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Staff Picks: Books

A Smart Girl’s Guide to Knowing What to Say

A Smart Girls Guide to Knowing What to Say by Patti Kelley Criswell offers VERY good suggestions for making small talk, introducing yourself, and dealing with a host of difficult situations. This is a great book, geared toward upper-elementary kids and teens, but actually good for all ages – even adults.

The book covers how to talk to adults, how to ask for something you want, friendship troubles, saying no, apologizing, dealing with bullies, clever comebacks, etc. etc. etc. It shows most of the conversations in speech bubbles, a great format for today’s kids. It is so good, I am going to buy it so I’ll have it as a reference for my kids and me. I recommend it for boys, too, even though it says smart GIRL’S… the situations and advice in the book applies to both girls and boys.


The Mischievians

“Strange smells. Disappearing remotes. That itch you just can’t reach. It’s not your fault. It’s the Mischievians.” The Mischievians by William Joyce is a new favorite of mine. Rich with creativity and vocabulary, this encyclopedia of mischief-makers made us laugh so hard at the silliness. We wanted to read it again and again. It’s a wonderful picture book to share early readers. Older kids and adults will love the humor in it too. I absolutely love William Joyce books and look forward to each new one! Some of my other favorites from Moonbot Studios, are The Numberlys and The Fantastic Flying Books of Mr. Morris Lessmore.


Remembering Ivan Doig

Ivan Doig has been one of my favorite writers since I first discovered his books 10-15 years ago. I was sad to read he passed away earlier this month.

Doig wrote primarily of the western landscape and people, usually with a Montana setting where he was born in 1939 and grew up, often accompanying his father on ranch jobs along the Rocky Mountain Front. His use of language, development of the characters, and description of the land stayed with me long after I’d finished each book.

He wrote both fiction and nonfiction; three Montana novels – English Creek, Dancing at the Rascal Fair, and Ride With Me Mariah Montana, form a trilogy covering the first century of Montana’s statehood from 1889 to 1989.

Tributes to him mention his final book to be published later this year: Last Bus to Wisdom. I’ll be watching our new books for it and in the meantime plan to reread some of my favorites.


Lowriders in Space

Lowriders in Space is a really imaginative flight-of-fancy in a graphic novel format that children and adults will love. With awesome illustrations by Raúl the Third, the story by Cathy Camper features Lupe Impala, the finest mechanic south of Vacaville. She and her friends El Chavo Flapjack and Elirio Malaria (he's a male mosquito so he doesn't bite), have the skills to restore a junker to compete in a contest for the best car around. They need to win so they can use the prize money to open up their own shop. With original characters and illustrations from out of this world, this is the first book in a great new series!

 


The Girl on the Train

I don’t usually seek out psychological thrillers but I did enjoy The Girl on the Train, often compared to Gone Girl.

The story centers on Rachel who takes the train into London each day, traveling past the backyard of a happy-looking couple she names Jess and Jason. One day, Rachel sees “Jess” kissing another man and the next day “Jess” is missing.

The story is told through the eyes of three characters with plenty of inventive twists and surprising developments – at least to me. This is a page turner, perhaps to be saved for a summer beach read.


Back in the Day Bakery: Made with Love

Cheryl and Griffin Day own a bakery in Savannah, Georgia and their second recipe book, Back in the Day Bakery: Made with Love, is full of customer favorites and family recipes.  While they lean toward Southern favorites, I think that west Michigan peaches will work just fine in their peach pie recipe! 

 

 

 


Siege Winter

I am a fan of historical fiction, so when Ariana Franklin’s newest title Siege Winter arrived, I looked forward to reading it. And with good reason, as it turns out.

The story takes place in 12th century England, around 1140, when King Stephen and his cousin, the Empress Matilda, are fighting over control of the country. Their armies and supporters battle it out, and a castle located on the Thames is considered to be a strategic location for both Stephen and Matilda. The castle, Kenilworth, belongs to 15 year old Maud, married against her wishes to a much older man. The story revolves around a long, brutal winter of siege, when mercenaries, soldiers, and a truly evil monk all scheme to achieve their own ends.

Sadly, author Ariana Franklin died while writing Siege Winter; the book was completed by her daughter. Franklin is also the author of a wonderful series set in medieval Cambridge, where an Italian woman doctor acts as a sort of medical sleuth. The first in that series is Mistress of the Art of Death, and I highly recommend that series.


How We Got to Now

This 2014 book by Steven Johnson is subtitled Six Innovations That Made the Modern World. Those six are each described in chapters which are entitled glass, cold, sound, clean, time, and light. Various inventions are recalled under each heading. For example, the chapter on cold discusses the development of refrigeration and the chapter on clean covers advances in public health. The illustrations and photographs by themselves make this book worthy of examination. One of my favorites is the reproduction of the old Clorox ad on page 153. Available in four formats: e-book, digital audiobook, compact disc, and print.


It’s Time For Global Reading Challenges

April is the accumulation of school team work for Global Reading Challenges here at Kalamazoo Public Library.

In March, 4th and 5th graders who participated in the school challenges showed off their skills for reading and remembering facts from 10 specifically selected titles. After reading, studying, and determining their team strategy each team met their challenge with a battle of other teams at their school. Each school then had 1 team, the team with the most points, selected as their school’s representative team that advances to the Branch Global Reading Challenge.

Oshtemo Branch Library will host our Branch Global Reading Challenge on Monday April 20, 2015 at 7 pm in the community room. Three schools will be represented:

  • Razzle-Dazzle Readers from Martin Luther King – Westwood Elementary
  • Radical Readers from Prairie Ridge Elementary
  • Candy Lollipops from Heritage Christian Academy

The teams will again battle for the chance to advance to the City-Wide Challenge. There each branch library, including Central will have one team. Teams will battle one last time for the chance to become the 2015 Global Reading Challenge Champion. Last year’s Challenge (2014) was won by the Crazy Cougars from Prairie Ridge Elementary. Can Oshtemo’s team do it again?

As you can imagine each Battle is a bit more intense. Same 10 books but not the same questions – each battle requires the questions to be more challenging, more specific in nature – just plain harder! If you have not participated by being in a challenge, being a coaching, being the parent of a team member or a family member you should think about coming to watch this great program. You will be amazed at the skill these students have for remembering the smallest detail from the 10 books.

Join us for some fast paced competition!

Visit our website for more information


Guardians of Ga'Hoole

Want to hook a young reader on a fantasy series? Try out the Guardians of Ga’Hoole by Kathryn Lasky. 15 books of classic good vs. evil in a land run by owls. Owlet snatching, moon blinking, chaw building, battle claws, trees, weather, flashbacks, ceremonies, maps, sorcery, polar bears, nest maid snakes….it’s all in this series! Fun fast paced chapters that always end on a cliff hanger. Each book leaves you rushing to get the next one. Readers will find many correlations to human social psychology and politics using real owl science. This has been a fun series to read aloud with my tween. The movie is a fun tie in too, check it out!