Five Finds – What to Read After Percy Jackson

Since I’ve been off work for a while (all rest and no work make Jane a bored girl…), I haven’t had too many reader’s advisory questions come my way, so I’m dipping into the vault for this one. My colleague had a request from a parent for recommendations for a boy who had burned through the Percy Jackson series, and was looking for more action-adventure-mythology series to try. Here are a few series my colleague and I discovered that might just fit the bill for other Percy Jackson enthusiasts. All descriptions have been taken from library catalogs.


The Alchemist / Michael Scott

While working at pleasant but mundane summer jobs in San Francisco, fifteen-year-old twins, Sophie and Josh, suddenly find themselves caught up in the deadly, centuries-old struggle between rival alchemists, Nicholas Flamel and John Dee, over the possession of an ancient and powerful book holding the secret formulas for alchemy and everlasting life.

Gods of Manhattan / Scott Mebus

Thirteen-year-old Rory discovers a spirit world that thrives alongside his contemporary New York City, filled with fantastical creatures and people from the city’s colorful past who have become gods and goddesses and who have chosen Rory to perform a dangerous mission.

Fablehaven / Brandon Mull

When Kendra and Seth go to stay at their grandparents’ estate, they discover that it is a sanctuary for magical creatures and that a battle between good and evil is looming.

The Spook’s Apprentice / Joseph Delaney

First in series about a young boy training to be an exorcist. The job is hard, the Spook is distant and many apprentices have failed before Thomas. Somehow Thomas must learn how to exorcise ghosts, contain witches and bind boggarts. But when he is tricked into freeing Mother Malkin, the most evil witch in the County, the horror begins . . . Sometimes bleak, sometimes bloodthirsty, but never boring.

The Ruins of Gorlan / John Flanagan

When fifteen-year-old Will is rejected by battleschool, he becomes the reluctant apprentice to the mysterious Ranger Halt, and winds up protecting the kingdom from danger.

Five Finds – Asthma

I have asthma, and growing up, I resented being dependent on my medication, and I didn’t like being different from other kids. As an adult, I would sometimes forget to take my medication, usually because I was rushed/tired and/or lazy. I was so used to having asthma I didn’t take it seriously, and forgot just how destructive this disease can be.

This winter, however, I got the flu, and with it a bad, bad case of bronchitis that landed me in hospital, with my worst asthma attack in twenty years. As the Lung Association says so well, when you can’t breath, nothing else matters.

For my “Five Finds” today, I decided to find children’s books and novels featuring asthma. It’s a life-threatening condition that can be managed, but it is something that really can make kids feel like weirdos (think: “sucks to your assmar!” from Lord of the Flies)

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 Might Monty / Johanna Hurwitz

Monty, a quiet first-grader continues to come into his own–playing the part of a tree in a comically miscued school play, sharing his enthusiasm for ants at an outdoor birthday party, and even signing up for karate class despite his asthma.

 I Have Asthma / Jennifer Moore-Mallinos

The child in this story suffers from asthma, a chronic condition that sometimes produces frightening attacks. But kids learn that with proper medical supervision and treatment, asthma can be kept under control, and kids who are affected by it can live happy, active, and normal lives.

Abby’s Asthma and the Big Race / Theresa Martin Golding

Abby is determined to participate in the big race, and won’t let her condition, or the teasing of a classmate, stand in her way. Abby talks with her doctor, takes her medicine, exercises regularly, and proves to her classmates that kids with asthma can do anything other kids can, too.

Bobby the Brave (Sometimes) / Lisa Eye

Fourth-grader Bobby is hurt when he hears his father, a former pro-football player, say that they are nothing alike, but finally summons the courage to talk with him about it after he suffers a public, and scary, asthma attack. Bonus points for illustrations by the ever-popular Dan Santat.

 Mostly Monty / Johanna Hurwitz

Because he suffers from asthma, six-year-old Monty is nervous about starting first grade but he soon learns to cope with his illness and use his special talents to make friends.

Five Finds – Rain, rain, rain

Picture if you will winter in Canada. Temperatures dropping below -20 degrees (Celsius, please), streets slick with ice, snow piling up against houses, children bundled up in so many layers they can barely move.

While this may be the winter reality for much of Canada, in Vancouver the season looks somewhat different. Winter in Vancouver can be described in a single word – “blah.” It’s grey, it’s wet, it’s overcast, it’s drizzly, and we all feel a bit mossy and mildewy by the time spring rolls around.

While pulling books for a winter display in the branch, I realized that most of the typical “winter” picture books don’t quite capture this soggy reality. So, here are a few children’s books that capture the true spirit of a Vancouver winter.

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Rain! / Linda Ashman

As an old man grumbles his way through a rainy morning, spreading gloom, his neighbor, a young child, spreads cheer while hopping through puddles in frog-themed rainwear.

Are You Ready to Play Outside? / Mo Willems

Will Elephant and Piggie let a bit of rain spoil their fun, or will these two friends find a creative way to deal with the weather?

Four young crocodiles find all sorts of ways to keep their spirits up on a rainy day.

When it begins to rain and storm on the day of her big parade, Jazmin stomps, shouts, and does all she can think of to drive the rain away, only to discover that maybe the rain isn’t so bad after all.
Two children, a dog, and a pair of bright red galoshes star in this poetic celebration of a the adventures that can be had on a rainy day.

Five Finds – Manga for Teens

I have a confession to make – I am a somewhat-reformed otaku. While I watch anime almost every day (thank you Funimation, Netlfix and my local library for fueling my addiction!), I’m definitely not as connected to the anime/manga scene as I was in my student days. We have an anime club for teens here at the library, and part of my role as a youth services librarian is helping maintain the YA graphic novel/manga section, so I’ve been familiarizing myself with our collection, as well as the reading habits of our teen manga enthusiasts.

I had a young adult come to the desk recently looking for some manga suggestions (in particular for some more action-oriented titles), and here are a few options I pulled from our collection – most of these manga are pretty old, but they’re still pretty decent titles, and worth checking out. They’ve all also been adapted into anime, which could be worth suggesting as well.

Note: While these titles have all been classified by the library as “young adult”, they may not be appropriate for all teens. These manga may contain violence, nudity or suggestive content (wherein lies much of the appeal to teen audiences), and as always, reader discretion is advised.

Annotations are taken from the library catalog.

1. Attack on Titan / Hajime Isayama


For the past century, what’s left of mankind has hidden in a giant, three-walled city, trapped in fear of the bizarre, giant humanoids known as the Titans. Little is known about where they came from or why they are bent on consuming human-kind, but the sudden appearance of an enormous Titan is about change everything.

2. Bleach / Tite Kubo


Hot-tempered 15-year-old Ichigo Kurosaki, the hero of the popular fantasy-adventure Bleach , has the unsettling ability to see spirits who are unable to rest in peace. His sixth sense leads him to Rukia, a Soul Reaper who destroys Hollows (soul-devouring monsters) and ensures the deceased find repose with the Soul Society. When she’s injured in battle, Rukia transfers her sword and much of her power to Ichigo, whose spiritual energy makes him a formidable substitute Soul Reaper. But the orange-haired teenager isn’t sure he wants the job: too many risks and moral dilemmas.

3. Naruto / Masahi Kishimoto


Naruto is a ninja-in-training with a need for attention, a knack for mischief and, sealed within him, a strange, formidable power. R to L (Japanese Style). Naruto is a ninja-in-training with a need for attention, a knack for mischief and, sealed within him, a strange, formidable power. His antics amuse his instructor Kakashi and irritate his teammates, intense Sasuke and witty Sakura, but Naruto is serious about becoming the greatest ninja in the village of Konohagakure! Believe it!

4. Trigun / Yasuhiro Nightow


Vash the Stampede, the galaxy’s deadliest gunslinger, emerges after two years in hiding to help his beleaguered desert homeworld, Gunsmoke. But the Stampede’s many enemies have kept their motors running, and they’re back on his trail and determined to bring Vash to ground – hard! And a new crowd of bounty hunters, badasses, and brain-cases are also looking to cash in the astronomical price on his head!

5. Fairy Tail / Hiro Mashima

Fairy Tale

Cute girl wizard Lucy want to join the Fairy Tail, a club for the most powerful wizards. But instead, her ambitions land her in the clutches of a gang of unsavory pirates led by a devious magician. Her only hope is Natsu, a strange boy she happens to meet on her travels.

Note (2): My partner and I are currently making our way through the Fairy Tail anime (I think we’re on episode 102 or something like that. We’re really enjoying it!

Five Finds – Fathers in Picture Books

Picture books celebrating the bonds of love between children and their mothers are easy to find, but picture books featuring children and their fathers can be a bit trickier to locate. Here are a few picture books I found just in our branch, when I helped a patron find books that her partner could share with their children. We tried to find books that weren’t just about fathers, but which simply featured children and their fathers interacting as part of the story.

How To Cheer Up Dad is one of my favourite new picture books, I just love the illustrations, and the way it perfectly captures the state of loving exasperation that is parenthood.

1. We’re Going on a Bear Hunt / Michael Rosen


Brave bear hunters go through grass, a river, mud, and other obstacles before the inevitable encounter with the bear forces a headlong retreat.

Note: This book is available in several different languages.

2. Mouse’s First Snow / Lauren Thompson


A mouse and its father enjoy playing in the snow.

3. How To Cheer Up Dad / Fred Koehler


A young elephant sees his dad is in a bad mood and tries to cheer him up, not realizing his own mischief caused the bad mood in the first place.

4. There Once Was a Dog / Adelia Carvahlo


When Daddy doesn’t know “the dog story” that his child desperately wants to hear, he tries to satisfy his child with a story about every other animal–a lion, a pig, a hen, a rat, and more–until inspiration strikes!

5. Hide and Squeak / Heather Vogel Frederick


A mouse baby leads his father on a merry game of hide-and-squeak at bedtime.

Five Finds – Spy Thrillers for Teens

“I like books that are exciting, because my life is really, really boring.” One of the teens I work with is really into thrillers, particularly spy novels and mysteries, and she summed up pretty neatly why so many of us love to read action-packed books. Here are a few twisty-turny spy novels that might appeal to the budding secret agents in your library.

All annotations are taken from the library catalog.

1. W.A.R.P. : The Reluctant Assassin / Eoin Colfer


In Victorian London, Albert Garrick, an assassin-for-hire, and his reluctant young apprentice, Riley, are transported via wormhole to modern London, where Riley teams up with a young FBI agent to stop Garrick from returning to his own time and using his newly acquired scientific knowledge and power to change the world forever.

2. The Recruit / Robert Muchamore


A terrorist doesn’t let strangers in her flat because they might be undercover police or intelligence agents, but her children bring their mates home and they run all over the place. The terrorist doesn’t know that one of these kids has bugged every room in her house, made copies of all her computer files and stolen her address book. The kid works for CHERUB. CHERUB agents are aged between ten and seventeen. They live in the real world, slipping under adult radar and getting information that sends criminals and terrorists to jail. For official purposes, these children do not exist.

3. Stormbreaker / Anthony Horowitz


After the death of the uncle who had been his guardian, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider is coerced to continue his uncle’s dangerous work for Britain’s intelligence agency, MI6.

4. The Eye of Minds / James Dasher


Michael is a skilled internet gamer in a world of advanced technology. When a cyber-terrorist begins to threaten players, Michael is called upon to seek him and his secret’s out.

5. A Girl Named Digit / Annabel Monaghan 


After identifying a terrorist plot, a brilliant seventeen-year-old girl from Santa Monica, California, gets involved with the young FBI agent who is trying to ensure her safety.

Five Finds – Books with Korean characters

I was recently asked about books for kids and teens featuring Korean protagonists in contemporary settings. The patron had found books on Korean fairy tales, legends, culture and history, but was looking for fictional titles featuring Korean children with whom her own urban Korean-Canadian children might relate. Here are a few of the books we found, ranging from picture books to teen novels.

All annotations have been taken from the library catalog.

1. The Have a Good Day Cafe – Frances Park


Mike’s grandmother, who has moved from Korea to live with Mike and his family in the United States, inspires him to suggest an idea to help their floundering food cart business.

2. Bee-Bim Bop – Linda Sue Park 


A child, eager for a favorite meal, helps with the shopping, food preparation, and table setting.

3. Clara Lee and the Apple Pie Dream – Jenny Han


Korean American fourth-grader Clara Lee longs to be Little Miss Apple Pie, and when her luck seems suddenly to change for the better, she overcomes her fear of public speaking and enters the competition.

4. The Detention Club – David Yoo


Sixth-grader Peter Lee, in a desperate attempt to regain the popularity he had in elementary school, discovers that serving detention can win him important friends, much to the dismay of his over-achieving eighth-grade sister, Sunny.

5. Good Enough – Paula Yoo


A Korean American teenager tries to please her parents by getting into an Ivy League college, but a new guy in school and her love of the violin tempt her in new directions.

As usual, let me know if there are any great books featuring Korean children and teens that you’d like to share!

Five Finds – Dystopian Novels for Teens

The Hunger Games. Maze Runner. Divergent. You don’t have to be a teen to know that dystopian fiction is still a force to be reckoned with in YA lit. But what if you’ve already read the big names in the genre and are still hungering (sorry!) for more “the future is bleak, bleak, bleak and it’s all the adults’ fault” fiction? Here are a few read-alikes that just might fit the bill, including some less familiar titles and international entries.

1. Tomorrow, When the War Began / John Marsden


Seven Australian teenagers return from a camping trip in the bush to discover that their country has been invaded and they must hide to stay alive.

2. Gone / Michael Grant


In a small town on the coast of California, everyone over the age of fourteen suddenly disappears, setting up a battle between the remaining town residents and the students from a local private school, as well as those who have “The Power” and are able to perform supernatural feats and those who do not.

3. Shatter Me / Tahereh Mafi


Ostracized or incarcerated her whole life, seventeen-year-old Juliette is freed on the condition that she use her horrific abilities in support of The Reestablishment, a post-apocalyptic dictatorship, but Adam, the only person ever to show her affection, offers hope of a better future.

4. The Forest of Hands and Teeth / Carrie Ryan


Through twists and turns of fate, orphaned Mary seeks knowledge of life, love, and especially what lies beyond her walled village and the surrounding forest, where dwell the Unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead.

5. The Knife of Never Letting go / Patrick Ness


Pursued by power-hungry Prentiss and mad minister Aaron, young Todd and Viola set out across New World searching for answers about his colony’s true past and seeking a way to warn the ship bringing hopeful settlers from Old World.

Five Finds – Ready for Kindergarten

Starting kindergarten can be an exciting time for children and caregivers, but it can also be stressful or scary. Caregivers often come into the library looking for books that can help them prepare their children (and themselves!) for this big step. Here are a few picture books all about kindergarten.

All annotations are taken from the library catalog.

1. Mom, It’s My First Day of Kindergarten! – Hyewon Yum


A five-year-old boy, ready and eager on his first day at “the big kids’ school,” must calm his very worried mother.

2. Countdown to Kindergarten – Alison McGhee 


Ten days before the start of kindergarten, a preschooler can not tie her shoes by herself and fears the worst.

3. Llama Llama Misses Mama – Anna Dewdney

llama llama

Llama Llama experiences separation anxiety on his first day of nursery school.

4. Wemberly Worried – Keven Henkes


A mouse named Wemberly, who worries about everything, finds that she has a whole list of things to worry about when she faces the first day of nursery school.

5. I Am Too Absolutely Small for School – Lauren Child


When Lola is worried about starting school, her older brother Charlie reassures her.

What do you think, readers? Any great “ready for kindergarten” books you’d like to share? I’d love to hear about them in the comments!

Five Finds – Steampunk for Tweens

I am often asked by patrons to suggest books, either for themselves or for their children, and find myself making up mini bibliographies for different subjects, genres or audiences. To keep track of the different book lists I’ve made, I’ve decided to start a new feature on this blog called “Five Finds”, in which I’ll share some of different titles I’ve discovered. Youth services covers everyone from babies to teenagers, and includes fiction, nonfiction and audio-visual materials, so there is a lot of content to explore!

I thought I’d kick off the series with a bit of an unusual book list. An outgoing young patron recently came up to the desk and asked if the library had any steam punk novels. Not the typical tween request, but certainly an interesting one! Although I’m not too familiar with this genre myself, I did a bit of research, and here are just a few of the titles I found.

Note: I have not read all of the books on this list, and I am not recommending them based on personal experience, nor am I necessarily making any comment on their quality or content. All entries on this list are found in our library’s collection, and I’ve taken the annotations directly from the catalog.

1. Uncrashable Dakota – Andy Marino 


In 1912, an airship on its maiden flight is hijacked and young Hollis Dakota, heir to the Dakota Aeronautics empire, his friend Delia, and stepbrother Rob, become embroiled in a family feud that could send the ship– and them– crashing from the sky.

2. Airborn – Kenneth Oppel


Matt, a young cabin boy aboard an airship, and Kate, a wealthy young girl traveling with her chaperone, team up to search for the existence of mysterious winged creatures reportedly living hundreds of feet above the Earth’s surface.

3. Leviathan – Scott Westerfeld


In an alternate 1914 Europe, fifteen-year-old Austrian Prince Alek, on the run from the Clanker Powers who are attempting to take over the globe using mechanical machinery, forms an uneasy alliance with Deryn who, disguised as a boy to join the British Air Service, is learning to fly genetically-engineered beasts.

4. Larklight – Philip Reeve


In an alternate Victorian England, young Arthur and his sister Myrtle, residents of Larklight, a floating house in one of Her Majesty’s outer space territories, uncover a spidery plot to destroy the solar system.

5. The Golden Compass – Philip Pullman


Accompanied by her daemon, Lyra Belacqua sets out to prevent her best friend and other kidnapped children from becoming the subject of gruesome experiments in the Far North.

If you have any great steam-punk or alternate history titles that you’d like to add to this list, please leave a comment and let me know!