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Litchfield MN 55355


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Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Longest Book You've Ever Seen

By Jan Pease

Have you ever read fairy tales as the Brothers Grimm wrote them?    Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm published the first volume of Children’s and Household Tales 200 years ago.  Over the two hundred years, these fairy tales have been sanitized and Disneyized  into versions we love, but the brothers would hardly recognize.

  Philip Pullman retold them four years ago, in time for the 200th anniversary of Children’s and Household Tales   in the book, Fairy Tales from the Brothers Grimm.  I missed this book when it was first published, but am happy to say that it is in the collection at Litchfield now.  Pullman’s introduction to the book provides a short lesson on the fairy tale.  These fifty stories are, as Mr. Pullman says, “the cream of the Kinder- und Hausmärchen.”


In 1964, I was eleven years old, with my nose in a book most of the time.  Iowa wasn’t a hot bed of civil rights strife, but I was aware that in the South brave college students had actually been killed because they tried to help black people vote.  In Melody: 1964,  Denise Lewis Patrick tackles the difficult problem of Civil Rights. These books are in the “Beforever” series published by American Girl.  Each book in the series is about 220 pages and takes the place of the six titles that were released at once in the old American Girl books.  The first book, Music in My Heart, is subtitled “My Journey with Melody.” It is an interactive book in which your decisions   determine the path of the story.  These “choose-your-own” books are really fun in a simple, low-tech way.  The second book, Never Stop Singing, also by Denise Lewis Patrick, tells Melody’s story in a more linear way.   She loves to sing, and puts life into her music 

Avi tackles the supernatural in School of the Dead.  I was curious about this one, but didn’t have time to read it.  So I jumped over to and read reviews.  One reviewer said that Tony was too self-aware for a 12 year old boy.  Another reviewer said that “Our hero, Tony Gilbert, is not the most self-aware person on the planet. It takes him quite awhile to notice things are not what they seem and yet more time to puzzle out motives and loyalties, so the pacing of the book is quite slow.”  I say, “Well, which is it?”     I need to find a kid who will read this and report back to me.  Meanwhile, if you like ghost stories, try this one.

Dan Gutman, who writes the series, “My Weird School,” has published two weird nonfiction books.  They are titled, My Weird School: Fast Facts Geography and My Weird School: Fast Facts Sports.  These books are shelved in nonfiction in the sports area, but I predict they will never stay long on the shelf. Fictional characters explain interesting facts about real things.  It’s a bit confusing, but very entertaining.   

One of the most unusual picture books I’ve ever seen has arrived. The title is Megalopolis: and the Visitor from Outer Space.    Cléa Dieudonné has designed a vertical book.  Just sit down on the floor with a child and start unfolding.  When expanded to its full height, it is 10 feet tall.  Really.  I know it’s kind of a fad book, and won’t last long on the shelves, but sometimes you just have to give in to the slightly crazy. 

Keep cool with some great books from Litchfield Library!