Musings

Making the Leap to Adult Fiction

When you’re used to reading books from the Teen Fiction area, it can be challenging to know how to get started with Adult Fiction. Of course, many adults prefer Teen Fiction for the fast pace, and there’s nothing wrong with that. But if you’re interested in switching things up and exploring a broader range of literature, you might want to start with books that have been named for the Alex Awards. The Alex Awards are given each year to ten books written for adults that have special appeal to young adults ages 12 through 18, and can be a great way to try something new. Here are the 2022 Alex Award books, just announced on 1/24/22.

The Witch's Heart by Genevieve Gornichec    The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot by Marianne Cronin

The Witch’s Heart is perfect for everyone who loves stories based on mythology. It’s a retelling from the feminine perspective of a three-times burned witch in Norse mythology. The One Hundred Years of Lenni and Margot is a beautiful inter-generational story about an unlikely friendship that develops through an art class intended for patients under end-of-life care. If you liked The Fault in Our Stars, you’ll love this one!

  

Here’s another mythology-based book, this time in graphic novel format. Lore Olympus, Volume I depicts the love story of Hades, the god of the Underworld, and Persephone, the daughter of Demeter and goddess of spring. Described as both joyful and heart-rending, Light from Uncommon Stars brings together the lives of a young transgender runaway, a violin teacher who’s sold her soul to the devil, and a refugee alien star-ship commander.

 

The Library of the Dead is a dystopian novel set in Scotland. Ghost talker Roya uses her Zimbabwean magic to investigate the mysterious disappearances of missing children. Book two of this series is scheduled for publication in April of 2022. How Lucky is the story of Daniel who has a good friend, a routine that involves football game day in the South, and a debilitating disease that has robbed him of body control and speech. When he is the only witness to a kidnapping, it causes several issues that might risk his life.

   The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

If you enjoyed The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer, you’ll also like  Malice, a retelling of Sleeping Beauty. Kate Quinn is a great author for anyone who likes historical fiction with strong female leads. The Rose Code is set during World War II and revolves around the work done by the women at Bletchley Park. Read this, and then look for Quinn’s new book, The Diamond Eye, coming out in March 2022

  

Winter’s Orbit is science-fiction but combines the intrigue of a thriller and the passion of a romance. An arranged marriage between a prince and a diplomat is meant to strengthen alliances, but suspicions of conspiracy and murder force the new husbands to lay aside their own secrets and work together. The only non-fiction book on this year’s list, Crossing the Line tells about brothers from a disadvantaged neighborhood who find their passion in the sport of polo.

Although I’ve only read 2 of these books, so far, they all sound great for both teens and adults! You can find the titles from previous Alex Awards at https://www.ala.org/yalsa/alex-awards.

We don’t have all of these books yet, but we’ll do our best to get the book you want, if you just let us know!

The Newbery Medal Turns 100

The most prestigious American award in the world of children’s literature is the John Newbery Medal. 2022 will mark the 100th time this award has been given to the author of the year’s most distinguished children’s book. It was the first children’s book award in the world, and today the selection process is administered by the Association for Library Service to Children (ASLC). The 2022 Newbery Medal will be announced on Monday, January 24th as part of the Youth Media Awards.

Through the years, the committees selecting the Newbery winners have truly highlighted some exceptional books for kids. There has also been a fair amount of controversy, and there have been years when librarians have groused that the wrong book was selected. Since selection as the Newbery Medal winner often means that the chosen book will stay in print for many years, another topic that is often raised today is the question of how to deal with books that have racial stereotypes or other matter that is unacceptable today. I guess you can state with certainty that librarians just like to discuss books! You can find a complete list of Newbery Medal winners and also the Newbery Honor books here.

Here are a few of my favorite Newbery medal books:

I read the 2021 winner When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller and loved it!

When You Trap a Tiger by Tae Keller

From 2013: The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate

In 2004, Kate DiCamillo took home the gold with The Tale of Despereaux.

She also won the Newbery Medal in 2014 for Flora & Ulysses.

The Tale of Despereaux by Kate DiCamillo

Lois Lowry also has two Newbery Medals, winning in 1994 for The Giver (You should read the book, even if you disliked the movie!) and in 1990 for Number the Stars.

                          The Giver by Lois Lowry Number the Stars by Lois Lowry

I love the characters E. L. Konigsburg created in From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler,

the story of two children who run away to New York City and hide out in the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

Konigsburg won Newbery gold 29 years later for The View from Saturday in 1997.From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg

Do you have a favorite Newbery Medal book? Or do you have a favorite book that you think should have won the medal? Let us know below, and be sure to check back after January 24th to see the 2022 winner!

Update from 1/25/22: The Newbery Award for 2022 goes to The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera. I didn’t expect that! It sort of slipped in under the radar, but sounds great. Copies have been ordered. This title also won the Pura Belpre Award for best book representing Hispanic culture.

Don’t Overlook These Children’s Series

If you only look for the “new” books on the library shelves, you might miss some of the series that were popular ten or fifteen years ago (or even longer). Although not every book or series ages well, there are many that stand up well in comparison to our newest books. That may be especially true about fantasy series. Here are some fantasy series for elementary and middle school kids that will bring hours of reading enjoyment. Remember, you can also ask a library staff member for help if you need a book suggestion!

The Spiderwick Chronicles by Ted Diterlizzi and Holly Black

 

The Spiderwick Chronicles were written by Tony DiTerlizzi and Holly Black and follow the adventures of the Grace children who discover a world of fairies. There were 5 books in the original series and three in the spin-off series Beyond the Spiderwick. These series are great for kids who want to read fantasy, but who aren’t ready for really long, complicated books.

 

 

The High King by Lloyd Alexander

 

 

Lloyd Alexander was a prolific writer of fantasy books during the 1960s and 1970s. His Chronicles of  Prydain drew heavily from the legends of King Arthur and Welsh mythology. One book of the series was named as a Newbery Honor book and another won the Newbery Medal. Don’t let the well-worn covers stop you; these books have just been loved by several generations of kids.

The Ruins of Gorlan by John Flanagan

 

 

 

The Ranger’s Apprentice series by John Flanagan has always reminded me of The Lord of the Rings, probably because of  the Rangers. The series follows the adventures of Will, an orphan who is chosen as an apprentice Ranger, and includes skilled trackers, archers, and warriors in the service of the King of Araluen. Will strives to keep the Kingdom of Araluen safe from invaders, traitors, and threats. There was also a prequel series and a spin-off series.

 

 

 

The Inkworld trilogy  by Cornelia Funke explores the question of what might happen if characters could come out of our storybooks.

  Inkheart by Cornelia Funke    Inkspell by Cornelia Funke  Inkdeath by Cornelia Funke

In The Five Kingdoms series, Cole Randolph sees his friends whisked away to some mysterious place underneath a haunted house and he dives in after them. They end up in the Outskirts, five kingdoms that lie between wakefulness and dreaming, reality and imagination, life and death. With the magic of the Outskirts starting to unravel, it’s up to Cole and an unusual girl named Mira to rescue his friends.

Sky Raiders by Brandon Mull Rogue Knight by Brandon Mull Crystal Keepers by Brandon Mull

Step into these fantasy worlds, but hang on to your hat! You’re bound for some exciting adventures.

 

 

Teen Board Game Night!

 

Do you love board games? Looking to meet some new friends? Or maybe just looking for a place to hang out and stay out of the winter weather this January? Come to the Aurora Public Library and play some fun board games with others on January 25th at 6 pm! This month’s board game is Muffin Time, an energetic, quirky card game where the goal is to be the first player with 10 cards. But be warned, the other players are out to get you with the help of their own cards of sabotage and mass destruction!

Snacks and drinks will be provided (featuring muffins of all varieties, of course), as well as other popular board games to choose from. This program is open to anyone 13-18 years of age. No registration is required. Bring all your friends and get ready for Muffin Time!

Waiting for the Caldecott

Around this time each year, I start looking forward to the announcement of children’s book awards for 2022. On January 24th, announcements will be made for the Caldecott, the Newbery, and the Printz medals, as well as many other book awards. Many blogs focus on possible contenders for the biggest awards, but the voting is actually done just one day prior to the announcement and is a carefully guarded secret.

The Caldecott Medal will be awarded to the best illustrated book for children from 2021, and actually goes to the illustrator, not the author. As I read through blogs, there does not seem to be any consensus developing yet, but here are some of the books that are being mentioned as contenders.

Dear Treefrog by Joyce Sidman  Wonder Walkers by Micha Archer

 Hurricane by John Rocco  Watercress by Andrea Wang

  The Rock from the Sky by Jon Klassen  Someone Builds the Dream by Lisa Wheeler

  Nicky & Vera by Peter SisMilo Imagines the World by Matt de la Pena

  I'll Meet You in Your Dreams by Jessica Young  Born on the Water by Nikole Hannah-Jones

  Unspeakable by Carole Boston Weatherford  Amos McGee Misses the Bus by Philip Stead

Out of these 12 illustrators, six already have at least one Caldecott Medal or Caldecott Honor to their credit. All are exceptionally talented and have created illustrations that make these books a joy to read. Keep in mind, though, that there is not an official list of nominations. These have just been mentioned by readers and critics as potential winners. Sometimes the Caldecott committee will go off in an unexpected direction. As for me, I’m crossing my fingers for Loren Long (he’s from Cincinnati) or Floyd Cooper (he died in 2021 and has never won). All will be revealed on January 24th. Meanwhile, treat yourself to one of these books.

Update from 1/25/22: The 2022 Caldecott Medal winner is Watercress by Andrea Wang and illustrated by Jason Chin! The book also received a Newbery Honor and was named as the best picture book promoting Asian/Pacific American heritage and culture. Gathering watercress by the side of the road sparks a conversation among a family about their family history, heritage, and memories. Award-winning author Andrea Wang draws upon her childhood, growing up in a small, mostly white, rural town in Ohio as a child of Chinese immigrants in this autobiographical account illustrated by celebrated author and artist Jason Chin, who incorporates painting styles and techniques from both western and Chinese cultures.

What is a Hoosier, Anyway?

For almost 200 years, people from Indiana have been calling themselves “Hoosiers”, but every time someone asks where the name came from, an ages-old debate is sparked between favorite wives’ tales and references in literature. It’s time to set the record straight (or at least attempt to do so)! Let’s figure out together what it really means to be a Hoo Hoo Hoo HOOSIER!

The use of the term “Hoosier” first appeared in the 1830s, when a poem by John Finley named “The Hoosier’s Nest” appeared in the Indianapolis Journal in 1833. Since then, the title has been synonymous with the people of Indiana. Several popular theories have sprouted up to explain the word’s origin over time, some more wild and wacky than others. Here are some of the most famous:

  1. Early in Indiana’s beginnings, settlers would answer the door with a quick “Who’s yere?” and the greeting eventually became our title.
  2. Indiana rivermen were notoriously good at silencing subduing their enemies that they became colloquially known as “Hushers”, and the name evolved into “Hoosiers” with our Midwestern accents.
  3. A contractor named Hoosier on the Louisville and Portland Canal preferred to hire his laborers from Indiana, and these men quickly became known as Hoosier’s men”.
  4. The most unbelievable (and gruesome) tall tale comes from James Whitcomb Riley, the famous Hoosier Poet. He stated that the state’s early settlers often took part in rowdy and dangerous fights, sometimes ending in severe bodily harm. Often times, the morning after a major tavern brawl, someone would walk in an find a torn-off ear or two on the floor and ask out loud: “Who’s ear?” Yuck!

What is your favorite theory? I always tell Riley’s story as if it’s truth to all my non-Hoosier friends, just to see the looks on their faces! Do you have any theories on the origins of the Hoosier?

Bleak Books with Olivia: The Death of Jane Lawrence by Caitlin Starling

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.

I found The Death of Jane Lawrence after scouring the internet for any books that were like the dark, mysterious, gory, magical horror of Ninth House by Leigh Bardugo. I have tried about 10 books after finishing that one in hopes that I would like it just as much and I was sorely disappointed. This was the ONLY one who met and exceeded my expectations. Same type of creepy, disturbing magic and ritual focus, totally different setting.

Jane Shoringfield finds herself approaching old maid status quickly in turn-of-the-century Great Breltain. She finds the solution to her problems in Dr. Augustine Lawrence, a handsome, aloof surgeon new to town who is noticeably unmarried. They come to a clear-cut arrangement: they will marry out of convenience, as Jane wants nothing more to pursue her goal of becoming an accountant and Augustine is in desperate need of one. There is only one requirement: Jane must never enter Lindridge Hall, Augustine’s dilapidated family home. But just as the lines of their platonic arrangement are blurred, Jane finds herself abandoned outside of Augustine’s house on the night of their wedding. When she enters, she finds Augustine to be a changed man, fearful of her and believing her to be an apparition. As she explores Lindridge Hall, she finds that Augustine’s hidden secrets and demons are much darker, and more alive, than Jane could ever have imagined.

Friends, if you are looking for a truly bleak book, this is it. Caitlin Starling perfectly captures the essence of traditional Gothic horror while combining it with the peculiar, disturbing, and supernatural elements of today’s horror films. The sheer sense of dread and fear that entered my mind every time I cracked this book open is inescapable and addicting. Every chapter holds a new truth, more terrifying and haunting than anything we, and our protagonist, Jane Lawrence, can believe to be true. Monsters hide in the dark corners of Lindridge Hall, and no matter how horrifying they may be, as a reader, I couldn’t wait to meet them and know what makes Dr. Augustine Lawrence’s past so twisted and secretive. It is truly one of the best modern Gothic novels I have ever read.

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, or check out our e-books on Overdrive or Libby. If you are looking for this specific title, you can use our catalog to locate it or ask a librarian for help! 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.

Give a Book!

Perhaps you’ve heard of the Icelandic tradition of giving books as gifts on Christmas Eve. Jolabokaflod, literally Christmas book flood, is a national tradition since the World War II years, when paper was one of the few things not rationed. Most books in Iceland are published in the fall of the year, and on Christmas Eve, family members open their new gift books and stay up late reading and drinking hot cocoa.

It’s a lovely tradition, but of course we can do it here, too! Books are one of the best Christmas gifts: they’re easy to ship, they’re fun to share, They’re perfect gifts for any age, and the pleasure can last a lifetime. If you’re planning to buy a child a book for Christmas (I hope you are!), here are some of the best new books from 2021.

For the picture book age, a Christmas themed book is often nice. Jan Brett has a new book on The Nutcracker, and you can expect her usual intricate illustrations.  I also like The Magical Christmas Store by Maudie Powell-Tuck, because the emphasis is on giving rather than receiving gifts.

The Nutcracker by Jan Brett  The Magical Christmas Store by Maudie Powell-Tuck

If you’d like to give something seasonal, but not about Christmas, take a look at A Thing Called Snow. Other great choices for picture books are It’s So Quiet, The Panda Problem, and Sheepish.

  A Thing Called Snow by Yuval Zommer   It's So Quiet by Sherri Duskey Rinker

Sheepish by Helen Yoon  The Panda Problem by Deborah Underwood

If your child is just moving into easy chapter books, you can’t go wrong with this Sydney & Taylor series (just look at those animals) or the Diary of a Pug books.

Sydney & Taylor Explore the Whole Wide World by Deborah Hocking   Pug's Got Talent by Kyla May

If you have a child who’s not totally into the whole reading thing, but who loves sports, you might want to buy We Are Family by LeBron James. I don’t normally recommend books by celebrities, but this has had great reviews! Esquire Fox, a reformed chicken thief, now leads leads operations around the world rescuing animals in danger in Class File: Little Claws. The second book in the Animal Rescue Agency series will be published in January of 2022.

We are Family by LeBron James and Andrea Williams  Case File: Little Claws by Eliot Schrefer

Rick Riordan, author of the Percy Jackson books, has written a modern take on 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea. If your child loves the Rick Riordan books, make sure you also check out the books in “Rick Riordan Presents“, a selection of books featuring other mythologies and cultures. Another good choice for mythology-lovers would be Amber & Clay by Newbery Medal winner Amy Schlitz.

Daughter of the Deep by Rick Riordan    The Last Fallen Star by Graci Kim  Amber & Clay by Laura Amy Schlitz

Looking for something the entire family can share? Bernadette Watts just published a new collection of Christmas stories, including favorites like The Little Drummer Boy and The Snow Queen. This would be a terrific gift to give a week before Christmas; you could read a story together every night. A book of Science experiments would be another great way to spend time together as a family during the school break.

   Stories for Christmas by Bernadette Watts   Amazing Science by Good Housekeeping

Whatever you, choose, I hope you make reading a treasured part of your holiday season.

 

 

 

 

 

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Make A Holiday Ornament


Adults and teens are invited to sign up for our Pearl Ornament program. This program will be held at both the Aurora and the Dillsboro Public Libraries. All supplies will be provided, and Jessica will be talking you through the process.

You must register for this program in advance. We only have space for 10 people to attend each session, so call 812-926-0646 to sign up and reserve your place. You must be 13 or older to attend this program.

 

 

Holiday Dollar-a-Bag Book Sale

Our Dillsboro branch will be holding its Dollar-A-Bag Book Sale starting on November 19th through the rest of 2021!   You’ll find something for everyone on your holiday 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 Library starting on Friday, November 19th.  Our Dillsboro location is open from 10am – 6pm Mon-Fri and 10am-3pm Sat.  New books are added to the collection every week, so shop early and often! Bags will be provided.