Monday, May 23, 2016

On your mark, get set, READ! Kid's books for summer

June 4th is the Kickoff for our Summer Reading Program, this year themed “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read!”. With fun activities, programs, and logging your reading minutes to earn free books this summer coming up, here is a list of great books for kids to get your summer off to a great start.

Emmanuel's Dream: The True Story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah by Laurie Ann Thompson
This inspiring picture book tells the story of Emmanuel Ofosu Yeboah, who was born in Ghana in 1977 with a deformed left leg-and went on to bike 400 miles in 2001 to raise awareness and change perception of people with disabilities in Ghana. With warm illustration and thoughtful text, the author shows how Emmanuel persevered, hopping 2 miles to school every day, bought and shared his soccer ball as long as he could play on the team, and taught himself how to ride a bike with only one leg. This picture book truly shows that being “disabled does not mean unable”. An extraordinary story about an extraordinary person.

Good Night Owl by Greg Pizzoli
This adorable picture book is the perfect story for bedtime, with charming illustrations and a fun look-and-find aspect for the sharp-eyed children. Owl has settled into bed, but as soon as he does, he hears a sound, and he’ll never get to sleep until he finds what is making the sound. He looks everywhere, but fails to notice one small little detail.  This adorable picture book is the perfect story for bedtime, with charming illustrations and a fun giggle-worthy look-and-find as children spy the noisy intruder keeping owl from getting a good night’s sleep.

The Hidden Oracle by Rick Riordan
The newest book by Rick Riordan, author of several popular fantasy series for middle school kids needs little selling. Riordan continues his exploration of the world created in his Percy Jackson series by introducing some new characters. The god Apollo has irritated in father Zeus enough to be cast out of Olympus and tossed down into New York City as a mortal. With the help of a preteen demi god, the 4000 year old teenage deity makes his way to Camp Half-Blood with hilarious hijinks and enough snarky attitude to engage the most reluctant of readers. This is the perfect book to start off your summer reading list.

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson
Perfect for fans of Raina Telgemeiers, kids will love this graphic novel. 12 year old Astrid and Nicole  have always done everything together. But this summer, Astrid signs up for derby camp and Nicole signs up for ballet. The two girls find their friendship tested as they make new friends and form new interests. This book nicely combines the excitement and sometimes danger of the rough-and-tumble sport roller derby with the trials of growing up and apart from childhood friends.

El Deafo by Cece Bell
This touching graphic novel shows the difficult journey that the young Cece goes through after losing her hearing from spinal meningitis. Cece doesn’t pull any punches in this book, laying out clearly the difficulty of having to use hearing aids, learning how to lip read, making new friends, trying to watch TV and more. Cece lightens the conversation with cheery illustrations and characterizing everyone as rabbits. She also shows how as a child she dealt with the trials of being deaf by imaging herself as a super hero, El Deafo. With an honest afterwards explaining how she chose as a child not to learn ALS, and her later appreciation for the language, this is not a book to be missed.

--Sarah Rehborg, Youth Services Librarian

Monday, May 16, 2016

Nonfiction Graphic Novels

Many readers do not think about graphic novels as nonfiction resources, but there are many great memoirs and nonfiction graphic novels which combine educational enrichment with great art. Here are a few of our new nonfiction graphic novels available at the Peter White Public Library.  

Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality, and the Financial Crisis
By Darryl Cunningham
Many people would not consider books about economics and philosophy to be engaging reads; however, in Age of Selfishness: Ayn Rand, Morality, and the Financial Crisis, Darryl Cunningham delivers a concise narrative of Ayn Rand’s philosophy of objectivism and it’s connection to the economic meltdown of 2008. For those unfamiliar with Rand and her philosophy, the book is broken down into three parts, “Ayn Rand”, a biography, “The Crash”, a look at Alan Greenspan’s interpretation of Rand’s philosophy and how it led to the 2008 financial crisis,  and “The Age of Selfishness”, an exploration of the aftermath of the meltdown and commentary of those who follow Rand’s philosophies and principles. Cunningham has written several nonfiction graphic novels including Science Tales: Lies, Hoaxes and Scams, How to Fake the a Moon Landing, and Psychiatric Tales. Be sure to check them out for intriguing and thought provoking reads.

Out on the Wire: the Storytelling Secrets of the New Masters of Radio
By Jessica Abel
Podcasts, downloadable radio like programs, have become increasingly popular as a way to hear interesting stories and learn more about a vast array of topics. Some tell narrative stories about fictional lands and are close cousins to old time radio dramas while others craft expertly researched and written news pieces. In Out on the Wire, Jessica Abel draws on the creative minds behind the podcasts Serial, This American Life, and Radiolab to explore the techniques and tricks of these impeccable story tellers. What is very interesting about this book is the use of the graphic narrative to explore an auditory experience. Author/illustrator Jessica Abel has been creating comics for over 25 years and uses her storytelling expertise to complement the master storytellers in the podcasts she explores. 

The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage: The (Mostly) True Story of the First Computer
By Sydney Padua
Breakout graphic novelist Sydney Padua’s The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace & Babbage takes a comical and informative look at the relationship between Ada Lovelace, Charles Babbage, and the first computational code. Many people have heard of Lovelace and Babbage in relation to computers, but this unique comic embellishes on their adventures while teaching the history and science behind their inventions. The art is wonderfully whimsical and Padua’s research, including biographical research and correspondences, provide a wonderfully twisted story for this alternative steampunk history. For those who like non-fiction with a fictional twist, this is a great graphic novel for you.

The Diary of a Teenage Girl: An Account in Words and Pictures
By Phoebe Gloeckner
This autobiographical graphic novel is, at times, uncomfortable to read but presents a coming of age story many of us can relate to on some level. Meet Minnie Goetze, a fifteen-year-old girl growing up in 1970s San Francisco. Left to her own devices by her absent and narcissistic mother, Minnie dives into the adult world of drugs, sex, and out of control behavior. This mixed media graphic novel includes pages from a teenager’s diary, long form prose and traditional comic book panels. Graphic novelist Phoebe Gloeckner got her start as a medical illustrator and is currently a professor at the University of Michigan Stamps School of Art & Design.

Steve Jobs: Insanely Great
By Jessie Hartland
Whether you own an iPhone, have seen the Steve Jobs movie, or love Pixar films, Steve Jobs: Insanely Great is a fast paced, in-depth look at the life of Steve Jobs. This graphic biography follows Jobs from his birth and adoption to his rebellious young adulthood and his relationships which challenged and complemented his intellectual prowess. While many biographies of Jobs’ life could seem more like computer science textbooks, what makes Hartland’s book accessible is it’s ability to seamlessly define and explain complex terms and theories with ease. The pages are jam packed with amazing illustrations and dense text. Geared to teenagers, this book is sure to impress and inspire teens and adults alike.

--Tracy Boehm, Technical Services Librarian 

Monday, May 9, 2016

Summer Beach Reads

There is nothing more enjoyable to lift your spirts than summer.  Stop in the library to check out these titles about beaches to warm up your day no matter what the temperature.

Andrews, Mary Kay.  Beach Town.  2015.  The main character, Greer, when looking for a fresh start from several flopped movie projects finds a sleepy little town in Florida with miles of beautiful beach front that will make the perfect movie spot. She never thought the stakes for control would be so high. The mayor of the community is not easily sold on the project and Greer finds herself in a battle for wills between her heart and head.  A romance quickly develops between Greer and the Mayor of the community.  Andrews’s masterfully weaves secondary characters and subplots to the story which provided great entertainment.  

Shishak, Lei. Beach House Baking: an endless summer of delicious desserts.  2014.  641.86 Sh.  What is summer without food that satisfies your appetite?  Lei Shishak is a professional pastry chef who has worked in New York and California. There are recipes for heart healthy, vegan, gluten free, and my favorite, picnics on the beach.  Try Blackberry Mascarpone Mousse cupcakes or the Lemon Ricotta Cracked Cheesecake.  Both are extremely rich and divine in taste. 

Roberts, Nora.  Whiskey Beach.  2013.  Roberts is well known for her ability to master romantic suspense novels.  The story contains all the things that devoted fans have come to expect from her novels; gal pals, romance,  and close knit family all intertwined within a cozy mystery. The story occurs around an individual Eli who is suspected for the murder of his wife.  As the mystery intensifies, Eli takes up residence at his grandmother’s historical residence, the Bluff House to assist in her recovery from a fall and begins writing as a way to keep his mind busy. Throughout the story Eli uses his legal knowledge, wits and skill to identify the murder of his wife while falling in love with Abra Walsh, his grandmother’s aide.

Wax, Wendy.  Ocean Beach.  2012.  Wendy Wax is well known for her use of contemporary fiction to write and explore friendship, loyalty and self-discovery.  Following on Ten Beach Road, the novel describes the continuing exploits of a tight-knit group of girlfriends, Madeline, Avery and Nicole, who have turned to home renovation and flipping as a way of getting back on their feet after a series of financial mishaps. The house flipping footage of the main characters has turned them into a YouTube sensation and they are courted by a TV network to participate in a home makeover reality series.  After renovation work begins on the estate  it becomes very apparent to the girls that they reality series is more focused on them and their private life than that of the property being overhauled.  The end result is a light story in which the main characters engage in personal growth as they go through the renovation project.

--Diana Menhennick, Reference Department

Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Stories of survival and adventure

Peter White Public Library’s non-fiction book group called The Human Condition meets on the third Wednesday of each month.  We discuss stories of survival and adventure, frequently with a multicultural, spiritual, or philosophical approach. Here are a few of our recent reads.

Savage Harvest:  A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art by Carl Hoffman
Michael Rockefeller was the youngest son of massive wealth and power who, after graduating from Harvard, headed as far from civilization as possible on a quest for indigenous art. Many of the natives in New Guinea were still warring cannibals at that time. Rockefeller disappeared in 1961, never to be found, after his boat capsized. “Savage Harvest” is a tremendously compelling read from cover to cover. Author Carl Hoffman, a contributing editor at National Geographic Magazine, entwines travel journalism-style reporting of his recent excursions to remote villages in New Guinea, with a painstakingly-researched account of Rockefeller’s disappearance. Hoffman uncovers a plausible solution to the mystery. Correspondences suppressed by Church missionaries, as well as a chilling confession on the final page, seem to confirm a worst-possible theory about an unthinkable demise for the young Rockefeller. Favorite quote:  “Those who began swarming into the exotic world, however, were not just acquiring inanimate objects, but walking into something else entirely: a potentially dangerous world of spirits who could make them sick or even kill them, of secrets and meanings whose language they didn’t speak, whose symbols they didn’t understand, and where life and death, literally, hung in the balance.

The Tiger:  A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant
599.756 VAILLANT
Writer John Vaillant traveled to the remote taiga (boreal forest) environment of Amur, Siberia, near China.  He documents the efforts of a small group of government game wardens tasked with tracking down a man-eating Amur tiger. These tigers are the largest cats on earth, and a threatened species on the verge of extinction, especially in corrupt, economically-depressed, post-Soviet Siberia. Vaillant’s protagonist is tough yet warm-hearted tracker Yuri Trush, tasked with hunting a particularly ferocious tiger which stalked and killed local hunter Markov. The charm of the book lies in skillful descriptions of the environment, and the fact that populations of humans and tigers have coexisted for millennia. Massively enjoyable is the skill with which Vaillant keeps the reader in suspense as the group closes in on the killer beast, an extremely intelligent animal with an almost supernatural ability to stalk its unlucky prey. Favorite quote:  “Fear is not a sin in the taiga, but cow­ardice is.”

The Cruelest Journey:  600 Miles to Timbuktu by Kira Salak
916.62 SALAK
Kira Salak is a National Geographic contributing editor who paddled an inflatable canoe alone for 600 miles up the Niger River in Mali, Africa. In 2004 Salak was inspired to complete the unfinished travels of Scottish explorer Mungo Park, who died trying to discover the source of the Niger in 1806. She details her encounters with shamanic fortunetellers, ferocious storms, and exceedingly patriarchal Islamic villagers. Interestingly, Peter White Public Library screened the recent film “Timbuktu”, which dramatizes the dreadful changes brought on by the recent spread of Islamist groups in the same region. Favorite quote:  “Hardship brings us closer to truth, and thus is more difficult to bear, but from it alone comes compassion. And so I've told the world that it can do what it wants with me during this trip if only, by the end, I have learned something more. A bargain then. The journey, my teacher.”

At Hell’s Gate:  A Soldier’s Journey from War to Peace by Claude Anshin Thomas
294.3927 THOMAS
Vietnam veteran Claude Anshin Thomas experienced the hell of combat during his service as an Army helicopter gunner, only to return to experience the dreadful symptoms of PTSD, homelessness, and addiction. In his book At Hell’s Gate he describes the turning points in his life toward sobriety and healing, as he eventually achieves ordination as a Zen Buddhist monk by noted teacher Bernie Glassman. For the past two decades Anshin has undertaken pilgrimages on foot, including walking all the way from the Auschwitz concentration camp in Poland to Vietnam. He has hiked from coast to coast across the United States twice, and regularly holds Buddhist lectures and retreats for veterans with PTSD. The most important lesson Anshin describes is that each of us carries the seeds of violence and war within, and that a personal transformation is essential if the world is to know any semblance of peace. Favorite quote:  I have to do things differently. But I cannot think myself into a new way of living, I have to live myself into a new way of thinking.”

The Golden Spruce:  A True Story of Myth, Madness, and Greed by John Vaillant
333.7513 VAILLANT
John Vaillant appears on this list again with a fantastic analysis of a truly bizarre and tragic occurrence. In 1997 logger-turned-activist Grant Hadwin single-handedly cut down a rare 165-foot-tall Sitka spruce tree with a chainsaw on an island off the coast of British Columbia. Vaillant spends a good portion of the book detailing the mythology and history of the Pacific Northwest Haida tribe, and the lumber industry that developed with the arrival of European settlers. Just why would anyone chop down such a beautiful and rare tree? One man’s rage over the senseless clear-cutting of old-growth forests caused him to go over the edge. Vaillant’s analysis carves deep into the subject. Favorite quote, on the topic of deforestation:  “It is an eccentric and uniquely human approach to resources: like plowing under your farmland to make way for more lawns, or compromising your air quality in exchange for an enormous car.

By Jeremy Morelock

Monday, April 25, 2016

Garden books

New books are always a joy to peruse for library folks, especially garden books for this reader. These titles can be found on the Peter White Public Library’s new non-fiction shelves in the circulation lobby.

This is the perfect time of year, while your garden awakens after a long winter’s nap, to browse for new landscape ideas. Plenty of inspiration can be found in Garden Design: A Book of Ideas by bestselling writer Heidi Howcroft and award winning photographer Marianne Majerus.  Sumptuous photos accompany the clear and helpful text of innovative ideas on how to tackle that problem spot in your own yard in a creative and innovative way. New non-fiction: 712 HO   

A donation to the library to purchase a special book in memory of a loved one is a fitting tribute. Recently the University Women Garden Club members donated funds in memory of Marsha Preston to add to the library’s collection. Women Garden Designers: 1900 to the Present by Kristina Taylor was a perfect way to honor Marsha’s love of plants. The book recounts the contributions of female designers in a primarily male dominated field. From Gertrude Jekyll to Beatrix Farrand to Rosemary Verey and Haruko Seki, female landscape designers from around the globe are highlighted. Full of fascinating information on how these women broke the gender barrier to create lasting and scenic gardens, historic black and white’s accompany full color photos illustrate the work of these, literally, ground breaking women. New non-fiction: 712.082 TA

Gardens that thrive while withstanding diminishing rainfall and increasing temperatures are the focus of Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West. A how to guide on sustainable landscaping, the team of landscape architect and garden designer showcase gardens that utilize native perennials and grasses. These natives help to restore natural plant communities that do well under less-than-ideal growing conditions, helping us all to cope with an ever changing climate. New Nonfiction: 712 RA

Taking a bit of a different tact, Good Garden Bugs by Mary M. Gardiner, PhD is a well-illustrated reference for beneficial insects that help a garden grow. Battling harmful insect infestations with biological controls, Gardiner gives the low down on how to avoid pesticides and use natural insect predators to control damage to your plants. The author focuses her writing on identification and tips on how to enhance your space by promoting a thriving population of “good” bugs. New Nonfiction: 635.0495 GA

Getting out of the backyard and traveling to other places opens our eyes to a world of new environments and climates to experience. Distant Neighbors edited by Chad Wriglesworth highlights the letter exchange between environmental activists and writers Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder. Berry, age 81, lives on his grandfather’s farm in Port Royal, Kentucky and Snyder, age 85, resides in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California. The two friends exchanged 250 letters from 1973 to 2013 discussing their common work on stewardship of the land. Their wide ranging views on religion, community, politics and aging make this book a fascinating glimpse into the minds of two important writers and thinkers of our day. New Nonfiction: 818.5409 BE

With the arresting title of How to Cook a Moose, author Kate Christensen explores the world of food and sustainable farming in the harsh cold climate of northern Maine. Residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will be able to draw many parallels between living in the Pine Tree state and life up here in the Wolverine State. Christensen writes about food, drink, life and books for publications such as the New York Times  Book Review, Food and Wine, and the Wall Street Journal. She is the author of Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites and six earlier novels.  New Nonfiction: 641.5974 CH

Plenty of food for thought on the New Book shelves at the library while you wait for the soil to warm. Happy gardening!

--Margaret Boyle, Programming Coordinator

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Immigration stories

            Immigration is a hot topic during this election year.  Explore the immigration experience by checking out these and other recent books from the Peter White Public Library.
            Whether escaping religious persecution, political oppression, the violence of war, or looking to further their economic standing, millions of immigrants have come to America. Destination America: the Peoples and Cultures that changed America by Charles Wills gives a detailed look at why immigrants leave their homelands, how they travel to America, and what they do once they arrive. It includes personal accounts, letters, diaries, photographs, statistics, maps and charts.  You can also find the accompanying PBS series Destination America at the library.
The Irish-American story, with all its twists and triumphs, is told through the improbable life of one man in The Immortal Irishman: the Irish Revolutionary who became an American Hero by Timothy Egan. A dashing young orator during the Great Famine of the 1840s, in which a million of his Irish countrymen died, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony. He escaped and six months later was heralded in the streets of New York--the revolutionary hero, back from the dead, at the dawn of the great Irish immigration to America. Meagher's rebirth in America included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade from New York in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War--Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. Twice shot from his horse while leading charges, left for dead in the Virginia mud, Meagher's dream was that Irish-American troops, seasoned by war, would return to Ireland and liberate their homeland from British rule. The hero's last chapter, as territorial governor of Montana, was a romantic quest for a true home in the far frontier.

             When the United States entered World War I in 1917, one-third of the nation's population had been born overseas or had a parent who was an immigrant. At the peak of U.S. involvement in the war, nearly one in five American soldiers was foreign-born. Many of these immigrant soldiers--most of whom had been drafted--knew little of America outside of tight-knit ghettos and backbreaking labor. Yet World War I would change their lives and ultimately reshape the nation itself. Italians, Jews, Poles, Norwegians, Slovaks, Russians, and Irishmen entered the army as aliens and returned as Americans, often as heroes to produce a sea change that affected the nation ever after.  In The Long Way Home award-winning author David Laskin follows the lives of a dozen of these men.
            The "friendly invasion" of Britain by over a million American G.I.s bewitched a generation of young women deprived of male company during the Second World War. With their exotic accents, smart uniforms, and aura of Hollywood glamor, the G.I.s easily conquered their hearts.  But for girls like Sylvia, Margaret, Gwendolyn, and even the skeptical Rae, American soldiers offered something even more tantalizing than chocolate, chewing gum, and nylon stockings: an escape route from Blitz-ravaged Britain, and an opportunity for a new life in affluent, modern America. Through the stories of these four women, G.I. Brides: the Wartime Girls who Crossed the Atlantic for Love by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi illuminates the experiences of war brides who found themselves in a foreign culture thousands of miles away from family and friends, with men they hardly knew. Most persevered, determined to turn their wartime romance into a lifelong love affair, and prove to those back home that a Hollywood ending of their own was possible.

        Vietnamerica is superb graphic memoir in which an inspired artist/storyteller G.B. Tran reveals the road that brought his family to where they are today: Born and raised in South Carolina as a son of immigrants, he knew that his parents had fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. But even as they struggled to adapt to life in America, they preferred to forget the past--and to focus on their children's future. It was only in his late twenties that Tran began to learn their extraordinary story of survival, escape, and reinvention--the gift of the American immigrants' dream--passed on to their children. . When his last surviving grandparents die within months of each other, Tran visits Vietnam for the first time and begins to learn the tragic history of his family, and of the homeland they left behind.

            Kao Kalia Yang of the Southeast Asian Hmong people, was born in a refugee camp in Thailand in 1980. Her family was forced to flee the Pathet Lao, of Laos, who singled out the Hmong in retribution for their aiding of the Americans during the Vietnam War. With no homeland to return to and not necessarily welcome in Thailand, Yang's family took the opportunity to come to the United States and make a new life. In The Latehomecomer: a Hmong Family Memoir, Yang, a natural storyteller, chronicles her family’s journey as her family settled in St. Paul, MN.

            Son of a pastor and grandson of a voodoo priest, Wyclef Jean was born in the slums of Haiti but grew up in New York and New Jersey, eventually bringing his immigrant experience and multicultural background to a gritty hip-hop sound. As a child, he'd enhanced his poor English skills by learning to rap. He later went on to join the Fugees and gain musical acclaim with one of the best-selling hip-hop albums of all time. By 2010, dealing with his frustrations with the growing clownishness of hip-hop music, he was working to get back to the roots of hip-hop in expressing injustice when he learned that Haiti had been hit by a devastating earthquake. In Purpose: an Immigrant’s Story Jean tells how he rose from poverty to wealth, from obscurity to multiplatinum fame, and channeled his social consciousness by founding Yele, an aid organization that eventually garnered controversy as he considered a run for the presidency of Haiti. 

 --Caroline Jordan, retired librarian