Library Lists: Beautiful Bird Books for Spring!

Spring has sprung and lots of birds are out and about! If you love the beautiful birds in your backyard, bird-watching, listening to bird calls, or learning about some of the more exotic birds in other parts of the world, check out some of the wonderful bird-related books on this list!

The Thing With Feathers: An enlightening look into the capabilities of different birds, and into how the intelligence of birds relates to that of humans.

Beautiful Birds: A wonderfully illustrated alphabet book that introduces young readers to some of the world’s most beautiful birds with the aid of easy-flowing poetry.

Birds: Nature’s Magnificent Flying Machines: An easy-to-read introduction the science and logistics of flying, accompanied by detailed illustrations.

Extreme Birds: Birds come in all shapes, colors, and sizes, and some have some pretty unique adaptations to help them survive. Extreme Birds highlights the world’s most extraordinary and bizarre birds.

Gardening for the Birds: Planting a bird-friendly garden is easy to do with the help of this useful book. Those wishing to attract more birds to their backyard will find great tips and suggestions for plants and garden layout here.

The Verb “To Bird”: Sightings of an Avid Birder: Long-time bird watcher Peter Cashwell channels Aldo Leopold in this lovely book, making readers feel as though they are wandering the woods with him as he shares his experiences and the joy he gleans from birding.

Bird, Egg, Feather, Nest: In watercolor images and handwritten text, author Maryjo Koch shares with readers facts about bird s from all over the world.

Why do birds’ feathers have such vastly different patterning and coloration? Find out in National Geographic Bird Coloration, a wonderfully informational book about birds’ feathers, accompanied in typical NatGeo fashion by stunning photographs.

Feathers: Poems About Birds: A lovely little poetry book for bird-lovers. Birds of all kinds are described in lyrical poems, accompanied by playful illustrations.

The Boy Who Drew Birds: John James Audubon is famous for his love of birds and his amazing illustrations of birds that he did throughout his life. This biography, geared towards young readers, tells of how Audubon pioneered a technique for researching birds that is still used today and captures his early passion for something he loved.

For more books on birds for all ages and interest levels, check out this even more extensive list!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #523

Publicity-shy UK debut author (we really don't know much about him) Mason Cross sets his electrifying thriller (and the first in a projected series) The Killing Season * * in the heartland of the USA.

2 weeks before his scheduled execution, convicted mass-murderer Caleb Wardell (nicknamed 'The Chicago Sniper') escaped in an ambush, during a late-night transfer on a rural road. It appeared that someone knew exactly where and when, and Wardell was not even the target.

Within hours, the FBI calls in Carter Blake to assist in a task force to find Wardell before the ensuing public hysteria once the news of the escape leaks out. Blake, a man with a specialized talents in finding those who don't want to be found, teams up with Elaine Banner, the Bureau's rising star who is privately juggling life as a newly-single mother. Racing against the clock and Bureau politics, they must track Wardell down as he cuts a swathe across America, apparently killing at random, just for the thrill of it, and always a step ahead of them.

"Cross keeps the pace breakneck, the suspense high, and the body count higher. Wardell is a terrific villain: intelligent, disciplined, resourceful, and utterly twisted. Banner is a single parent stretched between her daughter and her career. Blake is an enigma, but readers can trust that Cross will fill in his backstory in future novels."

For Jack Reacher and John Rain fans.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Bo and Co. are winners the second time around

I loved Bo at Ballard Creek last year and was excited to revisit Bo, her papas, her little brother, and the world of post-Gold Rush Alaska in Bo at Iditarod Creek by Kirkpatrick Hill a few weeks ago. But I was also worried: would it live up to the wonderful nature of the first book? I'm pleased to say that it did. With a new cast of characters, an expanding worldview for Bo (she moves from a town of 200 people to 500 people, for example, and learns that there are different Native Alaskan tribes throughout the state), and the same gentle humor as the first it's a worthy follow up.

If you enjoy reading or reading aloud the episodic adventures of The Little House on the Prairie or The Birchbark House series by Louise Erdrich, you might be as charmed by Bo as I am. The book is also a fascinating, if oblique, view into the world of backcountry Alaska in the 1930s, when mail arrived via airplane and amenities available to the rest of the country hadn't caught up yet, so if you enjoy historical fiction you might enjoy Bo and Co. as well.

Air Plants!

Air Plants: The Curious World of Tillandsias is all about the ever so popular air plants! Are you super into them and want to learn more? Are you baffled at why your friend has these on her coffee table and hanging from art on the wall? Wondering how these unplanted plants survive? If so, then this book might suit your fancy.

It talks all about designing and living with these odd and beautiful plants. The book discusses different types of air plants, how to care for them, and how to arrange and display them in magical ways throughout your house. These plants are so versatile, and pretty easy to care for. If you don't know what they are and are curious, here's a peek at the book's beautiful contents, or just check out the lush book preview in the AADL catalog. Happy "planting"!

Fabulous Fiction Firsts #522 "I think all families are creepy in a way." ~ Diane Arbus

"(W)holly absorbing and emotionally rich", contributing editor of Vanity Fair Lili Anolik (Princeton, MFA Boston University) sets her debut Dark Rooms * * in an exclusive New England prep school.

Edgar Allan Poe once observed that "the death of a beautiful woman is, unquestionably, the most poetical topic of the world." Nica Baker is beautiful - a 16 year old homecoming queen, popular, secretive and utterly wild. She has been murdered - a single gunshot wound, found not far from home. The police was quick to close the case when another classmate from Chandler Academy (a private feeder school to the Ivies) committed suicide, leaving a note as confession, apparently unrequited love gone wrong. But Grace, Nica's older sister was not convinced.

Deferring her enrollment to Williams, Grace takes a job on campus and obsessively goes about trying to identify the real killer. As she starts to penetrate the myriad lies and secrets in this insular community, the picture that emerges is far from pretty - especially condemnable are the adults they have come to respect and trust. "However, the story line just scratches the surface of this insightful, complex novel, which is all about angst: broken relationships, class and social issues, the human psyche. "

"Compulsively readable, (it) combines the verbal dexterity of Marisha Pessl's Special Topic in Calamity Physics and the haunting atmospherics and hairpin plot twists of Megan Abbott's Dare Me." Readers who enjoyed Reconstructing Amelia and The Starboard Sea might find much to like here too.

* * = 2 starred reviews

Get to Know the Judges: Len Vlahos


Leading up to the It's All Write Teen Short Story Contest celebration on June 7 (mark that on your calendar!), we'll be posting information about the judges who have the difficult task of narrowing down our contestants. Our next judge is Len Vlahos.

Vlahos is the father of two boys, an insomniac (those two things related, perhaps?), and a big fan of naps, John Green, the music service Pandora, and indie book stores and record stores. His debut book THE SCAR BOYS came out last year and was a finalist for the William C. Morris YA Debut Award. The book is one that Vlahos calls "quasi-autobiographical" and is the coming-of-age story of Harry Jones and the power of music and friendship to heal wounds. Written as if it were a college admissions, THE SCAR BOYS looks back with humor and heart on Harry's life, starting from the incident when he was eight years old that left him scarred and ostracized, to middle school when he starts up a band with the guy who saved him from bullies, and up through high school when he experiences first love.

Vlahos's second book, HOUSE OF STONE, was recently acquired for publication by Bloomsbury. The tentative publication date is winter 2017.

Library Lists: Americana

The amazing variation of lifestyles in the United States make for fascinating literary portraits of the people, families and groups living in this country. Compiled here are ten amazing books, both fiction and nonfiction, that explore deeply the culture and beliefs of our nation.

South of Superior: An eye-opening book, set in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, that offers subtle explanations for why people make the choices that they do, and why we often find ourselves unable to escape our pasts.

Shotgun Lovesongs: A moving portrait of the relationships between four men who all grew up in the same small Wisconsin town, and of what holds them there and what drives them away.

Rock Springs: In ten stories all set in the American West, author Richard Ford employs carefully sculpted prose to explore the themes of loneliness and hope that permeate the lives of people who live there.

A Thousand Acres: Jane Smiley’s Pulitzer Prize-winning novel is unexpectedly fast-paced and shocking. Set on a family farm in Iowa, the exclusion of the youngest daughter from the will sets off a chain of events that bring long-suppressed truths and emotions to the surface. Also try Smiley’s most recent book, Some Luck, for another fantastic American family drama.

Pulphead: Essays: Author John Jeremiah Sullivan takes readers on a whirlwind tour of America’s cultural landscape, describing unique aspects of popular culture and drawing forgotten and unknown groups and areas into the light.

Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Café: Fannie Flagg’s classic novel takes place simultaneously in the 1980s and 1920s, and has been beloved since its initial publication in 1987. Fried Green Tomatoes is he story of the famous Whistle Stop Café, operational from the 1920s-1960s and the amazing cast of characters that kept it operational, as well as of modern-day woman, Evelyn, who is inspired to change her life after hearing stories about the Whistle Stop Café from a woman living at the nursing home where she visits her mother-in-law weekly. Many of Flagg’s other books are also hilarious and heartwarming portrayals of life in the South.

Winesburg, Ohio has been touted as one of the 100 greatest novels of all time. Before Richard Ford, there was Sherwood Anderson, who wrote Winesburg, Ohio in 1919 and, with it, evoked “with lyrical simplicity quiet moments of epiphany in the lives of ordinary men and women.”

The English Major: Jim Harrison tells a unique version of the American road trip story through the eyes of protagonist Cliff, a divorced sixty-something ex-teacher who has just lost his share of the family farm. His adventures take him on a whirlwind tour of America, on a personal mission to rename all the states with names he feels are better suited.

Prodigal Summer: Barbara Kingsolver’s 2000 book is set in rural Appalachia, and delves deeply into three separate storylines that gradually merge together with Kingsolver’s expert grace.

East of Eden: Described as Steinbeck's magnum opus, the sprawling novel follows the destinies of two families in the Salinas Valley in California whose lives mirror the fall of Adam and Eve and rivalry between Cain and Abel. Even those who typically don’t enjoy Steinbeck have a soft spot for East of Eden and its intensely developed characters and faster-paced action.

Want more Americana? Check out this list for tons more books, both classics and lesser-knowns, on traditional and non-traditional American culture.

Fairy Tales and Journeys Across the Sea

Set in 19th century Norway, West of the Moon tells the story of 13 year old Astri, who has just been sold to a cruel goat farmer by her greedy aunt. Clever and determined, Astri makes a daring escape to reunite with her sister and find a way to America. Remembering the heroes in fairy tales told by her mother gives Astri the strength to persevere in her journey and uncover family secrets.

Margi Preus was inspired to write the novel after reading a mysterious diary passage written by her great-great grandmother, Linka Preus, who immigrated to America in the 19th century. Fascinating images and information about Linka’s world are included in the Author’s Note.

For other retellings of the fairy tale East of the Sun, West of the Moon, try East or Sun and Moon, Ice and Snow. If you’d like to read the Norwegian fairy tales mentioned in the Preus novel, check out East of the Sun and West of the Moon: old tales from the North.

Meet the Moog Theremini

Even if you have never heard of a Theremin you're probably familiar with the sound it makes. Theremins are unique in that they are the only musical instrument you play by waving your hands through the air. Invented in the 1920s by Lev Sergeyevich Termen the instrument traditionally contains two metal antennae which generate an electromagnetic field. When you place your hands, or your face or your cat or whatever into this field you disrupt the signal. Your disruptions are interpreted by the synthesizer to produce a musical note (using the vertical pitch antenna) and a sound level (using the horizontal volume antenna). The Theremini from the legendary Moog Music company takes the traditional theremin to another level. New player friendly features and an incredible built-in sound engine help you generate all sorts of noise, including the spooky "ooo woooo ooo" sound heard in many classic sci fi films. The handy automatic calibration feature will assist new players, and if you're not a new player well then you probably already have your own theremin. Place a request on one today or find an Up For Grabs copy on the shelf at the Downtown Library! Thereminis currently checkout for 1 week and are requestable but not renewable.

Boredom Busters to the Rescue!

Need something fun to do on spring break? Never fear, AADL has it covered with brand new youth nonfiction books!

Monstergami by David Mitchell gives even the most experienced origami artists a new challenge! Make the Fangster, a fierce dragon with pointy teeth; a Sky Sprite with feathered wings; or even a monster Totem with multiple stacked heads! Other new origami books include Folding Origami and Origami X: Paper Folding for Secret Agents.

Comics: Investigate the History and Technology of American Cartooning by Sam Carbaugh is perfect for fans of graphic novels and aspiring artists! Travel through the history of how comics started with ancient civilizations, design your own unique characters, and investigate various comic styles like manga and webcomics.

Totally Washi: More than 45 Super Cute Washi Tape Crafts for Kids by Ashley Ann Laz will inspire you to get decorating right away! Washi tape is patterned tape that is actually made of paper. Maybe you already knew that you could make beautiful cards and bracelets, but did you know that you can also make cool "feather" earrings, a color-coded keyboard, or temporary wallpaper? For more washi tape fun, check out the free Crafting with Washi Tape book from Cherry Lake Publishing!

Magic Mike's Miraculous Magic Tricks by Mike Lane will keep the boredom away this spring! Astound your friends and baffle your parents with these amazing illusions, including the Coin Flip, Floating on Air, The Chosen One, and Money Morph!

For even more spring break fun, check out all of the upcoming events for kids at AADL!

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