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Update on March Events at the Library

As you are likely aware, Minnesota has a number of diagnosed cases of the novel coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, which is a respiratory illness currently being spread from person to person in many countries, including the United States.

Current guidance from public health officials stresses the importance of “flattening the curve,” i.e., slowing the rate of transmission of the disease to avoid overloading the health care system, as has happened in Italy. Important to flattening the curve is “social distancing,” measures that are taken to increase the physical space between people to slow the spread of the virus, such as working from home or canceling gatherings.

In the interest of protecting our staff and patrons – in particular the high-risk populations we serve and the high-risk populations who work and volunteer for us – the library is canceling all programs and events during the month of March. At this time, the library will continue to operate with standard hours.

Our interest is to continue serving your library needs while maintaining the safety and health of our staff and public.

We also continue to follow best hygiene practices for workplaces – including regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and equipment in our building, making hand sanitizer and disinfectant wipes available to staff and patrons, and encouraging frequent hand-washing.

We have removed from the children’s area toys, puzzles and other playthings that are difficult to clean and sanitize.

As some patrons have asked, the Library does not currently disinfect borrowed materials when they are checked in or as they are browsed or used in-house. Disinfecting these types of items and materials is currently not recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

We encourage any concerned patrons, especially those in high-risk populations, to stay home if they are feeling ill or are simply concerned about potential exposure.

We will continue to communicate any further impacts to the library as a result of coronavirus. In the meantime, as a reminder, the library has many digital services available to you for free, such as eBooks and eAudiobooks; streaming video; and digital access to newspapers and magazines.

Thank you for your patience as we work through this developing situation.

Dear Sweet Pea by Julie Murphy

Seventh grade is not turning out to be such a great year for Sweet Pea DiMarco (her real name is Patricia, but nobody calls her that except her eccentric advice columnist neighbor, Miss Flora Mae).  Her parents are recently divorced – but decided that the best way to keep things normal for Sweet Pea was for her dad to rent the house on other side of Miss Flora Mae’s and make everything look identical to her mom’s house, which, to be honest, kind of creeps Sweet Pea out.  Her cat, Cheese, must think so too, because he refuses to spend the night at her dad’s new house.  Her ex-best-friend, Kiera, now sits in front of her in class, which is definitely not awesome.  And Miss Flora Mae just cornered Sweet Pea on the sidewalk and announced that she’s going out of town and needs Sweet Pea to collect her column letters and water her plants – and then swore her to secrecy.  The last thing Sweet Pea needs is more secrets.

At least she has her forever best friend, Oscar.  They share a love of America’s Most Haunted, which they’re burning through on Netflix, and Oscar always has Sweet Pea’s back, no matter what.  Even when there is an unfortunate, um, incident, involving too much pizza, cake, and a trampoline at Kiera’s birthday party, which Sweet Pea sorta kinda crashes.  And even if she’s keeping secrets from Oscar – secrets she doesn’t want to keep, but Miss Flora Mae made her promise.  And secrets seem to lead to more secrets.

When Sweet Pea accidentally discovers a Dear Miss Flora Mae letter with very, very familiar handwriting while gathering up Flora’s mail, she makes a decision that will change her family and her friendships even more than they already have – she decides to answer it.  Sometimes, change is good, and sometimes, it’s not-so-good.  It turns out you always have to deal with it, though – and it’s how you decide to deal with it that defines who you are.

Author Julie Murphy has already proved her awesomeness with her young adult knockout novels Dumplin’, Puddin’, and Ramona Blue, and Dear Sweet Pea rocks the middle grade scene just as fabulously as her older sister novels (there’s a even a great nod to the world of Dumplin’ and Puddin’!).  Sweet Pea is funny, full of heart, and a great little human, even when she’s muddling through trying to figure out what the best way is to be a friend, a daughter, and an almost-eighth grader.  Oscar is a staunch and stalwart friend, and who doesn’t love a cat named Cheese?  Brimming with family, friendship, life advice, and a whole lot of love, middle grade readers, no matter how old, won’t want to miss Julie Murphy’s latest.  Check it out at the library!

Assassin’s Apprentice: the Illustrated Edition by Robin Hobb

Picture of book cover for Life: The First Four Billion Years25 years ago, when I sat down to read Assassin’s Apprentice, I had no idea that I was about to start a series that would become one of my all time favorites. While it has elements common to many fantasy novels I’ve enjoyed (e.g., coming of age story, great world building), it is much slower and less plot driven than  the type of fantasy I usually like. Hobb’s strength is writing great characters and relationships and I simply fell in love with characters like Fitz, The Fool, Burrich and Molly (and developed a really strong hatred for Galen and Regal!)

This special anniversary edition is beautifully bound and contains 10 full color illustrations. Hobb  wrote a new foreword, the last line of which reads “But most of all, I thank you for offering my characters a home in your heart.” It’s funny – I know that writing is a craft and a profession and that authors rely on the sale of their works to make a living. But books have always seemed to me to simultaneously be a gift from the author to the reader. So I would say back to Ms. Hobb that her characters have indeed found a home in my heart and I am incredibly grateful she chose to share them.