Walker's Bookshelf

The Adventure Zone: Murder on the Rockport Limited

This is the second book from the creators of The Adventure Zone roleplaying game podcast, the McElroys. The first one was set in a middle earth type environment and this one is now on a train (still with wizards and elves, but now there are trains involved). The first book was a hilarious send-up of D&D type games and this one makes jokes about mysteries and whodunits. Taako, Merle, and Magnus are back and on a mission to retrieve a lost (and powerful) artifact that is believed to be on the Rockport Limited train. Mishaps befall them, jokes are made, and a lot of laughter is had by all. Not as good as the first novel, but still a lot of fun.

The artwork by Carey Pietsch is detailed and humorous and really works with the RPG elements of the game, like having the Game Master pop up in little bubbles when he has to tell the players something. Aimed at teens and adults, there is some profanity and gore involved, but nothing over the top. A definite purchase for any YA or Adult graphic novel section where RPG games are big.

Youth Services

Escape Room Adventure

3D-printed robot we used for our Escape Room.

Every August for the past three years, Youth Services has taken part of the library and changed it into a kids’ escape room for one week.

What exactly is an “escape room?” In an escape room, you are given a scene and told what you have to do. Sometimes the goal is literally to escape the room! Other times it is to find something special such as a treasure or a missing will. You have exactly one hour to solve a series of puzzles and follow the clues in order to win.  Basically, escape rooms are a chance to live out your dreams of being a master detective!

There are several commercial escape rooms in the greater Portland area, but few are aimed at kids and they all cost money. Our completely free escape room allows kids of all ages to.

In 2017, the theme was “Don’t let the Pigeon ruin the library!” You had to find a way to lock up the Pigeon so that he couldn’t throw a wild cookie and hotdog party after the library closed.  Last year, participants were students at a wizarding school. The absent professor was going to expel you if you didn’t complete some magical tasks.

This year, we had a spaceship crash into the library and participants (expert scientists) had to stop the ship from exploding. We had our highest attendance ever this year. (101 of you took part in our space escape room! Wow!)

We are looking forward to creating another one in 2020.

Youth Services

The Traveling Dustballs

The Traveling Dustball is the second book in the BIG WORDS small stories series written by Judith Henderson and illustrated by T. L. McBeth. It is a graphic novel series of very short stories/chapters with one BIG WORD sprinkled in each tale. The Sprinkle Fairy likes to sprinkle big words around the book for kids to learn, so readers get introduced to words like “brouhaha,” “lollygagging,” and “phenomenon.” Each word is sounded out on the page and defined at the end of each story.

The drawings in this graphic novel are simple and silly, reminiscent of Captain Underpants or Dog Man’s stick figure illustrations. Each story is short and very silly. The main characters, Davey (a boy) and Abigail (a dog) get into a bunch of funny situations, starting with the discovery of a giant dustball that can take them wherever they want! Written for kids aged 5 through 8, kids will enjoy the funny stories and drawings and might pick up a few BIG WORDS along the way.

Kate also posts reviews on Maine Children’s and YA Book Review. For more reviews, please visit

Youth Services

Ms. Kate Reviews Juvenile Non-Fiction!

Today’s selection: “Poop Detectives: Working Dogs in the Field” by Ginger Wadsworth (Call number: JUV 636.7 Wadsworth)

If you love a good story about “unadoptable” shelter dogs and finding the perfect home for them, you’ll love this book. Yes, it is about poop (bear poop, tiger poop, fisher poop, porcupine poop). But it’s mostly about the awesome dogs that help find poop from different animals so that scientists can study the animals without having to trap and/or tranquilize them. Did you know that dogs can be trained to find whale poop in the ocean? What?!? True (the dogs stay on the boat; no swimming involved). They can also smell out sea turtle eggs so that they can be protected, find invasive snakes in the Florida Everglades, or owl pellets to keep track of owl populations. There are tons of photos, so while the book is written for grades 3 and up, your child may just enjoy listening to you read parts to them and looking at the pictures. I loved “Poop Detectives.”

Youth Services

Ms. Kate reviews Juvenile Non-Fiction!

Today’s selection: “Written in Bone: Buried Lives of Jamestown and Colonial Maryland” by Sally M. Walker (Call number: JUV 614 Walker)

I would suggest this book because it’s packed with interesting information about an archaeological dig site in James Fort in Jamestown, Virginia, examining bones and artifacts from the 1600s and 1700s. There is a lot of text, so this book is geared more towards middle schoolers through adults, but they also use a lot of photos and graphics to show and explain what you’re reading about. For example, there are lots of close up photographs of the skeletons they found and they get into detail about the various diseases the person probably hand and how you can tell this by looking at bones. If this sounds icky to you, I’d skip this one, but if you enjoy historical mysteries, you should give this book a try (they use the information they get from the graves and the historical records to figure out who is buried there). Great for a budding archaeologist or forensic scientist (or an adult who is fascinated by learning about the past).