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Book reviews by library staff and guest contributors

Music and memory

Cover of Holding On
A review of Holding On by Sophia Lee
Isabel Roxas

In Sophia N. Lee’s remarkable picture book, Holding On, we meet a delightful granddaughter and her beloved Lola (the Tagalog word for grandmother). Lola loves to tell her granddaughter “If you want to hold on, you gotta sing your songs”, and Lola’s house is full of music and memories. Along with photos, special objects, favorite foods, and stories, Lola’s songs are how she remembers and shares her life and loved ones.

Jan 12, 2024

Picking up the pieces

Cover of Ashes of the Sun
A review of Ashes of the Sun by Django Wexler

Generations ago an empire was destroyed by war. The technological/magical remnants of that society are now either in the hands of the Twilight Order or hard sought by the criminal and/or rebellious elements of the society. A sister and brother find themselves on opposite sides of that power dynamic in this complex and fascinating fantasy novel.

Jan 10, 2024

A wish on a washing machine

Cover of The Wishing Machine
A review of The Wishing Machine by Jonathan Hillman
Nadia Alam

Change and goodbyes are hard! As Sam and his mom prepare to move from their apartment to Grandpa's trailer away from the city, they say goodbye to friends and their cherished Sunday laundromat time together with one last visit. But with a little imagination and some one-of-a-kind luck, Sam discovers that his most heartfelt wish doesn't need a magic machine to come true.

Jan 5, 2024

A generation lost

Cover of After Francesco
A review of After Francesco by Brian Malloy

Before there was Covid-19, the world experienced another epidemic that seemed to come out of nowhere. The first cases of what would become known as AIDS were diagnosed in June of 1981. Forty years ago. Think about that. The beginning of the AIDS crisis is now a historical time period. Mind boggling. But also so important to remember.

Jan 2, 2024

Do we have a preposition for you

Cover of Catside up, Catside Down:
A review of Catside up, Catside Down: A Book of Prepositions by Anna Hrachovec

Oh, those pesky prepositions….In, Out, Up, Down, In Front, Behind….there are only so many ways to illustrate these concepts, right? Well, if including adorable, chonky knitted kittens is one of those ways, then we agree. Anna Hrachovec is a long time designer of tiny creatures known as “Mochi Mochi”, knitted (rather than crocheted) Japanese inspired toys known as Amigurumi. She has written several books of adorable patterns which can be found at Madison Public Library.

Dec 29, 2023

Hidden charm (and depth)

Cover of Quartet in Autumn
A review of Quartet in Autumn by Barbara Pym

I’m so happy I’ve discovered Barbara Pym, and slightly ashamed that it took me this long to find her. She writes characters you’d never guess you were interested in knowing more about, but it turns out, you are. Quartet in Autumn, along with the rest of Pym's novels, could be described as being about nothing in particular, but it's written so well that you might come away feeling that it’s actually about everything, a profound plumbing of everyday life.

Dec 26, 2023

Cheese and applesauce

Cover of The Lost Library
A review of The Lost Library by Rebecca Stead

Rising sixth graders Evan and Rafe discover a little free library that appears overnight filled with books that belonged to Martinville Public Library.  There has been no public library in Martinville their entire lives so there is much excitement and intrigue surrounding the library built with a crate and cabinet doors that smell like cheese and applesauce.  Who built it?  Where have the library books been all these years?  Why was one of the books checked out by Evan's dad over and over again?  What is the name of the cat who is guarding the books?  Some people call the cat Goldie.  Other

Dec 21, 2023


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