Friday Faves

  • freegal halloween

    There are two holidays that stick out in my mind as having the best music. Christmas, of course, and Halloween. Nothing gets me in the haunting mood like a creepy minor chord.  Freegal, which allows you to download 3 songs a week with your Provo City Library Card, has a wonderful collection of those classic creepy tunes you are looking for.

    Here’s a list of some of the best for your spooky playlist!

    THRILLER
    By Michael Jackson
    (1984)

    MONSTER MASH
    By Bobby Boris Pickett
    (1962)

    GHOSTBUSTERS
    By Ray Parker Jr
    (1983)

    I PUT A SPELL ON YOU
    By Screamin’ Jay Hawkins
    (1956)

    LOVE POTION #9
    By The Clovers
    (1959)

  •  celebrity favorites

    It’s my last week working here at the library, so I decided to indulge myself and write about some of my favorite things: books, and my celebrity crushes. These are the men that make my heart go all aflutter. Admittedly, I’m not an expert on any of them. But I figured that if I can waste time admiring their physiques, following them on social media, and reading articles about them, I may as well get a peek inside their heads and find out what their favorite books are.

    The difficult part for me was deciding which of these celebrities to write about. Hugh Jackman (who I’ve had a crush on since I was twelve) has an entire article where he explains the personal significance behind his favorite books, like Muhammad Yunu’s BANKER TO THE POOR and John Steinbeck’s GRAPES OF WRATH. Hugh seems to be an avid reader, in addition to his many other hobbies, such as fighting world poverty, gluten-free cooking, practicing his yoga headstands, and speaking out about the importance of sunscreen.

    hughjackman

    We get it, Hugh. You’re perfect.

    Then, there’s Harry Styles, the mysterious and artsy member of the British boyband One Direction… which may or may not still be a band, now that Zayn left to make his own music and date supermodels. During their hiatus, Harry has been busy getting ready for his major acting debut (a World War II movie directed by Christopher Nolan), Louis’s had a year of ups and downs, Niall released a single, and all Liam seems to do is sit around tweeting and wearing athletic wear.

    Harry has never explicitly stated which book is his favorite. To be fair, he’s been pretty busy since he got famous on the X Factor at age sixteen—I imagine there isn’t much time for pleasure reading when you’re constantly touring, recording, or on-set. But there’s a few paparazzi shots of him reading books while he’s traveling, such as the philosophical poetry of Rumi. I take this as further evidence that he and I are destined for each other; Rumi has been one of my favorite poets ever since reading a compilation of his spiritual verses for my Humanities of Islam class two years ago.

    harry styles

    This isn't the most flattering picture of Harry... but I own the same book he's holding, so I think that's pretty neat.

    This list wouldn’t be complete without love-of-my-life Paul McCartney—a young Paul McCartney, not the version who’s fifty years my senior. The post-Beatles, sheep-raising, vegetarian Paul living in Scotland and starting up his band Wings.

    paul mccartney

    I read Philip Norman’s new 800-page-biography on Paul last summer, and have spent many a late night watching all of Paul’s interviews through the decades on Youtube— but I still had to do a little bit of digging to figure out his literary interests. He discusses in this interview how bedtime stories and the writings of Lewis Carroll influenced both him and John Lennon’s songwriting. His favorite author is Charles Dickens—NICHOLAS NICKELBY is his favorite. Paul also collects books, according to a Twitter question-and-answer session he did a few years ago, but he hasn’t given any hints to what’s on his bookshelf in the last few years (again, too busy touring). However, we do have the children’s picture book he wrote, HIGH IN THE CLOUDS, available on our library shelves.

    And, last but not least, there’s Leonardo di Caprio. Oh, Leo. Beautiful Leo. I’ve always admired him as an actor, from his younger roles in WHAT’S EATING GILBERT GRAPE and Baz Luhrmann’s ROMEO + JULIET. (Baz Luhrmann is, of course, right next to Hugh Jackman on my list of Australia's Best Gifts to the World.)

    I didn’t truly appreciate Leo until I saw him in THE GREAT GATSBY. It happened to come out at the end of my junior year of high school, after my English class had read the novel together. That movie—also directed by Baz Luhrmann, further proving Baz’s creative genius—was beautiful and magical and its tragic ending left me bawling in the theater. BAWLING. (Granted, it was finals week so my emotions were rather high-strung.) Anyway, with shots like this, it was hard not to fall for Leo.

    leo

    Leo’s favorite book is THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA. This book Ernest Hemingway's classic about an unlucky old Cuban fisherman trying to catch a giant marlin. While Hemingway fervently denied that there was any deeper symbolism or allegorical storytelling going on here, I think the overarching theme of this book is one which says a lot about Leo’s personality.

    First off, Leo likes the ocean. We know this from his avid efforts in marine conservation and his roles in movies with oceanic settings, like THE TITANIC. His entire Instagram is dedicated to posts about environmental activism, and he’s even attended a few of the same conferences as my dad, a conservational scientist. (They haven’t actually MET… but they were in the same auditorium at least, which is enough to make me envious. Maybe one day he'll introduce me.)

    leo fish
    leo our ocean conference

    My point is that THE OLD MAN AND THE SEA has both oceans AND fish. It’s Leo’s perfect pleasure read. A win-win situation. The only way this book could be any better for Leo is if Hemingway had included a chapter about how to practice sustainable fishing, as well as an epilogue warning of the devastation of global coral reef bleaching.

    This book is also relatable to his own life; he probably sees it as an allegory to his acting career. While Santiago, the old fisherman, was experienced and definitely qualified to catch a giant marlin, he didn’t have much luck. (Okay, okay, Santiago DID catch a marlin, but it ended up getting devoured by sharks so I feel like the comparison still stands.) Similarly, Leo was an experienced actor and nominated for an Academy Award on four separate occasions. However, that Oscar always seemed to get away. Maybe Leo thought his luck had run dry, just like the old fisherman.

    Fortunately, Leo’s story has a happier ending-- in the 2016 Academy Awards, Leo caught his big ol’ Oscar as Best Actor in the film adaption of THE REVENANT: A NOVEL OF REVENGE. Leo has finally achieved his goal, and even used his acceptance speech to raise awareness to the plight of climate change.

    So there you have it. From Steinbeck to Rumi, I feel like my good taste in celebrity crushes is reflected well by their good taste in literature. Admittedly, knowing all my celebrity crushes’ favorite books is a rather useless bit of information. But at least I can rest assured knowing that if I ever run into Leo at a conservation conference, at least I can impress him with my knowledge of this Hemingway classic.

    leo

  • dance movies 1

    I’m a sucker for cheesy chick flicks, and dance movies are no exception. They are in their own category of favorite for me, probably because deep down inside I wish I was more of a dancer. I took a little here and there growing up, and even tried to get into it again in college, but to no avail. Unfortunately ballerinas don’t come in the 5’10” variety. When I took the accelerated advanced ballet class at BYU, I had a zeal that rarely emerged for coursework. My teacher saw this and really tried to mentor me. I was the same size as the two boys in the class (most of the girls barely passed the 5’ or 100 lbs mark) and because of my athletic background I could keep up with the boys with the bigger and double-time jumps. That bit was fun but I never felt like I could quite fit in with the other little dancers, no matter how graceful or accurately I moved. Watching dance movies gives me that little taste of a dancer’s life that I never had. I go to almost all of Ballet West’s major performances and listen to Tchaikovsky when I want to mellow out, but dance movies are a favorite because it combines chick flick rom-com with dance.  Here are a few that the library owns:

    Untitled 1STEP UP 
    Directed by Anne Fletcher
    (2006)

    Ballet meets the streets, traditional classical meets contemporary hip hop, and love unfolds as prejudices give way. Channing Tatum and Jenna Dewan are a perfect pair because their chemistry is 100% real- they are now married and have a daughter! Even though the plot seems a bit unbelievable at times, a great soundtrack and awesome dancing make for an epic dance film. The step up franchise has continued with 4 other Step up movies, varying in acting ability, dance skills and chemistry between the main actors. My personal ranking of the 5 movies goes as follows: 1, 2, 4, 5, 3.

    Untitled 2TAKE THE LEAD 
    Directed by Liz Friedlander
    (2006).

    Antonio Banderas ballroom dancing...need I say more? That alone makes this movie worth watching. TAKE THE LEAD has an endearing plot where the friendship and love seem to grow organically as ballroom dance and ballroom etiquette becomes integrated into their lives. This has a nice take home message and entertaining, classy dancing.

     

    Untitled 3SAVE THE LAST DANCE 
    Directed by Thomas Carter
    (2006)

    There seems to be a trend of good dance movies coming out in 2006. I’m not sure why, but it’s interesting. This is another ballet meets hip hop movie in the streets of Chicago. Ballerina Kat has suffered a tremendous loss, and a new friend helps in the healing process as she strives to accomplish her dreams. This film gets into deeper things with divorce, race, death, gang violence and inner city culture all while telling the tale of a dancer as she grows up.

     

    Untitled 4FOOTLOOSE
    Directed by Craig Brewer
    (2011)

    This is the remake of the original FOOTLOOSE from 1984, also found here at the library, showing how dancing is a very good thing despite some rigid city rules. I think I like the new one better because I don’t see any chemistry between Kevin Bacon and Lori Singer, whereas with Kenny Wormald and Julianne Hough, there is plenty of chemistry despite their relatively new acting chops. This is a fun movie showing teens' lives can be enhanced by good clean dancing and new friends.

     

    Untitled 5DIRTY DANCING 
    Directed by Emile Ardolino
    (1987)

    This is an old classic when it comes to dance movies. Try to ignore the age difference and sketchy relationships and focus on the fun latin dance moves. I admit the whole setup is odd with the family vacation summer camp vibe, but nevertheless this film is very entertaining. If you’ve ever wondered where the phrase “Nobody puts Baby in the corner” come from, or wondered what ‘the lift’ is that’s mentioned in so many rom-coms, then you need to watch this. Like #4 there was also a remake done, found here, but it’s not nearly as good as the original in my opinion.

     

    As far as dance movies are concerned there are definitely more than 5 good ones, so this list is just the tip of the iceberg. A few that the library doesn’t own that I also love include: CENTER STAGE, STREETDANCE, HONEY 2, A BALLERINA'S TALE, FIRST POSITION, and HIGH STRUNG. Enjoy and keep dancing!

    The library hosts various dance related activities that you can come to no matter your dance ability. Seriously any level, we don’t judge! We have a Learn It series with zumba and bollywood classes. It’s a great way to get some exercise and move to some good beats! September through May on first and third Mondays of each month, we host cultural performances which often include dance, theater and music groups- Wasatch ballet, legacy dance studio, WOFA afro fusion dance, and more!  Be sure to look out for and attend these events.

  • fiction

     

    Part two of my favorite books of 2016 consists of five fiction titles.  Lately, I’ve been picking up books from best seller lists without reading a thing about them.  I have pretty much just judged them by their titles, covers, and the fact that at least a few people have liked them.  So far, I haven’t been led too far astray and found these five gems.  I’m not going to tell you very much about them and hopefully when you fold back their covers you will be as surprised and delighted as I have been.

     

    My Name is Lucy BartonMY NAME IS LUCY BARTON
    by Elizabeth Strout
    (2016)

    When I want to read something beautifully written, I pay a lot of attention to award winning authors.  Elizabeth Strout won a Pulitzer and, while I don’t usually enjoy short stories, I did like reading Olive Kitteridge.  So, I picked up My Name is Lucy Barton and started reading, hoping to enjoy more of Strout’s lovely way of expressing the feelings and thoughts of her dynamic characters.  I did!  This is a wonderful example of her gift as a writer and I loved every word.

     

    Americas First DaughterAMERICA’S FIRST DAUGHTER
    by Stephanie Dray & Laura Kamoie
    (2016)

    The cover of this book displays stately Monticello and a woman in a big dress.  So, when I decided to check it out, I obviously knew it was about Thomas Jefferson’s daughter.  I was expecting a historic novel of some kind but I don’t think I expected Patsy Jefferson to be such a complicated protagonist.  Dray and Kamoie give readers a new perspective on the birth of our nation and everyday life in the colonies from the eyes of a woman in the center of it all.

     

    Black Rabbit Hall
    by Eve Chase
    (2016)

    I honestly knew nothing about this book when I downloaded it to my tablet.  But I did like the cover, with its dark wrought iron gate and stately mansion in the distance.  I was in the mood for something a little gloomy and the image spoke to me.  And…I loved it.  There’s a little romance, a little mystery, a bit of angst, tragedy and deception.  All these things worked together to delight and captivate me.  I can’t wait to recommend it to all my fellow Kate Morton fans!

     

    Everyone BraveEVERYONE BRAVE IS FORGIVEN
    by Chris Cleave
    (2016)

    It wasn’t the cover as much as the amazing title of this book that hooked me.  Everyone Brave is Forgiven screams of an amazing story to be told.  There is definitely not a shortage of World War II fiction available, but I believe I liked this better than All The Light We Cannot See and The Nightingale, though I did really like both of those.  But Cleave’s characters were so relatable and witty that I wanted to keep them as friends forever, despite their flaws and shortcomings.

     

    Rare ObjectsRARE OBJECTS
    by Chris Cleave
    (2016)

    This book definitely grabbed me with its cover.  It depicts a lovely girl in a beautiful dress staring at the camera and made me think of Rules of Civility by Amor Towles, which was a favorite of mine a few years ago.  Plus, I don’t read a lot of fiction that takes place during The Great Depression and I like to mix things up sometimes.  This was another random choice that I am very glad I made.  Chris Cleave presents lovely complicated characters and a beautiful message of redemption.

  • nonfiction

     

    Around February the Provo City Library presents a “Best Books of…” program where our librarians talk about their favorite titles published during the previous year.  To do this, we somewhat obsessively read everything new we can get our hands on.  This year I’ve been working hard to find titles I can talk about next February and I’m excited to say there are lots I’ll have to choose from.

     

    Below is a preview for February’s program.  It’s a list of my five favorite nonfiction titles published so far in 2016!

     

    When Breath Becomes AirWHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR
    by Paul Kalanithi

    (2016)


    Just as Paul Kalanithi began finishing up his last year of residency, he was diagnosed with terminal lung cancer.  Given about a year to live, he decided to fulfill his dream of being a writer by penning this amazing memoir.  I love, love loved Kalanithi’s beautiful prose and thoughtful reflections on what it means to live life and accept death.

     

    Spain in Our HeartsSPAIN IN OUR HEARTS: AMERICANS IN THE SPANISH CIVIL WAR, 1936-1939
    by Adam Hochschild

    (2016)

    
I am sure I learned about the Spanish Civil War during some history class but I certainly don’t remember it being this fascinating.  Hochschild here presents this conflict and its impact on world history as both governments and individuals took sides and prepared for the greater conflict of an impending world war.

     

    Seven Brief LessonsSEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS
    by Carlo Rovelli

    (2016)

    Although this book is less than 100 pages long, it seemed like a lot more since I found it  necessary to read most of the book at least twice just to sort of walk away with a vague understanding of the concepts Rovelli discusses.  This is not to say he does not write in an understandable and approachable way.  He does.  I just don’t get physics.

     

    RomanovsROMANOVS: 1613-1918
    by Simon Sebag Montefiore

    (2016)

    What I learned from this 700 page tome is that the Romanovs were mostly all crazy.  Also, they were surrounded by mostly crazy people.  I don’t mean to be super judgy about it, all the stress of running an empire and producing heirs would really drive any sane person mad.  Also, it makes for a really great read.

     

    GeneGENE: AN INTIMATE HISTORY
    by Siddhartha Mukherjee

    (2016)

    DNA is a fascinating little molecule. What I found more fascinating in this book is how the discovery and study of DNA has affected society and culture.  The many issues involved with so many conflicting but valid opinions make this history of genetics as gripping as a novel. 

     

     

  • americana

    In my family the Fourth of July was a big deal. My family loved to celebrate the birth of the United States of America. We knew who the founding fathers were. Because of this I tend to pay attention to the many myriad of picture books that are published about Americana themes. Here are my top five favorite Americana picture books to get even the younger readers in the mood for any patriotic holiday. 

    1JOHN, PAUL, GEORGE, AND BEN
    by Lane Smith
    (2006)

    John Hancock, Paul Revere, George Washington, and Ben Franklin are four of the most famous early American patriots. In this humorous picture book author and illustrator Lane Smith explains why these four men were so important. Smith also throws in a few tidbits for the adults who will tend to read this book to youngsters by comparing these patriots to another John, Paul, George and…Ringo who also made a historical impact.

    2ABE’S HONEST WORDS: THE LIFE OF ABRAHAM LINCOLN
    by Doreen Rappaport, illustrated by Kadir Nelson
    (2008)

    One of the most beloved past presidents of the United States is Abraham Lincoln. Arguably he could be credited with holding this country together. In this biography Doreen Rappaport shows not only the great accomplishments that Lincoln was able to achieve, but she also includes actual quotes from speeches or writings of Lincoln. Readers can learn from his actual words just exactly what he thought and said. And to top it all off, the illustrations by Nelson are sure to keep young readers interested in this great man.

    3WORST OF FRIENDS: THOMAS JEFFERSON, JOHN ADAMS, AND THE TRUE STORY OF AN AMERICAN FEUD
    by Suzanne Tripp Jurmain, illustrated by Larry Day
    (2011)

    Thomas Jefferson and John Adams are both credited as being founding fathers of the USA. And at times they were great allies and friends. But there is also a history of the two patriots being frustrated and angry with each other. Jurmain tells younger readers about the impact that these two great men had on the young nation as well as explaining their whole history—including the quarrels and disagreements. 

    4CRANKEE DOODLE
    by Tom Angleberger, illustrated by Cece Bell
    (2013)

    Granted, this isn’t a picture book about a particular founding father or patriot—but it is a picture book about an Americana legend. Yankee Doodle is a song that most children sing around holidays such as the Fourth of July. In this picture book twist Crankee Doodle is just that—cranky. His horse has to try to convince him to head to town and complete what children know should happen according to the song. Kiddos who especially love twists and silliness will enjoy reading this parody.

    5THE PRESIDENT’S STUCK IN THE BATHTUB: POEMS ABOUT THE PRESIDENTS
    by Susan Katz, illustrated by Robert Neubecker
    (2012)

    There are a lot of Americana books for young readers that are about the early days of the United States; but what about the American spirit that is still around today? This particular book is full of poems of all the many Presidents of the United States. They tell about all sorts of somewhat unknown facts (like how one particular president got stuck in the bathtub and had to get help to get out). With a variety of Presidents and time-periods young readers will learn that Americana picture books aren’t just about things that happened in the distant past—they can also be about what happened more recently

  • food books

     

    Food and books…these are a few of MY favorite things! There are so many great food memoirs, cookbooks, and novels where food is the main attraction. Here are some of my favorites, in no particular order.

    food love storyFOOD: A LOVE STORY
    by Jim Gaffigan
    (2014)  

    Looking for an awesome audiobook? Look no further! Jim Gaffigan loves food and will make you laugh the entire 7 hours and 17 minutes you listen to this book. I’m sure the print version is funny, but the narration by the author is the only way to go, I think. A full review of this title can be found here.   

     

    The Sharper Your Knife the Less You CryTHE SHARPER YOUR KNIFE THE LESS YOU CRY
    by Kathleen Flinn
    (2008)  

    Kathleen Flinn writes about her experience attending the famous Le Cordon Bleu cooking school in Paris. She gives an insider’s look at the program’s intense teaching methods, competitive students, and interweaves over two dozen recipes along the way.

     

    Fat CatFAT CAT
    by Robyn Brande
    (2009)

    Overweight teenager Cat embarks on a high school science project, using herself as the test subject. She chooses to emulate the ways of hominins, the earliest ancestors of human beings, by eating an all-natural diet and foregoing technology, not an easy feat!  A full review of this title can be found here

     

    The Forest FeastTHE FOREST FEAST: SIMPLE VEGETARIAN RECIPES FROM MY CABIN IN THE WOODS
    by Drin Gleeson
    (2014)

    This beautiful cookbook has yummy recipes and is a feast for your eyes with its multi-media artwork. A full review of this title can be found here

     

    Relish My Life in the KitchenRELISH: MY LIFE IN THE KITCHEN
    by Lucy Kinsley
    (2013)

    Lucy has loved food all her life, the daughter of a chef and a gourmet, she didn’t really have much of a choice. Now a cartoonist, she traces key experiences in her life revolving around food and the lessons she’s learned about cooking and life. Each chapter includes an illustrated recipe. A full review of this title can be found here

  • spider man

     

    I love superheroes. I especially love Spider-Man. In fact, I can’t remember a time in which I did not love Spider-man (though I assume there was a year or two after birth). With his appearance in the most recent Captain America movie and future movies in the works, he is being talked about quite a bit again (as if Spider-Man is ever not talked about. I mean come on, he’s Spider-Man). I decided to think about what books, adult and children’s, would benefit the Wall Crawler himself. I think that these 5 books would be right up Spidey’s alley. 

    ny nobody knowsTHE NEW YORK NOBODY KNOWS: WALKING 6,000 MILES IN THE CITY
    by William B. Helmreigh  
    (2013)

    Does anyone know New York City better than Spider-Man? This guy might. They should at least meet to compare notes. Spidey could always use another route for getting from one end of the city to the other quickly and discretely.

       

    right wordTHE RIGHT WORD IN THE RIGHT PLACE AT THE RIGHT TIME
    by William Safire  
    (2004)

    Peter Parker is definitely a witty guy, especially when battle villains as Spider-Man. But, with how often he has to come up with a clever or snarky comment, I’m sure he could use some advice from Pulitzer Prize-winning William Safire as he discusses various elements of the English language.  

     

    between towersTHE MAN WHO WALKED BETWEEN THE TOWERS
    by Mordicai Gerstein
    (2003)  

    Our Web Slinger spends a lot of time at great heights as he swings from building to building. Perhaps this picture book could help him see how another man got from one building to another at a great height without suffering from overwhelming vertigo.  

     

    princess in blackTHE PRINCESS IN BLACK
    by Shannon & Dean Hale
    (2014)

    Like many good superheroes, Spider-Man goes to great lengths to keep his identity secret. Princess Magnolia is also a masked hero and, thus far, she has managed to keep her identity a secret. Spidey might want to see how she does this.

     

    made to stickMADE TO STICK
    by Chip Heath
    (2007)

    Come on, with a title like that, I had to throw this one in there! I think Spidey would approve of the wit here. Plus, it’s a great book about why some ideas stick, without the use of webs. 

  • adult kid books 

    There are plenty of books in the children’s department here at the Provo City Library that adults love to read. The same is true in reverse. We often send our smaller patrons over to the adult’s department to find a specific title they are interested in. Here are 5 of my favorite titles that kids can enjoy, but which can’t be found in our Juvenile Fiction collection.   

    10.05.2018 SweetnessTHE SWEETNESS AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PIE
    by Alan Bradley
    (2009)

    A new favorite character among readers, Flavia de Luce is a witty 11-yr-old sleuth and an aspiring chemist. Previously, Flavia’s time has been spent trying to make her sisters’ lives miserable and being made miserable in return. That’s until she finds a dead man in the garden and realizes she’s finally found something to truly put her mind to. This is the perfect book for young mystery-lovers that need to be challenged just a bit.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: While only 11, Flavia often speaks, thinks, and acts like an adult. There is also a smattering of swearing and the occasional Agatha-Christie-esque murder.   

     

    01.05.2018 Book ThiefTHE BOOK THIEF
    by Markus Zusak
    (2005)

    As soon as it was published, The Book Thief became an instant classic. The tale of young Liesel Meminger and her hodge-podge family is narrated by Death. He is a thoughtful and beautiful storyteller, following the little “book thief” during the first half of WWII in Nazi Germany. This is a great read for anyone, but especially for the many kids who love WWII historical fiction.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: The Book Thief can at times be both a little slow and very sad. It touches on themes of wartime violence and Nazi philosophy. It also has quite a bit of language in it both in English and German. I enjoyed listening to this book because the reader gave those words the appropriate color.   

     

    01.05.2018 To Kill a MockingbirdTO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD
    by Harper Lee
    (1960)

    With over 3 million reviews on Goodreads, most people are familiar with Lee’s tale of childhood antics and the cancer of racism. Scout is an adventurous but naive character who only experiences racism from a distance until it’s thrust violently into her life. Seeing the small southern town through Scout’s eyes can be a wonderful, if gradual, first step into an eye-opening recognition of injustice.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: The main conflict of this book is the accused rape of a white girl by a black man. Both the racism and the believability or un-believability of the girl are sensitive topics. There are also the obvious racial slurs, other language, and violent scenes.   

     

    01.05.2018 Hitchhikers GuideTHE HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY
    by Douglas Adams
    (1979)

    Arthur Dent discovers his good friend is actually an intergalactic hitchhiker when he’s plucked from earth just moments before it’s destroyed. Hilarious and very British, chaos ensues as a ragtag group travels the universe. While this one may be a bit of a stretch for some kids, many enjoy both its hilarity and thoughtfulness. 

    Why it’s on the adult side: To be fair, this is an adult book. It’s both witty and, at times, philosophical. Be prepared for a smattering of language and sexual innuendos of varying degrees.   

     

    01.05.2018 Michael VeyMICHAEL VEY: THE PRISONER OF CELL 25
    by Richard Paul Evans
    (2011)

    At our library, this book is cataloged as “young adult,” but it’s enjoyed by all ages. 14-yr-old Michael Vey has Tourette's syndrome, but he also has incredible electrical powers. After discovering that one of the most popular girls in school (and his crush) has similar abilities, the two embark on a quest to discover the origin of their mutation. This story is action-packed and a lot of fun.  

    Why it’s on the adult side: Although plenty of kids love this series, I was surprised at the amount of violence. There is also moments of psychological torture that, if really considered, can be quite emotional.   

     
  • As librarians, we're pretty committed to the idea that the right book at the right time can change your life. So, every time we read Harry Potter, we can't help but think that things might have gone differently for Professor Snape if maybe he'd just read the right books. 

    Here are five suggestions that may have changed the course of our favorite villian-not-villian, Severus Snape. 

    1HOW TO WIN FRIENDS AND INFLUENCE PEOPLE 
    by Dale Carnegie
    (1936)

    As you read the Harry Potter books, it's really clear that Snape could use some good friends. One of America's best-selling self-help books could surely help him learn how to be friendlier (we're sure these techniques work on muggles, though we've never tested them on wizards).  

     

    2RAPUNZEL, RAPUNZEL, WASH YOUR HAIR 
    by Steve Smallman
    (2015)

    Sometimes the lessons we teach our kids are the most helpful; in this picture book, many princes try to climb Rapunzel's hair, only to find that it's too slippery. Luckily, a hairdresser comes to her rescue and teaches her proper hair hygiene. If Rapunzel can get rid of greasy hair, we're confident Snape can too. 

     

    3THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA 
    by Gaston Leroux
    (1910)

    Perhaps Snape should have spent some time with this classic tale of unrequited love; he may have behaved differently. It doesn't end well for the Phantom either. 

     

    4KNOCK 'EM DEAD COVER LETTERS 
    by Martin Yate
    (2012)

    Maybe if Snape had turned in a better cover letter to Dumbledore he would have locked down that Defense Against the Dark Arts position years ago! 

     

    5THE COLOR OF STYLE 
    by Daid Zyla
    (2010)

    The subtitle of this book reads: "a fashion expert helps you find colors that attract love, enhance your power, restore your energy, make a lasting impression, and show the world who you really are." Snape, throw off the black, and show your true colors! 

     

    While writing this post, we couldn't help but be a little sad thinking about Alan Rickman's recent passing; come and see his masterful performance as Snape (could they have picked a better actor?!?) tomorrow at our Harry Potter Movie Marathon. We'll start screening the first film at 9:30 AM. 

  • bring spring

     

    Spring is upon us, and I don't know about you, but I suddenly find myself invigorated and ready to get some things done! There are many things I have been neglecting over the winter, and now that the sun is shining and I don't have to wear my heavy winter coat outside, I think I'm just about ready to tackle them. Here's my list of biggest things to tackle over the next few weeks and the books I’m going to use to get them done.

    pruning plant by plantPRUNING PLANT BY PLANT
    by Andrew Mikolajski
    (2012)

    My yard feels like a wild forest sometimes, and it seems like the reaching branches sneak up on me each season. For many plants, the end of winter and beginning of spring is the right time to prune and get them ready for the new growing season. This book is a DK publication, which means it is especially gorgeous to flip through, and the many photographs are sure to perfectly illustrate just what you need to know to get your garden ready for the warm weather.

     

    joy of lessTHE JOY OF LESS: A MINIMALIST GUIDE TO DECLUTTER, ORGANIZE, AND SIMPLIFY
    by Francine Jay
    (2016)

    I don't know what it is about cold weather, but I can't help but accumulate growing piles of things that need to be organized.  Stray junk mail, art projects from my kids, and thank you letters seem to find their way into a box that I always intend to “go through later.” Somehow, the warm weather of spring always manages to inspire me to unpack my piles and get organized again, and this book has many helpful tips and hints to inspire anyone like me.

     

    lower your taxesEASY WAYS TO LOWER YOUR TAXES: SIMPLE STRATEGIES EVERY TAXPAYER SHOULD KNOW
    by Sandra Block  
    (2008)

    Tax season always seems to sneak up on me, and each year I promise myself that I'm going to pay more attention to saving receipts throughout the year and looking for ways to lower my taxes. This book is a great resource for just this endeavor!

     

     

     

    hands on homeTHE HANDS-ON HOME: A SEASONAL GUIDE TO COOKING, PRESERVING & NATURAL HOMEKEEPING
    by Erica Stauss
    (2015)

    Each spring I get so inspired by things growing everywhere that I recommit to eating produce in season. We have a few seasonal cookbooks that are committed to showing which recipes will make the best of each season, and I especially like this book as it includes information on preserving and homekeeping as well.

     

    complete home repairCOMPLETE HOME REPAIR: WITH 350 PROJECTS AND 2,300 PHOTOS
    Black & Decker Corporation
    (2008) 

    These Black & Decker books are amazing in their ability to help novices like me understand what to do. From patching part of my driveway concrete that chipped from the ice in the winter, to touching up the caulk in my bathroom, to improving the efficiency of my appliances, this book is a gold mine for homeowners who need to do small repairs or simply making things work better.

    We also have an online resource for home improvement just like this book except that it also includes videos and magazine articles, through our Home Improvement Reference Center database. 

    Looking for more springtime recommendations? You're in luck!

     

  • dollhouse

    Truth: I actually wanted to call this list "5 Books to help you furnish that dream dollhouse you've always wanted but you couldn't afford", but the title, though accurate, proved itself a bit unwieldy. I love dollhouses and miniatures, and below I've listed some of my favorite books that contain instructions on house to build inexpensive dolls, furniture, and miniature accessories for one-inch-scale dollhouses. These make great parent and child team projects!

    dollhouse decoratorTHE DOLLHOUSE DECORATOR
    by Vivienne Boulton
    (1993) 

    A guide to do-it-yourself dollhouse decoration presents full-color, step-by-step photographs that depict each stage in the creation of dolls, furniture, furnishings, accessories, and more, as well as pattern templates and photos of the finished product.

     

     

    food displaysDOLLS HOUSE DO-IT-YOURSELF: FOOD DISPLAYS
    by Sue Heaser
    (2003)

    A selection of 40+ projects guides readers in creating realistic-looking food from polymer clay for their dolls' house the easy way! Renowned polymer clay expert and author Sue Heaser teaches how to make over 100 items of food which cover a number of popular periods, including Georgian, Victorian as well as modern day. A comprehensive techniques section covers everything crafters need to know to work with polymer clay miniatures such as shaping, mixing colors, creating texture and baking. Illustrated step-by-step projects and color photos throughout show how simple the finished items are to complete. Presentation ideas for displaying the food, from bread baskets to complete table settings, are also included.

    finishing touchesDOLLS HOUSE DO-IT-YOURSELF: FINISHING TOUCHES
    by Jane Harrop
    (2004) 

    Create a range of beautifully detailed accessories for dolls' houses of every period and style. From tables, chairs and shelves, to letter racks, mirrors and coat racks, everything you need to make your dolls' house a home is here. Over 30 detailed, step-by-step, illustrated projects show how to make a variety of decorative accessories. Further illustrated variation ideas allow you to adapt the style or period of the project, and mix-and-match your favorite projects to suit your dolls' house. An illustrated section on the basic materials and equipment used offers practical guidance, while the basic techniques, such as working with wood, using glues, and varnishing, are illustrated with step-by-step photographs. Easy-to-use templates and diagrams are provided where necessary, including color photocopying pages with a selection of pictures and patterns, and inspirational color photographs show the accessories displayed in situ.

    toys and gamesDOLLS HOUSE DO-IT-YOURSELF: TOYS AND GAMES
    by Jane Harrop
    (2003)

    An essential step-by-step guide to making over 35 toys and games for the 1/12th scale dolls' house. Projects include: building blocks and mini houses, kites, abacus, xylophone, Jack-in-the-box and more! Templates and diagrams for each piece are also included.

     

     

    curtainsDOLLS HOUSE DO-IT-YOURSELF: CURTAINS
    by Sue Heaser
    (2004)

    Create life-like curtains and window dressings for dolls'houses of every period and style. From curtains, blinds and drapes, to pelmets, tiebacks and valances, everything you need to create inspirational window dressings for your dolls' house is included here.

  • 1000pages

    With summer ever nearing (and our own Summer Reading Program imminent), it’s time to start considering the books that will occupy your next three months. While many folks will plan a grand stack of books to consume, others would rather take on one or two behemoths of literature. We raise a toast to those brave souls undeterred by doorstop-sized books, so in that spirit, here are 5 classics of world literature that weigh in at over 1000 pages.  

    warandpeaceWAR AND PEACE
    by Leo Tolstoy    

    Perhaps too obviously, this list must start with the book that has practically become cultural shorthand for “a gigantic book.” Tolstoy’s titanic novel of the years before, during and after the Napoleonic Wars is a surefire way to get some serious literary bragging rights. And if you’re feeling overwhelmed midway through, you can decompress by watching the recent (and terrific) BBC adaptation of the novel.   

     

    LesmiserablesLES MISERABLES
    by Victor Hugo

    You may already know this story very well, but Hugo’s novel is a landmark achievement that stands above all its many adaptations. This story of the French Revolution may seem daunting at the outset, but at least there’s a convenient soundtrack for your reading journey.  

     

     

    donquixoteDON QUIXOTE
    by Miguel Cervantes

    Cervantes’ epic journey of a romantic idealist lost in the contemporary world is a perfect choice for any daydreamer looking for a challenge. Recent translations have worked diligently to maintain this story’s unique voice and grasp of language – but bonus points if you conquer it in its original Spanish

     

     

    gonewiththewindGONE WITH THE WIND
    by Margaret Mitchell

    Despite its gargantuan size, GONE WITH THE WIND was one of the most popular novels of its time, which is often credited to Mitchell’s unfussy, simple style. The Depression-era equivalent of a beach read, this book may be huge, but you may be able to get through it faster than it would take to watch the movie!

     

     

    infinitejestINFINITE JEST
    by David Foster Wallace  

    After four historical epics from around the world, here’s a novel of colossal length that confronts what it means to exist in our modern world. Wallace was a singular writer who, despite his verbose work, never wrote condescendingly or ostentatiously. INFINITE JEST is a major literary challenge, but its fans promise a rich, profound experience (and it’s this librarian’s own summer challenge).  

     

    To all summer readers, with books big and small: good luck!

  • Every Friday, we'll bring you short lists of things our staff members are loving lately. Here's a list of Sharon's Five Favorite Clutter-Defeating Books. It's the new year, and you might not be able to take control of all aspects of your life, but these recommendations can certainly help you take control of your stuff!

     

    1The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing
    by Marie Kondo
    (2014)

    A practical guide and international bestseller from a Japanese cleaning consultant. Marie’s new book, Spark Joy, will be released on January 5, 2016.  

     

    2ClutterFree Revolution: Simplify Your Stuff, Organize Your Life & Save the World
    by Evan Michael Zislis
    (2015)

    Zislis is a professional organizer who helps people simplify so they can focus on what matters most: “who we love, what we do, how, and why we live - because everything else is just stuff.”  

     

    3Organizing Solutions for People with ADHD: Tips and Tools to Help You Take Charge of Your Life and Get Organized 
    by Susan C Pinsky 
    (2012)

    Pinsky gives practical, ADHD-friendly solutions for a more organized home and life. 

      

    4Unstuff Your Life!: Kick the Clutter Habit and Completely Organize Your Life for Good 
    by Andrew J. Mellen 
    (2010)

    Professional Organizer Mellen offers this comprehensive 400-page book to make your life more organized.  

     

    5Lose the Clutter, Lose the Weight: The Six-Week Total-Life Slim Down
    by Peter Walsh
    (2015)

    The author maintains that people cannot make their best and healthiest choices in a cluttered, disorganized home. He presents a 6-week plan to help readers declutter AND lose weight. Walsh appears regularly on The Rachael Ray Show and writes for O: The Oprah magazine. 

  • kidsdvds

    Are you looking for a fantastic movie for the entire family? Here's a list of my favorite too-often-forgotten DVDs that your entire family can enjoy!

    1THE IRON GIANT
    dir. Brad Bird
    (1999)

    Hogarth Hughes just rescued an enormous robot that fell from the stars to Earth. Now young Hogarth has one very big friend and an even bigger problem: how do you keep a 50-foot-tall, steel-eating giant a secret?  

    2JUMANJI 
    dir. Joe Johnston
    (1995)

    When Alan Parrish discovers a mysterious board game, he doesn't realize its unimaginable powers until he is magically transported into the untamed jungles of Jumanji! There he remains for 26 years until he is freed from the game's spell by two unsuspecting children. Now a grown man, Alan tries to outwit the game's powerful forces.    

    3KIKI’S DELIVERY SERVICE
    dir. Hayao Miyazaki
    (1989)

    On her 13th birthday, a young witch named Kiki must fly away from home to a new city to find her niche in life. Accompanied by her chatty cat, Jiji, she starts a flying delivery service and discovers lots of fun-filled escapades and meets plenty of new friends.  

    4BABE
    dir. Chris Noonan
    (1995)

    An orphaned piglet, Babe, is cared for by a sheepdog and soon thinks he is one too. The farmer senses something special in Babe and enters him in the National Sheepdog Championships.  

    5A LITTLE PRINCESS
    dir. Alfonso Cuarón
    (1995)

    An imaginative young girl is forced to be a servant at a boarding school after her father is killed in WWII.

  • films that dont get old
    theholiday
    THE HOLIDAY
    dir. Nancy Meyers
    (2006)

    Even though the entire premise of THE HOLIDAY is that the two leading ladies swap homes because they don’t want to be in their hometowns for the holidays, while watching it again, I forget that it’s a Christmas movie. It’s a film played year-round because it really doesn’t have the Christmas vibe, and every time I come across it on TV, I find myself stopping to watch it. What makes it so engaging? I think it is a combo of the nod it gives Classic Hollywood (which I love), the idea of just getting away from it all and heading to England, and—let’s be honest—I wish Jude Law’s character existed in real life. Watching it again got me to thinking what other films will I stop and watch even though I’ve seen them dozens of times? (I have excluded John Wayne films from my list because he probably wins for the most watched, and I thought you would like a variety.)

    North by NorthwestNORTH BY NORTHWEST
    dir. Alfred Hitchcock
    (1959)

    An advertising man, played by Cary Grant, is mistaken for a government agent and is on the run for his life. I’m a fan of both Cary Grant and Alfred Hitchcock, so putting the two together is a perfect combination. I love the mistaken identity, the music, the humor in the moment of danger, the dialogue (so many great lines to quote!), and having the adventure travel across the U.S. When I went to Mount Rushmore on a holiday, I made my group eat at the cafeteria because of this film.

    Behind Enemy LinesBEHIND ENEMY LINES
    dir. John Moore
    (2001)

    Owen Wilson plays an American pilot shot down over Bosnia during a reconnaissance mission and it is up to his commander, played by Gene Hackman, to orchestrate his escape. This has got to be one of my favorite modern “war” films. It has the element that I love in my action films (and books): humor even in the moment of danger. I love when Wilson’s character is talking to Hackman’s character as he works on his escape and Wilson says, “You’re an optimist, Sir. I had you figured for a grouch.”

    Pride and Prejudice Kiera KnightlyPRIDE & PREJUDICE
    dir. Joe Wright
    (2005)

    I have a long saga to explain my experience with Pride & Prejudice, but to sum it up, when people found I was a librarian, they would talk about how great the book was and I would have to admit I have never read it, so I finally read it and found it frustrating. I even watched the Colin Firth film version and hated it. So when my friends all decided to go see the new Pride & Prejudice, I went along not thinking I would like it. I was so wrong. I LOVED IT! To this day anytime the Gazebo Scene comes on I stop whatever I am doing to watch it.

    Where Eagles DareWHERE EAGLES DARE
    dir. Brian G. Hutton
    (1968)

    Based on Alistair Maclean’s WWII novel by the same title, this is the story of an American general who is shot down over Germany and is captured; due to his knowledge of the D-Day invasion, the Allies have to go in to rescue him before the plans are compromised. This film was a vehicle to bring class to a young Clint Eastwood by pairing him up with Richard Burton and it gave Burton some brawn by teaming him with Eastwood. Great action sequences with lots of explosions.

  • americana

    Two hundred and fourteen years ago today, on February 26th 1802, Victor Hugo was born.  To celebrate his birthday, I thought a list of my favorite musicals inspired by novels would be appropriate.  I’ll admit that there was a bit of a battle and some of my favorite musicals didn’t make my list.  But here are what I consider Broadway’s best interpretations of some fantastic books!

    1LES MISERABLES
    by Victor Hugo
    (1862)

    Victor Hugo’s masterpiece tells of ex-convict Jean Valjean, who overcomes much to become a community pillar only to discover how hard it can be to escape your past.  I am constantly amazed at how well the music and lyrics capture a very complicated story. And the upshot of watching the musical over reading the book is you don’t have to sludge through the 50 pages Hugo spends describing the Paris sewers.  That said, everyone should still read the unabridged version at least once in their lives because it really is just that good.

    2WICKED
    by Gregory Maguire
    (1995)

    I read WICKED by Gregory Maguire before there was a musical.  A while later a friend went to New York and returned raving about the amazing musical she had just seen called WICKED. I was very surprised.  My first question was “Did it end happily?” She said it did and I knew they had changed a lot while adapting that book for the stage.  I believe the book has some good parts and the concept itself is brilliant.  But I usually recommend people just enjoy the musical and leave the book on the shelf.  Does that make me a bad librarian?

    3BIG RIVER (THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN)
    by Mark Twain
    (1884)

    The sign of a great musical is one with music that doesn’t leave you.  It’s a musical where, days later, you are still humming its tunes and singing its lyrics. BIG RIVER does that to me.  Who doesn’t love a song about the virtues of hogs?  Or the “*&#  *$&% Government”? Or the desire to just fish or think about fishing all day long?  These songs just speak to my soul.  In all seriousness, I love the music in BIG RIVER.  It is fun and heartfelt.  Mark Twain probably deserves some of that credit for devising characters you just can’t help but love and a story that refuses to lose its relevance with age.

    4PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
    by Gaston Leroux
    (1909)

    No list of great musicals would be complete without THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA.  The musical does veer somewhat from the novel but not in ways that ever really bothered me.  The music is brilliant and the story has a little bit of something for everyone.  It has a little romance, a little adventure, a corpse hanging from the ceiling, and a deformed masked man obsessing over a pretty young girl.  Wonderful family entertainment!

    5MAN OF LA MANCHA (DON QUIXOTE)
    by Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra
    (1605)

    I am just realizing that I have never read DON QUIXOTE and I’ve always wanted to.  In fact, I just put the downloadable audio version on hold…there are two people ahead of me.  I hope they hurry up and finish it.  MAN OF LA MANCHA is one of the first musicals I ever saw, so there is a special place in my heart for that old man and his quest.  But, I really do need to read the book.  I’ll let you know which I like better.

  • trilogies 01

     

    Next Tuesday the final volume of Justin Cronin’s PASSAGE trilogy will be released.  I am VERY excited about it!  So, to commemorate here is a list of some my favorite trilogies!  

    The Passage Trilogy

    THE PASSAGE

    THE PASSAGETHE TWELVETHE CITY OF MIRRORS   
    by Justin Cronin
    (2010, 2012, 2016)  

    You may notice from the publication date that it has been four long years since THE TWELVE was published.  That is why I’m so excited about this final installment appearing on our shelves.  I want to know what happens to Amy and her friends in their post-apocalyptic world filled with the living dead!  This is a dark and gripping story filled with characters I’ve grown to love in a terrifying world I am really hoping gets better by the time I turn the last page in THE CITY OF MIRRORS.   

    mistborntrilogy thumb
    MISTBORN

    THE FINAL EMPIRE, THE WELL OF ASCENSION, THE HERO OF AGES
    by Brandon Sanderson 

    (2006, 2007, 2008)  

    I may love this trilogy mostly because I want alomantic powers more than any other fictional magic I’ve encountered.  It just sounds like fun and I want to fly.  Also, Brandon Sanderson writes great characters that I quickly grow attached to with plot lines that are seldom predictable.  Technically, this trilogy has turned into a series, but the first three tell a great story all by themselves.  

    The Lord of the Rings Trilogy

    LORD OF THE RINGS

    THE FELLOWSHIP OF THE RING, THE TWO TOWERS, THE RETURN OF THE KING
    by J.R.R. Tolkien 

    (1954, 1954, 1955)

    I don’t think I really need to defend this choice.  It’s kind of a given.  

    otori cycle
    TALES OF THE OTORI

    ACROSS THE NIGHTINGALE FLOORGRASS FOR HIS PILLOWBRILLIANCE OF THE MOON  
    by Lian Hearn 
    (2002, 2003, 2004)  

    TALES OF THE OTORI mixes a little bit of magic with feudal Japan.  It was one of those books that didn’t get a ton of attention when it was first released but I couldn’t put down.  That sounds a little sad, but hidden gems like ACROSS THE NIGHTINGALE FLOOR are a librarian’s best friends.  We rely on them when recommending books to people who have already read “everything”.  And who can resist magical ninjas?  (Again, technically, this is a series, but I didn’t love any of the books after the first three so I pretend they don’t exist.  I can easily recommend people just read the trilogy.)  

    jason bourne
    BOURNE TRILOGY

    THE BOURNE IDENTITY, THE BOURNE SUPREMACY, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM
    by Robert Ludlum 

    (1980, 1986, 1990)  

    If you have watched the movies, you will still be surprised by what you find in these classic spy novels.  Beyond an amnesiac assassin named Jason Bourne, the books and the movies don’t have a whole lot in common.  Cold war technology and spy craft may seem a little dated to some, but just think of it like a historical adventure novel and it becomes charmingly retro.  Right?

  • food books

     

    Food and books…these are a few of MY favorite things! There are so many great food memoirs, cookbooks, and novels where food is the main attraction that it's hardly surprising that I just can't get enough of them. Here are five more of my favorites, in no particular order (can't get enough either? Here are the first five I recommended!).

    deliciousDELICIOUS!: A NOVEL
    by Ruth Reichl   
    (2014)  

    Billie Breslin has moved from her California home to take a job at Delicious, the most iconic food magazine in New York. When the publication is shut down, Billie is offered a new job: staying behind in the magazine's deserted downtown mansion offices to uphold the "Delicious Guarantee.” What she doesn't know is that this experience will lead to a life-changing discovery.

     

    prep aheadPREP-AHEAD MEALS FROM SCRATCH
    by Alea Milham
    (2016)  

    While I have only recently picked up this book and haven’t had a chance to make anything yet, I’m excited to try out several of the recipes. In flipping through the book I’ve already learned a lot, like did you know that you can brown ground beef in a crockpot?!? I’m anxious to try that tip since cooking ground beef is one of my least favorite food prep tasks.

    lemon cakeTHE PARTICULAR SADNESS OF LEMON CAKE
    by Aimee Bender
    (2010)  

    Rose Edelstein is able to taste people's emotions in food, which at first discovery is quite shocking. She learns to harness her gift as she becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds are unable to discern. A full review of this title can be found here.   

     

    834 tips834 KITCHEN QUICK TIPS BY THE EDITORS OF COOK’S ILLUSTRATED MAGAZINE
    (2006)

    Tips and tricks to help cooks on any level improve their skills in the kitchen. A full review of this title can be found here

     

     

    seasontotasteSEASON TO TASTE: HOW I LOST MY SENSE OF SMELL AND FOUND MY WAY
    by Molly Birnbaum
    (2011)  

    Although I read this book four years ago, I still think about this memoir often. After a freak accident, aspiring chef Molly Birnbaum must figure out how to cope and hopefully continue her career now that she is unable to smell or taste as she once could. A full review of this title can be found here

  • text friendly

    Epistolary novels are stories written as a series of documents like journal entries, letters, and newspaper clippings. It’s an interesting feature that can lend a sense of intimacy between the reader and the characters. But with our world going increasingly “online,” we’ve begun to see emails, text messages, and blog posts shaping communication and expression – even in books! When I came across my first text-message-heavy novel, I was dubious: is this going to cheapen the story? I was surprised to find that the author was able to take something so mundane and tell a compelling story with it. Below are five young adult novels that incorporate electronic messaging into the story. They might surprise you! 

    8.18 Darcy Swipes LeftDARCY SWIPES LEFT
    By Courtney Carbone
    (2016) 

    Jane Austen meets the smart phone in this fun, modern telling of Pride and Prejudice. Told via text messages, Tinder, emails, and more, this translates smartly into modern culture.  Mr. Collins finishing his line with a #humblebrag or Mary's esoteric status updates fit perfectly in with my ideas of the characters from this classic novel. 

     

    8.18 TTYLTTYL
    By Lauren Myracle
    (2014) 

    Zoe, Maddie, and Angela are starting their sophomore year, and use instant messaging to keep each other updated as they start dating, sort out other friendships, and cope with disasters.  Each character has a distinct voice and the story deals with genuine issues even though it is told completely through texts. 

     

     

    8.18 Bad KittyBAD KITTY
    By Michele Jaffe
    (2007) 

    Seventeen year old Jasmine “Calamity” Callihan is spending the summer in Las Vegas with her father, stepmother, and snotty cousin Alyson.  Thank goodness she can keep her friends updated via text when she gets tangled up in an outrageous adventure and has to outwit a crazed killer before he takes more lives.

       

     

    8.18 The Future of UsTHE FUTURE OF US
    By Jay Asher
    (2011) 

    It's 1996, and Emma Nelson has just gotten the internet. Her former best friend Josh gives her an AOL CD, which she installs, but when she logs on, she finds a weird site called Facebook. She can see herself in the future - and she doesn't really like what she sees. Josh, on the other hand, has a future that looks pretty ideal. Emma tries to find ways to change her future, while Josh tries to keep his the same. 

     

    8.18 Little Blog on the PrairieLITTLE BLOG ON THE PRAIRIE
    By Cathleen Bell
    (2010) 

    Gen Welsh does not want to spend her summer living as if it's 1890, but since her mother signed the family up for a summer "historical reenactment" camp, Gen finds herself milking cows, churning butter, and using an outhouse. Desperate for some normalcy, Gen uses her totally-against-camp-rules hidden cell phone to text her friends about camp life, but when her friends secretly post her messages to a blog, it goes viral.

     

     

  • audiovisual experience

     

    Every once in awhile patrons will come in looking for a book that has both a paper and an audio version. Sometimes this approach helps struggling readers who can follow along with the narration. Sometimes patrons just want to enjoy the experience of both reading and hearing a great story. Either way, here are a few of my favorite book/audiobook combos from the children’s department.

    terrible twoTHE TERRIBLE TWO
    by Mac Barnett and Jory John; illustrated by Kevin Cornell
    (2015)
    Audiobook voice artist: Adam Verner

    “When master prankster Miles Murphy moves to sleepy Yawnee Valley, he challenges the local mystery prankster in an epic battle of tricks, but soon the two join forces to pull off the biggest prank ever seen.”   This is a great audiobook, but you don’t want to miss out on the amazing and helpful illustrations in the paper copy.

    emerald atlasTHE EMERALD ATLAS
    by John Stephens
    (2011)
    Audiobook voice artist: Jim Dale

    “Kate, Michael, and Emma have passed from one orphanage to another in the ten years since their parents disappeared to protect them, but now they learn that they have special powers, a prophesied quest to find a magical book, and a fearsome enemy.”   This mash-up of Harry Potter and The Chronicles of Narnia is narrated by the same guy who did the Harry Potter books. It’s awesome!

    heros guide to saving kingdomTHE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING YOUR KINGDOM
    by Christopher Healy; illustrated by Todd Harris
    (2012)
    Audiobook voice artist: Bronson Pinchot

    “The four princes erroneously dubbed “Prince Charming” and rudely marginalized in their respective fairy tales form an unlikely team when a witch threatens the whole kingdom.”   This hilarious book is accompanied by hilarious illustrations. The narrator of the audio book (available on Overdrive) has some of the best range of voices I’ve ever heard. Don’t miss this pairing!

    flora and ulyssesFLORA AND ULYSSES
    by Kate DiCamillo; illustrated by K.G. Campbelle
    (2013)
    Audiobook voice artist: Tara Sands

    “She is a natural-born cynic! He is an unassuming squirrel! Together, Fora & Ulysses will conquer villains, defend the defenseless, and protect the weak, or something.”   Another book with some great comic style illustrations that lend well to the story. The audiobook adds some of the excitement befitting a superhero squirrel.

    the book thiefTHE BOOK THIEF
    by Markus Zusak
    (2005)
    Audiobook voice artist: Allan Corduner

    This book is technically not in the Children's Department... but it's about a child! “Trying to make sense of the horrors of World War II, Death relates the story of Liesel—a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.” Reading or hearing this book is a life-changing experience. Doing both would somehow be even better. Delve into Liesel’s world with the paper copy, but get some help with all those German words and overall emotion by listening to the audiobook.

     

  • american history audiobooks

    My love of history began in college when I discovered that instead of the dry list of facts I had assumed history books contained, they were actually full of incredible stories, unbelievable drama, powerful personalities, and world-changing events. And it was all real! However, when real life started for me after college, the time I had available to read enormous historical volumes understandably lessened, and my quest for knowledge about the past was largely put on hold.

    But last year that all changed when I discovered the OverDrive collection offered through the library’s website. I downloaded the free app onto my phone, chose a digital audiobook to download, and plugged in my earbuds. As I did yard work or cooked dinner, I could also be experiencing the thrill of political intrigues or the tragedies of the battlefield. Doing the dishes got a whole lot more exciting! Here are five of my favorite audiobooks on American history that are available through OverDrive. 

    worst hard timeTHE WORST HARD TIME: THE UNTOLD STORY OF THOSE WHO SURVIVED THE GREAT AMERICAN DUST BOWL
    by Timothy Egan
    (2006)  

    In the middle of the Great Depression, those living in America’s heartland experienced calamity in a form like nothing ever seen before or since: the “black blizzards” of the Dust Bowl. Determined to hold onto their hard-won land, families faced the risk of losing their crops, animals, homes, and health. Telling in their own words how they lived in sod huts with wet sheets placed over the cracks, or how they bottled sagebrush to eat after all the crops were gone, the grit and endurance of these survivors is truly incredible. 

    summer moonEMPIRE OF THE SUMMER MOON: QUANAH PARKER AND THE RISE AND FALL OF THE COMANCHES, THE MOST POWERFUL INDIAN TRIBE IN AMERICAN HISTORY
    by S. C. Gwynne
    (2010) 

    A vivid history of the Comanches and their last stand to stop white settlers from taking the Indian lands of the Great Plains. During the 40-year territory war, many fascinating characters arose on both sides, including Quanah Parker, son of a Comanche chief and a white woman who had been kidnapped as a girl but grew to love the Indian way of life so much that she refused rescue by her European relatives.

    undauntedUNDAUNTED COURAGE: MERIWETHER LEWIS, THOMAS JEFFERSON, AND THE OPENING OF THE AMERICAN WEST
    by Stephen E. Ambrose
    (1996)

    Captain Meriwether Lewis and Lieutenant William Clark led an expedition of men and one woman past the boundaries of what was then the United States and into the great unknown. They endured hardships, saw jaw-dropping natural wonders, took specimens of plants and animals unknown to European settlers, and began their education in the complicated relationships of the native peoples with each other and with the whites. The ultimate adventure story that helped make America what it is today.  

    clouds of gloryCLOUDS OF GLORY: THE LIFE AND LEGEND OF ROBERT E. LEE
    by Michael Korda
    (2014) 

    Although uncomfortable with slavery and not in favor of secession, when Lee was offered the command of the Union Army at the start of the Civil War, he refused the post because he said he could never fight against his beloved Virginia. He became the brilliant Confederate general who would fight the long defeat with dignity and a strong sense of honor. A detailed and fascinating portrait of the man who would become the nation’s greatest military leader and earn respect and admiration from both North and South.  

    marmeeMARMEE & LOUISA: THE UNTOLD STORY OF LOUISA MAY ALCOTT AND HER MOTHER
    by Eve LaPlante
    (2012) 

    Much has been made of Louisa May Alcott’s father and his influence on her and her writing. But now a great niece of Louisa’s, with the help of newly discovered family letters, brings Louisa’s mother, Abigail May, out of obscurity. She effectively argues that it was Louisa’s intensely close relationship with her mother -- and their shared frustration at being intellectual and ambitious women in a time that discouraged female independence -- that was truly the greatest shaping force in Louisa’s life.

     

    (Need help with OverDrive? Check out our tutorials page.)

  • archaeology

    As a former archaeology student, I can’t even keep track of the amount of times someone tells me, “Oh, you studied archaeology? I always wanted to do that!” Archaeology is definitely fun and exciting, calling to mind ancient tombs, exotic locals, lost cities, and ruggedly handsome Indiana Jones-type explorers. While all of those things are certainly perks, one of the best things about the field of archaeology is that you can get lost in all those exciting adventures just by opening up a book!  

    At the library we have all sorts of books to suit your archaeological interests. Looking for books on ancient Rome? Head over to the 937s. Prefer Aztec, Maya, and Native American archaeology? Check out the 970s. We even have books on forensic anthropology (think Dr. Brennan from TV show Bones). We have titles about the ancient celts of Britain and Europe, the Inca, ancient Greece, Mesopotamia, Egypt, and more.  

    So, if you harbor a secret desire to be an archaeologist, check out these and more titles from our library! 

    7.28 The World Encyclopedia of ArchaeologyTHE WORLD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ARCHAEOLOGY
    By Aedeen Cremin
    (2007)

    This beautiful book is full of colorful photos from the most significant sites to the most important cultural treasures of the ancient world. This is a good place to start if you just want to learn about broad topics or just to pique your interest for more in depth study.  

     

     

    7.28 Nine Mile CanyonNINE MILE CANYON
    By Norma Dalton
    (2014)

    Guess what—Utah is chalk-full of interesting archaeology! Long before pioneers and Ute tribes lived in this area, the Fremont people lived, farmed, and thrived. One of the coolest things that the Fremont left behind is their amazing rock art! And there is no better place to find concentrated amounts of rock art in Utah than Nine Mile Canyon. This site is just northeast of Price, only about an hour and a half drive from Provo, and makes for a great day trip!  

     

    7.28 TimelineTIMELINE
    By Michael Crichton
    (1999)

    Like archaeology? Like medieval knights? Like sci-fi? Odds are, you will like TIMELINE.  A group of archaeologists get sent back in time to medieval France in order to save their professor. This is just the archaeological fiction book that you need for summer. Bonus—there is even a movie starring Paul Walker and Gerard Butler that is just perfect for a fun summer movie night with friends or family.  

     

     

    7.28 Breaking the Maya CodeBREAKING THE MAYA CODE: THE 200-YEAR QUEST TO DECIPHER THE HEIROGLYPHS OF THE ANCIENT MAYA
    Directed by Dave Lebrun
    (2008)

    This documentary is awarding-winning for a reason. It is that good. It could be Sigourney Weaver’s alluring narration, or perhaps the hypnotic visuals. Or maybe it’s the rivalries and colliding personalities involved in unlocking the secrets of Mayan hieroglyphs. Whatever the reason, this documentary is a fascinating look into the history of Maya studies, Mayan writing, and Mayan calendars.

     

    7.28 ArchaeologyARCHAEOLOGY MAGAZINE
    By Archaeological Institute of America

    Did you know that the library has magazines that you can check out? Among the many amazing periodicals is this gem, with little tidbits and stories regarding current archaeological finds around the globe.

     

     

     

  •  arthurian

    Everybody knows the story of King Arthur and his Round Table... don't they? As a passionate medievalist, I am continually surprised by how little of the actual story people know. Anyone can tell me about Lancelot and Guenevere's doomed love, but many fewer know that Mordred, Arthur's bastard son, was the real destroyer of Camelot. The magic of Morgan le Fey, the purity of Sir Galahad, the elusive Questing Beast; there's a whole lot that you're missing out on if you only know the fairy tale version.

    My suggestion: dig a little deeper. There are dozens of different versions of the legends to explore, but to get you started here are five of my favorites.

    le morte darthurLE MORTE D'ARTHUR
    by Sir Thomas Malory
    (1485)

    This is the Arthurian Legend--the very first one ever written in English. Though calling it "English" might be a little bit of a stretch. Written in Middle English, the precursor to our current tongue, it is full of weird words and even weirder spellings. The story will seem much more familiar, however, since every King Arthur book that has come after has used this version of the myth as its starting point, whether directly or indirectly.

    It starts with Arthur's conception and Uther's magical seduction of Igraine. Touching briefly on Arthur's ascension to the throne, it then follows his battles as he consolidates his empire, challenges Rome, and establishes the Round Table. The adventures of the various knights, the quest for the Holy Grail; it's all in there.

    There are two major versions of Le Morte d'Arthur. William Caxton published the first version in 1485 along with his own extensive edits to the piece; this is known as the Caxton publication. The second version appeared in 1934 when the headmaster of Winchester College discovered a manuscript version of the work much closer to Malory's original writings; this is known as the Winchester manuscript. Provo Library has a copy of both Caxton and Winchester, each with updated spelling for a much easier read.

    once and future kingTHE ONCE AND FUTURE KING
    by T.H. White
    (1958)  

    This version was a childhood favorite of mine and has spawned several popular adaptations including the musical Camelot and the cartoon movie The Sword and the Stone. It tells the story of Arthur's younger years at length, including adventures with Robin Hood and magical tales of Merlyn transforming young "Wart" into various animals for educational purposes.   During Arthur's adult years the book shifts to Lancelot's story, giving a surprisingly sympathetic and tender reading of the ugly knight's battle to choose between Guenevere and God. This version of the tale is by far the most charming I've read, written, you might imagine, by a kindly and wise old man not too different from Arthur's magical mentor. It is one of the funniest I've read, too; T.H. White invents a Merlyn that "lives backwards" in order to introduce all sorts of humorous anachronisms to the tale. Appropriate for both children and adults, this is probably my personal favorite of all the renditions of Arthurian legend.  

    the lost yearsTHE LOST YEARS
    by T.A. Barron
    (1996)  

    Previously known as The Lost Years of Merlin, this version is much less a retelling of the traditional Arthurian myth as a spinoff of it. It tells the story of a teenaged Merlin, who wakes up on a beach with no memory of his childhood. As he attempts to rediscover the memories of his lost years, he must weigh the words of Branwen, a woman who claims to be his mother, against his own doubts.   This is the first book in a YA series that follows an amnesiac Merlin in his quest to understand not only his past but the magical power inside him. He quickly discovers that power without control is terrifying thing, and that even a controlled power has the potential for either good or evil.   I would highly recommend this series for younger readers who have maybe seen The Sword in the Stone and are interested in finding out more about the character of Merlin. Though none of Merlin's adventures in The Lost Years can said to be cannonical, they all come from Welsh mythology and are steeped in the same lore that gave birth to the original Arthurian myth.  

    mists of avalonTHE MISTS OF AVALON
    by Marion Zimmer Bradley
    (1982)  

    Marion Zimmer Bradley tells the classic Arthurian tale with a unique twist: it is exclusively told from the perspective of women. It follows Igraine, Arthur's mother; Vivaine, the Lady of the Lake; Gwenhwyfar, Arthur's wife; and Morgaine, his half-sister; and tells the story of the rise and fall of Camelot from their conflicting viewpoints. A masterwork of new-wave feminism, it explores the sexuality of the Arthurian women, from Gwenhwyfar's supressed longing for the forbidden Lancelot to Morgaine's open promiscuity and celebration of the "life force." It also places the Arthurian legend at the turning point in history when religion was teetering between the ancient druidic customs and the new worship of Christ.

    The title refers to the fact that the isle of Avalon, where druids and priestesses of the old religion are schooled, is receding further and further from the rest of Britain, hidden behind a literal and metaphorical veil of mists. Arthur is pulled back and forth between ancient Goddess and Christ, and it is the women that surround and influence him that ultimately must make the decision of faith for all of Britain.  

    the seeing stoneTHE SEEING STONE
    by Kevin Crossley-Holland
    (2000)  

    This is the first book in a YA trilogy that tells the story of young Arthur de Caldicot, the unhappy second son of a knight, who is given a magical stone by the wizard Merlin. In the stone Arthur can watch the story of the legendary King Arthur, and the young de Caldicot is surprised as he finds more and more parallels between his own life and that of the legendary King. Eventually young Arthur decides that what he sees are the events of a parallel world, a reflection of his own, and that as the mirror to a legendary king, de Caldicot has the opportunity to be just as great.

    Extremely well-written for YA, I would recommend this series for both teens and adults interested in Arthurian legend or in the medieval period in general.

       

  • Headphones 

    A few years ago, I took a survey of my fellow librarians, asking them who their favorite audiobook narrators are.  We got some great suggestions! Since then, I’ve increased the amount of audiobooks I consume exponentially.  I read while I do household chores with the use of apps like Libby by OverDrive and RBdigital, and I usually have a book on CD in my non-bluetooth-enabled car.  I’ve heard a lot of amazing audiobooks, and a few duds.  I thought I’d create a list of some of my personal favorite audiobook narrators who I’ve discovered since that last blog post.

    11.15 PrideELIZABETH ACEVEDO

    I first learned of Elizabeth Acevedo when she narrated PRIDE, which is an updated version of Pride and Prejudice set in modern-day Brooklyn.  Acevedo’s reading of that book was impressive, but if you really want to see what she can do, listen to her narrating her own work, the award-winning THE POET X, which tells the story of teenage Xiomara Batista’s struggles growing up in the Bronx, with the story told through poetry.  Acevedo’s skill as a slam poet is on full display here.

     

    11.15 Tattooist of AuschwitzRICHARD ARMITAGE

    Yes, I’m one of those people who first fell in love with Richard Armitage by watching British period dramas.  However, Armitage is making a name for himself not just on screen (in, for example, The Hobbit movies and Ocean’s 8), but in the audiobook world as well.  His reading of the TATTOOIST OF AUSCHWITZ was so good, I frequently found myself idling in my car in front of my house, unable to turn the stereo off. 

     

    11.15 Our Souls at NightMARK BRAMHALL

    Mark Bramhall blew me away with his portrayal of Kent Haruf’s main character, Louis Waters, in the audio narration of OUR SOULS AT NIGHT.  For me, Bramhall was Louis Waters.  I will now gladly read anything he narrates, which is great news for me, since Bramhall has some great books in his repertoire.

     

    11.15 Anna and the Swallow ManALAN CORDUNER

    I first ran into Alan Corduner when I listened to ANNA AND THE SWALLOW MAN, a beautifully written, magical book about a mysterious man who saves a young Jewish girl during World War II, and they spend the next few years on the run.  I have since enjoyed other books narrated by Corduner, and was especially glad to see that Corduner is one of the narrators in the cast recording of Julie Berry’s LOVELY WAR. Corduner’s narration of Lovely War is especially exciting for me since Berry is one of my favorite YA authors.

     

    11.15 My Plain JaneFIONA HARDINGHAM

    Fiona Hardingham seems to have narrated mostly YA fantasy novels recently, but I love her for narrating a humorous take on Jane Eyre: MY PLAIN JANE.  In the historical fiction vein, her reading of THE SUMMER BEFORE THE WAR was also enchanting.

     

    And that's not all! Be on the lookout for another upcoming post with a few more of my favorite audiobook narrators.

  • Headphones

    11.22 The Word is MurderRORY KINNEAR

    The only book I know of that Rory Kinnear has narrated (so far) is THE WORD IS MURDER by Anthony Horowitz.  The Word is Murder is the first book in a planned series, however, so I have great hope that Kinnear will keep narrating.  Kinnear’s narration of this book was so good that I frequently stopped whatever else I was doing and just sat there, marveling at his skill.  Kinnear not only gave different, nuanced voices to every character in The Word is Murder, you could also hear personality traits and feel whatever it was the character was feeling.

     

    11.22 Love and RuinJANUARY LAVOY

    January LaVoy has narrated a lot of books from popular authors like James Patterson, Mary Higgins Clark, and John Grisham.  I personally loved her reading of Paula McLain’s LOVE AND RUIN.  This tale of Ernest Hemingway’s third wife, Martha Gelhorn, who was a talented author and journalist in her own right, was fascinating to me, and I couldn’t stop listening.

     

    11.22 The DrySTEVE SHANAHAN

    Let me start by gushing about Jane Harper, a mystery author who is so good at writing about the Australian Outback as a character that even if you read her work on a cold December day, your mouth will suddenly be parched, and you’ll start checking your skin for sun damage.  Add Steve Shanahan’s excellent narration of Harper’s books to the equation, and you’ll be absolutely transported into the story.  Start with Harper’s first book, THE DRY, or with her most recent stand-alone, THE LOST MAN.

     

    11.22 Children of Blood and BoneBAHNI TURPIN

    Bahni Turpin has been getting a lot of praise for her amazing reading of the breakaway YA title of 2018, CHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE. However, Turpin is also a great narrator to keep your eye on if you’re interested in YA books with a social justice theme.  Turpin also narrated the breakout hits THE HATE U GIVE and the young readers edition of HIDDEN FIGURES.

     

    11.22 EducatedJULIA WHELAN

    Julia Whelan has narrated not one, but two of my favorite books that have come out recently.  Her excellent reading of Tara Westover’s memoir, EDUCATED, about a young woman growing up in a survivalist family in Idaho, is gripping storytelling made even more amazing by the fact that it really happened.  Whelan also narrates FAR FROM THE TREE an award-winning YA novel about three siblings separated by adoption who find each other as teenagers, which I found very touching. Listen to Far from the Tree with tissues handy.

     
  • backtoschool 

     

    It’s back to school time and to help you get into the mindset here are some classic 80s films that will help you get there. From the funny to the tearjerker, from inspirational to romance, school never had it so good as when the 80s brought it to the screen.

     

    FerrisBuellerFERRIS BUELLER’S DAY OFF
    dir. John Hughes
    (1986)

     “Bueller? Bueller?” The most popular kid in high school calls in sick and drags his best friend and girlfriend on an adventure through Chicago all the while the principle tries to catch him on the act. The essential film for teaching any kid how to fake being sick to their parents (not that we are encouraging that or anything).

     

     

    PrettyPinkPRETTY IN PINK
    dir. Howard Deutsch
    (1986)

    Classic Romeo & Juliet story but with a good soundtrack, awesome 80s fashion, and no one dies! Plus everyone needs a best friend like Duckie to remind them how awesome they are.

     

     

    DeadPoetsDEAD POET’S SOCIETY
    dir. Peter Weir
    (1989)

    “O Captain, my Captain.” Anyone who has seen the film will want to automatically jump on their desk with just those few words in tribute to English teacher John Keating, who teaches his students about life through poetry even to the chagrin of the stuffy leadership. One of Williams’s best films (you might want a hankie if you are a crier), and a very young Ethan Hawke makes this a film you don't want to miss.

     

    StandandDeliverSTAND AND DELIVER
    dir. Ramon Menendez
    (1988)

    Inspired by the true story of Jaime Escalante, a high school math teacher in inner city L.A., who helped his failing students achieve academic success. This is a great film to inspire students and teachers alike to not let other people dictate what their potential is. Plus, who can forget Lou Diamond Phillips wearing the stylish 80s hairnet!

     

     

  • baseball movies

    It’s that time of year again! The crack of the bat, the cheering crowd, the smell of the ballpark; it is baseball season. In tribute to our national pastime, here are 5 great baseball movies that you can check out from the library!

    The SandlotTHE SANDLOT  (PG)
    directed by David Mickey Evans
    (1993)

    I haven’t watched this movie for years, but I can still quote so many memorable lines. This movie takes place during one summer where a bunch of neighborhood boys play baseball in an empty dirt lot. They face challenges, try to figure out girls, and learn about life as they play ball together. The whole family can enjoy this one.  

     

     

    Field of DreamsFIELD OF DREAMS (PG)
    directed by Phil Alden Robinson
    (1989)

    Iowa famer Ray Kinsella (Kevin Costner) hears a voice telling him to build a baseball field in his cornfield. As crazy as that sounds, it is a voice that he can’t ignore. He meets some interesting people along the way of turning his dream into a reality. This is a heartwarming film that has been inspiring viewers for over 25 years.  

     

     

    The RookieTHE ROOKIE (G)
    directed by John Lee Hancock
    (2002)

    Jim Morris (Dennis Quaid) always dreamed of making it to the big leagues, but a shoulder injury ended that dream. He did the next best thing and became a coach. Years down the road he made a bet with his losing baseball team that if they won the district championship, he would try out for the majors. The team shocked everyone and went from the very worst to the first and Jim had no other choiceother than to go after his dream one more time. This movie is based on a true story, and it just makes you feel good.  

    The Perfect GameTHE PERFECT GAME (PG)
    directed by William Dear
    (2011)

    This movie didn’t get a lot of attention, but my family loved it. It is about a rag-tag bunch of boys in poverty stricken Mexico. They love baseball and eventually convince a man who had once hoped to make it in the major leagues himself to be their coach. They have a dream of playing in the Little Leagues and end up defying the odds and having an unprecedented winning streak which leads to the Little League World Series in America. This is a feel-good movie that will leave you thinking anything is possible.  

    A League of Their OwnA LEAGUE OF THEIR OWN (PG)
    directed by Penny Marshall
    (1992)

    Based on a true story, this movie tells of a time when most of the major league players were away at war. Tom Hanks stars as Jimmy Dugan, a washed-up ballplayer, who is hired to coach in the All-American Girls Baseball League of 1943. He is slowly drawn back into the game as he witnesses the heart and heroics of his all-girl team. Geena Davis, Madonna, Lori Petty and Rosie O’Donnell  also star in this fun movie about a little-known time in American sports history. 

     

  • 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.

     

    paxPAX
    by Sara Pennypacker
    (2016)  

    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
    (2016)

    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!

     

    summerlostSUMMERLOST
    by Ally Condie
    (2016)

    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
    (2016)

    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.

     

    maydayMAYDAY
    by Karen Harrington
    (2016)

    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? 

  • rome

    With the coming of that most famous and famously auspicious of days, thanks to Shakespeare, here are some excellent books about or set in ancient Rome. Fiction and nonfiction both.

    spqrS.P.Q.R.: A HISTORY OF ANCIENT ROME
    by Mary Beard
    (2015)

    Mary Beard, a Cambridge don, presents a fresh and enlightening history of Rome's first thousand years. The author brilliantly combines scholarly insight with engaging storytelling. An excellent book!

     

     

    rubiconRUBICON: THE LAST YEARS OF THE ROMAN REPUBLIC 
    by Tom Holland
    (2003)

    A fascinating account of the events of the first century, when the Republic decayed, ushering in the imperial era. Emphasis is placed on the roles and influences of key historical figures, such as Julius Caesar, Cleopatra, Brutus and Octavian.

     

    imperiumIMPERIUM: A NOVEL OF ANCIENT ROME 
    by Robert Harris
    (2006)

    A tale of ambition, this story traces the life of famous orator Cicero, from his years as a rising lawyer to his entrance into the political arena, facing off against the leading men of the day. This is the first of a trilogy, continued in Conspirata and concluding with Dictator.

     

    first in romeTHE FIRST MAN IN ROME
    by Colleen McCullough
    (1990)

    The first in a series, this is the story of men ambitiously striving for glory and power in the Roman arenas of politics and war. This is for anyone who likes their historical fiction truly epic and rich in historical details.

  • bilingual

    Provo Library carries quite a few Spanish materials. On the children’s side, we often get parents wanting bilingual books in Spanish and English to help younger patrons learn a second language while they’re small. Like our patrons, our Spanish collection isn’t the biggest, but we’re growing! We even have bilingual board books to start breaking language barriers early. Here are five bilingual board books you can find in the children’s Spanish section.

    baby animalsBABY ANIMALS - BEBÉS ANIMALES
    by Say and Play Bilingual
    (2012)  

    This adorable board book taught me that “duckling” in Spanish is “patito.” Cute in both languages! This board book keeps it simple: each page has one baby animal with both its English and Spanish name.

    oink moo meowOINK, MOO, MEOW - OINK, MUU, MIAU
    by Say and Play Bilingual
    (2012)

    Another by Say and Play Bilingual, but this book takes it to the next level. Each page still features one animal, but it’s focused on the animal sounds. Learn that the frog says Ribbit! in English, but la rana dice ¡Croac! en Espanol. It’s a great intellectual exercise to realize that even animal sounds are portrayed differently in different languages and countries.  

    mis numerosMY NUMBERS - MIS NUMEROS
    by Rebecca Emberley
    (2000)

    This simple board book introduces readers to numeros uno a diez. As a bonus, each number corresponds with an everyday object. Five carrots becomes cinco zanahorias and seven stars becomes siete estrellas.  

    a color of his ownA COLOR OF HIS OWN - SU PROPIO COLOR
    by Leo Lionni
    (2016)

    The Chameleon realizes every animal and plant can claim a color except him. He feels pretty lonely without a color to call his own until the day he meets another chameleon who explains that they can change color together! This classic story is told in English with Spanish translations on each page.  

    don quixoteDON QUIXOTE: A SPANISH LANGUAGE PRIMER
    by Jennifer Adams and Alison Oliver
    (2015)

    These BabyLit classics crack me up! In board book format, each “classic” uses a notable literary work to explain a simple concept. Some focus on counting or opposites; this one highlights Spanish. You’ll learn that Don Quixote is a man or el hombre, that windmills are also los molinos de viento, and that the faithful Sancho Panza is Don Quixote’s friend or amigo. The illustrations in this series are some of my favorite.

     

  • board games

    So hopefully you all know that the Provo City Library is amazing and has over 60 board games that you are welcome to use inside the library. Board gaming is amazing and is something of a passion of mine. I love how far board games have come since the eight that I remember in my parent’s house … long story short neither Monopoly or Risk are my favorite. While Clue and Sorry are fun, they are not what I want to play all the time. So if you need inspiration for a family activity please come and see what we have at the library.

    Here are my top 5 if you would like any ideas, but this list was harder to pick from than I thought it would be. If you go to http://www.provolibrary.com/games you can see a complete list of all the awesomeness we have at the library.

    PANDEMIC: This is a Cooperative board game, meaning everyone is trying to beat the board that is metaphorically trying to kill you. So in this game, players are members of the CDC trying to cure the world of disease. This game throws in a twist when the disease outbreaks and spreads to adjacent locations on the board.

    TAKENOKO: Think Zen Settlers of Catan (which we also have). This game is set in Japan where you are trying to complete your card objectives by cultivating a beautiful garden, grow bamboo, and feed your panda, all while the other players are trying to complete their secret objectives.

    PLAYING CARDS: I know what you are thinking - what am I going to do with a deck of cards? Well the answer is there is a whole bunch of fun you can have (other than 52 pickup, which I will be the first to say is not very fun).  If you don’t come knowing how to play Speed, War, or Egyptian Rat Screw, we have a book with various games one can play with this super mobile deck.

    DIXIT: This is an amazing game with awesome artwork. Throw out clues and try to get people to guess what card you picked but if you make it too easy you get no points and if you make your clue too hard you get no points. I absolutely love the artwork in this game and it is really fun to see the players interpretations of the clues that are given by the clue giver.

    TSURO: The game of the path, this game is really easy to learn and accommodates up to 8 players. Everyone tries to stay on the board for as long as possible; if your paths collide and you run into another player, you die. If your piece falls off the board you also die, and you must follow the path you are on. Super simple rules and really fun at the same time.

  • kenya

    Do you have an upcoming trip? Whether it’s for business or pleasure, there’s a sure fire way to increase the awesomeness of your travel experience: Check out a book. 

    But not just any book. Check out a book that was written about the place you’re going. Whether you’re headed to Rome, Hong Kong, or St. George, we have a book that will help you connect with that place, its culture and its history. 

    A couple years ago I spent a few months at a girls school in Kenya. I had a wonderfully immersive experience made only better by the fact that while I was there I was pretty dedicated to reading literature written by people who actually lived, or had lived, in Kenya. Doing this helped broaden my perspective of this young, postcolonial country that I was trying to understand. Here are 5 of my favorite Kenyan books: 

    7.21 Out of AfricaOUT OF AFRICA
    By Isak Dinesen
    (1937)

    This is one of the most familiar Kenyan literature titles thanks to the movie featuring Meryl Streep. Karen Blixen (pen name, Isak Dinesen) writes her biographical memoir of life on a Kenyan coffee farm when Kenya was still a British colony. She was one of many Danes who migrated to Kenya, where the Danish presence remains strong to this day. Her home has been converted into a historical memorial and museum, and while the area that was once her plantation has become part of Nairobi, the locals still refer to the entire area as “Karen.” Blixen’s views are decidedly white-washed, but she still gives a lovely and honest account of what it was like for an educated, single (married but separated) white woman to take up living in a completely foreign environment. 

    7.21 West with the NightWEST WITH THE NIGHT
    By Beryl Markham
    (1942) 

    This is another Kenyan colonial memoir. I picked this up because I was told by a fellow literature BA that it had some of the most beautiful prose she’d ever read. She wasn’t wrong. Both Markham and Dinesen paint a beautiful picture of the fantastic Kenyan landscape that is so foreign to many of us living in the US. This is also another great feminist tale as Markham shares her experiences as a single, woman pilot in the African bush. One of her most intense scenes involves an elephant hunt with a murderous bull elephant. While reading this, the locals had already made sure I was scared to death of these big, beautiful creatures, but this scene solidified that fear. Interestingly enough, if you read Out of Africa and wonder where Blixen’s husband is, you can find him hanging out with Markham in this tale, proving how close knit the white settlers were at this time. 

    7.21 UnbowedUNBOWED
    By Wangari Maathai
    (2006) 

    There’s no way my reading list would be complete without this amazing autobiography by Wangari Maathai, a Nobel Prize winner for her work with the Green Belt Movement. She was the personal hero of many of the girls on campus, and her views gave me important insight into both the environmental and political crises facing the country. Unbowed is the perfect title for this book about a woman who never stepped back from a fight if she knew the cause would help her country.  

    Unfortunately, the Provo library doesn’t own the following two books, but they are still worth looking up. 

     

    7.21 A Grain of WheatA GRAIN OF WHEAT
    By Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo
    (1967) 

    Even though the Provo library doesn’t currently own any of the fictional works of renowned Kenyan writer, Ngũgĩ wa Thiongʼo, we do have his autobiography, BIRTH OF A DREAM WEAVER: A WRITER'S AWAKENING. A Grain of Wheat is worth a read if you’re at all interested in the Kenyan independence movement of the 50s. It’s an emotion-driven tale of the controversy that overshadowed the personal lives of everyone leading up to Uhuru. For me, this was an important glimpse into the feelings of someone who actually lived through these turbulent times and the resulting aftermath. 

     

    7.21 The River and the SourceTHE RIVER AND THE SOURCE
    By Margaret A. Ogola
    (1995)

    I read this book in tandem with the girls at the school where I was living. This amazing tale follows a family through 4 generations, spanning from tribal life in the bush, through university degrees and life in the city. This tale covers love, loss, disease, and political instability as the family tries to survive and stay true to their roots. Akoko, the first protagonist, is heralded throughout as the matriarch of the family, the source of the river.

     

     

  • fandom 1

     Fandom. Nearly all of us belong to at least one. Think about that one TV show, band, book series, or game that you connected with so deeply, that at times, it’s all you could think or talk about. It’s feeling connected to a community of people who have all experienced the same thrill and passion as you. And waiting for the next release...AGONY!

    Here are five Young Adult novels that celebrate what it’s like to be part of a fandom. The ultimate ode to all things geek.

    FangirlFANGIRL 
    Rainbow Rowell
    (2013)

    This charming novel tells the story of  painfully shy Cath, who prefers the fantasy world of fanfiction to reality. Cath has been writing fanfiction about Simon Snow, a Harry Potter-like wizard who battles vampires and the Humdrum, a creature determined to rid the world of magic. She has thousands of online followers, but as Cath begins her first year of college, expecting to survive by rooming with her outgoing twin sister, Wren, everything starts to fall apart.

     

     

    The Geeks Guide to Unrequited LoveTHE GEEK’S GUIDE TO UNREQUITED LOVE 
    Sarvenaz Tash
    (2016)

    Graham and Roxana have been friends for eight years, growing closer through their mutual love of comic books and all things geek. But what Roxy doesn’t know is that Graham has had a hopeless crush on her for years. So when he learns that the creator of their favorite comic will be at this year’s New York Comic Con, Graham knows they have to go, and that it’s the perfect opportunity to confess his unrequited love. But once Comic Con actually starts, nothing goes according to plan, and Graham is left struggling to make the epic moment happen.

     

    GeekerellaGEEKERELLA 
    Ashley Poston
    (2017)

    In this fandom version of the fairy tale Cinderella, Elle Wittimer is a devoted fan of the classic sci-fi TV series Starfield. When Elle finds out that ExcelsiCon is hosting a Starfield cosplay contest in honor of the new movie adaptation, she jumps at the chance, but knows her evil step-family will try to prevent her from attending the ball. When Darien Freeman is cast as the new Prince of Carmindor, Elle thinks it’s a terrible choice. She vents her frustration with the casting on her fan blog and receives unprecedented readership. So when Elle and Darien’s paths cross at the ExcelsiCon ball, it’s not so clear if Elle will get her happily ever after.

     

    The Only Thing Worse Than Me Is YouTHE ONLY THING WORSE THAN ME IS YOU
    Lily Anderson
    (2016)

    In this nerdy take on Shakespeare’s Much Ado about Nothing, Trixie Watson has considered Ben West her arch-nemesis since first grade at Messina Academy for the Gifted, a school for geniuses. In their senior year, Trixie is determined to finally surpass Ben in the class standings. But Trixie and Ben’s respective best friends are exhausted with the verbal sparring and plot to help them form a friendship or maybe more based on their mutual love of comics and science fiction. So when Trixie’s friend gets expelled for cheating, they each have to choose who to believe.

     

    All The FeelsALL THE FEELS 
    Danika Stone
    (2016)

    Ultimate fan Liv has been obsessed with the sci-fi movie Starveil, for years. So, when the main character, Spartan, is unexpectedly killed off in the final movie, Liv and the rest of the fandom can’t accept it. After trying to get over it and failing, she decides that Spartan’s death should be struck from the official canon of the films. With help from her best friend, Xander, a Steampunk-loving aspiring actor, they begin a campaign called #SpartanSurvived.

     

     

  • fashionable

    Working at a library as a grown-up, I’m often really jealous of kids who get to read books I would have loved when I was their age but which didn’t exist yet. These days, kids interested in fashion have a bevy of books to choose from—something I will always be jealous of. Here are my favorite books for fashionable kids. 

    3.16 For Audrey with LoveFOR AUDREY WITH LOVE: AUDREY HEPBURN AND GIVENCHY
    By Philip Hopman
    (2018)

    This dual biography of Hubert de Givenchy (who passed away just last week) and his most famous client, Audrey Hepburn, is a beautiful, fashionable, and colorful story of two best friends. Young readers may not appreciate the depictions of a fish-out-of-water Audrey in famous movie costumes yet, but will still enjoy the water colors of beautiful dresses. 

     

    3.16 BloomBLOOM: A STORY OF FAHION DESIGNER ELSA SCHIAPARELLI
    By Kyo Maclear
    Illustrated by Julie Morstad
    (2018)

    This new picture book biography is about Elsa Schiaparelli, a fashion designer known for creating innovative dresses that were works of art. This book is inspiring—reminding young readers that they can accomplish great things and “bloom” into something beautiful—and filled with illustrations of flowers and dresses in Elsa’s signature shade of hot pink. 

     

    3.16 CinderellaCINDERELLA: A FASHIONABLE TALE
    By Steven Guarnaccia
    (2013)

    In this fashionable and “mod” retelling of Cinderella, the titular character is transformed into haute couture by a fairy godfather who looks suspiciously like Karl Lagerfeld. Fashion aficionados will love the references to some recognizable styles of the 20th century (the end pages will help you identify them) and little fashionistas will love the bright and unique illustrations. 

     

    3.16 When Royals Wore RufflesWHEN ROYALS WORE RUFFLES: A FUNNY & FASHIONABLE ALPHABET
    By Chesley McLaren and Pamela Jaber
    (2009)

    This ABC book takes kids on a simple tour through the history of fashion mentioning ruffs, chopines, flappers, and more. The swirly, often silly, illustrations enhance the goofy (and true) stories about high fashion through time. This book is a must for fashionable readers and the pink cover definitely adds to the kid appeal. 

     

    3.16 Bad Girls of FashionBAD GIRLS OF FASHION: STYLE REBELS FROM CLEOPATRA TO LADY GAGA
    By Jennifer Croll
    Illustrated by Ada Buchholc
    2016 

    This is the only book on my list that isn’t a picture book, but it is still filled with illustrations of fashionable ladies and the clothes that made them famous. This book tells the story of famous women who made history because they were well-dressed and not in spite of it. Slightly older readers with an interest in celebrity and fashion will love this in-depth look at the power of clothes.

     
  •  mother child books

    It’s Mother’s Day month and the library has a lot of books that focus on the relationship of mother and child. I can’t help but reflect on my relationship with my children and feel nostalgic about when they were really little. There are little mothering moments that I remember and cherish. Reading, of course, happens to be my favorite. These days instead of picture books, my children have the attention span to listen to a chapter from a longer novel, and it is still my favorite thing in the world. Nothing really compares to snuggling on the couch and reading all together. Right after having my first child we created a nightly ritual. It makes all the hard moments worthwhile, even though it turns “getting ready for bed” into a marathon-long nightly routine. Every so often we pick a book about the relationship of mother and child, and as the pages continue to turn, tears eventually come to my eyes because the story is that touching. With all the adorable mother-child relationship books I see, I decided to share my favorites.    

    When I Carried You In My BellyWHEN I CARRIED YOU IN MY BELLY
    by Thrity Umrigar. illustrated by Ziyue Chen
    (2017)

    A mother looks back and describes to her child all the experiences she had while she was pregnant, and how they helped create who she is today. The strong relationship shared between her and the child is perfectly experienced by the reader. 

    Ten Little Fingers and Ten Little ToesTEN LITTLE FINGERS TEN LITTLE TOES 
    by Mem Fox
    (2008)

    This simple story has always been one of my favorites. The board book version is perfect for reading with babies. It goes through the experience of babies from different parts of the world. Even though they come from different places, they are all similar in so many ways, but of course, each baby has their own special mama.    

    SomedaySOMEDAY 
    by Allison McGhee and Peter H. Reynolds
    (2007)

    Mcghee and Reynolds have captured the memorable, special mothering moments and combined them with the hopes and dreams every mother has for her own children. This sweet, simple story can be shared with children and treasured by mothers.

    The Kissing HandTHE KISSING HAND 
    by Audrey Penn
    (1993)

    This story is perfect for the beginning of the school year, especially for a child who is nervous about the experience. I still give my daughter a kissing hand every night before she goes to bed, and she says, “Mama loves me.” We first read this book together a few years ago, but she has carried on the nightly tradition. Penn also perfectly describes a mother’s feelings in sending a child to school for the first time. Sometimes it is just as hard as it is for the child.  
     

    The Runaway BunnyTHE RUNAWAY BUNNY 
    by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Clement Hurd
    (1942)  

    This timeless classic continues to be a staple of every reading collection. Brown captures the lengths a mother will go to be with her child, and Hurd’s pictures perfectly accompany the story. Every other spread contains illustrations with no words, which provides time to have the children tell the story and describe what is happening along with the reader. This story is perfect for a child of any age, especially the youngest listeners.

     

  • covers

     

    I absolutely, definitely judge books by their covers. I’m always scanning the shelves (and the floor, and patron’s hands) for covers that are unique in design and childlike in sensibility. When a book’s cover catches my eye, I pick it up. That is how I choose the books I want to read. It’s not a perfect approach. But I have found that form usually follows function and more often than not, an interesting book cover contains an interesting story inside.  

    Here are five books I simply happened across in the children’s section: books I'd never heard of before, but which had graphically bold or visually detailed covers that I was drawn to. Once I opened up these books, I found stories and illustrations inside that confirmed what the covers suggested. Not all books should be judged by their covers, but it’s working out pretty well for me so far.  

    (Interestingly, all five of these books are by Japanese authors and illustrators.)              

    issun boshiISSUN BOSHI
    By Icinori    
    (2014)

    Issun Boshi is the first book I checked out as a librarian. I was sucked in by the cover illustration boldly rendered in orange, teal, yellow, and black with stark negative space. I picked it up partially because I couldn’t tell how old it was from looking at the cover. Like a lot of less familiar folktales, ISSUN BOSHI feels at once fresh and ancient. It is the story of a one-inch tall boy who leaves home to find adventure, armed with a rice bowl and a needle. The words and images create a striking picture book of unusual peril but also unusual subtlety.

     

         

    you are my best friendYOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND
    By Tatsuya Miyanishi    
    (2004) 

    This cover is densely patterned, boldly colored, and full of glaring dinosaurs—which makes its sweet title intriguing. Inside, we get the story of a destructive and violent Tyrannosaurus who learns about gratitude and friendship when the Elasmosaurus saves his life. I like that YOU ARE MY BEST FRIEND is extremely aware of its audience, both in word and image. It feels like a story a child would tell accompanied by drawings a child would draw, but with the finesse and sophistication of a hugely talented adult author/illustrator.      

                         

    annos counting bookANNO’S COUNTING BOOK
    By Mitsumasa Anno
    (1975)  

    I liked the careful little scene on the cover of Anno’s Counting Book and was rewarded with an exceptional presentation of natural mathematics inside. The development of a village and its countryside is depicted only with pictures and numbers. The landscape and its inhabitants change and expand and multiply in patterns and sequences throughout seasons of the year. Anno’s delicate little drawings are full of life and detail. Every plant, animal, person, and building is worth discovering because each countable feature (windows, branches, petals) is significant in relation to everything else.        

     

    kuma kumaKUMA KUMA CHAN’S HOME
    By Kazue Takahashi  
    (2016) 

    Sometimes just the color of a book jacket or the typeface of the title or even the size of a book is enough to make me want to pick it up. This slim little pale pink book fit so nicely in my hands - how could I resist? KUMA KUMA CHAN’S HOME is a tiny book, sweetly and simply rendered, about an imperfect but ultimately nice visit between friends. The story, like the cover art, is understated, gentle, and minimal.    

           

    how to draw almost everythingHOW TO DRAW ALMOST EVERYTHING
    By Chika Miyata  
    (2016) 

    The childlike drawing style featured on the cover of HOW TO DRAW ALMOST EVERYTHING feels similar to Anno’s, which is probably why this book caught my attention. Invitingly simple but engagingly specific, this “Illustrated Sourcebook” teaches the reader how to doodle just about anything you might need to doodle. The step-by-step illustrations are encouraging and accessible and the book really does cover a huge breadth of subjects: animals, plants, faces, clothing, foods, vehicles, emotions, actions.  

     

  • smarter

    I love reading books about physics. Somehow, I survived my formal education, pre-school through a master’s degree, without a physics class. Fortunately, there are some amazing scientists with a gift for writing and explaining that have provided me the opportunity to bolster my formal education. I love that these books make me feel very smart as a concept snaps into place and I actually understand why E=mc2. Of course, I cannot explain what I’ve learned to anyone and within a few days I’ve lost that light of understanding. But, at least while reading, the world makes sense.Here is a list of my favorites:

    10.20 A Short History of Nearly EverythingA SHORT HISTORY OF NEARLY EVERYTHING
    By Bill Bryson
    (2003)

    This hefty tome was my first introduction to Bill Bryson and I’ve loved him ever since.  While the entire book is not dedicated to physics exactly, the author begins with the Big Bang and then meanders his way through the history of the universe and our world.  Completely entertaining and enlightening.

     

     

    10.20 emc2E=mc2: A BIOGRAPHY OF THE WORLD’S MOST FAMOUS EQUATION
    By David Bodanis
    (2005)

    A biography about an equation sounds a little odd but the history E=mc2 is so full of drama it is actually a perfect fit. Though I do love many other books on the topic, this one created for me the most memorable “ah ha” moment. Bodanis set out to explain something everyone can recite, but few actually understand. He totally succeeded in my case!

     

     

    10.20 Physics of the FuturePHYSICS OF THE FUTURE: HOW SCIENCE WILL SHAPE HUMAN DESTINY AND OUR DAILY LIVES BY THE YEAR 2100
    By Michio Kaku
    (2011)

    With a slightly different goal than other authors on this list, Kaku explain where things are headed and more of the application of physics instead of focusing on the actual science.  He adds imagination to the mix and helps readers see how physics affects us now and in the increasingly near future.

     

     

    10.20 Seven Brief Lessons on PhysicsSEVEN BRIEF LESSONS ON PHYSICS
    By Carlo Rovelli
    (2016)

    General relativity, quantum mechanics, elementary particles, gravity, and black holes are a few of the topics discussed in this collection’s 86 pages.  If you only have a few hours, this is the physics book for you.  I did have to stop and reread several portions to follow the science, but I loved the playful tone and lyrical writing.

     

     

    10.20 Astrophysics for People in a HurryASTROPHYSICS FOR PEOPLE IN A HURRY
    By Neil deGrasse Tyson
    (2017)

    Neil deGrasse Tyson’s celebrity status drew me to this book but his ability to explain very complicated concepts kept me reading.  His writing is approachable and entertaining and here he provides a basic understanding of the past, present, and future of the cosmos. 

     

     

     

  • bunnies

     It is spring! That means my thoughts turn to flowers, rain showers, and cute little animals. One of which that I often associate with spring is a bunny rabbit. Granted, this may be due to the fact that Easter and Easter Bunnies are also associated with spring in my mind…and little bunnies and chicks often are scattered around the retail world at this time of year. But regardless, this season makes me think of bunnies. And there are so many great bunny books for little kiddos! Here are five of my favorites.

    A Boy and His BunnyA Boy and His Bunny
    by Sean Bryan. Illustrated by Tom Murphy

    This is an odd book. But I like it. (Hopefully the fact that it is odd and I like it doesn’t necessarily mean that I am odd…hmm. I guess I should think about that. But don’t judge me, okay?) So the premise of the book is that one day a boy wakes up and there is a bunny on his head. He goes throughout his day with a bunny on his head. There are loads of rhymes in the book. And kids will laugh at the way the boy doesn’t find it unusual or crazy that there is a bunny on his head. Basically this is just a fun way to look at what in life is odd and what isn’t. And it is kind of amusing to think that a boy wouldn’t mind having a bunny stuck on his head. (And truth be told, I would rather have a bunny than what the book reveals his sister has stuck on her head…)

     

    OverboardOverboard
    by Sarah Weeks. Illustrated by Sam Williams

    This is one of my all-time favorite books to read to babies. This little bunny does what all little ones like doing…learning how gravity works by dropping things on purpose. All the baby things go “Overboard!” Things such as diapers, jammies, food, baby wipes—they all get dropped to the little bunny’s delight. And little ones can say “overboard” with nearly every page turn. This is a cute little story where the bunny is an adorable toddler. Such fun.

     

    The Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say MooThe Little Rabbit Who Liked to Say Moo
    by Jonathan Allen

    Have you ever heard a toddler giggle because they get that something isn’t quite right in a story? Or have you ever had a preschooler gleefully explain why a picture book’s story is a little bit silly? This is one of those books that have had both of these responses. Basically there is a little rabbit that is in a farmer’s field and the rabbit says “moo” over and over again. Of course this catches the attention of a cow who promptly informs the rabbit that “moo” is just not what rabbits say. Thus begins a journey of farmyard onomatopoeia that will give toddlers and preschoolers something to giggle over. And seriously, who doesn’t like reading a good picture book where the characters say the wrong sounds every now and again?

     

    Buddy and the BunniesBuddy and the Bunnies in Don’t Play With Your Food!
    by Bob Shea

    I love Bob Shea books! And this one is one of my favorites. Basically there is this monster who is not nice (although his name is “Buddy” so readers may suspect that whoever named him would know that he has the potential to be nice and be a “buddy” to other animals). Anyway, this mean monster finds three bunnies and decides that they will make a perfect meal. Only, the bunnies trick Buddy into waiting to eat them until after they make cupcakes. Of course after gorging himself on cupcakes, Buddy decides to eat the bunnies another day. And thus begins the delicate trickster story tripe that leads Buddy to realize that maybe he shouldn’t eat his “friends.” Seriously, this book makes me laugh (and bonus that I have a little nephew who loves the book as well). So, pull up a cupcake and enjoy this monster/bunny book yourself.

     

    That Rabbit Belongs to Emily BrownThat Rabbit Belongs to Emily Brown
    by Cressida Cowell. Illustrated by Neal Layton

    This book is quite special. When I first read it I knew that this was a book I wanted to remember so that I could read it again when I needed to remember important things like what makes toys REAL. And any book that sticks like this one does in my “I must remember this for all time” memory often is a book that I tend to want to tell other people about (such as recommending it to you all via this blog post)! Basically there is a girl named Emily Brown that has a stuffed rabbit (named Stanley). Emily loves her bunny and they have all sorts of adventures together (as any respectable girl and her favorite toy would have). However, one day Emily finds out that the Queen wants Stanley in exchange for another toy. Emily says “no” and continues her adventures. But the Queen will not take “no” for an answer! And eventually Emily must let the Queen know (in no uncertain terms) just how important Stanley is to her. Seriously, this is a good book for all the little kiddos who believe that toys are as real as people. And really, maybe after reading this story people will understand that indeed they are.

     

  • 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.

    1ORANGE PEAR APPLE BEAR
    by Emily Gravett  
    (2011)

    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.

    2HAPPY HIPPO, ANGRY DUCK 
    by Sandra Boynton
    (2011)  

    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.”

    3THE FOOT BOOK
    by Dr. Seuss  
    (1968)

    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.

    4MY BIG ANIMAL BOOK
    by Richard Priddy  
    (2011)

    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. 

    5I LOVE YOU, STINKY FACE
    by Lisa McCourt  
    (1997)

    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
    (2011)

    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.

    babiesBABIES
    by Gyo Fujikawa
    (1963)  

    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
    (2002)  

    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
    (1963)  

    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
    (1978)  

    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. 

  • narrators

    A few months ago Marcie did a blog post about the importance of picking the right narrator for an audio book. If you missed it, check it out here. As a librarian who listens to more books than read (I read one book to every fifty I listen to), I have tried a variety of narrators and know how they can make or break a story. While just about everyone I know says that Jim Dale, the narrator of the Harry Potter books is their favorite, here is my list of Five Favorite Children’s Narrators.

    GraveyardBookNeil Gaiman
    Book to listen to: THE GRAVEYARD BOOK
    by Neil Gaiman
    (2008)

    As a general rule, authors should not narrate their own works. Writing a book takes a different talent than reading it aloud and they should leave it to the professionals—but Neil Gaiman is the exception.  A must-listen is his reading of The Graveyard Book.

    RuinsofGorlanJohn Keating
    Book to listen to: THE RUINS OF GORLAN
    by John Flanagan
    (2005)

    The is one of my all-time favorite series and Keating does a great job making you feel you have stepped back into time with brave knights defending castles.


    FalsePrinceCharlie McWade
    Book to listen to: THE FALSE PRINCE
    by Jennifer A. Nielsen
    (2012)

    Can you have a crush on a voice? Yes, you can, and for me it is Charlie McWade.  (Okay, I have a couple voice crushes but I’m focusing on Children’s book narrators here.) This book is a great adventure and the narration just brings the book to life.

    heros guide to saving kingdomBronson Pinchot
    Book to listen to: THE HERO'S GUIDE TO SAVING THE KINGDOM
    by Christopher Healy
    (2012)

    You might know him as Balchie from the 80s TV series Perfect Strangers but he now narrates books. He has the talent to come up with dozens of distinct voices, which comes in handy when he narrates The Hero’s Guide to Saving the Kingdom.

    AmuletofSamarkandSimon Jones
    Book to listen to: THE AMULET OF SAMARKAND
    by Jonathan Stroud
    (2004)

    The Amulet of Samarkand is actually better to listen to than to read—and that’s not just because Jones manages to weave footnotes seamlessly into the story but because he also has the perfect delivery of the sarcastic djinni.  I pretty much listen to anything Simon Jones narrates just to listen to his voice.

     

  • Friday Faves Chinese New Year Lantern

    As a kid, I learned almost nothing about China in school.  We studied Utah History, American History, and even “World History,” but somehow the world was about Egypt, Greece and Rome, with only a cursory nod towards Asia.  It wasn’t until I took Asian Humanities in college that I began to be aware that there were really amazing civilizations thriving in China while Grecian and Roman emperors were strutting around Europe claiming to have conquered the “known world.”  Since then I have really enjoyed reading books set in China, both ancient and modern.  Here are some of my favorites. And you just have time to read one before Chinese New Year on February 16th. 

    1.26 Where the Mountain Meets the MoonWHERE THE MOUNTAIN MEETS THE MOON
    By Grace Lin
    (2009)

    Each book in Lin’s series blends adventure with Chinese folktales.  In this one Min Li is worried about her poor village that is suffering from famine because of a lack of rain.  Plucking up her courage, she goes on a quest to meet the Old Man of the Moon and ask him how to help her family and friends. 

     

    1.26 Chu Jus HouseCHU JU’S HOUSE
    By Gloria Whelan
    (2004)

    When a baby girl is born into Chu Ju’s family in modern rural China, she runs away so that her parents—hoping for a boy and limited to two children—will not send away the new child. She goes to the city and creates a new life for herself. 

     

    1.26 Bronze and SunflowerBRONZE AND SUNFLOWER
    By Wenxaun Cao
    (2017)

    Sunflower moves from the city to a farming camp with her father during the Cultural Revolution.  When her father dies, Sunflower is adopted by a local peasant family and learns how difficult rural life in China really is. 

     

    1.26 The Kite RiderTHE KITE RIDER
    By Geraldine McCaughrean
    (2002)

    Haoyou is given the amazing opportunity to escape his family’s poverty and become a circus performer in medieval China.  As he rides on a giant kite and performs tricks before commoners and noblemen, other forces are pulling him back to his family. 

     

    1.26 The Empty PotTHE EMPTY POT
    By Demi
    (1990)

    The emperor proclaims that whoever can grow the most beautiful plant from the seeds he provides will be his heir. Ping accepts the challenge, but no matter what he does, his seeds won’t grow.  As the day of the judging approaches, Ping must decide what to bring to the all-powerful emperor. The other books in this list are novels, but I couldn’t resist including this folktale because it is one of my favorite picture books of all time.

     
  • christmas movies 1

    We all… well, at least I personally, have a list of Christmas Movies where it just doesn’t feel like Christmas without them. I have many fond memories of movies recorded onto VHS tapes with the commercials in them and everything. It is crazy how nostalgic I can be over an old television commercial.

    Here is a list of my five favorite Christmas films. So have fun, snuggle up with a comfy blanket, pop your favorite style of popcorn, and enjoy.

    12.15 A Christmas CarolA CHRISTMAS CAROL
    Directed by David Jones
    (1999)

    This is my favorite version of A Christmas Carol. I love Patrick Stewart, I love the Ghosts, and I love the score. The only thing I like better on any other edition is the song “Thank you very much” from the musical Scrooge.

     
     

    12.15 The Santa ClauseTHE SANTA CLAUSE
    Directed by John Pasquin
    (1994)

    This is my favorite out of all the following sequels I loved Charlie and the line where he accuses his dad of killing Santa. I love when Tim Allen shaves and it immediately grows back and he looks in the mirror and just says “I’m in big trouble mmhmmm”. 

     
     

    12.15 Home AloneHOME ALONE
    Directed by Chris Columbus
    (1990)

    The first two in this series are my favorite; I actually watch them both every year. Three and four I pretend don’t exist.

    Can you tell I am a 90’s child yet?

     
     

    12.15 How the Grinch Stole ChristmasHOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS
    Ron Howard
    (2000)

    I love the story HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS by Dr. Seuss - it is one of my favorites.  I love both the animated version as well as the live action version.

     
     

    12.15 Miracle on 34th streetMIRACLE ON 34TH STREET
    Directed by Les Mayfield
    (1994)

    I like this story a lot. I love the relationship between Kris Kringle and all of the other characters. It is so much fun to watch the magic between them.

     
  • christmas music

    As the holiday season comes around, much to the dismay of my husband, I am that person who starts listening to Christmas music the day after Halloween. I must admit this is my favorite time of year. I love the lights, wassail, cinnamon pinecones, my living room lit by the glow of a Christmas tree, and especially the music. So I thought that I would share my five favorite Christmas songs / albums and I hope that I can help you find some new favorites to spice up your Christmas Season.

    home for christmasHOME FOR CHRISTMAS
    by Celtic Women
    (2012)

    This album is a lyrical arrangement of some good Christmas Classics.

    thats christmas to meTHAT’S CHRISTMAS TO ME
    by Pentatonix
    (2015)  

    I love this whole album but if you want something extra special, “Mary Did You Know” is amazing. Keep your eyes peeled for their new Christmas album which is also good.

    denver muppets christmasA CHRISTMAS TOGETHER
    by John Denver and the Muppets
    (1990)  

    I love this entire album but I will admit I pretty consistently have “Christmas is Coming” stuck in my head. There is nothing like listening to Miss Piggy sing Christmas songs.     

    josh groban noelNOEL
    by Josh Groban
    (2007)

    I really like this CD full of beautifully arranged classics. My particular favorite is the duet he does with Faith Hill “The First Noel”. 

    wintersongWINTERSONG
    by Sarah McLachlan
    (2006)

    I personally love the song Wintersong out of this assortment. Sarah McLachlan has a beautiful voice and her arrangements are very original and I like the changes she makes to the music.

  • halloween films

    AcfrankBUD ABBOT & LOU COSTELLO MEET FRANKENSTEIN
    Directed by Charles T. Barton
    (Universal, 1948)

    A comic horror film in which Abbott and Costello encounter Frankenstein's monster, Dracula, and a mad scientist.      

     

     

     

     

    arsenicARSENIC AND OLD LACE
    Directed by Frank Capra
    (Warner Bros, 1944)

    An easy going drama critic (Cary Grant) discovers that his kind and gentle Aunts Abby and Martha have a bizarre habit of poisoning gentlemen callers and burying them in the cellar.      

     

     

     

     

    the uninvited movie posterTHE UNINVITED
    Directed by Lewis Allen
    (Paramount, 1944)

    A composer and his sister discover that the reason they are able to purchase a beautiful gothic seacoast mansion very cheaply is the house's unsavory past.      

     

     

      

     

    House on Haunted HillHOUSE ON HAUNTED HILL
    Directed by William Castle
    (William Castle Productions, 1959)

    Millionaire playboy (Vincent Price) hosts a party for his wife at the "House on Haunted Hill," a house that has seen seven murders. Fredrick invites five guests and will offer each of them $10,000 to spend a night.      

     

     

     

     

    hauntingTHE HAUNTING
    Directed by Robert Wise (Argyle Enterprises, 1963)

    Adapted from Shirley Jackson's THE HAUNTING OF HILL HOUSE, this psychological thriller tells the story of four people who come to the house to study its supernatural phenomena. 

     

     

     

     

     

     

     

  •  summer movies

    Summer is approaching, and while Utah weather makes you want to hold off on putting your jackets away just yet, you can check out some awesome movies to get you ready for a great summer. Here are some of my favorites:  

    Summer MagicSUMMER MAGIC
    directed by James Neilson
    (1963) 

    A widow (Dorothy McGuire) moves her family to a farm house in Maine only to find it’s not quite like she pictured. Hayley Mills shines as the teenage daughter and I rank this film right up there with Pollyanna and The Parent Trap

     

     

    State FairSTATE FAIR
    directed by Walter Lang
    (1945) 

    A family takes their annual trip to the Iowa State Fair, determined that this year it will be different and that they each will find what they are looking for. There are many renditions of this film, but this is my favorite, not only because it has Dana Andrews, who makes the perfect rugged leading man, but because the entire cast play their characters well, bringing out the subtle humor that just makes this film delightful.  

     

    Blue HawaiiBLUE HAWAII
    directed by Norman Taurog
    (1961) 

    Chad (Elvis Presley) returns home to Hawaii from the Army and decides to go into business for himself as a tour guide instead of working in the family’s pineapple business. You might think, really an Elvis film? But this film is at the peak of his career (and his looks) so there is actually plot and a great soundtrack that includes the hit “Can’t Help Falling in Love.” Plus, you do not want to miss Angela Lansbury playing Elvis’s mother, which is hilarious.  

     

    Mr. Hobbs Takes a VacationMR. HOBBS TAKES A VACATION
    directed by Henry Koster
    (1962) 

    Mr. Hobbs (James Stewart) decides to plan a quiet getaway with just his wife (Maureen O’Hara)--but she decides that it should be a family vacation with all the kids and grandkids. Mr. Hobbs will need a vacation from his vacation as things go wrong with so many people crammed into a rundown rental home. There are many memorable scenes, but my favorite is when the family goes to a community dance and Stewart figures out a way to get his shy teenage daughter dancing. 

     

    The Music ManTHE MUSIC MAN
    directed by Morton DaCosta
    (1962) 

    When Professor Harold Hill (Robert Preston) hears that no salesman can make a profit in Iowa he decides to take his con as a boys’ band leader to one of their small towns. What he doesn’t count on is falling in love with the town librarian (Shirley Jones) and having to account for himself. Great musical to get your feet stomping, and seeing Ron Howard so young is a plus.  What are some of your summer favorites?

  • classics busy

     

    Reading classic novels is not only enjoyable, but also makes you feel sophisticated. However, some classic novels can be lengthy and heavy. Sometimes we are all a little too busy to sit down and begin a 400 page novel full of complex sentences. Here is a list of my five favorite classics to read when I want to feel sophisticated but I don’t have time for heavy reading.

    jekyll and hyde

     

    THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
    by Robert Louis Stevenson

    Not only is Stevenson’s story of the doomed man with dual identities incredibly brief, it reads like an engaging thriller. This book can be finished in one sitting. Way before Bruce Banner, there was Dr. Jekyll.

     

     

     

    scarlet pimpernel

      

    THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
    by Emma Orczy

    This tale of the original masked hero with a secret identity is an exhilarating adventure full of romance and daring escapes. It is not a particularly short book, but the excitement of the story makes this one a quick read.

     

     

    martian chronicles

    THE MARTIAN CHRONICLES
    by Ray Bradbury

    This book is a little lesser known than Bradbury’s other classic, FAHRENHEIT 451 (which is also a quick read), but is a great science fiction classic that recounts various tales of man’s interactions in the new colony on Mars. This quick read is essentially a collection of short stories that each present a unique story with a distinct feel.

     

     

    christmas carol

     

    A CHRISTMAS CAROL
    by Charles Dickens

    Beloved by all, read by too few, the classic tale of Ebenezer Scrooge’s change of heart is a short book that is so uplifting and so well-written that it ends altogether too soon. You can’t help but respect anyone who is reading this masterpiece.

     

     

     

    around the world 80

     

    AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
    by Jules Verne

    Verne’s classic story full of memorable characters and nonstop adventure leaves the reader wishing Phileas Fogg was still on his trip around the world. Lighter than some of Verne’s other works, this book’s good natured tone and rapid succession of events makes it a quick read.

     

     

     

  • Dan Santat

    Caldecott Award-winning author and illustrator Dan Santat is coming to the Provo City Library! (I just did another happy dance!) If you haven’t had the wonderful opportunity to read any books by or illustrated by Dan Santat then you are missing out! He is amazing! How many exclamation marks can I add to this introductory paragraph? I mean, this is happiness on epic proportions for me!! (Was that bad that I just added two exclamation marks to the end of one sentence? Does this help you understand just how amazing this is?)

    Anyway, in honor of such a great force in children’s literature coming to our library, I am going to tell you about five of my favorite books that he wrote/illustrated. (I know, you are asking yourself the same question: How could you just pick five? And I cheated. There are a couple where I picked certain books so I could sneak a few more your way. I had to. Dan Santat has written and illustrated SO MANY good books that really five is just too few to share just how amazing he is.)

    Oh NoOH NO! (OR HOW MY SCIENCE PROJECT DESTROYED THE WORLD)
    Written by Mac Barnett, Illustrated by Dan Santat

    This is a great book. Basically this girl gets first place on her science project…only just as she is accepting her first place blue ribbon she realizes that the robot is headed out on a rampage into the city. She has to go and stop her robot! Of course she forgot to give the robot ears so it can’t hear her tell him to stop (or teach him to read for the same reason). Basically, she has to create a giant monster that can then stop the robot. (Only creating a giant monster that can take care of a giant robot comes with its own set of problems.) One of the things I really like about this book is that it is a girl scientist. There aren’t that many books that showcase just how smart girls are (not just can be) in the science fields.  And the end pages are just funny. Dan Santat totally nailed these illustrations—which is why this book is on the list. [And as an added bonus there is a sequel! OH NO! NOT AGAIN! (OR HOW I BUILT A TIME MACHINE TO SAVE HISTORY) (OR AT LEAST MY HISTORY GRADE) is also written by Mac Barnett and illustrated by Dan Santat.]

    Are We There YetARE WE THERE YET?
    Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat

    This book is fun on so many levels. In this story a kid and his parents are headed to a birthday party for Grandma. Of course while on the long drive to grandma’s house there is a lot of “Are we there yet?” questions. And then the kid’s imagination starts to take over. The book’s pages are turned upside-down and the adventures are bigger and better than any road trip I have ever taken. Then eventually the family gets to grandma’s house and the party. Which means that the question soon becomes, “Can we go now?” when too many relatives start pinching cheeks.

     

    Beekle1THE ADVENTURES OF BEEKLE: THE UNIMAGINARY FRIEND 
    Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat

    Dan Santat received the Caldecott Award for this book. It is amazing! Basically in the book Beekle was born where all imaginary friends are created. He waited and waited (and waited) for someone to imagine him. Only nobody ever did. So Beekle decided to take matters into his own hands. Off he goes to the real world where he is in search of his friend—which he finds! And there is much happiness!

     

    sidekicks

    SIDEKICKS 
    Written and Illustrated by Dan Santat

    Captain Amazing is in need of a new sidekick to help him fight crime. There are a couple of candidates that really want the job—including some of Captain Amazing’s pets. Basically there is a lot of fun superhero bits to this story along with a lot of figuring out who you are (as a sidekick pet especially). I love the depth of this book. I love that it is a whole graphic novel of amazingness. I love that the solution to who the new sidekick(s) is/are. And I can’t tell you much more than that…because it will spoil the ending. Just know I love this book. And I will be asking Dan Santat to sign my copy—which will induce yet another dance of joy.

     

    Three Ninja PigsTHE THREE NINJA PIGS 
    Written by Corey Rosen Schwartz, Illustrated by Dan Santat

    This is my favorite book that Dan Santat has illustrated. Ever. Possibly because I like ninjas. But also because the illustrations are just plain awesome. This is a fractured fairy tale of the three little pigs (if you couldn’t guess by the title)—only with NINJAS! Basically the three siblings (two brothers and a sister) set off to learn martial arts so they can defeat the Big Bad Wolf who is quite a bully. Only the sister sticks with her training enough to inspire fear in the wolf when he learns of her power and skill. And if it wasn’t cool enough that this book existed, there are also two others in this series. NINJA RED RIDING HOOD and HENSEL AND GRETEL: NINJA CHICKS are also spectacular—though the first book will always be my most favorite! (And do you like how by telling you about this series I get to talk about three books for the price of one Friday Fave?)

    So my friends, if this round of Friday Faves hasn’t inspired you to come to the Children’s Book Festival and meet the AMAZING Dan Santat, then you need to come to the library to check out these books. Because I know that once you read them, you will love Mr. Santat’s work just as much as I do!

  •  dance movies

    February 24th is National Dance Day! Whether you’ve got two left feet or you’re the twinkle toes of your squad, you can celebrate with these great dance flicks this weekend: 

    2.23 The Red ShoesTHE RED SHOES
    Directed by by Michael Powell and Emeric Pressburger
    (1948)

    THE RED SHOES is the Mother of All Dance Films. Gorgeously filmed, this movie tells the tale of a talented ballerina torn between her love of ballet and love for a gifted composer, as her unyielding mentor will not allow her both. Nominated for five Oscars, winning the award for Best Original Score and Best Art Direction, this film broke ground in film editing and cinematography. This wasn’t the first film to feature dancing, musical films having hit the scene decades before, but it was the first to of what today we call a dance film. While it only had a limited release in the United States, its success is linked to movie studios’ revamping the then-stale musical film genre, which had exploded in the 1920s and with the exception of some major hits (thanks Ginger and Fred), had exhausted audience interest with formulaic, unoriginal productions. Think of some classic musical films right now. Chances are, most of the ones springing to mind feature fabulous dancing and were made post-THE RED SHOES.

     

    2.23 Step UpSTEP UP
    Directed by Anne Fletcher
    (2006) 

    After a dry spell in the 90s, dance movies made their way back to the box office with offerings like CENTER STAGE, SAVE THE LAST DANCE, SHALL WE DANCE (see Honorable Mentions below). But 2006, ah, that was the year that heralded the dance movie renaissance – and the arrival of Channing Tatum. Tatum and his wife Jenna met starring in this story of a street-smart boy and a high-achieving girl brought together by chance when her dance partner gets injured, and how dance brings them together. STEP UP combines classic dance/musical film elements with timeless coming-of-age themes creating a movie that’s entertaining and has got some meat. Sure, it’s still another teen movie that spawned a multitude of sequels, each more corny and ill-conceived than the last (plot wise only, the dancing is still TOP NOTCH), but STEP UP will make your heart dance – and the rest of you, too.  

     

    2.23 Strictly BallroomSTRICTLY BALLROOM
    Directed by Baz Luhrmann
    (1993) 

    The first of Baz Luhrmann’s “red curtain trilogy,” STRICTLY BALLROOM is strictly delightful. Watch Scott, a champion ballroom dancer, defy convention and take the Australian Pan Pacific Championship by storm with the help of a new, less experienced partner. Although a lighter, more heartwarming offering than his later films ROMEO + JULIET  and MOULIN ROUGE, this film has all the trademarks of Luhrmann’s signature style. With fantastic acting, vibrant colors, stunning editing, and incredible music, STRICTLY BALLROOM is a veritable feast of entertainment.  

     

    2.23 FootlooseFOOTLOOSE
    Directed by Herbert Ross
    (1984) 

    Don’t worry, I could never forget this masterpiece. I mean, you gotta cut loose. The one and only Kevin Bacon stars in this dance/musical flick as a city-boy suddenly stuck in a small town where dancing has been – gasp – banned!  It’s the age-old struggle of young versus old, and extreme protective measures actually encouraging the very behavior they meant to avoid. You might notice some familiar sights while you watch, since FOOTLOOSE was filmed right here in Utah County! After watching, take a pilgrimage and visit all the sites. Locations include the Lehi Roller Mills, Springville and Payson’s high schools, and most memorably, Geneva Steel as the stage for the best anger-dance montage in movie history. And if you’re so inclined, do a double feature and compare the original to the 2011 remake.  

     

    2.23 Take the LeadTAKE THE LEAD
    Directed by Liz Friedlander
    (2006) 

    Antonio Banderas teaching teens to do ballroom? Yes please! Better yet, TAKE THE LEAD is based on the true story of dance teacher Pierre Dulaine, who saw an opportunity to help at-risk teens learn trust, confidence, and teamwork using ballroom dance. While it plays out like many classroom parables, I love that this film stresses that trusting and respectful relationships contribute to fulfillment and success. You’ll love the characters, the dancing (Jenna Dewan Tatum wowing us again), the warm fuzzy-feels – everything. Like I said earlier, 2006 was the great year of dance movies, so don’t miss this. And if you find yourself needing more, check out the documentary MAD HOT BALLROOM, about participants in Pierre Dulaine’s dance program for fifth graders in New York City.  

     

    Honorable Mentions:

    LEAP 

    SAVE THE LAST DANCE 

    SHALL WE DANCE   

    Available at Orem Public Library:

    CENTER STAGE   

    BILLY ELLIOT

    BLACK SWAN

    FLASHDANCE