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

Saturday, February 18, 2017

Closed for Presidents' Day

We will be closed on Monday, February 20, in observance of Presidents' Day.

Friday, February 17, 2017

This and That and In Between

 By Jan Pease


If I were to write a book, it would probably be fairly generic.  I’d want everyone to like it, so it might be a little bit bland.  These books are exactly the opposite.  They are all very different and will each appeal to just the right child.

I would not be bold enough to publish the BabyLit series by Jane Adams.  The blurb on the cover says “BabyLit is a fashionable way to introduce your child to the world of classic literature.”  Watch for Little Master Shakespeare, “A Midsummer Night’s Dream: a Fairies Primer,” and  Little Master Homer  “The Odyssey: a Monster Primer,”  the two newest titles we have received.

Graeme Base is another author/illustrator whose books are unique and large.   His newest book,   “Birds . . . Fly” is a unique board book with heavy pages that fold out, giving room for wider, more involved illustrations.    It’s about the size of a regular board book but contains so much more. 

“Amelia Who Could Fly,” imagines Amelia Earhart as a child who loved to imagine that she could fly.  This is a lovely picture book biography that is suitable for very young children.  Young children need heroes, too!

Jane Yolen has continued her “How Do Dinosaurs” series with “How do Dinosaurs Choose Their Pets?”  Dinosaur life gets more interesting with each book.  The book cover features a large triceratops carrying a tiger under his arm.  This is a very funny discussion of how to choose the perfect pet. 

 Lois Ehlert’s love poem, “Heart 2 Heart” was released just in time for Valentine’s Day.  This sweet book uses bright pictures of fruits and vegetables and lower case letters to make puns.  For example, “I’ve [bean] thinking of [u].”  The puzzles make more sense if you share this book with someone you love and read it aloud. 

Finally, I must tell you about one of my new favorites, “This & That,” which we enjoyed at story hour a week or so ago.  Written by one of my favorite authors, Mem Fox, “This & That” is one of those perfect books that have the right text with just the right pictures.  Mem Fox says, “Writing a picture book is like writing 'War and Peace' in haiku.”  

These interesting picture books are waiting for you at Litchfield Public Library.  See you there!


Friday, February 10, 2017

Chris Pine, cartoons, and true stories: Oscar nominated movies at the library

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Movie awards season gets people intrigued about some of the new movies available at the library.  Most often the top contenders come out at the end of the year as Oscar bait, so of course there are always quite a few that we don’t have yet.  Following are movies up for this year’s Academy Awards that you can check out now at the library.

Hell or High Water is a Western thriller set in Texas.  Chris Pine and Jeff Bridges star in this movie about brothers that get involved in a series of thefts in a desperate attempt to save their family farm from foreclosure.  Besides being up for a best picture Oscar, this film has nominations for original screenplay and editing, as well as a best supporting actor nomination for Bridges. 

Viggo Mortensen is nominated for best actor for the movie Captain Fantastic.  The title might make you guess it’s a superhero movie, but it is not.  Mortensen plays a devoted father who has been raising his six children in isolation in the woods, dedicating himself to turning them into extraordinary adults.  But when a tragedy happens, they are forced to leave the forest and interact with the outside world, which causes him to question what it means to be a parent. 

Florence Foster Jenkins is based on the true story of a New York heiress who believed she had a beautiful singing voice, when in reality she was terrible.  Her husband was determined to protect her from the truth, even when she staged a huge concert at Carnegie Hall in her pursuit of becoming a great opera singer.  Meryl Streep is nominated for a best actress Oscar for playing Florence, and the film is also nominated for best costume design.

Kubo and the Two Strings is nominated for best animated feature film.  Kubo is a young boy living a peaceful life in a seaside village until a spirit from the past comes after him.  To survive, Kubo must find a magical suit of armor once worn by his late father, a legendary samurai.  A cast including Charlize Theron, Ralph Fiennes, Matthew McConaughey, and George Takei voice the characters.

Also nominated for best animated feature, Zootopia tells the story of the first bunny cop in a city of anthropomorphic animals.  The tougher animals don’t take Officer Judy Hopps seriously, but she befriends a scam-artist fox in order to solve a case that involves top levels of Zootopia’s government.  This cast includes Ginnifer Goodwin, Jason Bateman, and Idris Elba. 

A Man Called Ove is nominated for best foreign language film.  Based on the bestselling book by the same name, this Swedish film features a grumpy old man who spends his time enforcing neighborhood rules, visiting his wife’s grave, and giving up on life until a young family moves in next door.  This movie is also nominated for the makeup and hairstyling award. 

Also nominated for makeup and hairstyling is Star Trek:Beyond.  Following the rebooted adventures of Captain Kirk as played by Chris Pine, this movie finds the crew of the starship Enterprise exploring uncharted space and finding a new enemy that endangers the Federation.  I thought that the best scene of this movie involved some “classical” music as a weapon.

Among other nominated movies the Litchfield library currently offers are Suicide Squad, the DC Comics antihero movie; Hail, Caesar!, the Coen brothers send-up of the golden era of Hollywood, starring George Clooney; Sully, the Tom Hanks movie about the “Miracle on the Hudson” jet landing; Disney’s live-action The Jungle Book; and the offbeat dystopian film The Lobster

My favorite Oscar-nominated movie this year is Rogue One: A Star Wars Story.  I’m sure many of you will enjoy that movie and others coming out on DVD later this year when we add them to the library’s collection.  

Friday, February 3, 2017

We're All in This Together

By Jan Pease

 If you follow social media, the recent decisions made by the White House are being discussed everywhere.    I just can’t understand the anger being expressed.  Most of us can trace our ancestry to some brave soul who came to America for a new life.  Unless we are Native Americans, who comprise less than 1% of the population in Litchfield according to the 2010 census, we all came from somewhere.  I hope that cool heads can prevail here and that we will be able to welcome people who are willing to risk their lives to get here. see

Libraries have been part of the American immigrant experience for more than 100 years.  The American Library Association formed The Committee on Work with the Foreign Born in 1918.  Andrew Carnegie immigrated to America from Scotland at the age of 13.  He was an avid reader who educated himself through books.  In later life he donated funds to establish more than 2800 libraries.  An interactive website about his life can be found at

Here are some books that will help children learn more about the immigrant experience.  A new book by Sara Weeks, “Save Me a Seat” looks at middle school through the eyes of Joe, an American boy and Ravi, the “new boy” from India.   School Library Journal said of this book, “The phrase "save me a seat" is a life preserver. Four words that can make a kid feel safe in a sea of strangers.” 

“Lucy and Linh,”  by Alice Pung, tells an immigrant story, but us set in Australia.  We would call the school a private school and Lucy, a newcomer to
Australia, doesn’t fit in.  The private school set in Australia story takes this a step farther that the usual “Mean Girls” story.

Jamie Lee Curtis who is famous for acting and writing, has written a new children’s book, “This is Me: a story of who we are and where we came from.”    She asks the question, “If you had to pack a suitcase and go somewhere unknown, what would you pack, knowing you can never go back?”   A small suitcase pops up in  the back of the book, to help a child imagine what it would be like to pack and leave for a new life.

More than 35 ago my college roommate told me about her experience as they were deported from a country they had lived in as missionaries.  They left so much behind, knowing that they could never go back. She had none of the usual childhood treasures some of us keep. I look at my possessions, and try to imagine what would have to be in that suitcase: a few pictures, my grandmother’s necklace, my other grandmother’s ring, a lock of a baby’s hair. (Photo is my grandmother Emma wearing "our" necklace for her wedding picture. I have Grandpa Joe's nose!)  

I’m grateful that I can live in beautiful Litchfield.  My parents moved here in 1974, and it feels like home.  We have a beautiful library that is proof of our community’s interest in the common good.  See you at the library!

Thursday, February 2, 2017

What should I read this winter?

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

In January we’ve noticed a big increase in the number of books being ordered by our patrons compared to the time around Christmas.  This is a good time of year to read, with cold weather and not as much to do.  I thought I’d take a look at the books that made more than one of the best-of-2016 lists this past month, as well as our library’s most popular books of 2016, to give you some ideas about what to read now.

The book that seems to be on every magazine and newspaper list is The Underground Railroad by Colson Whitehead.  It won the 2016 National Book Award for Fiction.  This book is unique in being an imaginative take on the historical Underground Railroad.  In the novel, the railroad is a literal network of trains under the ground.  The main character, Cora, is a slave trying to escape while a slave catcher pursues her.  The book has been compared to Gulliver’s Travels in the way Cora encounters different worlds at her different stops, traveling through time as well as space.  This book has been in high demand in our library system.

Another book that’s been praised widely is The Nix by Nathan Hill.  This novel tells the story of a mother and son, as it satirizes our media culture.  A failed writer gets the chance to write a book about the mother who abandoned him when he was a child, digging into the facts of her life after she has committed a crime against a politician which has shocked the nation.  Reviewers describe it as both funny and melancholy.  This one hasn’t gotten as much attention locally, so you won’t have trouble getting your hands on a copy. 

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi has been a bestselling memoir and a fixture on those best-of lists.  Kalanithi was a 36-year-old new father who had nearly completed his training as a neurosurgeon when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  In his memoir, he wrestles with what happens when one no longer has a future: when life is not about climbing a ladder to goals, but about living right now.  Entertainment Weekly said that the book, like the author’s life, ended much too early. This one is popular in our library system.

We just got a list of the items checked out the most in Pioneerland Library System in 2016.  The number one spot belongs to the laptops!  Across the system, laptops to check out for use in the library are quite popular. 

When you look at books alone, the one that was checked out the most in Pioneerland was Extreme Prey by John Sandford.  This is the 26th book in the Prey thriller series, set in Minnesota.  This title was checked out 389 times, counting all of the copies but not the large print or audiobook versions, which were also very popular.

The remaining books in the top ten for Pioneerland in 2016 were as follows:
2. 15th Affair by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
3. The Obsession by Nora Roberts
4. The Last Mile by David Baldacci
5. A Girl’s Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber
6. The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
7. See Me by Nicholas Sparks
8. The Bitter Season by Tami Hoag
9. Most Wanted by Lisa Scottoline
10. Off the Grid by C.J. Box

Based on this list, it appears your neighbors like mystery/suspense and romance novels, as well as nationally best-selling authors.  If you do, too, or if you like something entirely different, stop at the library to stock up for these wintry days.

Saturday, January 14, 2017

What is So Special About January 19?

By Jan Pease

Memory is an uncertain thing, but I can tell you exactly what I was doing the evening of January 19, 1984.  My husband was watching “Hill Street Blues” and I was very, very busy. 

Having new books in January is also an uncertain thing, as we end the 2016 book orders and eventually order the 2017 books.  But some of the last books ordered in 2016 have arrived, just in time for the cold snap.  During the last month of collection development I ordered books recommended on various “best of” lists and filled in some series that are popular. 

One of those series is “The Lunar Chronicles,” by Marissa Meyer.  Ms. Meyer uses elements from famous fairy tales and somehow mixes in cyborgs and other steam punk and sci fi tropes.  But it works.  In “Scarlet,” the main character’s grandmother has been kidnapped (think, “Little Red Riding Hood”) and Scarlet receives help from an unlikely source: Wolf, a street fighter.    The cyborg from the first novel of the Lunar Chronicles, “Cinder,” is also a character in this book. The cyborg is  notable for having a glass leg instead of a glass slipper.  Interesting concept.

“Hamster Princess,” the series by Ursula Vernon, continues with the book, “Hamster Princess: Of Mice and Magic.”   The “Hamster Princess” books are heavily illustrated, making them almost graphic novels.  “Of Mice and Magic” may just remind you of the fairy tale “The Twelve Dancing

“If the Magic Fits” is the first book of the “100 Dresses” series by Susan Maupin Schmid.  Our heroine, named Darling Dimple, finds a closet filled with 100 old dresses that are magic.  This book is a little long for its audience, but I think elementary aged children will enjoy it.

“A Guide to the Other Side,” by Robert Imfeld, is a book I purchased after re-examining reviews.  I don’t really enjoy books about  spirits and mediums, perhaps because during my childhood a family member became very involved in such things.  Mr. Imfeld’s book is very well-written and is just creepy and spooky enough for 9-12 year olds who enjoy being a little bit scared. 

Finally, “The Haunted House Project,” by Tricia Clasen, is a book that presents itself as a ghost story.  Andie is thirteen, lives with her older sister and their father, and their family is falling apart. Her mother died and her father is dealing with grief by gambling.  Sometimes there isn’t food in the house.  Andie decides to draw attention to their problems by making it look like their mom is trying to contact them from “the other side.”  It’s an unusual solution to the family problems, but at the end of the book, Andie says, “maybe we needed to believe in her ghost before we could finally stop feeling haunted.”    This is another book I re-examined after missing it at first.  People and books should have second chances, don’t you think?

By the way, on January 19, 1984, I was busy having our daughter Becca.  Seems like only yesterday.  See you at the library!

Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Your Winter Getaway

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian 

January is here, and so is our annual adult winter reading program.  The theme this year is “Book Your Winter Getaway.” 

When you sign up, you will receive a blue book bag, a bookmark, six book review forms, and a punch card for keeping track of the number of book reviews you have turned in.

The goal is to read six books by the end of March.  When you have turned in all six book reviews, you can choose a prize: a Book Your Winter Getaway mug, an adult coloring book, a metal bookmark, a stylus pen, or an extra-large Hershey bar, while supplies last.  You will also be entered into a drawing for gift certificates to local businesses, sponsored by the Friends of the Litchfield Public Library.

So what to read to get away from Minnesota winter?

Would you like a holiday in France?  Martin Walker has come out with a new Bruno, Chief of Police novel, titled Fatal Pursuit.  These mysteries are set in the south of France, with this one bringing Bruno a little romance as he works to solve two murders during the annual fete in St. Denis. 

Maybe you’d like to run away to Australia.  A Few Right Thinking Men is a mystery by Sulari Gentill set during the Depression.   Young gentleman painter Rowland Sinclair takes up an investigation when his uncle is killed and he believes the police are pursuing the wrong leads.  Many books are set during the Great Depression, but seeing that era in Australia is unusual.  The first in a planned series of seven, this novel is recommended for fans of Miss Phryne Fisher, Maisie Dobbs, and Lord Peter Wimsey.   

For a trip to Italy, you could pick up A Voice in the Night by Andrea Camilleri.  This Inspector Montalbano mystery finds the inspector investigating a basic supermarket robbery that turns into a more complicated case with two possible murders.  Is it about political power and the mafia?  Maybe you won’t feel like getting away to Sicily if you read this one, but Camilleri’s books are known for their humor, which is its own kind of escape. 

Michael Connelly’s Harry Bosch mysteries are set in Los Angeles.  The newest is The Wrong Side of Goodbye.  Now a private investigator who doesn’t need to advertise, Bosch is hired by a dying billionaire who wants to find out if he has an heir.  His great love when he was young was a Mexican girl who disappeared while she was pregnant.  Reviewers say this novel is Connelly at his best.

If you’d like a nonfiction escape, you could do some planning for spring with the new book Gardening for Butterflies: How You Can Attract and Protect Beautiful, Beneficial Insects by the Xerces Society.  The book explains how to choose plants and design a butterfly garden you can enjoy this summer.

Another kind of nonfiction escape, The Wonder Trail: True Stories from Los Angeles to the End of the World is a travel memoir.  Steve Hely, a writer for the television show “The Office”, backpacked to the southern tip of South America.  This is a travelogue that focuses on the positive and the humorous, without ignoring the challenges that people in Central and South America face.

Books can take us to places and times that are completely different from where we really are.  Get away this winter by picking up a good book.