Food for Fines

Exchange canned goods & other foods for library overdue fines to help the United Way of Goodhue, Wabasha & Pierce Counties’ Packing for the Weekend program. Because it’s the Packing for the Weekend Program, there is a restriction you might find surprising (nothing in glass containers) and there are some that are common sense (nothing open, damaged or expired). Our Food for Fines program runs December 1-17. See the announcement for all the details, but it’s a good deal for a great cause – please contribute! Thanks!

A Poem for Peter by Andrea Davis Pinkney and illustrated by Lou Fancher and Steve Johnson

“Brown-sugar boy in a blanket of white.
Bright as the day you came onto the page.”

I love The Snowy Day!  One of my absolute favorite children’s books, it tells the story of a little boy’s romp through the snow in his city neighborhood.  I also love hearing how authors get ideas and turn those ideas into books.  So when I started to see reviews for this biography in verse by the fabulous Andrea Davis Pinkney about Ezra Jack Keats and the creation of The Snowy Day, I was super excited to read it – and it was AMAZING.

“Like a snowflake you fell, right into our hearts.”

Jacob Ezra Katz was the son of two Polish Jewish immigrants who came to America to escape persecution in the early 20th century.  Born in New York, Ezra spent his childhood drawing, drawing, drawing everywhere and on everything he could, even though his parents couldn’t afford paints or pencils.  An art scholarship came to nothing when his father died the day before his high school graduation, but Jack was able to make a living through his art with the New Deal’s Works Progress Administration.  After the WPA, the young artist spent some time illustrating comics before serving in the United States Air Force during World War II.  But before that, Jack saw a series of photos of in Life magazine of a small African American boy who was sweet-cheeked and laughing, and he saved those pictures for more than twenty years before pulling them back out and creating The Snowy Day, going on to win the Caldecott Medal in 1963 for the first book he both wrote and illustrated.

“Yes, you, Peter child, bubbled up in this man, now free to discover the truth of your colors: The here-I-am Red.  The look-at-me Yellow. The proud-to-be Brown.”

Groundbreaking not only for its sweet, African American protagonist proudly featured on the cover, but also for its urban setting, Ezra Jack Keats brought small, joyful, red-snow-suited Peter bounding into the lives and hearts of a generation just starting to break the color barrier.  Written as a poem addressed to Peter, the little boy romps through the pages of Jack’s story.

“Yes, you.  A bright-hooded hero, snow-suited crusader, crunching through your own quiet tundra of discovery.”

The warmth and light of both Jack and Peter shine through the pages of this marvelous tribute to a great man and a boy full of fun.  Don’t miss this beautifully written, gorgeously illustrated biography!

Stiletto by Daniel O’Malley

Stiletto book jacketIt’s a sign of how much I’m enjoying this book that I’m not even waiting to finish it before blogging it! Stiletto is the sequel to The Rook (2012, and it was a long 4 year wait for me!). The best and shortest summary I can come up is not original to me but it is accurate: X-Men meets Harry Potter meets Jason Bourne. In Stiletto, two highly secret organizations are set to join forces despite a long history of enmity and bloodshed. The Checquy, based in Britain, fills its ranks with mutants and other agents with supernatural power. The Grafters, who call Belgium home, use science to modify their bodies to unnatural degrees. However, some third party is out to stop the merger using any means necessary. Felicity, a pawn in the Checquy organization and Odette, a Grafter must work together despite their initial ‘hate-at-first-sight’ reaction to find and stop the shadowy group attacking both the Checquy and Grafters. Lots of action, adventure and supernatural derring-do, but what I most love about these books is that they are laugh out loud funny in a dry, witty and snarky manner, and that O’Malley writes strong capable women characters whose lives and actions don’t revolve around men (absolutely no Bechdel test problem here!). I don’t hand out many 5 star ratings in my Goodreads account, but The Rook is one and I’m quite sure Stiletto will be another!

Tipping Point by David Poyer

Tipping Point book jacketBit of an odd coincidence that I had started reading this book when the news hit about China being quite upset with the President-elect’s phone call with the President of Taiwan.  That news made this book even more alarming, since it’s about the very beginnings of a war between China and the US. In Tipping Point, medal of Honor Holder Captain Dan Lenson takes an experimental missile cruiser into the Indian Ocean just as the first theater nuclear war (between India and Pakistan) sets off a titanic struggle between China and the U.S. Throw in a tsunami, an unknown crew member attacking women on the ship, pirates and Iranian saber rattling and you’ve got a novel that will keep you on the edge of your seat (and up at night!). It’s #15 in the Dan Lenson series – a series which, if you enjoy realistic military fiction, you should definitely check out!

The Sun is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon

Yoon_9780553496680_jkt_all_r1.inddNatasha and her family are undocumented immigrants.  Her little brother was born in America, but she and her parents came to New York from Jamaica when she was eight years old.  Tonight they’re being deported, and Natasha is going to do everything she can to save her family and her own future from her father’s mistakes.

Daniel is the second son of two first generation Korean immigrants.  His older brother, perfect (and perfectly horrible) Charlie, has just fallen from his first son pedestal by failing out of best school, Harvard.  Today, Daniel has an interview with second-best school, Yale, to keep on track to becoming a doctor and achieving the American dream.  The trouble is, Daniel doesn’t want to be a doctor – he wants to be a poet.

When a series of events lead to their meeting on a busy street, Natasha on her way to an immigration lawyer that’s her last best hope to stay in America, and Daniel following the winds of fate (and Natasha’s bright pink headphones, amazing hair, and Deus Ex Machina jacket), Daniel is sure it’s because they’re meant to be.  Natasha thinks it’s just coincidence and entropy.  Either way, the two spend the day together doing everything they can to stop time, change the future, and try to fall in love (Daniel) or not (Natasha).

Shortlisted for this year’s National Book Award, this gorgeous novel is one of my absolute favorite titles of 2016.  Fate, destiny, science, hope, love, friendship, and family come together and fly apart again and again as Natasha and Daniel move through the city and toward the great unknown of their future.  This book is about so many things, but, at its heart, I believe it is about the way that hope and love will always win, even when things don’t turn out the way we plan – for ourselves, our friends, or our family.  Live, love, and feel fiercely and deeply, because every moment matters.

For another wonderful read about love and family, don’t miss Nicola Yoon’s first novel, Everything, Everything!