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2015 01

Our 2015 was pretty great; how was yours? 

caldecott

As you may or may not know, the winner of the Caldecott medal (given to the most distinguished picture book of the year) will be announced this weekend during the American Library Association's Midwinter Conference. Our Library Director, Gene Nelson, has served on the Caldecott committee in the past, and this Friday we've asked him to pick his five favorites to win the medal or to be named honor books. Here are his picks; we'll see how close he gets! 

1Drum Dream Girl
written by Margarita Engel, illustrated by Rafael Lopez
(2015; acrylic )

Based on the true story of young girl breaking down the gender barrier in drum playing in Cuba, this bright surrealistic picture book is eye catching

 

2Waiting
written and illustrated by Kevin Henkes
(2015; ink, watercolors, colored pencil)

Previous Caldecott winner Henkes assembles an unlikely group of very patient characters waiting, but for what?

 

3If You Plant a Seed
written and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
(2015; oil)

Coretta Scott King winner deftly uses oils in creating a colorful fableish tale of planting seeds.

  

4Lenny and Lucy
written by Philip Stead, illustrated by Erin Stead
(2015; mixed media)

The 2011 Caldecott Winner is back with a story about apprehension and friendship.

 

5The Whisper
written and illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski
(2015; mixed media)

Magical and whimsical in color and style, Zagarenski does it again with a heart-warming story about story.

 

True confessions of Carla:  I am not a music person.  I mean, I like music.  I enjoy a few tunes in the background while I am working or running.  I play the piano well enough to know I should never try to accompany or entertain anyone.  But when it comes to truly appreciating music like so many people do, I am just not there.  

So, if I can get really excited about our newest online resource, I can only imagine how most of you more cultured and musically inclined folks will feel.  The Provo City Library now offers all Provo Library card holders access to Freegal!!  

What is Freegal? Well, it’s a free music service. All you need is your Provo City Library card number and your PIN. With those two numbers you have downloadable or streaming access to more than 9 million songs, including Sony Music’s catalog of legendary artists. In total the collection is comprised of music from over 28,000 labels with music that originates in over 80 countries. There is no software to download, and there are no digital rights management (DRM) restrictions.  

Each day, Provo Library Card holders can stream 5 hours of music from the Freegal site and each week, they can download 3 songs.  Those are three songs they can download and keep forever.  No checkout periods, no due dates, no overdue fines.  

In the last few weeks, since we’ve started promoting the service, over 1,800 songs have been streamed and 223 songs downloaded by excited library patrons.  What are they finding?  Well, popular genres so far include alternative, classical, holiday, and pop.  And what songs are they downloading?  Here is a short list of some popular tracks:  

 

ARTIST SONG TITLE
Adele Hello
Adele I Miss You
Adele Send My Love (To Your New Lover)
Rachel Platten Fight Song
Pentatonix Winter Wonderland/Don’t Worry Be Happy
David Archuleta O Holy Night
Walk the Moon Shut up and Dance

         

 

We hope that many of our patrons discover and enjoy this great new service.  Find it on our website with our other digital collections or download the free app for access on your mobile device.    I have already downloaded a couple Air Supply songs (because they were on one of the 7 8-track cartridges that I owned in high school that would play in my awesome dinosaur of a car), a few Christmas songs (because you can never have too many versions of “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”), and some of Adele’s new songs (because I aspire to be better informed about new music). 

The recent, rapid ascent of young adult fiction has created a totally new paradigm in reading – a type of book marketed to both adults and young folks. This new category has not only ushered in a new wave of post-apocalyptic fantasies, but has also pulled attention from genre works in children’s fiction. With so many choices in both adult and YA fantasy, there seems little reason to look into juvenile literature. But readers would be mistaken, as there is a tremendous history of children’s fantasy that, while sometimes simple in structure and prose, can also be thematically rich and emotionally complex. Here are three choices from the past century that forgo any dystopian tropes for some classical optimism:

First, try L. Frank Baum’s 1900 classic THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ. 

OZFar too often overshadowed by its 1939 film adaptation, Baum’s novel is at once more sincere, funny, and scary than the movie – which is saying something, considering how remarkable the film is. This is a children’s fantasy that directly confronts the fears and anxieties of the real world, and deals with our insecurities in a way that resonates today. It is not only a fiery piece of political allegory (reflecting on the inequality of turn-of-the-century America), but also empathetic and kind, and adult readers will find multitudes within.

bo3

 If Oz is a little too antiquated for your taste, try THE BOOK OF THREE by Lloyd Alexander.

The first in his Chronicles of Prydain series, Three combines the dense world and mythology of Tolkien with the practical, seemingly everyday mysticism of Lewis. Based on real Welsh mythology, the series is a true coming-of-age story in that its protagonist, Taran, is constantly in a state of becoming, never fully turning into a hero but rather better understanding what it means to be heroic. This meditative tone is immensely satisfying, more than the gratifying wish-fulfilment of many modern fantasy stories, so that when victories do come, they truly mean something.

 These books were rather unique in their own time, but are even more special today, when fantasy novels are inextricably tied to our own world and often involve “epic” stories, the planet’s fate often at stake. But there is an heir to Baum and Alexander’s more gentle fantasy in Colin Meloy’s WILDWOOD. The first of a trilogy, this story begins with a baby boy kidnapped by a murder of crows and taken into the deep woods bordering Portland, Oregon. The ensuing adventure involves ghosts, witches and woodland creatures, but it remains intimately about its protagonists and their hometown. The story is thoughtful and humane, magical and frightening, perhaps the platonic ideal of what a children’s fantasy ought to be.

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