• Rarely Seen FB event


    Last year, we published a list of six free library dates; this year, we thought we’d give an update with specific things you can do this December at the library. It’s a proven fact that doing something interesting at the library is way better than awkwardly exchanging resumes and “how many siblings do you have…?” stories over dinner. 

    1. Visit our “Rarely Seen” exhibit 

    The Attic is the perfect place for a date; though it was a bustling madhouse this summer with our Little Builders exhibit, it’s returned to its roots as a gallery for fantastic art, and we couldn’t be more thrilled to be hosting “Rarely Seen” from National Geographic (yes, THAT National Geographic). This traveling exhibit features photographs of rarely seen phenomena, from natural wonders to man-made curiosities. 

    What makes this a great date? First, The Attic is still enjoying a bit of a “hidden gem” status, so your date will likely be impressed with your insider library knowledge. Second, each photo is a conversation in itself. That’s 50 potential conversations waiting to happen, conversations that are WAY more interesting than, “So…what’s your major?” 

    We’re open Monday-Friday from 3:30 to 9:00 pm, and you can catch this exhibit until December 29. After that, we’ll close for a few weeks while we switch over to a new exhibit, at which point you can go on another date. 

    2. Get some culture 

    Last week, Shaina posted about the various holiday performances we’re hosting this December. This does mean that you’ll have to have a Monday night date, but it will be worth it! 

    If you miss our December performances, never fear; we have cultural performances the 1st and 3rd Monday of every month from September through May. Enjoy an evening with local music, dance, and theatre groups, all without breaking the bank (because it’s free. Everything is free!).  

    3. Solve a (fictional) murder 

    You may have already played our Whodunit Mystery Game, but it’s undergone a recent revamp and it’s better than ever! Participants travel from room to room in the library trying to solve a mystery, similar to the game Clue, by Parker Brothers. Some of your favorite villains have been causing mayhem in the library. The winner will correctly guess the suspect, location, and the weapon involved in the crime.  

    This is a great group date; we don’t recommend it for fewer than 3 (or, since that would be a strange date, we’ll say 4) or more than 18. This game takes about an hour to complete, and can be scheduled for any time the library is open (we just need at least one week’s notice to make sure we’re available). 

    4. Get trapped together…and escape! 

    Escape Rooms are all the group date rage right now, and rightly so. Nothing says, “I think I might really like you and want to get to know you better” than solving a series of complicated puzzles together. It’s a great way to make sure you’re not dating a dummy. 

    Our current escape room is Harry Potter-themed; no prior knowledge of Harry Potter is required, though it certainly won’t hurt! 

    The escape room works best with 4 to 8 players, but requests for groups of other sizes can be considered on a case-by-case basis. Adults ages 18 and up will enjoy the game the most.  Teens may enjoy the game, but we ask that they be accompanied by at least one adult. Like our Whodunit game, requests must be made at least one week in advance. 

    5. Build more than a relationship 

    We know the dilemma; you want to go on a date, but you also just really want to stay at home and play with toys. Well, with our on-demand boxes, you don’t have to choose! We have a variety of builder-themed boxes available for checkout in the library. From magna-tiles to KEVA planks and more, you can spend an evening building cool things; go out for ice cream afterwards and then give yourself a high five for planning a date that 10-year-old you would be proud of. 

    The best part of all of these dates? The memories, obviously. But also, they’re all free. All the time. So what are you waiting for? Schedule a library date today!

  • resolution


    It’s a new year, and that seems like as good a time as any to suggest the following resolution to you; it’s totally achievable, and has nothing to do with weight loss or home organization (though if those are some of your resolutions, we certainly have some books and programs to help). Here's your perfect New Year's resolution: 

    Get your money’s worth out of the library!

    To help you achieve this most enjoyable of resolutions, here’s a spotlight on some of our services that you may not have discovered yet:

    Discovery Kits

    Caroline recently wrote a blog post about Discovery Kits from the children’s department, and I actually feel like I can’t pitch it better than she did, so I’m going to quote her here: 

    “Many of our patrons have already discovered Discovery Kits (one of the best kept secrets of the Children’s Department) and know just how fun they can be. For our patrons who don’t know what a Discovery Kit is, now is a great time to get acquainted. Discovery Kits are a selection of themed books, toys, and activity ideas appropriate for kids ages 3-5, and each one is filled with enough fun to fill days and days. The Discovery Kits check out as a set and you can keep them for three weeks. That means you have three weeks to play with all the toys, read all the books, and do all the things suggested in the included activity binder. When your three weeks are up, just bring the kit back to the Children’s Reference Desk and you can make a reservation for another one. The best part is that you can now make a reservation for a Discovery Kit online on the library website. “ 

    As a parent, I can just attest that these are awesome (as long as you don’t have a toddler that does things like shove small toys down a slightly broken heater vent; if that’s the case in your house, you may not want to check out a kit with a lot of small pieces). It’s a great way to have some fun, themed play without having to invest in new toys or books myself. 

    Boxes & Games

    Want your kids to be able to play with awesome building toys but not sure you want the potential entropy that might introduce in your home? I talked about our new in-library boxes as an idea for a great library date, but they’re good for more than that. We have several STEM exploration-themed boxes available for you to check out in the library. All the building fun, none of the mess in your own home! 

    We also have several board games available to check out for those times you find yourself with friends in the library with a few hours to kill. If you’re a gamer, it’s a great way to try before you buy. 

    All-ages programs

    If you’ve glanced at our calendar recently, you know that we host dozens of programs every week, most of them for the under 12 crowd. However, we’ve recently added a new tag to the calendar to help you find things that anyone can enjoy. These all-ages programs include musical performances, family tech nights, Attic exhibits, and other activities that can be enjoyable whether you’re a single college student, a family with children of diverse ages, or an empty nester. 

    Book Club Sets

    If you have a regular book club, our book club sets can be a fantastic resource for you. We update our offerings regularly, and we have a variety of genres to appeal to every kind of book club. We have plenty of titles for adults, but we also have a wide variety of middle-grade and young adult book club sets! 

    Sets check out for 6 weeks, which gives a monthly book club a good healthy chance to read the book and set up a meeting to talk about it. Plus, every book club set comes with a handy binder full of discussion topics. 

    Computer Help Lab

    Thanks to a partnership with United Way, we are happy to be able to offer one-on-one computer help for those times when your computer needs are more in-depth than our desk staff can help with.

    Every Tuesday and Thursday from 2:00-5:00 pm, a staff member from United Way is available to answer your questions. They can help you learn computer basics, set up an email address, learn to navigate social media, or even find online software or job training. If you or someone you know could benefit from this kind of personalized help, visit them in the Special Collections room on Tuesday or Thursday.

  • magical circuses


    Read-alikes: library jargon for “If you like this, you’ll probably also like this other thing!” Those of us who work at libraries are constantly on the hunt for read-alikes both as a professional courtesy to our patrons and as a way to satisfy our own voracious reading appetites. 

    (We have a variety of resources to find great read-alikes; the easiest way to find them is to click on the “Reading Suggestions” tab of our website). 

    One read-alike game I like to play is to find similar books across audiences. Can I find the writing qualities and characteristics of adult fiction authors I love in a middle-grade book? What about a book for teens? It’s a little bit like watching fiction grow up. So today I have for you three books that I feel like share some striking similarities even though they’re written for vastly different audiences. Three books; three audiences; three magical settings rich with detail and complex characters. Magical realism for all ages. 


    11.2.17 Circus MirandusCIRCUS MIRANDUS
    By Cassie Beasley

    Micah Tuttle has grown up hearing stories of a magical circus his grandpa visited as a boy. Now that his grandpa is dying, he sets off to find the mysterious circus in order to save his grandpa’s life. The narrative jumps back and forth between present day Micah and his new friend/school project partner Jenny on their quest to save his grandpa and his grandpa’s experiences as a boy at the circus. Kids with vivid imaginations will love the lush description of Circus Mirandus. 




    11.2 CaravalCARAVAL
    By Stephanie Garber

    Okay, this one isn’t exactly a circus, but it is a magical, carnival-like setting. With an arranged marriage on the horizon, Scarlett figures this is her only chance to realize her dream of seeing Caraval, a legendary audience-participation event. When she and her sister arrive, things get much more complicated than they imagined, and the consequences turn dire fairly quickly.

    As is the case for most young adult books, we trade the innocent guy/girl helpful friendship of the middle-grade years for a fast-paced, “I hate you/I love you” storyline.There is banter; there is kissing; there is action, and adventure, and magic, and a carousel that my imagination loves to ride again and again. 


    11.2.2017 The Night CircusTHE NIGHT CIRCUS
    By Erin Morgenstern 

    I could go on and on about THE NIGHT CIRCUS; I read it about a year after its release, and I’ve honestly been looking for adequate read-alikes ever since. It wasn’t until this year that I’ve actually felt like I found them (hence this post!). Reading THE NIGHT CIRCUS is a sensory experience; not many novels can hold up to occasional second-person narration, but it’s perfect here. When I read it, I crave caramel popcorn and hot chocolate. The descriptions of the circus are rich and vivid and I’m always sad it doesn’t exist for real. 

    THE NIGHT CIRCUS is a long, magical game, pitting two champions, Celia and Marco, against one another in a magical battle to the death (though it takes years of competing to realize this). In THE NIGHT CIRCUS, we trade that fierce, instant love of teenage years (CARAVAL takes place over just three days!) for a nuanced relationship born in intrigue and cultivated through hearty and beautiful and, ultimately, deadly competition.

    I should also mention that I’ve listened to all three of these as audiobooks, and I actually recommend that if you’ve got the time and resources (which you do, thanks to the library!). This is especially the case with THE NIGHT CIRCUS, which is read by Jim Dale and is just delightful.

  • childbirth

    I have long maintained that the Library can help you with anything: right now it’s helping fuel my child’s Paw Patrol obsession, but I’ve found the Library useful for less trivial things as well.

    Three years ago, I was pregnant, and like any pregnant lady I was faced with about a thousand decisions I’d never had to make before. What would we name the baby? What baby gear was actually necessary? What kind of birth experience did I want to have?

    Fairly certain that I wanted to have an unmedicated birth, I buckled down and started reading. Since other authors have already shared some favorite intimacy books and favorite pregnancy books, I figured maybe we'd complete the cycle and write a blog post about books to prepare for the actual birthing process. The books I share with you here were my favorites in helping inspire and prepare me for the kind of birth experience I wanted to have. 

    I feel like I shouldn’t have to give this disclaimer, but I will anyway: these are books that I found useful. They were wonderful in helping me prepare for labor and delivery. Books are great, but they don’t replace doctors or midwives. Read some books, but see medical professionals too.

    I should also note that all these books have a strong preference for unmediated labor and delivery. If that’s not really an opinion you share, I might not recommend them. You make the choices that work for you. 

    by Ina May Gaskin

    Ina May is probably the best-known midwife in the country; though I admit I’m still a little skeptical about her claims that childbirth can be pain-free (mine certainly wasn’t!), my favorite thing about her books is the fact that they are packed full of stories of women being strong and having successful birth experiences. I think some books about pregnancy and childbirth spend a lot of time focusing on ALL THE POSSIBLE THINGS THAT COULD GO WRONG, so I appreciate hearing stories of all the ways that things can go right. It's nice to feel empowered into decisions rather than scared into them. 



    by Susan McCutcheon

     When doing preliminary research on natural childbirth methods, there were so many people raving about “The Bradley Method” that I decided to check it out. As I understand it, the basic Bradley approach goes something like this: “Animals in labor relax through it. You can too.” (I'm probably way over-simplifying that. Don't freak out.) The Bradley method emphasizes comfortable labor positions and relaxed breathing, trying to dispel the myth that childbirth needs to involve screaming in agony. There are probably classes you can take and other books to read, but I found that this book was sufficient for me to help me be more relaxed about the labor process.


    8.3.17.birthing from withinBIRTHING FROM WITHIN
    by Pam England

    This was the book one of my midwives recommended, and I’ll be honest: I didn’t finish it all the way. I’m really open to breathing exercises and meditation and things, but I start to draw the line at suggestions that I get a canvas and paint my feelings about birth. You might think that’s super awesome, and if so, read this book all the way through.

    I include it in this list because the book starts with a simple but engaging question that proved incredibly useful as I prepared for labor: we need to ask our own questions, and then honestly seek answers to those questions in order to be prepared for birth.

    So many birth plans ask questions for us, but BIRTHING FROM WITHIN emphasizes discovering our own big questions. My biggest question was this: “How do I handle pain?” Realizing that that was my biggest concern, everything I read and researched was in service of figuring out the best ways to handle my pain in ways that were beneficial.


    8.3.17. Yoga BirthTHE YOGA BIRTH METHOD
    by Dorothy Guerra

    This was my favorite book, hands down. I actually bought a copy to have on my Kindle so that I could be sure to have it with me in the hospital. If you don’t practice yoga you might not think that this book is for you, but the breathing exercises, stretches, and general information it provides are useful for even the casual yoga practitioner (I would put myself in this category; I love to practice yoga, but I’m certainly not doing it every day).

    I loved this book for two major reasons: first, though nearly every book I read contained a description of what happens during the labor and delivery process, I thought this one was the most straightforward and helpful description of all the steps my body and my baby needed to go through in order to get him here. Second, I loved that it offered a trimester-by-trimester series of poses that could help relieve some of the pain and pressure associated with pregnancy.

    Did I do yoga in my hospital room? No, I did not. I did, however, breathe in the ways it suggests, and I actually still find those breathing exercises useful for unmedicated pain relief. Now that I'm pregnant again, you can bet this one's on my reading list. 


  • 2015 01

    Our 2015 was pretty great; how was yours? 

  • The Art of Sport is an exhibit curated by the Provo City Library from the collection of a local sports enthusiast. This is the last week to view the exhibit; if you're longing to relive great moments in sports history, now is the time to come and visit us in The Attic! 

    The Attic is open every weekday from 5-9pm and Saturday from 1-6pm, and is located on the 4th floor of the Academy Wing (accessible only by elevator). 

    art of sport 01

  • As you may know, we love hosting authors here at the Provo City Library! This month we've got visits planned from Julie Berry and Darren Shan, and next month we'll welcome Kenneth Oppel and David Wiesner. Get full event details on our AuthorLink page. 

    authorlink 01

  • david wiesner 01

  • Have you visted our Homegrown Art Show yet? It's on display in the Attic and in the Anderson Art Gallery; the Attic is open every weekday from 5-8 and on Saturdays from 10-6. 

    Homegrown 01

  • monday night 01

    Want to see a schedule of upcoming Monday Night programs? We've got a page for that!

  • Preschool Play is available in the children’s department Mondays from 11:00 am-12:00 pm and Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday, from 4:00 pm-6:00 pm. Toys are placed in the story circle available for open-ended play, especially suited for preschool-aged children. Curious how many toys we have? (hint: it's a lot)

    preschool play 01

  • The Attic at Academy Square sometimes feels like a secret--you can only access it by elevator in the Academy Wing, and in terms of this building's rich history, the Attic is still relatively new. However, we don't want it to be a secret--we want everyone to come! We've got some exciting exhibits planned for this next year, including our second annual Homegrown Art Show (now accepting entries!). Our next exhibit will open on February 16; come and find us on the 4th floor of the Academy Wing. 

    Attic By the Numbers 01

  • volunteers 01

  • threenager

    Over the past two years, I’ve checked in periodically to share my son’s favorite books. It’s been fun to look back on his past favorites (as a one-year-old and then as a toddler), and to see his interests growing up and diversifying as he gets older. It's possible that as his parent, I find these posts more interesting than anyone else, but I feel like it’s worth checking in on the blog every year, because whether you’re reading to a baby or a toddler or a threenager, you always need good books.

    Now that Calvin is three, he’s a little bit more interested in reading lots of different kinds of books rather than the same books over and over. As you’ll see, he spends a lot of time in the 500’s (nonfiction animal books), but he also loves Dr. Seuss and Mo Willems.

    It’s getting harder to pick his favorites; what I’ve chosen to highlight here are the books that Calvin keeps asking us to get every time he comes to the library (which is often). There’s also a strong bent toward books that I enjoy reading out loud, because if you are also someone who spends a lot of time reading to children, you will know that not all books are created equal in this regard. I want Calvin to have books he’s interested in, but our reading is a shared experience, and it’s nice if I can enjoy it too.


    4.19 SpidersSPIDERS
    by Nic Bishop

    Calvin is obsessed with bugs and creepy crawly things. When we go to the aquarium, he runs to see the bird-eating tarantula; when we play outside, much time is devoted to catching and attempting to feed various insects (Calvin is always dismayed that Box Elder Bugs don’t seem interested in sticking around for the feast he’s created out of grass and twigs). I credit a lot of this interest to a copy of SPIDERS by Nic Bishop that I brought home from our Used Book Store. 

    If you have small people living in your house and haven’t checked out Nic Bishop’s books yet, repent immediately and get them. Nic Bishop is a photographer first, and it shows. However, one of my favorite things about his books is that they offer a lot of information but remain easy to read aloud (a surprisingly difficult balance to strike!). Calvin’s favorites so far are SPIDERS, BUTTERFLIES AND MOTHS, and SNAKES, but we haven’t really met a Nic Bishop book we haven’t liked.


    by Rebecca L. Johnson

    This book is cool and gross. Calvin loved it so much we exhausted our renewal options from the library. For the first week we had it, Calvin asked for this book by saying, “Can we read that book that has that worm coming out of that girl’s leg?” Great bedtime book or stuff of nightmares? You decide… 

    ZOMBIE MAKERS is about parasitic organisms that cause involuntary reactions in their hosts’ bodies. From a fungus that makes a fly stop flying (does that mean it’s called a walk?) to a virus that makes rats attracted to cats, this book makes you realize how bizarre the world can be. It also makes me realize that wasps are the biggest jerks in the animal kingdom. You’ll have to read more to find out why! 


    4.19 Pigeon NeedsTHE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH
    by Mo Willems

    It’s hard to choose which Mo Willems book is Calvin’s favorite; between the Elephant and Piggie books and the Pigeon books, there’s usually at least one of them in the bedtime lineup. But THE PIGEON NEEDS A BATH was our first, and I credit it for teaching my toddler the phrase “That is a matter of opinion!”, so it gets the feature here. 

    I love voicing the pigeon. He is witty; he is funny; he is easily exasperated. I laugh every time when he complains that the bath water is “too reflective.” The pigeon is, really, an eloquent toddler, incredibly stubborn until he’s forced to try something new and discovers that it’s his new favorite thing. I think the character of the pigeon hits on the sometimes absurdity of these small people that share our houses, and helps us all laugh a little at those times when someone refuses to bathe or asks again and again to do something that they aren’t allowed to do. 


    4.19 Bartholomew OobleckBARTHOLOMEW & THE OOBLECK
    by Dr. Seuss

    I said I only wanted to share books that I enjoyed reading, but I lied a little bit. Maybe you are more Dr. Seuss savvy than I, but the thing that surprised me when we first read this book together is that it does not rhyme! I try not to be bothered by it, but it’s a bit strange read a Dr. Seuss book without that Dr. Seuss signature cadence.   

    BARTHOLOMEW AND THE OOBLECK is the story of a king’s disastrous decision to try to rule the sky as well. In his hubris, he asks for his magicians to create something to fall from the sky other than the standard sun, rain, and snow his kingdom is used to. What he gets is oobleck, a sticky green goo that mucks everything up. I don’t know why Calvin loves this book, but he asked to check it out every time we came to the library, even if we already had it checked out (at one point we had two copies from two different libraries). My only thought is that he really likes the look of various people and livestock covered in green goop. 


    by Bob Shea

    Calvin really likes all the Ballet Cat books, but I think that THE TOTALLY SECRET SECRET is his favorite favorite. Like many easy readers, this one’s done all in dialogue, and is especially fun if you can have two readers to voice the different characters. We love the simple art; we love the different colored pages; we love this story about friends learning that it’s important to listen to each other. Our only complaint about the Ballet Cat books is that there aren’t more of them!

  • construction books


    I am the parent of a toddler. Right now, he’s pretty well obsessed with three things: dogs (Paw Patrol specifically, though he likes dogs generally), cats, and construction vehicles. Lucky for us, it’s not hard to find books to satisfy all these obsessions, especially since our children’s department has a “Things that Go” hot topic section.

    Before I get to my list of favorite books from the “Things that Go” section, let me gush a little about Hot Topics. Before I became a parent, it seemed like a good idea to reorganize a large number of our picture books by topic rather than by author. Now that I’m a parent, I realize it's genius. Kids tend to go through phases of intense interest, and it’s SO NICE to be able to go to one place to find all the construction vehicle picture books instead of having to hunt them down in the stacks with a toddler in tow. We’ve found books we probably never would have checked out and they’ve become some of our favorites. I can reliably walk out with a stack of 10-15 books and know my son will be interested in all of them. With topics like ABCs, Colors, Princesses, Super Heroes, Potty Training, and more, the Hot Topics section is one of my favorite library parenting hacks. 

    That said, here are some of our favorite books we’ve found during our many visits to the “Things that Go” section that are sure to please your construction-loving toddler.

    9.7.17 ConstructionCONSTRUCTION
    by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock

    Construction is a book about—you guessed it—construction! This great read-aloud has illustrations that I find interesting, great rhymes and rhythm, and sound effects that you get to decide how to pronounce! These are Calvin’s favorite part, though he’s at an age where he’s asking what every unfamiliar word means and I don’t really know what to say when he asks me what “Thwock” means. 

    9.7.17 DemolitionDEMOLITION
    by Sally Sutton, illustrated by Brian Lovelock

    This is the second book in the Sutton/Lovelock construction trilogy (the first is actually ROADWORK, which is great but not quite as much of a favorite), and the things I said about CONSTRUCTION pretty much apply here too. One thing I appreciate about these books is that I feel like I learn things too. Did you know that old concrete gets crushed up and recycled into new concrete? Also, these two books are the only two books my son has actively protested returning to the library.

    by James Horvath

    This one follows a sort of “day in the life” of a dog at a construction site (where dogs are fully capable workers and not just tag-a-longs). It’s another good read-aloud, and it’s got dogs and constructions vehicles and a DINOSAUR BONE, so it’s right up Calvin’s alley.


    by Sherri Duskey Rinker, illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

    I’ve already written about GOODNIGHT, GOODNIGHT CONSTRUCTION SITE (which we still read often), so I thought I’d share the sequel, MIGHTY MIGHTY CONSTRUCTION SITE. Every bit as charming as its predecessor, this volume introduces some new friends to help build a building! I loved the emphasis on partnership, I love the introduction of the new trucks, and I love the way the two books complement and frame one another. 

    9.7.17 Construction KittiesCONSTRUCTION KITTIES
    by Judy Sue Goodwin-Sturges, illustrated by Shari Halpern

    I’m going to be honest: this one was not my favorite, but Calvin LOVED it. This reminds me a lot of DIG, DOGS, DIG!, from the “day in the life” aspect to the actual thing they’re building (spoiler alert: it’s a park. In at least half of the kids’ books about construction, they build parks).  But there are cats, and there are construction vehicles, and sometimes that’s all you need. He'll sometimes end the book by asking, "Can we be construction kitties?" which, of course, we can. If you need me, I'll be meowing and driving a backhoe loader. 


  • cooking the books 01

    So here we are in March, and I am surprised and delighted to say that my decision to cook more, eat better, and lose weight is still holding out. Did I still eat Wendy’s for lunch today? Yes, yes I did. However, I’m down 15 lbs. from the beginning of January. It’s slow progress, but it’s still progress!  

    To keep on top of my goal, I checked out SKINNYTASTE FAST AND SLOW. I love the very concept of this book, which is filled with slow cooker meals (for those days when you have a bit of time in the morning but a hectic afternoon) and quick-fix meals (for those days when everything is hectic). I’ve already planned to make at least three more recipes from this book.  

    If you’ve been following along for my series so far, you’ll know that I’m always on the hunt for simple, quick, and tasty recipes. This one fits the bill quite nicely; with only six ingredients, the prep work for this one is as fast as you can chop an onion and dismantle a head of cauliflower.  

    I’m not going to lie, when I got all the ingredients in the pot it looked like an insane amount of cauliflower. Looking down at the pot, I wondered if this was going to be one of those times that a recipe billed as “healthy” just ends up tasting like nothing.  


    This is an actual depiction of the cauliflower:liquid ratio.

    Happily, I was wrong. Everything comes together for a soup that gives the feeling of a cream soup without most of the calories that make cream soups so delicious. At 91 calories for a 1 ½ cup serving, you can pair this with a grilled cheese sandwich (which I did) and have dinner on the table 30 minutes from the time you started chopping vegetables, and if that’s not a win for a weeknight dinner I don’t know what is.  

    skinnytaste fast and slow

    Dad’s Cauliflower Soup
    by Gina Homolka




    1 tablespoon unsalted butter
    1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
    4 cups reduced sodium chicken or vegetable broth
    1 medium head cauliflower, chopped (about 20 ounces)
    ½ cup chopped onions
    ½ teaspoon kosher salt
    microgreens for garnish (optional)  


    In a medium nonstick pot, melt the butter over low heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring with a wooden spoon, until golden in color, about 2 minutes. Add the broth, cauliflower, and onions. Increase the heat to medium, bring to a boil, then cover and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the vegetables are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat. Puree the soup in the pot with an immersion blender until smooth (or in a stand blender, in two batches). Season with the salt. Serve hot. Ladle 1 ½ cups into each of 4 bowls and garnish* with microgreens, if desired.    

    *let’s get real here; I garnished with cheese. I'm losing weight, but ain't nobody got time to find microgreens.

  • cooking the books 01

    Growing up, there are some foods that I just assumed were gross. Foods I associated with bad cafeteria fare; you know the ones. Meatloaf. Chicken Fried Steak. And, of course, Sloppy Joes. 

    As an adult, I’ve come to realize that these foods are not inherently gross! In fact, ever since trying this recipe for Sloppy Joes, I’m convinced that there are tons of ways that Sloppy Joes can go right in such a way that I actually prefer them to their less messy hamburger cousins. 

    When I was restocking our Used Book Store this month, I was delighted to find that the adult department has been weeding our cookbook section, which means that the nonfiction section of our book store will be full of a variety of gently used cookbooks for the next month or two. The title PARENTS NEED TO EAT TOO (by Debbie Koenig) jumped out at me, as I’ve found myself in that terrible time of parenting a toddler that has me constantly saying things like, “Chips are not real food,” and “You have to eat something other than cheese!” After these endless conversation loops, I find myself with less and less motivation to cook something real for the adults in the house that will actually eat real food. Am I willing to pay $1 for a cookbook written by someone who gets me? Why yes, yes I am! 

    This book is divided into chapters that helpfully propose a variety of solutions to the lack of time/energy that new parents often face. There is a chapter on cooking with pantry staples, a chapter devoted to slow cookers, etc. This recipe comes from the chapter devoted to big batch cooking, an idea that you cook one recipe but make enough to stock your freezer with a few ready-made meals for those days when you just can’t even. 

    These Sloppy Joes were nice and tangy, and the chipotle pepper adds just the right amount of smoke and spice. I was initially worried that the sauce-to-meat ratio would be off (it just didn’t look like enough sauce!), but it turned out to be just enough to coat everything nicely without being TOO sloppy. We halved the recipe, and it still made enough for us to have a generous amount of leftovers. We’ll be making these again soon! 

    9.21.17 Parents need to eat

    Chipotle Sloppy Joes
    by Debbie Koenig





    1 tablespoon olive oil
    2 onions, finely chopped
    2 garlic cloves, minced
    1 red bell pepper, finely chopped
    2 celery ribs, finely chopped
    2 pounds extra-lean ground beef or lean ground turkey 

    ½ cup water
    ½ cup ketchup
    1 chipotle in adobo, minced (remove the seeds if you’d like less heat), plus 1 ½ tablespoons adobo sauce
    3 tablespoons tomato paste
    2 tablespoons brown sugar, or pure maple syrup
    3 tablespoons cider vinegar
    2 teaspoons paprika
    1 ½ teaspoons dry mustard
    2 teaspoons chili powder
    1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
    Salt and pepper

    Hamburger buns, for serving 


    1. Heat the oil in a large nonstick skilled over medium heat. When it shimmers, add the onions, garlic, pepper, and celery, and cook until softened, 5 to 8 minutes.
    2. Add the ground meat, raise heat to medium-high, and cook, breaking up the meat with the back of a spoon, until it’s no longer pink, 8 to 10 minutes.
    3. Stir in the remaining ingredients and salt and pepper to taste, bring to a boil, then lower heat and simmer for 10 to 15 minutes, until flavors meld.
    4. Serve on hamburger buns 


    Koenig recommends mixing all your sauce ingredients together in a 2-cup measuring cup while your other elements are cooking. I second this recommendation. I do not necessarily recommend allowing a toddler to help you with said mixing, but we avoided major disaster and only forgot the chili powder.

  • cooking the books 01


    This week, I was going to cook something healthy for you. Something that featured kale, or maybe an ancient grain, or maybe that adhered to "the Nordic diet" which, according to my quick search for "healthy food trends" revealed that "Nordic is the new Mediterranean." That article claimed that "eating like a Viking" was linked to lower blood pressure and weight loss. Guys. Eat like a Viking? First we were supposed to go Paleo and eat like Cavemen; now it's Vikings. The day someone tells me to eat more like a Conquistador, I'm done. 

    Anyhow, I had plans to make a wholesome, healthy dinner. And then Allison wrote this post celebrating International Chocolate Day, and you know what happened? Chocolate won. In the battle between kale and chocolate, chocolate always wins. So I wandered to the 641.6374's, which is the ingredient-specific Dewey Decimal classification for books devoted to chocolate, and I picked up one of Allison's recommendations, CHOCOLATE NEVER FAILETH (actually, I picked up several of them, but since I didn't have zucchini or exotic flours the "healthy" chocolate goodies weren't really an option). 

    This book did not fail me, and neither did the chocolate. Every recipe features chocolate in a prominent way; there are easy recipes and complex recipes and even inedible recipes, which made me giggle. The instructions for chocolate-scented playdough contained warnings that you should tell kids that even though it LOOKS and SMELLS like chocolate, we shouldn't eat it. That just seems like a cruel joke!

    Since my toddler and I were spending some quality alone time together while my husband worked, I decided to look for something quick and easy. The Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies did not disappoint; they come together quickly, even with the "help" of a toddler. They're hearty enough that they can stand up to maybe a little bit less flour because said toddler dumped all your remaining flour on the floor, leaving you 1/4 cup shy of the required 1 1/4 cups. There's just a hint of cinnamon, which adds a welcome twist to a traditional chocolate cookie. They satisfied my craving for chocolate, and since they've got oatmeal they qualify as a breakfast food! Right? Right? 

    Double Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
    by Annette Lyon


    1 stick butter
    1/2 cup brown sugar
    1 egg
    1 tsp vanilla
    1 1/4 cups flour
    3 tbsp cocoa
    1 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/2 tsp salt
    1 tsp cinnamon
    1 1/4 cups oats
    1 cup semisweet chocolate chips


    1. Preheat oven to 350.

    2. Cream the butter and the brown sugar. Add the egg and vanilla. 

    3. Add the flour, chocoa, baking power, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Mix well. 

    4. Add the oats until completely moistened. Stir in the chocolate chips. 

    5. Drop onto a cookie sheet by spoonfuls and bake for 9-11 minutes. The cookies will still be very soft. Let them finish baking on the cookie sheet for an additional 10 minutes before letting them cool completely on wire racks. 

    Makes about 1 1/2 dozen (unless your toddler keeps snatching spoonfuls of dough. Then it will make five.) 


  • cooking the books 01

    I promise that I cook my family more than meatloaf. Really, I do. In the small handful of recipes I’ve shared with you here from library cookbooks, it seems like meatloaf is really over-represented. I solemnly swear that the next recipe I share will not be meatloaf. 

    Right now, I am very pregnant. I’m the kind of pregnant where just standing up for more than 5 minutes makes me tired and winded. The kind of pregnant where people passing me in the hallway look at my belly and then give me sympathetic looks. With only a few weeks until my baby is due, you can bet that the meals that I’m cooking for my family are getting few and far between and are starting to consist of things I can mostly prepare sitting down. 

    That’s why the concept of a “dump meal” appealed to me; something simple that didn’t require constant tending and simmering and checking on things. Something I could mix, pop in the oven, and then leave alone while I took a short nap on the couch. 

    I chose this recipe because I already had most of the things on hand. I would put it in the solidly “okay” category. I probably needed to amp up the seasoning a little bit; I put in 2 lbs of ground beef instead of 1 ½ and though I tried to compensate by adding a little bit more of everything, I still wished for a little more flavor. 

    The plus side? These took approximately 5 minutes to mix, 3 minutes to put in the muffin tins, and 15 minutes to bake. They made enough that we’ll be eating leftovers for a few days, which means I don’t have to cook again, and at this point in my pregnancy that’s the kind of mealtime math I like. 

    12.21.17 Dump DinnersEasy Pizza-style Mini Meatloaf Cups
    from Dump Dinners
    by Julia Grady



    1 egg, beaten
    ½ cup pizza sauce plus extra for topping
    ¼ cup bread crumbs, Italian-seasoned
    1 teaspoon basil
    1 teaspoon oregano
    Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
    1 ½ pounds ground beef
    1 ½ cups mozzarella cheese, shredded 


    1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly coat muffin tins with cooking spray.
    2. In a bowl, mix together egg, pizza sauce, bread crumbs, basil, oregano, salt, and pepper. Add ground beef and mix well.
    3. Divide mixture evenly into muffin tins. Press down in center of beef mixture to make indent in center. Fill center with shredded cheese.
    4. Bake for 15 minutes or until meat is cooked through. Serve topped with additional sauce and cheese. 

    Makes 12 servings.

  • cooking the books 01


    As I write this second post documenting my efforts to cook at least one recipe from every cookbook the Library owns, it strikes me how impossible this task may be. Ah, well. If I fail, I hope to fail deliciously. 

    In the last month I've hardly done any cooking, and I think it's due to a condundrum summed up so well in Seinfeld's "Nighttime Guy vs. Morning Guy" routine. When it comes to cooking, there are several different Erikas. 10 AM Erika thinks she can do anything; she has boundless energy, she's working in a mostly clean and organized office, and she comes up with ideas like, "Cook a recipe from every cookbook ever!". The problem is that 10 AM Erika has a tendency to make plans that 6:30 PM Erika can't possibly follow through on. 6:30 PM Erika is tired; 6:30 PM Erika goes home to a house ruled by an energetic toddler, and inbetween feeding him and stepping over various configurations of Lego, 6:30 PM Erika isn't remotely interested in cooking anything, let alone cooking something that might require her to julienne carrots or "stir constantly for 10 minutes or until thickened." 

    At first I thought that the slow cooker would be my answer, but 7 AM Erika is even less with-it than these other Erikas, and is working hard just to get to work on time because midnight Erika thought it would be a good idea to watch "just one more" episode of The Good Wife. So, finally realizing that I needed to try to different approach or resign myself to endless dinners of frozen pizza and mac and cheese, I wandered into the 641.555 section which contains nearly every book by Rachel Ray and an assortment of other "fast and easy" meal cookbooks. While browsing this section, THE THREE INGREDIENT COOKBOOK by Jenny White caught my eye, because in addition to cooking, guess what else 6:30 PM Erika hates? You got it: grocery shopping. Three ingredients seemed right up my lazy alley. 

    As I browsed the recipes, some of them seemed to be cheating a little bit (does it count as three ingredients if one of the ingredients is pancakes? Seems like a sneaky way to put in 7 additional ingredients to me...), and some of them called for fancy ingredients I don't typically stock in my pantry, but I did find several recipes that seemed fast, easy, yummy, and that used things I already had in my pantry. Bonus: this cookbook has a whole section on simple accompaniments to help you go beyond main-dish planning and round out your meal. 

    I finally decided to make Honey Mustard Chicken because it calls for things that I almost always have. If you're not the kind of person who always has a nice wholegrain or course ground mustard in your fridge, repent immediately and buy some; it's an easy way to pack a lot of flavor into a dish without a lot of effort. As I watched this dish cook I was a bit worried that it wouldn't be very flavorful because the honey mustard mixture kept slipping off the chicken, but I kept basting as the recipe suggests and was happy to discover that it was really flavorful. I served this with a simple pasta salad made with vegetables from my garden and some fresh mozzarella, and my husband and I were well-fed. The toddler ate the salad and kept saying he was eating "snakes", which was adorable and maybe just a bit terrifying. 

    honey mustard chicken

    Honey Mustard Chicken
    by Jenny Smith


    8 chicken thighs 
    4 tablespoons wholegrain mustard
    4 tablespoons clear honey


    1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Put the chicken thighs in a roasting pan in a single layer. 

    2. Mix together the mustard and honey, season with salt and ground black pepper to taste and brush the mixture all over the chicken thighs. 

    3. Cook for 25-30 minutes, brushing the chicken with the pan juices occasionally, until cooked through. (To check the chicken is cooked through, skewer it with a sharp knife; the juices should run clear.)

     *Chicken thighs have a rich flavor, but if you want to cut down on fat, use four chicken breast portions instead and cook for 20-25 minutes. 





  • cooking the books 01


    I will just begin this post by saying that I am probably crazy. Nevertheless, I've decided to embark on a new blogging adventure called "Cooking the Books," wherein I endeavor to cook at least one recipe from every cookbook the Library owns. A casual consulting of our catalog shows me that the library currently owns 1,735 cook books, which means that if I cook a new recipe once a week I will be finished in approximately 33 years (just in time to retire!). 

    I haven't done something ridiculous like giving myself an unattainable deadline—this isn't some Julie and Julia experiment (though if Amy Adams would like to play me in the slightly boring movie of my life, I'm all for it). You won't hear about all the recipes—because they won't all be winners—but every month I'll bring you an update on my progress working through our entire 641 collection. 

    Of course, I chose an incredibly busy week to start this experiment (because why not?), and so as a full time working mom my mind naturally turned to the slow cooker. Slow cookers can be amazing for those busy, busy days when you don't have a lot of time but still want a great dinner. Plus, during the summertime I'm often reluctant to turn on my oven because I live in a shoebox of a house and the oven heats it up ridiculously fast. 

    My first recipe comes from Taste of Home's THE NEW SLOW COOKER. If I'm being totally honest, this wasn't my favorite thing I've ever cooked, but it did fit the bill for a very busy day. The recipe came together in just under 15 minutes, which made it pretty easy to fit into my morning routine. The meat was fall-off-the-bone tender, and I did enjoy this Asian-inspired twist on a traditional pulled pork. I have an electric pressure/slow cooker that has a saute setting that made the sauce come together in about 5 minutes (instead of the 30-40 the recipe recommends). As a bonus, I smelled like seared pork the whole day. This made A LOT of food, and I think it actually tastes even better left over. No picture for this one, because pulled pork is notoriously difficult to photograph appealingly. 

    Teriyaki Pulled Pork Sandwiches 
    by Taste of Home


    1 boneless pork shoulder roast (3lbs), trimmed
    2 teaspoons olive oil
    1 cup finely chopped onion
    1 cup teriyaki sauce, divided
    1/2 cup pineapple juice
    3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    8 whole-wheat hamburger buns
    1 can (20 oz) sliced pineapple, drained

    1. In a large skillet, brown roast in oil over medium-high heat. Cut in half; place in a 5-qt slow cooker. Add the onion, 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce and pineapple juice. Cover and cook on low for 7-8 hours or until meat is tender. 

    2. Remove roast; set aside. In a small bowl, combine the flour and remaining teriyaki sauce until smooth; stir into cooking juices. Cover and cook on high for 30-40 minutes or until thickened. 

    3. Shred meat with two forks; return to the slow cooker and heat through. Spoon 1/2 cup onto each bun; top with a slice of pineapple. 

    Yield: 8 servings
    (or, you know, 50, depending on how much you eat. My husband and I are going on 50). 

  • cooking the books 01


    In previous Cooking the Books posts, I’ve tackled all the big issues: no time. No ingredients. No self-control. No fat.  No motivation. The anticipation of no motivation. No beef. And just to continue that tradition of hard-hitting journalism that you’ve come to expect from this periodic series reviewing library cookbooks, I decided to tackle a subject I’ve never tackled before: 


    “Cute” is not a word I expect to use to describe a cookbook, but it’s what I found while browsing the children’s cookbook section for recipes I could have my son help me make. I decided on COOK ME A RHYME by Bryan Kozlowski, and I was not disappointed. 

    Each recipe in this cookbook is based on a nursery rhyme, even down to the steps in the recipe. For example, in the recipe for Sing a Song of Sixpence (Blackberry Sandwich Pies), you slice a banana into six round pieces as you “sing a song of sixpence”, and then roll out a slice of bread for the “pocketful of rye.” Or when making “Cockle Shell Pasta Salad,” you line the “pretty maids” (snap peas) up in a row around the bowl before chilling. I’m going to try to replicate this as I post the recipe, but just know it’s really adorable in the book. This book has full-color illustrations and easy-to-follow directions and its recipes would be perfect for a Mother Goose-themed party. It would also be great to use with a beginning reader, especially if they’re at all familiar with some of these rhymes. 

    We have a 6-month-old baby at our house, so we play a lot of “Pat-a-Cake Pat-a-Cake” every day. I decided to recruit my older son to help me make "Mark It With a “B” Breakfast Cake", hoping that the familiar rhyme would prove delightful to him and keep him from asking to watch TV. This only sort of worked, but it was a good effort.

    This recipe was incredibly easy; unfortunately, because I let my three-year-old have some input, we made things harder on ourselves. For example, because he was pretending to be a member of the Paw Patrol at the time, my little helper insisted that we cut the puff pastry into dog bone shapes and not the 8-inch circle the recipe indicates. In the end, we had a few circles, a few doggie bones, an actual dog shape, and a heart. All of these small shapes were harder to fill than a regular circle would have been, and it was harder to know if we’d gotten the right ratio of ingredients. They were also harder to seal and baked at different rates, so we ended up with a few underdone pastries and some spilled filling. 

    That said, this recipe was easy and yummy, and a bit of underdone pastry didn’t stop us from consuming them all. 

    A final note: there is a bit of a copyediting error with this recipe. Though the recipe instructions call for sugar, it’s not mentioned in the ingredients list. I ended up just adding the sugar a tablespoon at a time until the filling tasted good, so we ended up with about six cups of sugar. I jest! It was two tablespoons. You may adjust your own sugar level depending on the sugar content of your raspberry jam and your preference for sweet flavors. 

    cook me a rhymeMark It with a “B” Breakfast Cake
    by Bryan Kozlowski



    2 (17.3 ounce) frozen puff pastry sheets, thawed
    4 ounces cream cheese, softened
    2 tablespoons sugar*
    2 teaspoons plus 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour
    1/3 cup raspberry jam
    2 tablespoons water 


    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.


    1.  Pat-a-cake, pat-a-cake...      

    Unfold the thawed puff pastry sheets on a cutting board and, one at a time, cut out an 8-inch circle from each sheet. Place one pastry round on a nonstick baking tray and set it aside. 


    2.  Baker's man...      

    To make the baked-in filling, mix the softened cream cheese and sugar in a bowl with a spoon or electric mixer until combined. Add 2 teaspoons of flour and mix it into the cream cheese. 


    3.  Bake me a cake, as fast as you can...      

    Spoon the cream cheese mixture onto the middle of the pastry round on the baking tray. Spread the cream cheese evenly with a butter knife, leaving about a 1-inch space around the edge of the pastry. Dot the raspberry jam onto the cream cheese and spread it evenly to the edge of the cream cheese. 


    4.  Pat it...      

    Place the second pastry round over the first, covering the jam and cream cheese. Pat and press the edge of the two pastry rounds together with your fingers to make a thing, tight seal around the crust. 


    5.  And prick it...      

    Using the tip of a small knife, poke about 20 tiny holes into the top of the cake. 


    6.  And mark it with a B...      

    Stir the water and 3 tablespoons of flour in a small bowl until a thick paste forms. Scoop the paste into a small plastic bag, cut a tiny hole in one corner of the bag, and squeeze the paste to form the letter "B" on the top of the cake. 


    7.  And put it in the oven for baby and me!                  Put the cake into the oven and bake until golden brown, about 17 to 20 minutes. Using oven mitts, remove the baking tray from the oven and let the cake cool for 30 minutes before sliving it "for baby and me." 


  • cooking the books 01

    If you’ve been following this series at all, you’ll be aware that in my last postI wrote about being very pregnant and not really wanting to cook. If I thought cooking was hard then, it certainly hasn’t gotten any easier since having the baby about a month ago. We were well taken care of for several weeks by kind friends and family, but eventually I knew that I would have to start cooking again, so I decided to turn to someone whose specialty is cooking for families: the Pioneer Woman. 

    I honestly haven’t followed the Pioneer Woman that much. I know she has a blog; I know she has a show; I know she has several cookbooks; I know she has a line of kitchenware. After checking out her cookbook, I see why she has all those things. Her cookbook is conversational and relatable, and filled with full color photos of hundreds of recipes that I want to try. This is a cookbook I’m going to put on hold as soon as I return it, because I didn’t get to try everything that I wanted to. THE PIONEER WOMAN COOKS: DINNERTIME offers a variety of yummy dinnertime solutions to make things work for a busy family.

    This recipe comes from the freezer section of the cookbook, and operates on the idea that you spend a few hours making meatballs and then have easy dinners ready for later. If you follow the instructions, you really will spend a few hours making meatballs, but it will be worth it! These are nice, subtle-flavored meatballs. We tried them with the Sweet and Sour Sauce (included below! Bonus recipe!), and we’ve also had them with the easy chili sauce/grape jelly gravy that you know from every potluck you’ve been to. Both were delicious!

    2.15 Pioneer Woman


    Ready-to-Go Freezer Meatballs
    by Ree Drummond



    5 pounds ground beef
    1 ½ cups plain breadcrumbs
    1 teaspoon kosher salt
    1 teaspoon black pepper
    4 large eggs
    2 heaping tablespoons grainy mustard
    ½ cup whole milk
    ¼ cup heavy cream
    ¼ cup chopped parsley
    ½ teaspoon red pepper flakes
    Olive oil, for frying 


    1. Combine all the ingredients (except the olive oil) in a large bowl.
    2. Knead it all together well with your hands until it’s well combined.
    3. Scoop out 1-tablespoon portions of the meat mixture and roll them into neat balls.
    4. Place them on parchment-paper-lined rimmed baking sheets as you got, then put the sheets in the freezer for about 10 minutes to firm them up before frying.
    5. To brown the meatballs, heat ¼ cup olive oil in a large skilled over medium-high heat. Working in batches, add some meatballs to the skillet…
    6. And cook them on all sides until they have great color on the surface and are fully cooked inside, about 5 to 6 minutes.
    7. Drain the meatballs on paper towels when they’re done, then line them up on clean parchment-paper-lined baking sheets.
    8. Place them in the freezer, uncovered, for 30 to 45 minutes, or until they’re frozen and firm on the surface.
    9. Then just pop them into 5 to 7 separate freezer bags (roughly 25 per bag)…
    10. And freeze them immediately. They’ll be there when you need them! 

    FREEZER INSTRUCTIONS: Freeze the meatballs for up to 6 months. To use them in sauces or soups, simply add them to the hot sauce or soup and allow it to simmer long enough for the meatballs to thaw and heat up. Or allow the meatballs to thaw in the fridge for 2 hours, then use them as you’d like. 

    BONUS: Sweet-and-sour Meatballs 


    2 ¼ cups pineapple juice
    ½ cup packed brown sugar
    ½ cup rice vinegar or white vinegar
    ¼ cup ketchup
    1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce
    1 tablespoon cornstarch
    One 25-count bag frozen Read-to-Go Freezer Meatballs
    1 tablespoon sriracha or other hot sauce, more to taste
    1 cup drained canned or fresh pineapple chunks
    4 tablespoons sliced green onions
    1 ½ cups long-grain or basmati rice, cooked, for serving 


    1. In a large skillet (with a lid), combine 2 cups of the pineapple juice…
    2. With the brown sugar, vinegar, ketchup, and soy sauce.
    3. Stir the mixture around and bring it to a gentle boil over medium-high heat.
    4. To thicken the sauce, make a slurry by mixing the cornstarch with the remaining ¼ cup pineapple juice until smooth…
    5. Then add it to the sauce, whisking to combine.
    6. Add the frozen meatballs…
    7. Then the sriracha…
    8. And toss to combine. Cover the skillet and cook for 8 to 10 minutes, until the sauce has thickened and the meatballs are heated through.
    9. Stir in the pineapple…
    10. Then sprinkle in 2 tablespoons of the green onions.
    11. Serve the meatballs and sauce over the rice and sprinkle on the rest of the green onions at the end! 
  • cooking the books 01


    It’s the middle of January—how are those resolutions coming? This is usually the point of the month that I forget all my well-intentioned healthy eating and exercise goals and sit down with a sleeve of Oreos, a mug of milk and a fork and tell myself that I am winning at life. 

    However, this year I’m doing better. But it’s hard. It’s really hard. I’m determined to lose the winter weight and stop snarfing McDonald’s cheeseburgers like I did when I was pregnant (it's been several years since I had a good excuse for craving those cheap but satisfying non-burger burgers). It’s hard not only because willpower is hard, but also because my time is limited. Eating healthfully means planning, shopping, cooking, and cleaning, and I only really like to do one of those things. Enter Slow Cooker Taco Chicken by the girls from Our Best Bites. 

    I’m cheating a bit with this blog post because this is actually a cookbook that I own, but I feel like if you’re somehow someone who hasn’t tried an Our Best Bites cookbook yet I just need to convert you. Their recipes are generally easy to follow, don’t require crazy ingredients, and I’ve yet to have one fail me. This Taco Chicken is my go-to slow cooker meal, because even if I haven’t been shopping in a while I almost always have all of the ingredients on hand (well, I didn’t always have ranch packets in my pantry, but ever since I discovered this recipe I buy them in bulk). The fact that it’s also fairly low calorie is just a bonus—it’s super yummy, everyone in my family eats it, and I use the leftovers in quesadillas or taquitos or Latin-inspired quinoa salad. 

    I’ll check back in next month with another healthy recipe. Or maybe a super indulgent dessert; we’ll just see where me and those resolutions stand. 

    400 cals or lessSlow Cooker Taco Chicken
    By Sara Wells and Kate Jones



    2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts
    1/2 cup Italian salad dressing (not low fat)
    1 packet Ranch dressing
    1/2 cup water
    1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder
    1 1/2 teaspoons cumin
    1 teaspoon coriander
    6-8 cloves minced garlic
    1 tablespoon dehydrated onion
    Juice of 1 lime
    Salt to taste
    Hot Sauce to taste (optional)  


    Place all the ingredients except for the lime, salt, and hot sauce in your slow cooker and cook for 5-6 hours on LOW or until the chicken shreds easily with a fork. When done, shred the chicken with two forks and sprinkle with lime juice. Taste and season with salt and hot sauce to taste. Serves 8-10.

  • cooking the books 01


    Normally when I set out to write one of these posts, I locate some broad issue in my life and try to solve it with a cookbook. Hurried week? Pick up a quick, easy meals cookbook (we have at least 50). No time for shopping? Go for a cookbook that promises maximum flavor with minimum ingredients

    This time, however, I had a different problem, a very specific problem: my mother sent us home with an armload of leftover mashed potatoes on Sunday, and I needed to make something that would pair nicely with them. I knew I already had ground turkey, so I decided on turkey meatloaf. 

    Here’s my beef with ground turkey: you can’t just use it as a straight-across substitute for red meat. On its own, it’s bland and soft and sad. It lacks the body (but also the calories) of ground beef, and so if you just try to substitute it without making some modifications, you will be disappointed. Fully aware of this, I decided to seek out a recipe intended for ground turkey instead of one intended for beef. 

    I will spare you the minute details of my search for a delicious-sounding recipe for ground turkey meatloaf, a search that found me sitting in the library stacks reading cookbook indexes for longer than I’d care to admit. I thought of all the reasons one might use for substituting turkey for beef, scouring diet cookbooks and budget cookbooks and clean eating cookbooks (Gwyneth Paltrow was of no help here, though I did ask her by way of her cookbook. Aside: Why does Gwyneth Paltrow have a cookbook?). Finally, it was my friends at Cooks Illustrated that came through for me. 

    A word about Cooks Illustrated cookbooks: they test a ton of recipes so you don’t have to. Before giving you a recipe, they walk you through that process, explaining why you should take the extra time to sauté onions and garlic. Also, there will come a point when it tells you to mix the meat mixture with your hands. Do it. It's gross and squishy and really satisfying, and it's absolutely the best way to make sure that you've distributed the bread crumbs evenly so you don't find yourself with a large clump of bread crumbs in the middle of your loaf. 

    The resulting meatloaf was moist and flavorful and reminded me of the meatloaf I ate growing up. My mom always served meatloaf with a bottle of ketchup next to it, and I thought the ketchup glaze was really yummy. This is not a quick meal, but it's that kind of satisfying, stick-to-your-ribs comfort food that leaves you thinking that all is right in the world. Even if you used ground turkey. 

    best light recipeTurkey Meatloaf with Brown Sugar-Ketchup Glaze
    by the Editors of COOKS ILLUSTRATED

    Do not use ground turkey breast meat (sometimes also labeled as 99 percent fat free) or the meatloaf will be very dry and grainy. 




    1 medium onion, chopped fine
    2 medium garlic cloves, minced or pressed
    1 tsp vegetable oil
    1/2 cup milk or plain yogurt
    2 large eggs
    2 tsp minced fresh thyme leaves
    2 tsp Dijon mustard
    2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
    1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce
    1/2 tsp ground black pepper
    2 lbs 93% lean ground turkey
    1 1/3 cups fresh bread crumbs
    1/4 cup minced fresh parsley leaves
    1/2 cup ketchup
    1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
    4 tsp cider or white vinegar


    1. Adjust an oven rack to the middle position and heat the oven to 350 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil and place a wire rack on top; set aside. Fold a piece of heavy-duty foil into a 10 by 6-inch rectangle; set aside. 

    2. Combine the onion, garlic, oil, and 1/8 tsp salt in a medium skillet. Cover and cook over medium-low heat, stirring often, until the onion has softened, 8 to 10 minutes; set aside to cool. In a medium bowl, whisk the milk, eggs, thyme, mustard, Worcestershire, hot sauce, pepper, and 1/4 tsp salt together. 

    3. In a large bowl, mix the turkey, bread crumbs, parsley, cooked onion mixture, and egg mixture together with your hands until uniformly combined. Press the mixture together into a compact mass, then turn it out onto the foil rectangle. Using your hands, press the meat into an evenly thick loaf about 2 inches tall and 1 inch smaller than the foil on all sides. 

    4. Transfer the foil and meatloaf to the center of the prepared wire rack. Stir the ketchup, sugar, and vinegar together, then brush half of the mixture evenly over the meatloaf. Bake the meatloaf for 45 minutes. 

    5. Brush the meatloaf with the remaining ketchup glaze, and continue to bake until the center of the loaf registers 160 degrees on an instant-read thermometer, about 15 to 20 minutes longer. Cool at least 20 minutes before slicing into 1-inch-thick pieces. 


  • newbery


    As you may have heard, our Library Director, Gene Nelson, is a member of the Newbery Committee this year. In a show of solidarity, many of us are taking on the challenge to read as many books for kids aged 0-14 as we can get our hands on. Though I haven’t been keeping up with Gene’s feverish reading pace, I’ve read more middle grade novels this year than in the past several years combined (I’m going to blame that on a toddler and a Netflix addiction). While Gene must remain mum about what books he’s eyeing for the award, as a nobody to the committee I’m free to share my opinions about things I’ve been reading. In no particular order, here are my favorite middle-grade novels of 2016 so far.


    by Sara Pennypacker

    Every so often, you notice unintended patterns in your reading. When choosing my favorites of the year so far, I found myself deciding between two excellent novels about children and foxes, and PAX edged out MAYBE A FOX by Kathi Appelt. Both are excellent; PAX is remarkable. This book manages to address themes of loyalty, friendship, abuse, trust, and the price of war all while telling the simple story of a boy and his fox. Any attempt to simplify PAX’s storyline in this blurb doesn’t quite do justice to the book. It’s about finding truth in unexpected places; it’s about learning to be strong; it’s about the weight of our decisions, and learning how to know whether you’ve made the right one. The prose is lyrical, the characters are engaging, and the book is great.


    hourofthebeesHOUR OF THE BEES
    by Lindsey Eager

    Middle-grade fiction is chocked full of grandparent stories. I’m not quite sure what it is that draws writers to the premise—perhaps a the feeling that we need to know where we come from to understand where we’re going—but there are countless stories of surly 12-year-olds visiting curmudgeonly grandparents and learning life lessons along the way. At first, I thought HOUR OF THE BEES was just another one of these stories, but I was mistaken. After a few chapters, the book jolted me awake and grabbed my attention with a parallel magical story that transforms this book from just another grandparent story to something amazing. To say more would be to spoil a surprise, but you really shouldn’t miss this one. Bonus: it’s by a local author!


    by Ally Condie

    More than any book on this list, SUMMERLOST gave me all the feels. Ally Condie describes this book as a book about “falling in friendship”, and she absolutely delivers on that promise. This isn’t a love story; it’s a friendship story of the best kind. Cedar Lee and her mother and younger brother move to the town of Iron Creek for a summer as they’re trying to cope with a devastating loss in their family. Trying to escape her grief, Cedar throws herself into a job and finds a friendship and a mystery that get her through the summer. You’ll laugh! You’ll cry! You’ll want to get a ticket to the Shakespeare Festival, and you’ll be grateful for your family and friends and the way that they buoy you up in times of trouble. Bonus: Ally Condie is local as well!


    raymienightengaleRAYMIE NIGHTINGALE
    by Kate DiCamillo

    One of my favorite things about Kate DiCamillo’s writing in RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE is the way she manages to communicate big concepts in small sentences. RAYMIE NIGHTINGALE finds young Raymie preparing to compete in the Little Miss South Florida Tire contest as a way to try to convince her absent father to come home; along the way she makes friends with would-be competitors, learns to twirl a baton, and finds out what her soul was made for.


    by Karen Harrington

    I said this list was in no particular order, but I lied: MAYDAY just might be my favorite so far. MAYDAY is gripping right from the start. From the publisher’s description: “Wayne Kovok lives in a world of After. After his uncle in the army was killed overseas. After Wayne and his mother survived a plane crash while coming back from the funeral. After he lost his voice.” Just that description makes me want to read it again! MAYDAY is equal parts funny and substantive as it explores the ways that family helps and (maybe) hinders the healing process. There is a grandparent, there is an absent father, and at the heart of the book is an interesting main character just trying to find his voice. READ THIS BOOK!


    It’s July, which means that there’s still plenty of time for more great books to come out! What’s your favorite middle-grade novel of the year so far? What did I miss? 

  • calvin

    Whenever someone learns that I work at a library, they usually ask one of three questions:

    1. What’s your favorite book?
    2. What are you reading?
    3. What do you recommend?

    The last two are usually more enjoyable to answer than the first question, but lately those questions have been very difficult for me. I’m going to be honest here. Yes, I work at a library, but I am not a librarian. I’m also the parent of a one-year-old, and so right now between working full time and parenting that little fellow, the answer is that I read a lot of the same five books. Over, and over, and over again. I hope that some time in the next year I will learn how to get dinner on the table before 8:30 at night; I hope that I will find time and space to read for myself again; I hope that maybe Calvin will learn to like more books (he will). But for now, it’s these five. So I present to you Calvin’s (the one-year-old) favorite five books, which I somehow still don’t hate even though I read them each at least five times a day.

    by Emily Gravett  

    The premise of this book is simple: four words, combined in varied ways, create new pictures. I don’t want to spoil the jokes, so I’ll leave the description there. Calvin loves to be asked, “Where’s the bear?”; the bear looks slightly different on every page, so it feels like a challenge. Plus, I roar when he finds it, so there’s that.

    by Sandra Boynton

    This was the first book Calvin actually listened to in its entirety. And then asked to hear again. And again. In Calvin’s eyes, this book has three real strengths: first, it’s not too long. Second, it’s filled with a variety of animals. Third, as each animal represents a different emotion, the opportunities for silly and changing voices abound. This one’s a great read-aloud for little ones, and I’m still amused by the book’s final insistence that “A difficult mood is not here to stay. Unless you’re that duck. He’s always this way.”

    by Dr. Seuss  

    It’s always satisfying when your child loves a book that you loved as a child, so when Calvin willingly sat in my lap and listened as we read about all these variously positioned, colored, and tempered feet, we both felt as fuzzy inside as “fuzzy fur feet”. This book is fun for all the usual reasons that a Dr. Seuss book is fun: delightfully silly rhymes, that signature art style, the way that something so ordinary becomes whimsical. After we’re done reading, Calvin loves to open up to either the very front or very back pages (which have tons of images of the main character) and we just keep saying, “Feet! Feet! Feet! Feet!” This is a part of the story his Dad invented, and it’s his favorite.

    by Richard Priddy  

    This is probably the book we spend the most time with. Our copy is a large board book that we picked up at the Library’s Used Book Store, and Calvin loves to carry it around because his first love is carrying objects that seem much too large for him (at grandma’s house, his favorite thing to play with is her steam mop. But I digress…). This one is great for especially young kids; lots of animals, each isolated on a bright colored background (making it easy to distinguish them from one another and point to your favorites). Calvin’s favorite is the bunny. The chicken and the giraffe are close seconds. 

    by Lisa McCourt  

    I fully expect Calvin to move on from a few of these books before he can really comprehend their message, but this is one I hope he sustains interest in long enough to really understand the story. In I LOVE YOU, STINKY FACE, a child prolongs his bedtime routine by posing an escalating series of “what if?” scenarios to his patient, patient mother. “What if I smelled so bad my name was Stinky Face? What if I was a terrible meat-eating dinosaur? Would you still love me?” The book is silly and playful, but reinforces maybe the best lesson: that no amount of bad breath, big teeth, or bug-eating can stop a parent from loving their child.

  • toddler faves

    Last year I shared my son Calvin’s favorite books. He was one at the time, and was just barely at a place where he enjoyed being read to. The last year of parenting has had its ups and downs, but one thing we’ve done right is to continue to read to him. It’s now a several-times-daily activity. Calvin is branching out and learning to like new books, but he does have some tried and true favorites that he keeps coming back to.  

    Though we’ve done our best to expose Calvin to lots of possible interests, he is obsessed with trucks, trains, and construction vehicles right now. You’ll notice a strong bias in that direction.  

    goodnight goodnight construction siteGOOD NIGHT, GOOD NIGHT CONSTRUCTION SITE
    by Sherri Rinker
    Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld

    This is the book Calvin asks for every. single. night. The text has a great rhyme scheme, Lichtenheld’s illustrations are just the right blend of cutesy and beautiful, but really it’s the trucks that interest Calvin. After a hard day’s work, a variety of large vehicles are tucked safely away to rest. I credit this book for my son’s ability to correctly identify an “excavator.”   Side note: before I had a child, there were basically two kinds of construction vehicles to me: cranes and bulldozers. I have now seen the error of my ways, and can tell you the difference between a front-end loader, a grader, an excavator, and a bulldozer.

    by Gyo Fujikawa

    The library doesn’t actually have a copy of this book, but we do have several by Fujikawa so you can get a sense of her illustration style. I don’t quite know what it is about this book that fascinates Calvin. The book talks about all the different things babies do (which is basically eat, sleep, repeat). He does like seeing the babies learn things like putting on shoes and eating with a spoon. Plus there are puppies and kitties and small children romping through fields of flowers. It’s a bit cutesy for my taste, but I guess this list isn’t about me.

    curious george takes a trainCURIOUS GEORGE TAKES A TRAIN 
    by H.A. Rey, Margaret Rey & Martha Weston

    The love that Calvin has for Curious George knows virtually no bounds. He has seen every episode of the show at least 7 times (I don’t know what that says about us as parents. Probably nothing good…also, I’m lying. It’s probably at least 12 times). He clapped when we finally decorated his room and put up some Curious George art; my mother gave him a Curious George blanket that he wants to take on every car ride even though he’s historically been a blanket-hater. Though I prefer the Curious George books written by Margaret and H.A. Rey (rather than the new series inspired by them), this one is pretty short and has a train, so it wins for Calvin.

    i am a bunnyI AM A BUNNY
    by Old Risom
    Illustrated by Richard Scarry

    I was surprised and a little sad that the library doesn’t own a stand-alone copy of this book, though the compilation linked here is definitely worth your time. I first became interested in I AM A BUNNY when we had some of Scarry’s original art on display in The Attic. I typically think of Scarry as the illustrator who created the worm with the bowtie, but the art in I AM A BUNNY is gorgeous. The text that follows a bunny throughout the seasons is simple; in fact, Calvin has it memorized, and I’ll usually have him complete the sentences. I challenge you to find something more adorable than a two-year-old saying, “Butterflies chase me!” in a sing-song voice. It’s the cutest thing ever.  

    freight trainFREIGHT TRAIN
    by Donald Crews

    With so much available for kids to read and watch, I’m sometimes baffled by the things that Calvin likes. “This?!? Out of all that is good and beautiful for you to love in the world, you like THIS?!?” Happily, FREIGHT TRAIN is not like that. The art is interesting and graphic and beautiful, but it’s also really accessible to very young readers. FREIGHT TRAIN names all the cars of the train (each a different color), and then has the train go until it’s going, going, gone! At the end of the book, Cal always asks, “Where’d the train go?”, which isn’t the cutest thing EVER but is amusing every time.  

    Also, I’m only talking about books here, but if you have a small person in your life that is obsessed with vehicles and construction equipment, you’ve probably got to share MIGHTY MACHINES with them. MIGHTY MACHINES features live action footage of large vehicles doing what they do with narration that is both informative and silly (why does the small crane have a terrible Italian accent? We’ll never know…). We stream it in Netflix, but the library has several compilations that will surprise and delight again and again (and again. And again. And again…).  

    Possible side effect: Your child may ask to “watch garbage” every day for a month. And you will let him, because that garbage episode is gross and fascinating and one of the bulldozers randomly sings about crushing garbage and going to the disco, which sounds like a great way to live. 

  • GG 2018 FB

    Like many of you, I am an avid reader. Probably also like many of you, I didn’t really grow up reading comics. My experience with comic book characters came more by way of the big and small screens (Adam West will always be my most favorite Batman) than it did by reading. Even after marrying a comics enthusiast, I still wouldn’t really call myself a comic book reader. 

    While in college I started hearing more and more about graphic novels, and I stumbled upon a few works of graphic nonfiction, and I was hooked! Even though I might not be up to date on all the latest incarnations of Spider-Man, I'm definitely a fan of the medium,  and given the dramatic rise in publishing rates for graphic novels of all kinds, I’m clearly not the only one. 

    If you’ve walked around the library or taken a look at our calendar, you’ll probably know that I’m writing this post to promote our second annual GET GRAPHIC FESTIVAL. This year’s featured guest will be Victoria Jamieson, award-winning author/illustrator of ROLLER GIRL and the new ALL’S FAIRE IN MIDDLE SCHOOL. The festival, which takes place on October 13 and 14, will celebrate all things about graphic novels; in addition to Jamieson’s keynote addresses (one on Friday night and one on Saturday), we will have breakout sessions by local illustrators, art experimentation stations, and interactive games. A variety of graphic novels for all ages will be for sale courtesy of Dragon’s Keep. 

    Tickets are now available for the keynote addresses; here are some links for your convenience!

    Tickets for Friday, October 13

    Tickets for Saturday, October 14

    I’m not the only one who loves graphic novels! Here’s a round up of recommendations and recaps extolling the virtues of this medium! 

    Recap of last year’s festival

    AuthorLink Recap: Gene Yang (pt.1)

    Graphic Novel Festival with Gene Yang (pt.2)

    Recommendations and Lists

    If You Like: Sci-Fi Graphic Novels for Kids  

    Favorite Graphic Memoirs 

    Favorite Graphic Novels

    Did you know? 

    DC Comics Rebirth  

    Third Party Comics 

  • suspend holds

    If you’re a frequent library user, you might be familiar with this dilemma: there are tons of books you want to read, but other people want to read them too. So, like the industrious library user you are, you put them all on hold. 

    And then, because the universe doesn’t care about things like how long it takes to read a book, ALL YOUR HOLDS COME IN AT ONCE. And maybe you have more time to read than I do, but between my family, my work, and my need for some semblance of sleep, I haven’t yet been able to get through nine books in three weeks. But it’s painful to return something, knowing that you’ll go to the back of the line and you’ll wait another six weeks (or months!) to get that book again. 

    So what’s an intrepid reader to do? The answer is easy. Suspend your holds! 

    When you suspend a hold, you keep your place in line but allow others to bump in front of you until you’re ready for your hold. This works slightly differently in our catalog and with Libby (digital books), so I’ll walk you through both processes. 


    For materials managed exclusively through our catalog – print books, audiobooks on CD, etc. – the suspend holds feature keeps your place in line until a specific date. If you reach the top of the holds queue while your hold is suspended, other people will jump in front of you until the hold reactivates. 

    To suspend a hold through the library’s catalog, log in to your library account and click the “my holds” tab. Here you can see all of your digital holds. 

    Suspend Holds Pic 1


    Simply select the title you’d like to suspend, and choose a date when you’d like the hold to reactivate. This can be a little bit of a guessing game, but if you know that you’ve got a vacation or something concrete planned you can select a time when you know you’ll be available to give that book all the attention it deserves. If your reading schedule opens up unexpectedly, you can always cancel your hold suspension and you will immediately start working your way up the hold list again. 

    Suspend Holds Pic 2



    If you do some of your reading through Libby by Overdrive (and if you don’t…why not? It’s amazing!), the Libby app has its own hold suspension system. It works similarly; you keep working your way up the hold queue while your hold is suspended, and if you reach the top slot Libby will allow one person at a time ahead of you until your hold is reactivated. To suspend a hold in Libby, go to your shelf and then your holds tab. Click on the red/blue “manage hold” square on the title you’d like to suspend. 

    suspend holds pic 3


    From here you can cancel or suspend your hold. I suggest you suspend.

    suspend holds pic 4


    This is now the step that doesn’t feel intuitive to me. You will be taken to a screen that gives you some information about your hold; click on the button in the lower right corner that says “active”, and then choose how long you’d like to suspend your hold. 

    suspend holds pic 5


    You will then be given a confirmation screen. If you immediately regret your decision, you can click “update hold suspension” and go back and rethink your life choices. 

    suspend holds pic 6


    Suspending holds is still a bit of a guessing game; unless you’re really diligent about knowing your place in every hold queue, there’s still a chance that your best-laid hold suspensions will all activate at the same time and you’ll still need to figure out how you can listen to a 48-hour audiobook in three days and still sleep and interact with other humans (I’m going to go ahead and tell you that you can’t. It’s just impossible. Forego human contact or resign yourself to jumping back into that hold queue.). 

    Still, it’s a tool in your belt. Place holds with abandon, and use the suspend feature wrangle them into a manageable state. Your personal reading queue will thank you. 

  •  LB FB event

    If you’ve visited the library this week, you’ve probably noticed something new – a children’s play area tucked away in a corner of the children’s department! Kids can climb, peer out windows, build a brick wall, and play with paint rollers, but this fun play area is just the beginning.

    Just in time for our “Build a Better World” themed Summer Reading Program to begin, we have a children’s exhibit opening in The Attic. Starting today, the youngest visitors to the Provo City Library will become movers and shakers in the new Little Builders exhibit. Donning little hard hats and construction vests, children ages 2-7 will create, play, and learn as they explore the concepts of construction, motion, and simple machines. Visitors have the exciting opportunity to:

    • Hand-operate a pulley and conveyer belt to explore cause and effect

    • Operate a child-size crane to hook, lift and move objects and materials
    • Build structures with blocks, pipes, Duplo® blocks (toddlers’ large snap-on blocks) and gears

    • Insert balls into air chutes and see them shoot through clear pipes to experiment with aerodynamics

    Little Builders challenges and entertains the mind of a child helping to develop intellectual, physical, emotional and social skills. It uses scientific processes, mathematical concepts, sensory development and communication to promote self-confidence, coordination, control, strength and self-expression.

    The Exhibit includes five themed areas:

    Construction Site - Visitors learn the physics of movement and cause-and-effect in the Construction Site, which is located in the Children’s Department. They can start their workday by turning gears, and then climb in, out, over and under the four levels of the Construction Site. On the pattern wall they can design and build a “brick” wall with large interlocking plastic blocks in a variety of sizes and colors.  Visitors can also pretend to paint a wall with real painting equipment to master the craft. They can use fuzzy paint rollers and dip them into trays that are pre coated with “paint.”  

    Structures - Visitors discover the concepts involved in building: size, weight, shape, balance, gravity and stability as they design and build structures. Visitors can build a mini-community on a soft carpet covered with city streets or build three-dimensional structures using a variety of PVC pipe pieces and connectors at the four-sided PVC Pipe House. They can even crawl into miniature Latch Houses and practice fine-motor skills by hooking and unhooking latches while opening and closing doors and shutters, and build pathways, houses, or anything else imaginable with soft oversized blocks.  

    Aerodynamics - Visitors experience and play with the characteristics of air and wind, and how they affect objects. Visitors can insert balls into vertical air chutes and watch them shoot through the clear pipes and pop into a basket. Visitors will watch in amazement as plastic balls mysteriously float, bobbing up and down, above a large orange cone. At the Bernoulli blower, they can feel the force and pressure of air by experimenting with balls and the stream of air that flows up through the hollow cone.  

    Cranes - Young visitors will have opportunities to discover mechanical physics at work —at the mini crane visitors can turn a crank to operate a pulley system to raise and lower objects, use a friction brake to hold or release lifted objects, and use a set of pedals to rotate the crane on its base. Visitors can discover how the crane enables workers to move objects around the construction area and move block cargo to a waiting flatbed car using a gantry crane.  

    Simple Machines - Visitors can pound over-sized nails, turn over-sized screws, and twist over-sized bolts with plastic hammers, screwdrivers and wrenches.  Dropping plastic balls through a series of clear pipes, visitors will watch as the balls travel down a twisty path.  Also, they can work with pipes, balls and levels to explore the fundamentals of plumbing and gravity.  Visitors can work together to move materials back and forth by manipulating a hand-operated conveyer belt.

    Little Builders was created and is toured by the Oregon Museum of Science and Industry, Portland, Oregon. It will run in the attic through September 2 and will be open Monday through Friday 10-6 and Saturdays from 1-6. We’re excited for children to learn, grow, play, and Build a Better World with this fun new exhibit!

  • meet libby 01


    I have a new best friend, and her name is Libby. 

    For a long time, I have loved checking out eBooks and downloadable audiobooks from the library. I love that it's fast! I love that it's free! I don't always love that things automatically get returned at the end of three weeks whether I'm finished or not, but I do love that it's impossible to get late fees on electronic materials. I love our library's selection through OverDrive. 

    But I'm going to be honest for a second: I haven't always loved OverDrive's interface. It often feels like there are a few too many steps to get to a point where I can actually listen on my phone. How do I get to my bookshelf again? As a champion for utilizing these resources, I've always felt like the hurdles were worth it, but I completely understand how new users might get frustrated with the numerous steps it can take to get from finding an eBook to actually reading it. 

    But now Libby is here, and Libby is different.

    Libby by OverDrive is OverDrive's new, streamlined app that eliminates all the things I hated about checking out eBooks and Audiobooks. Libby remembers your library card so you don't have to sign in every time. Libby can remember that you want eBooks sent to your Kindle or iPad but audiobooks downloaded on your phone, and she does it right every time.

    With Libby, you're a search and a click away from reading or listening to the book you want. The steps go like this: 

    1. Install the Libby by OverDrive App on your device. 
    2. Search for your library and sign in with your current library card (Libby can even remember more than one card and toggle between them, if you'd like). You only have to do this step once. 
    3. Search for a title you're interested in. 
    4. If the title is available, tap "borrow." Libby will send the book to your bookshelf according to your preferences. 
    5. Once you've borrowed a title, you can go to your bookshelf to start reading or listening immediately, or you can keep browsing. 

    Libby is still part of the OverDrive family, which means that you'll see the same collection you've always seen in OverDrive, with new titles added all the time. There are few features that don't sync up with OverDrive's old app (like recommending purchases to the library), but if all you're doing in the OverDrive app is reading or listening to books, you're going to love Libby. 

    She's my best friend, but I'm happy to share. Happy reading!

  • mock newbery 01


    For the first time this year the Children’s Department of the Provo City Library hosted a Mock Newbery. The announcement of the real Newbery Award Winner will be announced on Monday, January 23rd. But we decided we wanted to figure out what we would consider to be our top pick for the most distinguished writing for children ages 0-14 years old. We narrowed the list of potential candidates down to 15 titles (thanks to a rubric of how many starred reviews they got, if they were mentioned in other Mock Newbery blogs, and a book club vote). After a few hours of talking, here is what we came up with.

    2017 Mock Newbery Winner:

    girl who drank the moon

    By Kelly Barnhill

    This is the story of a people who every year sacrifice their youngest child to a witch. Only the witch doesn’t really eat/kill the child like the people think. Instead she saves the children from death in a dangerous forest and takes them to other villages, feeding them with starlight and giving them to families who eagerly wait to raise the “Star Children” as their own. One year, the witch accidentally gives the child a bit of the moon to drink, which causes her to have magical abilities. Unable to resist raising the child as her own, the witch keeps the girl, a decision with far-reaching consequences. 

    This is a beautiful fantasy book. The writing is lyrical, and would be delightful to read out loud. We enjoyed the way that various perspectives and stories wove together to create one novel. We loved the characters and felt that even the minor characters were well developed. Barnhill’s world-building skills are top notch; we are intrigued by the world she created that at once feels entirely unique but also incredibly accessible. We also liked how fear became its own character that was a force to be reckoned with. There is mystery, there is danger, there is madness, and love, and courage of all kinds. All in all, this was a great book that we hope will also get some recognition on the 23rd.

    We also chose three honor books; all of these were someone’s favorite and were hotly debated as to whether they should be our winner. They are:

    By Adam Gidwitz, Illuminated by Hatem Aly

    This is a story of three children who are magical in their own right. The children are shunned by a medieval society and soon realize that as they go on their life’s journey that all is not quite what it seems.

    Our Mock Newbery committee liked how this story seemed different from anything that most of us have ever read before (it may be described as Canterbury Tales, Jr.). We enjoyed how the humor, history and storytelling were interwoven with ideas that are relevant to discuss today. And the moment when we realized just who the narrator was—that was a powerful moment! All in all, we hope this book gets some recognition next week as well.    


    By Karen Harrington

    This is a story of Wayne, a kid who likes facts and struggles with family issues (obnoxious grandpa, divorced dad who doesn’t understand him, and an uncle who died in the war). We specifically liked Wayne as a character. We thought he was well written and a kid any of us would like to have come to our library so that we could meet him. We liked all the side characters. The grandpa and friends seemed as well developed as Wayne. And we liked the pacing and the story arc. This was another beautifully written middle grade novel that will get kids thinking about their words and what they would say if they could (or couldn’t). Again, this would be another great choice—in our opinion—for an award.    


    wolf hollowWOLF HOLLOW
    By Lauren Wolk

    This is the story of young Annabelle (who learned a lot the year she turned twelve). Annabelle lives in a relatively quiet world…until Betty comes to live in her area. Betty turns out to be quite a vicious bully. In fact, a lot of hard, sad things happen to people and the community as a result of Betty’s actions. Our Mock Newbery Committee agreed that this was a beautifully written story. It seemed like each word and sentence was chosen with care to make the most of this story. The characters are strong and create strong emotional reactions that seemed to haunt many of our committee. Also, this is a book with a lot to discuss. There were lots of questions and thoughts that came about because of this book. And bits of it stayed with many of us long after we had read the book. By far this book sparked the liveliest debate among the committee, with passionate readers arguing for and against it. In the end, our committee felt that this book deserves some recognition next week.        


    So there you have it. Our top four books for our Newbery pick. Now if only we can wait a few more days to find out just what the real Newbery Committee has chosen for their winners! What books would you choose for the Newbery this year? 

  • curved shelves

    Though I work at a library, I am not a librarian. I haven’t been a librarian, and probably won’t ever be a librarian. I am, however, a reader, and I love getting recommendations from my librarian friends.  

    Lately, I’ve been reading and listening to more and more of their recommendations, and I thought I’d share some of my favorites with you, so here they are: my recommended recommendations (this post will just be about audiobooks; I’ll share more recommended recommendations in another post!).  

    Mary Roach

    Carla recently recommended this as one of her favorite always-available audiobooks on Overdrive. Because I sometimes get frustrated waiting for a digital hold to come in, the always-available option is great.  

    This book is amazing. You do have to have just a bit of a strong stomach (if sentences like “To see her his way, held open like a Gladstone bag, forces a view of the human torso for what it basically is: a large, sturdy container for guts,” make you queasy, maybe skip this one), but it is fascinating to think about all the ways that cadavers have made our lives better and safer. From medical training to car safety testing, cadavers do more for you than you know! Surprisingly, I don’t usually spend that much time in my day thinking about human decomposition, but it’s been a really interesting listen. Mary Roach is understated and hilarious, and I’m pretty sure I’m going go out and read everything she’s written.


    the war that saved my lifeTHE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE  
    Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

    A few years ago, Joella was on the Odyssey Committee. She listened to hundreds of audiobooks that year, and while she has to keep quiet about all the things the committee listened to as potential winners, she can recommend the award-winners enthusiastically, which is how I heard about THE WAR THAT SAVED MY LIFE.  

    If you can, listen to this book. It’s a good read, but an even better listen. The story of two children relocated out of London during World War II is at times heartbreaking and hopeful, and will make you laugh and cry and have all the feels. It explores the ways that we are broken, and the ways that we are healed. It’s middle-grade, so this would be a great listen for younger readers as well.  


    ready player one

    Ernest Cline

    In my year of helping edit blog content, I’ve seen this one recommended several times, and those recommendations especially commend Will Wheaton as a narrator. I agree with those assessments. Will Wheaton is a great narrator that manages to communicate teenage angst and nerd-ish-ness without ever falling into annoying or whiny territory.  

    Though at times I felt like the book got a little bogged down in the details of explaining its sort of post-apocalyptic video game-obsessed society, it’s all interesting, and once the story picks up it’s a fast-paced and fun listen. I think anyone could enjoy this book, but it’s especially satisfying if you’re a fan of 80’s pop culture and vintage video games. If you can recall playing text-based RPGs on your family’s Commodore 64 with fondness, this one’s for you.  

    So there are my favorite three things I’ve listened to because our librarians told me to; what librarian-recommended books have you loved?  

  • stuffed header


    Last week we held our annual Stuffed Animal Sleepover; your furry companions spent the night, and didn't get into too much trouble (though some of them got in a little trouble...). Here are some highlights from the event; you can see all stuffed animals' adventures over on our Facebook page! 

    leopard t rex

    Looking for some advice on hunting, Kitty visits the best place: the Library! 


    Harry potter

    The animals are as crazy for Harry Potter as we are! 



    "Hey, Tiger! Stop playing Angry Birds and look up 'Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them'!" 


    frog phone

    We apologize if you had a real question that didn't get answered on Thursday night; we had a frog caught in our phone.



    "Psst! Let me show you where the art books are! You're not quite finished!" 


    Friends read

    Books are best when shared with buddies.


    Thanks for sharing your buddies with us, and we'll see you next year for another Stuffed Animal Sleepover!

  • postcards of provo


    Last Sunday, I spent a good portion of my day browsing old photos of some of my grandparents and great-grandparents that someone posted online, and it got me excited about historical photos! I love looking through historical photos (as I've mentioned before). You see things that are simultaneously familiar and foreign, looking at a city scape and seeing a horse tied up next to what is now one of your favorite restaurants. It's the kind of time travel we can all actually manage. 

    While browsing a collection of Provo's historic photos, I found several postcards, and decided they were too cool not to share. As usual, these photos leave me with more questions than answers, and I love it! 

    pc center street

    Here's a view of Center Street in 1879. I have so many questions. Why does it look like Center Street is a river? Is that small child just tired or having a tantrum? What would kids in 1879 throw a tantrum about (I imagine the same thing my child throws a tantrum about--he wants more candy)?

    pc academy ave

    Here's a view of University Avenue (called Academy Avenue at the time). A horse. A bicycle. Poles right in the middle of the street. Yet, if you cover parts of the photo (mostly the horse), so little has changed about this block! 

    More questions: Was horse thievery super common? I know that hitching posts were required by law, but I don't know that there were hitching post locks. What's to stop someone from walking up and just taking your horse? Human decency? 

    pc tabernacle

    Circa 1920s, this postcard of the Provo Tabernacle shows the Tabernacle sans center tower. They seem to have left the platform behind, which looks like maybe a great place for a party. It wasn't a temple then, so rooftop parties could totally have been a thing. 

    I've saved my favorite for last, mostly because it was actually used as a postcard and I can't get over this understated phrase: "It is certainly dreadful for you to experience so many earthquakes." Certainly dreadful, indeed! I also love how casually this author is able to work ore sampling into the conversation. "I'm just up here. Ore sampling. NBD." Makes me think that postcards are the texts of the pre-phone age. Just a quick message, scrawled on top of an insane asylum. 

    pc insane asylum

    If you'd like to see more historic photos, Carla wrote a post that explains all the best places to find them. Happy browsing! 

  • throwback baseball 01

    Historic photos are just awesome. The haircuts! No smiles! Why are their pants so high-waisted (and, astonishingly, why is that high-waisted trend coming back?)? Historic photos are like visual time machines, giving just a glimpse into a world that feels simultaneously so familar and so foreign. With the Olympics well underway, I thought I'd do a little digging in our historical photo resources to see what I might uncover about old-timey sports in Utah. I was not disappointed!

    I wish I didn't have to guess so much about the stories of these photos, though sometimes guesswork is half the fun. First up, we have a basketball team from Franklin School. My astonishing detective skills tell me this was in 1908 (or else they just really wanted to mess with me). I'm guessing the man second from the left on the back row is the coach. That, or perhaps he didn't get the memo that this wasn't a black-tie game. 

    Franklin Basketball Team
    Courtesy, L.Tom Perry Special Collections, Harold B. Lee Library,Brigham Young University, Provo, UT 84602

    What would sports history be without a little BYU? Here's an image from the Utah State Historical Society of a BYU Track Meet. No date is given in the photo; librarian bonus points to anyone who wants to research hat styles as a reference point for the time this photo was taken. 

    BYUTrack Meet P1


    As a former member of a girl's golf team, I can't decide if I wish our uniforms looked more like this. Not super practical for golfing on rainy days (those saddle shoes wouldn't fare well in mud!), but much classier than the khakis-and-boring-polo combination I typically favored. 

    Golf P2She's golfing at the Timpanogos Course in Provo. Photo courtesy of the Utah State Historical Society. 

    Before looking at the equipment on the bottom, try to guess what sport these guys are playing. Supposedly they play baseball, but I swear they look like they're off to joust. These guys are from the Salt Lake Red Stockings, one of Utah's first professional baseball teams. 

    Baseball P1 1Also, what is this furry substance they're perched on? Long grass? Indeterminate animal hide? Either way, it really screams, "Baseball!"

     Though we don't have luxurious grass/animal rug to sit on, we'll be streaming the Olympics all day every day the library is open on a big screen behind the First Floor Reference Desk. If you find yourself with a few extra hours but no cable, come on down and cheer with us for incredible Olympics athletes! 

    And please, please, find yourself a fancy jousting baseball bib to wear!


  • Umbrellas text


    Last month, I found myself riding in an elevator with someone delivering an exhibit to the library. While there, he remarked, “Man! I can’t remember the last time I stepped foot inside a library!” Our conversation proceeded in the way you might imagine: 

    “Well you should visit more often! Libraries are awesome!”

    “Yeah, well, I mostly just listen to audiobooks.”  

    “You know you can check out audiobooks from the library, right?”  

    “Sure, but I just like to listen on my phone.”  

    “Well if you download the Overdrive App, you can get them on your phone.”  

    “Yeah, I just use Audible.”  

    “But you have to pay for that.”  

    “No, I just do their free listens. They’re not always great, but they’re free.”  

    At this point, I’m trying not to be a little exasperated, “But you could get great stuff for free!”  

    “Well, I mostly play Candy Crush.”  

    I can’t tell you how often I’ve had this conversation. Too often. Or how many times I tell someone the kinds of things I do for work and they say, “Wait, the library does that?!? That sounds amazing!” I’ve started to consider myself a kind of missionary for the library, just trying to help people see that the library is here for them. 

    The library is here for you. It’s not just here for kids; it’s not just filled with books (though it is for kids, and we have lots of books!). It’s here for you, and it’s filled literally and figuratively with tools for you to succeed and enjoy your life. 

    Sometimes even our faithful patrons don’t realize all the amazing things the library can do for them.  Please indulge me for a moment as I wax passionate about some things happening in the library that I think you really shouldn’t be missing. Maybe you’ve heard us talk about them before; maybe this is the first time. Either way, if I ever meet you in an elevator and we decide to talk instead of awkwardly avoiding eye contact, here are the things I’ll tell you not to miss: 


    As a former film student and a dabbler in design, animation, photography, and filmmaking, I’m not sure if I can adequately express just how awesome this is. is hands-down the best collection of online tutorials to learn just about anything you can do on a computer. I’m the daughter of a do-it-yourself master, and sometimes I like to think that I can teach myself to do anything. Then I sit down with a class and realize that in just 15 minutes I’ve learned more about the basic functions of Adobe Illustrator than I’ve learned in over a year of unfocused tinkering. Lynda taught me simple ways to do things that I thought were really complicated in the Adobe Suite of programs. It can do the same for you. Don’t be stubborn like me; let Lynda help.  

    I plan to use to up my photography game in the next year. What will you learn with Lynda?  

    (Still not convinced? Here's some more information about why is amazing! Prefer to be convinced through numbers? We've got those too.)


    The Attic is the hidden gem of the Library, a sleek, modern exhibit space housed in the attic of our gorgeous historical building. Accessible only by elevator, The Attic hosts traveling exhibits from all around the country. A visit to the Attic is a great family or date night activity, and we do our best to provide interesting supplemental activities for each exhibit. You can check our website to see what exhibit is up right now.  


    It may shock you to learn this, but working at a library doesn’t magically cure my lifelong inability to remember when my library books are due. Thankfully, I’ve set up text notifications that tell me when I have books that will be due. Even better? I can text back a response to renew my books (as long as they’re not on hold for someone else). I wish I could say that I always remember to bring my books back on time, but with this I at least remember to renew them so they’re not quite so overdue.  


    Do you like free music, dance, and theatre performances? What about magic? Or professional storytelling? (If not, I have a follow up question: Are you a zombie?) Our Monday Night @ the Library performance series features local musicians, dance groups, theatre for young audiences, and more the first and third Monday of every month from September–May. Performances begin at 7 pm and are always free.  

    In addition to our performance series, our Children’s Department also hosts Make and Take Crafts on the second and fourth Mondays each month from September–April. Again, it’s all free.  

    So come to the library! Utilize our online resources! Realize that the library is here for you, and we’re here to make your life better. 

  • Book Disaster 628

    I know we don’t even like to think of it, but sometimes when you check out a library book, disaster strikes. 

    I remember when it happened for me; I was in graduate school, and had to do a book review of a new title in my field. I wasn’t particularly enjoying the book, and left it on the back of the couch while I went to take a shower. Apparently, I was sending out some serious, “I don’t like this book,” vibes, because when I came back downstairs I discovered that my new, adorable, naughty puppy had ripped the back cover to shreds. This was frustrating because not only did I have to pay for the book, BUT I DIDN’T EVEN LIKE IT! Proof positive that adorable puppies can ruin your life. 

    We know that accidents happen: your toddler got too excited to turn the page; you did not anticipate the sauce splatter from your spaghetti dinner; your relaxing bath was interrupted by a spider and the book fell into the tub during the mighty struggle. 

    So you damaged a library book: now what? I talked with our circulation and book repair department to help you navigate those troubled waters as gracefully as possible. 

    Q: Actually, let’s get this one out of the way first: what if I notice that a book has damage that I didn’t cause? How can I avoid being charged for it? 

    A: If you notice an item is damaged, the best thing to do is to bring it in and talk to the clerks in the circulation department. Show them the damage, and explain that it was like that when you checked it out. If you aren’t able to come in, place a sticky note near the damage in the book (but sticking out so it’s noticeable) with a note that says the book was damaged before you checked it out. The worst thing you can do in this situation is to just turn it back in via the book drop without saying anything; if our clerks notice damage when they’re checking the book back in, they will see who checked it out last and hold that person responsible. 

    Q: Okay, I admit it. The damage is my fault. What now?

    A: Bring the damaged item to the Circulation Desk and we will go over the damage with you. If we determine that the book is no longer fit for circulation, you will be charged for its replacement. Once you have paid for the item, it is up to you if you keep the book or give it back to us. If you give it back to us, we will discard it and it will be placed in our Used Book Store.

    Q: How do you determine the fee for the book?  

    A: The fee for the book is based on the list price for the book when it was purchased. 

    Q: I’m going to be honest: sometimes that seems like a lot. Can’t I just buy an identical copy and donate it instead of paying the replacement fee?  

    A: Nope, because we need to make sure it really is an identical copy. The replacement fee also covers the staff time of locating, ordering, and processing the book for our collection. 

    Q: Why do you keep circulating books that you know are damaged? I’m sick of getting blamed for damage that other people cause!  

    A: If the damage is minimal, sometimes the book can still be used. Circulating gently damaged books is a way for us to keep costs down so we can buy more new books instead of paying a lot of money to replace old ones. Again, if you notice damage, please either bring it to the desk or put a note where the damage is and we will make sure you’re not charged for it. 

    So the overriding message from our conversation is this: if you notice book damage, whether or not you caused it, please talk to us! We’re here to help. 

    Also, keep your books away from puppies. They’re the worst.

  • WOP FB event

    Provo City Library visitors will get to view the art, creativity, and engineering behind some of their favorite pop-up books with the traveling exhibit Wizards of Pop: Robert Sabuda & Matthew Reinhart. This exhibit will be open at The Attic at Academy Square (located on the 4th Floor of the Library) from January 16 to March 27.  

    Showcasing the works of Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart, this is the only traveling exhibition featuring the art of children’s pop-up books. An exciting balance of process pieces, initial sketches, concept pieces, preliminary art, prototypes, dummies, cut-paper collage artwork and nesting sheets, The Wizards of Pop: Sabuda & Reinhart, offers a great window into the world of pop-ups, and the precise engineering and detailed production techniques used to create them.  

    Renowned for the extraordinary range and depth of their talents, and paper engineering skills, artists Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart have created many bestselling books together, as well as separately, some of which are featured in this show. No matter where you are from or how old you are, these books are sure to capture your attention. From Sabuda & Reinhart’s first collaboration on YOUNG NATURALISTS POP-UP HANDBOOK: BEETLES, and their last collaborative Encyclopedia series, to their solo pop-up book works such as Sabuda’s THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ, PETER PAN, and ALICE’S ADVENTURES IN WONDERLAND and Reinhart’s STAR WARS, CINDERELLA and THE JUNGLE BOOK, this exhibition has something for everyone.  

    Transforming the gallery into a magical land of pop-ups, fantasy and wizardry, pop-ups in plexiglas display cases in between the sketches, dummies, paper collages and trial pieces that the duo have engineered, this exhibition showcases creations that you can only dream of and draws you into adventures that you can only imagine. 

    This exhibit will opened on January 16 and will remain open until March 27. Venue hours are Monday through Friday from 3:30 pm until 9:00 pm. The Attic at Academy Square is located on the 4th Floor of the Provo City Library, accessible only by elevator.  

    This exhibition was organized by the National Center for Children’s Illustrated Literature, Abilene, Texas.

  • Clickbait. It’s the worst, right? Yet I, with all my mental faculties engaged, still find myself drawn in. I’m always sure that #16 will really amaze me (fact: #16 almost never amazes me). 

    Still, the idea of playing around with clickbait titles is pretty great. Inspired by others who’ve rewritten classic literature titles as clickbait, our team sat down to give it a whirl. 

    Reader beware: this is kind of an addicting game.    

    click alice

    Have you read this one recently? You really never will guess what she found there, unless "flamingo croquet" is part of your regular imaginary landscape. 

    click dante

    Maybe you will believe it; it's greed. The fourth circle is greedy people jousting. 

    click persuasion

    We call this one shock and "awwwww!" 

    click hamlet

    I am constantly disappointed that law enforcement doesn't try the same weird tricks Hamlet did. It would make Court TV A LOT more interesting. 

    What classic titles can you rewrite as clickbait? Delightful suggestions may become a future blog post!