About Leslie

Outreach Librarian. I drive the bookmobile to pre-schools for storytimes and to check out books.

Meet A Children’s Book Author: Laura Vaccaro Seeger

ideal-bookshelfdownloadLaura Vaccaro Seeger is known as “the queen of the concept book,” and young children around the world are overwhelmingly glad that she creates beautiful books that bring new life to familiar subjects. She is famous for making books that appear simple and straight forward at first glance, but when you look closer they reveal deep, rich layers that enhance your enjoyment. Using signature die-cut art and wonderful painting, readers are invited to take a step back and ‘see’ a concept through fresh eyes. Seeger’s books encourage readers to re-examine the world they think they already understand.

index (5)Seeger’s first published work was the American Library Association notable children’s book Walter Was Worried. It’s a great launching pad for discussions about emotions. But wait! Upon closer examination you see that Seeger used the letters from different emotions about a pending storm to make up the facial features of these children. Do you see the w on his cheek, that his mouth is a “D” and his eyes are ‘o’ and ‘e’? Walter really was worried.

index (6)Black? White! Day? Night! is a very cool and colorful opposites book. Through a series of ingenious die-cut pages, the reader discovers things that are the opposite of what they seem. The format includes eighteen questions and answers which creates an element of surprise. Kids love surprises and they will surely love this book.

indexSara London of the New York Times wrote that the “playground of perception seems to be Seeger’s most natural arena,” calling her picture book, First the Egg “a feat of ingenuity.” Using simple text and illustrations, this book shows how animals and objects change (including tadpoles to frogs and seeds to flowers) in a book with cutouts so that certain colors from the previous picture help create the next picture. This book would be a good spring-board for discussions with small children.

index (1)Her book, The Hidden Alphabet, is an outstanding and artful alphabet book. It is a ‘lift-the-flap’ book which is a visual delight. This video gives you an idea of how the flaps lift and reveal the letter: where before there was an object such as an arrowhead (A), balloons (B), and a cloud (C). This book would be an excellent addition to your home book shelf as there’s more to see each time you open it and it really is quite lovely.

index (2)index (3)Her Dog and Bear books are different from her others in that they are narratives, that is, stories. Each of these books contains three stories about the close friends Dog, who is a dachshund, and Bear, who is, well, a bear. These are wonderful picture book stories for the pre-school set.

index (8)One Boy is a die-cut book exploring counting and words-within words. At the start, readers see a sad boy surrounded by empty lonely chairs. At his feet is a bag with paint brushes peeking out. The text reads “ONE boy” which-with a turn of the page and a look through a cleverly cut hole-turns into “all alONE.” Page after page, the book becomes populated with seals, apes, and monkeys, all examples of words-within-words. Finally, we come back to “ONE boy” who is “all dONE,” and we discover where all the characters came from.

index (7)What If? is like one of those movies where different choices cause different endings. What if a boy found a beach ball and kicked it into the ocean? What if two seals found it and began to play? What if a third seal appeared on the beach looking for a friend? Enjoy this visit to the beach and the chance to guess what happens when different choices are made.

index (31)This is a video of her picture book, Green. Challenged by her editor to create a book with this title, Seeger kicked around the idea and thought of the environment at first, but then settled on the color green and all its many permutations. I was expecting the typical shades of green but was pleasantly surprised to see the clever takes on wacky green, slow green, and no green at all. This book seems to be asking, “How many different ways can you look at the color green?”

index (4)In her most recent work, Bully, there is a bull who doesn’t know how to make friends. He’s been bullied by the other bulls and when asked to play by some other animals responds in the same way. He puffs himself up and calls them all names until one little goat stands up to him and calls him a bully. Then he realizes the way that he’s been acting. He returns to his regular size, no longer puffed up and mean, and apologizes to them. Luckily, they are still willing to play with him. With the book having few words, most of the bullying is conveyed by the artwork and the bull’s posture and size. While capturing the feeling of being bullied, this book also shows that if you are bullying others, you can self-correct and still be friends.

I can hardly wait to see what fabulous book Seeger will come up with next, but in the meantime, come on down to the Everett Public Library and check out her books!

Meet a Children’s Book Author: Jennifer L. Holm

ideal-bookshelfWelcome to the first in a series of blog posts I’ve created to introduce you to various children’s book authors. There are a lot of great ones out there and it’s worth knowing about them. Who knows, you may find yourself reading some really great (children’s) literature.

I recently had a chance to meet some children’s book authors at the Children’s Literature Conference held at Western Washington University in Bellingham. It was a pleasure to meet Jennifer L. Holm that day. Here’s a little about her for your edification:

jenniholmJennifer was born in California and lived for a short time on Whidbey Island. She spent most of her growing up years in Audobon, Pennsylvania. Constantly reading as a child, her favorite author was Lloyd Alexander. She was a broadcast producer at an advertising agency in New York City before she took up writing and quickly received three Newbery Honor Awards for historical fiction novels. Holm currently lives in California with her husband and two young children where she loves to write in her slippers and pajamas while her children are at school.

index (10)Holm started writing with a series about Boston Jane. Sixteen-year-old Jane Peck has ventured to the unknown wilds of the Northwest to wed her childhood idol, William Baldt. But her impeccable training at Miss Hepplewhite’s Young Ladies Academy in Philadelphia is hardly preparation for the colorful characters and crude life that she finds in the Washington Territory. Having to rely upon her wits in the wild, Jane must determine for herself whether she is truly proper Miss Jane Peck of Philadelphia, faultless young lady and fiance, or Boston Jane, as the Chinook dub her, fearless and loyal woman of the frontier.

index (23)Our Only May Amelia is based upon Holm’s great-aunt Alice Amelia Holm’s diary. She was a Finnish-American girl born on the Nasel River in Washington state during the nineteenth century. Mae Amelia is the only girl in a family with seven brothers and has many great adventures. You certainly will enjoy this book set in Washington state. In fact, the city of Lacey, Washington recently used this novel as their “Everyone Reads” choice.

index (24)Holm recommended that you learn from her mistake and write a novel about your mother’s side of the family before you focus on your father’s side, as she did in Mae Amelia. Thus came the inspiration for Penny from Heaven. It’s 1953 and eleven year old Penny dreams of a summer of ice cream, swimming, and baseball. But nothing is that simple for Penny. She can’t go swimming because her mother is afraid that she’ll catch polio at the pool. This is a shinning story about the everyday and the extraordinary, about a time in America’s history when being Italian meant you were the enemy. But mostly, it’s a story about family. This is a book my mother-in-law would enjoy! You may also.

index (25)Turtle in Paradise, another Newbery honor book, is inspired by stories of Holm’s great-grandmother who immigrated to Key West at the turn of the last century. It’s 1935 and Turtle heads off to Key West Florida to live with relatives that she’s never met. It’s hot and strange, with wild jungle peeping out between houses, ragtag boy cousins, and secret treasure. Before she knows what’s happening, Turtle finds herself coming out of her shell (!) and the world opens up in unexpected ways.

It would be easy to typecast Holm as a historical fiction writer since she has written this slew of great historic fiction novels. But WAIT! There’s more! She has broken any expectations that hold her to that single genre with her two graphic novel series.

Growing up with four brothers, Holm’s family devoured comic books. She, however, was bothered by the representation (of lack thereof) of girls and women in these stories and decided to do something about it. Babymouse was born, introducing a likeable character who is strong-willed, risk-taking, funny, and impulsive. Her brother, Matt Holm, is the illustrator of these pink-tinted comics that cause readers to read one after another.

index (26)index (27)index (28)index (29)

The Holm siblings also collaborate on Squish, a baseball-capped amoeba who leaves readers chuckling while also learning a few science related ideas. Holm creates mice and amoebas (as well as people) that captivate young readers in these graphic novel series.

index (12)index (13)index (14)index (15)

Stay tuned for her upcoming middle grade novel coming out later this year, The Fourteenth Goldfish, where she and Grandpa Melvin explore the wonders of science and raise big questions about family and friendship, life and death.

You can find most of Jennifer L. Holm’s books here at the Everett Public Library. Come on down and borrow a few!

Easy Ideas for Literary Mardi Gras Gala Costumes

stranger-than-fic-narrow

Are you thinking of joining in on the Mardi Gras fun at the library this Saturday, but hesitant because of the costume piece of the puzzle? You can always ‘come as you are’, but I’d like to suggest some really easy author and literary character costume ideas for your inspiration.

You could come as Madeline, Virginia Woolf, or Mark Twain, but those costumes require some specific clothing. Here are some ideas which can come straight from your closet without any special purchases.

index (14)nancyLet’s start with a fun one: Nancy Drew. Throw on your favorite twin set, loafers, knee highs and head band and then simply grab a flash light and magnifying glass and you’re good to go. Check out a copy of one of Nancy’s mysteries and it’ll be super obvious who you are.

index (15)harrietIf you want a younger sleuth, try Harriet the Spy. You’d have a super comfortable evening in this costume: high tops, jeans, and a hoodie. Complete your ensemble with the obligatory magnifying glass, binoculars, flashlight and a notebook for chronicling all of your fun.

Wild cover imagewildDid you read Wild? This would be a sporty costume: Dig out your hiking boots, or maybe just one, and get your back pack, compass, and water bottle or map. Bingo, you’re Cheryl Strand. And you’ll have a very comfortable and athletic evening to boot.

index (16)31Ign0uBGbL._SL500_AA300_Simply don a pig snout to be one of the villainous swine from George Orwell’s Animal Farm. This is a super easy costume but, on second thought, it’d make it hard to eat and drink all evening. This costume has the added appeal of disappearing into your pocket when you’re tired of the get-up.

index (17)enhanced-buzz-8603-1380754592-12For the super lazy: Just get yourself a red “A” and slap it onto your long dress. Bingo, you’re Hester from the Scarlet Letter. Better still if you’re pregnant… This would be an elegant get up which would surely spark many a conversation. There. Done.

index (18)enhanced-buzz-4504-1380753969-28For the even lazier: Find yourself a name tag which says: “Hello.  My name is…” and instantly become Ishmael from Herman Melville’s Moby Dick. This is nothing short of brilliant because it is not only easy, but quite high brow as well.

index (19)enhanced-buzz-7265-1380754757-35How about the wildly popular Fifty Shades of Grey? Surely you’ve seen the photo of the fellow who has taped all sorts of paint chips onto his white t-shirt? Here it is. So fun! So easy! This just involves a trip to the paint store and some scotch tape.

index (20)Bridget-JonesHow about Bridget Jones from Mad About the Boy? This costume has the added advantage of doubling as your home movie attire for after the gala. No need to change clothes and you even have the wine and ice cream ready to go! Will someone please tell me why you need spanx with your pajamas?

index (21)Orange-is-the-New-BlackYet another easy idea: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. The problem here is that you’ll need an orange jump suit and that’s not your typical closet staple. Maybe you’ll have to sneak out to the Good Will and just buy anything orange.

index (22)Night-CircusI love this idea: dress like you’re in the Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern. This would simply mean only wearing black, white, and red and perhaps painting your face white. This would be a very striking ensemble fit for a gala.

There are so many good ideas for easy literary costumes. Be sure to don one and come to this fun gala. Remember, it’s Saturday March 1 at 7:00 pm at the Main Library. Tickets cost $10 through Brown Paper Tickets or at the door. Enjoy a taste of Everett’s finest restaurants, coffee courtesy of Bookend Coffee, and a cash bar.

The WIld Snohomians will be playing for your listening and dancing enjoyment, and there will be prizes for the best costumes!

As always with Friends events, all proceeds will benefit library services for children and adults. Past Friends events have helped fund the Summer Reading book prizes, the teen area at the Main Library and book group sets.

I hope to see you there!

Books to Read before the Movie Premieres

I’d like to augment Alan’s series on books which have been made into movies with this list of 2014 movies which are based on books. This is going to be an awesome year at the movies and you’ll enjoy the them even more if you check out these books from the library and read them before viewing the films. Here they are in order of release date.

index (34)1. The Monuments Men by Robert Edsel and Bret Witter. The book: The true story of art historians who joined the armed forces during World War II to try to track down and save as much fine art as possible before and after Hitler got his hands on it. The movie: Will be released February 7th and stars a fantastic cast including: George Clooney, Matt Damon, John Goodman, and Bill Murray.

index2. Winter’s Tale by Mark Helprin. The book: Takes readers on a journey to New York of the Belle Époque, where Peter Lake attempts to rob a Manhattan mansion only to find the daughter of the house at home. Thus begins the love between the middle-aged Irishman and Beverly Penn, a young girl who is dying. The movie: This romantic fantasy comes out February 14th and stars Colin Farrell, Russell Crowe and Jessica Brown Findlay.

index (1)3. Vampire Academy by Richelle Mead. The book: Try to read at least the first book in this series. There are way too many sexy vampire books out there, but with a mythology different from your typical vampire story, a novel this dark is definitely worth your time. The movie: Will also be released February 14th and stars Zoey Deutch, Lucy Fry, and Sarah Hyland.  It was made by the directors of Mean Girls.

index (2)4. A Long Way Down by Nick Hornby. The book: Tells the story of four people who encounter one another on the roof of Topper’s House, a London destination famous as the last stop for those ready to end their lives. It is told in four distinct voices and manages to be humorous and somber at the same time. The movie: Stars Aaron Paul, Rosamund Pike, Imogen Poots and Pierce Brosnan and will be released March 7th.

index (3)5. Divergent by Veronica Roth. The book: Set in a world where you’re placed in neat little categories called factions, it’s dangerous to be someone like Tris — someone who is Divergent. Being Divergent means you don’t just belong in one category, and it also means you can’t be controlled. This is a frightening world, but a must-read book. The movie: Stars Kate Winslet, Shailene Woodley and Theo James and will be in theaters March 21st.  Scary!

index (4)6. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. The book: Will have you laughing and crying and then crying some more since it is a beautifully written romance between two terminally ill young people. It is a beautiful story about life and death. The movie: Also stars Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort and will be out June 6th. Remove your mascara and take tissue with you to this emotional movie based on the book.

index (5)7. The Hundred-Foot Journey by Richard Morais. The book: The story starts with a tragedy in Mumbai, India and follows the family around the world until they land in Lumiere, France where they open an Indian restaurant one hundred feet from a fancy french restaurant. The movie: Helen Mirren will play Madame Mallory who is initially infuriated when the new restaurant is such a success, but then softens and takes the young man under her wing. Release date is August 8th.

index (6)8. The Giver by Lois Lowry. The book: The Giver,  the 1994 Newbery Medal winner, follows the story of a boy who is given the responsibility of remembering the history of the world that existed before the establishment of the Utopian society in which he now lives. Profound and full of important messages, this is definitely a novel that should be on your ‘To Be Read’ list. The movie: Jeff Bridges and Meryl Streep make this a highly anticipated movie and Taylor Swift tries acting. The release date is August 15th.

index (7)9. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn. The book: This is a dark twisted tale with despicable characters and a sometimes harrowing, but well developed, plot which some readers may find just too uncomfortable to read. It’s not a happy story or a feel good book. On the other hand, if you like a little of the above, then Dark Places will keep you turning the pages and have you sitting up and reading long into the night. The movie: To be released September 1st with Charlize Theron.

index (8)10. This is Where I Leave You by Jonathan Tropper. The book: Simultaneously mourning the death of his father and the end of his marriage, Judd joins the rest of the Foxmans as they reluctantly submit to their patriarch’s dying request to spend the seven days following the funeral together. In the same house. Like a family. The book is hilarious. The movie: With Jason Bateman and Tina Fey. Enough said. To be released September 12th.

index (9)11. The Maze Runner by James Dashner. The book: The Maze Runner is the first book in the trilogy of the same name by James Dashner. It is the story of Thomas, who wakes up in a strange place and can remember nothing more than his name. Set in a mysterious place surrounded by a maze that changes every night and contains hideous monsters within its walls, this is a sci-fi thriller that’s a little bit Lord of the Flies and a little bit The Hunger Games.The movie: With the release date of September 19th, features Dylan O’Brien and Kaya Scodelario.

index (10)12. Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. The book: Amy mysteriously disappears on her fifth wedding anniversary and it’s looking more and more like her husband Nick was involved. This thrilling book will translate into a great suspenseful movie. The movie: With Ben Affleck and Rosamund Pike, it will be out on October 3rd just in time for the Halloween season.

index (11)13. Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. The book: the true story of Louis Zamperini, a track star from the 1930′s who participated in the 1936 Berlin Olympics and then became an airman in WWII.  His plane went down in the Pacific Ocean and the story is fascinating. The movie: To be released on Christmas day, directed by Angelina Jolie, and starring Garrett Hedlund, Jai Courtney, and Domhnall Gleeson.

index (12)14. Wild by Cheryl Strand. The book: Chreyl lost both her mother and her marriage in quick succession, so with nothing left to lose, she decided to hike more than a thousand miles of the Pacific Crest Trail.  It is a story of wilderness salvation and survival, both internally and externally. The movie: Will be released sometime in 2014 and will star Reese Witherspoon.  

index (13)15. Serena by Ron Rash. The book: The year is 1929, and newlyweds George and Serena Pemberton travel from Boston to the North Carolina mountains where they plan to create a timber empire. Although George has already lived in the camp long enough to father an illegitimate child, Serena learns that she will never bear a child, and sets out to murder the son George fathered without her. The movie: A must-see since it stars Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper. To be released sometime this year.

Well, there you have it. Read the book first so the movie will be all the better. Enjoy! Go Seahawks!

Make This a Book Christmas

NationalAssnBookPublishers_1927_100

I think you’d agree that this 1927 poster from the National Association of Booksellers has a great message. Are you giving books this Christmas? I am! Spoiler alert. My father-in-law is getting an autographed copy of The Boys in the Boat and my mother-in-law will be opening Bill Bryson’s One Summer: America 1927If you need some book buying ideas, here are some of the most popular gift books of the holiday season.

index (29)index (30)For kids, I like to give books that they’ll look at again and again. A perfect example is Guinness World Records which is always checked out at the library because the kids love it. You also can’t go wrong with The Animal Book. Every child loves animals and this book has them all.

index (13)index (14)For the drinker on your list, consider the World Atlas of Wine or The Complete Beer Course. This is the seventh edition of the great wine reference book and this new book on beer claims to teach you how to select and enjoy a brewski. Talk about a win-win.

index (15)index (18)

Everyone loves the indulgence of a beautiful coffee table book. Remodelista: a Model for the Considered Home is not just a primer on remodeling, but is also full of tips on creating a home full of personality and pizzazz. The Smithsonian’s History of America in 101 Objects is any history junkie’s dream.

index (16)index (19)Let’s face it, it’s always entertaining to gawk at people. If you’re a fan of Brandon Scranton’s blog, or even just people in general, Humans of New York offers hours of enjoyment. You could also try Awkward Family Holiday Photos which will surely become a holiday treasure.

index (17)index (20)I would love to receive a copy of Art Made From Books:  Altered, Sculpted, Carved, Transformed (hint, hint). I mean, just look at the cover! Wish I could open it up right now. Or how about the luscious Wes Anderson Collection? You won’t be able to put it down.

index (22)index (23)For the cat lover on your list, here’s Kittenhood. It’s darling. And for the dog lover, give Shake which is a pictorial work of different breeds of dogs shaking after being wet.

index (24)index (25)For someone who needs a good laugh,consider Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Borsch. Apparently, it’s pee your pants funny. Or let Ron Burgundy entertain you with stories from his past in Let Me Off at the Top. Either may be the perfect gift for that young teenager or aging anchorman on your list.

index (26)index (33)For the history buff, try History Decoded by Brad Meltzer. This book, inspired by the History Network show, explores unexplained mysteries such as what the government is hiding in Area 51. Doris Kearns Goodwin’s The Bully Pulpit will appeal to many history lovers on your list.

index (27)index (32)If you know someone who loves biographies, buy Lawrence in Arabia. It is one of the best books of the year, a history with flair and a fun read at that. I can also recommend Nancy, the Story of Lady Astor. It is a well written account of an American woman who was the first female member of Parliament.

index (28)index (31)Finally for the cook on your list, give the Ottolenghi: the Cookbook. This cookbook of Mediterranean food is exquisitely designed, entertainingly written, and the food is delicious. I’d also like to put a plug in for my friend Bob Donegan’s new book, Ivar’s Seafood Cookbook: the O-fish-al Guide to Cooking the Northwest Catch.

detail_21404082It may be too late to order online, but your local independent book dealer will have her shop open Christmas Eve. I hope these suggestions will help you make this a “Book Christmas” for a year of good reading ahead!

Girl Books

The last student in the bookmobile wasn’t finding a book that she wanted. She finally asked me for a ‘girl book.’  I knew what she wanted: a Disney or Barbie Princess book. Those books are very poorly written but the little girls love them because of all of the pretty pictures. So, what did I do? I put my hand down and, without looking, grabbed the first book I could touch.  It was about Space.  “Here’s a girl book!”  I exclaimed.

index (5)index (4)The little girl said, “That’s not a girl book! It’s not pink!” The teacher and I exchanged sad looks before I brought out the pink princess books. Yay! She found the one she wanted: The Perfect Princess Tea Party. She left a happy customer.

Then I saw this awesome GoldieBlox ad on the internet which shows three little girls absolutely bored, bored, bored with a pink toy commercial. They turn off the TV and create a fantastic Rube Goldberg set-up in their home. It was inspirational! One of the lines set to the Beastie Boys tune says, “Girls!  Don’t underestimate girls!” It got me thinking about all of the little princesses out there and how to get better books into their hands so they’re not bored, bored, bored. Here are some great picture books for your little princesses.

index (6)Cinder Edna by Ellen Jackson is one of my favorites. Cinder Edna lives next door to Cinderella and they each end up with the prince of their dreams but Cinder Edna is so much happier because she has her priorities straight. While Ella gets the help of her Fairy Godmother and ultimately lands Prince Charming, Edna figures out a way to get to the ball herself and has a rollicking good time! Guess who lives happily ever after?

index (7)In Olivia and the Fairy Princesses by Ian Falconer, Olivia embarks upon a quest for identity with lofty goals and being a princess is NOT one of them. Olivia is having an identity crisis. There are too many ruffly, sparkly princesses around these days, and Olivia has had quite enough. She needs to stand out. She wants to do more than just fit in. So what will she be? The answer is marvelous!

index (8)Princess Me by Karma Wilson is a rhyming story about a little girl who imagines being a princess, with her stuffed animals serving as royal subjects:

Make way! Make way!
Here comes the princess of the land. She’s sweet and kind.
She’s oh-so-grand. And just who is she, this lovely Princess Me? Come inside this book to see!

index (9)Not All Princesses Dress in Pink by Jane Yolen is a winner, pure and simple. These princesses dig in the dirt, kick soccer balls, and splash in muddy puddles–all in their sparkly crowns. I love the rhyming text:

Not all princesses dress in pink. Some play in bright red socks that stink, blue team jerseys that don’t quite fit, accessorized with a baseball mitt, and a sparkly crown.

Don’t forget to wear your sparkly crown!

index (10)In The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke, Violetta is a little princess who wishes she could be as big and strong as her brothers. But what she lacks in size, she makes up for in determination. At night Violetta slips out into the woods and secretly teaches herself to become the cleverest, bravest, most nimble knight in the land. She’s ready to fight as a knight and wins the prize of living happily ever after.

index (11)Pirates & Princesses by Jill Kargman is the story of Ivy and Fletch who have been best friends since babyhood. They’re in for a surprise when they start kindergarten. The girls play with the girls and the boys play with the boys on the playground. Ivy likes the girls’ princess game and Fletch likes the pirate game but they miss each other. I won’t say much more other than the book is sweet, hysterically funny in its narration, and has a great message about being who you want to be regardless of gender stereotypes.

index (12)If you’d like to read an adult book on this whole pink princess idea, try Cinderella Ate My Daughter by Peggy Orenstein. The author concludes that parents who think through their values early on and set reasonable limits, encourage dialogue and skepticism, and are canny about the consumer culture, can combat the 24/7 “media machine” aimed at girls and hold off the focus on beauty, materialism, and the color pink somewhat.

Well, I hope that this list gives you a start on finding interesting and well written books for your little princesses. They surely won’t be bored, bored, bored with these great picture books!

Things That Go Bump in The Night

It was a dark and quiet night around midnight when I heard a scritch, scritch, scritch from the corner of the bedroom. Was it the dog? I stumbled over without glasses or turning on the light because I wouldn’t want to wake my dear husband, now would I? I saw something on the window screen. “Oh!  A butterfly!” I thought. “I’ll just lift up this screen and let the little fellow outside.”

“EEEKK!” the bat and I both cried at once! The little thing started circling  around the bedroom as I dropped to the floor and covered my head. “What’s wrong?” asked dear husband. “Go back to sleep,” he said. ” Bats are good.  They eat insects!” And he promptly went back to sleep.

Like fun I’d sleep with a bat flying over head! What to do? The bat was obviously attracted to light so I decided to turn on the lights in another bedroom. Bingo. Little Battie flew in there and started flying madly in circles. As I quickly shut the door, I realized that I saw the dog in there and the windows weren’t open. I summoned up the nerve to coax the dog out and sneak in and open the windows. Then I realized that I had to turn the bedroom lights off and the porch light on. The bat was still there an hour later, but hanging up near the ceiling. In the morning, he was gone.

Of course, I had to check the attic the next day and was relieved to discover that it was simply a renegade single bat and we didn’t have hoards of them living above us.

Driving to work just a day later I heard a fascinating story on NPR about bats. My fear quickly changed to fascination. Perhaps you knew that bats are the world’s only flying mammals? (Those flying squirrels actually just glide.) Their echolocation helps them to circle bedrooms at an amazing speed. You also probably knew that they eat insects, but did you know that they help pollinate plants and trees?

And though it hasn’t yet affected bats in the western U.S., a tragic disease called the White-nose Syndrome has plagued the bat population in the east. The fungus infects the bats while they hibernate. The bats go back to the caves and they get all comfy and go to sleep. And all of a sudden, they wake up itching like crazy. And they literally won’t go back to sleep. They use up their fat reserves, which are designed to get them through five or six months they are hibernating. They burn it up very quickly, and then die of starvation.  White-nose syndrome has killed millions of bats since it spread from New York, where it was first discovered six years ago. Researchers believe it came from Europe, through trade or tourism. Its spores have now been found as far west as Minnesota. My empathy for bats increased as did my desire to know more.

I searched the library for bat books and, to be honest, they are creepy because bats are, frankly, very ugly. Witness the cover of this book, Bats by Phil Richardson:

indexCALXGT47

See what I mean? Is it the fangs? The ears? The arm-wings? The total package adds up to one freaky little animal!

indexCAOCGX7ZBats in Question: The Smithsonian Answer Book will answer your many questions such as:  Will bats really drink blood? How fast can bats fly? Are they related to birds? What are the largest and smallest bats? Why do they live in colonies? And the photo on the cover is blessedly small. Enough of realistic books, let’s turn to children’s picture books since they are some of the best bat books by far and bats seem so much more appealing in them!

indexCA2WNS54

Stellaluna is the classic children’s picture book about a young bat who loses her mother and grows up with a family of birds. Stellaluna begins to see how different she is from her new mother and brothers and sisters when they do weird things like eat worms, sleep right-side up, and sleep at night.  Stellaluna finally meets her real mother and all the other bats and realizes why she felt like she didn’t belong with the bird family. She learns that it is alright to sleep upside down and that she is nocturnal. She finds herself.

indexCA10IP39Bat’s Big Game is a re-telling of a traditional fable from Aesop by Seattle author Margaret Read MacDonald whose books are always sure winners in my preschool story times. Bat keeps switching sides to be on the winning side of a soccer game between the animals and the birds. The other animals find his lack of loyalty distasteful and they eject Bat from the game. Kids will find Bat’s escapades entertaining, and they may also appreciate the lessons in loyalty and sportsmanship.

index (2)Bats at the Ballgame by Brian Lies has beautiful illustrations and is in my favorite category of children’s books: ones that rhyme. “Restless wings begin to itch-  excitement’s at a fever pitch. At last it’s time, and with a sigh, we hustle out to diamond sky.  Hurry up! Come one-come all! We’re off to watch the bats play ball!” This book is a home run.

index (3)Bats at the Library by Brian Lies has those little guys looking ding-dang cute. This is how it ends: “Through the window, into sky-it’s much too late – we’ve got to fly. But maybe a librarian will give us bats this chance again- and leave a window open wide to let us share the world inside!”

Like fun I will!

Free Author Talk Featuring Daniel James Brown

indexMark your calendar for 2 PM Sunday, October 13th for a special visit with Daniel James Brown, author of the New York Times bestseller, The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and Their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Olympics. We have moved this talk from the library auditorium to the Everett Performing Arts Center as there is sure to be a large crowd in attendance. Books will be available for purchase and signing.

This book is a pleasure to read. It tells the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal. They were a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans.

The book’s focus on the lives of the crew members makes this much more than a sports book. The team members struggles to make money and stay in school tell a compelling history of the depression in Washington state, and the alternating chapters detailing the Nazi’s preparation for the 1936 Olympics in Berlin make the climatic chapters of the big race even more compelling. At times the book reads like a suspense novel, even though we know the ultimate result from the start of the race, the results of key races leading to the 1936 Olympics are unknown until we read them at the end.

The story of the central character, Joe Rantz, and his battle with personal and family demons brought life to the book. Joe’s story is one of resiliency, and is a testament to how individuals can overcome humble and tragic beginnings. The cast of characters is amazing. The coach Al Ulbrickson and boat builder George Pocock are just as important as the other eight in the boat. You will be pulling for them all.

Here is the official book trailer which is a good synopsis of the story with actual footage of the crew and lots of great still photos.

I hope to see you at this great author event on October 13th!

The Clutter! The Disarray!

While our daughter was home from graduate school this summer for a debilitating knee surgery, her room and, I’ll admit, parts of the whole house became cluttered and disorganized. It came to a climax when our house cleaners actually quit because of “the clutter!” and “the disarray!”

imagesThis was quite a shock to yours truly as I spend my life, it seems, picking up that house. I’ll admit that I like order so much (and what librarian doesn’t?) that I recently spent a lovely evening organizing our linen closet. I just wish that I had a ‘flip and fold’! Look how happy this woman is with her flip and fold!

I like to believe that I’m not as obsessive or as compulsive as Sheldon from the Big Bang Theory. Do you remember this episode when Sheldon can’t refrain from cleaning Penny’s apartment in the middle of the night?

Now that our sweet domestic cyclone has returned to school, I can get back to being orderly and organized. But how? Naturally, I turned to the library for help and inspiration. Here are some of our great books on organizing your home and life.

indexCAVFXGV9The Easy Organizer: 365 Tips for Conquering Clutter by Marily Bohn is a fantastic little book. If you’d like an organized (ha!) book about organizing, this is the title for you! This is a ‘nibbler’ book; you can pick it up and read a little at random. It’s bursting with ideas to get organized. Some tips are the kind that make you want to slap yourself on the forehead for not thinking of them yourself.

index200 Tips for De-Cluttering by Daniela Santos Quartino is a hefty little coffee table book full of photos of orderly and organized spaces. Look at this book as pure inspiration. This is what your home would look like if you didn’t live in it and had no clutter (or life). Still, we all need something to aspire to and the tips are basic:  “Rule number one in the kitchen is to keep everything near the area where it is used.”

indexHome Organizing & Closet Makeovers is from Sunset Magazine and is not only beautiful, but is also chock full of real world advice and solutions. This book shows you how to tackle each room and every closet, finding great organizing and storage solutions at every turn. There are a lot of great tips on each page next to numerous bright and colorful photos.

indexSecrets of an Organized Mom by Barbara Reich. The title says it all. Everything in this new book, from the basic ten commandments of organizing to the Easy-Does-It Mantras at the end, is so logical and creative. This book isn’t just for moms, but for anyone wanting an organized and functional living space. Two thumbs up!

indexCAU58FSOThe 8 Minute Organizer by Regina Leeds has a very appealing premise: You can do something to organize your life in eight minutes. This is the organizing book for the busy person and who isn’t busy these days?  I haven’t had time to read it all, but I’ll give it eight minutes per day and get back to you.

indexCA8PKI23Next up is a title from Lauri Ward who specializes in books on decorating with what you already have – without purchasing new items. Downsizing Your Home with Style is a good source for decorating ideas for small spaces. Her before and after photos are super informative and the highlighted tips are both creative and on the money. This is simply a fun book to read since the solutions seem so easy and yet powerful.

indexIf you’re the type of person who just can’t get rid of all of that good stuff which some people call clutter, this next book is for you. Realsimple 869 New Uses for Old Things shows you how to use that lint roller in a couple of new ways. If an item is useful, it’s not clutter, right?  If you love Realsimple magazine, you’re sure to enjoy this book.

index (1)After reading all of the above books, you may be ready for: How to Start a Home-Based Professional Organizing Business by Dawn Noble. The back cover claims that “From estimating start-up costs and finding clients to how to stay profitable even in slow economic climates, this book takes you through every aspect of setting up and running a thriving home-based professional organizing business.”

If you must attack your linen closet right now without the help of these books, I’ll post some tips gleaned from them. These may help you stay organized:

  • One in, one out.  Come home with a new package of socks? Get rid of all the old ones with holes. A new toy for junior? Donate an old one that he doesn’t play with any longer. Assuming you already own enough (or too many) things, you can stay on top of clutter by disposing of the old when you bring home the new.
  • Have a place for donations. And visit the thrift store often to drop them off. Things sitting around the house waiting to be donated have a way of never actually getting donated.
  • Label things. It keeps you accountable for your own organizing. If there’s a basket on the counter with no label, it’ll soon hold keys, buttons, or legos. If it’s labeled ‘mail’, there’s a good chance that it’ll actually contain mail.
  • Have less stuff than you have room for. A great sale at the grocery store shouldn’t throw your pantry into disarray. But, I’ll admit, this one is a toughie.

I’ll leave you now, armed with these great organizing books and ready for the simple life, because I have a hot date with my pantry.

Do You Book Club?

Belonging to a book club is a very personal thing and you need to ask yourself a lot of questions before you commit to one: Do you enjoy the social element, or would you rather just talk about the plot, the characters, the setting – and not hear about junior’s college applications? Do you want to meet in homes or a restaurant or the library? What kind of books do you want to read? Fiction? Non-fiction? Classics? Biographies? Would you like a diverse group of folks, or people just like you?

To help you answer these questions, I’d like to give you a run down of several different clubs that I’ve participated in or have known about. The first model that comes to mind is the Everett Woman’s Book Club which founded the Everett Public Library way back in 1898. To quote the club’s history:

On June 10, 1894, a group of local women met in the home of Mary Lincoln Brown to form a Women’s Book Club that would have as its broad aim the improvement of the mind through the study of literature, but more specifically, the establishment of a public library.

Here is a photo of the club in 1894:

getimagewobocu_logo

Now, that’s going way back in Everett’s history! This book club still exists today with several different departments.

My own dear mother-in-law is in one of these departments. The ladies meet monthly in their homes. There is a member who is in charge of presenting a program which may be a book review, a visit to a museum, or a guest speaker. After the program, lunch is served. These ladies have formed very close bonds after 54 years of book club friendship.

indexYours truly is also in a department of the Everett Woman’s Book Club. My group of about fifteen members was formed in 1983 and has been a central part of my life. We meet monthly in our homes in the evenings and typically have time to socialize with an adult beverage until someone cracks down and we talk about club business and the book which we were all are supposed to have read. The gal who choose the book leads the discussion. We typically end the gathering by enjoying a dessert together. Currently we’re reading Destiny of the Republic by Candace Millard. This is an excellent history of the short, but fascinating presidency of James A. Garfield. I highly recommend it! The story of his medical care alone was memorable.

indexMy husband, who was prominently featured in my last post, has been participating in a book club for about twenty years which I (tongue in cheek?) call ‘The Everett Man’s Book Club’. Their meetings are about the same as my group’s, except that they seem to focus on non-fiction and they really focus on heavy appetizers instead of dessert. What are they reading now? The suggested read is The Boys in the Boat by Daniel Brown (Not that Dan Brown) which tells “the story of the University of Washington’s 1936 eight-oar crew and their epic quest for an Olympic gold medal, a team that transformed the sport and grabbed the attention of millions of Americans,” according to our library catalog. See? Non-fiction!

indexI also was in a Mother-Daughter book club when my daughter was in middle and high school. There were six mother-daughter pairs and we met just about four times a year as the girls lead very busy lives. What we lacked in frequency, we made up for in consistency: every member was able to attend almost every meeting, which really adds to the intimacy and fluency of the group. The readings were mostly young adult fiction, with some classics thrown into the mix. The library has several books on starting a book club in general, but also one called Book by Book: The Complete Guide to Creating Mother-Daughter Book Clubs which will help you do exactly that.

indexMy daughter has been in a book club led by her high school english teacher for half a dozen years now. Her teacher is an exceptional man who meets about twice a year with a group of his former students. The girls bring food for a potluck and they catch up with their lives and then discuss some sort of reading material: anything from “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” to King Lear. This summer they read Mr. Palomar by Italo Calvino. It’s a short, but pithy read about a man who “is a seeker after knowledge, a visionary in a world sublime and ridiculous,” again, according to the catalog. This book club clearly started with a leader, but it has evolved so that all of the members are now equals.

indexThe Everett Public Library hosts a book discussion group which meets the third Monday of each month at 11:45 AM until 1:00 PM in the Main Library Training Room. No registration is needed. This group is led by our wonderful librarian, Marge Bodre. If you’d like more information, please contact Marge at 425-257-7659 or 425-257-8000. They are currently reading and discussing The Light Between Oceans by M. L. Stedman for their August meeting. It’s an excellent novel.

If you are a member of a book discussion group, or are thinking of starting a group, you might be interested in the library’s Book Group Collection. The titles in this collection are signed out as sets – 10 copies to a set – to any book group member with an Everett library card, to share with the other members of their book group.  Each set includes a discussion packet to enhance the reading experience and discussion.

So, there you have it!  Now you may be better prepared to enhance your reading experience by joining a book club. I hope you do. Enjoy!