girl and her classmate Brandon, who goes to her house in the afternoon until his mother comes home from work. She has an amazing imagination and Brandon is pretty good to put up with all of her antics.  Add in a difficult neighbor, her ferocious chihuahua, Bucky, and one big fat monster cat, Buttercup and they have plenty of adventures.  The chapters loosely flow together and each chapter is often a story in itself. Add a cute ending this is definitely a book a 2-4th grade girl would enjoy! J GAU

The Vanderbeekers of 141st Street by Karina Van Glaser

Age Interest: 8-11 Grades 36 Rating: 4/5 ❤️❤️❤️❤️

What do you do when  your landlord  says  your family has 2 weeks to move the week before Christmas?!  The brownstone, the only place the kids have ever lived.  The book is the story of the kids trying to win over the landlord so that they don’t have to move.  And the lessons they all learn over the two weeks. I really enjoyed this book .  It’s available on Libby as an audio and e-book as well as in print. If you enjoy this try the 2nd book, The Vandebeekers Make a Wish or the Penderwicks (J BIR) J VAN

The Insignificant Events in the Life of a Cactus by Dusti Bowling

Age Interest: 9-12 Grades: 3-7 Rating: 5/5 ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Aven is a hilarious and inspiring protagonist. She’s not happy when she has to leave the only home she has ever known and all her friends. Now she has to explain her disability to a whole new group of kids! Then in her new school she bonds with Connor, a classmate who also feels isolated because of his own disability. Together they solve a mystery and she finds out moving wasn’t so bad after all. It’s available on Libby as an audiobook and e-book as well as in print. Give this book a try; it’s a great read! J BOW

The Last Map Maker by Christina Soontornvat 

Age Interest: 8-12 Grades: 4-8 Rating: 5/5 ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

This fantasy adventure explores a girl’s struggle to come to terms with her past and chart her own destiny in a world full of secrets. Twelve-year-old Sai is the assistant to a celebrated mapmaker.  Sai plays the part of a well-bred young lady with a glittering future, but her father is a conman and she has no family to be proud of.  In a kingdom where one’s ancestors’ status dictates their social position the truth could ruin her. Sai takes a chance and joins an expedition to chart the southern seas, but she isn’t the only one with secrets. This tale of identity and integrity is as beautiful as the maps of old. Just beware of the DRAGONS! J SOO

Knight Owl by Christopher Denise (Picture Book)

Age Interest: 4-8 Grades:Preschool-3 Rating: 5/5  ❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️  

Owl has always dreamed of becoming a knight.  What he lacks in size he makes up for in bravery and cleverness.  He proves that all these things and friendship can rule over brawn. E DEN

A book of Camping and Survival  Projects by Ruth Owen

Age Interest: 8-11 Grades: 2-4 Rating: 4/5❤️❤️❤️❤️

Great book for all the Cub Scouts out there working on badges! J 613.6 OWE

Born Hungry Julia Child becomes “the French Chef”  by Alex Prud’homme

Age Interest:5-9 Grades: K-4 Rating: 4/5 ❤️❤️❤️❤️

This is a short  Biography of Julia Child. If you were born hungry you will want to know how this vivacious woman became a chef.  She started out life and could barely boil water, but any one can learn to cook and cook well. And that is what she did! At the end there is a bonus recipe of one of the first thing she learned to cook at Le Cordon Blue. J B CHI

Dodsworth in New York by Tim Egan  

Age Interest: 6-9  Grades: 1-4 Rating:5/5❤️❤️❤️❤️❤️

Colorful pictures on every page make this a perfect transition book from Easy Readers to Chapter Book. Dodsworth goes to New York on the train and discovers that his friends duck has stowed away in his suitcase. Once in New York, Dodsworth chases the crazy duck that misbehaves all over the Big Apple and sees the sights as he goes. Then they are supposed to go home but….  If you enjoy this book, Dodsworth also visits Paris, London, Tokyo and other great cities. J EAG

Nellie vs Elizabeth by Kate Hannigan

Age Interest: 7-10 Grades: 2-4 Rating: 4/5 ❤️❤️❤️❤️

This is the real-life adventure story of two ladies who set out to go around the world in fewer than the 80 days that Jules Verne wrote about.  In this real-life adventure, daredevil and groundbreaking journalists Nellie Bly and Elizabeth Bisland race against each other–and the clock–as they circle the globe by ship, train, and foot. Join these two stereotype-shattering reporters as they prove that not only is traveling around the world possible, but that women are just as curious, capable, and courageous as any man. If you enjoyed this story you might like to read Around the World in Eighty Days by Jules Verne. J 910.41 HAN

July Tween Read Scene: 2023 Rebecca Caudill Award Nominees

The Rebecca Caudill Award is given each year to the author of the book voted for most by Illinois 4th-8th grade students. To learn more about the award and Rebecca Caudill herself, visit https://www.rebeccacaudill.org.

Come in to the library to check out one of the outstanding 2023 award nominees below!

Amari and the Night Brothers by B.B. AlstonJ ALS (2023 CAUDILL)Ages 8-12
AR: 4.9
A High Five for Glenn Burke by Phil BildnerJ BIL (2023 CAUDILL)Ages 10-13
AR: 4.1
Lexile: 690L
The Blackbird Girls by Anne BlankmanJ BLA (CAUDILL 2023)Ages 9-12
AR: 4.8
The Benefits of Being an Octopus  by Ann BradenJ BRA (2023 CAUDILL)
Ages 8-12
AR: 4.9
Lexile: 770L
Fighting Words by Kimberly Brubaker BradleyJ BRA (2023 CAUDILL)
Ages 10-12
AR: 3.6
Marcus Vega Doesn’t Speak Spanish by Pablo CartayaJ CAR (2023 CAUDILL)
Ages 10+
AR: 3.9
Lexile: 580L
Efrén Divided by Erenesto CisnerosJ CIS (2023 BLUESTEM)
Ages 8-12
AR: 4.5
Lexile: 710L
The Only Back Girls in Town by Brandy ColbertJ COL (2023 CAUDILL)
Ages 8-12
AR: 4.4
The Total Eclipse of Nestor Lopez by Adrianna CuevasJ CUE (2023 CAUDILL)
Ages 8-12
AR: 4.7
Lexile: 740L
Scritch Scratch by Lindsay CurrieJ CUR (2023 CAUDILL)Ages 10-14
AR: 4.3
Lexile: 610L
A Thousand Questions by Saadia FaruqiJ FAR (2023 BLUESTEM)
Ages 8-12
AR: 4.8
Wink: Surviving Middle School with One Eye Open by Rob HarrellJ HAR (2023 CAUDILL)Ages 9-12
AR: 3.9
Lexile: 580L
When Stars are Scattered by Victoria Jamieson and Omar MohamedJ GN JAM (CAUDILL 2023)
Ages 9-12
AR: 3.7
Lexile: 530L
This is Your Brain on Stereotypes: How Science is Tackling Unconscious Bias by Tanya Lloyd KyiJ 303.385 KYI (CAUDILL 2023)Ages 11-14
AR: 6.8
Lexile: 910L
Chirp by Kate MessnerJ MES (2023 CAUDILL)
Ages 10-14
AR: 4.6
The Best at It by Maulik PancholyJ PAN (2023 CAUDILL)
Ages 8-12
AR: 4
Lexile: 620L
Black Brother, Black Brother by Jewell Parker RhodesJ RHO (2023 CAUDILL)
Ages 8-12
AR: 3.4
Lexile: 400L
All Thirteen: The Incredible Cave Rescue of the Thai Boys’ Soccer Team by Christina SoontornvatJ 796.52 SOO (2023 CAUDILL)Ages 8-12
AR: 7.2
Lexile: 1020L
Katie the Catsitter by Colleen A.F. Venable and Stephanie YueJ GN VEN (2023 CAUDILL)Ages 8-12
AR: 3
Lexile: 340L
Before the Ever After by Jacqueline WoodsonJ WOO (CAUDILL 2023)
Ages 10+
AR: 4.5


July 1-30
TinkerCAD Challenge: Create a Derby Car

4th Grade & Up
Registration begins July 1

July 11
Wild Explorers: Rockss + Geology | 10:30-11:15am

Grades 3-6 with a caregiver
Registration begins June 27

July 11
Mad Science: Growing Geodes | Video posted at 4:30pm

Kindergarten-6th Grade
Registration begins June 27

July 15
Chalk the Walk | 11-11:45am

All Ages
No registration required

Happy Reading!

Calling All Collectors…..

We are happy to announce the re-launch of display case collections featuring YOU!

In the Youth Department, there are 4 display cases that are available for kids (up to 8th grade) or organizations focusing on children to display their prized collections, art exhibits, or information on their organizations. The cases may be reserved for one month by calling, emailing, or stopping by the Youth Services desk. We will be happy to give you more details or sign you up!

Here are some photos from previous displays:

Insects or rocks or shells? Buttons or coins or bells? Even if you haven’t started a collection, click on the link in each photo for some inspiration to get started:

A quick search in PrairieCat also brings up a list of books to browse for possible collection ideas:

Start thinking about what you may be able to share with your library friends, or look around to find something to begin a collection… we need your help to fill these display cases!

Hope to see you soon!

Wordless picture books speak for themselves!

Often times I get ideas for this space by reading other blog posts. One librarian that I follow wrote about the wordless picture book exhibit at the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art which is located in Amherst, Massachusetts. Take a look to explore their website:

After scrolling through her page, I started to look around our library to see what we have to offer in this unique category… and now I am even more in love with these books! Below is a small sampling of books I’ve found on our shelves:

This search in PrairieCat shows what’s available for you:

One of the many great things about the wordless genre is the creativity and imagination it sparks. You can see something new each time you look through it. The story can change each time you pick it up. You learn to relax and “read” the pictures. They can spark great interaction as you share responses together. There is often more emotion involved as you examine the pictures and illustrations…and many other valuable reasons to explore this genre!

Playful Learning has a great article about this genre for more information:

Reading Rocket has more tips for enjoying your time with these books:

Check this list from Reading Rockets:

And this is our link to our GoodReads list of wordless books:

I hope this sparks your curiosity a little to come in and find some wordless picture books to share with your friends and family. I’m sure you’ll enjoy them as much as I do!

Dinos and Spiders and Fish…Oh My!

The library has been a busy place lately! We have had over 1200 of our young friends sign up for the Summer Learning Challenge, and more than 200 completed levels…that is phenomenal! The challenge runs throughout July, so be sure to bring in your colored sheets for your completion certificate, prizes, and bonus logs for raffle entries. Summer programming is back in action too, with photos below. Some of our nature encounters were planned (dinos and fishing) but the spider….not so much!

Recently, the Saturday program at the library featured the T-Rexplorers Dinosaur Discovery program. Kids (and parents) were treated to insider secrets about a dinosaur dig, spent time with an authentic fossil hunter, and had the opportunity to handle actual dinosaur bones!

Look at all those cool fossils!

When you visit us, if you’d like to know more about dinosaurs, information is located in the 560’s of the non-fiction and ER non-fiction section.

Rather unexpectedly one day, this mama wolf spider was enjoying herself in the storytime room. Miss Alissa and Miss Lizzo then corralled her and were startled when babies started hopping off her back!

See those babies exploring their temporary home in the cup?

They quickly called Mr. Phil to come and help wrangle these critters into one of our bug-catching kits.

It has a magnifying glass, so they were able to get some really good photos!

Look closely at the spider’s back…those are all the spiderlings hanging onto her!

Here are a few more close-ups:

For more information about spiders, visit the 595.44 section of the non-fiction collection,

and maybe go on a hunt of your own…but be careful!

Let’s Go Fishing is a popular program hosted by Miss Lizzo. Participants learn how to bait their hooks, cast into the pond, and release their fish safely back into the water.

The June session was a great success with quite a few catches:

Check the program guide for more info, call with any questions, or register online for the July session.

For books about fish in general, visit the 597 area in non-fiction. To learn more about the sport of fishing, try 799.1, or ask us to help you locate any of these books.

Whatever you might have an interest in this summer- whether it’s about science, sports, or summertime fun, you can be sure that we’ll help you find out more about it.

Stop in soon to check something out!

Summer Suggestions…

With the Summer Learning Challenge in full swing, it’s time to update our Staff Picks with the summer edition! Need ideas for summer reading? We have chosen some of our favorite books for you. Grab a book and a bookmark from the shelf near the main desk. Right next to our picks you will find the State Award Nominees display. You can get a head start on reading these books for spring voting or any school reading requirements. There is a fun bingo sheet to help you keep track of what you’ve read, or just a list to check.

Be sure to visit our Reading Colors Your World virtual library:

Now it’s time to….

This year there are “Art on the Go” & “Art on the Spot” activities. Be sure to learn about the artists featured and share your creations!

Look around in the non-fiction area to find out more about art (the 700 section) or artists (in biographies) or let us help you find whatever! We also have our Pinterest page with color themed books for summer reading:

Drop in, create, and hang out for awhile since we’re now in Phase 5 and comfy chairs are back!

See you soon!

Get Ready, Here It Comes…

That’s right…our Summer Learning Challenge sign-up is just around the corner with registration starting on Monday, June 7th. This year’s theme is “Reading Colors Your World” featuring the artwork of Oliver Jeffers and Herve’ Tullet. We’ve been busy adding colorful splashes all around the department to add to the excitement.

Stop in to register, pick up your activity log, and earn prizes. Complete any combination of the 24 activities to get a prize bag, virtual raffle entry, a completion certificate for school, and a free book! Bonus logs earn addition raffle entries!

The program guide is available in the library or online.

Colors are everywhere!

What is a cat’s favorite color?   “Purr”ple

Why did the crayon cry?   He was feeling blue.

If you have access to Pinterest, here are some book lists by age/grade levels for color-themed books on the New Lenox Library board:

Our next blog post will feature Staff Picks to help you get started, so mark your calendars to sign up on June 7th, and stop in any time for more information.

We can’t wait to help you color your world with reading!

The Early Bird Catches the Worm!

Looking for an activity that can reduce stress, improve your memory, develop patience, and sharpen your observation skills? Spring is a great time to start a new hobby or pick up where you left off last spring with bird watching!! You can start by looking and listening around your home. This is the season of nest building, egg laying, and baby birds chirping. Find out what kind of nest you see and what you can do to help our feathered friends in the area. In the process, you can enjoy nature and breathe in the fresh air! My favorite local webpage is the Will County Forest Preserve site…so much information is available about our surrounding area:


The Minnesota Department of Natural Resources has this cool guide to hear different songs of birds that are common to us too:

Q: Why did the little bird get in trouble at school?
A: Because he was caught tweeting on a test.

Here are a few of the books we have available in the library:

Don’t forget we have magazines, like Ranger Rick, with information too!

If you prefer e-books, here are search results from Hoopla:

The Audubon Society is a wonderful website to learn about all kinds of birds and some beginning birdwatching tips:

The following Audubon articles introduce you to birds in a greater area- the Great Lakes. You can compare the information with the more local Will County website to really become an expert!

The Happy Birder is another site that has great activities and resources to get started with birdwatching and learning about the great outdoors:

Remember to stop, look up, and listen to start this adventure with our neighbors in nature. Gather some background knowledge, a few simple supplies, and then head outdoors to begin your birding experience…

and Happy Birdwatching!

April is…. Awesome!

April is…. a time to rhyme and create because it’s National Poetry Month:

Learn about the National Youth Poet Laureate program featuring Amanda Gorman, who read her poem at the 2021 Inaguration:

April is….a time to play in the dirt:

National Garden Month has ideas and activities for you to read about, while we have books galore!

And check out these sites geared for kids:

The Spruce always has great ideas for families:

April is….a time to take care of the Earth:

Here are just a few of our books, cds, and dvds relating to Earth Day:

National Today explains its history and how to develop the mindset of making every day Earth Day:

Take a look at Hoopla on our website and find even more resources for Earth Day…including music!

Visit Little Bins for Little Hands and enjoy some crafts to celebrate the day:

April is an exciting month to grow our minds with the often overlooked genre of poetry, grow new plants as the weather is warming up, and grow our respect for this precious planet. Let us help you spark your creativity this spring!