Tuesday, May 22, 2018

Summer Reading: New Books to Kick off the Summer

YOU GUYS. We have so many amazing books coming our way that it's unreal. With Memorial Day and summer vacation coming up, I hope you and yours have a reading-filled summer planned! If you're looking for some outstanding titles to add to your to-be-read list, keep reading:

Children's Books

Front Desk has received fabulous reviews and a ton of buzz on Twitter, so I'm looking forward to reading this story about a young Chinese-American girl and her family's hotel.

I loved Amina's Voice, so I cannot wait to read her series opener, Power Forward, about fourth grader Zayd's love for basketball (and his plan to be the first Pakistani-American in the NBA).

Sci-Fu U has been a hit at our branches ever since we received our copies; this graphic novel series combines 1980s hip hop, robot aliens, and martial arts into a super-fun story.

This year's Shark Week (30th anniversary!) begins July 22, so I know Science Comics: Sharks will be one of our hottest titles this summer! The Science Comics series has been one of my favorite additions to our children's nonfiction collection; every one has been a top hit.

Two Dogs in a Trench Coat Go to School sounds so sweet; to find out exactly what is causing their beloved human Stewart's anxiety, they decide to impersonate as a new student in order to investigate what's bothering him at school.


I am up to my eyeballs in YA fantasy featuring teen princesses/teen queens, but our YA fans can't get enough of them! Ash Princess features a teen princess captive in her own palace after her country is invaded and her mother is murdered; it's received very good reviews.

Bethany Hamilton's latest inspirational book, Be Unstoppable and Unsinkable: Moments, Milestones, And Medals, should be a popular read with her fans. It's a companion to her documentary, which should definitely spark interest.

Eric Gansworth's If I Ever Get Out of Here is one of my favorite YA historical fiction novels, so Give Me Some Truth is definitely high on my TBR list. Although it also takes place on the Tuscarora reservation in the decade after If I Ever Get Out of Here, this involves new characters who are also finding their way as Native teens in a community that has to face tensions with the surrounding Caucasian community in the area. Pop music was a major part of the first novel, and it appears to be the same with this one. Favorable reviews and lots of Twitter excitement precede this one; Gansworth is a much needed voice in YA fiction.

If you're looking for an addicting and romantic YA fantasy, check out CaravalLegendary is its sequel, also set in the strange audience-participation game show.

We received Royals right before the recent royal wedding, so it's not surprising that our copies immediately checked out. With her older sister engaged to a crown prince, 16 year old Daisy finds her life uncomfortably in the public gaze. Of course, she meets the prince's younger brother (who's just a heap of trouble), which makes her life even more complicated!

Based on the hit Youtube series Rooster's Teeth, RWBY features students at Beacon Academy training to save the world from ferocious monsters. I'm always ready for a new graphic novel series, so I have my eyes on this one!


Anything food-history related grabs my attention, especially if it features a specific community or heritage. The Cooking Gene: A Journey Through African American Culinary History in the Old South recently won the prestigious James Beard award; I've followed Michael W. Twitty on Twitter for some time and am fascinated by his work, so can't wait to dive into this one.

I have so many books checked out that I needed to finish due to other people waiting for them; as soon as I am done, I'm coming for The Cottingley Secret (provided it's available).The faked fairy pictures scandal in 1917 is one of the most fascinating stories from 20th century history; we have the superb The Fairy Ring: Or, Elsie and Frances Fool the World that readers of this book should definitely check out, but there's not been much on this geared toward adults (there was a beautiful movie made about it sometime in the early 2000s). I prefer my historical fiction to be purely historical fiction, and not time travel to the present; there are only a few that I really enjoy that do that, such as The Sandcastle Girls. However, this sounds just up my alley, so I'll deal.

I guess historical fiction about old Hollywood is becoming more of a thing; although I was resistant to it for some unknown reason, Melanie Benjamin's The Girls in the Picture has me more open to the idea (and it's a break from wars, epic family struggles, and the like). I'll admit that I know little about Laurel and Hardy other than that they were a very successful comedy team in the 1930s and 1940s;  He: A Novel intrigues me because we don't often get historical fiction that features the friendship and working (sometimes fractious) relationship between two men (which is probably why it caught my eye; I loved The Girls in the Picture for the same thing, albeit it being between two women).

Since much of my reading about dinosaurs tends to be written for preschoolers-3rd graders, The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs might be a bit daunting for me, but I'm willing to give it a go. It's received amazing reviews.

Although Civil War historical fiction doesn't automatically interest me on the whole, it's another story if you tell me it's actually set in Virginia and covers the expanse of 100+ years (ending in the 1980s). A Shout in the Ruins sounds like a powerful read.

Need more ideas? Check out Wowbrary, which lets you know about books/DVDs/recorded books/ebooks that have been recently ordered (back issues are available).

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, May 14, 2018

Recent Reads

Hard to believe it's already May! This year has already brought some superb reads; here are some of my favorites:

Terry Lynn Johnson's Survivor Diaries is one of my favorite new series, especially for picky/reluctant readers. Combining short chapters with lots of action, this series captures the attention of a great variety of reading abilities and interests (with survival tips at the end of each book from noted experts such as the National Forest Service and the Coast Guard!). Avalanche! introduces us to twins who must survive an avalanche; Overboard!, the first in the series (which does not need to be read in order), features siblings who must battle hypothermia.

I have my eye on all books soccer- related now that we're getting closer to the men's World Cup (however, with United States and Italy both shockingly out of the running, I don't really have a team to root for! Better luck next year with the ladies' teams.).  The Field celebrates the enormous popularity and universality of soccer through a group of children in St. Lucia playing the "beautiful game." With Creole words sprinkled throughout the text, and the children's poverty noticed but not dwelt upon, this is a lovely and joyful look at children in a country rarely represented in children's literature!

I am in the midst of planning a fall Cape Cod honeymoon, so I immediately grabbed Hello Lighthouse when it came in. This is GORGEOUS and on my shortlist for Caldecott 2019. It's quite a sophisticated and lengthy look at the life of a lighthouse and the family that lived it in long ago.

I feel very strongly about books that feature underrepresented cultures that are not about food, holidays, or historical fiction. While those books are definitely important and needed in any library collection, it's so important that we have stories that are everyday "slice of life" stories. I love Mommy's Khimar, and I'm so excited that it's been quite popular at our libraries since we added it to the collection. This reminds me of What Can You Do With a Rebozo?/What Can You Do With a Paleta?, in that it features a young child exploring and gaining cultural pride from an everyday yet important aspect of his/her life. When this unnamed young girl wears her mother's khimar (hijab), she imagines that she is a queen, a superhero, and much more! What makes this interesting is that mom is apparently African-American and a convert, as there is mention of the visiting grandmother attending church instead of their mosque; the vast majority of our children's books featuring Muslim characters are about families that have an Arab or Middle Eastern background, so this is a unique addition!

Warrenton youth services staff knows that I am obsessed with the Mrs. Peanuckle's board books series. With lovely pastel illustrations and fun facts, this series is a wonderful appreciation of nature in an ABC format. It's perfect for families that want board books that go beyond a simple sentence on each page.

Nimoshom and His Bus is another fantastic "slice of life" story, this one featuring a Cree community. If you ever had a bus driver that truly loved and cared about the children on his/her bus, you already know Nimoshom. Whether he's joking with his charges or teaching them new words in Cree, Nimoshom definitely makes an impact on his riders' lives.

I adore the HilLo series, but I have to admit that I did not love the one before Waking the Monsters as much as the first two stories. Thankfully, Waking the Monsters is just as fun, hilarious, and moving as its predecessors. The wacky and endearing story of a young blond-haired alien has more depth in this one, as HiLo is now learning more about his past. The Mega Robot Monsters are threatening Earth more than ever, and HiLo is determined to stop them...but at what cost? Cannot wait for this one to continue.

Want something more adult? Try these two:

The Aviator's Wife is one of my favorite (adult) historical fiction novels, so any new book from Melanie Benjamin immediately gets my attention. I love, love, love historical fiction, but it can be heavy reading at times. If you need a break from war, famine, epic sagas, and the like, consider The Girls in the Picture. Even if you're not into "old Hollywood" (and this is really old Hollywood, since it takes place during the silent movie era), this story of a complicated friendship between two women and their battles in the very male-oriented world of Hollywood feels quite contemporary.

I don't think there's a specific name for this type of book, but I cannot resist books that feature the author exploring/learning more about his/her cultural background, such as The Hundred Year Walk: An Armenian Odyssey, My Father's Paradise: A Son's Search for His Jewish Past in Kurdish Iraq, or my two current reads, In the Shadow of Statues: A White Southerner Confronts History and The Best Cook in the World: Tales From My Momma's Table.  The Home That Was Our Country: A Memoir of Syria is one of the best I've recently read, and if you want to understand how Syria (a once sophisticated, multicultural, and educated nation) became a horrific bloodbath, you should definitely read this book. It gives a deeply personal take on the tragedy of Syria more so than a regular history/current events story would, as it traces Alia Malek's family history (and Syria's history) over the past century, revealing a time in which Christians, Jews, and Muslims worked and befriended each other in their close living quarters. The rise of the Assad family, the immigration of Syrian Jews to other lands, and the Arab Spring are closely tied into the Malek family's struggle to reclaim their grandmother's apartment. This is not a quick read, especially if you're like me and were wholly unfamiliar with Syria's history and cultures before starting it, but it is a rewarding, emotional, and rich read.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, April 30, 2018

Reading and Rhyming: Books For National Poetry Month

As we wind down April, it's time to discuss one of my favorite national celebations: National Poetry Month!

If you want inspirational poetry, don't miss Bravo! Poems About Amazing Hispanics. Although well-known Hispanics such as Cesar Chavez and Roberto Clemente are profiled, the real treat is in "meeting" other fascinating people such as Aida de Acosta and more.

Can I Touch Your Hair? Poems of Race, Mistakes, and Friendship is already one of my favorite 2018 reads. Following a Caucasian child and an African-American child as they navigate their new guarded friendship created by a class project, this is a realistic, moving, and age-appropriate look at inadvertent (but still hurtful) comments that people can make about others and scary stuff on the news, as well as lighter stuff such as hobbies.

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night is one of the older titles in this post (2010), but it remains one of my favorite poetry collections. Joyce Sidman's poetry collections are exceptional in both content and illustration; this features poetry about nocturnal animals ("I Am a Little Porcupette" is outstanding and adorable).

Digger, Dozer, Dumper is a must-read for all transportation fans, and a great way to introduce the fun of poetry! From snowplows, to ambulances, to dump trucks, this is a treat for the vehicles-obsessed child.

Emma Dilemma: Big Sister Poems is another older title (2011), but is one I routinely recommend for poetry requests. Told from older sister Jessica's point of view, this celebrates the ups and downs of sisterhood.

I'm a fan of Carole Boston Weatherford, so I've been on pins and needles waiting for How Sweet the Sound: The Story of Amazing Grace. This story-in-rhyme tells the miraculous lifestory of John Newton, the former slaver who dedicated his life to speaking out against slavery after a dramatic epiphany. The hymm's legacy as a touchstone in the Civil War, the Cherokee Trail of Tears, and the civil rights movement is also lovingly explored, ending with a remembrance of President Obama singing a verse at the funeral of one of the Mother Emmanuel Church shooting victims (the details of the circumstance are not included in the mention, only in the author's notes at the end). This is gorgeous and moving; one of my top favorites of the year so far.

Want laugh-out-loud poems? I Didn't Do It will certtainly fit the bill. Puppies are adorable--but they are a handful, as lovingly portrayed in this fun collection of dog poetry, told from individual puppies' perspectives.

Looking for a sweet Father's Day gift from the children? Consider  My Daddy Rules the World: Poems About Dads, which celebrates everything from reading stories with dad, to wrestling, getting a haircut, and more.

Want more poetry? Check out the J 811 section!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, April 23, 2018

Love Our World: Books for Earth Day and Arbor Day

Forty-eight and 146 years ago, respectively, Earth Day and Arbor Day were first celebrated in the United States. With Earth Day (April 22) and Arbor Day (April 27) being in the same week, let's look at some terrific related books for young readers:

The Scientists in the Field series is one of my favorite nonfiction series; I love its unique subjects, beautiful photography, and the common occurrences of local people and international experts working together. Learn about piaba, the small fish that support sustainable practices in the Amazon rainforest in  Amazon Adventure: How Tiny Fish Are Saving the World's Largest Rainforest, one of the outstanding titles in this important STEM-related series.

Allan Drummond's "green energy" informational picture books are must-haves for any environmental science collection for children; they impart hope and community spirit in a subject that can be daunting and scary for young learners. After the devastating 2007 tornado, the citizens of Greensburg, Kansas rebuilt their town using environmentally sustainable methods that would strengthen their protection against future tornadoes. Green City is told from the perspective of a child who survived the tornado, which adds greater poignancy and appeal.

 I Love the Earth is great for very young listeners; Todd Parr's immediately recognizeable illustrations will endear the book to young children.

When I needed to update our environmental science section, I was happy to find the What Can We Do About Pollution? series, as it contains up-to-date information about waste/pollution, including e-waste (discarded smartphones and such). Each title in the series not only explains the problem we have with the particular issue (household waste, fossil fuel pollution, and nuclear pollution), but steps that can be/are being taken to address the issue.

One Plastic Bag: Isatou Ceesay and the Recycling Women of the Gambia is one of my favorite environment-related books in years (and makes for a great read aloud for elementary school students). Isatou Ceesay's community in Njau, Gambia was being overrun by plastic bags casually being disposed everywhere. Not only did they look unappealing, but they collected water (which attracted mosquitoes), left a terrible stench when burned, and injured/killed valuable livestock. Although Isatou Ceesay's idea to turn the bags into women's purses/coin bags, phone holders, ornaments, and more was at first ridiculed, the benefits to her community (including raising funds for women's literacy classes) have been long-lasting.

When I plan an Earth Day story time, I always include the 1957 Caldecott Medal winner, A Tree is Nice. This lovely tribute to trees is sweetly old-fashioned but timeless.

When Wangari Maathai returned to her childhood home in Kenya, she was shocked to see it stripped of the lush trees that she remembered. The nine seedlings she planted in the backyard eventually grew to an internationally recognized movement (and a Nobel Peace Prize). We have several books about Wangari Maathai, but Jeannette Winter's Wangari's Trees of Peace: A True Story From Africa is one of the best.

We Planted a Tree  is a perfect Earth Day/Arbor Day blended story, as it celebrates both the enjoyment we get from trees and their importance to the air we breathe, the soil in which we plant our food, and more.

Toward the end of her career and life, Jean Craighead George wrote three exceptional books about animals that were successfully removed from near-extinction. The Wolves Are Back, The Eagles Are Back, and The Buffalo Are Back. Each title recounts the amazing comeback of these American icons of nature, as well as the overall benefits of the ecosystems in which they live. These are superb read alouds for elementary school students.

Happy Earth Day and Arbor Day!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, April 16, 2018

Remembering the Past: Books for Ellis Island Family History Day

Did you know that April 17 is "Ellis Island Family History Day?" Every April 17, The Statue of Liberty-Ellis Island Foundation and the National Genealogy Society recognize the contributions of Ellis Island immigrants and their descendants to American history and culture. April 17 was chosen because more immigrants were processed through Ellis Island on April 17, 1907 than any other day (11,747).  Over 40% of Americans (100 million people!) can trace their heritage to family members who were processed through Ellis Island. We have some outstanding books on Ellis Island and on immigration in general:

I love the National Geographic Kids's nonfiction readers; finding informational books that are inbetween picture books and longer middle grade reads can be tricky, so I get these readers whenever I can. Ellis Island is an excellent look at the island's history and its importance in American history. What Was Ellis Island? is another appealing look at this important landmark.

If you're ever on Jeopardy! and are asked, "On what island would you find the Statue of Liberty?" Do NOT say, "What is Ellis Island." Alex Trebek will give you a very disappointed look, as Lady Liberty is actually on Liberty Island, and not Ellis Island. Regardless, many Ellis Island immigrants' recollections include their emotions as they saw the Statue of Liberty come into view, so including Her Right Foot is a natural choice. I hope Dave Eggers continues his offbeat nonfiction picture books; I loved his Golden Gate Bridge book, and this one is just as fun and inspiring.

Letters From Rifka has been a Fauquier County Battle of the Books title several times; the students are moved by this eye-opening look at a young girl escaping anti-Semitism in 1919's Russia. While fleeing Russia and enduring the hardships and humilities of immigration, Rifka writes letters to her cousin left behind.

This Land is Our Land: The History of American Immigration is not just an overview of American immigrant groups throughout history, but also government and social responses to specific immigrant groups. Highlighting the period between 1800-1965, this is a unique look at how immigrants have been viewed and have changed our history.

If your young readers are interested in tracing their history (or if you want a fun guide about family history research for yourself!), don't miss National Geographic Kids Guide to Genealogy, which we'll receive  shortly. We've needed an updated genealogy guide for children that includes information about modern genealogy tips and tricks, as well as suggestions for creating a family tree, interviewing family members, and more, so this will definitely come in handy!

We Came to America  is a stirring tribute to the many groups who have made their home in America (including those who were enslaved). Whether they came to fulfill big dreams, or were fleeing persecution, their courage and determination are celebrated in Faith Ringgold's beautiful picture book.

Finally, if you want an in-depth and powerful read for adults, City of Dreams: The 400 Year Epic History of Immigrant New York  is for you. While overall histories of immigrant groups are detailed, this also includes personal histories of famous immigrants, starting with one of our recently "rediscovered" Founding Fathers, Alexander Hamilton. If you're like me and enjoy personal looks at history (rather than books about wars and battles), you will enjoy this one.

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library 

Monday, April 09, 2018

Library Love: Books for National Library Week (April 8-14)

To celebrate National Library Week, I've decided to share my favorite books about libraries and librarians:

So, every Christmas/Hanukkah we have a "wish tree" on which we place cards highlighting books that patrons can donate to the library. Bob the Alien Discovers the Dewey Decimal System was a book that I saw mentioned on a library blog; the blogger wrote that she uses it all the time with school/Scout/etc groups that visit the library. However, it was quite pricey than what we normally spend for a picture book ($25!), so I added it to the tree and hoped that a kind patron would donate it. Much to my delight, someone did, and I can't wait to share it. Yes, it's not something that a child might pick up on his/her own, (a girl guides an alien through the Dewey Decimal System), but it really explains the DDC in a way that children can grasp (and the alien aspect grabs their attention).

Book Uncle and Me  is an inspiring look at the impact a small lending library has on a young girl and her community; when the mayor tries to shut it down, the children organize to save it. If you're looking for a book set in a non-United States setting that is realistic but not too overpowering for young readers, try this one.

Even the most experienced story time presenter knows that story time can quickly get out of hand if something unexpected happens (even the smallest thing, like another child crying). Luckily, I've never had chickens overtake my story time, but if I do, I hope I can handle it with as much creativity and finesse as the librarian in Chicken Story Time.

Dinosaur loves going to the library, especially story time, even if he doesn't present the very best behavior when he is there! Luckily, the story time librarian knows how to handle his roaring in a way that makes him feel welcomed, but helps him understand the value of softer roars. Dinosaur vs. the Library continues Bob Shea's popular dinosaur series that helps teach children the ins and outs of potty training, going to bed, and more.

The Works Progress Administration (WPA) is one of the most fascinating yet seemingly forgotten aspects of the Great Depression; one of the most popular programs was the Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky, which employed women (of whom many were the sole breadwinner in their family) to travel the sometimes hard terrain of Kentucky to bring children's books, recreational reading, and books on current events, religion, biographies,magazines,  recipes, and informational pamphlets (some of the most popular books were recipe/home economics scrapbooks that patrons and librarians created and contributed to), as well as literacy classes.  Down Cut Shin Creek: The Pack Horse Librarians of Kentucky  is a beautiful tribute to the women who walked and rode through punishing natural conditions to bring literacy and recreation to one of the most hard-hit areas during the Depression, and how they managed to overcome communities' suspicions of "outsiders" and "do-gooders." That Book Woman is a sweet picture book fictional story about a young boy's interactions with a pack horse librarian. While The Lost Art of Dress: The Women Who Once Made America Stylish isn't about the pack horse librarians, it does feature a similar program that brought home economics education to isolated areas during the Depression.

I hope Angela Johnson continues her adorable Lottie Paris picture book series; Lottie Paris and the Best Place  is naturally, my favorite of the two we have so far! Lottie Paris's favorite place is the library; one day, she makes a new friend who also loves books, which makes it even cooler.

Happy National Library Week!

Jennifer Schultz, Youth Services Librarian, Fauquier County Public Library