Tuesday, August 25, 2009

The 39 Clues series

What would happen if we took an idea for a series and then had some of the best kids fiction writers each write a volume in the series.

This is the idea behind the 39 clues series. The first book, written by Rick Riordan of Percy Jackson fame is called “The Maze of Bones” and introduces the main characters and the plot for the series. Orphans, Dan and Amy Cahill have given up a 2 million dollar inheritance to take part in a treasure hunt that hopefully will lead them to even greater treasure. Unfortunately for them a number of other family members have also undertaken the same challenge, and let’s just say, these are not nice people.

Book 2 "One False Note" written by Gordon Korman is the next book in the series, followed by “The Sword Thief” by Peter Lerangis. Each book in the series will have Dan and Amy travelling to a different part of the world, finding the 39 clues that lead to the treasure. A contemporary series that combines history and travel is a hit with me, and if the first book is an indication of what’s in store, it’s sure to be a hit with young readers.

I enjoyed the 1st book, but then I’m a Riordan fan, so I spoke to several young readers who were reading the series and they also give it a thumbs up.

Back to the Garden by Pete Fornatale

Recently we remembered that it was 40 years ago that men first walked on the moon. It seems to be an important year for anniversaries.

Another 40th anniversary being acknowledged this month is Woodstock. In his book “Back to the Garden”, Pete Fornatele has published a number of interviews with Woodstock organizers, performers, and audience members. It is a look at the rock and roll phenomenon that shaped popular music for the next several decades. Woodstock launched the careers of many folk and rock superstars. We often hear about the rain and the mud, but what’s interesting about this book are the details of what it was like to actually perform on that stage and look out at ½ million fans. What was surprising to me was the number of bands that were not well known before Woodstock, but rocketed to instant stardom because of this single performance.

The library holds a number of autobiographies of the musicians who performed at Woodstock. But this book pulls their stories together into a single volume and is both history and nostalgia.

NoveList: reading suggestions for what to read when what you want isn't in.

Today I’m not going to talk about a specific book, but rather, what to do when the book you want isn’t in.

For example, right now, one book with a long waiting list is Jodi Picoult’s "My Sister’s Keeper". But what to read while waiting for it is a question that we are often asked.

Much as we’d like to, library staff cannot read everything on our shelves, so we look to Novelist for help. This database, available on our website, offers Read-alikes for many favourite authors, including Jodi Picoult.

Chris Bohjalian who has a similar writing style, and is from a similar background as Jodi Picoult is one possibility. Jacquelyn Mitchard’s "The Deep End of the Ocean", or Theory of Relativity are 2 books that Picoult readers enjoy. Luanne Rice’s strong characters and examinations of family and personal relationships might also be a good fit. Sue Miller is another possibility and some of her books are considered modern classics.

If the library doesn’t have your title, be sure to ask for it. And while you’re waiting, have a look at Novelist - staff will be happy to help you. You may discover a new favourite.

Monday, August 10, 2009

"Well Preserved" by Eugenia Bone

The arrival of the new book “Well preserved” by Eugenia Bone reminded me that it’s a good time to talk about recipe books for putting up all the delicious garden produce. Each branch of the library has books on preserving foods and it’s a good time to check one out.

When I think of preserving food, freezing, water bath canning, and pickling are the processes that come to mind. In her book, “Well preserved”, Eugenia Bone includes instructions for these, but also others that we don’t usually think of. Pressure canning, preserving in oil, curing and smoking are included in this book as well. Bone includes recipes for using the preserves she makes.

Some of Bone’s recipes probably will not have a huge audience, but there are some really interesting ones to try in this book.

Stop by the library for a cookbook before picking those vegetables, or on your way home from the farmer’s market. It may result in a new family favourite, when - come winter, the flavor will remind you of sunshine and warm your day.

New picture books

Summer is a time for families to enjoy books and reading together. All branches of the library have new children’s picture books and I decided to highlight a couple of them today.

Sheree Fitch’s Sleeping Dragons All Around has been re-released in a 20th anniversary edition. Fitch’s prose is wonderfully lyrical, and this makes it such fun to read aloud. As with others of Fitch’s books this book becomes more enjoyable with each reading. The illustrations by Michele Nidenoff are bright and interesting pieces of art in their own right. The prose and illustrations complement each other beautifully. I’d encourage anyone to read other Sheree Fitch books as well, including one of my all time favourites, There’s a mouse in our house.

The picture of the dog on the front cover of Kenneth Oppel’s The King’s Taster, is priceless. The dog’s name is Max, and he eats like a king, because- he’s the King’s taster. He gets to try everything before it’s served to the king. When a new king (let’s just say he’s a bit spoiled) takes the throne, the cook is at wits end trying to find something he likes to eat. He travels the world looking for new foods, and Max enjoys every tasty new dish. The illustrations in this book are a beautiful and interesting hybrid of artistic styles that defy description.

Great children’s picture books can be found in all 4 branches of the South Central Regional Library, and summer is a great time to read with children and grandchildren.