“Chris Picks” January: Children’s Books

Here are this month’s great recommendations from staff member Christopher Jennings Penders! Click on a title to place a hold. To find previous Chris Picks just click on the “what to read” link at the bottom of this page or type “Chris Picks” into the search bar on our home page.


As I looked back over the last year of giving book suggestions, I realized one area I have neglected — Children’s Books! Here are some of my favorites:

Encyclopedia Brown
Donald J. Sobol
Wow! Talk about childhood memories. I was living in Branford, Connecticut, and attending Branford Intermediate School at the time. Now the school is named after the principal in charge when I was going there (Francis Walsh Intermediate School). It seems so odd to call it that after attending the school when he was principal.

I think I read every Encyclopedia Brown book while going to intermediate school. Leroy Brown is a ten-year-old trivia buff. With his encyclopedic sense of knowledge (hence his name) he solves mysteries in his hometown with the help of his friends.

I loved this series growing up in middle school and I recommend it to any middle school student. Pick one up and I bet you’ll be hooked.

One Fish Two Fish Red Fish Blue Fish
Dr. Seuss
This book and Hop on Pop are dear to my heart as my maternal grandfather used to read them to me all the time. I vividly recall seeing these two books in my grandparents’ living room sitting on the top of a headrest of a white chair, waiting to be read. One Fish… was returned through the book drop last week and I was flooded with memories of sitting in that white chair while my grandfather read from the book.

I loved the rhyming when these books were read to me and every time these two books cross my view I must set aside the time to read them again. Because these books were read to me by my grandfather, they have become my favorite Seuss books.

My Side of the Mountain
Jean Craighead George
I remember reading this when I turned ten or eleven. Even at that age, I was a voracious reader. My Side of the Mountain held me in rapture as I cheered for Sam to survive after he ran away to the Catskill Mountains.

Harris and Me
Gary Paulsen
During his tenth year, a young boy is sent to his aunt and uncle’s farm where he meets their son, his cousin, Harris. The two boys have humorous and wild adventures together that only boys can have. I laughed out loud while reading this book.

The Great Good Thing
Roderick Townley
I will again reference being a writer and being the writer that I am The Great Good Thing stood out for me for a specific reason. One aspect of writing, especially when I was writing fiction, was what happens to my characters when I leave something unfinished. Where do my characters go? Do they stay in limbo? Are they knocking on a proverbial door, begging me to return so they can complete their life, their story? What happens to them once the story is complete?

The Legend of Hobbomock
Jason J. Marchi
My longtime friend and fellow writer, Jason Marchi, published a book a few years ago about the origins of Sleeping Giant mountain in Hamden, Connecticut. Based on the legend of Sleeping Giant, Jason has re-imagined the story. The book is getting rave reviews from children everywhere.

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