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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Welcome back, Carmen Sandiego

Cover of Who in the World is Carmen
A review of Who in the World is Carmen Sandiego? by Rebecca Tinker

I loved playing Where in the World is Carmen Sandiego? a computer game created in 1985 by the American software company Broderbund. The game was originally classified as a "mystery exploration" series but became one of the first edutainment programs used in schools. I was introduced to the game as a 5.25-inch floppy disc for the Apple II. It was used in the computer lab when I was a student, to teach kids how to install computer programs and to build typing and mouse skills. I credit most of my knowledge of geography and capital cities of the world to this excellent game. 

February 21, 2019

Sweet Anticipation for March 2019

Sweet Anticipation graphic
New Titles

Like our recent deluge of snow, library collections see their own kind of deluge with the new year: the onslaught of 2019 titles. Our librarians have been so caught up in wading through the heaping piles of new titles we missed our previous two months of Sweet Anticipation, a fault we hope readers will forgive us. Just in time for the spring melt (fingers crossed), here are some of the top titles we’re looking forward to in March:

February 18, 2019

Shipwreck!

Cover of Salt to the Sea
A review of Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys

The most tragic shipwreck in history may be one very few people remember.  It’s not the Titanic.  It is the World War II sinking of the German military transport ship Wilhelm Gustloff in January 1945.  On a ship designed to carry 1,465 passengers and crew, 10,582 desperate refugees from the Balkans and Eastern Europe, fleeing the advancing Russian troops, crammed on-board.  Two torpedoes fired from a Russian submarine sank the ship and 9,343 passengers drowned, including 5,000 children. 

February 14, 2019

Mawage

Cover of Marriage: A History
A review of Marriage: A History by Stephanie Coontz

This fascinating social history tracks the institution, or what is now known as an "institution", of marriage through all its practical, political, religious, and romantic iterations and uses. There are surprising arrangements and partnerships between families, clans, or individual people at just about every point in history from pre-history to today. Like most social histories, a major takeaway that the "good old days" never existed, and that the soaring divorce rates are directly tied to the very new idea that marriage is based on romantic love, intimacy, and personal fulfillment.

February 12, 2019

Old Sins Cast Long Shadows

Cover of Ghost Boys
A review of Ghost Boys by Jewell Parker Rhodes

I liked Jewell Parker Rhodes' book Towers Falling. So it was with great anticipation that I picked up her newest, Ghost Boys. Ghost Boys confronts another difficult, and all too real issue in today's society.  Twelve-year old Jerome is shot and killed by a police officer while playing with a toy gun in a park near his house.  Now, as a ghost, Jerome sees the devastating aftermath of his killing on his family, his friend, and his community.  Jerome meets the ghost of Emmett Till and hundreds of other ghost boys roaming the earth as their tragic history keeps replaying.

February 6, 2019

2019 Morris Award Winner (and Finalists)

Cover of Darius the Great is Not Ok
A review of Darius the Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram

One of the awards announced Monday in Seattle is the William C Morris YA Debut Award. This is a lesser known award (compared to the big hitters like Newbery and Cadlecott), but it's the one I look most forward to. They release a list of finalists in December, so right there you have a handful of brand new YA authors you know you should keep an eye on. And the choices are always thoughtful, exciting, and fresh. 

February 5, 2019

One letter at a time

Cover of Purple and Black
A review of Purple and Black by K. J. Parker

Purple and Black is brilliantly done - a gem of a book (if I may be so cliche). Tightly woven. Thought-provoking. And all of that in a slender 113 pages. This is a fantasy novel, but don't let that prevent you reading it. It's only a fantasy in that it has a made up country. Everything else about it reads like historical fiction.

February 4, 2019

Newbery Greatness

Cover of Merci Suarez Changes Gears
A review of Merci Suarez Changes Gears by Meg Medina

This year's Newbery Medal went to Merci Suarez Changes Gears, a snappy and emotional novel about a middle school, family, and how little life changes add up fast. Sixth grade is not off to a great start for Merci-- things she's always loved to do are no long "cool", friendships seem to suddenly come with all these unwritten rules, and her beloved grandfather is acting more and more confused.

February 1, 2019

Keeping the light on

Cover of Hello Lighthouse
A review of Hello Lighthouse by Sophie Blackall

Sophie Blackall has won the Caldecott Medal for her incredible ode to lighthouses and the extraordinary lives of lighthouse keepers and their families. Blackall has illustrated such a broad range of books for children, including a board book featuring a GLBT family, the chapter book series, Ivy & Bean, and picture books about wild boars who go out to dinner, an

January 29, 2019

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