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This November, librarians are loving genre fiction. Maybe during these longer nights we like the comfort of familiar series or predictable plot structures. This month’s LibraryReads list, the top 10 books publishing this coming month that librarians nationwide recommend, includes a police procedural, historical romances and more than one mystery. Enjoy!
by David Nicholls
“Every once in a while you stumble upon a book that makes you wish you could meet the characters in real life. This is the case with “Us,” the poignant story of a middle-of-the-road British family spiraling out of control, and one man’s attempt to win back their love. Quirky, delightful and unpredictable, the novel delves into what makes a marriage and what tears it apart.” – Kimberly McGee, Lake Travis Community Library, Austin, TX
“Never Judge a Lady by Her Cover: The Fourth Rule of Scoundrels”
by Sarah MacLean
“Having lost her innocence in a teenage love affair, Lady Georgiana is a social pariah. Trying to save the tatters of her reputation, she must marry and marry well. By night, she is Anna, the most powerful madame in London, and a powerful seductress in her own right. Will Georgiana succeed in re-entering society, or will her past catch up with her once and for all?” - Emily Peros, Denver Public Library, Denver, CO
“Lives in Ruins: Archaeologists and the Seductive Lure of Human Rubble“
by Marilyn Johnson
“Johnson takes a fascinating look at the field of archaeology, profiling a number of archaeologists at work. She visits sites as diverse as an army base, Rhode Island, the Caribbean, the Mediterranean and Peru, but the best part of this book is learning about the archaeologists and their passions. A fun, interesting read that may cause an uptick in field school applications.” - Jenna Persick, Chester County Library, Exton, PA
And here is the rest of the list with links to our catalog, so you can place holds on these forthcoming titles.
- “The Burning Room” by Michael Connelly
- “Mortal Heart: His Fair Assassin Trilogy #3″ by Robin LaFevers
- “The Ship of Brides” by Jojo Moyes
- “The Forgers” by Bradford Morrow
- “In the Company of Sherlock Holmes: Stories Inspired by the Holmes Canon”
- “Jane and the Twelve Days of Christmas: Being a Jane Austen Mystery” by Stephanie Barron
- “Mermaids in Paradise” by Lydia Millet
The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The November 2014 List appeared first on DBRL Next.
We recently added “Valentine Road” to the DBRL collection. The film was shown last year on HBO and currently has a rating of 90% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from the film website:
In 2008, eighth-grader Brandon McInerney shot classmate Larry King at point blank range. Unraveling this tragedy from point of impact, the film reveals the heartbreaking circumstances that led to the shocking crime as well as the aftermath.
The first thing that comes to my mind when I think about October is its colors – or, rather, whether we’ll have the wonderful fall colors that the American Midwest is famous for. (We usually do, but I’m worried about that every year. ) And the second October thing I think about is Oktoberfest.
Of course, unlike fall colors, Oktoberfest is not “native” to the Midwest. It originated in Munich, Germany, in 1810, and has been celebrated there ever since (except during wars and cholera epidemics) with large quantities of beer. To give you an idea of these quantities, during Oktoberfest 2014, 6.5 million two-pint mugs of beer were consumed. This resulted, among other things, in at least one attempted heist of a trolley full of beer mugs and a number of lost items – including 230 pairs of eyeglasses, two wedding rings, a set of dentures (!) and a French horn.
My husband and I were in Munich at the end of August, and beer tents were already going up. We also noticed that many old buildings were being thoroughly cleaned – although that could have had nothing to do with the festival but with the fact that Germany has money to spare . In any case, we both decided that there is more to Munich than its Oktoberfest celebrations: impressive medieval churches, neoclassical buildings and theaters and crowds of tourists from all over the globe. We had a pleasant stay there, but we didn’t drink much – my husband doesn’t drink and I prefer wine. Instead, we enjoyed German desserts: plum and strawberry cakes, sweet pretzels and such.
Back home, Oktoberfest finally caught up with us. Of course, Oktoberfest in Missouri is not as big as in Munich, where some six million people attend every year, but it is just as festive – especially if you like wine. Yes, unlike the one in Munich, our Oktoberfest is mostly about wine, although the people who brought it to this country did come from Germany.
The influence of German immigrants in Missouri cannot be overestimated. In 1860, more than half of Missouri’s foreign-born residents were Germans, many of whom settled on the south bank of the Missouri River, west of St. Louis. They brought with them their food (apple butter, potato salad, hamburgers, etc.), their music (think “Silent Night”), their architecture and carefully-wrapped cuttings from their old vineyards.
A number of grape varieties found Missouri’s climate and rocky soil suitable for growing, so it is no surprise that by the turn of the century, Stone Hill Winery (Hermann, MO), was the third largest winery in the world (second largest in the U.S.), producing more than a million gallons of wine a year. And by 1920, Missouri was the second largest wine-producing state in the U.S.
Another jewel in the Missouri wine crown is the fact that our vineyards saved the French wine industry from total destruction. The way the story goes, in 1876 an insidious louse began an assault on vineyards throughout France. (I have to mention that the louse was transported there from Missouri .) Fortunately for the French, Missouri’s first entomologist, Charles V. Riley, discovered that some American grape rootstocks were immune to the louse, and by grafting French vines onto them, healthy grapes could be produced. Millions of cuttings of Missouri rootstock were shipped to France, and the imminent disaster was avoided.
Prohibition hit the Missouri wine country hard. Vines were removed from the ground and numerous barrels of wine were destroyed. (It is said that the brick roads of Hermann were blood red with wine.) Many families lost their livelihood, and the region’s economy took a downturn. It wasn’t until 1960 that Missouri began recovering its lost viticultural glory.
These days, Missouri vineyards and wineries are spread all over the state (113 wineries as of 2013), and Missouri wines regularly win prestigious national and international awards. All the wineries provide tasting rooms, and many have patios overlooking the Missouri River – or other beautiful scenery – and offer winery tours. Also, nine Missouri Wine Trails host events and festivals year-round, like live music and grape stomps.
A drive along the Missouri River Wine Trail (which includes our nearest Les Bourgeois Winery) would be a great wine-and-fall-color outing this weekend. Those who’d like to take advantage of Oktoberfest (or other wine-related events) but prefer not to drive, can do it by train, boat or bike (biking on Katy Trail could be your ticket to enjoying Missouri wine and exercising at the same time ).
Whichever way is right for you, don’t forget to drink responsibly. And cheers!
FYI: The three largest wineries in Missouri are St. James Winery in St. James, Stone Hill Winery in Hermann and Les Bourgeois Winery in Rocheport.
Wednesday, November 12, 2014 • 6:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library, Friends Room
The documentary “American Revolutionary: The Evolution of Grace Lee Boggs” (82 min.) is the latest from Columbia-native filmmaker Grace Lee (“The Grace Lee Project“). This film focuses on Grace Lee Boggs, a 98 year old Chinese American philosopher, writer, and activist in Detroit with a thick FBI file and a surprising vision of what an American revolution can be. In this film we see how Boggs continually challenges a new generation to throw off old assumptions, think creatively and redefine revolution for our times. The screening is a collaboration with POV, PBS’ award-winning nonfiction film series.
I’ve been growing my own garlic for roughly 14 years, thanks to a master gardener friend of mine who got me started. He gave me some of his “seed” stock and loaned me one of his 3’ x 25’ garden beds. I’ve been borrowing his garden bed and growing garlic ever since. Of the two garlic varieties he gifted me, I’m especially fond of the German extra hardy hardneck and now grow it almost exclusively. I like it best for several reasons: the cloves are large, so fewer cloves have to be peeled when cooking; it stores well; and most importantly, it has a good, strong flavor.
I’ve gardened itinerantly for years and still am no expert, but I do know that garlic (the deer don’t bother it, hallelujah) is my favorite crop to grow. That’s because it’s easy – so easy that I don’t really feel like a real gardener, since not much toiling is involved. I just punch a hole in the earth about four inches deep with a dibber, drop a clove of garlic into it and then fill the hole back in with dirt. In mid-October I can plant 120 cloves of garlic in the above mentioned bed in about an hour and then cover it up with a thick layer of leaves for mulch, leaving it until May or June before I have to do any tending.
My gardener friend says you can plant garlic in the spring and harvest it in the fall, but he says the results aren’t as good, meaning the bulbs will be small in size. Garlic, at least the hardneck type we’re growing, seems to do much better with a long winter’s nap. I like to think of it snug beneath its leaf blanket when the temperatures drop below freezing. All I have to do is send it some good growing vibes from the warmth of my own home.
The simple tending of garlic begins sometime in May or June when the plant sends up a flower stalk or “scape.” This flowering stem that snakes up and coils elegantly near the top should be snapped at the place where it emerges from the plant stalk. This pruning of the scape directs the plant’s energy to the bulb, thereby increasing the bulb size. Scapes are a flavorful edible and can be eaten raw or cooked. I like to use them thinly sliced in salads and sauteed with other vegetables in frittatas. I came across a garlic scape and walnut pesto recipe in “Vegetable Literacy” and look forward to trying it…mmmm.
Okay, back to the tending. Two to three weeks after the scapes emerge, the garlic is ready to harvest. When I see the stalks start to die down while turning yellow and brown, I know that it’s time to get out the spading fork. It’s very gratifying to unearth the pearly bulbs from the dark earth, especially when all the conditions come together to yield a healthy and bountiful crop.
If you’ve been daydreaming about growing your own garlic, I encourage you to go for it. If I can do it, you can do it. I rounded up the relevant materials from DBRL’s collection so you can read further about how to grow garlic and learn more about its healing properties and seductive culinary uses.
Voting for this year’s Teens’ Top Ten took place from mid August through Teen Read Week, Oct. 12- 18, with more than 12,000 votes cast. There were 25 nominees that competed for the “top ten” list. Below are this year’s winning titles.
The Teens’ Top Ten is a “teen choice” list, with teens nominating and choosing their favorite books of the previous year. Nominators are members of teen book groups in 16 school and public libraries around the country. Nominations are posted on Celebrate Teen Literature Day during National Library Week and teens across the country vote on their favorite titles between August and October.
“Eleanor & Park” by Rainbow Rowell
The year is 1986 when Eleanor arrives in town to live with her family and abusive step-father. It’s been a year since the last time she lived with them, and she doesn’t expect life to be any better. Park’s life, on the other hand, is going steady. He’s got a spot in the popular crowd and he’s about to get his driver’s license. But when the two meet on the bus, things change drastically. Even though they both know high school romances never last, they’re going to try everything they’ve got to make it work. But in end, will everything they have be enough?
“The 5th Wave” by Rick Yancey
Present day – the aliens have invaded the planet, or as Cassie likes to call them, the Others. Almost everyone has been killed off by the 4th Wave, and now, Cassie one of the few survivors living now during the 5th wave, roams the country while trying to stay alive to find her brother – that is, if he’s still alive. When she’s taken in by a boy named Evan, she realizes that he’s different. He’s not like her, but he’s all she’s got. Cassie has to overcome her doubts and trust issues if she wishes to survive the 5th wave.
“Splintered” by A.G. Howard
Alyssa, a girl already struggling with life in general, is pulled into something dark and mysterious. She follows in the footsteps of her ancestor, Alice, and goes down the rabbit hole to right the wrongs that Alice caused to cure her family of their “curse”. Instead of finding Lewis Carroll’s beautiful wonderland, she finds a dark and twisted version with monstrous creatures that aren’t as nice as the ones in the novel or as pretty.
“The Rithmatist” Brandon Sanderson
Joel wants to be a Rithmatist more than anything. Rithmatists have the power to bring two dimensional beings called Chalklings to life and defend against the wild chalkings that threaten to overcome the Rithmatists. Joel is student at Armedius Academy, a prestigious school where Rithmatists and wealthy children go to learn. When a string of kidnappings begin to occur Joel must gain assistance from the Rithmatists at Armedius Academy in order to bring order back to the academy.
“Monument 14: Sky On Fire” by Emmy Laybourne
When disaster strikes in the city of Monument, 14 kids are huddled in a Greenway store for shelter and survival. They decide their only chance of living through this nationwide disaster is to make their way to Denver International Airport where the military is evacuating people to safety. Will they make it alive or will they meet their doom like others?
“Earth Girl“by Janet Edwards
In 2788 humanity has developed technology that allows them to portal between many habitable worlds except for those are deemed “the handicapped”, those who are born with a one in a thousand chance of having an immune system that cannot tolerate other planets. Jarra, a handicapped 18-year old student with a passion for history, creates a false identity for herself and enrolls in a college course for students from other planets in an attempt to get revenge for the way the handicapped are looked down upon.
“Steelheart” by Brandon Sanderson
Ten years ago, Calamity came; a light in the sky that appeared one day and many believe that somehow it was connected to the rise of the Epics. These beings, once human, now have all kinds of amazing and dangerous powers that have enabled them to take over the world, and one could argue the most dangerous one is Steelheart. Able to bend the elements to his will and turn any non-living substance to steel, many say he’s invincible because they’ve never seen him bleed — except for David, who will stop at nothing to get his vengeance and see Steelheart bleed again.
“The Testing” by Joelle Charbonneau
Cia is chosen to participate in The Testing, a government program that will select the brightest graduates who show potential for becoming future leaders in this post-apocalyptic world. Cia’s excitement of being chosen soon dies when her father warns her of the experiences he faced when he was chosen. Cia must trust no one if she hopes to come back alive. However, will she be able to face the dark, unholy truth about the testing? One kept whether you leave… Or don’t?
“Siege and Storm” by Leigh Bardugo
Alina, a sun summoner on the run from the evil Darkling, is searching for a way to increase her power and save the ones she loves. But as her power grows she falls deeper in the Darkling’s grasp and farther away from her best friend and love, Mal. When the time comes Alina must choose between her love, her power, or her lust for the Darkling and all of his power.
“The Eye of Minds” by James Dashner
Michael is an average kid who plays video games, but this video game, the Virtnet, is different than others. You can die in it physically and mentally, and that happens to a girl named Tanya who rips out her core and commits suicide. Suddenly, Michael is whisked away by the designers of the VirtNet and is given a mission by them to find a cyber terrorist, named Kaine, who is suspected of killing gamers.
Originally published at 2014 “Teens’ Top Ten” Winners Announced.
We recently added “12 O’clock Boys” to the DBRL collection. The film played at various film festivals in 2013 and currently has a rating of 91% from critics at Rotten Tomatoes. Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:
A notorious urban dirt bike pack in Baltimore that pops wheelies, weaves at excessive speeds through traffic, and impressively evades the hamstrung police. Their stunning antics are viewed through the eyes of adolescent Pug, a bright kid from the Westside obsessed with the riders and willing to do anything to join their ranks.
There should be a word for the feeling one gets when wooed by an artist from beyond the grave. After several seconds of consideration, I propose “melanarsabsentia.” Graham Joyce gave me a severe case of melanarsabsentia. He died on September 9th, and I didn’t read him until a few days later. The first thing I read by him, a blog post in part concerning his impending death and the beauty of living, made clear his large heart, fine wordsmanship and my need to read his novels. Of course, it’s not like if I’d have read him while he was living that we would’ve gathered for snacks shared over a tedious board game, though I can’t rule it out. Regardless, there will be no yogurt-covered pretzels and monopoly for us, unless he comes back to haunt me and/or my ability to communicate with the spirit world finally manifests. If I were a character from his novels, I might very well have such a haunting, or at least my sanity might bend in such a way as to believe I’m being haunted. But as I’m a character from some other novel with no perceptible ghosts and a narrative that can’t be bothered to skip a single bathroom break or dull moment, I guess I’ll never meet Mr. Joyce. But melanarsabsentia is only just barely about the elimination of the unlikely possibility of meeting the artist; it’s more about an artist whose work deserves to be appreciated by everyone inclined to appreciate their sort of work being robbed of having such persons appreciate them while they’re still alive to appreciate it, even though the appreciation directed the artist’s way almost certainly won’t be perceivable.
“Some Kind of Fairy Tale” is sort of a kind of tale about fairies, but mostly about a family of humans. Joyce needs only a few hundred words to deeply invest you in his characters so you feel their shock when, during the novel’s opening scene, a man answers the door to find his daughter, gone missing 20 years ago, returned and not aged a day.
“The Silent Land” follows a couple who, after an avalanche during their ski trip, finds their resort empty and then the resort town empty and then that they are unable to leave the town. Their compass spins, food doesn’t rot, burning candles don’t diminish. They come to the conclusion that they’ve died in the avalanche and go about trying to make the best of a strange afterlife.
“The Ghost in the Electric Blue Suit,” renamed for the American audience from “The Year of the Ladybird” (because sharply dressed ghosts are much more rad and freedom-y than ladybirds, and what kind of tea-taxing duffer comes up with the codswallop of calling a ladybug a ladybird?), is a story about a young man who takes a summer job at a resort and is menaced by a ghost in an electric blue suit and an absurd amount of ladybugs.
Graham Joyce was a prolific writer, and Daniel Boone Regional Library carries several of his works. He wrote the sort of novels you might suspect from someone who, as a child, was advised by his reluctantly psychic grandmother to simply cuss out a ghost if one ever gave him trouble. It should be common knowledge that ghosts cannot abide a coarse tongue and will peacefully leave upon encountering one. If Joyce’s ghost shows up, I plan to speak bloody politely.
Thirty-five years ago this October, the Missouri State Genealogical Association (MoSGA) began its grass roots efforts to protect old family cemeteries, preserve precious records and help people discover their own roots.
This work began after the popular television mini-series “Roots,” based on the book by Alex Haley, and its sequel were aired in 1977 and 1979, respectively. Today, the organization is still going strong, holding a state conference that includes a nationally known speaker and several support speakers. MoSGA also helped pass a state law that protects many family cemeteries that dot the countryside throughout Missouri. This organization has funded several causes related to genealogy: collecting money to give to the National Archives Trust Fund to save documents in the National Archives; contributing to a 21st Century Fund to give money to local historical and genealogical societies where manpower to preserve some of their records is available, but not monies; and providing the funding to purchase thousands of dollars worth of books written about Missouri that are historical and/or genealogical in nature. These books are housed in the Midwest Genealogy Center in Independence, Missouri, but they are available to all DBRL users via interlibrary loan (ILL).
The fact that MoSGA started in Columbia says something about the people of central Missouri and their pride in their heritage. The Genealogical Society of Central Missouri also started in Columbia, with several of its earliest meetings being held at the Columbia Public Library. Soon they, along with several visionaries who wanted a permanent building to house local history, began the construction of the Boone County Historical Society Museum and Galleries on Ponderosa. This facility is home to the Wilson-Wulff Genealogical Library. Run by volunteers, it is staffed the same hours the museum is open to the public. This group holds monthly meetings – generally with a program – and also produces a journal called “The Reporter,” which is full of information about families that settled the central Missouri area.
The Daniel Boone Regional Library generally offers a genealogy or historical program every month in at least one of its branches. This past July, 50 people attended a program about DNA’s uses in genealogy, given by Kathleen Brandt of Kansas City. Brandt is a nationally known researcher appearing on the television show “Who Do You Think You Are.” The library is also a good resource for not only local and statewide genealogy resources, but also general how-to information. Come see us. Maybe we can help you find your roots – where ever they start!
We recently added “Generation Like” to the DBRL collection. The film played earlier this year on the PBS series Frontline and is a followup to the 2001 documentary “The Merchants of Cool.” Here’s a synopsis from our catalog:
Explores how the perennial teen quest for identity and connection has migrated to social media, and exposes the game of cat-and-mouse that corporations are playing with these young consumers. Here is a powerful examination of the evolving and complicated relationship between teens and the companies that are increasingly working to target them.
Is autumn supposed to be this soggy? My chrysanthemums are struggling in my swampy flower beds. I’m thinking of designing water-proof Halloween costumes for my kiddos. All of this rain has me feeling a little down, and I thought our readers might be having a similar case of the weather-induced blues. My cure? Let’s give away some free stuff!
- “Fresh Off the Boat” by Eddie Huang
- “The Kill Switch” by James Rollins and Grant Blackwood
- “Obsessed” by Mika Brzezinski
- “President Me” by Adam Carolla
- “Starfire” by Dale Brown
- “Think Like a Freak” by Steven D. Levitt & Stephen J. Dubner
- “The Truth Is a Cave in the Black Mountains” by Neil Gaiman
One entry per person. Good luck!
The post Win a Free Audiobook! (Because it’s Raining and We Need Cheering Up) appeared first on DBRL Next.
“Jack the Ripper Murders Solved!” “Identity of Jack the Ripper Proven by DNA Evidence!” For a couple of days, I saw headline after headline proclaiming the serial murder case that has befuddled investigators for more than 120 years had finally been cracked by modern forensics. This flurry of discussion was prompted by the publication of a new book, “Naming Jack the Ripper” by Russell Edwards, a London history buff who came into possession of a shawl worn by one of the victims. He claims some DNA left on the material matches the DNA of a descendant of Aaron Kosminski, a London hairdresser and long-time resident on the suspect list. Additionally, Edwards quotes a detective who worked the case as saying he believed Kosminski was the culprit. Case closed. Right?
Soon enough articles started popping up, saying, in essence: “Not so fast.” They point out that even if the DNA is Kosminski’s, it doesn’t mean he killed the owner of the shawl, only that he had some contact with it. Maybe he sneezed on it while standing next to her. Then, too, the garment has changed hands many times. A lot of people have handled it over the years. And Edwards is not the first person to have “named” the killer.
There’s an “Autobiography of Jack the Ripper,” published from a purportedly found manuscript, penned in 1920, containing the author’s recollections of the time in his life when he was on a murder spree. Or possibly it’s an anonymously-written work of historical fiction. Or an outright hoax. The book includes notes – some skeptical – by Paul Begg, who has made a career of writing about the case.
Patricia Cornwell, known primarily for fictional crime stories, tried her hand at solving the real-life mystery a few years ago. She, too, thought she’d solved the old case using contemporary techniques. In her 2003 book “Portrait of a Killer,” she concludes the guilty party was an artist named Walter Sickert. Her case hinges on “the successful use of DNA analysis to establish a link between an envelope mailed by the Ripper and two envelopes used by Sickert.” Well then.
It seems everyone claims proof of the murderer’s real identity, but in each case it’s a different person. In 2011, the Whitechapel Society – named for the area in which the murders took place, and devoted to investigating the crimes and their surrounding social context – published a book compiling the cases for and against several suspects. “Jack the Ripper, the Suspects” mentions Cornwell’s book and addresses some of its points directly. In the chapter on Kosminski, they speculate one of the reasons he drew so much focus from detectives was because of a tendency in the police department at that time toward anti-Semitism. Beyond speaking about suspects and evidence, this book explains some of the societal factors at play that made the investigation of the case difficult. The only conclusion I was able to draw was that we might never know the truth.
Themes of dystopia and survival in a post-apocalyptic world run heavy through popular fiction. Readers have ventured into The Hunger Games series, which presents a world in which children must participate in a televised fight to the death. Max Brooks’ “World War Z” examines the chaos that would erupt under a worldwide threat such as a zombie invasion. Even older novels, such as Stephen King’s “The Stand,” give readers the chance to ponder “what if?” from the comfort and safety of their own non-apocalyptic world.
“The Road” by Cormac McCarthy is another tale in the apocalyptic, dystopian sphere. McCarthy’s story follows a man and his young son as they venture through a barren, desolate wasteland on a journey to the ocean. What exactly happened to the land they venture through is never stated, but I think one can surmise. And in the end it’s not really important how this terrible thing happened – something bad occurred that made life on the planet mostly unlivable. A few people have managed to survive, but doing so has often meant living by unspeakable means.
The father and son’s journey is fascinating, but what really drew me in is their relationship. Throughout their perilous travels, the two share many discussions about life, often centering around the question of what it means to be good or bad. These talks allow McCarthy to flesh out the two characters, allowing readers to connect with and get to know them better. The father clearly adores the boy, doing everything in his power to keep the child safe and secure. And the boy loves this man who has served as his guide and protector. At one point in the book, McCarthy sums up their relationship perfectly, describing the pair as being “each other’s world entire.” In many ways, their love for each other is the only good thing remaining in their world.
McCarthy uses a sparse, poetic writing style. This makes the novel fairly compact, but it still packs quite a punch. I listened to the audiobook version, which is narrated by Tom Stechschulte. He is a masterful reader, jumping from the voice of the man to the voice of the child with apparent ease. The story moved me deeply; I’d be lying if I did not admit that this story is often incredibly sad. But it is also one of the most hopeful stories I’ve read because of McCarthy’s exploration of the bonds of love and family and how they can manage to survive even in a world that has been burnt down to little more than ashes.
As part of this year’s One Read program and inspired by the grit, perseverance and the way those “Boys in the Boat” overcame the odds, we challenged writers to craft tales containing an element of the underdog for this year’s flash fiction contest.
We received plenty of stories about unexpected triumph on the playing field, but we also read tales of cheating death, of immigration and unlikely survival – all told in no more than 250 words. Thank you to everyone who entered and shared the worlds of your imagination with us. Our two winners are Carl Kremer and Von Pittman.
We are pleased to share with you the winning stories.James Earl by Carl Kremer
James Earl, named for the great basso profundo actor (whom he resembles, except for being green) – is the biggest bullfrog in my pond. His great call silences smaller creatures in the area and attracts females (cowfrogs?) from miles away. Others who, while old enough to croak for sex – sound timid when James Earl occasionally tunes up.
He is a miracle, not just for his age (13 is ancient for his kind, and I’ve listened to his calls for nearly that long) but for his phenomenal luck, his resourcefulness, his amphibian intelligence. While he was part of a mass of thousands of eggs, most did not hatch, and most of those who did fell prey as tadpoles to snakes, fish, birds, raccoons and even other frogs. Some of his siblings were eaten as children by larger frogs, perhaps their grandparents. The struggle to survive was fierce, and he might have been a pollywog for years, while other tadpoles grow to adulthood in one season.
He has mastered patient vigilance, sitting in one moist spot for hours, alert both for prey – insects, small snakes, and even smaller frogs – and for predators. Stealthy cats haunt the edges of his pond at night, along with foxes, raccoons, snakes and owls. By day herons, kingfishers, and even hawks drop silently from the sky and he is a prize entree to any carnivore.
And still, aged, wise and wary, he sings, reverberant, stentorian, and deep – for love.Obstacle Number Three by Von Pittman
Josh Carter stood number one in Tactics and number two in Seamanship, with just two weeks of Naval Officer Candidate School left. Nonetheless, he was about to wash out.
A six-foot wooden wall – Obstacle 3 on the obstacle course – stood between Josh and his ensign’s bars. Every officer candidate was required to clear every obstacle on the course at least once. They learned to run at Obstacle 3, throw a stiff leg at the wall, then let their momentum carry them over. The few OCs who had trouble tended to be short and pear-shaped, like Josh. Sixteen tries, sixteen failures. In spite of his academic record, he feared he wouldn’t be a naval officer. He would probably become an enlisted mess cook, slinging chow and swabbing decks.
Everyone in Josh’s training company wanted him to top Obstacle 3 and graduate. Suddenly, the 17th week arrived, his last chance. Josh ran, hit the wall, and got both forearms over the top. He struggled to lift his body, then suddenly pitched over the wall, head first.
Dizzied by the impact, he stumbled through the rest of the course. In the intensity of his effort, he never saw the two classmates who had grabbed his wrists and snatched him over, or heard the cheers from his company.
At graduation, Josh received an academic award in addition to his ensign’s commission. He figured that the lingering sprain in his left wrist had to be from falling over the top of Obstacle 3.
October 10: “20,000 Days on Earth” starts at Ragtag. (via)
October 13: “Elaine Stritch: Shoot Me” 5:00 p.m. & 7:00 p.m. at Forum 8. (via)
October 14: “Unfair: Exposing the IRS” 7:00 p.m. at Forum 8. (via)
I recently found myself in a little bit of a fix. I needed to get my brother a gift for his wedding. As an artist, I felt obligated to make him something because, well, making things is what I do. I love to sew, and this grand idea of making a quilt took over me. Now, eighty percent of a quilt later, I’m thrilled to be close to finishing but also sick of sewing.
This is my quilt. It has yet to have edging, needs to be trimmed down and still requires a few more feet of quilting. Before I decided on this pattern, I spent hours flipping through quilting books from the library’s collection.
I started by looking at various patterns. “Kaffe Fassett’s Quilts in the Sun” by Kaffe Fassett, was one of my favorite books. The way she mixes floral prints is breathtaking. I was very inspired by her work and plan to, one day very far from when I finish this project, make one of her diamond quilts.
Another one of my favorites is “City Quilts” by Cherri House. I thought the designs were modern and simple, yet elegant. I was inspired by the fabric choices in this book and tried to incorporate some of the modern simplicity of “City Quilts” into my own design.
I spent a lot of time practicing continuous-line machine-quilting, specifically designs from “Doodle Quilting” by Cheryl Malkowski and “Mindful Meandering” by Laura Lee Fritz. Continuous-line quilting is amazing, but it’s also very hard. Imagine trying to tug a 30 pound quilt around a tiny needle. After half an hour, I need a break because my forearms ache from pulling around so much fabric. Although it’s hard work, machine quilting is still faster than hand quilting, and it still has that human hand feeling unlike programmed machine quilting.
If you want to learn this style, practicing it is going to be very important. I did not practice enough and had to rip out a good chunk of my quilting stitches before I got into a good rhythm.
This is a close up of my continuous-line pattern. I went with zigzags for a third of the quilt, and swirls for the rest. As you can see, the swirls are far from perfect.
I also checked out and used “The Quilting Bible: The Complete Photo Guide to Machine Quilting” for basic quilting information I didn’t know. For example, you shouldn’t iron every seam open. You should only finger press them. I destroyed quite a few quilt pillow tests this way, because my ironing was causing the fabric to warp all over the place. I only found out this was a problem after hunkering down with “The Quilting Bible” and reading up on the basics.
The library has a HUGE collection of quilting books. You will spend hours going through all of them, and somewhere on that shelf is a quilt design that’s perfect for you. Just be prepared for a lot of work, time and – if you are buying new fabric – money.
Good luck, my quilters!
Graphic novels are simply stories organized in a comic-strip format. With the popularity of books like “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” and “Dork Diaries,” there has been dramatic growth in the quantity and quality of graphic novels available for children and teens.
Graphic novels are a great tool to use with reluctant readers. Text is broken down into manageable chunks, instead of lengthy chapters, and illustrations provide context clues that enhance comprehension. Graphic novels allow children and teens to gain confidence in their reading skills while learning to like reading in a way they may never have before. These books are also helpful when working with children with special needs and English-language learners.
The Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC), has created Graphic Novel Reading Lists intended for children from kindergarten through 8th grade. The books on this list are defined as a full-length story told in paneled, sequential, graphic format. The graphic novels chosen for these lists include classics as well as new titles that have been widely recommended and well-reviewed, and books that have popular appeal as well as critical acclaim. Below is the list of those titles appropriate for teens in grades 6-8.
“Anne Frank: The Anne Frank House Authorized Graphic Biography” by Sid Jacobson and Ernie Colón
Drawing on the unique historical sites, archives, and expertise of the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam, this authorized biography is the complete account of the lives of Anne’s parents, her first years in Frankfurt, the rise of Nazism, her life in the annex, and her arrest and tragic death in Bergen-Belsen.
“Anya’s Ghost” by Vera Brosgol
When Russian American teenager Anya falls down a well and meets the ghost of a girl who was killed, they become fast friends as Emily helps Anya, and Anya vows to solve Emily’s murder.
“The Arrival” by Shaun Tan
A wordless but very moving story about a lonely man who has just arrived in a new city in a world not unlike our own.
“Best Shot in the West: The Adventures of Nat Love” by Patricia C. McKissack and Frederick L. McKissack Jr., illustrated by Randy DuBurke
This exciting story follows the life of legendary Nat Love, a former slave and one of the most famous cowboys of the Old West.
“Bone: Out from Boneville” by Jeff Smith
The adventure starts when cousins Fone Bone, Phoney Bone, and Smiley Bone are run out of Boneville and later get separated in the wilderness, meeting monsters and making friends as they attempt to return home.
“Cardboard” by Doug TenNapel
A simple birthday gift of a cardboard box turns into something more when a boy and his father discover that whatever they make out of the cardboard is capable of coming to life! Also recommended by this author: “Ghostopolis.”
“Chiggers” by Hope Larson
Summer camp angst follows Abby, a girl attempting to make new friends, who finds that her alliance with weirdo Shasta puts her in danger of becoming an outcast herself.
“Coraline” by Neil Gaiman, illustrated by P. Craig Russell
When Coraline steps through a secret door in her house, she finds a marvelous new world much better than her own. However, when her “other mother” wants to keep her there forever, she must use her wits and the help of an all-knowing cat to return to the real world in this graphic novel version of Gaiman’s popular title.
“Foiled” by Jane Yolen, illustrated by Mike Cavallaro
Aliera is a star at fencing, but at school no one notices her—until her new lab partner Avery begins flirting with her. Will Aliera’s first date be ruined when magical creatures try to steal her foil?
“Friends with Boys” by Faith Erin Hicks
A young homeschooler transitions to high school, along with the mystery of the ghost who has followed her most of her life.
“A Game for Swallows: To Die, to Leave, to Return” by Zeina Abirached
Zeina’s parents have not returned from visiting the other half of divided Beirut during the civil war in Lebanon. Zeina gathers with neighbors in the safest place in the apartment, where they play games, talk and support one another.
“Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword” by Barry Deutsch
Mirka Herschberg lives in an Orthodox Jewish family and dreams of fighting dragons. A witch appears and issues a challenge, giving Mirka the chance she has always wanted.
“Jane, the Fox, and Me” by Fanny Britt, illustrated by Isabel Arsenault, translated by Susan Ouriou and Christelle Morelli
Hélène delves deep into the world of Jane Eyre to escape the cruelty of her everyday life at school, until she meets a friend in an unlikely location.
“Kampung Boy” by Lat
Lat, a noted Malaysian cartoonist, tells the story of the early life of a Muslim boy growing up on a rubber plantation during the 1950s. The sequel is “Town Boy.”
“Laika” by Nick Abadzis
History comes alive in the heartbreaking tale of a little stray street pup that was chosen to become a worldwide sensation in the space race.
“Lewis & Clark” by Nick Bertozzi
This historically accurate graphic novel begins with President Jefferson’s call to explore the western region and continues beyond the conclusion of the famed Lewis and Clark expedition.
“Little White Duck: A Childhood in China” by Na Liu and Andrés Vera Martínez
A fictionalized memoir of a youth spent in post-Mao China. By turns touching, funny and smart, this graphic novel offers a slice of life in a distant country.
“Marble Season” by Gilbert Hernandez
This semiautobiographical story traces the escapades of the author and his siblings and friends in 1960s California as they grow from infants to teens.
“Page by Paige” by Laura Lee Gulledge
When Paige’s family relocates to New York City, she has to start over. As she fills up a sketchbook, she finds the courage to become exactly who she wants to be.
“Rapunzel’s Revenge” by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale
Two traditional fairy tales— “Rapunzel” and “Jack and the Beanstalk”—merge in a fresh and funny adventure with a western flair. The sequel is “Calamity Jack.”
“Save Yourself” by Jeremy Whitley, edited by David Dwonch, illustrated by M. Goodwin
Princess Adrienne is no damsel in distress. Along with Sparky, her dragon, she will rescue herself and have a few adventures in the meantime.
“The Storm in the Barn” by Matt Phelan
It’s Kansas in 1937, and life is bleak during the Dust Bowl. Jack is left to his imagination in this graphic novel that is part historical fiction, part tall tale.
“Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection” edited by Matt Dembicki
This collaborative effort by more than 40 writers and artists presents 21 Native American trickster tales in graphic novel format.
“Twin Spica” by Kou Yaginuma
Asumi wants to be part of Japan’s first manned space mission. Does she have what it takes?
“Yummy: The Last Days of a Southside Shorty” by G. Neri, illustrated by Randy DuBurke
Based on true events and told through the eyes of a younger boy, this graphic novel tells the story of Robert (“Yummy”) as he tries to navigate the dangerous world of a Chicago neighborhood.
“Zebrafish” by Sharon Emerson, illustrated by Renée Kurilla
Vita and the members of her rock band Zebrafish raise money to help the children’s hospital where one band member is receiving cancer treatments.
Originally published at Great Graphic Novels for Children & Teens.