April Book Highlights

Updated: Jun 29

April has been a fabulous month for stories. I hope you find a new favorite among those listed below. They are alphabetical by title and labeled by age group for your convenience. Do you know another great book I should include in my blog? Please contact me here and let me know!






Agent Jax: How to Build a Secret Agent

By: Bryant Condie

(Reedsy) - Middle Grade


This entertaining spy story is an unusual take on the genre. Jax’s big brother is a secret agent with all kinds of state-of-the-art technology...and is still young enough to be living with his parents. Jax loves tinkering and finds himself in the position of assisting his brother when nobody else can. Readers will appreciate the brotherly love between the two siblings as this STEM-focused spy story comes to life. Please see my full review here.








Ant Trails and Butterfly Dreams

By: Selwa Berbawy Hamati

(Independent Request) - Picture Book


Everyone struggles to find happiness sometimes, although some people feel sadness more deeply than others. Arney the Ant is a creature who feels inadequate compared to his friends and siblings and has lost his zest for life. His friend Breezy Bee teaches Arney a magic trick to help turn his thoughts around on his own, without relying on others. I appreciated the approach of this lovely book as it gives readers of all ages another way to think of cultivating happiness from within. Please see my full review here.



Anxious Hippo

By: Liviu Ciulinaru

(Reedsy) - Picture Book


As someone who has managed anxiety most of my life, I appreciate this highly accessible story. While the target audience is children, adults can benefit from the strategies offered, as well. Anxious Hippo learns from his friend Calm Hippo how to “cool the pizza” when anxiety threatens to overwhelm him. The supportive and informative message in this book is beneficial to children learning to navigate the complexities of anxiety. Please see my full review here.






The Ava Show

By: Cecily Anne Paterson

(NetGalley) - Middle Grade


This fast-paced and compelling story about eleven-year-old Ava West is an enjoyable read! Ava spends the beginning of the story wrapped up in herself and her needs as everyone around her scrambles to make sure she doesn’t fail. When the COVID-19 pandemic finds its way to her home in Kangaroo Valley, Australia, though, everything changes. Ava begins to see the flaws in her own thinking and makes the brave decision to change. Please see my full review here.










Beyond the Birch

By: Torina Kingsley

(Reedsy) - Middle Grade


This retelling of an old folk tale reads like a short story and is accessible to a wide range of readers. Working together, Macy and her friend Jay uncover the secrets of the Fae and what exactly has befallen Macy’s mother. A story of friendship, acceptance, and discovering one’s internal strength, this is a delightful and magical tale that leaves readers questioning the true nature of the world we think we know. Please see my full review here.








Blossom and Bud

By: Frank J. Sileo

(NetGalley) - Picture Book Hybrid


This book is split into two segments: the first is a picture book about two flowers who are unhappy with their appearance and are picked on by other flowers in the shop where they live. The second half is a lengthy discussion for caregivers on how to encourage positive self-esteem in children as they grow. A product of the American Psychological Association, this book aims to provide resources to caregivers to help children navigate their feelings about their appearance in a world that places heavy emphasis on outward beauty. Please see my full review here.




The Color of Play

By: Nneka J. Howell

(Reedsy) - Picture Book


This is a heartwarming tale of friendship across racial and cultural divides. Jacob has been adopted into a family in Chicago, Illinois, and is getting ready for his first day of second grade at a new school. He meets a new friend named Andrew, and their lives become complicated by another student who brings a toy gun to school. This story engages readers in several heavy-hitting, important conversations in the United States and is a positive model of learning and growing even when doing so can be difficult. Please see my full review here.



Comings and Goings

By: Anna Kontoleon

(NetGalley) - Picture Book


Traveling alone can be daunting at any age, but especially as a six-year-old for the first time. Alex is a young boy who is journeying from the North to visit his extended family in the South. Though the location is never specifically mentioned, clues are given in the text and illustrations to give readers an idea of where Alex is traveling. As Alex’s anticipation and anxiety builds, so too does that of the reader as everyone prepares for Alex’s arrival. This is a uniquely designed travel adventure for young children. Please see my full review here.





Dario

By: Samuel Alexander

(Independent Request) - Young Adult


This short story is the first in a series about a boy named Dario who has struggled to fit in for his entire life. From his appearance to his personality, even his parents have failed to connect with him despite his far-reaching efforts to become adequate in their eyes. Though it is not long, this thought-provoking story connects readers to the very real pain Dario experiences as he struggles to navigate the complexities of his life. Please see my full review here.









Demon Sky

By: Stephen Aleppo

(Independent Request) - Young Adult


This is a story about a sixteen-year-old girl named Charlotte who finds herself unexpectedly at her Aunt Sarah’s house in the country following a six-week recovery in the hospital. Though slow to start, this story picks up in intensity about half-way through, connecting the characters and events from the beginning in compelling ways. I enjoyed observing Charlotte’s transformation through the course of the story as she becomes more sure of herself in her new environment. Please see my full review here.








Digital Marketing

By: Vibrant Publishers

(Independent Request) - Young Adult/Adult Nonfiction


This book is a bit outside of my normal scope, but it is an accessible, high level approach to the complexities of digital marketing for budding entrepreneurs. Divided into eight chapters, each focuses on a specific element of digital marketing and ends with a quiz to test readers’ comprehension. Though it is designed as a small paperback book, this is nevertheless packed with useful information for business-minded young adults. Please see my full review here.








Eddie and the Lizard Man

By: Stefan and Robin Liner

(Independent Request) - Young Adult


This is the first in a series called the Curious World of Eddie Billings, a collection of stories about a young conspiracy theorist who often believes great mysteries are to be found in the world around him. Its direct approach and focus on plot over backstory makes this story ideally suited to reluctant young adult readers who are not interested in investing in a longer book. Lots of fun with the right amount of intrigue, readers will enjoy this story and be anxious to learn what happens to Eddie in book 2. Please see my full review here.







An Elephant for Emma

By: Jennifer Charles

(Reedsy) - Picture Book


This poetic picture book features twenty-six endangered animals from around the world and matches them to popular names for children that begin with the same letter. It is a lovely introduction to the beauty in the world and readers will enjoy discovering familiar names within the book. Though some text is obscured by the illustrations and the meter is not always consistent, it is nonetheless a pleasant read. Please see my full review here.










Eyes With No Soul

By: Sheri Chapman

(Independent Request) - Young Adult


This action-packed short story is a good fit especially for reluctant young adult readers as it focuses mostly on dialogue and telling readers what is happening in the story rather than having the plot unfold on its own. Unfortunately, this format kept me from engaging emotionally with the characters, but it was a quick-moving, enjoyable story nonetheless. Please see my full review here.








Living at Langster Motel

By: Cindy Sabulis

(Independent Request) - Middle Grade


When I worked as a librarian in Denver, I spent a year reading every week at a motel that had been transformed into a long-term residence. The people there were like a big family, and there were always children running around. As I read this book, I was drawn immediately back into that location, remembering the closeness of the residents even though they were not related to one another. This well-paced story is a great addition to middle school libraries, especially as it shares the message of finding the meaning of true friendship. Please see my full review here.








Luna and the Magical Piano

By: Kaia Verheyen

(Independent Request) - Early Middle Grade


This delightful story is especially impressive because it was written by an eight-year-old author. It is the story of a piano with seven evil keys that opens a portal to the Realm of Shadows. Blending fantasy with travel and mystery, this story is a great fit for newer middle grade readers who enjoy tales that require a suspension of disbelief. It will be exciting to see where this young author’s skills take her as she grows! Please see my full review here.







My Story Friend

By: Kalli Dakos

(NetGalley) - Picture Book


This story resonated particularly strongly with me because the boy in it feels sad about his short stature, which is something I felt a great deal growing up. The boy in this story searches far and wide for someone to listen to his sadness and help him through it, and though it is not easy, he finally finds someone who can help. A creation of the American Psychological Association, this book is a beautiful approach to a challenging emotion and will be enjoyed by readers of all ages. Please see my full review here.





Shumi the Dwarf Hamster

By: Denisa Rosca

(Independent Request) - Picture Book


This gorgeously illustrated picture book tells the story of a gray dwarf hamster named Shumi who just wants to play music. When he tries to join the family’s cat named Pat in his nighttime choir, Pat becomes jealous and hatches a plot to get rid of the small rodent. Anticipating this, Shumi gathers his belongings and ventures into the city where a small hamster can easily get into trouble. Poetic in its approach, this story is best suited to elementary school-aged readers. Please see my full review here.






Twilight’s Fall

By: J. Steven Lamperti

(Independent Request) - Young Adult


This fast-paced, action-oriented story is the fourth in a series, though the others don’t need to be read in order for this one to make sense. There were several elements of the narrative that I wanted to know more about, but the story is based more on action than backstory. This design makes the book accessible to both advanced middle grade readers and young adults, but I still wanted to know more! Good writing and a well-designed structure makes this an enjoyable read. Please see my full review here.















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