The Lost Sun by Tessa Gratton

lost sunIn the United States of Asgard, the old gods walk among the people.  Thor Thunderer does battle with the mountain trolls, keeping them back from the cities.  Odin presides over the House of Congress. Loki can be found anywhere and everywhere there is mischief to made or disguises to be had.  And every year, on Baldur’s Night, the people of new Asgard breathlessly await the favored god of light’s return from the six months he spends in the underworld.

Soren Bearskin is a berserker.  It’s in his blood, always lurking just beneath his skin, a buzzing fever he fights every day to contain.  It keeps him apart from his classmates – even if Soren didn’t distance himself from them to keep them safe, the arrow tattooed on his cheek marking him as one of Odin’s own ensures everyone gives him plenty of space.  After all, no matter how hard he fights it, Soren knows he can’t fight fate.  He, too, is destined for horrible greatness the day the fever breaks loose – just like his father, who lost himself and his life to the berserker rage when Soren was eight.

Astrid Glyn is the daughter of a great seeress, also destined for greatness.  She, too, lost a parent – her mother vanished five years ago, presumed murdered.  All Astrid has left of her mother are the black pearls around her neck – and the ability to see how the threads of fate twist the lives around her.

But when Baldur the Beautiful fails to rise from his ashes beneath the New World Tree in Philadelphia, chaos erupts in the United States of Asgard.  When it is revealed that the ashes everyone thought were those of the god were replaced with those of a pig, Odin offers a boon to any who can bring his missing son home.  Soren wants nothing more than to have the berserker fire in his chest put out, and Astrid wants desperately to find her lost mother.  Together, they set out on a quest across the United States of Asgard to find the lost god of light.  Adventure, visions, trolls, gods in disguise, and unexpected allies await them – but both Soren and Astrid are keeping secrets that may change the fate of all the world.

This has been in my to-read pile for a long time, and I wish I’d picked it up sooner!  Author Tessa Gratton’s short stories are featured in The Curiosities along with Maggie Stiefvater and Brenna Yovanoff (together, the three are critique partners and The Merry Sisters of Fate, short story writers extraordinaire), and I’ve been meaning to read her novels for ages.  Fabulous world-building, lush writing, heartrendingly flawed characters, and a plot that is a slow simmer until it explodes with action all combine to make an all-consuming reading experience.  If you love Norse mythology, American Gods by Neil Gaiman, epic road trips, the Thor movies, or really enjoy alternate histories like The Story of Owen: Dragon Slayer of Trondheim, be sure to check this out!  And, when you’re done, snag The Strange Maid, the sequel that’s available now.

El Deafo by Cece Bell

el-deafo-cece-bellWhen Cece was four, she was really sick.  After she got better, she and her family realized that something was different – Cece couldn’t hear.

After a bunch of tests and some goopy stuff gets squirted in her ears, Cece is fitted with a hearing aid, and she can hear again!  But it’s the late 70s, so her hearing aid is big, and bulky, and she has to wear it strapped to her chest in a pouch with big cords going up to her ears.  It feels like everyone is looking at her.  And even though Cece gets to go to kindergarten in at a special school with a class full of kids just like her, her family moves to a small town that summer.  A small town that doesn’t have special schools, or special teachers, or special classes for kids who need hearing aids.  So, in first grade, Cece is the new kid.  The weird kid.  The kid with cords coming out of her ears.  The kid who can’t hear.

Cece doesn’t want to be different, and she doesn’t want to be special.  She doesn’t want to learn sign language, and she hates it when people think they can just talk louder.  Or slower.  Or move their mouths all weird so she can’t lip read.  On top of that, all the usual hard stuff is going on – homework, big sisters who are too busy for her, a best friend that is waaay too bossy, and just trying to do okay in gym class.

But when Cece gets a new hearing aid for school, the Phonic Ear, that works with a special  microphone her teachers wear, she realizes that she can hear everything her teachers say – and do.  Like making photocopies.  Or things they say to in-big-trouble students in the hall.  Or stuff they say in the teacher’s lounge.  She can even teachers in the bathroom (he he!).  It’s like she has superpowers!  Holy sonic hearing, Batman!  At first Cece just imagines the things her superhero alterego, the amazing El Deafo, would do in situations that annoy and frustrate Cece – like when her gym teacher gives her a Not Satisfactory on her report card.  Or her friend Ginny tells people Cece is her deaf friend.  Or her mom makes her go to sign language classes (ugh).  But then Cece realizes that with a little bravery, a little help from El Deafo’s superpowers, a little patience with people (okay, a lot), and a big helping of her true self could help her find what she’s really looking for – true friends.

This graphic memoir was awesome!  If you love Raina Telgemeier’s books, you’ll definitely want to add this to your TBR list.  If you’re new to graphic novels, El Deafo is a great place to start (I’m talking to you too, grown-ups!).  This 2015 Newbery honor novel is a wonderful coming-of-age story about a girl trying to figure out how and where she fits in.  I love how you can really feel Cece’s loneliness (new kid plus Phonic Ear equals not so easy to make friends) and frustration with people (some who are trying to help, others, not so much), and how, as she grows up, she starts to make her own (superpowered!) place in the world.  Don’t miss it!

American Girl Tea Party Tickets Sold Out

American Girl starYou guys snapped up the June 9th American Girl Tea Party and Fashion Show tickets in just under an hour this morning, so we’ve got a full house, which is totally awesome!

If you were not able to get tickets…

We do have a wait list!  If any tickets are returned, we’ll give the folks on that list a call.

The Kathleen Ernst author talk at 3:00 PM is free and open to all who would like to attend!  So, even if you aren’t able to attend the tea party, please join us to hear Ms. Ernst talk all about writing American Girl books.  We will be raffling the Caroline doll off after the author talk, so everyone attending either the tea party or the talk (or both!) will have a chance to take her home.

If you did get tickets this morning, see below for more wardrobe info, and stay tuned for more details!

We can’t wait for June!

American Girl Tea Party Tickets Available Monday!

American Girl starIf you’ve been to the library recently, you know we’re super excited to welcome American Girl author Kathleen Ernst, who will be helping us kick off summer reading the afternoon of Tuesday, June 9th!  In honor of her visit, we’ll be hosting an American Girl Tea Party and Fashion Show that afternoon at 2:00 PM, followed by Ms. Ernst’s author talk at 3:00 PM.

If you would like to attend the Tea Party & Fashion show, there are a few things to know…

Ticket Info

  • The Tea Party & Fashion Show is a ticketed event.  Tickets are free, but you do need to have one to attend.
  • The tickets are limited and are only available at the library.  You will need to sign up in person to get them – due to high demand, we will not be taking phone reservations.
  • Tickets will be available on Monday, May 11th at 10:00 AM, and will be available until we have given them all out.  There will be a wait list if there is demand.
  • We ask that if you know you will not be attending the Tea Party & Fashion Show after you have already signed up, please return your tickets to the library so another family can use them.
  • What happens if you register, but can’t find your ticket on June 9th?  We have your name, so we will get you a new one the day of the event.
  • Kathleen Ernst’s author talk following the Tea Party & Fashion Show is not ticketed and is open to any who would like to attend.

Who Can Attend?

  • There are no age limits (for kids or adults!).
  • Each group of children needs to be accompanied by at least one adult.
  • Each adult may register up to six children.  So, if you have three children that would like to attend, each may bring a friend.

What Should My Doll and I Wear?

  • If you have a doll, she or he is encouraged to attend with you!
  • Does your doll have to be an American Girl?  Nope!  You can bring any doll you’d like.
  • Caroline dollWhat to wear?  Whatever you want!  American Girl is all about being your best self, so you should dress however you’d like!  Super extra fancy with extra sparkles, athletic gear, school clothes, or a historical costume to match your doll are all perfect.  You and your doll can dress alike or differently, and everyone who wants to walk our red carpet to show off their fabulous ensembles and general awesomeness will have a chance.

And, yes, the rumors are true… we have a lovely Caroline doll, courtesy of American Girl, to raffle off!  Caroline will be raffled off following Ms. Ernst’s talk, so all those attending either the tea party or the talk (or both!) will have an opportunity to take her home.

And, how could I forget, but let’s give a big shout-out to the Friends of the Library, who are bringing Kathleen Ernst to Red Wing.  Hooray for the Friends!

Now, back to planning my perfect tea party outfit… what goes best with a tutu?