Pawcasso by Remy Lai

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

Have you ever thought that a little lie would help you fix a problem, or make a friend? When eleven year-old Jo meets a basket carrying dog that she dubs Pawcasso, he seems to be the answer to helping her make some friends nearby. The trouble is, the stories she has to keep inventing get bigger and bigger, until they are way beyond her control. In the meantime, the neighborhood gets caught up in a big fight over changing the leash law, and both sides make judgements about the other. Can Jo bring peace to the neighborhood and still keep her new friends?

I like how the author uses thought bubbles help us see what Jo is thinking as she wrestles with when and how to tell the truth, and how it can be tricky to make friends, especially when we are worried about what they will think of us. Pawcasso is an endearing character, and the human characters are all wonderful, too. Kids who like stories about animals, friendships, and easy mysteries might enjoy this book. Bonus: there’s an ice cream recipe that’s suitable for dogs at the end!

Located in Children’s Graphics (J GRAPHIC LAI)

A Wish in the Dark by Christina Soontornvat

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

In Chattana, all of the light is held and created by one man – the Governor. Pong, who was born in prison, believes that light is the key to freedom and hope. As the story progresses, he comes to realize that first impressions can be deceiving. Similarly, the prison warden’s daughter, Nok, must come face to face with what she believes about the world, and about herself. The setting feels both familiar and otherworldly, and draws the reader in gently.

This book has something for many different kinds of readers. If you like adventure, fantasy, mystery or books about friendship, this might be your next read. There are also themes of justice, hope, self-discovery, and bravery. I highly recommend this 2021 Newbery Honor book!

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC SOONTORNVAT)

How to Be Cooler Than Cool by Sean Taylor, illustrated by Jean Jullien

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

Everybody wants to be cool, right? So what does it take to be cool? Cat, Cockatoo, and Pig are pretty sure that the sunglasses they found on the playground are their ticket to being amazing, groovy, and just generally awesome. But showing off in the sunglasses leads to some outcomes they don’t expect, and they don’t end up looking as cool as they thought they would. Happily, Chick helps them see that what we wear on the outside isn’t the key to being cool.

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E TAYLOR)

Alone in the Woods by Rebecca Behrens

Reviewed by Andrea Bisordi (Library Staff)

Jocelyn and Alex have always been best friends, and their annual joint family vacation to the Northwoods of Wisconsin has usually been a time of ritual fun (donuts and jumping off piers, anyone?) But this year Alex doesn’t seem like herself, and the trip gets off to a strained start as Jocelyn feels like Alex thinks her phone is more important than anything else. An argument leads to disaster on their rafting trip, and suddenly they have no one but each other to depend on in the woods.

This is a great story for people who like to read stories about friendships, adventure, or who like to explore feelings. The author grew up in Wisconsin, and you can feel how much she loves to go “up north.” Great characters and suspense will keep you turning pages!

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC BEHRENS)