Sea Prayer by Khaled Hosseini
At first glance, you may think this a children’s picture book mistakenly placed in adult books. This is definitely an adult book. Its size is in direct contrast to its impact. This book stays with you. Read it once, then read it again more slowly. Also, read the blurb in the jacket, the dedication and the author’s note at the end. Hosseini is an already best-selling author with his previous titles The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed, however Sea Prayer is what elevates him from a good author to a great writer. It takes a special talent to use few words to paint a vivid, moving and lasting picture. ~Sharon Long~
The Museum in the title of this novel is in Silkeborg, Denmark, where Professor Anders Larsen works. On an isolated English farm, Tina Hopgood is trapped in a life she doesn't remember choosing. Both believe their love stories are over. Brought together by a shared fascination with the ancient Tollund Man whose body was preserved in peat, they begin writing letters to one another. From their vastly different worlds, they discover that they have more in common than they could have imagined. Enjoy the audiobook with both Danish and English narrators. A debut novel worth reading! ~Paulette Brooks~
The Atlas of Beauty: women of the world in 500 portraits by Mihaela Noroc
The intent of photographer Mihaela Noroc was to document beauty in all its forms around the world. The book is an extension of her popular website which showcases everyday women from over 50 countries in all their diversity and beauty. Ranging from the Amazon rainforest to the markets of India, London city streets and mountains of Afghanistan capture women in their daily lives with all of its obstacles and dreams. Each page is a stunning portrait of one or more women indicating where the photo was taking and a bit about each. Great to just glance through or sit and read. ~Sharon Passick~
The pandemic that occurred at the end of WWI killed more people than the war and touched nearly every family on the planet. A mysterious, gruesome disease that seemed to appear out of nowhere, the “Spanish Flu” mutated and became deadly during the summer and rapidly struck down the young and vigorous, with an astounding 100 million deaths worldwide before it disappeared a year later. The eyewitness accounts in this book are scarier than any Halloween story you’ll ever read, and I shuddered to recognize the ghastly origin of a little verse my own grandfather (a young man at the time of the pandemic) once taught me: “I had a little bird, his name was Enza, I opened up the window and…. in-flu-enza.” ~Shannon McKeown~
Isle of Dogs [DVD]
A unique movie experience with a mix of stop-motion animation, social commentary, and Japanese culture. The fantasy story picks up when all the canine pets of Megasaki City are exiled to a vast Trash Island. 12-year-old Atari Kobayashi embarks on an epic journey in search of his faithful bodyguard-dog, Spots. Featuring an all-star cast who provide the voices of the people and the dogs, Director Wes Anderson manages to weave a fable that is light-hearted and darkly comedic at the same time. ~Paulette Brooks~
Heirloom Houses: The Architecture of Wade Weissmann by Steven Stolman
Sit down with this book and get lost in eighteen lavishly designed properties, each one more beautiful than the last. Wade Weissmann has deep Wisconsin roots. He is a graduate of the UW School of Architecture and, as a child, spent summers on a hobby farm in Door County. His architectural firm now has projects that span the U.S. and abroad. The properties featured in this book include five in Wisconsin. The chapter, "Shingle style on Geneva Lake" showcases an impressive estate, but the historic renovation of Redbird Manor in Door County was my favorite. I was also impressed with his design of the clubhouse and outbuildings of Erin Hills Golf Course, the location of the 2017 U.S. Open. ~Nancy Arevalo~
There is a recent resurgence in the popularity of the story of Anne of Green Gables by L.M. Montgomery, the tale of an orphan on Prince Edward Island, Canada, who is adopted by an elderly brother and sister. New series have been created on television by PBS and Netflix, and new books have been written for children who may be too young to enjoy the original text.
Goodnight, Anne written by Kallie George and illustrated by Genevieve Godbout
Anne has a unique and dramatic way of viewing the world and in this picture book, Anne says goodnight to her favorite people and places in her own special way. If you know Anne’s story, you will recognize every person and place mentioned. If you don’t know her story, you might become curious enough to find out more.
Anne Arrives adapted by Kallie George, with pictures by Abigail Halpin
This early chapter book condenses the beginning of Anne’s story into bite-sized pieces for early readers. The colorful illustrations, including some lovely double-page spreads, do a fine job of setting the tone and establishing the time and place. New fans will eagerly await the next installment in this series. ~Sue Daniels~
By the Book: Writers on Literature and the Literary Life from The New York Times Book Review. Edited and with an introduction by Pamela Paul
Sixty-five of the world's leading writers open up about the books and authors that have meant the most to them. These wide-ranging interviews are conducted by Pamela Paul, the editor of the The New York Times Book Review, featuring personalities as varied as David Sedaris, Hilary Mantel, Michael Chabon, Khaled Hosseini, Anne Lamott, and James Patterson. These questions and answers reveal authors as they reflect on their work habits, reading preferences, inspirations, pet peeves, and recommendations. By the Book contains the full uncut interviews, reflecting a range of experiences and observations that deepens readers' understanding of the literary sensibility and the writing process. A fascinating read! ~Paulette Brooks~
Note: every week a “By the Book” interview continues to be included in The New York Times Book Review – back issues are kept in the newspaper area at Elm Grove Public Library. Just for fun, we will be doing our own literary interviews with the library staff, over the next few months:
By The "Library" Book Interview with EGPL Librarian Noah Weckwerth
What books are on your nightstand?
Too many to list. For brevity’s sake, J.R. Helton’s “Bad Jobs and Poor Decisions” because that's basically my story before becoming a librarian. Michael Lewis’ “The Fifth Risk” because I’m glad someone decided to write about what no-one seems to realize. "The Five Love Languages," because my beloved has been gently suggesting I read it for years. Finally, Bill Bryson’s “The Lost Continent” which has seemingly been on my nightstand since before its wooden top was even a twinkle in the forest’s eye. Bryson could travel the continent again, and I’d still be working on this book. Not sure why.
Describe your ideal reading experience (when, where, what, how).
October. Quiet save the sound of the leaves and all that stuff. Plenty of natural light, thermostat’s at 64, and there’s a nice, wide chair with an ottoman, a blanket, and a woodsy candle. Oh, and coffee. Plenty of coffee.
You’re organizing a literary dinner party. Which three writers, dead or alive, do you invite?
Goodness. What would I even serve? Raymond Carver, Joan Didion, and Hunter S. Thompson; that’s who I’d invite. We’d have a rousing colloquy about contemporary America and its flyover people. And I’d have a good excuse to check out a cookbook from the library!
Gina, a widow at too young an age is trying to get on with her life with a fastidious mother and sullen, unhappy teenager. One of the things that gets her through the day is her food truck, Grilled G’s which was customized by her husband before his untimely death, and making endless lists. Then one day her mother doesn’t answer her phone, and upon investigation Gina finds her laying on her apartment floor, the victim of a stroke. Now life really unravels as Gina and her sister learn more and more about the life their mother led before they knew her. But sometimes letting go of secrets allows one to let go of other obstacles in order to move on with all aspects of life. Heartfelt story of dealing with loss and grief, and learning that circumstances may change. ~Sharon Passick~
This lovely documentary was the best movie I’ve seen all year, surprising me with the depth of its well known subject, the classic children’s program and its gentle host, Fred Rogers. Seeing this now through adult eyes, I was amazed at the quality and the courage of this polite and disarming minister, whose calling was to reach children on their own level with truth, respect and love. It's a neighborhood that was even better than I remember. ~Shannon McKeown~
NEW in Picture Books
The Day You Begin by award-winner Jacqueline Woodson and illustrated by Rafael López
A simple story that encourages children to look past superficial differences when making new friends. Rigoberto feels like an outsider at school until he discovers that other children feel the same way and that it takes time to really get to know someone. Almost more poetry than prose, the language is lovely!
Interrupting Chicken and the Elephant of Surprise by David Ezra Stein
It is once again bedtime for Chicken and she can't help putting her own twist on the stories her father reads. She has just learned about "the elephant of surprise" and feels that every story should have an elephant like this! As with the previous book, Chicken interrupts each story with hilarious results.
A Home in the Barn by Margaret Wise Brown, illustrated by Caldecott Medalist Jerry Pinkney.
In this new edition of an old story, the animals are gathering in the barn where they will shelter during the winter. The new illustrations are colorful and vibrant, making the crowded barn seem cozy and inviting. A good choice for children who want to practice naming the many farm animals shown. ~Sue Daniels~
The Drifter by Nick Petrie
Excellent story of veteran returning to help out a widow of a fallen friend set right here in Milwaukee. A nefarious plot is uncovered and thwarted by the main character, Peter Ash. Looking forward to reading more in this series by local author. ~Paulette Brooks~
I'll Be Gone in the Dark: One Woman's Obsessive Search for the Golden State Killer by Michelle McNamara (available in Print, CDbook and Playaway format)
An instant classic in the true crime genre, the result of years of research and dogged detective work. And hopefully for its late author, a bittersweet publication. I'll Be Gone In The Dark details the more than 40 year hunt for the Golden State Killer, who terrorized Northern and Southern California throughout the 1970s, with a crime spree that escalated from burglary to rape to murder, paralyzing an entire region with fear.
What makes this a recommended read is the deft writing and human touch the author gives to the story. Despite its macabre subject matter, it’s extremely hard to put down once you’ve started it. Michelle McNamara passed away unexpectedly in the middle of writing this book and before her pursuit was over, but she shines a compassionate light on the countless detectives and a relentless internet community who never gave up the search. Thankfully the miscreant has since been caught, giving this phenomenal book the bittersweet postscript it deserves. ~Noah Weckwerth~
Little Women (DVD) [Originally broadcast as a television mini-series on PBS "Masterpiece" in 2018.]
A fresh dramatization of the well-loved 19th century tale written by Louisa May Alcott. This three-episode series was made for Masterpiece Theater and is beautiful in its simplicity, with a cast that includes Angela Lansbury as Aunt March and Emily Watson as Marmee, the matriarch of the March family. The four daughters are coming of age during the Civil War, and their father is away serving as chaplain to Union troops. Although there have been multiple feature films based on the book, I appreciated that this mini-series was long enough to allow the full story to unfold, while still capturing the details and drama of their everyday lives. ~Nancy Arevalo~
My Plain Jane by Cynthia Hand, Brodi Ashton, and Jodi Meadows (YA book)
Young adults and other readers will have a fun time reading this retelling of the classic Bronte novel, Jane Eyre. The story begins at Lowood School where Jane is a teacher, longing to branch out and considering getting a job as a nanny. The twist comes with the inclusion of Charlotte Bronte as a character (yes, she is a budding writer) and people who can see ghosts. Add in members of a society of supernatural investigators and the plot thickens with the usual gothic suspense. Recommended! ~Paulette Brooks~
Cherry by Nico Walker
This is not a book for everyone. It’s a sexually blunt, disturbingly graphic, soul-crushing depressor with mere flecks of humor. But Cherry is one of the most memorable books I have read in forever, for its original voice and unpretentious prose. Even calling it prose sounds pretentious. It’s a love story, it’s a war story, it’s a drug story, and it’s exactly why I read. An honest, bare account of what life just is for some people and what opioids are doing to America. ~Noah Weckwerth~
Send Down the Rain by Charles Martin
A tale of action, devotion, pain and redemption. The scars of their father's abandonment affect Bobby and Joseph differently, and their adult lives take very different paths. Years after Joseph serves in Viet Nam, he copes by living alone in the remote Carolina mountains. One winter night, he hears desperate pounding on his cabin door, and opens it to find a young mother and two children. He gives them refuge and sets off to find their pursuer. In the process of helping them, he finds himself back in Florida, not far from his hometown. He stops in on an old friend. The return of memories and the restoration of relationships begin, until an old secret surfaces. This was the first novel I've read by Charles Martin and I think his reputation as a good storyteller is well-founded. He weaves the lives of the significant characters together, and sustains the suspense all the way through, taking the reader to a surprising and satisfying conclusion. ~Nancy Arevalo~
The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
I love scanning the monthly Book Page magazine (generously provided by the Friends of the Elm Grove Library) for suggestions of what to read next and catch reviews of upcoming best sellers as well as old favorites. A recent recommendation for summer reading highlighted several nature-related books, including the wonderful THE SOUND OF A WILD SNAIL EATING. This lovely meditation on a tiny but important life is the true story of a woman confined to bed while suffering from a mysterious disease. Too ill to enjoy visitors, reading, music or television, hers is an empty and lonely convalescence until she receives expected company: hiding beneath the leaves of a potted wood violet brought by a friend is a tiny forest snail. Unable to do anything but observe, she finds comfort in the daily routine of this quiet, slow, yet active little creature and comes to understand the importance of small moments of grace. ~Shannon McKeown~
Amina’s Voice by Hena Khan
What first attracted me to this book was that it is a middle school novel set in Greendale, Wisconsin. I found this even more intriguing as the author was born and raised in Maryland and still lives there. I continued reading because I found the characters dynamic and relatable. Even since she froze on stage during her second grade play, Amina always steered clear of the spotlight. Only her best friend, Soojin, knew that Amina had an amazing singing voice. Now in middle school, Amina has to grapple with Soojin wanting to hang out with popular Emily and declaring that she is going to change her name to a more “American” name. At the same time her uncle is coming to visit from Pakistan, her parent’s insist she participate in a Quran recitation competition and her older brother can’t seem to stay out of trouble. Amina wishes she could be back in elementary school when life was much less complicated. This is a good coming of age story where Amina not only finds her voice, but also learns the meaning of friendship, forgiveness and cultural heritage while gaining self-acceptance as well as acceptance from her family and community. ~Sharon Long~
A few good pie places (DVD)
Take a tour with Rick Sebak who travels the United States in search of pie shops. From Maine to Minnesota, as well as those pastry chefs in the midwest, south, and the west, enjoy the different little shops who serve their brand of regional favorites. Watching this PBS production made me want to hit the road! Enjoy! ~Paulette Brooks~
Blood Standard by Laird Barron
Crime fiction fans take note, there’s a new hero on the block. Isaiah Coleridge is a part Maori bruiser who’s spent most of his life settling scores for the Alaskan Mob. But when a fit of good conscience banishes him to the mainland and only somewhat “protected,” trouble follows. New York’s Hudson Valley is the setting, and a battered but recovering Isaiah finds himself in bed with the local mob, the cops, the Feds, and other groups of varying ilk, searching for a missing girl and hoping to avoid a vicious mobster out for revenge. Author Laird Barron’s crackling prose, atmospheric environs, and a charismatic protagonist make this a promising new series. Here’s your chance to get in on the ground floor. ~Noah Weckwerth~
Capitalizing on the popularity of comic book heroes, this is the first in a series of origin stories about characters from DC comics written by popular YA authors. In this story, we meet a young, wealthy orphan named Bruce Wayne as he is graduating from high school. When he gets in trouble for interfering in a crime scene, he is sentenced to community service at a nearby prison where he has to scrub the floors and do other menial tasks. In the process, he meets a mysterious young woman prisoner who is involved with a crime gang called the Nightwalkers. Of course, Bruce gets more involved in her case than he should, and pretty soon he is walking a fine line between helping the police and being manipulated by an alleged murderer. Several of the well-known Batman characters and elements of his back story are rolled out in this suspenseful crime drama. Recommended for middle school and older. ~Sue Daniels~
Thousand-miler: adventures hiking the Ice Age Trail by Melanie Radzicki McManus (also available as an audio book)
I was unaware that the Ice Age Trail, right here in our state, is one of just eleven National Scenic Trails. It has been great to read the account of Melanie (who will be speaking about her hiking experiences on July 24th at Elm Grove library) as she became one of the elite group of thru-hikers, completing the 1,100 mile trek in just 36 days and 5 hours! This book is similar in style to Bill Bryson’s A WALK IN THE WOODS in that she describes her own experiences on the trail as well as the history of the formation of the trail and other hikers who completed this amazing journey. Well worth reading! ~Paulette Brooks~
Flavor Bombs: The Umami Ingredients that Make Taste Explode by Adam Fleischman with Tien Nguyen
Sweet, sour, salt, bitter ... and umami, the savory taste. The book begins with a listing of foods, techniques, and pantry items to amplify umami flavor, and then the chaos ensues. While items such as caramelized onions and Parmesan breadcrumbs are tame and familiar enough, putting ground dried mushrooms in a caramel sauce is some completely different! The recipes here are a great source for new ideas, and the pictures just might make you hungry. If you’re looking to shake things up in the kitchen, this is the book for you. ~Blair Klostermeier~
June is audiobook month, so as you take your trips check out a book on CD or Playaway that will help make the miles fly by! Check out this novel that takes place at a public library in a small town in New Hampshire. Everyone – the librarians, the regulars, and even the teenager that is assigned to volunteer during summer hours – will win your hearts as each of their stories unfold. Recommended! ~Paulette Brooks~
While you wait out hold lists for this summer’s sensations, here’s one from a few years back. It’s a Bildungsroman in sort of a disheartening sense, but oh so well written. Clearly “inspired” by Spahn Ranch, the summer of ‘69, and the cult of Charles Manson, The Girls follows a neglected 15-year-old Evie Boyd into the woods and out of her childhood. It’s an unsettling look inside the world of a teenage girl and a survey of how something like the Manson saga could even happen. Maybe this doesn’t sound like the most comforting read of the summer, but it’s a fantastic book and an education to boot. ~Noah Weckwerth
Bet you never had to spend an entire week with just your immediate family when there are way too many secrets for any of you to feel comfortable. Such is the Christmas week that the very British Birch family of four is quarantined. The oldest daughter, who is a doctor, is home from fighting the Haag virus in Liberia and must spend seven days in isolation to prove she is not infected. Her engaged sister and almost estranged parents are part of that lockdown because mom wants the perfect Christmas. But there are secrets held by each of the four family members that rock their previously conceived ideas of one another and their place in the family and in the world. ~Sharon Passick~
This book came highly recommended by one of our patrons, who couldn’t say enough about how much she enjoyed it and insisted that I read it. She was absolutely right: with stories of life as a child in then-troubled Northern Ireland and the early loss of her mother to the many challenges that she faced with hope and faith, the former star of Touched by an Angel provides inspiration that will lighten anyone’s load and remind them that they are loved. ~Shannon McKeown~
The Secret Life of Cows by Rosamund Young
Happy cows do come from Wisconsin, but I have learned they also come from Worcestershire. Rosamund Young has put together a delightful series of anecdotes from the history of her family’s farm in Worcestershire, England. As evidenced by the bovine family tree following the contents page, the cows at Kite Hill Farm are seen as more than cattle. She describes individual animals as having different traits, forming friendships, and having preferences. These stories fit right in with the growing trend of getting back to a more ethical way of raising animals; not only for their benefit, but also for our own in the long run. ~Blair Klostermeier~
Photographers around the world are excited to be able to expand their craft and are taking advantage of capturing scenes seen from a “bird’s-eye view” because they can now mount cameras on a drone know as a quadcopter. Eric Dupin wanted to create an online platform so people could share unique shots and he founded Dronestagram. Take some time over the gorgeous and stunning pictures taken from above. If you are curious, you can also check out the website. ~Paulette Brooks~
The Miscalculations of Lightning Girl by Stacy McAnulty
When Lucy Callahan was 8 years old, she was struck by lightning. She survived, but her brain was changed, making her a math genius with a condition called acquired savant syndrome. Because of her special ability, Lucy has been home-schooled, but her Nana thinks she needs more interaction with kids her age, so now that she is 12, she is being sent to school. Afraid of what others will think, Lucy tries to hide her math skills, a hard secret to keep; especially since her germophobia and mild obsessive behavior make her a target for the class mean girl. However, making new friends and getting involved in a school project at an animal shelter help Lucy come out of her shell. This is a very hopeful story with a central character that you can’t help liking. Recommended for fans of Fish in a Tree and Wonder. ~Sue Daniels~
Calypso by David Sedaris
His biographical vignettes are often confounding, mostly relatable and always very funny. David Sedaris’ latest collection features the wry observations that come with advancing age; essays full of humor and pathos, from his sister’s suicide to his long walks due to an addiction to the Fitbit. With disarming honesty, Sedaris mines humor from the most unlikely places and gives us all something to laugh about in our own situations. ~Shannon McKeown~
A Young Adult novel with adult appeal. In 1943, a British RAF plane crashes in France. Captured and imprisoned behind enemy lines, a survivor tells what she must to survive. She writes of her experiences in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, her friendship with the courageous pilot of the plane, and her transition to serving in special operations. I loved how the author was able to describe the flight training process and her descriptions of aerial views of the island of Britain, as the author herself is a small aircraft pilot. She has written an enjoyable prequel to Code Name Verity called The Pearl Thief which takes place several years before the war, profiling the adventures of one of the main characters.
Note: Our reviews this month all have something to do with birds (in the title or content) – we had fun making creative connections with our theme.
Sometimes You Fly written by Katherine Applegate, illustrated by Jennifer Black Reinhardt
This is a humorous ode to trying, learning and never giving up! As children grow, the challenges grow, but successes such as learning to read, making the team or getting a driver’s license, only come after the work is done. Read it with your children or gift it to someone who is celebrating an accomplishment, like a graduation. ~Sue Daniels~
Imperfect Birds by Anne Lamott
Like any great find, I picked up this book on a whim, based solely on its story description. What I did not know until after I finished it was, 1) the author, Anne Lamott, is mega famous with a devoted following, and 2) it was actually the third book Lamott had written featuring the principal characters. Armed with that information, my reading experience might have been different. Oh well. Imperfect Birds is a difficult yet imperative read. It’s a siren call for those who raise teenagers of every ilk; a sympathetic treatment of unconditional love and the dilemmas parents are faced with. James and Elizabeth are doing an admirable job raising 17 year old Rosie Ferguson, who is on the surface a model teenager with A grades. Painfully and slowly though, that surface is revealed as a façade filled with lies and deceit. What follows is utterly soul-crushing and hopeful in turn Imperfect Birds is an affecting and well-written novel, with prose accessible and real, and issues handled with just the right touch. ~Noah Weckwerth~
The Someday Birds by Sally J. Pla (Middle Grade fiction)
Twelve year old Charlie likes everything neat, orderly and predictable. Unfortunately, his life is anything but orderly since his war-journalist father returned from Afghanistan with a brain injury. Gram has moved in to look after Charlie, his older sister and his twin younger brothers and there is a mysterious young woman who always seems to show up when they visit their father at the hospital. Charlie’s hopes for a “normal” summer are dashed when Gram announces their father is being transferred to a medical facility in Virginia for treatment and that she will be making the long trip form California with him. Shortly after Gram and Dad leave and over his strong objections, Charlie is forced to make the long cross-county journey with his siblings and the mysterious woman. He decides the trip will be worth it if he is able to spot all the birds on the Someday Bird List he created with his father before his injury. If he can show his father the completed list maybe things will go back to the way they used to be. A great coming of age story of resilience, acceptance and empathy with a bit of mystery in the mix as well. A good choice for summer vacation reading as the family travels through many popular vacation destinations including our own Wisconsin Dells. ~Sharon Long~
Poulets & Légumes by Jaques Pépin
When first breaking from my 4 years of vegetarianism, I would explain, "I eat birds now!" It had been a long time since I cooked meat, and I wish this book had been around to help get me back into it. French for Chicken and Vegetables, Poulets et Légumes is divided into two parts with unsurprising titles: Poulets, a collection of methods for preparing chicken, and Légumes, vegetable dishes with flavors both inventive and familiar such as peas and fennel with lardons and potatoes with garlic and parsley. Pépin's own drawings and anecdotes add an extra personal touch, leaving the reader with the sense that the book could have been a gift from a dear friend. Recommended for all bird-eaters. ~Blair Klostermeier~
A Siege of Bitterns: A Birder Murder Mystery by Steve Burrows
A wonderful mix of detective fiction and birding in this first of a new mystery series, set in the small Norfolk town of Saltmarsh, located in the heart of Britain's premier birding country. Inspector Domenic Jejeune has to sift through a murder investigation as an outsider, understanding the mind of the birders in the area, and working to find a motive behind the murder of a prominent environmentalist. The author, Steve Burrows, has pursued his own birdwatching hobby on five continents, while researching articles on a wide range of environmental issues. He has a degree in English from York University and is a past editor of the Hong Kong Bird Watching Society Magazine. ~Paulette Brooks~
Hummingbird: A Novel by Stephen P. Kiernan
Deborah Birch is a wonderful hospice nurse but life has not been the same since her normally easy going husband has returned from his third deployment to Iraq. Michael now full of rage and anxiety and haunted by nightmares is Deborah’s challenge to heal him and get back to their loving marriage. At the same time her newest patient is a retired history professor, an expert in the Pacific theater of WWII whose career ended in an academic scandal. The professor is alone in the world but comes to trust Deborah and begins to share stories from that war, which lead her to find a positive way to help her husband. ~Sharon Passick~
An Original Duckumentary (DVD)
Seeking information following the arrival of a pair of mallards who claim my garden pond each Spring, I came upon cleverly titled and utterly delightful An Original DUCKumentary. This splashy episode of the acclaimed PBS series Nature tells you everything you need to know (and some things you were afraid to ask) about these naturally equipped survivors. Featuring jaw-dropping photography and the very ducky voice of Paul Giamatti (just listen and you’ll know what I mean), this joyous and buoyant adventure into the world of water fowl will amaze and delight viewers of all ages. ~Shannon McKeown~
Birds and Blooms (magazine)
Absolutely beautiful photography of birds and flowers grace this locally produced magazine which is published bimonthly. Articles provide a wealth of information such as attracting birds to gardens and regular columns of “Ask the Experts” and “Travel” – come in and check out a back issue, or linger in the library to peruse the latest issue. Even if you are not an expert on birding or gardening, it’s worth the time to check out an artful local magazine. ~Paulette Brooks~
This is the story of Maria Merian, a 17th-century German girl with an inquisitive mind and a gift for drawing. She became interested in insects, especially butterflies, and in studying and drawing them, contributed to the knowledge about their life cycle. Maria broke from the roles assigned to women at the time by pursuing a scientific field and eventually traveling to Surinam to continue her research. This book is a treat for the eyes with many botanical illustrations. Recommended for grade 5 and up. ~Sue Daniels~
Breakfast Special (DVD)
New to our library shelves, this 2010 PBS program is a tour of some of the unique breakfast joints in the U.S. The production’s a little meh, but the content is delicious. Local flavor is the focus, and you’ll meet some of the more interesting places and people devoted to the most important meal of the day. From buckwheat pancakes in New York to Cuban sandwiches in Florida, and scotch eggs in the Pacific Northwest, this visual feast is sure to foster a hankering to go out for breakfast. What’s your favorite spot? ~Noah Weckwerth~
An engaging read and helpful advice about ways to keep healthy. I especially liked the way the author is able to blend brain science with storytelling. Here are the topics he covers: Social Brain. Your friendships; Your happiness -- Thinking brain. Your stress; Your memory; Your mind; Your mind: Alzheimer's -- Body and brain. Your food and exercise; Your sleep -- Future Brain. Your longevity; Your retirement. ~Paulette Brooks~
The It Girls by Karen Harper
The lives of two fascinating women are novelized in this book. Elinor and Lucy Sutherland are best friends, worst enemies and most of all sisters. Set around the turn of the century and involving such historic events as the sinking of the Titanic these women lead extra-ordinary lives based almost entirely on their own efforts. They had surprising goals for life in a time when marriage, family and obeying your husband were the norm. Each had to re-invent herself more than once, but always learned something and came back a stronger person. Intriguing read. ~Sharon Passick~
Six minutes in the wrong place at the wrong time--that's all it took to ruin Sydney detective Ted Conkaffey's life. Accused but not convicted of a brutal abduction, Ted is now a free man--and public enemy number one. Maintaining his innocence, he flees north to keep a low profile amidst the steamy, croc-infested wetlands of Crimson Lake. There, Ted's lawyer introduces him to eccentric private investigator Amanda Pharrell, herself a convicted murderer. Not entirely convinced Amanda is a cold-blooded killer, Ted agrees to help with her investigation. I’m hoping that there will be more in this Australian series with this unlikely duo of private investigators! ~Paulette Brooks~
Far from being a how-to manual, this compact volume explores the complexities of connecting with grandchildren in spite of busy lives--ours and theirs. The author offers helpful examples of how grandparents can offer stability and a sense of family history. Drawing from her personal experience, dozens of interviews and the latest findings in psychology, the author shows how a grandparent can use his or her unique perspective and life story to create a deep and lasting bond that will echo throughout a child's life. "Unconditional Love" explores the realities and warm possibilities found in today's multigenerational families, as complicated and wonderful as they may be. ~Nancy Arevalo~
So you say there’s nothing good on TV anymore unless you pay for premium channels? Or, maybe you like a show but it’s on a night when you can’t watch it? Well look no further than the library, where whole seasons of your favorite shows of the past and present are available for check-out! That’s right, from the network series like the Golden Girls to British series such as Dr. Who, we have it. If you think they don’t make ‘em like ER anymore, well, we just acquired 13 seasons of the celebrated medical drama along with the first season of the current network darling This Is Us. What a great excuse to stay inside and avoid this unreliable April weather! ~Shannon McKeown~
When author A.A. Milne creates the Winnie-the-Pooh books after World War I, their success comes at a price for the author and his family. This movie is a heartwarming look at the events surrounding the creation of the classic children’s series. The scenery of the English countryside is almost as wonderful as the acting!
We do have the original children’s book, which is a fun read after watching the movie! ~Paulette Brooks~
My Two Elaines by Martin J. Schrieber with Cathy Brietenbucher
Subtitled, "Learning, Coping, and Surviving as an Alzheimer's Caregiver," My Two Elaines is former Wisconsin governor Marty Schrieber's account of his wife's diagnosis and experience with Alzheimer's disease. Sarah suggested this book to me when I first started here--part of my position is working with a group that facilitates events for those experiencing Alzheimer's and other dementia related illnesses--and I was incredibly moved by the touching view into their love and their struggles. Peppered throughout the text are separate asides to the reader, Schrieber's personal admissions of what he wishes he had known or done. These notes, along with excerpts from Elaine's journal, provide readers with a "tug-at-your-heartstrings" sense of connection to Marty and Elaine. The information presented is vital for caregivers, for whom caring for themselves often gets lost in the shuffle. Recommended for all, particularly those whose lives are touched by someone living with a dementia related illness. ~Blair Klostermeier~
Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall
The history of a fictional lighthouse and its keeper unfolds in lush, detailed illustrations and spare text. The setting is in a northern climate with a frozen sea in the winter and Northern Lights at night, but beyond that it could be anywhere. The endpapers contain additional information about the history of lighthouses. Caldecott medalist, Blackall, has created another memorable picture book for all ages. ~Sue Daniels~
Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi.
Abuse of power. Oppression. Bigotry. Hatred. Fear. These are the elements explored in this fantasy novel that is a veiled commentary on our modern society. The setting is based on West Africa and all of the characters have skin tones in shades of brown. The dividing line here is between people with magical abilities and those without. Years ago, after King Saran’s family was killed by maji (people with strong magic), the king got revenge by destroying the maji and oppressing their families. However, the king did not manage to destroy magic altogether and his oppression only feeds the desire for rebellion among the remnant. When Zélie gains possession of an artifact that brings her latent magical gifts to life, she begins a quest to bring magic back in order to overthrow the king and his guards and restore her people. Her unexpected companion in this quest is the daughter of the king, Princess Amari, who has had her eyes opened to her father’s cruelty and wants to bring healing to the land. There are no easy answers as the characters struggle with shifting loyalties, the desire to put justice above revenge, and the fear that their sacrifices will be for nothing. This is a fabulous adventure story with strong, complex characters that will leave you with plenty to discuss. Recommended for ages 14 and up. ~Sue Daniels~
Panic in Level Four: Cannibals, Killer Viruses, and Other Journeys to the Edge of Science by Richard Preston (CD Book)
I do not normally have a sunny disposition for audio books. Try as I have, I’ve never been able to get through one. But when a patron recently recommended this audio book to me, I decided to give it a try. Low and behold, it’s fantastic. Richard Preston skillfully blends the demanding verbiage of science writing with the buttery flow of narrative nonfiction, providing writing you can actually understand. Panic in Level Four contains three equally interesting pieces. You’ll meet two Russian emigrate mathematician brothers building a homemade super computer to calculate Pi, go on a rainforest hunt for the source of the Ebola virus, and get a squirm inducing introduction to the horrors of those infected with Lesch–Nyhan syndrome. They’re truly memorable stories that reveal unfamiliar corners of the world. And James Lurie’s steady narration and effective accents are icing on the cake. ~Noah Weckwerth~
The Ice Cream Queen of Orchard Street, a novel by Susan Jane Gilman
A captivating story of the rise and fall of ice cream royalty. This is the story of how Malka Treynovsky, a gregarious Jewish Russian immigrant, transforms herself into brazen Lillian Dunkle, America’s “Ice Cream Queen”. The year is 1913 when 6 year old Malka and her family arrive at Ellis Island with what little money they have left sewn into the lining of her coat. Tenement life and a tragic accident send Malka on a path very different than what she envisioned as her American Dream. Malka’s life is recounted in series of flashbacks that are both heartbreaking and humorous. Gilman is a fantastic storyteller writing an engaging account of the hardships of immigrant life with a scandalous rags to riches tale, alongside the history of the modern ice cream parlor. A triple-scoop sure to please readers who enjoy epic novels or historical fiction. ~Sharon Long~
Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro
The narrator Kathy spent her seemingly idyllic childhood at a boarding school where creativity is encouraged. Ishiguro's characteristic flowing, thoughtful prose travels back and forth between Kathy's past and present as we learn about her friendships and the truth behind her upbringing and explore what it is that makes us human. It is difficult to say much about this book without giving away a hidden plot point, but it is one worth discovering. Recommended for all with interest in literary fiction or alternate histories. ~Blair Klostermeier~
Mildred Hayes, in a rage of frustration following the unsolved murder of her daughter months before, publically shames the small town sheriff for the lack of progress in the case. A bit too intense for some viewers, a woman’s anger magnified by a mother’s grief turns this often violent and disturbing story into a challenging portrait of what simmers beneath everyone’s day to day loyalties and sufferings, and the kind of relentless sorrow that ultimately brings forth unexpected compassion. Frances McDormand and Sam Rockwell won Oscars for their towering performances in the movie that was the true “best picture of the year.” ~Shannon McKeown~
Radium Girls: the dark story of America’s shining women by Kate Moore (also available as an audiobook)
As World War I raged across the globe, hundreds of young women toiled away at the radium-dial factories, where they painted clock faces with a mysterious new substance called radium. Assured by their bosses that the luminous material was safe, the women themselves shone brightly in the dark, covered from head to toe with the glowing dust. With such a coveted job, these “shining girls” were considered the luckiest alive--until they began to fall mysteriously ill. As the fatal poison of the radium took hold, they found themselves embroiled in one of America's biggest scandals and a groundbreaking battle for workers' rights. The Radium Girls explores the strength of extraordinary women in the face of almost impossible circumstances. Recommended! ~Paulette Brooks~
City of Lies by Victoria Thompson
For fans of the Gaslight mysteries, here is a new series entitled A Counterfeit Lady. Elizabeth Miles is a woman who has had to live by here wits. With her brother and other accomplices they earn money by depriving unscrupulous and or gullible people of theirs. But sometimes the best laid schemes fall apart. Due to her brother’s greediness the newest scheme has backfired, he is beaten up and Elizabeth escapes the thugs by joining a group of protesting suffragists. Since they were protesting in front of the White House they were sent to jail in Washington DC., but since the jail couldn’t accommodate 40 female prisoners they were transported to a Virginia workhouse. Here Elizabeth learns much about the society women she had once disdained, but now forms friendships and has to tell a new set of lies. Eventually the lies become so tangled she has to choose between her “two” lives. The result is a great lesson in history and a great read. ~Sharon Passick~
Until we find Home by Cathy Gohlke
In May, 1940, Claire Stewart comes to France to locate her father, and then turns her efforts towards supporting the French resistance. She steps in to help smuggle French Jewish children to the coast of France, where she turns them over to be safely ferried to England. On one occasion, she accompanies the children to the meeting point, but her contact never shows up. Although unprepared for the responsibility of the children's care, she finds herself in that role as they cross the channel to England. She then searches for a relative she's never met, in hopes of finding shelter for all of them. This novel depicts life on the British home front, showing that bravery and family come in many forms. I especially enjoyed the cameo appearances of two well-known British authors of that era. ~Nancy Arevalo~
The majesty of Wisconsin is in its seasons. Complain about winter all you want, but ask folks here what they appreciate most about our state: it’s the ability to experience the full rotation of the calendar and everything that goes with it. This book is a true celebration of the Badger State and its people, with gorgeous photography, written snapshots from Manitowish Waters to Drummond and down to Milwaukee, and plenty of trivia and vintage views mixed in. It’s a smorgasbord of Wisconsin delight, eminently browsable and unputdownable. You’ll absolutely love it, and be tickled to know that the library also subscribes to Our Wisconsin magazine! ~Noah Weckwerth~
Hello, Universe written by Erin Entrada Kelly, is the 2018 Newbery Medal winner.
Lives of four misfits are intertwined when a bully's prank lands shy Virgil at the bottom of a well and Valencia, Kaori, and Gen band together to rescue him. Virgil feels out of place in his crazy-about-sports family. Valencia is deaf, smart, and loves everything about nature. Kaori is a self-proclaimed psychic, whose little sister, Gen, is always following her around. And Chet wishes the weird kids would just stop being so different so that he can concentrate on basketball. They aren't friends. But when Chet pulls a prank that traps Virgil and his pet guinea pig at the bottom of a well, Kaori, Gen, and Valencia begin a quest to find the missing Virgil.
“Wolf in the Snow” illustrated and written by Matthew Cordell is the 2018 Caldecott Medal winner.
When a wolf cub and little girl are lost in a snowstorm they must find their way home. ~Sue Daniels~
The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying by Nina Riggs
Wonderfully written and incredibly sad, this is a beautiful book to read about a young wife and mother seeking to squeeze joy out of every moment after receiving a terminal cancer diagnosis. Terribly honest and literary (she was a direct descendant of Ralph Waldo Emerson) the author sought to sift through what was meaningful in the time she had left. I was prompted to tackle this book after reading a Washington Post article on how the surviving spouse (Nina’s husband John Duberstein) is now in a relationship with Lucy, the widow of Paul Kalanithi who wrote the amazing memoir, "When Breath Becomes Air" ~Paulette Brooks~
Love written by Matt de la Pena, illustrated by Loren Long
A celebration of love and kindness given in the various situations in which children find themselves – from the everyday life of fishing with grandpa and a little dance at sunset, to facing tragedy and loss. Illustrations by Loren Long are luminous and brim with emotion. A picture book to ponder and enjoy more than once with the little ones in your reading circle. A pretty amazing book! ~Paulette Brooks~
Researcher. Storyteller. Texan. Brené Brown has spent her career researching courage, vulnerability, empathy, and shame. More personal than her previous books, Brown uses examples from her own life to illustrate the parts of the "Rising Strong" process: the Reckoning, the Rumble, and the Revolution. We are challenged to think more about our personal stories, as well as the stories of those we encounter in our daily lives. The audio book, read by the author herself, gave me daily driveway moments. One of the most powerful parts of Brown's message is the idea that "owning our story and loving ourselves through that process is the bravest thing we’ll ever do." Recommended for every person in the world. ~Blair Klostermeier~
The second in the Aaron Falk series by Australian author Jane Harper, who wrote The Dry. She explores the question of “how well do you know the people with whom you work?” Federal Agent Aaron Falk is on the case when he receives a phone message from a woman he and his partner are working with in conjunction with a money laundering scheme. That business executive has gone missing while on a corporate retreat in the wilderness. He has to delve into what happened when five woman hike out and only four return days later. ~Paulette Brooks~
Grand Canyon written and illustrated by Jason Chin (children’s non-fiction)
Intriguing for the young nature lover this Caldecott 2018 Honor Winner describes the many layers of the Grand Canyon in terms the younger child can appreciate and has enough detailed description that the older child will not be bored. Beautiful illustrations follow a girl and her father as they travel the trails of the canyon, depicting each of the different levels, explaining how they got that way as well as drawings of the plants and animals that now live at each level. On some of the pages there are “windows” that show something ancient, and when the page is turned you see it in historical context. Truly enjoyable. ~Sharon Passick~
Loving Vincent (DVD)
Reveals the life and controversial death of Vincent Van Gogh told by his paintings and by the characters that inhabit them. The intrigue unfolds through dramatic reconstructions of the events leading up to his death. The film features 120 of Vincent Van Gogh's greatest paintings. The plot, drawn from the 800 letters written by the painter himself, leads us to the significant people and events in the time prior to his unexpected death. This is an incredibly visual movie and the first ever fully painted feature film. ~Paulette Brooks~
The earth has been ravaged by a virus that has rendered everyone feral. A visiting race of beings, after being originally attacked and eaten, decides to “fix us” their way and the next thing you know those “fixed” humans are the most feared militia and the subordinates of the known universe. So when a battle-cruiser and its crew are infected by a fast acting virus and turn feral the only people left to save the crew and possibly all of humanity is the commander of hygiene and sanitation department, a lowly human, and three of her subordinates including an video game addicted alien that looks like a centipede. It is a fun read with plenty of action, interstellar politics, the dirty secrets of sanitation, and the use of common sense, which humans supposedly aren’t supposed to have anymore. If you like your science fiction with battles, disgusting messes, interesting aliens, and some science thrown in for your cerebral cortex you will definitely want to give this book a try. ~David DeAngelis (guest reviewer and Elm Grove Village Manager)~
This 2016 Academy Award winning documentary ostensibly deals with a 1994 double murder, and the subsequent trial of an accused Hall of Fame running back, but it’s really much more than that. It’s a rumination on racial identity, relations, and the culmination of years of unrest surrounding the LAPD. Among other things, what one comes to learn watching this tragedy unravel, is that the verdict in the O.J. Simpson trial had little if nothing to do with the actuality of guilt, and much more to do with retribution. It’s a modern masterpiece of documentary film making, all 7.5 hours. Judiciously researched, emotionally deep, brilliantly scored, and thoroughly told, OJ: Made in America will elicit nostalgia, sadness, anger, and bewilderment. Most importantly, contemplation about the nature of justice in America. ~Noah Weckwerth~
Historical fiction set during WWII in Italy, this novel chronicles the life of a young man who gets caught up in the Resistance against the occupying German Nazis. The story is pretty amazing as it follows the true life experiences of Pino Lella, whom the author met and interviewed for this book. It's a good thing this is stated in the preface, because the plot has many unlikely twists and turns; there are times when the reader may have a hard time believing that all this could have to one person. Recommended! ~Paulette Brooks~
Battle of the Sexes (DVD)
If you were a young girl in the 70’s who wore your dark hair in a layered cut, saw through granny glasses and held a tennis racket, then you too may have been influenced by the Billy Jean King vs Bobby Riggs tennis match billed as the “Battle of the Sexes.” This feminist blast from the past stars Emma Stone as a more stylish Billy Jean and Steve Carrell as a more likeable Bobby Riggs. But make no mistake, what looks over-the-top and silly now, was, in its time, a true turning point in women’s sports and equal rights. ~Shannon McKeown~
Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds (Young Adult fiction)
Will's older brother has been shot. Dead. Will feels a sadness so great he can't explain it. But in his neighborhood there are rules. No crying, no matter what. No snitching, no matter what. Get revenge. No matter what. However, bullets miss and you can get the wrong guy. On the elevator ride down from the eighth floor of Will’s apartment, with a gun tucked away bent on revenge, this grieving young man is visited on every floor by a ghost from his past. Quite an amazing read! ~Paulette Brooks~
A luminous Keri Russell stars as an unhappily married waitress whose life is complicated by an awful husband, an unwanted pregnancy, a guilty romance with her doctor and a low paying job at a southern diner owned by a selfish curmudgeon (Andy Griffith, in one of his final performances). With the support of her sister waitresses, she hopes to put her almost supernatural talent for baking pies to work for her and win the grand prize in an upcoming bake-off so she can start a new life. What follows is by turns hilarious, sad, romantic, tragic, shocking, and ultimately life affirming. The late Adrienne Shelly wrote, directed and co-starred in this clever slice of life (and pie), and her tragic death just before its release lent poignancy to this joyous little indie film, with her own toddler daughter appearing in the closing sequence. NOTE: the current Broadway musical of the same title is based on this 2007 movie. ~Shannon McKeown~
Viceroy’s House [DVD]
Based on real events, the story follows the final Viceroy of India, Lord Mountbatten, as he is tasked with overseeing the transition of British India to independence, but meets with conflict as different sides clash in the face of monumental change. Enjoy the excellent cast of actors and be sure to take note of the personal family story tie-in with Gurinder Chadha, the film’s director/producer and screenwriter. ~Paulette Brooks~
Second Chance Girl by Susan Mallery
Here is the latest in the Happily Inc. series which includes some of our favorite characters originally in the Fools Gold series. In this one a Game Keeper, Carol, who is friends with the Wedding Out Of A Box people finds herself falling for her handsome neighbor who is a famous artist. He has issues and she has trouble believing she is special enough to attract him. Mathias has spent most of his time pursuing the steady stream of bridesmaids who go in and out of a town famous for destination weddings. But he is intrigued with his neighbor and her giraffe who needs some friends, i.e. a herd of giraffes. He volunteers to help raise money for the cause, but will all be well after a careless action with her heart? Will she give him a second chance? ~Sharon Passick~
Dear Girl by Amy Krouse Rosenthal and Paris Rosenthal; illustrated by Holly Hatam
The literary legacy continues for much loved children’s author Amy Krouse Rosenthal, who passed away last March 2017. She worked on a picture book with her daughter Paris which has just been published. It is a sweet tribute to daughters of every kind and an encouragement to young girls to find their own way in discovering what makes them wonderful, smart, and beautiful. Illustrations by Holly Hatam are as whimsical as the text. Be sure to share this reading experience with a little girl in your life. ~Paulette Brooks~