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.

Friday, December 30, 2016

I Love Picture Books!

by Jan Pease

Happy New Year!  Looking back at our blog entries, I realized that it is time to peek at some new picture books.  I reviewed picture books in November for National Picture Book month, but we’re starting a whole new year.  May I just say, “I love picture books!”

1 2 3 Dream is a beautiful counting book written and illustrated by Kim Krans.  Each spread pairs a numeral with a corresponding animal or plant which begins with the same letter as the numeral.  For example, five fish are paired with the numeral five.  Ms. Krans also published  A B C Dream, which is   another wonderful book to share with a child you love.

The Bear Who Couldn’t Sleep, by Caroline Nastro, is a sweet book that tells about the adventures of a young bear that just can’t seem to hibernate.  He walks into New York City, visits several famous landmarks, is rousted out of Central Park, and finally makes his way home to the quiet winter forest.  This is a perfect book for grandparents to have on hand to help
busy children go to sleep. 

Kurt Cyrus is a very talented illustrator.  He has a bold, recognizable style and has illustrated books with many well-known authors including Eve Bunting.  Mr. Cyrus also writes and his style is bold there, too.  Billions of Bricks is not your usual counting book.  It also isn’t about Legos.  Younger children will simply enjoy the catchy rhymes: “Two, four, six. Look at all the bricks!”   Older children will figure out counting by twos and tens, patterns of four and eventually hundreds. 

Many of you know that at one time I had a favorite cat, a huge black and white domestic short-hair named Patches.  He was white with black patches and was so lazy that he liked to lie on the floor and barely bat at the red dot of the laser toy.  He eventually weighed about eighteen pounds.  Frans Vischer is an illustrator who lives with his family and a lazy, fat cat, and he has immortalized his kitty in the character, Fuddles.  The first two books were Fuddles and A Very Fuddles Christmas. The third Fuddles book has just been published, Fuddles and Puddles.  Poor Fuddles has his world turned upside down when his family brings home a puppy named Puddles with predictable results.   Mr. Vischer has worked in animation at both Disney and Dream Works and it shows in his illustrations, which seem ready to move right off the page.

Cat in the Night, by Madeleine Dunphy, is about a cat that is not at all lazy, named Rusty.  Rusty wakes up just has his owner, a little girl named Gwen, falls asleep.  He prowls through the night, meeting other night time creatures and fighting with an intruder cat before he comes home and crawls back into bed.

While this makes a great story, I just have to add that it’s a bad idea to let cats roam at will.  In Litchfield, there has been feline leukemia in the feral cat population, which can be spread by bites and scratches from an infected cat.  There are also wild animals such as coyotes that prey on domestic cats and raccoons and skunks which can be rabid.  My current cat, Kitty M, has lived a long, indoor life after being rescued from a dumpster in Willmar about 14 years ago.

News Flash: Therapy dogs will visit the library on Saturday, January 14 at 10:00.   Sign up to practice reading with a very nice dog.

P.S. I love picture books!

Friday, December 16, 2016

Plan ahead for holidays at the library

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Merry Christmas!  We’re quickly approaching the holidays, and the libraries in Pioneerland Library System will be closed some days because of that.  With Christmas and New Year’s Day falling on Sundays, the schedule will be a little different than usual.

The library will be closed on Saturday, December 24, for Christmas Eve.  It will also be closed on Monday, December 26, the day after Christmas.  The 26th is the federal holiday this year, so the library won’t be the only place that’s closed on Monday.

Since New Year’s Eve falls on a Saturday this year, our library’s hours won’t be affected that day.  We close at 5 p.m. on Saturdays.  The library will be closed on Monday, January 2, for New Year’s Day, again the government holiday.

Because of how Christmas falls on the weekend, the Litchfield Library will be closed for three days in a row, December 24-26, which is rare.  You’ll want to plan ahead to pick up the things you want to check out.  The things you have on hold won’t leave any faster than usual, because we hold DVDs for three business days and everything else for seven business days; the days we’re closed won’t count against you.  You can also return materials at any time in the book drop in the wall that faces the parking lot.  If materials are returned while we’re closed, they’ll check in as though they were returned the last time we were open.  This means that anything returned over that three-day Christmas weekend will count as being returned on Friday.  Just make sure they’re in before we open Tuesday morning to avoid late fees.   

So what might you want to check out over the two holiday weekends?  One of our newest movies is The BFG, based on the Roald Dahl children’s book of the same name.  “BFG” is short for “big friendly giant.”  The BFG is 24 feet tall and very nice, unlike the other residents of Giant Country, who eat children.  He snatches a girl named Sophie from an orphanage, and the two of them come up with a plan to save the children of the world from the other child-eating giants.  This movie is directed by Steven Spielberg.

If you missed it on television, you could check out A Charlie Brown Christmas from the library.  This gem from 1965 is extremely popular at Christmastime, though, so check ahead to see if you can get it (true of all of our new DVDs and our holiday classics).

Finding Dory is the new sequel to Pixar’s Finding Nemo.  Forgetful Dory suddenly remembers she has a family who might be looking for her, so she sets out with Nemo and Marlin to find them.  It sounds as though the sequel nearly lives up to the greatness of the original movie.

More adult but apparently funny and heartwarming, Hunt for the Wilderpeople is a New Zealand film that had a limited American release.  A jaded city kid raised in foster care is sent to a family in the country, where he finally feels at home.  But when a tragedy threatens to send him somewhere else, the boy and his cantankerous “Uncle Hec,” played by Sam Neill, go on the run into the wilderness.

Some other recent DVDs at our library include A Bigger Splash, “Elvis and Nixon”, “Everybody Wants Some!”, season 2 of “Outlander”, and “Pete’s Dragon”.  Stop in for something to watch, something to listen to, or something to read this holiday season.  Happy holidays!

Friday, December 9, 2016

Gotta Read them All!

By Jan Pease

This cold snap means it’s time to settle in with a hot cup of coffee and a book.  These young adult novels might be enjoyed by anyone of any age. 

First, Dean Hughes, who is well-known for writing action-filled books about young men during the Second World War, has published a new book, Four-Four-Two, about Japanese Americans who fought with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team during World War II.  Mr. Hughes is straight forward when writing about the racial attitudes of the time.  He also writes honestly about how these brave young men lived and died. 

A Thousand Nights was written by E.K. Johnston, a prolific writer of young adult novels who is known for writing contemporary fantasy and re-imagining fairy tales.  Kate is becoming even more famous for her book set in the Star Wars universe, Star Wars: Ahsoka.   A Thousand Nights is a re-telling of the story of  Scheherazade and the 1001 Tales of The Arabian Nights.  The storyteller is not named and there are rich details added here and there.  The descriptions of the desert and desert-dwellers seem especially real.

Weregirl by C.D.Bell is the story of a high school junior who is bitten by a wolf and becomes, of course, a werewolf.  The cover of the book caught my eye, showing a white wolf with startling bright blue eyes.  Some romance, a little werewolf lore, and a main character who is a runner make this an unusual werewolf story. 

Greg Hurwitz is another well-known writer.  He wrote the best-selling book, Orphan X.  He has written a science fiction book full of alien/zombie/teen problems, titled, The Rains.  I don’t know where to start; this is a violent, gory page-turner.  I’ve mentioned that I don’t get zombie literature.  In this case, the zombie behavior is triggered by an alien invasion by sinister plants.   

Neal Schusterman is another writer who is no stranger to strange.  In his new book, Scythe, Mr. Schusterman develops a world so perfect that even death has been defeated.  This makes population control vitally important, so enter the Scythes, professional killers who learn their trade as teenagers.  This is the first book in the series, and it will be interesting to see how it develops.  

Finally, fans of the Ranger’s Apprentice series have waited for The Battle of Hackham Heath.  John Flanagan has written 13 “Ranger’s Apprentice” books, and six “Brotherband” books.  Now he is writing prequels to his first series.  The first “Ranger’s Apprentice: the Early Years” was The Tournament at Gorlan, the prequel to The Ruins of Gorlan.  This new “early years” book, The Battle of Hackham Heath, is the second prequel to The Ruins of Gorlan. Is this confusing?  Mr. Flanagan seems so fond of the universe he created that he doesn’t want to leave it.   As I read reviews of fans at, I realized that Mr. Flanagan’s fans don’t want to leave the Ranger’s Apprentice universe any more than he does.  Read them all!

 Snuggle up with a good book and enjoy some winter reading! 

Tuesday, December 6, 2016

Random Things to Do!

By Jan Pease

A parent at the ECFE (Early Childhood Family Education) advisory council meeting December 1 made a statement about giving your children the gift of experience.  Her words stuck with me.  I admire the intentionality of this family as they teach their children lessons about what really matters. 

Of course, the first experience that came to my mind was our wonderful library.  A library card is one of the most empowering gifts our children can receive.  I love to watch parents show their children how to use books. Imagine the delight of a very young child opening and closing a book for the first time.  It’s incredible.

 Last summer some of the Pioneerland Library System libraries had a small folder they called a library passport.  As patrons visited various libraries in PLS, the librarian would stamp or sign the passport.  I think visiting libraries in the many towns served by PLS would be a family road trip worth doing.  The member libraries addresses, phone numbers and hours can be found on the Pioneerland website,
The Meeker County Historical Society and GAR Hall in the block next to the library is a small gem of a museum.  They are open Tuesday-Sunday noon to 4 p.m. Many towns, both large and small have unique little museums. 

Litchfield on Lake Ripley has a lake! 
People drive here from places near and far to come to Lake Ripley, which I take completely for granted.  You can bike or walk or run around the lake or shoot arrows in the archery park.  There is a gorgeous playground there, and lovely Anderson Gardens.    

Lake Ripley Cemetery is a beautiful place for a respectful visit.  We taught our daughter respect for property, how to read numbers and how to subtract to find age at death.  Yes, it’s kind of a quirky place to visit with a child, but the cemetery is full of history and   not a scary place at all. 
Turck’s Trees out by Forest City has become a winter experience complete with reindeer and hot chocolate.  Fun!    There are other memorable things to do – keep in mind the Forest City Stockade which celebrated their Pioneer Christmas event December 3rd

The Litchfield Community Education Brochure is full of interesting things to do as a family with the emphasis on do.  People seldom say that they regret spending so much time together.  Most of the time I hear something like, “I was so busy when the kids were young; I wish I could ______________. “  Give the gift of time together this winter. 

Friday, November 25, 2016

And The Winner IS: Litchfield Library!

By Jan Pease

The best news of our week is that Santa will visit the library on Thursday, December 1 at 5:30.  He’s available for pictures and then will read a story at about 6:30. Each child will receive a small gift from the library. 

On Saturday December 10, come to the library for the last “Second Saturday Story Time” of the year.  We will sing some songs, read a story, and make a golden ornament!  Hint: think “gold glitter.”😨😲

In other news, the Litchfield Children’s Department is a winner!  Early in November, we received an email from Trevor Ingerson, Educational & Library Marketing and Sales,Workman Publishing Company.  It said, in part, “Congratulations! You and your library are one of the ten lucky winners from our Makerspace giveaway that we ran through School Library Journal. As a reminder you’ll receive the following titles below.” I plan to let Mr. Ingerson know how we will use the titles, which will also fit in very well with Summer Reading 2017, “Reading By Design.”

Titles include:
Colossal Paper Machines: The coolest big machines that kids love—each re-created in an oversize paper model that, once built, really moves. We’ll save this one for a program next summer.
The Totally Irresponsible Science Kit: 18 experiments that snap, crackle, pop, ooze, crash, boom, and stink!  This one will also be saved for next summer.
Paint by Sticker Kids: Create 10 pictures, one sticker at a time. Paint by Number has been upgraded.  Paint by Sticker: Same concept, but much more detailed images than Paint by Sticker Kids. Washi Tape Crafts:110 new ways to decorate and make life more colorful!  Mariah will make use of these in her Art Journaling Program.
Pop Bottle Science: A complete kit that ingeniously marries science and fun with 79 easy, hands-on experiments that probe the worlds of chemistry, physics, biology, geology, weather, the human body, and even astronomy.  We will also save this for next summer.  I ordered a copy of this one from for my great-nephew Andrew, who loves it. 
Project Kid: Crafts That GO!: 60 Imaginative Projects That Fly, Sail, Race, and Dive.  We will add this to the collection.
Crochet Taxidermy: Step-by-step instructions and adorable photos guide you through these 30 easy crochet patterns. Most require just one skein of yarn, so they’re affordable and quick!  We’ll add this one to the collection.  The projects resemble animal trophies mounted on wall plaques, which might make a quirky gift for the hunter in your life. 
 The Useful Book: 201 practical life skills. This book will be a great addition to the collection.  It covers all of the things we used to learn from our parents and in Home Economics in school.
 The Wicked Plants Coloring Book: Based on the New York Times bestseller Wicked Plants, here are 40 menacing plants in gorgeous, vintage-style botanical illustrations to color. We can use this one for coloring projects here in the library.
What we used to call “crafts” is now re-named Makerspace activities in many libraries.  The process of making and doing is emphasized rather than having a cute, uniform finished product.  Whatever we call it, kids love to participate and create.  Thanks, Mr. Ingerson!

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

National Picture Book Month!

By Jan Pease

I just learned that November is Picture Book Month.  Here are several new picture books to savor.

The Moon Inside, by Sandra V. Feder, is a sweet addition to the collection that will help children understand that night has its own beauty and there is nothing to fear in the dark. This is a perfect bedtime story, like Time for Bed,  by Mem Fox and The Midnight Farm, by Reeve Lindbergh, both older favorites of mine. 

Bears in the Snow, by Shirley Parenteau, is almost too sweet.  The four adorable bears romping through the book are so cute you might want give them huggie-wuggies and kissy-wissies (a phrase we often say to our very cute dog).

Some books meant to be read out loud are more fun for the reader than the child.    I purchased three “Baby Lit” board books for the children’s collection.  They claim to be “a fashionable way to introduce your child to the world of classic literature.”  Jennifer Adams wrote these delightful little books.  Little Miss Alcott: Little Women features quotations from the book such as “Amy put on her best white frock, smoothed her curls, and sat down to draw under the honeysuckle.”  Our other titles include Little Master Homer: The Odyssey and Edgar and the Tree House of Usher. I might admit to a little buyer’s remorse, but I really can imagine reading them to little ones in our family.

Walking in a Winter Wonderland is a book that was based on the song by Felix Bernard and Richard B Smith, as sung by Peggy Lee, illustrated by Tim Hopgood.  One problem I see with the book is that when they build the snowman in the meadow, they pretend that he’s a Santa clown.  Now, clowns are scary, right?  But then the other kiddies knock him down, so we’re ok.  The real problem I see, which nearly made me pass this one by, is the line, “We’ll frolic and play the Eskimo way.”  It’s one of those thinly-veiled stereotypes that is just so 1934 (when the song was originally written).

Denise Fleming has re-worked the children’s song, 5 Little Ducks, to include several pond animals, some wild turkeys, the days of the week, a cute little girl named  Anna, and a family of adventurous Mallard ducks. This is the kind of book that makes picture books so great.  You can pore over the entire book, including end papers, to see Ms. Fleming’s imagination at work.

Finally, Not Quite Black and White, by Jonathan Ying, is a book about colors that could be called “On Beyond Orange and Green,” as Mr. Ying includes lavender, aqua, maroon,  and a penguin wearing yellow boots.  Jonathan Ying lives in Minnesota; I think we’re glad to claim him.

How will YOU celebrate National Picture Book Month?

Monday, November 7, 2016

New and old computers at the library

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

What’s new at the library?  You might have noticed when you walk in the door that things look a bit different in the computer area.  We have new computers, something you’ll see throughout Pioneerland Library System. 

The reason things look different in our library is because we have fewer desktop computers than we did before.  Our computers at Litchfield don’t get the heavy use they did in years past because so many people bring in their own laptops, tablets, and phones to use with our wifi instead, so we purchased only as many as we need now.  We kept track of the number that were being used simultaneously, counting people on different days and at different times to make the decision.  Instead of twelve computers you could sign up for on the adult side, we now have nine, and we have three on the children’s side instead of four.  We also added two laptops, bringing that total to four.  When you add all of those together plus the iPad we also have available to check out, we have seventeen devices you can sign up to use instead of the sixteen we used to have.  So it’s actually an increase!

In place of two desktop computers that were dedicated for library catalog use, we now have a tablet for that purpose, mounted on a column behind the computers.  It’s similar to what Target has for gift registries now.

So although it looks like a huge drop in the number of computers, it’s really not.  It’s mostly set up differently, with a wider variety of types of computers in use. 

When I started working at the library seven years ago, which is around the time when we got our previous desktops, the computers were often full, and every day we had to ask people to give the next person a turn after their half-hour allotment of time was over.  Even with fewer computers now, it’s unusual for every computer to be full or for us to have to tell people their time is up.  It seems this number of computers is meeting our community’s needs.

I know that people often don’t like to sit next to a stranger while they use a computer.  We hear that from customers pretty often.   If you feel that way, I would encourage you to check out a laptop or iPad and find a private place to sit with it.  There are desks, tables, and comfortable chairs throughout the library, plus two study rooms.  You need to have your library card with you to check out one of these devices, and it can’t be blocked by having over five dollars in fines.  The laptops and iPad have to stay in the library; you can’t check them out to take home.

The library laptops can do something I think is pretty amazing: they print to our regular printer just like the other computers.  So if you need to print, using a library laptop is no barrier. 

What happens to the old computers?  We’re selling them.  If you would like to buy an HP DC7900 desktop PC with a 160GB hard drive, a 19-inch widescreen monitor, and discs you can use to install Windows software, talk to someone at the library’s front desk and we can give you the details.  Pioneerland’s IT department has wiped the hard drives, so they’re equivalent to refurbished computers.

If you need to use a computer, an iPad, a printer, a scanner, or a microfilm reader, we have all of those kinds of equipment to meet your needs at the library.  I hope to see more people using the laptops in the months to come, making use of different places to sit in the library while they do their banking, their emailing, and their Facebooking.  When you don’t have high-speed internet at home, the library is here to give you access to the world of online information.

Friday, November 4, 2016

Back in the Saddle Again

By Jan Pease

We’re ba-a-ack!  OK, I liked the movie, “Independence Day,” so I just couldn’t resist.  Yes, today marks the return of the Litchfield Library column after a sabbatical of nearly three months.  We experienced a very busy summer and a very busy fall.

This month Pioneerland Library System came out with its end of summer report.  There are 32 member libraries in our system, and the theme this year was “Read For the Win.”   580 preschool children registered to participate in summer reading.  2,093 elementary students ages 5-12 registered, and 355 tweens and teens, ages 11 and older registered. 210 story times were presented, with an attendance of 4,908.

In Litchfield, 348 young people signed up to participate in the summer reading program.  I’m very pleased with that number.  67 children from that number could be identified as preschoolers, who had a completion rate of 52%. 25 readers could be identified as teens.  Their completion rate was 36%, but I’m just happy that teens were using the library.  Our target audience, elementary students was very involved.  256 kids registered, and 53% of them completed it.  Of those who completed the “reading game,” most kids brought in their reading records every ten days. That meant an amazing amount of reading was taking place.

The library presented 18 story times.  466 children and parents attended.  Story time is so much fun, and I’m continually surprised by the maturity of three and four year old children. 

One highlight of the summer program was borrowing a new room at Litchfield Christian Church to present Professor Marvel.  He brought his program, “Library Olympics” to Litchfield.  If you’ve attended his programs in the past, you’ve been part of a standing-room-only crowd.  We had more than 200 children and parents attend, and next year I hope to have 300 or more.   It is so handy to have a large, very nice space so close to the library. 

On Wednesday afternoons we had a smorgasbord of activities for students in grades 1-3.  Some days we had Fun with 4-H, some days we made things, some days we played board games, and one afternoon we tested our sense of taste.  I think we’ll offer something like this in the summer of 2017.

Mariah began an interesting activity in May for students in grades 4-8.  She calls it Art Journaling, and they get together on the second Monday of each month to make art journals using different supplies and techniques.  This great program will continue throughout the school year.

Other library programs that will happen throughout the school year include Toddler Time Wednesdays at 10:15, Preschool Story Time Fridays at about 10:00, Beginner Book Club for grades 1-3 on the third Thursdays of the month at 3:15, and Brickheads for ages 4-14 every Thursday evening at 6:30. 

Finally, I’m so happy to announce that Litchfield Library will welcome Retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice Alan Page and his daughter, Kamie Page, to  2nd Saturday Story Hour on Saturday, November 12, at 10:00.  They will read from their children’s book, The Invisible You, and celebrate uniqueness in everyone.   I hope to see you there!

Monday, August 29, 2016

Job opening at Litchfield Library - Shelver

Job opening: Library Assistant I at Litchfield Public Library

Job description: Shelves materials in their proper locations, sets up carts in preparation for shelving, performs shelf-reading and straightens shelves, shifts materials as needed, assists patrons in locating materials, and performs related work as apparent or assigned. 

Qualifications: Requires some high school and an understanding of library organization and services, or a combination of education, training and experience necessary to perform the requirements of the job.  Must have attention to detail and be able to use alphabetical and numerical classification systems when instructed.  Must be able to interact with a wide range of customers in a courteous and effective manner.  Must be able to follow instructions and work independently.

Physical requirements: Requires seeing, walking, bending, kneeling, crouching, reaching, grasping, lifting up to 25 pounds, and pushing carts filled with books. 

Hours: 4 hours per week: 2 hours on Friday or Saturday and 2 additional hours another day.  Additional subbing hours when needed.

Applicants should submit a completed Pioneerland application form to the Litchfield Library by September 9, 2016.  For more information, contact Beth Cronk at (320)693-2483.

Friday, August 12, 2016

Thank you to our summer reading sponsors!

by Beth Cronk, Meeker County Librarian

As the summer winds down, I would like to take the opportunity to thank the local businesses and organizations that helped support the summer reading program in the libraries in Meeker County.  With 356 kids participating in Litchfield, 130 in Dassel, and 39 in Grove City, we have been having a busy summer, and we appreciate the generosity of our donors who helped make it fun for the kids.

First, I would like to thank the Friends of the Litchfield Public Library.  They assist in funding the summer reading program prizes every year for the Litchfield Library, as well as things like craft supplies that we use in special summer activities like this year’s Wednesday Fun at the Library.  The prizes funded by the Friends include brand-new books for kids of all ages.  You help the Friends support programs for kids whenever you shop at the library book sale.  The next book sale is this Saturday, August 20, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in the library meeting room.

I’d also like to thank the businesses that donated gift certificates that the kids can choose as prizes.  The following local businesses donated certificates given as prizes in all three libraries in Meeker County: Litchfield, Grove City, and Dassel.
  • ·         Pizza Ranch: pizzas
  • ·         McDonald’s: fries and desserts
  • ·         Pizza Hut: pizzas
  • ·         KLFD: Minnesota Zoo passes

Litchfield DQ donated Dilly Bars for kids in the Litchfield and Grove City programs.  Cokato DQ has given certificates for ice cream cones to the Dassel program. 

Jimmy’s Pizza of Litchfield donated pizza gift certificates for kids in the Litchfield summer reading program, and Jimmy’s Pizza of Dassel donated certificates for the Dassel program. 

Cokato Subway has given certificates for cookies to the Dassel summer reading program.

The Kandiyohi County Area YMCA donated family passes for the Grove City program. 

The Dassel Community Chest gave a donation that allowed the Dassel Library to buy new books to give to kids as prizes.

The Cokato-Dassel Lions gave a donation that we used to bring in St. John’s Outdoor University to the Dassel Library for a program called “Nature Olympics”.  St. John’s teaches kids ages three through twelve about science through stories, games, and other activities.

A library cooperative in southwestern Minnesota called SAMMIE provided a grant that the Dassel Library used to create a summer program called Maker Fun.  This twice-monthly program offers a variety of activities for kids age 10 and up, such as games, crafts, and cooking. They have one session left this summer.  Because it has been popular, we’ll be continuing that into fall, once a month on the second Monday after school. 

Thank you to all of these businesses and organizations for supporting kids and reading in our communities.  The summer reading programs in all three libraries continue through the last day of August.  Kids and teens can bring in their summer reading game sheets for prizes until then.  Keep reading for fun, for prizes, and for school readiness!  

Friday, August 5, 2016

Of Mermen, Mermaids, and Life

By Jan Pease

Is 1977 considered one of the golden years of television?  Shows that began in 1977 included The Love Boat, Fantasy Island, The Incredible Hulk, and The Man from Atlantis.  The only show of these four I haven’t seen on cable is The Man from Atlantis. What does this have to do with anything?  Well, I remember that show fondly for the immensity of the oceans and the idea that all kinds of new things were lurking in their depths. This show was like Voyage to the Bottom of the Sea, but with a hunky merman.  Disney took the idea of mermaids to an extreme level of cuteness in 1989, but I still missed “Mark,” who could breathe water and swim like a dolphin. 

Recently several young readers have asked me for books about mermaids.    There are series on HBO titled H2O: Just Add Water, and H2O: Mermaid Adventures, and Netflix has Mako Mermaids.  The book market has caught on to this trend, with series like Emily Windsnap, by Liz Kessler, Disney’s Mermaid Tales, and various picture books. 

Jennifer Donnelly has a series about mermaids that young adults will find intriguing.  Her underwater world is inhabited by mermen and mermaids that are definitely not cute.   Political intrigues, love interests, and strong friendships characterize this series.  We received the last book in the series, Sea Spell, first, but Deep Blue, Rogue Wave, and Dark Tide are all on order.   Ms. Donnelly calls her series “The WaterFire Saga” and it is aptly named. 

Adi Alsaid writes touchy-feely books (sorry, romance and friendship books) for young adults.  This is our first year to try his publisher, Harlequin Teen, and I’m still not sure about this genre.  They are definitely written for older young adults.   Mr. Alsaid’s newest book,  Never Always Sometimes  is a book that received varied reviews on   Most Amazon customers gave this book three or four stars, but one stated it was “a story that wasn't even worth telling.”  I liked this one, (it) “dragged on and on and on and on and no and on.”  I don’t know if the word “no” was a typo or was a deliberate statement.  Mr. Alsaid has a reputation for understanding the feelings experienced by teenagers, and since he was born in 1987, at 29 he isn’t far removed from his audience.    If you read some of our Harlequin Teen books, let me know what you think.

 Finally, Dog Diaries: Sparky caught my eye because of the beautiful Dalmatian dog on the cover.  Some of you may remember a huge Dalmatian I brought to the library a long time ago, named Jake.  All my dogs have bonded with me, but Jake adored me, pure and simple.  Dog Diaries: Sparky tells the story of a firehouse dog, Sparky, from her point of view. She experiences the Great Chicago Fire of 1871.  This little book gives resources from the Internet on subjects like the history of Chicago and fires, Chow Chow dogs, and of course, Dalmatians.  These wonderful dogs have been over bred because of their popularity, and Kate Klimo makes this clear in her author’s notes at the end of the book.  They do make wonderful dogs, but need to be well trained and well exercised. 

Remember, we’re taking a little break from story hour after Paul Spring’s concert at 10:00 on August 13th.  All of the library’s programs will begin again September 6th.  Enjoy the rest of summer with a great book!

Friday, July 29, 2016

Cool movies for hot days

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

If the hot weather is sapping your energy, check out some of Litchfield Library’s new DVDs for some entertainment while you take it easy.  Some of the ones I’ll tell you about are new releases, and some are just new to our library’s collection.

This summer has brought Independence Day: Resurgence and a reboot of Ghostbusters to theaters.  We have recently gotten the original Ghostbusters and Independence Day on DVD at our library.  Rotten Tomatoes is a website that pulls together published reviews from many, many critics and gives movies a rating based on the percentage of positive reviews.  The original Independence Day from 1996 has about a 60% positive rating, while the new sequel is at only about 30%. I thoroughly enjoyed Independence Day back when it was in the theaters, but when I watched it again with my kids recently, it didn’t seem as wonderful.  My girls saw it as an inferior variation on the Star Wars story, an opinion I can agree with.  I haven’t watched the new one.

The original Ghostbusters from 1984 has a Rotten Tomatoes rating of 97%, which is impressive. Based on a viewing at my house, I suspect kids today don’t see it as positively as we did back in the ‘80s.  However, adult fans still enjoy it.  The new version in theaters has about a 70% positive rating.  I’m looking forward to watching it at some point, and the library will get it once it’s on DVD.

The new movie Race has about a 60% positive rating from Rotten Tomatoes.  It tells the story of Jesse Owens’ path to the Olympics in Nazi Germany and his record-breaking accomplishments there.  I wanted to watch it especially because of the character Rudy’s enthusiasm for Jesse Owens in the novel The Book Thief.  I really didn’t know enough about Owens, and I enjoyed learning his story through an inspiring movie.  Some of the movie’s subplots are fairly weak, but the main storyline is interesting, and Stephan James is good as Owens. It’s a straightforward historical biography, and many people enjoy those, as I do.

The library now has all of the seasons of the television comedy Parks and Recreation.  The creator and star Amy Poehler won a Golden Globe for her performance on the show, and the series has been nominated for Emmys many times.  I wondered what all of the fuss was about, so my husband and I started watching it recently. It is wacky, but once we got used to the humor we’ve enjoyed it.  I’d read that the first season isn’t the best but it’s short, so stick with it; I think that’s a good assessment.  Nick Offerman and Chris Pratt are especially funny as part of a group involved with city government. 

I’ve been hearing good things about Zootopia, the new animated Disney movie.  Rotten Tomatoes agrees with what I’ve heard; the approval rating is a whopping 98%.  The movie is a mystery featuring a rabbit who’s a rookie cop and a fox who’s a con artist; they dress and act like humans.  Reviewers say it appeals to kids and adults on different levels, with smart writing and a good message about being who you want to be, not what others expect you to be. 

Some of our other new DVDs include 10 Cloverfield Lane, 45 Years, The Divergent Series: Allegiant, Eddie the Eagle, Hail,Caesar!, and Hello, My Name is Doris.  If there’s a movie or television series you’re looking for that we don’t have, most of the time we can order it from somewhere in Minnesota.  Let us know if you need some help.  

Friday, July 22, 2016

What is and What Will Be

By Jan Pease

July 2016 has been a memorable month.  First, thanks again and again to the Watercade Board for the opportunity to be Grand Marshall in the Watercade Parade.  I’m still smiling from ear to ear. My arm got tired from waving, but this experience was worth it.  In my “few words” at the Queen Coronation I told the true story of the boy at story hour who told his great aunt that he didn’t think all this queen and princess stuff was real, but JAN knows that they are the real thing.   Love that boy.  He always calls me Jan and always gives it two syllables.

The fun  of Watercade  was followed by the “  ‘nado” that young  children are still talking about.  Please take a little time to reassure little ones and let them talk about what they experienced.  I asked the little boy who told me about the “ ‘nado” if they went down in their basement.  His big brother said they went in Grandma’s basement and it was gross. I just had to smile.  Poor grandma was sitting right there!  I told them to remember to look for the helpers and remember that they were safe.  I’m so proud that people hurried to help friends and neighbors as soon as the storm had passed.

Summer reading is going strong.  346 readers have signed up to participate.  We have a month to go, so there is time to sign up your children and have them join the reading game.   Story times will continue until August 13.  On that Saturday, Paul Spring will give a family-friendly concert at 10 a.m. Beginner book club will meet on August 18; the book we’re reading is Because of Winn Dixie.  Brickheads, the Lego building club, will be building every Thursday night without a break through August. 

Attendance at all of our programs has been steady most weeks, and sometimes almost overwhelming.  We have enjoyed having 4-H staff involved with Fun with 4-H on four Wednesdays in June and July. On the other Wednesdays we have alternated making projects in “Maker Fun” and playing board games.  Folks from St. John’s Outdoor University come to provide a program called “Nature’s Olympics,”    and   a really nice group of kids enjoyed the interactive,  hands-on experience. 

Mariah has done an outstanding job with Art Journaling, an activity for students in grades 4-8. The students enjoy the activity, and I would like to spy on their journals.  It’s a little different than the  usual book club, but it might be the start of a hobby that will last a life time. 

Story times will begin again on September 7 with Toddler Time.   September 8 we will have Brickheads.  September 9th is Story Time with a project, and September 10th we will have a visit from the therapy dogs, our “Going to the Dogs Story Time”.  We will have a short story time and then boys and girls who are able to read can sit with a friendly dog and practice reading.    The rest of us will just enjoy talking about the dogs with their owners.   Or just enjoy talking to the dogs.  See you at the library!

Friday, July 15, 2016

Gotta catch 'em all!

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Thomas J. Harrison Pryor Public Library in Oklahoma.
Have you seen the groups of people standing around Litchfield looking at their phones lately?  Chances are they’re playing Pokemon GO.  This new augmented reality game has caught on like wildfire, bringing people out to public places to catch and battle Pokemon, gather virtual supplies, and put on miles of walking. 

In case you haven’t heard about Pokemon from kids who were into it sometime during the past twenty years, Pokemon are “pocket monsters” from a Japanese card game, series of video games, and an animated TV show.  It was created by a man who enjoyed collecting insects as a child, hence the collecting aspect of the game.  Pokemon GO is a brand new game for smart phones that incorporates a phone’s camera and maps in brand new ways.

I’ve learned about Pokemon GO because two of my teenagers are enthusiastically playing it.  Most of the groups I’ve seen around Litchfield, Dassel, and Hutchinson that appear to be playing it together are teenage boys and young men, but people of all ages are joining in.  My elementary-age niece and nephew are playing it, a cousin who is older than me is, too, and I hear that it’s popular among a wide range of ages in the cast of the musical my kids are in. 

Because of my kids, I found out during Watercade that the Litchfield Library is a PokeStop.  This means it’s a place where players can stock up on useful virtual items for playing the game.  Many public and commercial buildings are PokeStops.  It sounds like some stops are especially good, and from what my kids found during two visits to the library, our location seems to be one of those. 

The clock outside in front of the library is a gym, which is a place for Pokemon to battle.  Those are a bit more rare than PokeStops, and they’re usually landmarks of some kind.  I find it very surprising that the game creators had any way to find out the library’s clock existed, but apparently these locations were marked by players of an earlier, unrelated game. 

So if you see people gathered near the clock in front of the library, looking at their phones, don’t be alarmed; they’re probably playing Pokemon.  We are seeing kids coming into the library looking for Pokemon to catch, too, although I don’t know if they’ve found any inside. 

Do be aware that there are privacy concerns with the game.  The game currently gives Niantic, the company that owns it, access to all of their Google account data.  The company has stated this is an error they are working to correct.  Some of the people I know are using a secondary Google account that isn’t connected to their Google Docs or regularly-used email to try to minimize the risk.  I’m not sure if this helps.

It is very important to be aware of your surroundings when playing the game and to be as careful as always when going out in the world.  The news has reported accidents involving people crossing roads and falling down a cliff, as well as a couple of robberies.   And, of course, don’t play Pokemon GO and drive!

The game does have benefits.  One of the tasks it requires is walking multiple kilometers to hatch virtual eggs.  It’s like having a FitBit or other fitness tracker that gives you in-game rewards for meeting goals.  And it’s nice to see young people outside in parks and other places in the community, making the game a social occasion.  You can’t sit on the couch if you want to get very far with this game. 

Life works best when you have a balance of activities, so keep reading even though catching Pokemon is so much fun.  When you’re stopping by to play Pokemon GO, come inside to pick up some real-world items, too: check out some books!  

A New ABC for Everyone

By Jan Pease

Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver continue their series about younger Hank Zipster with Here’s Hank: the Soggy, Foggy Campout. My memories of camping seem to include a lot of rain, but Hank’s campout is an extreme disaster.

 I think I’ve mentioned Dyslexie, the special font used in these books, in an earlier article.  This is such important information to pass on that I’m borrowing freely from the facing page of Here’s Hank.  Christian Boer, who designed the font, is a Dutch graphic designer and is dyslexic.  Sometimes  people with dyslexia have a difficult time distinguishing individual letters, so Mr. Boer added heavier bottoms on b and d, larger than normal openings on c and e, and longer ascenders and descenders on f, h, and p.  The font also has larger spaces between letters and words.  To make the beginning of each sentence stand out, capital letters are all bold.  These simple changes can help all kids read better, not just those who are dyslexic.   Dyslexie is available to download on home computers with a free home license at   I recommend it!

Sometimes a child will have more success at reading with a topic they love.  The library has added a new set of level 2 readers called ASPCA kids Rescue Readers.  They are sweet books with stories about shelter pets.  A note to parents provides tips for successful reading.   You’ll recognize them by the full-color covers with close-up pictures of cuddly critters.  The one I’m looking at right now is titled I Am Picasso, about an adorable dog that paints.  Other titles full of cuteness are I Am Nibbles, I am Daisy, and I Am McKinley.  These titles were all written by Lori C. Froeb.

Little, Brown and Company have an imprint called Jimmy Paterson Books, created by  James Patterson.  The mission is simple: “We want every kid who finishes a JIMMY book to say, ‘Please give me another book.’” James Paterson and Chris Grabenstein have teamed up to write the Treasure Hunters series as well as other best-selling series.  Treasure Hunters books tell the tale of the Kidd children, avid treasure hunters   who found their missing parents in the first three books.  Now, in book four, Treasure Hunters: Peril at the Top of the World, the Kidd family find themselves in the middle of the bleak, cold Russian Arctic trying to find thieves who have stolen valuable treasure.  These are great adventure stories that are fun to read.

It seems to me that it would be easy to play hide and seek with an elephant, but it what if it warns that he is very good at hiding.?  David Barrow wrote and illustrated Have You Seen Elephant?   This funny picture book begins with elephant hiding in more and more outrageous places, and ends with a land tortoise named Zoom inviting our hero to play tag. Zoom warns, “But I’m very good!”  This book is written in cursive, which some children find difficult to read, but I think that having a book engage the imagination is one way to get children to attempt something that’s a little bit difficult. 

These and more great books are waiting for you at Litchfield library!


Tuesday, July 5, 2016

Celebrate Watercade with the library!

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The Saturday of Watercade is bringing all kinds of excitement to the Litchfield Library.  The book sale, an art stand, a teen program, and an honor for our children’s librarian are all on deck.

The annual Friends of the Library Watercade book sale will be held from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. on Saturday, July 9.  The Friends hold a book sale every month, normally on the third Saturday of the month from 10-2, but in July it’s moved up to coincide with Watercade.  And it’s the big one.  As long as the weather cooperates, the fiction will be outside in front of the library.  The nonfiction will be inside the meeting room, and the cashiers will be in the lobby.  Stop over to get lightly used books for a very low price, including books about outdoor sports, Christianity, and crafts, as well as many other topics.  All proceeds benefit the library!

This year we have a special art event on the Saturday of Watercade, too.  A streetcorner letterpress is going to be on the lawn in front of the library from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.  This stand allows people of all ages to print postcards from a variety of papers, images, and colors.  Three 100-year-old letterpresses produce 4x6 postcard-style prints with the push of a lever.  Participants are invited to print their own postcards with images customized for our area.  Whether prints are taken home and framed, put on the fridge, or mailed to a friend, they are worth saving.

Pioneerland Library System is sponsoring this letterpress event as a part of a tour of four unique art programs this summer from ReadyGo!, a project from Springboard for the Arts.  ReadyGo! events use artist-designed mobile tools to spark interaction. 

The streetcorner letterpress will also be in Dassel on Labor Day and in a number of other towns in our library system through September.  Another ReadyGo! stand, a mobile sign shop, will be at a number of libraries including New London and Spicer in July.  A mobile drawing station called One Another will be in Hutchinson on Friday, September 16 and in Willmar the next day.  The complete schedule is available in a brochure at our library.

This project is funded in part or in whole with money from Minnesota’s Arts and Cultural Heritage Fund.  There is no charge for you to come and participate in these art projects, so stop over on Watercade Saturday to make a print of your own. 

We have a program for teens on the second Saturday of each month and any time there’s a fifth Saturday, as well.  This month that falls on Watercade Saturday, too.  Since we’ll have the letterpress here, Margaret will be bringing the teens outside to try it, and she’ll have other activities for them, too.  Ages eleven  to eighteen are welcome to come at 1:30 to join in the fun.  There’s no need to sign up in advance.

And finally, we are so proud of our children’s librarian Jan Pease on being selected as this year’s Watercade grand marshal.  With 25 years of service at the library, she has had a positive effect on so many young people in this community and continues to do so every day.  You can wave to her in the Watercade parade Saturday evening.   Have a wonderful celebration!