Green Is a Chile Pepper

Green Is a Chile Pepper: A Book of Colors is a new picture book with beautiful illustrations. The book features a little girl who discovers and learns about all the colors found around her Spanish-American neighborhood and wonderfully depicts the culture. Green is cilantro, red is a ribbon, purple are the rides, pink are piñatas. Each page of the book has rhyming text, Spanish words, and Spanish color words. It also contains a mini glossary of the Spanish words found throughout the story. The book is a real treat for many reasons. Bueno!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #481 “Now I know what a ghost is. Unfinished business, that's what.” ~ Salman Rushdie

If the cover jacket of Horrorstor by Grady Hendrix reminds you of retail catalogs for a particular furniture superstore with a maize-and-blue logo, it is intentional. No, I am not talking about that other BIG HOUSE.

Something strange is happening at the Orsk furniture superstore in Cleveland, Ohio. Every morning, employees arrive to find the showrooms vandalized, furniture smashed and glassware broken. To put an end to the mystery, the snarky store manager assigns Amy and Ruth Ann to stay overnight in the store to catch the culprit, while Matt and Trinity on their own, are filming a reality show, hoping to find evidence of ghost-haunting. Together, they find more than they bargained for in this fun horror novel.

Longtime pop-culture journalist Grady Hendrix (website) infuses sly social commentary on the nature of work in the 21st century economy to a traditional haunted house story, complete with illustrations of ready-to-assemble furniture and other more sinister accessories. "Nifty" is what a reviewer called it, and sure to entertain.

Rooms by Lauren Oliver, bestselling Teen author makes her adult debut with a mesmerizing story in the tradition of The Lovely Bones; Her Fearful Symmetry; and The Ocean at the End of the Lane - ”a tale of family, ghosts, secrets, and mystery, in which the lives of the living and the dead intersect in shocking, surprising, and moving ways."

Wealthy Richard Walker has just died. His estranged bitter ex-wife Caroline, troubled teenage son Trenton, and unforgiving daughter Minna return for their inheritance. Joining them are Alice and Sandra, ghosts of former residents bound to this country house. The living and dead are each haunted by painful truths. When a new ghost appears, the spirit and human worlds collide, with cataclysmic results.

Elegantly constructed and brilliantly paced, "Oliver's ear for dialogue is finely tuned. She's able to take the tropes of the traditional ghost story and give them new energy by creating ghosts who are realistic but still terrifyingly paranormal".

A page-turner, and one of this fall's buzz titles.

The Hundred-Year House * * * by Rebecca Makkai.

Located just north of Chicago, Laurelfield, designed in the English country style at the turn of the century for the Devohrs of Toronto, is home to Gracie Devohrs and her new husband Bruce. Sharing the antiquated carriage house are her daughter Zee, a Marxist literary scholar, Doug her out-of-work academic husband, Bruce's down-on-his-luck Texan son Case and his artist wife Miriam.

When Doug finds out Laurelfield served as an artists' and writers' colony in the 1920s, and Edwind Parfitt, the subject of his stalled biography (nevermind that it might be the only hope of a future academic position) had been a resident at the Colony, he is desperate to gain access to the colony records, rotting away in the attic for decades, records that Gracie guards with a strange ferocity. But what he discovers when he finally gets his hands on them is more than he bargains for. The secrets of the hundred-year house would turn everything Doug and Zee think they know about her family on its head.

"In this brilliantly conceived, ambitious, and deeply rewarding novel, Rebecca Makkai unfolds a generational saga in reverse, leading the reader back in time on a literary scavenger hunt as we seek to uncover the truth about these strange people and this mysterious house. With intelligence and humor, a daring narrative approach, and a lovingly satirical voice, Rebecca Makkai has crafted an unforgettable novel about family, fate and the incredible surprises life can offer."

"Its gothic elements, complexity, and plot twists are reminiscent of Margaret Atwood's The Blind Assassin. Chilling and thoroughly enjoyable."

* * * = 3 starred reviews

NEW Picture Book: Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten

If you like cute and curious picture books, then you will love Princess Penelope and the Runaway Kitten! Little Penelope is delighted to play with a soft white kitten, who is entangled in a ball of knitting yarn. The chase is on as Princess Penelope runs after the kitten throughout the house, causing havoc and dragging yarn wherever it goes. This gentle story flows well with simple rhymes and would serve as an excellent lap book. My favorite element of this book is the glittery pink yarn, which readers can both see and feel winding in intricate patterns over the pages. For even more pink and pretty stories, check out Alice the Fairy or the wordless Flora and the Flamingo.

A Southern Charmer for Children

You’ve heard of Bigfoot, but have your heard of his cousin, the Sugar Man? Well, in Kathi Appelt’s The True Blue Scouts of Sugar Man Swamp, you can learn all about the illusive Sugar Man and the creatures who call his Texas swamp their home.

As the story opens, raccoon brothers Bingo and J’miah have been charged with waking the Sugar Man if the swamp comes under danger. And of course, danger arrives right on schedule. But before it does, readers are treated to two richly interwoven stories – one about a pair of young raccoons trying to prove their merit as Swamp Scouts and another about a twelve-year-old boy trying to save his family’s restaurant after his grandfather’s death. Filled with fantastic turns-of-phrase, if you enjoy books with a strong Southern voice, then you’ll love this one. Plus, the audiobook is narrated by native Texan Lyle Lovett who adds a wonderful Southern charm to this story.

For older teen and adult fantasy fans: The Black Jewels Trilogy

Fantasy fans may be excited to learn about the Black Jewels Trilogy that was recently added to the AADL collection. Written in the late 1990s and early 2000s by Anne Bishop, this is one of only a few fantasy series that I have read that maintains a strong lead female character. The world that Bishop introduces readers to in the first installment of the series, Daughter of the Blood, is unlike any other, real or imagined. Comprised of various “realms” and controlled by female witch-queens, each creature in this world has a particular level of magical power based on the darkness and value of their “birthright jewel.”

As the series opens, the realms of this magical world have fallen into ruin due to rampant corruption and extreme distrust among their leaders. Everyone is poised, waiting for the all powerful witch-queen that has been prophesied to come and make everything right again. Daughter of the Blood introduces readers to this long-awaited heroine, Jaenelle, a girl who is a mere 8 years old at the beginning of the story. Three different, powerful men take it upon themselves to protect her from those who hope to ruin her until she comes of age, but her own powers make controlling her and keeping her safe nearly impossible.

Admittedly, the complexity of the fantasy world in this series makes the story a bit difficult to comprehend at first, but readers who battle through the first hundred pages of the trilogy will be glad they did. The trilogy packs in all the elements of a great fantasy tale: magic, love and hate, good and evil, epic battles, kings and queens, ancient castles… the works. After Daughter of the Blood, the story continues with Heir to the Shadows and concludes with Queen of the Darkness.

Nicola's Book: Meet Rachel DeWoskin

Author Rachel DeWoskin will visit Nicola's Books in Westgate Shopping Center on Sept. 12 at 7 p.m., following publication of "Blind," her debut young-adult novel.
From Publishers Weekly: " At the start of Emma’s freshman year, she loses her sight in a freak accident. Despite help and support from her parents, six siblings, best friend Logan, and classmates at Briarly—a school for the blind Emma attends before she “mainstreams” back to her local high school—Emma wants to curl up and die. But when Claire, a friend from her “old life,” kills herself by swallowing a cocktail of painkillers and drowning, Emma rethinks her “PBK” (poor blind kid) attitude and her approach to recovery. While writing the book, DeWoskin learned Braille at the Chicago Lighthouse for the Blind . . . " The book is for readers age 12 and up. DeWoskin, an Ann Arbor native, lives in Chicago. Her previous books include Foreign Babes in Beijing: Behind the scenes of a new China and Big Girl Small, which won the Alex Award from the American Library Association.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #480

The Frozen Dead * * by Bernard Minier is the U.S. release of an international best-seller set in the French Pyrenees. Saint-Martin-de-Comminges is a remote small town, reached only by cable car, where winters are harsh and the wind relentless. On a brisk snowy morning, workers arriving for seasonal service of the hydroelectric power station discover a horrific scene - a headless, flayed body of a horse is suspended from the edge of a frozen cliff.

The charismatic, Latin-quoting Commandant Martin Servaz of nearby Toulouse is called on to investigate this priority case since the Thoroughbred belongs to non-other than Eric Lombard, CEO of a multinational company and member of a very influential family with strong political ties to the area.

Just a few miles away on that same day, Diane Berg a young psychiatrist from Geneva starts her first job at the Wargnier Institute, a high-security asylum for the criminally insane. Uneasy with the unorthodox methods used on the patients/prisoners and some alarming behavior among the staff, Dr. Berg teams up with Commandant Servaz when DNA from one of the most notorious inmates (think Hannibal Lecter) of the asylum is found on the horse carcass.

"Complex, fast-paced, and completely absorbing. "

"The pervasiveness of evil in this tense and disturbing novel makes for very compelling reading, with the suspense bordering on horror. It should appeal to those who enjoyed Pierre Lemaitre's Alex (2013) as well as the edgier Scandinavian thrillers."

* * = starred review

Parent’s Corner: Back to School

Summer’s over. The backpacks and lunch boxes have been dusted off. The yellow bus is full of kids. Yep, school’s back in session for most. Which means homework, reports, projects, new friends, new schools, and so much more. Whether the kids are preschoolers or seniors in high school, a new school year means new challenges for both the parent and the child.

The Parent Shelf is located in the downtown youth area, and on this shelf you’ll find a variety of parent-child related books on a multitude of topics- including everything from 4th grade math to potty training to language to bullying. These books are available for checkout and can be found in the catalog when searching “parent shelf.”

Here are a few back to school related titles to look for:

* The parent backpack for kindergarten through grade 5: How to support your child's education, end homework meltdowns, and build parent-teacher connections

* How to tutor your own child: Boost grades and instill a lifelong love of learning, without paying for a professional tutor

* Help your kids with math: A unique step-by-step visual guide

* School success for kids with ADHD

* Cracking the 4th grade: A parent's guide to helping your child excel in school Reading & math

For additional resources on homework help, don’t forget to check out our Homework Help page! You’ll find information on free tutoring, research resources, and lists of books by reading level!

Summer Game 2014: Game Over, Man! Game Over!

Well, Gamers, it's over. The cries of anguish have finally subsided. The tears have been wiped away. The sun rose (twice, so far!) and set (only once, but I wouldn't worry about it). But, hey, let's take a look back at how AMAZING this Summer Game really was!

Players Playing: an ASTOUNDING 4,920!
Badges Earned: an ASTONISHING 68,040!!
Codes Entered: an AMAZING 339,062!!!
Points Earned: an AWE-INSPIRING 30,033,470!!!!

In case you are wondering if those numbers BLOW NUMBERS FROM PREVIOUS YEARS OUT OF THE WATER, the answer is YES!!!

At times like these, questions long pushed to the back of the brain percolate to the top of one's consciousness: How will I live my life without the Summer Game? What can I look for at the library if there are no codes? Where will I share my opinions about things I've read/watched/listened to? What can I accomplish if I'm not earning badges? (Answers: You did just fine before June 13th! Books, CDs, DVDs, Tools, Art Prints, etc etc etc! You can still do that in the catalog, there are just no points for it! I dunno, learn to play the zither or something!)

But you can also play all of the non-Summer Game games available at play.aadl.org! Like Points-O-Matic, where you can help us figure out which reviews are helpful and which are not with a click of your mouse and where you can help us make our amazing old newspapers more searchable by entering text from hundred-year-old pages! Or Streets Quest, a game that takes you to many of the historic streets panels around town and teaches you the history of the city around you! How about Treasure Quest, a truly bonkers set of quests the will set you to decoding and deciphering your way through the catalog!

Or...how about A BRAND-NEW SET OF QUESTS, heretofore unseen in the annals of play.aadl.org! That's right, a new game is on its way! When? SOON! (But not too soon, let us recover from the Summer Game first.) Keep your eyes on play.aadl.org to find out when this new game begins!

And don't forget about all of those Summer Game points you earned this year! The Summer Game Shop stays open until 5 PM MONDAY, SEPTEMBER 15TH, so get there and spend spend spend!

That's all for now! You players are what makes the Summer Game GREAT, and this year has been the GREATEST YEAR EVER, so thanks for a TRULY PHENOMENAL SUMMER GAME! And, one last time for 2014...

THANKS FOR PLAYING!

The Museum of Extraordinary Things

In New York City, in the spring of 1911, something happened which appalled and enraged the average citizen and began to turn the tide in the struggle for worker’s rights. This was the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory fire, where 146 young women and men, locked into their workplace so they could not take breaks, perished. Most jumped to their deaths from the ninth floor to avoid dying in the flames.

Coney Island, freak shows and The Dreamland Amusement Park, were places where average Brooklyn citizens found their entertainment and escape at the tumultuous turn of the 20th century. It was a macabre and painful existence for the “wonders” who provided that entertainment, sadly deformed and exotic people and animals, who were on display to provide thrills and chills to the insatiable public.

New York native, and prolific author, Alice Hoffman, has written a wonder of a book about her home town in 1911, framed by two monumental and tragic fires and exploring the life of a young woman who was raised to perform in the Museum of Extraordinary Things, a typical “freak” show of the period, as a mermaid. She is exploited cruelly by the owner, her own father, but she finds special friends who give her the opportunity to learn about the world beyond her tank.

Part mystery, part love story, part documentary, and completely magical, Hoffman manages to create a fictional context to explore the history of photography, the labor movement, Coney Island, Orthodox Jewish life in the tenements, the exploitation of factory workers and the first wild animals made to perform for the public in amusement parks. Threading through the grim tale of the underbelly of turn-of-the-century, untamed New York and Brooklyn, its gangsters, criminals, corrupt police, and immoral factory owners, is a deep, enduring story of unlikely friendships and of love, between parent and child, and between young lovers trying to find their true selves, seeking to break free from the confinement and cruelty in which they find themselves enmeshed.

Hoffman has become an ardent and gifted storyteller, and with this subject matter, so close to her own history (both her grandfathers were immigrant factory workers turned labor radicals), she shines. Don’t miss The Museum of Extraordinary Things. (The one she wrote before this was amazing too: The Dovekeepers.)

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