Baked (and Unbaked) Delights for Everyone!

Tomorrow, March 20, is officially the first day of spring. And what better way to celebrate than baking tons and tons of sweet treats? Check out these recently added, dietary-specific cookbooks.

Sweet Eats for All, from popular blogger and cookbook author Allyson Kramer, is a lusciously photographed collection of vegan and gluten-free recipes that covers a huge range of desserts, from cupcakes, cookies, and pies to puddings, candies, and ice creams. While you'll find a few standard recipes here (classic yellow cupcakes; apple pie; chocolate pudding), there are many more unusual and creative ones that don't often show up in basic cookbooks: speculoos cookies, pistachio rose cheesecake, strawberry balsamic sorbetto, and hand-pulled taffy, just to name a few. There's also a whole chapter dedicated to no-refined-sugar recipes for those who want to cut out the processed junk.

Rawsome Vegan Baking's claim to fame is that it's not only gluten-free and vegan, but raw too! This book (called an "un-cookbook") by Emily Von Euw is probably not for people with nut allergies, as nuts are prevalent here (though there are a couple nut-free recipes). The photographs are gorgeous, and it's nice to have minimally-processed recipes on hand. One interesting twist to this book is that some recipes use GF-oat or buckwheat flour to cut down on the density (and expense!) of all-nut-based desserts while still being gluten-free. Some examples of what you'll find in these pages: cashew coffee vanilla creme cake with cinnamon chocolate crust; go-nuts donuts with frosting and sprinkles, and fresh citrus tart with lemon cream.

Decadent Gluten-Free Vegan Baking by Cara Reed is also not to missed. Within its pages you will find recipes not just for sweets like cookies, cakes, and pastries, but also savories like "Cheez-It" crackers and focaccia bread. Highlights: GF, vegan versions of Girl Scout cookies! Reed also shows you how to make your own natural food dyes.

A Pond Full of Ink

" 'Would you like to come out walking?' said the table to the chair,
'I've been standing here forever, and I'd like to take the air.'
'Now you mention it, I'd love to come, ' the chair at once replied.
'Why, we both have legs beneath us that we've never even tried.' "

Looking for something a little silly? A little goofy? A little bizarre or 'out-there'? Turn to A Pond Full of Ink for a quirky display of poetry with unbelievable illustrations. This poetry collection by Dutch author Annie M. G. Schmidt contains 12 funny and nonsensical poems, which are paired with fantastical images. These sketch-like illustrations are the true star here, and remind me quite a bit of Quentin Blake's great illustrations for Roald Dahl's books.

While reading A Pond Full of Ink, I was immediately reminded of the late great Shel Silverstein. If you have yet to check out this brilliant author, take a gander at some of his best works, including Where the Sidewalk Ends and Falling Up.

Waiting (not so) patiently for A Spool of Blue Thread by Anne Tyler?

Anne Tyler's 20th (and rumored to be final) novel, A Spool of Blue Thread, continues her trademark talent for finding beauty and complexity in the mundane details of average family life. The story follows the Whitshaw family, whose long-married, but mismatched parents, Red and Abby, are aging and beginning to struggle with the upkeep on the big house in which they raised their four children. As Abby's memory begins to fail, their grown children circle home to help, to make decisions, and to open old wounds and resentments. Fans of Tyler's previous novels may find some familiar ground here, but all readers will appreciate the Tyler's ability to hone in on universalities in family dynamics.

Here are a few titles to tide you over while you wait or to recommend to your book club after they devour A Spool of Blue Thread:

The Turner House by Angela Flournoy - The 13 Turner children, nearly all of them born and raised in the family's 3 bedroom house on the east side of Detroit, face the realities of their pasts and their futures as they come together to decide the fate of their family home in a disentigrating city.

The End of the Point by Elizabeth Graver - The house at Ashaunt Point has long anchored the Porter family through the upheaval of war, personal tragedies, changing fortunes, in this powerful examination of the ties that bind families together.

Someone by Alice McDermott - This gem of a domestic fiction novel follows Brooklyn-born Marie Commeford as she navigates changing social norms and expectations from her pre-Depression birthdate throughout her humble yet fascinating life.

Some Luck by Jane Smiley - This first part of a planned trilogy tells the story of Iowa farming family the Langdons, starting in 1920 and moving through the decades as their family grows and changes against the backdrop of the 20th century.

Life-Changing Magic…

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: The Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing is an international best-selling book by Marie Kondo that is apparently magically changing lives. Kondo is a cleaning consultant that has created the KonMari Method, and with this she challenges you to ponder the significance of everything you own, and to keep only those items that spark joy. This includes everything – clothing, books, papers, miscellaneous stuff, and items with sentimental value. She instructs on how to sift through these items, how to purge what is not needed, and how to feel wonderful after doing so.

The book is full of wisdom and insight on how to make what you own fit into the space you live in. She states that no one should claim they have no space for storage. Her idea is that if you tidy a little bit every day you will be tidying up for the rest of your life. If you follow the KonMari method and follow through, tidying every day will not be necessary. This is not simply buying some bins and storing your stuff. This delves much deeper into analyzing every item you own and in a particular order.

People across the country have been devouring this book, including me, and I wonder how others are doing with the process! Will you Kondo your house?!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #517 - "Excuse me, but I absolutely cannot understand how after eating my fill here I could go past a bakery and steal a roll.” ~ Leo Tolstoy

One of The Huffington Post's most anticipated debut of 2015, Hausfrau* * a novel by award-winning poet Jill Alexander Essbaum (faculty, University of California, Riverside) is an exquisite tale of an expatriate American wife living in Switzerland and her sexual and psychic unraveling, "(written) with an elegance, precision, and surehandedness that recalls Marguerite Duras's The Lover and Anita Brookner's (Booker Prize) Hotel du Lac." ~ Janet Fitch

38 year-old Anna Benz, "is a good wife, mostly." Mother of three, married to a Swiss banker, they live in a picture-perfect suburb of Zurich. But Anna is falling apart inside. At the suggestion of her analyst Doktor Messerli, Anna enrolls in German language classes "to become more connected to the world", but continues to slip into a string of extramarital affairs that eventually exact a price far more than she could ever imagine.

Navigating the lines between lust and love, guilt and shame, excuses and reasons, Anna Benz's story reveals how we create ourselves and how we lose ourselves, and the sometimes disastrous choices we make to find ourselves. "Isolated and tormented, Anna shares more than her name with that classic adulteress, Anna Karenina."

Literary fiction readers might want to further explore the subject with Adultery by Paulo Coelho; A Week in October by Elizabeth Subercaseaux; and I am Having So Much Fun Here Without You by Courtney Maum.

* * = 2 starred reviews

RIP Terry Pratchett, Fantasy Author


Prolific British fantasy author Terry Pratchett passed away this week, leaving behind a legacy of over 70 novels and legions of fans. He continued to write through his diagnosis with a rare form of Alzheimer's Disease in 2007, completing his final novel last year. In his 35-book Discworld series, Pratchett skewered everything from the postal service to the invention of the steam engine with his trademark wit.

Toward the end of his life, his brain struggled with the tasks of reading and writing, and he began using speech recognition software to compose his novels. In a touching but funny remembrance of Pratchett on NPR, the author admits he had to teach the American-designed software a lot of words, and not all appropriate ones.

He will be remembered for his beloved fantasy books, which were endlessly creative and never without a sense of satire, and his unflagging sense of humor. Rest in peace, Terry Pratchett!

PreK BITS – “Y” is for YES !


Ms Rachel tried to get as many "yeses" as possible into the storytime this week..
YES DAY! … what do you call a day when every answer is yes?
Ms. Sara sang the "Uh Oh" song, from a CD recording UH OH! by Rosenshontz. It is no longer in the library collection.
Ms. Rachel sold "Five Yummy Buns From The Bakery Shoppe". Do we want one? YES we do! The one with the sugar on the top!
The GINGERBREAD GIRL … “Yes, Yes. Twist and twirl. I'm so fast I’m the Gingerbread Girl!”

For more ways to get to “Yes” try these titles:
YO! YES? … two lonely kids meet … and shyly make friends.
OLLIE’S SCHOOL DAY: a Yes and No Book
PETE The CAT And HIS FOUR GROOVY BUTTONS
SCAREDY SQUIRREL MAKES A FRIEND because … “Yes” one can overcome one’s fears.
NO DOGS ALLOWED at the restaurant… but another place says “Yes” …
NO MORE KISSES FOR BERNARD! and “Yes” to an alternative.
NO ROSES FOR HARRY … but “Yes” to black spots.
ZARAFA The GIRAFFE WHO WALKED To The KING a true story … and “Yes” she walked 400 miles!

New BabyLit Primer Board Books

Jennifer Adams' BabyLit primer board book series are new to the shelves and proving to be a great way to introduce your young child to literary classics! The BabyLit primer series takes well-known literary classics such as The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn, Wuthering Heights and Moby Dick, and introduces children to these novels in a way that is both easy to digest and unbelievably delightful. These books feature brilliant and engaging illustrations, simple phrases or quotes from the original texts, and present important vocabulary for your child to interact with.

Alice in Wonderland, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and A Christmas Carol are color primers and therefore feature color vocabulary as related to their respective books. Learn about Old Marley's silver chains or Oz's yellow brick road and green Emerald City. Help familiarize your child with numbers by reading Jane Eyre or Romeo & Juliet, both counting primers.

There are primers on familiar topics, such as opposites, animals and sounds, as well as categories as diverse as fashion, anatomy or nonsense. There is even a primer on learning Spanish! These beautiful books are a great addition to any bookshelf and can help set in motion a love of reading to last a lifetime.

Library Lists: 10 Great Animal Books for Kids

Are you looking for cool facts about animals? Are you interested in seeing amazing, detailed pictures of animals and how they swim, run, climb, and eat? Here’s ten of the best designed, researched and illustrated books on animals for kids in grades K-8.

1. Bone collection: Animals: This book has detailed pictures and drawings of the skeletons of some of the world’s most fascinating animals! Study their bones to find out how they move and survive.

2. Extreme Animals: The Toughest Creatures on Earth: Many animals can survive in conditions that humans could never tolerate. Learn about these animals and their special adaptations that allow them to brave the driest deserts, the coldest poles, and other amazing locations.

3. Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World: Animals have eyes of all different shapes, colors, and seeing-capabilities. Learn why different animals have such unique eyes and how they use them to gain information about what’s around them.

4. Amazing Giant Wild Animals: This awesome book features fold out pages of some of the longest, widest, tallest and heaviest creatures on Earth, allowing you to get a feel for their true size!

5. Actual Size: Steve Jenkins’ amazing paper-cut illustrations make this amazing book even more wonderful. Each page features part of an animal or a whole animal presented in its real-life size. You can see how animal shapes and sizes compare to your own body parts and to other animals!

6. Nocturne: Creatures of the Night: Amazing photographs of nocturnal animals take readers on a journey through the animal kingdom at night. Learn about the habits and habitats of forty different night-dwelling creatures.

7. Creature Features: Some animals have strange features! In this beautiful book, the animals themselves explain why they look the way they do, and why their seemingly unusual traits actually help them survive in the wild.

8. National Wildlife Federation’s World of Birds: This colorful almanac for beginning bird watchers is filled with over a hundred species, arranged by habitat. A must-have guide for those interested in learning about the birds we see in our backyards!

9. Animalium: Take a journey to the museum with this stunning book! Invertebrates, fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals are all featured in gorgeous illustrations in this virtual museum with exhibits open 365 days a year!

10. The Animal Book: This “collection of the fastest, fiercest, toughest, cleverest, shyest--and most surprising--animals on Earth” features over 300 types of animals and offers an easily comprehensible history of life on Earth. My personal favorite animal book for kids!

Still want more? Check out this more extensive list of great, kid-friendly books on animals!

Lift-the-Flap Board Books!

The library has many baby board books, with thick pages ready for babies and toddlers to handle. But sometimes you’re looking for the books that have peek-a-boo style flaps that the kiddos can lift up and explore! We have several of those.

This past week Ms. Amanda featured Guess What? - Food at storytime, and it’s great if you’re looking for a silly guessing story, even for preschoolers. AADL also has many more lift the flap books to choose from! Check out the list and see what might make your little one's reading time more hands-on.

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