Materials We Have

Happy Birthday, Harold and the Purple Crayon!

Happy birthday to Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson! The classic children's book that tells the tale of a little boy and the fantastic world he creates with his purple crayon turns 60 this year! Authors and readers from all around the world are celebrating this wonderful story with tributes to Harold, and you can join in the celebration too! Join us by re-reading the book, watching the cartoon, or listening to the audiobook, all available through ELPL, or stop by to create your own work of art in the library, including our Harold-themed coloring and activity sheets in the children's room. Leave your creations with the staff if you would like it to be displayed on the wall!

Brooklyn by Colm Toibin

It's the 1950's, and Eilis Lacey has decided to leave her home and family behind in Ireland to pursue the promise of a job in Brooklyn. She travels alone, and the only soul in Brooklyn that she knows is the Irish priest who is sponsoring her trip to America. Eilis experiences the hardships of adjusting to a new life, struggles to foster new and meaningful relationships, and ultimately finds opportunities that could change the course of her future. But when tragedy strikes back home, Eilis becomes torn between her family in Ireland and the new life she has built in America. 

This was the very first of Irish author, Colm Toibin's books that I have read, and I can assure you that it won't be the last. A quick read that will linger long after the final page is read. Available in print and e-audio


I originally picked up our Blu-Ray copy of Belle because it featured not just the aristocratic families and grand houses that one often expects to find in a period film, it promised to be unlike any other I had seen.  

Belle tells the story of Dido Elizabeth Belle Lindsay, a young aristocratic woman who was rescued from slavery and raised among the wealthy upper classes in 18th century England. Born to Maria Belle, an enslaved African woman living in the West Indies, and Sir John Lindsay, a British naval officer, Dido was saved by her father at a young age, and brought to England to be raised at Kenwood House under the guardianship of her great uncle, William Murray, 1st Earl of Mansfield, and his wife. The couple, having previously taken in their niece, Elizabeth Murray, raised Dido as one of their own.

 Starring Gugu Mbatha-Raw (Beyond the Lights) and Sam Reid (Anonymous), the film captures the young adulthood of Dido and her cousin, Elizabeth. As Dido comes of age, she struggles with her own identity as a multiracial woman amongst a homogeneous and classist society. After meeting a young lawyer, played by Reid, she gains further knowledge of issues surrounding the slavery she was born into, and makes her own attempts to change the course of history. 

Mbatha-Raw's portrayal of Dido is absolutely outstanding. She exudes intelligence and strength throughout the film, and as a viewer, I could not wait to see how she would conquer the 18th century injustices set upon her. I hope that the real Dido was as confident, and as brave as her character and that this beautifully written film might bring her story the attention it truly deserves.  

The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak

Some picture books just beg to be read out loud, and The Book With No Pictures by B.J. Novak (you might recognize him from TV’s The Office and The Mindy Project) is one of those -- except, as you might have guessed from the title, this is a picture book with no pictures in it! That’s right, none at all.

Never fear, though. This title is so fun to read out loud that even the most visual of readers will enjoy it. The rules of the book are simple: whoever is reading it has to say absolutely everything written down in it, no matter how silly. Even if it’s gibberish like “bliggity blaggity” or “glibbity globbity.” The text itself quickly becomes the art, using fonts, sizes, colors, and orientations as cues to the reader, occasionally breaking the fourth wall and inviting kids to participate with the silliness on a meta level (isn’t it fun to make mom or dad say something so goofy?). This hilarious, interactive book lets imaginations (and silly sides) soar, and it won’t take long to get both kids and adults laughing out loud!

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton

Kate Beaton is probably best known for her webcomics -- she’s the creative mind behind the ultra-popular Hark! A Vagrant, a hysterical take on history, as well as several autobiographical comics about her experiences growing up in Nova Scotia. In The Princess and the Pony, her first picture book for early elementary readers, she brings her trademark charm, humor, and eye for setting to the table again, this time as we join the fearless Princess Pinecone on her quest to receive the perfect birthday present. This year, she doesn’t want yet another cutesy sweater -- she has her heart set on a fierce battle horse to ride during the hero’s competition! She knows she can take on the other fearsome warriors on once she has a trusty steed of her own.

When her pony shows up, though, it’s not quite what she was hoping for. It’s short and fat, it’s eyes point in different directions (sometimes), and it has an unfortunate tendency towards gassiness. There’s no way Princess Pinecone will be able to become the ultimate champion riding this pony into battle... is there?

Full to the brim with engaging drawings, silly humor and vocabulary, and strong messages (particularly those of friendship, acceptance, combating stereotypes, and the fact that everyone -- even round, flatulent ponies -- have something valuable to bring to the table), this a book that kids will want to read over and over again, and parents (especially if they’re fans of Beaton’s work themselves, in which case they might recognize the eponymous pony from her earlier comics), will be happy to indulge them.

Find The Princess and the Pony at ELPL (as well as a printed collection of Hark! A Vagrant for adults). 

National Book Award for Young People's Literature Longlist

The longlist for 2015’s National Book Award for Young People’s Literature has been announced! Check out some of these titles (ranging in age from 4th to 12th grade audiences) for your next great read, and stay tuned to see who the winner is -- finalists are announced October 14th, and the winner will be revealed November 18th!


Chiggers by Hope Larson

It’s finally summer, and thirteen year old Abby is back at the sleepaway camp she’s loved attending for the last several years. Except this summer, things have started changing. There are new piercings, new boys, even new natural phenomena (including will o’ the wisps and the eponymous biting pests -- chiggers). Then there’s the new girl, Shasta, who no one can seem to stand except for Abby. As her summer at camp continues to go entirely differently (and a lot less smoothly) than she’d imagined it would, Abby has to realign her expectations, examine her own hang ups, and try to figure out her role in this familiar environment that’s suddenly not so familiar.

Aimed at readers ages 10 - 14, Chiggers, by Hope Larson fills an important role in the graphic novel genre -- realistic fiction for tween and teen girls, which are still comparatively few and far between in this medium. Chiggers does an admirable (and accurate) job of translating the sometimes confusing experience of growing up girl into a visual medium.

This is a great story for those who want to relive their summer camp experience, as well as those who simply appreciate a thoughtful, well-done graphic novel. Fans of Raina Telgemeier’s Smile and Sisters will likely enjoy this book as well, and recognize some common themes -- particularly, being a girl on the edge of teenagedom. Chiggers may not have as much action and adventure as some readers might expect from a graphic novel, but it overflows with heart, charm, and style.

Find it at ELPL here!

NBC Hannibal

Hello, Clarice friends. I am still recovering from what may, tragically, be the last episode of NBC's Hannibal, the thriller-horror television adaptation of Thomas Harris's 1981 novel, Red Dragon. But be not afraid: I won't spoil the series season finale (the airing of which just happened to coincide with the year's first supermoon). Just know that I was screaming through the whole thing. I am screaming as I type this. I may just keep screaming forever. 

For the uninitiated: Hannibal follows Will Graham (Hugh Dancy), a socially awkward FBI Academy lecturer and chronic dog collector, as he is recruited to profile and pursue a series of serial killers, to the increasing detriment of his own soundness of mind. Graham is singularly adept at empathizing with anyone, a talent that allows him to predict the deadly machinations of the criminally insane – and which draws the keen interest of forensic psychiatrist and amateur gourmet chef, Hannibal Lecter (Mads Mikkelsen).

Hannibal Lecter... How do I begin to explain Hannibal Lecter? Hannibal Lecter is flawless. I hear his perfectly coordinated three-piece suits are insured for $10,000. I hear he does kitchen appliance commercials... in Japan. His favorite musical instrument is the theremin. One time, he met a little kid on a plane and he fed him pieces of a human brain. One time, he ate my face, and it was awesome.

Because, as I daresay you're already aware, Hannibal eats people, and he looks good doing it. But life can get monotonous when you're always the smartest serial killer in the room, and Hannibal sees in Will what we all want, regardless of how ethically we source our food: someone who can truly understand him.

At the show's blood-soaked core is the most convoluted, traumatizing development of a darkly beautiful friendship between the loneliest, most elegantly dressed sociopath in the world and a salt-of-the-earth hyper-empath whose underwear collection consists entirely of duplicates of white boxer briefs: the attraction of opposites, and all that.

Does the dialog have a tendency to get a tad purplish in its prose? Does the soundtrack veer, at times, dangerously close to overwhelming? Has it taken two and a half seasons to dig into the storyline we've been waiting for? Well. Yes. But what a glorious!gruesome journey it's been! Hannibal is a beautifully designed, devilishly clever piece of television that boasts an all-star cast and offers a freshly frightening, updated take on a familiar franchise that manages to delight longtime fans and newcomers alike.

The first two seasons are available on DVD, so give it a try! If nothing else, the experience will add exciting new texture to your nightmares.

P.S. I watched almost every single episode while eating dinner and I may have to reassess my life choices.

Dead Man Walking by Helen Prejean (OBOC)

In 1982, Sister Helen Prejean became the spiritual advisor to Patrick Sonnier, the convicted killer of two teenagers who was sentenced to die in the electric chair of Louisiana's Angola State Prison. In the months before Sonnier's death, the Roman Catholic nun came to know a man who was as terrified as he had once been terrifying. At the same time, she came to know the families of the victims and the men whose job it was to execute him--men who often harbored doubts about the rightness of what they were doing.

Out of that dreadful intimacy comes a profoundly moving spiritual journey through our system of capital punishment. Confronting both the plight of the condemned and the rage of the bereaved, the needs of a crime-ridden society and the Christian imperative of love, Dead Man Walking is an unprecedented look at the human consequences of the death penalty, a book that is both enlightening and devastating. 

Review from

The Execution of Noa P. Singleton by Elizabeth Silver (OBOC)

An unforgettable and unpredictable debut novel of guilt, punishment, and the stories we tell ourselves to survive. 
Noa P. Singleton never spoke a word in her own defense throughout a brief trial that ended with a jury finding her guilty of first-degree murder. Ten years later, having accepted her fate, she sits on death row in a maximum-security penitentiary, just six months away from her execution date. 
Seemingly out of the blue, she is visited by Marlene Dixon, a high-powered Philadelphia attorney who is also the mother of the woman Noa was imprisoned for killing. Marlene tells Noa that she has changed her mind about the death penalty and Noa’s sentence, and will do everything in her considerable power to convince the governor to commute the sentence to life in prison, in return for the one thing Noa is unwilling to trade: her story.

Marlene desperately wants Noa to reveal the events that led to her daughter’s death – events that Noa has never shared with a soul. With death looming, Marlene believes that Noa may finally give her the answers she needs, though Noa is far from convinced that Marlene deserves the salvation she alone can deliver. Inextricably linked by murder but with very different goals, Noa and Marlene wrestle with the sentences life itself can impose while they confront the best and worst of what makes us human in this haunting tale of love, anguish, and deception. 

Graphic Novels for Kids

Looking for a great graphic novel for young readers? Check out some of our the past year’s best titles for kids and tweens here at ELPL!

Want more? Be sure to browse our graphic novel section in the children’s room or ask a librarian for help to discover your next great read!