Fantasy for Kids: A Snicker of Magic

There’s something magical about Midnight Gulch – or, at least, there used to be. When twelve-year-old Felicity Pickle moves to Midnight Gulch with her little sister Frannie Jo and their wandering-spirit mother, the only magic she is hoping to find is a home. Soon, though, Felicity is caught up in the story of how Midnight Gulch lost its magic and plots a way to break the old curse and bring the magic back.

If you enjoyed recent Newbery-Honor-winners like Savvy or Three Times Lucky, then you should definitely check out A Snicker of Magic by Natalie Lloyd. All three feature spunky heroines with unique, lyrical voices and surrounded by lovably quirky communities who support our heroines when they need them.

Caterina and the Perfect Party

In Erin Etter Kono’s book Caterina and the Perfect Party we meet Caterina, a little brown bird with big plans. Her most favorite thing in the world to do is make lists, but she hates surprises. You can imagine her delight when she gets to plan her very first party! What better opportunity for this bespectacled little cutie to write lists? She writes lists of her guests, lists of the most appetizing appetizers, lists of the most decorative decorations and gets to work carrying out all the creative things on her beloved lists. But on her big day she is faced with the biggest surprise of all. Oh no, a great big storm threatens to ruin her perfectly planned outdoor party! Never fear, soon her guests arrive bearing a replacement snacks, and they all have a fantastic day frolicking in the rain and mud. It is at this point that Caterina realizes her most important list is her list of friends.

What Happens When…

My balloon floats up, out of the zoo…? And to my bucket when I leave it on the beach…? And to the cottage when we go back to school…?

This charming new picture book, What Happens When…, answers these questions in a whimsical way with fold out pages featuring simple and colorful illustrations depicting what *might* just happen. It’s quite magical. Kids will enjoy following along with you and finding the hidden items and using their imaginations to give other examples of what happens to those lost socks, etc.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #486 - “No one knows for certain how much impact they have on the lives of other people. Oftentimes, we have no clue." ~ Jay Asher, Thirteen Reasons Why

Already a bestseller in Europe and its native Sweden, A Man Called Ove * * by Fredrik Backman is just now getting the well-deserved buzz in the U.S.

Meet Ove. He is a less likable version of Major Pettigrew and Harold Fry, a man of staunch principles, strict routines, a short fuse, and has absolutely no use for people.

At 59, Ove has just been made redundant. His wife Sonia has dies four years ago ,"taking with her all the color in a world Ove sees as black-and-white". So Ove decides to take matters into his own hands. Various attempts to "off" himself end in hilarious (and fortunate) mishaps, and timely interference, divine and otherwise. Even strangers conspire to derail his plan, like the man who falls on the train track just as Ove is able to jump.

Each time he makes a fresh attempt to kill himself, Ove finds himself imposed upon - his oldest friend and most feared enemy, Rune is about to be forcibly removed to a nursing home, while Rune's wife Anita is frantic about a plumbing issue (Ove could fix just about anything). The new neighbors - "the foreign pregnant woman" with her young daughters seem to need help all the time. Sundry homeless pets and young men ask to be taken in. And there is the daily inspection of the housing estate for rule-breakers, never mind he has been voted out of office by the Residents' Association long ago.

"Backman does a crafty job revealing the full vein of precious metal beneath Ove’s ribs, glint by glint. Ove’s history trickles out in alternating chapters—a bleak set of circumstances that smacks an honorable, hardworking boy around time and again, proving that, even by early adulthood, he comes by his grumpy nature honestly... What the book takes its time revealing is that this dyed-in-the-wool curmudgeon has a heart of solid gold."

"If there was an award for Most Charming Book of the Year, this first novel by a Swedish blogger-turned-overnight-sensation would win hands down."

Readers might also enjoy Noah's Compass by Anne Tyler; An Unfinished Life by Mark Spragg; and The Widower's Tale by Julia Glass.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Happy National Kale Day!

Today is National Kale Day! How will you celebrate? Perhaps with a green pear-kale smoothie to start the day, followed by a nice massaged kale salad with dried cranberries and a balsamic dressing for lunch, followed by roasted veggies over garlic sautéed kale for dinner.

Kale is a much talked about superfood that can be eaten cooked or raw in a variety of ways in place of lettuce or spinach to spice things up a bit. If you’re still skeptical, there are many varieties to choose from as far as taste goes – curly, purple, Russian, dinosaur?!

For some recipes featuring kale and other greens, check out these leafy green books at the library. Also, local gardener Diana Dyer (garlic!) has a blog called 365 Days of Kale where she offers a ton of recipes, info, and insight on the health benefits of kale. Don’t forget to check out the site for National Kale Day to see how you can be a Kale Hero! Enjoy ~~

PreK Bits - E is for EXceptions (and eggs)

Ms. Rachel brought stories about excellent eggs to Storytime.

We found out WHERE (the egg) and all the sleepyheads beds are ... during SLEEPYHEADS by Sandra Howatt.
We sang, danced and flapped wings to "Knees up Mother Chicken" ... along with the Chicken Limberjack.
We found out WHAT Mama Hen is up to .... on MAMA HEN'S BIG DAY by Jill Latter.

If you want to read more ... try these:
You can find out WHO comes out of eggs ... in EXCEPT IF .., CHICKENS AREN'T The ONLY ONES.
An Exceptional flight takes place in EGG DROP by Mini Grey.
How do you raise a dragon properly, if you happen to hatch one from The EGG?
It's Exceptional hijinks in MARLEY And The GREAT EASTER EGG HUNT.
Egg rivalry is experienced between ZINNIA And DOT until they learn to cooperate. heh!

Hilarious new BIRD picture books!

School is back in session, but not everyone goes to elementary school: little birdies have to attend flight school! Or at least, those little birdies do who are SUPPOSED to learn how to fly. When Penguin arrives for HIS first day of flight school, Teacher is taken aback.

"But you, dear, are a penguin," she says.
"Undeniable," Penguin replies, "but I have the soul of an eagle."

So begins the hilariously told and illustrated story of Penguin's attempts to learn to fly in Lita Judge's Flight School. And just imagine what happens when Penguin decides to bring his friend Ostrich along for a lesson!

If you're interested in other goofy bird books, The ABC of Fabulous Princesses, by Willy Puchner, is a must-read. Prince William must find a wife, and all of the bird empresses are eager to impress him. Some are big, some are small, some are quiet, some are loud... but they all come from different countries bearing a unique gift for Prince William. Puchner's illustrations and rhymes are funny and fantastic. This is a great book not meant just for folks first learning their alphabet!

100 Sideways Miles

100 Sideways Miles is Andrew Smith’s 9th young adult novel and follows the amazingly awesome Winger and the bizzare yet fascinating Grasshopper Jungle. His latest 100 Sideways Miles falls into the “greening of young adult lit” category (thanks to the popular books by YA author John Green) that feature realistic characters with funny narration that’s easy to fall in love with.

16 year old Finn Easton suffers from epilepsy after a childhood freak accident involving his mother and a falling horse. He is also the inspiration for a character in his fiction-writing father’s best-selling novel. These facts do not make him the most popular kid in town. This unique guy does not view time in minutes, he sees it in miles. Finn’s adventures include his funny best friend Cade, his first crush, dealing with “blanking out” during seizures, and the inevitable college-bound road trip with a surprise end result. This book is a winner, and is on the longlist for the National Book Award For Young People's Fiction. (For ages 14 and up.)

Local Event: Check Out 11 Homes

If you’re looking for something fun and educational to do the weekend of Oct. 4-5, check out the Remodelers Home Tour, put on by the Builders and Remodelers Association of Greater Ann Arbor and the Washtenaw Remodelers Council. Hours are Saturday 11 am – 6 pm and Sunday noon – 6 pm; cost is $10 per adult. Here at the library we have lots of good information about remodeling.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #485 - “...weddings are giant Rorschach tests onto which everyone around you projects their fears, fantasies, and expectations -- many of which they've been cultivating since the day you were born.” ~ Susan Jane Gilman

Come, indulge with me...

Cancel the Wedding by debut author Carolyn Dingman

On the surface, Olivia has it all: a high-powered career, a loving family, and a handsome fiance. She even seems to be coming to terms with her mother Jane's premature death from cancer. Though Olivia and her elder sister Georgia are mystified with their mother's final wish, it offers Olivia a temporary reprieve from decision about her dream job that she now hates, and her upcoming wedding she is having second thoughts about. With her 14-year-old niece, Logan, riding shotgun, she heads to Tillman, GA, on a summer road trip looking for answers about her mother, and comes to know a great deal more about herself. Readers who sympathize with Oliva's difficult situation would enjoy You Are the Love of My Life by Susan Richards Shreve.

A Wedding in Provence by Ellen Sussman - a feast for the senses, and a moving novel of love, forgiveness, and trust, set among the beaches and vineyards of southern France.

Olivia and Brody have found the perfect spot for their small wedding - an idyllic inn nestled in a valley in the Mediterranean town of Cassis, if only they can count on their families and guests to behave. Impulsive and reckless Nell, Olivia's oldest daughter from her first marriage invites a complete stranger. Olivia's youngest daughter, Carly, generally responsible and pragmatic decides to let her hair down for a change. Jake, Brody's playboy best man, and Fanny, Brody's mother arrive with toxic emotional baggage.

A delicious, compelling, and utterly enchanting novel, that captures the complex and enduring bonds of family, and our boundless faith in love. "Women's fiction fans will enjoy Sussman's knowing exploration of mother/daughter relationships and the bond between sisters. The vivid description of Provence will whisk the reader away to the Mediterranean tout suite." A great readalike for Seating Arrangements by Maggie Shipstead.

The Beekeeper's Ball * by Susan Wiggs is the second in the "Bella Vista Chronicles" after The Apple Orchard (2013). Set in the lush Sonoma Valley wine country, the narrative now centers on Isabel Johansen who is in the process of transforming her childhood home into a destination cooking school, and planning the wedding festivities for her sister Tess (the protagonist in the first title in the Chronicles).

When a intrepid (and very cocky) journalist/biographer Cormac "Mac" O'Neill is mistaken for a beekeeper and is almost killed by Isabel's bees, the relationship between them gets off on a rocky start. But Mac's project of writing her grandfather's biography, including his role in the Danish Resistance during WWII, forces them to work together. As much as Isabel denies it, she's getting more and more attracted to Mac.

"Wiggs' carefully detailed plotlines, one contemporary and one historical, with their candid look at relationships and their long-term effects, are sure to captivate readers." Recipes included.

"What makes this moving narrative so memorable is the fearlessness of families and friends who find strength in each other through the horrors of war and loss." If you enjoyed Jojo Moyes' The Girl You Left Behind, you won't be disappointed.

Here are some of my personal favorites (in no particular order) on the drama that often threatens to undo even the best-laid wedding plans: Beautiful Day by Elin Hilderbrand; A Wedding in December by Anita Shreve; The Wedding Girl by Madeleine Wickham; and Philosophy Made Simple by Robert Hellenga.

* = starred review

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