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Fresh Picks: Strong Heroines

by Morgan Reeves on March 9th, 2017
Fresh Picks: Strong Heroines Cover Image

I grew up reading stories filled with strong female characters, from L.M. Montgomery’s Anne to Roald Dahl’s Matilda to Tamora Pierce’s Alanna the Lioness. I also loved reading biographies about my real-life heroines, Susan B. AnthonyEleanor Roosevelt, and Amelia Earhart. Reading about strong female characters is important for both girls and boys, as reading has a strong influence on children’s ideas and opinions about themselves and others. In honor of Women’s History Month, here are some new books full of both fictional and factual heroines.

Fiction

The Crystal Ribbon by Celeste Lim

After being sold as a bride to a wealthy family that treats her poorly, eleven-year-old Jing, with the help of her animal spirit friends, runs away. Her subsequent journey is filled with both magic and adventure.

The Runaway by Kate O’Hearn

In the second installment of the Valkyrie series, Freya and Archie are sent back to Earth by Odin in order to locate a banished Valkyrie and bring her back to Asgard. But Brunhilde has built a life for herself on Earth and has no desire to return. And what Freya learns about that life, changes her understanding of her own family.

Disenchanted :The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison

For generations the Charming men have been cursed, but now that the witch Envearia is dead the curse should be broken–however things are complicated at Charming Palace: King Clement is still nasty, Queen Maud has fled with the help of her son, Prince Dash, and Ella Coach (called Cinderella) would rather be at home sewing than living in the palace at Charming Prep school.

Nonfiction

Hidden Figures : The Untold True Story of Four African-American Women Who Helped Launch Our Nation into Space by Margot Lee Shetterly

In this young reader’s edition of the adult title, discover the stories of Dorothy Vaughan, Mary Jackson, Katherine Johnson, and Christine Darden, a group of dedicated female African-American mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules, and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space.

Fannie Never Flinched : One Woman’s Courage in the Struggle for American Labor Union Rights by Mary Cronk Farrell

Fanny Sellins was a union activist who fought and gave her life for equality and labor reform. This biography shines a light on the long and often dangerous fight for worker’s rights, with the period photographs providing stark reminders of the reasons for the fight.


Ten Days a Madwoman: The Daring Life and Turbulent Times of the Original “Girl” Reporter, Nellie Bly by Deborah Noyes

A biography of Nellie Bly, the pioneering journalist whose showy but substantive stunts skyrocketed her to fame. Her exploits included impersonating an inmate at an asylum for the mentally ill and reporting on the terrible conditions, as well circling the globe in 72 days and interviewing a controversial anarchist.

You’ll find these titles on the Children’s Room New Shelf for the next couple of months. While you’re there, you might find other heroines to be inspired by.

Fresh Picks: Middle Grade Fiction

by Morgan Reeves on December 20th, 2016
Fresh Picks: Middle Grade Fiction Cover Image

Take a break from the winter cold and enjoy these new titles aimed at kids in 4th-7th grades. Mostly realistic fiction with some hints of mystery and speculative science themes, these will appeal to readers who relate best to real world issues.

First, check out The Best Man by Richard Peck. What do you want to be when you grow up? Archer isn’t quite sure, but he has a pretty good idea of who he wants to be. He’s picked out some role models to emulate in his family; his grandfather, father and favorite uncle. He’s even found a fantastic teacher to look up to. As middle school starts, Archer tackles all of the surprises and changes that come his way with humor and a love for the Chicago Cubs.

 

Check out The Only Road by Alexandra Diaz  for an eye-opening look at the hardships refugees and immigrants face as they look for a safer future. Jaime lives in Guatemalan village with his close-knit family. Life would be fine if it weren’t for the violent gang that controls the whole town. When his cousin is killed and a target placed on Jaime’s back, his family sends him on the dangerous and illegal journey through Mexico to the United States.

 

 

Take a look at The Wolf Keepers by Elise Broach for fast-paced adventure for animal lovers. Lizzie has grown up with a love for all animals, as her father is a zookeeper. She often accompanies him to work and considers the John Muir Wildlife Park a second home. Her life takes a turn for the adventurous when she meets Tyler, runaway who has been living in the zoo. He’s sure something strange is going on at the zoo after dark, and asks Lizzie for help figuring out the mystery. Soon they end up running for their lives in the wilderness of Yosemite National Park.

Join the (Book) Club

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on February 4th, 2016
Join the (Book) Club Cover Image

One of my favorite books is Angry Housewives Eating Bon-Bons by Lorna Landvik. I picked it up because the title made me laugh, but the story of five women who come together for three decades of book club meetings (and everything in between) is why it’s high on my recommendation list.

I love books about book clubs. In a way, they are two books in one. First there’s the story, then there’s reading about the books the characters read. More often than not, those titles end up on my future reading list.

I’ll admit, sometimes writing down the title and author is as close as I’ll ever get to reading the book, but there have been times I’ve seen it through. For instance, I read Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster after the characters in Heather Vogel Fredrickson’s Mother-Daughter Book Club series read it in Dear Pen Pal.

Luckily, I spent a semester studying Jane Austen in college, so when The Jane Austen Book Club by Karen Joy Fowler was published, I didn’t have to worry about falling down the rabbit hole of new book titles.

Like actors who aren’t doctors in real life but play one on TV, I do not belong to a book club; I only readbook-club-kit about them. However, if starting a book club is something that interests you, ICPL has you covered. Our Book Club Kits contain 10 copies of books and discussion questions, all packaged in one canvas bag. Located on the first floor near the Help Desk, each kit can be checked out for six weeks.

ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2015: Children’s Books

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on December 25th, 2015
ICPL Staff Top Picks for 2015: Children’s Books Cover Image

This category encompasses everything you’d find on the shelves in the Ellen Buchanan Children’s Room — board books and picture books to chapter books and children’s non-fiction. That might be why our list of Best Children’s Books of 2015 is longer than any other category. Or it could be because there were so many great children’s books released this year!

ICPL’s BEST CHILDREN’S BOOKS OF 2015childrens room

  • Simon’s New Bed by Christian Trimmer
  • Black Day: The Monster Rock Band by Marcus Sikora with Mardra Sikora
  • All My Stripes: A Story for Children with Autism by Shaina Rudolph and Danielle Royer
  • Painting for Peace in Ferguson by Carol Swartout Klein
  • When You Were Born by Emma Dodd
  • The Wonderful Things You Will Be by Emily Winfield Martin
  • Enormous Smallness: A Story of E. E. Cummings by Matthew Burgess
  • Lullaby and Kisses Sweet: Poems to Love with Your Baby by Lee Bennett Hopkins
  • P. Zonka Lays An Egg by Julie Paschkis
  • Snoozefest by Samantha Berger
  • The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton
  • Waiting by Kevin Henkes
  • Wolfie the Bunny by Ame Dyckman
  • Stella by Starlight by Sharon M. Draper
  • The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville
  • Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt
  • Serafina and the Black Cloak by Robert Beatty
  • The Story of Diva and Flea by Mo Willems
  • Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley
  • Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate
  • Finding Serendipity by Angelica Banks
  • Baba Yaga’s Assistant by Marika McCoola
  • Beyond the Western Deep by Alex Kain
  • The Case for Loving: The Fight for Interracial Marriage by Selina Alko
  • Queen of the Diamond: The Lizzie Murphy Story by Emily Arnold McCully
  • The Story of Life: A First Book about Evolution by Catherine Barr and Steve Williams
  • The Only Child by Guojing
  • Finding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear by Lindsay Mattick
  • The Nest by Kenneth Oppel
  • I Really Like Slop! by Mo Willems
  • The Bear Ate Your Sandwich by Julia Sarcone-Roach
  • Naptime with Theo and Beau by Jessica Shyba
  • The School for Good and Evil #3: The Last Ever After by Soman Chainani
  • Wings of Fire Book Seven: Winter Turning by Tui T. Sutherland
  • Stolen Magic by Gail Carson Levine

Moving Season

by Mimi Blankenship Coupland on August 18th, 2015

This one is for you, Mom.  As Iowa City residents know, it’s that time of year and, this time, I was going to be part of the chaos.  As I was talking about how stressful things were, my mom said, “You should write about this in your blog.”  At that time I thought, “Ugh!  I’m calling you as a procrastination or avoidance technique.”  But now that I have “settled” into my new place, I realized she was right so here you are.

 

39 Apartments cover.phpMoving Day cover.phpAccording to Jonah Winter, Beethoven had to change his address 39 times, including 5 pianos.  This picture book (2006) is filled with interesting facts and whimsical illustrations.  Reading it will make most moves seem quite easy in comparison.  The Berenstain Bears’ Moving Day (1981) by Stan and Jan Berenstain depicts a more realistic undertaking.

 

Bromeliad Trilogy cover.phpThe Bromeliad Trilogy (1998) by Terry Pratchett features 4-inch tall creatures called nomes who originated from another planet; consider them to be alien Littles or Borrowers.  In the beginning, they live Outside but too many predators and a scarcity of food convince them to migrate to the Store.  Other nomes already reside there and allow the immigrants to stay.  Soon, through a “great and powerful” object dubbed the Thing, they discover the Store is to be demolished and they must all move again.  This trilogy consists of Truckers (1989), Diggers (1990), and Wings (1990).

 

From the Mixed Up Files cover.phpIn the classic book From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler (1967) by E. L. Konigsburg, Claudia Kincaid is bored with her life and decides to run away from home and live in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.  She recruits her brother Jamie, primarily as a roommate to help with expenses.  They quickly settle into a routine when, one day, a mysterious marble statue of an angel arrives.  Jamie is ready to return home but Claudia is intrigued and refuses until she resolves the enigma.

 

How to Survive cover.phpHow to Survive a Move (2005) is an advice book that I had not actually read before my relocation, but should have done.  It is comprised of recommendations from everyday people who have already undergone that experience.  Some are amusing and some are “what not to do” but most are beneficial.  Keep this book in mind for the residence reshuffle next year.

 

Whether you are already established in your home or still unpacking boxes, take a break to read about various moves.  Finally, a humongous thank you to all my friends and family who helped me change my residence so I would still have enough sanity to write this blog.

Twice as Nice!

by Mimi Blankenship Coupland on July 21st, 2015

Often in my civilian life I am recognized and greeted by patrons, whether at HyVee, the bus stop, even on the plane home at Christmas.  Sometimes it isn’t me though – it’s my identical twin sister who also lives in Iowa City.  Instead of regaling you with anecdotes of a twin’s life, I’ll let these authors enlighten you about these special siblings.

Separated @ Birth cover.phpIn Separated @ Birth: A True Love Story of Twin Sisters Reunited (2014) by Anais Bordier and Samantha Futerman, two sisters discover each other’s existence because of a video on YouTube.  Told from alternating viewpoints, this book chronicles that beginning of their relationship, their first face-to-face meeting, and other milestones.  Even if you are not adopted, nor a twin, this heartwarming memoir will make you smile.

There are two related items:  one is a companion documentary “Twinsters” released in 2015; the other is an article in the 12 July 2015 New York Times Magazine titled “The Mixed-Up Brothers of Bogata” about two sets of twins switched at birth and raised as fraternal twins.

Trading Faces cover.phpTrading Faces (2009) is the first book in a series written by identical twin sisters Julia De Villers and Jennifer Roy.  It introduces Payton, the “pretty” one, and Emma, the “smart” one.  Because of a wardrobe malfunction, they must switch clothes and identities for the day.  Needless to say, that becomes not the only time; however, they learn that it’s okay not to adhere so rigidly to labels and how to use their individual skills to help each other as well as others.

The Third Twin cover.phpThis final suggestion is a fascinating novel; I have read it multiple times.  The Third Twin (1996) by Ken Follett features Dr. Jeannie Ferrami who is studying nature versus nurture.  She is raped but the suspect claims his innocence.  Further investigation uncovers another man with identical DNA.  And, as the title indicates, there emerges a third character.  Part mystery and part thriller, the plot is quite intricate and intriguing.

Nowadays, multiple births are common.  Even if you are not lucky enough to have congenital buddies, you can experience some of the joy here.




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