Staff Pick: Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith

Grasshopper Jungle is an outrageous coming-of-age story set during the end of humanity about two boys who are determined to record its destruction while also trying to save it. Austin Szerba is the narrator and guide to the end of the world. He writes everything down to insure there is a comprehensive history of life in Ealing, Iowa. He’s done this for years. Now that there is an army of hungry and horny six-foot tall praying mantises taking over, Austin records it all. Andrew Smith is known for writing compelling and completely unique teen perspectives and this one is his most outlandish yet. His no holds barred stream of consciousness narration is probably not for everyone, but when it comes to Andrew Smith, I will tear through it like no other. - Jeffrey W., YA Specialist

Staff Pick: In The Shadow of Blackbirds

In The Shadow of Blackbirds 

Cat Winters
97814197053041
Abrams/ Amulet, $16.95
No one expects the Spanish Influenza, and the residents of 1918 San Diego are paralyzed by their fear of contracting the disease. Among them is 16 year old Mary, mourning the sweetheart that she’s just lost in the war and grappling with her recently-discovered ability to communicate with the dead, a power that emerged in perfect synchronicity with the early days of American Spiritualism, which has got to be confusing for a wee teenager. The book is incredibly atmospheric and bananas creepy. Come for the spooky descriptions of coffin-lined streets and disease-ridden sick wards and stay for the remarkable writing. 
~Cristin
Staff Pick
Notable Mustaches
$5.99

Once I cut a lot of my hair off and taped it to my face because I wanted to see what it would be like to have a mustache. I was in my apartment, alone.  My apartment had horribly, horribly textured walls. In a broader sense, it was a very stressful time. The mustache did not look very good, and fell off sort of right away. But it made me briefly, wildly happy. The next day I told one of my coworkers about it and he said this was something I should never openly admit. But I have a big mouth. My old landlord used to call me Big Mouth, Little Head. Anyway, let’s say that you are less committed than I am. Let’s say you do not want to cut a bunch of hair off, or apply duct tape to your face, or achieve the world’s briefest, ugliest mustache, but you do want to achieve a wild happiness. This product is your solution. I know it’s not a book and, Matthew, you do not have to give me a voucher. But let’s be honest, these classic mustaches are the perfect ornament for your face.

- By Beth 

Staff Pick

Notable Mustaches

$5.99
Once I cut a lot of my hair off and taped it to my face because I wanted to see what it would be like to have a mustache. I was in my apartment, alone.  My apartment had horribly, horribly textured walls. In a broader sense, it was a very stressful time. The mustache did not look very good, and fell off sort of right away. But it made me briefly, wildly happy. The next day I told one of my coworkers about it and he said this was something I should never openly admit. But I have a big mouth. My old landlord used to call me Big Mouth, Little Head. Anyway, let’s say that you are less committed than I am. Let’s say you do not want to cut a bunch of hair off, or apply duct tape to your face, or achieve the world’s briefest, ugliest mustache, but you do want to achieve a wild happiness. This product is your solution. I know it’s not a book and, Matthew, you do not have to give me a voucher. But let’s be honest, these classic mustaches are the perfect ornament for your face.
- By Beth 
Staff Pick
Otter and Odder
James Howe, Chris Raschka
Candlewick, $14.00
A gut-wrenching love story for the ages, and a valuable message for people young and old. With illustrations by Caldecott winner Chris Raschka.
- Sarah G.

Staff Pick

Otter and Odder

James Howe, Chris Raschka

Candlewick, $14.00

A gut-wrenching love story for the ages, and a valuable message for people young and old. With illustrations by Caldecott winner Chris Raschka.

- Sarah G.

Staff Pick
The Insomniacs
By Karina Wolf
We’ve all been there:  “Need to sleep; can’t sleep; must sleep.”  Tick, tock.  Rise and shine.  When the Insomniac family can’t sleep, their quest for rest leaves sympathetic readers laughing in recognition and surprise.  Author Karina Wolf, a lifelong insomniac, creates quirky and appealing characters astutely rendered by Sean and Ben Hilts, aka The Brothers Hilts.  The Hilts invent a layered world of darkness and light perfectly attuned to the imperfect world of this sleep-deprived clan.  You’ll discover something new every time you read TheInsomniacs—especially if you’re reading by flashlight in the dark.
- By Yvonne

Staff Pick

The Insomniacs

By Karina Wolf

We’ve all been there:  “Need to sleep; can’t sleep; must sleep.”  Tick, tock.  Rise and shine.  When the Insomniac family can’t sleep, their quest for rest leaves sympathetic readers laughing in recognition and surprise.  Author Karina Wolf, a lifelong insomniac, creates quirky and appealing characters astutely rendered by Sean and Ben Hilts, aka The Brothers Hilts.  The Hilts invent a layered world of darkness and light perfectly attuned to the imperfect world of this sleep-deprived clan.  You’ll discover something new every time you read TheInsomniacs—especially if you’re reading by flashlight in the dark.

- By Yvonne

Staff Pick
A Tale Dark and Grimm
By Adam Gidwitz
"Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome." And gory, and irreverent, andhilarious, and completely original in the hands of debut author AdamGidwitz. Great as a solo read or read-aloud for ages 10 and up, or foranyone who likes their fairy tales with an abundance of death anddismemberment.
- By Cristin

Staff Pick

A Tale Dark and Grimm

By Adam Gidwitz

"Once upon a time, fairy tales were awesome." And gory, and irreverent, andhilarious, and completely original in the hands of debut author Adam
Gidwitz. Great as a solo read or read-aloud for ages 10 and up, or for
anyone who likes their fairy tales with an abundance of death and
dismemberment.

- By Cristin

Staff Pick
Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective
By Donald J. Sobol
Despite competition from shady neighborhood thug Wikipedia Brown, our boy EB is still exactly as awesome as he was when you were in elementary school. Anyone who makes it a decade on this earth without knowing this series should be held back from turning 11 until the situation is remedied
- By Cristin

Staff Pick

Encyclopedia Brown: Boy Detective

By Donald J. Sobol

Despite competition from shady neighborhood thug Wikipedia Brown, our boy EB is still exactly as awesome as he was when you were in elementary school. Anyone who makes it a decade on this earth without knowing this series should be held back from turning 11 until the situation is remedied

- By Cristin

Staff Pick
Moomin’s Winter Follies
By Tove Jansson
Heartbreak, hurt pride — winter. The Moomins decide to break from the traditions of their ancestors and venture out onto the icy tundra. A complex love triangle brings everyone to valiance and some to tears. A failed suicide attempt causes an avalanche of snow and disillusionment. Don’t be deceived by its appearance; this is a timeless drama.
- By Sarah G.

Staff Pick

Moomin’s Winter Follies

By Tove Jansson

Heartbreak, hurt pride — winter. The Moomins decide to break from the traditions of their ancestors and venture out onto the icy tundra. A complex love triangle brings everyone to valiance and some to tears. A failed suicide attempt causes an avalanche of snow and disillusionment. Don’t be deceived by its appearance; this is a timeless drama.

- By Sarah G.

Staff Pick
The Monster at the End of This Book
Fear and loathing on Sesame Street: Your child’s introduction to philosophy starring Grover as existential archetype. Are we not all monsters at the end of our own books? 
- By Cristin

Staff Pick

The Monster at the End of This Book

Fear and loathing on Sesame Street: Your child’s introduction to philosophy starring Grover as existential archetype. Are we not all monsters at the end of our own books? 

- By Cristin

Staff Pick
The Island
Marije Tolman
A beautiful follow up to Tolman’s first wordless picture book, Tree House, with an equally lovable and cleverly illustrated cast of characters. Tolman’s hand is disciplined but playful, her colors vivid but balanced. Give this to anyone from birth to old age, and they will be instantly entranced. 
- Sarah G.

Staff Pick

The Island

Marije Tolman

A beautiful follow up to Tolman’s first wordless picture book, Tree House, with an equally lovable and cleverly illustrated cast of characters. Tolman’s hand is disciplined but playful, her colors vivid but balanced. Give this to anyone from birth to old age, and they will be instantly entranced. 

- Sarah G.