216 N Marshall Ave
Litchfield MN 55355


Monday - Thursday 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.
Friday & Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Closed Sunday

Friday, April 28, 2017

This 'n' That

By Jan Pease

When you come to the front desk area of the Litchfield Public Library, you will notice many Lego creations that cover the top of nonfiction shelving and the shelves in the beautiful cabinet given in memory of Rosann Lorenz.   These highly imaginative pieces of art are made each week at Brickheads, the kids who like to build with Lego bricks.

I love to listen to the young people as they tell the story of their creations.  Sometimes there are vehicles, sometimes space stations, and sometimes houses for families to share.   Some of the Lego characters are good guys, some are bad guys, and some are aliens or walking skeletons. Or Zombies.   Each creation is given a title with the name and age of the artist.  Some of the dads and moms have as much fun as the kids as we chat and build.  Brickheads is offered every week at 6:30 on Thursday nights for ages 4-14.

I think Brickheads is more than just a fun time.  Young people sometimes seem surprised by the good time they’re having without being connected to a device.  Conversation happens, and social skills are practiced.  Imaginations soar!  It’s more important than ever for our children to develop the ability to connect with each other.  Sometimes I feel like standing with a loudspeaker telling everyone to “step away from your phone! Step away from your phone!” 

Beginner Book Club is a program that is probably more fun for me than for the students.  We have been slowly working our way through the C.S. Lewis classic, “The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe.”  They are conquering a very difficult book and I’m proud of them.  The subject matter of this book, coupled with how very British the language is, makes this a challenge.  These are readers from grades 1-3, and they have remarkable insights.  Beginner Book Club meets once each month, third Thursdays, at 3:00.   

Each of these programs has had children “age out” and could use more members, and we have plenty of room for friends to attend together.  Both programs will continue through the summer and fall.

Summer will be here before we know it.  All of the Meeker County libraries are participating in “Reading by Design.”  This reading theme will include a lot of hands on fun.  As the summer unfolds, our goal is always to keep children using their reading and math skills.  Please encourage your children or grandchildren to be part of “Reading by Design.”  Watch for news later in May, and I’ll see you at the library!

Friday, April 21, 2017

A Very Useful Library Catalog Skill

 By Jan Pease

I learned a new skill using our library online catalog today.  I wondered if I could narrow the search to juvenile books published in 2017 that can be found in Litchfield.  You can look at a list of the newest books on the first page of the library catalog website, but you can’t limit the search by town or copyright date. If you ever want to do this, go to the library catalog, and choose advanced search.  Enter keyword: juvenile, material: book, language: English. Easy enough, right?  Now comes the tricky part. I had to limit the date, so I entered after 2016 and before 2018. That is the way to tell the computer I want all of the books published in 2017 in the Litchfield collection. (Of course it would be simple to just type in 2017, but the computer doesn’t think that way.)  Anyway, the result was 302 titles. And we’re only just finishing the month of April.

Look for some great nonfiction in these 302 new books.  We have added a series of   tiny biographies of famous people from the series, “My Itty-bitty Bio.”  Maya Angelou, Mother Teresa, Benjamin Franklin and others are included in this introduction to reading about real people.  Watch for additional titles, because I think we will add them all to the Litchfield collection.

We added a series called “Dark Waters” by Julie Gilbert.  These mermaid stories aren’t for the faint of heart.  Titles include “Fire and Ice,” “Into the Storm,” “Neptune’s Trident,” and “The Sighting.”  Mermaid titles are really popular right now, so we’ll
keep buying them!

If you like to eat (and who doesn’t?) look for the “Dessert Diaries” books by Laura Dower.  We added titles such as “Maggie’s Magic Chocolate Moon,” “For Emme, Baked with Love,” and “Gabi and the Great Big Bakeover.” 

We added a number of books about Minecraft, and they are almost flying off the shelf.  The three newest Minecraft titles are “Minecraft: Guide to Building,” “Minecraft: Guide to Animals," and Minecraft: Guide to Combat."                                      

If you’re interested in books about a career idea from the point of view of a young person, look for “Choose Your Own Career Adventure Hollywood,” “Choose Your Own Career Adventure Cruise Ship,” or “Choose Your Own Career Adventure  Military.”  These interactive books introduce young people to the ins and outs of unusual careers.
One of my favorite new books is “Babies Come From Airports,” by  Erin Dealy.  This is an adoption story with a twist, and I just love it. This sweet story is told from the point of view of a boy who had his own “Gotcha Day.”  

Try my search trick and explore other wonderful new books waiting for you at Litchfield Library.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Help! I Can't Find My Funny Bone!

By Jan Pease

“Do you know the difference between Google and librarians?  Librarians are search engines with a heart!”    I like this joke from “I Funny: School of Laughs.”  James Patterson and Chris Grabenstein collaborate on the “I Funny” series.  Our hero, Jamie Grimm, famous for being on tv and for winning a national comedy contest, has taken on  the task of helping the school librarian save the school library.  He does it by teaching his classmates how to be funny.  Can you learn to be funny if you don’t have a funny bone?  I don’t know. I think we’re born with a sense of humor and either have one or not.

Anyway, this is a good example of a novel that is heavily illustrated but not quite a graphic novel.  I don’t know who started this trend.  Jeff Kinney’s
series, “Diary of a Wimpy Kid,” uses the same format of small amounts of text with many illustrations that move the story along.  The eleventh book in the series, “Double Down,” came out in November of 2016.  Our copy of this popular book is checked out, which is an indication of how much these books are liked.

“Hamster-saurus Rex,” by Tom O’Donnell, is another example of a book that combines text with many illustrations.   A cute little hamster shows up in a classroom in grade 6.  One unusual thing about this hamster is that he’s
fearless and he growls.  Another unusual thing is that no one seems to know where he came from. 

Dave Pilkey’s new series, “Dog Man” is more of a true graphic novel.  It’s a very funny series.  Greg the K-9 officer and his partner are injured, and after extensive surgery, become an officer with the head of a dog and body of a man.  These fly off the shelves, in spite of the twisted premise.

Tom Angleberger has published a new book, Rocket and Groot: Keep on Truckin’.  Rocket and Groot are from the universe of Marvel’s Guardians of the Galaxy.  The blurb on the back of the book says that Rocket and Groot, with their super-intelligent tape dispenser, Veronica, have crash landed on a world called HappyHappyFunFun.  “This is a happy place, except for the out-of-control self-driving monster trucks, a supercomputer called Big Mama, and sharks, lots of sharks.”  I don’t get it, but that doesn’t matter. The first Rocket and Groot adventure, “Stranded on Planet Strip Mall,” has been very popular.  Just in case you wonder, Rocket is some kind of space traveling raccoon, and Groot is some sort of tree creature.  I just don't get "Guardians of the Galaxy."

Librarians are usually not thought of as people with a sense of humor.  Still, funny things happen at  libraries every day.  This morning at story hour, we shared a book called “Dalmatian in a Digger,” by Rebecca Elliott.  The whole point of the book was alliteration, with a duck in a dump truck and a camel in a crane.  But a little expert on heavy machinery corrected me: it was a Dalmatian in an excavator!

See you at the library!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Food, glorious food for our community

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The Litchfield Library is again offering a Food for Fines program to support the local food shelf during Minnesota FoodShare month.  Our program will run from March 15 to March 31.  For each donated item you bring to the library for the food shelf, we will waive $1 of your late fees, up to a maximum of $5 per person.  This can apply only to late fees, not to replacement fees for lost or damaged items.  Last year, Dassel, Grove City, and Litchfield library patrons donated a total of 92 pounds of food to the Meeker County food shelf through Food for Fines.  It’s a good way to help your community and yourself at the same time.

While we’re talking about food, if you’re fortunate enough to be able to buy interesting groceries, you may want to know about some of our new cookbooks.  One that’s popular right now is by Oprah Winfrey: Food, Health, and Happiness: 115 On-Point Recipes for Great Meals and a Better Life.  While Oprah discusses her relationship with food throughout the book, it is also a cookbook.  It lists Weight Watchers points for all of the recipes and generally espouses the Weight Watchers philosophy.  The recipes have some fairly complicated ingredient lists for the ordinary cook, but that’s often true of cookbooks.

The London Cookbook: Recipes from the Restaurants, Cafes,and Hole-in-the-Wall Gems of a Modern City is a trendy new cookbook.  Author Aleksandra Crapanzano got incredulous responses when she told them she was writing a book about the food scene in London; England doesn’t have a reputation for stellar food.  However, she says things have changed so much in the past twenty years, with chefs like Yotam Ottolenghi and Jamie Oliver raising the bar in London restaurants.  The book blends travel information with recipes for the home cook. 

Based in a very different part of the world, Deep Run Roots: Stories and Recipes from My Corner of the South is all about American Southern cooking.  Author Vivian Howard is the star of PBS’s A Chef’s Life and the owner of Chef and Farmer restaurant in Kinston, North Carolina.  She based her restaurant’s menu on what was available from local farmers, even when that meant she needed to be creative with an overabundance of sweet potatoes and blueberries.  This cookbook combines her recipes with stories of growing up in Deep Run, North Carolina, and training as a chef in New York City.

Another PBS show, America’s Test Kitchen, has a new cookbook out called Bread Illustrated: A Step-by-Step Guide to Achieving Bakery-Quality Results at Home. Baking bread can be intimidating, but this cookbook breaks the process down into steps accompanied by six to sixteen color photos per lesson.  Recipes range from easy to advanced.

Another one for the bakers, Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life teaches techniques that can challenge beginners. Author Kate McDermott teaches Pie Camps across the country.  People describe her as a pie guru who teaches life lessons like peace and forgiveness along with crust techniques.  Personally, I’ve been more peaceful when making pies since I started using lard, and it sounds like some of McDermott’s recipes go that way, too. This book is Overdrive's Big Library Read through March 30th, so you can check out the e-book no matter how many other people already have it checked out right now.

Food, glorious food!  Whether you cook it for your family or donate it to people in need in our community, food is a great way to show you care. 

Friday, March 17, 2017

What If?

By Jan Pease
Sometimes books are written in answer to the question “what if?”  Randall Munroe, a former NASA employee and blogger published a book titled, “What If: Serious Scientific Answers to Absurd Hypothetical Question.” His blog is called, and includes very funny web comics and answers to silly questions asked by real readers.  An example is, "Would a toaster still work in a freezer?"The book is available here at Litchfield library and several other libraries in Pioneerland Library System. The answer is, yes, but it might make the freezer overheat, since toasters toast at about 600 degrees Fahrenheit.

I’m not sure what got me on that tangent, but I think Liz Braswell is to blame.  She has a degree in Egyptology and spent ten years producing video games.  She sounds like the kind of quirky person I would like to have as a friend.  Her new books are what she calls “Twisted Tales” as they are Disney stories with an unusual twist.  For example, what if Belle’s mother was the one who cursed the beast?  How would that change “Beauty and the Beast?”  What if Aladdin had never found the lamp?  Watch for the titles “A Whole New World,” and “As Old as Time,” both published by Disney Press.

Nicholas Gannon asks “Have you ever wanted to hold a piece of the impossible?”  His new book, “The Doldrums,” itself looks like an impossible thing.  This is a long book (340 pages) with beautiful, full-color illustrations, which are rare in “chapter books.”  Three friends, Archer, Adelaide, and Oliver try to go on an adventure which never quite gets off the ground.  This is a slow moving book that would be a perfect companion for a rainy, cold day this spring.

What do you get when your writing team consists of a former NFL star defensive player with a degree in English and a law degree plus a legendary All Star and World Series baseball player?  It means your writing team is Tim Green and Derek Jeter. They have collaborated on a new book, “Baseball Genius,” that looks like the start of a new series featuring a character that has the ability to tell what pitch a pitcher will throw.  The second book in the series is “Baseball Genius #2: Double Play.”  I’m sure that Tim Green’s writing ability added to Derek Jeter’s character and baseball knowledge will be a winning combination. 

Look for beautiful new copies of Lois Lowry’s book, “Number the Stars,” and E.L. Konisburg’s book, “From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.”  Copies of these books had been loved to death, so we purchased replacements.  We also replaced the first four Nancy Drew mysteries, and the first four Hardy Boys Mysteries.  To read more books in those series, please request them through the Pioneerland Library catalog. 

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

Travel to a different time in a book

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Do you like to go back in time when you read a novel?  Or to learn your history through a good story?  My very favorite way to learn about history is through musicals like Hamilton and Les Misérables, but I enjoy reading historical fiction, too.  Of course, some authors base their historical fiction on factual events and people, while others create stories and characters that simply take place in a different time.  Any author of historical fiction writes it best when they’ve done their research and have a solid sense of the time period of their story, whether that’s ancient times or the 20th century.  Our library has a huge range of historical fiction, including these novels that have recently been added to our collection.

The Dangerous Ladies Affair by Marcia Muller and Bill Pronzini is a historical mystery.  This is book five in the Carpenter and Quincannon series about a pair of fictional detectives.  The series is set in 1890s San Francisco, with echoes of the Sherlock Holmes stories which were written during that era. In this installment, Sabina and John need to stop an extortion scheme and solve a locked room murder.

Tracie Peterson has a new book out with co-author Kimberley Woodhouse: In the Shadow of Denali.  This Christian fiction novel launches a new series called The Heart of Alaska.  A young woman works as a cook in the new hotel near Mt. McKinley, while her father works as a wilderness guide.  A young man arrives to become an apprentice guide, but his real goal is to investigate his father’s death.  The two find romance as they work together to find answers on the frontier in the early 1900s. 

Lillian Boxfish Takes a Walk tells the life story of an 85-year-old woman as she walks to a party in New York City in 1984.  Based on a real person with a different name, Lillian was the top woman in advertising in the 1930s.  As she meets people from all walks of life along her way, the quick-witted Lillian reflects on her exciting and difficult life and the ways that the city has changed from the Jazz Age to the ‘80s.  Book critics like this one.

W.E.B. Griffin’s newest novel, Curtain of Death, features the kidnapping of two Women’s Army Corps members in Munich in 1946.  One of them works for the Directorate of Central Intelligence, and she kills the Soviet agents who kidnap her, causing repercussions for her agency.  This series, Clandestine Operations, is co-written with William E. Butterworth, and it features the creation of the Central Intelligence Agency and the beginning of the Cold War.

Fans of Regency romance may enjoy Someone to Love by Mary Balogh.  The Earl of Riverdale has died, leaving his fortune to the daughter no one knew he had.  Anna grew up in an orphanage in Bath, knowing nothing of her family, and now she must learn to be a lady, while dealing with the resentments of her newfound relatives and the attentions of a duke. 

The One Man by Andrew Gross is a thriller about an attempt to free a man imprisoned in Auschwitz.  A physics professor has been taken there, and the Nazis have burned his papers, leaving him as one of only two people in the world with the knowledge contained in them.  A man with a desk job working in intelligence in Washington, D.C., is sent on the mission. 

Historical fiction can take the form of romance, mystery, fantasy, horror, Christian fiction, or even comics.  Talk to our staff and we will be glad to help you find a book set in a time period you enjoy.