About Leslie

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

Farewell to the Bookmobile

 

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Everett has had a long history of taking the library out into the community. Bookmobile service began in May 1924 when the prohibitive expense of operating branch outlets in the community caused the library to invest in a Ford Model T truck modified to serve as a “book wagon”, a traveling mini-library. Named Pegasus after the flying horse of mythology, it was the first bookmobile in Washington State.

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By the time this photo was taken in 1945, Pegasus was showing her age. After many years of service Pegasus was retired in 1950.

kidsbookmobileThe current bookmobile was purchased in 2004 and has served Everett preschools ever since. I have been the bookmobile librarian for the last two school years and would see about 700 children each month at area ECEAPS, Headstarts, daycares and private preschools. The typical visit would include a full storytime followed by a visit to the bookmobile where each child had the library experience of selecting and checking out a book which they would read and care for that month. These were children who often did not have the opportunity to visit the library on their own because of busy work and family schedules. These current photos were taken at a children’s concert at Silver Lake last summer.

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Sadly, this long history of Bookmobile Service in Everett is coming to an end this month. Due to the City reducing the library’s budget by $200,000, the Library Board had to make the very difficult decision of cutting Outreach Services.

-af770c83da9e5b82I am inspired by this librarian who was an Outreach Librarian in New York City. When her job was cut because of the budget, she moved to New Orleans and started up a bicycle mobile service to the children of the Lower 9th Ward.  She received the first ever Lemony Snicket Award for her service and she gets some good exercise also.

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We do have some bookmobile themed books in the library which may be of interest to you. The children’s book Wild About Books by Judy Sierra is a fun read about librarian Molly McGrew who drives the bookmobile to the zoo where the enthusiastic animals literally and figuratively devour the books. This is a great rhyming story which is perfect for reading aloud over and over again.

index (1)The Camel Bookmobile by Masha Hamilton is a novel about Brooklyn librarian Fiona Sweeney who wants to do something that matters, and she chooses to make her mark in the arid bush of northeastern Kenya. By helping to start a traveling library she hopes to bring literature to far-flung tiny communities where people live daily with drought, hunger and disease. Her intentions are honorable, and her rules are firm: Due to the limited number of donated books, if any one of them is not returned the bookmobile will not return. But, encumbered by her Western values, Fi does not understand the people she seeks to help. And in the impoverished small community of Mididima, she finds herself caught in the middle of a volatile local struggle when the bookmobile’s presence sparks a dangerous feud between the proponents of modernization and those who fear the loss of traditional ways.

I will now be working full-time inside the library at both the Evergreen Branch Library and the Main Library. Come see me in the library!

Explore Washington!

The weather forecast is for a string of beautiful days here in the Pacific Northwest so that means it’s time to get outside and explore our fair state. But, where to go and what to do? Start at the library with one of these guidebooks!

indexCheck out the DK Eyewitness Travel Guide to the Pacific Northwest for a good over-view of the area and fantastic pictures and maps that will lead you straight to the best attractions the northwest coast of the USA has to offer. This book will take you street by street  through Pike Place Market, give you details like the hours and a map of the Woodland Park Zoo, help you find a place to stay and most importantly, point you to a good place to eat. It’s also a handy travel size so you can take it along with you.

index (2)If you’re interested in a road trip, I’d recommend The Pacific Northwest’s Best Trips: 33 Amazing Road Trips. This Lonely Planet guide (love them!) features 33 amazing road trips, from 2-day escapes to 2-week adventures and points out good places to eat and sleep. It includes tips on seeing each area like a local, using maps, directions and expert advice. It can help you plan trips focusing on history, food & drink, family trips, or the mountains. I’m dreaming about the three-day wine tour myself.

index (4)Jack McLeod who wrote the North Cascades Highway: A Roadside Guide to America’s Alps will give a free author talk at the main library on Sunday, September 28th at 2 PM. This is an illustrated natural history guide which helps travelers and readers to appreciate the deeper beauty behind the landscape. Organized as a series of stops at eye-catching sites along eighty miles of the highway, this book reveals the geological story of each location. Reserve a copy before the rush!

index (1)When I was a child, our family goal was to try all of the Mexican Restaurants in San Diego. My husband wants to visit all of the major league baseball stadiums if he ever retires. Perhaps you’d like a goal also. Why don’t you search for all of the spectacular waterfalls in Washington State? The Waterfall Lover’s Guide to the Pacific Northwest is your ticket to that adventure. Go see five-star falls such as Snoqualmie or Wallace Falls or discover smaller, closer falls which may be hidden but not after you read this book. Check it out!

index (2)My husband just completed the RAMROD (ride around Mt. Rainier in one Day). It was 175 miles of constant up and down. If you want to see the area from the seat of your bicycle, check out Biking Puget Sound. You’ll find local trails in Everett (our favorite is out to Snohomish along the river because you’re in the country within ten minutes of leaving home) or rides up in the San Juan Islands (steer clear of Mt. Constitution!), or longer rides across the state. Next thing you know, you’ll be signing up for the RAMROD!

index (3)If hiking is more to your liking, we’ve always used the Mountaineer’s Guides. The Day Hiking books will get you out and up to a beautiful alpine lake and then back home in time for dinner. These are the updated Mountaineer books that we all used to break in our hiking boots. Even young children can do a lot of the hikes such as Heather, Elizabeth, or Barclay Lakes. These guides will tell you if hikes are dog-friendly, kid-friendly, easy, historical, or full of wildflowers. Of course, you’ll learn how to drive to the trails and what to look for while on the trails so you don’t get lost.

index (5)There are a number of walks closer to home included in the Take a Walk books by Sue Muller Hacking. The first walk listed is 2-4 miles on Jetty Island just west of Everett. Then there’s Langus Riverfront Park, Spencer Island, Centennial Trail, Howarth Park, Forest Park, and the Lowell Riverfront Trail. This is the book for when you just have half a day and want to explore the local area more deeply. It lists the park amenities and driving directions. Perfect.

index (7)Paddling Washington: Flatwater and Whitewater routes in Washington State and the Inland Northwest is your ticket to a memorable time out on the water. Detailed locator maps and instructions on safety are included, as well as appendices on equipment, map sources and a useful route comparison chart for selecting the right trip level for any paddler. The 112 water routes cover western and eastern Washington, British Columbia, North Idaho and Montana. If you don’t have a boat yourself, you can easily rent one at the University of Washington. Be one of the boys in the boat!

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Get_Asset_Img (1)For other summer activities pick up a free copy of the Everett Parks and Recreation Summer Guide while you’re at the library. We have stacks of them and It lists day camps, aquatics, health and fitness classes, and guided outdoor activities. There’s a fall edition coming out soon.

When we’re not at the library, I hope to see you out on the roads or water or trails. Enjoy!

Must Reads for Summer 2014

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There are good and bad things about working in a library. The good: all of the great books that you discover and get to read. The bad: all of the great books that you don’t have time to read. We all have excuses and these are mine: full-time work and a toddler who just turned two years old and a baby who is ten months old. Oh yeah, and a house and garden and that guy I married 33 years ago. So, I often feel like that funny old bird the pelican whose beak holds more than his belly can. I have a beak full of great reads these days which may interest you if you’re participating in the summer reading program at the Everett Public Library or if you’re lucky enough to be planning a vacation and need a good book to take along. This list has a little bit of everything so there may be just the right book for you. Let’s start with non-fiction.

indexCA1ADCTLFlash Boys: a Wall Street Revolt by Michael Lewis is on my list since I read Boomerang and I thought that it was the bomb. This guy also wrote Moneyball and The Blind Side and other excellent books. It reads like a John Grisham novel, but it’s a true story about stock exchanges, high frequency traders, and dark pools. The author is great at explaining complicated technical subjects and telling a good story around them. I want to read it!

indexCA63IMS4Leonardo and the Last Supper has been by my bedside for a few weeks now. It’s excellent! I was an art history major in college and I’ve learned so much more from this book about the creation of this Renaissance masterpiece. Mr. King has managed to focus on a particular theme and give the reader as much information as needed to really understand it. Another of his earlier books accomplished the same thing, Brunelleschi’s Dome, which I can also recommend.

indexCAAEEVC8The President and the Assassin: McKinley, terror, and Empire at the Dawn of the American Century is a great book (obvious from the first chapter) by Seattle author, Scott Miller. He creates a portrait of turn of the century America going back and forth between an under-appreciated president, William McKinley and his anarchist assassin, Leon Czolgosz. This was a time when the powerful were growing more powerful and desperate men turned to terrorism. Sound familiar?

And now for some fiction:

index (16)I have to read Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie because my daughter heard her give a talk recently in Copenhagen and apparently it’s wonderful. The author takes on immigration, race, and what it means to leave home and to return, all wrapped up in a love story. Adichie has also written Half of a Yellow Sun and Purple Hibiscus. The first chapter alone is marvelous. Let’s all get with it and read this one.

indexCAZNZBA7The Care of Wooden Floors by Will WIles was recommended to me by two co-workers so I checked it out and my husband read it while we were on vacation. Even though I couldn’t read it, he confirmed that it is funny and interesting and a good book.  It’s an odd couple story of a fellow who house sits for a composer friend. He accidentally spills wine on the apartment’s priceless wooden floor and endures a disastrous week of perfectionist repair and maintenance.

index (1)Delicious! is by Ruth Reichl. I’ve read all of her memoirs from Garlic and Sapphires to Tender at the Bone. This is her first attempt at fiction and she certainly writes about what she knows: the heroine is a woman who works for a venerable food magazine that suddenly ceases publication. It looks like a pretty fun and fast read, and if you’re looking for a souffle-type novel, you could do worse! Plus, the cover is lovely.

indexBroken Harbor is Tana French’s new ‘Dublin Murder Squad’ crime novel and it’s supposed to be every bit as brilliant as her three earlier books featuring that tough cop, Mick “Scorcher” Kennedy. This is a murder story which seems easy to solve at first until the details don’t add up. Read this one to get the atmosphere of an Ireland hit hard by the recession, an idea of police procedure and to become engrossed in a well written who dunnit.

index (1)The Possibilities is written by Kaui Hart Hemmings who also wrote The Descendants. You’ll remember that movie with George Clooney. This new book follows a similar theme of family and loss and is set in the paradise of Breckenridge, Colorado. A single mom is grieving the loss of her son, Cully, in an avalanche when a strange girl shows up with a secret from Cully’s past.

indexThe Vacationers by Emma Straub  will take you all the way to the beaches of Spain, where a family’s dramas are set against the beautiful background of a lush vacation. It will leave you feeling like you were just on a family trip — laughing, exhausted and filled with love.

So, check out one of these books to take on your next vacation or simply read one for a great ‘staycation’. Either way, enjoy!

Books That Started as Blogs

If you’re like me, and I hope you are, you follow a blog or two just because it’s fun. Of course I read this very blog because my smart and hip co-workers contribute valuable stuff to it. Hey, you’re reading it right now! You must be just like me.

Did you know that there are a lot of great books which have been spawned from blogs? Let’s explore some recent titles which had their starts as blogs. I’ll start with the visual ones:

indexCake Wrecks: When Professional Cakes Go Hilariously Wrong by Jen Yates is so funny! Yates has been entertaining us with the worst cakes ever, including the ugly, silly, creepy, sad, and suggestive on her blog since 2008. It currently features photos of awful graduation cakes. Have your cake and laugh at it, too. With witty commentary and behind-the-scenes tidbits, Cake Wrecks will ensure that you never look at a cake the same way again.

index (1)There, I Fixed It! No, You Didn’t by Cheez Burger is part of the ubiquitous Cheezburger Network of blogs and is another hilarious visual feast full of epic fails which show human ingenuity at its worst. My favorite ‘chapter’ features quick fixes with duct tape.

index (14)How To Tell if Your Cat is Plotting to Kill You is based on the blog, The Oatmeal, a hugely popular website. It is a brilliant 136 page offering of cat comics, facts, and instructions to help you enjoy, love, and survive your cat. The book is a #1 NY Times best seller and sold over a half million copies in its first three months in print. Check it out from the library for free. Even I laughed, and I hate cats.

index (3)I do love dogs and fortunately for me there’s Dog Shaming by Pascale Lemire, based on the blog with the same name. This book features the most hilarious, shameful, and never-before-seen doggie misdeeds. It reminds me of the evening we were sitting around with friends having a nice conversation, when we discovered that our friend’s dog had chewed apart another friend’s shoe. We didn’t think to take a photo, but these folks have taken some pretty funny ones.

index (13)And what blog-book list would be complete without an awkward family photo selection? I’ll include Awkward Family Pet Photos which came from the Awkward Family Photos blog. These books are always so weird, yet funny. Just look at this fellow hugging his dog on the cover. The photos with monkeys, possums, and chickens are especially hilarious. And now on to the blog-books which have more text than photos.

index (4)Let’s Pretend This Never Happened:  (A Mostly True Memoir) is written by Jenny Lawson, the “Bloggess”. She’s ‘like Mother Theresa, only better.’ She writes this about her book: “You should probably go buy it right now, because it’s filled with awesomeness. And cocaine. But only if you hollow it out and fill it with your own cocaine. I’m not buying you cocaine. Because I love you.” I thought it was hilarious when I read it and you may also, since you’re just like me!

index (5)Quiet, Please: Dispatches from a Public Librarian by Scott Douglas who writes dispatches on McSweeney’s. Scott Douglas works for a smallish public library nestled cozily between Disneyland and Knott’s Berry Farm in Orange County, California. This is where most of his observations occur, although sometimes he goes to other libraries. This book is super funny because it could have taken place at our very own local library. Read it and see for yourself.

index (6)The Happiest Mom by Meagan Francis who writes the Happiest Home blog online. The author also writes for Parenting magazine and is the mother of five children, so she presumably knows her stuff and spells it out in ten simple rules that are delivered with humor. This book has gorgeous graphics and the main idea is that you can be a mom (or grandparent) and still be happy. As I’ve always said, if Momma ain’t happy, ain’t nobody happy!

These blog-books are sure to make you happy.  Check them out at your local library!

Notable New Picture Books at Your Library

ideal-bookshelfI have just started purchasing the picture books for the three branches of the Everett Public Library System. I know, I know! I’m paid to spend money on books. Jealous? Well, you should be!  It’s super fun.

Anyway, I thought I’d highlight some of the best picture books of 2014 thus far. But first, let me explain the book buying process for this library. It was fascinating to me. We order from a huge book service. They send an online ‘cart’ each month of suggested titles. The cart includes reviews from professional journals and a way to sort the list by popularity, title, and many other things. Some books you immediately know that you’ll want to order multiple copies while some you delete just as quickly. Then you add books that need to be replaced because of wear and tear. Also, you add requests from other librarians and patrons and any great books that have come to your attention through your professional readings. That’s it!

index (1)So now, on to the fun part: shiny new picture books. One of my favorites so far is The Highway Rat by Donaldson. This is a rhyming tale inspired by the Highwayman:

The Highway Rat was a baddie. The Highway Rat was a beast. He took what he wanted and ate what he took. His life was one long feast.  His teeth were sharp and yellow, his manners were rough and rude, And the Highway Rat went riding – riding – riding – Riding along the highway and stealing the traveler’s food.

He even stole his own horse’s hay. Well, he gets his comeuppance. This is a rascally natural for reading aloud.

index (11)index (12)Some of the most popular new titles will surely be the new Frozen books. I have had little girls asking for these books for months. They’ll be happy to sit and look at the illustrations for hours and that’s a good thing because you won’t want to read these aloud more than once.


Sophie’s Squash
index (2) by Pat Miller in which a little girl affectionately adopts a butternut squash, is a winner. After her parents buy that squash for dinner at the farmers market, Sophie commandeers it giving it a face with markers. It proves just the right size to hold, bounce on her knee and love.  With lessons on life, love, and vegetable gardening, this tale will be cherished by children and their parents will be happy to read it to them often.

index (3)E I E I O: How Old MacDonald Got His Farm With a Little Help from a Hen by Judy Sierra is a fresh take on two old tales: Old MacDonald and the Little red Hen. Once upon a time, Old MacDonald didn’t have a farm. He just had a yard — a yard he didn’t want to mow. But under the direction of the wise Little Red Hen, Mac learns to look at the environment in a very different way. Whole new worlds start to bloom with the help of some mud, garbage, horse poop, and worms!

index (4)Mr Tiger Goes Wild by Peter Brown is about a Victorian tiger who, well, goes wild. He’s tired of the proper life. There’s a nice twist in the plot and it’s not too preachy about being yourself, but still gets that message across. You’ll go wild for this tale of daring to be different and the illustrations are super cool with their muted greens and browns that pop with a wild orange every so often.

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I can highly recommend Some Bugs by Angela Diterlizzi because it’s a rhyming book about BUGS! We take a delightful tour through the insect world and learn that “Some bugs sting. Some bugs bite. Some bugs stink. And some bugs fight!”  For the true insect lovers, the last two page spread is entitled ‘What’s that bug?’ and identifies all the bugs seen earlier in the book. Some Bugs is some kind of terrific.

index (6)What Does the Fox Say? by Svein Nyhus is based on the wildly popular youtube video based on the song. This book will have you singing along in no time. Dog goes woof. Cat goes meow and on and on, but there’s one sound that no one knows. What does the fox say? Who knew that they say: Ring-ding-ding-ding-dingeringeding and wa pa pa pa pa pa pow? This book takes animal sounds to a whole new level.

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My Humongous Hamster by Lorna Freytag is so popular that I’ve been asked to order more. Fans of Dave Pilkey’s Dogzilla and Kat Kong will enjoy this one. This hamster gets really huge when he’s hungry but goes back to regular size when he misses his human.

Journeyindex (8) by Aaron Becker is a wordless book with awesome illustrations and a creatively imaginative story. Using a red marker, a young girl draws a door on her bedroom wall and through it enters another world where she experiences many adventures, including being captured by an evil emperor.

index (9)Tap the Magic Tree by Matheson is simply magical. I love interactive books such as this one. Each page has you doing something to make the tree change: from a brown bare wintry tree to one with leaves, then blossoms, then apples, and you guessed it, falling leaves and snow again. It’s a keeper.

index (10)The Pigeon Needs a Bath by Mo Willems is on order but surely will be a favorite. The Pigeon really needs a bath! Except, the Pigeon’s not so sure about that. Besides, he took a bath last month. Maybe. It’s going to take some serious convincing to try and get the Pigeon to take the plunge.

index (16)I love Stella’s Starliner by Rosemary Wells. It’s a charming story about Stella who is super happy living with her mum and dad in a silver Starliner (“as silver as a comet in the sky”) until the sad day comes when some bullies tease her for living in a trailer. The family ends up ‘moving’ and her new neighbors think that she must be rich to live in a silver house. Charming!

index (17)Finally, there’s Is Everyone Ready For Fun? by Jan Thomas. Chicken has some unexpected and exuberant cow visitors who have exciting plans for jumping, dancing, and wiggling on his teeny-tiny couch, and Chicken is none too happy about it. That is until the fun concludes with a quiet, cozy and delicious nap for all!  

So, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Come on down to the library and check out all of the new picture books.

Discover 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!

Discover 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.

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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.

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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!