Musings

Children’s Book Awards 2021

Every winter, the library and publishing worlds eagerly anticipate the announcement of the Youth Media Awards. For publishers, it’s a chance to celebrate the critical success of their books. For authors and illustrators, the awards represent the the highest honors in children’s literature and virtually guarantee the books will be in publication for many, many years. For librarians, it’s just one more reason to share the “best of the best” with library patrons. Here are the 2021 winners of the Randolph Caldecott Medal, the John Newbery Medal and the Coretta Scott King Author Award.

We are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom

 

 

The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded to the illustrator of the most distinguished American picture book for children. The 2021 medal winner, We Are Water Protectors, was illustrated by Michaela Goade and written by Carole Lindstrom. The book was inspired by indigenous-led movements which have sounded an alarm about the need to protect our nation’s waters.

 

 

 

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

 

 

In contrast to the Caldecott, the John Newbery Medal is awarded annually to the author of the most distinguished American book for children. It typically, though not aways, goes to the author of a chapter book. If you love books based on folklore, you need to read When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller! Here’s teaser from the publisher’s description, “Would you make a deal with a magical tiger? This uplifting story brings Korean folklore to life as a girl goes on a quest to unlock the power of stories and save her grandmother.

 

 

 

Before the Ever After by Jacqueline Woodson

 

The winner of the 2021 Coretta Scott King Author Award is Jacqueline Woodson for her book Before the Ever After. This novel-in-verse explores how a family moves forward when the father’s glory days as a professional football player have passed and he experiences the long-term physical effects of his career. Woodson has won numerous book awards including the 2020 Hans Christian Andersen Award and the 2014 National Book Award for her memoir Brown Girl Dreaming. She was the 2018-2019 National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

The Coretta Scott King Book Committee also awards an annual illustrator award and an award for “New Talent.”

 

 

You can view the full list of Youth Media Awards here, including the Michael L. Printz Award for Young Adult Literature, the Theodor Seuss Geisel Award for beginning readers, and the Schneider Family Book Award which honors authors and illustrators who present an artistic expression of a disability experience.

Together We Read

For the next two weeks (February 10-24), you have the opportunity to participate in an online community of readers all reading Love Lettering by Kate Clayborn. This title is available through The Indiana Digital Download Center (IDCC) with no waitlists or holds! It’s available as both an ebook and audio-book, and we also have print copies at the library. The IDCC also has special features like an author interview, discussion questions, and the chance to participate in discussion with other readers.

This romance is a perfect choice for February!

One of the most beloved romantic comedies of 2020, Love Lettering is a heart-melting and touching story that fans of Tessa Bailey, Jen DeLuca, and Emily Henry cannot miss. In this warm and witty romance from acclaimed author Kate Clayborn, one little word puts a woman’s business—and her heart—in jeopardy.

Meg Mackworth’s hand-lettering skill has made her famous as the Planner of Park Slope, designing custom journals for her New York City clientele. She has another skill too: reading signs that other people miss. Knowing the upcoming marriage of Reid Sutherland and his polished fiancée was doomed to fail is one thing, but weaving a secret word of warning into their wedding program is another. Meg may have thought no one would spot it, but she hadn’t counted on sharp-eyed, pattern-obsessed Reid.

A year later, Reid has tracked Meg down to find out how she knew that his meticulously planned future was about to implode. But with a looming deadline and a bad case of creative block, Meg doesn’t have time for Reid’s questions—unless he can help her find her missing inspiration. As they gradually open up to each other, both try to ignore a deepening connection between them. But the signs are there—irresistible, indisputable, urging Meg to heed the messages Reid is sending her, before it’s too late.

Bleak Books with Olivia: The Secret History by Donna Tartt

Have you ever read a book all the way through just to close it for the last time and say “wow, that was bleak”? Well, I’m here to make the case for those dark, dreary, haunting, and disturbing reads that keep you up at night long after you put them down. Welcome to Bleak Books with Olivia, your resident creepy book lover at the Aurora Public Library District.

So, you’ve just finished reading The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt (or maybe you’ve seen the movie instead, I don’t judge!) and you’re on the hunt for another gripping thrill ride full of mystery, intrigue, and tons of dark academia themes. Why not reach for another Tartt novel? This sprawling narrative about a young man’s desire to just be something other than ordinary takes our main character, Richard, to dizzying highs and deep, deep valleys of low points as he tags along with quite possibly the most interesting people on campus: the tight-knit group of Classics students at Hampden College and their enigmatic professor, Julian Morrow.

The beginning of The Secret History shoves us face-first into the drama of it all: one of the Classics students has been murdered, and it was a group effort between the rest of the Classics Clan, as I like to call them. Now, you may be saying “Whoa! Spoiler Alert!” but this is all made clear in the exposition of the novel, just a few pages in, and even can be read on the jacket. The big mystery of the novel is why a group of friends this close would murder one of their own in cold blood? What does he know? Donna Tartt promises we are bound to find out.

The reveal is beyond jarring. While the beginning of the novel is slow and steady, introducing each member of the Classics Clan to Richard in painstaking detail, the moment we know why our dear friend Bunny is going to be murdered, we’re sent into a tailspin. We are taken alongside Richard as he makes the journey from average college student to an accomplice to murder, and Donna Tartt makes this transition so smoothly that you don’t even think to balk at this change in demeanor. The seduction to the mysterious, intriguing, and dangerous lives of Richard’s friends makes him blind to their true natures. Only after Bunny is gone do we see the group unravel. The act tears them apart in very unique ways, as the act of murder would to any sane person. And only then does Richard realize he has never truly known these people and never will.

What is so remarkable about this book to me is how I realized slowly that I am Richard. I too am just along for the ride, so in love with these interesting students that I can’t see they have manipulated me as well. I hate to admit it, but as the book came to a close, I still found each character so intriguing that I had forgiven them for their crimes and still wanted to sit down for a cup of coffee with them in the Hampden library. How twisted is that? Now, that is good writing.

Thank you for joining me on this dissection of one of my favorite Bleak Books. I hope to see you again sometime soon! Please take a look in the Adult Fiction section on the second floor of the Aurora Public Library for my favorite Bleak Books (including this one!) If you meet me in the library and have any Bleak Books suggestions, please let me know! I’m always looking for a new book to disrupt my life for a couple of weeks.

 

Miss Benson’s Beetle

Have you ever had one of those days when you just can’t take it anymore? Have you felt like you needed a new start, perhaps a chance to follow your lifelong dream? Miss Benson had one of those days! Humiliated by her students, she steals a pair of boots and sets sail to New Caledonia to search for a legendary golden beetle.

This novel is a light read filled with quirky characters who are trying their best, but who keep making horrible choices. I would recommend this book to readers who like to read about interesting places and who believe you’re never too old to change. Although the book is set in the 1950s, it raises very contemporary issues such as body image, gender roles, and PTSD. The plot will make you laugh, but still give you something to think about.

You may be familiar with the author Rachel Joyce from her earlier book The Unlikely Pilgrimage of Harold Fry, which is about a different type of journey. Miss Benson’s Beetle is also a perfect choice for readers who enjoyed Where’d You Go, Bernadette, The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper, or This is Your Life, Harriet Chance.

Where'd You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple The Curious Charms of Arthur Pepper by Phaedra Patrick This is Your Life, Harriet Chance by Jonathan Evison

State and Federal Tax Forms

Yes, it’s that time of year again! We know you may be eager to get a tax refund, and we’re happy to help you find the forms you need.

The Library District has not yet received the 2020 Federal tax forms from the IRS. As soon as they are received, we’ll make the forms available at both branches. Meanwhile, you can download the federal forms you need from the IRS web page.  This webpage lists every single IRS form or publication, so you will need to type 1040 into the “FIND” box to navigate to the most commonly used forms for individuals. You’ll see both the 1040 form and the much longer 1040 Instruction Booklet.

The State of Indiana will not be mailing copies of the 2020 tax forms to individuals or to public libraries. You may download and print your Indiana tax forms here. We have one copy of the instruction booklet at each branch library and can also print any forms you need.

If you want to use one of the Library’s public computers to print forms or to file your taxes, remember you will need either a Library card or a photo ID to use the computer. Printing will cost you $0.10 per page for a black and white copy.

Please keep in mind that the Library staff is unable to offer any tax advice. You will need to be able to tell us which forms you want to have printed.

 

Bleak Books with Olivia: Wuthering Heights by Emily Brontë

Have you ever read a book all the way through just to close it for the last time and say “wow, that was bleak”? Well, I’m here to make the case for those dark, dreary, haunting, and disturbing reads that keep you up at night long after you put them down. Welcome to Bleak Books with Olivia, your resident creepy book lover at the Aurora Public Library District.

Now, I know what you may be thinking. “Why would anyone read something that makes you feel so unsettled after you finish it? Where is the happy ending? Who would want to read that?” I get it. Books can be an escape from everyday life. They can act as a retreat. But isn’t there something that’s just so inviting about reading a book where all the characters are horrible people who keep doing the wrong thing over and over again and the book always ends in a jarring way that sets you off-kilter for weeks? No? Well, let me play devil’s advocate.

So let’s begin with the classic that started it all and the book that got me REALLY into dark reads: Wuthering Heights. This review will be spoiler-free!

So, you’re wandering through the stacks on the second floor of the Aurora Public Library and pick up this book, thinking “I need a nice romance. It’s set in late 18th century England in the stunning moors of Yorkshire, and I love period dramas! Why not?” Not quite. Wuthering Heights is a narrative, not about love, but about obsession and revenge at the hands of a ruthless, heartless man. Heathcliff, an orphan boy living on the streets in Yorkshire, is taken by a family out on the moors and turns out to be their worst nightmare.

Cathy, the only daughter of this family, spends almost all her waking moments with Heathcliff. All this time spent together can only lead to one thing: a childhood crush. But, as it always is with Olivia’s Bleak Books, wrong place, wrong time. No matter how many times Cathy and Heathcliff link up throughout their lives, there is always something in the way. Husbands, wives, children, money, vengeful drunken brothers, ghosts, property ownership, the rich kid across the moors… you name it, Heathcliff and Cathy probably dealt with it. Heathcliff goes absolutely bonkers over the edge with his obsession over Cathy and his revenge on the family who took him in. One would argue (me, I would definitely argue) that spite is the only thing that keeps Heathcliff going. The book ends in a devastatingly haunting fashion, complete with misty graveyards and ghosts and no real happy ending whatsoever… well, maybe a little bit, but I’ll leave that up to you to decide.

Overall, my favorite thing that will keep bringing me back to this novel for years to come is how it feels very much my own. It is cold, dark, and mysterious. All the characters have fatal flaws, and I would despise to meet them all, but oh, how I wish I could visit the moors and peek into a day in the life of Heathcliff. So, five stars to the 18th-century version of Days of Our Lives. It’s got all the drama, intrigue, violence, and shock of a modern-day soap opera, and I just ate it up.

Thank you for joining me on this dissection of one of my favorite Bleak Books. I hope to see you again sometime soon! Pleaser take a look in the Adult Fiction section on the second floor of the Aurora Public Library for a display of my favorite Bleak Books (including this one!) Discussions over many of them will be soon to follow. If you meet me in the library and have any Bleak Books suggestions, please let me know! I’m always looking for a new book to disrupt my life for a couple of weeks.

New in a Series

If you haven’t stopped by the Library recently, you might be missing the latest book by one of your favorite authors. Here are just a sampling of the latest books in some popular series, all added to the Library collection in the last three months.

Daylight by David Baldacci The Dirty South by John Connolly Fortune and Glory by Janet Evanovich

Hot to Trot by M.C. Beaton The Law of Innocence by Michael Connelly The Sentinel by Lee Child and Andrew Child

Shakeup by Stuart Woods Dreaming Death by Heather Graham A Song for the Dark Times by Ian Rankin

We’re still here!

The Aurora Public Library District is still open normal hours as of November 20th! However, we realize that some of you are taking extra safety precautions with the increased number of COVID cases in our area. Here are some ways we can help you keep up your reading while staying safe.

curbside service

We’re continuing to offer our curbside service to anyone who doesn’t want to enter the Library building. Just call 812-926-0646 and give us your requests for DVDs, books, or magazines. We’ll pack everything into a paper bag and have it waiting for you when you arrive at the Library. This service is available at both Aurora and Dillsboro; just let us know where you will picking up your items. You can also log into your Library account at: https://eapld.org/account/ to request items. When placing your request online, we’ll call you to let you know when everything is gathered together and ready for pickup. It’s that simple!

When you come to the Library to pick up your items, just call us to let us know you are parked outside and we’ll bring the bag of items out to you.

As items are returned to the Library, we quarantine each item for 72 hours before replacing it on the shelf. This is to protect your health and the health of our staff.

Don’t forget that we also offer lots of digital choices (books, audiobooks, movies, and magazines) through the Indiana Digital Download CenterLibby Promotional photoMake sure you sign in before searching for items to see everything that is available. If you are new to digital downloads, we’re happy to talk you through the process for getting your items onto a computer, tablet, phone or other device.

No matter if you’re hunkered down alone, or just taking extra care, we have something for everyone at your house. Just give us a call and let us know how we can help.

 

Indiana Author Awards

The Eugene and Marilyn  Glick  Indiana Authors Awards celebrate the best books by Indiana authors written in eight different categories and published during the previous two years.You can check out these books in print at either the Aurora Public Library or the Dillsboro Public Library. If you prefer to read or listen digitally, just download the titles from the Indiana

Attucks by Phillip HooseChildren’s Award

Attucks! tells the true story of the all-Black Crispus Attucks High School basketball team that broke the color barrier in segregated 1950s Indiana. By winning the 1955 state championship, 10 teens—including eventual college and NBA star Oscar Robertson—shattered the myth of Black inferiority. Hoose is a widely acclaimed author of books, essays, stories, songs and articles, including the National Book Award-winning Claudette Colvin: Twice Toward Justice.

 

 

 

Fiction AwardThe Life List of Adrian Mandrick by Chris White

A pill-popping anesthesiologist and avid birder embarks on a quest to find the extremely rare Ivory-billed Woodpecker only to become stranded in the thick swamplands of Florida’s panhandle. There he confronts past and present failures, the cost of his obsessions and what’s truly important in life. Although White is a widely performed and award-winning playwright and screenwriter (as well as an actor and vocalist), The Life List of Adrian Mandrick is her first novel.

 

 

 

Pimp My Airship by Maurice BroaddusGenre Award

Indianapolis is recast as a steampunk, sci-fi landscape in Broaddus’ work where themes of power, racism and mass incarceration of people of color are explored. The fast-paced adventure through an alternative Indy follows an unlikely trio of Black compatriots into a battle for control of the nation and the soul of their people. Born in London, England, Broaddus has lived most of his life in Indianapolis.

 

 

 

 

Non-Fiction Award The Book of Delights by Ross Gay

A collection of essays written over the course of a tumultuous year, The Book of Delights reminds readers of the purpose and pleasure of praising, extolling and celebrating ordinary wonders. A New York Times best-seller and product of a commitment to write daily essays about life’s simple delights, the essays in The Book of Delights are funny, philosophical and moving.

 

 

 

 

Sightseer in This Killing City by Eugene GloriaPoetry Award

Set in the aftermath of presidential elections in the U.S. and Philippines, Sightseer in This Killing City is an argument for grace and perseverance in an era of bombast and bullies. The John Rabb Emison Professor of Creative and Performing Arts and English Professor at DePauw University, Gloria is the author of three other books of poems.

 

 

 

 

 

Young Adult Award All the Things We Do in the Dark by Saundra Mitchell

Told through the eyes of a teenage girl, All the Things We Do in the Dark, finalist for a Lambda Literary Award, addresses challenging issues affecting young people—including rape, PTSD, mental health and victim blaming—and the many ways people work through trauma. Mitchell, a Greenwood, Ind.-based author of young-adult novels, anthologies and nonfiction series, has seen more than 400 of her screenplays produced as films in conjunction with Dreaming Tree Films.

 

 

Emerging Author Award

For fans of Wild, a searing memoir about one woman’s road to hope following the death of her troubled brother, told through the series of cars that accompanied her.

Growing up in a blue-collar family in the Midwest, Melissa Stephenson longed for escape. Her wanderlust was an innate reaction to the powerful personalities around her, and came too from her desire to find a place in the world where her artistic ambitions wouldn’t be thwarted. She found in automobiles the promise of a future beyond Indiana state lines.