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Litchfield MN 55355

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Friday & Saturday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
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Friday, March 28, 2014

Buzzing about this spring's books

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

What are the most anticipated books of this spring?   We have many of them on their way to our library; following are a few I’d like to tell you about.  As soon as they have a status of “processing” in our catalog, you can request them yourself online, thanks to a recent change in our computer system. 
Lorrie Moore is well-known as a master of short stories.  Her new collection is called Bark: Stories.   Her style is dark humor: wittiness within stories about suffering.  Some reviewers have praised the insights of this new collection, while others have found it too bleak.  Stories in this collection include “Debarking”, about a newly-divorced man getting involved with a woman he’s afraid may be unstable, and “Wings”, about married musicians whose dreams never worked out.



The novel Room was a bestseller in 2010.  Author Emma Donoghue has a new novel just out this week: Frog Music.  This one is a historical mystery, based on a real unsolved crime from 1876.  Cross-dressing Jenny Bonnet was shot through the window of a railroad saloon in San Francisco, in the midst of an extreme heat wave and a smallpox epidemic.  Her friend Blanche, a French burlesque dancer, was next to her and may have been the intended target.  In the novel, Blanche sets out to find the murderer and discovers Jenny’s secret life among the seedy characters of boomtown San Francisco, most of whom were also real people in history. 


Shotgun Lovesongs is a novel set in the fictional Wisconsin town of Little Wing.  This is the first novel from Wisconsin author Nickolas Butler.  Book critics say the farmlands of Wisconsin are brought to life, almost like a character in the novel.  The human characters are friends who grew up in Little Wing together.  Some have stayed to run the family farm, some have felt the pull to return, and others want to stay away. It’s a familiar story to those of us in small towns.  The writing is supposed to be fantastic.



Savage Harvest: A Tale of Cannibals, Colonialism, and Michael Rockefeller’s Tragic Quest for Primitive Art looks like it’s going to be very popular.  Nelson Rockefeller’s son Michael disappeared without a trace in New Guinea in 1961, while seeking art for his father’s museum.  Journalist Carl Hoffman set out to solve the mystery of what happened after the group’s boat overturned and Michael swam for shore, reportedly reaching it.  It appears that he has solved it, with help from anthropologists, archival documents, and native Asmat people who witnessed what happened.
If these or other new books you’re hearing about in the media interest you, ask us to reserve a copy for you.  If you’re just looking for ideas from among the books we have, take a look at a new feature on our catalog.  Around the middle of the front page of the online catalog, you’ll see a link that says “New Items Purchased”.  If you click on that, it will bring you to lists of new and on-order items in all of the Pioneerland libraries that you can request. It’s a little like browsing our shelf of new books, but you get to see what all the libraries have. I hope you find a book that you can start reading with anticipation this spring.

Friday, March 21, 2014

All the Pretty Little Horses

By Jan Pease

What is it about girls and horses?  A horse-loving patron mentioned that little boys often like horses, but it’s the girls who love them.  Horse books are perennial favorites, and we've recently added several titles that will be well known to horse lovers.

Jane Smiley is famous for her novel,  A Thousand Acres, which received the  Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1992.  She has a string of letters after her name, including MA, MFA, and PhD.  But did you know that this wonderful writer has written a series of books for young adults?  Titles recently purchased include The Georges and the Jewels (2009), A Good Horse (2010), True Blue (2011), Pie in the Sky (2012), and Gee Whiz (2013). Jane says on her website, “When a girl and a horse find each other, the bond is unbreakable.” 



The Winter Pony, by Iain Lawrence, is a book that I almost didn’t purchase for the library.  I don’t like books where the dog, or pony, dies.  Spoiler alert!  In this book, all of the characters die.  Winter Pony is the story of the ill-fated expedition to the South Pole led by Robert Falcon Scott.  This story of courage and kindness needs to be told, but be sure to have a box of Kleenex handy as you near the end of the book.
 
Kathryn Lasky has started a new series, “Horses of the Dawn.”  The first book, The Escape, introduces us to the horses and their culture, as they escape from Spanish Conquistadores and journey to the land of the sweet grass.  Ms. Lasky created an owl culture in her Guardians of “Ga’Hoole” series, and wolves in “Wolves of the Beyond,” so it makes sense that she would do the same with horses. 

Saige, by Jessie Haas, is an American Girl Today novel.  One of the customer reviews at amazon.com stated:    “This is a great book with a heartwarming tale.  I did wish it lasted longer though.”   This is high praise indeed for a sweet little book about a plucky girl and her grandmother’s beautiful horse.


 Last year, Mary Pope Osborne brought out her 49th “Magic Tree House” book, Stallion by Starlight and its companion book, Horse Heroes.  Ms. Osborne’s research is meticulous, and I’m glad that she and her sister, Natalie Pope Boyce, began sharing that information with readers.  



Black Beauty,  the Black Stallion Books, and other favorites are still available, and still are checked out by horse lovers.  But perhaps the ultimate title is this one: For Horse-crazy Girls Only: Everything You Want to Know About Horses, by Christina Wilsdon.  The title explains itself. Yes, the boys are left out.  But they usually aren’t “horse-crazy.”   See you at the library! 




Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Be a tourist, a hiker, a gardener: Hope springs eternal

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Spring is almost here, at least on the calendar.  After the extreme cold of this winter, I have thought that some of our warm days have felt almost like summer!  Maybe that’s overstating it, but it is a relief.  It’s enough to make a person think about warm-weather activities.  Following are some of our newest books to inspire your planning.

 Lawn Gone!: Low-Maintenance, Sustainable, Attractive Alternatives for Your Yard by Pam Penick offers possibilities beyond mowed grass.  From ground covers and gardens to ponds and hardscapes, this book offers landscaping ideas for getting rid of traditional lawns, as well as information on figuring out the aspects that may be even trickier: city codes and skeptical neighbors. 

For more on choosing plants for your yard, check out Powerhouse Plants: 510 Top Performers for Multi-Season Beauty by Graham Rice.  This book focuses on plants that stay beautiful year-round as the seasons change.

Landscaping Ideas That Work by Julie Moir Messervy is a more comprehensive look at planning your yard.  The description of the book says that the difficulty of putting together many different landscape elements “creates confusion and inertia for homeowners who are trying to decide not only what to do, but where to start.”  I have to say that sounds like my husband and me; I think I’m going to have to check out that book.

For the homesteader types out there, there’s The New Horse-Powered Farm: Tools and Systems for the Small-Scale, Sustainable Market Grower by Stephen Leslie.    This book explains how to get started, how to train horses for farming, and how to plow, seed, cultivate, and harvest.  Everything old is new again.

For those interested in herbal medicine, we’ve gotten Rosemary Gladstar’s Medicinal Herbs: A Beginner’s Guide.  This is an introduction to growing and using 33 herbs, including gardening tips.

A different kind of outdoors inspiration can be found in Out of the Woods: A Memoir of Wayfinding by Lynn Darling.  It’s been compared to Wild and Eat, Pray, Love.  Darling was a widow who felt lost when her only child left for college.  She went to the woods of Vermont and began hiking with a dog and a compass, trying to develop a literal and metaphorical sense of direction.  Maybe you, too, will be inspired to head out into the woods after you read this book.

Springtime can make us feel like getting out and being tourists, as well.  The gorgeous book Great Houses of Summit Avenue and the Hill District by Karen Melvin may inspire you to go on a tour.  According to the Explore Minnesota website, Summit Avenue walking tours are offered year-round on Saturdays and Sundays.  To do something like this with the historic homes in Litchfield, take a look at the Litchfield Community Guide, in print or at www.litchfieldguide.com.


I am so ready for warm days.  Until then, I’ll start planning what I’ll do with them.  Come in to the library to pick up something to inspire your own spring plans.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Don't Wait to See It -- Order It!

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Movies inspire people to read.  As I look at the latest copy of the report of the items with the longest waiting lists in our library system, I see that four of the top five high-demand books this week have been made into current movies. 

The Monuments Men: Allied Heroes, Nazi Thieves, and the Greatest Treasure Hunt in History is a nonfiction book from 2009 by Robert M. Edsel.  The Monuments Men is also now a movie in theaters, starring George Clooney, Matt Damon, and Bill Murray.  So now everyone is reading the book!  If you stop in hoping to see it on the shelf, you won’t have any luck for a while because it’s so popular.  Litchfield owns a copy but it’s checked out.  In fact, there are 21 people on waiting lists for ten copies in the system.  However, we all share resources across the Pioneerland Library System, so as soon as a copy is returned anywhere, it goes quickly to the next person on the list.  This shortens waiting times and allows efficient resource sharing, giving you access to a vast variety of books no matter which community you live in.  If you want to read this book, you can order it through our online catalog or ask a library staff member to order it for you.  We also have this book available as an e-book.

Labor Day is another current movie based on a book.  The novel by Joyce Maynard came out in 2009.  The new movie stars Kate Winslet and Josh Brolin.  There are currently fourteen people on the waiting lists, but there are eleven copies in the system.  That will move quickly, and you’ll get it faster if you reserve the book than if you wait for our copy to land on our shelf.  This is another title available to check out as an e-book.

One exception to the book-to-movie pattern this week is The Longest Ride by Nicholas Sparks.  This is bestselling author Sparks’ latest, which came out in September.  Demand has cooled off enough six months later that there are several copies of the book available on library shelves, but there’s still a big demand for the large-print version of the book: thirteen people on the list for four copies.  If by chance you’re one of those people and you don’t really want a large-print edition, let us know and we’ll get you the regular print on the next delivery.

Twelve Years a Slave just won the Oscar for best picture.  The book it’s based on is very popular right now, with seventeen people on the waiting list for eight copies in the system.  We also have the e-book and the audiobook.  Solomon Northrup’s well-written account of his capture and captivity was a bestseller when it was published in 1853 and is now back on the bestseller lists in 2014. 

Lone Survivor is a current movie starring Mark Wahlberg, recently nominated for Oscars in sound editing and mixing.  It’s based on a 2008 book by Marcus Luttrell with Patrick Robinson: Lone Survivor: The Eyewitness Account of Operation Redwing and the Lost Heroes of SEAL Team 10.   Right now there are ten people on the reserve list for ten copies, so that will move quickly.  Since Litchfield’s copy is checked out and long overdue, don’t wait for it to show up on our shelf; definitely place an order if you want to read it. We also have it available as an e-book.


So many people in our community make use of our free ordering system and delivery service.  Last year, Litchfield Library customers ordered in almost 11,000 books, CDs, and movies from other libraries.  Our library sent out about the same number to people in other libraries. There’s no way a library can have everything that people in a community might want.  We all have access to a huge variety of books and other materials because of the sharing we’re able to do through our regional library system.  If you haven’t tried ordering something yet, talk to us and we’ll be very glad to help you get exactly what you want.

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

A Peek at New Books

By Jan Pease
This week’s crop of new books contains 2 picture books that provide a slice of real life, two books that are really unusual, and one book that is, to be honest, a disappointment.

Every parent who has raised a toddler knows about the terrific twos, usually referred to as the terrible twos. Rosemary Wells captures the amazing and frustrating twos in her new book, Sophie’s Terrible Twos. Wise Grandma knows how to tame wild tiger Sophie and help her be the charming mouse that she should be.

In Maisy Goes to the Movies, by Lucy Cousins, Maisy and her friends go to see their hero, Troy T. Tiger, starring in “Hero of the Jungle.” Ms. Cousins must have taken groups of children to movies, because she includes everything from spilled popcorn to a bathroom break.

Louise Borden creates very large, somewhat unusual picture books like America Is…. and The Little Ships.  Her new book, Baseball Is…. reads like a long poem which would be enjoyed by nostalgic baseball fans, but it looks like a picture book. I’m not sure if the format matches the content and target audience. I think this book would be perfect for a baseball – loving grandpa to share with a grandchild.

Donna Jo Napoli has published a new book, Storm. Ms. Napoli is famous for re-imagining well-known stories. For example, Beast is inspired by “Beauty and the Beast.” Storm was inspired by the Biblical account of Noah and the flood. Ms. Napoli explained that Og, King of Bashan, appears in the book because he is mentioned in a Jewish midrash as an interloper on the ark. Sebah, another stowaway, is the narrator of the book. She is pregnant. The father of her baby is her first husband. She calls Og Bash, and he calls her Sheba. Life on the ark is described in detail, and the physical and emotional toll of being cooped up in a claustrophobic space is palpable. The birth of Sebah’s baby is told simply, but graphically
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The really odd and somewhat disappointing book is Pete the Cat Old MacDonald Had a Farm, by James Dean. James Dean illustrated the hilarious books by Eric Litwin starring Pete the Cat, such as Rocking in My School Shoes, Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons, and I Love My White Shoes. The illustrations in Old MacDonald are typical James Dean, the usual farm animals with the addition of Pete the Cat wearing overalls and looking cool. As I read, I kept waiting for something clever. I couldn’t believe this was a Pete book. This is just the normal song, “Old MacDonald Had a Farm.” One reviewer at amazon.com said that young children benefit from looking at the pictures and matching the familiar words, so it isn’t a total loss. I should add that it was a huge hit at Toddler Time!

Speaking of feeling cooped up, a visit to the library is a great cure for cabin fever. On a sunny but cold day it’s always cheerful and bright, with lots of natural light. See you at the library.