Herman and Rosie

The new book Herman and Rosie brought tears to my eyes when I opened it earlier this week. At once a celebration of individuality and a story of finding someone who truly understands you, this uniquely illustrated book is a story for all ages. It is obvious to readers from the beginning that Herman, an oboe-playing crocodile and Rosie, a jazz-singing doe, are meant to be together. Living in New York City, both enjoy the hustle and bustle of their busy lives, but sometimes find themselves lonely amidst the crowds. Ultimately, their lives must go through many twists and turns before their paths finally cross.

Author Gus Gordon does an amazing job of making this children’s book applicable to the young people it is geared towards but also engaging and adorable for older readers. I loved Herman and Rosie so much that I immediately bought a copy… and it’s not too late for you to add this to your holiday wish list, too!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #501 - “Happiness is the consequence of personal effort. You fight for it, strive for it, insist upon it, and sometimes even travel around the world looking for it." ~ Elizabeth Gilbert, Eat, Pray, Love.

2 UK debuts. 2 young women rising out of bleak adolescence to realize the individuals they are meant to be.

British cultural critic Caitlin Moran follows up her 2012 New York Times bestselling memoir How To Be a Woman with a debut novel - How to Build a Girl * * that draws from her own experience, having joined the music weekly Melody Maker at an very young age before becoming a prize-winning columnist at the London Times.

14-year-old Johanna Morrigan, the product of a large dysfunctional council-flat welfare family in the West Midlands, decides to remake herself after an embarrassing appearance on national TV. Almost overnight, the freaky fat girl who is at once "endearing, ­hilarious, pathetic, and wise" becomes the feared music reviewer Dolly Wilde (named after Oscar's niece - "this amazing alcoholic lesbian who was dead scandalous"), drinking regularly, having lots of sex, and writing acidulous reviews of rock bands. But it that enough?

"Moran's coming-of-age debut novel is both poignant and laugh-out-loud funny, a treat for young adults as well as those who remember the era (1990s) and its music."

In Making Marion : where's Robin Hood when you need him? * * by Beth Moran, Marion Miller leaves behind her job as a library assistant, a doctor-fiance and a childhood of neglect and abuse in Ballydown, a hamlet in Northern Ireland for Nottinghamshire, to uncover her father's secret past.

Searching for Sherwood Forest Visitor Center lands her at the Peace and Pigs campsite, an impromptu job offer, and a place to call home. Though hard work and the determination to overcoming her shyness earn her friendship and acceptance, the locals refuse to talk when shown the photograph of her father as a young man, dressed as Robin Hood. Only Reuben, heir to Hatherstone Hall is willing to come to her aid, motivated by a connection to his family history.

"Roaming pigs, food fights, and conspiring chickens add flavor to this delightful debut, which also touches on mother-daughter relationships, family secrets, and finding love, and yourself."

"One of the best inspirational novels of the season", it will appeal to fans of Jane Green, Marian Keyes, and Jill Mansell.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Newbery News

The Newbery Medal is given to the most distinguished work of children's literature every year, and is announced in January. Though the real candidates are kept secret, here are some books that are getting lots of Newbery buzz on a few different mock Newbery blogs. Will one of them be the big winner? Do you have any recent books you've read that you would love to see get the Newbery medal?

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson (who also wrote After Tupac and D Foster) is a lovely autobiographical book of poems chronicling her early life.

The Key That Swallowed Joey Pigza is the last of five books about Joey Pigza (of Joey Pigza Swallowed the Key fame) by author Jack Gantos. Will Joey win the hearts and minds of the Newbery committee?

For nonfiction, people are talking about The family Romanov : murder, rebellion & the fall of Imperial Russia by Candace Fleming. A nonfiction book hasn't won the Newbery in a long time- could this be the year?

Last, but certainly not least, is The Madman of Piney Woods by Christopher Paul Curtis. Curtis already won the Newbery Honor for 2007's Elijah of Buxton. This book is a companion to Elijah of Buxton, and tells the story of two boys who encounter a mysterious man in the woods.

Happy reading!

Animalium

If you have not yet seen this giant beauty resting on the new youth nonfiction shelf, please allow me to draw your attention to it. I know I will forever be indebted to the person who first showed Animalium to me. It is one of those rare books that is both captivating to look at and to read. Maybe I should make myself clear here, it is captivating if you enjoy learning about animals and reading facts about them. If you are expecting a great fictional story, then perhaps it would be best if you check this out for the sole purpose of enjoying the pictures. Furthermore, please don't dismiss this book because it is intended for youth, I choose to believe "youth" really just stands for "youthful" and there really is no age restriction when it comes to appreciating beautiful illustrations of wildlife.

The large colorful illustrations are wonderfully detailed and the shadowing and chosen colors give the pictures great depth. Being an amphibian girl myself, I was particularly drawn to the page including the the Darwin's Frog (Rhinoderma darwinii) which has "an oversize vocal sac in which it rears its young." Little tadpoles in a frog's throat never looked so pretty.

Be warned though, when I say "giant beauty" I mean bring a sturdy bag because this is no pocket book.

You may also want to check out Welcome to Mamoko or Maps, both published by Big Picture Press and with equally fascinating pictures and intriguing concepts. Or maybe this has piqued your interest about animals and now you want to learn more. Great! Here is a list of other Awesome Animal books that may help you with your research.

Small Gems (and Fabulous Fiction Firsts #500)

It's that time again. As we approach winter solstice, the days are getting shorter and we are getting into high gear for the holidays, don't despair. Here are some suggestions for SHORT titles that you could curl up with.

46 Brilliant Short Novels You Can Read In A Day, great reads under 200 pages. Mostly.

From GoodRead: Popular Under 200 Pages Books - wonderful time to catch up on some classics and new award winners. The Huffington Post also jumps on the bandwagon with their thoughtful and inspired reading list. Here is a list for nonfiction readers.

My personal find this year?

Our Lady of the Nile (in French) by Scholastique Mukasonga, winner of the 2012 Renaudot Prize and the Ahamadou Kourouma Prize - a moving and nuanced portrait of violence and survival; a debut novel of "rugged beauty and unbearable suspense".

The conflict between the Hutu majority and the Tutsi minority is expressed through the microcosm of Our Lady of the Nile, a Catholic boarding school for wealthy and influential young ladies in Rwanda. Virginia and Veronica are two Tutsi girls in the lycee because of quotas, and they are keenly aware of the dangers they face as ethnic minority. When Gloriosa, the daughter of a Hutu politician, starts telling lies about being attacked by Tutsis, the retaliatory violence costs Veronica her life and Virginia her education.

Born in Rwanda in 1956, the author experienced from childhood the violence and humiliation of ethnic conflicts. In 1973, she was forced to flee to Burundi and settled in France in 1992. Two year later, she lost 27 members of her family to the genocide of the Tutsi.

Slightly longer but spectacular in every way is Lily King's Euphoria * * *, a thinly-veiled account of the love affair between Margaret Mead and Gregory Bateson, her third husband while she was married to Reo Fortune as they were conducting anthropological research in the remote territories of New Guinea. (Readers curious as to the accuracy of the storyline might want to check out this article called "Mead's Folly").

"A taut, witty, fiercely intelligent tale of competing egos and desires in a landscape of exotic menace—a love triangle in extremis… The steam the book emits is as much intellectual as erotic…King is brilliant.”

Little wonder that it has been named winner of this year's Kirkus Prize for Fiction and the New England Book Award. New York Times, as well as Time Magazine, and NPR named it one of the 10 Best Fiction of 2014. I promise you that it is well worth the wait.

* * * = 3 starred reviews

Charming Film of Unlikely Friendship

Based on the beloved French picture book series, Ernest & Celestine is a charming tale of unlikely friendship between big bear Ernest and little mouse Celestine.

While the other mice are all afraid of hungry bears, Celestine is a lonely dreamer who fills her notebook with sketches of bears and mice as friends. Then one day Celestine meets Ernest. Ernest, too, is an outsider, and it isn’t long before the two become friends. When a scrape with the law forces the friends to flees, they only grow closer while hiding out through the winter. Elegantly balancing lighter scenes of growing friendship and delightful comic gags with heavier scenes of the fear and prejudice that threaten to keep these friends apart, this movie offers a fresh take on a classic tale of friendship. Its gorgeous watercolor style, which gives the film the flavor of the original picture books, is another reason to watch. The animation style is like no film I’ve seen before and was definitely one of my favorite things about watching it.

This film was nominated for a 2014 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature Film. It is rated PG for a few scary moments.

Waiting (not so) patiently for The Paying Guests by Sarah Waters?

British author Sarah Waters is beloved for skillfully incorporating suspense, illicit attractions, and even supernatural elements, into her atmospheric historical fiction novels. The Paying Guests takes place in the upper class home of the Wrays, a mother and daughter who have fallen on hard times after WWI and make ends meet by taking in “paying guests.” The addition of a working class couple to the family dynamic initiates a series of changes, not least of which is daughter Frances’ attraction to her new boarder.

The Children’s Book by A.S. Byatt - Byatt’s historical fiction/family saga explores privileged, artistic families in pre-WWI Britain, and the darkness and social struggles that lie beneath the surface.

The House at Riverton by Kate Morton long-simmering secrets come to light when a filmmaker comes to fact-check details of a 1924 event with a now-elderly maidservant, who recounts the loves, rivalries, and secrets of the family she served.

The Lodger by Louise Treger - Against the background of the British suffragette movement, Dorothy Richardson’s life takes a turn for the unconventional when she begins an affair with a friend’s husband, only to have her attractions shift when a new woman moves into her boarding house.

The Night Watch by Sarah Waters - The story follows four Londoners during and after WWII who are recovering their senses, trying to restart their lives, and guarding their secrets now that the blackouts are over and the fighting is done.

The Uninvited Guests by Sadie Jones - Enjoying Downton Abbey-style luxury while teetering on the edge of debt, a Torrington-Jones family gathering at their estate unexpectedly becomes a sanctuary for survivors of a nearby railway accident, but the circumstances become murkier as constructs of class and society fall away.

PreK Bits - Noisy!


Ms. Rachel's Storytime featured noises this week.
TOO MUCH NOISE! ... said Peter, and the Rabbi had a solution.
We sorted noises .... from Leslie Patricelli's book QUIET. LOUD!
We danced the "Noisy-Pokey" ... clapping IN, snapping OUT, stomping ALL about!
And we read the rhyming storybook NOISY NORA by Rosemary Wells ... Nora experiences complex feelings on one complex day.

For more Noisy Stories try the following:
TICK TOCK DRIP DROP A Bedtime Story by Nicola Moon
HOLLER LOUDLY by Cynthia Lettice Smith ... a tall tale that finds the best job for a boy named "Holler"
The MOUSE THAT SNORED by Bernard Waber ... there was a quiet man and a quiet woman who lived in a quiet little house until ... the mouse!
MONKEY WITH A TOOL BELT And The NOISY PROBLEM by Chris Monroe.
The LOUD BOOK and the QUIET BOOK ... both by Deborah Underwood ... offers sound (and silences) that deserve pause for thought.
ZOOM! ZOOM! Sounds Of Things That Go In The City by Robert Burleigh
NOISES from the Stories To Go kits

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #499

Having been a fan of Tony Parsons for many years now, I have been waiting with bated breath for The Murder Man * - his first try at crime fiction. And let me tell you, you won't be getting much sleep.

Meet DC Max Wolfe - recent widower (to cancer), single father (daughter Scout, 5), indulgent owner (Stan, holy terror of a puppy), insomniac, caffeine junkie, and a new transfer to London's Homicide and Serious Crime.

Someone has been violently killing members of London society. First, it was Hugo Buck, a pedigreed banker with an appetite for the hired help. Then there was the homeless junkie Adam Jones. Nicknamed "Bob the Butcher" by the press and social media, the killer is strong enough and smart enough to kill with a single knife stroke, and bold enough to kill in public. The victims first appeared to have absolutely nothing in common, except for a decade-old group photograph. Wolfe noticed that at each of the murder scene, someone had painted in blood "#KILLALLPIGS".

The hunt leads Wolfe to Potter's Field, an exclusive private school; a long-buried brutal murder; and right into the killer's path.

"Spectacular - tense but human, fast but authentic..." ~ Lee Child

"A relentless plot, evocative prose, and compelling (and wrenching) portraits of the characters, good and evil, conspire to make this a must-read. And I have two words for hero Max Wolfe: More. Soon." ~ Jeffery Deaver

Enough said.

If you are fascinated with the private (sorry, public school) culture, you might also enjoy The Secret History, Donna Tartt's debut novel (arguably her best, in my humble opinion); and A Murder of Quality, an early George Smiley novel by John Le Carre.

* = starred review

Tons of Popular New CDs at the Library!

Lots of brand new CDs are on order for the AADL and now is the time to get on the holds list! Here are just a few of the exciting new titles we have coming:

1989, by Taylor Swift, produced two number one singles this year: “Blank Space” and “Shake It Off.” This is the singer’s fifth studio album and what she has said is her first “official pop album,” as opposed to her country and country-pop albums of the past. In their annual list, Rolling Stone named 1989 #10 on the 50 Best Albums of 2014.

24 karat gold: songs from the vault, is Stevie Nicks’ much publicized eighth solo album. Most of the songs are new versions of demos that Nicks recorded in the 70s and 80s, with a few from the 90s thrown in, along with a cover of Vanessa Carlton’s “Carousel.” The album debuted at #7 on the Billboard 200 and has been well-received by music critics.

747, by Lady Antebellum, released in late September of this year, is the sixth studio album by the popular country group. Their single “Bartender,” from this album, hit number 1 on the US Country Airplay chart this past summer and the album itself debuted at #2 on the Billboard 200. Fans love Lady A’s easy, often celebratory country-pop tunes, and 747 did not disappoint!

Art Official Age, marks the return of Prince “with a contemporary concoction of soul, R&B, and funk with immediate and prominent melodies.” This is Prince’s thirty-third studio album (!), and was released in conjunction with a second album, Plectrumelectrum, by Prince and his all-female touring band, 3rdeyegirl. Prince’s fans have been pleasantly surprised by this album, and excited that the artist’s musical talents have far from diminished over the years.

You can browse the “New CDs” section of our catalog to see these titles and the other brand new music that the library has!

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