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, August 10, 2018

Reading Takes You to Every Era

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

With the kids this summer, we’ve been talking about how “Reading Takes You Everywhere,” our summer reading theme, and that includes other times in history.  It’s true for adults, too: getting wrapped up in a story can feel as though you’ve traveled through time.  A number of new historical fiction titles at the Litchfield Library can carry you to different eras.

Love and Other Consolation Prizes is a new-ish novel by Jamie Ford, the author of Hotel on the Corner of Bitter and Sweet.  A twelve-year-old half-Chinese boy named Ernest is a charity student at a boarding school when, to his surprise, he is raffled off at the 1909 World’s Fair.  The raffle winner is the madam of a high-class brothel, where he becomes the houseboy and befriends the madam’s daughter and the scullery maid.  Returning to another World’s Fair in 1962, he looks back on the path his life took.  Surprisingly, this novel is inspired by a true story.

The Hamilton craze has led to an interest in Alexander Hamilton’s wife, Elizabeth Schuyler Hamilton.  She was a force in her own right, co-founding the first private orphanage in New York City, which exists to this day as a family services agency.  The new novel My Dear Hamilton: A Novel of Eliza Schuyler Hamilton was written by Stephanie Dray and Laura Kamoie, based on letters and other original documents.  This popular biographical novel allows the reader to dive into founding mother Eliza’s life and the early days of America, from the Revolutionary War and meeting Alexander to her many active years of widowhood, preserving his legacy and advocating for causes important to her. 

Set during the Civil War, A Hope Divided is the second book in Alyssa Cole’s Loyal League series.  This historical romance features a free African-American woman who is a scientist and a spy, quietly helping with coded letters about anti-Rebel uprisings, treating Union prisoners, and assisting people who are fleeing the South.  When the Confederate Home Guard takes over her home, she and an escaped prisoner of war hiding in her laboratory have to get away through the Underground Railroad.  Readers enjoy learning about little-known aspects of the Civil War included in Cole’s books.

Mysteries are often set in historical time periods.  Catherine Lloyd’s Death Comes to the School is set in 1820.  This is the fifth book in the Kurland St. Mary mystery series, set in an English village.  Major Sir Robert and his wife Lucy have settled into village life, but their three-year marriage is less comfortable, and Lucy is unhappy that she is not yet a mother.  Lucy and others receive anonymous letters accusing them of witchcraft, and then the local schoolteacher is murdered.  Lucy steps in as a substitute, hoping to solve the mystery.

The Whispering City: Barcelona 1952 by Sara Moliner was first published in Spain.  This historical thriller is set during the height of General Franco’s fascist government, in a city full of rumors and violence.  A wealthy socialite is found murdered, and a young journalist is given the privilege of accompanying the police inspector handling the investigation.  But the journalist soon realizes that the clues don’t add up, and she and her scholarly cousin find themselves in danger when they become too curious. 

Whether you enjoy reading romance, mysteries, thrillers, or even fantasy novels, you can find books set in different eras of history.  Historical fiction can help us learn more about the past and broaden our perspective on the human experience. 

Friday, August 3, 2018

Inspiration for For Future Scientists

By Jan Pease

I’m writing this on Friday afternoon the 3rd with my head and heart still full from our activity this morning. Belinda Jensen came out to Meeker County today and talked about her book series, “Bel the Weather Girl,” and encouraged kids to act on their interest in science.  She will return to our county Monday, August 13, visiting Cosmos and Grove City at 10:00 and 12:30.  I counted about 155 people in our children’s department, and spied Mayor Keith Johnson and Representative Dean Urdahl in the crowd. I really appreciate the support of our elected officials.   The Dassel library reported an even larger crowd.  If you can, drive down to Cosmos or over to Grove City for this marvelous program.

One of the happiest books of this year is “Saving Fiona,” by Thane Maynard, the Director of the Cincinnati Zoo and Botanical Garden.  Fiona is a baby hippo born January 24, 2017, two months early.  The story of her first year of life is truly amazing, and the pictures that accompany the story are tremendous.  No one had ever successfully saved a premature hippo, so Fiona was much more than a cute story.  Team Fiona learned many life-saving techniques as they brought this fragile baby to health.

I think one of the most interesting science books of the year is “The Orca Scientists,” by Kim Perez Valice.   Stunning photography and interesting text combine to make an informative book.  I didn’t
know that whale pods in different areas us different whale “dialects,” just one small fact from this great book.

Each time I read a story about dinosaurs in story time, a 4 year old expert is ready to correct me.  “The Dinosaur Expert,” by Margaret McNamara and G. Brian Karas, is a sweet book about a non-interrupting dinosaur expert.  Kimmy, who knows a lot about dinosaurs, shares some of her   She abruptly stops sharing when a boy says flatly that “girls aren’t scientists.”  Her wise teacher shows the class some of the contributions made by women paleontologists and saves the day. 
knowledge about fossils and dinosaurs.

“Stegothesaurus,” by Bridget Heos, is a hilarious dinosaur story about a unique breed of stegosaurus with a boundless vocabulary.  For example, his brother says, “Hot.”  His other brother says, “Hot.”  Stegothesaurus says, “Blazing, blistering, broiling.”  All is well until the stegothesaurus meets an Allothesaurus with an equally large vocabulary and very, very sharp teeth.

Do you know this nursery rhyme? “Jack B. Ninja! Jack, be quick! Jack, jump over the bamboo stick!”  No?  Well, that’s ok.  Jack B Ninja is a funny, funny book by Tim McCanna.  Ninjas beware!

One of my favorite author/illustrators is Chris Raschka.  His newest book, “New Shoes” captures the excitement and delight of going to the shoe store, being measured, and trying on shoes.  We never see the protagonist’s face, but it looks like she is wearing a dress, and her best friend’s name is Emma. 

There is something for everyone at the library!

Friday, July 27, 2018

DVDs for the Dog Days of Summer

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

I hope you’ve been out enjoying this lovely summer weather.  It’s bound to get hot again, though, and sometimes it’s nice to lie around indoors and watch a movie or a TV series.  The Litchfield library has a number of new DVDs for you to check out in the dog days of August.

Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert was aired on NBC on Easter Sunday, and now it’s on DVD.  It has been nominated for thirteen Emmy awards.  This was a live, concert-like version of the musical, with an enthusiastic audience that helped add to the show’s theme of celebrity.  Brandon Victor Dixon gave an exceptional performance as Judas, showing his stage prowess in both acting and singing. Sara Bareilles was also outstanding as Mary Magdalene.  John Legend’s acting disappointed some viewers, but the pop singer certainly sang it well.  If you like musicals but can’t stand to watch the dated 1973 movie version (I've tried - I just can't), I’d encourage you to try watching this one.  My daughters and I greatly enjoyed it, and now I listen to the soundtrack regularly.

The Magicians is a fantasy television show based on the book series by Lev Grossman.  It airs on Syfy.  Our library just added the third season, but you can start at the beginning since we have all three.  The concept is as if Hogwarts from the Harry Potter books were a college, with all of the rowdy behavior that can go along with that.  Quentin is an ordinary grad student who is a lifelong fan of a series of books that bear a strong resemblance to the Chronicles of Narnia, and when he is accepted to the secret, magical Brakebills University, he discovers how real (and dangerous) those books are.  Despite the echoes of Narnia and Harry Potter, this is definitely a show for adults who don’t mind an edgy story.

Ready Player One is the movie adaptation of the sci fi novel by Ernest Cline.  In the near future, the world is a bleak place, so people spend much of their time in the virtual world called the OASIS.  When the creator of OASIS dies, he leaves behind clues to a puzzle, and the person who solves it will inherit his fortune and control of the OASIS.  Poverty-stricken orphan Wade attempts to beat the corporate forces also trying for the prize, while he connects with others in the virtual world.  When I watched this movie, I was afraid at the beginning that it was only going to be about playing video games, which I don’t do.  But the plot is broader and more entertaining than that, although the movie is as fast-paced and visually-busy as a video game. 

Chappaquiddick is a new movie about an infamous event in the life of Ted Kennedy: the drowning of political strategist Mary Jo Kopechne that happened when Kennedy drove off a bridge in 1969.  Based on accounts documented in the investigation of Kopechne’s death, the movie examines not only the events but the people involved.  Critics mostly liked it as a character study and a look at how powerful people influence public opinion.

Other new DVDs  you can check out at the Litchfield library include Final Portrait, a Geoffrey Rush movie about a portrait artist in the ‘60s, Civilizations, a PBS documentary series about the history of art, Wes Anderson’s  stop-motion animated Isle of Dogs about a group of quarantined dogs, and the popular religious film, Paul, Apostle of Christ.  

Friday, July 20, 2018

The Last Days of Summer

By Jan Pease

It may be due to my age, but this summer seems to speed along even more quickly than normal.  We have only  four more Friday mornings for children’s programming, and I’m excited about each one.

On Friday, July 27th at 10:00, we will celebrate summer festivals and fireworks with Eric Carle’s wonderful book, the Very Lonely Firefly.  A patron mentioned seeing fireflies this summer, so this
might be a very timely book. We have scratch off art paper for our project and will make colorful fireflies or fireworks drawings.

On August 3, at 10:00, we are very pleased to welcome Belinda Jensen to the library.  Ms. Jensen encourages children, especially girls, to get involved with science.  Her book series, “Bel the Weather Girl” explains weather so children can understand.   Since Minnesota weather can be scary, I recommend her series both for kids who are interested in science and for kids who need to know how weather works.

On August 10th at 10:00, the “One Vegetable, One Community” folks will visit the library to talk about this year’s vegetable, beets.   They always present a fun, informative program.   This story time is a lot more interesting than it sounds, in case you’re wondering about a story time about beets. 

On August 17th at 10:00, the Minnesota Zoomobile will visit.  I’m really looking forward to their visit.  They bring interesting, small creatures.  I keep hoping for visit from a Siberian tiger or Russian 

bear, but will just have to have a day at the zoo for myself.

That will wrap up our children’s programming for the summer, except for Brickheads, the Lego building time, which gets together every Thursday, and Beginner Book Club, August 16th at 3 p.m.   The book to read for for book club is Roald Dahl’s book, “George’s Marvelous Medicine,” and copies are available at the front desk.

Our full Story Hour program will begin again with Toddler Time on September 5th and Preschool Story Time on September 7th.

Thanks to the all of the parents, grandparents and caregivers who bring their little ones to library programs.  It has been a wonderful summer.

Beach Reads for Relaxing Days

by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

Summer is the season of beach reads.  So what is a beach read?  It depends on who you ask, but it’s generally a fun, not-too-heavy or intellectual book.  It could be a romance or a thriller, often something exciting that keeps readers turning the pages, or something sweet and lightweight.  Our library has plenty of choices for something entertaining to read on the patio or on your vacation.

What better way to start than with a book with “beach” in the title?  Beach House Reunion by Mary Alice Monroe is the fifth in her “Beach House” series.  Monroe’s books are set in coastal South Carolina, and her stories always feature wildlife somehow.  Sea turtles play a key part in this series.  Beach House Reunion brings together three generations of a family at the cottage to face some destructive family patterns and find hope for moving forward.  The descriptions I read from the book made me want to sit next to Lake Superior and feel the peace that comes from being next to a huge body of water.

For another beach setting to visit in your imagination, look for The Perfect Couple by Elin Hilderbrand, which is set on Nantucket Island.  The maid of honor’s body is discovered in Nantucket Harbor hours before the extravagant wedding of a prominent couple, and the story turns into a murder mystery, with flashbacks to the wedding preparations.  Everyone has their secrets.  Although some characters from Hilderbrand’s previous books make appearances, this one stands alone.

Susan Wiggs is a very popular author, sometimes writing romances and sometimes general fiction.  Her new book is Between You & Me.  Caleb has returned to Amish life to raise his orphaned niece and nephew.  Reese is an emergency room doctor expected to live up to her parents’ plans for her.  They meet when she treats his nephew, and each learns about the other’s world and the restricting expectations they both live with. 

If you like spy thrillers, London Rules by Mick Herron could be just the thing, especially if you also like some humor.  This is the fifth book in the Slough House series about maverick British spies, some of whom have been relegated to dull desk jobs. Herron’s style is often compared to John Le Carré.  In this novel, political shenanigans and a couple of odd terrorist attacks have the MI5 agents breaking the rules. 

For some summertime chills, reach for the new Stephen King, The Outsider, a mixture of mystery and horror.  A well-liked, respectable man is arrested for a terrible crime because of eyewitness, fingerprint, and DNA evidence.  But he has evidence that he wasn’t there when the crime was committed.  How can both things be true?  This novel is being compared to King’s classic It but relevant for our current era.

Some other new books in our collection that sound promising as summer reads are Before and Again by domestic fiction novelist Barbara Delinsky, By Invitation Only by South Carolina author Dorothea Benton Frank, The Cast by the reliably popular Danielle Steel, Convenience Store Woman by Japanese author Sayaka Murata, and Lying in Wait by Irish author Liz Nugent. Take some time this summer to relax and settle in with a fun book.

Friday, July 6, 2018

Oh What a Beautiful Summer!

By Jan Pease

“The corn is as high as an elephant’s eye!”  Well, it’s more than knee high, anyway.  It’s high summer, and a hot day might be a great time to sit down with a picture book.

I checked out a new book one day this week.  The title is “This is a Taco!”  No, the title really is “This is a Squirrel” with the word, “squirrel,” crossed out in red marker and the word, “Taco” written in.      Andrew Cangelose wrote this very funny story about editing gone wild as the squirrel makes changes in “his” book.

Doreen Cronin continues her funny series about the farmer and his talented cows, duck, chicken and pigs in her new book, “Click Clack Quack to School.”   I don’t think the farm animals are quite ready for school, although they did practice standing in line and using their inside voices. 

Karma Wilson is one of my favorite authors.  Her new, very funny book, is about a dog named Doug who likes to dig. Doug digs huge holes and tunnels and eventually digs his way into the White House.  “A Dog Named Doug” joins Ms. Wilson’s other picture books about Bear and his friends.  Ms. Wilson says about her work, “Knowledge comes through words, so for me literacy is the foundation of education, and it bears the fruit of intelligent and empathetic citizens of this world and humanity.” I just knew I liked her!

Brenda Child is professor of American Studies at the University of Minnesota.  The Minnesota Historical Press has just published her bilingual book, “Bowwow Powwow.”  Gordon Jourdain translated the story into Ojibwe, and Jonathan Thunder illustrated this gorgeous book that captures the sights, sounds, and dreams of a pow wow.  This book is the story of Windy Girl who has an active imagination, tells stories and dreams vivid dreams.  She goes to a powwow with Uncle, sees the dancers and listens to the singers.  Then she falls asleep under the stars and dreams the entire event, from the Grand Entry through the fancy dancing.  But all of the participants are dogs! 

 Emily MacLachlan Charest and her mom, Patricia MacLachlan often write together, and their new book, “Little Robot Alone,” is a sweet story that would be perfect for bedtime. In this story a lonely
little robot decides to solve his loneliness problem with ingenuity and hard work.

If  your little nature lover enjoys unusual animals, check out “Look at Me!: How to Attract Attention in the Animal World.”  Male animals seem to go through the most just to catch the eye of a female.  Steve Jenkins and Robin Page achieve their usual standard of perfection.  I watched a nature program that featured small hummingbirds with a two ridiculous tail appendages which were so heavy the poor bird had to perch most of the time.  He simply couldn’t hover for long.  But it would attract attention!

A boy at story time today told me about the bedtime story they read in their tent while camping at Grandma’s farm.  What a wonderful memory they made! See you at the library!