Holiday

  •  12.2 Christmas Gifts

    Well, it’s been a year.  2020 has given us a lot.  It hasn’t all been bad, but it has definitely been a ride.  The good news is the year is almost over and it is Christmas Time! Everything is better with carols playing in the background.  One potentially stressful holiday activity is the selection of thoughtful gifts.  It shouldn’t surprise you that I’m in favor of giving books to all the people you love most.  Finding just the right book can be a tricky, but I’m here to help.  Here are some suggestions for the fiction readers in your life.  I’ll follow it up later with a list of nonfiction.

    For the ROMANTIC on your list:

    12.16 Forget Me NotFORGET ME NOT
    By Sarah M. Eden

    Regency romance is very popular right now and if you are looking for a new title to gift, Sarah Eden’s new book may fit the bill.  The plot can be summed up as two childhood friends who have grown apart marry thanks to an arrangement by their parents.  But true love can only be won through the rebuilding of their relationship and the establishment of a new foundation of trust.  This is book one in a series though it ties in as a prequel series to Eden’s popular Jonquil series.

     

    12.16 I Owe You OneI OWE YOU ONE
    By Sophie Kinsella

    I love introducing people to Sophie Kinsella’s charming brand of romcom novels.  I OWE YOU ONE is now available in paperback and tells the story of Fixie Farr whose good deed earns her an IOU from a (single and handsome) stranger.  You will never guess what happens.  Just kidding.  You will totally guess what is going to happen, but getting there is so much fun. 

     

    For the THINKER on your list:

    12.16 Transcendent KingdomTRANSCENDENT KINGDOM
    By Yaa Gyasi

    If you are looking for a more literary book, try Yaa Gyasi’s TRANSCENDENT KINGDOM or her previous novel HOMEGOING  (both are wonderful).  Gifty, a PhD student studying neuroscience narrates this novel which tells of her family’s move to the United States from Ghana and her drive to do the research she has dedicated her life to.  Gyasi write beautifully and I loved Gifty’s voice and story.  This novel provides plenty for the reader to ponder while enjoying storytelling at its best.

     

    12.16 The Night TigerTHE NIGHT TIGER
    By Yangsze Choo

    First of all, Choo’s novel has a simply beautiful cover.  Fortunately, the cover is not deceptive and the story within is perfectly matched.  Here, a young woman living in 1930s Malaysia accidentally acquires a detached finger with unknown origin.  At the same time an orphaned houseboy embarks on a mission to fulfill his master’s dying wish that the finger he lost years earlier be located and buried with him.  It sounds a bit gruesome but the story is lyrical, moves quickly, and is entirely entertaining.

     

    For the FANTASY or SCIENCE FICTION FAN on your list:

    12.16 A Deadly EducationA DEADLY EDUCATION
    By Naomi Novik

    I already knew I liked Naomi Novik as an author.  Her SPINNING SILVER and UPROOTED are two previous examples of her amazing talent.  But I absolutely loved DEADLY EDUCATION. El is a student at the Scholomance, a school designed to educate witches and wizards to be.  But this is no Hogwarts.  There are no teachers, no supervision, no escape before graduation.  Requirements to graduate are simple: survive.  I can’t praise this book enough!

     

    12.16 Ready Player TwoREADY PLAYER TWO
    By Ernest Cline

    How did I not know Earnest Cline was working on a sequel to READY PLAYER ONE?  The truth is that I am only about one quarter the way through this novel as I type and I am loving it.  I can’t make any guarantees, but it appears Wade Watts’ next adventure will be as fun as his first and just as filled with delightful 80’s pop culture.

     

    12.16 The Midnight LibraryTHE MIDNIGHT LIBRARY
    By Matt Haig

    Nora Seed finds herself in a magical library that exists in the moments between life and death.  Here she has access to books that contain all the possibilities her life contained and she is free to explore the ‘could haves’ and ‘should haves’ that haunt her.  Her story is fairly simple but Haig’s storytelling makes the reader ask what they would do with endless opportunities to make different choices and undo any regrets.  What life would you choose if all paths were open?

     

    For the SUPER SLUETH on your list:

    12.16 The Turn of the KeyTHE TURN OF THE KEY
    By Ruth Ware

    Ruth Ware is my new favorite mystery writer.  Think a wonderful collaboration of Liane Moriarty and Agatha Christie.  This release from last year is now available in paperback and is the suspenseful story of Rowan, who is writing a request to a lawyer hoping to convince him to represent her in court because “I did not kill that child.”  THE TURN OF THE KEY is creepy, mysterious and keeps the read on the edge of his or her seat until the very last page!

     

    12.16 Mexican GothicMEXICAN GOTHIC
    By Silvia Moreno-Garcia

    If you need to find something that goes a little beyond creepy and edges on the horrific, try MEXICAN GOTHIC. Noem’ has been sent by her father to check in on her cousin who lives in an isolated mansion with her new husband’s mysterious family. It takes very little time for her visit to turn from strange to deadly and Noem’ must fight unseen forces to keep herself and her cousin from a fate worse than death.  A really wonderfully terrifying novel.

     

    For the HISTORIAN on your list:

    12.16 The ExilesTHE EXILES
    By Christina Baker Kline

    Evangeline, a governess in early nineteenth century London, is falsely accused of theft and sent to prison and is eventually place on a boat headed to a penal colony in Australia.  If you know someone that loves historical fiction, Evangeline’s story is sure to be a hit.  This is a lesser known period and place and Kline has a gift for telling the story of women fighting to survive in a world overwhelmingly designed to destroy them.

     

    12.16 Miss Bensons BeetleMISS BENSON’S BEETLE
    By Rachel Joyce

    The author of THE UNLIKELY PILGRIMAGE OF HAROLD FRY recently released this new novel that follows the story of Margery Benson, a spinster schoolteacher.  At the end of a particularly trying day at school, Miss Benson snaps to such a degree that she abandons her job and decides to pursue her childhood dream of finding the golden beetle of New Caledonia.  As you would expect, her life is never the same and her adventures are many.  A heartwarming quest by two endearing heroines.

     
  •  

    I’m back with more books that may be perfect for the reader on your Christmas list.  In a year when traveling was less of an option a little armchair jaunt may be more welcome than ever!

    For the HISTORY LOVER on your list:

    12.18 Leadership in Turbulent TimesLEADERSHIP IN TURBULENT TIMES
    By Doris Kearns Goodwin

    Pulling from her decades of research, Goodwin presents an exploration of leadership and how it develops.  She does this by pulling from the lives of four presidents – Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson.  Leadership has been a dominant topic over the past year and a review of leaders from our past may be a welcome exercise.

     

    12.18 Agent SonyaAGENT SONYA
    By Ben Macintyre

    Who doesn’t love a good spy story?  While Macintyre usually focuses on British spies of World War II, here he tells the story of Ursula Burton, aka Agent Sonya, a high-ranking Soviet intelligence officer who helped plunge the world into a decades-long Cold War.  A wonderful page-turning history.

     

    For the SCIENTIST on your list:

    12.18 Humble PiHUMBLE PI
    By Matt Parker

    This book makes a brilliant gift because if the recipient is a math nerd, they will enjoy hearing and understanding these stories of mathematical mayhem.  And if they are not a math nerd, they will find comfort in knowing they are not alone and everyone makes mistakes.  I am not a math nerd and I loved the funny stories and the delightful voice of the author as he explores a topic he obviously loves.

     

    12.18 Hidden Valley RoadHIDDEN VALLEY ROAD
    By Robert Kolker

    This is technically a book about the Galvins and their 12 children.  But the Galvins’ story illuminates much deeper themes and social issues. Half of the children born to Don and Mimi would eventually be diagnosed as schizophrenic. Their journeys tell of the frightening world of institutionalization and lobotomies and shed light on the genetics and nature of schizophrenia itself. A fascinating scientific family biography.

     

    For the INSPIRATION SEEKER on your list:

    12.18 When Life Gives You PearsWHEN LIFE GIVES YOU PEARS
    By Jeannie Gaffigan

    This past year has left many of us looking for a little peace and healing and you may be able to gift a little bit of that with this heartfelt memoir.  Subtitled ‘The Healing Power of Family, Faith, and Funny People” this book tells of just that.  Jeannie survived a pear-sized brain tumor and lived to tell the tale.  She is honest, encouraging and filled with timely wisdom.

     

    12.18 Hold On But Dont Hold StillHOLD ON, BUT DON’T HOLD STILL
    By Kristina Kuzmic

    Kuzmic shares “Hope and Humor from My Seriously Flawed Life” in this funny and hope-filled memoir.  Sometimes we need someone to remind us that no one is perfect, most of us doubt our abilities to adult, and we need to be way less hard on ourselves.  Kuzmic’s message may be just what is needed as we start a new year.

     

    For the DEEP THINKER on your list: 

    12.18 CasteCASTE
    By Isabel Wilkerson

    Wilkerson’s recent book argues that there is a powerful caste system in the United States and that this system shapes national behavior toward race and class differences.  Her exploration takes readers back to the founding of our nation and on through to the present day.  This would be a wonderful gift for someone wanting to delve deeper into some of the social issues that filled the news throughout 2020.

     

    12.18 The Hilarious World of DepressionTHE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION
    By John Moe

    Based on a podcast of the same name, this book discusses what it is like to suffer from depression.  Moe tells of his own mental illness and shares stories of friends and guests who have also struggled in a society that is often reluctant to understand them.  Both funny and sincere, THE HILARIOUS WORLD OF DEPRESSION is a look inside a fight that is very real, very common, and very inspiring.

     

    For the CELEBRITY STALKER on your list:

    12.18 The Answer IsTHE ANSWER IS…
    By Alex Trebek

    Published just before his recent death, THE ANSWER IS… was written by Trebek in part to thank his many fans for their support throughout his career and especially during his fatal battle with cancer.  He shares some great stories as he travels through his career along with a lot of wisdom and insight.  If your list contains any fans of Jeopardy and the late, great, Alex Trebek, this would be a wonderful gift to wrap up.

     

    12.18 No Time Like the FutureNO TIME LIKE THE FUTURE
    By Michael J. Fox

    This memoir focuses mainly on the last decade of the actor’s life and it is honest and sad and joyful all at the same time.  He discusses illness and aging and the great power that supportive friends and family have to lift us when things get hard.

     
  • 12.2 Christmas Gifts 

    It’s no secret that book make great gifts! What if you’re shopping for a reluctant reader, an art fiend, or a bookworm who seems to have already read everything? Graphic novels are the way to go! Whatever you’re looking for, there’s a graphic novel for any age and every taste. Here are some of this year’s stand-out titles: 

    For Young Readers

    12.21 Pea Bee and JayPEA, BEE, & JAY: STUCK TOGETHER 
    Written and illustrated by Brian Smith
    (2020)

    Pea takes a dare to roll off his farm, but finds himself in a bigger jam than expected when a thunderstorm carries him away! With the help of a precocious bee named Bee, and a bird who still can’t fly named Jay, can Pea find his way back to the farm? 

     

    12.21 Pizza and TacoPIZZA AND TACO: WHO’S THE BEST? 
    Written and illustrated by Stephen Shaskan
    (2020)

    Pizza and Taco are best friends, but wonder which one of them is the best. It’s hard to tell by themselves, so they turn to their friends and organize a big vote to declare which of them is best. But can their friendship last through the competition? 

     

    For Middle Grade Readers

    (see also:“For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Graphic Novels”)

    12.21 antiheroANTI/HERO 
    Written by Kate Karyus Quinn and Demitria Lunetta
    Illustrated by Maca Gil
    (2020)

    Classmates Piper and Sloane think they’ve got nothing in common, but they both have surprising secrets. Piper, with her super-human strength, is dying to prove herself as a superhero, while Sloane uses her extraordinary smarts to help her villainous grandfather. After going head to head over a mysterious device, the two girls swap bodies. Their secret identities revealed, Piper and Sloane must work together to change back. 

     

    12.21 Machines that ThinkMACHINES THAT THINK! 
    Written and illustrated by Don Brown
    (2020)

    From humankind’s earliest days to now, we’ve created machines to help us do all kinds of things. Learn what we’ve built through the ages, from the abacus to our smart phones, and the people whose inventions have changed the world. 

     

    12.21 When Stars are ScatteredWHEN STARS ARE SCATTERED 
    Written by Victoria Jamieson and Omar Mohamed
    Illustrated by Victoria Jamieson and Iman Geddy
    (2020)

    Living in a refugee camp, life has been hard for Omar and his little brother Hassan. When Omar gets an opportunity to be able to go to school again, he knows it’s his best chance to make life better for him and his brother. But Hassan is nonverbal and needs a lot of care, and Omar is the only family he has left. Will he have to choose between taking care of Hassan now and working on a better future for them both? 

     

    12.21 Yorick and BonesYORICK AND BONES 
    Written by Jeremy Tankard and Hermione Tankard
    Illustrated by Jeremy Tankard
    (2020)

    “Alas poor Yorick!” Hamlet’s old friend, alone so long and buried underground. Now a skeleton, Yorick wakes and is dug up by a hungry dog. If the dog will ever stop trying to nibble his bones, perhaps he can help Yorick find the one thing he longs for – a friend. 

     

    For Teen Readers

    12.21 CosmoknightsCOSMOKNIGHTS 
    Written and illustrated by Hannah Templer
    (2019)

    It’s been years since Pan last saw her best friend Tara. A princess, Tara was a prize to the winner of the Cosmoknight tournament, but Pan helped her escape. But then a pair of fighters show up on Tara’s doorstep, fighters who devoted to saving princesses. Ready for adventure, Pan joins them and their fight, and finds more than she bargained for. 

     

    12.21 The Dark Matter of Mona StarrTHE DARK MATTER OF MONA STARR 
    Written and Illustrated by Laura Lee Gulledge
    (2020)

    Lately, Mona sometimes feels a little strange. The world suddenly seems scary, and making friends is hard. She calls it the Matter, a dark feeling that makes her feel like she’s unwanted. After a really bad bout of the Matter, Mona finds the courage to ask her parents for help. With their support, therapy, good friends, and art, Mona learns what the Matter is and how to tame it.   

     

    12.21 Dragon HoopsDRAGON HOOPS 
    Written and Illustrated by Gene Luen Yang
    (2020)

    Even though Gene isn’t into sports, he can see that the boys basketball team at the high school where he teaches is on to something great. Their journey to the California State Championships is a story much like the comic books Gene loves, with lots of action, drama, and heroes too, and he can’t help but be sucked in to the excitement buzzing around him. 

     

    12.21 Long Way DownLONG WAY DOWN 
    Written and illlustrated by Jason Reynolds
    (2019)

    Stunning artwork compliments the powerful story of Will, a boy heading out to avenge his brother’s death. The loaded gun heavy in his waistband, Will’s resolve is set. But as the elevator carries him down, stopping at each floor, he is joined by different ghosts of people he knew who reveal truths of a much larger story than Will’s loss, a story that might change Will’s mind. 

     

    12.21 My Next Life as a VillainessMY NEXT LIFE AS A VILLAINESS: ALL ROUTES LEAD TO DOOM!
    Written by Satoru Yamaguchi
    Illustrated by Nami Hidaka
    Translated by Shirley Yeung
    (2020)

    Katarina has a startling realization: she was once a 17-year-old girl, now reincarnated into the world of her favorite dating video game. Even more alarming, she’s the game’s villain! All possible endings of the game end with Katarina’s exile or death, but she’s got some ideas to try to change things before her fate is sealed – if that’s even possible. 

     

    For Adult Readers

    12.21 Black Cotton StarBLACK COTTON STAR 
    By Steve Cuzor and Yves Sente
    Translated by Allison Charette
    (2020)

    World War II, European Theater: Three African-American soldiers embark on a mission across a war-torn continent in search of a legendary piece of American history: the black cotton star secretly sewn onto the first American flag by Angela Brown, a housemaid to Betsy Ross. 

     

    12.21 FangsFANGS 
    Written and Illustrated by Sarah Andersen
    (2020)

    In three hundred years, Vamp has yet to meet her match, until the night she meets him: a werewolf. Despite their differences and the challenges of a vampire-werewolf romance, this unlikely couple find that they are eerily and delightfully well-suited for each other.   

     

    12.21 Glass TownGLASS TOWN: THE IMAGINARY WORLD OF THE BRONTES 
    Written and illustrated by Isabel Greenberg
    (2020)

    Before their iconic novels, the Bronte sisters invented a world all their own. After their oldest sisters’ deaths, Charlotte, Emily, Anne, and their brother Branwell find solace in creating a new world they call Glass Town. There, they escape harsh reality and find friendship, adventure, and freedom. Though as the siblings grow up, what will happen to their dear Glass Town?

     

    12.21 Kent StateKENT STATE: FOUR DEAD IN OHIO 
    Written and illustrated by Derf Backderf
    (2020)

    As a 10-year-old boy, author Derf remembers the Ohio National Guard arriving in his hometown to stamp out a trucker’s strike. Just days later, those same Guardsmen were sent to Kent State University, ultimately opening fire on unarmed students who were protesting the Vietnam War. This book dives deep into the events of those tragic four days and the four young lives that were lost in a shocking turn of events. 

     

    12.21 Napoleon DynamiteNAPOLEON DYNAMITE: IMPEACH PEDRO 
    Written by Carlos Guzman-Verdugo, Alejandro Verdugo, and Megan Brown
    Illustrated by Jorge MOnlongo and Christine Larsen
    (2020)

    Heck yes! Things are great for Napoleon and his friends; he and Deb are dating, his best friend Pedro is the new student body president. But when someone accuses Pedro of cheating in the election, Napoleon and Deb know they have to use every special skill they have to clear his name. Gosh! How the heck are they gonna do that? 

     

    12.21 The Way of the HousehusbandTHE WAY OF THE HOUSEHUSBAND 
    Written and illustrated by Kousuke Oono
    (2019)

    He was once the infamous “Immortal Dragon,” a legendary and feared yakuza boss. These days though, Tatsu lives a quieter life after leaving behind his life of crime to become an ordinary househusband. Running a household proves tougher than it appears, but if Tatsu could rule the underworld, he can conquer househusbanding too!

     
  •  12.2 Christmas Gifts

    When I was in elementary school one of my favorite things to do over the winter holiday was to curl up with a good book. I loved the fact that I could wake up (whenever I wanted!) and read for an hour or two before I even got out of bed in the morning. That could be why I loved to get books for both Christmas and my birthday (which is also around the winter holidays). Here are some of my favorite books that have come out this year to give to readers who like to read juvenile fiction books: 

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Action/Adventure

     

    12.7 96 miles96 MILES
    By J. L. Esplin

    John and Stew are brothers who are left to fend for themselves in Nevada during a massive power-outage—meaning a power outage that lasts for days and covers most of the Western US. Even though their dad has a lot of emergency preparedness supplies, since he isn’t home many others come and take everything from the boys leaving the brothers with no choice but to cross the desert on foot in order to survive. 

     

    12.7 Darling DarleenDARING DARLEEN: QUEEN OF THE SCREEN
    By Anne Nesbet

    Darleen is a child actor who has grown up in the spotlight in the early days of silent black and white films. She is required by her uncles to perform her own stunts—most of which tend to be life-threatening. Life gets increasingly exciting when Darleen is accidently kidnaped along with an orphaned heiress. Darleen must use all her brainpower and stunt skills to save the day. 

     

    12.7 Dog DrivenDOG DRIVEN
    By Terry Lynn Johnson

    Even though she has deteriorating eyesight, McKenna decides that she wants to compete in a multi-day dog sled race over unfamiliar territory across parts of the US and Canada. McKenna’s younger sister also has the disease and McKenna doesn’t want their over-protective mom to take away her independence the way that she has for her younger sister Emma. However, racing is dangerous enough with good eyesight, and it becomes even more challenging when all McKenna can see are things in her periphery.  

     
     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Books that Deal with Tough Topics 

     

    12.7 Black Brother Black BrotherBLACK BROTHER BLACK BROTHER
    By Jewell Parker Rhodes

    The tough topic in here is an African American boy having to deal with racism. Donte and his brother Trey don’t look alike. Their mother is African American and their father is of Scandinavian decent. This means that Trey has lighter skin and people tend to accept him. Donte has darker skin and tends to get in trouble for things he didn’t do. This is a hard look at how society often favors those with lighter skin tones. 

     

    12.7 Closer to NowhereCLOSER TO NOWHERE
    By Ellen Hopkins

    There is more than one tough topic in this book: foster care, past abuse, and PTSD. Cal comes to live with his cousin Hannah, 3 years after his mother passed away from cancer. At the start of the book it has been 14 months since Cal has moved in. He still doesn’t feel like he belongs and is scared that he will be sent away—or worse that he will have to go and live with his abusive father again once he gets out of jail. Hannah, on the other hand, finds it hard to have her cousin move in. He is everything she isn’t and Hannah gets frustrated that Cal’s jokes, pranks, and antics disrupt her life so much. This is a good look at what makes a family and how life gets crazy when so many emotions are thrown together in one place. 

     

    12.7 Fighting WordsFIGHTING WORDS
    By Kimberly Brubaker Bradley

    The tough topics in this book are, sexual assault and attempted suicide; however, it is done in a gentle way that is appropriate for middle grade readers. This book is not for every reader; but it is one powerhouse of a book and is definitely on the top-ten list of books I have read this year. Della has always had her older sister Suki to keep her safe. But when their mom’s boyfriend tries to put his hand down Della’s pants (and their mom is in prison) Suki rushes Della away. Now they are both in foster care and Della has to deal not only with all her emotions but also Suki she is hiding. 

     
     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Fantasy

     

    12.7 The Land of RoarLAND OF ROAR
    By Jenny Mclachlan

    Arthur Trout has a twin sister named Rose that he has always looked up to. But lately Rose has been more interested in her friends and telling Arthur just how embarrassing he is than spending time with her twin. When their granddad goes missing into the make-believe-world that the twins created when they were much younger, Arthur goes to save him—even though Rose was the brave one and Arthur was not. Adventure, magic, and a part-scarecrow part-crow bad guy all await in the Land Of Roar, as Arthur comes to figure out who he is and if he can be brave all on his own. 

     

    12.7 Twilight HauntingsTWILIGHT HAUNTINGS
    By Angie Sage

    In a world where magic and enchanters are banned, Alex is the daughter of an enchanter who was smuggled out of the capitol to be raised as a foster daughter by a woman who doesn’t really like her. When they find out about her magical ability, she escapes and decides to go on a quest to make life better for herself and other children of enchanters. Enter Benn, the novice Flyer who rides the enormous Hawke that hunts down enchanters or their children. When Benn doesn’t kill Alex and decides to help her instead, he puts his livelihood in danger. This is a story full of twists and turns, magic and humor. 

     

    12.7 When You Trap a TigerWHEN YOU TRAP A TIGER
    By Tae Keller

    This is a magic realism book about Lily and her Korean grandmother, Halmoni. Halmoni is dying and Lily, her sister Sam, and her mom have moved to Halmoni’s town to help take care of her. Lily doesn’t have friends and Sam is extremely frustrated to be uprooted. Things get more complicated when Lily turns to a magical tiger based on Korean mythology and tries to catch the tiger to force the magical creature to heal her grandmother—which of course has its own magical consequences. 

     
     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Funny Books

     

    12.7 My LIfe as a PotatoMY LIFE AS A POTATO
    By Arianne Costner

    Ben Hardy doesn’t like potatoes. His mom’s mashed potatoes are gross and once he broke his arm tripping over a bag of potatoes. When he gets in trouble at school, Ben must take on the role of the school’s mascot for the next four basketball games—only the mascot is a potato. Ben must figure out how to secretly be the school’s potato while trying to balance friends, family, and school. 

     

    12.7 Stand Up Yumi ChungSTAND UP YUMI CHUNG
    By Jessica Kim

    Yumi Chung has a secret dream of becoming a comedian. When she stumbles upon a comedy camp (that her parents would never sign her up for) and the camp members think she is someone else, she decides to go along with it so she can study the art of comedy. However, things soon spiral out of control when her identity is questioned by her friends and campmates and her activities are questioned by her parents. 

     

    12.7 WinkWINK 
    By Rob Harrell

    Ross has been diagnosed with cancer of the eye which makes him stand out in school and life when all he wants to be is an average middle schooler that only his friends notice. With crushes, friend drama, and a whole lot of gross goop that he has to apply to his eye, Ross does his best to get through life—there are even some comic panels throughout the book. 

     
     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Graphic Novels

     

    12.7 Class ActCLASS ACT
    By Jerry Craft

    In this sequel to Newbery Award-Winning book NEW KID, Craft continues the story of the Riverdale Academy Day School kids—specifically of Jordan (the previous protagonist), Drew, and Liam. Jordan is still working on art and trying to fit in, but he is frustrated that, unlike his friends, he hasn’t hit puberty quite yet. Drew is trying to come to grips with the fact that he is an African American that doesn’t have a lot. Life is harder for him because of his background, including having a father who is never around because business is more important than family. 

     

    12.7 City of SecretsCITY OF SECRETS: SECRET OF THE SWITCHBOARD
    By Victoria Ying

    Ever Barnes lives in the Switchboard Operating Facility. There he (and his family before them) have been tasked with protecting a secret. Hannah’s father owns the Switchboard Operating Facility and when she sees Ever, she wants to become his friend. Only the two also encounter others who want to get close to Ever to either kill him or to get the secret he is protecting. There is a lot of action in this first in a projected series of a historical/steampunk type of city and these two kid adventurers. 

     

    12.7 Shirley and JamilaSHIRLEY AND JAMILA SAVE THEIR SUMMER
    By Gillian Goerz

    Jamila doesn’t want to have to go to camp for the summer. Shirley doesn’t want to either. When the pair meet at a random garage sale just before the camps were set to start, Shirley convinces Jamila’s mom to let the two spend time together over the summer instead. While the two hang out, Jamila realizes that there is more than meets the eye to Shirley—who is like a Sherlock Holmes that goes around and solves mysteries for the rest of the kids in the neighborhood. Once Jamila realizes what is happening, she decides that she wants to help solve a mystery too. 

     
     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Historical

     

    12.7 Echo MountainECHO MOUNTAIN
    By Lauren Wolk

    When the Great Depression hits, Ellie’s family loses everything and moves to a mountain in Maine. There the family must learn how to live off the land—something that is especially hard for Ellie’s mother and older sister who loved life in the city. Things get worse when Ellie’s father gets hurt in an accident and it is up to Ellie to figure out how to put the pieces of her family back together. 

     

    12.7 Prairie LotusPRAIRIE LOTUS
    By Linda Sue Park

    Hanna is a “half-Chinese and half-white” girl who lives with her father in a town in the Dakota territory similar to where, LITTLE HOUSE ON THE PRAIRIE is set. Hanna’s dream is to go to school and learn; however, the prejudices the town has for a girl who is “half-Chinese” means that most parents don’t want her in school with their children. 

     

    12.7 Village of ScoundrelsVILLAGE OF SCOUNDRELS
    By Margi Preus

    Villagers in Vichy—in the mountains of France—do secret acts on a daily basis. Their country has been taken over by the Nazis and uniformed men go around looking to round up Jews. But villagers in Vichy, hide Jews, sometimes right under the noses of the Nazi officers. This is a story, based on a real village that works together for good and common decency even though it could put their own lives at risk.   

     
     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Realistic Fiction

     

    12.7 Dan UnmaskedDAN UNMASKED
    By Chris Negron

    Dan’s two favorite things in life are comics and baseball. His baseball team is going onto a championship tournament and his favorite comics keep coming out. Life is good. Until it isn’t and his best friend—and the star player of the team—is hit in the head by a baseball while at practice and is now in a coma. And Dan thinks it is his fault. Now Dan must figure out if there is a way to make his own comic to help his best friend come to and get his world back to normal. 

     

    12.7 Efren DividedEFRÉN DIVIDED
    By Ernesto Cisneros

    Efrén’s world is turned up-side-down when his mother is deported after an ICE raid. Now Efrén’s dad has two jobs to make ends meet and Efrén must help take care of his younger twin siblings, Max and Mia. This is no small feat, seeing how Max has a learning disability which sometimes makes life especially difficult. This is a story about family, immigration, and heart. 

     

    12.7 A Place at the TableA PLACE AT THE TABLE
    By Saadia Faruqi and Laura Shovan

    This is a story about two girls and the beginning of their friendship. Sara is a Pakistani American girl and Elizabeth is a Jewish daughter of a homesick British mum and an American dad. When the two are paired together in an afterschool cooking class (that Sara’s mom teaches), they aren’t quite sure what to make of each other—but they do their best to make food and a friendship despite all their differences.

     
  •  12.2 Christmas Gifts

    I love giving books as gifts! Birthdays or holidays, books are one of the things I turn to when giving books to loved ones—especially kids. My thought is that if I give a book to a kid, I am showing them that I think that books, imagination, and reading are important and gift-worthy. Here are some of my favorite books that have come out this year to give to readers who love picture books (plus one easy reader). 

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Animals

    12.4 Dont Worry Little CrabDON’T WORRY, LITTLE CRAB  
    By Chris Haughton

    In this story, Little Crab is venturing away from his tiny rock pool by the sea for the first time. Little Crab is scared as Very Big Crab takes him in to the ocean, but with a lot of calm reassurance Little Crab finds that there is a wonderful world waiting for those who are brave enough to venture out to see it. 

     

    12.4 A Polar Bear in the SnowA POLAR BEAR IN THE SNOW
    By Mac Barnett
    Art by Shawn Harris

    This story follows a polar bear as he walks through the snow. What does the polar bear want to do? What will the polar bear do next? Kids who enjoy learning about animals in a story format will enjoy this cool read. 

     

    12.4 Turtle WalkTURTLE WALK
    By Matt Phelan

    This is absolutely one of my all-time favorite picture books of the year! The short text which begs readers to recite the text over and over again is great for kids who love a surprise ending. The clever storyline and humorous artwork will appeal to youngsters and the grownups who read to them. 

     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Christmas

    12.4 CozyCOZY  
    By Jan Brett

    Alright, this one isn’t technically a Christmas book; however, it is full of snow and winter and needing to cozy up to keep warm. So, I’m throwing it on this list. This is the story of Cozy a musk ox who has such thick fur that all the other animals in Alaska come to seek shelter during a particularly bad snow storm. It is another sweet and wintery tale told by Jan Brett. 

     

    12.4 The Night Before ChristmasTHE NIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS
    By Clement C. Moore
    Illustrated by Loren Long

    Moore’s text has been a family favorite and a holiday tradition in my home for decades. In this particular book Loren Long has created illustrations of four different homes that show the diversity of families who celebrate the holiday. Beautiful. 

     

    12.4 A Very Quacky ChristmasA VERY QUACKY CHRISTMAS
    By Frances Watts
    Illustrated by Ann James

    Samantha Duck decides that Christmas shouldn’t just be celebrated by people—animals can enjoy the season of giving as well. With friend Sebastian Tortoise they go around the farm and gather supplies to make gifts for all the various animals around the world. Totally sweet. 

     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Humor

    12.4 Dont Wake the DragonDON’T WAKE THE DRAGON: AN INTERACTIVE BEDTIME STORY!
    By Bianca Schulze

    In this book a rascally dragon is sleeping—and the narrator wants to keep it that way. However, when pots clang, doors bang, and all kinds of noises abound readers must help to keep that dragon asleep by rocking the book back and forth, stroking the dragon’s scales, or doing other interactive things. 

     

    12.4 Little Fox and the Wild ImaginationLITTLE FOX AND THE WILD IMAGINATION
    By Jorma Taccone
    Illustrated by Dan Santat

    Little Fox has had a bad day at school so Papa Fox decides to help cheer him up by playing and being imaginative. Of course, things go awry when Little Fox takes control with his imagination and Papa Fox must try to keep up. 

     

    12.4 See the CatSEE THE CAT: THREE STORIES ABOUT A DOG
    By David LaRochelle

    This is the one easy reader book on my list. But it is hilarious! This is a book about a dog. Even though it says that the book is about a cat. Readers can watch as dog is flummoxed by the way that the narrator keeps referring to him as a cat (and then having weird and crazy things happen to him). Basically, this is one funny story after another (there are three chapters in the book) where readers will laugh and then immediately want to go and read the book again. This is another of my top ten books for the year. 

     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Nature

    12.4 HikeHIKE  
    By Pete Oswald

    This is a nearly-wordless story of a father and his child as they wake up, prepare, and go on a hike to do something special. This book has gorgeous illustrations that showcase the father and child’s love of nature and family. Beautifully brilliant. 

     

    12.4 Im Trying to Love RocksI’M TRYING TO LOVE ROCKS
    By Bethany Barton

    The protagonist of this book tends to think that rocks are boring. Why should anyone want to write or read a whole book about an object that just sits there—or does it? Explore rocks, where they come from, and what their stories are in this humorous tale. 

     

    12.4 Seek and Find National ParksSEEK & FIND NATIONAL PARKS
    By Jorrien Peterson

    Line art illustrates nine different national parks around North America. On each spread, readers will learn about the various parks as well as getting to find different plants, animals, and land features that celebrate what makes the various parks unique and amazing. 

     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Starred Reviewed Books

    12.4 LiftLIFT 
    By Minh Lê
    Illustrated by Dan Santat

    This is the story of a young girl who is in charge of pushing the elevator button for her family—until her little brother usurps her button pushing power. As she tries to come to grips with a new normal she finds a discarded button from the elevator repair man and uses her imagination to relive all her button pushing dreams. 

     

    12.4 If You Come to Earth 1IF YOU COME TO EARTH
    By Sophie Blackall

    In this story, a young boy writes a letter to an alien to explain how things work on Earth. From talking about how we travel, what animals are here, or the diversity amongst all sorts of cultures the boy briefly explains it all—and then goes on to ask his own questions about aliens. 

     

    12.4 Your Place in the UniverseYOUR PLACE IN THE UNIVERSE
    By Jason Chin

    This is defiantly a thoughtful book. It starts by comparing the size of the book to an average 8-year-old. Then it goes on to examine how that compares to an ostrich, a giraffe, a tree, a skyscraper, and all things in the universe. Readers who love to learn facts and enjoy thinking about science will enjoy this book. 

     

    For the Reader in Your Life Who Likes: Things That Go

    12.4 Fire Truck vs. DragonFIRE TRUCK VS. DRAGON
    By Chris Barton

    This is the sequel to Shark vs. Train. In this competition readers can cheer along with illustrated children who want to see the Fire Truck spray out the fire of a Dragon; however, they are *mostly* disappointed. Will Fire Truck actually spray water all over the place? Will Dragon blow flames across the pages? Will the illustrated children actually get to see it? Such fun. 

     

    12.4 The Old TruckTHE OLD TRUCK 
    By Jarrett Pumphrey

    An old truck has stopped working and just sits gathering dust (or being a place for imaginative play for the farm’s young daughter). Once the daughter is old enough, she starts working on restoring the old truck and bringing it back to life. 

     

    12.4 Two Dogs on a TrikeTWO DOGS ON A TRIKE
    By Gabi Snyder

    This is a silly counting book. One dog stands at a fence all alone, then two dogs decide to go for a ride on a trike. Various modes of transportation are all used as an additional dog joins the group—until readers find that the tenth dog may not be a dog at all and the countdown to get back home begins.

     
  •  12.2 Christmas Gifts

    It’s that time of year when you are making a list and checking it twice. It can sometimes be hard to know what to give the teen readers in your life. Here is a handy gift guide that can help you know what to get this holiday season.

    If Your Reader Loves Historical Fiction, check out these titles:

    12.2 These Violent DelightsTHESE VIOLENT DELIGHTS
    By Chloe Gong
    (2020)

    This book is a re-imagining of Romeo and Juliet set in 1926 Shanghai. This intricately plotted story follows Juliette Cai who is the heir of the Chinese Scarlet Gang, and Roma Montagov, leader of the Russian White Flowers. The two fall in love but are torn apart by their rival gangs. They ultimately must work together when mysterious deaths threaten their city. For readers who love atmospheric world building and Shakespeare inspired fun, this is a lush and appealing read.

     

    12.2 The Light Between UsTHE LIGHT BETWEEN US
    By Andrew Fakuda
    (2019)

    Alex Maki is not happy when he learns that his pen pal from Paris, France is actually a girl named Charlie. But as the two keep writing, Alex and Charlie become dear friends. Neither expected to still be writing in 1941 when the US enters WWII. Alex and his family are put in a Japanese internment camp and Charlie, who is Jewish, must endure the occupation in a concentration camp. Alex ends up enlisting in a segregated company of the army in hopes that maybe he can help liberate Charlie. This is a well-researched, engaging book that is driven by Alex and Charlie’s special friendship.

     

    12.2 The Light in Hidden PlacesTHE LIGHT IN HIDDEN PLACES
    By Sharon Cameron
    (2020)

    Stefania Podgórska has known the Diamant family for over four years. She loves Izio, one of the Diamant’s sons. Life is good, until the Nazis come to Przemsyl, Poland. The Diamants are Jewish and are forced into the ghetto and work camps. Stefania, who is Catholic, is devastated when only Max Diamant is able to escape. She decides that she has had enough of the Nazi’s occupation. So, she decides to help everyone and anyone she can, ultimately hiding thirteen Jews in her attic while also caring for her younger sister, Helena. However; this becomes almost impossible when two Nazi’s begin living in her house. For a gripping, emotional read, pick this book!

     

    If Your Reader Loves Contemporary Romance, check out these titles:

    12.2 Yes No Maybe SoYES NO MAYBE SO
    By Becky Albertalli and Aisha Seed
    (2020)

    Jamie Goldberg thinks of himself as an awkward nerd who is afraid to speak to other people. Something embarrassing always happens. But his family is deeply involved with the local state senate candidate’s campaign. When he gets “talked into” canvasing neighborhoods, Jamie figures it is his worst nightmare. But when he is paired with his beautiful classmate Maya Rehrman to canvas a particular neighborhood, he thinks things are beginning to look up. It is so fun to see the growing relationship between Jamie and Maya. Jamie, who is Jewish, and Maya, who is Muslim, must deal with a lot of racism as they become engrossed in the canvasing process. As they try to come to terms with the prejudice in their lives, they become stronger friends. This book is great for anyone who is passionate about politics, Instagram, or making a difference in the world.   

     

    12.2 Frankly in LoveFRANKLY IN LOVE
    By David Yoon
    (2019)

    18-year-old Frank Li has always known that his Korean immigrant parents want him to date a nice Korean girl and go to Harvard. So, when he falls for Brit, a girl his parents would never approve of, he concocts a zany plan to fool his parents by “fake dating” Joy, a Korean girl who is a close family friend. He will “go on a date” with Joy, drop her off to be with her secret boyfriend Wu, and then go on a real date with Brit. The plan seems perfect for both Frank and Joy, but when they start to have real feelings for one another, things get complicated really fast. Frank is on the cusp of adulthood and is trying to figure out how to be separate from his parents, but Frank soon realizes that he doesn’t really understand that his parents are actual people with fears, hopes, and dreams. With rich characterization of authentic culturally diverse characters, this novel is a delight for anyone who loves deep, rich family dramas wrapped up in a sweet romantic comedy shell.

     

    12.2 Ill Be the OneI’LL BE THE ONE
    By Lyla Lee
    (2020)

    Skye Shinn wants to be a K-pop (Korean Pop) phenomenon, singing and dancing her way into fame. She has the moves. She has the high notes. She has the sassy personality. The only thing she doesn’t have is the size 00 of a K-Pop star. Her entire life, her mother has told her the fat girls shouldn’t dance, or wear bright clothes, or be on television. But Skye wants to prove her wrong, so she auditions for an American K-pop competition called “You’re My Shining Star.” Everyone is surprised at her talent, but one judge is explicit that fat girls can’t make it in K-pop. But Skye only needs the votes of the two other judges and she is in! Skye soon becomes immersed in the auditions and meets amazing new friends. Will Skye lose herself in the K-Pop culture and forget all the things she is fighting to prove? You don’t have to be a K-pop fan or even know what it is to enjoy this delightful novel about the power of one confident girl.

     

    If Your Reader Loves Fantasy, check out these titles:

    12.2 The Kingdom of BackTHE KINGDOM OF BACK
    By Marie Lu
    (2020)

    Nannerl Mozart was destined to be a child prodigy. She even played before royalty, but the appearance of her younger brother Wolfgang made her miss a note. Now everyone is focused on Wolfgang and Nanerl is pushed into the shadows of housework and preparation for marriage. She is desperate to have her music heard by the public, so when a mysterious magical entity named Hyacinth promises her that she will be remembered, Nannerl makes a pact. She will help Hyacinth regain his crown in the Kingdom of Back. But when events start to tumble out of control, Nannerl must be brave and save her brother, the world, and most of all herself. Filled with all the best parts of historical fiction and fantasy, this compelling and well researched novel will sweep you away into a magical kingdom where nothing is as it seems.

     

    12.2 The Hazel WoodTHE HAZEL WOOD
    By Melissa Albert
    (2018)

    Seventeen-year-old Alice doesn’t have time for fairy tales. Especially the fairy tales from Tales of the Hinterland, penned by her grandmother Althea Proserpine. She is constantly avoiding the cult-like fans of the book, while also trying to keep her mother Ella out of trouble. And trouble seems to follow them everywhere. When Ella goes missing, taken by a figure who claims to come from The Hinterland, Alice must join forces with a die-hard fan of her grandmother’s dark fairy tales, Ellery Finch. Together they begin the search for Ella and are led to her grandmother’s mysterious estate The Hazelwood. If your reader loves fairy tales and the sometimes dark truths that they hold, this book will be an especial treat. This has several companion novels, so also look for the sequel The Night Country—A Hazel Wood Novel and Tales from the Hinterland.

     

    12.2 A Song of Wraiths and RuinA SONG OF WRAITHS
    By Roseann A. Brown
    (2020)

    In this story based on West African folklore, refugee Malik and his sisters travel to Ziran to work at the Solstasia festival. The festival only happens once every 50 years. After an encounter with a malevolent spirit, Malik finds himself making a pact to kill the princess of Ziran in order to save his beloved little sister. Meanwhile the princess of Ziran, Karina, is pushed into leading Ziran after her mother the Sultana is assassinated. Karina doesn’t want to rule, so she plans to resurrect her mother through necromancy. But the price is steep, the heart of the king, so Karina creates a contest for suitors. The winner will receive her hand in marriage. Malik takes this opportunity to get close to the princess. This places both on a crash course for disaster. This book has so much going on, but the world-building is impeccable. With elements of mystery and romance, this fantasy novel has something for everyone.

     

    If Your Reader Loves Science Fiction, check out these titles:

    12.2 SkywardSKYWARD
    By Brandon Sanderson
    (2018)

    Spensa Nightshade has always lived under the dark shadow of her father’s desertion. She is determined to prove that the Nightshades are worth something as she enters the flight academy. Her world, Detritus is under attack from Krell raiders who have driven her people underground. The need for defense pilots is great, and Spensa dreams of being a starfighter. Hailed as the cross between Katniss Everdeen and Conan the Barbarian, this series starter is a wild ride. Also look out for the next in the series, Starsight.

     

    12.2 The Sound of StarsTHE SOUND OF STARS
    By Alechia Dow
    (2020)

    This book is set after the invasion of the Ilori, beings made of electricity that want to turn Earth into their next vacation spot. More than 1/3 of earth’s population has been wiped out. Humans are being kept in lock; they are not allowed to read or listen to music because that makes them “rebellious.” Janelle is running a clandestine library, until one of her books goes missing. This could lead to a death sentence. But the Ilori who found it doesn’t turn Janelle in. Instead, he talks to her. M0RR1S is a lab made Ilori whose sole existence has been to create a vaccine to subjugate the humans so the True Ilori can take over their bodies. But then he finds the human’s music, ostensibly to study it. Music makes him feel alive in ways he has never felt before, especially the music of the human called David Bowie. Janelle and M0RR1S are immediately drawn to one another, and not just because they both love music and books. M0RR1S soon determines that the humans must be saved, especially Janelle. This determination sends them on a road trip with a bag of books and their favorite albums in a race to save humanity. The Sound of Stars has something for everyone. It’s post-apocalyptic, dystopian, Science Fiction, and romance. But most of all, it is a delight. 

     

    12.2 Aurora RisingAURORA RISING
    By Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff
    (2019)

    Tyler Jones is an overachieving legionnaire who is all set to choose his space squad, but on Draft Day he is busy rescuing a girl cryogenically frozen girl from a ship full of dead bodies. Tyler is left with just the misfits of the academy for his squad. The frozen girl, Auri, has to deal with being 200 years behind everyone else. When Tyler’s team runs into her on their next mission, Auri will lead them into what could be a catastrophic war.  This book is classic Sci-Fi, there are space ships, gadgets, and artificial intelligence. Tyler’s team is so randomly awesome. Basically, this book is like a space buddy movie in book form.

     
  • Book giving

    Nothing makes me happier than giving someone the absolute perfect gift. I don’t manage it all the time, but it is something I take pride in. Whenever I’m asked for gift giving tips, I always say the same thing. It takes time. It can seldom be achieved last minute. You have to pay attention to what people say and do all the time and then pick up on the little clues that tell you what they need that they don’t even know they need. Then, and this is very important, you have to write it down somewhere so that you remember what it is when a gift giving holiday or event presents itself.

    Basically, being a great gift giver is hard work! Unfortunately, we don’t always have that kind of time to spend and, without fail, Christmas just tends to sneak up on us so that here we are, just a few weeks from the big day, and we have no idea what to get all those amazing people on our lists. They deserve the best! We want to give them the best!  But what is that best thing?

    It’s a book! Obviously! But which book can sometimes be the kicker. So, I’ve put together a Librarian’s Guide to Book Giving this holiday! I hope it helps!!

    For your fiction reader who:

     

    Watched A QUIET PLACE in the theater 4 times-

    12.13 The Woman in the WindowTHE WOMAN IN THE WINDOW
    By A.J. Finn 
    (2018)

    Anna Fox lives alone, drinks too much, and likes spying on her neighbors. Then one day she thinks she sees something horrible happen in the house next door and her sanity comes under scrutiny to the point that she questions her own memory. Who is really in danger?

     
     

    Loves to read about manly men living in the woods-

    12.13 BearskinBEARSKIN
    By James McLaughlin 
    (2018)

    Rice has a new job protecting the Virginian Appalachia. It’s lonely, hard work but when he finds the carcass of a bear killed on his territory he begins a dangerous search for the poachers.

     
     

    Loves mythology-

    12.13 CirceCIRCE
    By Madeline Miller 
    (2018)

    This lovely novel follows Circe, the banished witch daughter of Helios, as she hones her powers and interacts with famous mythological beings.

     
     

    Loves historical fiction involving doomed romances-

    12.13 Love RuinLOVE & RUIN
    By Paula McLain 
    (2018)

    This is the story of the passionate, stormy marriage between Ernest Hemingway and Martha Gellhorn, a fiercely independent and ambitious young war correspondent. 

     
     

    Enjoys a creepy little mystery with an endearing protagonist-

    12.13 The Death of Mrs. WestawayTHE DEATH OF MRS. WESTAWAY
    By Ruth Ware 

    Hal is in desperate need of money, and when a strange letter arrives telling her she has inherited a substantial fortune, she decides to take advantage of the executor’s mistake. Unfortunately, lying was never her strength and she quickly finds herself in far over her head.

     
     

    Likes politically charged adventures (co-authored by former U.S. Presidents)-

    12.13 The President is MissingTHE PRESIDENT IS MISSING
    By James Patterson & Bill Clinton
    (2018)

    How can a U.S. President be kidnapped from the most guarded residence in the world? This is a thriller that confronts the darkest threats that face the world, with the highest stakes conceivable.Loves an engrossing, heart wrenching story of survival-

     
  • Book giving

    Not sure what gifts to give this holiday season? We've got you covered. This week and next, be on the lookout for book recommendations for every type of reader.

    Yesterday, we shared some of the best new fiction books for adult readers, and today we have a few more to suggest.

    For your fiction reader who:

     

    Loves an engrossing, heart wrenching story of survival-

    12.13 The Great AloneTHE GREAT ALONE
    By Kristin Hannah 
    (2018)

    At the age of 13, Lenora’s unconventional parents move the family to an isolated homestead in Alaska. They are ill prepared to weather the long, cold winter but are able to lean on their new community and their own endurance to build a new life for themselves.

     

    Needs a new version of a classic fairy tell-

    12.13 Spinning SilverSPINNING SILVER
    By Naomi Novik 
    (2018)

    This is a fresh and imaginative retelling of the Rumpelstiltskin fairtale. Miryem, the daughter of a moneylender attracts the attention of the cold creatures who haunt the wood. Quickly she learns that words have power, and the fate of a kingdom lies in her golden touch.

     

    Enjoys a story that can change your perspective-

    12.14 UnshelteredUNSHELTERED
    By Barbara Kingsolver 
    (2018)

    How could two hardworking people do everything right in life, and still end up destitute? This question is asked as the novel shifts between two stories tied together by a piece of land and the need for a roof to shelter from the storms. 

     

    Loves a heartwarming stories of the fragility and wonder of life-

    12.14 Virgil WanderVIRGIL WANDER
    by Leif Enger 

    This is an enchanting and timeless all-American story that follows the inhabitants of a small Midwestern town in their quest to revive its flagging heart.

     

    Misses THE HIGHLANDER and loves the thought of living forever-

    12.14 How to Stop TimeHOW TO STOP TIME
    By Matt Haig 

    Tom may look like an average 41-year-old, but owing to a rare condition, he’s been alive for centuries. What does a man who can live forever learn in life?  To carefully guard his identity and his heart. This is a wildly original novel about losing and finding yourself and the inevitability of change.

     

    Needs a little proper romance-

    12.14 Promises and PrimrosesPROMISES & PRIMROSES
    By Josi S. Kilpack 

    When Elliott undertakes a ‘marriage campaign’ to see his wayward nieces and nephews securely married, he has no idea it will lead to a reunion with his own lost love.

     
  • Book giving

    Previously I recommended twelve  books to give those readers in your life that love to escape into imaginary worlds both fantastic and realistic. This post leaves the fiction behind and provides twelve more titles for those wanting to learn a little something.

    For your nonfiction reader who:

    Loves an inspirational memoir about overcoming trials-

    12.17 EducatedEDUCATED: A MEMOIR
    By Tara Westover 
    (2018)

    Tara was seventeen the first time she set foot in a classroom.  Born to survivalists who isolated themselves from mainstream society, Tara had to fight for an education that ended up costing her more than she could have imagined.

     

    Likes feeling nostalgic about a good neighbor in a sweater-

    12.17 The Good NeighborGOOD NEIGHBOR: THE LIFE AND WORK OF FRED ROGERS
    By Maxell King 
    (2018)

    Drawing on original interviews, oral histories and archival documents, the author traces the iconic children’s program host’s personal, professional, and artistic life through decades of work.

     

    Loves celebrity memoirs with the inside scoop-

    12.17 My GirlsMY GIRLS: A LIFETIME WITH CARRIE AND DEBBIE
    By Todd Fisher 
    (2018)

    Todd Fisher was the son of Hollywood legend Debbie Reynolds and the younger brother of Carrie Fisher.  He offers a frequently hilarious and too often heartbreaking story of life with the women he called my girls.

     

    Looks for new perspectives from political icons-

    12.17 Fascism A WarningFASCISM: A WARNING
    By Madeleine Albright 
    (2018)

    The former U.S. secretary of state presents a timely, considered, and personal look at the history and current resurgence of fascism and the virulent threat it poses to international freedom, prosperity, and peace.

     

    Loves learning about the American Revolution-

    12.17 Founding MartyrFOUNDING MARTYR: THE LIFE AND DEATH OF DR. JOSEPH WARREN, THE AMERICAN REVOLUTION’S LOST HERO
    By Christian Di Spigna 
    (2018)

    Dr. Joseph Warren may be the most influential revolutionary figure you have never heard of.  Since he was martyred at Bunker Hill, his essential role in the early colonial rebellion is often forgotten.  But here, he is given some of the recognition he rightly deserves.

     

    Wanted to be an astronaut when they grew up-

    12.17 Rocket MenROCKET MEN: THE DARING ODYSSEY OF APOLLO 8 AND THE ASTRONAUTS WHO MADE MAN’S FIRST JOURNEY TO THE MOON
    By Robert Kurson 
    (2018)

    Shares the inside story of the dangerous Apollo 8 mission, focusing on the lives of the astronauts involved, while illuminating the political factors that prompted the decision to risk lives to save the Apollo program and define the space race.

     
  • Book giving

    Have you been following along with our 2018 book giving guide? We've shared our favorite picture books, nonfiction, fiction, and a little more fiction. Today we have a few more nonfiction titles to share, but be on the lookout for our teen book suggestions soon!

    Dressed up as Bond for Halloween-

    12.20 The Spy and the TraitorTHE SPY AND THE TRAITOR: THE GREATEST ESPIONAGE STORY OF THE COLD WAR
    By Ben Macintyre 
    (2018)

    A thrilling spy story about Oleg Gordievsky, the Russian KGB officer whose secret work with MI-5 helped hasten then end of the Cold War.

     

    Participates in Civil War reenactments-

    12.21 Women of the Blue and GrayWOMEN OF THE BLUE & GRAY: TRUE CIVIL WAR STORIES OF MOTHERS, MEDICS, SOLDIERS, AND SPIES
    By Marianne Monson
    (2018) 

    These micro biographies tell the stories of wives, mothers, sisters and friends whose purposes ranged from supporting husbands and sons during the wartime to counseling President Lincoln on strategy.

     

    Is considering their first marathon in 2019-

    12.21 Killing OurselvesNATURAL CAUSES: AN EPIDEMIC OF WELLNESS, THE CERTAINTY OF DYING, AND KILLING OURSELVES TO LIVE LONGER
    By Barabara Ehrenreich 
    (2018)

    Offers insight into healthcare practices, identifying the cellular sources of aging and illness and revealing that aggressive treatments provide an illusion of control and survivability at the cost of life quality.   

     

    Likes to psychoanalyze people at parties-

    12.21 How to Change Your MindHOW TO CHANGE YOUR MIND
    By Michael Pollan
    (2018) 

    An investigation into the medical and scientific revolution taking place around psychedelic drugs with a dive into both the latest brain science and the thriving underground community of psychedelic therapists.

     

    Needs to be a little less critical of herself-

    12.21 Girl Wash Your FaceGIRL, WASH YOUR FACE: STOP BELIEVING THE LIES ABOUT WHO YOU ARE SO YOU CAN BECOME WHO YOU WERE MEANT TO BE
    By Rachel Hollis 
    (2018)

    By the founder of TheChicSite.com and CEO of her own media company, Rachel shares tips for living a better life while fearlessly revealing the messiness of her own.

     

    Cried when the last episode of Fixer Upper aired-

    12.21 Magnolia TableMAGNOLIA TABLE: A COLLECTION OF RECIPES FOR GATHERING
    By Joanna Gaines 
    (2018)

    A collection of over 100 classic recipes for meals, snacks, desserts, and small plates from the popular HGTV star.  And (bonus book!) don’t overlook Joanna’s new book HOMEBODY: A GUIDE TO CREATING

     
    Merry Christmas!
  •  Book giving 1

    So far we've shared some great reads that came out this year for adults (Fiction, More Fiction, Nonfiction), but we can't forget about the kids! Here are a few of the best new picture books for the little readers you love.

    For the kid (or kid at heart) in your life who:

     

    Is a master at bedtime avoidance-

    12.20 Dont BlinkDON’T BLINK
    By Amy Krouse Rosenthal
    Illustrated by David Roberts

    Have you ever tried that trick of trying NOT to close your eyes as a way to feel sleepy? This clever picture book is built on that idea. Every time you blink, you have to turn the page, and soon enough, you (and any reading buddies) will be fast asleep. 

     
     

    Is working through big feelings-

    12.20 The Rabbit ListenedTHE RABBIT LISTENED
    By Cori Doerrfeld
    (2018)

    When tragedy strikes, Taylor’s friends have all kinds of suggestions on how to feel better – shouting, hiding, rebuilding – but Taylor doesn’t need suggestions. What he needs is company and a listening ear. With sweet illustrations, this picture book is a great primer on helping others (and ourselves) in hard moments. 

     
     

    Is secretly an artist (and doesn't even know it)-

    12.20 SquareSQUARE
    By Mac Barnett
    Illustrated by Jon Klassen
    (2018)

    Barnett and Klassen are a beloved picture book duo, and for good reason. Their spare pictures and text are deceptively simple and always hilarious. SQUARE will have you laughing out loud and wondering what it really means to be an artist. 

     
     

    Sometimes wonders how to make friends-

    12.20 Drawn TogetherDRAWN TOGETHER
    By Minh Lê
    Illustrated by Dan Santat
    (2018)

    A young American boy has a hard time relating to his Thai grandfather; they like different shows, eat different food, and can’t even speak the same language. When they discover their shared love for drawing, however, a whole new world of communication opens up to them. 

     
     

    Loves to chat (but not always listen)-

    12.20 Wordy BirdyWORDY BIRDY
    By Tammi Sauer 
    Illustrated by Dave Mottram 
    (2018)

    Wordy Birdy has lots to say, so much that she doesn’t let anyone else get a word in. When there’s a bear on the loose, that chattiness gets her in trouble. This picture book’s a great reminder that talking is great, as long as we listen too.  

     
     

    Doesn’t usually see their life in picture books-

    12.20 LoveLOVE
    By Matt de la Peña
    Illustrated by Loren Long
    (2018)

    You might expect a picture book called LOVE to be saccharine, but this new release is honest as well as touching. De la Peña and Long show that love has a million faces (some expected, others surprising) and that sometimes it’s pain that reveals them. 

     
  •  Book giving

    Young Adult novels are some of my favorites, from the ones that are old friends to new ones that I can hardly put down. The following are some of my favorites from this year that you could give to anyone without worry or concern. I've made sure to only include books which are at the beginning of the series or standalones so you don’t have to worry about giving someone an entire series.

    12.22 Traitors GameTHE TRAITOR’S GAME
    By Jennifer Nielsen
    (2018)

    After three years in exile, Kestra Dallisor has been summoned back to Antora by her father, right-hand man of the seemingly immortal king, Lord Endrick. She is intercepted and kidnapped by the Coracks who want to use her to get the Olden Blade, which they believe can be used to kill the despot. Simon, one of the rebels with his own grudge against the Dallisors, is assigned to accompany her, but Kestra has her own plans and does not intend to let anyone get in her way.

     

    12.22 Children of Blood and BoneCHILDREN OF BLOOD AND BONE
    By Tomi Adeymi
    (2018)

    Zelie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orisha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls. Ever since the reaping, which killed her mother and many of the sorcerers, Zelie and her people have been living on the outskirts of society, praying for survival. That is until Zelie, her brother, and a runaway princess get the opportunity to change the fate of the world.

     

    12.22 Cruel PrinceTHE CRUEL PRINCE
    by Holly Black
    (2018)

    Jude was seven years old when her parents were murdered and she and her two sisters were stolen away to live in the treacherous High Court of Faerie. Ten years later, Jude wants nothing more than to belong there, despite her mortality. But many of the fey despise humans, especially Prince Cardan, the youngest and wickedest son of the High King.

     

    12.22 The Wicked DeepTHE WICKED DEEP
    by Shea Ernshaw
    (2018)

    Three sisters, drowned as witches in Sparrow, Oregon, in the 1800s, return each summer for revenge, but Penny, seventeen, is determined to stop them to save the boy she loves.

     

    12.22 Sea WitchSEA WITCH
    by Sarah Hennings
    (2018)

    Rendered an outcast in town after her friend Anna's death, Evie befriends a newcomer with an uncanny likeness to Anna. When the girls pursue romances with two charming princes, Evie has a chance at happiness until her new friend reveals a secret.

     

    12.22 SkywardSKYWARD
    by Brandon Sanderson
    (2018)

    When a long-term attack against her world by the alien Krell escalates, Spensa's dream of becoming a pilot may come true, despite her deceased father being labeled a deserter.

     

    12.22 To Kill a KingdomTO KILL A KINGDOM
    by Alexandra Christo
    (2018)

    Lira, a famous siren, must prove herself by stealing the heart of the man, a prince, threatening her race. Will she be able to overcome the obstacles placed before her?

     
    Looking for other holiday giving ideas? Check out our recommendations for adult fiction, more adult fiction, nonfiction, more nonfiction, and picture books.
  •  Sparklers

    If you’re anything like me, you have a million books that you’ve been meaning to read but haven’t gotten to yet. The New Year is the perfect time to recommit to reading those books that you’ve always meant to get to, and the library is here to help! We’ll have a display all month stocked with various classics, best sellers, and other books that might be outstaying their welcome on your “to read” list. Listed below is just a small sample of our offerings:

    Classics

    1.4 Wuthering HeightsWUTHERING HEIGHTS
    By Emily Brontë
    (1847) 

    Cathy is fascinated with the orphan that her father has taken in. While her brother Hindley despises him, Cathy becomes Heathcliff’s constant companion, and he falls wildly in love with her. Despite their feelings for each other, Cathy will not marry Heathcliff and this proves to be their downfall. 

     

    1.4 The Great GatsbyTHE GREAT GATSBY
    By F Scott Fitzgerald
    (1925) 

    Jay Gatsby is as mysterious as his parties are wild. His Long Island mansion is filled day and night with young people drinking and dancing and discussing their host. Gatsby always seems to be alone, waiting for something—or someone. 

     

    Best Sellers

    1.4 All the Light We Cannot SeeALL THE LIGHT WE CANNOT SEE
    By Anthony Doerr
    (2014) 

    Marie-Laure is a blind girl who lives in Paris with her father. Werner Pfennig is an orphan in Germany who is fascinated by the radio. As World War II strikes, both children will have to figure out how best to survive. 

     

    1.4 Go Set a WatchmanGO SET A WATCHMAN
    By Harper Lee
    (2015) 

    Twenty years after the events in TO KILL A MOCKINGBIRD, Jean Louise “Scout” Finch returns to her hometown to visit her father. While her town struggles to adjust to the civil rights movement, Scout struggles with her own personal issues as she learns things about her family that she never knew. 

     

    Books-to-Movies

    1.4 Ready Player 1READY PLAYER ONE
    By Ernest Cline
    (2011) 

    The year is 2044 and the entire world pretty much lives in the OASIS, which is a massive online game. When the creator of the OASIS dies, he releases an OASIS-wide scavenger hunt. Whoever can find his easter eggs will inherit the OASIS and all the money that comes with it. When teenager Wade Watts solves the first riddle, he’s thrown into the spotlight—and not necessarily in a good way. 

     

    1.4 Crazy Rich AsiansCRAZY RICH ASIANS
    By Kevin Kwan
    (2013) 

    Meeting your boyfriend’s family is hard enough, but when he didn’t tell you that his family is worth millions if not billions of dollars, it can quickly turn into a disaster. Rachel Chu is about to find out how hard it really is to fit in with people who regularly spend millions of dollars on jewelry. And that’s nothing compared to winning over her boyfriend’s mother.

     
  • unknown holidays

    Now that November has come around, we are all preparing for Thanksgiving, that big holiday at the end of the month. However, there are a lot of other holidays this month that just get overlooked in our turkey preparation.

    Yeah, Thanksgiving is fun, but should it so blatantly overshadow Have a Party with Your Bear Day? (Yeah, look it up. It’s worth a Google.) Or what about the equally important National Fast Food Day? Should that be passed over for a holiday that we just go and eat food?

    I agree with you that we should absolutely not! So, to help correct this egregious oversight, we at the library are happy to provide some books to help you properly celebrate some of these other holidays (as well as letting you know when these are).

    You’re welcome. 

    National Clean Your Refrigerator Day
    November 15

    Just a week and a half before Thanksgiving, this is an important holiday if you want to properly celebrate the leftovers you are bound to have. Depending on the state of your fridge, you can observe this holiday by throwing away old leftovers, wiping down your shelves, or, if your fridge is past all hope, throwing it away and buying a new one. We have lots of resources that can help you out with any of that. For a good start, take a look at HOUSEHOLD HINTS: AMAZING USES FOR SALT, LEMON, VINEGAR, AND BAKING SODA by Heather Rodino (2015) for some good cleaning solutions you can make with stuff you have around, or check out our online database, HOME IMPROVEMENT REFERENCE CENTER, for information on buying and repairing fridges. 

    National Parfait Day
    November 25

    This holiday gives you the perfect excuse to sit back and enjoy a delicious dessert.  A parfait is a dessert that is layered in a glass, usually with whipped cream and fruits, but also chocolate and ice cream. The best part about this is you can create it any way that you like, so don’t sweat putting in the fruit. If all you have is pudding and Oreos that still counts! However, if you need some inspiration on what to make, try checking out one of our recipe books, like PUDDIN’: LUSCIOUS AND UNFORGETTABLE PUDDINGS, PARFAITS, PUDDING CAKES, PIES, AND POPS by Clio Goodman (2013) or just get in the mood by reading A PARFAIT MURDER by Wendy Watson (2011). 

    Stay Home Because You Are Well Day
    November 30

    Are you sick of work? You know, sitting at a desk and listening to a boss you don’t like all day? We’re not either. We promise. However, you should still totally observe this holiday because you feel good and you deserve it. Call in sick with a convincing cough and then relax the day away. To help you celebrate properly, come into the library to check out THE MERCK MANUAL GO-TO HOME GUIDE FOR SYMPTOMS by Robert Porter (2013) to help you come up with a convincing disease, and while you’re here, grab THE CHECKLIST: WHAT YOU AND YOUR FAMILY NEED TO KNOW TO PREVENT DISEASE AND LIVE A LONG AND HEALTHY LIFE by Manny Alvarz (2007) to help ensure that you are actually well enough to celebrate.

  • st patricks

    Erin go Bragh!

    It’s time to celebrate Irish immigration to the United States with St. Patrick’s Day! This holiday is held on March 17th of every year, and honors the patron saint of Ireland, St. Patrick. Irish immigrants to the US first celebrated this holiday as a way to remember their homeland. Only later did it become a hit back in Ireland. Today, it is a national Irish holiday celebrated by parades, going to Catholic mass, drinking, and eating. Sound like fun? Here are some ways you can celebrate this holiday with a traditional Irish flair.

    What to Eat

    3.14 My Irish TableMY IRISH TABLE
    By Cathal Armstrong & David Hagedorm
    (2014)

    You cannot party without food, and this book is just what you need in order to get an authentically Irish taste of St. Patrick’s Day. This volume is a treasure trove of beautiful color photos and authentic Irish recipes. Each recipe has a little anecdote to go with it so you can feel like you are learning about Irish culture along the way. I suggest trying some traditional potato dishes, or even the Irish Stew if you are feeling ambitious. Don’t forget brown bread or soda bread to round out the meal! 

     

    What to Drink

    3.14 BeerBEER
    By DK Eyewitness Companions
    (2007)

    The Irish are famous for their beer, and the internationally popular Guinness craft has even become an icon of Irish culture. There are many other Irish beers to choose from. If you want to learn more about Irish beers, as well as many other varieties from across the globe, this Eyewitness book is a great little resource.   

     

    3.14 Homemade Root BeerHOMEMADE ROOT BEER, SODA, & POP
    By Stephen Edward Cresswell
    (1998)

    While beer is traditional, it is not for everyone. If you do not drink alcohol, you could a pint of the next best thing—root beer! Of course there are lots of commercial options out there for this delectable soda pop, but why not impress your St. Patrick’s Day party guests with some homemade stuff?  

     

    Irish Jams

    We love Irish music so much that we have a dedicated section of CDs for it (INTL IRELAND). Head over to the music CDs and look in the section labeled “International – Ireland.” You’ll find lots to choose from, including The High Kings, Celtic Woman, and the Young Dubliners. If Celtic music isn’t quite your jam, check out The Dropkick Murphys or even U2.   

    Irish History

    Why not read up on the Emerald Isle and learn a little bit about Irish culture or history? THE STORY OF IRELAND is a fantastic history of Ireland and the Irish people. On the other hand, since St. Patrick’s Day became popular due to Irish immigration to the US, how about reading THE IRISH AMERICANS?

    Whatever you choose, we here at the library hope you have a wonderful holiday celebration!

     
  •  Eliza

    May 20th is a special day for me. No, it’s not because it’s World Metrology Day or the feast day of Saint Ivo of Chartres. It’s because it’s Eliza Doolittle Day!

    As any musical or classic film fan knows, Eliza Doolittle is the aspiring “lady in a flower shop” and star of Lerner and Loewe’s MY FAIR LADY. The original 1956 Broadway production won seven Tonys, with the 1964 film going on to garner eight Academy Awards, and a current revival is up for 10 more possible Tonys. It’s an almost guaranteed critic and crowd pleaser.

    MY FAIR LADY has been my favorite film for nearly 20 years now, and as an Audrey Hepburn obsessive, I have a soft spot in my heart for the song “Just You Wait.” Unlike most of the songs, which were dubbed by Marni Nixon, it features Hepburn’s actual singing voice with only a small section of dubbing. Skip to 1:31 for the establishment of this important international holiday.

     

    So here are a few options for celebrating Eliza Doolittle Day:

    Watch the film

    5.17 My Fair LadyMY FAIR LADY
    Directed by George Cukor
    (1964)

    Number 8 on the American Film Institute’s list of the Greatest Movie Musicals, Number 12 on their 100 Years … 100 Passions list, and number 91 on their list of the 100 Greatest American Movies Of All Time. It’s just that good. 

     

    Listen to the original cast recording

    5.17 SoundtrackMY FAIR LADY: ORIGINAL BROADWAY CAST RECORDING
    Music by Frederick Loewe
    Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
    (1956)

    Even half a century later, there’s still a surprising amount of controversy over the casting of Audrey Hepburn in the film over Julie Andrews, who originated the role. Luckily, you can still listen to the original Broadway cast recording in all its undubbed glory. 

     

    Play or sing along

    5.17 Piano VocalMY FAIR LADY PIANO/VOCAL/CHORD SELECTIONS
    Music by Frederick Loewe
    Lyrics by Alan Jay Lerner
    (2007)

    Why not try your own hand (or voice) at classic tunes like “Wouldn’t It Be Loverly,” and “I Could Have Danced All Night.” I’d argue that Alan Jay Lerner’s lyrics for MY FAIR LADY are some of the cleverest ever written for Broadway, and Loewe’s gorgeous, sweeping score stands the test of time. 

     

    Read the original

    5.17 PygmalionPYGMALION
    By George Bernard Shaw
    (1913)

    MY FAIR LADY is based on this classic play, inspired by Greek mythology. Nearly every clever line from the musical comes straight from George Bernard Shaw’s original, but be prepared for a very different ending. 

     

    Read about the Elizas

    Though many women have played Eliza, Julie Andrews and Audrey Hepburn are inarguably the women who defined the role. They are fortunately both exemplary role models in their own rights, and these biographies will give you wonderful insight into the women behind the role.

    5.17 HomeHOME: A MEMOIR OF MY EARLY YEARS
    By Julie Andrews
    (2008)

     

    5.17 Audrey HepburnAUDREY HEPBURN: AN ELEGANT SPIRIT
    By Sean Hepburn Ferrer
    (2003)

     
  • Christmas Read Alouds

    It's almost Christmas break and kids will be spending more time with their families. This is a great time to snuggle around the fireplace and read a novel aloud together. Or maybe you are going on a road trip and want a Christmas themed book to listen to in the car.  Here are some of my favorite feel good family Christmas novels.   

    12.11 The VanderbeeksTHE VANDERBEEKERS OF 141ST STREET
    By Karina Yan Glaser
    (2017)

    The Vanderbeeker family includes two parents, four kids and three pets.  They have lived in the same brownstone in Harlem as long as any of the kids can remember.  One day, right before Christmas, their landlord and upstairs neighbor decides he is not going to renew their lease. The kids are horrified at the thought of having to move, so they start a campaign to convince reclusive old Mr. Biederman that he really does not want to make them leave. The antics of the kids are funny and each child has an individual and endearing personality.  It has great parent/child relationships, and all the protagonists are trying to do what is right 

     

    12.11 A Season of GiftsA SEASON OF GIFTS
    By Richard Peck
    (2009)

    Grandma Dowdel, the star of the Newbery winner, A Year Down Yonder, returns in this heart warming Christmas book.  It is 1958 and a new preacher and his family has moved into town.  When their son, Bob, is attacked by bullies and tied, naked to Grandma Dowdel’s privy, Grandma Dowdel decides to take the family into her care using her own brand of unconventional love. 

     

    12.11 A Boy Called ChristmasA BOY CALLED CHRISTMAS
    By Matt Haig
    (2016)

    Nicholas lives with his father, Joel, who is a woodcutter in Finland. They are poor, but Nicolas is relatively happy and enjoys spending time in the forest with his dad. When Joel goes away with some strange men and doesn’t return, Nicholas goes on a grand quest to find him. This is an origin story about how Nicolas becomes Father Christmas. The story is definitely told from a British point of view. Nicolas becomes Father Christmas, not the more American Santa Claus, but even American readers will enjoy the many references to Christmas traditions. 

     

    12.11 The Best Christmas Pageant EverTHE BEST CHRISTMAS PAGEANT EVER
    By Barbara Robinson
    (1988)

    The Herdman’s are the worst family in town.  They are dirty, uneducated, and wild.  When they find out that the Sunday School offers snacks, they volunteer to be in the church’s Christmas pageant. As the crazy kids take over the production, the long-suffering director and her family marvel to see how they are transformed by the Christmas story.  This one is an older book that is becoming a classic worthy of being re-read to each new generation.

     
  • A Very Freegal Christmas

    If you don’t know what Freegal is, you are missing out. Freegal is like Pandora or Spotify but it’s better because it’s ad free and provided for you by your friendly local library!  To find more information about how to access and use Freegal, see videos here. To access Freegal through the Provo City Library website, click here. Or you can download the free app from your app store and login that way.   

    What will you find on Freegal? Music!! With your library card you can stream 5 hours of music each day and each week, you can download 3 songs to keep forever! That’s right! You get to download songs and play them whenever. 

    As a compulsive reader and book listener, I have to admit I’m not an avid music fan. I don’t listen to the radio much and other than my daughter’s favorite collection of lullabies, I don’t usually listen to much music. However, that all changes in December. During the holiday season I listen to Christmas music whenever I get the chance and I love being able to listen to the classic Christmas carols as well as new renditions by current artists. 

    That’s where Freegal comes in super handy. Here are a few Christmas Playlists Freegal has available to you and to me this very minute! 

    A MERRY MODERN CHRISTMAS MIXTAPE

    Featuring:

    • All I Want for Christmas by Mariah Carey
    • Underneath the Christmas Tree by Kelly Clarkson
    • What Christmas Means To Me by Pentatonix
    • Must Be Santa by She & Him
    • And 83 more!  
     

    CHESTNUTS ROASTING: CHRISTMAS CLASSICS

    Featuring:

    • White Christmas by Bing Crosby
    • The Christmas Song by Nat King Cole
    • A Holly Jolly Christmas by Burl Ives
    • And 75 more!
     

    HOLIDAY SONGS

    Featuring:

    • Frosty the Snowman by The Ronettes
    • Santa Baby by Kellie Pickler
    • It’s Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas by Noah Cyrus
    • Wintersong by Sarah McLachlan
    • And 71 more!
     
  • 2.16 Presidents Day Mount Rushmore

    I know we’re all excited for the long President’s Day weekend, so to celebrate George’s B-day, here are a few fiction faves for kids featuring our first president.   

    2.16 Rush Revere and the PresidencyRUSH REVERE AND THE PRESIDENCY
    By Rush H. Limbaugh
    (2016) 

    Rush and his friends head back in time on the back of their talking horse, Liberty, to see what it was like when our first presidents had to make tough decisions.   

     

    2.16 Revolutionary War on WednesdaysREVOLUTIONARY WAR ON WEDNESDAY
    By Mary Pope Osborne
    (2000) 

    Join Jack and Annie once again as they try to keep history on the right track—this time they are helping General Washington cross the Delaware.   

     

    2.16 George Washingtons BreakfastGEORGE WASHINGTON’S BREAKFAST
    By Jean Fritz
    (1969) 

    George Washington Allen is named after a pretty incredible person, and George is determined to learn everything about his famous namesake—even what he had for breakfast!  

     

    2.16 Oh Say I Cant SeeOH SAY, I CAN’T SEE
    By Jon Scieszka
    (2005) 

    The Time Warp Trio is at is again—this time they manage to inspire George Washington to sneak attack the Hessian army on Christmas night.   

     

    2.16 George Washingtons SocksGEORGE WASHINGTON’S SOCKS
    By Elvira Woodruff
    (1991) 

    Another great time travel tale—via magical rowboat—allows Matthew, Quentin, Hooter, Tony, and Katie to experience some of the realities of the Revolutionary War first hand.

     
  • christmasy

    So much of the Christmas season is simply magical during childhood:  twinkling lights, glittering snow, crackling fires, the smell of warm cookies, favorite holiday songs, an abundance of decorations, the anticipation of giving and receiving gifts, etc…  However you celebrate, what you love most is probably steeped in personal traditions that you look forward to every single year.  Of course, a favorite tradition for many people is breaking out their beloved childhood Christmas books.  You gotta love a good Christmas book!  Whether your favorite characters include Scrooge, Charlie Brown, Rudolph, or the Grinch, surely there’s at least one story that you love to read every single year.  I’ve realized, however, that some of my favorite Christmas stories aren’t really Christmas stories at all!  But they have beautiful Christmas scenes that pull at my heartstrings whenever December rolls around.

    So whether you’ve overdosed on too many Hallmark movies and need to take a step back, or all of a sudden it’s next June and you’re yearning for a little holiday spirit, here are five not-Christmas kids’ books with Christmas scenes that will put the warmth and magic right back in your heart:

    12.22 Harry PotterHARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE 

     
    12.22 Little WomenLITTLE WOMEN

     
    12.22 The Lion the Witch and the WardrobeTHE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE
     

    12.22 The Mysterious HowlingTHE MYSTERIOUS HOWLING

     
  •  Graphic Novels you Can Give Without Worry 1

    Books make the best Christmas gifts! Alright, sure, I am a little biased, but I firmly believe there is a book for everyone, even for the pickiest of readers.  Last month, I wrote a post singing the praises of graphic novels and why you should read them. All those reasons also apply to why graphic novels make great gifts!

    Last year, we published a list of well-reviewed, clean graphic novels that make great gifts for anyone on your list. We’ve had such great feedback about last year’s suggestions, so here is an updated edition including some newer releases that have hit the shelves since then.

    12.7 Rebel LadiesBRAZEN: REBEL LADIES WHO ROCKED THE WORLD
    By Penelope Bagieu
    (2018) 

    With her characteristic wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Penelope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.

     

    12.7 The Prince and the DressmakerTHE PRINCE AND THE DRESSMAKER
    By Jen Wang
    (2018) 

    Prince Sebastian is looking for a bride--or rather, his parents are looking for one for him. Sebastian is too busy hiding his secret life from everyone. Sebastian's secret weapon (and best friend) is the brilliant dressmaker Frances--one of only two people who know the truth: sometimes this boy wears dresses. But Frances dreams of greatness, and being someone's secret weapon means being a secret. Forever. How long can Frances defer her dreams to protect a friend?

     

    12.7 SheetsSHEETS
    By Brenna Thummler
    (2018) 

    Marjorie Glatt feels like a ghost. A practical thirteen-year-old in charge of the family laundry business, her daily routine features unforgiving customers, unbearable P.E. classes, and the fastidious Mr. Saubertuck who is committed to destroying everything she's worked for.

     

    12.7 ApolloAPOLLO
    By Matt Fitch
    (2018) 

    In 1969, humankind set foot on the moon. Neil Armstrong, Edwin "Buzz" Aldrin, and Michael Collins carried the fire for all the world. Backed by the brightest minds in engineering and science, the three boarded a rocket and flew through the void, just to know that we could. In Apollo, Matt Fitch, Chris Baker, and Mike Collins unpack the urban legends, the gossip, and the speculation to reveal a remarkable true story about life, death, dreams, and the reality of humanity's greatest exploratory achievement

     

    12.7 The Gigantic Beard that was EvilTHE GIGANTIC BEARD THAT WAS EVIL
    By Stephen Collins
    (2013) 

    On the buttoned-down island of Here, all is well. By which we mean: orderly, neat, contained, and, moreover, beardless. Or at least it is until one famous day, when Dave, bald but for a single hair, finds himself assailed by a terrifying, unstoppable... monster*! (*beard) Where did it come from? How should the islanders deal with it? And what, most importantly, are they going to do with Dave? 

     

    Happy gift-giving! If you missed last year’s list, check it out here.

  • graphic novel gifts

     

    We at the library firmly believe that everyone should get a book for Christmas. It’s just one of those weird quirks that’s a requirement for working at a library. That being said, not everyone should get the same book for Christmas. Everyone has different interests, with some people even liking (gasp!) graphic novels and comics. Now, graphic novels can be a tricky gift to buy. There are many of them that live up to the term “graphic”, which can turn people off from them. However, there are some great graphic novels out there, and we want to help you find them. So, if you have someone who’s into graphic novels, here are four well-reviewed, clean graphic novels you can give to anyone without shame.

    12.19.17 American Born ChineseAMERICAN BORN CHINESE
    By Gene Luen Yang
    (2006)

    This is an excellent novel that explores Chinese myth and Chinese American culture. In it, three stories are told. The first is about the Chinese myth of the Monkey King, the second is about Jin Wang, a Chinese American student who is ostracized at his school for his race, and the third is about Danny, who deals with the negative Chinese stereotype his cousin offers when he visits. These stories converge in a profound way, giving a message of acceptance and kindness. 

     

    12.19.2017 Wire and NerveWIRES AND NERVE
    By Marissa Meyer
    (2017)

    If you read and loved the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, then you are in for a treat with this graphic novel. The adventures of Cinder and her friends continue in this story focused on Iko. This is the first of a series of graphic novels that will wrap up some plot points from the original series and allow readers to know these characters better. 

     

    12.19.2017 NimonaNIMONA
    By Noelle Stevenson
    (2015)

    This graphic novel is a fast-paced, satirical take of the villain/hero fantasy motif. Lord Blackheart is a man with a vendetta against The Institute of Law Enforcement and Heroics. However, his plans are unsuccessful until he hires Nimona, a young girl with shapeshifting powers and sarcastic wit. Together, they plan to show the world that the “good guys” are the real bad guys. 

     

    12.19.2017 Atomic RoboATOMIC ROBO
    By Brian Clevinger
    (2008)

    This is an entertaining series that features a robot built by Tesla who forms a corporation of “action scientists” who save the world on a regular basis from all kinds of threats, including vampires, Dr. Dinosaur, and lots and lots of Nazis. With plenty of humor and action, this is a fun read, especially for younger teenage boys.

     
  • Haunted Holidays 

    Missing October? But already hung up the Christmas lights? Here are a few spooky-flavored books on the Christmas season to “chill” you over until December. 

    12.06 Nos4a2NOS4R2
    By Joe Hill
    (2013)

    You’ll never listen to Christmas songs on the radio the same way again. Joe Hill brings forth one of the most sinister villains to haunt the holiday season. Over many years, Charles Manx has grown into a vampire-like creature -- kidnapping children and bringing them to “Christmas Land” where they truly never grow up. Combining sinister set-up with engaging characters, Joe Hill’s novel stands up with even the best books written by his father, Stephen King.  

     

    12.06 HogfatherHOGFATHER: A NOVEL OF DISCWORLD
    By Terry Pratchett
    (1996)

    Sir Terry Pratchett pens another satire set in his fantastical Discworld, this time for a holiday special! This black comedy tells the story of Death putting down his scythe and donning the big man’s red suit. Think THE NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS, but with more assassins, poker-wielding nannies, hung-over gods and of course, flying swine. 

     

    12.06 The Woman in BlackTHE WOMAN IN BLACK
    By Susan Hill
    (1983)

    Many of you may be asking, “THE WOMAN IN BLACK is a Christmas book?” or even, “THE WOMAN IN BLACK is a novel?” But yes, this book/play/movie begins while sitting around a Christmas hearth. This novel continues the old English tradition of telling spooky stories around the holidays, recounting a “true ghost story” that affected the narrator in his youth. 

     

    12.06 The Annotated Christmas CarolTHE ANNOTATED CHRISTMAS CAROL: A CHRISTMAS CAROL IN PROSE
    By Charles Dickens
    (2004)

    No list would be complete without the most famous Christmas ghost story of all. If you are looking for a bit bigger of a read (the original was only 110 pages) or just want to know more about Charles Dickens’s novel, check out THE ANNOTATED CHRISTMAS CAROL. Filled with copies of the original illustrations, theatre playbills and plenty of footnotes, it tells the history of A CHRISTMAS CAROL in its entirety. Once December rolls around, I also recommend pairing it with THE MAN WHO INVENTED CHRISTMAS, a film about the creation and impact of Dickens’s little book.

     
  • Pies 

    What is more irresistible in the cold months than a warm slice of pie? Put on your fuzzy slippers, grab a mug of cocoa and a slice of your favorite pie, and enjoy these delicious fictional delights.  

    12.02 Pie TownPIE TOWN
    By Lynne Hinton
    (2011)

    A heartwarming story of faith and hope in a small town, Pie Town will hook readers from the beginning. A young hitchhiker seems to spell big trouble for the residents of this cozy New Mexico town. The poor, unsuspecting priest who brings her there gets caught up in the whole fiasco. Pie Town is the first in Hinton’s hit series! 

     

    12.02 Luck Love and Lemon PieLUCK, LOVE & LEMON PIE
    By Amy Reichert
    (2016)

    You’ll love this empowering story of MJ, a wife and mother reclaiming her independence. What starts as an idea to spend more time with her husband turns into a high stakes poker streak! MJ will have to play her hand carefully or risk losing it all!  

     

    12.02 Apple Pie PromisesAPPLE PIE PROMISES
    By Hillary Homzie
    (2018)

    This rollercoaster young adult novel deals with the difficult topic of divorce. Lily is forced to live with her father and new step-family after her mother gets a job offer. It’ll be easy as apple pie, right?  

     

    12.02 Blackberry Pie MurderBLACKBERRY PIE MURDER
    By Joanne Fluke
    (2014)

    A chance encounter on a country road with a mysterious stranger claims Hannah Swensen as the main suspect in a murder investigation! The victim has blackberry pie stains on his shirt and Hannah must follow the crumbs to figure out his identity. You’ll enjoy this charming mystery!

     
  •  Halloween Costumes

    I love children’s books and dressing up, so what could be more fun than dressing up as a character from a book? 

    Every year when I went to the store to pick out a costume for Halloween I was always disappointed. I never liked the choices that I found.  I also didn’t like seeing my costume again and again on everyone else. I love having a costume that is unique to me and my personality. But I also didn’t want to spend a bunch of money on something I was only going to wear one day out of the year. Another frustration in picking a costume was what to be and what person to dress up as.

    Then one year I discovered literary characters. I love books so why not choose my favorite book character and dress up as that particular character! For the last 5 years or so I have had some really fun costumes and most of the time people know who I am. I get lots of comments like, “That is one of my favorite books”, which makes me happy.           

    Usually a book character costume doesn’t require much. I was surprised at how many things I had at home to use for my costume. Sometimes I would have to hunt for an accessory that I needed or make an item or two for my costume but usually it was just hanging in my closet waiting to be put together. I have over the years added to my wig collection but that is something that can be used again and again. I also bought a latex witch nose and I have used that many times to change the look of my face.   

    This year because I have so many ideas and options to choose from my struggle is deciding which character I want to be. I thought it would be fun to share five of my favorite literary costumes and hopefully inspire you to also dress up as a literary character.

    10.15 Fancy NancyFANCY NANCY: FANCIEST DOLL IN THE UNIVERSE
    By Jane O’Conner
    Illustrated by Robin Preiss Glasser
    (2013)

     

    Fancy Nancy

     

    10.15 Amelia BedeliaAMELIA BEDELIA
    By Peggy Parish
    (1963)

     

    Amelia

     

    10.15 Miss Nelson is MissingMISS NELSON IS MISSING!
    By Harry Allard and James Marshall
    (1977)

     

    Viola Swamp

     

    10.15 Lillys Purple Plastic PurseLILLY'S PURPLE PLASTIC PURSE
    By Kevin Henkes
    (1996)

     

    Lilly

     

    10.15 The WitchesTHE WITCHES
    By Roald Dahl
    (1983)

     

    Witch

     
  • perfect pie

    Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. Gathering with friends and family and eating delicious foods are two of my very favorite things. For me the best part of Thanksgiving is getting a small slice of all of the different kinds of pie!

    When I lived in Virginia, a family I knew from church had a pie party on the morning of Thanksgiving every year. They would invite neighbors and friends to come eat pie before the day’s festivities began. I loved that they had this party and looked forward to it as soon as fall began each year.

    As the holidays approach, I thought I’d share a few of the resources we have to help you make the perfect pie. If you need some help getting started, this four part Pie Making Boot Camp series from Mel’s Kitchen Café will guide you on your pastry making journey (each word links to a different part in the series). These blogposts are filled with lots of pictures to guide you step by step. In addition, here are some great pie-based cookbooks we have at the library! 

    11.20.17 Handheld PiesHANDHELD PIES 
    by Sarah Billingsley
    (2011)

    Features free-form, structured, and jar pies as well as a variety of crust and filling recipes. This book includes both sweet and savory pies.

     

     

    11.20.17 Pie and TartPIE & TART
    by Carolyn Weil
    (2003)

    A homemade pie or tart is a great way to make any meal special. Baking is easy as pie when following the recipes in this book!

     

     

    11.20.17 Pie SchoolPIE SCHOOL
    by Kate Lebo
    (2014)

    Now this is the kind of school I’d like to attend! The author shares 50 recipes and includes the social history of the pie.

     

     

    11.20.17 Cutie PiesCUTIE PIES
    by Dani Cone
    (2011)

    This book includes sweet and savory hand, petite, jar, and full-sized pies. Also pie pops. Pie on a stick? Count me in!

     

     

    11.20.17 Art of the PieART OF THE PIE
    by Kate McDermott
    (2016)

    Kate McDermott has taught thousands of people across the country how to make pie at her Pie Camps. This book includes more than a dozen crust recipes, half of which are gluten free.

     

     

     

    11.20.17 Lion House PiesLION HOUSE PIES
    by Brenda Hopkin
    (2010)

    In this book you’ll find more than 70 recipes with easy-to-follow directions and a DVD with baking tips and tricks!

     

     

     

     

    11.20.17 Teenys Tour of PieTEENY’S TOUR OF PIE
    by Teeny Lamothe
    (2014)

    I read this book a few years ago (and reviewed it last November) and I just keep thinking about it! I love that Teeny wanted to be a lady pie baker and made her dream happen. This book is part cookbook and part memoir, one of my favorite kinds of books to read.

       

    And in case someone beat you to the punch checking these ones out, search for the following downloadable eBooks on Overdrive to ensure that you’ll always have access to a great book about pie.

    THE MAGIC OF MINI PIES by Abigail Gehring

    THE PIE PROJECT by Phoebe Wood

    PIE by Ken Haedrich

    GLUTEN-FREE & VEGAN PIE by Jennifer Katzinger 

    Also, don’t miss our Holiday Cooking display on the 2nd floor for more delicious cooking resources!

  • Cozy Fireplace Remote

    Post-Christmas blues? After the 25th, it can be hard to let go of the holidays. Here are a few not quite Christmas movies that still keep that December spirit alive.  

    1.7 The Lion the Witch and the WardrobeTHE CHRONICLES OF NARNIA: THE LION, THE WITCH, AND THE WARDROBE
    Directed by Andrew Adamson
    (2005)

    A great take on the C.S. Lewis book, the wintery setting (and the fact that Santa Claus actually shows up in this film) make it a great pick for Christmas. Though for most of the movie it’s “always winter, but never Christmas” there are plenty of festive characters to enjoy. So sit down with some turkish delight and enjoy this reimagining of an old classic. 

     

    1.7 While You Were SleepingWHILE YOU WERE SLEEPING
    Directed by Jon Turteltaub
    (1995)

    A romantic comedy, this film takes place actually takes place over several holidays. Sandra Bullock pretends to be the fiancee of the comatose man she saved, all while slowing falling for his brother. The fun family dynamics make this a great film to watch any time of the year. 

     

    1.7 Harry PotterHARRY POTTER AND THE SORCERER'S STONE
    Directed by Chris Columbus
    (2001)

    This movie takes place, of course, throughout an entire school year. But some of its most memorable scenes take place over the holiday break: from the delicious Christmas feasts, to Harry discovering his invisibility cloak and the Mirror of Erised. It also helps that television networks have made the movie a Christmas staple over the past few years. 

     

    1.7 Little WomenLITTLE WOMEN
    Directed by Gillian Armstrong
    (1994)

    Though this takes place over several years, its most enduring moments happen during Christmas. Enjoy this heartwarming, and sometimes heartbreaking, story of an American family as they experience life during and after the Civil War.

     
  • Were Thankful for You

    This blog has been a wonderful way for us to promote library resources and services, but today, in honor of Thanksgiving, I’d like to turn things around a bit. This year and every year, I’m grateful for the library patrons of all types who make the Provo Library the magical place that it is, including:

    SUPER PATRONS

    We have a few families and individuals who come to EVERYTHING – getting every last drop of use out of the library. They check out books every week, regularly ask for recommendations, meet every visiting author, attend almost every program, and fight to finish every last summer reading challenge. Library users like them are a librarian’s dream, and their familiar faces are always so welcome.

    DIGITAL USERS

    You don’t even have to enter the building to get great use out of our library. Some of our most dedicated patrons exclusively use digital resources like Libby and Lynda. Digital usage has gone up dramatically in recent years, and we’re so happy that people have found new ways to prioritize reading and information in this busy world.

    PEOPLE IN NEED OF A SAFE SPACE

    Kids looking for a place to hang out after school, stay-at-home parents who badly need a break from the house, low income patrons seeking a warm place to hang out and read or use the internet, elderly individuals wantinga  little extra help learning to use social media to connect with their families - these are some of our most regular visitors. We’re so thankful for the patrons of all types who feel welcome here, making libraries the beautifully democratic places that they are.

    THE MAIN ATTRACTIONS

    By the end of this year, we will have hosted 39 authors, 18 performing groups, and 14 learn-it instructors. Each of these individuals brought a diverse audience through our doors, and as staff we certainly can’t complain about being paid to attend their events!

    ROOM RENTERS

    Whether its businesses, families, motivational speakers, politicians, or oh so many brides and grooms, the people who rent our rooms for private events bring a special energy to the library. They fill the Academy side of the building with music, happy voices, flowers, delicious food smells (which regularly make me jealous), and sometimes even camels or bagpipers. They often introduce the library to people who have never been here before, but who end up coming back.

    VOLUNTEERS

    We have around 25 regular volunteers who help run our teen events, restock the book store, clean books and shelves, organize books for our ballroom book sales, assist with special events, teach computer classes, and so much more. We couldn’t accomplish all that we do without them.

    YOU!

    No matter which kind of library patron you are, thank you for your support. As much as we’d like to take credit, as staff, for how awesome the Provo Library is, this is your institution, not ours. Your participation, tax dollars, and love for this building and the information and entertainment it provides are what make it incredible. The people of Provo saved this building from the wrecking ball more than 20 years ago, and they keep it a vibrant, ever-evolving place today. You motivate us to be better, and we’re so grateful for you.