Waiting (Not So) Patiently for The Boston Girl by Anita Diamant?

Anita Diamant’s novel The Boston Girl is described as “a moving portrait of one woman’s complicated life in twentieth century America, and a fascinating look at a generation of women finding their places in a changing world.” Diamant is known for developing strong female characters, and Addie Baum is a perfect example, set against the background of an immigrant family and in a rapidly changing society, she combats adversity with intelligence, determination, and a sense of humor.

Below is a list of other titles that might appeal to those awaiting The Boston Girl. Some of these titles feature a historical setting, many explore the immigrant experience, and all of them introduce a resolute female character who face their challenges head on.

- Away by Amy Bloom - A Russian immigrant leaves the life she has built in 1920s New York to trek across the country in the hope of reuniting with her lost daughter.

- Girl in Translation by Jean Kwok - This modern day coming-of-age and coming-to-America story is fueled by determined and brilliant daughter Kimberley’s close relationship with her hard-working mother.

- The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell - Rose is a police typist in Prohibition New York who doesn’t realize her own naivete until she becomes influenced and infatuated with her new colleague, Odalie.

- The Scrapbook of Frankie Pratt by Caroline Preston - This story of an ambitious young woman who follows her dreams to 1920s Paris, only to find the love of her life back in her own small town, is told using text amidst a scrapbook of letters, photos, postcards and other charming, everyday 20th century ephemera.

- Transatlantic by Colum McCann - A beautifully written multi-generational epic unfolds against the backdrop of three transatlantic voyages between Ireland and New York, moving between 1843, 1919, and 1991.

Jim Henson's Enchanted Sisters

Say Jim Henson’s name and what comes to mind? For some, it may be the loveable and prolific Muppets, who have starred in many movies and TV shows since their introduction in the 1950s. For others, it may be fond memories of watching Fraggle Rock or Sesame Street before school every morning. Cult film aficionados may think of the highly imaginative The Dark Crystal, or Labyrinth with the endlessly charismatic Goblin King. Wherever thoughts of Jim Henson may take you, there’s no denying that he and his company, The Jim Henson Company, have left an indelible mark on pop culture.

One of the more recent offerings from The Jim Henson Company is a chapter book series called Enchanted Sisters. It features four characters (Autumn, Winter, Spring, and Summer) who each have their own book and who are known as the Sparkle Sisters: daughters of Mother Nature who are responsible for the four seasons in the human (our) world. This girl-centric series is about friendship, adventure, and creativity--fans of Sofia the First and Disney Fairies should give this a try! So far only two books have been released. Look for Spring and Summer books next, well, spring and summer!

Abilities over Disabilities - PreK - 7th grade

There are many "human ability" stories and exercises that deserve to be shared and discussed with kids.
People request "stories for kids" especially when issues arise in school or family life.
Here are two public lists especially for kids through elementary school ages.
There are stories of real people who have lost abilities many take for granted.
These are stories of surprise, determination and success.
Some include simple life-style enhancements such as ... eyeglasses and good friends.
Others explain trained animal assistants, braille, prosthetics, insight ... and also humor.

This list is dedicated to stories of Autism, and Aspergergers spectrum disorders
Autism and Aspergers - Grades K - 6

This list spans as many abilities as possible, yet includes some stories from Autism spectrum too.
Abilities over Abilities - Grades PreK - 7

A Beautiful Mess

Those of you familiar with the popular style and craft blog A Beautiful Mess will be delighted with this new book, A beautiful mess happy handmade home: Painting, crafting, and decorating a cheerful, more inspiring space. And for those of you not familiar with such messes… Welcome to a beautiful mess!

The book features home décor inspiration and has 90 DIY projects. If you’re looking for home and decorating ideas, look here.

AADL also has many other new craft and design books in the catalog if you’re interested!

NPR’s Books to Read, Books to Give

It’s that time of year when all the “best of” lists start popping up. NPR always puts together a nice, categorized list of recommended books called the Book Concierge. This year is no exception.

The site features NPR staff and critics guide to 2014’s great reads, and is easily filtered into categories for easy browsing, and you can choose more than one category. Want adult fiction AND a love story AND a short read – you can easily pluck it out using the filters! The lists include adult, young adult and children’s books. Give it a whirl and see what books you missed this year. Choosing new books was never so easy!

New Picture Book Roundup

Are you searching for something fun and new to read during Winter Break? Look no further than our great new picture books! We just got a bunch in and they are all wonderful. Here are some of my favorites:

Naptime: This fun book by Iris De Moüy will be a hit for anyone dealing with a reluctant napper. Through beautiful illustrations and snappy text, a whole herd of jungle animals list their extensive reasons for why they can’t nap. But have no fear! By the end of the book, all of the animals have learned how to take a proper nap.

A Library Book for Bear: Bear has seven books: three about kings and queens, three about honeybees, and one about pickles. He sees no need for any more books, but his friend Mouse is determined to show him the library. At first, Bear thinks all of the books at the library are terribly unnecessary, but a great storytime wins him over. Written by Bonny Becker, with lovely illustrations by Kady MacDonald Denton, this book will delight your little library lover.

Full Speed Ahead! How Fast Things Go: This is one of the most beautiful books I’ve seen this year. Compiled by the French design firm Crushiform, this book compares the speed of different animals, airships, boats, and more. The illustrations are simply gorgeous and the book is filled with facts. For example, did you know that an Indo-Pacific Sailfish is as fast as a Cheetah? Or that a Sphinx moth is faster than a racehorse? Learn all this and more when you check out this book!

A Possum's Tail: By Gabby Dawnay and Alex Barrow, this adorable book follows a young child named Sam as he goes to the London Zoo and picks up a group of possum friends. The illustrations are detailed and the rhymes in the story reminded me of Madeline. Children will be sure to enjoy this sweet story.

New Years' Intention

Truth be told, I’m not big on New Years Resolutions. The holiday hype and excitement tend to make me feel exhausted and inadequate before February finishes. Instead, I prefer to set an intention for the year, as I have found that this is a much more successful and forgiving way to make long term and consistent improvements. Like many, my intention for this next year is to eat better. More specifically, my goal is to learn how to nourish myself rather than just feed myself, and examine how certain foods add or detract from my well being. Ayurveda is the foundation of this type of thought.

Ayurveda is the ancient yogic study of the effect of food on your physical constitution, while factoring in one’s emotional nature and individual spiritual outlook. Sanskrit texts dating back 5,000 years teach of the three body types, or “doshas,” and how to best balance your whole being. One good place to start is with Suhas Kshirsagar’s “Hot Belly Diet”. Here you’ll learn the basics on how to determine your dosha, and create the optimum diet to improve overall health, balance hormone levels, and kick start your digestive ‘fire.’ Whether you suffer from chronic disease or acute ailments, deciphering your own ‘diet code’ is crucial to creating a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

Girls Like Us: Great for Group Discussions and Teen Book Clubs!

Gail Giles's new teen novel, Girls Like Us, weaves the heart-wrenching tales of two young women thrown together by what at first seems like bad luck. Quincy and Biddy were in the special education program together in high school, and they were anything but friends. Biddy had a reputation with the boys and Quincy was well-known for her mean streak. When they learned they'd be living together cooperatively, they thought life couldn't get any worse.

Told from the alternating perspective of each woman, "Girls Like Us" slowly reveals abusive childhoods and cruel experiences that have shaped who they are today. Everywhere they go they carry the insults slung at them like parasites, the words so deeply ingrained that they are accepted as truth. Although much of the intertwined tale of Biddy and Quincy is an unflinching look at human cruelty, the heart-warming moments of gradual friendship make this novel worth the emotional toll. It both empowers readers and inspires reflection on memory, change, hope, friendship, and family.

Gail Giles has written several books for teens, including What Happened to Cass McBride? and Playing in Traffic. "Girls Like Us" appeared on the longlist for the 2014 National Book Award in Young People's Literature, and was inspired by several previous students in Giles' 20 years of teaching special education classes.

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 is 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

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