Wednesday, February 21, 2024

Catherine recommends "Escargot and the Search for Spring"

Do the grey days of winter have you feeling blah? Are you tired of cozy sweaters and bored with making snow angels? What you need is to spend some time with a charming snail who is determined to shake off his winter ennui by going outside to search for spring. Whether or not you have already met him in his earlier books (Escargot; A Book for Escargot; Love, Escargot) Escargot will charm you from the very start of this spring themed picture book. One caveat: Escargot would like you to know that despite the frequent interference of a very fluffy bunny, this is NOT a bunny book. It is a book that welcomes sunshine, bird song, and flowers in a completely charming celebration of spring. Well, maybe a new bunny friend is okay too.

Recommended for children, preschool and up.

Tuesday, February 6, 2024

Ann recommends " The Most Perfect Snowman" by Chris Britt

 

This picture book is an enjoyable winter story about a snowman who feels like he doesn’t quite measure up to the other snowmen because he doesn’t have a carrot for a nose, or clothes like they do. He thinks if only he had these things then he would be perfect, and he would be happy. He eventually gets everything he hoped for and finds out that it’s not always the getting, but the giving that matters.

 

Children, all ages

 

Saturday, February 3, 2024

Justine recommends the Sheets Trilogy by Brenna Thummler


Brenna Thummler has made a name for herself in the graphic novel scene with her Sheets trilogy.  The books, titled Sheets, Delicates, and Lights respectively, are a middle grade coming-of-age graphic novel series.  They focus on Marjorie Glatt, a practical thirteen-year old in charge of her family's laundromat.  In the first novel, Marjorie discovers that ghosts are real, and they really use sheets as part of their form.  These ghosts, particularly a child ghost named Wendell, are attracted to the laundromat since they can get a good cleaning for affordable prices. Marjorie befriends Wendell and begins to discover more about life, death, and the particulars of ghost culture.

The other two books introduce more characters and plot lines, but a major theme throughout the series is grief.  The series as a whole does a great job tackling this tough topic from many perspectives without making it inaccessible to its targeted age group.  However, I would recommend this series to all ages. The beautiful, unique art style is worth reading them for alone.

Monday, January 29, 2024

Nicole recommends "The Parliament"


Mad is stuck in the library with her lifelong crush, several teens who showed up for her bath bomb program, and a relatably miscellaneous group of library staff and patrons. Outside the library is a swarm, or parliament, of murder owls, and several local emergency personnel who are too afraid and incompetent to offer much help. Inside, they're running out of food and other resources. It becomes increasingly obvious that they are going to have to save themselves before the town authorities decide to start burning down libraries to stop the owls.

I loved this Adult Hot Read. Mad's internal monologue, informed by anxiety, past trauma, and probable neurodiversity. The depiction of a library not as a sacred space but as a building full of resources and strangers with a shared goal. The interspersed chapters of a made-for-this-novel fairy tale, which Mad reads to keep the children distracted but which ends up mobilizing them in a crazy scheme to escape. From now on, this is the only book set in a library that I'll recommend.

Monday, January 22, 2024

Taryn recommends "The Swifts: A Dictionary of Scoundrels"

On the day they are born, every Swift child is named using the sacred Swift Family Dictionary, which not only gives them their name, but their definition as well. They are assumed to match their definition as they grow up. This story brings us Shenanigan (who is a risk-taker and a mischief-maker) who is getting ready for the big Swift Family Reunion. She is also planning on finding Grand-Uncle Vile’s long lost treasure. When someone shoves Arch-Aunt Schadenfreude down the stairs, Shenanigan is determined to find out who the killer is no matter where the adventure takes her.

I can’t begin to describe how much I loved this book. It’s laugh out loud funny and very clever. It was such a fun read and I actually learned some words that I had never encountered before. Someone described this book as Knives Out for kids I can’t think of a better description. This book also shows the importance of words, individuality, and defining yourself even in the face of other’s expectations. It’s full of games, wordplays, and plenty of mischief which I think both kids and adults will find entertaining. I recommend this book to upper elementary kids, a fun read aloud for those with children, and those looking for a twisty mystery. I also recommend having a dictionary handy while reading.

Tuesday, January 9, 2024

Phil recommends "Everything I learned, I learned in a Chinese restaurant : A memoir"

This 2024 Michigan Notable Book is a funny and heartfelt memoir from Curtis Chin and the story of his time growing up as a gay Chinese American kid in 1980’s Detroit. As crime escalated in downtown Detroit, Chung’s Cantonese Cuisine was a safe haven and a place where you could get a warm home cooked meal. The restaurant had a diverse clientele including the occasional mayor, Hollywood celebrity, sex worker, and really anyone looking for good food and a welcoming atmosphere. Every member of the large Chin family participated in running the restaurant and Curtis learned many life lessons along the way – and learned about himself as he came to terms with his sexuality at a time when coming out was risky.

The book is cleverly arranged like a Chinese restaurant menu and the vivid descriptions of his family’s recipes will make you hungry. Chin has a great sense of humor and is a talented storyteller. This is our Let’s Get Real nonfiction book discussion selection for June.

This book has mature content and is appropriate for adults.

 

Tuesday, January 2, 2024

Justine Recommends Tenements, Towers, and Trash



Tenements, Towers, and Trash: An Unconventional Illustrated History of New York City by Julia Wertz is...well, an unconventional history of NYC.  What makes the book appealing is the spotlight on lesser known history, such as Bottle Beach or what's happened to structures left to rot after a World's Fair.  It also a graphic novel, so it instantly gets more points for that.  I went to NYC a few years ago, and I agree with Wertz about the city.  Yes, the bigger stuff like The Statue of Liberty or the Empire State Building are interesting things to see, but a bizarre subway entrance architecture is also part of the city's quirkiness.  You can see a lot of history just by looking at the odd stuff.


I also read this book before diving into her newest title Impossible People: A Completely Average Recovery Story.  This one is more personal, dealing with Wertz's alcohol abuse and subsequent recovery.  It's a tougher read, but after reading Tenements, I enjoyed seeing a more personal story that showed where Tenements came from.  It seemed a lot of the research done for Tenements was during the first few years of her recovery.  It gave context to the many walks, research, and urbexing that I assumed had to be done to complete the book.