The Tapestry of Fortunes is a blend of humor, wisdom, education and friendship that I found delightful. Cecilia has just lost her best friend to a fast-moving cancer. Penny had been the one to motivate and help Cecilia to know herself. Now she finds that Penny is still speaking to her in subtle ways and she followes her advice to slow down and seek changes. She puts her career aside, sells her home and furnishings and finds a group of women to share a home and a road trip. Cecilia receives a postcard from a former boy friend just home from Tahiti, and weighs the risks of reconnecting knowing how much they have changed. This beautifully written novel is a sensitive and hopeful story of women supporting each other through life’s trials.
Little Bertie visits the home of a playmate and discovers the grass is greener in Ranald Braveheart MacPherson’s home Bertie can eat as much chocolate cake as the wants at the MacPherson home. Ranald suggests that Bertie might find new parents if he puts himself up for adoption on eBay, and Ranald can help since he knows his Dad’s computer password. Meanwhile Matthew and Elspeth bring their triplet sons home and find their new life impossible to manage until an au pair arrives. Domenica and Angus are responsible for selling Antonia’s next door apartment as she has decided to join a nunnery in Italy. They must make the difficult decision of where to live after their marriage. Who will give up their current home and all the comforts they had while they were single? Bertie Plays the Blues is number seven in the 44 Scotland Street series by Alexander McCall-Smith. The fun continues as we commiserate with Bertie regarding his impossible mother and enjoy the many problems that seem to be insurmountable for the quirky characters on 44 Scotland street in Edinburgh.
Can a woman be in love with her husband and hate him at the same time? Marilyn is tired, tired of playing a role she doesn’t feel. After 27 years, leaving was her only hope of getting the man she married to wake-up and love her like she needed to be loved. The end of her happiness with Jim began the day they were married and the moment he failed to join her on the dance floor.
Marilyn loved to dance and had asked Jim to take dance lessons with her many times over their years together. So, signing-up for dance lessons was her first order of business after leaving Jim. When the dance instructor becomes enamoured with Marilyn’s dancing skill and asks her to join him in a dance contest, feelings of romance begin to grow.
The Dance is about relationships, growing and overcoming fears that keep us from truly loving our partner as they need to be loved. With Dan Walsh’s ability to write and Gary Smalley’s ability to deal with relationships this is a very enlightening & touching story.
The first novel of Irish journalist, Kathleen MacMahon is a compelling love story that hints at a tragic end almost from the start. Addie is an unemployed architect that designs dream swimming pools, takes daily swims with her dog, and cares for her recently injured father, a self-important surgeon. An American banker, Bruno, who is divorced and just finding himeself unemployed after the collapse of Lehman Brothers, travels to Ireland to research his family tree and locate Irish cousins. The two second cousins meet and begin a romance in 2008 against the backdrop of the presidential elections. (Bruno vows that he won’t return if Obama doesn’t win). As they spend their time traveling around Ireland, adjusting to each other’s cultural differences and meeting family and friends, Addie is ignoring a pain that her sister keeps nagging her about. In This is How It Ends, lighthearted banter, interesting characters, challenging times all unite to create a memorable story that keeps begging to be read.
For much of his life, Nathan Steen has carried 6 small red stones in his pocket each day, transferring them one at a time from one pocket to the other as he does a good deed and hoping that at the end of the day he has moved all 6 stones. When he stops to help a stranded motorist, Nathan is killed in a tragic accident. As his family copes with grief and heartbreak, Nathan’s wife Halley discovers emails in her husband’s work email sent by a woman from his past. As Halley and her son Ty struggle with their anger and disappointment, daughter Alice maintains her faith in the goodness of her father. As each character tells their story from their perspective, secrets and lies are discovered and Nathan’s motivations are revealed. Many topics are touched upon by the characters, including bullying and abuse. The One Good Thing is a story that illustrates the strength of families, of providing a good example to our children and of the repercussions of the choices that we all make every day–a touching and inspirational portrait of the lasting effects of kindness.
Charles Lindbergh’s achievements are fairly well known, but his wife, Anne Morrow Lindbergh, is portrayed in The Aviator’s Wife as a woman to be remembered for many reasons. Melanie Benjamin tells the story of Anne Morrow, the first American woman to earn a first-class glider pilot’s license, first woman to win the National Geographic Society’s Hubbard Medal for exploration, and a National Book Award-winning novelist. Her marriage to Charles was difficult as his fame caused their life to be in the public’s eye. The terrible loss of their first little boy in a kidnapping added to their notoriety and heartache. Charles extremely disciplined manner and driven nature caused relationship issues with Anne and their children. Anne’s life comes alive for reader’s as we see her devotion to this celebrity husband and the problems that result.
By Jennifer Adams, Children’s Services Manager
Everyone knows that libraries have storytimes so young children can hear good stories read aloud. People who have attended storytimes know that, in addition to stories, children will learn action rhymes, songs and even dance moves. It is all great fun and leads to enjoyment of books and the library. That alone may be reason enough to present ten storytimes or more each week at our library, but there is actually more to it than that.
Public libraries have a strong connection to early childhood education and “early literacy,” a term that does not mean learning to read early, but instead refers to the skills children master in preparation for learning to read when they are older. It begins with babies – hearing language spoken and sung, touching our mouths as we speak, and beginning to recognize shapes and images. Babies love books. They love to look at them, hear the words, chew on them, rip their pages. Books are full of wonderment! A father in the library recently told me he got a kick out of his daughter, who is just a few months old, because she is such a book critic. He can open the page of a new board book to her laughter or her cries – she shares her opinions openly. But we know we need to be reading to our young children, and talking to them and playing with them. How do these simple exercises translate into reading success?
The American Library Association (ALA) did extensive research into this topic several years ago and launched a nationwide program for librarians called “Every Child Ready to Read.” The research showed six early literacy skills that were key to children’s ability to learn to read when they got to school. Not surprisingly, many of these skills have been a part of storytimes for ages. Knowing the research, terminology and results associated with specific skills has helped us hone in on the activities that are best for early literacy. Additionally, we can easily pass this knowledge on to parents who attend our programs so their efforts at home are reinforced and encouraged.
Johnson County Public Library took ALA’s somewhat wordy program and transformed it into a fun, user-friendly version they called “6 By 6” – six skills kids need to know by the time they are ready to read around the age of six. The State Library of Kansas adopted the 6 By 6 program, making it accessible to every library in the state (http://6by6.mykansaslibrary.org).
The six skills are:
1. Have Fun with Books (print motivation)
2. Notice Print All Around You (print awareness)
3. Talk, Talk, Talk (vocabulary)
4. Look for Letters Everywhere (letter knowledge)
5. Tell Stories about Everything (narrative skills)
6. Take Time to Rhyme, Sing & Play Word Games (phonological awareness)
In addition to weekly storytimes, we have been incorporating early literacy skills into fun 6 By 6 activity stations available in the children’s room all the time. Our 6 By 6 stations include games, puzzles, felt boards and dress-up items that revolve around a picture book.
This month features “The Gruffalo” by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler. In the rhyming text, we follow a brave mouse who outsmarts all the animals in the forest who would like to eat him by telling them he is off to have dinner with his friend, the gruffalo, a terrifying monster the mouse makes up as he goes. Much to his surprise, the mouse does indeed meet a strange beast that matches all his frightening descriptions. But once again, the tiny mouse is able to outwit the gruffalo and all the other critters. Although this book is more than 10 years old, it has remained popular with a sequel, “The Gruffalo’s Child,” and a short, award-winning animated film.
Now you can visit the library with your child or grandchild to have some fun with this entertaining story. Read the book together on one of our cozy chairs, then use the stuffed gruffalo and other puppets to retell it to each other. Put together a funny Mr. Potato Head monster version with extra eyes, horns and other silly body parts. Use a big magnet board to match words and letters, and pretend to mix up some interesting recipes.
These engaging activities will be available in the children’s room through May. Librarians change the book and activities every two months, coming up with new and creative ways for children to explore language and stories.
Lifelong family secrets are revealed through a series of letters which arrive along with condolence notes in this novel written by French novelist Helene Gremillon. Camille, a single woman in her thirties has just lost her mother and has recently found herself to be pregnant. She begins receiving long, unsigned letters telling a story that she knows nothing about. As they continue to arrive she learns of a previous war time love triangle. Wealthy Monsieur and Madame M cannot conceive a child. Madame M is deperate to have a baby, and the wartime efforts are pushing all women to have children. She befriends a teenage girl of lower class and helps provide the necessary art supplies that Annie needs to encourage her creativity. Annie becomes so close to Madame M that she empathizes with her to the point of offering to have her child.
This dark tale of love gone wrong jumps between the present and the past with many twists and involved secrets. Camille begins to guess that these letters may involve her much more deeply than she wants to know in The Confidant.
Julie Kibler has written a debut novel that won my heart. I could not put this tragic love story down without continuing to dwell on the power of love and the tragedy of racial discrimination. In the south during the 1930′s, a wealthy white doctor’s daughter, Isabelle, falls in love with the handsome black son of their family maid. This story combines two time periods as years later now ninty year old Isabelle, asks her young black hairdresser, Dorrie, to drive her to a funeral 1000 miles from their homes. The two women share their troubled family stories with Isabelles secrets unfolding at the same time Dorrie’s teenage son calls with his own life changing problems. Calling Me Home kept me mesmerized till the very end. I hope for more by Julie Kibler!
Manhattan had the privilege of a visit by Kent Haruf in 2006 for our first One Book/ One Community Read. His novel Plainsong was a finalist for the National Book Award and was adapted into a Hallmark Hall of Fame television movie in 2004. Many in Manhattan delighted in meeting the author and reveled in his engaging talks. Fast forward to this year and find Kent’s newest novel destined for a prestigious award. Benediction is set once again on the eastern high plains of Colorado in the small town of Holt. Dad Lewis has just been given the death sentence of a cancer diagnosis. His daughter comes home to help her mother, Mary, care for him, but his distant son is no longer a part of their lives. The secondary characters in the story all have issues and lives that are familiar to all of us. I found his latest book to be captivating and poignant as it drew me into a story that came so close to my personal experiences with my mother’s recent death. We all can feel the pathos of loss as none of us escape life’s sad transitions. Read Benediction also for the love shown to a small girl being raised by her grandmother and the hilarious skinny dipping scene.
The Summer Olympics seem in the distant past, but we haven’t forgotten the amazing, star gymnast Gabby Douglas who won the gold along with all our hearts. She has co-authored an autobiography about her rise to the pinnacle of Olympic history which is enjoyable and inspiring. Particularly recommended for young adults as encouragement to keep on pursueing their dreams, Gabby tells her story of sacrifice with little negativity. She shares her families history of struggle when they lived in their car and had nothing, the endless practice,the sacrifice of her sisters who gave up their own loves of ballroom dancing and ice skating, and the neglect of her father- her biggest hurt. She gives credit to her families faith in God and their love as the biggest factors in her successful rise to stardom.
For all Austen enthusiasts Syrie James has written a novel in the essence and style of Jane. It begins with a contemporary story of American librarian, Samantha McDonough, discovering a hidden letter written by Jane Austen in the back of a book of poetry while vacationing in London She gains enough insight from the letter to begin to believe that Jane has written and lost another manuscript while visiting friends at Greenbrier in Devonshire. Pursuing this exciting possibility, Samantha meets handsome owner of Greenbrier, Anthony Whtaker and begins the search within his home. Now the story within the story begins when the manuscript is found and the two begin reading it to each other. We walk the streets of Bath with Austen characters in a story with all the atmosphere, romance and charm found in a Jane Austen novel.
Pediatrician Jill Farrow’s idyllic life with her daughter, Megan and her fiance, Sam, is turned upside down when one of her ex-stepdaughters, Abby, arrives on the doorstep at midnight, drunk, soaked to the skin, and crying that her dad, William, Jill’s ex, has been murdered. Despite distaste for her ex and a three-year estrangement from her ex-stepdaughters, Jill is overcome with love and concern for Abby. Jill is propelled into a dangerous cat-and-mouse chase that risks her relationships with Megan and Sam and eventually threatens her life. Come Home is a satisfying thriller with a family story at its core.
The wonderful books of Maeve Binchy have come to an end with her death last July in Ireland. This last delightful book, A Week in Winter was finished just a few weeks prior to her becoming ill. Those of us who are her fans will miss her common sense and creative approach to life’s obstacles and trauma. Maeve has written about every kind of personality imaginable in her Irish tales. Her stories unite characters bringing support to each other and finding answers to difficulties. Whether it be divorce, unwanted pregnancy, lover’s who run off, death, senility, Maeve’s characters learn to journey on.
In her last novel we are experiencing the windswept coast of western Ireland where Chicky is turning an old estate into a bed and breakfast. She has returned to her home town after many years in New York hiding the fact that her love deserted her after convincing her to leave home. The following chapters each tell the story of a person who finds themselves at Stone House that first week.
Maeve was a journalist for the Irish Times for many years. When interviewed about her books she shared this bit of philosophy that was evident in her wonderful books, “I don’t think you’re happier if you’re thin or beautiful or rich or married. You have to make your own happiness,” Binchy told Australia’s Illawarra Mercury newspaper in 2000. “My heroines do not become beautiful elegant swans, they become confident ducks and get on with life.”
by Karen Kingsbury
Every one believes that John and Abby Reynolds are and have always been madly in love. After 22 years of marriage, no one but John and Abby know the truth. The day they had decided to tell their children that they were filing for divorce, was the day their daughter announced her engagement. They couldn’t tell them now, not until after the wedding six months down the road. How could they keep up the farce for that long.
They have left there faith by the wayside and now their love for one another doesn’t exist. Abby believes John is having an affair, despite John’s insistence that he is not. John believes Abby is envolved with her editor, but Abby insists it isn’t true. Although, A Time to Dance is mainly about John and Abby, there are many other interesting characters involved with this story of life. I read this book from the Sunflower eLibrary, but it is available in hard copy too.