Shell Scott Mysteries

Be it because my brain is so focused on various worries or because I use up all my reading neurons on news, I currently have very little interest in perusing for pleasure. Add to this that I typically don’t like serious stuff or conflict or stress or Nazis or the earth moving closer to the sun but wait it was a dream and it’s actually moving farther from the sun, well, there ain’t a whole lotta words I wanna interact with right now.

But one genre that has stood by me throughout good times and bad is the less-than-hardboiled detective book. And my favorite purveyor of said genre is Richard S. Prather.

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Shell Scott is everything you could want in a detective: physically imposing, young yet experienced, able to outfight your average thug, possessing a tendency to do what’s right and sporting a flair for the fairer s-e-x. He drinks hard, lusts freely and displays a wide streak of goofiness. And while many fictional detectives have an antagonistic relationship with local police, Shell often works with the law.

Prather wrote most of the Shell Scott mysteries in the 1950s and 60s, overlapping James Bond, Mike Hammer and many other spies and detectives. As one might expect, the morés and attitudes of the day permeate the prose, so there’s something to offend everyone I reckon. However, it’s the prose that makes this series stand out.

According to thrillingdetective.com, the Scott stories were “…smirky, outlandish, innuendo-laden, occasionally alcohol-fueled, off-the-wall tours-de-farce that, depending on your point of view, were either a real hoot, or a lot of adolescent, sexist swill and hackwork.” And I am in total agreement with this viewpoint. Fortunately for me, I frequent the adolescent section of the maturity scale, making me the target audience for Prather’s wordsmithing.

But what better way to see what Shell Scott is about than reading a few pithy quotes? First up is a taste of grit:

“The sudden sight of the girl so messily dead had shocked me, and I guess I let my guard down. The hiss of the slug near my head and the crack of the gun seemed simultaneous.”
      ~ from The Kubla Khan Caper

Characters we have previously met frequently die in these tales. Try not to become too attached. Yet the tone is often silly. Scott does not think highly of thugs and he lets the audience know it:

“He had the look of a cat who would wear monogrammed shorts. Or even silk underwear with his whole name printed on it. And maybe his picture. A picture of him in his shorts.” 
     ~ from The Meandering Corpse

 But the floweriest prose generally focuses on descriptions of women:

“She smiled like a woman getting chewed on the neck by Pan. It was a nice smile. I liked it. It went in my eyes and reamed out my arteries and steamed my blood and opened up half a dozen glands like cooked lotus blossoms.”
     ~ from Kill Me Tomorrow

And those descriptions can become downright bizarre:

 “… she didn’t wear one of those bosom contraptions, either – like lifters, expanders, separators, elevators, pushers, poochers, upmashers, tiptilters, squeezers, and aprilfoolers – that have come along since plain old brassieres went out of style, and that are so adorable you almost want to leave the gal home and take her contraption out dancing.”
     ~ from The Meandering Corpse

I guarantee you won’t find that particular sentence anywhere else in literature.

Everett Public Library has a variety of Shell Scott mysteries available as electronic downloads. Perhaps they are just the thing to warm the cockles of your heart in difficult times. I know I’m going to get back to reading one as soon as I do some research on bosom contraptions.

Night Train

Parts of Night Train by David Quantick really scared me… in that “this-has-got-to-be-a-dream-why-can’t-I-wake-up” kind of way. Other times I just felt claustrophobic. Maybe that’s because it’s how the main character feels when she wakes up alone in a moving train car.

Her name is Garland – according to the name tag on her jumpsuit. But she doesn’t remember anything. There is no way off the train, it just keeps speeding along. The windows won’t break, and there are no escape hatches.

After Garland travels through a few cars she meets Banks, a different kind of ‘person.’ Banks has no memory of his life before the train either, but he’s been there for quite a while. Garland convinces him they must get to the front of the train and stop it. As they travel together from car to car to car, they find that each one is completely different, and surprising.

I found myself holding my breath as they opened each door, especially since some of the doors locked behind them. Sometimes Banks and Garland come across a situation that brings a glimmer of remembrance about their actual selves, and we realize that their trip to the front of the train is a fight with their own personal issues.

This is a must read because there are moments in our lives when we realize that things are perceived differently from what they really are. I kept thinking “what would I do if this were me?” So, come join the adventure as Garland and Banks make their way to the front of the train, and see for yourself how it ends!

Did You Know? (Wagon Edition)

The ‘little red wagon’ was invented in 1917?

I found this information in the book Radio Flyer by Robert Pasin. New to America in 1914, Anthony Pasin studied English and worked many jobs. His struggle reminded me of this quote:

Before I came to America, I thought the streets were paved with gold. When I came here, I learned three things: The streets were not paved in gold, the streets weren’t paved at all, and I was expected to pave them.

attributed to an anonymous emigrant, Immigration Museum at Ellis Island

Anthony worked hard and in 1917 made his first wagon from wood to haul his tools to his job. Soon, he had orders from neighbors and friends. Inevitably he was not able to keep up with the demand. Soon he began pressing them out of steel, and eventually was making scooters, tricycles and wheelbarrows as well. There were more little red wagons built than station wagons!

Yesterday’s station wagons were like the minivans of today. Everyone had one. They were just the ticket for a family road trip vacation. You load up the car, kids and a cooler full of sandwiches and Viola! Perfect family vacation!

But there are always exceptions as Diary of a Wimpy Kid the Long Haul by Jeff Kinney shows us.

Catalog summary: Their journey starts off full of promise, then quickly takes several wrong turns. Gas station bathrooms, crazed seagulls, a fender bender, and a runaway pig—not exactly Greg Heffley’s idea of a good time. But even the worst road trip can turn into an adventure—and this is one the Heffleys won’t soon forget.

Another good story about a road trip is American Road Trip by Patrick Flores-Scott.

Catalog summary: With a strong family, the best friend a guy could ask for, and a budding romance with the girl of his dreams, life shows promise for Teodoro “T” Avila. But he takes some hard hits the summer before senior year when his nearly perfect brother, Manny, returns from a tour in Iraq with a devastating case of PTSD. In a desperate effort to save Manny from himself and pull their family back together, T’s fiery sister, Xochitl, hoodwinks her brothers into a cathartic road trip. Told through T’s honest voice, this is a candid exploration of mental illness, socioeconomic pressures, and the many inescapable highs and lows that come with growing up—including falling in love.

The inspiration behind Anthony’s small wagons created to pull tools were the wagons that crossed the prairies. Wagon trains began making their way west in the 1820’s. Obviously the wagons were much bigger than the little red ones, but this was where his vision began.

Woman on the American Frontier by William Worthington Fowler talks about the early days of pioneers and wagon trains. It was certainly an exciting time in history. You could also read Custer’s Trials: a Life on the Frontier of a New America by T.J. Stiles. This book gives us an inside look at the time period and the things that happened in the new ‘wild west.’

No matter what you read, I hope you’ve enjoyed this trip down memory lane. I hope it brought back memories of your own escapades with your, or the neighbor kid’s, little red wagon, as well as your own family vacation road trip horror stories.

Not That Kind of Party

I was once standing in line in a bookshop (remember those, the humming thrum of all those captured words waiting to be freed from the shelves so they could release their stories?) when the couple in front of me began talking about one of my obsessions: the Donner Party.

A little back story: The Donner Party is one of the most well-known ‘wagons west survival stories.’ Many people think they were just unlucky, unprepared or downright cursed. I believe all three had a hand in what happened to the wagon party of several families who set out to forge a new life in the West, got caught in the Sierra Nevada mountains in a brutal snowstorm, and ended up resorting to cannibalism to survive.

The Donner party set out with hope for a new life in California and put their trust in a man by the name of Lansford Hastings who said he had “worked out a new and better road to California.” The Hastings Cutoff ended up being a disaster, with the wagons and animals barely able to make it through.

The party pushed on, crossing into Truckee Lake (now known as Donner Lake because hey, after having to eat a few of your traveling companions to survive, you should get a lake named after you). The Donner party decided to camp 3 miles from the summit near a cabin that had been built by previous pilgrims. Then 5-10-foot snow drifts trapped the party and the food ran out…

You get the picture: a big wagon party forging westward gets stuck and the living must eat the dead to survive.

But back to the bookshop. The man was saying to the woman beside him something about the anniversary of the Donner Party coming up. The woman shuddered like she felt one of the cannibal’s frozen hands slip down her back and hissed that she didn’t think she could ever resort to cannibalism, even if it was to survive. I’m not the kind of person to join in on strangers’ conversations, but I pushed a thought at the shivering woman: you have no idea what you would do when push came to shove in a matter of survival, even if it meant slicing a chunk of flesh out of a body half buried in the snow, face down so you can’t see who it is.

Well, that was lovely. I went dark there for a minute, didn’t I? I’m not sorry. It’s what I do.

Alma Katsu’s novel The Hunger follows the Donner party as they make the trek westward. The families start out excited and happy to be beginning this new part of their lives, but soon the journey becomes exhausting, things go wrong, and supplies run out. A child goes missing one evening and is found torn open by some beast. Tamsin Donner, on her second husband and maybe a little bit on the witchy side (making potions and concoctions and collecting herbs), begins to sense that something is not right. Something more than the normal peril of crossing America has attached itself to them.

One of her stepdaughters, who is thought to be a bit touched in the head, hears the voices of the dead. Some of them are full of madness while others are trying to warn her. Strange beings seem to be following them, appearing in the dark, watching them and waiting to catch them off guard. Up close, these things are barely human, more monster than man. More members of the wagon party disappear and some begin to get sick. Is it one of their own who is summoning these beings and passing a disease around the families or is there a reasonable explanation.?

I’ll tell you right now, no, there is no reasonable explanation. What is happening is beyond the realm of the known and defies explanation and…..you know what? No. I’m not going to tell you the rest. If you want to read an adventure story based on historical record dive on into Alma Katsu’s The Hunger. You may think you know the full story of the Donner Party, but Katsu turns it on its ear and sets it off down paths of the supernatural and unexpected. You’ll devour this book. And if you don’t like it, eat me.

Me and My Shadow(s)

As a child, my family moved around quite a bit. My mom always framed it as an adventure. Sometimes I didn’t even consider the idea that we were not coming back to a neighborhood until we were actually driving away, and the place we were leaving became smaller and smaller through the back window. What made these transitions so much easier was that we always brought my best friends, my younger sisters. Of course there were times where we bickered and fought. But more often we were partners in our imaginary play world, sharers of secrets, and protectors of each other.

Today’s book list focuses on siblings. From a sweet sibling bond in Lola Reads to Leo to adventures and mystery in Mission Unstoppable, these titles are all available as downloadable books. The descriptions are from our library’s catalog.

Picture Books

Tea Rex by Molly Idle
Some tea parties are for grown-ups. Some are for girls. But this tea party is for a very special guest. And it is important to follow some rules, like providing comfortable chairs,
and good conversation, and yummy food. But sometimes that is not enough for special guests, especially when their manners are more Cretaceous than gracious. Introducing Tea Rex, a guest that just about any child would love to have to tea!

Big Red Lollipop by Rukhsana Khan
Rubina has been invited to her first birthday party, and her mother, Ami, insists that she bring her little sister along. Rubina is mortified, but she can’t convince Ami that you just don’t bring your younger sister to your friend’s party. So both girls go, and not only does Sana demand to win every game, but after the party she steals Rubina’s prized party favor, a red lollipop. What’s a fed-up big sister to do? Rukhsana Khan’s clever story and Sophie Blackall’s irresistible illustrations make for a powerful combination in this fresh and surprising picture book.

Lola Reads to Leo by Anna McQuinn
Join Lola as she learns what it means to be a big sister, in the third installment in the loveable Lola series. We all know how much Lola loves books, so it is no surprise that she can’t wait to share her love of reading with her new baby brother, Leo. Lola gets ready for little Leo’s arrival by reading books about brothers and sisters and picking out the perfect stories that she just knows her little brother will love. When the baby is finally here, Lola takes on the role of big sister—she helps her mommy and daddy around the house and tells Leo stories to cheer him up when he cries. Simple text and bright and charming illustrations celebrate family, reading, and what it means to be a big sister.

Mabel and Sam at Home by Linda Urban
This playful and endearing book celebrates imaginative play as Mable and Sam move into a new house and make it their own. They sail the high seas of their new home, tour the intriguing museum of their living room, journey through outer space to the safety of their own beds, and discover how far afield—and how close to home—imagination can take them. Funny and engaging, this celebration of moving in and settling in is both heart-warming and house-warming.

Early Chapter Books

Ivy + Bean by Annie Barrows
When seven-year old Bean plays a mean trick on her sister, she finds unepected support for her antics from Ivy, the new neighbor, who is less boring than Bean first suspected.

Charlie & Mouse by Laurel Snyder
Join Charlie and Mouse as they talk to lumps, take the neighborhood to a party, sell some rocks, and invent the bedtime banana. With imagination and humor, Laurel Snyder and Emily Hughes paint a lively picture of brotherhood that children will relish in a beginning chapter book format; making this a perfect book for young readers graduating from picture books.

Juvenile Fiction

The Penderwicks by Jeanne Birdsall
This summer the Penderwick sisters have a wonderful surprise: a holiday on the grounds of a beautiful estate called Arundel. Soon they are busy discovering the summertime magic of Arundel’s sprawling gardens, treasure-filled attic, tame rabbits, and the cook who makes the best gingerbread in Massachusetts. But the best discovery of all is Jeffrey Tifton, son of Arundel’s owner, who quickly proves to be the perfect companion for their adventures. The icy-hearted Mrs. Tifton is not as pleased with the Penderwicks as Jeffrey is, though, and warns the new friends to stay out of trouble. Which, of course, they will–won’t they? One thing’s for sure: it will be a summer the Penderwicks will never forget. Deliciously nostalgic and quaintly witty, this is a story as breezy and carefree as a summer day.

Mission Unstoppable: the Genius Files Series, Book 1 by Dan Gutman
The most exciting road trip in history begins! In this action-packed, New York Times bestselling adventure, twelve-year-old twins Coke and Pepsi McDonald embark on a family vacation you’ll have to read to believe.With the real-kid humor that has earned Dan Gutman millions of fans around the world, and featuring weird-but-true American tourist destinations, The Genius Files is a one-of-a-kind mix of geography and fun. As Coke and Pepsi dodge nefarious villains from the Pez museum in California all the way to the Infinity Room in Wisconsin, black-and-white photographs and maps put young readers right into the action. And don’t miss the next leg of the journey in The Genius Files: Never Say Genius!Supports the Common Core State Standards

The Problim Children by Natalie Lloyd
With a dash of Lemony Snicket, a dollop of the Addams Family, and a hearty dose of adventure, kaboom, the seven siblings—each born on a different day of the week—have to move into their grandpa’s bizarre old mansion in Lost Cove. No problem! For the Problim children, every problem is a gift! But rumors about their family run rampant in the small town: tales of a bitter feud, a hidden treasure, and a certain kind of magic lingering in the halls of #7 Main Street. Their neighbors, the O’Pinions, will do anything to find the secrets lurking inside the Problim household—including sending the seven children to seven different houses on seven different continents!

Fairest of All by Sarah Mlynowski.
Mirror, mirror, on the basement wall… Once upon a time my brother and I were normal kids. The next minute? The mirror in our basement slurped us up and magically transported us inside Snow White’s fairytale. I know it sounds crazy but it’s true. But hey-we’re heroes! We stopped Snow White from eating the poisoned apple. Hooray! Or not. If Snow White doesn’t die, she won’t get to meet her prince. And then she won’t get her happy ending. Oops. Now it’s up to us to: avoid getting poisoned, sneak into a castle, fix Snow White’s story. And then, fingers crossed, find our way home.

Gone crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia.
Delphine, Vonetta, and Fern are off to Alabama to visit their grandmother, Big Ma, and her mother, Ma Charles. Across the way lives Ma Charles’s half sister, Miss Trotter. The two half sisters haven’t spoken in years. As Delphine hears about her family history, she uncovers the surprising truth that’s been keeping the sisters apart. But when tragedy strikes, Delphine discovers that the bonds of family run deeper than she ever knew possible.

Graphic Novel

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier

Raina can’t wait to be a big sister. But once Amara is born, things aren’t quite how she expected them to be. Amara is cute, but she’s also a cranky, grouchy baby, and mostly prefers to play by herself. Their relationship doesn’t improve much over the years, but when a baby brother enters the picture and later, something doesn’t seem right between their parents, they realize they must figure out how to get along. They are sisters, after all. Raina uses her signature humor and charm in both present-day narrative and perfectly placed flashbacks to tell the story of her relationship with her sister, which unfolds during the course of a road trip from their home in San Francisco to a family reunion in Colorado.

The Bookshop on Film and Page

At the start of the film The Bookshop it is 1959 and a young widow living in a small English town decides to open a bookshop. After six months of negotiations, she is able to purchase an old building that has been vacant for years. That’s when the town grande dame decides that she wants that building for an arts center and tells the young woman that she will have to find another building for her bookshop.

The grande dame is accustomed to the villagers simply acceding to all her demands, no matter how unreasonable. This time, the young woman decides to fight for her dream of opening a bookshop in that building. Big mistake. The grande dame and her husband, a former general, begin an all-out campaign to destroy the young woman who dared to defy them.

This independent British film is available on Kanopy, one of the library’s free video apps. It stars Emily Mortimer as Florence Green, the young widow; Patricia Clarkson as the village grande dame; and Bill Nighy as a reclusive, book-loving widower (who isn’t actually a widower at all).

This is a beautifully made film with a superb cast – the stars all turn in exceptional performances and so do the supporting actors.

If you like British films, you might enjoy The Bookshop.

This film is based on the novel The Bookshop by British author Penelope Fitzgerald, which was shortlisted for the Booker Prize. We have the novel available in our digital collection as an e-book and also as an audiobook.

For the Love of the Library

Two books have made their way off their virtual shelves and into my heart:

Palaces for the People by Eric Klinenberg and The Library Book by Susan Orlean 

Both books capture the essence, character, and importance of public libraries, prompting me to express my love for the library:

For the Love of the Library 

The Library is a place: to gather, visit, meet, explore, discover, learn, laugh, and play. 

The Library is a place: to rest, re-energize, be seen,  be heard, connect,  disconnect,  give voice, and be challenged. 

The Library is a place: of collections, story times, games, art, lectures, and book clubs. 

The Library is a place: to dream, to imagine, to engage, to grow, to be. 
 

Working outside the walls of the library, my fondness and appreciation has grown stronger.

Klinenberg’s work details how social infrastructure affects ones quality of life; places to gather like libraries, community gardens, and schools help give us a sense of well being. The book is interspersed with stories of triumph and tragedy. In a society that is growing increasingly polarized, he sites multiple examples of communities coming together and learning from one another.

Members of the Bayside Neighborhood Community Garden

Where relationships exist, communities survive despite circumstance. I’ve seen evidence of this in my neighborhood. In the community garden, people are spending more time together and relationships, along with plants, are thriving.

Orlean’s re-telling of the 1986 Los Angeles Library fire and the history of libraries in her book sends out a similar message. Cutting across socio-economic, generational, and cultural lines, the library by design is a place for all people.

Beyond the books, brick, and mortar, the library lives on in your story and mine. This is just a long and difficult chapter. I want our library back and I think most would agree: a virtual library just isn’t the same thing. 

These two books intersected my path at just the right time, offering me perspective and gratitude for this recess from the normal and predictable. 

In conclusion, I’d like to share this quote that I have taped to my desk. Take care. We’ll get there! 

Gratitude is the ability to experience life as a gift. It liberates us from the prison of self-preoccupation.  

John Ortberg

Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes

The song Changes by David Bowie has the lyrics “ch-ch-ch-ch changes (Turn and face the strange) ch-ch-ch-changes” and I’ve been thinking about those words a lot lately.

Life during a pandemic has been difficult and even scary. Many things have changed drastically: schools, businesses and parks are closed, work has been relegated to those who can work from home and some jobs have been flat out eliminated. People are having to stay at home, stay healthy and the changes are happening at a pace that makes my head spin.

Looking back, I regret that I wasn’t more prepared both physically and mentally for this change. When we were required to go home from our work positions at the library, I thought oh well. . . maybe we’ll be closed for a couple of weeks. Boy was I in La-La land. In a way, it was probably better that I didn’t know the extent of all that was going to happen or I wouldn’t have been able to serve the library in a professional manner.

The words I would use to describe this time in history include fear, loss, and grief but also resiliency and empathy. I made a search of the library catalog using the terms Change, Stress, Anger and Resilience to see what items would come up. Here are some of my great finds!

Emotional Agility: Get Unstuck, Embrace Change and Thrive in Work and Life by Susan David.

From the catalog summary: Emotional agility is a revolutionary, science-based approach that allows us to navigate life’s twists and turns with self-acceptance, clear-sightedness, and an open mind. Renowned psychologist Susan David developed this concept after studying emotions, happiness, and achievement for more than twenty years. She found that no matter how intelligent or creative people are, or what type of personality they have, it is how they navigate their inner world—their thoughts, feelings, and self-talk—that ultimately determines how successful they will become.

Something I have personal experience with is the cognitive behavior and freedom technique called Tapping or psychological acupressure. This therapy utilizes meridian points to restore the balance of energy and help resolve physical and emotional issues. Similar to mindfulness, it draws your attention to your body and breathing and serves as a mental distraction from issues causing anxiety or stress. You might ask if it works? Well it didn’t hurt and it gave my something new to try.

If you want to learn more, the library has the ebook The Tapping Solution: a Revolutionary System for Stress-Free Living by Nick Ortner . 

From the catalog summary: In a friendly voice, he lays out easy-to-use practices, diagrams and worksheets that will teach readers, step-by-step, how to tap on a variety of issues. With chapters covering everything from the alleviation of pain to the encouragement of weight loss to fostering better relationships, Ortner opens readers’ eyes to just how powerful this practice can be. 

A memoir that came up in my search that looks really interesting is On Being Human: a Memoir of Waking up, Living Real and Listening Hard by Jennifer Pastiloff. 

From the catalog summary: An inspirational memoir about how Jennifer Pastiloff’s years of waitressing taught her to seek out unexpected beauty, how deafness taught her to listen fiercely, how being vulnerable allowed her to find love, and how imperfections can lead to a life full of wild happiness.

A fourth digital book that came up in my search and looks worthwhile is Change Friendly Leadership: How to Transform Good Intentions into Great Performance by Rodger Dean Duncan.

From the catalog summary: In this radical new book, practitioner Rodger Dean Duncan shows that humanness, approachability, and friendliness are necessary but often overlooked elements of making change successful. Change cannot be achieved by a press release, slogan, or announcement. Effective organizational change requires the active, mindful participation of the people affect.

Things are still changing and will likely never go back to ‘how it used to be’ but together we can strive to make it less painful and frightening by being there for each other and understanding ‘we are all in the same boat.’  

Fairies vs Vampires

Hmmm, should this blog be sweet or gory?

A little while ago, I had a young reader excitedly ask for the Isadora Moon book series. She was so animated while telling me about Isadora, whose mother was a fairy and father was a vampire, and how her favorite colors were pink and black. 

The young reader was such an excellent book-talker, the first in the series made it to the top of my reading list (I believe most librarians have to-be-read lists longer their arm)! The Isadora Moon series by Harriet Muncaster is about a girl who needs to be true to herself and that means not always fitting in where others may expect her to. I love how this relatable theme is shown through the lens of fairy vs vampire.

OK, if you’ve interacted with me before, you knew this was not going to be a gory blog! Check out today’s list of cute downloadable stories, inspired by the Isadora Moon series, combining fairy and vampire characters. The book descriptions are from the Everett Public Library catalog.

Picture Book

Moldilocks and the Three Scares: A Zombie Tale by Lynne Marie

Forget Goldilocks and the three bears—MOLDILOCKS and the THREE SCARES are here, in a delightful new version of the popular story. Papa Scare (a monster), Mama Scare (a mummy), and Baby Scare (a vampire) live in a haunted house where they eat finger sandwiches and alpha-bat soup. One night, they go out to walk their dog (a bloodhound, of course) to let their soup cool down. While they’re away, in walks the zombie Moldilocks, looking for food, a chair, and a bed that’s just right. Kids will love this hauntingly funny story with its surprise ending!

Beginning Chapter Books

Sylva and the Fairy Ball by Margaret McNamara.

With Sylva and the Fairy Ball, Margaret McNamara launches the Fairy Bell Sisters, an enchanting new chapter-book series. The books feature Tinker Bell’s little sisters and are a must-read for lovers of the Rainbow Fairies and Disney Fairies stories. Clara Bell, Golden Bell, Rosy Bell, Sylva Bell, and baby Squeak are fairy sisters who live on Sheepskerry Island. Usually Sylva and her sisters get along just fine–until the week of the Fairy Ball. Sylva has her heart set on going–she’ll get to wear magical diamond wings and walk on beautiful satin ribbons under the stars! But fairies must be at least eight years old to attend, and poor Sylva’s birthday is the day after the ball. But before the night is over, Sylva’s big sisters will need her to come to their rescue. Charming illustrations by Julia Denos bring the world of fairies to life.

Isadora Moon Goes to School by Harriet Muncaster

Meet Isadora Moon! She’s half-fairy, half-vampire and totally unique! Isadora Moon loves sunshine — and nighttime. She loves her magic wand — and her black tutu. She loves spooky bats — and Pink Rabbit. Isadora is half-fairy, half-vampire, and she’s special because she is different!

Now Isadora’s parents want her to start school, but she’s not sure where she belongs — fairy school or vampire school?

Juvenile Fiction

My Fangtastically Evil Vampire Pet by Mo O’Hara

Welcome to Camp Mwhaaa-haa-ha-a-watha! This summer is going to be epic. Epically evil, that is. ‘Cause I’m going to Evil Scientist Summer Camp! No annoying little brothers. No annoying zombie goldfish. Just me, my best friend Sanj, our notebook of evil plans, and my truly evil (and totally forbidden) vampire kitten Fang. We’ve got it all planned out. Okay, so maybe I didn’t expect for the totally not-evil Geeky Girl to show up, or for Sanj to find a new partner to work with, but there’s no way I’m going to let them ruin my summer. Evil Emperor of the Camp, here I come! Signed, The Great and Powerful Mark.

Bunnicula by Deborah Howe

THIS book is written by Harold. His full time occupation is dog. He lives with Mr. and Mrs. X (here called Monroe) and their sons Toby and Pete. Also sharing the home are a cat named Chester and a rabbit named Bunnicula. It is because of Bunnicula that Harold turned to writing. Someone had to tell the full story of what happened in the Monroe household after the rabbit arrived.

It all began when the Monroes went to see the movie Dracula At the theater Toby found something on his seat, a baby rabbit that he took home and named Bunnicula. It proved to be an apt name, at least as far as Chester was concerned. A well-read and observant cat, he soon decided that there was something odd about the newcomer. For one thing he seemed to have fangs. And the odd markings on his back looked a little like a cape. Furthermore, Bunnicula slept from sunup to sundown. He was awake only at night.

When the family started funding white vegetables, drained dry, with two fang marks in them, Chester was sure Bunnicula was a vampire. But what to do about it. None of the family seemed to grasp the trouble, and Chester’s hilarious hints were totally misunderstood.

Was Bunnicula really a vampire? Only Bunnicula knows for sure. But the story of Chester’s suspicions and their consequences makes uproarious reading.

This title is also available as downloadable audiobook!

Juvenile Non-Fiction

Monstrous: The Lore, Gore, and Science behind Your Favorite Monsters by Carlyn Beccia

Could Dr. Frankenstein’s machine ever animate a body? Why should vampires drink from veins and not arteries? What body parts are best for zombies to eat? (It’s not brains.) This fascinating encyclopedia of monsters delves into the history and science behind eight legendary creatures, from Bigfoot and the kraken to zombies and more. Find out each monster’s origin story and the real-world history that informed it, and then explore the science of each creature in fun and surprising ways. Tips and infographics—including monster anatomy, how to survive a vampire attack, and real-life giant creatures of the deep sea—make this a highly visual and fun-to-browse book.

Feeling Lonely?

Stuck at home and lonely. That’s where a lot of us are right now! Let’s be sure not to confuse alone with lonely. Some people are perfectly happy to be alone to work on what they want. Many avoid being lonely by talking to friends on the phone or through Facebook, Zoom or whichever technology they may be using. Sone others, however, can be in a houseful of people and still feel socially isolated and desperate for human interactions that are outside of their family circle.

Hopefully, you are not alone and have family in the house with you and the ability to “be” with your friends.

Of course, being stuck indoors with family can also be annoying! I think everyone should have their own private space set aside where they can take time out from the world. Perhaps your bedroom with the door shut or even hang out in the laundry room or bathroom. Now may also be the time to institute a ‘quiet hour’ where everyone either naps or sits individually with a book or craft.

I have been looking at Creativebug, which is in our online resources, and have seen a lot of family friendly crafts that are easy to do with stuff you have lying around the house. There was an especially easy weaving project where all you need is some leftover bits of yarn and a piece of thin cardboard from the recycling bin to get you started.

Perhaps you have a yard you can sit in and enjoy. Why not have fun with your family and start a small vegetable or flower garden? Ask Ciscoe: Your Gardening Questions Answered by Ciscoe Morris is a great resource to get you started, and Small Garden Style by Jennifer Blaise Kramer will give you great ideas for making use of the smallest garden spaces such as patios or your deck. Early spring is the perfect time to start a garden. You may also want to see if there is a community garden in your neighborhood or a vacant lot that could become one.

While you may not be able to take a vacation right now, you can enjoy planning a trip. We have many Lonely Planet Travel Guides in ebook format to explore. Pretend you are going to Fiji, the South Pacific, Paris or Berlin! Or you can watch a show on Kanopy and take a virtual trip. On the tab ‘sciences’ under ‘zoology’ there are a number of shows about animals from all over the world. And of course, you won’t need a travel guide if you are sitting in your living room!

No matter what you find to do, it is good to remember that this is all temporary. You may even look back on it eventually and say “remember when we were all stuck at home? I kind of miss that.” Stay safe and healthy!