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Monday, December 30, 2013

An Endearingly Creepy Trilogy

Author John Connolly is best known for a series of thrillers featuring a private detective named Charlie Parker.  I've never read any of those books.  However, I can't get enough of his Samuel Johnson books, which feature a slightly peculiar young boy and his loyal dachshund.  In the first book, The Gates, Samuel and his dog accidentally witness a portal to Hell open in his neighbor's basement, and said neighbor become possessed by a demon intent upon bringing Hell to earth.  I know . . . it sounds weird, but it's really, really well-written.  This book is filled with wonderful characters and highly amusing sarcastic footnotes.  It's sort of like a Lemony Snicket book for adults.  The second book, The Infernals, finds Samuel dragged to Hell along with four cranky thieving dwarfs, two policemen, and an ice cream truck.  In the third book, The Creeps, infinite darkness attempts to take over all known universes via Samuel's small British town.  I highly recommend this series to anyone who likes quirky tales, main characters who are heroes in spite of themselves, and lesser demons with hearts of gold. 

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Books are great gifts too!

Nothing against e-readers, there are three nooks at my house, and the portability is wonderful. My family spent a week in the UP this past summer and if my daughter and I had packed books rather than our nooks the weight of the luggage may have buckled the Mackinac Bridge.

Tablets and e-readers may be convenient, but I still prefer to hold a real book in my hand. Tabbing to the next page cannot compare to turning the pages of a real book and don't get me started on the smell. Maybe I am strange, but I love the smell of books (especially old ones) and how cool is that there is actually a scientific reason for this. 

Supposedly this is going to be the Christmas of the tablet, but don't forget that "real" books make wonderful gifts too.

Of course, I work in a library so I USUALLY recommend borrowing books rather that purchasing them. However, there are some books that you just want to have a permanent home on your bookcase.

If you are looking for a gift to give a new Mom (or even an older Mom) who has a daughter I recommend Someday by Allison McGhee and illustrated by Peter Reynolds. I am a huge fan of Peter Reynolds simple but stunning water color illustrations. They are perfect for McGhee's story of a mother/daughter relationship from birth to adulthood. If you have a daughter keep a tissue handy because this book will bring on the waterworks.

Another great book for moms is The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein. I know that some people think that this book has a negative message, but I believe that is a captivating allegory about unconditional love.

Speaking of Shel Silverstein, everyone (whatever age)should own his collection of poetry books. Funny, sweet, cute, and hysterical; each page offers a new treat.
There are more, but these two are the most popular.

Giving a picture book to a child is special, because it implies that you are going to sit and share it with them. There are so many spectacular picture books that your child will want to own so that they can have it read over and over.  Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak and anything by Dr. Seuss are incredibly popular choices.

I also recommend The Monster at the End of this Book.
Your child does not need to be a Grover or Sesame Street fan to love this book. It is a hilarious, interactive book that will have any child shouting "You turned the page!"
Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart
 Most people would assume that a pop-up book would be for a small child. Not so with the pop-up books by Robert Sabuda and Matthew Reinhart. Just google either of their names and you will see that they create not mere pop-up books but magical feats of engineering. Older children (and adults) will spend hours marveling at any of the books created by these extremely talented artists.  No matter what the interests of the reader there is a Sabuda or Reinhart book for them from classic books like The Wizard of Oz to mythical creatures or Superheroes. There is even a Star Wars one!

As you can see, these books are just awesome and I would probably just keep adding pictures. You would probably assume that they are incredibly expensive, too, but they are only $20-$30! My older kids have received a couple of these as gifts and they adore them. My son has had the dinosaur pop-up book for a couple of years and he still loves looking at it.

There are so many more picture books that I want to recommend as Christmas gifts and I have not even mentioned chapter books, adult books, graphic novels, etc. Instead of making this one extremely long post, I will mention a couple of more picture books now and save chapter books for another post.

Every child should own The Velveteen Rabbit and have it read to them at least once a year. Long before Buzz and Woody were loved by Andy, Margery Williams taught us that “When a child loves you for a long, long time, not just to play with, but REALLY loves you, then you become Real.” There are so many editions of the book so you can choose the one that you like the best. My kids actually have this older edition that belonged to me as a child.

If you know a little boy that is obsessed with trucks and/or dinosaurs combine the two and present them with Chris Gall's Dinotrux and Revenge of the Dionotrux.

Some other great picture books to gift are the Pete the Cat books by Eric Litwin. Be sure to download the songs that goes with these from the Harper Collins website, they are so groovy. Speaking of cats, the Splat the Cat books by Rob Scotton are also very cute. Anything by Mo Willems is sure to be a winner too.

Another fun and interactive picture book is Open Very Carefully: A Book with Bite in which a giant crocodile is trying to eat the book. What kid doesn't like some carnage when they read?

There are so many more, but hopefully these will give you some ideas.

Friday, December 13, 2013

Holiday Fun Night

Holiday Fun Night was a huge success this past Wednesday! I think the whole town showed up for the festivities! As you can see from the pictures families enjoyed making Christmas crafts, indulging in sweet treats, and, of course, petting the reindeer.

Holly and Noel (mother and daughter from Rooftop Reindeer Farm) definitely stole the show.

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Santa Claus Has Come to Town

 Santa took some time out of his busy schedule to visit the library on Saturday. After sitting on Santa's lap and having their picture taken, kids made Christmas ornaments and enjoyed hot cocoa and chocolate chip cookies (Santa's personal favorites).

The library would like to thank the Ionia Intermediate School District for arranging this wonderful holiday event. The very generous people at Ionia ISD took pictures and printed them free of charge. They even brought adorable foam frames for kids to make and display their pictures in. I have three children and it was so nice to have them see Santa without waiting in an endless line at the mall or paying a small fortune for a photo.

If you didn't make it in to see Santa, there are several other holiday events planned at the library.

The next two Tuesdays, the 10th and the 17th of December, we have our fireside readings. Kids of all ages can enjoy cookies and hot cocoa while listening to Christmas stories by the fire. On the 17th Rush Clement of Rush Hour Studios will bring his guitar for some fun holiday music. Both fireside readings will begin at 6pm and we encourage kids to come in their jammies.

On Wednesday, December 11th at 6pm the library is having a holiday open house for the entire community. There will be fun stuff for kids in the children's area and lots of goodies and door prizes for adults too. The most exciting part is that the Rooftop Landing Reindeer Farm is bringing some special friends for everyone to pet and feed. If you need another incentive to go to the library that night, we will be offering amnesty for all library fines during the two hour event.
Fine Amnesty from 6-8pm Wednesday, December 11th

The Holly Jolly Movie Series has been going on throughout December.  You can watch a fun Christmas movie on our big screen while eating free popcorn. Elf is showing this Monday at 6pm and the following Monday at 6pm we will be showing How the Grinch Stole Christmas. 

Since the kids will be on Christmas break, we will be showing Prep and Landing on the 23rd and Babes in Toyland (the awesome one with Annette Funicello and Tommy Sands) on the 30th at 1pm in the afternoon.

The holidays may be hectic, but try to make time for some free good cheer at the Portland District Library.

Monday, December 2, 2013

Woolbur Picture Book Winner

Congratulations Rachel Kowalski for winning our Woolbur Picture book giveaway! We ran our contest for two weeks and had fourty-four entries and you are our lucky winner!