Historical Series for Kids

If you have elementary age children, you probably already know about the “I Survived” series by Lauren Tarshis. These books have been tremendously popular with kids across the country. Each book is told from the perspective of a child in the middle of a disaster or major event. They’re a fun way to pick up some history while enjoying an action-packed story.

I Survived the Great Chicago Fire, 1871 by Lauren Tarshis I Survived the Children's Blizzard, 1888 by Lauren Tarshis I Survived the Battle of Gettysburg, 1863 by Lauren Tarshis I Survived the American Revolution, 1776 by Lauren Tarshis

We also have some older series in juvenile fiction that have been very popular in the past.  Books in the “Dear America” series feature girls as the main characters, while the “My Name is America” books feature boys. Christmas After All is set in Indianapolis and is also written by a Hoosier author, so it’s a great choice for our Fall Beanstack Challenge. These series were both published by Scholastic and written by some of the very best children’s authors. They are notable for the diverse ethnicities of the main characters.

I Thought My Soul Would Rise and Fly by Joyce Hansen  Christmas After All by Kathryn Lasky West to a Land of Plenty by Jim Murphy So Far From Home by Barry Denenberg

The Journal of Ben Uchida by Barry Denenberg The Journal of Wong Ming-Chung by Laurence Yep The Journal of Scott Pendleton Collins by Walter Dean Myers The Journal of Joshua Loper by Walter Dean Myers

The Royal Diary series is all girls; nothing here but queens and princesses. The best thing about this series is that it takes you around the world; it’s not just focused on European royalty.

Marie Antoinette, Princess of Versailles by Kathryn Lasky Kaiulani: The People's Princess by Ellen Emerson White Cleopatra VII: Daughter of the Nile by Kristiana Gregory Anastasia: The Last Grand Duchess by Carolyn Meyer

All of these books will enrich your child’s knowledge of the world and give them hours of great reading! Series are actually terrific choices for kids. The standard format of many series makes it easier to get immersed in the story, especially for struggling readers. These books may also start an interest in a person or event that can followed up with some non-fiction reading.

New Chapter Books by Best-Selling Authors

Adults who love to read are very good at keeping up with the “book news” and knowing when a new book by a favorite author is being published. We often start placing people on the Hold list months before a publication date. Kids are not always as good at letting us know about upcoming books. Here are some of the new books by some very popular authors of chapter books. We try hard to follow the series, but we sometimes miss one, so don’t be shy about letting us know if we need to order something by your favorite writer.

Chris Colfer is the author of the best-selling series Land of Stories. He’s currently on book # 3 of  the Tale of Magic series, also set in the Land of Stories universe. In addition, he had a graphic novel come out at the end of June that tells the origin story of Goldilocks.

A Tale of Sorcery by Chris Colfer 

Kate Dicamillo is a two-time Newbery Medal winner and a former National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature. Her latest book surprisingly has a medieval setting and features a goat! The Beatryce Prophecy is also illustrated by Caldecott winner Sophie Blackall. You’ll recognize Brian Selznick as the author of The Invention of Hugh Cabret (also a great movie) and Wonderstruck. Kaleidoscope is probably best for older kids as the collection of related short stories is described as drifting through genres, time, and even space (Booklist).

The Beatryce Prophecy by Kate DiCamillo Kaleidoscope by Brian Selznick

Gordon Korman is the author of over 80 books for children and teens. Linked tackles the subject of prejudice when a swastika is painted on a school wall. Jerry Spinelli is another perennial favorite. On Dead Wednesday, every eighth grader in Amber Springs is assigned the name and identity of a teenager who died a preventable death in the past year. The kids don black shirts and for the whole day everyone in town pretends they’re invisible–as if they weren’t even there. The adults think it will make them contemplate their mortality. The kids know it’s a free pass to get away with anything.

Linked by Gordon Korman Dead Wednesday by Jerry Spinelli

Who are your favorite children’s authors? Let us know what book you are eagerly anticipating!

Under the Big Top

Most of you are probably familiar with Sara Gruen’s break-out novel Water for Elephants. It was written in 2006 and turned into a movie in 2011. But have you read any of the other circus books we have in our adult fiction collection? Here’s a quick summary of six circus-related novels, plus one circus memoir.

Water for Elephants by Sara Gruen

 

When his parents are killed in a traffic accident, Jacob Jankowski hops a train after walking out on his final exams at Cornell, where he had hoped to earn a veterinary degree. The train turns out to be a circus train, and since it’s the Depression, when someone with a vet’s skills can attach himself to a circus if he’s lucky, Jacob soon finds himself involved with the animal acts-specifically with the beautiful young Marlena, the horse rider, and her husband, August.  – from Library Journal

 

 

 

 

 

To Fetch a Thief by Spencer Quinn

 

 

To Fetch a Thief is the third book in Spencer Quinn’s Dog On It mystery series.

  • When the elephant star of a traveling circus goes missing along with her trainer, canine detective Chet and his human partner, Bernie Little, follow the missing elephant’s scent out into the desert, where some dangerous people would prefer that Chet and Bernie disappear. – from the publisher

 

 

 

 

The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern

 

 

The circus arrives without warning. No announcements precede it. It is simply there, when yesterday it was not. Within the black-and-white striped canvas tents is an utterly unique experience full of breathtaking amazements. It is called Le Cirque des Rêves, and it is only open at night.

But behind the scenes, a fierce competition is underway: a duel between two young magicians, Celia and Marco, who have been trained since childhood expressly for this purpose by their mercurial instructors.  – from the publisher

 

 

 

Silence is Golden by Jeanne Dams

 

 

This is Book 4 in the Hilda Johansson series by Hoosier author Jeanne Dams.

The time is 1903; the circus is in town (South Bend, Indiana); and Fritz, a friend of Hilda’s younger brother, decides he wants to join up and become a trapeze artist. Then the real trapeze artists, the Stupendous Shaws, disappear. So does Fritz, who eventually turns up hiding in a barn, brutally beaten and claiming that he was abused. To make matters even more confusing, Hilda’s brother, Erik, also vanishes. – from Booklist

 

 

 

The Circus in Winter by Cathy Day

Did you know that many traveling circuses used to winter over in Indiana. Cathy Day’s book The Circus in Winter is a series of interconnected short stories about the performers in one of those circuses.

Drawing on observations made during her own childhood in Peru, Indiana, home of the International Circus Hall of Fame, Day strips away the grease paint and costumes of clowns, elephant trainers, and steel-nerved acrobats to reveal lives as messy as any found in mainstream America. Meticulously researched and graced with a dozen lovely black-and-white historical circus photographs, this is a fun way to explore a slice of Indiana history.

– from Library Journal

 

 

 

The Ladies of the Secret Circus by Constance Sayers

 

 

The Ladies of the Secret Circus shares some of the fantasy aspects of The Night Circus.

Lara Barnes grew up hearing tales of her family’s long-retired circus, and its allure never faded away for her as an adult. After her fiancé goes missing on their wedding day, she is understandably distraught, especially when it seems her mother knows more about the situation than she lets on. As Lara unravels the mystery with the town’s chief of police, she discovers more about her family’s past, including a different, secret circus that remains legendary decades after its last performance. This is recommended for readers who don’t mind genre-bending or who enjoy time-slipping fiction.

– from Booklist

 

Love in the Elephant Tent by Kathleen Cremonesi

 

Finally, a memoir: Cremonesi never set out to join the circus, yet this young woman from Oregon ends up swimming with sharks and riding an ostrich with one of Italy’s most famous circuses, Circo Moira Orfei. Cremonesi’s memoir is saturated with descriptive language and emotion, as she tells the story of how, at 23, she becomes a dancing girl in a traveling circus and falls in love with Stefano, the passionate Italian elefanti caretaker.  – from Booklist

 

It’s Unmentionable, But It’ll Make You Giggle!

Maybe we can blame it all on Captain Underpants, but the latest trend in books for kids seems to be UNDERWEAR! And nothing is more sure to make a group of kids giggle than just saying that word. Here are some of the newest picture books from the “undies” category.

Creepy Pair of Underwear by Aaron Reynolds

 

 

This book by Aaron Reynolds is probably my favorite. It’s perfect for the 4-7 year old crowd, and if you enjoy it, be sure to also check out his book Creepy Carrots.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Attack of the Underwear Dragon by Scott Rothman

 

 

 

Who doesn’t adore a dragon book? The underwear is just icing on the cake!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Monster's New Undies by Tad Carpenter

 

 

Monster searches for a perfect replacement pair of underpants in this book by Tad Carpenter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Something's Wrong by Jory John

 

 

Everyone has an occasional day when things just feel off. Could it be because you’re just wearing your underwear?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Those Are Not My Underpants by Melissa Martin

 

 

Someone has left their underwear hanging near Bear Cub’s house? Which animal will claim the tighty whities?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Laughing has been proven to be good for your health, so don’t delay! Go find some kids to share these books with.

Bleak Books with Olivia: The Maidens by Alex Michaelides

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.

Ah, finally, a return to my comfort zone: a dark academia murder mystery. After finishing Michaelides’s first novel, The Silent Patient, I was ravenous for more. Here in Bleak Books world, we love a good, shocking, knock-you-off-your-feet psychological thriller, and boy did Michaelides deliver. Then, after that book left a void in my life, I read the description for his next release: another psychological thrill ride with a crazy twist ending, but this time, with a dash of dark academia, the genre that’s taking the literary world by storm right now. So of course I put my name on the waiting list and read it as fast as possible as soon as I got it. Now, it’s time to reflect on the madness that is The Maidens. Let us begin, shall we?

Amazon.com: The Maidens: 9781250304452: Michaelides, Alex: Books

Mariana Andros is a group therapist living alone in London, grieving the sudden loss of her husband. Her niece, Zoe, calls her from school at Cambridge one evening in distress. There’s been a murder and Zoe’s best friend is the victim. Mariana comes to comfort Zoe, whom she raised as one of her own after her parents were tragically killed in a car accident, but she ends up staying to investigate the strange murder after she comes across an odd and seemingly sinister group of students led by the charismatic Classics professor, Edward Fosca. These girls call themselves the Maidens and have dedicated their lives to Fosca, whose strange and enigmatic presence combined with his talent for lecturing has drawn the interest of many students and faculty alike. Mariana finds herself drawn into the intertwined lives of these young women as one by one, they are picked off by the killer. Mariana knows in her heart it must be Fosca, but the truth is never all that it seems.

Set against the old, vine-covered academic setting of Cambridge University, this gripping story will shock you to your core. I was enthralled from start to finish, so invested in Fosca’s life that I felt I was a Maiden myself at times. Throughout the book, personal letters written by the killer themselves are sprinkled in, creating a three-dimensional image of a murderer before we ever meet them. The end is something you will NEVER see coming, I guarantee it. I would recommend reading The Silent Patient first, just because!

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.

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!

 

 

 

 

Nature Magazines for Kids

I hope that you and your family are having lots of fun exploring the world of animals during our Summer Reading Program “Tails and Tales.” We have so many great animal books, but don’t forget to check out the nature magazines we also have for kids. These magazines all feature lots of amazing photographs, fun facts, and short articles. They’re perfect for sharing together or for your children to read on their own. The format makes a magazine an especially appealing choice for reluctant readers of all ages.

 

Reading about nature with your children will encourage their curiosity and increase their vocabulary. That can be reinforced with a nature walk around your community. Another option would be completing the Library’s Animal Scavenger Hunt (for Aurora or Dillsboro).

In addition to our printed magazines, you can also read digital magazines through the Indiana Digital Download Center. Just select the Aurora Public Library District and login with your library card number (no spaces) and PIN. Then look for the Collections tab and select Magazines. All of our digital magazines are simultaneous use, so no waiting ever! You’ll find National Geographic Kids, National Geographic Little Kids, and Animal Tales.

If you ever need help using our digital resources just call 812-926-0646, and we can talk you through the process.

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