Audrey Heil

Dec 142018
 

The Christmas Town by Donna VanLiere starts out the list on a sentimental, hopeful note. That note won’t last long so please enjoy it while it does. This little story reads like a Hallmark movie. Everybody is just a bit too good to be true. However, if ever there is a time for mawkishly sentimental fluff, Christmas would be that time.

Well, I told you the sweet, sentimental reads wouldn’t last. Lauren Wolk’s Wolf Hollow is packed with characters so alive you expect to run into them at the grocery store. Unfortunately, about 25% of those characters are up to no good. Annabelle’s school life goes down hill when Betty moves to town. Betty is a bully who enjoys hurting and tormenting those around her and when she lays the blame for an awful injury at the door of a transient vet suffering from PTSD, Annabelle decides enough is enough. Set in the WWII era, this book’s plot is full of palpable prejudice against “others”. This book is an Accelerated Reader book with a reading level of 4.9; however, I would recommend it to 6th grade and up as the subject matter is somewhat dark. A 2018-2019 Golden Sower Nominee.

Adults who are seeking a way to explain the terrorist attacks of September 11th to a Middle Grade audience should check out Towers Falling by Jewell Parker Rhodes. A complex and nuanced look at the event and the fear, trauma, grief, and loss it caused. This little novel gets extra points for diverse, believable characters. Accelerated Reader reading level is 3.3.

A young girl doesn’t understand why her father can’t hold a job, why he is so anxious and why it causes him distress to find out she is studying the terrorist attack of September 11. She doesn’t understand why her sweet Muslim friend stays indoors each year on the anniversary of the attack. As she learns more about the events of that horrible day, she begins to understand how the events of one day can shape an individual, a school, a city, and a nation.

If you haven’t watched the sensational Scottish Grammy reading The Wonky Donkey on youtube, you are missing out! A clever narrative of a most unusual donkey walking up the road. Repetitive, humorous lines and fantastic illustrations keep kids and adults laughing.

Dec 062018
 

84 Charing Cross Road and Q’s Legacy by Helene Hanff. The holidays are stressful.  Sit down and pick up one of these two little gems.  84 Charing Cross Road is a compilation of very short letters written between an American writer and her very English rare bookseller in the late 1940’s/early 1950s. Companionship and humor abound. It is perfect for a quick read. Q’s Legacy should be read after “84” as it details Hanff’s literary career and the making of “84”. The perfect present to yourself this holiday season…a little rest and relaxation with friends.

Orbiting Jupiter by Gary D. Schmidt.  This is an emotional roller coaster ride of a novel.  Joseph is a troubled 13 year old who wants nothing more than to be able to find his baby daughter. An incredibly intense novel about the power and cost of love. This is an AR book with a reading level of 4.4; however, the content is definitely geared towards teen readers.

House Arrest by K.A. Holt. A twelve-year-old boy is placed on house arrest after stealing someone’s credit card to pay for his brother’s medication. Timothy takes care of his medically unstable baby brother while his mother works two jobs. Written in verse, this novel looks at the responsibilities and frustrations unique to his situation while he also deals with the “normal” twelve-year-old problems. Timothy is required to keep a diary during his probationary period and it is through this diary format that we follow his story.

I am Not a Chair by Ross Burach.  Nominated for the 2018-2019 Golden Sower Award. A giraffe is new to the area and would love to meet some new friends but everyone keeps mistaking him for a chair!  As giraffe struggles to find his voice, the reader laughs at all of the silly situations in which Giraffe finds himself. Great illustrations really help bring the story home.

All of the print books listed above are available at Loup City Library.

We Rise, We Resist, We Raise Our Voices by Cheryl Willis and Wade Hudson. Available on Libby/Overdrive digital system. A compilation of essays, poetry, and music by multiple diverse contributors. An audio book aimed at children feeling scared and frustrated in this time of political extremes.  Only two hours long, this is a wonderful way to encourage tolerance and support those who feel anxious about their own safety. Beautifully done. If you listen to nothing else (although that would be a shame), listen to Prayers of the Grandmothers by Sharon M. Draper, read by Adenrele Ojo. This book is available in print but the best format, in my opinion, is to listen to the wide range of voices saturated with experience as they say it is going to be ok.

 

Nov 292018
 

 

While not specifically a Christmas book, this novel evokes all of the warm family feelings of the holiday.

Jillian has no one and no place to call home. Connor has too many ties to break free from his small hometown. Together they are perfect. A sweet, complex story about life and the people with whom we choose to live it. If you liked her Harmony series, you will love this book. Bonus: Sunnie and Reese are the BEST teen couple.

 

Cassidy died and came back. Following her return, she has been able to see ghosts. Indeed, her best friend is a ghost.
A spooky, engaging story of a ghost-saturated Edinburgh and the relationships of young teens teaming up to protect themselves from other world horrors. Edinburgh becomes a character in the novel with its history of castles, prisons, hangings, and plague.

A young girl from a broken home is sent to an aunt and uncle’s home in the country. She is tough and lonely but the people around her start to change her perceptions of the place. And then there’s the dog…a stray, just like her… This is heartwarming and hopeful. It was surprising to find the “fighter” the young girl and the “peacemaker” the boy. Howard gives Charlie gentle reminders on controlling her temper and the futility of allowing her temper to control her but never in a lecturing way. The humor and “goodness” seep off the page into your fingers and hopefully, into your heart.

Yes, I know. This makes two books (and two dog books at that) for the Middle Grade Group; however, there is no way I can choose one over the other here.

Timminy is very short for his age. He isn’t looking forward to moving to a new place, starting a new school where his father will be Assistant Principal, and running the gamut of new bullies. He receives Maxi, a Great Pyrenees puppy, as a bribe from his parents. It takes a while before the family figures out Maxi is deaf.
Abby, Timminy’s neighbor, is blind and brave. She doesn’t view Timminy’s self-pity with compassion but rather impatience. Another young woman has a debilitating muscular weakness leaving her dependent on crutches. These young people with disabilities aren’t portrayed as “saintly” or “self-pitying” but rather pragmatic.
There are no pat answers or lecturing tone in this story. Each character is unique and complex. The relationship between Timminy and his classmates and Timminy and his dog are heartwarming. 

 

I will have you know the School librarian just dumped this in my lap and told me to read it. Did she warn me that it would turn me into a soppy mess? No, she did not.

Madeline Finn works hard at reading but it just never seems to get any easier. Then the librarian has her read to Bonny, the library dog, and little by little Madeline’s reading improves. Heartwarming with wonderful artwork.

Nov 062018
 

What is this prejudice we have against Nonfiction?  Many people won’t read it because they feel it would be like reading a text book or it is just too boring.  It doesn’t have to be that way!  Below are a few nonfiction selections that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat….

 

“Killers of the Flower Moon” is an amazing book regarding events about which previously I knew nothing. ??. Written in almost mystery genre fashion, this is an intense read about a widespread evil conspiracy which caused many Osage deaths in the 1920s.  Why?  Mineral rights. The Osage never signed away their mineral rights and when oil was discovered on their land, they became among the wealthiest in the world. Greed and hatred brought about the demise of many. 

 

Louis Zamperini remained “Unbroken” following his experience as a WWII POW of the Japanese. Once an Olympic runner, Zamperini’s bomber crashed into the Pacific where he was stranded until “rescued” by the Japanese. Following his release from the POW internment camp, Zamperini finds a reason to have faith again. A very well researched and well written book.

 

26-year-old Beverly Deepe reported on the Vietnam War as a freelance reporter for the Christian Science Monitor. She reported from all over the country, moving freely and thinking independently of the military and diplomatic types. 

Ken Jennings’ Junior Genius Guide on the U.S. Presidents is a super fun way to share your love of history with your kids. Great illustrations and interesting blurbs of trivia make this a “go to” book. Did you know “George Washington almost missed the very first Inauguration Day?  He was short on cash and a friend had to loan him six hundred dollars so he could make the journey.” 

If you love true stories of spies, codes, and mayhem, this is the book for you!  Illustrations make learning about the Cold War fun and there are special projects throughout the book. Some of the information you will learn will be hair-raising!  For instance, “The Secret unlock code for the Minuteman missile during the Cold War was 00000000.” 

 

A very simple series of three vignettes. In 1920s Appalachia there was only folk medicine available to care for those inflicted with heinous injuries or epidemic disease. Into this maelstrom of illness rode Mary, a determined nurse, with big plans to bring vaccines, nurses, and a hospital to the area.

Now, please, go forth and read and enjoy Nonfiction!

 

 

 

 

Oct 262018
 

So proud of this library patron and Summer Reading Scholar. He took his library book on sharks to the Henry Doorly Zoo and identified each shark!! What a great kid and a great family to make this such a learning experience!