Fabulous Fiction Firsts #515 - “A mathematical formula for happiness: Reality divided by expectations. There were two ways to be happy: improve your reality or lower your expectations.” ~ Jodi Picoult

Bonita Avenue * * * by Peter Buwalda - the instant bestseller in its native Netherlands, a triple-award-winning debut optioned for a TV series, is "flat-out extraordinary." See the (New York Times review).

Three uniquely unreliable voices narrate this darkly humorous familial drama: the mentally precarious photographer Aaron Bever; his beautiful girlfriend, Joni; and her stepfather, eminent math genius (Fields Medal) and university rector Siem Sigerius. "They were a family of prevaricators - all of them had secrets and they all had something to hide".

Bonita Avenue, a street in Berkeley, California, where a younger Sigerius and his new family lived briefly while he pursued his mathematics career at the university, is remembered as a truly happy period before the family's troubles start. The reemergence of Wilbert,a convicted murderer and Siem's son from his first marriage, presents a threat to the family. Siem discovers the highly profitable web porn site created by Joni and Aaron, under particularly ignoble circumstances. "Guilt and fear rule the decisions the characters make, sending each further down the darkest of path."

"This tumultuous saga of a family breaking down...is "variously compelling, trashy and horrific."

In The Mathematician's Shiva by Stuart Rojstaczer, Rachela Karnokovitch, a much-admired rock star in mathematics, is rumored to have solved the million-dollar Navier-Stokes Millennium Prize problem just before her death, and secreted the solution somewhere. Uninvited, her quirky colleagues descend on Madison (WI), and on her grieving family in search of said solution. Her son Sasha, who wants nothing more than a family-only shivah, must referee the intruding geniuses.

"Interspersed with Rachela's recollections of growing up under Russian anti-Semitism, Rojstaczer, a PhD geophysicist, has created a complex and chaotic rainbow of characters that makes his first novel both comedic and compelling."

"An enjoyable debut... a multilayered story of family, genius, and loss."

* * * = 3 starred reviews

Read Across America Day & National Reading Month

Today is Read Across America Day!

Read Across America Day was founded in 1997 “to promote the joy and importance of reading and to celebrate the birthday of beloved author Dr. Seuss.” It has become a nationwide event celebrated by schools, libraries and bookstores across the country. You just mind find an elementary school principal dressed up like Thing 1 or Thing 2, and some students may end up eating green eggs and ham for lunch. How wacky! How Seussy!

Did you know that there will be a NEW Dr. Seuss book coming out in July? The manuscript for Which Pet Should I get was recently found by his widow.

Be sure to check out your favorite Dr. Seuss titles and get some reading done! Hooray for reading! It's not just today, the entire month of March is National Reading Month.

Parent’s Corner: “Mom, I’m Hungry!”

Kids seem to be hungry all the time. Always wanting a snack or a juice box, even after they’ve just ate. How and what do you feed the kid who wants to eat all day? 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 food and nutrition to potty training to time-outs to homework. These books are available for checkout and can be found in the catalog when searching “parent shelf.”

Beating the lunch box blues: Fresh ideas for lunches on the go! is found on that shelf, and sounds like a great way to spice up the brown bag lunches if you’re burned out on spreading peanut butter on bread. For more titles, check out this list of great books featuring more fun lunch box ideas.

For additional food ideas and insight on dealing with food challenges, check out Food fights: Winning the Nutritional challenges of parenthood armed with insight, humor and a bottle of ketchup, and Whatever happened to dinner?: Recipes and ideas for family mealtime.

And of course here are even more food titles to help with meal planning and encouraging healthy eating habits.

New Picture Books With a Twist!

Sometimes new picture books come out that are presented in a nontraditional format. Here are three great examples of books that feature a messy story with interruptions, a story that’s read backwards and upside down, and story with a choose-your-own-ending.

A Perfectly Messed-Up Story
In this classically cute story by Patrick McDonnell, Louie becomes angry when the story in which he appears is ruined by messes from jelly, peanut butter, finger prints, and other things that do not belong in books. It’s quite funny! In the end he realizes that it’s still a good story – messes and all.

The Story Starts Here:
Little Wolf decides to do things his way, including starting his story at the back of the book instead of the front, wearing pants on his head, and playing piano with his toes. But at some point the book has to turn upside down in order to turn things right side up.

Milo and the Mysterious Island:
Milo wishes to see what’s beyond the horizon and he and the other mice build a raft and set off on a voyage. The book reads as normal, then you get to a point where there are split pages. One set of pages finishes the story with a happy ending, and the other set of pages finishes the story with a sad ending – you get to decide which one you want to read! Or of course you can read both. Written by Marcus Pfister, author of Rainbow Fish.

Waiting for More Mistborn

As followers of Brandon Sanderson may know, his second book in the Wax and Wayne series, entitled Mistborn: Shadows of Self, is due to be released on October 6. Sanderson's original Mistborn series started with a trilogy, including The Final Empire, The Well of Ascension, and The Hero of Ages. 300 years after that trilogy had ended, Sanderson has set his next trilogy in the same world, starting with The Alloy of Law.

For those of you waiting eagerly, Sanderson has part of the novel posted on his website: Shadows of Self.

For those of you who can't wait for his next book, check out some of Brandon Sanderson's other stand-alone novels that won't have you committing to a whole new series.

Elantris
The Emperor's Soul
Warbreaker

New and Unusual Animal Books

If you or your little one loves animals, we have some great new books in that will teach you all about them in a whole new way! You’ll want to look at all of these beautiful, bright, and fascinating books.

First up, check out Bone Collection: Animals, which offers realistic drawings of animals’ skeletons with explanations of how the bones fit together and what purpose they all serve. Mixed in with the skeleton drawings are photographs of the animals and lots of facts. I learned so much from this book! Did you know that kangaroos’ tails are heavy to support their weight during fights, or that even though fruit bats are only 15 inches long, their wingspan can be longer than 5½ feet? That’s taller than I am! Learn all about this and more in this beautiful book.

For an amazing look at how wildlife adapts, take a look at Chernobyl’s Wild Kingdom: Life in the Dead Zone. This brilliant book explains the disastrous 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor explosion and explores the aftermath. This book details the recovery of plants and animals in the area, which was initially assumed to be impossible. The effects of radiation are explained in clear, detailed language, and photographs highlight the difference between animals living within the “dead zone” and without.

If you’re after beautiful illustrations and simple, informative text, look at illustrator Steve Jenkins’s new books, Creature Features: 25 Animals Explain Why They Look the Way They Do, and Eye to Eye: How Animals See the World. With a combination of true facts and big pictures, these books are perfect for younger readers.

Draw Paint Print like the Great Artists

With Draw Paint Print like the Great Artists, you can learn different art styles alongside your favorite artists throughout history! In this beautiful and fascinating book, the reader is introduced to more than 30 different famous artists and their works. From there, the book introduces each artist's favorite art techniques, and provides creative projects designed by the author in order to hone your newfound art skills. All of the activities include easy instructions and the activities themselves are both inspiring and a lot of fun!

With aesthetically pleasing content and formatting, Draw Paint Print like the Great Artists encourages artists of all ages and skill sets while leaving enough room for creativity and growth. For more information on these famous artists, look for An Eye for Art: Focusing on Great Artists and Their Work and Look Closer: Art Masterpieces Through the Ages.

New Non-Fiction for Kids: Inventions that could have changed the world... but didn't!

Over the course of history, a lot of people have changed the world. Of course, even more people have also WANTED to change the world… but it hasn’t quite worked out. The brand new book Inventions That Could Have Changed the World… But Didn’t! describes some of the toys, games, household and office aids, and general contraptions that have been thought up but didn’t quite succeed in actuality. From a combination pogo stick/helicopter to Toaster Bacon, this fun book is filled with goofy and fascinating inventions from the ages. Inventions That Could Have Changed the World also has interesting and easy-to-understand information about patents and tips for getting your OWN invention to succeed.

Interested in other books about inventions and inventing? Try 100 Inventions That Made History, The Story of Inventions, or Girls Think of Everything: Stories of Ingenious Inventions by Women.

Sports talk-show host pens rich fiction

If you’re familiar with Mike Greenberg then you probably know him as the less athletic half of ESPN’s top-rated radio program Mike & Mike. What you may not know is that Greeny has forayed into the world of fiction, last month releasing his second novel.

My Father’s Wives follows Jonathan Sweetwater, an accomplished Wall Street banker, through two tumultuous weeks of disappointment and discovery. When Jon has reason to believe that his wife is having an affair, he hastily sets out to learn why his seemingly perfect life is falling apart. Central to this search is Jon’s father, the late US Senator Percival Sweetwater III whom Jon has not seen since his own ninth birthday party.

Since the Senator is not available for comment, Jon treks the globe in search of his father’s six wives, hoping that they will reveal some long-hidden truth about his father and himself.

Ultimately Greenberg’s book is about the nature of family and relationships. The well-developed characters feel real, and the use of sports as metaphor is well-done. The book is fast-paced and Jon’s globe-trekking search for answers adds a sense of mystery and suspense to the novel. And at just over two hundred pages placing it on hold is an easy commitment to make. Unless, that is, you’re afraid of that sort of thing.

You can check out Greenbergs other books here and a New York Times review of My Father's Wives here.

PreK Bits - "W" is for WHALES

Ms. Rachel took a trip to the Arctic for tales of whales, igloos and Inuit people.
“A Whale Of A Tale” from The STORY VINE is an “oral tradition” tale about an Inuit boy who went for a walk.
"Okki Tokki Unga" is an Inuit rhythmic phrase we chanted while paddling kayaks “across the bay.”
Here ... The WIGGLES do their version of "Okki Tokki Unga"
KUMAK’s FISH is an original Inuit folk tale by Michael Bania.

If the list from Storytime is not long enough to satisfy your need for whale blubber, try more whale Tales:
KUMAK'S HOUSE by Michael Bania.
BURT DOW: Deep-Water Man by Robert McCloskey.
Also the recorded kit version BURT DOW: Deep-Water Man
This story was a family favorite when my sons were young. Every boat was the “Tidely-Idely” and we could always find “the pink of Ginny Poor’s pantry.”
BABY BELUGA in book format by Raffi. The song is on recorded CD BABY BELUGA and [|more songs by Raffi] .
DOWN To The SEA With MR MAGEE another wacky tale!
COMMOTION In The OCEAN by Andreae Giles.
BREATHE by Scott Magoon.
FOLLOWING PAPA’s SONG by Gianna Marino.
LOOK INSIDE An IGLOO by Mari C. Schuh.
IGLOOS by Jack Manning.

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