Fabulous Fiction Firsts #507 -“In the end these things matter most: How well did you love? How fully did you live? How deeply did you let go?” ~ Gautama Buddha

Before I Go * by Colleen Oakley, given the premise, could have been a sentimental tearjerker but instead, yes, it is heart-wrenching of course, but surprisingly upbeat and life-affirming.

27 year old grad. student Daisy Richmond beat cancer once but on her third "Cancerversary", the cancer is back - Stage IV, aggressive and inoperable. She knows she won't be around for husband Jack's graduation from vet school - something they have worked, sacrificed and delayed their life-plans (kids and vacations) for. What terrifies Daisy most is not dying, but leaving brilliant, domestically-challenged, absent-minded Jack on his own. So instead of planning some "make-a-wish" grown-up getaway for her last days, she is going to find Jack a wife with the time she has left.

With the help of her best friend Kayleigh, Daisy systematically scouts out dog parks (must love dogs) coffee shops and online dating sites looking for the perfect match for Jack. But when it looks like she is way too successful in her quest, Daisy has a change of heart.

Debut novelist Oakley "expertly tugs at the heartstrings with well-rounded characters and a liberal dose of gallows humor."

For readers who enjoyed Hello Goodbye by Emily Chenoweth (a FFF); P.S. I love you by Cecelia Ahern that has been adapted into film; Hannah's List by Debbie Macomber; and Promises to Keep by Jane Green - novels that deal with difficult issues of illnesses and grief, holding on and letting go of the ones we love.

* = starred review

The Boy Who Cried Fabulous!

"When Roger started out for school, his mother set a simple rule. She said, "Now Roger, you go straight-- straight to class and don't be late!" Roger tried hard to obey, he knew that he should not delay. He shouldn't wander or explore, but then he came upon a store..."

In The Boy Who Cried Fabulous by Leslea Newman, Roger is a quirky boy who has trouble going to and from school. The reason? He can't help but become side-tracked by all of the fabulous things he sees! When Roger finds himself late for school (again!), his parents ban him from saying the word 'fabulous' anymore. What will Roger do when he can no longer explore "a world too wondrous to ignore"?

The Boy Who Cried Fabulous is a funny rhyming story about curiosity and accepting others differences. The illustrations are vibrant and bright, and become more and more outlandish as the story continues. Other fabulous titles from Leslea Newman include Donovan's Big Day, Just Like Mama, and Dogs, Dogs, Dogs!

PreK Bits - Q is for Quilt

Ms. Rachel's storytime was brought to you by the letter "Q" this week.

A FAR-FETCHED STORY ends with a "far-fetched story quilt" to keep the family "warm as folklore" through the winter.
"Five Plum Buns In The Bakery Shoppe" is a rhythmic counting poem about disappearing buns in the bakery shoppe.
Each customer enters the shoppe to buy a bun "with a quarter in their hand".
The rhyme is traditional and has been passed down orally. A recorded version was not found in the library.
OWL AT HOME tells of the night there are "Strange Bumps" under Owl's quilt, when he is trying to go to sleep.
Children left with a stamp on their hand of a "quarter moon" smiling at them ....

Here are more stories featuring quilts, since quilts are full of family stories about each patch.
MOOSHKA A QUILT STORY by Julie Paschkis, and The KEEPING QUILT by Patricia Polacco, are Jewish immigrant quilt stories.
PAPA And The PIONEER QUILT by Jean Van Leeuwen, an historical story from the American westward pioneer era.
SHOW WAY by Jaqueline Woodson, an historical story of how quilts led slaves north to freedom.
LUKA'S QUILT by Georgia Guback, an Hawaiian quilt story.
The QUILT by Ann Jonas, of warm memories playing under the quilt.
SAM JOHNSON And The BLUE RIBBON QUILT by Lisa Campbell Ernst, a story of Sam the Farmer who found he enjoys sewing. Now he wishes to join his wife's quilting circle.
So then ... save your favorite scraps and make a quilt that tells YOUR stories.

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms

Katherine Rundell, author of Rooftoppers, has done it again. Her newest children’s fiction novel, Cartwheeling In Thunderstorms is a fantastic treat of words and imagery.

Young Wilhelmina Silver, better known as Will, Cartwheel, or Wildcat, lives half-wild in Africa on a farm with her English born father and best animal friends. She spends time running the plains with her best friend Simon, and the monkeys and hyenas she’s grown to love and care for. Will is as feisty as can be and the boys are no match for her wit and spunk. Whip-smart, spontaneous, and ever a dreamer, Will’s happy and magical world gets ripped apart when the family farm is sold and she is sent to a boarding school in London, where she sticks out like dirty thumb.

It’s a charming story with an irresistable voice in Will Silver.

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #506

Wildalone * by Krassi Zourkova opens with an enchanting tale of a monk's erotic encounter with samodivias (or wildalones), and thus sets the scene for this "darkly imaginative debut novel full of myth, magic, romance, and mystery. "

Thea(dora) Slavin, a Bulgarian piano prodigy arrives on the Princeton campus and is immediately thrown into the maelstrom of freshman activities. Beyond the requisite college-life adjustments, she is juggling a demanding schedule of classes, practice and performance, as well as struggling to adapt to unfamiliar American ways.

Privately, Thea is harboring a secret ambition - to find out what happened to her sister Elza who died violently 15 years ago as a Princeton freshman and her body went missing mysterious before the family had a chance to claim it. Thea grew up in the family's oppressive silence concerning Elza's death and is determined to find out what happened.

Her first clue comes from an unlikely source - her Art History professor who leads and baits her to a Greek vase in the Museum, depicting the Dionysian Mysteries. Then there is her shadowy "stalker", a devilishly handsome and exceedingly enigmatic young man who fades in and out of her consciousness. Before long, she finds herself romantically entangled with not only Jake Estlin, but also with his older brother Rhys, gradually being drawn into a sensual mythic underworld as irresistible as it is dangerous - one that might yield the answers to Elza's fate, as well as the terrifying truth about her own family.

(Bulgarian native) "Zourkova (Princeton, Art History and Harvard Law) pulls off a balancing act that few debut authors manage: a clever, dark (paranormal) romance steeped in mystery, with a bittersweet thread of melancholy and keen sense of place."

"Mesmerizing and addictive,... a bewitching blend of Twilight, The Secret History, Jane Eyre, and A Discovery of Witches." The ending strongly hints at a sequel. Let's hope we won't have to wait long.

* = starred review

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #505 - "It's a lot easier to be lost than found. It's the reason we're always searching and rarely discovered--so many locks not enough keys.” ~ Sarah Dessen

Lost & Found * by Brooke Davis, a Penguin First Flight author, is "an irresistible debut novel about the wisdom of the very young, the mischief of the very old, and the magic that happens when no one else is looking."

7 yr. old Millie Bird was left at the Ginormous Women's Undies Department of the local store by her distraught mother shortly after her father's death. 87 yr. old Karl, the touch-typist made a daring escape from a care facility and has been secretly camping out in the Men's dressing rooms at night. They bonded over their Lists of Dead Things, muffins, and creative use of the store merchandise until they were caught. It was the police station for Karl but he managed to free Millie who made her way home, only to find the house empty.

Across the street, 82 yr. old Agatha Pantha has not left her house in 7 years, since the day she buried her husband, nor had she spoken to a live person if you don't count shouting at passersby. But when she saw the curly-haired little girl roaming alone in that house, she marched right over to take matters in hand.

Brought together by determination, luck, and a kindly bus driver, the three embarked on a road trip across Western Australia to find Millie's mother. Along the way, they discovered that being "old" could be a state of mind; that the young could be wise; and happiness could catch you unawares, if you gave it a chance.

Already a runaway bestseller at home, Lost & Found was originally written as the author's PhD thesis on grief at Curtin University in Western Australia. It was inspired by her mother's sudden death while Brooke was traveling abroad.

If you've enjoyed meeting our Millie here, then you would be charmed by the young protagonists in Saving CeeCee Honeycutt by Beth Hoffman and 2 a.m. at the Cat's Pajamas by Marie-Helene Bertino, and their stories.

* = starred review

The Hole

The Hole is such a magical picture book! Brain Pickings describes it as an “existential meditation in simple Scandinavian illustrations and die-cut magic,” and I could not say it any better.

The Hole is written and illustrated by Øyvind Torseter, was translated from Norweigan, and features sparse dialog. Our main character moves into an apartment and discovers that there is a hole in it and he searches to find out the cause. This includes boxing up the hole and taking it to a lab for testing. The best part of this book is the illustrations and the fact that there is a pencil-sized hole going through the entire book from the chipboard covers through the pages. And the hole gets wonderfully incorporated into every illustration and scene. It’s marvelous! It really makes you think about where that hole came from. Where does it begin and end? Why is it there at all? If you’re looking for a beautiful thinker of a children’s book, here you go.

For more beautiful books published by Enchanted Lion Books be sure to check out our nice list of AADL owned titles.

Josephine Baker Biography

If Jacqueline Woodson’s award-winning memoir Brown Girl Dreaming has you craving more stories-in-verse that share the African-American experience, check out this fantastic title:

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker written by Patricia Hruby Powell and illustrated by Christian Robinson is picture-book biography of dancer Josephine Baker. Beginning with her childhood in the segregated South, the book traces her life as a teenager in a traveling dance troupe, her star-making Paris debut, her work as a spy during World War II, and her adoption of twelve children of different nationalities, always highlighting her desire for racial acceptance. With its bright, bold illustrations and free-verse text that mixes quotations from Baker with energetic narration, this 100-page picture book is a perfect showcase for the dancer’s story.

Happy Birthday David Bowie!

Today marks the birthday of the man, the myth, the legend: David Bowie. What else can I say? Currently sitting unread on my coffee table at home is the 2014 bio on him: Bowie the Biography by Wendy Leigh. Have you read it? Do I need to read it? Please let me know.

As a singer, songwriter and actor Bowie has created many a masterpiece. Everything from movies, to music, to books. Ziggy Stardust! Aladdin Sane! The Labyrinth! With many personas spanning across decades Bowie has not ceased to amaze and entertain.

My random Bowie recommendation is not Bowie really, but covers. Check out The Life Aquatic Studio Sessions, featuring Bowie reworked into mellow accoustic versions and sung in Portuguese by Seu Jorge.

Happy birthday, dear sir, and thank you!

Let's Learn About Science!

If you have a little one who loves science and you haven’t checked out our New Book shelf lately, you’re missing out! We have a bundle of exciting new science books in designed just for kids.

For older kids, Hello from 2030: The Science of the Future and You, by Jan Paul Schutten, takes a look at the near feature based on current science. In the future, will we be able to easily and quickly 3D print body parts? What will climate change make the planet look like? This book also explains how predictions work and contains a section on becoming a futurologist.

In you want to learn about the amazing scientists that have brought us this far, check out the new Women in Science series, which features short but detailed biographies of physician Antonia Novello, astronaut Mae Jemison, physicist Chien-Shiung Wu, meteorologist Joanne Simpson, and biochemist Hayat Sindi.

After learning about the great scientists above, children can learn about mistakes in science from the Science Gets it Wrong Series. My personal favorite is Let’s Make Some Gold!, but you can also check out: Your Head Shape Reveals Your Personality!, That Bull is Seeing Red!, and We're the Center of the Universe!

For all of these, and lots of other books, including ones about robots, genes, ecosystems and more, check out our list New Science Books for Kids.

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