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216 N Marshall Ave
Litchfield MN 55355

(320)693-2483

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

Friday, November 27, 2015

Manage Your Daily Intake of Cute

Sometimes I go a little overboard when purchasing books or gifts.  My great-nephew received two giant floor puzzles yesterday because they both (the puzzles) looked so cute I couldn’t decide which one he would enjoy.
 
When I looked at a series of books about baby animals by Andrew Bleiman and Chris Eastland,   I just couldn’t stop.  The first book I found was “ZooBorns,” and it contains adorable pictures of baby animals born in zoos all over the world.  There also is no space between the word zoo and borns in the title, which I find confusing.   Information about each species is included.  Some are very rare, and one species of pygmy rabbit that used to live in Washington State is now extinct.  A few remaining pygmy rabbits were crossbred with  similar pygmy rabbits found in Idaho, so now there are a few of these tiny bunnies alive in zoos. 

 
Then I found “1-2-3 ZooBorns,”  and “A-B-C ZooBorns,”  larger picture books by the same authors,  share the same cuteness.  I couldn’t resist them.   But then I found “Snuggle Up, ZooBorns,” which is a level one reading book.  Cutebaby animals are paired with simple text.  So being of sound mind,  I bought all four at once.  It reminded me of the sales going on during the end of November.
 
Then I found a book with an unlikely hero, a tapir.  How could I resist a book about a heroic tapir?  “Tiptoe Tapirs,” by Hanmin Kim, is a most unusual book.  Mr. Kim regards tapirs as his favorite animal, but theyalways look like they were created out of leftover pieces of elephants, pigs, and pandas. 

 
“Counting Lions,” written by Katie Cotton and illustrated by Stephen Walton is simply a gorgeous picture book.  The animal portraits are stunning, done in charcoal but looking like photographs.  Mr. Walton says he often works from his own photographs or those taken by other photographers.  This book is an incredible example of why picture books are so necessary, even in a digital world.

 
If you could be any of these animals, either as a zoo resident or living wild and free, which would you choose to be?  Jonathan Bentley has written and illustrated a sweet book about a small, frustrated boy who wants to be big, appropriately titled, “Big.”  As he imagines the things he could do if he was as tall as a giraffe or as strong as a gorilla, he realizes that each of these big changes would also have a big drawback.  For example, if he was as strong as a gorilla and able to open the cookie jar, he wouldn’t be able to take his cookies into his playhouse to eat them.  

 
 How do you say I love you?  I sometimes say, “I love you to the moon and back!”   My great-nephew spreads his arms wide and says, “I love you this much!”    “Animally, by Lynn Parrish Sutton, provides us with a wonderful new vocabulary.     Ms. Sutton says, “I love you bravely like an eagle.”  Or “I love you exceedingly like a giraffe.”  And “I love you birdily, bugily, animally.  I love you so, for you’re my family.”

   

Wednesday, November 25, 2015

Thanksgiving

The library will be open until 8:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 25.  We will be closed for Thanksgiving.  We will be open normal hours on Friday, November 27, with storyhour at 10:00 a.m. as usual.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

This year's best

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The lists of the best books of 2015 have been coming out this month.  I love to compare the lists to our library’s collection, and this year we seem to have most of them.  I think it’s especially important to notice those books that are included on more than one list, because it’s all so subjective.  Following are some of the books that have made more than one best-of-2015 list that we have in the Litchfield Library collection.

The novel Did You Ever Have a Family was included on Library Journal’s and Amazon’s lists of the best books of the year.  This is the first novel from author Bill Clegg, although he has published two memoirs previously.   This book about a horrible family tragedy on the day of a wedding, and the aftermath, was long-listed for the Man Booker Prize and widely praised.  It was also criticized by a few reviewers.  It appears that whether you appreciate the book depends on whether you want much of a plot, and whether you find the writing style profound or clich├ęd.  It is certainly a very dark and sad novel about loss. 

Between the World and Me is a memoir by Ta-Nehisi Coates, written as a letter to his teenage son.  It was included on at least four major lists of this year’s best, and it won the National Book Award for nonfiction.  It has also been a number one bestseller and in demand in our library system.  Coates writes about what it means to be black in America.  He addresses the legacy of slavery, tells stories about his growing-up years, and shares the development of his opinion that race is an artificial construct. Coates is a national correspondent for The Atlantic.

Fates and Furies by Lauren Groff has been chosen by Amazon as its book of the year.  It was a finalist for the National Book Award for fiction, and it is on other lists of the best of 2015.  This novel is a complex portrait of a marriage gone wrong, told by both parties.  The pair are glamorous, talented, and passionately in love, but not everything is as it appears. 

Erik Larson’s newest book is Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania.  It has been included on a couple of the major best-of lists this year, which is no surprise for a book by Larson, the bestselling author of The Devil in the White City and In the Garden of Beasts.  This one is narrative nonfiction like the other two, telling a piece of history like a dramatic story instead of like a textbook.  You probably remember that the Lusitania was a passenger ship sunk by the Germans during World War I, but you probably don’t know the story like it is told in this book. 

H is for Hawk is a book that blends memoir and nature writing in a way that has reviewers lavishing praise on it, calling it “breathtaking,” “captivating,” and “dazzling.”  It has been included on a number of those year-end lists of the best books.  British author Helen MacDonald lost her father suddenly and turned to her love of falconry to deal with her grief.  She decided to train a dangerous type of bird, a goshawk, using The Once and Future King author T.H. White’s book The Goshawk to guide her.   National Geographic says it is “one of the most riveting encounters between a human being and an animal ever written.” 


When you’re trying to find something wonderful among the hundreds of thousands of traditional print books published each year (not counting self-published and e-books), these best-books lists can be a helpful way of finding something of quality.  So many books, so little time!

Friday, November 13, 2015

Hail the new, ye Lads and Lasses! New Books!

By Jan Pease

New books brighten up the cloudiest days, and here are some new books that really shine. 

“How to Hug an elephant,” by Henry Winkler, is the sixth book in the “Here’s Hank” series.  Hank is the kind of kid that’s known for being the class clown.  His jokes hide his struggles with dyslexia, and he has a hard time with school, especially subjects like reading, math, and spelling.  One of the interesting things about this series is that the books are set in a font called Dyslexie that makes it easier for people with Dyslexia to read.  Minor changes in the letters make them more distinct from each other.    For information about this interesting adaptation, go to dyslexiefont.com.

Cornelia Funke has a new book that is very distinct from her other novels.   “Ruffleclaw” tells the story of a boy named Tommy who wants to keep the furry red monster he finds in his bed one night.  Unfortunately, Ruffleclaw drinks shampoo, eats everything in the fridge, and spits, which makes him a very unsuitable pet.  Ms. Funke usually writes for an older audience, so it will be interesting to see how her books for younger readers are received. 

Sometimes we are able to add books that are requested by our young patrons.  The “Park Service Trilogy,” by Ryan Winfield, is a series published by Birch Paper Press.  I don’t know much about this publishing company, but it seems to be closely connected to author Ryan Winfield.  We were able to order these through Pioneerland Library and we’ll have to see.   Libraries usually don’t add privately published books to their collections, but since different patrons have asked about it, we’ll give the series a try.     This is a “dystopian” series, with teens placed in dangerous situations.  “Park Service” sounds benign, but it isn’t, and the cut off age for human life is only 35, bringing an element of “Blade Runner” or "Logan's Run" to the series.
 
Mike Lupica delivers great sports action for both teens and older folks.  His new book, “Fast Break” offers a basketball story with heart.  Jayson is a boy who ends up trying to stay out of the foster care system, so he is living on his own after his mom dies.  Caught stealing some basketball shoes, he finds himself in a foster home, a new part of the city, a different school, and a different kind of game.   

Erin Hunter is the pen name for a group of writers who keep the series coming.   Some of their fans call them “the Erins.”   Their main series are “Warriors” and “Explore the World of Warriors”  “Seekers,” and “Survivors.”  Their new book in the “Warriors Super Edition series”  is titled  “Moth Flight’s Vision.”    Moth Flight is a medicine cat and this is her story.  The structure and mythology of the warrior cats is getting more and more anthropomorphic, one of my favorite words.  Read a book or two, especially one of the later ones in the series, and you will know what my favorite word means. 


 Finally, here is a bit of information for everyone.    Santa will visit the library on Thursday, December 3 for a fun late afternoon and evening.  Our Lego building group will meet only once in December, on the 12th at 6:30 p.m., and Beginner Book Club will meet as usual on December 19th at about 3 p.m.  The last Saturday Story Time of the year will be December 14th at 10:00 a.m., and then we will take a break from Toddler Time and Preschool Story Time the last two weeks of December.  What does that song say?  “Fast away the old year passes!”  

Friday, November 6, 2015

The library has an iPad!

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Our library has gotten an iPad that you can check out to use in the library.  If you’d like an option for using a computer that’s even more comfortable to use than a laptop, consider checking this out and sitting down with it in one of the library’s easy chairs.  You can browse the internet the same as on a PC, although it’s all done with a touchscreen instead of a keyboard and mouse. 

We have a number of apps installed on the iPad that will appeal to kids and adults. One that I know will be a hit is Minecraft.  If you know a child or teenager, I’m sure you’ve heard of it.  It’s a sandbox game, which means game play is freeform and determined by the player’s creativity.  There isn’t a set storyline or progression of levels.  In Minecraft, players build and craft things in a blocky world, much like Legos.  If they choose to, players can fight monsters, or they can turn those off and just do things necessary to survival – or they can even turn that requirement off and simply design a world.  We don’t have this popular game on the library computers, so I love that we can offer it now on the iPad.  Unfortunately, it can’t be connected with others using our wifi the way people do to play together in their homes, so it is a solo operation on our iPad.

Another app for kids and older is Toca Band.  Toca Boca games in general are acclaimed for open-ended creativity, as well.  Their website says, “We design digital toys not just for kids, but with kids.”  My teenagers and some adults I know have had fun playing with Toca Band.  To play it, you drag your choice of characters onto a stage, where they play rhythms or notes together like an orchestra.  You change the sound of the song by choosing different characters and placing them in different spots on the stage. 

For adults, the iPad has a number of news apps.  These include Star Tribune, St. Paul Pioneer Press, CNN, NPR News, and MPR News.  One nice feature in the NPR News app is a button at the bottom of the screen that will play the most recent hourly newscast for you at any time.  The app also offers quick access to podcasts and programs.  With three taps, I could get to the most recent episode of Radiolab or the most recently broadcast episode of Car Talk.  Of course, on all of these apps you can also read stories much as you can read the newspaper.

The iPad also offers a TED app.  This is an easy way to access videos of the popular, educational TED Talks.  For example, neuroscientist Sandrine Thuret presents an eleven-minute speech on how to grow new brain cells in the area of the brain involved in memory and mood, based on current research.  (Hint: learning increases neurogenesis, sleep deprivation decreases it.) Career coach Emilie Wapnick gives a presentation on “Why some of us don’t have one true calling,” which addresses people who never really figure out what they want to be when they grow up. 

If it seems like many of these apps involve sound, you’re right.  I recommend that you also borrow a set of headphones from us while you use the iPad, or bring along your own earbuds.  We want you to enjoy the things the iPad can do, but we don’t want to bother other people in the library.

To use the iPad, you will need to have your library card with you and it will need to be up-to-date and not blocked by fines.  You will need to stay in the library while you use it and return it to the desk when you’re done.  It does have a nice sturdy case on it, so kids can use it as well as adults.  If you’re curious to try out a tablet or you’d just like to get away from the bank of computers and curl up on a couch instead, give our iPad a try.