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Litchfield MN 55355

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Friday, March 30, 2012

Minnesota Book Awards Celebrate Children's Books, too!

By Jan Pease


The list of finalists for the 24th annual Minnesota Book Awards also includes great books for children and young adults. Here are the finalists for the Children’s Literature award, sponsored by Books for Africa.

“BookSpeak! Poems About Books,” was written by Laura Purdie Salas, who says on her web page, “I love living in Minnesota and writing about anything that catches my interest. I get lots of ideas from my daughters, Annabelle and Maddie, and my supportive husband, Randy. It's never the ideas they suggest I write about; it's the funny things they do that get my brain moving.” “In BookSpeak!, 21 wild, wacky, and winsome poems showcase the magic on a single bookshelf. Characters plead for sequels, book jackets strut their stuff and a raucous party starts when the lights go out at the bookstore!”

“Friends: True Stories of Extraordinary Animal Friendships,” written by Catherine Thimmesh, who stated on her website, “My ultimate dream was for a job that didn’t exist: an all-purpose idea-thinker-upper. (My dream was very specific: cool office with toys and gadgets, a chair that swiveled, and clients who paid me to solve their myriad problems with incredibly creative solutions.) I’ve lived my whole life in, or around, Minneapolis, Minnesota. I currently live in Eden Prairie, Minnesota near a small lake with my husband and two children (Jaimie, age 13, and Simon, 11). Writing is my full-time job and I love that I actually did end up being a professional idea-thinker- upper—though just not as I had originally imagined.”

“The Last Day of Kindergarten,” by Nancy Loewen was inspired by her own daughter’s love of Kindergarten and reluctance to leave it for first grade. On her website, Ms. Loewen says she “married (her husband) Bill in 1986. We have two children, Louis and Helena, both teenagers. We live in the Twin Cities with our dog, Dorie; two cats, Cyrus and Obi; and guinea pig, Freddie. My hobbies include reading, cooking, gardening, walking my dog, and playing Sudoku on my phone while I’m waiting in the car for my kids.”

“Swirl by Swirl: Spirals in Nature,” is by author Joyce Sidman. Her award-winning books include "Dark Emperor" (A Newbery Honor Book), “Song of the Water Boatman” and “Red Sings from Treetops” (both Caldecott Honor Books), “Butterfly Eyes” (Cybils Award), and “This Is Just to Say” (Claudia Lewis Poetry Award). She says on her website, “Even though I now live in Minnesota, I'm a Yankee at heart.”

I should thank each of these gifted writers for providing me with this article. Each author has a website that gives glimpses into her life and writing. When I am introduced to a new author, I use a search engine and type in the author’s name. Many authors now connect to their readers through their web pages, Facebook, Twitter, and blogs. Years ago, the only way to contact an author was through a publisher, which was iffy at best. Now direct communication is possible. I hope they don’t feel that we’re intruding, but I love to know that Catherine Thimmesh lives near a lake in Eden Prairie, or that Nancy Loewen has a guinea pig named Freddie.

Watch for the announcement of the winners of the Minnesota Book Awards April 14th. I’ll see you at the library!




Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Library now offers database of Independent Review articles

The Litchfield Library has gotten a subscription to a database that includes the past 12 years of the Litchfield Independent Review.  You can search for articles from August 2000 to the present, searching for words in the headline or anywhere in the article.  You can even choose a particular issue to browse.  It does not have any images, so you'll only find the articles.  You can access the Independent Review search here: http://infoweb.newsbank.com/signin/LitchfieldPublicLibrary/MLRB

The database also includes newspapers and news magazines from throughout the United States.  Access the entire database here: http://infoweb.newsbank.com/signin/LitchfieldPublicLibrary

If you use the database on the library computers, you can get right into it without signing in.  If you access the database from home, you will have to sign in with your library card. 

I believe our local library should offer access to our local publication.  I hope you'll find this a useful resource!

-- Beth Cronk

Friday, March 23, 2012

Find Minnesota's best new fiction at our library

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian


Last week I told you about the nominees for two of the nonfiction categories of the Minnesota Book Award. This week I’ll tell you about the fiction categories for adults.

In the novel and short story category, four books are nominated: In Caddis Wood by Mary Francois Rockcastle, The Law of Miracles and Other Stories by Gregory Blake Smith, The Long-Shining Waters by Danielle Sosin, and Merit Badges by Kevin Fenton. We have the Rockcastle and Sosin novels.

In Caddis Wood: A Novel is about a couple whose long marriage is in jeopardy. The story is told in alternating perspectives of husband and wife as they gather with their grown children at their cabin in Wisconsin. It reflects on the competing demands of love, family, and career, incorporating the woods around them as an essential part of their memories together. Rockcastle is the director of the Creative Writing Programs at Hamline University.

The Long-Shining Waters won the Milkweed National Fiction Prize in 2011. It tells the stories of three women who lived by Lake Superior at very different times. The first is an Ojibwe woman in 1622, the second a Norwegian immigrant in 1902, and the third a bar owner in 2000. Sosin says she wrote her debut novel to answer the question, “What is it about Lake Superior that makes it so powerful, and haunting and mysterious?”

The four novels nominated in the category of genre fiction are Big Wheat by Richard A. Thompson, The Bone House by Brian Freeman, Death of the Mantis by Michael Stanley, and Northwest Angle by William Kent Krueger. We have all of these books at our library.

Big Wheat: A Tale of Bindlestiffs and Blood is a murder mystery that takes place among the threshing industry of the plains in 1919. The main character Charlie witnesses a serial killer burying his latest victim in a harvested wheat field before he joins a traveling threshing crew. Soon both the killer and the law are after him as a witness and a suspect. Reviewers say that the history is as appealing as the mystery, as the book covers the time when threshing machines were replacing manual labor.

The Bone House is a modern mystery set in Wisconsin and Florida. A high school teacher loses his job in Door County over accusations of an affair with a student. A year later the student’s younger sister is found dead near where the teacher and his wife are vacationing. A detective works with the wife to solve the murder.

Death of the Mantis: A Detective Kubu Mystery is set in Botswana. Detective David “Kubu” Bengu investigates a series of murders that seem to be committed by a nomadic tribe. Kubu travels deep into the Kalahari, struggling to solve the mystery and to stay alive. Michael Stanley is the pen name of two retired professors, Michael Sears and Stanley Trollip. Sears lives in South Africa and Trollip divides his time between Minnesota and Africa.

Northwest Angle: A Novel is the latest in the Cork O’Connor series of mysteries. Cork and his daughter are on a houseboat vacation on Lake of the Woods when a violent storm strands them. They discover the body of a teenage girl who had been tortured and a baby boy who is still alive. Cork must solve the murder and the identity of the baby while protecting his own family from the killers.

If you’re a fiction reader, check out these titles to find some of the best fiction produced by Minnesota writers in the past year.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Find your favorite nonfiction nominees for the Minnesota Book Award

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian


The Minnesota Book Awards Gala is coming up on April 14th. You might have heard that Litchfield’s own Nancy Paddock is a finalist in the category of memoir and creative nonfiction. You might not know that Minnesotans are invited to vote for the Readers’ Choice Award, which can be given to any finalist for the awards. During the month of March, you can go to http://www.thefriends.org/ to see the titles that are up for all of the awards and cast your vote for your favorite. If you’d like to read some of them while there’s still a little time, you can find many at our library.

Nancy’s book A Song at Twilight of Alzheimer’s and Love: A Memoir has been praised by local readers and by national and regional reviewers for the beautiful writing and for the meaningful look at memories, the changing roles of parent and child, and the struggle to accept the heartbreak of losing parents.

Three books are up against Nancy’s in the memoir and creative nonfiction category: For Love of Lakes by Darby Nelson, The Last Deployment by Bronson Lemer, and Sheepish by Catherine Friend. We have two of them in our library, the titles by Nelson and Friend.

For Love of Lakes is a book of natural history, environmental science, human history, and appreciation of American lakes. Nelson is a retired professor and aquatic ecologist who has a message about our stewardship of this natural resource.

Sheepish: Two Women, Fifty Sheep, and Enough Wool to Save the Planet is by the author of Hit by a Farm. It’s a collection of stories about the author’s farm in southeastern Minnesota, her thoughts of giving up sheep farming, and the so-called fiber freaks who are the buyers of her product.

If you’re interested in reading some of the books nominated in the general nonfiction category, ones that are not in competition with Nancy’s book, you can check all of those out from our library.

In Fool Me Twice: Fighting the Assault on Science in America, author Shawn Lawrence Otto examines the devaluation of science at a time when knowledge of science is key to understanding many political issues.

In Punishing Race: A Continuing American Dilemma, University of Minnesota law professor Michael Tonry takes a critical look at the racial disparities in the criminal justice system. He proposes policy changes to bring about a more just society.

The book Trout Caviar: Recipes from a Northern Forager, by Brett Laidlaw, is a cookbook for eating locally and seasonally in Minnesota and Wisconsin. Laidlaw adds foraged foods to other sources of local foods he features: farmers’ markets, artisan producers, gardening, hunting, and fishing.

Vikings in the Attic: In Search of Nordic America, by Eric Dregni, is an exploration of Scandinavian culture and heritage in the Midwest. Dregni touches on everything from odd foods and traditions to serious political and social issues throughout the history of Swedes, Norwegians, Danes, and Finns in our region.

In addition to the two nonfiction categories, Minnesota Book Awards are given for genre fiction, novel and short story, poetry, young people’s literature, children’s literature, and books about Minnesota. I encourage you to go to thefriends.org to look through the entire list and find something that interests you.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Get Real! Nonfiction Titles For YOU

By Jan Pease


We just received a shipment of nonfiction books from several well-known publishers. I wish I could describe each colorful title, but don’t have space for each book.

Even though the Internet provides great information for students, it’s important to have sources for them in books. The “Enchantment of the World Series” is considered to be one of the best, and the library has begun collecting these, country by country. These editions are revised with updated websites. The back cover says, “It’s geography for a new generation, an invaluable resource for facts and figures, and a fascinating, highly visual introduction to the world’s countries.” I couldn’t say it better.

Could you tell me a Greek or Roman myth if you had to? Even Zeus and his affairs would be too much for me to recite. What about Egyptian myths? Children are usually fascinated by this ancient culture, especially with treasures in tombs, mummies, pyramids, and all that gold. While I’ve certainly heard of  “Isis and Osiris”, I would never be able to tell you the tale. How about “Isis and the Seven Scorpions?” Or “The Prince and the Sphinx?” We’re trying several books from the series, “Egyptian Myths,” written by Carl Meister. They make interesting reading, but practice the Egyptian names before you try to read them aloud!

We started using two sets of gorgeous concept books, “Colors All Around Us” and “Math Every Day” at story time. The children stood up in front of me as they got excited about books from both series, which are very interactive. These books will be available for checkout after we celebrate them at story hour.

Watch for books about the Titanic, as the 100th anniversary of the sinking of that great ship is coming up on April 12th. “Escaping Titanic, A Young Girl’s True Story of Survival,” “Explore Titanic,” and “Titanic: Disaster at Sea,” all provide information about the terrible disaster.

In an interesting series published by Cherry Lake publishing, “Real World Math,” readers learn how they can use their math skills to learn more about our world. Various natural disasters such as hurricanes, earthquakes, and droughts are featured. Readers are challenged to solve real world math challenges, an introduction to the dreaded “word problems” of my youth. Perhaps even I would be interested enough to try one of these math problems.

Finally, get out your dictionary and read “The Fairy Dogfather,” by Alexandra Day. A boy wants a fairy godfather, just like girls who have fairy godmothers. Unfortunately, he always has trouble with d’s and g’s, and so his note asks for a fairy dogfather. A large dog, who looks like a Rottweiler crossed with a St. Bernard, appears. He is dressed in a fedora and trench coat, smokes a cigar, and speaks like a cultured English gentleman. When the boy says, “You shouldn’t smoke. Don’t you know it’s very bad for you?” the fairy dogfather says, “The property of magic smoke and whether it is deleterious to a dogfather is outside your purview, kid.” Hence, the dictionary. However, on the endpapers, a glossary, “What is the Dogfather Saying?” is available for ready use.

These books, and more, are waiting for you at Litchfield Public Library. See you there!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Author Will Weaver to Visit Litchfield

by Mary Hansen, Meeker County library Legacy coordinator

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to have a book published? Perhaps you would like to know how a book is made into a movie. Maybe you have read a book and wished you could talk about it with the author or you would simply like to have an autograph.


Award winning, Minnesota author Will Weaver will be in Litchfield on March 15th and you will have the opportunity to get your questions answered and make your wishes come true. Mr. Weaver will meet with the Middle School Book Club at the Litchfield Public Library to discuss the books Memory Boy and The Survivors. The Middle School Book Club meeting will be held at 3:15. All students in grades 6-8 are invited to attend. You may attend even if you have not read the books. At 7:00 p.m. that evening Mr. Weaver will have a book discussion and signing at the Litchfield High School Little Theater. This event is free and is open to all ages.

Will Weaver grew up on a small dairy farm in Minnesota. He attended St. Cloud State University and the University of Minnesota where he obtained a degree in English. He then moved to California where he attended Stanford University’s writing program. He returned to Minnesota with his wife where he ran his father’s farm for a couple of years. He eventually decided to teach and joined the staff at Bemidji State University where he taught writing and literature for twenty-four years. Mr. Weaver currently resides in Bemidji where he is a full time writer.

Some of Mr. Weaver’s works include Red Earth, White Earth, which was produced as a CBS television movie in 1989 and A Gravestone Made of Wheat & Other Stories which was produced as the feature film Sweet Land. Will Weaver has also written several successful novels for young adults. His book Defect was the winner of the 2008 Minnesota Book award.

We the staff of the Litchfield Public Library look forward to Mr. Weaver’s visit and encourage all of you to attend. This event funded in part or in whole with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage fund.

Legacy programming will continue in the months ahead. William Kent Kruger will be presenting a program for adults in Dassel at 2 p.m. on June 14th. Mary Casanova will be in Grove City giving a presentation for children at 3 p.m. on June 21st. And Mike Lynch will be in Litchfield giving a class for all ages; details will be announced soon.