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216 N Marshall Ave
Litchfield MN 55355

(320)693-2483

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

Friday, December 22, 2017

The Week Between

By Jan Pease

It’s time to catch our breath before the New Year comes.  This is the week between.  I start noticing the change in light just after New Year’s, because I’m really sensitive to Seasonal Affective Disorder.  In the jungle that is our middle room, a tree is yearning and stretching toward the south.  Four orchids are getting ready to burst into bloom, and the asparagus fern is sending out long, long shoots.  One points south, and the confused one points west.  I wonder if it is drawn toward our SAD light.  Anyway, they know that more light will come our way, even if the cold is bitter.

Sometimes we make resolutions for the next year.  Mine are pretty simple.  I hope that I will  be kind.  I hope to encourage rather than complain.  I will try to be generous with my time and resources.  I will try to be gentle with myself.  I will work harder at being healthy. 

Two  gentle picture books come to my mind when I think about this time of year.  One is “Stranger in the Woods” by Carl R. Sams and Jean Stoick.  Mr. Sams and Ms. Stoick  set up a snowman in the woods, took stunning photographs of wildlife interacting with it, and turned it all into a lovely picture book. Their books have won more than 80 awards for their books.   I recommend that you sit in a cozy chair with a cup of something warm to drink, preferably with a child or cat in your lap, and absorb the beauty of these photographs.


 

Another book, “The Christmas Wish,” by Lori Evert and Per Breiehagen, has stunning photographs of their   4 year old daughter Anja wearing traditional Norwegian clothing and Sami reindeer shoes, interacting with Arctic animals.  They have since developed a line of “Wish” books and products, but this first book is simply amazing.  I believe its title in Norway was “The Christmas Dream.”  




There is just something magical about snowy woods.  One of my favorite parenting memories is of taking our daughter and two of her friends out to Youngstrom Woods during a rare January thaw.  The girls were sure they were lost, but I could always hear them.  The stillness of the woods was breathtaking, even with the giggling girls traipsing through the snow.

 
 I was watching a science fiction show from the Star Trek family, and smiled as the brash Earthling chided the older, wiser alien, Captain Drennig, about his culture not visiting planet Earth.  “I’m surprised your ancestors never made it to Earth.”  “We don’t believe in travelling great distances.  There’s far too much to see close to home.”    Like the fictional Captain Drennig, I find wonder in our own back yard.  Catch your breath, put on some quiet music, and enjoy hearing Nature breathe in an out as one year closes and another year starts.  Happy New Year!










Friday, December 15, 2017

Readin' Around the Christmas Tree

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Christmas is only a few days away.  If you’re in the Christmas spirit and you have time to read a book (You have time to read a book at Christmastime? What's your secret??), the library has a number of this year’s new holiday books you could bring home to read during this coming week.

A new nonfiction book from Oxford University Press, Christmas in the Crosshairs: Two Thousand Years of Denouncing and Defending the World’s Most Celebrated Holiday, examines whether there is or ever has been a war on Christmas.  Historian Gerry Bowler specializes in the intersection of religion and popular culture.  He demonstrates that throughout history, beginning with the holiday’s controversial invention during the Roman Empire, Christmas has inspired debate and conflict.  Involving Puritans, Bolsheviks, Hitler, and Charles Dickens, this book can give you some historical perspective on the issue.

You can’t tell from looking at the cover, but Mercedes Lackey’s newest novel, A Scandal in Battersea, is a Christmas story.  This is the twelfth book in Lackey’s Elemental Masters series about Sherlock Holmes in an alternate, magical England.  John and Mary Watson, both Elemental Masters, are celebrating Christmas when they are asked to investigate the reappearance of missing women, all of whom have been driven mad by whatever happened after they disappeared.

The Usual Santas: A Collection of Soho Crime Christmas Capers is a collection of eighteen holiday stories.  The crime authors include Mick Herron, Timothy Hallinan, Peter Lovesey, and Lene Kaaberbol.  Expect humor, murder, and international locations from Sweden to North Korea.

For something gentler, Melody Carlson’s The Christmas Blessing may fit the bill.  Carlson is a bestselling author of Christian fiction, including many Christmas novels.  In The Christmas Blessing, Amelia despairs when the father of her baby is shot down in the South Pacific in 1944.  Without a job or money, she must decide whether to go to his high-class parents, who don’t know about her or the baby.

Debbie Macomber is another bestselling author known for her clean and gentle novels, including popular Christmas books.  Merry and Bright is her newest.  Merry Knight takes care of her mother who has multiple sclerosis and her brother who has Down syndrome, when she isn’t working overtime.  But her family is concerned she doesn’t have a social life and they set up an online dating profile for her.  She hits it off online with someone, only to be shocked when they meet in person. 

Elin Hilderbrand’s Winter Trilogy has just gotten a fourth book, Winter Solstice.  (Does that make it a quartet?)  The Quinn family is gathered for the first time in a long time to celebrate the holidays at the Winter Street Inn on Nantucket Island.  Many of their difficulties have been resolved, but their patriarch is dying of cancer.  Hilderbrand is good at writing characters; those who enjoy bittersweet family stories are likely to enjoy this farewell to the series. 


Other new Christmas books for adults include How the Finch Stole Christmas by Donna Andrews, Fatal Frost by Karen MacInerney, Last Christmas in Paris by Hazel Gaynor and Heather Webb, Sugar Pine Trail by RaeAnne Thayne, and The Amish Christmas Candle by Kelly Long, Jennifer Beckstrand, and Lisa Jones Baker.  

Pioneerland libraries will be open on Saturday, December 23, and closed on Christmas Day, which is Monday, December 25.  We will be open normal hours the rest of that week.  We will be closed on Monday, January 1, for New Year’s Day.  Happy holidays from the Litchfield Library staff!

Friday, December 8, 2017

My Recent Reading List


By Jan Pease


Did you know that you can visit our library blog at http://litchlibrary.blogspot.com/ and read past blog entries that the library has posted?  Why do I know this?  Because I was looking back at my older essays to get some thoughts about this middle week in December.  It isn’t Christmas yet, it’s too soon for January announcements, and the paper comes out on the 13th.  This really doesn’t matter unless you are superstitious and it isn’t a Friday the 13th, anyway. 

One of the blog entries was about books I was reading.  What vanity to think people might be interested in that!  But it’s so interesting!   I think we’ll try that again.

Lately I’ve been reading Norwegian author Jo Nesbo, a suggestion from several patrons. I’ve read “The Bat,” “Cockroaches,”  “Redbreast” and “Nemesis” and now will move on to “The Devil’s Star.”  I read these pretty slowly and enjoy them immensely. Like the Swedish crime novels I’ve read, the atmosphere in these Norwegian novels is dark and wintry. The main character, Harry Hole, is flawed but he gets things right in the end.



I really enjoyed a young adult book published in Canada, “The Marrow Thieves,” by Cherie Dimaline.  This novel is set in Canada after global warming has ravaged the earth.  Human beings have been driven mad because they have lost the ability to dream.  The only cure is found in the bone marrow of indigenous people.  Many people don’t know about their tribe of origin, but they are still being hunted.  Intrigue, betrayal, love, friendship and failure all enter in to this tremendous book.



I think I enjoyed “Stolen Innocence,”  by Elissa Wall, but the subject was her escape from a polygamist sect in the Southwest and I found it difficult to read about her situation.  I admire her honesty and courage in writing about her painful family life.








I did enjoy “The Inner Life of Cats,” by Thomas McNamee.  For a good time, read reviews of this book at amazon.com.  They range from “Even dog lovers should read this book” to “Still awake? This should take care of that.”  Of course we all know that our fur babies are the best in the world, but McNamee writes beautifully and poignantly about the things he learned from Augusta, his cat who was the best cat in the world, to him.





“No Apparent Distress,” by Rachel Pearson is a timely look at her development as a doctor.  She spent years taking care of patients who were poor and indigent.  This might have resonated so much with me because I’ve been navigating the insurance system as an almost 65 year old person having to sometimes pay full price for insulin because my insurance doesn’t cover it.  




Finally, I need to mention "A Life of Triumph: How a Girl With Cerebral Palsy Beat the Odds to Achieve Success."  This book was written by Litchfield's own Duane Hickler.  He halped Karen A. Gorr write her memoir about growing up with cerebral palsy and living in an institution during her early years.  Karen eventually got her education and taught at the high school level for 20 years.  She married, became a mother, and has been a successful advocate for people with mental and phyusical disabilities.  I read the book on my Kindle. Unlike most of the books I mention, the library doesn't own this book, but it's easy to find at amazon.com.

 

Thursday, November 30, 2017

Best books of 2017

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

‘Tis the season for lists of the best books of the year.  There are more lists to come, but enough of them have been published to give me some idea of what the consensus is.  Honestly, there’s never consensus, because what makes a book the best?  It’s different for different people.  All the same, if what you’re looking for is a really well-written book, here are some ideas about where to start looking.

Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders won this year’s Man Booker Prize, one of the most prestigious awards in literature.  It is also on many best-of-2017 lists: Time Magazine, Library Journal, Kirkus, the Washington Post, Amazon, and BookPage so far.  This is Saunders’ first novel; he is well-known as a short-story and essay writer.  Be warned that it’s written in a very unusual style, but reviewers say if you can get past that, this imagining of Lincoln and his son Willie after Willie’s death is moving, heartbreaking, and surprisingly funny.

BookPage is the book review magazine we have at the front desk, by the way.  It’s paid for by the Friends of the Litchfield Library, and it’s very popular among people looking for something new to read. 

Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesmyn Ward is on best-of lists in Time, Publishers’ Weekly, Washington Post, and BookPage.  It won the 2017 National Book Award for Fiction, Ward’s second novel to win that honor.  This road novel tells the story of Jojo, a mixed race thirteen-year-old boy, who travels through Mississippi with his mother when his father is released from prison.  With themes of family, fatherhood, and ghosts, this is both a timeless and timely novel about the South.

White Tears by Hari Kunzru is on 2017’s best book lists published by Time, Publishers Weekly, and Kirkus.  Two recent college graduates become obsessed with sound recordings and music, and they fake a vintage blues recording, making up a musician they pretend to have discovered.  The story takes a left turn when one of the young men is beaten into a coma and the other sets out with his sister to find out if the imaginary musician is a real person.  Not a typical mystery or time-travel story, this is a complicated reflection on race and cultural appropriation, described by some as a ghost story.

The Ninth Hour by Alice McDermott is on Time Magazine’s, Library Journal’s, and Kirkus’ best of the year lists.  McDermott won the National Book Award in 1998 for Charming BillyThe Ninth Hour is a portrait of an Irish Catholic family in early twentieth-century Brooklyn.  A young Irish immigrant has been fired from his job at the subway, and he commits suicide by starting a fire in his tenement.  An aging nun helps his pregnant widow, and the child and the neighborhood nuns become the center of the story.   A story about kindness, faith, and the lasting effects of suicide on a family, reviewers say the book makes the reader feel like they’re in the room with the characters. 


Other books that have been showing up on multiple best-book lists include Killers of the Flower Moon: The Osage Murders and the Birth of the FBI by David Grann, Hunger: A Memoir of (My) Body by Roxane Gay, Exit West by Mohsin Hamid, Manhattan Beach by Jennifer Egan, You Don’t Have to Say You Love Me by Sherman Alexie, and Priestdaddy by Patricia Lockwood.  Most of these are in the Litchfield Library collection, and all of them are available to order in Pioneerland Library System.  

Friday, November 24, 2017

And the Countdown to December Begins!






I feel like school just started, but second quarter is well under way, and the end  of our calendar year is quickly approaching. Time reminds me of the tiny print on car mirrors that says objects in the mirror are closer than they appear. 



The library has sponsored many different holiday events over the years. We often have served cookies or exchanged cookie and candy recipes. 



Before I worked here, I played Mrs. Santa and forgot a plate of cookies on top of my car, a special plastic plate that Children’s Librarian Mrs. Johnson wanted back. I found the plate somewhere on Third Street with cookies scattered to the wind. The pieces of plate were scattered, too.






One disastrous year I served hot chocolate that was dangerously hot. 






On a more pleasant note, one of the library board members made a wonderful elf. We’ve gathered canned goods for the Meeker County Food Shelf, and gathered items for the Humane Society. Bob Gasch has entertained us with stories and his famous noisy “Night Before Christmas.” 




Santa visited the library for several years and we’re always delighted to have him spend time with us. He usually read a story and sang a personalized version of “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer.”










This year we’re trying something new. On Saturday, December 9th, Second Saturday Story Time will be transformed into a holiday happening. We will make an edible craft to take home to display or eat. Think of one of those Pinterest crafts that you’d try at home but know it could get messy. 




We’ll sing Christmas songs. Expect to sing “Jingle Bells” at least twice. We’ll attempt a noisy group reading of “The Night before Christmas.” (Thanks, Bob for the idea.) And we’ll share a Christmas story. It’s a free event, a chance to make some time to enjoy your kids or drop them off for an hour to have a bit of free time for yourself. Everyone is welcome, but children under the age of seven must be accompanied by a parent or sibling that is at least 12 years old.  



December 9th is our last Story Time for 2017. Beginner Book Club will meet on December 21 after school. We are reading “Fenway and Hattie, by Victoria J. Coe” and may have a yummy treat because it’s sort of the Christmas party. Brickheads will get together to build with Legos each Thursday night in December. And then it will be time to wish everyone a “Happy New Year” and start 2018 with a smile.

I knew I should have put up that Christmas tree in August. See you at the library!

Friday, November 17, 2017

Thrilling fall books

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

When you’re looking for a book that grabs your attention, a thriller usually fits the bill.  With the New York Times bestseller list typically filled with thrillers, this is really the most popular kind of book out there.  The library has many new page-turners available for you to check out.

Killing Season by Faye Kellerman is a mystery/thriller about a teenage boy’s investigation into his sister’s death.  A fifteen-year-old girl disappears in New Mexico, and much later her younger brother discovers her body.  Now sixteen, this math geek pores over the evidence and sees patterns the police have missed, tying this case to other unsolved murders. 

Righteous by Joe Ide is part of the IQ series.  “IQ” stands for Isaiah Quintabe, a private investigator inspired by Sherlock Holmes but living in a tough part of L.A. in the present day.  In this new novel, IQ has become a respectable detective, but the death of his brother ten years ago is still haunting him.  He investigates his brother’s death and the recent disappearance of his girlfriend’s sister, leading IQ from Beverly Hills to Las Vegas.  Gun battles and car chases are part of the ride.

Dan Brown has a new book out called Origin, which is a bestseller as usual.  Professor Robert Langdon, who first appeared in The Da Vinci Code, is back.  He attends an event in Spain hosted by a former student, intended to reveal a shocking scientific discovery about human existence.  The evening ends in chaos before the breakthrough can be revealed and Langdon flees with the museum’s director, now on a quest to find a cryptic password.  This one should again be controversial and entertaining.

Haunted is one of James Patterson’s new books. Detective Michael Bennett’s family is in crisis, so he takes them on a vacation to a small town in the Maine woods to get away from it all.  Then Bennett gets pulled into a local case involving missing kids and a murder.  The guy can’t catch a break!   This one is written with James O. Born.

The Blind is a psychological thriller by A.F. Brady.  A skilled psychologist at Manhattan’s most challenging psychiatric hospital is pulled in by a seemingly normal patient no other therapist will treat. Talking about the patient’s twisted past causes the psychologist to analyze her own life and mental illness, as he begins playing mind games with her. 

Shattered by Allison Brennan is the newest Max Revere novel.  An old friend asks investigative reporter Maxine to help exonerate his wife, who has been charged with their son’s murder.  Max finds three similar cold cases that she hopes will do just that if she can solve them.  The catch is that she has to work with an FBI agent connected to the case in order to have access to the evidence, and Max works alone.   Partnering with the aunt of one of the other boys who was murdered may be the key to solving the crime.

Other new thrillers at the library include Lie to Me by J.T. Ellison, The Driver by Hart Hanson, and Sleeping in the Ground by Peter Robinson. 


Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at the Litchfield Public Library!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Jumping on Board the STEM Train

 By Jan Pease


When you visit Litchfield library, look around in the children’s section.  We have invested a large portion of the book budget in lower-level nonfiction juvenile books.  Many young children are interested in real people, places and things. STEM, the acronym for science, technology, engineering and mathematics , is a hot topic right now.  I am convinced that one way to encourage children’s interest in STEM is to provide interesting, colorful books about interesting, colorful topics.

How would you answer the question “What is your favorite animal?”  “My Favorite Animal,” a series from Cherry Lake Publishing, features animals such as moose, alligator, bison, and red fox.  The audience for these books is children in grades K-3.  Another fun animal series is called, “Guess What.?  These cute books each feature visual clues and hints about one animal. Titles include “Noisy Nibblers,” “Cheeky Cuties,” and “Pouncing Pals.”  Look for the picture of the cat’s tongue in “Pouncing Pals,” which shows a close up view of the cat grooming a cascade of hair. 

We added several books about technology for young people, including “Building Squishy Circuits,” “Big Data,” “Coding with
Sphero” and “Coding with Lego WeDo.”  I can’t help but wonder what today’s preschool children will be like in 15 years or so, having been exposed to books like these at an early age.


Many of the new titles include books about making projects, a good resource for the coming cold months.  “Bit by Bit, Projects for your Odds and Ends” looks like a fun collection.  “Create and Keep” looks like a great resource for making gifts.  And “Bought in Bulk” is another book of projects for whatever is left over after other projects are created.


“Graphic Revolve” is a series of graphic novels of classic tales.  True to the original stories, they may create some interest in reading the original stories.  Fiction titles include “The Lost World,” “The Iliad,” “The Island of Dr.Moreau,” “The Odyssey,” etc.   Do you remember “Classics Illustrated?” Well, these titles remind me of those favorite comic books.

These wonderful titles and more are waiting for you at Litchfield Library.




Monday, November 6, 2017

Closed for Veterans Day

Pioneerland libraries will be closed on Saturday, November 11, for Veterans Day.  At the Litchfield Library, this means the Second Saturday children's activities and the teen program will not take place this month.

The libraries will be open on Friday, November 10.

Thursday, November 2, 2017

Adult Coloring in November


Kits Available Through the Library

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

In recent months, the library had a suggestion box at the front desk.  A couple of people suggested we get some kits to check out.  Good news: kits are already available to order in our library system!  We don’t have them onsite because we don’t have space to store them, but a variety of kits can be delivered here for no charge for you to borrow.

One suggestion was for kits for preschools and families with young children, including things like activities, music, and books.  Many kits like this are available in our library catalog.  The easiest way to locate many of them is to search for “Learning Kit” as a title.  There are 56 of these!  They range from “Learning Kit: ABC” to “Learning Kit: Winter.”  These kits usually include a collection of books organized around a theme, games, activity sheets, videos, audio recordings, and sometimes toys and crafts.  A number of them are older, with VCR tapes and audiocassettes in the kits, but some are newer, with DVDs and CDs. 

To find another group of similar kits, do an author search for “Once Upon a Reader.”  We have these kits because of a statewide library program a few years ago.  One kit is called “Cow’s Vacation Scrapbook,” and it includes a stuffed animal, a copy of the book Moo by David LaRochelle, and a binder with spots for kids to draw, write stories, and add photos of their vacations.  Another kit called “Milk and Cookies Storytime” contains five different books, a CD, a tactile activity, and reproducible sheets and instructions for the adult preparing the storytime.  Finally, the “Take-Home Play Kit” includes a copy of the book Moo, five toys, and information for parents and caregivers on how to support early literacy with specific practices and skills. 

There are a few other kits that are a bit more challenging to find in the catalog.  One is “Dazzling Dave’s Tips and Tricks for Yo-Yo Play.”  It contains two yo-yos, a pack of replacement strings, a DVD, and an instruction sheet for learning to use a yo-yo.

Another is called “Oral History Kit,” which contains two digital voice recorders, two microphones, two pairs of headphones, and instructions.  The kit is intended for people to use for interviewing family members and other people to record their memories.

There is also a Zumba kit called “Zumba Fitness,” which includes toning sticks along with DVDs and a booklet.

Another suggestion we got in the box at the front desk was for book club kits.  Our library system offers these, too!  To locate them, search “Book club in a bag” as a title, and you’ll find 45 of them, from A Crooked Number by Nathan Jorgenson to Wide Open Spaces by Cadee Brystal.  Some are children’s books and some are for adults, and the kits all have multiple copies for a book club to share.  Some include discussion guides.

For more title options for book club kits, search “book club in a tub” in Plum Creek Library System’s online catalog, and then limit it to item type “book club kit” on the sidebar.  You won’t be able to order these directly through the Plum Creek catalog to be delivered here, but we do have a cooperative agreement with them to share our book club kits.  Talk to a staff member if you’d like to order one.


I hope that you’ll order some of these resources if you can use them.  There’s more available than what you see on the shelf!  Our staff will be glad to assist you.  

Friday, October 27, 2017

Savor these Hearty Picture Books!



By Jan Pease

Warning: questionable word play ahead! Here is a veritable harvest of new picture books to enjoy! Here’s another image: a cornucopia filled with the bounty of books.






“5 Cherries,” by Italian artist and illustrator Vittoria Facchini, is a long picture book (56 pages), with gorgeous illustrations. What can two children do with ten cherries, five for each? It turns out that they can imagine quite a lot. This book reminds me of that feeling of being totally lost in the moment of playing.







“After the Fall (How Humpty Dumpty Got Back Up Again)” is a new book by Dan Santat, who is becoming more well known since winning the Caldecott in 2015. What happened to Humpty Dumpty after he fell from the wall, and what was he doing up there, anyway? If you have time, visit Mr.Santat’s blog, http://dansantat.tumblr.com. He includes many links about his books and illustrating, but be sure to click on the link for One Question with Colby Sharp. Dan Santat is incredibly open about the inspiration for “After the Fall,” his wife’s battle with anxiety, post-partum depression, and fear.















“Pug Meets Pig” and “Pug and Pig Trick or Treat” are two very cute books by Sue Lowell Killian. I can’t imagine having a pug and a young potbellied pig together, but it would be fun. This duo should not be confused with “Pig the Pug,” a very funny picture book series by Aaron Blabey. There’s just something about pugs.




Eric Litwin started a new series about an unusual animal with “Groovy Joe: Ice Cream & Dinosaurs.” (Mr. Litwin no longer writes the Pete the Cat books.) “Groovy Joe: Dance Party Countdown” includes the opportunity to download the “Disco Party Bow Wow Song” as well as other free songs. Groovy Joe is a dog who loves to eat ice cream, play the guitar, and dance. I think children will enjoy this new series as much as the early Pete the Cat books.










“A Different Pond,” by Bao Phi is a completely different kind of picture book. It is simple enough to be understood by a young child but the meaning of the book will grow as the reader grows. I admire people who have come to America leaving behind trauma and loss and this picture book reminds us of how much adjustment immigrant groups have faced. This Vietnamese father and son can represent people of any culture struggling to adjust to life in America.








Finally, by the time you read this, Halloween will be past. But you might still look for “Bonaparte Falls Apart,” by Margery Cuyler. Our main character, Bonaparte, needs to literally “get ahold of himself.” When he throws a ball, his arm takes a flyer. Eating lunch can be a jaw-dropping experience. Fortunately, he has friends with names like Franky Stein, Black Widow, and Mummicula who all have some “bone-headed” ideas to help him. These punny, funny books are waiting for you at Litchfield Public Library – see you there!