The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu

Everyone knew all the rumors about Alice.

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I mean, she’d had sex with two boys in one night, right? But can you really believe everything that you hear? Sometimes you should just go with your gut.

The events that surrounded Alice Franklin’s eventual fall from popularity are some that had me thinking that teenagers are so superficial. Supposedly, Alice sleeps with two boys at a party and before you know it, the rumor has spread around town. Everyone knows about it. But, to make matters worse, the popular quarterback dies in a car crash and she is also blamed for his death.

As a teenager, I wouldn’t say that I was a social outcast. I wasn’t a part of the popular clique, but I was a cheerleader, so everyone knew who I was. But, I didn’t have a car or wear the latest designer clothes, so in that aspect, I could almost relate to just about every character in this book.

This book is told from the point of view of four different people that are either directly or indirectly involved with Alice. There is Elaine, who was the on and off girlfriend of Brandon, one of the guys that Alice is rumored to have slept with and also the guy that passes away. There is Kelsie, Alice’s former best friend, who was once a social outcast. She turns her back on Alice once the rumors begin to swirl. Then there is Josh, Brandon’s best friend and Kurt, the school nerd, who harbors deep feelings for Alice.

Masterfully written, The Truth About Alice is a teenaged cliché, woven into the book pages. It brings to light those rumors we heard as children, about words not hurting and crushes them into tiny dust particles. Words can sting to the core. I felt strange emotions for Alice and wanted to hug her and tell her that things would eventually work themselves out. I like how the author told the story from different perspectives and allowed each character to have their own reasons as to why they treated Alice the way that they did. My favorite character above all was Kurt. He won my heart because no matter what people thought about him, he simply didn’t care.

I’m giving this book five stars. Why? Because it deserves them. It is by far one of the best young adult books that I read in 2014. Great job, Ms. Mathieu!

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by Damera, Okolona Branch

In Defense of Comics, pt. 2: Take the Challenge!

In a previous article, In Defense of Comics, I closed with a challenge to those who do not normally read comics to try one out.  Of course, picking a title to get started on can be difficult for the novice.  But as I was working up a best of list for this year’s graphic novels, it struck me that this could be a perfect opportunity to assist the those who would like to take me up on that challenge.

The list below comprises some of my favorite comics which I read in the past year (whether or not they were published in 2014).  There are twelve titles in alphabetical (rather than rank) order.  Many of the titles are ongoing series so I have just named each series as a whole rather than any specific volume.  I have separately given both the author and main artist for each title (except for those titles where the author and the artist are the same person). 

To make it easier still, all of these works can be checked out from LFPL.  You can click the title and it will take you to the item’s record in our catalog.  If it is not available at the branch you wish to go to, you may have the item shipped there by placing a request (using the button on the right hand side of the entry). 

I suggest that one volume (or series) be read each month in 2015 so that you can become comfortable with the medium.  Notice I said medium not genre.  The works below span several genres – and only two can be said to be of the superhero genre – but they are all clearly using the comic medium.

So, here goes:

Bandette by Paul Tobin & Colleen Coover

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Bandette is a teenaged thief but she’s the most stylish and fun thief you’ll ever meet.  Watch as she defies both the police and the criminal underworld with her wits and panache in this giddy adventure appropriate for children but charming enough to capture adult hearts.  Line art by Colleen Coover is in the Franco-Belgian style and colors are applied in a painterly manner harking back to America’s (then-contemporary) view of Paris in the late 1950’s or 60’s.

 

Battling Boy by Paul Pope

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Son of a fierce warrior god, Battling Boy comes to Earth for his initiation rites.  He lands in Acropolis as it is menaced by a series of monsters and quickly becomes its latest hero (now that the city’s former defender, vigilante Haggard West, has recently died).   Paul Pope, both author and artist, brings his edgy punk rock style to this tale that will appeal to superhero, fantasy, and manga fans alike.

 

Fatale by Ed Brubaker & Sean Phillips

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Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips continue their award-winning approach to this tale of crime noir (of course) mixed with horror in the vein of H.P. Lovecraft.  The book’s title gets its name from the main character, femme fatale Jo, who is stalked across the 20th Century by an ancient evil power.  The art is perfectly pulpy and creepy as befits a tale filled with crooked cops, Nazi spies, Satanic cults, snuff films, and other dark matter.

 

Ghostopolis by Doug TenNapel

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Ghostopolis is a boy’s adventure tale.  The protagonist, Garth Hale, is accidentally zapped to the spirit world by failing ghost hunter, Frank Gallows.  In the spirit world, Garth meets his grandfather’s ghost, Cecil, and the two go on a quest to find a way back home for Garth.  Along the way, the evil ruler of Ghostopolis tries to take control of our hero as Garth has manifested powers that the spirits do not have.  TenNapel‘s art is energetic and the page layouts are well-designed to keep the reader engaged in the story and ready to flip to the next page.

 

The Grand Duke by Yann & Romain Hugault

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The Grand Duke, gorgeously rendered by Romain Hugault, is a non-fiction tale set in the waning days of World War II.  It centers around a unit of the Luftwaffe and the Night Witches, a real life women’s air corps that flew for the Soviet Union, as they battle it out in the skies over Eastern Europe.  Despite knowing how history turns out, the author keeps the reader engrossed as both sides raggedly pursue war’s end against great material odds and low morale.

 

Hopeless Savages by Jen Van Meter & Christine Norrie

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The perils of punk rock parenting in suburbia with romance, intrigue, and reality TV are explored in this quirky, hip collection of tales.  Due  to the number of artists that have worked on the series over the years, there is no one style that dominates other than it’s all in black and white.  

 

Lazarus by Greg Rucka & Michael Lark

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Lazarus is a dystopian tale set in the near enough future that it sometimes feels scary, as if all that it would take for the events in the story to happen is a few bad years where government breaks down and corporations step into the void.  Lazarus’ main character, Forever Carlyle, is her family’s main protector and enforcer of the harsh set of formal and informal rules that keep them in power.  While in many ways a stereotypical strong female protagonist, Forever comes across as very real.  Rucka deftly shows us how her contradictions and weaknesses form Forever’s motivations.  Michael Lark‘s art combines science fiction and crime elements in a perfect blend with colorist Santiago Arcas‘ subtle use of shade and tone.

 

Peter Panzerfaust by Kurtis Wiebe & Tyler Jenkins

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Peter Panzerfaust is a retelling of the J.M. Barrie classic story.  The setting is World War II and the charismatic Peter helps a band of orphans survive the German invasion of France.  Soon the group is pursued by an SS officer that Peter wounded in their escape but they are also given assistance by members of the French Resistance, including the alluring Tiger Lily.  Tyler Jenkins manages to blend fantasy art and combat action art into a style akin to noir but which is much more lively and fantastic in tone.  His composition moves the story along effortlessly, shifting from standard panels to open space with ease.

 

Scalped by Jason Aaron & R.M. Guéra

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Scalped is a dark crime noir story that takes place mostly on the Pine Ridge Reservation in South Dakota, home to the deeply impoverished Oglala Nation (also known as the Lakota).  This is a sordid environment where the very worst in people is explored during an undercover assignment taken on by the reservation’s own prodigal son, F.B.I. Special Agent Dashiell Bad Horse.  Readers are witness to harrowing drug and alcohol addiction, ultraviolence, and spiritual desolation as Bad Horse attempts to bring to justice the reservation’s Chief Lincoln Red crow, a former Native American radical now turned mob boss.  Grim and dirty – even ugly at times – art by R.M.  Guéra helps convey the sense that the world the characters live in is terribly damaged.

 

The Superior Foes of Spider-Man by Nick Spencer & Steve Lieber

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Spider-Man is one of the quintessential characters that people think of when they think of superheroes. However, this is not your quintessential superhero book. In fact, neither Spider-Man nor any other superhero appear in the tale much at all. No, this is character-driven book that looks at the other side of the equation, what it would be like to be a supervillain.  Much like another recent Marvel title, Hawkeye, this comic rests on a sturdy foundation of humor and rough art to convey the working class nature of its characters (i.e., the Sinister Six) as they clumsily attempt to carry off a variety of criminal jobs.

 

Thief of Thieves by Robert Kirkman & various artists

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This is a straight up heist tale about a veteran thief working a last big score with his crew, the comic equivalent of Ocean’s Eleven. One twist is that this veteran, Redmond, is not just working for himself but to save the life of his wannabe yet ne’er-do-well son, Augustus, from a major crime boss to whom Augustus is heavily indebted. The art varies (as different artists were utilized over the run of the series so far) but as a whole, it is a mix of noir and mainstream comic styles that are appropriately gritty.

 

Watson and Holmes by Brandon Perlow & Paul Mendoza

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Sherlock Holmes and John Watson together again!  Sort of.  This time, they are a pair of African-Americans who investigate crimes in New York City.  The art is not easy to pigeonhole into one genre though the use of color and setting do clearly give it the feel of a mystery.  Everyone from Doyle‘s classic tales, from Inspector Lestrade to Sherlock’s Irregulars, makes an appearance at some point as the duo are embroiled in a case that involves drugs, gangs, and guns.

Reviews by Tony, Main Library


If you are interested in discussing these titles or other works of sequential art, please join us at one of the following LFPL book discussion groups:

Graphic Novel Discussion Group @ Main

Meetings are held at the Main Library on the second Monday of every month, starting at 6:00 PM.

Graphic Novel and Comic Book Discussion @ Fairdale

Meetings are held at the Fairdale Branch on the first Tuesday of every month, starting at 6:00 PM.

The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs

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I confess a deep, lifelong love of dinosaurs. I had a stuffed Tyrannosaurus rex as a kid, instead of a bear, and it still sits on my dresser. I read just about everything I can find on them, from bird identification guides, to blog posts and papers by paleontologists. I am very, very picky about dinosaur books. There’s a system, you see.

Katherine’s Guide to Evaluating Dinosaur Books:

1.  Accuracy. If it’s a non-fiction book, it had better be well researched by people who know what they’re doing. No excuses for using shoddy or old research or perpetuating outright falsehoods. For dinosaur books, there is one special consideration:  

It should at least know what a dinosaur is. This might seem obvious, but, when I hit the shelves, I’m always surprised at the number of “dinosaur” books that call the wrong things dinosaurs.

What is a dinosaur? Dinosaurs are all of the descendants of the single common ancestor of modern birds and Triceratops. They are archosaurs (all the relatives of themselves and crocodiles) with hips that fit upright legs. A chicken’s legs don’t sprawl like an alligator’s. Dimetrodon, Pteranodon, Icthyosaurus, Plesiosaurus – these are not dinosaurs.

A Black-Capped Chickadee is a dinosaur:

blackcappedchickadee

“Black-capped Chickadee” by Brendan Lally – Own work.  Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic via Wikimedia Commons – http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Black-capped_Chickadee_1.jpg

(It’s all in those scaly little legs: they fall straight from the hip socket. Note also adorably teensy claws.)

2.  Illustrations. There is no substitute for a scientific illustrator. Shoddy computer graphics abound in dinosaur books for children and adults, yet good, clear, hand-drawn illustrations do the job far better, and bring out details that are easily botched by cheap computer graphics, such as feathers. This is definitely one case in which a picture is worth a thousand words.

3.  Focus. A clear, tight focus can really help a book, especially one that covers a topic as expansive as dinosaurs. Dinosaurs were around for a really, incredibly long time. To put the Mesozoic – the “Age of Dinosaurs” – in perspective, it ended 65 million years ago. The Cretaceous alone, the last of the three periods of the Mesozoic, lasted 80 million years, longer than everything that has happened since. It’s easy for a book to lose sense of this perspective, or for information to get muddled without a well-defined focus.

The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs definitely knows what a dinosaur is. The book knows what several hundred dinosaur species are. It is exactly as it says in the title – a field guide – with detailed, accurate, informative illustrations on every page, thorough introductions to each group, and information for every species introduced, including size, estimated weight, characteristics, distribution and habitat, and notes.

Even better, it’s by a scientific illustrator who is also a dinosaur researcher. Every page is crammed with line drawings and silhouettes of skeletons, beautiful muscle studies, and sensitive life restorations. The author – Gregory S. Paul – helped lead the charge for changing the visual interpretation of dinosaurs, from tail-dragging, cold-blooded, saggy-skinned mega-lizards, to the warm-blooded, and much more alert and dynamic creatures that populate today’s research and even motion pictures, in accord with advances in scientific knowledge. Especially striking in The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs is the restoration given for the chicken-sized Anchiornis huxleyi – the coloration of which has been determined: it was gray, with black and white banded arm and leg feathers, and a reddish crest on its head. On the other side of the coin, Gregory S. Paul uses a robust, informed imagination in the life restorations to suggest possibilities for dinosaurs that dry bones cannot. The zebra-striped feather crest and cassowary-like wattles on Dryosaurus altus bring the animal to vibrant life.

Organized by phylogeny, with species notes that indicate possible relationships, or insufficient data, The Princeton Field Guide to Dinosaurs is easy to browse or use for reference – never losing its clear focus as a reference for the general public. Keeping an eye to context, the book opens with an introductory section that details the history or dinosaur research, changes in the field, dinosaur natural history, and even an overview of details such as diseases or injuries known from dinosaur fossils.

Whether your six-year-old has dinosaur fever, or the six-year-old in you does, a great dinosaur book like this one is indispensable.

Formats Available:  Book

Reviewed by Katherine, Highlands-Shelby Park Branch

The Allied Invasion of Normandy and the Liberation of Paris

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This year was the 70th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy and liberation of Paris. Writers have been busy marking the occasion!  Many readers have heard of All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr, the story of a convergence of two lives on either side of the conflict: a Parisian girl and a German youth with a gift for electronics.   His beautifully written tale has earned spots on numerous best of lists for 2014.

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The only thing that can make a great piece of historical fiction better is a highly readable work of non-fiction to go with it.  To that end, I invite you to try When Paris Went Dark: the City of Light Under German Occupation, 1940-1944 by Ronald Rosbottom.   He tells the story of the city’s occupation from a variety of perspectives: from its people (German commanders to Parisian street vendors) to its high schools (one in particular was a breeding ground for Resistance fighters—I’d watch that teen drama series) and apartments (the labyrinth of interweaving corridors and doorways of Parisian housing played a major role in hiding those at risk).  Rosbottom explores the effects of the Occupation on the French psyche as a nation ponders what it did to resist and if that was enough.

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If Doerr and Rosbottom’s books sound appealing, I also encourage you to read Agnes Humbert’s wartime journal Résistance: A Woman’s Journal of Struggle and Defiance in Occupied France (1946), the story of her years in the French Resistance and as a prisoner in a forced labor camp in Germany.  A curator at the Musée de L’Homme, Humbert was among the first group of organized opponents of the Occupation.  We share her sadness and fear as her beloved city is occupied, its museums violated and its citizens arrested. But like the heroine of a favorite work of fiction, she never loses her spirit. Determined to make her internment productive for the Resistance, she sabotages the parachutes she is forced to make for the German war effort, all the time recognizing the irony of being forced to make artificial silk, a new technology that her mother had invested in before the war.

Despite her circumstances, Humbert keeps her sense of humor and refuses to surrender her humanity.  At one point during her years in slave labor, she ponders what Descartes would think of the factory’s rayon-making machines and the thoughts one has as one is at them.   After her liberation she spends her time helping the American army bring Nazis to justice and coordinating efforts to feed and house residents of the village that enslaved her.  Humbert’s journal reads like an adventure story and I found myself cheering for its inspirational heroine throughout.

Formats Available: Book (Regular Print and Large Type), Audiobook (CD), eBook

Reviewed by Valerie, Iroquois Branch

 

Girly Girl: My Late-in-Life Love of the Super Girly

Ask anyone I went to school with, and they will tell you that Lynette Ruby was not a girly girl – that is to say if I am even remembered by my name, and not “that angry short girl with the pixie haircut.”  I thought giving in and having fun with something girly like a movie, book, or pop song would ultimately undo whatever tough personae I’d worked to cultivate.   There were certain things I would not allow myself to enjoy…well, not publicly at least.  There were pop bands I’d deny enjoying, movies I’d claim I didn’t want to see, books I wouldn’t read, and more feminine looks I would refuse to wear.

In school, I ran with other kids on the fringes of society; the wanna-be hackers, skateboarders, goths, punks – the tougher you looked, and more piercings you had, the cooler I thought you were.  I thought we were the non-conformists.  I tried so hard to not conform that in the end…I was conforming.  I would deny liking certain things to keep up the image…well, whatever image it was I had.

Cut to college – wait…cut to after college – and you’ll find me to be a bit…a bit more…girly.  Becoming the awesome Lynette you may know and love today was no easy journey – and it certainly wasn’t without loads of awkwardness.  You know that MTV show, Awkward.?  Yeah, it had nothing on me.  They don’t know what real awkward is.  Let me give you a quick sampling of my awkward “becoming a butterfly” stage in life:

  • Accidentally getting a Mr. Spock haircut while trying to grow out from a pixie cut – ladies it takes more patience than you will even know to grow out a pixie.
  • Having to consult YouTube videos on how to do a proper pony tail – yeah, it was that bad.

There’s loads more stories – loads –  but I have to keep a shred of your respect.  I was almost like an alien trying to figure out how to be an Earthling girl.  There were sad and funny moments in this transformation.  I just wanted to finally do what I wanted to do – whether or not my peers agreed.  If I wanted to do something outrageously girly, I was finally giving myself permission.  Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not that girly, but compared to what I was?  Uh…yeah!

People from high school come in to my library all the time, and hardly anyone recognizes me. So, what is my point of this post?  Be as weird and as awkward as you want – really!  But, please, make sure it’s what you want to do.  If you want to be a punk who loves Gossip Girl – you go right ahead.  You want to read Batman comics, skateboard, have pink hair, and dress like Audrey HepburnDo it!

Don’t feel like a beautiful butterfly yet?  Start with figuring out what you actually like, not just what you’re friends and everyone expects you to like.  You’ll be more beautiful the moment you act like your true self.  Your metamorphosis won’t happen overnight, and is doubtful to be without its awkwardness – but just remember I decided to get girly at 25 years old. It’s never too soon to be the person you really want to be.

Here are a few titles that might spark your interest: Creagh, Kelly.  Nevermore.  2010

Lyga, Barry.  The Astonishing Adventures of Fanboy and Goth Girl.  2007

Reger, Rob.  Emily the strange. 2012.

Satrapi, Marjane.  Persepolis.  2007.

Article by Lynette, Newburg Branch

Prisoner of Night and Fog by Anne Blankman

 

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In the 1930’s, Germany was filled with unrest, poverty and uncertainty, where hatred marched in its city’s streets.  At seventeen, Gretchen Müller has grown up under the wing of the National Socialist (a.k.a. Nazi) Party, with very little inkling of the animosity and evil intent the Party had towards the Jewish Community.  When she was eight, her father became a martyr for the Party, when he died in place of his friend, Gretchen’s “Uncle” Dolf.

Gretchen was often invited on outings with Uncle Dolf and his family. Always treated with kindness and great care by him, Gretchen had believed he would always be there to protect her family. Until the night she watched her brother and his friend almost run over an old man and then proceeded to beat him.  When she threatened to go to Uncle Dolf with the information, she was told to stay out of the Party’s business or she would find herself in jeopardy of receiving the same treatment.

Then Daniel Cohen, a young Jewish reporter, came into her life informing her of his belief that her father’s death had not been a random shooting. He had, instead, been the intended victim. Gretchen had been taught to believe the Jewish people were at the root of all Germany’s problems. At first, she was uncertain whether or not to trust Daniel.

However, in the face of her growing distrust of the Nazis and the strong hold her brother had over the family, Gretchen made the decision to delve into her father’s death on her own. As she starts digging into the past, she comes face to face with the realization that her trust and belief in those she loves was full of smoke and mirrors.

Through Gretchen’s eyes, we see Uncle Dolf as a kindly father figure with a gentle voice who liked picnics art and fine music, cares greatly for his family and country, and wants to help Germany to become strong again.  But the country is in turmoil, its leaders looking for someone to blame. United in the search for answers, Daniel and Gretchen find themselves targeted as the enemy of their country and its people.

In Prisoner of Night and Fog, we are shown how Nazis manipulated the German people, driving them towards the inevitable horror of genocide and war.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type), eBook

Reviewed by Katy, Shawnee Branch

‘Tis the Season for Sleeping

The holidays and winter are amongst us and with the recent first snow of the season, staying indoors or exploring outside are exciting ways to pass the day.  However, after exerting all of the energy, a time for napping sounds splendid, whether short power naps or “hibernation naps” lasting for hours and hours.

Here is a list featuring some parodies of children’s titles, now revised for adult audiences:

Goodnight Darth Vader by Jeffrey Brown

goodnitevader

 

Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach and Ricardo Cortés

gotheFasleep

 

Goodnight iPad: A Parody for the Next Generation by Ann Droyd

goodnipad

 

All My Friends Are Dead by Avery Monsen and Jory John

allmyfriendsdead

 

If You Give a Kid a Cookie, Will He Shut the F**k Up? by Marcy Roznick and Miranda Lemming

ifugivakid

 

The Taking Tree: A Selfish Parody by Shrill Travesty and Lucy Ruth Cummins

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If you find yourself bored, needing to escape the world before falling asleep, check out one of these titles from your local library or have it requested to be sent from another branch.

 

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type)

Reviewed by Micah, Shively Branch

Five Recently Published Picture Books

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The Bear’s Sea Escape by Benjamin Chaud

We meet Papa Bear and Little Bear again in this follow up to Benjamin Chaud’s The Bear’s Song. This time instead of hunting for his cub throughout an opera house, Papa Bear tails him from a snowed-in city to a faraway tropical island. Saturated colors and mountains of details to wade through make for a delightful picture book not just to read but study.

 

verylilredhood

Very Little Red Riding Hood by Teresa Heapy and Sue Heap

The Big Bad Wolf has his work cut out for him after encountering a pint-sized girl on her way to Grandmama’s house. Very Little Red Riding Hood insists on calling him “Foxie”, she refuses to share her delicious cakes, and throws more than one tantrum before they even reach their destination. Heapy and Heap rearrange a classic in the most adorable way possible.

 

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Flashlight by Lizi Boyd

Explore the world outside at night in this brilliant and original wordless picture book by the author of Inside Outside. With the aid of a flashlight, we are shown contrasting color scenes that splice through the black and silver darkness.

 

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Pig and Small by Alex Latimer

Friendship isn’t always easy, and Pig and Bug almost give up on theirs due to having incompatible sizes. They come to realize there are more things they can do together than can’t.

 

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Digger Dog by William Bee

Put on your hard hat and join Digger Dog in his hunt for a bone that turns out to be much bigger than expected. Rhyming text and fold out pages make for an engaging read with a surprise ending.

Formats Available: Book (Regular Print)

 Reviewed by Natalie, Main Children’s

Spirit Rising: My Life, My Music by Angélique Kidjo with Rachel Wenrick

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Put on an Angélique Kidjo album.  Listen to her voice – honest, powerful, and expressive.  Open her autobiography, Spirit Rising:  My life, My Music, and hear her tell the powerful story that made the little girl from Benin, in West Africa, into the international artist and activist she is today.

She tells her story simply, but there is great depth to her understanding of human rights issues in Africa and throughout the world.  Several themes pervade her life.

One is family. Her relationships as daughter, sister, wife and mother are portrayed as sustaining her throughout her life and career.  She grew up as 1 of 10 children; her father was a postal worker and her mother ran a theater company.  Music and conversation were abundant at her house. She was a child who asked a lot of questions and never lost the original sense of injustice she felt when she learned about slavery and apartheid.

The music she hears as a child was often intertwined with the civil rights movements in Africa and America in the 1960’s and 70’s.  She hears Miriam Makeba, “Mama Africa,” whose South African citizenship was revoked because of her activism against apartheid.  Makeba becomes her role model and eventually her mentor and friend.  Aretha Franklin is the first woman she sees on an album cover, and she realizes it’s possible to have a career in music.

Her exploration of how Africa influenced music throughout the world is another theme in her music and her life.  Through different albums she explores traditional music of Africa and the fusion of African music with the music of other cultures in the Americas.

As her career progresses, she performs at concerts to bring attention to injustices in Africa.  She’s asked to be a UNICEF ambassador.  She tells of visits to refugee camps, orphanages and villages without adequate nutrition.  “The work for UNICEF inspired my music and my music helped me recover from these trips,” she writes.

As a result of this work, she founded the Batonga Foundation to educate girls in Africa.  Her parents paid to send all their daughters to secondary school, which was unusual in Benin at the time.  She credits her family with giving her the benefits of an education and wants to pass it on.  “The solution to Africa’s problems must be provided by Africans who have experienced them firsthand, especially the African women, who are the continent’s backbone,” she writes.

This book is beautiful, including the gorgeous black and white photo of Kidjo on the cover. It’s printed on shiny paper and contains publicity shots from Kidjo’s albums, candid pics in the studio, and shots of her with her family.  Each chapter begins with colorful African patterns on the left-hand page and African motifs are used throughout.  A wonderful surprise at the end is the inclusion of the personal recipes Kidjo refers to making for family and friends throughout the book.  Spirit Rising invites us into Angélique Kidjo’s life with African hospitality.

The library currently has the following CD’s and DVD by Angélique Kidjo:

pPBS3-10407648dt

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type)

Reviewed by Laura, Main Library

Living the Good Long Life by Martha Stewart

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I love a good piece of non-fiction that makes learning easy and understandable, and Ms. Martha Stewart has never let me down in putting out quality material, in an easy to understand format.  She’s really on her editing game as of the last few titles, especially Living the Good Long Life.

The subject of this book is how to live the best life you can after 40 and through retirement.  It has great tips for physical and mental health, finances, eating, organizing, and how to care for older relatives.  The book was written for those who are retired, and those who take care of retirees.  It is a great go-to for referencing anything that could happen to those 40 and older.

The layout is clean and simple, with chapter breakdowns that are easy to flip through, and an index in the back for specific look ups.  This is a great resource to have in the house, and is a great title to include in any family library.  In fact, it’s quite a cheery looking book, with all kinds of muted oranges and white…kind of like a Creamsicle.

You probably won’t need to read this cover to cover; and might only find yourself looking at certain sections that apply to you and your family – and that’s what it’s set up for.  You can look at each chapter independently, and still get all the information you need, without having to read the entire book – and it’s a bigger one; coming in around 400 pages.  The text is clear and easy to read, but do expect you may have to read it to retirees with bad eyesight – as there is no large print version.  If you’re over 40, or have a family member over 40, I highly recommend reading and referencing Living the Good Long Life.

Formats Available:  Book (Regular Type), eBook

Reviewed by Lynette, Newburg Branch