January 2016 Staff Picks
"Anyone who says they have only one life to live must not know how to read a book." –Unknown.
January staff picks for those who are open to living many lives...
Recommended by Emily: A girl and her best friend will not let the cold temperatures and short days stop them from exploring. This beautifully illustrated children's book captures all of the peace, invigoration and accomplishment we feel after a winter adventure outside. This is the second book in Dagny McKinley's The Adventure of a Girl and Her Dog Series; I also recommend The Adventures of a Girl and Her Dog: In the Mountains!
Recommended by Chris: I just love Little Penguin. And when he gets the hiccups from eating chili--who would have thought?-- he goes to all his friends to see if they can help him get rid of the hiccups. This is a super-cute story with wonderful illustrations from debut illustrator and author Tadgh Bentley.
Recommended by Chris: Winter Walk is a beautiful book, exploring of all the great things to look at and do in the snow. Written in verse, it’s fun to read. The illustrations are both line drawings and pictures. This is a very fitting book to take home to a place that does not have snow.
Recommended by Shane: In this delightful little journey the two main characters take an adventure on a homemade canoe. As they encounter strange animals and new sights the pair wish to sail forever, a choice that most certainly leads to a happy ending. The story is written almost as if it is a song. Lyrical text paired with Jan Brett’s beautiful illustrations make The Owl and the Pussycat a classic you will read over and over.
Recommended by Chris: Who doesn’t love reading about books and words?!
When Raisa is promoted to Tutor after being a cleaning slave in Qilara most of her life, she gets to learn how to read and write. This is the thing that she has wanted most. Writing is something that is only reserved for the Gods, Kings and the Tutors, who teach the Kings. The knowledge is never to be shared with anyone else. But what Raisa isn’t ready for is Mati, the prince, who is learning right next to her. This is a powerful story about who should have the right to read and write.
Recommended by Chris: This is Rick Riordan’s newest book, following a new set of gods: the Norse gods.
Magnus, a homeless boy living in Boston finds out that he is the son of a Norse god, though he could never know how much this information will change his life. Like Riordan’s other books, this is a fast-paced adventure story with plenty of mythology. It is wonderfully funny, especially when Phil the Potato enters the story!
Recommended by Chris: I’ll give you the Sun is the story of twin brother and sister Noah and Jude. Like most twins they start out inseparable but devastating events leave them divided. This is a heartfelt tale about about life, how people cope differently, and how people can grow from adversity.
I’ll Give You the Sun is the 2015 Printz Award winner.
Recommended by Shane:The epic conclusion to the Maximum Ride series, this book directly continues from book #8 Nevermore. Without giving away too much, the world is in shambles, and chaos lives in the cracks all around the survivors that remain. At the heart of this destruction is one final decision, but is this something Max and the Flock can handle? As promised, this is an action-packed page-turner containing the biggest surprise of the series.
Recommended by Virgie: Paul Kalanithi, a resident neurosurgeon, spent the last ten years of his life supporting his patients. Now, as the memoir begins, he finds himself a patient, after being diagnosed with Stage IV lung cancer. Death, so familiar to him in his work, now pays a personal visit and nothing seems recognizable. His identity as a surgeon evaporates in a moment. The final chapter is written by Paul’s wife, after his death. This memoir, viewing death from two perspectives, that of doctor and patient, is a somber contemplation of the meaning of death … and life.
Recommended by Virgie: This memoir of a young girl growing up in a polygamist cult across the Mexican border made my eyes open wide! I constantly needed to remind myself that this was not a disturbing novel, but the real life of Ruth Wariner, the 39th child of her father’s 41 children. It was fascinating to see how the sister-wives living in Mexico lived off the resources of the US government.
Recommended by Virgie: This is the story of two individuals with early onset Alzheimer's who have been placed in an assisted living facility. The author explores the full scope of this situation: the families of the patients, the staff who cares for them, and the patients themselves. This story left me in awe of the depth of compassion that humans feel for each other. If you enjoyed reading Still Alice I’m sure you’ll appreciate this story, written from a slightly different perspective on the nightmares of Alzheimer's Disease.
Recommended by Virgie: If you are a Downton Abby fan I think you’ll enjoy the charming characters and good, old fashioned storytelling set in the lush English countryside at Hartgrove Hall. The story revolves around the lives of three brothers and the famous singer they all love. Can the three brothers work as a team to keep Hartgrove Hall’s estate maintained? What happens when Edie Rose appears, creating a love triangle between the brothers? DRAMA!
Recommended by Virgie: The literary scandal of the century is disclosed in this historical fiction, which takes place during the 60’s and 70’s. The story is based on the life of the flamboyant novelist Truman Capote, (author of In Cold Blood) and his “groupies,” New York’s wealthy women (his Swans). This tragic story, based on well researched facts, is intriguing!
Recommended by Victoria: Set in the drought-stricken Southwest, Gold Fame Citrus is a familiar reminder of what our future could hold: a water-less West that violently pushes humans out instead of seducing them in, a California without gold, fame or citrus.
The story opens with the feckless California-born Luz, a former poster child for Federal water conservation propaganda, and her reliable partner, Ray, an AWOL veteran from an unnamed war. The couple has been squatting and surviving in a starlet’s mansion located in a Hollywood Hills neighborhood, sipping on cola rations and securing blueberries for the mere price of $200 a box. They stubbornly remain in the dry canyon, priding themselves and identifying as “Mojavs” – California residents that have lasted through the water depletion and assimilated into a ragged society filled with outlaws, dowsers, pedophiles and runaways.
Only after Ray and Luz stumble upon a feral, neglected child called Ig are they impelled to leave California for the lush states of the Pacific Northwest. On their travels toward a better life, they encounter the constantly expanding and shifting “Amargosa” sand dune, which has overtaken hundreds of thousands of miles in the Southwest – a futuristic type of Dust Bowl. Hell-bent on surviving for Ig’s sake, the pair is forced into sacrifices neither could have ever anticipated.
Recommended by Emily: The Book of Aron is a Holocaust story told through the powerful perspective of a child whose circumstances force him into decisions no adult should ever have to consider.
Aron, an 11 year-old Jewish boy lives with his family in the Warsaw Ghetto. Day by day life becomes impossibly more difficult: as more people are forced into the ghetto, typhus runs rampant among the closely confined population and restrictions on commerce and movement exacerbate deprivation. In order to provide food for their families, Aron and his friends form a gang to smuggle contraband into the ghetto.
Aron loses his family to SS roundups and disease. Orphaned, he finds refuge in the orphanage run by Janusz Korczak, until German soldiers round up the children, Korczak, and the orphanage staff for extermination at Treblinka.
The Book of Aron is historical fiction at its best-- a story that expands the heart while addressing pertinent historical questions with reliable research.