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MLK, Jr., Master of the Sentence
Post by Steven K.

This month we celebrate Martin Luther King Jr. Day, and for good reason. Dr. King was the greatest champion of the Civil Rights Movement and is one of the most influential Americans to have ever lived. He was an activist and a leader, a husband and a father, a role model and a martyr. Others have written extensively about his life and legacy, far more gracefully than any blog post could accomplish. (We have many of these works in our collection. Check out the call number 323.092 in the stacks, for starters.) So rather than gild the lily, I want to give you a glimpse into an often overlooked aspect of Dr. King’s identity, a secret hiding in plain sight.

Undeniably, Dr. King was a master of the sentence.

Master of the sentence. There’s a headline that won’t stop the presses. It’s not even surprising, considering his reputation as one of history’s great orators. But in an age where words are carelessly dashed off in 280-character Tweets and mangled in website comments sections, it’s worth taking the time to appreciate the skill of a true wordsmith.

I also want to make this clear: I’m not the prophet here. I’m more like the prophet’s third cousin’s baker’s apprentice who’s just heard the good news. The real prophet, the source of my secondhand revelation, is the legendary English professor Stanley Fish. But gospel is gospel, and as such needs to be shared.

In his delightful book How to Write a Sentence (2011), Fish devotes several pages of analysis to one of Dr. King’s great sentences from “Letter from a Birmingham Jail” (1963). Rightfully so, Fish declares the sentence to be “a tremendous rhetorical achievement, a sentence for the ages” (p. 55).


"Perhaps it is easy for those who have never felt the stinging darts of segregation to say, “Wait.” But when you have seen vicious mobs lynch your mothers and fathers at will and drown your sisters and brothers at whim; when you have seen hate-filled policemen curse, kick, brutalize and even kill your black brothers and sisters with impunity; when you see the vast majority of your twenty million Negro brothers smothering in an airtight cage of poverty in the midst of an affluent society; when you suddenly find your tongue twisted and your speech stammering as you seek to explain to your six-year-old daughter why she can’t go to the public amusement park that has just advertised on television, and see tears welling up in her little eyes when she is told that Funtown is closed to colored children, and see the depressing clouds of inferiority beginning to form in her little mental sky, and see her beginning to distort her personality by developing a bitterness toward white people; when you have to concoct an answer for a five-year-old son asking in agonizing pathos: “Daddy, why do white people treat colored people so mean?”; when you take a cross-country drive and find it necessary to sleep night after night in the uncomfortable corners of your automobile because no motel will accept you; when you are humiliated day in and day out by nagging signs reading “white” and “colored”; when your first name becomes “n-----,” your middle name becomes “boy” (however old you are) and your last name becomes “John,” and your wife and mother are never given the respected title “Mrs.”; when you are harried by day and haunted by night by the fact that you are a Negro, living constantly at tiptoe stance, never quite knowing what to expect next, and are plagued with inner fears and outer resentments; when you are forever fighting a degenerating sense of “nobodiness”; then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.”

Now that’s powerful. It’s a behemoth of a sentence, weighing in at a whopping 314 words. It’s the kind of sentence that your high school English teacher warned you not to write, lest you dissolve into an incoherent mess or pull a muscle. And yet, Dr. King pulls it off flawlessly, leaving his audience captivated, dazed, ashamed, righteously indignant, awed.

So, how did he do it? What makes it a “sentence for the ages?”

Fundamentally, this sentence has a body and a soul and the source of its power rests in the harmony between the two.

Its body is its grammatical structure. Technically speaking, Dr. King’s sentence is an extended chain of incomplete dependent “when” clauses linked by semicolons, which is finally completed with a short independent clause. It’s a sentence of tremendous, unbalanced tension. For over 300 words the reader is left waiting for completion—an unnaturally long time to wait, given the typical sentence length we’re used to. In a sense, it’s almost like Dr. King is slowly pulling back the bowstring of a vast longbow, with each clause his words growing increasingly tauter in our minds; yet, just when our reading muscles are ready to snap, he gently slips his fingers from the string and we’re struck—not with a heavy iron bolt, obliterating us. But with a feather. A breath, merely 11 words long.

As compelling as its structure is on its own, Dr. King’s sentence is nothing but artifice without its soul. If its body is its structure, then its soul is its content, its message. Dr. King’s message was vital to the eventual success of the Civil Rights Movement and this sentence potently captures its spirit.

In terms of content, his “sentence for the ages” was a response to critics of his campaign of civil disobedience, critics who saw his tactics as excessive, rabble-rousing, and impatient. These critics who told him to wait—identified as his “fellow clergymen” in his letter’s salutation—are the specific target of Dr. King’s tour de force response. And as we’ve already seen, he lays waste to their objections.

Once again, Stanley Fish perhaps says it best, writing that Dr. King’s response to his fellow clergymen “is at once withheld and given” (54). In writing his lengthy sentence front-stacked with dependent clauses, Dr. King flips the standard argumentative structure on its head. Instead of making his claim first, he leads with his reasons. And those reasons are weighty, myriad, and beyond reproach.

Each reason—each “when” clause—is itself justification enough to take action rather than wait. Dr. King starts with how blacks have been assaulted and murdered by both lynch mobs and the justice system alike, “at will” and “at whim” and “with impunity,” without punishment. It’s the ultimate affront to human morality and he could have left it at that, case closed. But still he persists, piling up grievance upon grievance, pulling that bowstring tighter and tighter. The shackles of poverty, his images recalling the monstrous conditions on the slave ships endured by their ancestors; the daily psychological abuses heaped upon children as young as five and six, polluting their minds with “clouds of inferiority”; verbal abuse ranging from ugly dehumanizing racial slurs to simply being denied polite titles like “Mrs.” and “Sir,” which cuts all the same, even if not as deeply; and all of these transgressions culminating in the impending erasure of black personhood. “Nobodiness,” as he put it.

On top of it all, Dr. King cleverly manipulates narrative perspective in all the horrific imagery, daring his audience to see themselves in the shoes of black Americans: “when you,” “when your,” “when you...” He wants his readers to confront those atrocities as if they had happened to them, rather than something that happened to others. It’s a shocking exercise in empathy, a head-first dive into the frigid waters of discrimination. By the end of the dependent clause chain, when the truly empathetic reader feels as if the tension is unbearable; when even the coolest, calmest and most collected observer would howl in rage and demand swift justice, even violence; then Dr. King gives us the feather: “then you will understand why we find it difficult to wait.” Not, “then you will understand why we demand vengeance.” He ends not with a blow, but with an invitation for us to understand.

That pivot in tone—from brutal and pain-ridden to gentle, even humble—is a breathtaking display of linguistic skill. Some might even be tempted to characterize it as ironic, but of a constructive sort instead of a cynical one. We should expect the rage of Achilles, but instead receive the calm resolve of Christ, the patience of the Buddha, the wisdom of Socrates. It’s almost a sacred text unto itself. As such, that final clause is the perfect distillation of Dr. King’s nonviolent movement, as good a maxim for the Civil Rights Movement as any.

One massive sentence, its body and soul in perfect harmony, a monument crafted from words rather than stone. This month, let’s remember Martin Luther King Jr. for all that he accomplished and for all that he continues to inspire. Let us remember him as a liberator of people and a master of the sentence. There’s plenty more work of his for you to discover, so get to reading!

Stanley Fish. (2017, December 12). Retrieved December 15, 2017, from
Fish, Stanley. (2011). How to Write a Sentence. New York, NY: Harper Collins.
King, M. L., Jr. (1963). Letter from a Birmingham jail. Retrieved December 15, 2017, from

Posted by  On Jan 10, 2018 at 4:06 PM
Post by Sara V

From the Page to the Screen:
An Adaptation Wish List

Movie Adaption Wish List

It seems nearly every popular title receives an adaptation of some sort - whether a movie, a streaming service series, or some other format. Each time one of my beloved stories goes from the page to the screen, I always watch with excitement and anticipation, hoping the book is given due justice. Often the adaptation is great in its own right, even if it does not follow the book exactly. Sometimes the adaptation is just awful. But, every now and then, the adaptation does a phenomenal job of bringing to life the characters you’ve grown to love.

The book is usually better, but here are some adaptations that I would like to see.

The Selection by Kiera Cass

The Selection Series

 This dystopian fairytale brings together royalty, romance and rebellion in what can best be described as The Hunger Games meets The Bachelor. Strong-willed America Singer is selected to compete for the heart of Prince Maxon in a competition that is televised across Illea (formerly the United States). Though begrudgingly, she agrees to compete so that her family may receive the financial benefits, though her heart belongs to her first love Aspen. Amid dates, beautiful gowns, broadcasts and drama with the other girls, the rebellion against the crown is growing and attacks on the palace are increasing. The Selection is the first in the popular series by Cass that spans five books and two generations.

            There has been a lot of chatter about The Selection series being brought to the big screen as a feature film, but it seems like it has been just that - chatter. In June 2016, it was announced that the film had a director - Me Before You's Thea Sharrock - but not much else has been said regarding the status of the project. Given the Bachelor-esque nature of the story and the details behind each character, I think the series could be adapted into a wonderful series or mini-series, even better than a movie. This is a fun and exciting book series, and I look forward to its eventual adaptation in whatever form it takes.


Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool

Moon Over Manifest

            Newbery Award-winning Moon Over Manifest follows young Abilene Tucker as she explores her home for the summer of 1936 - Manifest, Kansas. While her father is away at a railroad job, Abilene stays with Pastor Shady Howard, an old friend of her father’s from his time in Manifest. When Abilene takes the fateful Road to Perdition, she meets the diviner Miss Sadie, who adds more mystery to the history of Manifest as she shares stories of the past which align with mementos Abilene found at Shady’s house. This encourages Abilene’s hunt for the spy “The Rattler” and her search for the role her father played in Manifest’s history. The story shifts from “modern” day 1936 to 1918 as Miss Sadie shares the stories of former Manifest residents, bringing to life history and modern-day until their momentous intertwining.

One of the best parts of this book is that the reader can vividly see the story as it unfolds - and it was an exciting one. Timehopping from 1936 to 1918 and back again, I could see this easily being an engaging television series. Its historical timeline filled with mystery and adventure would make for a fun movie as well. However, a standalone film may not hold up as well with the constant flashbacks. Either way, this is a great book that could be a great adaptation.


The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie

Sherman Alexie

            A Young Adult book that has both received accolades and faced criticism since its publication, The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian tells the story of Arnold Spirit, Jr., better known as Junior, as he moves from his high school on the Spokane Reservation to an all-white high school in Reardan, Washington. Junior, a budding cartoonist, faces bullying at his new school, near abandonment by his friends on the reservation, the struggles of his family’s poverty and alcoholism, and the tragic deaths of loved ones. Despite these many struggles, Junior holds onto the love of his family and his new friends as well as onto the hope that his future is brighter than what he used to think was his destiny. While it does not sound like an overwhelmingly uplifting story, I can assure those who have not the book that it is absolutely amazing. Drawing from his own experiences growing up on the SpokaneReservation, Alexie writes with such a poignantly true voice and shares the experiences of so many.

The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian is another book that has been rumored to be hitting the big screen too and it looks like looks like those rumors may be true. A high-profile production team, including Hugh Jackman, has been assembled for the Fox 2000 production with Alexie serving as executive producer and adapting the book into a screenplay. According to a USC study in 2015, less than 1 percent of the top 800 movies since 2007 featured Native American characters. With Sherman promising a “culturally authentic” film, an adaptation of  The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian would provide a wonderful opportunity for representation and diversity.  Alexie’s involvement in the adaptation assures me that the film will live up to the book completely and I look forward to seeing it when it hits theaters.

What book would you love to see
adapted into a movie or TV series?

Posted by  On Jan 04, 2018 at 11:03 AM

Post by Kristin S. 

January New Releases and Bestsellers!

The cold has set in and our resolutions have begun! Those annual goals will undoubtedly include additions to your reading list which is where this post comes in to play. Check out the selections in fiction, non-fiction, DVDs and recommendations below!

Recent New York Times Bestsellers:

New Fiction

The People vs Alex Cross by James Patterson

Borrow: [Normal Print] [Large Print] [eBook] [eAudiobook]

Charged with gunning down followers of his nemesis Gary Soneji in cold blood, Alex Cross is wrongly portrayed as a trigger-happy corrupt cop while he struggles to prove to a skeptical jury and dwindling supporters that his actions were in self defense.

The Whispering Room by Dean Koontz

Borrow: [Normal Print] [Large Print] [eBook]

Former F.B.I. agent and wanted fugitive Jane Hawk tracks down a group that is brainwashing people into committing suicide.

Year One by Nora Roberts

Borrow: [Normal Print] [Large Print] [eBook]

When a pandemic strikes and the world spins into chaos, several travelers head west to find a new life.

Tom Clancy Power and Empire by Marc Cameron

Borrow: [Normal Print] [Large Print] [eBook] [eAudiobook]

President Jack Ryan seeks to identify the hidden forces escalating the tensions between China and the United States.

Past Perfect by Danielle Stelle

Borrow: [Normal Print] [Large Print] [Audiobook] [eBook]

A Manhattan family moves into a mansion in San Francisco and encounters the ghosts of its original inhabitants.

Darker by E L James

Borrow: [eBook]

Christian Grey's tormented and difficult pursuit of Anastasia Steele is told from his perspective.

New Nonfiction

Let Trump Be Trump by Corey R Lewandowski

Borrow: [Print] [eBook]

A former campaign manager for Donald Trump's successful 2016 presidential run offers an insider's look at the ups and downs on the campaign trail.

Gold Dust Woman by Steven Davis

Borrow: [Print] [eBook]

An in-depth portrait of the classic-rock artist Stevie Nicks covers her role in the stardom of Fleetwood Mac, the affairs that inspired her greatest songs, her struggles with addiction, and her successful solo career.

The Last Black Unicorn by Tiffany Haddish

Borrow: [Print] [eBook] [eAudiobook]

From stand-up comedian, actress, and breakout star of Girls Trip, Tiffany Haddish, comes The Last Black Unicorn, a sidesplitting, hysterical, edgy, and unflinching collection of (extremely) personal essays, as fearless as the author herself.

Natural Disaster by Ginger Zee

Borrow: [Print

The ABC News meteorologist discusses her career, relationships and struggles with depression.

DVD New Releases (Dec. - Jan.)

Kingsman: The Golden Circle

Borrow: [DVD]

In this action-filled installment of the Kingsman series, two top-secret spy organizations - one from the UK and one in the US - join forces to defeat a ruthless common enemy.

Home Again

Borrow: [DVD]

Recently separated from her husband, Alice (Reese Witherspoon) finds an unlikely new family and a budding new romance when three young filmmakers move into her guest house. A story of love, friendship, the families we create, Home Again is a modern romantic comedy with one very big life lesson: starting over is not for beginners!

All Saints

Borrow: [DVD]

Based on the true story of salesman-turned-pastor Michael Spurlock, who with a group of Southeast Asian refugees risked everything to save their church and their lives.

The Unknown Girl

Borrow: [DVD]

After a mysterious young woman dies on her doorstep, a guilt-ridden doctor embarks on an obsessive quest to learn the truth about what happened.

Once Upon a Time at Christmas

Borrow: [DVD]

When a serial-killer couple dressed as Santa and Mrs. Claus terrorizes a small town, a teen girl and a young cop must solve the pattern behind the seemingly random homicides.

Despicable Me 3

Borrow: [DVD]

Gru, Lucy, their adorable daughters, and the Minions are back in the comedy blockbuster where one former super-villain will rediscover just how good it feels to be bad.

American Assassin

Borrow: [DVD]

American Assassin follows CIA black ops recruit Mitch Rapp and Cold War veteran Stan Hurley as the pair is enlisted to stop a mysterious operative intent on starting a World War.

Better Watch Out

Borrow: [DVD]

On a quiet suburban street, a babysitter must defend a twelve-year-old boy from intruders, only to discover it's far from a normal home invasion.

The Osiris Child

Borrow: [DVD]

When a dangerous outbreak threatens to destroy everyone living on a newly colonized planet, Lt. Kane Sommerville goes against orders and leaves his station to rescue his young daughter before it's too late.

The Women's Balcony

Borrow: [DVD]

An accident during a bar mitzvah celebration leads to a gender rift in a devout Orthodox community in Jerusalem, in this rousing, good-hearted tale about women speaking truth to patriarchal power.


Crown Heights

Borrow: [DVD]

In 1980, a young man named Marvin Grant was gunned down in Flatbush Brooklyn. Clarence Lewis, a fifteen-year-old with a penchant for lying, told the police he saw what happened and was pressured to identify a suspect. This set into motion a series of events that led to the arrest of Colin Warner, an innocent teenager who lived in nearby Crown Heights.


Borrow: [DVD]

Trapped on the beach with their backs to the sea, British and Allied troops are surrounded by enemy forces facing a fierce battle in World War II.


Borrow: [DVD]

Based on real life events, tells the story of a 2013 Boston Marathon Bombing survivor.


Borrow: [DVD]

Just after being fired, Derek's office is put into quarantine for a virus that causes people to act out their wildest impulses. As chaos erupts, he makes his way to the top-floor executives to settle the score once and for all.


Borrow: [DVD]

When children in town begin to disappear, a group of young kids is faced with their biggest fears as they square off against evil clown, Pennywise. Based on the Stephen King novel.

Brawl in Cell Block 99

Borrow: [DVD]

When Bradley (Vince Vaughn) is sent to prison, he is forced to commit acts of violence that turn the place into a savage battleground.

Want to settle in for some cozy reading during the cold weather? 

Check out these recommendations:

Murder at the Vicarage by Agatha Christie
Series: Miss Marple, book #1
Total books in series: 12

Borrow: [Book]

The Murder at the Vicarage is Agatha Christie's first mystery to feature the beloved investigator Miss Marple—as a dead body in a clergyman's study proves to the indomitable sleuth that no place, holy or otherwise, is a sanctuary from homicide.

Chocolate Chip Cookie Murder by Joanne Fluke
Series: Hannah Swenson, book #1
Total books in series: 22

Borrow: [Audiobook] [eBook]

Take one amateur sleuth. Mix in some eccentric Minnesota locals. Add a generous dollop of crackling suspense, and you've got the recipe for this delicious new mystery series featuring Hannah Swensen, the red-haired, cookie-baking heroine whose gingersnaps are almost as tart as her mouth and whose penchant for solving crime is definitely stirring things up.

The Quilter's Apprentice by Jennifer Chiaverini
Series: Elm Creek Quilts, book #1
Total books in series: 20

Borrow: [Normal Print] [Large Print] [Audiobook]

Sarah, struggling to find a job and a sense of place in her new town, finds herself learning how to quilt from a cantankerous old woman who also teaches her about the deep love that can exist between friends.

Still Life by Louise Penny
Series: Chief Inspector Armand Gamache, book #1
Total books in series: 13

Borrow: [Print] [Audiobook] [eBook] [eAudiobook]

Chief Inspector Armand Gamache of the Sûreté du Québec and his team of investigators are called in to the scene of a suspicious death in a rural village south of Montreal.

Death of a Gossip by M. C. Beaton
Series: Hamish Macbeth, book #1
Total books in series: 33

Borrow: [eBook]

When society widow and gossip columnist Lady Jane Winters joined the fishing class, she wasted no time in ruffling the feathers-or was it the fins?-of those around her. Among the victims of her sharp tongue and unladylike manner was Lochdubh Constable Hamish Macbeth. Yet not even Hamish thought someone would permanently silence Lady Jane's shrills-until her strangled body is fished out of the river. 

The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency by Alexander McCall Smith
Series: No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency, book #1
Total books in series: 18

Borrow: [Print] [Audiobook] [eBook] [eAudiobook]

Mma "Precious" Ramotswe sets up a detective agency in Botswana on the edge of the Kalahari Desert, making her the only female detective in the country. At first, cases are hard to come by. But eventually, troubled people come to Precious with a variety of concerns.

Catering to Nobody by Diane Mott Davidson
Series: A Goldy Bear Culinary Mystery, book #1
Total books in series: 17

Borrow: [Print] [Audiobook] [eAudiobook]

Goldy Bear, recently divorced, has made a home for herself and her young son in scenic Aspen Valley, Colorado. There, calls for Goldilock's Catering have been steady enough to pay the bills. But when a mourner is felled by rat poison during a funeral buffet Goldy is serving, the police quickly close her business. Now it's up to Goldy to find the rat who has tainted her food and her reputation.

The Cat Who Could Read Backwards by Lilian Jackson Braun
Series: The Cat Who, book #1
Total books in series: 29

Borrow: [Print] [Audiobook] [eBook]

Journalist Jim Qwilleran and his feline companion Koko begin their investigative career when Jim finds murder and mischief while covering the art beat for the Daily Fluxion.

The Hunt for Sonya Dufrette by R. T. Raichev
Series: Country House Crime Mysteries, book #1
Total books in series: 9

Borrow: [Print]

At a house party on the day of the royal wedding in 1981, a little girl named Sonya Dufrette wanders off and is never seen again. Twenty years on, divorcee and librarian Antonia Darcy sets out to solve the mystery.



At Home in Mitford by Jan Karon
Series: The Mitford Years, book #1
Total books in series: 14

Borrow: [Print] [Audiobook] [eBook]

It's easy to feel at home in Mitford. In these high, green hills, the air is pure, the village is charming, and the people are generally lovable. Yet, Father Tim, the bachelor rector, wants something more. Enter a dog the size of a sofa who moves in and won't go away. Add an attractive neighbor who begins wearing a path through the hedge. Now, stir in a lovable but unloved boy, a mystifying jewel theft, and a secret that's sixty years old. Suddenly, Father Tim gets more than he bargained for. And readers get a rich comedy about ordinary people and their ordinary lives.



The Inn at Rose Harbor by Debbie Macomber
Series: Rose Harbor, book #1
Total books in series: 5

Borrow: [Normal Print] [Large Print] [Audiobook] [eBook] [eAudiobook]

Set in the Pacific Northwest, in the picturesque small town of Cedar Cove, these heartwarming gentle reads feature the cozy Rose Harbor Inn, its young, widowed proprietor, Jo Marie Rose, and a large cast of lovable secondary characters. The beautiful setting and the wise, understanding protagonist make second chances possible for all of her troubled guests.

Happy New Year! Enjoy these books and movies to start 2018 off right!

Sources: The New York Times, Rotten Tomatoes, Amazon, Goodreads, EarlyWord, Novelist

Posted by  On Jan 03, 2018 at 10:34 AM

Post by Laura R. 

Your Next Favorite Author-Jason Reynolds

Jason Reynolds

It’s been a big year for Jason Reynolds.  The author’s third book to be published this fall, Long Way Down, was released at the end of October.  The book faces topical issues of race and gun violence head on, and cements Reynolds’ reign over the young adult literary scene.  Written in free verse, the novel narrates 15-year-old Will Holloman’s seven-floor descent in an elevator, as he grapples with the gang murder of his older brother.  Intent on taking revenge on his brother’s killer, Will must re-evaluate his mission as each floor introduces new characters, and new revelations.  The book was longlisted for the 2017 National Book Award in Young People’s Literature.

Reynolds made his name in 2014 with his novel When I Was the Greatest, followed quickly by The Boy in the Black Suit, and the Long Way Down absolute stunner, All-American Boys (co-written with Brandon Kiely).  The latter was my first introduction to Reynolds, and evangelized me for life—I suggest his books to nearly every kid at the library looking for a recommendation.  Reynolds books have ended up on the New York Times Bestseller list (Long Way Down debuted at number four) and have earned multiple Coretta Scott King Awards honors.

Reynolds recounts that as a struggling young author, he really got his start when a friend of his, writer Christopher Myers, suggested he write in a “natural tongue.”  The result is prose that is full of heart and authenticity, affirming African-American culture and experience, and never shying away from honest stories.  Reynolds says of presenting experiences of violence and trauma to young readers, “It’s my responsibility to honor young people with honesty, even if their parents are uncomfortable. They are human beings with feelings. They also have the internet, and they come with their own set of trauma. Why should I be disrespectful to the young reader by shielding them from what they already know?”

Published in 2015 as the debate around police brutality was very much at the fore of the national conversation, All-American Boys follows the twin stories of Rashad, a black teen who is falsely accused of stealing and subsequently beaten by a police officer untilAll American Boys he ends up in the hospital, and Quinn, Rashad’s white classmate who witnesses the incident.  I loved All-American Boys not only for its candid take on the violent realities faced by young African-Americans in the US today, but also because it’s a story told through the eyes of two relatable characters dealing with more mundane teenage challenges: Rashad would rather draw than listen to his dad’s lectures on joining the army, and Quinn is busy gearing up for basketball season, hoping to land a college scholarship.

Reynolds also writes for middle graders; the second installment of his “Track” series, Patina, was released at the end of August this year.  Ghost and Patina each follow one member of an elite middle school track team.  Ghost (real name: Castle Crenshaw) is the fastest sprinter Coach has ever seen, but is struggling with memories of his violent father.  Patina, or Patty, as her friends call her, smokes the other girls during the four hundred meter dash even as she’s weighed down with caring for her six-year-old sister and diabetic-amputee mother.  Despite the difficult home lives of these characters, the Track series is laced with sparkling adolescent humor and colorful supporting characters, making for truly un-put-downable reads.   

ghostReynolds himself makes it a point to visit schools and talk to young people.  He often tells his audiences that he didn’t read a book cover to cover until he was seventeen.  He stresses the importance of writing stories that are relatable to kids today.  He told an audience of middle schoolers of the time teachers tried to get him to read Moby Dick: “The teacher was like, ‘Read this book about this man chasing a whale,’ and I’m like, bruh… I don’t know if I can connect to a man chasing a whale when I’ve never seen a whale. Nothing that’s happening in these books is happening in my neighborhood.” 

Kids can see themselves and their neighborhoods mirrored in Reynolds’ books.  As a library professional working with children in Aurora’s uber-diverse center, I find Reynolds’ stories to be a rich and necessary addition to young people’s literature.  Don’t miss any of his books! 

Washington Post     National Book Foundation     Twitter      BookList Online 

Posted by  On Dec 27, 2017 at 10:29 AM

Post By: Leigh R. 

Get Cozy With
Holiday Picture Books

I think we can all agree that the holidays can be hectic. Scratch that. The holidays are hectic. Shopping for presents, attending the kids’ various plays and concerts, holiday parties, shopping, preparing for family visits, dealing with those family visits, trying not to eat too many sugary goodies, and of course, more shopping to find that thing you didn’t know a certain someone wanted until the last minute. In this busy and beautiful season, don’t forget to carve out some special quiet time for you and your family. The library can help you with this! We have wonderful books for children to help celebrate the season. So grab a cozy spot in your house, your favorite blanket for cuddling and a yummy mug of hot chocolate as you enjoy these holiday picture book reads for kids. 

*     *     *     *     *     *     *

Here Comes Santa Cat coverHere Comes Santa Cat by Deborah Underwood, illustrated by Claudia Rueda
Here comes the Christmas version of such a cute and funny series following the adventures of Cat as he helps out the Easter Bunny, the Tooth Fairy, and in this story, Santa Claus! Cat doesn’t always get things right but that’s what makes him so charming. He also doesn’t say much but draws pictures that the reader must interpret to help tell the story.

Home Alone: The Classic Illustrated Storybook cover
 Home Alone: The Classic Illustrated Storybook
based on the story written by John Hughes and directed by Chris Columbus, illustrated by Kim Smith
You know and love the movie but have you read the picture book version? Readers will love the funny and brightly illustrated pages of this wonderful book that completely captures the wild and crazy adventure Kevin has as he tries to get rid of those two, pesky bad guys.

Llama Llama Holiday Drama cover
Llama Llama Holiday Drama
by Anna Dewdney
This little llama, a favorite character of many, is stressed out from the holidays. Lots of shopping with Mama Llama, cookie baking and craft making are making it hard for him to be patient; that is, until Mama Llama reminds him that spending time with family is more important than presents.

My First Kwanzaa cover
My First Kwanzaa
by Karen Katz
Bright and colorful, Katz’s books for the youngest ones are short and sweet but always offer a warm and delightful story, perfect for babies and toddlers. In this holiday board book, a little girl teaches readers about the special traditions of Kwanzaa.

Shmelf the Hanukkah Elf coverShmelf the Hanukkah Elf
by Greg Wolfe, illustrated by Howard McWilliam
I know what you’re thinking. Shmelf…really? Trust me, this rhyming mash-up of Christmas and Hanukkah fun is a great introduction to Hanukkah traditions. It begins with an elf named Shmelf who is shocked when he learns that not all kids celebrate Christmas. He decides to visit some Jewish families and is fascinated when he learns about the story of Hanukkah and how some kids celebrate the holiday.

Stranger in the Woods coverStranger in the Woods
by Carl R. Sams II and Jean Stoick
A stranger arrives in the woods in the shape of a snowman, and all the animals in the forest are curious to discover more about this mysterious visitor. The artists use real photographs to showcase deer and other creatures in this beautiful, magical winter wonderland that will make you want to get out there and do some exploring with your family!

The Christmas Boot coverThe Christmas Boot
by Lisa Wheeler, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney
If there was an award for the illustrator who creates the “coziest” images, this recipient of the Caldecott Medal many times over, Jerry Pinkney, surely wins the prize! He beautifully captures Wheeler’s story about an older lady who lives alone in the wilderness and the magic boot she finds one day. When a mysterious visitor comes to reclaim his boot, the two “talked of everything and nothing, deep into the night”. He grants her wish before he leaves in this original, feel-good story.

The Itsy Bitsy DreidelThe Itsy Bitsy Dreidel by Jeffrey Burton and Chani Tornow, illustrated by Sanja Rešček
Sing the tune of “The Itsy Bitsy Spider” as you share this board book with little ones. The cheerful pictures capture a Hanukkah night as a family of Dreidel characters read from the Torah, make latkes and light candles to celebrate the holiday.

The Night Before Christmas: A Brick Story coverThe Night Before Christmas: A Brick Story
by Clement C. Moore, illustrated by Amanda Brack.
Based on the classic poem, this newer version of the story is perfect for the little LEGO lover in your life! The illustrator does a great job constructing the scenes through LEGO bricks and characters. Kids will have fun pouring over the pages and noticing the tiny details and surprises that await them.

The Twelve Prayers of Christmas coverThe Twelve Prayers of Christmas
by Candy Chand, illustrated by James Bernardin
Beautiful illustrations and a reimagining of that first Christmas night tell the story of the birth of Jesus. What’s different about this version is that it’s written in twelve separate prayers or poems, and tells the perspectives of the different people and animals who witnessed the event, from a Wise Man to a donkey.

Turkey Claus coverTurkey Claus
by Wendy Silvano, illustrated by Lee Harper
Turkey makes his first appearance in the Thanksgiving story, Turkey Trouble, by the same author. In this sequel he is once again on a mission to save his turkey legs from becoming dinner for the farmer and his wife. Just like the first book, Turkey tries to disguise himself but this time he hopes to find Santa to make his Christmas wish come true. Will he make it in time to escape Christmas dinner? This book will incite laughs from little ones, and they will also be drawn to the fun illustrations.

Way Too Many Latkes: A Hanukkah Tale in Chelm coverWay Too Many Latkes: A Hanukkah Tale in Chelm by Linda Glaser, illustrated by Aleksandar Zolotic
Set in the fictional village of Chelm, popular in Jewish folklore, this book tells a cumulative story of a woman who forgets how to make latkes for Hanukkah. When her husband asks the Rabbi for help, their problem only grows…literally. Beautiful illustrations with funny facial expressions add to this new Hanukkah tale.

Come into the library to check out any number of these books and prepare for a cozy holiday break!

Cover images used from Amazon.

Posted by  On Dec 20, 2017 at 11:11 AM
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