HarperCollins Publishing Celebrates 200 Years

HarperCollins is the second largest publishing company in the world. They’ve published in over 18 countries. With two hundred years of history, HarperCollins publishes about 10,000 new books every year in 17 languages and has a print and digital catalog of more than 200,000 titles. With dozens of different genres, HarperCollins authors include winners of the Nobel Prize, the Pulitzer, the National Book Award and more.

With Mark Twain, the Bronte sisters, Dickens, Martin Luther King Jr., Shel Silverstein, and Margaret Wise Brown having been published by HarperCollins, reinforces their long and rich history that reaches back to the early nineteenth century.

Just to think, it all began with a modest print shop created by James and John Harper in 1817. They were first known as J. and J. Harper and then later Harper & Brothers. In 1987, as Harper and Rowe the small company was acquired by News Corporation. The worldwide book group was formed following the News Corporation’s 1990 acquisiton of the British publisher William Collins & Sons. William & Sons was founded in 1819, and published a large variety of Bibles, atlases, dictionaries, and reissued classics that expanded over years to include legendary authors such as H.G. Wells, Agatha Christie, J.R.R. Tolkien, and even C.S. Lewis.

In today’s world, the legendary authors published by HarperCollins are Alec Baldwin, Meg Cabot, Joseph Campbell, Cynthia Eden, Dan Edwards, Neil Gaiman, George Irving, Robert Irvine, Joyce Carol Oates, Mathew Quick, Julia Quinn, Bob Saget, John Updike, J.D. Vance, just to name a few.

For a company to be around for 200 years a unique feat within itself. For a publishing company, to have such a large list of authors, is just that bigger of a feat.

Congratulations to HarperCollins for making it to 200!

Source: HarperCollins

A Monster Calls

“The monster showed up at midnight. As they do.”

There are some books that stick with you long after you close the back cover. For me, one of those books was A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness, inspired by Siobhan Dowd, and illustrated by Jim Kay.

Through context clues, the reader realizes that thirteen-year-old Conor O’Malley is struggling with his mother’s deteriorating health and has alienated himself from his friends, family, teachers, and other classmates. Throughout the book, it becomes clear that Conor feels a tremendous amount of guilt and believes he deserves to be punished, but the reader does not find out “the truth” until the last few pages of the book. We are lead to believe that the monster has “come walking” in order to heal Conor’s mother, as the monster takes the form of a yew tree, which has incredible healing properties. However, to the reader it becomes clear that the monster has come to help Conor.

Conor’s mother has a form of cancer, and treatments just aren’t working anymore. She keeps a brave face for Conor, who is in denial and believes that she will get better, even as he notices her getting much worse. Ness’s story is about a boy who is forced to grow up a lot faster than other children his age. Conor is handling a grown-up situation as well as he knows how; he has been strong and holding on tightly to his mother and his belief that she will bounce back that it is so hard for him to realize that he has to let her go.

Ness’s book is an important read for any tween, teen, or young adult who is going through any kind of tough circumstance. And even if you aren’t going through a tough situation at the moment, this is an important book to read for everyone. Ness creates an intense, meaningful story complete with illustrations in 216 pages that can be read in one sitting. This book is incredibly significant and one that I would recommend to everyone.

Hate List

Jennifer Brown filled every single page of this 405 page novel with such a beautiful story. Never before have I read a story that made me think differently about certain people and those who loved them. Hate List is a wonderful story and in today’s world, it fits perfectly within.

Hate List tells us the story of Valerie Leftman’s recovery after her boyfriend of three years, Nick Levil, shot and killed several people in their high school, including her and himself. The beginning of the story introduces us to Valerie and her first day back to her school after the shooting occurred. It shows us her pain and confusion that Nick killed himself and others. We watch as she struggles between hating Nick and forgiving him as well as herself. This book gives us some type of inside pain to those who loved the people we call, ‘monsters’, in today’s world. Though we don’t know why the character Nick did what he did, we do know that Valerie continued to struggle with his decision and the all the pain he caused afterward.

This story captivated me and tore my heart out with every word and punctuation mark. It made my heart ache for every character within, including Nick. The sadness the author included within these pages just enveloped me and hugged me until the hope finally won over.

Trilogies for Everyone!

Do you ever get started reading a new series only to find that you’re eager to switch gears after a few books? Trilogies may be the answer for you! Trilogies allow the author plenty of space to create a sweeping story, but they also keep the author from being forever locked into the same characters. No matter what your age and interests are, there are great possibilities just waiting for you on our library shelves! The trilogies that I am going to highlight have the advantage of being complete, because there is nothing worse than waiting for years for the author to finish the story.

For adult readers, I chose a variety of genres to highlight. One of my favorites from many years ago is the Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart. This is one of the most enduring sagas of Merlin and King Arthur, and the copy on our shelf at the Dillsboro Public Library has the advantage of containing all 3 novels in one binding.

My son can’t stop raving about the The Red Rising Trilogy by Pierce Brown. Set in the future on a colonized Mars, the trilogy follows lowborn miner Darrow as he infiltrates the ranks of the elite Golds. A movie adaptation is currently in development.


For historical fiction, I can recommend the Last Hundred Years Trilogy by Jane Smiley. Beginning with Some Luck, these books cover the time period from 1920 to 2019 and focus on societal changes, particularly to farming communities. For an in-depth summary of the trilogy, read this review by Heller McAlpin, written for the L.A. Times.


Our Teen area has many trilogies that are popular with teens and adults. Some  examples of YA books with adult appeal are the Hunger Games, Divergent, and Matched books. The Looking Glass Wars, although several years old, is part of an ongoing trend of revisiting characters from classic literature. The Graceling books by Kristin Cashore are not, strictly speaking. a trilogy; they were written as companion books.


The Jenna Fox Chronicles explore questions of identity and medical ethics.


There are also lots of trilogy choices in the juvenile fiction area. For all lovers of superheroes, check out the Extraordinary Adventures of Ordinary Boy by William Boniface.


Can you imagine a world where characters hop in and out of books? Try these three books by Cornelia Funke!


If historical fiction is your favorite way to learn, the Seeds of America trilogy by Laurie Halse Anderson brings the American Revolution to life through the perspective of American slaves. These books have been critically acclaimed, but due to the subject matter, are probably best for upper elementary students or older.


Trilogies are very rare among picture books, but here are a couple outstanding exceptions. Notice the shiny medals on the covers of the first two by Jon Klassen!


This trio of books by Aaron Becker illustrates everything that is magical and thought-provoking about wordless picture books. Writing for School Library Journal, Yelena Alekseyeva-Popova wrote: “Becker’s stunning watercolor and pen-and-ink illustrations depict a breathtaking world that captivates without a written narrative.”


Happy reading!



From Fiction to Fact

Do you ever stop in the middle of reading a novel to find out more about the subject of your book? These days, it’s very quick to look something up online or on your smart phone. But sometimes a novel will interest you so much that you want to really dig into a topic. I often feel this way after reading a Young Adult novel. YA books are not just fantasy and coming of age stories. They take on all kinds of interesting social issues and historical perspectives. At the same time, teens have the intellect to springboard into most of the non-fiction we have at the library. Here are some book pairings that match a YA novel with a non-fiction book that will provide more information about the novel’s topic. I hope you have fun with these; they are great choices for teens and adults!

Author Sherri Smith paints a grim picture of New Orleans in Orleans, a futuristic look at a viral outbreak caused by climate change. Outbreak outlines some steps that scientists are taking to protect against this type of epidemic.


Those of us “of a certain age” have strong memories of the tragic Killing Fields of Cambodia. For teens, Never Fall Down and First They Killed My Father may provide a new awareness of this tragedy.


Yes, I realize that I have highlighted Tamar before! It’s just so good, I can’t stop talking about it. It’s also possible that I am obsessed with World War II Resistance movements. We rightly have lots of books about the male soldiers in the war, but Courage & Defiance highlights some of the ways men and women fought behind the scenes.


Code Name Verity and Women Heroes of World War II provide another look at World War II, this time through the eyes of women.


Walter Dean Myers tackles the U.S. role in a much more recent war in Sunrise Over Fallujah. Follow this excellent book with Heroes Among Us, first hand accounts of the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.


The Russian Revolution has fascinated readers for decades. Tsarina approaches the subject from a romantic perspective with a touch of fantasy thrown in. Marcus Sedgwick uses the real life experience of children’s author Arthur Ransome to weave a story of spies and warring Russian factions in Blood Red Snow White. The Family Romanov (currently on the Eliot Rosewater reading list) is a fascinating account of the Romanovs and is also available as an audio book through the Indiana Digital Download Center.


Teens who have outgrown the easier environmental chapter books of Carl Hiaason will probably enjoy Anthill by E. O. Wilson. This book, written by an esteemed biologist from Harvard University, pits a teenage naturalist against land developers. To learn more about the need to preserve our forests, check out Forests Forever by John Berger.


Love Disguised is a light-hearted look at the beginning of William Shakespeare’s career and will appeal to fans of Shakespeare in Love. The Age of Shakespeare will answer any questions you may have about the culture in which Shakespeare wrote.


These are all terrific novels, and remember that enjoying non-fiction doesn’t mean you have to read the entire book. Feel free to browse through these choices and read whatever parts satisfy your curiosity.

Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them

Harry Potter fans, dust off your wands and cloaks because the much-anticipated Harry Potter prequel Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be released into theaters on November 18! [Insert Harry Potter theme music here and fireworks.] I know we’ve all been waiting with bated breath for this movie ever since it was announced in September 2013, but here are some things you might not have known:

For instance, Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them will be the first installment of five movies. [Insert internal screaming here.] That means that us Potterheads have at least five movies to look forward to that will connect us to the Wizarding World once again. Also, did you know that the Fantastic Beasts screenplay was written by J.K. Rowling herself? So it’s automatically going to be amazing.

Under the pseudonym Newt Scamander, J.K. Rowling published Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and its companion Quidditch Through the Ages on March 1, 2001. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them is a required textbook for all first-year Hogwarts students, as is demonstrated by the school supply list Harry receives in Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. The textbook is a history of magizoology (the study of magical creatures) and describes 85 magical species and where they are located in the world. Our copy includes handwritten notes from Harry, Ron, and Hermione, though, so you might want to check it out.

The movie provides the background story for what was happening in the life of Newt Scamander right before he published his book. Sadly, we won’t be returning to Hogwarts, as this movie is set in New York City in 1926, but we will hear about some familiar characters (Do the names Gellert Grindelwald and Albus Dumbledore ring a bell?). With all of the excitement surrounding the release of the script for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child back in July of this year, it’s a wonder Potterheads can still summon enough anticipation for Fantastic Beasts (HA!).

So, in preparation for this event, I suggest rereading your favorite parts of the Harry Potter books and re-watching the movies. The Aurora Public Library District just got a brand new set of the Harry Potter movies just waiting to be broken in. If you don’t have time to stop into the library, be sure to check out the Indiana Digital Download Center for books, audiobooks, and more.


Accio, November 18!