Musings

Thanks for Sharing Your Talent!

Collage of Children's Books

Already in 2021, the world of children’s book publishing has lost some iconic authors and illustrators. Through the stories they wrote and the illustrations they created, our lives have been enriched beyond measure. Here’s a short statement about each of these imaginative people and some book covers to illustrate their work.

Eric Carle: Both an author and an illustrator, his book The Very Hungry Caterpillar has sold more than 50 million copies in 66 languages. His illustrations were primarily collage, featuring hand-painted papers. He also founded the Eric Carle Museum of Picture Book Art to ensure that picture-book illustrations, as an art form, would be celebrated around the world.

Polar Bear, Polar Bear by Bill Martin Jr. and Eric Carle The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Beverly Cleary: Millions of kids have romped through the pages of Cleary’s books with Henry, Beezus, and Ramona. Cleary drew the inspiration for her chapters books from the kids in her neighborhood and the kids she served during her years as a librarian.

Ramona the Brave by Beverly Cleary Beezus and Ramona by Beverly Cleary Henry Huggins by Beverly Cleary

Floyd Cooper: Cooper illustrated for some of the best-known children’s authors including Nikki Grimes, Walter Myers, and Carole Boston Weatherford, mostly in books that portrayed the African-American experience. His distinctive painting style created luminous illustrations in earthy tones as he helped to bridge the racial gap in children’s literature.

The Blacker the Berry by Joyce Carol Thomas and Floyd Cooper Back of the Bus by Aaron Reynolds and Floyd Cooper

  • Lois Ehlert: Author and illustrator, Ehlert was inspired by the beauty of the natural world. Her artwork featured brightly colored snips of paper as well as “found” objects such as buttons or feathers. She related how her parents encouraged her to be creative in her autobiographical picture book The Scraps Book. Her  book Rrralph is not her most beautiful, but it always makes me laugh! Some of Ehlert’s artwork reminds me of the work of Cincinnati graphic artist Charley Harper.

Pie in the Sky by Lois Ehlert Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert

Patricia Giff: Giff was a long-time favorite with children making the leap to chapter books. She also won critical acclaim with her historical fiction for older children.

Zebra at the Zoo by Patricia Giff Water Street by Patricia Giff Lily's Crossing by Patricia Giff

Norton Juster: Please don’t ask “Who is Norton Juster?” His book The Phantom Tollbooth has been a favorite of elementary students and teachers for many years. Filled with puns and other wordplay, it’s been compared to a modern Alice in Wonderland. Juster’s picture book The Hello, Goodbye Window earned a Caldecott Medal for illustrator Chris Raschka.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster The Hello, Goodbye Window by Norton Juster

Kathleen Krull: Krull was the queen of the juvenile biography. I liked to select books for the library by Krull, because I always knew they would be accurate and highly readable. Her books cover people from a wide span of history and popular culture.

Charles Darwin by Kathleen Krull No Truth Without Ruth by Kathleen Krull  The Brothers Kennedy by Kathleen Krull

Ted Lewin: Both an author and an illustrator, Lewin paid for his art studies at the Pratt Institute with a side gig as a professional wrestler. Ted and his wife Betsy Lewin, also an illustrator, took much of their inspiration from their travels to exotic locations. When writing this blog, I was surprised to find that Ted Lewin did the illustrations for The Island of the Blue Dolphins, work reminiscent of the book illustrations of N.C. Wyeth.

Look! by Ted Lewin Horse Song by Ted and Betsy Lewin Balarama by Ted and Betsy Lewin

Ann Rinaldi: Rinaldi is well-known for her historical fiction written for upper elementary school students. Although she didn’t publish any new books in the last years of her life, she remained popular with students. In addition to many stand-alone titles, she also contributed two books to the Dear America series.

The Second Bend in the River by Ann Rinaldi The Redheaded Princess by Ann Rinaldi Girl in Blue by Ann Rinaldi

It’s never too late to discover these fantastic authors and illustrators!

A Good Day for Chardonnay

book cover

“….So, Randy escaped.” “Seriously?” She slapped a palm against the steering wheel. “Damn it that’s all we need. Put out a BOLO, coordinate roadblocks for both I-25 on-ramps and call everyone in. Everyone. Who’s Randy again?” Sunshine Vicram to her partner Quincy

“Laugh-out-loud funny, intensely suspenseful, page-turning fun’ Allison Brennan on A Bad Day for Sunshine

Running a small-town police force in the mountains of New Mexico should be a smooth, carefree kind of job. Sadly, full-time Sheriff – and even fuller-time coffee guzzler – Sunshine Vicram, didn’t get that memo.

All Sunshine really wants is one easy-going day. You know, the kind that starts with coffee and a donut (or three) and ends with take-out pizza and a glass of chardonnay (or seven). Turns out, that’s about as easy as switching to decaf. (What kind of people do that? And who hurt them?)

Before she can say iced mocha latte, Sunny’s got a bar fight gone bad, a teenage daughter hunting a serial killer and, oh yes, the still unresolved mystery of her own abduction years prior. All evidence points to a local distiller, a dangerous bad boy named Levi Ravinder, but Sun knows he’s not the villain of her story. Still, perhaps beneath it all, he possesses the keys to her disappearance. At the very least, beneath it all, he possesses a serious set of abs. She’s seen it. Once. Accidentally.

Between policing a town her hunky chief deputy calls four cents short of a nickel, that pesky crush she has on Levi which seems to grow exponentially every day, and a raccoon that just doesn’t know when to quit, Sunny’s life is about to rocket to a whole new level of crazy.

Yep, definitely a good day for chardonnay.raccoon

Start your joy ride with A Bad Day for Sunshine, book one in the Sunshine Vicram series. I found author Darynda Jones using Novelist, a library resource to help each reader find books that are exactly what they’re looking for.

Here are two read-alike series.

Stephanie Plum mysteries

Evanovich, Janet

Reason:  In both of these funny, banter-filled series, strong females jump in with both feet when it comes to the criminals they’re hunting all while also handling complicated love lives and their overly involved family members. Sunshine Vicram series delves into darker themes than Stephanie Plum. — Jane Jorgenson

Virgil Flowers mysteries

Sandford, John

Reason:  Readers looking for offbeat police procedurals set in small towns will enjoy Sunshine Vicram and Virgil Flowers. Helmed by likeable protagonists, both suspenseful and intricately plotted stories contain humor, mystery, quirks, and sex. — Andrienne Cruz

 

Bleak Books with Olivia: The First Day of Spring by Nancy Tucker

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.

Psychological thrillers have been at the top of all international book charts for years, it seems. They really are the full package: dark premise, morally ambiguous characters, and the quintessential twist ending that everyone never saw coming. Although they may have become the comfort genre for some (including me), it’s always nice to get thrown a curveball now and then. Leave it to real-life experimental psychologist and author Nancy Tucker to do just that.

The First Day of Spring follows Chrissie, or Julia, depending on her age, as she navigates life and tries to grow past the abuse and neglect she encountered as a child and the dastardly results that it caused. Chrissie is poor, hungry, and unloved, and she lashes out to get any sort of attention from adults and children alike. Then, one day, her rage starts to leave behind a body count. The murder makes her feel more important and powerful than she ever has, but she soon finds out that she has crossed a line that will impact her life forever. Julia was released five years ago from Haverleigh, the home she was put in as the murderous Chrissie when she was just nine years old, and she has a daughter of her own now. Julia attempts to fumble her way through motherhood with nothing to reference. Her mother was abusive and neglectful and her father came and went, depending on where he could get booze for a cheap cost. One day, Julia picks up the phone and on the other end, someone asks breathlessly, “Chrissie?” Julia panics, fearing the worst: the papers have found out her past yet again and her daughter will be taken from her because of her recently broken arm that Julia blames herself for. She does the only thing she can think of doing: she takes Molly away, back to her hometown to see her mother one last time. There, she learns to forgive herself for her past as she realizes her circumstances formed the monster she feared, no her own mind.

This painful, heartbreaking, and hopeful tale about motherhood and mistakes definitely took me by surprise. I was expecting a disturbing tale about the twisted mind of a killer child, but instead I found myself fiercely defensive of Chrissie AND Julia as they navigate life bravely on their own. This one isn’t our typical bleak book, as it may make you love a previously unlovable character, but like I said before, it’s always nice to get thrown a curveball now and then. This book will remind you of one crucial truth about life: you must forgive yourself first before you forgive others.

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 at the Aurora and Dillsboro Public Libraries for my favorite Bleak Books. If you are looking to check out this specific title, please look on the New Books shelf at the Aurora Public Library. 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.

Just Yesterday, The Crescent Brewery

Crescent Brewing Company Depot

 

“Our distilleries are the best and our breweries cannot be beaten. So great is the demand of the Crescent Brewing Company of Aurora, that the Big Four R.R. has built a track from Lawrenceburg a distance of four miles, for its trade.”

 



The Gaff brothers arrived in Aurora in the mid 1800’s: James arrived in 1841, Thomas in 1843, and John followed in 1845.  Upon their arrival, they were already promising young businessmen. When Thomas was young, he learned the distilling business from a Brooklyn uncle named Charles Wilson, and he and his brothers, James and John, opened a distillery in Philadelphia.  After moving to Aurora,  Thomas and James established the Aurora Distilling Company, later renaming it the T. & J.W. Gaff & Company. This distillery was located in the building that is now known as Aurora Recycling, 306 Importing Street, and manufactured rye, bourbon and Thistle Dew scotch whiskey

Crescent Brewing Company

The brothers then turned their interests to brewing. In 1873 the Crescent Brewery was constructed by Charles Bauer. The brewery was a six-story stone and brick building and encompassed a significant section of early Aurora. It contained 1,700,000 bricks and was located at what is now known as the intersection of Decatur, Market and Fifth streets. At this time, the gentlemen reorganized themselves as the Crescent Brewing Company. The brewery was well known for its Aurora Lager Beer which they exported nationally and internationally. It was known to be shipped as far away as Germany.

Thomas Gaff Pumper

In 1876, Thomas Gaff purchased Aurora’s first fire engine. It was named the Thomas Gaff in his honor. In 1891, the brewery experienced a terrible explosion and fire which killed two employees. The Thomas Gaff established a world steam engine record of pumping water continuously for 72 straight hours to extinguish this fire.  

During the 1890’s, the Cincinnati Breweries Company took over the Crescent Brewery and in 1885 it reorganized as The Jung Brewing Company.  This company was very short lived and the business and buildings were vacated by 1911. Left vacant and abandoned the buildings fell into disrepair and were demolished by 1930.  Today, 148 years later, only remnants of the brewery remain – the wall and sidewalk located on the right side of Market Street and the two large caverns tucked into the hillside between Market and Decatur. The caverns still can be viewed across the street from Aurora’s Lesko Park and someday soon. may be revitalized as home to the Crescent Brewery Park.

Cavern Remains

Today, Aurora again has The Crescent Brewery and Aurora Lager Beer.  In 2008, Dan and Lani Valas opened Great Crescent Brewery in a small store on Second Street.  Today they have expanded to a historic building which in 1843 was the warehouse for the Thomas and J.W. Gaff Distillery.  Ironically the brewery is located across from what remains of the Gaff’s Aurora Distilling Company, recognized today as Aurora Recycling.

These are but a few of the fascinating facts about the Great Crescent Brewery and the Gaffs, both very important in early Aurora history.  Visit our Local History Library @ The Depot to learn more about this and other contributions the Gaffs made to Aurora. The Local History Library is located at 510 Second Street near the railroad tracks. The hours are Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM and the third Saturday of the month 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM. Come with your questions and plan on visiting for awhile!

 

 

 

 

Long-Running Series

New friends to meet, or old friends to greet, here are some characters worth taking the time to get to know!

There’s nothing quite like delving into a novel when you know you can count on several more volumes to hold your attention. The idea of getting to know a character – or characters – over the course of not only multiple novels but multiple years makes for a unique reading experience. Picking up a new novel in a beloved series is like meeting up with some old friends – there’s a kind of well-worn familiarity that can’t be found in any stand-alone novel. Luckily, if you too have the urge to dive into a long-running series, we have a few favorites to get you started.

Prey

by John Sandford

Check-out the extraordinary Lucas Davenport thrillers from bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize winner John Sandford. These haunting murder investigations have hooked readers over his 31 book collection. Start with Rules of Prey (Prey # 1), you’ll be swimming up to Ocean Prey (Prey # 31) before you know it!

“They were shot with a shotgun and put in garbage bags and thrown under a bridge,” Shrake said. “If it wasn’t murder, it was a really weird accident.”

― Lucas DavenportJohn Sandford book coversWalt Longmire

by Craig Johnson

Walt Longmire is a laconic and tortured cowboy with a stiff moral code and a weathered view of the world around him. Craig Johnson has carved out an interesting niche that combines classic Old West and cowboy tropes with hard-boiled noir. It’s an interesting combination that sets the Longmire Mystery series apart from the multitude of other crime fiction crowding the shelves. Grab The Cold Dish (Walt Longmire #1) and you won’t even notice time riding by before you reach for Daughter of the Morning Star (Walt Longmire # 17), We also have Longmire on DVD.

“I punched him in the fist with my nose, but I think he’ll live.” – Walt Longmire

Harry Dresden

by Jim Butcher

With Harry Dresden, Jim Butcher puts a fantastical spin on the classic hard-boiled detective mystery. Dresden finds himself caught up in all facets of murder and mayhem in his beloved Chicago — supernatural and otherwise — and his wisecracking, fly-by-the-seat-of-his-pants style is entertaining across seventeen novels as well as various short stories. This series is one of my personal favorites, Harry has a huge heart, a “spirit of intellect” helper who lives inside a human skull, and a Dog named Mouse. Mouse is a “temple dog,” a celestial scion of the Foo Dog (divine spirit guardian), and a mortal canine. Start with Storm Front (Harry Dresden #1) You will magically find yourself reading Battle Ground (Harry Dresden #17)  and hoping for more to come in this exciting series.

Evil isn’t the real threat to the world. Stupid is just as destructive as Evil, maybe more so, and it’s a hell of a lot more common. What we really need is a crusade against Stupid. That might actually make a difference.”― Harry Dresden

 

In Death

by J.D. Robb

In Death is another particular favorite. I wish I had a friend like Eve. In a gritty, futuristic New York City, homicide detective Eve Dallas seeks justice for the victims of crime—and fights to overcome her own dark past. The main character in the In Death series is Eve Dallas, a no-nonsense homicide cop in mid-21st century (2058) New York, where beggars and prostitutes are legal as long as they have the proper licenses. Eve lives and breathes her job. In the very first book, Naked in Death (In Death # 1).  We are introduced to a slew of what become recurring characters: Eve’s former partner and trainer, who becomes a father figure; the esteemed police commander; the maternal staff psychiatrist; Eve’s criminal-turned-singer bestie; and most importantly, Roarke. Roarke is a suspect in a gruesome murder. He’s a reformed criminal (mostly reformed) and she’s a hard nosed cop, the chemistry between them should be illegal.  Murder, friendship, love, more murder, and an office chocolate thief will capture your imagination from book 1 until book 53.

“What’s your status?” she asked him.

“Healthy, wealthy, and wise. What’s yours?”

“Ha. Mean, crafty, and rude.”― Eve Dallas

Here are a few more great series…

 

The Camel Club

By David Baldacci      Series: The Camel Club, Book 1

Always on the hunt for government conspiracies, the political watch-dogs that make up Baldacci’s Camel Club will entertain, surprise, and thrill you.

1st to Die  By James Patterson        Series: Women’s Murder Club, Book 1

When the normal way of doing things isn’t stopping a serial killer, four friends who all work in the justice system decide to band together in Patterson’s best-selling female vigilante series.

Dark of the Moon  By John Sandford     Series: Virgil Flowers, Book 1

Full of surprising twists and plenty of mystery, Dark of the Moon kicks off Sandford’s powerful Flowers series set in rural Minnesota.

Along Came a Spider  By James Patterson        Series: Alex Cross, Book 1

Probably Patterson’s most notable character, Alex Cross is a DC detective who will stop at nothing to get the case solved and justice served.

 The Chase  By Clive Cussler         Series: Isaac Bell, Book 1

Cussler introduces an electrifying and no-nonsense hero in his Isaac Bell thrillers. Driven by his sense of justice, Bell travels early 20th-century America pursuing thieves and killers—and sometimes criminals much worse.

 The Black Echo:   By Michael Connelly             Series: Harry Bosch, Book 1

Detective Hieronymus ‘Harry’ Bosch, former tunnel rat in Vietnam and star of Michael Connelly’s best-loved series, is as tough as they come.

 

July Dollar-a-Bag Book Sale

Our Dillsboro branch will be holding its Dollar-A-Bag Book Sale on July 16th & 17th. You’ll find something for everyone on your list – mysteries, thrillers, romance, classics, westerns, travel, crafts, DIY, DVDs, audio books, CDs, children’s books, large print, magazines, cookbooks and much, much more.

The sale takes place in the Dillsboro basement on Friday the 16th from 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM and Saturday the 17th from 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM.  New books are added to the collection every week, so shop early and often! Bags will be provided.

All About Dinosaurs

Dinosaurs are a lot of fun to learn about! There are so many different species, and new ones are still being discovered. What makes them really interesting is that no one for sure knows what they looked like or how they behaved, and we never will know unless someone invents a time machine. Everything we do know and believe about them is based on the research and the estimated guesses of paleontologists, scientists that dig up and examine fossils.

Birds and Dinosaurs

The assembled fossils of a theropod.

Even though we don’t know everything about them, we do know some things for sure. We do know that birds are the most closely related to them and that they evolved from theropods, two legged dinosaurs that mostly ate meat. These include the Tyrannosaurus Rex and the Velociraptor. This means that, although they are related to dinosaurs, they aren’t as closely related to quadrupedal dinosaurs like the Triceratops or Stegosaurus.

 

You may hear some people say that birds actually are dinosaurs, not just related. They say this because birds not only evolved from dinosaurs, but share many characteristics with them. They haven’t evolved many features that would solidly classify them as completely different. Nesting, brooding, feathers, hollow bones, and wish bones are features and behaviors that characterize theropods, not just birds. This puts birds in the dinosaur category because theropods existed before them and were the first to exhibit these characteristics.

A bird on a branch

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More Dinosaurs

While birds did evolve from theropods, there are other types of dinosaurs that we can learn about. Dinosaurs that had four strong legs with long necks and tails were called sauropods. Sauropods include Apatosaurus, Brachiosaurus, and Diplodocus, and they are among the largest living land animals to have ever existed.

The assembled fossils of a sauropod.

Creatures that had webbed wings that allowed them flight were called pterosaurs. Even though they are commonly thought of as dinosaurs, they actually weren’t. Pterosaurs include Pteranodon, Pterodactyl, and Quetzalcoatlus. These creatures were some of the largest animals to ever take flight.

Assembled fossils of a pterosaur

 

 

 

Books About Dinosaurs

To find out even more about dinosaurs, join our summer reading program, Tails and Tales. The theme of it is animals, but any book you read this summer counts! To find books specifically about dinosaurs or to place a hold, you can check out some of the books below at either the Aurora Public Library or the Dillsboro Public Library.

Fiction

 

   Dinosaur Parade by Kelly Halls    Dinosaur Parade by Kelly Halls

Dinosaur Rap by John Foster    Dinosaur Rap by John Foster

Dinosaur Train by John Gurney    Dinosaur Train by John Gurney

How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read? by Jane Yolen    How Do Dinosaurs Learn to Read by Jane Yolen

 

Nonfiction

 

Dinosaurs by Annabel Savery    Dinosaurs by Annabel Savery

Dinosaurs : the most complete, up-to-date encyclopedia for dinosaur lovers of all ages by Thomas Holtz    Dinosaurs: The Most Complete Up-to-Date Encyclopedia for Dinosaur Lovers of All Ages

The rise and fall of the dinosaurs : a new history of a lost world by Stephen Brusatte    The Rise and Fall of the Dinosaurs: A New History of a Lost World

Barnum Brown: Dinosaur Hunter by David Sheldon    Barnum Brown: Dinosaur Hunter by David Sheldon

Fun Eco-Fiction for Kids

Hoot by Carl Hiaasen

 

 

Carl Hiaasen was well-known as a writer of adult novels featuring a wicked sense of humor. In 2002, he shifted gears and published Hoot for middle grade students. Slapstick comedy and an ecological message have made this a favorite of students and teachers. The book was named as a Newbery Honor Book and was turned into a popular movie.

 

 

 

 

Since Hoot, Hiaasen has written 4 more books for young readers – all featuring the same humor and environmental focus. Any of these would make a great family read-together choice.

Scat by Carl Hiaasen   Squirm by Carl Hiaasen

Flush by Carl Hiaasen    Chomp by Carl Hiaasen

Just Yesterday: The 1937 Flood

The recorded history of the Ohio began in the late 17th century when French explorers reached the Ohio River, a river the Iroquois called O-y-o or “great river”. For many years the majestic Ohio has bestowed Aurora its many gifts along with its rage. Through the years Aurora has experienced numerous floods gifted us by the great Ohio; 1881, 1883, 1913, and 1993, just to name a few.  The most memorable one was in January 1937.

The 1937 Flood is one of the greatest disasters in Aurora history. The heavy rain began on January 9th and continued through January 23rd stopping for only brief intervals. This, combined with melting snow, raised the river well above flood stage. Aurora, along with communities throughout the Ohio Valley, was overwhelmed, without electricity, and short on basic needs. The scale of this flood surpassed all previous floods and left extensive damage throughout the town. Cleanup and reconstruction began immediately, but unfortunately took years to complete.

In 1937, the water level at its highest was 81 feet, reached to the front door of the Aurora Public Library, and forced our library to close. There was no loss of books but there was heavy loss of materials stored in the basement. Also, the flood affected the train depot which now houses the Local History Library. In 1937, the building was a working train depot and the railroad tracks were owned by the Baltimore & Ohio Railroad. Both libraries have the plate showing the height of the water on the building.

The Baptist Church, a large brick church on Main Street was finished in 1875.  It was one of the finest churches in southern Indiana. The Church survived the ’37 flood waters only to be destroyed by a fire June 4, 1937, due to electrical damage caused by the devastating flood.  For over a year, Sunday morning services were held in the Palace Theater (currently the Fusion Salon & Day Spa) on Second Street. 

These are just a few of the intriguing facts about Aurora during the 1937 Flood.  Visit our Local History Library @ The Depot to learn more about this and other floods that plagued our city throughout the years.  The Local History Library is located at 510 Second Street near the railroad tracks.  The hours are Tuesday and Thursday 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM and the third Saturday of the month 10:00 AM – 3:00 PM.  Come with your questions and plan on visiting for awhile!

 

Animals by Steve Jenkins

I can tell you exactly why I love reading children’s books about animals. During my childhood, my home-town library had a summer reading program where you could read any kind of book and THEN there was a Smokey the Bear program where you needed to read books about animals. My sister just tolerated the nature books, but I loved them. Thank you, St. Simons Public Library!

I think one of the best author/illustrators of animal books for children is Steve Jenkins. His primary medium is cut paper, and he has illustrated his own books, he’s written and illustrated with his wife Robin Page, and he’s illustrated books for other authors like April Pulley Sayre. Jenkins’ books typically focus on one aspect of the animal world, such as relationships, habitats, camouflage, etc. You are guaranteed to learn something amazing with each of his books!

Actual Size by Steve Jenkins Animals in Flight How to Clean a Hippopotamus by Steve Jenkins

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins Sisters & Brothers by Steve Jenkins

What Do You Do with a Tail Like This? by Steve Jenkins Eye to Eye by Steve Jenkins  Living Color by Steve Jenkins

Look Again by Steve Jenkins How Many Ways Can You Catch a Fly? by Steve Jenkins Bees, Snails, & Peacock Tails by Steve Jenkins