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Staff Picks for All Ages

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20 Feet from Stardom

Written by Morgan Neville
DVD/Video

20 Feet from Stardom tells the stories of some of the backup singers who, over the past half-century, have provided an integral part of the sound of rock and roll, R&B and pop music, largely without receiving much recognition, or sometimes without even being credited for their work. Director Neville Morgan interviews prolific backup singers such as Darlene Love, Merry Clayton and Lisa Fischer, who recall their remarkable and varied careers, and the amazing stories of their involvement in creating some of the best-known music of the 20th century, but also the struggles and low points, especially the heart-breakingly frequent failure to achieve success as solo artists. Interviews with various well-known musicians, such as Mick Jagger, Sting & Bette Midler are also included. Watch this one for the great stories, and of course, for the music.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for 500 Art Quilts: An Inspiring Collection of Contemporary Work

500 Art Quilts: An Inspiring Collection of Contemporary Work

Non-Fiction

This wonderful book, which contains an amazing variety of quilts created by contemporary quilters, is both inspiring, if you are a quilter, or simply enjoyable to browse, if you're not a quilter. Some of the quilts in this book are astonishingly elaborate. Information about the artists and what techniques they used are included. Other books in the '500' series include 500 Baskets, 500 Cups, and 500 Handmade Dolls.

Recommended by Nila
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A History of the World in 100 Objects

Written by Neil MacGregor
Audio Book

A few years ago, the British Museum partnered with the BBC in a project that would tell the history of the world by examining objects from the British Museum's collection, and using each object as a jumping-off point for a weekly radio segment discussing important moments or developments in human history. Each segment was narrated by the director of the British Museum, Neil MacGregor, and featured historians, authors, and other experts who would weigh in on each object and its place in history.

Those radio segments have been collected in this audiobook. Ordinarily, I am not a big fan of audiobooks because my mind tends to wander, but each segment in this book is a manageable length, and it was possible to listen to as many or as few segments as I wanted without losing the thread of the story. By the end, I had traveled across two million years, and learned a great deal about the history of people across the entire globe.

If you're interested in seeing the objects described, check out the companion book, also called A History of the World in 100 Objects, available through our catalog from the Anchorage Public Library.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship

Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship

Written by Russell Freedman
Non-Fiction

Abraham Lincoln & Frederick Douglass: The Story Behind an American Friendship by Russell Freedman is history but reads like a story. The book covers Lincoln & Douglass' pre-Civil War childhood to adulthood, and their eventual meeting at the White House in 1863 at the middle of the Civil War. Freedman does an excellent job explaining this difficult era. His use of direct quotes to give historical detail makes this an easy and engaging read. The photos give a picture of what the places and people looked like. This is a great book for anyone who enjoys history or wants to learn more about the Civil War. For younger readers it paints a good picture of what their lives were like in the 1800’s, yet these two great men continue to shape our thinking. Once again it’s another extraordinary book by Russell Freedman.

Recommended by Nila
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Abstract City

Written by Christoph Niemann
Non-Fiction

This book is a compilation of posts from artist/illustrator Christoph Niemann's New York Times blog, also called Abstract City. Niemann uses a crazy variety of media (fallen leaves, cookie dough and sprinkles, Google Maps, as well as the usual ink, pencil and paint) to examine various aspects of everyday urban life, such as how to manage all those cables we have in our lives nowadays, an homage to coffee, and the stuff of everyday New York City life, constructed with Legos. If you're wondering how he comes up with it all, the book wraps up with an explanation of his creative process.

Recommended by Catherine
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Birders: The Central Park Effect

Written by Jeffrey L. Kimball
DVD/Video

Before watching Birders: The Central Park Effect, I didn't know that Central Park, in the heart of New York City, was a prime birding spot. This hour-long documentary is a fascinating (and charming) portrait of a community of Central Park birdwatchers and their feathered quarry, which also touches on issues of conservation and bird habitat.

The Central Park Effect refers to the phenomenon of the wide variety of species that can be observed both year-round, and seasonally during migration, in the park. This is due to the fact that Central Park is the only 'wild' piece of territory in the New York City area along the migratory route, though it was designed by and is maintained by humans. After watching this film, you may find yourself wanting to get out your binoculars and do some birding yourself.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for Born to Run: Athletes of the Iditarod

Born to Run: Athletes of the Iditarod

Written by Albert Lewis
Non-Fiction

This book is so cool! Photographer Albert Lewis has taken portraits of dozens of sled dogs, from weeks-old pups to teen-aged race veterans. If you are a mushing enthusiast or just a plain dog lover, you will find this book fascinating. Each dog's personality really shines through. The book also includes portraits of the dogs' mushers.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for Bound for Glory: America in Color, 1939-43

Bound for Glory: America in Color, 1939-43

Non-Fiction

If you think of the Great Depression and World War II in black and white, this book of photographs will open your eyes to whole new way of seeing American history of that period. Kodachrome film, which created vivid color photographs, was newly available in the mid-1930s, but not yet widely used; photographers from the Farm Security Administration and the Office of War Information traveled all over the country and took some 1,600 photographs using the film, and the Library of Congress chose an assortment of those images and published them in this amazing book. Take a look at farm workers in the deep South, a fair in New Mexico, mines in Colorado, rail-yards in Chicago, commuters in Massachusetts, assembly-line workers building bombers in California, and potato farmers in Maine, all in beautiful color. I love this book firstly for the novelty of seeing images from the time period in color, but also for the glimpse it gives of everyday life and work of Americans some 70 years ago, and the just plain gorgeousness of the color photographs themselves.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs

Written by Judi Barrett
Illustrated by Ron Barrett
Fiction

Inspired by an airborne pancake, a grandfather tells his grandchildren the story of a tiny town where food comes not from grocery stores, but the sky. All is well in the town of Chewandswallow, where meals rain down three times daily, until the weather begins to take a turn for the worse.

I have loved this book since I was a kid, both for the slightly absurd (but very funny) story, and the beautiful and detailed illustrations, which are full of humorous visual details for those who might not be reading on their own yet, but like to follow along by looking at the pictures.

Recommended by Catherine
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Coast

Written by BBC
DVD/Video

This series, which first appeared on television in the UK in 2005, is an eclectic look at history, geography, culture, economics and natural sciences, built on the framework of the coastline of the British Isles and surrounding countries. Multiple enthusiastic hosts travel a section of coastline in each episode, and the places they visit inspire mini-lessons on a wide variety of topics, often with the help of local experts. I learned several new things when I watched this series, and got more background on some topics I only knew a little bit about. Given how much coastline we have in Alaska, it would be great if someone would do the same thing here.

Recommended by Catherine
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Discovering Wild Plants: Alaska, Western Canada, the Northwest

Written by Janice Schofield Eaton
Alaskana

Although this book is too big to carry as a field guide, it contains volumes of in-depth coverage with color photos on harvesting wild plants. Arranged by habitat zones (muskeg, alpine, etc), Discovering Wild Plants contains volumes of in-depth coverage with color photos on harvesting wild plants, and is enjoyable to read. Detailing the when and how of harvest, recipes for Elder fritters, herbal teas and more.

Recommended by Alli
Cover art for Double Moon: Constructions & Conversations

Double Moon: Constructions & Conversations

Written by Frank Soos
Illustrated by Margo Klass
Alaskana

You may have had a chance to see the work of Margo Klass when her shadow boxes were exhibited at the Alaska State Museum last spring, but if you missed it, or would like another chance to see these exquisite artworks, check out Double Moon. As an added bonus, the works are accompanied by the poetry of Frank Soos. Klass and Soos live in Fairbanks.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for Flight: Volume One

Flight: Volume One

Written by Kazu Kibuishi
Non-Fiction

Kazu Kibuishi is one of my favorite kid-friendly author-artists, penning the Copper comic strip and the Amulet graphic novel series. He also has arranged the Flight anthology series, where he usually contributes one or two of the several-dozen stories in each book. Most of the short stories can stand alone, but it’s best to read the Flight books in order for the several story lines that recur, such as Neil Babra’s “Life of Tejinder Singh” and Michel Gagne’s “Saga of Rex,” both of which are told in chapter installments, one in each volume of Flight. The illustration and storytelling styles vary greatly: some stories are mostly words with augmenting pictures, some are mostly pictures with augmenting words, some have no words at all, and some are more reflective and poetic and don’t really have a storyline to follow. If you’re interesting in checking out a variety of comic and graphic-art styles and formats, Flight is a great series to take a look at. Each volume will have a few stories you don’t really like, but also a few that you’ll be glad to have found. Volumes 1 through 8 are available from the library.

Recommended by Jenna
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Fuddles

Written by Frans Vischer
Fiction

I would like to recommend the children’s book Fuddles, by Frans Vischer. Perhaps I am prejudiced in my selection in having a cat that resembles a pear more than a slender cat. The book's art-work is superb, with an ever-changing viewpoint and perspective of our chubby, furry friend who dreams of wild adventures, totally blind to his own limitations. What was particularly rewarding for me was to read this book with my two granddaughters, age 8 and 3 and ½. I thought we would be done with it after one reading, but they kept dragging it back out of the return pile asking me to read it again to them and a growing list of visiting play pals. They would wander off after each reading muttering, “Poor Fuddles!” and with true compassion, pat our overweight feline Cali on her large belly. For learning limitations, dealing with fears of being lost, and the joy of finding family and home, I highly recommend Fuddles. It even allows me to pat my own growing midriff with a new-found understanding and acceptance.

Recommended by Mark
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Hamish MacBeth

Written by Robert Carlyle
DVD/Video

This is a charming television series from Scotland. It's a cross between Midsomer Murders and Monarch of the Glen but with more humor and less murder but always some mystery to solve!

Hamish Macbeth is the local police in the coastal town of Lochdubh (Lochdoo). Joined by his Westie dog Wee Jock, he keeps the peace among the townspeople. This is a small fishing town (reminds me of Juneau!) and the characters are indeed small town folk, each with their own quirks, both good and bad.

Hamish protects and understands his town, keeping the outside law at bay. He gets help from his good friend "TV" John who claims to have psychic abilities. Torn between his love interests Isobel, a reporter for the local paper, and Alexandra, an author who returns to Lochdubh for him, Hamish struggles to do the right thing by both women.

Funny and serious, this series will reel you in as you begin to care, as Hamish does, about the people of Lochdubh.

I love this series, the people are so very sweet and human - and of course, there is Wee Jock!!

Juneau Public Library also owns the 2nd and 3rd seasons of Hamish Macbeth! Please give it a try and you too will fall in love with Lochdubh!

Recommended by Suzi
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Hungry Johnny

Written by Cheryl Minnema
Illustrated by Wesley Ballinger
Fiction

The author of Hungry Johnny is Cheryl Minnema. She's Ojibwe, and so is the illustrator, Wesley Ballinger. The story tells of an Ojibwe boy named Johnny. Who is--as the title suggests--hungry! In Hungry Johnny, Minnema presents a believable character throughout the story. Johnny is like many children: a busy, hungry little boy who must learn patience from his family members.
Johnny lives in a modern home. His grandma, in jeans, sweater, and a ball cap, is at an electric stove, and as Johnny plods to another room, we see hardwood floors and photographs on the wall. It allows the reader to see a contemporary Native child instead of an outdated stereotype.
Elders eat first, so Johnny has to wait. His grandma waits with him, telling him to be patient. He wonders why she's not eating with the elders, and she explains she is a "baby elder" that is "too young to be old and too old to be young.” I love that definition.
In both text and illustrations, the attitude-modeling is delivered in a gentle, non-lecturing way; it’s just a sweet, satisfying read.

Recommended by LouAnn
Cover art for Journey

Journey

Written by Aaron Becker
Fiction

Words will not capture the flight of imagination found in Aaron Becker's Journey. Young and old alike will be set fancy free thumbing through this stunning visual story. Without words, Becker shares a voyage drawn in detail that opens a path through earth, sea and sky.

With no words to read, I went through the account several times with a grand-daughter who can not yet read, and she made up a different explanation each time we traveled through.

In the realm of imagination and tale, Journey is a destination not to be missed.

Recommended by Mark
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Let the Old Dreams Die

Written by John Ajvide Lindqvist
Fiction

This is a collection of short stories from the author of "Let the Right One In", the vampire novel that was produced as a movie in Sweden and in the United States. Quite good films too! So back to the anthology... a couple of these are gems that expand one's mind. A couple are good, although a bit creepy (a la Stephen King) and a couple are confusing. My favorites are "The Border" - especially thoughtful of those moments when one feels "outside" of society; and "Let the Old Dreams Die" - what would you do to keep and hold the one you love?

Lindqvist gives the impression that he loves writing and his stories are all (even the not-so-great ones (and who knows, you may love the ones that left me cold)) thought-provoking. There is a thoughtful afterword to the stories - don't peek - in which he discusses his writing and ideas. This is an author who understands the dark side of humanity, that side which makes us all so human.

The book and Swedish film version of "Let the Right One In" are available from the Juneau Public Library.

Recommended by Suzi


Cover art for Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers: Fresh Ideas for the Weeknight Table

Moosewood Restaurant Simple Suppers: Fresh Ideas for the Weeknight Table

Written by The Moosewood Collective
Non-Fiction

I read cookbooks when I can't concentrate on a plot. This particular cookbook is lovely to read and has lots of pretty pictures. Written by the folks at the Moosewood Restaurant, it focuses on recipes that are simple and easy to prepare for everyday dinners at home.

Recommended by LouAnn
Cover art for Mr. Wuffles

Mr. Wuffles

Written by David Wiesner
Fiction

Multiple-Caldecott-Award-winning author and illustrator David Wiesner has created several really fantastic wordless picture books, but his newest book is especially wonderful, imaginative and humorous. The titular Mr. Wuffles is a yellow-eyed black cat with white paws, bib, and tummy, and like many felines, Mr. Wuffles is mostly indifferent to the plethora of pricey cat toys his owners have provided for him. However, he takes a special interest in a small silver space ship that appears in the house one day, much to the chagrin of its tiny alien passengers. With Mr. Wuffles hot on their trail, how can the aliens escape and return to their home planet? 'Read' the pictures to find out!

Recommended by Catherine

Cover art for Planetfall: New Solar System Visions

Planetfall: New Solar System Visions

Written by Michael Benson
Non-Fiction

This large-format photography book gives you a fascinating, and breath-taking, look at Earth as seen from space, the flares of the Sun, the cratered surface of our moon, the red, sandy dunes of Mars, the rings of Saturn, and much, much more. Author Michael Benson has taken images and data collected from NASA and European Space Agency missions and created beautiful images of other worlds. I don't know if I'd be tempted to visit any of these places in person, should it become possible someday, but I did enjoy taking an arm-chair trip through space, thanks to this book.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for Pogo Through the Wild Blue Wonder

Pogo Through the Wild Blue Wonder

Written by Walt Kelly
Fiction

This book is a compilation of the Walt Kelly POGO comic strip from 1949 and 1950. If you remember POGO then you already love him and Churchy and Albert and Beauregard and (my favorite, the lovely Mam'selle Hepzibah (introduced 10/1950) and all the wonderful characters from the Okefenokee Swamp. Taken as satire, it is spot on, taken as fun they make us laugh. Walt Kelly was an original and so are his beloved characters from the Swamp. And if you've never read them, you are in for a delightful read!

Recommended by Suzi
Cover art for Preserving Basics: 77 Recipes Illustrated Step by Step

Preserving Basics: 77 Recipes Illustrated Step by Step

Written by Jody Vassallo
Non-Fiction

Preserving Basics is just one title in a series of cookbooks called My Cooking Class, which illustrates each recipe with a series of photographs showing each step in the process. Besides being more visually informative than a written recipe, the photographs are gorgeous on their own. This particular book shows how to make jams, jellies, mustards and more, but other books in the series include (but are not limited to) Pasta Basics, Sauce Basics, and Cake Basics. Find them by searching for 'my cooking class' in the catalog.

Other cookbooks in the library's collection that also have step-by-step illustrated instructions include: How to Cook Everything - The Basics, by Mark Bittman; Illustrated Step-by-Step Baking, by Caroline Bretherton; and The Family Meal, by Ferran Adria.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for Rules of Civility

Rules of Civility

Written by Amor Towles
Fiction

This is a story that hits all the high points; brilliant writing, great story, characters that are fully developed and evolve throughout the events... impossible to believe this is a first novel. The protagonist is 25-year-old Katey Kontent, who lives in a boarding house in the fast & furious New York City of the late 1930s. New York becomes a silent character in the novel, and Towles is able to bring the whole era to life with his descriptions and wit:

"The only other woman in the place was a young brunette with short-cropped hair sitting in the far corner under the moth-ridden head of a grizzly. Wearing a man's suit and a white-collared shirt, she was blowing smoke rings and wishing she was Gertrude Stein."

This is an era of jazz clubs and drinking but also of trying to get ahead, to make a place in the world when the world was changing at dizzying speed. A time when people could lose themselves in life and wealth was won and lost daily.
Katey and her best friend Evey meet Tinker Grey, a wealthy, smart and rich investor. They both are attracted to him but when Tinker and Evey are irrevocably and literally tossed together, Katey has to retreat and go her own way...
This novel is one of those stories that is impossible to put down and that you wish would never end.
I am eagerly looking forward to Mr. Towles next novel but wonder how he can compete with his first one... OK.. so one more quote:

"Before the doors closed a pair of honeymooners joined us. Bright, rosy and young, they looked like they were ready to spend every last penny they had on room service. When they skipped down the hallway on twelve, I offered the elevator boy a friendly smirk.
-Newlyweds, I said.
-Not exactly, ma'am.
-Not exactly?
-Not exactly newly. Not exactly wed. Watch your step."

Recommended by Suzi
Cover art for Sabriel

Sabriel

Written by Garth Nix
Fiction

After graduating from school, Sabriel is ready for her next challenge. It comes sooner than expected when she receives a message delivered by the dead forcing Sabriel to cross the prohibited zone into the magical old kingdom. Sabriel isn’t sure what is happening, all she knows is her father is in trouble and she must find him. After living in non-magical world of Ancelstierre, she might not be aware of the dangers facing her, even from the people or creatures claiming to help her. This book has a special place in my heart for being one of the first fantasy novels I read featuring a female main character. Not only that, Sabriel isn’t an orphan and doesn’t need the guidance of some older wizard to help her figure out what is going on. The characters, the setting, and the magic work together to make a book that is hard to put down.

Recommended by Kate
Cover art for Second-Time Cool: The Art of Chopping Up a Sweater

Second-Time Cool: The Art of Chopping Up a Sweater

Written by Linden-Ivarsson Anna-Stina
Non-Fiction

This book is full of inspiring ideas about how you can re-use your old sweaters and turn them into new clothing and accessories. Make mittens, scarves, slippers, bags and more from the raw materials you already have in your closet. Includes an overview of how to re-purpose sweaters, basic instructions, and lots of pictures and ideas for how to embellish your re-purposed woolies.

Recommended by Cheryl
Cover art for Serengeti Spy: Views from a Hidden Camera

Serengeti Spy: Views from a Hidden Camera

Written by Anup Shah
Non-Fiction

This book is so cool!

Wildlife photographer Anup Shah set up cameras disguised by "mud, grass, elephant dung and other materials" around the plains of East Africa, and then used a remote to trigger the shutter. The result is amazing, on the ground, in-your-face images of lions, cheetahs, elephants, zebras, wildebeest, baboons and more. Although the photos of stampeding herds as seen from the ground are incredible, my favorite images are the ones of animals, particularly lions, reacting to the camera. The shots of animals with their noses close up to the strange clicking device are fantastic.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for Sister: A Novel

Sister: A Novel

Written by Rosamund Lupton
Fiction

Bee Hemming is telling her sister Tess about everything she is doing to try to make sense of Tess's apparent suicide. Bee can't believe that Tess would kill herself, and she sets out to prove that her sister was murdered. Every time you think you know what's going on in this story, you turn the page and find out you don't. If you like Sister, try Lupton's second novel, Afterwards.

Also available as a downloadable e-book.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for Steam Laundry: Poems

Steam Laundry: Poems

Written by Nicole Stellon O'Donnell
Alaskana

Nicole Stellon O'Donnell will be reading from this book along with Sarah Crawford Isto at the event Fur Farms and Steam Laundry on Thursday, December 6th at 7pm at the Downtown Library. A workshop on writing using historical resources as a starting point will be offered on Friday 12/7/12.

From San Francisco to Skagway up over the Chilkoot Trail and on to Dawson, Steam Laundry is O'Donnell's unique portrait of a family's journey to Alaska. Their story is told through poems, a technique referred to as a novel in verse or a novel in poems. Most of the poems are letters chronicling the transformation of Joe and Ellen Gibson and their two sons. Interspersed are historical photos and documents from the Sarah Ellen Gibson Collection at UAF. You don't have to like poetry or history to enjoy this amazing chronicle of family relationships in the face of hardship.

Recommended by Jonas
Cover art for Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Stopping By Woods on a Snowy Evening

Written by Robert Frost
Illustrated by Susan Jeffers
Fiction

This picture book is a good choice for wintertime. Illustrator Susan Jeffers pairs beautiful colored pencil drawings with Robert Frost's poem to capture the magic of going out in to the snowy woods. Readers young and old will enjoy poring over the illustrations to spot animals hidden amongst the snowy branches.

Recommended by Nila
Cover art for The Arrival

The Arrival

Written by Shaun Tan
Illustrated by Shaun Tan
Fiction

This gorgeously illustrated wordless graphic novel by Shaun Tan tells an immigration story set in a land that is simultaneously whimsical and hyper-realistic. A man sets off for a new country, leaving his family behind while he tries to build a better life in a new place, hoping to eventually be able to bring his wife and daughter too. You may recognize images clearly inspired by the experience of many immigrants to this country, who passed through Ellis Island when entering the United States for the first time.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for The Artful Bird

The Artful Bird

Written by Abigail Patner Glassenberg
Non-Fiction

The projects in this book fall under the category of things I dream about making, but never get around to doing. Luckily, however, this book is fun to look at, just for the pictures of creatively sewn birds. The woodpecker and the swan are particularly impressive. For anyone who wants to sew their own bird, the book includes a helpful list of necessary supplies, detailed illustrated instructions for sewing, and patterns for each bird pictured in the book. Even if you never make your own artful bird, you will be impressed by the author's beautiful creations.

Recommended by Nila
Cover art for The Boreal Feast: A Culinary Journey Through the North

The Boreal Feast: A Culinary Journey Through the North

Written by Michele Genest
Illustrated by Cathie Archbould
Non-Fiction

There are lots of books out there about wild foods, but The Boreal Feast is much more interesting from a recipe perspective. This wild food cookbook is very applicable to Juneau; Michele Genest, who is from Whitehorse, writes about ingredients that are abundant in our region. The author is an amazing food writer and chef. Particularly delicious recipes include smoked Labrador tea short bread and rosehip jelly. The attractive photographs included in the book are an added bonus.

Recommended by Ani
Cover art for The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher

The Grey Lady and the Strawberry Snatcher

Written by Molly Bang
Illustrated by Molly Bang
Fiction

This award-winning wordless picture book, originally published in 1980, has fascinated me since I was a young child and is still one of my favorites. Author/illustrator Molly Bang’s pictures, painted on plain gray paper, tell the story of a gray-haired, gray-clothed woman bringing a carton of newly purchased strawberries home to her family, and the mysterious blue-skinned fellow who would really, really like to be able get his hands on those strawberries. The story is just a little bit scary, but it ends happily, with delicious berries for everyone.

Recommended by Catherine
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The Keeper of the Isis Light

Written by Monica Hughes
Fiction

This science fiction chapter book tells the story of Olwen Pendennis, who is tasked with monitoring the uninhabited planet of Isis, in case the planet someday becomes a colony. After years of living alone with only her android companion, Guardian, Olwen's life is changed completely by the arrival of colonists.

This is a book that seems to be going one way, and then suddenly goes in a completely different direction, and it really made me think.

Recommended by Kate
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The Last Waltz

Written by Martin Scorsese
DVD/Video

On Thanksgiving day, 1976, The Band, which may be best known for touring and recording with Bob Dylan during the '60s and '70s, gave a farewell concert at the Winterland Ballroom in San Francisco. Martin Scorsese filmed that concert, as well as several studio recordings and interviews with band members, and the result is this amazing film, which is practically a who's who of mid-20th century rock and roll (and blues and country) musicians, featuring performances by Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Neil Young, Muddy Waters, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Emmylou Harris and many more. If you like this, check out Scorsese's most recent concert film, Shine a Light, featuring the Rolling Stones.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for The Moomins and the Great Flood

The Moomins and the Great Flood

Written by Tove Jansson
Fiction

This is the first Moomin book by Tove Jansson, in which we are introduced to the Moomin family. Do you not know the Moomins? (They live behind stoves in Sweden). They are an adventurous and loving family who resemble hippopotami, with large snouts, round bodies and short legs... consisting of Moominpappa (he loves to go adventuring), Moominmamma (she always carries her handbag and is very kind and resourceful), and Moomintroll (he is friendly and very curious).
Moominpappa has gone off adventuring with the Hattifatteners and Moominmamma and Moomintroll are wandering through a forest looking for a nice place to build a house. They meet several creatures, Tulippa with the long blue hair (she stays behind to help the red-haired boy who lives in the lighthouse), the small creature (who in later stories is Sniff) and begin to search for Moominpappa. After several adventures including the Great Flood they do find Moominpappa, with the help of the Marabou stork. Read the book, (it isn't too long) to find out if the family ever finds a home...

This is a lovely tale on its own and is a wonderful book for reading out loud.

We have several other books available starring the adventurous and magical Moomins including Moominpappa at Sea (one of my favorites!).

Recommended by Suzi
Cover art for The Museum of Dr. Moses

The Museum of Dr. Moses

Written by Joyce Carol Oates
Fiction

If you've read anything by Joyce Carol Oates then you know she has that ability to change styles... her one consistency is the lack of cheerful stories or characters. This book is a collection of short stories, all on the edge of disturbing. Not supernatural disturbing, but Oates writes about what people are capable of given the right circumstances and head space. What I love about Oates is that her characters are really never victims... what we sow, we reap. Our actions and choices carry rewards and punishments, she has chosen to explore the punishments no-one ever wants to reap....

We have many titles available from this prolific and versatile writer.

Recommended by Suzi
Cover art for The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You

The Novel Cure: From Abandonment to Zestlessness: 751 Books to Cure What Ails You

Written by Ella Berthoud
Non-Fiction

Not sure what to read next? How about this book about books? Specifically, this book about which books to read to cure all your troubles. Organized by an alphabetical list that contains the whole range of human emotions, conditions, and conundrums, including jealousy, looking for Mr./Mrs. Right, burning dinner, nameless dread and even the common cold, The Novel Cure proposes to alleviate them with the proper prescribed reading material.

For example, a person suffering from hypochondria ought to pick up The Secret Garden, and be inspired by Mary's fierce determination that her cousin Colin is merely suffering from imagined illness. Or, if you find yourself in a jam, try The Life of Pi, in which young Pi survives being stranded at sea with a ravenous tiger; if Pi can get himself out of that pickle, you can extricate yourself from
your own tricky situations.

You can dip in to this excellent, creatively written book, or read it straight through, and be reminded of great books you have read (or have yet to read), get ideas for what to read next, and have a chuckle at the same time.

Recommended by mj
Cover art for The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

The Princess Bride: S. Morgenstern's Classic Tale of True Love and High Adventure

Written by William Goldman
Fiction

Probably you have seen the movie The Princess Bride, but have you read the book? If not, you are missing out, especially if you are a fan of the wonderful movie adapted from the book, directed by Rob Reiner, starring Robin Wright, Cary Elwes, Mandy Patinkin and Andre the Giant (the library has it, check it out today).

The story is adapted, according to Goldman, from the classic Florinese story, by S. Morgenstern. It is sweet, absurd, charming, and also totally hilarious, and contains, as Goldman's father described it to him:

"Fencing. Fighting. Torture. Poison. True love. Hate. Revenge. Giants. Hunters. Bad men. Beautifulest ladies. Snakes. Spiders. Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passion. Miracles."

Need I say more? Try it, you will love it.

Recommended by Catherine

P.S. This 30th Anniversary Edition includes a new introduction, the 25th Anniversary Edition introduction, and a chapter from the sequel, Buttercup's Baby. They are all right, but it's ok to skip right to the story.
Cover art for The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating

Written by Elisabeth Tova Bailey
Non-Fiction

Elisabeth Tova Bailey was confined to her bed with a relapse of a mysterious neurological illness when a visiting friend brought her a wild snail.

"Why did you bring it in?" Bailey asked.

"I don't know. I thought you might enjoy it," replied the friend.

As it turns out, Bailey enjoys the company of the wild snail very much, and the result is this fascinating little book, which is the story of Bailey's illness, the wild snail that kept her company during that time, and quite a bit of very interesting information about snails that Bailey learned subsequently. It is about appreciating tiny everyday things that we frequently are too busy to even notice. You may find, as I did, wishing for the company of a snail yourself.

Recommended by Catherine

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The Up Series

Written by Michael Apted
DVD/Video

In 1964, Granada Television aired a documentary featuring a group of English seven-year-olds from various backgrounds. Since then, director Michael Apted has revisited the subjects every seven years. Over time, various participants have dropped out, and some back in again, but for the most part viewers can revisit the same familiar faces at seven-year intervals. The most recent film, 56 Up, came out in the last year.

This documentary series is completely fascinating, and I'm so grateful that so many of those once-children have agreed to continue to be filmed every seven years, although it certainly must be a significant intrusion on their lives. Seeing the subjects age from seven to 56, finding out what has happened in their lives in the intervening years, and especially, in the later films, hearing them analyze the effect of the documentary on them is so interesting. This DVD set contains the films Seven Up!, 7 Plus Seven, 21 Up, 28 Up, 35 Up and 42 Up. The library also has 49 Up and 56 Up on DVD.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for The Virgin of Small Plains: A Novel

The Virgin of Small Plains: A Novel

Written by Nancy Pickard
Fiction

The Virgin of Small Plains, by Nancy Pickard, is a murder mystery set in small Kansas town. Twenty years ago the son of the town’s sheriff found the naked frozen body of a teenage girl. The ensuing events, told via flashback, directly affect many of the town's leading citizens and their families. This 2006 Edgar award finalist will keep readers turning pages to find out who the killer is, and if he or she will be brought to justice.

Recommended by Ginny


Cover art for The Willoughbys

The Willoughbys

Written by Lois Lowry
Illustrated by Lois Lowry
Fiction

Have you ever read Heidi? Or the Secret Garden? Or Anne of Green Gables? Did you like them? Or did you loathe them? Either way, you will be amused by this kids chapter book that is one part homage to (and one part parody of) classic childrens literature. Lois Lowry's story of the four Willoughby children, their odious nanny, and a billionaire benefactor and his foundling ward is a funny story for all ages. Recommended for fans of Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events.

Recommended by Catherine
Cover art for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Written by L.Frank Baum
Illustrated by W. W. Denslow
Fiction

“Never question the truth of what you fail to understand, for the world is filled with wonders.” -L. Frank Baum, Rinkitink in Oz

A modern fairy tale, The Wizard of Oz, tells the story of Dorothy, a Kansas farm girl who is blown by a cyclone to the land of Oz, where she is befriended by such memorable characters as the Tin Woodman, the Scarecrow, and the Cowardly Lion.
The Wizard of Oz is the first in the Oz books. This book was THE book when my children were young. Anni, Alex, Genevieve and I read the entire series twice because we were enchanted by the world Baum created. He doesn’t talk down to children, ever. He uses great vocabulary and his imagination soars and creates the most wonderful characters and situations.

Baum said, “So I believe that dreams — day dreams, you know, with your eyes wide open and your brain machinery whizzing — are likely to lead to the betterment of the world. The imaginative child will become the imaginative man or woman most apt to create, to invent, and therefore to foster civilization. A prominent educator tells me that fairy tales are of untold value in developing imagination in the young. I believe it.”

So do I. This series is a gift to any child and adult who wants to experience magic.

Recommended by LouAnn
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Wilby Wonderful

Written by Daniel MacIvor
DVD/Video

Wilby Wonderful is a film from director, writer, playwright, and actor Daniel MacIvor. This web-of-life drama with a dark comedic edge takes place in a small town on the fictional island of Wilby, somewhere off the coast of Nova Scotia. The film follows a cast of characters (played by a veritable who's who of Canadian cinema) over the course of a single day.
I first watched the film because Callum Keith Rennie is in it. I have an enduring crush on him and have watched a lot of films he's in which I won't be recommending. The film is really more a series of character sketches than a narrative, all put together and tied with quiet Canadian irony.
I like this film, it entertains and makes you care about the characters. There are even actors known in the States, like Sandra Oh and Ellen Page. And there's Callum who is doing a rare sweet romantic role. Pop some popcorn and enjoy.

Recommended by LouAnn
Cover art for Your Skin

Your Skin

Written by Joseph P. Bark, M. D.
Non-Fiction

Got warts? Bumps? Dandruff? Any skin and hair-related problems? This is the book for you. Well-written, clear and concise information and helpful advice make this an interesting read. Clear up your skin in time for the Juneau summer beach fun!

Recommended by Suzi

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