Reviews from the Adult Summer Reading Challenge


The Adult Summer Reading program continues to be a great success here at the library. Many of you have participated and received some great prizes. Some, however, have gone to the extra effort of writing a review to let us know what they think of their reading choices. Below are a few selected reviews that we are publishing on A Reading Life to share. Thanks to all of you who have participated so far.

Mrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker by Jennifer Chiaverini (Reviewed by Karen S.)

mrslincolnsdressmakerThis book is about Elizabeth Keckley. She was born a slave, but purchased her freedom and became a dressmaker. Elizabeth sewed dresses for important ladies in Washington D.C. and became Mary Lincoln’s personal dressmaker. They became close friends during the Civil War, and this book really focuses on their friendship. I am a fan of this author and enjoyed this story, which is different from Jennifer Chiaverini’s other books. If you enjoy books about people during the Civil War, you’ll enjoy this one.

In Bed with a Highlander by Maya Banks (Reviewed by Shelley W.)

inbedwithahighlanderThe cover of this book does not reflect the book very well which is a good thing actually. The story focuses on a young woman, Mairin, who has lived in an abbey in Scotland for 10 years. She is the only living heir of the King and is abducted from the abbey, escapes the keep of a ruthless lord only to be rescued and forced into a marriage with Ewan McCabe, a commanding savior. Set in the 1700s this historical romance has a good storyline with a little “spice”. I enjoyed it enough to check out the sequel Seduction of a Highland Lass.

Dakota by Kathleen Norris (Reviewed by Kathryn J.)

dakotaThis memoir of Kathleen Norris’ move to her grandmother’s farm-house on the border of North and South Dakota showcases her roots as a poet and her transition to writing on spirituality. In chapters alternating between short “weather reports” and long philosophical and historical essays, she weaves together themes of economic hardship, isolation, and the changing landscape of the Great Plains. Her transformation is helped by the hospitality of a Benedictine cloister which she creatively compares to the rural communities of the Dakotas.  I particularly enjoyed her somewhat random storytelling of marginalized people and places, bringing forth the richness of their chosen simplicity.

How Computers Work by Ron White (Reviewed by Cindy F.)

howcomputersworkSince I don’t know much about computers, this was a great read. It was written really well and was easy to understand. It also had great illustrations that made it easy to follow along. Tons and tons of information and touched on so many subjects. If you want to learn about computers, this helps so much. Really liked it.

The Goth Bible by Nancy Kilpatrick (Reviewed by Diane T.)

gothbibleThis is an extremely well written book! The author has created something that is for both kids and parents. It strikes a balance when dealing with information. Nancy not only covered the basics, but went to several goths around the world and added their input. Granted, the book is 9 years old, but it is still worth a peek if you are curious about the many facets of the goth lifestyle.

What Deane Reads

My husband, Deane, is a voracious reader.  He’s always reading. He reads fast and furiously.  If he’s without a book he begins to twitch and then starts reading cereal boxes, magazines, anything, but is unsatisfied until he gets his hands on another book. Luckily for him I work at a library and can keep him in a constant supply of books, books, books, and more books.

Here is a photo of Deane showing his library spirit at the Everett Fourth of July Parade:


I’ve gotten to know his reading tastes, of course, after 30 some odd years of marriage. I know that he’ll always read what I call ‘boy books’:  the newest Tom Clancy, Lee Child, and the like. But he’ll also enjoy what I’d consider ‘better literature’ such as The Orchardist by Amanda Coplin which was on my night stand, but is now in Deane’s hands since he needed a book. In fact, his reading tastes have evolved so much that he thought Where’d You Go, Bernadette? was fluffy and vacuous while I really liked it! Who knew?

indexCA06QR4L       index         index        index

Why am I telling you this? Because perhaps you didn’t know that the librarians at the Everett Public Library are ready and willing to provide reader’s advisory service to you and not just that lucky fellow, Deane. You should already know that you can ask the folks at the reference desk for information on the phone (425-257-8000) or better yet, in person, but they can also recommend fiction to you.  And you don’t have to sleep with them. Bonus!

If you can’t make it into the library but have access to the Internet, you can take advantage of  the Reader’s Corner part of EPL’s website which has loads of resources for readers. We also have a database called Novelist which is a fantastic way to find new reads or books similar to the ones you already enjoy.

I like to use the web site Goodreads as a resource for what to read next and to keep track of what I’ve read. It’s like a virtual bookshelf but also offers ways to explore the world of books such as recommendations and lists.

Also, one of our knowledgable reference librarians points out that another source he finds helpful for people just wanting to quickly identify some good new (and older) books is Bookmarks magazine available for use at the main library only.

So what is Deane reading this summer besides my copy of The Orchardist? He just finished reading Winter of the World by Ken Follett. Deane proclaimed that this was a great book with good characters, though he thought that it was somewhat contrived in places in order to weave all of the plot threads together neatly in the end.

Right now he’s sitting in the sun reading Truth Like The Sun by Jim Lynch. Deane says that Lynch describes a pivotal moment in Northwest history when Seattle came of age during the 1962 World’s Fair in a pretty good novel.

index    index     index     index

I brought three books home from work today for Mr. Deane. He glanced at Barbara Kingsolver’s newest work, Flight Behavior, and said, “Oh, yeah.  I’ve read some of her books”. Deane remembered reading books by T C Boyle when I showed him San Miguel, a novel about the families who inhabited the islands off of Santa Barbara, California. But when he saw John Connelly’s newest, The Black Box, he said, ‘Oh, YEAH!’ and put Lynch down like a hot potato. Well, I guess you can’t change a tiger’s stripes or teach an old dog new tricks or some other such expression, but you can get the books of your liking at the Everett Public Library!


Recipes for Life: A Sense of Wonderment

Today we publish the first in a new series on A Reading Life titled Recipes for Life and written by Margo. Margo will be pairing books and recipes for your enjoyment.

As a young girl some of my early and fondest memories were visits to the Lake Hills Public Library. In the summer I could ride my bike on a shortcut trail that ran alongside the blueberry farm. I still remember that sense of wonderment walking into the library: the quiet hush, the faint leathery smell of books, the coolness on a hot summer day, the librarian seated in the center. I’d quietly make my way to familiar ground where new adventures awaited me.

Award winning books by authors such as Lois Lenski and Eleanor Estes, transported me across the country to remote places and new experiences. Those days are long gone, but have etched a love for the library in me.

palisadesparkMy most recent book trip took me to the East coast in Alan Brennert’s latest book Palisades Park. He is best known for Molokai, a popular book club read. Palisades Park is part saga, part history spanning 40 years.

The story begins in 1922, at Palisades Amusement Park in New Jersey, where you meet Eddie Stopka as a young boy. It’s an unbearable hot summer day and Eddie’s father has arranged for the family to go to the park. Everything, including the sights, sounds and smells packaged with thrilling rides, French fried potatoes, and the largest pool Eddie has ever seen, makes a memorable impression on Eddie that day.

As a young man, Eddie makes his way back to Palisades Park and a job where he will eventually meet his wife, Adele, and have two kids. When Eddie enlists in the service during WWII and leaves his wife with the responsibility of running their concession stand and raising their kids, the story takes a twist. Things are not the same when Eddie returns home.

Palisades Park is also the story of Eddie and Adele’s daughter Toni, who has grown up at the park and has dreams of becoming a high diver. At an early age she is captivated when she sees legendary high wire and high diver Arthur Holden perform at Palisades Park. Brennart’s research is extensive but also based on his recollections of Palisades Park, where he grew up within a few miles of the park. Palisades Park portrays an era gone by but not forgotten.

Whether it’s a trip to a theme park or just getting outdoors after a long Northwest winter and spring, summer is a time for new adventure.

Recipe for Adventure: Stop in the library or go online and download an e-book, get a comfortable chair and place it preferably outdoors. Pour yourself a refreshing glass of Tzao Passion fruit lemonade tea, sit down with that book you’ve been meaning to read and enjoy. Remember Summer Reading is for grown-ups too. This is the second year Everett Public Library has offered a summer reading program for adults. Stop in or visit our website @ and or click on Adult Summer Reading

Passion fruit Lemonade Tea Recipe

3 bags passion fruit tea to two quarts water brewed or sun method
Mix equal parts to lemonade or to taste
Add ice


Summer Reading Program 2013: Dig Into Reading

Embedded Frog lilly pad

The first Summer Reading Program I remember participating in was when I went with my two sisters to spend the summer with Uncle Carl and Aunt Gladys in Cedar Rapids, Iowa. What magical memories I have of going to the library with Aunt Gladys each Tuesday to get new books. I was so excited to keep track of my progress and earn my prizes!

I still have the reading log. It was an under the sea theme which seems odd for such a land-locked state, doesn’t it?  I’ve lost the wonderful little clay animals that you were allowed to make after completing each reading column, but vividly recall them: a grey-blue clay dolphin, complete with little hand squeeze marks, a sand dollar and, of course, a fish. Even though my treasures are lost, I keep them in my mind as a happy memory.

How about creating some happy memories for your child or even yourself this summer? It’s time for everyone, young and those also not as young, to sign up for Everett Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. We have programs for the read-to-me set, young readers, teens and even adults! The theme for 2013 is ‘Dig into Reading’.


Summer reading begins the instant school ends and that was last week for the Everett School District. That means you can start your reading log on the first day of summer vacation. For each column completed, bring your reading log to the library to receive a prize courtesy of our sponsors. Prizes are available while supplies last. The summer reading prizes are made possible by the Friends of the Everett Public Library, AFSCME Local 113, Rotary Club of Everett, Rodland Toyota, Subway, Taco Time and Masonic Lodge #95 F & AM.

Summer reading at the Everett Public Library also offers programs and activities designed to inspire children’s creativity and imagination. This summer’s programming is sure to excite children with the varied offerings, which include everything from musical concerts and puppet shows to themed story times and Wednesday ‘crafternoons’. Programs begin in June. Some of the highlights will be a Nancy Stewart concert Saturday, July 27th at both libraries, and the super fun ‘Dig into Art’ (‘crafternoon’)  craft time at the Main Library at 3 PM on Wednesday afternoons.

Everett Public Library’s 2013 summer schedule  is available online. This is where children can find activities just for them! Copies of the Reading Program brochures are available at both library locations.

Everett Public Library is dedicated to providing educational programming for youth during the summer months, helping keep children engaged in reading and in their communities while out of school. Summer reading programs are designed for children to have positive learning experiences and to encourage reading as a lifelong habit.

I read Dr. Seuss and Are You My Mother? and other such literary tomes during that long-ago summer in Iowa. This summer I have quite a long list of books to enjoy including: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel, Bring up the Bodies also by Hilary Mantel (Thanks, Eileen, for the suggestions), The Light Between Oceans by M.L. Stedman, and Life After Life by Kate Atkinson.

index         index        index          index

Some titles I’ve read recently and can recommend for your (adult) summer list include: The Language of Flowers by Victoria Diffenbaugh, Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter, Where’d You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple, and Let’s Explore Diabetes With Owls by David Sedaris (for a little chuckle).

index            index           index         indexCAA9A4DK

If you’d like to help a child find age appropriate and exciting reads this summer, check out these lists from the American Library Association.

There’s no need to go all the way to Iowa to enjoy summer reading. Join me in creating more happy summer reading memories right here in Everett!


Take the Adult Summer Reading Challenge

diginto1“Groundbreaking Reads” is the theme for Everett Public Library’s 2013 Adult Summer Reading Challenge. Groundbreaking books of the reader’s choice, including fiction or nonfiction, new or not-so-new releases, can be explored. Or if you prefer, pick up some music CDs, a movie or an audio book. The library has them, as well.

Registration began June 1. The program is open to those age 17 and older and will run through August 31.

Visit a local branch library to register and pick up a book log. More information about the challenge is on Don’t forget about the prizes!

  • After reading your first book, you are eligible to receive a peat pot with seeds
  • After reading your third book, you are eligible to receive a 2 for 1 coupon for Bookend Coffee Co.
  • After reading your fifth book, you are eligible to receive a Friends of the Library key chain or a “I read between the covers” window cling
  • After reading your seventh book, you are eligible to receive a Friends of the Library tote bag.

Registration in the challenge is also an entry for one of four grand prizes:

If you want to share your thoughts on the books you’ve read this summer, you are encouraged to submit short reviews. You can get book review forms at the main library or the Evergreen branch as well as online. We will publish select reviews right here on A Reading Life (as well as on the Everett Herald website). Book reviews will be accepted at all library branches June 3 through Aug. 31. 

But that’s not all. Be sure to mark your calendar to attend a program. There are two designed with the Groundbreaking theme in mind which are free and at the Main Library:

Kimberly-clarkUnearthing Kimberly Clark:  2 p.m. on Saturday, June 15th – As it was being demolished the Kimberly-Clark plant was often described as the last vestige of Everett’s smokestack heritage. But centered in the very heart of the city’s bay front industrial corridor, the site has connections stretching all the way back to the region’s tribal past, the earliest peninsular homesteads and the coming of the railroad. Everett Public Library historian David Dilgard will take us on an exploration of pictures and maps that reveal the many-faceted story of this key spot in the life of “The City of Smokestacks.”


Getting the Dirt on Dirt:  10:30 a.m. Saturday, June 22nd – All dirt is not created equal.  Learn what it takes to maximize the growth potential of your soil. Master Gardener Sandy DeLisle will show you how to create compost from yard or food waste. One lucky participant will take home the demonstration worm bin. 

Sponsors for the 2013 adult summer reading challenge include: Friends of the Library, and Bookend Coffee Company.

Dig Into Reading today!


It All Starts with World War Z

I’m not really into zombies. I generally confine my summer reads to mildly-embarrassing vampire fiction or binge-reading Game of Thrones books. I did not choose World War Z to fill the guilty pleasure niche as my summer came to a close. What attracted me to World War Z was the oral history angle. I have always loved oral histories and was curious to see how the author used that framework to tell a sci-fi story. I was not disappointed by what I found. Author Max Brooks did an amazing job adapting his subject matter to have the feel of a real collection of oral histories. In his credits at the end, Brooks cited the late, great oral historian Studs Terkel as one of his main influences. Those who are familiar with Terkel’s work can see why after a couple of chapters; the voice of Studs is continually present.

I would highly recommend this title to the average reader – not strictly those who are into sci-fi, zombies, gore, dystopian novels, or anything else you would assume that a book about zombies might represent (though readers looking for all the above will get hooked on this book just as quickly). By necessity there are some gruesome descriptions, but that’s not what dominates the stories told by the author. World War Z, above all, gives a human voice to a terrible (though fictitious) period of human history.

Once you’ve had the chance to check out a fictional oral history collection, you may want to branch out into the real thing. Oral histories are collected to tell a range of different stories about historic events, cultural phenomena, or just to record what life was like during a specific time period. The Everett Public Library has a lot of great oral histories in its collections – here are some voices from a few:

One of the boys in the show, Tony, said, ‘Don’t worry. All my uncles are stagehands and the rest of ‘em are bootleggers. Pick out a night club you want to work, we’ll work’. I looked at these freaks, with these little postage-stamp stages… Up to this time, the most sexy thing I’d ever done is Scheherazade in the ballet. I thought a girl who went on stage without stockings was a hussy (laughs). -Sally Rand, Dancer. Excerpt from Hard Times: An Oral History of the Great Depression, by Studs Terkel.

“Punk rock saved a lot of people’s sanity, emboldened the timid and gave countless youth all over the world a voice.” – Henry Rollins from the forward of Punk Rock: an Oral History, by John Robb

D-Day was not one day, but a composite of many days, experienced by each of those individuals who played a part on the Allied side – from the 120,000 men who landed during the initial action to the millions of personnel who supported them. […] The record, as offered in this volume, does indeed show that they didn’t just do their job “well” – they were magnificent. – prologue to Voices of Valor:  D-Day: June 6, 1944, by Douglas Brinkley and Ronald J. Drez

“But I love him! I love him! He’s sleeping, and I’m whispering: ‘I love you.’ Carrying his sanitary tray, ‘I love you.’ I remembered how we used to live at home. He only fell asleep at night after he’d taken my hand. That was a habit of his – to hold my hand while he slept. All night. So in the hospital I take his hand and don’t let go.” – Lyudmilla Ignatenko – widow of a first responder to the Chernobyl disaster. Excerpt from Voices from Chernobyl: The Oral History of a Nuclear Disaster, by Svetlana Alexievich

I walked down the street, not knowing where to go, thinking that everybody I’d been with had died. I barely knew who I was, I was dizzy and disoriented, my speech was slurred. Looking back, it makes perfect sense: I’d been hit twice on the head, once in the office and once on the street. The wall of my office had knocked me on my right temple… All I wanted to do was get uptown and find my wife. I knew where she worked and I said to myself, I don’t care if I have to walk all the way, I’ll get there eventually, just go. So I started walking. – Tom Haddad, 31, escaped from the 89th floor of Tower I. Excerpt from Tower Stories: An Oral History of 9/11 ,by Damon DiMarco

 “We had a policy in place that was ridiculous. I had served for so many years with so many people that I knew were gay and were outstanding soldiers. Officers, enlisted-they ran the gamut. I mean, yes, there were some that I wasn’t fond of and would never want to be friends with, but in general most of the gays and lesbians that I served with in the military did a good job, and I would have been proud to call them a friend at any time. So I did want to do something to change the policy.” Brenda Vosbein, WAC Retired. -  excerpt from Ask and Tell: Gay and Lesbian Veterans Speak Out, by Steve Estes

“We received support from the most unusual places, like The Times. I hope they live forever. They saved my neck. A year making mailbags in prison was not on my itinerary [laughs].” -Keith Richards. Excerpt from The Rolling Stones: An Oral History, by Alan Lysaght.

Explore these other oral history titles for even more first-hand accounts of culture, history, and events that changed the world:


Please Kill Me: The Uncensored Oral History of Punk, By Legs McNeil and Gillian McCain
And They All Sang: Adventures of an Eclectic Disc Jockey, by Studs Terkel
Everybody Loves Our Town: An Oral History of Grunge, by Mark Yarm
The Record Players: DJ Revolutionariesby Bill Brewster and Frank Broughton
Why? Because we Still Like You: an Oral History of the Mickey Mouse Club, by Jennifer Armstrong
Listening is an act of Love: a celebration of American life from the StoryCorps Project, by Dave Isay with StoryCorps
Indian Voices: Listening to Native Americans, by Alison Owings
Nā Kua’āina: Living Hawaiian Culture, by Davianna Pōmaika’i McGregor


Lost Voices from the Titanic: The Definitive Oral History , by Nick Barratt
Beyond Glory: Medal of Honor Heroes in Their Own Words: Extraordinary Stories of Courage from World War II to Vietnamby Larry Smith
48 Hours of Kristallnacht: Night of Destruction/Dawn of the Holocaust: An Oral Historyby Mitchell G. Bard, Ph.D.
Reflections of Pearl Harbor: An Oral History of December 7, 1941, by K.D. Richardson
Remembering Jim Crow: African Americans Tell About Life in the Segregated South , edited by William H. Chafe, Raymond Gavins, and Robert Rodgers Korstad
What We Knew: Terror, Mass Murder, and Everyday Life in Nazi Germany: An Oral History, by Eric A. Johnson and Karl-Heinz Reuband

Local Interest

River Pigs & Cayuses: Oral Histories from the Pacific Northwest, by Ron Strickland
Voices from Everett’s First Century
Riverside Remembers: Books I, II & III
Whistlepunks & Geoducks: Oral Histories of the Pacific Northwest, edited by Ron Strickland
Everett Voices, by David Dilgard of the Everett Public Library
Upriver Voices: Tales of Skykomish, by Nancy Cleveland and Anne Sektor


Fantastic new fantasy books for middle grade kids

Kids won’t be bored for a minute this summer with these new fantasy books that take readers on wild journeys with space aliens, mer-people, magical animals, and supernatural powers. 

My hands-down favorite is Aliens on Vacation by local author Clete Barrett Smith. David dreads being sent to his grandmother’s “Intergalactic Bed & Breakfast” Inn for the summer. The tourists act and look odd. David sees a guest swallow squares of aluminum foil and drink bleach. These guests are aliens on vacation who enjoy dressing in disguise to explore the nearby town. Their imitations of “earth-speak” will keep you laughing. There’s trouble ahead as neighbor girl Amy starts to spy and her father, the Sheriff, wants to close the inn. When David takes some alien kids camping in the forest, it’s a comic delight with some bizarre consequences.

The Magnificent 12 is a new series by Michael Grant. It includes links to a website with online games. The first book, The Call, opens as 12-year-old Mack discovers that he is developing supernatural powers that come with a heavy price. Mack must travel around the world to find 12 other 12-year-olds who also have these powers. They must join together to become “the Magnifica” and battle an ancient evil that has arisen.  A wizard gives them some very cool tools: their own credit cards, iPhones, and access to a bank account (because saving the world can be very expensive).

13 Treasures by Michelle Harrison reveals the secrets of 13-year-old Tanya, who hides her ability to see into the dark and frightening fairy world. These are no Disney fairies—they can be anything from annoying to terrifying. When her mother sends her to spend a summer with her grandmother, she senses trouble in the creepy old house. A silver bracelet with 13 charms sparkles on the floor.  When Tanya places it on her wrist she meets the ghost of a girl who died over 50 years ago, and then her troubles really begin. 

It’s a world of magic spells at a school for young wizards in The Familiars by Adam Jay Epstein. The wizards-in-training use “familiars,” animal helpers gifted and skilled with magic. A street-smart stray cat named Aldwyn sneaks into the school. He pretends to know spells, but he really just wants some yummy meals. Aldwyn forms a trio with a blue jay and a tree frog. Together they survive quests and tests and battle an evil sorceress.

Get ready for an exciting time travel experience in The Last Phoenix by Linda Chapman. In this wonder-filled adventure, a family of four kids finds an ancient phoenix bird. Her fiery gold feathers are dull with age, but she is the last of her kind on earth. She desperately needs their help. People have stolen some of her magical feathers and her powers are drained. The kids must travel back through time to bring back some of the rare substances she needs to lay a mystical egg that will hatch in fire into a strong phoenix. Ancient Egypt, the wild rainforest of Peru, and a dangerous volcano in Argentina are some of the places where the kids must travel in this story of danger and magic.

You might never want to go near the ocean again after you read Kid vs. Squid by Greg Van Eekhout. Thatcher spends the summer before seventh grade helping at his uncle’s beach boardwalk “Museum of the Strange and Curious.” The museum has shrunken heads, preserved sea creatures, a mermaid mummy and a “What-Is-It?” floating in a tank of alcohol. It looks like a monkey’s head to Thatcher, but it turns out to be the head of a powerful witch. Thatcher and his friend use their detective skills to find clues about the head. They find that the curse that goes with it is still very much alive. Watch out for the mutant mer-people! 


Super Silly Stories

Silly stories. Parents and teachers may groan at the humor, but kids love these stories. The sillier the better. Thankfully, there are plenty of silly stories to be discovered and what’s better than hearing kids laugh and giggle!

Among newer titles, there’s the Caldecott Honor Book Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein in which Papa Chicken starts to tell little red chicken a bedtime story. He starts with the story of Hansel and Gretel. Papa Chicken is up to the part where the old woman who lives in the house that Hansel and Gretel are eating, comes out and invites them in. They are just about to enter the old woman’s house when little red chicken interrupts his Papa, shouting: “‘Don’t go in! She’s a witch!’ So Hansel and Gretel didn’t. THE END.”

Little red chicken realizes what he’s done and tells his Papa he’s sorry and that he’ll be good. So Papa starts anew with Little Red Riding Hood but just as the wolf makes an entrance, little red chicken interrupts again to warn her “Don’t talk to strangers!” Exasperated and out of stories, Papa asks little red chicken to tell him a story; but who do you think it is that interrupts little red chicken with his snores?

Then there are Viviane Schwarz’s two delightful books: There are Cats in this Book and There are No Cats in this Book. In the first book, readers are invited to follow and help the three cats Tiny, Moonpie and André as they play with yarn, boxes, pillows and fish. At one point readers actually save the cats from drowning! In their second book the trio decide to leave their book and go travelling. They try everything, including enlisting the aid of the reader, to leave their book. Are they successful? Well, you’ll just have to read this book yourself to find out!

For nearly 20 years, The Stinky Cheese Man and other Fairly Stupid Tales by Jon Scieszka & Lane Smith has been amusing kids of all ages with its irreverent retelling of fairy tales. Just try reading this one without laughing as the hilarity starts even before the title page!

For several generations, kids have been reading  and laughing at Peggy Parish’s child-like adult Amelia Bedelia . Because she takes everything literally, Amelia manages to make everyone laugh (or groan) with her antics.  Of course, the unbeatable Dr. Seuss has delighted and amused generations with his beginning readers. These include Cat in the Hat, Green Eggs and Ham (written as the result of a bet that he could write a book using only 50 words), and One Fish, Two Fish. It’s a rare home where no Dr. Seuss resides.

Today young readers laugh as they relish reading anything by Mo Willems. After parents have read his Pigeon and Knuffle Bunny titles to their children, it’s a short hop to his Elephant and Piggie beginning reader books that will bring humor to a new generation as they embark on the road to reading.

For more silly stories ask your local children’s librarian for suggestions.

Suzanne & Andrea

Action and Adventure: for Middle School ….. and beyond!

Nothing keeps the pages turning during summer vacation like a thrilling, fast-paced adventure story. Over the last few summers, upper-elementary and middle-school readers have been gobbling up series like Percy Jackson and the Olympians by Rick Riordan and the Alex Rider Adventure series by Anthony Horowitz. Both series feature action on almost every page, and a cliffhanger at the end of almost every chapter. The popularity of action-adventure-thrillers for young teens and tweens shows no signs of abating, if the number of new series being published is any indication. Here are just a few of the action-filled titles we booktalked to middle school students in Everett this spring. 

Have you ever wondered why adults act so strange sometimes? In Resisters, by Eric Nylund, we learn that aliens took over our planet 50 years ago and brainwashed all the adults. Unfortunately for the aliens, the human children of earth are immune to their mind-control, and a small group of pre-adolescent guys and gals are hoping to save the planet from alien domination with the assistance of giant insect-robot-fighting creatures.

Speaking of giant creatures, Tentacles by Roland Smith is book two in the Cryptid Hunters series. Thirteen year old orphans Grace and Marty live with their uncle, a cryptozoologist, on a tiny island off the Washington coast called Cryptos Island. They are determined to finagle their way onto their uncle’s latest expedition to prove the existence of the legendary Kraken. Throw in a little espionage, a double-agent or two, some heart-pounding chase scenes, funny one-liners and some really cool spy gadgets, and this is a thrill a minute. Reading book one, Cryptid Hunters, first is recommended but not necessary.

Here There Be Monsters: the Legendary Kraken and the Giant Squid by H.P. Newquist makes a nice non-fiction pairing with Tentacles, and features actual photos of the very elusive colossal squid. 

On the darker side and not for the squeamish, Unwind by Neil Shusterman features a not-so-distant future where troublesome teens can be “unwound,” and their body parts harvested to save the lives of others; or to supply the wealthy with fresh, young parts. Black humor, some very likable characters and a glimmer of hope at the end keep this from being a total downer. The teens in Unwind who are desperate to escape “Harvest Camp” and preserve their own skin are reminiscent of the characters in Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, another dark adventure series full of biting social commentary.

Not all is gloom and doom in teen fiction. Hero by Mike Lupica is the first book in a new series about a teenage boy who unexpectedly inherits superpowers when his father’s small private plane suspiciously crashes. Zach realizes his father was keeping secrets from both him and his mother about the true nature of his job as special advisor to the president of the United States. Superpowers come in handy for thwarting muggers and would-be assassins, but are no match for the perils of high school and early adolescence.

If devouring these titles leaves you wanting more, visit the library and ask the youth services librarians for more summer reading suggestions. We don’t just work with books for kids and teens, we read them, too!

Check out the 2011 Summer Reading Program while you are there.


Just the Facts, Please: Non-Fiction for Children and Young Adults

Just as there are adult readers who prefer to read non-fiction, there are many children and young adults that prefer fact to fiction. They want to learn something from their reading, not just enjoy a story. And then there are those readers who like interesting books whatever the genre. Here are some of the books from the non-fiction collection we’ve been talking about to promote summer reading. Just the facts, please, most of these titles can be picked up and read in bites.

First Big Book of Why is a colorful book of answers to questions like “Why do donuts have holes” and “Exactly what is that zamboni doing out there on the ice?”  Thanks to Cool Hockey Facts, I also know that the zamboni logs 3 miles at each hockey game. This is part of a series including baseball, basketball, football, and soccer facts as well. Even someone who knows their sport well can learn from these books. I assumed, as most people do if asked, that the football huddle was initiated so that the other team couldn’t hear their plan. Surprisingly, the huddle was initiated by a deaf quarterback who signed – he used the huddle so the other teams couldn’t see what he had planned!

The 100 Most Disgusting Things on the Planet by Anna Claybourne is another title for nibblers, but don’t read it before a meal. Slugs only rate a 2 on the scale from 1 to 5 yucks; things just get worse from there. Pictures and descriptions of gourmet delights such as maggot cheese, and ugly oddities of the animal world, keep readers turning the pages.

Danger by Laura Buller is full of, well, dangerous things, but with a touch of humor as well. It includes a section on surviving a horror movie with advice like “Never flee up the stairs from a monster on the loose. Once at the top, your only way out is to jump!”

In How They Croaked: The Awful Ends of the Awfully Famous by Georgia Bragg, a comical skeleton on the cover is posed in an attitude of warning as if quoting the author who admonishes: “If you don’t have the guts for gore, don’t open this book.” Each chapter features a forensic study of a famous person from history including how they died and what caused their death. There is a little history and a great deal of science (and humor) mixed in.

Animal Pop! by Wanda Jones and More Life-size Zoo by Teriyuki Komiya both use pop-up book technology to allow you to unfold and see just how big a hippo (or bison or wolf) really is without getting too close for comfort.

Nubs: The True Story of a Mutt, a Marine, and a Miracle was written by Major Brian Dennis about the dog he adopted, or rather the dog that adopted him, in Iraq. His patrol was sent routinely to a desert outpost where he met a dog he called “Nubs” due to his short-cropped ears. The two bonded and eventually Nubs tracked the marine 70 miles across the desert to his base. When his CO said the dog had to go, Major Dennis enlisted friends and family to raise the funds to send Nubs to his parents in California. Nubs was waiting to welcome Major Dennis home after his time in Iraq. Lots of pictures make this heartwarming story an inviting read for animal lovers of any age.

We are fortunate to have a world-renowned storyteller, Margaret Read MacDonald, as our first summer performer. She will tell folktales at both the Main Library and the Evergreen Branch Library on July 9.  Little Rooster’s Diamond Button, The Squeaky Door, and Go to Sleep, Gecko are three of her stories published in picture book form. The illustrations compliment the texts which stay true to the oral traditions they come from.

Look for the signs that say We talked about these at your school! in the children’s and teen areas for displays featuring the books we brought to Everett schools along with bookmarks that list all of the books we brought for show and tell.