The Chicken of the Family by Mary Amato, illustrated by Delphine Durand, Ages 4-8
Henrietta's two big sisters love to poke fun at her. When they convince her that she's actually a chicken, Henrietta heads to a farm to find her true family. The chickens welcome her into their brood wholeheartedly, which allows Henrietta to find happiness and self-acceptance.
Erna Deutsch, assistant youth librarian at Brownell Library in Essex Junction, says this past Red Clover Award nominee is very funny, with engaging illustrations that enhance the story. It's also a good springboard for discussions about teasing. "If a child has ever been called 'chicken,' they can find humor in taking that just a bit too literally," she says.
Anastasia Krupnik by Lois Lowry, Ages 8-12
First published in 1979, this middle-grade chapter book by accomplished children's book author Lowry chronicles the ups and downs of the 10-year-old protagonist. In this first installment of the nine-book series, Anastasia struggles with her mother's pregnancy announcement, questions of religious identity and an on-again, off-again crush. Subsequent books focus on the antics of Anastasia and her younger brother, Sam.
Becky Manahan, assistant director and young adult librarian at the St. Albans Free Library, has fond memories of reading the Anastasia books to her daughter and son when they were younger and "laughing out loud." Though they were published many years ago, the books tackle issues that siblings today can still relate to, says Manahan.
The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy, Ages 8-12
The first book in this new series follows the four adopted Fletcher boys — 12-year-old Sam, 10-year-olds Jax and Eli, and 6-year-old Frog — and their two dads. Over the course of a school year, this modern family contends with new schools, a grouchy neighbor, hungry skunks and leaking ice rinks.
"Every chapter is brimming with drama, hilarity, love and stinky socks," says Sharon Colvin, youth services consultant to the Vermont Department of Libraries. The "quirky" characters "all have their challenges," she says, "but their family bond keeps them together."