Thursday, January 25, 2018


I took a trip up to the Bay Area last weekend. It’s a 5.5 hour drive (without traffic) from LA, and I settled into the driver’s seat, automatically reaching for a familiar audiobook: Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt, read by Lincoln Hoppe. It’s a trip I’ve made several times and a story I’ve listened to several times more since its publication in 2011, yet it has never failed to elicit the same depth of emotion each time. It draws me back to a place I’d never visited and a time I’d never experienced: a small town in upstate New York in 1968, the peak of the Vietnam War era.

Fourteen year old Doug Swieteck is starting eighth grade in a new school in a new town, where his father has just secured a new job after being fired for a poor attitude and a questionable work ethic. The Dump, his family’s latest residence, is small and dingy. His father is spiteful. His older brother is a menace. His gentle mother rarely smiles anymore. And Doug can’t think of a single good thing about the stupid town they've just moved to.

You can easily envision the trajectory for a kid like that: he’ll grow up to be a bully, a thief, a liar, a victim and a victimizer. And everyone else in town thinks so too-- including Doug himself.

Until he finds unexpected solace in a public library and purpose in a rare copy of John James Audubon's Birds of America. There’s something mesmerizing about the paintings in Audubon’s book, even for Doug, who would be the first to tell you he’s no artist. Soon he’s drawn into the stories he sees in each carefully crafted bird, which become the metaphor by which he interprets his world. His spirit soars and dives throughout the novel as he faces a deluge of circumstances that test his resolve to sketch a different future for himself.

Another librarian (whose name I unfortunately cannot recall) wrote in her review of the book that it had broken her heart and put it back together a thousand times. I can certainly relate to that feeling. There’s a lot to mull over here: the tangible and intangible effects of the war on returned veterans and their families, the dichotomy of wealth and poverty, the cyclical nature of abuse, and the problematic prejudices of adults. At the same time there’s the thrilling freedom of art, the unexpected kindness of others, the gentle glow of first love, the healing found in offering compassion even when it seems undeserved, and a long lingering note of Possibility. It’s a tale of resilience and redemption.

I highly recommend listening to the audio version of book (which still counts as reading, in case you’re wondering!) Lincoln Hoppe’s reading of Okay for Now received an American Library Association Odyssey Honor in 2012 as one of the best audiobooks produced for children and young adults, available in English in the United States.

A truly rewarding read for grades 6 and up.

Tuesday, January 23, 2018


After the Fall - How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again by Dan Santat is the follow up story to that famous incident where Humpty Dumpty fell and was put back together again, but he didn't escape unscathed. Humpty now fears heights. He can't sleep on the top bunk. He can't climb to reach the "good" cereal on the top shelf.  
Humpty discovers a new hobby making and flying paper birds, which allows him to watch beautiful birds fly high again. His acrophobia comes to a head one day, when one of them gets stuck wayyyy up high.  

What now? Can Humpty climb up to get it? 

Humpty's emotions are illustrated beautifully to evoke sadness and joy with different colors and hues. Everyone talks about being surprised by the ending and I agree. You will too. 

For readers in preschool and up.  

Thursday, January 18, 2018


Eugenia Lincoln and the Unexpected Package by Kate DiCamillo and Illustrated by Chris Van Dusen another story in the Tales From Deckawoo Drive series.

Eugenia Lincoln, the older of two sisters living on 52 Deckawoo Drive, does not like surprises and does not indulge in frivolity.  She's practical and has no time for fun, silly things like an accordion.  One day a little man shows up at her door trying to get her to find that little bit of music in her heart.  Everyone has a bit, he claims.  

After a night of music and merrymaking by everyone but Eugenia, she bumps into little Stella on her way to the trash, who asks to try the accordion.  Before Stella could play anything, Eugenia accidentally squeezes out a bit of music on the keys and Stella excitedly claims that she just made music and should keep on playing.  

Maybe there is a place for some frivolity in Eugenia's life after all.  Will she ever find out who sent her the accordion?  Maybe it doesn't matter anymore.  

A beginning chapter book perfect for 2nd-4th grade readers. 

Tuesday, January 16, 2018


Alan the alligator has enormous and brilliant white teeth. He does much to take care of them, brushing for at least ten minutes. These chompers are useful for many things but when he couples them with a variety of scaring techniques, the other animals are not amused; just downright scared! That is, until one day, a beaver comes and discovers a secret that Alan has been hiding. Instead of keeping the secret to himself, beaver shares it with the other animals. Will Alan find other ways to scare his friends?  

Jarvis’ story and illustrations in Alan’s Big Scary Teeth are hilariously fun and although Alan has a bit of a problem with scaring others, readers will find ways to root for him too.

For ages 3-7

Thursday, January 11, 2018


Winter is well underway and Storytimes are back in session.  Join us at the library as we enjoy a variety of stories, songs, movements and more at our Storytime programs.  

This month try sharing books with themes about winter, snowmen and bears with your little one.  The library has many wonderful titles to choose from.  Come talk to us for a recommendation or click on the books below for more suggestions.

Reading time with your little one should be a fun and enjoyable experience for you both.  Try using different voices for the characters as you read.  Make animal sounds if the book calls for them.  Don’t be afraid to be silly.  Encourage your child to make the voices or animal sounds along with you.  You and your child will have a great time exploring books together.  

Tuesday, January 09, 2018


Third grade can be so much fun! Friendships start to blossom and interest in school activities start to grow. When an upcoming musical is announced, excitement within the third grade class escalates and everyone starts to wonder who will be in it and which starlet will take the lead role. Could it be Shai, who’s ready to take center stage?  Or could it be super-confident Gabby?  Whoever it may be, taking a lead in the musical isn’t just about playing a part but also having naturally wonderful characteristics.

The part goes to…

Quvenzhané Wallis, along with Nancy Ohlin create this delightful beginning chapter book for students who really want to stay true to themselves but are are at times unsure.  With a strong support system, even third graders can get through tough situations.  Read Break an Egg!  

For grades 3-4.

Thursday, January 04, 2018


There are many roles in middle school that each person assumes. There are athletes, popular kids, nerds, teacher's pets, and over-achievers. Gracie doesn’t buy into any of it. She just goes with her own flow, even with family challenges at home. She is not considered a fashionista or 'big girl on campus;' she’s just a regular middle school girl who is witty, charming, and a good friend. She also happens to have a crush on a boy. The only problem is that her BFF has a crush on the same boy. When her very shy friend asks her for some help, what will Gracie do?

In, Well, That Was Awkward, Rachel Vail skillfully weaves the trials and tribulations of a middle-schooler in a relatable story. Despite her many challenges Gracie is somehow able to bring her strength and courage to the forefront. Rachel Vail's inclusion of middle-schoolers from different ethnic backgrounds is a plus.

For ages 12 and up.