Okay, I admit it, I picked up another quick “summer read” over Labor Day weekend….nothing too taxing for my brain. I found All the SingFrom Katherine:
Okay, I admit it, I picked up another quick “summer read” over Labor Day weekend….nothing too taxing for my brain. I found All the Single Ladies on the adult New Book shelves and the cover image of the red and white life saver on a sea blue background caught my eye. I’ve read a couple of Frank’s other books and really enjoyed them, so I thought I’d indulge in one more chick lit title. Because I’ve been to the South Carolina low country and walked the beaches, I can easily picture the setting in my mind. The characters are also interesting, funny, and somewhat eccentric. The story is about three middle-aged women who form a bond after a friend dies of cancer. Lisa St. Clair is a caring nurse who struggles financially, is lonely socially, and worries about her grown daughter’s marijuana business venture in Colorado. She lovingly takes special care of her patient, Kathy Harper, and after she dies, Lisa becomes good friends with the two girlfriends always by Kathy’s bedside. Carrie is one sassy beautiful woman always flirting and looking for a new husband. Suzanne has inherited Kathy’s possessions and a mystery is involved as the three try and discover more about Kathy’s past. Supporting characters include the elderly, indomitable Miss Trudie and whose beach house where Suzanne lives provides a temporary home for Lisa who is booted out of her apartment by a greedy property owner. This ninety-nine year old lady is a hoot and dearly loved by her granddaughter, Suzanne. Lisa’s surprising new love interest, Paul, is a wonderful guy who gives Lisa a better perspective on dealing with her daughter, Marianne. And Harry is the director of the senior care facility where Lisa works. The lives of the characters intersect and the reader is left pondering friendship, marriage, loss of a child, and aging, just as the women in the novel are struggling with the same issues. This novel was an easy read that went down smoothly like a good mint julep enjoyed outside on the porch....more
Theodore Geisel, the real name of Dr. Seuss, passed away in La Jolla, California, in 1991, at the age of 87. He left behind a treasureFrom Katherine:
Theodore Geisel, the real name of Dr. Seuss, passed away in La Jolla, California, in 1991, at the age of 87. He left behind a treasure trove of beloved picture books and Beginner Books published by Random House. He wanted to make reading fun for children and succeeded mightily in that goal. Shortly after Ted died, his second wife, Audrey, found a box of his materials for future books–sketches, ideas, and snippets of humorous text, and the manuscript for what would become What Pet Should I Get? With the help of his former secretary and friend, Claudia Prescott, and Ted’s art director, Cathy Goldsmith at Random House, this latest picture book has seen the light of day. How wonderful is it that Ted’s creative stories and zany illustrations can delight a whole new generation of children! Ted was a perfectionist who wrote draft after draft of his stories. The editors for What Pet Should I Get? sometimes had to use their best judgement on which version would work best for this book published posthumously and believe that the good Dr. Seuss would be happy with the final results. The age-old question for many families is what kind of pet they want. In the story, we see Kay from The Cat in the Hat stories, and her brother in a pet store trying to choose a pet from the dozens of choices. Their father has given them money for one pet and their mother has told them to come home by noon, so the rush is on to select the best pet….But it’s so hard to choose between a dog, cat, fish, rabbit or a new kind of pet! The illustrations at the end of the book show the brother carrying home a basket on his head with two eyes peeking out from under the lid. The reader can decide for herself what pet the children decide to call their own. This book is shorter and less complicated than many of the Dr. Seuss books, but no less delightful. The large format picture book is one I am looking forward to sharing with preschoolers in a storytime about pets at my outreach sites or at Wednesday morning storytimes at the library. ICPL has ten new copies of What Pet Should I Get? for bedtime reading to your child or for a young reader to tackle on his own. Look for them on the New Picture Book shelves in the Children’s Room. You won’t be disappointed....more
The New York Times best-selling author, Karen Abbott, who wrote Sin in the Second City and American Rose, published another book that rFrom Katherine:
The New York Times best-selling author, Karen Abbott, who wrote Sin in the Second City and American Rose, published another book that readers will love. My Book Group read Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy for our September gathering. It was a great evening because we got to Skype with Abbott for about 30 minutes and she was just so funny and personable. We felt like she was right there with us having a great evening drinking a glass of wine and talking about her work of non-fiction that reads like a novel. The four heroines in the story, two Union supporters and two Confederate sympathizers, each made a unique contribution to the war effort. Young Belle Boyd shot a Union soldier in her home and became a spy for the Confederacy by using her feminine charm with soldiers on both sides of the war. Emma Edmonds disguised herself as a man and enlisted in the Union army as Frank Thompson while infiltrating enemy lines. The widow, Rose O’Neal Greenhow, had affairs with powerful politicians and then sent information she learned through her daughter to assist the rebel cause. And Elizabeth Van Lew, a rich spinster lady from Richmond who supported the Abolitionists, organized a spy ring with successful results. Each of their narratives is a true story based on the author’s meticulous research using primary source materials and interviews with the spies’ descendants. These four courageous women risked everything by becoming involved in espionage during the Civil War and yet we’ve never heard of them! For an unconventional angle to further understanding of this bloodiest of wars, take a look at Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War. The black and white photos and 3 maps add to the reader’s enjoyment of the text. For more information, go to Karen Abbott’s website: karenabbott.net. She would be a great addition to the 2016 Festival of Books authors....more
This book has lots of cute projects that start out “easy peasy” and work up to “more tricky”. The language is understandable, the illustratFrom Susan:
This book has lots of cute projects that start out “easy peasy” and work up to “more tricky”. The language is understandable, the illustrations really show each step in a clear way. I think using patterns can be intimidating to beginning sewers and the chapter on using patterns is very good and also explains how to copy patterns using dressmakers’ pattern paper — a must when using the full size patterns in the book!...more
Okay I admit it….I’m a Midwestern girl through and through. Born in Cleveland, moved to Chicago as a young child, then to Kansas City wFrom Katherine:
Okay I admit it….I’m a Midwestern girl through and through. Born in Cleveland, moved to Chicago as a young child, then to Kansas City where I grew up, then off to college in Columbia, Missouri, then to my first professional library job in Normal, Illinois (where I met my husband), next to Eau Claire, Wisconsin, where our two children were born, and finally to Coralville where our kids grew up (now 32 and 34 years old). The point is, I am proud of my Midwestern upbringing and the work ethic and sense of values inherent in being part of a friendly and down to earth region of the country. So I found the book, Primates of Park Avenue, quite a stretch in subject matter from what I can relate to as a woman, wife, and mother. The author has a PhD. from Yale and does writing and social research. Her background in anthropology is evident as she compares mommies who live on the Upper East Side to primates and to women from other countries. This book is a memoir about Martin’s life moving from downtown NYC to Park Avenue with her wealthy husband, a native of Manhattan. The customs and social life of the women in her uber rich neighborhood are absolutely foreign to me, and thus, very interesting and appalling at the same time. Trying to fit in as a new mom in a new neighborhood, wanting a good school for your son, and wanting to meet new friends are definitely things I understand; but the high society social climbing that apparently happens in the Upper East Side is something I’m glad I’ve never encountered in Iowa. Martin feels like a social outcast in her new lifestyle. The stress of getting a kindergartner into the best school in the city, wearing only designer clothes and carrying a Birkin bag, always being dressed to the nines whenever you leave the apartment to buy milk at the local store, taking Xanax to ward off a nervous breakdown, being snubbed when trying to set up a child’s playdate, owning a second home in the Hamptons, and vacationing in Vail are all discussed in this funny and erudite novel written from an interesting slant. The comparisons between mother baboons and mommies on Park Avenue is just amazing. Talk about looking at cultural mores and animal behavior in a whole new way! I didn’t want to put this book down. Hope you enjoy it as well!...more
This gorgeous new picture book is written by Fang Suzhen of Taiwan and illustrated by Sonja Danowski of Germany. In the story, a littleFrom Katherine:
This gorgeous new picture book is written by Fang Suzhen of Taiwan and illustrated by Sonja Danowski of Germany. In the story, a little boy, Xiao Le, and his mother travel by train to visit his maternal grandmother who is sick. At first the little preschooler is shy when he sees his grandmother in bed looking older than he remembered. Although he brought his truck to show her, Xiao Le isn’t ready to part with it yet. The adult reading this book to a child will understand quickly that Grandma is dying and this will be their last visit together. Little Xiao Le runs to get his mother’s help when Grandma needs some water. He pets her cat, Shadow, on the bed. While the mother goes outside to hang clothes in the yard, Grandma gets out of bed to enjoy some sunshine and play a game with the wood sorrel leaves outside with Xiao Le. The three enjoy tea in the garden and finally his grandmother goes back to bed to sleep and Xiao Le gives her his truck for company. Back home the little boy and his mother learn from Aunt Zhou that Grandma has “left Perfume Village and moved into heaven.” The loving comfort depicting the mother’s grief and her son’s concern is tender and realistic. What makes this book about death so special is the artwork. Danowski’s exquisite watercolor paintings are reminiscent of the artwork by Paul O. Zelinsky and Gennady Spirin. The illustrations are warm and gentle, and lovingly detailed. Capturing the Asian family so beautifully in the artwork gives us a very special book to share with youngsters who may have encountered a death in their own family. The quality of the book is also obvious in the heavy paper used. There is further information about the author and the illustrator at the back of the book. Gorgeous pictures and the touching text make for a wonderful picture book. Take note of this title; I loved it!...more
I Will Always Write Back is the true story of two lives changed by a letter. Caitlin wrote to Martin as part of an English assignment, cFrom Meredith:
I Will Always Write Back is the true story of two lives changed by a letter. Caitlin wrote to Martin as part of an English assignment, choosing Zimbabwe because she liked the name of the country. Her letter arrived with nine others, at a poor school with 50 students. Martin was lucky enough to receive one because he was the top student.
Caitlin and Martin had very little in common, but somehow they struck up a friendship that transcended their differences, eventually changing both of their lives. I Will Always Write Back is a great story of generosity, inner strength, and friendship. I could not put it down, finishing it in one afternoon.
I Will Always Write Back is cataloged as for ages 12 and up, but I see it as one of those books everyone should read, no matter if you are 15 or 50. It will make you smile, make you cry, and make you better for having experienced how truly amazing people can be....more
Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll’s new graphic novel, Baba Yaga’s Assistant, is absolutely stunning. McCoola’s debut is part fan fiction, pFrom Casey:
Marika McCoola and Emily Carroll’s new graphic novel, Baba Yaga’s Assistant, is absolutely stunning. McCoola’s debut is part fan fiction, part retelling, taking pieces from the traditional tale and spinning well known characters and tropes into an entirely new story. Emily Carroll, per usual, delivers fantastic illustrations to accompany McCoola’s devourable text.
Baba Yaga is everything a reader could want in a spin off. Featuring strong female characters, Baba Yaga has just the right amount of spookiness to keep the pages turning yet ends up surprisingly heartfelt and uplifting.
This is definitely a must read for anyone who likes fairy tales, or who is a fan of Emily Carroll’s graphic novel, Through the Woods. Marika McCoola is an author to watch, and I am hoping to see this team pair up again for more retellings in the future. ...more
I will grant that I am a little tardy to the party on this book as it originally came out back in 2002, but it was recently adapted intoFrom Frances:
I will grant that I am a little tardy to the party on this book as it originally came out back in 2002, but it was recently adapted into a film directed by Marielle Heller starring Bel Powley in the titular role, but also Kristin Wiig and Alexander Skarsgard. Besides being excited for the movie because it was playing at Iowa City’s own FilmScene, the director of the movie AND the author of the book were interviewed on NPR’s Fresh Air. Being the library worker such that I am I figured I must read the book first.
I was quite glad that I did as I found it to be one of the most honest portrayals of life as a teenage girl just as the title suggests. It was painfully honest even. Warning to those that maybe more sensitive than others: this book is pretty scandalous on every front. Language, sex, drugs are all present along with a healthy dose of what is often termed “age inappropriate content”. Another of Gloeckner’s graphic novels, A Child’s Life and Other Stories, was banned from the public library in Stockton, CA in fact. However in belated celebration of banned books week I recommend checking out the Diary of a Teenage Girl. It is truly an unforgettable read!
As to the visual content, this book really is more of a novel than a graphic novel, but what art there is reminds the reader of one of Gloeckner’s big influences, R. Crumb. ...more
This cookbook is so much fun to read, and the recipes are mostly pretty simple. I’ve never cooked a whole chicken or made my own broth:From Heidi K.:
This cookbook is so much fun to read, and the recipes are mostly pretty simple. I’ve never cooked a whole chicken or made my own broth: after reading this book I now feel confident enough to do both. Also, the photography is a visual gift: Before each recipe is a photo of all the ingredients needed to make it. This visual guide is so helpful to figuring out at a glance whether I have what I need for a recipe or not. Recipe highlights include Pork Chops with Stone Fruit Slaw, Jicama Slaw (because I am slaw-obsessed), Cauliflower ‘Rice’, Sesame Shitake Broccoli, and Moroccan Shepherd’s Pie....more
I have used this cookbook the longest and can vouch for the deliciousness of many recipes herein! I love the egg muffin recipe for makinFrom Heidi K.:
I have used this cookbook the longest and can vouch for the deliciousness of many recipes herein! I love the egg muffin recipe for making ahead for quick breakfasts. My favorite salad recipe in this book is the Wild Tuna, Orange, and Parsley Salad. Runner up favorite recipe is the simple and amazing Chicken, Celeriac, and Mustard Salad Wrap. I had never previously eaten celeriac (celery root), and now I consider it my favorite slaw veggie! The coconut crepe recipe in the cookbook is an amazing Naan substitute for Indian food or a good wrHomegrown Paleoap-maker...more
I first read on On the Beach (1957) by Nevil Shute when I was a teenager. It was still the Cold War and as a fan of Tom Clancy, I thought “AFrom Mimi:
I first read on On the Beach (1957) by Nevil Shute when I was a teenager. It was still the Cold War and as a fan of Tom Clancy, I thought “Aha! Here’s what happens if Jack Ryan does not save the day.” After World War III, the radioactive fallout has not yet reached Australia but it’s on the way. The survivors know they only have months to live and act accordingly. I highly recommend this book as own it and have read it multiple times since then....more
This is a short story of revenge mixed with wine – one that rarely ends well. It’s told from the viewpoint of the “villain” who is specificFrom Mimi:
This is a short story of revenge mixed with wine – one that rarely ends well. It’s told from the viewpoint of the “villain” who is specific with many details except for a definitive reason for his grievance. The ending is not nice but what really gives me the chills are the false displays of friendship....more
Emily Flake’s Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting hilariously pokes fun at experiences of expectant and fFrom Melody:
Emily Flake’s Mama Tried: Dispatches from the Seamy Underbelly of Modern Parenting hilariously pokes fun at experiences of expectant and first-time parents, particularly those of women who established careers and were fully independent thinkers before deciding to start a family.
At eight months pregnant myself, I peeled through the first third of her book, howling with laughter every few pages or so. I can identify with dealing with “swole” feet and eating cookies to make the baby kick (and just to eat cookies). This book was much needed comic relief for my final stretch as a pregnant lady.
As a parenting memoir from a New Yorker cartoonist, Emily Flake’s new book is best for new parents. It’s reminiscent in style to Roz Chast’s Can’t we talk about something more pleasant?, so if you love graphic novel memoirs, you might also want to give it a try. But unlike Roz Chast’s book, it’s got next to no press so it’s still a hidden gem at the moment. This book was published about a month ago and I had not heard of it before it came through on my cataloging cart. ...more
This is the story of nine-year-old Alfie Summerfield who remembers that it was on his fifth birthday when the fighting started, and the warFrom Nancy:
This is the story of nine-year-old Alfie Summerfield who remembers that it was on his fifth birthday when the fighting started, and the war still shows no sign of coming to an end. Living in London, Alfie is a resourceful young boy who finds a way to make money to help the family. He also finds clues to the fate of his soldier father who he has not heard from in a long time. This book deals with some complicated themes of war, but in a story suited for upper elementary readers. A neighborhood friend is a conscientious objector to the war, and Alfie finally finds his father in a mental hospital suffering from shell shock. I think the author does a good job of showing the effect of war on a variety of people. Maybe things work out a little too smoothly in the end for adults to easily accept, but it could happen that way....more
Nothing cheers up a room or warms the heart (and hands) like a crackling fire. And the chopping of wood, the stacking of a woodpile, and theFrom Anne:
Nothing cheers up a room or warms the heart (and hands) like a crackling fire. And the chopping of wood, the stacking of a woodpile, and the building of a fire all bring one a great sense of accomplishment. But you are probably doing it all wrong, and just in time for fireplace season, Norway is here to help.
Lars Mytting’s Norwegian Wood: Chopping, Stacking, and Drying Wood the Scandinavian Way was recently translated into English. This is the definitive firewood book in Norway, spending almost two years on the nation’s bestseller list and inspiring a television program, “National Firewood Night.” Of course, this book is filled with practical information: the best trees for firewood, the correct age of a tree for felling, as well as different splitting techniques. But there is also the philosophical, such as thoughts on the relationship between man and fire and if your woodpile says something about your character. The whole book, such length on such a topic as firewood, seems a little particular. But it is also sort of beautiful too. Mytting is passionate about fires and this book is definitely a labor of love. And why wouldn’t Norwegians take firewood seriously? In Lillehammer, the average temperature in January is 16 degrees Fahrenheit.
Mytting writes, “Here it comes. The cold time. The great time…Winter’s here.” Norwegians are not the only ones who experience “the cold time.” Remember, on December 1st of last year, there was a high of 15 degrees. But we get through it. And if you would like to build the perfect fire to help you through “the great time,” Norwegian Wood will coach you through it from the right tree to the best wood stove. Norwegian Wood will also help you through any winter, as any of Murakami’s novels are good company for trying times....more
Earlier this month, the Library fielded a team for the Police Dodgeball Tournament to help raise money for the Special Olympics. Our team,From Rachel:
Earlier this month, the Library fielded a team for the Police Dodgeball Tournament to help raise money for the Special Olympics. Our team, The Artful Dodgers, had a lot of fun. Games were won and lost, and at the end of the day we brought in $400 to go towards helping athletes compete in the Special Olympics by paying for uniforms, training and hotel rooms, among other things.
As team captain, I wanted to learn more about the Special Olympics, especially the history of the organization. As it happens, there’s a fascinating new book at the library, Rosemary: The Hidden Kennedy Daughter by Kate Clifford Larson, about the life of Rosemary Kennedy, sister of Eunice Kennedy Shriver, who helped found the Special Olympics.
Rosemary Kennedy was the third child of Joseph Kennedy, Sr. and Rose Fitzgerald. Problems during her birth caused Rosemary to be deprived of oxygen for a prolonged period of time, which lead to her having intellectual disabilities. As a young child, Rosemary was sent to special schools, but as Larson recounts through Rosemary’s own letters and notes, she struggled to fit in with her family and please her parents. As she grew older she began to act out, sometimes violently, and so a a decision was made to have Rosemary undergo a new kind of medical procedure called a lobotomy, with the hopes that it would help calm her moods. The procedure was a disaster and left Rosemary permanently disabled. She was placed in an institution in Wisconsin and remained there for decades.
The one bright spot in this story is how Rosemary’s younger sister Eunice became inspired by her sister’s tragic life and became an advocate for children’s health and disability issues. Eunice lobbied her father and her bother, then President Kennedy, to fund research and establish the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. In 1962 Eunice founded Camp Shriver, which eventually evolved into the Special Olympics.
Today, more than 4 million athletes are involved in Special Olympics sports training and competition in 180 countries. Programs are offered free of charge, so fundraising events, like the dodgeball tournament, are crucial for helping Special Olympians attend the games and compete....more
I am currently reading Sarah Vowell’s latest book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, which now has added relevance in light of the saFrom Anne:
I am currently reading Sarah Vowell’s latest book, Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, which now has added relevance in light of the sad news from Paris. In a statement yesterday, President Obama said, “France is our oldest ally. The French people have stood shoulder to shoulder with the United States time and again.” And Lafayette’s shoulders were the first in this friendship; they were right there next to George Washington.
In Lafayette in the Somewhat United States, Vowell focuses on Lafayette’s time in the Continental Army starting with how he got there. Lafayette, a French aristocrat, wasn’t even 20-years old when he embarked to America and had to trick his family and King Louis XVI to make the journey. He pretty much ran away. Before setting sail across the Atlantic, he went back to apologize when he heard how angry everyone was, but he wasn’t really sorry. He then “disguised himself in a courier’s get-up, made a U-turn for Spain, and sweet-talked an innkeeper’s daughter he had flirted with en route to point his trackers in the wrong direction.” Why would he do all this? It was a mix of identifying with the American cause and looking for adventure.
Vowell argues that Lafayette came to the colonies thinking he would find a united army fighting for a common cause. This assumption was far from the truth. Congress couldn’t agree on who should run the Continental Army, much less on how to pay to supply the army. The troops were in shambles, barely trained and without shoes or clothing. And there was a great deal of in-fighting among Washington’s staff. But Lafayette found a place for himself, so much so that the only thing Americans could agree on was Lafayette. He became a beloved national hero, even though he wasn’t our “national.”
Like always, Vowell is very funny. Her writing blends her love of the subject, personal anecdotes of her research process, and of course, sarcasm....more
I read a fun new book to my 4 year-old last week called Dory Fanstasmagory. Dory is sort of a cross between young Romona Beezus and Calvin.From Brent:
I read a fun new book to my 4 year-old last week called Dory Fanstasmagory. Dory is sort of a cross between young Romona Beezus and Calvin. Her nickname is Rascal for good reason. She drives her older siblings and parents absolutely crazy but its very fun to read about. Dory is at the point where she is having trouble letting go of her fantasy world. Her fairly godmother is Mr. Nuggy who looks (to me at least) like a small bearded gnome and is always reachable by banana phone.
The story is narrated by Dory so you can totally sympathize what it’s like to be the youngest member of the family. But you can also sympathize with the parents. At one point, Dory asks Mr. Nuggy to turn her into a puppy (named Chickenbone). Dory finds that she can’t turn herself back into a girl before going to the doctor.
We both enjoyed it very much. And there is a sequel: When Dory starts school and finally makes a non-imaginary friend, everyone is skeptical that the friend exists....more