19 December 2011

Going Underground

Going Underground
Susan Vaught
young adult contemporary fiction

I might not be the most up to date on what teenagers are up to these days, but Susan Vaught is. I would not have even thought of the plot of this story. A 14 year old and his 13 year old girlfriend are understandably curious about sex. They engage in some petting and they take photographs of themselves naked. They then send the pictures over their cellular telephones to each other - sexting.
Because of a wrinkle in a state law, even though the children are close in age, the boy is charged with rape, and producing and distributing child pornography. He will also be labelled a sex offender for the rest of his life. He is not allowed to socialize with children and a number of other restrictions. Everything about his future seems to be restricted. The only adult that even gives him a chance is a drunken cemetery keeper!
The book certainly brings up a number of ethical questions about the way that well meaning representatives may pass laws that don't work out the way they intended.
I would not feel comfortable recommending this book to a 13 year old, but others might. I recommend that this book be on a college reading list for an ethics or law class. It also could be the subject of an adult book discussion or for a reading circle for parents of teenagers, especially if those parents, like I, have never given the idea of sexting a thought.

15 December 2011

Time in Between (Tiempo entro Conturas)

Time in Between
Tiempo entro Conturas)
Maria Duenas
translated by
Daniel Hahn
adult historical fiction

This book came to our library as an uncorrected proof, so I didn't know what to expect, except that it is a hefty 615 pages and has an interesting cover.
All I knew about the Spanish Civil War before reading this book is that it was some time between WWI and WWII and Ernest Hemingway was somehow involved in it or wrote about it.
This novel follows a poor/middle class working girl who is a seamstress like her mother before her. She does not know her father and when the Spanish Civil War breaks out, high fashion is not on anyone's top priority list. The mother and daughter are out of work and out of money. The mother finally contacts the daughter's father who is able to give them enough money for them to start anew in a fresh place. Sira, the daughter, is young and impressionable. She follows a man to Morocco where he bilks her out of all of her money, leaving her pregnant and bound for debtor's prison. As the novel progresses, Sira matures and encounters a number of historical figures in North Africa, Spain, and Portugal. There is romance, exotic places, intrigue, drama, times of poverty and times of plenty and looming above it all - war.
Of course, we are reminded of Casablanca. As a Star Wars fan, I am also reminded that George Lucas has often taken characters and place names from Jewish and African mythology and history. This novel is set in part in Tetouan, Morocco. Doesn't that sound a lot like Darth Vader and Luke Skywalker's home planet of Tatooine?
I enjoyed this novel very much. Now I want to travel to Spain and Morocco!
If you like this novel, you can read next "Dreamers of the Day" by Mary Doria Russell.


Will Hobbs
book on compact disc
Narrated by Ed Sala
children/young adult adventure fiction

An orphaned boy has troubles with foster parents and the group homes he has been in. He runs away from a detention facility and ends up in the middle of a desert area in the western U. S. There he befriends a biologist who is monitoring and nursing some California condors that have been released into the wild. An unlikely friendship forms. Of course, there have to be some bad guys, so there are two arms smugglers who want to use this desert wasteland as their storage facility and don't want any pesky kids or condors to ruin it for them. There is also some hanggliding.
Overall, it is a good adventure story. Ed Sala's voice lends mature, full narration.

12 December 2011

Fortune's Fool

Fortune's Fool
Mercedes Lackey
adult fantasy fiction
Book 3 in the 500 Kingdoms Series
read on my Kobo E-book reader

Oops. I didn't know I was skipping from book 1 to book 3 in a series, but in this case it worked out okay. The books are set in the same fantasy realm, but do not feature the same main characters. I think I only encountered one "spoiler" bit of information that must have happened in book 2.
This series that is based on twists in fairy tales features the Little Mermaid and a Seventh Son who fall in love. The conflict is not with their parents objecting or anything, but in their professions. The mermaid is a spy and in the Sea King's secret service. The Seventh Son of a (land) king is a rover who with his music pushes magical blessing on his father's kingdom. The mermaid and the prince must team up along with a variety of other Champions (dragons, an underground Queen, etc.) to rid the land of a maiden-stealing djinn (genie). How is that for a fantasy quest! Now all we need is some unicorns. Yes, there are unicorns!
Lackey's series is fun and a quick read for teens and adults. If you love Oz and/or Xanth, then you will aslo fall in love with the 500 Kingdoms.

30 November 2011


Where do books eat dinner?

At the table of contents.

29 November 2011

Don't Blame the Devil!

Don't Blame the Devil!
Pat G’Orge-Walker
Lizan Mitchell, narrator
adult humorous fictionhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif
African American fiction
Christian fiction

Hold on to your wig! You are in for a wild ride when Delilah DuPree comes your way! This sassy 60 something year old can be mistaken for Lena Horne in her looks and singing, but heaven help us when Delilah loses her temper. Through a series of bad choices Delilah is without a car and without a family. She encounters her ex-husband, her son, and her granddaughter through chance or is it God's providence?
Either way, they are wise to her devilish ways and cautious. Will Delilah have a happy ending or be cast off as a sinner? This audiobook is hilarious and earthy in its treatment of the modern Christian African American church and the narrator does a whiz-bang job of giving each character his or her own voice.

Quote from Dusty and Lefty

“Librarians, Dusty, possess a vast store of politeness. These are people who get asked regularly the dumbest questions on God's green earth. These people tolerate every kind of crank and eccentric and mouth breather there is.”
― Garrison Keillor, Dusty and Lefty, The Lives of Cowboys

Dusty and Lefty, The Lives of Cowboys
Garrison Keillor
adult fiction

Keillor does what he does best - blend homespun humor and tidbits of wisdom in telling American tales. The subjects of this collection of stories are two modern day cowboys - Dusty and Lefty - and their adventures with townfolk and other nuisances. For librarians, track number 6 is a "must listen" as Dusty and Lefty go undercover as librarians at the New York Public Library. Keillor uses positive and negative stereotypes to his humorous advantage.

Canada in Colours

Canada in Colours
Per-Henrik Gurth
board book, children's prose, ages 0-3

Happy cartoon animals and pretty landscapes show the colors of our neighbor to the north. Of course, these are Canadian animals - moose, bear, beaver, etc. It shows places like the prairies and the St. Lawrence and Prince Edward Islands.
For the places I had visited it was a nice reminder and for those I have not yet visited, it served as an inspiration to plan a trip. Hail, Canada! May your beauty last forever!
It seems that this book could be re-issued as a coloring book as well since the images are simple.

Three Cups of Deceit

Three Cups of Deceit
Jon Krakauer
adult nonfiction

Krakauer is one of my favorite adventure authors (up there with Will Hobbs, Gary Paulsen and Jack London). When I read "Three Cups of Tea" I thought of his writing. In this slim book (75 pages) Krakauer refutes the claims by Greg Mortenson that he was saved from death by Sherpas, that he build a number of schools, and more.
Although Krakauer acknowledges that Mortenson did some of the things he said, through interviews with the same people that Mortenon quoted and through investigative reporting, Krakauer tells (in the words of Paul Harvey) "the rest of the story".
Mortenson exaggerated or completely fabricated events to make his adventures sound more courageous and newsworthy. He also used money from his non-profit organization in ways that could be criticized by his donors. He ran (and continues to run) the Central Asian Institute as an erratic dictator. Maybe he has spent too much time around leaders who act badly.
That being said, both Mortenson and Krakauer write compelling works. We may have to re-classify Mortenson's as fiction, rather than nonfiction.

23 November 2011

Irish Folk Tales for Children & The Patchwork Quilt

Irish Folk Tales for Children
Sharon Kennedy
The Patchwork Quilt
by Sharon Kennedy
audiobooks for children of all ages

Both of these books on CD would be great for listening to in the car with family members of all ages. Sharon narrates a tale and there is music in the background during the time in between stories and for some special effects during the stories. The stories themselves are somewhat familiar, but this author has her own flair. I enjoyed the Irish tales more than the world stories on "The Patchwork Quilt". (After all, her name is KENNEDY and she does mention that her ancestors were Irish).
Ironically, it is "The Patchwork Quilt", not the "Irish Folk Tales" that was nominated for a Grammy award. Everyone is entitle to his or her own opinion. Mine is at odds with the committee.
With all of the stories I certainly didn't want to turn them off mid-story and had to listen to them in their entirety. Each story is 2 - 22 minutes long.
I have not spoken with anyone who has listened to this artist live, but based on the CD's I would hire her for my library program. She is out of Massachusetts.

12 November 2011

Muggles 1, Magic 0

“Harry Potter, he sends a message on Owl Mail while us poor old muggles have to make do with instantaneous emails and texting. Oh, if only we could be like you Harry Potter, with your four day owl delivery!”
― Craig Ferguson

09 November 2011

Princess and the Swineheard

Princess and the Swineheard
Hans Christian Andersen
Illustrated by Palle Bregnhoi
Children's fiction, ages 5-9.

Somewhere I saw a reference to this H. C. Andersen tale and I did not recall this story, so I checked out the one version that our library had in storage (copyright 1971).
The illustrations are woodcuts. The text is awkwardly translated, making it tricky for my 7 year old "test reader" to read out loud. At one point, some court ladies speak in French, which, again, was confusing for the 7 year old.
Here is the plot: A stuck up princess refuses the extravagant gifts of a suitor prince, so he disguises himself as a pig tender and sets about to charm her. She proves herself to be, indeed, snobby.
The tale is amusing as the pig boy gets the princess to kiss him, but I would recommend a differently translated and illustrated version.

17 October 2011

To the ends of the earth...

We may sit in our library and yet be in all the corners of the earth.
John Lubbock

13 October 2011

Deus ex machina

Deus ex machina

I just like this phrase. I will tease you with this phrase. At one point in the book "Ready Player One" this comes into play. I recently listened to the book on CD version of this with Wil Weaton as the narrator. He does a pretty good job, but I would have preferred a full cast recording with sound effects by the BBC Radio. Did you read that BBC? Get on that.

I was also thinking about the Percy Jackson series and how the gods sometimes tweak the outcome of events.

Titan's Curse (Percy Jackson & the Olympians Book 3)

Titan's Curse
Percy Jackson & the Olympians Book 3
Rick Riordan
children's fantasy fiction, ages 9-13

In the third book of the Percy Jackson tales new characters are introduced and others are out of the picture. I would say that they died, but in a fantasy series that features Hades and the Underworld, who can say that they are dead for real? Let's just say some characters "exeunt". There are some hints of future and past romances. Hard decisions are made about being on the side of the Olympic gods or on the side of Kronos who is gaining power. Obviously these actions are leading up to a dramatic finish in the last two books in the series - "Battle of the Labyrinth" and "The Last Olympian".

There are a bunch of gorgeous but deadly maidens who follow Artemis on the neverending hunt to extinguish monsters. I don't think there is anything wrong with using the word "huntresses", but the author calls them hunters. I think huntresses sounds better and is more accurate. Apollo delights in harassing them and his sister (Artemis) as brothers often do. It seems like the Artemis girls could have their own spin-off series.

This is a good read, but is obviously a "middle of the series" book. It would be confusing to read it without reading the other books in order.


23 September 2011

Sea of Monsters

Sea of Monsters: Percy Jackson & the Olympians Book Two
Rick Riordan
children's fantasy fiction, ages 9-14

This book follows up on the first book and the series is best read in order. Percy is a seventh grader with a few more problems than the average tween. Once again he is stuck in the middle of the bickering Greek gods' constant games with each other and with mortals.
Percy sticks with his friends from the first book and is challenged to see the good in some new friends (or are they enemies?) such as a cyclops. Riordan throws in a whole lot of action courtesy of Ares and the other gods and introduces some surprising anachronisms - how about enlisting some dead Confederate sailors in a quest? Why not?

I have already checked out the next book in the series ("The Titan's Curse") and a book of short stories about Percy Jackson ("The Demigod Files"). I am assuming that the second movie is somewhere in the works.

After I read what I have checked out, I might try a book from a different series by the same author just for a change-up.

Ten Tiny Babies

Ten Tiny Babies
Karen Katz
board book
children's fiction, ages 1-4

This book helps children learn to count to 10 by introducing a cast of 10 adorable tots one by one. I was a bit confused by the book at first because some of the words are big and some are little and over to the side. I skipped a few of the words and the book didn't make sense, then I realized my mistake.
In this case, though, do not judge the book on my opinion. There is a certain 2 1/2 year old that LOVES this book and asks for it all the time. When someone is not reading it to him he stares at the pictures. I think I will have to buy him his own copy. He adores these cherubic tykes and the caregivers who are pictured on the last page of the book and although the book does not say it, the boy always adds "Mommy and Daddy" to the words at the end of the book.
The happy children are dressed in playful colors and patterns and represent a rainbow of ethnic groups. I don't know if they are orphans in an orphanage or kids at a daycare center or an adopted family or what, but they all go to bed in the end in beds all lined up in a row like Disney's Seven Dwarfs.
I think I have read this book at least 20 times in the six weeks or so that I have had it checked out, so it has started to grow on me. It does have a pleasant rhyming scheme once it is read correctly.
It looks like Karen Katz has written quite a few books, so I will see if I can interest my patron in "Ten Tiny Tickles" by the same author as a change-up.
I thought it was somewhat presumptuous to label this book as "a classic board book", but now that I have read it a number of times, they are right. It does have the makings of a classic even though the book is only 3 years old.

Perfect Pony

Perfect Pony
Dandi Daley Mackall and Claudia Wolf
ages 5-7.

This is one in a series of books about horses and ponies meant for K-3 readers. The cover says "I Can Read! Reading with Help 2". After I read it, I checked our library's catalog and there is a book that is set before it about a horse named "Bob", but this story stands alone fine.
Dave gets a pony, Lily, for his birthday. Although Jen already has a horse, Bob, she is jealous. She soon realizes that both of them are happy with their mounts and there is no reason to be jealous.
This is a pleasant book with pleasing pictures and a moral about jealousy. It is published by Zonderkidz and it should appeal to Christian and non-Christian families and there are always those readers who can't get enough horse stories.
Maybe they should have chosen a more specific title like "Lily, the Perfect Pony" because I see more than one book with this title in my library's catalog.

Ready Player One

Ready Player One
Ernest Cline
adult or young adult science fiction

I received this book as an uncorrected proof after it had already been read by a few other librarians. I passed it on to a male who was born in Ohio in October, 1972.
I don't know where to start describing this book. I love, love, loved this book! After I read it, I checked out the book on CD to experience it once more with Wil Wheaton of Star Trek: The Next Generation fame as my audioguide. It is the perfect homage to a geeky childhood spent on playing an Atari 2600, programming a TRS-80, listening to MTV, watching sci fi movies, mastering D & D, and reading comic books circa 1977 - 1992. Nerds unite!
I will steal a quote from www.goodreads.com - "WOOT, WOOT and UBER WOOT".
I have to admit that this book probably has a limited target audience. The target reader of this book is a middle class male born in Middletown, Ohio in October 1972 as the book character James Halliday was. Readers who were born before 1962 or after 1982 or who were popular in high school will probably not get into this book.
Here is the plot: James Halliday, and some others, have created an escapist cyberreality entitled "The Oasis". Reality stinks since all of those nuclear bombs, economic crashes, environmental disasters, etc. happened before 2044. Nobody wants to be in the real world, so just about everyone hangs out online in "The Oasis". Halliday is old and eventually dies. In a Willy Wonka-type move, he wills his vast fortune, and control of his cyberworld to the most worthy heir - that is, the one who will love his 1980s nerdy life as much as he did.
Enter Wade, a.k.a. "Parzival", an empoverished 18 year old orphan who knows that "knowledge is power". Wade has spent the last 5 years of his life preparing for possibility that he might win Halliday's contest and his vast fortune. Will this underdog have his day or will it be "game over, man" for his dreams?
It is a fun book replete with American popular culture references.
Many people are wondering how soon it will be when it will be made into a movie. The author was also the writer of the movie "Fanboys" about a group of Star Wars fanatics on a quest so it is reasonable to believe that this might happen.
A bonus for Ohio readers is that Halliday is from Middletown, and the tech center of the world by 2044 is Columbus, Ohio where the players converge at one point in the book. Author Ernest Cline grew up in Ashland, Ohio.


Kent Haruf
adult fiction

I saw a list of books that Barack Obama has read since becoming President. Most of them were about history or economics, but then I saw this fiction book among the nonfiction books. I remembered that this book had been considered for our library's "One Community One Book" book as well, so it must have some kind of universal appeal. When I checked it out I also saw that it was a National Book Award finalist.
Those are impressive credentials, so I had high hopes for this book. It is a well written book, but in a quiet way. There are no car crashes or terrorists or murders, although there are some nasty school bullies.
The exact time period of when this is set is not mentioned, but it is probably in the 1970's or 1980's in rural Colorado. A few stories of people in the same small town overlap. There is the teacher whose wife is having a breakdown and is left with his two sons. There is another teacher who is trying to help a young, pregnant teenager. There are also the elderly bachelor brothers who I could not help but thinking of as, in the words of Garrison Keillor, "Norwegian bachelor farmers, so you know they're not only good for you, but also pure, mostly".
They are all trying to get through life as well as they can with the twists and turns that life sends them. They are everyday people in an average American town. You get the idea that they would all be pretty good neighbors to have. That is why the book is entitled "Plainsong". It is just another typical day in late 20th century America. If this book is overlooked in 2011, it might be worth re-reading in 2061 to see how America has changed or is the same.
Already, from the time period in which it is set to today, we can see that unwed mothers are more frequent, divorce is more commonplace, and telephone booths have gone the way of the telegraph.
One thing about the book that struck me right away is that, for some reason, the author has decided not to place any dialog in quotation marks. Why? Probably to keep the flow of the book going. As I said, it is a quiet book that flows like a tide going in and out. Each ebb and flow is the same, but not really. Each time it is slightly different. That's how life in America goes - new people, same old stories.
If I were a teacher I might have students "compare and contrast" this book and its setting and characters to "Our Town" or "Spoon River Anthology" or Keillor's "Lake Wobegon" world.
This book will probably appeal most to a middle-aged or older audience with more female than male readers, although the author is male and the number of male and female characters are fairly well balanced.

21 September 2011

Public Service Announcement

This Public Service Announcement is brought to you by Random House.

14 September 2011

Stolen Life: A Memoir

Stolen Life: A Memoir
Jaycee Dugard
adult autobiography

Jaycee was kidnapped by two strangers when she was 11 years old. Eighteen years later probation officers finally became suspicious enough of her captures to get her back home to her mother. Jaycee, now 30 years old, tells her own story. While she was held in a couple's back yard in two buildings she was tied up and raped for years and years as well as subjected to the husband's skewed view of the world. During that time she gave birth to two daughters who were also kept captive at times and allowed in the main house at times. They did not go to school except for occasionally working on worksheets which Jaycee was eventually allowed to download from the internet under the supervision of her kidnappers.
The book is simply written. Keep in mind that Jaycee only went to school until fifth grade. During much of her life in captivity she did have access to an occasional book, but much of her education was from watching television. She plainly states some of the horrors that were done to her and occasionally reflects on how they have affected her. Some questions are left unanswered as this is told from the victim's viewpoint. There are many things she did not know and may never know. She does not say how many years in prison her capturers received or a number of other facts that a reporter may included. I suppose that readers can turn to People magazine and other news venues for that information. There is definitely room for a sequel or another book written by a reporter telling the same story from different views - like the view of her mother or the police officers or the kidnappers. I see that my library also owns "Lost and Found" by John Glatt about this same case.
I read this book in a very short time. I can see that this will probably make its way to being on psychology and sociology reading lists as well as its current New York Times bestseller status.

Better than a Smart phone

Super - stache!


Is it sacrilege to put a mustache on Superman? You decide.

Free the Books!

This is similar to what our library is doing, but more charming. If you have books sitting around - free them up to give to someone else by posting it in a public place. I have seen groups do this (inside), but the "birdhouse" shaped mailbox/bookbox idea (for outdoor use)is new to me.


You may notice that many of these boxes are surrounded by snow. It did start in Wisconsin and Minnesota after all!

26 August 2011

Sit in a room and read—and read and read. And read the right books by the right people. Your mind is brought onto that level, and you have a nice, mild, slow-burning rapture all the time.”—Joseph Campbell

(Thank you to Debra Eisert for this quote).

19 August 2011

Lightning Thief

Lightning Thief: Percy Jackson & the Olympians Book 1
Rick Riordan
Children's Fiction, ages 9-13

I was not familiar with the Percy Jackson books when I went to see this movie in the theatre. I enjoyed the film then decided to read this book. I had seen it on a list of "If you have read Harry Potter books, then read..." books.
Twelve year old Percy Jackson knows that something is different about him. Sometimes things happen that don't make sense. Like Harrhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gify Potter, an event causes him to leave home and find a new residence with others of his kind. In this case, Percy is not a wizard but a demigod. He is the son of Poseidon. There are other "half bloods" like him at the demigod training camp.

From there he and his demigod friends have adventures. In this first book Percy and his friends must find out who stole Zeus' lightning bolt and make amends to stop the Greek gods from waging a war. A good blend of ancient Greek mythology and modern storytelling make this book highly readable for children, teens, and adults.

I look forward to the next book in the series - the Sea of Monsters.


Midnight Palace

Midnight Palace
Palacio de la Medianoche
Carlos Ruiz Zafon, translated by Lucia Graves
Young Adult Horror fiction

This author has had books on the New York Times bestseller list and has one a number of awards, but I found this book to be somewhat disjointed and at least a little confusing. Maybe this is because of the translation, but my guess is that this is not the author's finest work, either.
In 1916 Calcutta, a pair of twins are separated at birth to keep them safe from their father's foe who seeks to murder them. The boy is raised in an orphanage. The girl is raised by their grandmother on the run throughout India. Fast forward to 1932 when circumstances reunite the twins.
The menace still exists and starts to stalk the 16 year olds and the grandmother. As the tale progresses we find out about their father and his brilliant scientific mind and a tragedy that lead to the death of 365 orphans back in 1916. Through a curse, the ghost of their father's foe continues to incinerate parts of Calcutta as he exacts revenge on the family. The author points out that Calcutta is named for Kali, the black one, the goddess of destruction.
Some parts of this book were quite interesting, but it lacked in overall appeal.

Just a Guy

Just a Guy, Notes from a Blue Collar Life
Bill Engvall and Alan Eisenstock
narrated by Bill Engvall
adult audiobook

I was browsing the audiobook shelves when I came across this disc set. I had heard of the Blue Collar comedy tour, but only recognized Larry the Cable Guy as one of them. It turns out that this comic has been performing for more than 20 years and I have even seen a movie with him in it - Delta Farce.
This 5 disc set tells about Engvall's youth and early years of performing as a disc jockey, comedy host, then as a stand up comic. I did not find him to be uproariously funny, but I did find him to be a really good storyteller. I enjoyed hearing about his childhood antics, his wild college years, etc. I especially liked the parts about baseball. His love of the game comes through in the narration.
As he points out, he had a fairly normal childhood, so he paints a portrait of life of an American boy in the 1960's and a young man in the 1970's.
Some of the stories take a serious turn. He tells about how his wife almost died with a miscarriage. He plays this scene with the seriousness it deserves.
I would compare him to Garrison Keillor. He has some great all American stories to tell and relates them in such a way that the audience hangs on his words. I will listen to some more of his audiobooks when I get a chance.

Lump of Coal

Lump of Coal
Lemony Snicket and Brett Helquist
children's fiction, ages 8-11
or a short story for adult reading

This silly, very short Christmas book would be good to read out loud at a secular Christmas party - especially if everyone was at least a little tipsy. In typically sarcastic fashion Lemony Snicket spins a yarn.
The main character is a lump of coal who (like Thomas the Tank Engine) wants to be useful. He imagines being part of a barbecue or being used to make charcoal artwork. Can Santa Claus grant his wish? The plot takes some tangents and in the end, the coal and everyone else has a Merry Christmas.

10 August 2011

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings

I Know Why the Caged Bird Sings
Maya Angelou
adult autobiography

I had seen this book on a number of "must read" lists for years, but did not get around to reading it until just now. Marguerite Johnson and her brother are shuffled from their mother's house to their father's house to grandma's house and back a number of times while Marguerite and Bailey are growing up in the 1930's. Overall their childhood is poor and the Black folks keep away from White people. This book is an important look at how things were in America and how they are different today.

There are some not-so-nice scenes in this book which have landed it on the Banned Book list ever since it was published 40 years ago. Since it is an autobiography, these plot points are essential to the book.


I would like to know what conversation prompted this disclaimer in the front of a book in our library:

"This Book is manufactured in compliance with no known regulations, from materials which happened to be at hand; printed - in some cases not too well - from hand and machine-set types by letter-press and offset".

From the book "Stout and Allied Families" 2nd ed. by Herald F. Stout.

08 August 2011

Caillou: A Special Guest

Caillou: A Special Guest
Joceline Sanschagrin and Pierre Brignaud
board book
ages 3-5

Caillou is the 4 year old star of a PBS cartoon. In this adaptation, Uncle Felix comes to visit Caillou and his family. At first Caillou is scared of this new man, then he is jealous of the attention his Uncle receives, lastly, Caillou has come to like Uncle Felix as he spends time with him.

This gentle show and book series might help to prepare children for similar experiences in their young lives.

Other board books in this series are:
Bath Time
The Doctor
Where Is Teddy?
It's Mine! and
A Day at the Farm


Biblioburro: a True Story from Columbia
Jeanette Winter
children's nonfiction
ages 3-7

Luis Soriano is a teacher in Columbia with a love of books and reading. He is inspired one day to use his burros to start a book delivery service. It is not easy for Mr. Soriano or his students or patrons. Many years of war have left behind burned bridges, dangerous paths, and illiteracy, but he will not be deterred from his mission.

Best wishes, Mr. Soriano!

Before I read this book I saw the documentary on Public Television's "POV". This man is inspiring, but also a little nuts to take the risks he does to deliver books. God Bless you and keep you safe, Senor Soriano!

All the Way to America

All the Way to America: The Story of a Big Italian Family and a Little Shovel
Dan Yaccarino
children's nonfiction, ages 5-7

The author lovingly tells and illustrates the story of how his ancestors immigrated from Sorrento, Italy to New York City and how, through hard work and determination, his family achieved the American Dream.
I am adding this book to my bibliography of read-aloud stories about genealogy and oral history.

04 August 2011

“To love to read is to exchange hours of ennui for hours of delight.”—Charles de Montesquieu

27 July 2011

Rhapsody: Child of Blood

Rhapsody: Child of Blood
Elizabeth Haydon
adult fantasy fiction

I have read and enjoyed Elizabeth Haydon's later works about Ven Polypheme, the teenage dwarf, a series of books in our children's section so I was curious what would be the same and what would be different about her longer, earlier work for adults.
For one thing, this adult book is a hefty 479 pages long with maps and no interior pictures. It is more violent and includes sexual images which move it into the adult reader range. What is the same is the fantasy realm she has created, rich with elves, dwarves, ogres, humans, half breeds of these species, ghosts, demons, kings, queens, dragons, and more.
There are three main characters in this book - a half human half elf young woman, a half ogre half something-else warrior, and a half ogre half something-else assassin. These three are thrown together by fate and survive multiple attacks while building a friendship. Rhapsody was a runaway who was ill used and took to prostitution before becoming an apprentice singer. Grunthor is a hulk of a being, a splendid warrior with a heart of gold. Achmed is hard to get to know, a slim, taciturn killer for hire.
There is lots of adventure, some romance, and a whole lot of sword fights as our heroes fight off injustice and evil.
Here is a passage showing the kind of things the bad guys do:
"they [the good guys] were knocked off their feet by another explosion of dark fire that set the countless bookshelves aflame".
Here is the heroine's response:
"Rhapsody closed her eyes, and calmed her spirit. She concentrated on the fire. 'Be at peace,' she said. At once the flames responded, the bonfire fed by the books and scrolls died down to flickering embers".
OBVIOUSLY the one who saves the books is on the good side!

This is number one of a trilogy, so I will have to set aside two more weekends for books 2 and 3 in the series while I continue to wait for the latest Ven Polypheme book to be released.
2. Prophecy: Child of Earth
3. Destiny: Child of Sky

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies!

Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! Voices from a Medieval Village
Laura Amy Schlitz and a full cast of narrators
children/young adult fiction
audiobook on compact disc

An English village in the middle ages is the setting of this series of vignettes. In the introduction the author explains that she wanted to be able to get across the feel of the time to her students who might not be too fond of history class. Each monologue is a voice from the village. In between the sets are musical interludes and explanations. The book won the Newbery Medal but my guess is that is it even better as an audiobook.
The text, the voices, and the music all come together to form an excellent listening experience. I highly recommend this for middle school, high school, college, and public library collections. I hope that many teachers will discover this teaching tool.

James Herriot's Cat Stories

James Herriot's Cat Stories
read by
Christopher Timothy
book on cassette.

The plot:
Veterinarian James Herriot tells about some of the cats he encountered in his practice in rural England from the late 1930's to the 1960's. His world is warm and affectionate. His love of animals, and cats in particular, comes shining through. This is an audiobook to share with the whole family and I put it on my list of audiobooks to take along on a family car trip. (See my previous blog posting).

Timothy starred in the BBC television series "All Creatures Great and Small" based on James Herriot's books, so who better to perform this book on tape? He really nails the accents, the emotions, etc. of the people of the Yorkshire area who loved cats.

I listened to this as a book on cassette. I hope that it continues to be available to library patrons as a CD and electronic audiobook and I recommend this audiobook for all public libraries.

Hamilton Co. libraries face cuts, closings amid budget shortfall

Hamilton Co. libraries face cuts, closings amid budget shortfall

Go the F**k to Sleep

Go the F**k to Sleep
Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortes
adult fiction

This book hit the New York Times Advice Bestseller list. I am not so sure that it is an advice book, however. This book masquerades as a children's book, but woe unto any cataloger that accidentally places this in the children's section! (My library put it under Dewey # 818).
The plot is such: A father is trying to get his toddler to go to bed by reading a soothing bedtime story. We do not hear the child's arguments, but we hear the father's increasingly frustrated response to the child NOT going to sleep. The father tries and tries to get the child to sleep, but it doesn't take long before he starts cursing.
This would be a good gift book for a long time bachelor who finally settled down and became a dad or any other sleep deprived new parent with a gritty sense of humor.
Many parents will TOTALLY relate to the Dad who tries to be loving and patient, but is losing his cool.
The illustrations are quite good and show a number of representative children in pajamas who are NOT sleeping.
An interesting aside to this review is that you can hear a number of celebrities read this book on YouTube. Some of them are NOT the real celebrities, but people pretending to be the celebrities. As far as I can tell, these celebrity readings are real: Samuel L. Jackson and Werner Herzog.
Then I went off on a "Werner Herzog YouTube" sidetrack and found some funny renditions of a number of classic children's books by a Werner Herzog impersonator. They were quite funny. If it hasn't been taken down, listen to "Mike Mulligan" by (imposter) Werner Herzog.
Then if you want to have some real fun with other YouTube children's classic book parodies, try the Thomas the Tank Engine/Transformers mashup video and the sequel where Thomas and Friends come together as Voltron.

16 July 2011

Blue Hat, Green Hat

Blue Hat, Green Hat
Sandra Boynton
board book
ages 0-3

Sandra Boynton's comic art of animals teaches children about colors and names of articles of clothing while hamming it up. Various animals model different colors of clothing and the turkey shows us how NOT to wear our clothes - like socks on the hands and coats on backwards.

This is one of the most entertaining Boynton books I have read and one of the simplest. There are not very many words but the book is effective without them.

By the third time my audience encountered this book they knew what was going to happen next and enjoyed shouting it out.

I recommend this book for public libraries and bookmobiles that serve the youngest readers.

15 July 2011


Ed Heck
board book
ages 0-3

This cartoon book features two penguins who are painting with different colors on each page spread. One penguin is lazy and silly and one penguin is diligent. The two reminded me of Goofus and Gallant in Highlights magazine. Gallant always does stuff right and Goofus always takes a shortcut or does the wrong thing.
The last page features a pleasant surprise. Based on this humorous (and educational - it teaches colors) book I will read more Ed Heck books.
I recommend this book, and others by this author, for all public libraries.

It's What the Doctor Recommends!

Doctors in Washington state prescribe regular library visits

12 July 2011

Spot's Hide and Seek

Spot's Hide and Seek
Eric Hill
board book
ages 0-4

Spot is one cute puppy!

I have read other Spot books and they feature the same friends as this book does, but I did not know their names before.
Helen - the hippopotamus (or maybe she is a rhinoceros)
Steve - the monkey
Tom - the alligator

In this book, the other animals hide and Spot has to find them. A lot of giggling takes place.

Eric Hill has another winning book that I recommend for public libraries.

11 July 2011

“Reading is to the mind what exercise is to the body.” Sir Richard Steele

08 July 2011

Dewey the Library Cat

Dewey the Library Cat
Vicki Myron
juvenile nonfiction
audiobook read by Laura Hamilton
4 hours, 16 minutes


Dewey Readmore Books became one of the world's most famous cats as word spread from Spencer, Iowa around the world about this Working Cat. Dewey was the mascot and publicity department for a small town library for many years (1988-2006). He was affectionate, cute, patient, and everything you would want in a library cat (except for being a finicky eater). Like "Chicken Soup for the Soul" and "All Creatures Great and Small" this book has earned its place in the category of heartwarming books that can be enjoyed by children, young adults, and adults.