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Library Blog

Information on events, library related happenings, and other deep thoughts from our library staff.

Ode to the King

A Place to Land: Martin Luther King Jr. and the Speech That Inspired a Nation by Barry Wittenstein & Jerry Pinkney (2019)
J  323.092  WIT
Martin Luther King, Jr. was once asked if the hardest part of preaching was knowing where to begin. No, he said. The hardest part is knowing where to end. "It's terrible to be circling up there without a place to land."  Finding this place to land was what Martin Luther King, Jr. struggled with, alongside advisors and fellow speech writers, in the Willard Hotel the night before the March on Washington, where he gave his historic "I Have a Dream" speech. But those famous words were never intended to be heard on that day, not even written down for that day, not even once.

DK Life Stories: Martin Luther King Jr. by Laurie Calkhoven (2019)
Martin Luther King Jr. will always be remembered for his famous "I Have a Dream" speech, which he gave during the March on Washington in 1963. But his life before and after that big event, and his other enormous contributions to the Civil Rights Movement in the United States, largely go unspoken. In this biography for kids ages 8-12, learn all about MLK--from his early family life and experiences in education, to his untimely death and the worldwide mourning and riots that followed.
DK Life Stories go beyond the basic facts to tell the true life stories of history's most interesting people. Full-color photographs and hand-drawn illustrations complement thoughtfully written, age-appropriate text to create an engaging book children will enjoy reading. Definition boxes, information sidebars, fun facts, maps, inspiring quotes, and other nonfiction text features add depth, and a handy reference section at the back makes this series perfect for school reports and projects. Each book also includes an author's introduction letter, a glossary, and an index.

Martin Luther King, Jr. Memorial by Christine Taylor-Butler (2019)
J  975.3  TAY
Martin Luther King, Jr.'s legacy is honored with a beautiful memorial in the center of Washington, D.C., the nation's capital.  Readers will learn about King's life and accomplishments, how the memorial was planned and built, its integration with surrounding Tidal Basin monuments, and much more.
The True Book: National Parks series allows readers to experience spectacular vistas and natural landscapes, as well as interact with the rich tapestry of American History. This series includes an age appropriate (grades 3-5) introduction to curriculum-relevant subjects and a robust resource section that encourages independent study.

Target Age: 
Katiem's picture


Robert Downey, Jr. has transitioned from a superhero who likes to hear himself talk to a literary classic who talks to the animals.  Dolittle hits the big screen this weekend.  The star-studded cast also includes Rami Malek, Octavia Spencer, John Cena, Emma Thompson, Antonio Banderas, Jim Broadbent, Tom Holland, Ralph Fiennes, and Selena Gomez.

"After losing his wife, the eccentric Dr. John Dolittle, famed doctor and veterinarian of Queen Victoria's England, hermits himself away behind the high walls of Dolittle Manor with only his menagerie of exotic animals for company.  But when the young queen falls gravely ill, a reluctant Dolittle is forced to set sail on an epic adventure to a mythical island in search of a cure, regaining his wit and courage as he crosses old adversaries and discovers wondrous creatures."

Make sure you read the books by Hugh Lofting that inspired the movie!
Doctor Dolittle: Vol. 1: The Complete Collection (three novels in one)
The Story of Doctor Dolittle  (book-on-CD)
The Voyages of Doctor Dolittle (Newbery winner)

Target Age: 
Katiem's picture

If Pluto Was a Pea

Space is so . . . BIG.  It's hard to wrap our heads around just HOW BIG!  This picture book helps compare the sizes of the planets in terms we can more easily grasp.

If Pluto Was a Pea by Gabrielle Prendergast & Rebecca Gerlings
E  523.49  PRE
In this informative and friendly story, two children—one with puffball pigtails, a gap-tooth smile, and a pair of moonboots; the other in a hipster sweater, striped trousers, and tousled hair—spend a night camping in a backyard. The girl enthusiastically reads from a book about space. Observing the stars around them, the two contemplate the relative sizes of the planetary bodies: “Pluto is much smaller than the other planets. That’s why it’s called a ‘Dwarf Planet.’ ” They use familiar objects as reference points to compare Pluto to the other planets (“If Pluto was a pea... Mercury would be a marble”), including measurements throughout.  Prendergast and Gerlings capture the children’s sense of wonder and relatable quest for adventure—both in their camping excursion and curiosity about galaxies beyond. [from Publishers Weekly]

Target Age: 
Katiem's picture

Chinese New Year falls on a different date every year, based on the lunar calendar.  It will be celebrated on January 25, 2020, the new moon day of the first Chinese lunar month.  2020 is the Year of the Rat.  The Rat is the first animal in the 12-year cycle of the Chinese zodiac.  The city of Birmingham has a wonderful Chinese New Year Gala on the actual day, but we're going to celebrate a bit early here at Hoover Public Library.  

Happy Chinese New Year!
Tuesday, January 21, 2020 at 6:30 p.m.

Join us for a night of festivity as we learn about Chinese cultural celebrations for the Lunar New Year. There will be food, games, traditional dance, and calligraphy! We partnered with the Birmingham Chinese Community Association on this Family Night event.  It is open to all ages and absolutely FREE!  So bring your entire family (and friends and neighbors, too!) to the Library Plaza.

75% Truth + 25% Lies = 100% FUN!

That's the promise of the new Truth or Lie beginning reader series by Erica S. Perl.  And it's a promise kept.  Remember to look for orange stickers when looking for these fantastic books in the Kid Zone.

Truth or Lie: Dinosaurs! 

Truth or Lie: Sharks!

Little Libraries, Big Heroes

Did you know that a boy who had trouble reading grew up to launch the Little Free Library movement?

Little Libraries, Big Heroes by Miranda Paul & John Parra (09/03/19)
J  027  PAU
Paul’s heartfelt text delivers the story behind Todd Bol’s founding of the Little Free Library nonprofit, which began as a tribute to his late mother in his home state of Wisconsin and has since spread around the world. Bol (who passed away in 2018 just weeks after a cancer diagnosis) built his first little library with discarded lumber, placing it at the edge of his yard and filling it with books for passersby to borrow. After seeing how it “became the center of [the] neighborhood” Bol approached his friend Rick Brooks for advice about how to spread what they came to call “Little Free Libraries” to other communities. Paul’s text details the ups and downs of their grassroots efforts, noting that they were inspired by librarian Lutie Stearns, “who brought travelling libraries all over Wisconsin,” and Andrew Carnegie, “who once built 2,510 libraries!” Parra’s accompanying illustrations, rendered in acrylics, depict Bol and Brooks, both white men, and the diverse people from across the United States and around the world who became “stewards,” or “community heroes” in the words of the text, of their own Little Free Libraries. Their flat aesthetic has something of a DIY/painted-on-lumber appearance, which adds to the homespun feeling of the text and the very movement that inspired it.  A book to share about book-sharing at its best. [from Kirkus Reviews]

Watch the book trailer.

Target Age: 
Katiem's picture

Gittel's Journey

Gittel's Journey: An Ellis Island Story by Lesléa Newman
Nine-year-old Gittel and her mother are immigrating from the Old Country to America, leaving behind friends and many cherished belongings (“Can’t we take Frieda with us?” Gittel asks. “We cannot bring a goat to America,” Mama says). But when they reach the boat, Mama is barred from boarding due to an eye infection, and she insists that Gittel continue without her. “Home is not safe for us,” Mama tells her tearful daughter. “You are going to America to have a better life.” Wearing a bright red kerchief, clutching the address of a cousin in New York City, and carrying Mama’s precious Shabbat candlesticks in her bundle, Gittel starts her journey to Ellis Island. Mixed-media images by Bates (The Big Umbrella), washed in yellows and browns and framed by woodblock motifs, give readers a vivid sense of the historical context while infusing the story with a timeless emotional immediacy. Newman (Ketzel, the Cat Who Composed) skillfully modulates her narration, capturing her protagonist’s feelings of excitement, loneliness, and fear. The ending, handled with both restraint and warmth, relies on one of those improbable twists of good fortune that define so many immigrant stories—and it’s based on a real event. [from Publishers Weekly]

Watch the author talk with her Aunt Phyllis about the family inspiration behind this story.

If you want to learn more about Ellis Island, try one of these books!
Ellis Island by Elizabeth Carney
Ellis Island: An Interactive History Adventure by Michael Burgan
What Was Ellis Island? by Patricia Demuth

Target Age: 
Katiem's picture

Winter Discoveries

These two new picture books are winter tales that focus on the joy of discovery.  Maybe they'll inspire YOU to open your eyes and ears to adventure this winter season.

Camilla, Cartographer by Julie Dillemuth (10/08/19)
Camilla the warthog collects maps. Maps of stars, New York, even the London Tube. She even owns an ancient map of her forest. Unfortunately for her, she believes all lands have been explored and there is nothing new to chart. However, with a snowy morning comes a new opportunity. When her hedgehog neighbor, Parsley, asks for her help in finding the creek, Camilla quivers with excitement when she realizes the snow-covered land “is uncharted territory.” With all landmarks covered in snow, Camilla and Parsley must use their spatial-reasoning skills and a compass to find a new way to the creek. Their trailblazing journey proves a challenge as they keep bumping into trees, rocks, and walls. But when they find the creek, Camilla will have all the information and tools ready to draw out a new map, to break out in case of another snowfall. Wood’s delightful illustrations and Dillemuth’s expertise in the matter engage readers in the woodland creatures’ adventures. In addition, Dillemuth, who holds a doctorate in geography, provides activities in the backmatter for parents and caregivers to help children develop their own spatial-reasoning skills, such as sketching and reading maps or using cardinal directions. [from Kirkus Reviews]

A Fox Found a Box by Ged Adamson (10/28/19)
When Fox finds a radio while digging for food in the snow, he and his forest companions become transfixed by the music it produces, finding that it has the power to affect their feelings.  When the box stops making noise, the animals try to revive it. “But nothing would make the box sing again.” This newly recaptured quietude permits Fox to hear the “drip! drop! drip! drop!” of water droplets making a puddle. “Fox’s whole body moved to the drip-drop beat.” The other animals hear forest sounds, too: the whooshing wind, chattering geese, the “crunch-crunch of snow…[a]nd the gurgle-gurgle of the river.” Their senses quicken to all that their wintry habitat affords. “And every night, the animals would…let the forest sing them to sleep.” (Sharp-eyed kids will note that Owl is awake.) Adamson’s onomatopoeic text pays fond tribute to music’s power to evoke and shape emotions. His narrative presents children with lovely examples of nature’s own ability to sing to us, if we open our senses. Washy watercolors, accented with colored pencil against plenty of white space, charmingly portray the creatures’ expressions of wonderment, anxiety, and contentment. [from Kirkus Reviews]

Target Age: 
Katiem's picture

Best Books Tailgate

2-4-6-8! Which books did we think were great? Find out at our Best Books Tailgate on Tuesday, January 14, 2019 at 4 p.m. Cheer for book talks of our team's favorite titles for kids and teens. Eat terrific tailgating food and win door prizes! (Yes, the prizes are brand new copies of our favorite books!) This event is geared for parents, teachers and fellow librarians, but everyone is welcome. You do not have to register for our tailgate party. Simply follow the stars (and cheers and delicious food smells).

We will post our 2019 Staff Picks list that same week! The list will include picture books, juvenile & teen fiction, and juvenile & teen nonfiction.

Katiem's picture

Pete Rocks the Library

Keep walking along the starred hallway in your groovy library shoes to Pete Rocks the Library on Saturday, January 11, 2020 at 10:30 a.m.  The world's most easygoing feline, Pete the Cat, will be grooving in the Youth Program Room at Dance with Pete.  There will also be snacks inspired by Pete's first book -- blueberries, strawberries, pudding cups, and water.  And make sure you make one of the four groovy crafts in the Kid Zone!

1. Pete the Cat Shoe Spinner
Change the color of Pete's shoes to match the things he steps in.

2. Button Bracelet
Thread groovy buttons onto a pipe cleaner bracelet.

3. Pete Head Bands
Make yourself look like an equally groovy cat.

4. Pete's Magic Sunglasses
Bedazzle a pair of sunglasses.

Target Age: 
Katiem's picture