Mar 012019

 by Marjorie Blain Parker. Illustrated by Sydney Hanson

I am flipping the order of books this week because, truly, what could be more adorable than this cover? The story inside of course! A great message and great illustrations to keep your youngest reader interested.

by Angela Dominquez

     This is a wonderful little book! Stella deals with living between two different worlds. She feels she doesn’t fit in with either her family in Mexico or her friends in the United States. In spite of the difficulties she faces, she has a loving relationship with her brother and mother and a great best friend. Her character grows in strength throughout the novel until she is able to face down her own fears and the class bully. A great book to make lives of immigrants/new citizens seem more relatable to those who haven’t had the experience.

by Kasie West

     This thoughtful, young romance looks at a teen boy being shuffled through the foster care system after losing touch with his mother and a young girl attempting to hide her anxiety disorder from her friends. Shifting expectations and building self-confidence are examined throughout the book. Quite a good read.

by Leo Tolstoy.5

If you are ever going to attempt Tolstoy’s “War and Peace”, now is the time. After all, we are in never-ending winter, so it shouldn’t be hard to imagine we are freezing along with the French and Russian soldiers.There are many things that Tolstoy does exceptionally well: write war scenes where you can feel yourself sinking into the mud while your inept commander dithers away, describe social gatherings of the glittering stars of the Russian elite, and yet describe a scene of sweet family intimacy so well you feel you are right there.
There are a couple of things he doesn’t do as well: write female characters who aren’t saints or devils and put exasperating philosophy treatises at the end of a 1200 page book. Cruel and unusual.
I would love to get Tolstoy’s take on the current political climates of the U.S. and Russia.

by Stacy McAnulty

Check out this audiobook at:

A heartfelt story which addresses many issues any middle-grader might be facing: being different, having different family structures, bullying, making and maintaining friendships, and how to be confident in one’s own skin. At times the main character bordered on being a little too precious; however, I think the author pulled off the story with great characters and solid writing. This is one of my favorites. I can see kids coming for the interesting lightning story and staying because the rest of the story is relatable.



Feb 212019

A thoughtful romance between two misfits. Light, sassy banter regarding deeper, darker subjects.  Go ahead!  Give it a chance!

Key writes this survival tale with an intensity that puts you in the shark-infested waters with the protagonists, just where you don’t want to be. It was a highly uncomfortable but very entertaining read. The only issue I had with the story was the young boy’s reaction to his father’s accident. It seemed unrealistic.

Joseph has a hard time in school. He can’t pay attention in class and the bullies love to torment him. Heather is the new girl in school, but when the bullies decide to make her a target, they may just get more than they bargained for. A wonderful story of friendship, respecting differences, and putting in the effort to achieve your dreams. Amazing adult characters and lots of humor elevate this book a notch above the rest.  **If you have kids who loved “Ghost” by Jason Reynolds, this might make a good comp!

This little book tells the tale of a sheep who just can’t get any sleep due to the other occupants of the barn.  Great pictures and lots of fun.

Feb 082019


     In Locke’s complex mystery, the reader takes a hard look at the secrets and racism endemic to an East Texas town and the repercussions on the small town population living with them. A complex weaving of past and present and the politics that keep them melded. This is so much more than the standard who “done it”. Beautiful writing and an engaging read. None of the characters are of the “too sweet” variety.

     Shadowhouse Fall by Daniel Jose Older is an urban fantasy with tight friendships and teens using their creative talents to battle heinous, power hungry demons. I rarely read sequels in this genre; however, this was well worth it.

Patina is the second book in Jason Reynold’s “track” series.  It is a small book dealing with large issues such as: the chronic illness of a mother, the death of a father, and the tumultuous period of life when fitting in sometimes means being willing to stand out. Patina is an “old soul” trying to fit in to a school where everyone seems wealthy, white, and uninterested in the things that rock Patina’s world.

Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson is a gorgeous picture book explaining the importance of kindness and the regrets a student has upon losing her chance to be kind to a classmate.



Jan 312019

This Blessed Earth: A Year in the Life of an American Family Farm by Ted Genoways.  

All politics aside, this One Book One Nebraska selection is just what it says on the tin.  Genoways spent time planting, harvesting, and working cattle alongside one Nebraska family and details the challenges they have faced and overcome and the obstacles which remain. Additionally, the author describes the history of farming in Nebraska, the industrialization of farming, the introduction of agribusiness corporations, and the changes made in farming following the Great Depression. Anyone interested in farming or Nebraska history would enjoy this book and it would be a great book club selection.


The Poet X by Elizabeth Acevedo is a book written in verse with an almost mythical intensity. Xiomara is a teenage girl dealing with a changing body and the reactions of boys and men to those changes. Toss in family strife and disagreements regarding religion and you have a great teen book racking up awards right and left. This book has won the 2019 Michael L. Printz Award and the Odyssey Award. As evidenced by the Odyssey Award, it is great on Audio.

Saving Winslow by Sharon Creech.

The author didn’t stint on the beautiful writing in this little book about a young boy caring for a sickly, newborn donkey. Louie learns how to provide the emotional and physical care the young donkey needs. There are themes of responsibility, making friends, and missing a sibling; however, they are offset by humorous writing and a sweet little donkey who will steal your heart.


Those Shoes by Maribeth Boelts. 

A young boy desires a pair of shoes just like all of the cool kids in school wear; however, his family can’t afford to buy them.  He finds a pair at the local thrift shop but they are too small.  A wonderful tale of generosity, friendship, and the difficulties of fitting in when you don’t have the funds to buy the “latest thing”.


I’m Still Here. Black Dignity in a World Made for Whiteness by Austin Channing Brown.

This digital audiobook was an informative and honest look at what it means to wake up and walk out into America as a Black Woman, Mother, and Coworker.


Jan 252019

Armand Gamache, Chief Inspector of the Surete, is a much more morally ambiguous character in this the fourteenth installation of Louise Penny’s Three Pines series. These characters are so “real” that it is necessary to remind oneself that it would be impossible to call them up or go visit them in their little, homicidal, Canadian village. Penny adeptly mixes literary fiction with good old-fashioned mystery in her series and to good effect. When Gamache muses “Things sometimes fell apart unexpectedly. It was not necessarily a reflection of how much they were valued”, we may wonder if this is a somewhat autobiographical inclusion to the almost nixed series. Family drama, old feuds, Canadian politics, the drug trade, and even the Nazis find a way into this tightly woven story. I highly recommend the whole series.

I have been hearing teenage girls rave about these mysteries for some time, so it was time to give one a read.  April Henry packs a punch in this intense mystery about a young woman returning to her childhood home to solve the mystery of her parents’ deaths. A little romance and a lot of suspense will keep you turning the pages of this young adult mystery.

     A creepy, little ghost story. Weaving narratives from a tragedy in the 1800s with a present-day ghost story, this novel does a masterful job of engaging the reader. The resolution was a little complicated, but overall a thoroughly enjoyable tale.

Gordon the Goat is in charge of the farm until Gordon the Goose makes his entrance. As they fight over the right to boss all of the other animals around, it is easy to see how tiring constant conflict can be. A funny little farm story.

Annie Spence, a librarian, has written many the love letter and many the break-up note to the books in her life.  As with most books of collected essays, some were funnier than others. All were told in very forthright language.

Jan 172019

As we head into another cold, blustery, and possibly snowy weekend, it is important to remember to stock up on books as well as food. What type of books do you favor in the winter? Today’s list includes a little something for everyone. Take a look.


Settle in for a creepy winter tale set in Vermont. With shifting timelines, this novel explores just how far some people will go to resurrect their lost loved ones. And just what that might mean for others in the community.  You’ll warm right up as you dive deeper into the blankets to hide (I am firmly in the “chicken” category. This was just enough creepy without being straight up horror). There were a few characters who weren’t needed in the overall story arc, but nothing is perfect.

Since flu season is upon us, you most likely have enough Kleenex around the house and are therefore prepared for this novel. At least physically.

“The Last Time We Say Goodbye” looks at the aftermath of a teen suicide. The effects of a young boy’s death on his parents, sister, friends, and classmates are profound and heartwrenching. This is a very nuanced look at a broken family.

A stubborn and independent young girl left mute in the face of tragedy and neglect meets an ornery Shetland pony.  “Dirt” becomes Yonder’s only friend in a world where her life is ransacked by bullies and social workers. Yonder is made of stern stuff; however, and watching her character develop from a somewhat passive participant in life to a take-charge hero out to save her pony is inspirational. This book has an Accelerated Reader level of 6.0; however, the cover and writing feel more geared to a younger audience.

“Wordy Birdy’s friends can’t get a word in edgewise. This little book explores the importance of listening. And who could resist such great illustrations? The faces of Wordy Birdy’s friends say as much as Wordy Birdy herself.


In “Finding Langston”, we are introduced to life in post-WWII Chicago by Langston who is a recent arrival from Alabama.  Bullied by the boys at school and spending a lot of time alone at home while his father works, Langston feels adrift and isolated. He yearns for the land and family he left behind just as he yearns for the mother who died. One day he comes across the library. A place where he is welcome, unlike the libraries back home. This luminous and beautifully told tale promote a love of poetry, literature, and libraries. It would be a wonderful way to introduce diverse authors and the “Great Migration”. At times, this story is laugh-out-loud funny and at other times it will just break your heart.