Teen and Adult Crossover Graphic Novel: Special Batman vs Superman edition

With Batman vs. Superman just around the corner now is the perfect time to read up on both superheroes and maybe the Batman vs. Superman graphic novel.
Now this list is not everything that the library has of these two seminal heroes but rather some of the best graphic novels that we have of Batman and Superman (I'll put a link to a search for everything we have on them at the end of the post).

Let's start with Batman (because I think he's the best, feel free to tell me why I'm wrong or right in the comments).
Batman:Under the Hood is one of those graphic novels that has fans both loving and hating it. It takes one of the old supporting characters from Batman and re-imagines them as a violent anti-hero: The Red Hood. This graphic novel has everything that you could want from a Batman story and controversy aside it is a must read for any fans of the series.
Another Batman series that has fans conflicted is Batman & Robin: Batman Reborn which re-imagines the characters of Batman and Robin, almost reversing the dynamic between them with Robin being the scowling broody hero and Batman being more lighthearted and spontaneous hero that fans would often expect Robin to be. This series is definitely worth a read if you are willing to put preconceptions about what the various characters should act like. It makes a nice break from some of the darker Batman stories.
The last Batman story is Batman and the Mad Monk. This story is one of the first times that Batman has to fight a supernatural villain and it makes from a nice change from the run of the mill criminally insane that we so often see him fight.

The first Superman crossover graphic novel is Superman:Red Son This is one of my favorite Superman stories, it takes Superman's origins and asks the question, what would have happened if he had been raised in Soviet Russia instead of the United States. This change in origin makes for a wonderful story in which we get to see some of our favorite characters engaging with Superman in a way that they have never before (this is a must read for all fans and non-fans alike)!
The next Superman is The Death of Superman. This is one of the first times when the mortality of Superman was put to the question. Could Superman die, and how might this happen. This story is one of the most iconic ones in the history of Superman.
The final superman story is Superman: Exile this story takes place after Superman has broken his oath to never kill and he places himself into a self imposed exile from earth and learns that he cannot run from himself. This is a very different kind of Superman story with lots of introspection, but that doesn’t mean it’s lacking in action or that it’s boring in any way shape or form, instead what we end up with is a story that strives to bring deeper understanding to just who Superman is.

As promised here’s a link to a search for all the graphic novels the library has on
Batman and Superman

Meet “It’s All Write!” 2016 Judge #3: Caroline Bock!

The third judge for this year’s “It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story Contest is Caroline Bock! Prior to focusing on writing, Caroline led the marketing and public relations departments at Bravo, IFC cable networks and IFC Films. In 2011, she received an MFA in Fiction with honors from The City College of New York and she has recently moved to Maryland after living her entire life in the State of New York.

Caroline’s work includes the YA novels Lie and Before My Eyes , as well as her award winning short story Gargoyles and Stars .

Recently, Caroline Bock was nominated for a 2016 Pushcart literary award in poetry! To learn more about Caroline and her writing, visit her webpage or follow her on Twitter @cabockwrites.

Stay tuned for more information about the “It’s All Write!” Teen Short Story Contest of 2016 Judges

New Tool: Toppling Dominoes!

One of the new games on the Unusual Stuff shelf are Toppling Dominoes! Line them up, knock them down. You can create patterns with the assorted shapes and sizes of these fun dominoes! These are great for all ages. It’s a small manageable bag that just happens to have 1,000 pieces ready for you to build and play with. Put a set on hold! Game on!

Learn to Write Fantastic Fiction!

Whether you're thinking of an idea or just improving a story already written, Writing Fantastic Fiction has several tips to help you along the way.

In six chapters you will learn how to find story ideas, create characters and how to create a writing map! There's also really cool sidebars of information throughout the book. "Writers on Writing" offers inspirational quotes from well-known writers and "Learn from the Masters" shares tips from acclaimed authors on how they created their famous stories. In addition to famous writers giving their tips, there's also fun writing exercises to try!

Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction

Live Through This: On Creativity and Self-Destruction, edited by Sabrina Chapadjiev, is one of my favorites. It’s the book I turn to whenever I am in need of inspiration, reassurance, or just a push in the right direction. I’ve given copies of this book to more friends than I can count and now I want you to read it!

Live Through This contains a group of essays, poems, cartoons, and photographs by a diverse pool of artists and thinkers including bell hooks, Patricia Smith, Eileen Myles, and Kate Bornstein. The pieces are mostly personal, and detail how the artists worked through difficult times in their lives. Creativity is both a helpful tool and a destructive impulse in the book, and the artists and writers don't hold anything back in detailing their experiences.

I have a hard time summing up how much I love this book, or listing all of the reasons that you should read it, but just believe me, you should! It will push you out of complacency, move you to work harder, and create, create, create. It will set you on fire.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #587 “The only way you can truly get to know an author is through the trail of ink he leaves behind him. The person you think you see is only an empty character: truth is always hidden in fiction.” ~ Carlos Ruiz Zafón

Selected for the March Indie Next and the LibraryReads, The Madwoman Upstairs * by Catherine Lowell is "a mystery, a love story, and a very dark comedy with the Brontës...playing a role back there in the shadows."

20 year-old American Samantha Whipple is the last of the Brontë line and the presumed heir to a long-rumored trove of diaries, paintings, letters, and early novel drafts never revealed to anyone outside of the family. When she fulfills her father's dying wish to attend Oxford (his alma mater) almost immediately, she is the center of speculation and unwanted attention, especially among Brontë scholars and fanatics.

Soon long lost objects thought to have perished in the fire that killed her father begin relentlessly rematerializing in her life, compelling her on an elaborate and frustrating scavenger hunt, guided only by her father's cryptic notes. When she is emotionally and physically challenged to her limits, and a careless mistake places her at risk academically, help comes unexpectedly from her handsome but inscrutable tutor who is "as complex and passionate as his student." Together, they must decode the clues hidden within the Brontës’ novels in order to put the rumor to rest.

"Smart and surprising and fiercely funny." “An entertaining and ultimately sweet story." For fans of Juliet by Anne Fortier.

Companion reads:
Nelly Dean : a return to Wuthering Heights * * by Alison Case, that re-imagines life at Wuthering Heights through the eyes of the Earnshaws’ loyal servant, Nelly Dean. This is the first novel by a professor of 19th century fiction and poetry at Williams College.

Charlotte Brontë : a fiery heart by Claire Harman, is a "landmark biography (that) transforms Charlotte Brontë from a tragic figure into a modern heroine." The Brontës at Haworth by Ann Dinsdale paints a detailed picture of everyday life at Haworth, and provides fascinating insight into the lives of some of the most beloved authors of the 19th century.

* = starred review
* * = 2 starred reviews

Evicted offers an intimate view of poverty and inequality in America

Harvard sociologist Matthew Desmond’s new book Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City changes the way we look at poverty in our country. Desmond tells the stories of eight different families living in the poorest neighborhoods of Milwaukee, all of whom have spent everything they have to try and keep roofs over their heads… and now they’ve fallen behind. These families are at the mercy of two landlords, one of whom owns inner city apartments, while the other runs one of Milwaukee’s worst trailer parks. Desmond paints a fascinating, complex picture of these two people in particular, and of the circumstances that lead them to evict their tenants. It’s amazing to hear the different situations that lead the families in Evicted to be kicked out of their homes. One man was a nurse who loved his job before he fell prey to a heroin addiction. Another man with no legs tries to work his way out of debt, but can’t physically do many jobs. A single mom has only $20 left a month with which to raise her two sons after she pays the rent on their decrepit apartment.

Evictions have historically been fairly rare in American cities, but they have been on the rise in the past decade, as poor families spend more than half of their already meager incomes on housing. Little is left for other necessities, especially when families are large. Desmond’s intimate, behind-the-scenes view into this issue (he spent months amongst the poor families of Milwaukee) presents readers head-on with the inequality that exists in America today.

You can read Desmond’s recent article from The New Yorker, which discusses the same issue as Evicted, here. Desmond is also the author of On the Fireline, an in depth exploration into the lives of wildfire firefighters.

Spring Forward with New Spring Books!

Nature’s Day: Discover the World of Wonder On Your Doorstep is a beautiful children's book with oversize pages illustrating painted birds, flowers, animals, insects, and more throughout the seasons. What happens during various seasons to our surroundings? What do the garden, the pond, the backyard, and the woods look like in summer vs. winter? This lovely books offers images and words for things to keep an eye out for as you explore the world around you.

When Green Becomes Tomatoes: Poems for All Seasons is another great new book on the seasons, this time explored through poetry! The sweet little poems from dates throughout the year are accompanied by darling illustrations.

Both of these children’s nonfiction books are great to get you thinking about SPRING!

Boom Whacka Boom!

You may be familiar with the popular Boomwhackers from our music tool collection. They are a set of individual tubes that create notes when gently tapped. Kids particularly enjoy them! We have some new music books in the tools collection that will help you play oodles of songs! Take a look and see the possibilities that lie at your fingertips.

Fun with Boomwhackers!

Whack-A-Doodle-Doo!: Color-Coded children's Songs for Boomwhackers Musical Tubes

Whacked on Classics: Music of the Masters for Boomwhackers Musical Tubes

Boom boom!: Classics! for Boomwhacker Musical Tubes

Boom boom! Popular movie and tv songs: For Boomwhackers Musical Tubes

A bear finds a piano in the woods....

The Bear and the Piano, by first-time author David Litchfield, is an adorable look at the life of a celebrity musician. When a bear finds a strange object in the woods, he isn’t sure what it is—though readers will of course, notice right away that it is a piano. He touches it experimentally, and is shocked at the sound that comes out! Over time, he teaches himself to play, and becomes a world-famous musician. Litchfield uses this charming story to explore the life of an actual musician. The necessity of “days and weeks and months and years” of practice, the wonder of fame coupled with the loneliness of leaving home, and the exhaustion of traveling and performing. The bear is worried that his friends back in the forest may have forgotten him but when he returns in his rumpled tuxedo, he finds that they have been eagerly following his career, rooting for him the whole way! And of course, it is always friends who are the best audience of all.

Publisher’s Weekly gave The Bear and the Piano a starred review, calling it a “tenderly moving story about embracing one’s potential while remembering one’s roots.” Put it on hold today!

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