Materials We Have

The Thank You Book by Mo Willems

As a huge fan of the Elephant and Piggie series by Mo Willems, I have to admit I was sad when the latest book came out, which is the last one for Gerald and Piggie.  It is called The Thank You Book and it does not disappoint!  These books teach great lessons and are just plain fun!  I highly recommend them for any early readers, or parents reading aloud to their children.

Saving Lucas Biggs

Saving Lucas Biggs is the first book by the writing partners, husband and wife team of Marisa de los Santos and David Teague.  It is a well-written, captivating book that involves the O’Malley family and their “quirk” – the ability to time travel.  Margaret O’Malley learns that “history resists” when you are going back in time to change the past, but she desperately wants to help her father who has been found guilty of the crimes of arson and murder and sentenced to death.  The chapters alternate between present day 2014 and 1938.  It was a good escape from recent news, and this quote from the book even helped me put things in perspective:

“For every big, bad, attention-getting thing that happens, there are thousands of small good ones, acts that might even seem ordinary but really aren’t, so many that we can forget to notice them or to count them up.  But it’s what has always amazed me:  not how terrible people can be to each other, but how good, in spite of everything.” 

So, I will keep that in mind when the news is full of the big, bad attention-getting things, and I will be thankful that the library is full of books that will help me escape for a little while.

As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds

When I read something by a “new to me” author that I really like, I want to read all of the books that they have written!  So this weekend after reading As Brave as You by Jason Reynolds, I put myself on hold for his book All American Boys, and checked out The Boy in the Black Suit and When I Was the Greatest

I liked everything about As Brave as You – the characters, plot, writing style, even what the author had to say about himself on the flap!  The story centers around two brothers who go to stay with their grandparents while their parents go on a vacation to try to work out some of their issues.  The youngest, Genie, is worried about them getting divorced. 

The boys get to know their grandparents and life in Virginia, which is very different than life in Brooklyn!  Ernest and Genie have a whole list of chores to do every day and they don’t even have an internet connection!  The story takes a lot of different twists and turns, and focuses on the sweet relationship that is blooming between Genie and Grandpop.  I don’t want to give out too many details, but I highly recommend this book.  I'll keep you posted on his other titles.

There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith

I picked this book up as I was going through my semi-regular scouring of the lists of potential 2017 Caldecott Award contenders (which is a great way to stumble across new and wonderful picture books). Out of the most recent stack I checked out, There Is a Tribe of Kids by Lane Smith was by far and away my absolute favorite. I expected to like it (I’ve been a fan of Lane Smith’s work since my own childhood when he teamed up with Jon Scieszka to illustrate several of his books, including The Stinky Cheese Man and The True Story of the 3 Little Pigs), but even with that expectation, I was blown away by just how beautiful and touching this book turned out to be.

The premise of the book straightforward enough: we see an unnamed, leaf-clad child in nature as he encounters different groups of animals and learns the names for their various communities (a pod of whales, an unkindness of ravens, and so on). We watch him join in with these different communities and take part in their rituals and experiences before moving onto the next. What initially seems like it might be a disparate set of encounters turns out to be his journey as he eventually makes his way towards his own group, a – you guessed it – tribe of kids. And although it’s clear that his path is designed to take him towards this tribe where he belongs and recognizes himself in its others members, we still see him joyfully experiencing life among the other groups of animals as he makes his way there, even if they aren’t his own tribe.

The text is sparse while still being engaging, and the illustrations elevate this book to something really beautiful and immersive. They are rich, textured, and whimsical, with so many things to discover that you almost have to go back to certain pages. From his very first meeting with a colony of penguins, I was hooked on this gorgeous celebration of nature, communities, and the joy we can feel while immersed within both those things.

Find it here at ELPL.

Beginning Reader Kits

The transition to easy readers can often be difficult for young children who are reading their very first words.

Ida, Always by Caron Levis

In Ida, Always, by Caron Levis and Charles Santoso, we meet Gus and Ida, two polar bears who live together at a zoo in New York City (based loosely on the real life polar bear residents of the Brooklyn Zoo) and spend all their time together. But when Ida suddenly falls terminally ill, they both have to confront the fact that soon she won’t be around anymore, and we see them both grieve in their own ways. Sometimes they play like normal; sometimes they’re angry; sometimes they need to be alone; and sometimes they need to be together. When Ida ultimately passes away, Gus is left to make sense of what her life – and her absence – means.

Ida, Always isn’t the first picture book to address the tough (but necessary) concept of loss and grief in a way that’s accessible and appropriate for children, but this is one of the best versions I’ve come across recently. Both the text and the illustrations hit on the exact right tone; it’s tender without being overly cloying or euphemistic, and it reminds children that it’s okay (and expected) to grieve in a multitude of ways when a loved one dies. And the underlying concept that threads through the story – the idea that just because you can’t see something doesn’t mean it’s not still with you, illustrated by Gus’ ability to hear the sounds of New York City around him without ever being able to see it – brings a poetic and uplifting sensibility to a tough subject in a way that will resonate with children and adults alike.

This is a touching, carefully done book about grief – a topic that we all grapple with eventually, and sometimes at far too young an age – that will stand the test of time.

(Maybe don’t read this one at your desk if you tend to cry easily like I do, though).

Find Ida, Always at ELPL.

World of Warcraft Chronicle Volume I

This is a must read for any fan of Blizzard's World of Warcraft MMO or the Warcraft I.P in general. WoW Chronicle details the history of Azeroth from before its creation to 45 years before the opening of the Dark Portal. You learn about the history of almost all the denizens of  the game, from the cosmic beings that discovered Azeroth to (most of) the various races and factions we've all come to love (or loath). It was fascinating to read about the creation of the dwarves and gnomes, and the bloody history of the trolls. This book, more than anything else, has recreated the WoW itch and makes me wish I were still playing the game. I constantly recognized various dungeons and dungeon bosses and reading where they came from made the lore of the game that much more rich and exciting, and I would love to create a myriad of level 1's just to experience everything all over again with this new found historical knowledge.
What also added so much to the book were the gorgeous illustrations sprinkled throughout, depicting various characters, battles, and landscapes. The only real complaint I have is that I wish there were more of them. But seeing how much detail and effort went into each one, I can understand how there can only be so many. Especially since this is the first of three books.

World of Warcraft Chronicle Volume I is an amazing addition to the Warcraft library and I cannot wait for the second volume to be published.

The Raven King by Maggie Stiefvater

First, two disclaimers: one, I’m using this review as an opportunity to recommend the whole series, so if you haven’t already, don’t start with The Raven King, which is the newly released fourth and final book in Maggie Stiefvater’s Raven Cycle series – start with The Raven Boys and its two follow-ups, The Dream Thieves and Blue Lily Lily Blue. And two: I already knew I was going to love this book even before I read it. I know that might be a little overconfident, because conclusions to series can often be a let-down, but the first three books in this series are not just some of my favorite young adult books, but some of my favorite books of all time in general, so I was pretty confident this installment would be no exception (and I was right – I loved how this book wrapped up the series as a whole).

To briefly sum it up, the books follow Blue Sargeant, the daughter of a psychic, and the four “Raven Boys”, Gansey, Ronan, Adam, and Noah (called Raven Boys because they attend a private school whose crest is a raven) she’s tentatively found herself forming a friendship with. The action follows their quest to find an underground sleeping Welsh king named Glendower, who is rumored to be buried in Virginia and who can (hopefully) stop Gansey from meeting his untimely – but maybe unavoidable – death. The search for Glendower (and all the other magical goings-on that sidetrack them) is fascinating, unique, and well-written, but what ultimately makes this book so engrossing is the characters in it. The plot is almost secondary to the five of them navigating their new-found relationships with one another in ways that are thoughtful, hilarious, and heart-wrenching, sometimes all at once. The setting, which is lush and atmospheric from page one, is almost a character itself, and leads to a whole host of new characters, powers, and foes cropping up during the series, some dreamily magical and some heartbreakingly realistic.

This series ticks every box on the list of things that make me love a book series, including:

  • Fully fleshed-out, multi-dimensional characters (who still manage to believably act like teenagers)
  • Creepy magic, ghosts, psychics, and the looming specter of imminent death
  • Co-dependent friends and found families
  • Dreamy, atmospheric writing that has a style all its own
  • Cliché-free romance

(And that’s an abbreviated list).

I already miss these characters so much that I’ve started re-reading the series from the beginning, and in the mark of truly great books, it’s just as good – if not a little better – the second time around. This is a young adult series, but I think it has appeal for adults as well. If you only try one YA series this year, I recommend this one.

Find all the installments in The Raven Cycle here at ELPL.

400 Years Since Shakespeare

Saturday, April 23rd, marks the 400th anniversary of William Shakespeare's death. In his lifetime, Shakespeare wrote nearly 40 plays and more than 150 sonnets, and since his death in 1616 at the age of 52, his work has been translated into every major language in the world.

Prince

The sudden news of Prince's death has shocked us all, and as tributes to the multi-award winning musician, singer, songwriter and producer continue to spread purple across the world, we simply have to take a look back at the extraordinary contribution he made to the music industryCelebrated as one of the most unique and diverse artists of all time, Prince sold over 100 million 

Happy National Library Week!

In honor of National Library Week, we are displaying media for all ages featuring libraries and librarians. You can browse our selections in meatspace (on the shelving unit to the left of the new books) or online via our "National Library Week" community tag!

Grantchester

The highly anticipated second series of Grantchester is currently airing on PBS's Masterpiece Mystery on Sunday evenings, and since its first season aired, many have been encapsulated by the stories originally penned by James Runcie. Runcie's mysteries follow the life of Canon Sidney Chambers, a thirty-two year old Anglican minister in the village of Grantchester, who enters a world of murder and intrigue after cracking a murder case involving one of his parishioners. After realizing that Sidney is capable of acquiring information that he cannot, Inspector Geordie Keating decides to team up with him on a series of investigations in order to get the evidence he needs to convict his suspects. Sidney soon discovers that juggling a career as a clergyman and sleuthing in his spare time is downright exhausting, but with the help of his best friend, Amanda Kendall, a curator at the National Gallery of Art, and discussions with Georgie over regular sessions of backgammon at the local pub, Sidney finds that he has a gift for discovering the guilty party.

Runcie's mysteries are written in a short story format. Each book contains a string of who-dunits that are true to the time period, featuring stories of jazz clubs, jewelry thefts, and post-war espionage. But those who may not be captivated at the thought of a murder investigation will still have plenty to keep them reading. Runcie has captured a period in history in which many were attempting to rebuild their lives, and though Sidney has the compassion of a clergyman, he is not immune to the everyday struggles of life. As he manages his demons from a war-torn past, attempts to keep the peace with his housekeeper, and realizes that he has fallen in love too late, he becomes not just likeable, but relatable. 

Expecting its fifth installment in June, the Sidney Chambers series is sure to please anyone seeking an entertaining story with compelling characters. 

Sidney Chambers in Print

Sidney Chambers on DVD

Spring Reads for Kids

Spring has finally sprung! Ready for a great read about all things spring? Check out the following titles available here at ELPL!

Babies and Toddlers
Baby Loves Spring! by Karen Katz

Preschool and Kindergarten
Springtime In Bugland by David A. Carter
Spring Surprises by Anna Jane Hays
When Spring Comes by Kevin Henkes
Groundhog Weather School by Joan Holub
999 Frogs Wake Up by Ken Kimura
The Thing About Spring by Daniel Kirk
Fletcher and the Springtime Blossoms by Julia Rawlinson
Poppleton In Spring by Cynthia Rylant
Carrot Soup by John Segal
 

1st – 3rd grade
Melody and the Sea Dragon by Katy Kit
Clementine and the Spring Trip by Sara Pennypacker
Cowgirl Kate and Cocoa: Spring Babies by Erica Silverman
Almond Blossom’s Mystery by Kay Woodward
 

4th - 6th grade
The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall (ebook)
Persephone by Sally Pomme Clayton
Tales From A Not So Dorky Drama Queen by Rachel Renee Russel
The Ice Castle: An Adventure in Music by Pendred Noyce

 

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