216 N Marshall Ave

Litchfield MN 55355


All Pioneerland

While all Pioneerland Library System buildings remain closed to the public due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Curbside Pick-up of library items is available. You may place items on hold using the online catalog. Library staff will call you to schedule a pickup time once your hold is ready. Pickup days/times vary by location. Please contact your library if you have questions or need assistance in using this service.

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Let's Talk About . . .

By Jan Pease
January 2014 marks the beginning of my 23rd year of working at the Litchfield library. Now, this isn’t one of those retrospectives, because I have a few more years to work, I hope. Children’s books have changed over the years; some changes are for the better, some changes may be not so good. 
You all know how much I love picture books, just for the pure enjoyment of pictures and text together. Sometimes picture books have a dual purpose, helping children learn about and cope with difficult times. We worked with Julie Jansen of Heartland Community Action Agency’s Healthy Foundations Project to develop a bibliography of books that can be used by parents and care providers to help children deal with hard times. This bibliography was given to local daycare providers, and copies are available at the library. Heartland also donated funds which were used to place 19 books in various communities that they serve, including Litchfield. 
Here are the titles:
I Love you Like Crazy Cakes, by Rose Lewis, and I Wished for You, by Marianne Richmond, which are both about adoption.
Mom has Cancer, by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos, and The Goodbye Cancer Garden, by Janna Mathies, books written to help families understand and cope with moms who are seriously ill with cancer.
A Terrible Thing Happened, by Margaret M. Holmes, a book written for children who have witnessed violence or trauma.
The Recess Queen, by Alexis O’Neill, a book about bullying at school.
Bear Feels Sick, by Karma Wilson, a book about a bear whose friends take care of him when he is sick.
Night Catch, by Brenda Ehrmantraut, and Love, Lizzie, by Lisa Tucker McElroy, both stories about children whose parents are deployed. I Miss You Every Day, by Simms Taback, a story for anyone who misses someone. 
Nine titles help teach children about the reality of death. I Wish I Could Hold Your Hand, by Dr. Pat Palmer, Samantha Jane’s Missing Smile, by Julie Kaplow and Donna Pincus, Goodbye Mousie, by Robie H. Harris, Gentle Willow, By Joyce C. Mills, PhD., and I Miss You, by Pat Thomas are all written to be read to a grieving child.

A Child’s View of Grief, by Alan D. Wolfelt, PhD., When Children Grieve, by John W. James and Russell Friedman,  Creative Interventions for Bereaved Children, by Liana Lowenstein, and Talking About Death, by Earl A. Grollman, are all written for adults to help them guide children through the grief process. 
All in all, this is an impressive group of books. Thanks, Heartland Community Action Agency and Julie, for helping make this collection possible. I’m displaying them on the end of the children’s desk for a couple of weeks, and they will be available through the Pioneerland Library System catalog. See you at the library!

Friday, December 20, 2013

What are you doing New Year's, New Year's Eve?

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Now that the holidays are here, I’ll bet there are some of you who have time off in the next week or two.  Would you like some movie and TV series ideas for these cold days and nights? 

With the Golden Globe nominations announced, we have some ready-made suggestions about what’s supposed to be good, at least according to the Hollywood Foreign Press.  Following are DVDs we have at the Litchfield Library:

The Croods is nominated for a Golden Globe for best animated feature.   This family movie from DreamWorks tells the story of a prehistoric family whose cave is destroyed, causing them to go out and discover the larger world.  Major characters are voiced by Nicolas Cage, Emma Stone, and Ryan Reynolds. 

Behind the Candelabra is nominated for best TV movie or miniseries.  Matt Damon and Michael Douglas are both nominated for best actor, and Rob Lowe is nominated for best supporting actor.  The movie is based on the memoir of Liberace’s much younger partner, recounting his secret relationship with the flamboyant but closeted entertainer in the ‘70s and early ‘80s. 

Phil Spector has two nominations in the TV movie or miniseries category: Helen Mirren for best actress and Al Pacino for best actor.  This TV movie is inspired by the client-attorney relationship between music producer Spector and his defense attorney Linda Kenney Baden, who represented him in his trial for the murder of Lana Clarkson.  The movie’s writer and director, playwright David Mamet, says that it is a work of fiction, not an attempt to tell a true story. 

The Good Wife is a CBS series that is nominated for best dramatic television series, best actress Julianna Margulies, and best supporting actor Josh Charles.  The fourth season is the one currently nominated.  Julianna Margulies won the Golden Globe for best actress in the first season of the show and has been nominated every year since.  Margulies and Charles have also won Emmys for their work on the show.  Our library has all four seasons, which centers on the wife of a disgraced state attorney who returns to work as a litigator to provide for her family.

For something a little lighter, you could try Parks and Recreation, nominated for best musical or comedy television series and best actress Amy Poehler.  This NBC series is a mockumentary about the workings of local government in Pawnee, Indiana.  We have seasons one through four.

Kerry Washington is nominated for best actress in a dramatic TV series, Scandal.  She plays a former White House communications director who starts a crisis management firm to help people with damage control after a scandal.  She and her staff have some secrets of their own.  The library has the first season.

Our library has some of the other Golden Globe television nominees, which I’ve featured in previous columns: Downton Abbey, House of Cards, The Big Bang Theory, Girls, and Veep.  We will be getting the animated movie Despicable Me 2 once it’s been for sale in stores for a month; Universal makes libraries wait in hopes that you will get impatient and just buy it. 

The library staff wishes you happy viewing and happy holidays!

Note: We will be closed all day on Christmas Eve, Christmas, and New Year's Day.  We will be closing at 5 p.m. on New Year's Eve.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Holiday schedule

We will be closed on the following holidays:
Tuesday, December 24, Christmas Eve
Wednesday, December 25, Christmas
Wednesday, January 1, New Year's Day

We will be closing at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, December 31.

We will be open regular hours all other days.

  • No storytimes beginning this week until Saturday, January 14.

  • No gaming night on Monday, December 23rd. It will be held on Monday, December 30.

  • G.O.A.T. (high school teen advisory group) Christmas party will be held Monday, December 23rd, from 5-8 p.m.  Open to students in grades 9-12.  Please bring $5 for pizza; only hot chocolate will be provided.  Bring Christmas goodies if you wish.  Bring a white elephant gift to exchange. Wear your favorite holiday socks and hat.  We will be watching the movie Elf.

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Here comes Santa Claus...

Santa Claus visited our library on Thursday evening.  He read a story:

Over 80 people attended!

Friday, December 13, 2013

Santa! Nancy Carlson!

By Jan Pease


On December 12, the library welcomed a very special guest.  Children were enthralled as Santa read them a story and told them that he wanted them to spend as much time reading as they spend watching tv or playing video games.  He read the story Santa and the Three Bears and told and sang Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer.  Parents have posted many adorable pictures of their children after the event, and I put a few cute ones on the library Facebook page.  I lost count at about 80 people – kids of all ages and their parents. 

Many parents said that our Santa is the best one they’ve seen.  I thought about this after our event.  I think it’s because he is so real.  His warmth comes through to the children and parents, and if you pulled on his beard, you would hear a very real “ouch!”  I can put you in touch with his local manager if you like. 

Beginner Book Club celebrated the local production of The Best Christmas Pageant Ever by reading Barbara Robinson’s very funny book and watching the TV movie from 1986.  Several of the children in book club have roles in the play, and it was fun to watch them pick out their characters and say the lines.  The message of the book, movie, and play is there right in front of you without being preachy.  And I think our Litchfield Herdmans are the equal or better of the children in the movie. 

We enjoyed the last Toddler Time, Friday Story Time, and Saturday Story Time.  It’s time now for a break over the holidays and during what are usually the coldest days of winter.  Back in the day, these weeks were also when chickenpox would spread like wildfire through story hour children.   We still try to keep from spreading influenza and colds.  Wonderful volunteers actually wash our rhythm instruments to keep germs to a minimum.
We’ll start the New Year with our Saturday Story time on the 11th of January with a visit from author/illustrator Nancy Carlson.   She is the well-known and loved author of many picture books.  She will be our guest at the Once Upon a Time Story Time thanks to Minnesota Legacy funding.  Our regular programming will continue from January 14th through May 10.  

Thanks again to the parents who made our Santa event such a success.  See you at the library!

Monday, December 9, 2013

Take It From Our Teens

by Tiana Schweim

Litchfield library’s teen section of shelves is labeled YA, for Young Adult.  I got to thinking about that label recently.  You know, young adults are capable of juggling life and multi-tasking with the best of us!    Adolescents are a wonderful wealth of comedy and tragedy all wrapped up in eclectic packaging.  Their labels could all be stamped the same: YA Seeks Adventurous Relationship with Life!  I’ve learned not to judge a book by its cover.  Cracking open the cover of a teenager can encompass any genre you can imagine: Drama, Mystery, Romance, Adventure, Futuristic, Realistic, Historical, and Fantasy.  The challenge for me is to design teen programming that will offer a little bit of the abnormal anchored to good old-fashioned, non-fiction life in Litchfield.

Our teen program launched just a few months ago.  The handful of kids that were showing up to monthly book club discussions has grown into almost three dozen teens who are interested in getting involved in the decision-making process and advocating for event programming for their peers.  These young adults are academic, athletic, and have real-life families and part-time jobs that they are committed to.  They have relationships and friendships and they make time for reading as well.  These kids are as different as the content found between the covers of our YA books, but they all have one thing in common: They like to hang out at our library!

In October, we promoted Teen Read Week by hosting a short story contest.  We had twelve wonderful writers contribute their original manuscripts.  Our teens are authors!  We also hosted a teen advisory group event where we held our inaugural election of officers.  Our teens are voters and leaders!  The group decided to plan an event for December 1 to do a service project at the library.  This past Sunday, we had nine young adults who cleaned and decorated the library for Christmas.  Our teens are volunteers!  Our teens are decorators!  Our creative teens are inspired to see the work of their own hands and hearts come to fruition; they’re interested in investing in the community!

Tonight is the first big snowfall, and yet the library remains open to serve this community.  I sit here in our cozy public library with the reflection of twinkling lights all around me.  I wonder as my eyes wander around this giant room filled with shelves of every genre.  How many books were checked out today? How many hands have made use of our free computer stations, or our free Wi-Fi?  Will we ever know what we offer to the public as we hand them a book, a video, or a smile?  How lucky we are here in Litchfield to be blessed by the dreams and sacrifices of those who made our beautiful library a reality.

As Litchfield’s city sidewalks become busy sidewalks all dressed up in holiday style think of this.  Each day brings unique opportunity.  Maybe it’s time to get involved.  Maybe volunteering will be your resolution for 2014.  Don’t let the label on your shelf define who you are.  Take it from our teens, life is full of exciting new adventures, all you have to do is open the cover!

Note: The next Group Of Advising Teens (G.O.A.T.) event is scheduled for Monday, December 23, 5:00-8:00.  Bring a white elephant gift to exchange and $5 for pizza.  We will be watching the movie “Elf”.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas...

Our library's Group of Advising Teens (GOAT) cleaned and decorated the library for the holidays.  
They had fun, and it looks great!

Monday, December 2, 2013

A Time to Make Christmas Gifts

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The season is here for coming up with Christmas gifts.  I was a huge Tasha Tudor fan as a child, and I remember pouring over her book A Time to Keep: The Tasha Tudor Book of Holidays again and again and again.  The November section says, “That’s the month we made Christmas presents.”  Her beautiful watercolors on that page depict people weaving cloth, working with wood, and weaving baskets.  We are past November now, so there isn’t much time before Christmas to be making things.  But for those of you who can still squeeze in some time for gift-making, we have some interesting books that can help you make a variety of handicrafts.

Our library has a substantial collection of knitting books.  Among our newest are Little Aran and Celtic Knits for Kids, Knitting with Icelandic Wool, and Metropolitan Knits: Chic Designs for Urban Style.
The Aran and Celtic knitting book features 25 patterns for babies and toddlers.  This includes scarves, socks, mittens, and other items. 

The second book sounds preposterously specific, but apparently Icelandic wool, or lopi, is a well-known type of yarn with wonderful qualities.  This book contains 65 patterns for clothing items: mostly traditional sweaters but also hats and mittens.

Metropolitan Knits is a collection of sophisticated and classic clothing patterns.  In addition to sweaters, it includes a few smaller projects: scarves, hats, and cowls.

If you prefer sewing to knitting, we have a really unique new book: Shadowfolds: Surprisingly Easy-to-Make Geometric Designs in Fabric.  The book is basically an origami book for use with fabric.  Customer reviews say the instructions make it easy to use.  Projects in the book include a pillow, a book cover, a purse, and many other distinctive items.

For the jewelry makers, we have a new book called Chinese, Celtic & Ornamental Knots for Beaded Jewellery.  The British author (hence the spelling of the title) explains how to create over forty pieces of jewelry based on knotwork and beading, with step-by-step photographs and diagrams.

If working with duct tape is more your speed, check out our new little paperback, Go Crazy with Duct Tape.  Kids especially may enjoy making jewelry or covering a tin, a photo album, or a water bottle to make a customized gift.

Now maybe some of you are like me: none of these sounds like something I want to do.  Every female in my family enjoys making some kind of fiber craft or other artistic creation: they sew, or knit, or scrapbook, or draw... and I just don’t.  But I love to cook and bake.  If making food gifts sounds more appealing to you, too, take a look at our large cookbook collection. 

One gift-specific book we have is Gourmet Gifts: 100 Delicious Recipes for Every Occasion to Make Yourself and Wrap with Style.  The author focuses as much on the presentation as the recipes, with hazelnut brittle wrapped in a faux bundle of letters, caramelized orange slices packed in small round tins, and jars of salsa wrapped in traditional Mexican tissue paper. 

And if you don’t have time before Christmas (I’m with you there), stop in to look for these and other craft and cooking titles after the holidays.  There will be plenty of winter left to work on fun indoor projects.    

Monday, November 25, 2013

No game night 11/25

Game night/D&D is cancelled for tonight.  Sorry for the short notice, but it is due to illness.  Plan to join us next Monday evening at 6:00!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mark Your Calendars!

By Jan Pease

It’s time for the last children’s programs of 2013.  When I look at the calendar, I know it’s true, but I’m having difficulty believing it. There will be story time on November  29th  for anyone who isn’t out shopping for bargains.  Sometimes we have a large group on the Friday after Thanksgiving, and sometimes it’s a tiny group. But we will still have fun.

December is crazy busy for most of us, and the library is no exception. 

December 4, 5, & 6 are regular Toddler Time, Bedtime Story, and Preschool Story Time.  We’ll share one of the new Christmas books that just arrived.  On December 9, I’ll visit the ECFE Santa time with a stack of Christmas books. I’m available to read to children, but it’s even more fun when moms or dads read to their little ones.  On December 10th Darcy Cole will be at the library for Fun with 4-H, from 3-4:30.

December  12 at 3:00 p.m. is our Beginner Book Club.  We will talk about the book, The Best Christmas Pageant Ever   and watch part of the movie that was based on Barbara Robinson’s book.   Several of the children in book club are in the play of the same title that will be presented at the Opera House on Dec. 14 and 15.

In the evening on December 12, Santa will come here to the library.  He will come at 6:00 and stay until  7:30.  Santa promised that he would read a story, sing a song or two, and be available for pictures.  An easy craft and cookies will be available in the meeting room.

December 13 at Preschool Story Time, we will read The House that Santa Built, by Dianne de Las Casas.  This rollicking book will be the perfect last book for Preschool Story Time.

 Once Upon a Time Story Time, our new preschool story  hour,  happens on   the 2nd Saturday of each month.   On Saturday, December 14, at 10:00, The Gingerbread Boy will be featured.     

On December 19th, the Intermediate Book Club, “Get Caught Reading,” will meet and discuss books that they like.  Since some avid readers attend this book club,  it could get interesting.   

January programs will start with a shazam!   Nancy Carlson, a well-known and well-loved children’s author and illustrator, will visit the library on January 11th at 10:00.   All ages are invited to meet Ms. Carlson, who has visited Litchfield before.

Mark your calendars! Start your engines!  Synchronize  your watches and 
e-readers!  Celebrate the holidays at the library!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Jennah Anderson, Winner of Short Story Contest

Congratulations to Jennah Anderson, the winner of the Teen Read Week short story contest! Jennah's short story, "Finally Free" was selected from among 14 entries by a group of outside judges. Her printed story will remain on display for the public until the end of 2013. She receives a $50 gift card to Walmart which was generously donated by the Friends of the Library group (Thank you, Friends!). Jennah is a serious reader and advocate for library programming for teens. She was recently elected by her peers to the office of President of our new Teen Advisory Group. Jennah is a freshman at Litchfield High School. She enjoys reading, drawing, and is an aspiring writer. Her favorite author is Maggie Stiefvater. Way to go, Jennah!

"FINALLY FREE" by Jennah Anderson

The waves washed over me once again, sending me spiraling towards the cove.  I knew if I didn’t get out of the water, and soon, I would die.  The island my lifeboat had been headed towards towered above me.  I surfaced and gulped in air, trying to see over the waves.  My searches were hopeless though, only revealing rocky shoreline.  The waves would dash me upon the rocks and that would be the end of little Ana Pierce. 
Another wave descended upon me, bringing me even closer to the rocks.  Something bumped my leg, but I was far more worried about the rocks than any shark or squid that inhabited these waters.  I braced myself for the next wave, getting ready to swim under like I had seen surfers do on TV.  As I dove, I felt the water spiraling above me.  Coming up again, I looked to the shoreline, praying for a miracle.  Being this close to the rocks, if I didn’t find anything in this search, I was a goner.  
A sigh of relief overtook me as I found the sandy cove, hidden for view when I was farther out.  I began to swim diagonally towards the cove entrance, diving under every wave, swimming closer inch by inch.  As I swam closer though, fatigue began to set in, which didn’t surprise me, I had been swimming in the storm for quite sometime.  As I began to fantasize about land, a huge tube wave sent me crashing into the rocks.  I covered my head, managing to mainly shelter it, though I still hit pretty hard.  When the wave subsided, I was carried back out with the next waves undertow.  The next one slammed me against the jagged rocks again, and I felt a rib crack.  As I was again carried back out with an undertow, something grabbed my pant leg and dragged me farther under.  I prayed it would be over soon, as my breath began to leave my lungs, and the world turned black.
I woke up on the beach, facedown.  I propped myself up and began to cough up water, scaring myself with the amount I had ingested.  Turning over, I sat up, and glanced towards the island, bathed pale white in the moonlight.  I sighed as my searching showed me no one, leaving my unanswered question as to who rescued me.  I slowly managed to stand up, annoyed with my salt sticky t-shirt and jeans.  I made to move forward but I was stopped in my tracks by a pair of glowing red eyes.  There, standing before me, is what kept all of us kids out of the ocean.  What sent shivers down everyone's spines.  And what I had been told had slaughtered a whole towns years before on our home island.  An equitum aquæ.
A water horse.
The pitch black stallion advanced towards me, slowly and confidently.  I held still, praying it would get bored quickly without any chase.  It raised it’s slender head high and let out a shrill sound that reminded me of the sound of hurricane wind.  An answering keening came from the sea and the stallion glanced it’s way, pawing the sand.  Looking back my way, I could see the hatred in the horse’s eye, and it must have saw my fear.  It grinned, a gruesome horrifying smile of sharp pointed teeth, before taking another step further.
A splashing sound drew my attention towards the coves glassy smooth water.  The storm had subsided, though a wave was drawing nearer and nearer.  The stallion raised his head and let out a scream that shattered the silent night.  As the wave reached shore, the stallion rose to meet it.  Only then did I notice the other water horse, riding the wave in.  The equitum aquæ met each other with a sound like thunder, each keening their challenge to the other.  The stallions circled each other in the sand, and I backed away closing my eyes as they rose to meet each other again.  I heard a cry of pain and the sound of a horse running into the ocean.  I opened my eyes to see the pitch black stallion look me in the eye before retreating to the ocean.  With a single splash, he disappeared.
I heard the champion stallion began to keen his triumph, a scary sound sending chills down my spine.  I slowly turned to look at the champion, who practically glowed in the night light.  His main body was a rich cream color, stained on his neck with a streak of blood, while he had pitch black stockings.  His tail swished back and forth, showing that it too, along with his mane he was currently shaking, where pitch black.  He rose on his hind legs, pawing the air in front of him with a final scream before landing and turning to me, with his startlingly green eyes.
I dropped to my knees and put my head in my hands, I waited for him to kill me.
And waited.
“Are you alright?” a quiet whisper reached me.
I glanced up, only to jump back as my eyes alit upon a boy about my age squatting before me.  “Who are you?  Where the heck did you come from?” I cried, astonished that someone else was there.
He ran his hand through his night black hair, raising his green eyes to meet mine.  I gasped, then looked to his neck.  I groaned and buried my face in my hands yet again.  “Are you serious?  Am I really on this island, of all places?” I mumbled through my hands.
A quiet chuckle emanated from him.  “Yes it is this island,” he told me quietly, “they must really paint us out as terrible creatures on the mainland.”
“Ya think?  You just tried to kill another,” I responded.
“Well, for the record, he was going to kill you.  Now I need to get you to safety, he was not pleased with my intervention.  He had his mind set on killing you, and he could come back at any time,” the mysterious boy said.
I raised my eyebrows and began to ask a question, but his silent stare stopped me.  “No questions, but I promise I can answer them later, once you are safe,” he told me. 

To Be Continued...

Monday, November 18, 2013

Homework help now available at the library on Mondays

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

            We are going to begin offering homework and reading help on Mondays at the library.  A Minnesota Reading Corps tutor who is working in an area elementary school will be available in the Litchfield Library’s children’s area between two and four p.m. on most Mondays beginning in December.  For the kids in Litchfield schools, this will be just a short window after school, but homeschooled students and ACGC students will have a little more time to work with.  Our volunteer is also available at the Grove City public library from ten to noon on Mondays when ACGC isn’t in session. 

            Students in elementary and middle school are welcome to stop in during this time for practice with reading or help with any kind of homework.  They do not have to be struggling readers; our homework help time is open to anyone.  High school students who need help with reading or writing-related homework can also meet with our tutor, who has taught elementary and middle school in the past.  At this point, we plan for it to be a drop-in program, but we may start signing kids up for particular times if we get a big response. 

            Minnesota Reading Corps is an AmeriCorps program.  AmeriCorps was founded in 1993 as part of the Corporation for National and Community Service.  It is sometimes called “the domestic Peace Corps”.  According to their website, the volunteers are mostly full-time, and they typically make a service commitment of 10 months to a year.

            Minnesota Reading Corps is the largest state AmeriCorps program in the country.  They provide trained literacy tutors to schools for children age three through grade three. Their tutors work in Head Start classrooms, preschools, and elementary schools throughout the state.  The goal is to help students who are just below proficiency in reading become successful readers by the end of third grade. 

            Why third grade?  It’s the year when students switch from learning to read to reading to learn.  Multiple studies have found that students who are behind in reading skills in third grade begin to fall behind their peers, because reading is an essential way that students learn science, history, and other subjects.  A study released in 2011 by the Annie E. Casey Foundation found that students who don’t read proficiently by third grade are four times more likely to drop out of high school. 

The Reading Corps follows a research-based program to help kids who are just a little behind in reading skills catch up so that they can be successful in school in the years to come.  We are happy to work with this valuable program to bring their trained tutors into our libraries.

Saturday, November 9, 2013

Five from the Standing Order List

By Jan Pease

As I’ve mentioned in the past, as we work on ordering books for our Meeker County libraries, Beth and I use a tool called standing orders. These are lists of authors and series that we can choose to receive automatically in the next year. I have many authors that are predictable and that I would purchase. Think of a writer/illustrator like Eric Carle. His books have that “Eric Carle” look, are bright, cheerful, and sure to be a hit with younger children. He never fails to bring out wonderful books, but he never surprises me with a full length novel.

When I think of Donna Jo Napoli, I think of her retelling of fairy tales, like Beast or her version of Cinderella, set in China, Bound. Ms. Napoli does an extensive amount of research for her novels, so it isn’t surprising that she would write Treasury of Egyptian Mythology. This beautiful book follows her impressive Treasury of Greek Mythology. Egyptian mythology is loaded with colorful images and information about little-known major and minor deities.

Another standing-order author, Alexander McCall Smith, has begun to write Precious Ramotswe Mysteries for young readers. I haven’t read the whole “No. 1 Ladies Detective” series, but I  am a big fan of Precious Ramotswe. The first book in the children's series,The Great Cake Mystery, introduces Precious. The second book, The Mystery of Meerkat Hill, tells the story of how Precious used her detective skills and found her family’s cow.

Jenny Nimmo, another well-known, standing-order author, has continued her “Chronicles of the Red King” series with  Leopard’s Gold . Leopard’s Gold features the nine children of King Timoken and is a fantastic family drama, full of fantasy, magical siblings and friends, and a spectacular story line.

Jan Brett is a favorite of mine. The cover of her new book, Cinders: a Chicken Cinderella, features an ornately dressed chicken in a sleigh pulled by large ducks, driven by mice footmen. Ms. Brett visited St. Petersburg, Russia and was inspired by the architecture and the snowy landscape for this retelling of a favorite fairy tale. The fold out page of the hens and roosters dancing at the ball would make a beautiful poster, if you really like chickens. The real chickens who inspired the characters are Edwina and Elof, who are both beautiful Phoenix chickens.

Finally, fans of the “Ranger’s Apprentice” series have been waiting for book 12, The Royal Ranger. John Flanagan is another author on the standing order list. This is the final book in the series. It’s time for Will Treaty, who has become the finest Ranger in the land, to take on an apprentice. His companion series, The Brotherband Chronicles will continue with the fourth book coming out next year. Could Will’s apprentice begin a new series of adventures? Time will tell. See you at the library!

Thursday, November 7, 2013

Closed for Veterans Day

Photo by Josh LeClair,
Creative Commons license
We will be closed on Monday, November 11, for Veterans Day.

Because of this, there will be no gaming night next week.

Friday, November 1, 2013

Thanking Them for Their Service

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

            Our library will be closed on Monday, November 11, to observe Veterans Day.  This seems a good time to highlight some of the recent books about American veterans that we have available.

            Thank You for Your Service is an account of the impact of war on veterans after they return home.  Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist David Finkel followed some of the soldiers from the unit with which he was embedded during the Iraq surge.  He describes the struggles and suffering they and their families experience after they go back to civilian life.  Finkel asks and answers questions about what we ask of the men and women who go to war, and what we thank them for when they return.

Minnesota native Lt. Col. Mark Weber wrote a collection of letters to his sons when he was diagnosed with terminal cancer.  Tell My Sons: A Father’s Last Letters is full of Weber’s stories about courage, words and actions, humility, and humor.  Robin Williams wrote the foreword, and notable people have praised the book, from author Mitch Albom to the Iraqi Chief of Defense, General Zibari.  Weber died in June.

For a great World War II survival story, pick up The Secret Rescue: An Untold Story of American Nurses and Medics Behind Nazi Lines.  Author Cate Lineberry researched a story kept secret until 1990 when communism ended in Albania and the people involved finally felt they could safely tell it.  A medical air evacuation flight crash-landed in Nazi-occupied Albania.  Most of the thirty surviving Americans walked over 600 miles, aided by locals, before they were rescued 62 days later.  A few who were separated from the group waited twice as long to get out. 

            Another of the books we have on World War II includes the experience of a local resident, Wanda Nordlie.  Wanda, Lieutenant Thoen at the time, was an army nurse who helped to liberate the concentration camp at Ebensee, Austria.  The book Inside the Gates by Dr. Richard MacDonald tells the previously untold story.

The veterans of World War I were typically ignored once World War II happened.  In the book The Last of the Doughboys: The Forgotten Generation and Their Forgotten World War, we can read about the surviving WWI veterans that author Richard Rubin found, beginning in 2003.  Between the ages of 101 and 113 when he interviewed them, all are now gone.  The book is a tribute to these veterans, as well as a collection of fascinating stories.  Expect to see more attention paid to World War I as we approach the 100th anniversary next year. 

            There is so much to learn about the experiences generations of veterans have had in war and peacetime.  We thank them for their service to our country.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Early Christmas?

By Jan Pease
My desk is piled high with new books, making it feel like early Christmas here.  Several well-known authors have published new books just in time for readers to curl up with a good book.
James Patterson is famous for writing thrillers for adults, but he has written several series for young people.  Witch and Wizard, Maximum Ride, Daniel X, the Middle School Series, Treasure Hunters, and now he has written the second book in the Confessions series, Confessions: The Private School Murders. According to Mr. Patterson’s website, “Wealthy young women are being murdered, and the police aren't looking for answers in the right places. Enter Tandy Angel. Her first case was the mystery of her parents' deaths. Now she's working to exonerate her brother of his girlfriend's homicide. And danger just got closer.”  Tandy’s first case was explored in Confessions of a Murder Suspect.  Suspend a bit of disbelief at a teenage detective (move over, Nancy Drew) and enjoy another thriller by a master writer.

Tamora Pierce continues her Circle saga with Battle Magic.  This book fits in between Street Magic and Melting StonesWill of the Empress comes in there somewhere.  True fans of Ms. Pierce spend time thinking about timelines and contradictions, but I would just recommend reading her books.  They are a treat.

James Dashner has finished his Maze Runner series and is starting a new one, The Mortality Doctrine. This series begins with the Eye of Minds, and the series is set “in a world of hyper-advanced technology, cyber-terrorists, and gaming beyond your wildest dreams . . . and your worst nightmares,”    quoting from  Mr. Dashner said in an interview for  “It’s in the future, but I really don’t want people to think of this as dystopian. It’s not. The world is basically in fine shape. But virtual reality technology has gone through the roof and most people are obsessed with it. Like I said earlier, the line between what’s real and what’s not gets blurred, which sets the stage for some fun twists and mind-bendy stuff. I think my fans will have a good time with it.” 

School Library Journal has stated that horror for teens is not a trend, but a staple. (Horror in YA Lit is a Staple, Not a Trend By Kelly Jensen on September 13, 2013)   With that in mind, Revealed, by P.C. Cast, will remind us of why Ms. Cast’s books are so popular.  This is the eleventh book in the House of Night Series.  Reviewers keep mentioning that this is the penultimate book in the series.  What does that mean?  I had to look it up, and it means that there will be one book after this one.

Finally, fans of Veronica Roth know that Allegiant, the last book in the Divergent trilogy, was released on October 22.  Customer reviews at range from “What a perfect climax to a perfect series” to “This book was absolutely terrible.”   Your experience of this popular series will probably be somewhere in  between the extremes.    It is #2 on Amazon’s best seller list, and I’ve already got a second copy on order.  The series begins with Divergent, continues with Insurgent, and comes to a controversial ending in Allegiant.  This series is definitely on my “to read soon” list.  See you at the library!

Monday, October 21, 2013

No D&D tonight

We will not have Dungeons & Dragons tonight at the library due to an unexpected conflict for our volunteer leader.  Join us next Monday night at 6:00.

Friday, October 18, 2013

Here's your chance -- tell us what you think!

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Have you always wanted to tell library management what you think about the library?  Here’s your big chance to give us your opinion.    

Pioneerland Library System is creating a strategic plan for the next several years.  Right now we are offering a survey online to get input from the public.  It’s only seven questions long and very easy to complete.  You can take it even if you don’t use the library-- tell us why you don’t!  Please tell us what services you think are the most important for the library to offer and how you use our library. 

The survey will be available through our website and Pioneerland’s for the next couple of weeks.  Go to or to find it.  If you aren’t comfortable using a computer, come in to the library and ask a staff member to help you complete it on a library computer.

Here’s another chance for your voice to be heard: we have a short story contest going on for teens through the month of October.  The contest is open to grades 6 through 12.  The story should be 1000 words or less with no profanity or vulgar language.  Email your stories to by November 1; we are not accepting entries on paper.  By entering the contest, you agree to have your story published on our blog in November. 

We are holding this contest to observe Teen Read Week, an annual event celebrated in libraries across the country.

And, finally, there’s a new opportunity for teens to make a difference in our library.  The Teen Advisory Group (TAG) is a group of 9th through 12th graders from our area who want to make our library a great place for teens.  They will meet every month to discuss and plan programs, make book recommendations, and talk about other teen-related library issues.  They will also assist with Saturday storyhours, volunteer at the Watercade book sale, and do other occasional volunteering at the library.

The next meeting for TAG will be on Saturday, October 26, from 4-8 p.m.  The group will elect officers and begin planning, then have a Halloween costume contest, eat, and play games.  Signing up with Tiana ahead of time is required.

This is a brand-new group, so it’s a great opportunity for high school students to take on leadership roles.  Just think, it could sound good on a college application: president of the Litchfield Public Library’s teen advisory group.  Beyond that, though, it will be a great way to help make the library the kind of place teens want to use, to make friends, and to have fun.

This is your library.  It belongs to this community.  Get involved and make your voice heard.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Take our survey, tell us what you want!

Pioneerland Library System invites you to


We want to better serve your library needs! 

Visit any PLS member library, library website, or the system website at to take the survey to tell us what’s important to you!

Questions?  Ask a library staff member to assist you!

Ø Tell us what you want to see in your libraries! 
Ø Tell us how you use your library!
Ø Even tell us why you DON’T use the library!

Thank you for participating!

Here's a direct link: Pioneerland Survey

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Books and Books, and More Books!

By Jan Pease
To celebrate the Beginner Book Club book, Andrew Lost: On the Dog, I put several color pictures of common things at extreme magnification on the children’s desk.  It’s amazing to see how alive Velcro looks, or how fierce a honey bee can seem.  The answers are on the back of each picture, so take a peek.  The Andrew Lost series is on order, because we really enjoyed reading the first book.

Several significant books have crossed my desk this week.  Suzanne Collins drew from her childhood experiences when her dad was deployed in Vietnam in 1968. Her newest book, Year of the Jungle, provides a poignant look at the Vietnam experience through a child’s eyes.  In 1968, I was 15, and had somehow become used to seeing the war on the news every night.  Ms. Collins remembers looking up, seeing video of soldiers unmoving on the ground, and being terrified, because her father was there. 
Martin W. Sandler, who is well known for his Through the Lens series, has written and illustrated Imprisoned: The Betrayal of Japanese Americans During World War II.   School Library Journal states: “Sandler expertly crafts a narrative that manages to explain the horror and incomprehensibility of locking up American citizens in prison camps simply because of their ethnic ancestry. Japanese American relocation has long been expurgated from school history texts about World War II, and here this delicate topic is handled with sensitivity and insight, providing an in-depth look at the full story, from anti-Japanese sentiments during the first wave of immigration through more current issues such as redress.”  Most children’s books soften the message about war and its consequences.  Mr. Sandler uses strong, active words: imprisoned rather than interned, and he is straight forward about   prejudice in the 1940’s and today. 
Jack Gantos received the Newbery Medal in 2012 for his book, Dead End in Norvelt.  The long-awaited sequel has arrived.  From Norvelt to Nowhere promises to be as fast paced and funny as its predecessor.  There is already award buzz about this title, which was just released September 24th

Finally, VIII is a blend of fact and fiction, written by H.M. Castor.    Ms. Castor is an English historian and author who lives in Bristol, England.  Her research and love of the Sixteenth century led her to write this book about Henry the Eighth.  This YA novel is a great example of what historical fiction can be.  The author recommends the website British History Online ( because of the wealth of information it contains. If you’re interested in maps, historical documents, or the bill for “two pair of perfumed gloves of crimson velvet and purple, trimmed with buttons of diamonds and  rubies,” this is the website for you. And if you enjoy historical fiction, read VIII.