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Walker's Bookshelf Youth Services

100th Anniversary of the 19th Ammendment

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment, which gives women the right to vote. Here’s a list of books you can borrow to explore the history of women’s suffrage.
We also encourage everyone to exercise their right to vote.

Voting Down the Rose: Florence Brooks Whitehouse and Maine’s Fight for Women Suffrage
by Anne B. Gass

Voting Down the Rose is a lively account of Maine native Florence Brooks Whitehouse’s efforts to win women voting rights in the decisive final years of the campaign, 1914-1920. Considered radical for picketing the White House, Florence helped win women suffrage against a backdrop of conservative views of women’s roles, political intrigues, WWI, and the 1918 influenza epidemic (Publisher).

The Woman’s Hour: The Great Fight to Win the Vote
by Elaine Weiss

Weiss (Fruits of Victory) chronicles the  crucial and contentious struggle to make Tennessee the  final state to ratify the  19th Amendment during the  sweltering summer of 1920. She traces the  history of the  suffrage movement, and profiles the  principle players. Social, political, regional, economic, and racial factors complicated the  fight. Suffragists were disunited; Carrie Catt (protégé of Susan B. Anthony) created the  National American Women  Suffrage Association, which warred with Alice Paul and Sue White’s radical National Woman’s  Party. Tennesseans and other Southerners used trickery to prevent the  imposition of yet another national amendment to invite federal election oversight and threaten white supremacy. Corporate interests believed female voters would threaten their corrupt stronghold over state government. President Woodrow Wilson courted women’s  votes to gain support for the  League of Nations, and waffling presidential candidates used the  suffrage issue to suit their advantage. VERDICT This well-researched and well-documented history reveals how prosuffragists sometimes compromised racial equality to win white women’s  enfranchisement, and that, although the  19th Amendment was ratified, there exists to this day an ongoing battle to effect universal, unrestricted suffrage. Essential for all libraries and readers interested in this vital issue. [See “Editors’ Spring Picks,” p. 29.] –Margaret Kappanadze (Reviewed 02/01/2018) (Library Journal, vol 143, issue 2, p113)

The Secret History of Wonder Woman
by Jill Lepore

New Yorker writer Lepore (David Woods Kemper ’41 Professor of History , Harvard Univ.) presents an engaging, well-researched look at the  unconventional family behind the  character and stories of Wonder Woman . The  author focuses on the  character’s creator, William Moulton Marston, and his family: Elizabeth Holloway Marston, his wife and partial inspiration for the  character; Olive Byrne, who lived with the  couple in a polyamorous relationship; and Margaret Huntley, who also lived with the  family on and off through the  years. Also featured are the  family’s four children: two with Holloway Marston and two with Byrne. Marston was a psychologist, one of the  originators of the  modern lie detector, and a fervent propagandist of  female sexual power, if not necessarily female emancipation. Lepore handles her potentially thorny topic well and manages to avoid being salacious or gossipy. Readers looking for an exploration of Wonder Woman  herself would do better to try Tim Hanley’s Wonder Woman  Unbound . Lepore uses the  character more as a touchstone to guide her exploration of the  Marston family. VERDICT Fans interested in the  background of the  character and readers who appreciate well-written popular history  will enjoy this thought-provoking volume. [See Prepub Alert, 4/21/14.]— Hanna Clutterbuck, Harvard Univ. Lib., Cambridge, MA –Hanna Clutterbuck (Reviewed September 15, 2014) (Library Journal, vol 139, issue 15, p96)

All the Single Ladies: Unmarried Women and the Rise of an Independent Nation
by Rebecca Traister

As Beyoncé sang, “Now put your hands up!” Today, only 20 percent of  adults under the  age of  29 are married, compared with nearly 60 percent in 1960, a dramatic shift in which unmarried women  played a major role. In this compelling narrative, Traister (Big Girls Don’t Cry: The  Election That Changed Everything) investigates how scores of single women  have contributed to important social and  political movements that have changed U.S. history—before and  after Betty Friedan and  Gloria Steinem. A thoughtful journalist, Traister explores the  history of the  “spinster” and  explains how issues such as class, race, sexuality, and  religion have impacted single women  throughout time, and  how they in return have influenced the  workplace, personal space, and the  concept of  family. In addition to her painstaking research, Traister includes stories from the  unattached ladies  themselves in more than 100 interviews and  draws on pop culture references such as Sex & the  City and  Bridesmaids. While the  image of the  free, independent woman  is considered a modern sensation, Traister reveals that she has always fought for the  right to own her self-identity as well as for the  rights of  others. VERDICT This fast-paced, fascinating book will draw in fans of  feminism, social sciences, and  U.S. history, similar to Gail Collins’s When Everything Changed. [See Prepub Alert, 9/28/15.] –Venessa Hughes (Reviewed 02/15/2016) (Library Journal, vol 141, issue 3, p121)

A Lady Has the Floor: Belva Lockwood Speaks Out for Women’s Rights
by Kate Hannigan

Hannigan presents an invigorating account of the life of Belva Lockwood, taking readers from her childhood in Niagara County, N.Y., to her career as one of the first women lawyers in the U.S. to her 1884 run for president (“Are women not worth the same as men? Belva spent her whole life asking that question.”). Working in her distinctively crackled folk style, Jay depicts powerful moments of resistance and courage from Lockwood’s life—whether storming into a classroom or protesting before the Supreme Court. Endnotes provide a timeline of Lockwood’s life and beyond, highlighting significant events in the ongoing fight for women’s rights and concluding with Hillary Clinton’s 2016 presidential run. Ages 9–12. Author’s agent: Jennifer Mattson, Andrea Brown Literary. Illustrator’s agent: Lorraine Owen, the Organisation. (Jan.) –Staff (Reviewed 11/20/2017) (Publishers Weekly, vol 264, issue 47, p)

Around America to Win the Vote: Two Suffragist, a Kitten, and 10,000 Miles
by Mara Rockliff

A car made up of bright primary colors—yellow hood, blue doors, and red luggage compartment—transports suffragists Nell Richardson and Alice Burke, a kitten, and readers across the United States all in the name of “Votes for Women!” Throughout, the pacing is excellent, and Rockliff begins the adventure with a litany of items found inside the petite yellow vehicle (“tools,/spare parts,/a teeny-tiny typewriter”) and introduces Richardson and Burke and emphasizes their determination to get the word out (“V. for W.!”). Readers will follow the two women (and their kitten) from New York City to Philadelphia, through a blizzard, a stop at an all-yellow luncheon, a stint in a circus parade, and more as they drive down South and along the U.S. and Mexican border all the way to California and back. Rockliff communicates the boundless energy of these two figures and adds touches of humor to lift the narrative; this small but significant historical moment is presented as accessible and fun without undermining the importance of Richardson, Burke, and the fight for women’s equality. Hooper shows the women working together (a concluding image of Richardson handing Burke a daffodil is wonderful), the curiosity and interest on the faces of passersby (mainly white folks), and the dress and style of the times. While this is an excellent introduction to the efforts of suffragists, when discussing this text and the Nineteenth Amendment, librarians may want to clarify that statements such as “At last, American women had won the right to vote” (mentioned in the back matter section titled “Winning the Vote”) did not always reflect the reality of African American women and other women of color, who often faced legal and illegal barriers to vote (especially in the South) until well into the 1960s. VERDICT Prepare for the arrival of the “little yellow car” into the hearts of readers; this charming and vibrant account of two lesser-known figures will bolster historical collections.—Della Farrell, School Library Journal –Della Farrell (Reviewed 07/01/2016) (School Library Journal, vol 62, issue 7, p95)

A Time for Courage: The Suffragette Diary of Kathleen Bowen
by Kathryn Lasky

Kat Bowen records her days in Washington, DC, in a diary from her mother. A typical 13-year-old from a well-to-do family, she expresses her dreams and hopes as she recounts her thoughts on school, homework, relationships, parties, and her special bond with her cousin Alma. As the early days of 1917 pass, Kat becomes increasingly aware of the political issues that are prevalent, particularly the inevitable involvement of the U.S. in World War I and women’s suffrage. Her physician father is quietly supportive of his wife’s activism in the movement, while his brother-in-law, Alma’s father, demeans it and forbids the women in his family to participate in any way. Kat soon joins her mother sewing banners and bringing hot bricks for warmth on the picket line. Lasky entwines some of the real characters of the day with her fictional figures. She gives a good overview of the harsh treatment these women endured during their picketing and imprisonment and touches on divorce, the plight of African-American citizens in the South, and President Wilson’s disinterest in rights for women. Kat is well developed into a young woman whose exposure to the politics and consequences allow her to mature and decide what true liberty and justice for all really means. A historical note and reproductions of photos are appended.–Rita Soltan, Baldwin Public Library, Birmingham, MI –Rita Soltan (Reviewed August 1, 2002) (School Library Journal, vol 48, issue 8, p190)

The Firefly Letters: A Suffragette’s Journey to Cuba
by Margarita Engle

This engaging title documents 50-year-old Swedish suffragette and novelist Fredrika Bremer’s three-month travels around Cuba in 1851. Based in the  home of a wealthy sugar planter, Bremer journeys around the  country with her host’s teenaged slave Cecilia, who longs for her mother and home in the  Congo. Elena, the  planter’s privileged 12-year-old daughter, begins to accompany them on their trips into the  countryside. Both Elena and Cecilia are inspired by their guest’s independence, Elena to wonder if she can avoid eventual marriage and Cecilia to dream of freedom for her unborn child. Using elegant free verse and alternating among each character’s point of view, Engle offers powerful glimpses into Cuban life at that time. Along the  way, she comments on slavery, the  rights of women, and the  stark contrast between Cuba’s rich and poor. The  author takes some license with the  real Bremer’s journey; Elena is fictional, which the  author is careful to point out in her author’s note. She also includes a reference list for readers who want to learn more about Bremer. The  easily digestible, poetic narrative makes this a perfect choice for reluctant readers, students of the  women’s movement, those interested in Cuba, and teens with biography assignments.—Leah J. Sparks, formerly at Bowie Public Library, MD –Leah J. Sparks (Reviewed February 1, 2010) (School Library Journal, vol 56, issue 2, p129)

Categories
Walker's Bookshelf Youth Services

Saturday Hours and New Books

The library will now be open on Saturdays from 9am to 1pm starting January 4th. To celebrate, here is a list of new books that you can borrow.

Salsa Lullaby
by Jen Arena

When nighttime falls, it’s time for baby to go to sleep. In this household, that means it’s also time for mama, papa, and baby to baila/dance, canta/sing, salta/jump, and more all the way to bedtime!

Just Because
by Mac Barnett

Why is the ocean blue? What is the rain? What happened to the dinosaurs? It might be time for bed, but one child is too full of questions about the world to go to sleep just yet. Little ones and their parents will be charmed and delighted as a patient father offers up increasingly creative responses to his child’s nighttime wonderings.

Please Don’t Eat Me
by Liz Climo

When a carefree bunny is approached by a voracious bear in the woods, Bunny has just one request: “Please don’t eat me.”
But the bear has a never-ending list of requests, and Bunny realizes maybe Bear isn’t as hungry as he’d let on…maybe he just wants his new friend’s company for a while.This witty and poignant exploration of predator and prey will have children and parents alike roaring with laughter–and looking for their next meal.

Just In Case You Want to Fly
by Julie Fogliano

A joyful, inclusive cast of children fly, sing, and wish their way across the pages, with everything they could ever need–a cherry if you need a snack, and if you get itchy here’s a scratch on the back–to explore the world around them.

The Perfect Secret
by Rob Buyea

Gavin, Randi, Scott, Trevor, and Natalie are back for seventh grade, and they have a big goal for the year: to get their teachers Mrs. Magenta and Mrs. Woods to mend their broken relationship. Although the five friends have discovered their teachers’ secret , that they are mother and daughter, this won’t be the only secret the kids find themselves keeping over the course of the school year.

Weird Little Robots
by Carolyn Crimi

Eleven-year-old Penny Rose loves creating little robots from discarded bits and pieces. She creates Sharpie from dentures, iPam from a cell phone, and Fraction from a calculator. Still, she’s lonely. When she overcomes her shyness and befriends Lark, they share a fascination with science and with making things. Soon they also share a remarkable secret: the robots are alive!

Kitten Construction Company: A Bridge Too Fur
by John Patrick Green

Marmalade and her crew of construction kittens are in high demand! Their latest assignment (and biggest job yet) is to build the new Mewburg bridge. But with the bridge comes the one thing that cats hate most of all—water! As the team struggles to face their fears and do their jobs, they are forced to get help from some unlikely allies. . . slobbery, car-chasing DOGS.

Look Both Ways
by Jason Reynolds

How do you invest a reader in a short-story collection? Begin with the promise of “a school bus falling from the sky.” This tease kickstarts the book, exciting the imagination before embarking—like a bus—on a neighborhood tour. Ten stories are told in parallel, each following different middle-graders home from school (Ronny Khuri, Booklist, v.115, n.22).

The Beautiful
by Renée Ahdieh

When Celine arrives in New Orleans fresh from Paris, she’s looking for a new start. It’s 1872, and options for a woman alone are limited, but Celine, who has dark secrets in her past, is determined to find a way. Celine finds herself falling in love with New Orleans, which, in the middle of carnival season, has a wild, seductive beauty. But the city has its dangers: Celine meets Bastien, a man she is attracted to but resists, who is at the forefront of a mysterious group active in the city’s underworld. And a vicious serial killer begins stalking the city (Maggie Reagan, Booklist, v.115, n.22).

All-American Muslim Girl
by Nadine Jolie Courtney

Living just outside Atlanta, Allie Abraham is the daughter of a Texas-born American history professor who is Circassian. Allie has hazel eyes, pale skin, and blonde hair, and she’s always been encouraged to keep her Muslim heritage secret for safety and convenience, but when she’s out with her father, people “take one look and decide he’s clearly From Somewhere Else.” Now, feeling compelled to embrace the religion her father turned away from, she begins to explore what it means to be Muslim while encountering prejudice in the American South, including from those who don’t consider her “Muslim enough” (Publisher’s Weekly, v. 266, i. 39).

The How & the Why
by Cynthia Hand

Being adopted as a baby has given Cass a good life with loving parents and the best friend ever. But now that she’s 18, she feels the urge to search for the woman who gave her life. Little by little—while still mindful of her parents’ feelings—Cass chips away at the blank wall dividing her from information she desperately needs in order to complete her sense of self. The narrative is told via two alternating voices that are rich and distinct: Cass’, as she moves through her senior year, and her 16-year-old birth mother’s, relayed in a series of letters written to the baby while she was pregnant. Their individual issues, dreams, needs, and visions are beautifully rendered and superbly shaped (Jeanne Fredriksen, Booklist, v.116, n.2).

The Miracles of the Namiya General Store
by Keigo Higashino

When three delinquents hole up in an abandoned general store after their most recent robbery, to their great surprise, a letter drops through the mail slot in the store’s shutter. This seemingly simple request for advice sets the trio on a journey of discovery as, over the course of a single night, they step into the role of the kindhearted former shopkeeper who devoted his waning years to offering thoughtful counsel to his correspondents (Publisher).

The Secret Commonwealth
by Philip Pullman

Twenty years after the events of La Belle Sauvage, and eight years after those of the His Dark Materials trilogy, this second volume in Pullman’s Book of Dust series blends spy thriller, otherworldly travelogue, and philosophical musing. Twenty-year-old Lyra Silvertongue’s student life in Oxford is upended when her daemon, Pantalaimon, witnesses an incident that entangles them with a covert agency to which Malcolm Polstead belongs, impelling Malcolm to investigate a shift in the global power balance. Meanwhile, Lyra’s fascination with a logic-obsessed, daemon-omitting novel causes Pan to decamp in search of her imagination. Tracked by a young alethiometer savant named Bonneville, Lyra furtively sets out for the Levant, searching for a rumored refuge for separated daemons (Publisher’s Weekly, v.266, i.40).

Cursed
by Thomas Wheeler

Nimue’s druid mother lies dying, she charges her daughter with delivering something to the mage Merlin. The package contains the fey-created Sword of Power, aka the Devil’s Tooth, whose possession marks the One True King—or queen in Nimue’s case. Nimue, Arthur, Morgan, and their allies seek peace and a home for her people, but the Pendragon King Uther, among others, is intent on claiming the sword for himself, and Nimue knows the sword is both weapon and curse for those who own it (Cindy Welch, Booklist, v. 115, n.22).

Beyond a Reasonable Stout
by Ellie Alexander

In this third mystery featuring amateur sleuth Sloan Krause, she and her partner in crime (and in business) Garrett Strong are stocking up on a new line of craft in their small brewery after the Oktoberfest. When Kristopher Cooper, council member, runs for re-election, he promises to ban alcohol in Leavenworth. Folks in town do not like the idea. Soon, Cooper is found stabbed to death. Will Krause be up to the case?

Celestial Bodies
by Jokha Alharthi

Alharthi’s ambitious, intense novel—her first to be translated into English and winner of the 2019 Man Booker International Prize—examines the radical changes in Oman over the past century from the perspectives of the members of several interconnected families. With exhilarating results, Alharthi throws the reader into the midst of a tangled family drama in which unrequited love, murder, suicide, and adultery seem the rule rather than the exception (Publisher’s Weekly, v. 266, i. 33).

Future Tense Fiction
Edited by Kirsten Berg

Future Tense Fiction is a collection of electrifying original stories from a veritable who’s-who of authors working in speculative literature and science fiction today. Featuring Carmen Maria Machado, Emily St. John Mandel, Charlie Jane Anders, Nnedi Okorafor, Paolo Bacigalupi, Madeline Ashby, Mark Oshiro, Meg Elison, Maureen F. McHugh, Deji Bryce Olukotun, Hannu Rajaniemi, Annalee Newitz, Lee Konstantinou, and Mark Stasenko—Future Tense Fiction points the way forward to the fiction of tomorrow (Publisher description).

Galway Girl
by Ken Bruen

In this 15th Jack Taylor novel, the Irish cop-turned-sometime private investigator is still mourning the murder of his daughter, though he has avenged her death. Meanwhile, someone is systematically killing members of the Garda, and Jack is asked to investigate quietly. Nothing is simple in a Taylor tale, however. Terry Stapleton blames Jack for the death of his father, Amy Fadden tries to frame Jack for the death of her son’s killer, and a psycho female named Jericho plots Jack’s death while taunting him with cryptic messages. Jack and Jericho take turns attacking each other’s friends before a bizarre finale brings some closure (Roland Person, Library Journal, v. 144, i.10).

The Remaking
by Clay McLeod Chapman


The Witch Girl of Pilot’s Creek is an urban legend based on Ella Louise Ford and her daughter Jessica, who in 1931 were blamed when a baby was stillborn after the mother took one of Ella’s herbal remedies, and were burned as witches. The townsmen buried Ella in the woods and then buried Jessica under six feet of concrete in a grave surrounded by crosses. Locals say that Jessica rises from the grave on the anniversary of her death. When a former resident comes home to make a film based on Jessica’s story, he unleashes a series of events that show why it’s best to leave ghosts alone (Lynnanne Pearson, Booklist, v. 166, #2).

The Innocents
by Michael Crummey

In this fifth novel from Giller Prize short-listed Crummey, Evered and Ada live in a shack with their parents in an isolated cove somewhere along the coast of Newfoundland. When their parents die, the children are left to fend for themselves, and with barely a notion of the outside world, they struggle tenaciously to rise above the deprivation suddenly thrust upon them (Stephen Schmidt, Library Journal, v. 144, i.8).

I Will Never See the World Again: The Memoir of an Imprisoned Writer
by Ahmet Altan

A Turkish political prisoner opposes his imagination to the grim reality of oppression in this sometimes harrowing, sometimes luminous memoir. After the failed 2016 coup attempt by members of the Turkish military, novelist Altan was arrested along with his brother Mehmet by President Recep Erdogan’s government and prosecuted for sending “subliminal messages” to coup plotters on a TV show, being a “religious putschist,” and being a “Marxist terrorist,” and was sentenced to life in prison (Publisher’s Weekly, v.266, i.33).

The Accusation: Blood Libel in an American Town
by Edward Berenson

NYU history professor Berenson provides a comprehensive look at a little-known episode of American anti-Semitism in this thoughtful history. In 1928, shortly after four-year-old Barbara Griffiths failed to return home from an errand, rumors circulated in her Upstate New York town that she had been the victim of Jews who intended to use her blood for ritual purposes. That baseless theory was endorsed by both the mayor of the village of Massena and the lead police investigator, who called in the local rabbi for an interrogation. The slander was rebutted when an unharmed Barbara resurfaced the next day, explaining that she’d gotten lost and had fallen asleep in the woods (Publisher’s Weekly, v. 266, i.26).

A Human Algorithm: How Artificial Intelligence is Redefining Who We Are
by Flynn Coleman

A Human Algorithm: How Artificial Intelligence Is Redefining Who We Are examines the immense impact intelligent technology will have on humanity. These machines, while challenging our personal beliefs and our socioeconomic world order, also have the potential to transform our health and well-being, alleviate poverty and suffering, and reveal the mysteries of intelligence and consciousness. International human rights attorney Flynn Coleman deftly argues that it is critical that we instill values, ethics, and morals into our robots, algorithms, and other forms of AI (Publisher’s description).

Stealing Green Mangoes: Two Brothers, Two Fates, One Indian Childhood
by Sunil Dutta

Dutta (Bloodlines: The Imperial Roots of Terrorism in South Asia) tells the story of his life and that of his brother, Raju, both of which began similarly but continued down very different paths owing to the choices they made. Dutta explains how members of his Muslim family were victims of violence in their home country. Their crime: practicing a faith unaccepted by the majority, which resulted in their fleeing the region once the Hindus gained control in 1947. This memoir begins with the author learning about a troubling incident involving Raju, then travels back in time, detailing the author’s life chronologically, starting as a young boy who heard of daily violent acts committed against people because of their faith (Susan E. Montgomery, Library Journal, v. 144, i. 5).

Agent Jack: The True Story of MI5’s Secret Nazi Hunter
by Robert Hutton

In this meticulous WWII espionage history, Bloomberg UK correspondent Hutton (Romps, Tots and Boffins) relates the story of British spy Eric Roberts and the Fifth Column, a secret MI5 operation to identify Nazi sympathizers in the U.K. Posing as Gestapo agent “Jack King,” Roberts recruited more than 500 British fascists to help prepare for the German invasion of England. In reality, the would-be saboteurs were under close watch by MI5’s countersabotage division (Publisher’s Weekly, vol. 266, i.36).

How to Give Up Plastic: A Guide to Changing the World, One Plastic Bottle at a Time
by Will McCallum

How to Give Up Plastic is a straightforward guide to eliminating plastic from your life. Going room by room through your home and workplace, Greenpeace activist Will McCallum teaches you how to spot disposable plastic items and find plastic-free, sustainable alternatives to each one. From carrying a reusable straw, to catching microfibers when you wash your clothes, to throwing plastic-free parties, you’ll learn new and intuitive ways to reduce plastic waste (Publisher’s description).

Nancy: A Comic Collection
by Olivia Jaimes

In 2018, Olivia Jaimes became the first woman to write and illustrate the classic comic strip Nancy. Her fresh, irreverent take on the classic comic strip has become a sensation with readers and has earned praise from dozens of media outlets, several of which have named it the best comic of the year. This hardcover collection includes the first nine months of Jaimes’ run on Nancy, along with an introduction, essay, interview with the author, and a special gallery of Nancy fan art by the author.

Clyde Fans
by Seth

Seth presents an intimate epic spanning four decades in the lives of brothers Abe and Simon Matchcard, the owners of an electric fan company in Toronto. Opening in 1997, with an elderly Abe delivering a long, captivating monologue about his successes as a salesman and ultimate failure as a businessman after the advent of air conditioning leads to a decline in demand for electric fans , the story flashes back to 1957 to focus on Simon. A much more sensitive and poetic soul than Abe, Simon endures one humiliation after another during an ill-fated attempt to prove himself a capable salesman before experiencing an epiphany that sets the course for the rest of both brothers’ lives (Tom Batten, Library Journal, v. 144, i. 5).

Commute
by Erin Williams

Williams chronicles the everyday humiliation she feels as a female in this frankly illustrated war cry. The events she recounts are simple: Williams wakes, dresses, takes the train, works, comes home, and cares for her infant daughter. Throughout, she delves into flashbacks of trauma, frustrated fury, experiences with substance abuse and sobriety, self-criticism, and, ultimately, triumphant discovery through friendship and the love of other women and their creativity. In loose-but-evocative, spare lines, often depicting only the barest contours of the body, Williams identifies the persistent harm done to women, through everything from ogling to rape, how that harm is internalized, and how women cope (Publisher’s Weekly, v. 266, i. 23).

All descriptions are taken from the publisher and/or NoveList Plus, unless otherwise specified.

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Walker's Bookshelf Youth Services

Books in the Spotlight: Young Adult Books Focusing on Family

With the Holidays upon us, most of us think about spending time with our family. Here are some young adult titles that focus on family stories and prove how important familial bonds are.


The Last True Poets of the Sea by Julia Drake

The premise: A modern re-telling of Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night, the novel chronicles the story of a wild, sixteen-year-old named Violet. After her younger brother was sent to the hospital in Vermont and her partying got out of control, Violet’s parents sent her to live with her Uncle in the coast of Maine. There, she finds herself intrigued by her great-great-great-grandmother who was the sole survivor of a shipwreck and was the founder of the town.

Why you might like it: While the themes explored are heavy subjects, the book’s tone at times are funny and the characters feel authentic. If you like books such as All the Bright Places by Jennifer Niven or It’s Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini, you would like The Last True Poets of the Sea.

Bonus: Even though it’s a fictional town, it is set in Maine.


The Liars of Mariposa Island by Jennifer Mathieu

What happens: Set in the 1980s, this a moving tale of the Finney family as it chronicles their journey through struggles and hardships. It explores family dynamics and posits questions about one’s identity.

Reason to pick it up: The characters are well-developed that we could easily relate with; the book is suspenseful and fast-paced.

What critics have to say: According to Booklist, “Mathieu masterfully invests readers in the the characters’ origin stories, emotions, and motives. Her descriptions of the various settings over time and space are vivid and pulsating, immersing the audience in the psyches and nostalgia of each narrator.”


The Revolution of Birdie Randolph by Brandy Colbert

What it’s about: High-achieving 16-year-old Birdie tries hard to live up to her strict parents’ expectations, even if it means hiding how close she’s getting with Booker (a sweet guy who spent time in juvie) and her Aunt Carlene (who just got out of rehab, again). As it turns out, though, Birdie’s not the only one keeping secrets.

For fans of: the authentic characters and complicated-yet-caring families in books by Angie Thomas and Elizabeth Acevedo.


Thirteen Doorways, Wolves Behind Them All by Laura Ruby

Featuring: fourteen-year-old Frankie, abandoned by her father in a Chicago orphanage during the lead-up to World War II; and Pearl, the ghost who watches over her.

What happens: While Pearl tries to reconcile her own tragic life and death, she watches Frankie grapple with poverty, family instability, falling in love, and the search for meaning in a harsh world.

Who it’s for: Fans of author Laura Ruby’s Bone Gap will enjoy this similarly subtle, strange, and thought-provoking story.

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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.

Categories
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 http://www.mslbookreview.org.

Categories
Youth Services

Ms. Kate Reviews Young Adult Fiction

If you’re looking for a modern Young Adult mystery that reminds you of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle or Agatha Christie’s work, I highly recommend the “Truly Devious” series by Maureen Johnson. Stevie Bell has been accepted to a prestigious high school in the mountains of Vermont, but the high school has a dark past: the famous and wealthy tycoon who created the school had his wife and daughter kidnapped and nobody ever found them. The only clue was a ransom note signed by “Truly Devious.” Stevie is a huge fan of detective stories and true crime and has been studying the case for years. She thinks she may be able to solve it once she gets to school.

The book skips between the 1930s and present day, back to when the kidnapping happened and then returning to Stevie’s investigation. Besides trying to solve the cold case, Stevie is also making friends and adjusting to the eclectic campus and classes at Ellingham Academy. I don’t want to spoil anything, but more crimes and mysteries happen and Stevie has to solve them.

I flew through “Truly Devious” and the second book, “The Vanishing Stair,” but BE WARNED! The third book in the series won’t be out until January of 2020, so some of the mysteries will remain unsolved until then!

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Youth Services

New Literacy Tool Available for Checkout!

The starling is an easy way to see how many words your baby is hearing each day and to set goals for tracking and increasing that amount if you’d like to. 

We’re lending it out for 3 weeks, the same as books, along with stacking cups, a few books, and information about the device and tips for working with your child. 

Even if you’re just curious about how many words your baby is hearing per day, it’s a neat tool to use.  It’s very light and shouldn’t bother your baby. However, if it does, you could also wear it on yourself.  Check it out or reserve it today!

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Youth Services

Book Recommendation Resources

Have you ever finished a book, put it down, and immediately thought to yourself, what now?  Or have you waited a whole year for the next book in a series to come out, and before you start reading it, you wish you could have a reminder of what happened in the last one?  Well, have I got some suggestions for you!

Recaptains is a website that has summaries of book series. You can search for particular books or look through their alphabetical list by author.  Do they have every series? No. But they do have a lot. And if they have what you’re looking for, it’s incredibly useful. They don’t just include summaries and major plot points. They include everything you’re going to want to remember before you jump into the next book in the series.  You can also request a recap on the site.

NoveList is a database that you can access through the library website. Scroll down to the blue Research tab. If you’re only searching for kids books, you can select NoveList K-8. If you want all books at your disposal, choose NoveList Plus. There are several different ways to use this awesome database.  On the left hand side, you can choose age ranges and genres to get recommendation lists. If you choose “browse by” on the top orange banner and choose “appeal” you can search by pace, storyline, writing style, and more. And my favorite way to use NoveList for recommendations is to put one of my favorite books in the search bar. Click on the book listing, and on the right hand side you’ll find a list of readalikes. You can click on each book to read about it, and each book will have its own list of readalikes.  NoveList is a great resource for finding more books to read. Check out both of these resources the next time you’re looking to start a new book!

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Youth Services

Ms. Kate Reviews Juvenile Non-Fiction

“Gecko,” written by Raymond Huber and illustrated by Brian Lovelock is a beautiful picture book that not only gives you the story of a day in the life of a gecko, but it’s also full of interesting facts about them! Geckos are incredibly cute big-eyed reptiles. When I was in middle school, I carried around a plastic gecko that I had named “Ferguson,” (amazingly enough, this did not make me less cool than I already was) and experienced the joy of having a gecko with none of the responsibilities. Though I never got a pet gecko, they remain one of my favorite reptiles.

“Gecko” is full of excitement (a hawk and a rat both try to eat the gecko) and gross-ish stuff that many kids love (the gecko sheds his skin and then eats it), without being gory. The watercolor, ink, and colored pencil illustrations are bright and beautiful.

I enjoyed that you can just read the story if you want to, or you can just learn gecko facts, or do both! Two thumbs up from Ferguson and me!

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Youth Services

Ms. Kate’s Graphic Novel Pick of the Month

New Shoes by Sara Varon – Juv GN Varon

“New Shoes” by Sara Varon is a graphic novel set in South America. The main character, Francis the Donkey, is a local shoemaker who uses products from the area to make his amazing shoes. One day he gets an order from the famous calypso singer, Miss Manatee. He is so excited to make her shoes, but he has run out of tiger grass from the jungle. Nigel, a monkey, brings him a new batch of tiger grass every week, but he has gone missing! Now Francis, who has never left his village before, must travel into the jungle to collect the grass. Along the way he meets a lot of awesome friends and learns about the plants and animals there.

I enjoyed that Francis brings his own guidebook to learn about the forest, so he learns about different animals that live there. His new friends also teach him about different plants and fruits that he can eat. Did you know that there is a fruit called the “Stinking Toe Fruit?” Sara Varon also labels the animals that he passes by along the way, just in case you want to look up info about them later.

At the end of the book, the author and illustrator includes several reference photos that she took while visiting Guyana and then tells you what each one inspired in the story. The book seems heavy and long, but it is a fun and quick read with lots of funny and bright illustrations. Check out Sara Varon’s “New Shoes” from us today!