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The Light Between Worlds by Laura E. Weymouth

Six years ago, with bombs and air raid sirens screaming all around them, Philippa, Jamie, and Evelyn Hapwell stepped from the dark and terror of their parents’ London bomb shelter in 1944 and into another world.  The Woodlands are sunlight and starlight and magic, a place where tree spirits sing, rivers have water guardians, centaurs and other mythical beasts roam the forests, and a mighty stag is the Guardian of all its creatures.  The Woodlands are also on the brink of war with the Empire.  Greeted by Cervus, Guardian of the Wood, the three siblings discovered that it was the power of Evelyn’s desperate wish to be free of their own world that allowed Cervus to call them.  And though death and destruction loom heavy on the horizon in the Woodlands, just as in their own world, Philippa and Jamie and Ev agree to help in any way they can – as long as Cervus promises to send them home at the end, with no time lost in their own world.

Almost six years spent in the Woodlands – five years, and a war, and many friends and enemies made and lost.  And now, six years after returning, the Hapwells are the same age they were when Cervus sent them back.  Philippa is in America at college, trying to become her own person, trying desparately to forget and fit into her life.  Jamie is at Oxford, and Ev at St. Agatha’s, her first year at school without her sister to hold her together.  Ev wants only to remember – and to go home.  After all, Cervus made a promise – A Woodlands heart always finds its way home.  And Ev’s heart will forever belong to the Woodlands.  But as she clings to hope and searches for a way home, long after Philippa and Jamie have resigned themselves to an ordinary life in our world, Ev begins to falter under the weight of hope, love, and family.  When she vanishes into the wood behind St. Agatha’s one cold winter night, Philippa and Jamie must decide how far they are willing to go to find their sister – or if she wants to be found.

If you’re the sort of person who looks for magic in the woods and the fields and all the dark, deep green places of the world, and hopes for secret passages in old houses, and talks to trees because you know they might be listening, and feels that fizzing frisson of hope and dread (but mostly hope) every time you step through a stone passage, or a birch ring, or find a fairy ring of mushrooms, this gorgeous book is for you.  Inspired by Narnia and the question of what becomes of heroes after they’re returned to their world, this lovely book is one of my favorite reads of this year.  Haunting, lyrical, and full of a fierce longing for magic found and lost, The Light Between Worlds explores what it would be like to come back and try to live in the world as an ordinary person when you’ve been everything – and everywhere – extraordinary.  If you’re hoping for a little magic to find you in the coming year, you’ll be sure to find it in the pages of this beautiful gem of a book.

The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life by David Quammen

Book jacket cover of The Tangled TreeI sometimes think that I must have done something to anger Janet, who is the person responsible for choosing pretty much all of the adult books in our library. Why else would she taunt me by buying so many fabulous nonfiction books in exactly the subjects that fascinate me, when she knows I can’t possibly get around to reading even a fraction of them? Ah well – my loss is your gain. Take, for example, The Tangled Tree by David Quammen, of which Booklist wrote “*Starred Review* The tree of life had served scientists well as a visual expression of the evolutionary process until three big surprises complicated the picture: a whole new category of life, the archaea; horizontal gene transfer; and startling revelations regarding our own deepest ancestry. Best-selling science journalist Quammen precisely and vividly explains how these findings have tangled the tree. He begins at the roots with Darwin, Ernst Haeckel, and other early evolutionists, then moves through the twentieth century, telling a dramatic, many-limbed tale of courageous theorists and assiduous experimentalists, all portrayed with zest in short, punchy chapters. The key, long-controversial figure is Carl Woese, who unveiled the microbial archaea and figured out how to use ribosomal RNA to trace this life-branch’s evolution. Recounting how excruciatingly laborious lab work was before computers, Quammen chronicles the development of molecular phylogenetics, the study of evolutionary relatedness using molecules as evidence, which brings the fascinating Lynn Margulis into the story, along with the wildly counterintuitive phenomenon in which living bacteria trade genes sideways in what is sometimes called infective heredity. We, it turns out, are intricate mosaics full of genes from nonhuman, nonprimate sources. With humor, clarity, and exciting accounts of breakthroughs and feuds, Quammen traces the painstaking revelation of life’s truly spectacular complexity.” I think I will have to make time for this one!

A Fine Dessert History Story Time!

Join Miss Megan and Lindsey from the Goodhue County Historical Society for a fun-filled history story time on Friday, December 28 and 10:30 AM!  We’ll read the marvelous A Fine Dessert: Four Centuries, Four Families, One Delicious Treat written by Emily Jenkins and illustrated by Sophie Blackall, and then Lindsey will treat us to a look at some historical kitchen appliances (have you ever tried to whip cream with a twig whisk?  Me either!).  And then, my favorite part – we’ll do a little whisking ourselves and create yummy homemade whipped cream!  Not to worry, we’ll also have non-dairy whipped cream on hand so kiddos who are dairy-free will be able to enjoy the fun of whipping cream and tasting some of our sweet treat.  Books and treats – what could be a better way to wrap up the year?

Registration for this program is recommended so we can be sure to have enough cream on hand – call or stop by the library to sign your kiddos up.  Program attendance is limited to 24 children.