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The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi

by on August 25th, 2014
The Search for WondLa by Tony DiTerlizzi Cover Image

The Search for WondLa has been on my “To Read” list for awhile now, since it was published in 2010. But having learned a valuable lesson in series anticipation from Harry Potter, I put off starting this trilogy until the last book was published. This May the final book was published, The Battle for WondLa, and the time was ripe to start this series.

DiTerlizzi has mixed a good bit of science fiction into his fantasy to create a fascinating world. Eva Nine is a human girl being cared for and trained by Muthr, a humanoid, multifunctional robot. They live in an isolated Sanctuary with no contact with other humans. Eva longs to go outside and venture into the real world, but up until now Muthr has prevented this, deeming it safer to stay inside. But when their home comes under attack from an outside force, Eva is forced to flee on her own. Outside, her encyclopedic Omnidroid cannot identify any of the strange creatures she encounters. Feeling increasingly unprepared for life on the surface, Eva is captured by the strange hunter Besteel, but is able to escape and free his other captives at the same time. Thus, she has made her first friends, Rovender Kitt, a tall blue alien, and Otto, an enormous water bear.

Rovender has some news for Eva, instead of being on Earth as she had assumed, they are on a planet known as Orbona. To help make sense of this new world, she insists on rescuing Muthr from the ruins of their home. Reunited, the group sets off in search of other humans using Eva’s most prized possesion, a photo of a girl, robot and book with only the letters “Wond L a” still visible. Along their journey they encounter both kindness and cruelty from the natives. Eva and Muthr soon realize that they are oddities that no one has seen before, and thus valued for their rarity. The mystery of their origins is left unanswered for most of the book, with the only tantalizing hints coming at the end. Told in four parts with short chapters, this a fairly quick read accompanied by DiTerlizzi’s sylistic illustrations. An interesting tale that leaves you wanting to more, a demand that can gladly met by the sequel, A Hero for WondLa.

Counting By 7′s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

by on August 25th, 2014
Counting By 7′s by Holly Goldberg Sloan Cover Image

Twelve-year-old Willow Chase has had trouble fitting in her whole life because she is a genius, a person of color, unusual, and adopted.  Her parents provide much love and support despite Willow’s idiosyncrasies and mild obsessive compulsive disorder (she counts by sevens to help calm herself down and has a fixation about medical issues).  Finding a friend has never been easy, but meeting Mai Nguyen who accompanies her brother to his counseling sessions, prior to Willow’s own hour with the inept Dell Duke, changes things and the girls build a unique friendship together.  When the unthinkable happens, the car crash that kills Willow’s adoptive parents, Willow goes to stay in the garage behind the nail saloon that Mai’s mother owns.  The social worker insists that this is just temporary until she can be moved to a facility that can deal with someone who has twice lost her parents and must fine another place to live.  Finding a “new normal” amid a Vietnamese family living just barely above the poverty level creates an opportunity for Willow to change other people’s lives while finding stability and her own unique place in society.  The strong characterizations, the different voices used in the storytelling, and the plot through which Willow finds meaning and acceptance again, create a special novel that will definitely hold the interest in 5th-8th grade readers.

Writing help available at Iowa City Public Library

by on August 25th, 2014

One-on-one writing help is now available Tuesdays at the Library-Community Writing Center Satellite, located in the Iowa City Public Library’s second floor computer lab.Essay-Writing-Help-for-College-Students

A University of Iowa writing tutor is available from 4 to 6 p.m. every Tuesday of the fall college semester, except the week of Thanksgiving. This free, drop-in program is available for adults and teens.

For more information, contact the Library at (319) 356-5200.

School Yearbooks at the Iowa City Public Library

by on August 20th, 2014

yearbooksRecently I had a conversation with one of the Library’s 2nd floor Information Pages about the yearbook collection at ICPL.  Hannah had become curious about her paternal grandfather and looked through our collection of University of Iowa Hawkeye yearbooks to see if she could find him.

dick kane2Hannah’s grandfather passed away in 1965, leaving a wife and 6 young children – Hannah’s father was four years old at the time.  Her grandmother passed away in 2005.   Hannah found her grandfather  in the 1949 year book, and she made an interesting discovery.  Her grandfather had been a member of Psi Omega Fraternity.  Hannah made a copy of the picture, and took it along to the next family gathering.  Turns out this fact was news to everyone.  The picture is now on Hannah’s refrigerator.

ICPL has quite a few yearbooks in our collection.  They are stored at the 2nd floor Page Station, and they do not check out of the library.   Unfortunately we do not have a complete collection of any of them – there are years missing from each title.   For a basic catalog search, click here.  

Yearbooks ICPL owns:

  • The Hawkeye – University of Iowa  1893-1987
  • The Red and White – Iowa City City High School  1917 – 2013
  • The Trojan Epic – Iowa City West High School 1969-2013
  • The Spectrum: Regina Catholic Education Center 1977-1996
  • The Hawkeye – University High School 1961-1971
  • Baby Hawklety – Central Junior High School  1973/74 – 1982/83
  • Reflections – North West Junior High School  1973-1987
  • On Forever More/SE Memories – South East Junior High School  1972/73 – 2002/03
  • St Mary’s High School 1921
  • C.E.C. Yearbook 1990-1992
  • P.S.#4  1978
  • The Elm -Lone Tree Community High School 1978-2008
  • The Spartan – Solon Community High School 1970-1993
  • The Clipper – Clear Creek/Amana Community Schools  1983-2007
  • The Reverie – Iowa Mennonite School 1947-1969

We would love to add missing volumes to our UI, City High and West High year book collections.  If you have a volume you would consider donating to the library, please contact Beth Fisher at beth-fisher@icpl.org to see if that volume is one we need.

 

China Dolls by Lisa See

by on August 20th, 2014
China Dolls by Lisa See Cover Image

Lisa See’s new novel, China Dolls, brings to life an element of the 1930′s and 1940′s entertainment world I was not aware of, the Chop-Suey Circuit.  Three unlikely Asian friends, Ruby, Helen & Grace, gravitate to the newly introduced Chinese revues in San Francisco for different reasons.  Although they are from diverse backgrounds, they form a strong bond and the book follows their lives through happiness and heartache.  Woven with a backdrop of the attack on Pearl Harbor, World War II and happier times in the 1940′s, the story brings alive not only the glitz and glamor of the stage, but the personal coming-of-age stories of three women whose lives are, for better or worse, intertwined.

Lisa See is a remarkable novelist and I thoroughly enjoyed her other books including Shanghai Girls and Dreams of Joy.  I listened to the book and Jodi Long’s narration is excellent. ~~Enjoy~~

One Community One Book 2014: The Distance Between Us

by on August 19th, 2014
One Community One Book 2014:  The Distance Between Us Cover Image

The One Community One Book* selection for 2014 is  The Distance Between Us by Reyna Grande.

Born in a small town in Guerrero, Mexico, Reyna Grande Rodriquez was two years old when her father left for the U.S. to find work.   Her mother followed him north two years later, leaving Reyna (4)  her older brother Carlos (7), and her older sister Mago (11) in the care of their paternal grandmother, Abuela Evila (her true name).  Already caring for one grandchild who’s mother had left for America,  Abuela Evila took in Reyna and her siblings out of a sense of duty, but the mistreatment she heaped on them was kept secret from her son.   All the money he sent back for their care was used to buy treats for herself and her other granddaughter, while Reyna, Carlos and Mago suffered severe neglect.  Mago tries to care for her brother and sister the best she can.

Four years later, Reyna’s mother Juana returns with a baby daughter, claiming her husband has abused her and left her for another woman.  She brings Reyna, Carlos, and Mago  to live with her at their maternal grandmother’s, but Juana was not the same caring mother who left years before.  Soon Juana moved out, leaving the children with Abuelita Chinta, a kind and caring woman who, though living in extreme poverty, loved her grandchildren dearly.

In 1985, when Reyna was nine years old, her father returned to Mexico with a new wife.  He borrowed money to pay a Coyote to help him bring his children back across the border.  On their third try they were successful, and Reyna, Carlos and Mago begin life as undocumented immigrants in Los Angeles.

Filled with hope, Reyna soon realizes that life as an immigrant will be very hard.  Her father isn’t the man she dreamed about for all those years in Mexico.  His dreams for his children were what got them across the border, but his own failure to assimilate into an English speaking world and his alcoholic rage slowly undermine all his hard work and good intentions.  Reyna finds solace from a violent home life at school and, with the help of one special teacher, through the Latina voices she beings to read.  She turns to writing as a way to make sense of her own life.  Her father is eventually able to get himself and his children green cards, and then citizenship.  They graduate from High School, and Reyna goes on becomes the first member of her family to graduate from college with degrees in creative writing, film and video from UC Santa Cruz.  She earned an MFA in creative writing at Antioch University.   The Distance Between Us  is her third book.

 

*The One Community One Book project, coordinated by the University of Iowa Center for Human Rights.  The goal of the project is to encourage people in our community to read and discuss the selected book in order to develop a greater community awareness of human rights issues locally, nationally and internationally.  For more information go to the One Community One Book Website here.

ICPL will be hosting a Book Discussion  Saturday September 20th at 10:30am in Meeting Room E.  All are welcome.

THE SCRAPS BOOK by Lois Ehlert

by on August 18th, 2014
THE SCRAPS BOOK by Lois Ehlert Cover Image

Lois Ehlert has long been a favorite picture book author/illustrator of mine.  Her books are perfect for storytimes with their large beautiful collage illustrations and short text. I’ve had the pleasure of meeting this Milwaukee children’s book author a couple of times and she is just as colorful in her dress and lively in her conversation as you would expect from her artwork.  She collects folk art from her travels and many of those items like fabric and toys from other countries are found in her picture books.  Her latest book, The Scraps Book; Notes from a Colorful Life, is a delightful insight into her creative process when making picture books for children.  The reader learns a little about her life and sees photos of her parents, the house she grew up in, early sketches of some of her books, tools she uses to create her artwork, and some of her actual collections– fishing decoys, folk art dolls, items from the natural world.  The collage of photos on the end papers are inspirational for young artists as is her simple text with notes throughout that makes reading this book pure joy.  The Scraps Book is a unique autobiographical picture book that will be enjoyed by young artists and readers, not to mention art teachers and parents.  Hurray for creativity and inspiration for children to make their own art and learn about bookmaking in the process by a very gifted artist.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent

by on August 16th, 2014
Burial Rites by Hannah Kent Cover Image

Agnes Magnusdottir and Fridrik Sigurdsson were the last people executed in Iceland. It was January 12, 1830. They were both convicted of murdering Natan Ketilsson, a noted herbalist, healer, and farmer, stabbing him to death and setting his house on fire. Agnes worked as a servant to Natan, while Fredrik was the son of a neighboring farmer. The story of this murder, and its resulting execution, continues to capture the imagination of Icelanders. Natan’s workshop and the site of the execution are landmarks. It is the subject of many books and films, all offering different interpretations of both the events and persons involved. The narratives span from Natan being an overbearing master to Agnes as a woman scorned. But, the first I ever heard of these individuals is through Hannah Kent’s Burial Rites.

In Burial Rites, Kent offers her interpretation of Agnes’ final months. Agnes awaits her execution housed with the family of District Officer Jon Jonsson, which understandably causes friction in the household. Jonsson, his wife, and daughters are unhappy about living with a murderess. Agnes, coming to terms with her fate, must navigate all the pitfalls of living in a strange household with people who don’t want you there. In addition, Agnes is visited regularly by Assistant Reverend Toti, who is charged with providing religious counsel and spiritual consolation. And she isn’t exactly receptive. But then Agnes begins to tell the story of her life to Toti, the Jonsson family listening due to the close quarters of the badstofa, and things begin to change.

What I appreciate about the novel is that the murder isn’t the center of the narrative. Rather, Kent writes well about the building of a relationship and the development of trust and understanding between people who already have their minds made up about each other. This growth is stunted by the impending execution, which hangs over the situation like a sword of Damocles. Indeed, an axe is being fashioned. I also enjoyed how Kent used government documents and letters from officials on how to deal with the prisoners and the execution into the narrative. It’s a bleak novel—but it really can’t be anything else.

 

Top 10 reads from the 2014 Adult Summer Reading Program

by on August 14th, 2014
Top 10 reads from the 2014 Adult Summer Reading Program Cover Image

You told us what you read this summer and we kept track.  Click on the cover or title to place one of these on hold.

The most read book this summer, by both teens and adults is The Fault in Our Stars by John Green.    The story is narrated by a sixteen-year-old named Hazel Grace Lancaster, who has accepted her diagnosis of stage IV thyroid cancer.  She is forced by her parents to attend a support group, where she meets and falls in love with the seventeen-year-old Augustus Waters, an ex-basketball player and amputee.  Their relationship forces her to rexamine her perspective on love, loss and life.

 

DivergentDivergent, by Veronica Roth is the first book in a dystopian trilogy of the same name.  It follows Beatrice “Tris” Prior as she explores her identity within a society that defines its citizens by their affiliation with one of five predetermined factions.  Her chose will shock everyone.

 

 

little wolvesLittle Wolves, by Thomas Maltman is the All Iowa Reads 2014 title.    Set on the Minnesota prairie in the late 1980s during a drought season that’s pushing family farms to the brink, Little Wolves features the intertwining stories of a father searching for answers after his son commits a heinous murder, and a pastor’s wife who has returned to the town for mysterious reasons of her own.

 

 

goldfinch Goldfinch by Donna Tartt.   Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

 

gonegirlGone Girl by Gillian Flynn.  When a beautiful woman goes missing on her fifth wedding anniversary, her diary reveals hidden turmoil in her marriage and a mysterious illness; while her husband, desperate to clear himself of suspicion, realizes that something more disturbing than murder may have occurred.

 

 

insurgentInsurgent by by Vernoica Roth.   Book two in the Divergent trilogy finds Tris Prior’s initiation day shattered by Erudite simulation attacks that end the lives of several loved ones and launch a bitter war, compelling Tris to embrace her Divergent nature and make painful sacrifices.

 

 

oceanendoflaneThe Ocean at the End of the Lane by Neil Gaiman  A modern fantasy about fear, love, magic, and sacrifice in the story of a family at the mercy of dark forces, whose only defense is the three women who live on a farm at the end of the lane. When otherworldly beings are set loose on the world, threatening the life of a little boy, the extraordinary Hempstock women summon all of their courage and cleverness to keep him alive, but soon discover that his survival comes with a high–and deadly–price.

 

silkwormThe Silkworm by  Robert Galbraith (the pseudonym for J.K. Rowling) is the second in the series of crime novels starring private investigator Cormoran Strike. When novelist Owen Quine goes missing, his wife calls in private detective Cormoran Strike. As Strike investigates, it becomes clear that there is more to Quine’s disappearance. The novelist has just completed a manuscript featuring poisonous pen-portraits of almost everyone he knows. If the novel were to be published, it would ruin lives–meaning that there are a lot of people who might want him silenced.  When Quine is found brutally murdered under bizarre circumstances, it becomes a race against time to understand the motivation of a ruthless killer, a killer unlike any Strike has encountered before.

 

allegiantAllegiant by Veronica Roth. The conclusion to the Divergent trilogy reveals the secrets of the dystopian world and the consequences of a fateful decision.

 

 

 

top secret 21Top Secret 21 by Janet Evanvich.  The 21st Stephanie Plum novel finds Stephanie looking for Trenton, New Jersey’s favorite used-car dealer, Jimmy Poletti who’s on the lamb, and leads are quickly turning into dead ends, and all too frequently into dead bodies. And unfortunately for Stephanie, Randy Briggs may be the clue. To top things off, Ranger has become the target of an assassination plot.  Death threats, highly untrained assassins, and Stark Street being overrun by a pack of feral Chihuahuas are all in a day’s work for Stephanie Plum. The real challenge is dealing with her Grandma Mazur’s new bucket list.

ICPL Summer Reading Program Boasts Record Numbers

by on August 13th, 2014
Treymire Johnson is the winner of the Babies Summer Reading Program Grand Prize -- a $50 gift certificate to Prairie Lights.

Treymire Johnson is the winner of the Babies Summer Reading Program Grand Prize — a $50 gift certificate to Prairie Lights.

The Iowa City Public Library ended the 2014 Summer Reading Program with a bang, recording record participation numbers among all age levels – babies, kids, teens, and adults.

In all, 4,822 patrons registered for the 2014 Summer Reading Program, with 2,205 participants turning in completed game cards by Aug. 2.

The kids program had the highest number of registrants – 2,720 people – and the highest completion rate – 1,386 people.

More than 1,250 adults signed up for the program, with 453 turning in completed game card.

The teen program had 404 registrations and 184 completed game cards handed in, while the babies program had 440 registrations and 183 game cards returned to the Children’s Room.

All completed game cards were entered in a drawing for the Summer Reading Program Grand Prize, which varied depending on the program level. The winners were chosen by a random drawing and contacted by Library staff.

Congratulations to everyone who received a Summer Reading Program prize and thank you to all who participated!

Babies Summer Reading Program Grand Prize: A $50 gift card to Prairie Lights

  • Winner: Treymire Johnson

Kids Summer Reading Program Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire

Edward Li is the winner of the Kids Summer Reading Program Grand Pirze, a Kindle Fire. He is pictured with his father, Richard Li, and Vickie Pasicznyk, the Children's Room Coordinator.

Edward Li is the winner of the Kids Summer Reading Program Grand Pirze, a Kindle Fire. He is pictured with his father, Richard Li, and Vickie Pasicznyuk, the Children’s Room Coordinator.

  • Winner: Edward Li

Teen Summer Reading Program Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire

  • Winner: Anh To

Adult Summer Reading Program Grand Prize: A Kindle Fire

  • Winner: Mamta Gautam

Both the teen and adult Summer Reading Programs had additional prizes. In the teen program, first prize winners include:

  • John Green prize:  Morgan Louvar
  • Day Dreams Comics prize:  Madeline Van Horn
  • Prairie Lights Bookstore prize:  Thomas Duong
  • Movie Theatre Prize:  Ashley Rose Joens

Second prize winners received Taste of Iowa City tickets. The winners of this prize includes Palmer Love; MaryClare Greer; Emma Dochterman; Noah Bullwinkle; and Abby Walling.

The winner of the first prize in the adult program – a bag of books – is Lenore Maybaum.

Second prize winners also received Taste of Iowa City tickets. The winners of this prize include Ellen Lee-Andino; Rachel Carmen; Wesley Beary; Brittni Stille; and Jennie Fischer.