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Norse Gods and Fairy Curses: New Books for Older Readers

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard by Rick Riordan
magnus chaseMagnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers. One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he barely knows-a man his mother claimed was dangerous. Uncle Randolph tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god. The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. For anyone who loved Percy Jackson and the Olympians, the Kane Chronicles, or the Heroes of Olympus, this series is sure to please. (ages 10-14)

Nightbird by Alice Hoffman
NightbirdTwig lives in Sidwell, where people whisper that fairy tales are real. After all, her town is rumored to hide a monster. And two hundred years ago, a witch placed a curse on Twig’s family that was meant to last forever. But this summer, everything will change when the red moon rises. It’s time to break the spell. This book is about how love and friendship empower a lonely girl to embrace her uniqueness and discover her strengths. (ages 10-13)

Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
Crenshaw_FinalJackson and his family have fallen on hard times. There’s no more money for rent. And not much for food, either. His parents, his little sister, and their dog may have to live in their minivan. Again. Crenshaw is a cat. He’s large, he’s outspoken, and he’s imaginary. He has come back into Jackson’s life to help him. But is an imaginary friend enough to save this family from losing everything? Beloved author Katherine Applegate proves in unexpected ways that friends matter, whether real or imaginary. (ages 8-12)

The Sign of the Cat by Lynne Jonell
51YXXKU5g+L._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_Duncan is very smart and does very well in school. He also has a most unusual gift. He can talk to cats. However, more than anything, Duncan longs for academic success. A perfect score along with his unusual talents give him unwanted attention from some untrustworthy characters. This book contains adventure, talking cats, a missing princess, sword fights and secret identities, all set on the high seas. (ages 8-12)


Great New Graphic Novels

Awkward by Svetlana Chmakova
First days at school are awkward. But Penelope didn’t expect the whole year to be awkward! When she trips on the first day and science nerd Jaime helps, she anxiously pushes him when bullies jeer romance. Now she sweats bullets and avoids Jaime at all costs. If that wasn’t bad enough, now their clubs are feuding! Penelope will learn what it takes to face Jaime and her imploding fears. Some readers will empathize with Penelope’s blushing moments, while others may find her brutal insecurity irksome. Nonetheless, this is a great recommendation for Telgemeier fans looking for more comics on middle school growing pains. (ages 10-14)

Secret Coders by Gene Luen Yang
secret codersTotally relevant to today’s young coders, this short graphic novel follows the story of tenacious Hopper and her friend Eni. Hopper and Eni are suspicious of Stately Academy. The janitor is secretive, the number 9 appears everywhere, and the birds have shifting eyes. When they find a robot on campus, they discover they can manipulate him with code. Will these two coders crack school enigmas, or will they meet their demise? This fun comic is the first of a series, and ends with a mighty cliff hanger. While light on plot and character development compared to Yang’s wonderful American Born Chinese, this one is both educational and relevant to modern computer culture. (ages 8-12)

Fable Comics edited by Chris Duffy
fable comicsFable Comics presents a kaleidoscope of graphic artists retelling Aesop’s Fables to appeal to youth. Like their classic origins, these pieces are short, anthropomorphic, and conclude with lessons that tickle or sting. Because each artist was given liberty to enhance or tweak the story, this collection is refreshing. One favorite is “Fox & Crow,” which is minimalist in text and ethereal in foggy pastels. These graphic Aesop’s Fables do the originals justice. (ages 6-12)

Little Robot by Ben Hatke
little robotLittle Robot may be my favorite graphic novel of 2015 for its charming illustrations and tender plot. Living in a trailer park, a young girl spends lonely days rummaging the nearby junk yard and relishing scenery. Her solitude is interrupted when she befriends a lost little robot. While she teaches him the ways of the world, danger looms from a nearby factory. Will their friendship persevere through maniacal robots, their differences, and new friends? With wide appeal, this graphic novel is sweet, meaningful, adventurous, and out of this world. The art takes the lead, and the text is sparse. Fans of Bone and Shaun Tan alike will relish this. (ages 6-12)


Nighttime Tales: New Books for Younger Readers

Edmond, the Moonlit Party by Astrid Desbordes, illustrated by Marc Boutavant
edmondEdmond the squirrel is very good at making pompom hats and jam and is usually happy to stay in and go to bed early. But on the night of his downstairs neighbor Harry’s party, Edmond realizes he is lonely. The smell of nut jam leads Edmond’s upstairs neighbor George Owl to his door. After some persuasion Edmond agrees to attend the party with Owl, where he discovers he likes making friends after all. This story of three friends brought together with the help of some nut jam is at times meandering, but is saved by the lively, charming illustrations. (ages 4-8)

The Fun Book of Scary Stuff by Emily Jenkins, illustrated by Hyewon Yum
scarystuffAfter a little boy reluctantly reveals his worst fears to his pet dogs, they begin a discussion about why he is scared of each thing. One of his dogs easily disproves each of his fears, both real and imaginary, until they come to the scariest one of all: the dark. The boy has a simple solution for tackling their fear of the dark; you can turn on a light! While The Fun Book of Scary Stuff is a great choice to help children learn that everyone gets scared sometimes, it is also just downright fun! (ages 3-7)

Thank You and Good Night by Patrick McDonnell
thankyou and good nightAward-winning artist Patrick McDonnell brings us a bedtime story inspired by classic tales with Thank You and Good Night. In this sweet story, three friends have fun jumping on the bed, playing hide and seek, and eating a snack at a sleepover. After a little girl reads them stories they express gratitude for all the simple, wonderful things that happened during the day. (ages 3-6)

Black Cat, White Cat by Silvia Borando
blackcat whitecatA black cat who only goes out during the day wonders what the night is like, while a white cat who only goes out at night wonders what the day is like. When the two cats set out to explore they happen to meet and show each other what the other has been missing. The stylish graphic design, cuddly cats, and surprise ending are sure to make this unusual tale of opposites a new family favorite. (ages 3-6)

-Sarah Beth

If You Like I Survived…

Do you love the I Survived… series by Lauren Tarshis? We do, too, and we’re looking forward to the next book in the series: I Survived… The Hindenburg Disaster, 1937, which is coming out in February. If you’ve gobbled up all the other books and need something to read until we get the next one in, check out some of the books listed below. Some are realistic; some aren’t. Some are fiction; some are non-fiction. All are adventurous, fast-paced, and as fun to read as the I Survived… books. Enjoy!

poison islandThe Absent Author by Ron Roy (A to Z Mysteries series)

Dinosaurs Before Dark by Mary Pope Osborne (The Magic Tree House series)

Escape of the Deadly Dinosaur: USA by Elizabeth Singer Hunt (Secret Agent Jack Stalwart series)

Ferno the Fire Dragon by Adam Blade (Beast Quest series)

The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan (The 39 Clues series, by various authors)

Poison Island by H. I. Larry (Zac Power series)

jungleCan You Survive the Jungle: An Interactive Survival Adventure by Matt Doeden (You Choose Survival series)

I Survived True Stories: Five Epic Disasters by Lauren Tarshis (I Survived True Stories series)

What Was D-Day? by Patricia Brennan Demuth (and other books in the What Is, What Was, Who Is or Who Was… series)

Weird But True series by National Geographic


October Programming Wrap-up

The Children’s Room was bustling with activity this month! October is a perfect month to offer four-week series for kids because it’s long and free of vacations. We’ll offer these same programs in March as well, so if you missed these series, watch for flyers coming home from school in February.

Jump & Dance with Jaime Currier
photo(3)Thirty children ages 2 to 5 and their caregivers came each Monday morning to jump, dance and sing with musician Jaime Currier. Jaime plays the ukulele and each week, took the kids on an adventure as she sang. They visited the beach, swam with a slippery fish, cleaned up the beach, and then headed to the farm to meet all the animals the kids could suggest. Jaime loved watching the toddlers gain confidence and become more comfortable each week. By the last class, they were all surrounding her and singing, clapping, and dancing along.

Stories & Science for Kindergartners
image1Twenty-five kindergartners became scientists for the afternoon each Thursday in October. They learned about magnets, the body, mushrooms, and the weather. For the first time, we brought in a mycologist, or mushroom expert, and the kids learned all about mushrooms and made their own mushroom kits to bring home. Kids and parents were also given a handout with ideas for experiments to do at home to keep the discussion going about these topics.

Picture Books & More: High-flying Fun!
1327Fifty first and second graders came to the library on Tuesdays and Wednesdays to listen to stories, make crafts, and have yummy snacks — all connected to the theme of High Flying Fun! Kids decorated twirly spiral dragons and rockets, made alien space crafts, created hot air balloons with zentangle designs, and folded paper airplanes that flew like jets.

November won’t be quite as busy, but we do have some exciting programs coming up. On November 6, we’ll have our Day of the Dead/Dia de Los Muertos celebration, and Books & Bites Book Club for 4th & 5th graders will meet. The Charged Particles Jazz Ensemble will be performing in the Main Reading Room on November 8, and local author/poet Karen Benke will be here on November 12 leading a workshop with her new book Write Back Soon! Adventures in Letter Writing. We’ll also have movies in the afternoons of November 23 and 24, and Lego Play Day on November 25 during Thanksgiving Break. Check out our web site for more information about all these events. Some require registration.


Exciting and Scary: New Books for Older Readers

Shadows of Sherwood: A Robyn Hoodlum Adventure  by Kekla Magoon
shadows of sherwoodRobyn Loxly returns home after a night of adventuring to find her house ransacked and her parents missing, taken – or worse – by the new sheriff of Nott City. She flees to Sherwood Forest and comes to learn just how awful the new regime is. In a story full of heists, intrigue, and adventure, this twelve-year-old girl and her new friends must decide whether to fend for themselves or selflessly use their knowledge to fight back, together. With a mixed-race protagonist and futuristic setting, this is a fresh take on the Robin Hood story, and a good suggestion for tweens who want to read dystopian fiction. (ages 10-14)

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams Garcia
gone_crazy_in_alabamaIn the third and final book in the excellent Gaither Sisters trilogy, Delphine, Vonetta and Fern head south to spend the summer with Big Ma and the rest of their clan. Among their own sisterly bickering, they get stuck in the middle of their great grandmother’s feud with her sister across the way. The girls quickly find that southern life isn’t much like the Jackson 5-filled Brooklyn of P.S. Be Eleven or the Black Panthers’ Oakland of One Crazy Summer (which won a Newbery Honor in 2011), and the Power to the People they’ve learned doesn’t play well down South. But families torn apart can sometimes be stitched back together. (ages 8-12)

Masterminds by Gordon Korman
Masterminds cSerenity, New Mexico, is the perfect town. It is crime-free, honest and serene, and everyone is happy and continually reminded of how wonderful their lives are. When 13-year-old Eli and his friend Randy decide to bike past the town limits to see a run-down vintage car, Eli gets violently ill and is rescued by the local police in their helicopter. Soon after, Randy is sent to live with his grandparents. But he leaves a note behind, tipping Eli to the fact that “something screwy” is going on in their paradise. With each chapter told in the voice of one of five children in the town, the mystery unfolds as they put together the pieces of this bizarre life they are living. (ages 8-12)

The Nest by Kenneth Oppel
thenestOppel, author of the wonderful and award-winning Airborn adventure series, takes a turn for the frightening with The Nest. Big brother Steve dreams of angels who appear in the form of wasps and offer to fix, really fix, the family’s new baby, who has a congenital disorder. All Steve has to do is say yes, and who wouldn’t say yes to perfection? But what is he really agreeing to? This fantastic story shows the reality of living with anxiety and familial distress, and adds a chilling twist. (ages 8-12)


Ninjas, Ghosts, and… Bacon? New Books for Younger Readers

Everyone Loves Bacon by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Eric Wright
baconEveryone loves Bacon! You’d be crazy not to, especially since Bacon tells jokes, plays the ukulele and smells super good. Egg loves him, Waffle loves him, and now the world loves him. Since Bacon has risen to stardom, he doesn’t give two cents about his old friends. Will Bacon know what’s coming for him, or will his narcissism distract him from his dangerously delicious fate? This candid book will crack kids up at story time. The conclusion bites with the satire of a nostalgic Aesop’s Fable. Everyone Loves Bacon will entertain all ages and teach kids to keep their egos in check. (ages 3-6)

Leo: A Ghost Story by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Christian Robinson
leoLeo is a ghost, and unfortunately no one can see him. When a family moves into his home, Leo eagerly prepares tea and toast. Turns out that the family is not keen on floating tea and a “haunted house.” Leo is compelled to wander the city instead, where he meets a little girl with a big imagination. Not only can she see Leo, she knights him as her new imaginary friend! Will Leo’s new friend accept him for who he actually is? This big-hearted picture book teaches about intolerance and the value of an open mind. Various pastel blues give the story an inviting ghostly aura. Since Leo is so lovable, this would be ideal for a spooky story time intended to be more cute than scary. (ages 5-8)

Sidewalk Flowers by JonArno Lawson, illustrated by Sydney Smith
sidewalk flowersIt seems like an ordinary day in the city. A little girl follows her papa home from market. But in quiet corners and overlooked sidewalks, the little girl finds wildflowers growing in the cement, like magic. As she plucks and gifts them to city strangers along the way, her habitual walk transforms into an ode to quiet beauty and small gestures. This wordless picture book captures the reader with its strategic placement of panels, full page illustrations, and use of color. The book begins with thick lines of black and white, and as the story progresses, key moments are highlighted with bits of color. The reader feels transformed at the end when the pages burst with color. This is a great book for kids to read before bed time. (ages 4-7)

Little Kunoichi: The Ninja Girl by Sanae Ishida
kunoichiLittle Kunoichi is a ninja-in-training who is failing miserably in ninja school. As she weeps in the forest she hears a “YAH! HAH!” Over yonder is Chibi Samurai, a little samurai-in-training who trains like crazy, and teaches Little Kunoichi what it means to shugyo. Will the two pupils shugyo in time for the Island Festival? Although the story is sporadic, this is still an endearing book that is worth spending time with. Ishida uses watercolor to create detailed landscapes and cute characters, which is breath taking. Little Kunoichi is a fun introduction to Japanese words and concepts, plus, who doesn’t love ninjas? (ages 3-7)


Fairy Tales for Modern Readers

In the world of juvenile and young adult literature there has been an upsurge in the popularity of classic fairy tales revised into novel form. These revised works can include fuller plots, changed settings and characters, and even combinations of multiple tales. Modern retellings of fairy tales can be found across genres, with some remaining very similar to traditional tales while others are completely transformed.

For contemporary magical realism…

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy by Karen Foxlee
ophelia-and-the-marv-boyWhen Ophelia discovers a mysterious locked door in her father’s museum she becomes determined to free the boy inside who has been kept prisoner by the evil Snow Queen. The modern day setting mixed with magical elements from the T​he Snow Queen​made this title an interesting and popular choice for our 4th and 5th grade book club.

The Sisters Grimm series by Michael Buckley
fairytale detectivesThis series follows the adventures of the Grimm sisters, the newest fairy tale detectives in Ferryport Landing who are responsible for keeping a dangerous group of Everafters from wreaking havoc on the world. The Fairy Tale Detectives is the first title in the series and follows Sabrina and Daphne Grimm on their first case.

The Land of Stories​ series by Chris Colfer
wishingspellThe first book in the series, The Wishing Spell​, introduces readers to twins Alex and Conner Bailey shortly after the death of their father. Alex seeks comfort through her grandmother’s book of fairy tales, but when she accidentally falls through the pages Conner must go after her into an enchanted world full of dangerous creatures and magic spells. Even if they can find a way to return home, their lives have forever become entangled in the Land of Stories.

For a more traditional tale…

East of the Sun, West of the Moon​ by Jackie Morris
east of the sunWhen the bear from Berneen’s dreams takes her away to his enchanted castle they become the best of friends, but Berneen accidentally breaks the spell the bear is under so he is forced to marry the troll who cast the spell on him. With only the directions that the castle is east of the sun, west of the moon she sets off on a quest to find the bear and save him from his fate. In this expanded retelling of the classic tale, Morris uses exquisite illustrations to enhance Berneen’s adventure.

Beauty: A Retelling of the Story of Beauty & the Beast b​y Robin McKinley
mckinley_beautyAfter Beauty’s father is caught stealing a rose from the Beast’s garden she must go live with the Beast in exchange for the rose. While Beauty comes to like living in the Beast’s enchanted castle she refuses to marry him and longs to return home to her family. During her time away, Beauty has a dream about the Beast dying and realizes her true feelings for him, but is it too late?

Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin by Liesl Shurtliff
rumpWhen Rump discovers that he can spin straw into gold he realizes that this gift is really a curse as he is forced to accept whatever someone offers him for his gold… even a baby. He must go on a quest to discover how he can break his spell once and for all. Shurtliff breaths life into this story of Rumpelstiltskin with humor and fanciful world-building. She’s also written Jack: The True Story of Jack and the Beanstalk, and next year we’ll see Red: The True Story of Little Red Riding Hood.

For a mash up of different tales…

Grounded: The Adventures of Rapunzel by Megan Morrison
groundedRapunzel is perfectly content with life in her tower; she has Witch to take care of her every need and protect her from the dangers waiting on the ground. Until the day when a strange boy named Jack climbs into her room seeking a cure for a fairy that Rapunzel had supposedly poisoned the day before. Rapunzel has no choice but to leave her magic tower and beloved Witch to discover the truth about the fairy and her lost memories. Morrison seamlessly weaves Rapunzel and Jack’s stories into one delightful adventure that will have readers clamoring for a sequel.

A Tale Dark and Grimm by Adam Gidwitz
tale darkThis clever and dark series follows Hansel and Gretel as they leave their own story and journey through other less familiar Grimms’ tales in search of a better family, one that will not abandon them in a forest. Unfortunately, they do not meet many trustworthy adults and their adventure is full of bloody violence. While not for the faint of heart, this series is a welcome addition to other fairy tale retellings available as it stays true to the traditional Grimms’ tales.

The Hero’s Guide series by Christopher Healy
Heros-Guide-Galley-Cover1The first title in this hilarious series, The Hero’s Guide to Saving Your Kingdom​, introduces readers to the four incompetent Princes known to the public only as Prince Charming. After rescuing their princesses and been subsequently rejected, the princes have set off on their own quests when they happen to meet and realize that it is up to them to save their kingdoms from a wicked witch.

-Sarah Beth

Freedom to Read

BBW-logo122hSince 1982, Banned Books Week has been an annual event celebrating the freedom to read. Held at the end of each September, it brings together people from all corners of the literary world and gives them a chance to talk about the harm that censorship causes, the reasons books get banned, and why it’s important to read and talk about them despite objection. Where some people challenge books they see as problematic and in need of removal, often those very same books can be used as lessons and talking points for things that happen in everyday life that aren’t always easy to talk about. It is vital that we all protect the freedom to read.

Throughout the week, libraries and schools across the United States have programs focused on highlighting books that have been challenged, and doing their best to make them more available to everyone. What’s important to know about Banned Books Week that it’s about giving the reader the choice, to choose to read or not read.

golden-compass-cover-imageOver the years many titles that are considered foundations of children’s literature have been challenged for a myriad of reasons. Often times well-meaning adults will call attention to an issue they have with a book, with the goal in mind of surrounding their children with literature that only features actions and morals they support. But no one parent, set of parents, school board, or library can dictate what is and isn’t appropriate for all young readers. It is important for us as individuals to enforce the right to decide for ourselves what we get to read. Don’t take the freedom to read for granted!

The_LoraxMany children’s books have been challenged or banned over the years, and here are a few of them, and the reasons behind the controversies:

The Lorax (seen as a negative perspective of the logging industry)

His Dark Materials series (features violent and anti-religious elements)

webCharlotte’s Web (talking animals were deemed blasphemous and unnatural)

Where the Wild Things Are (glorified disturbing behavior and too dark and frightening)

Lord of the Flies (too frightening for children, excessive violence, and demoralizing behavior)


Charm School and Bad Class Trips: New Books for Older Readers

Nooks and Crannies by Jessica Lawson
nooks-crannies-9781481419215_hrWhen Tabitha Crum receives a mysterious invitation to spend the weekend with the reclusive Countess DeMoss she is sure that it is a mistake since not even her own parents want her around. With her only friend hidden in her pocket, Tabitha and five other children journey to Hollingsworth Hall where it is revealed that one of the children is the long lost grandchild of the Countess. Tabitha’s love of mysteries comes in handy when she notices strange things starting to happen. This is a darkly humorous historical mystery similar to the other new titles Murder is Bad Manners and The Scandalous Sisterhood of Prickwillow Place. (ages 8-12)

The Worst Class Trip Ever by Dave Barry
worst classBefore his class trip to Washington D.C. begins, Wyatt knows something is bound to go wrong. The plane hasn’t even landed when Wyatt and his friends Matt and Cameron find themselves involved in a possible terrorist plot. With the help of Suzana, the love of Wyatt’s life and “basically a Navy SEAL disguised as a hot eighth-grade girl,” they must stay out of the terrorist’s hands and save the white house from being blown up. The short length, humorous content, and illustrations make this title a great choice for an older reluctant reader. (ages 8-12)

School of Charm by Lisa Ann Scott
school of charmTomboy and daddy’s girl, Chip, loves nature, animals, and her father more then anything, but after his death she must go live with a grandmother she has never met. Life with her grandmother, mom, and sisters is full of makeup, dresses, and beauty pageants. Chip spends her time exploring the woods around her new home until she discovers Mrs. Vernie’s charm school. With help from Mrs. Vernie and her charm school friends, can Chip learn to like beauty pageants and fit in with the rest of her family? A sweet simple story about a girl discovering the importance of self acceptance. (ages 8-12)

Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer by Kelly Jones
Unusual-Chickens-jacketTold through a series of letters, lists, and lessons, Sophie shares the difficulties of her new life on a run down farm in the country. Living far away from a bustling city like Los Angeles is extremely boring until the day Sophie discovers a cranky chicken in the barnyard. Trips to the library for books about chickens do not prepare Sophie for a chicken with an extremely surprising ability, but through a correspondence course and some new friends Sophie learns all about regular and unusual chickens. As if taking care of her ever growing flock wasn’t enough trouble, someone is after her birds. For other light fantasies with cute illustrations and magical animals check out Flora & Ulysses and Pip Bartlett’s Guide to Magical Creatures. (ages 8-12)

-Sarah Beth