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Library Blog

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

2016 Edgar Award Winners for Mystery Month

I'm sure the title of this blog clued you in, but let's make it official.  May is Mystery Month, and the Edgar Award is the most prestigious honor in crime fiction.  It's the perfect pairing!

EDGAR AWARD 2016 - BEST JUVENILE
Footer Davis Probably Is Crazy by Susan Vaught
As fifth-grader Footer Davis and her best friend, Peavine Jones, investigate the shooting of an elderly farmer and the disappearance of his grandchildren, Footer begins to wonder whether she is going crazy like her mother and, worse, if her bipolar mother is a murderer. This suspenseful story, set in a small Mississippi town, explores themes of domestic violence and mental illness in a way that highlights the support of caring parents, neighbors, and other adults. In the course of the second week after the fire that destroyed the Abrams’ house and, perhaps, killed the children, Footer begins to experience what she first thinks are hallucinations and later decides are flashbacks to the night of the tragedy. Her first-person narrative is interrupted by entries from Peavine’s investigative notebooks, Footer’s school essays, and her changing theories. This tightly woven mystery also includes a tender friendship evolving into something more. That Peavine navigates on crutches is so matter-of-factly treated, readers may not even notice. For middle-graders, this is a sympathetic exploration of some difficult issues.

EDGAR AWARD 2016 - BEST YOUNG ADULT
A Madness So Discreet by Mindy McGinnis
Dumped in an insane asylum by the father who raped and impregnated her, Grace sees no way out until she meets Dr. Thornhollow. But instead of the gift of oblivion that he gives so many other patients, he offers to secret her out of the asylum in exchange for using her observational skills to help him catch murderers. Grace’s new life is better, but a serial killer and the reappearance of Grace’s father force her to grapple with the question of who is really mad and who is simply trapped by circumstance. Readers hoping for high tension may be slightly disappointed, but those interested in thinking about characters’ feelings and motivations will find much here to digest. Though told from Grace’s perspective, the story gives insight into many characters, leaving none of them wholly good or wholly evil. While some of the time shifts are rather abrupt and a few plot twists could use fleshing out, overall, this frank historical thriller features flawed, yet sympathetic, characters and a unique setting.

BONUS!
Eager for more mysteries?  Try one of the titles from Booklist's Top 10 Crime Fiction for Youth list.

 

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BOOYAH!

Kwame Alexander's new picture book, Surf's Up, encourages you to take reading outside this summer.  After you read it, try one of his recommended summer reading activities.

  1. Ribbit Read-a-thon
    Bro likes to read in his house, on the road, and at the beach.  There's no stopping him!  Where do you like to read?  Make a plan for your own Ribbit Read-a-thon.  Choose 3-5 places to read in one day.  Go from place to place reading your books.  Encourage a friend to join you or bring a stuffed animal along for company.
  2. Book Boat
    All hands on deck while you read books in a boat.  Make your boat out of empty cardboard boxes.  If you don't have boxes, ask your teacher, librarian, or parents if you can move a few chairs.  Drape a towel or blanket over the chairs to make your boat complete.  Sit inside and read while you search for the great white whale!
  3. Frog Fun
    What do you know about frogs?  Read all about them.  What kinds of frogs do you think Bro and Dude might be?  Head outside for a Frog Finding Mission.  Explore puddles and grass or lift up a few rocks.  Listen carefully for a croak or ribbit!  When your walk is over, use your frog books to identify the frogs you found.
  4. Cowabunga!
    Make your own surfboard!  Use large pieces of cardboard or bulletin board paper, or grab some chalk, head outside and draw one on the blacktop.  Hang ten when the big wave rolls your way!  After you wipe out, read a book on your surfboard while you float on the imaginary water.  Feel like writing?  Make a step-by-step How to Surf Guide for your friends and family.  Offer surf lessons too!
  5. Booyah Beach Party
    Gather books about the beach, whales, and surfing.  Dont forget your copy of Surf's Up!  Dress in your favorite beachy outfit.  Find your beach towel, or a regular bath towel, and a pair of sunglasses.  Now you are ready for a Booyah Beach Party!  You can have one anywhere -- the library, your home, a bookstore or even outside.  Spread out your towel just like you would on a hot, sandy beach.  Read your own books or listen to your teacher, parent, or librarian read one of their favorites.

Want even more ideas?  Check out Catch the Wave!: A Classroom Activity Kit!

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Perfect Pair #22

Maybe this month's pair will inspire you to get your hands dirty in your school garden . . . or one in your own backyard!

  • No, No, Gnome! by Ashlyn Anstee (2016)
    E  ANS  NEW BOOK
    Gnome cannot wait to help his friends harvest the school garden! But his eagerness and excitement get him into trouble, leaving them all saying, “No, no, Gnome!” 
  • It's Our Garden: From Seed to Harvest in a School Garden by George Ancona (2013)
    J  635.083  ANC
    At an elementary school in Santa Fe, the bell rings for recess and kids fly out the door to check what’s happening in their garden. As the seasons turn, everyone has a part to play in making the garden flourish. From choosing and planting seeds in the spring to releasing butterflies in the summer to harvesting in the fall to protecting the beds for the winter. Even the wiggling worms have a job to do in the compost pile! On special afternoons and weekends, neighborhood folks gather to help out and savor the bounty (fresh toppings for homemade pizza, anyone?). Part celebration, part simple how-to, this close-up look at a vibrant garden and its enthusiastic gardeners is blooming with photos that will have readers ready to roll up their sleeves and dig in.
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Book It! 5K: Our Summer Reading Kick-off Event at Veterans Park

We're just a week away from our Book It! 5K.  This year, the library’s Summer Reading programs will be focusing on health and fitness. The Friends of the Hoover Library are helping the library to celebrate this year’s theme with our first ever 5K race to raise money and awareness for all that the Hoover Library offers. The Book It! 5K will take place on Saturday, May 21, 2016 at Hoover’s beautiful Veterans Park at 4800 Valleydale Road, adjacent to Spain Park High School. This professionally developed cross-country course will take you around the lake and forested areas of the park. Devon Hind, head coach of track and field at Hoover High School, will MC our race. It begins at 8 a.m and will be digitally timed. Runner awards will be presented at 9:30 a.m.  Click here for more information or to register to run.

The Kids Summer Reading kickoff begins immediately after at 10 a.m. with field day games, inflatables, crafts and snacks. There will also be a BMX Trickstars stunt bike expo at 10:30 and 11:30 a.m.  plus a chance to register for summer reading before the official start date.  The cost for all this fun?  It's free, free, FREE!  Don't miss it!  Mark your calendars today for May 21, 2016!

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Mac & Mack

What do you do when two of your favorite picture book authors have a book come out in the same month . . . and have names that pair so perfectly?  You blog about it, of course!

  • Rules of the House by Mac Barnett, illustrated by Matt Myers
    Ian always follows the rules. His sister, Jenny, breaks them all the time-especially "Don't pinch." So Ian is thrilled when the house where his family is vacationing posts a tidy list of rules. But when Jenny breaks them all, the house itself decides it's time for payback. The rug, the stove, and the bathtub are hungry for rulebreaker soup, and they've found the perfect ingredient: Jenny! Now Ian is faced with a thorny question: What if saving your sister means breaking the rules?
  • Playtime? by Jeff Mack
    Bedtime can be a challenge for the best of us. But when you're a fun-loving, overactive pet gorilla, bedtime is downright hard. Who would want to go to sleep when Playtime is so much more fun? But the gorilla's responsible friend thinks enough is enough; no more fun and games. It's not Playtime--It's Bedtime! So the boy turns off the lights and the gorilla goes . . . Well, definitely NOT to sleep!
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The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island

Are you in the mood for "an old-fashioned summer adventure set in a very modern world?"  You can't go wrong with the newest novel about two dads, four adopted brothers, two cats, and one pug!  We first met this lovable family in The Misadventures of the Family Fletcher by Dana Alison Levy (2014).  In the sequel, The Family Fletcher Takes Rock Island (2016), the family is headed to their summer vacation standby.  

"Welcome to Rock Island, Where Time Stands Still!

The Fletchers are back on Rock Island, home of all their best summer memories. But from their first day on vacation, it’s clear that this year, things have changed. Their favorite lighthouse is all boarded up‘ and the Fletcher boys can’t figure out why or how to save it. Add a dose of Shakespeare, a very tippy kayak, a video camera, (maybe, possibly, or not) a swimming cat, and some new neighbors, and the recipe for a crazy vacation is complete. Over the course of the summer, the Fletchers will learn that sometimes, even in a place where time stands still, the wildest, weirdest, and most wonderful surprises await."

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Flora & the Peacocks

If you know me, you KNOW I love wordless books.  And I especially love the work of illustrator Molly Idle.  That's why I can't wait to share her newest title Flora and the Peacocks!  The darling, dancing Flora is back, and this time she's found two new feathered friends: a pair of peacocks!  Idle's gorgeous art combines with clever flaps to reveal that no matter the challenges, true friends will always find a way to dance, leap, and soar—together.  Make sure you watch the book trailer!  It is glorious!  And make sure you don't miss her first two wordless books -- Flora and the Flamingo AND Flora and the Penguin!  Both are shelved under E  IDL.

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We Will Not Be Silent

Yesterday's blog heralded an adult who risked her life to defy Hitler. Today's blog focuses on the young who also bravely resisted the Nazi regime. All three of these featured titles are written by award-winning nonfiction authors. One debuted this week!

  • We Will Not Be Silent: The White Rose Student Resistance Movement That Defied Adolf Hitler by Russell Freedman (2016)
    ON ORDER
    In the heart of Germany, a student resistance movement called the White Rose took a courageous stand to denounce the Nazis. “They could have chosen to throw bombs,” but the young members of the White Rose chose to oppose Nazi Germany with printed words. The clandestine student activists, including Hans and Sophie Scholl and Christoph Probst, wrote leaflets decrying Nazi atrocities, urging German citizens to resist the Nazi government, and denouncing the Nazi “dictatorship of evil.” Cranking out thousands of mimeographed leaflets at night in a secret cellar, the students proclaimed to Nazi leaders, “We are your bad conscience,” imperiling their lives. Among the wealth of good Holocaust literature available, Freedman’s volume stands out for its focus and concision, effectively placing the White Rose in its historical context, telling the story of Nazi Germany without losing the focus on the White Rose, and doing so in just over 100 pages. Archival photographs are effectively integrated into the text, and the typeface at times resembles the typewriter’s text on mimeographed leaflets, a nice design choice. (from Kirkus Reviews)
  • The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose (2015)
    J  940.53  HOO

    The Boys Who Challenged Hitler is the story of a group of Danish middle-school students who were passionately ashamed of their government for bowing to the German forces that invaded their country on April 9, 1940. Rather than kneel to the enemy, these schoolboys vowed to “clean the mud off the Danish flag.” They formed a sabotage cell called the Churchill Club and taught themselves, on the job, how to trouble the German army. After a six-month spree during which their activities escalated from vandalism to the theft of high-powered weapons to the grenade bombing of German vehicles, they were captured. Word of their arrest raced through the country. There was great concern that the boys would be executed. Their courage shamed and inspired Danish citizenry to stand up against their occupiers. (from the author's 2015 BGHB NF Honor speech)
  • Courage & Defiance: Stories of Spies, Saboteurs, and Survivors in World War II Denmark by Deborah Hopkinson (2015)
    J  940.53  HOP

    When Germany invaded Denmark in April 1940, the Nazis believed their small neighbor to the north would be a pushover. The Germans were partially right: the Danish government pretty much rolled out the red carpet for Hitler’s army. What no one foresaw was the way many Danes, angered by their leaders’ capitulation, would fight back. Some, like Tommy Sneum, spied on the Germans and fed intelligence to the British; others, like Niels Skov, sabotaged German vehicles and weapons; countless others worked together to warn and aid Danish Jews before they could be rounded up by the Nazis. Hopkinson pulls together these narratives, and others, with some truly propulsive storytelling (just try to put the book down during the tale of Sneum’s harrowing night flight across the English Channel) and great attention to the humanity involved. (from Horn Book)
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Jars of Hope on Holocaust Remembrance Day

The internationally recognized date for Holocaust Remembrance Day corresponds to the 27th day of Nisan on the Hebrew calendar. It marks the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. In Hebrew, Holocaust Remembrance Day is called Yom Hashoah. When the actual date of Yom Hashoah falls on a Friday, the state of Israel observes Yom Hashoah on the preceding Thursday. When it falls on a Sunday, Yom Hashoah is observed on the following Monday.  This year's date is May 5, 2016.

There are so many books that could be featured in this blog -- good books, important stories -- but this year I'm focusing on a newer title by Jennifer Roy.  Jars of Hope: How One Woman Helped Saved 2,500 Children During the Holocaust is a narrative nonfiction picture book on World War II hero Irena Sendler.

"Amid the horrors of World War II, Polish social worker Irena Sendler worked in the Warsaw Ghetto for Jews. When the Nazis began shipping Jews out of the ghetto in cattle cars, Irena started smuggling out babies and children to give them a chance to live. She hid babies in places like laundry piles, a carpenter’s tool box, or a potato sack, and she helped older children escape through underground sewer tunnels. After the children were out of the ghetto, Irena found safe places for them with foster families or in convents. Irena kept records of the children she helped smuggle away, and when she feared her work might be discovered, she buried her lists in jars, hoping to someday reunite the children with their parents."

Jars of Hope is a dramatic and sophisticated picture book that addresses themes of discrimination, courage, and friendship. If you want to share it with your children or your students, I highly recommend taking a look at the teacher's guide.

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Flying Frogs and Walking Fish

Steve Jenkins and Robin Page are the reigning husband-and-wife/author-illustrator team, and they have done it again!  Their newest animal nonfiction book is called Flying Frogs and Walking Fish: Leaping Lemurs, Tumbling Toads, Jet-Propelled Jellyfish, and More Surprising Ways That Animals Move, and it is "an informative exploration of animal mobility."  This means that amazing animals are walking, leaping, swimming, climbing, and flying all across its pages.  It is a must-read for all young animal enthusiasts, especially if you like any of the other recent releases from Jenkins and Page:

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