Holiday Books-to-Movies Releases

Frozen
Loosely based on Hans Christian Andersen's The Snow Queen, this family-friendly musical comedy-adventure entertains without the original tale's darkness.

The Wolf of Wall Street
This "morality tale for our time" is adopted from Jordan Belfort's gritty memoir that "dishes up the dirty details of his company and his life - from his days as a wealthy stockbroker living the high life to his fall involving crime, corruption, and the federal govt. (Directed by Martin Scorsese, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey)

The Book Thief
Based on the 2006 runaway bestseller, and Printz-Honor Award winner, by Australian author Markus Zusak, it is the unforgettable story of the ability of books to feed the soul. It is 1939. Nazi Germany. Liesel, a young German girl whose book-stealing and story-telling talents help sustain her family and the Jewish man they are hiding, as well as their neighbors.

The Hunger Games : Catching Fire
"A class-divided postapocalyptic world, teenage gladiators suffering from post-traumatic stress, and a fiery love triangle collide" in the film adaptation based on Suzanne Collins second book in the wildly successful series.

Released to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, Parkland is based on author Vincent Bugliosi's book which recounts the chaotic events that occurred at Dallas's Parkland Hospital on November 22, 1963, following a handful of individuals forced to make split-second decisions that changed their lives and the world.

Therese
Based on Emile Zola's famous novel, Therese Raquin (English translation on order) tells the story of Therese and her lover Laurent who plot to murder Camille, Therese's sickly husband. Set in 1860's Paris, this classic tale of passion, betrayal and tragedy is a tantalizing erotic thriller.

Decorate Your Thanksgiving Table

Do you need some last minute decorations for your holiday meal?
Come to the Pittsfield Branch on Wednesday, November 27, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.
to make some decorations for your table. We'll be making our versions of
place mats, candles, turkeys and wreaths.

This is for kids Preschool - 5. All supplies will be provided.

Holiday decorations made by children's loving hands are the best!

For other ideas of Thanksgiving activities, look here.

Primates: The Fearless Science of Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey and Birute Galdikas

From author Jim Ottaviani’s boundless curiosity and research springs another fascinating graphic historical science comic. Primates relates the stories of three female scientists and how their life experiences brought them to discovery in the world of primates. All three women are protégés of anthropologist Louis Leakey and each find their niche of study – Jane Goodall researches chimpanzee behavior, Dian Fossey becomes a leading expert on mountain gorillas, and Birute Galdikas builds world awareness and understanding of orangutans.

The adventures of these three women who would come to know one another are ably illustrated by Maris Wicks who employs a cartoon style that infuses the energy and passion of each woman. Though cartoony the earth green/brown colors lend a realism that help the reader imagine the habitats in which these women live and work.

Video of Author Bill Minutaglio Discussing "Dallas, 1963"

If you missed our event on October 20, you can now watch or download the video of author Bill Minutaglio discussing his new book Dallas, 1963. Released just in time for the 50th anniversary of the Kennedy Assassination, Bill and his co-author, Steven L. Davis, have written a chilling account of the city that would become infamous for the assassination of a president.

National Book Award winners for 2013 have been announced

The 2013 National Book Awards, some of the most coveted of literary prizes, were announced last night at a gala event, held at New YOrk's landmark Cipriani Wall Street.

James McBride, author of The Good Lord Bird, was such an underdog, he had no prepared speech when he accepted the fiction prize. In 1857, abolitionist John Brown kills a slave owner and rescues Little Onion, the narrator of McBride's brilliant novel. Complication the inexorable lead-up to the raid at Harper's Ferry is that Brown mistakenly thinks Little Onion (a.k.a Henry Shackleford) is a girl, a disguise that Little Onion struggles to maintain. Visibly shaken by the award, McBride said the writing of his book saved him during a difficult period of his life when his mother and a much-loved niece died and his marriage fell apart.

George Packer, a staff writer for The New Yorker captured the non-fiction category for his searing examination of the class warfare currently being waged in America. The Unwinding: An Inner History of the New America is based on dozens of interviews of the mainstays of economic stability have been eroded by the actions of Wall Street and the big banks.

In the poetry category, Mary Szybist won for Incarnadine. Szybist, a professor at Lewis and Clark College in Portland, OR, is no stranger to the spotlight. Her first collection of poetry, Granted (2003) which was a finalist for the 2003 National Book Critics Circle Award for poetry.

Cynthia Kadohata, a 2005 Newbery Medal winner for Kira-Kira, took home the award last night in the young people's literature category for The Thing about Luck. Twelve-year-old Japanese American Summer and her little brother are left in the care of their old-school grandparents when their mother and father are called away to Japan to care for an ailing relative.

The Literarian Award for Outstanding Service to the American Literary Community was presented to Maya Angelou by her friend Toni Morrision.In presenting the award, Ms. Morrison said, "Dr. Maya Angelou, you improve our world by drawing from us, forcing from us our better selves."

Each winner received $10,000 and a statue made of bronze.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #437 - Ars longa, vita brevis (Art is long, life is short)

At the heart of Thomas Van Essen's debut - The Center of the World *, is perhaps the greatest painting by the renowned British painter J. M. W. Turner, and Henry Leiden, a middle-aged family man with a troubled marriage and a dead-end job, who finds his life transformed by the discovery of the painting in a secret compartment at his summer home in the Adirondacks.

Unlike the marine paintings Turner is known for, The Center of the World is a mesmerizing and erotic painting of Helen of Troy, so scandalous at the time that it was believed to have been burned by John Ruskin. Van Essen reimagines the 19th C. setting where Turner struggled to create this painting at the home of his patron Lord Egremont, and Elizabeth Spencer, Turner's muse and the model for his Helen.

"Filled with sex, beauty, and love (of all kinds), this richly textured novel explores the intersection between art and eroticism." "Van Essen writes gracefully and makes accessible the issue of art as transcendence...an appreciation for how art moves the human heart."

The Girl You Left Behind * by Jojo Moyes is about a 100 year-old painting that serves as catalyst in linking two loves stories, one set in occupied France during World War I, the other in contemporary London.

Liv Halston could not part with the painting her late husband David, a brilliant architect gave her as a wedding gift. Readers would be able to deduce that it is the same painting that Édouard, an artist who studied with Henri Matisse, painted of his wife Sophie Lefèvre, a village innkeeper before he headed off to war in 1916. The mystery is the odyssey of how this painting - The Girl I left Behind ended up in the hands of the Halstons, and who is the rightful owner - whether it is the Lefèvre heirs, the WWI occupying German kommandant who coerced a bargain with Sophie, or Liv who treasures it as the last link to the man she lost too soon?

"Moyes has created a riveting depiction of a wartime occupation that has mostly faded from memory. Liv and Sophie are so real in their faults, passion, and bravery that the reader is swept along right to the end. This one is hard to put down!"

Needing no introduction is Donna Tartt. In this her 3rd novel which took a good part of a decade to write The Goldfinch * * , the name is taken from a small, exquisitely rendered painting.

13 year-old Theo Decker miraculously survives an accident that takes the life of his mother. Alone and abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by a friend's family and struggles to make sense of his new life. In the years that follow, he becomes entranced by one of the few things that reminds him of his mother: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the art underworld.

"The Goldfinch is a haunted odyssey through present-day America, and a drama of almost unbearable acuity and power. It is a story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the enormous power of art."

* = starred review
* * = 2 starred reviews

Fantastic Family Audiobook: Peter and the Starcatchers

What happened before Peter met Wendy? Find out in Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson, an exciting prequel to J. M. Barrie’s classic Peter Pan.

Peter and the Starcatchers introduces readers to Peter and his orphan friends as they board a ship to the faraway land of Rundoon. Before they arrive, however, they uncover a magical treasure with amazing powers, which they must keep safe from a band of pirates, led by the wicked Black Stache. Expertly narrated by Jim Dale, most well-known as the narrator of the Harry Potter audiobooks, this audiobook adventure makes for a great family listen. Listeners familiar with Barrie’s novel will enjoy seeing how well-known features of the story began. The series continues with Peter and the Shadow Thief and Peter and the Secret of Rundoon.

Fans of the series should also know that it was adapted into a Tony-award-winning musical, and a film adaption is currently in development.

Check out more fantastic family audiobooks here.

Welcome To Mamoko

Welcome to Mamoko! There is trouble in town! Follow each character through this wordless picture book and discover a new tale on each page. The pages are full of colorful, detailed illustrations of critters and characters in a bustling town, similar to the style of Richard Scarry’s beloved Busytown. The first pages of the book give you clues to some of the characters to follow through Mamoko. If you have a little one that likes to hunt for things on pages of books, this one’s for you! With its large cardboard pages, it’s great for even the youngest of hands.

Charlotte Zolotow, children's author, has died

This has been a hard week for children's literature. First, we said goodbye to Junie B. Jones creator, Barbara Park. Now, we learn that Charlotte Zolotow, died yesterday at home in Hastings-on-Hudson, NY.

Ms. Zolotow, a fearless champion of facing head-on the tough issues of childhood -- loneliness, anger, death -- began her illustrious career, as a powerful editor for children's literature at Harper and Brothers (now HarperCollins Publishers). On her rise through the ranks (she eventually became head of the publisher's children's division, a vice president, and associate publisher and, 22 years ago, she was named publisher emerita), she made the careers of M.E. Kerr, Robert Lipsyte, and Paul Zindel whose 1968 teen novel, The Pigman, a grim tale of the troubled friendship between two unloved high school students and a lonely old man. She also represented Patricia MacLachlan, author of the the children's classic, Sarah, Plain and Tall (19850, which not only won the 1986 Newbery Medal, but was also turned into the 1991 Hallmark Hall of Fame movie by the same name, starring Glenn Close and Christopher Walken.

Ms. Zolotow's work as an editor was a natural segue to her own writing career. She used her books to help children and their parents face emotional subjects. William's Doll (1972) tells the story of a little boy determined to play with dolls when his dad wants him to embrace basketballs and trains. Mr. Rabbit and the Lovely Present (1962), a 1963 Caldecott Honor book, teaches the abstract idea of the power of color. Maurice Sendak illustrated this perennial favorite.

Ms. Zolotow's titles have been illustrated by some of the giants of children's illustrators. Garth Williams, Tana Hoban, and H.A. Rey are just some of the artists paired with Ms. Zolotow's books.

The death of Ms. Zolotow, who was 98, was announced by her daughter, Crescent Dragonwagon, a well-known children's author in her own right.

New and Award-Winning Historical Fiction for Teens

Reading historical fiction can be a great way to learn more about past eras while still enjoying the fictional embellishments and projections of an author. This can be especially true for teens, as historical fiction presents a unique way to relate to coming-of-age individuals from the past and learn facts about bygone events and characters that can turn out to be helpful in school.

On our new teen shelf currently is The Red Umbrella, added to our collection in October 2013, which details the repercussions of the communist revolution on a teenage girl and her family living in Cuba in 1961. The author, Christina Diaz Gonzalez, makes the character of Lucia relatable and the events that Gonzalez describes are exciting and historically relevant.

Also new on our list of teen historical fiction is My Beautiful Hippie, by Janet Nichols Lynch. The story paints a vivid portrait of the cultural revolution in San Francisco in the late 1960s, and details the struggles of a teenage girl to fulfill the expectations of her traditional middle class family despite being drawn intensely to the alternative culture sweeping through the city.

Ann Rinaldi, who has been writing teen historical fiction for nearly 3 decades, is known for her carefully researched and extremely absorbing portraits of United States history. One of her most famous novels, The Fifth of March, tells the story of the Boston Massacre from the perspective of a servant in the house of John Adams. Rinaldi skillfully details the events of the Salem witch trials in her 1992 book A Break With Charity and describes the horrors of the Battle of Gettysburg in her most recent book, The Last Full Measure. Many of her over thirty historical novels for teens have won awards, including a New York Public Library Book for the Teen Age for The Fifth of March and ABA’s Pick of the Lists for her book The Coffin Quilt.

For more historical fiction recommendations for teens, check out the Historical Fiction-Librarians’ Choice for High School list on the public lists section of our website!

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