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Staff Picks: Books

Phantom Limbs

I have had an e-reader for years but I rarely purchase any e-books. I find plenty of e-books available through KPL's Overdrive and Hoopla services. I use the new Libby app from Overdrive to search for my books, place holds, and transfer them to my device. Recently, I borrowed Phantom Limbs by Paula Garner and I've been thinking about it ever since I finished reading it. This profound story about loss, love, and friendship, has affected me deeply and I'm so glad I stumbled across it via my Overdrive browsing. Otis and Meg were inseparable best friends, and first loves, until Otis' brother tragically dies. Otis is forced to move on without Meg in his life but he has never quite forgotten her. Like a phantom limb, the pains of his losses are always there. Suddenly, Meg resurfaces and as you'd figure, makes his life much more complicated than he'd planned. As Meg and Otis work through their new proximity to each other, the secondary characters make this well-written book all the more interesting. I don't think anyone who reads it would soon forget it. And anyone who's suffered the loss of a loved one, will see themselves and others through the characters here. Everyone processes loss in their own way and we are never the same again once we've lost someone or something that we loved deeply.   

We don't yet have this title in print at KPL's Teen Central but we will soon. In the meantime, you can borrow it from KPL's Overdrive service on many e-formats.


Hey Harry, Hey Matlida

The charming novel Hey Harry, Hey Matilda, formatted as a series of back and forth email messages between twins Harry and Matilda, will delight readers who like their doses of bourgeoisie torment mitigated by witty sarcasm and pithy observations about thirty-something anxiety. Matilda is the zany, unfiltered twin who cannot seem to maintain a meaningful, long-term relationship and who laments her narrowing career opportunities, clinging to the desire to live the "authentic" life of an "artist". It is revealed early on in the book that Matilda has told her current boyfriend that her twin brother has died, a childish fib that not unsurprisingly leads to Matlida’s increasingly erratic correspondence. Harry, a literature professor and the more seemingly self-assured and conventionally situated sibling, finds trouble when he begins to date a younger student at the university. Hey Harry, Hey Matilda is a fun, imaginative and quick read that was originally unfurled on author Rachel Hulin’s Instagram account before it was published earlier this year.


CATAWAMPUS RUMPUS

The Catawampus Cat  by Jason Carter Eaton is the tale of a somewhat off kilter feline who mysteriously arrives one Tuesday morning into an unnamed town.

First to notice the slightly askew cat is Mr Grouse the grocer, who tries to straighten the cat out, but to no avail. In the midst of the cat straightening attempt excitement, the grocer and his wife tilt their heads as well and make a very happy rediscovery!

Next the town barber spots the cat and is so taken aback that he accidentally clips his customer's hair at an angle, much to the woman's delight!

And so it goes on, everyone who notices this unusually positioned cat sets off to try new things with wonderful results. The cat's slightly slanted, catawampus perspective becomes the town's obsession.Even the mayor declares that there be a Catawampus Cat Day in the feline's honor.But when the day arrives and the mayor declares "we are all different now, just like you", the cat responds with something out of the ordinary that dismays his adoring public.

A fun, humorous book with appealing illustrations  by Gus Gordon, that is sure to please preschool, and early elementary kids!


The Sandwich Swap

I grabbed The Sandwich Swap, by Queen Rania Al Abdullah, off of the shelf for a patron hold, and couldn't resist reading it myself when I saw it was about food. It is a simple yet inspiring story about learning to respect each other's cultural and lifestyle differences. Friends Lily and Salma eat lunch together every day, and can't help but be curious about what the other girl has brought from home. When they verbalize that curiosity, it tests their friendship, but ultimately, they discover a kinder approach that affects the entire school. Whoever put that book on hold, thanks-it's a fantastic story!


Owls: Our Most Charming Bird

 Because they are such a rare sight, it is easy to forget how magnificent owls are. Every feature that makes us stop and stare actually serves a very useful purpose. Those large piercing eyes ensure that they’ll never lose sight of their prey. And those round moony faces actually serve as satellite dishes to capture all sound and direct it towards their ears. All the better to hear their next snack.

 Matt Sewell has captured the charm, and majesty of 47 different owls in his pleasing watercolor illustrations. Check this book out today, and discover your new favorite owl! My personal fave? The Greater Sooty Owl. They have little speckles that look like stars in a night sky.  


Rolling Thunder

This picture book, with spare text and rich illustrations, captures the emotion of the Rolling Thunder Run, a motorcycle rally held each Memorial Day in Washington D.C. to honor American armed forces.  It follows one young boy’s experience of riding with his grandfather:  “Grandpa rides for Joe and Tom, friends he lost in Vietnam.”  It’s a poignant glimpse of one family’s moment at the Vietnam Veterans’ Memorial. 

 


Bees: A Honeyed History

While I was passing by the "New Arrivals" cart, this book practically jump into my hands.  In other words, I could not help noticing this gigantic yellow book about my favorite insect.  Bees: a honeyed history is a wonderful oversize book for kids and presents nearly every fact about bees.  Abrams is dedicated to publishing "stunning visual books" and any young reader could easily spend hours going through the pages of this one admiring Piotr Socha's beautiful illustrations. The text was written by Wojciech Grajkowski and translated by Agnes Monod-Gayraud.  


You Say To Brick

Anyone who has seen the moving documentary, My Architect, will know of the complicated brilliance of the architect Louis Kahn. A new biography, You Say To Brick: The Life of Louis Kahn by Wendy Lesser, fills in the detail and the greater context that aren’t possible to cover in a documentary film format. Kahn was an enigma of a man, with facial scarring from a childhood accident and often appearing disheveled from all-night drafting sessions, he was a self-described terrible businessman (his buildings were all completed late and over budget) but possessed an irresistible charisma and an almost mystical approach to architecture that left an indelible mark in his field and on the world.


Yellowstone

I think it’s pretty safe to say that I won’t be making the trip to Yellowstone National Park anytime soon. But, I can celebrate the 100th anniversary of the National Park Service (albeit a few months late) with the help of this book. Subtitled A Journey through America’s Wild Heart, one finds herein a short history of the park; however, author David Quammen’s purpose in writing this book is to describe the park as it exists today. One would expect to find great photography in a publication from the National Geographic Society, and this work is no exception. The unconventional size (7” tall x 10” wide) adds to the uniqueness of this volume. For a good survey of life in today’s Yellowstone, take a look at this.


Cute Story

Rose is written by local Kalamazoo author, Jessica Aguilera. It’s a cute story and Jessica did the illustrations herself by using cutouts that she layered together and then photographed.

Rose was self-published.