As the temperature switches almost daily between winter and spring, it's almost time to draw together to discuss an interesting book. In honor of Black History Month, February's discussion will be on Bebe Moore Campbell's Your Blues Ain't Like Mine.
This novel is set in rural Mississippi in the 1950s and also in Chicago during more contemporary times. It's a novel about family, community, and civil rights.
Books Plus meets the first Sunday of each month. All are welcome. Join the discussion or simply come to listen.
Alvin Ho is afraid of many things including, but not limited to elevators, tunnels, bridges, thunder, substitute teachers, scary movies, shots, and school. Most of all...school. Descended from a long line of Chinese farmer-warriors he loves to run around his house as a noisy superhero called Firecracker Man in a costume his gunggung (that's grandfather) made, complete with a spaghetti drainer on his head. School takes too much of his energy so he is only Firecracker Man on weekends and holidays. It takes a lot of energy for Alvin to make it onto the bus and into the school building. Once he is there he can't think, read, smile, sing, or even scream. Worst of all, Alvin can't talk at school. In spite of his mutism, Alvin is determined to make friends with the help of a list of rules suggested by his brother, Calvin. Read more about Alvin Ho: Allergic to Girls, School, and Other Scary Things
Erin Morgenstern's The Night Circus tells the story of two competing magicians trying to outdo each other in the creation of an enchanted circus. Whether you've read it and want more of the gothic atmosphere, period charm, and dazzling detail, are on the holds list for it, or just enjoy a bit of whimsy and dark Victorianism, these books should be of interest.
Is genetic memory just a theory or does it actually occur, or maybe the protagonist in this novel just has a really good imagination?
American historical novelist, Carrie McClelland journeys to Scotland to research her new book concerning an early planned Jacobite invasion in 1708. Her story and her research focus on Slain's Castle, now open to tourists, which was the center of much of the plotting in 1707 and 08. Carrie is soon dreaming of her ancestors who were involved in the intrigue. Is she channeling her long ago many times over great grandmother, is her new romantic interest also a descendant or is it her writer's imagination at work. Read more about The Winter Sea by Susanne Kearsley
Afghanistan and Pakistan are areas that are in the news...a lot. The Middle East has its problems, but what about its culture and traditions? In Jamil Ahmad's book, The Wandering Falcon, the reader gets a short glimpse into the Tribal areas of the border lands between Pakistan and Afghanistan.
Through a weaving train of stories, the reader gets to know the culture of wandering tribal families and individuals. The story starts after WWII, by my calculations, with the birth of Tor Baz and the tragic story that accompanies his earliest years. From this point the story wanders along with different individuals who work for the government in these lands and people looking out for their family, themselves, and their tribes. It's about outcasts and people trying to make it through life in the mountains and plains, finding happiness in those around them or disappointment in the lot life hands them. Ahmad loosely ties these stories together through a "Where's Waldo" with the character Tor Baz. He shows up in almost every story playing minimal roles or just sticking his head in. Read more about The Wandering Falcon
Year of Wonders is a book about the plague, but it is also so much more than that. Anna lives in a small village in England in 1666. She has two small children and a hard working husband. Despite her struggles with her relationship with her father, and a new minister, things are generally going well for Anna. Unfortunately the true history of the village, as discovered by Brooks, creates a tragic backdrop for Anna's fictional life. First, Anna's husband dies in a mining accident, and to help ends meet, Anna takes in a boarder from London. Shortly after this, her boarder suddenly dies, and people in her village begin falling fatally sick. The death of Anna's husband is only the beginning of the upheaval that Anna is to survive. Near the end of the book, everything that she has known was turned up on its head.
Geraldine Brooks came upon a sign at the location of the village and did quite a bit of research to create fictional characters and events. Though all the action takes place in the small quarantined village, the language is lush and the characters vivid. Read more about Year of Wonders and Caleb's Crossing
One request we get all the time at the library is for Star Wars origami books. In the past, we've had to refer people to websites, but now we can finally offer our customers an actual book with instructions for one Star Wars origami figure - speaking of Yoda, I am. Sixth-grader Tommy has an eccentric and socially challenged friend named Dwight, who is somehow able to channel very wise, if sometimes unclear, advice through his origami finger puppet Yoda. Tommy keeps a journal (his "case file") on the advice Yoda offers, in an attempt to determine if people should really listen to Yoda, or if he's just a "green paperwad" like Tommy's friend Harvey claims.
Read more about The Strange Case of Origami Yoda
Babe Huggins is one of those young women (my mother was one also) both lucky and unlucky enough to come of age at the start of World War II. She lives in a small New England town and because the men have left to fight overseas, she scores a department store job, and then later, interesting work at Western Union. She loves being the pulse of news in the town, but a big negative is that she is the first to discover which family has lost a young son or a new spouse.
Next to Love gives a vivid portrait of the war at home in America during WW II as lived by three friends who have known each other since first grade. Both Babe and Millie come from poor families on the wrong side of Sixth Street, whereas Grace's family lives in one of the town's mansions.
The novel chronicles the marriages of each of the three women, and shows how it either destroys or strengthens those unions. At the start of the war, there's one giddy summer when the number or marriages skyrockets--a combination of the men responding to the knowledge of their own mortality and the sheer lust for life-- seize this moment because no one knows how long it will last. Read more about Next to Love
I'm excited about the movie Hugo, opening this week, based on Brian Selznick's amazing book The Invention of Hugo Cabret (winner of the 2008 Caldecott Award). Selznick's newest title, Wonderstruck, is no less incredible. Alternatively told in pencil drawings (Rose's story, set in the late 1920s) and words (Ben's story, set 50 years later), the tales eventually intertwine in ways that are surprising and poignant. Even if you think you're not interested in the history of museums and dioramas, wolves, deafness and deaf culture, constellations, and silent movies, you'll find Selznick's blending of these elements creates a spellbinding read as well as a visual treat. Listen and watch Selznick tell us about his newest masterpiece at Scholastic's Wonderstruck website, and visit Selznick's website for some more insight into the man and his work and interests, including a list of his favorite "weird websites." Recommended for grades 4 and up.
This debut novel by Sarah Winman, a British actress, is decidedly quirky, unusual and fresh. It's also tremendously well-written and involving, and captures as few novels do, the actual feelings and experiences of childhood. The title absolutely pulled me in. Don't for a moment think it's a metaphor. No way. Little Elly, the narrator, receives a Belgian hare for Christmas and, in a family of nonbelievers, what could be more logical than naming her pet god (lower case, of course)?
When her school hosts a Christmas pageant, Elly receives audition instructions from her gay thespian aunt. The little girl secures a role but not Mary, Joseph, or the Baby Jesus. No, instead Elly plays the blind innkeeper. Unfortunately, in a horrible fiasco, she knocks over another child and sends him to the hospital.
Elly has a best friend named Jenny Penny. Her mom is a single parent with lots of visiting boyfriends. Because she has a drinking problem, Jenny joins Elly's kind but eccentric family. Read more about When god was a Rabbit