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.

Thursday, December 26, 2019


By Jan Pease

Do you experience the joy of “ear worms?”  Well, my current “ear worm” is the tune for “I Wonder as I Wander,” by John Jacob Nyles.  He wrote down a fragment of a song that was sung in Murphy, South Carolina by the young daughter of an itinerant evangelist.  Her name was Annie Morgan.  She sang what we know as the first verse for 25 cents.  (Her family was down and out, and trying to raise money for gas to leave town because they had made a nuisance of themselves by camping in the town square and hanging their laundry on the town monument to a Confederate soldier.)  Mr. Nyles only collected part of the song, but he wrote the rest and performed it on December 19, 1933 at the John E. Campbell Folk School in Brasstown, North Carolina.  It is one of the few truly American Christmas songs.   listen

I think that even in these darkest weeks of winter, there is a sense of wonder.  Sometimes wonder comes in the simplest of ways.  A nine-month-old baby focused on the twinkling lights of a Christmas book.   She was sitting on her mom’s lap several feet away from the book, but looked right at it and then looked up at me with her beautiful dark eyes.  

Wonder was very visible on children’s faces during Magic Bob’s “Magic of the Holidays” show.  They loved it when Bob magically grew a Christmas tree.  They really loved seeing the velveteen rabbit turn into a real, living bunny.  One little thinker showed Bob a sticker of a dinosaur and asked him to change it into a real dinosaur.  Magic Bob suggested that he should tape it to the bottom of his bed and wait 50 years to see what happens.  I wonder if it will work?

I wish I could re-experience the wonder of making the first tracks on new-fallen snow. Or the excitement of looking for deer tracks in Youngstrom Woods with my daughter and her giggling friends.  I would like to re-capture the mysterious sense of wonder while seeing that same daughter, a bit older, portray Mary in a nativity play with awkward “Joseph” behind her.

As long as we’re wishing, I’d like to see my Grandma Milan unbraid her hair, which I loved  but could never brush.  I’d like to hear my mom play beautiful music on Grandma Hilary’s cracked-key upright that sounded very out of tune until she played it.  I’d like to ask my brother Jim to forgive me for always making him be the donkey when we acted out the nativity story in Grandma’s living room. 

All of these experiences add up to gifts of time that cost nothing but are worth the effort.  I hope your Christmas season is gentle and peaceful and full of wonder.

Remember that the library is closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, and that there is no story time on Friday, December 27.

And now I’m going to try to switch my ear worm to a different song, “We Wish You  Merry Christmas!” (and a Happy New Year!)  See you at the library!


Monday, December 23, 2019

Family-friendly movies for winter days

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

The holiday season can bring some downtime to families, if major traveling isn’t involved. If that’s true for your family, or if you’re looking for some entertainment for the cold days of January, these new DVDs at the Litchfield library might be right for both the kids and the grownups in the house.

The animated film “Abominable” has a “Common Sense Selection” seal of approval from Common Sense Media and a “Certified Fresh” rating from Rotten Tomatoes.  That adds up to it being a quality movie that’s recommended for families, specifically kids ages 8 and up.  Reviews say the general storyline about a kid finding an unusual creature and teaming up with friends to protect it isn’t anything new, but it has the interesting element of being set in Shanghai with Chinese teen characters.  The animation is also supposed to be beautiful.  The movie is called “Abominable” because it’s about a yeti.

“Dora the Explorer” is a popular animated series that has been airing for many years.  It was a staple at my house in the early 2000s.  The new movie “Dora and the Lost City of Gold” is a live-action feature film starring the same character.  Like “Abominable,” it’s certified fresh by Rotten Tomatoes, meaning the reviews are very good.  Dora has left the jungle where we usually find her adventuring in the cartoon, and now she’s learning about the adventure of high school.  But when her parents disappear, Dora leads a group of her new high school friends into the jungle to find them.  Common Sense Media recommends the movie for ages 8 and up.

The “How to Train Your Dragon” series of movies is beloved by many.  “How to Train Your Dragon: Homecoming” is a holiday television special that aired this year.  It takes place just before the last scene of the last movie of the trilogy.  Viking Hiccup puts together a holiday pageant to celebrate dragons and has an adventure with his beloved Toothless the dragon. 

An interesting documentary can sometimes appeal to the whole family.  “Maiden” is a documentary about the first all-female crew to enter the Whitbread Round the World sailboat race.  Reviews say it’s an exciting and inspiring movie even for those who don’t otherwise care about sailing.  Common Sense Media gave it its seal of approval but recommends it for ages 11 and up because of profanity plus sexist language.  Rotten Tomatoes has it at a 98% positive rating.

“Life from Above” is another family-friendly documentary, this one from PBS.  Footage taken from space shows the earth from a new perspective, allowing us to see patterns, colors, and movements on a large scale.

Mister Rogers is getting renewed interest these days, with a beloved documentary last year and a feature film this year.  If you’d like to revisit the original show, you could check out “Mister Rogers’ Neighborhood: Mister Rogers and Making Mistakes,” a newly-released collection of episodes about how everyone makes mistakes sometimes. 

Other recent DVDs that your family may enjoy include the TV series “Fuller House,” “The Angry Birds Movie 2,” “Descendants 3,” “Harry Potter:  A History of Magic,” and “Toy Story 4.” 
Pioneerland libraries will close at 5:00 p.m. on Tuesday, December 31, for New Year’s Eve, and will be closed on Wednesday, January 1, for New Year’s Day.  Happy New Year!

All I Want for Christmas is... a romantic novel

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

It’s the Christmas season, and for some people that means it’s time to get in the spirit by reading Christmas books.  Some Christmas novels are family stories, cozy mysteries, or inspirational novels, but quite a few are romances.   Find comfort and joy with these new holiday romances available at the Litchfield library.

 “Royal Holiday” is the fourth in Jasmine Guillory’s very popular “Wedding Date” series of romances.  Middle-aged American Vivian accompanies her professional stylist daughter on a work trip to an English royal wedding.  She meets the very proper Malcolm, longtime private secretary to the Queen, and they begin a romance after a kiss under the mistletoe.  Some reviewers have commented on how enjoyable it is to find a rom-com featuring people over fifty.

“The Christmas Keeper” is the second in the “Happily Ever After” series by Jenn McKinlay, but the two books are only loosely connected.  “Booklist” magazine describes the novel as a combination of small town charm, “sassy humor,” spicy romance, and Christmas cheer.  The premise of the story is that a rancher falls in love at first sight, but the woman he wants to marry is preoccupied with getting revenge on a former boss. He enlists the staff of the local bookstore and the spirit of Christmas to win her over.

“Coming Home for Christmas” is family story by RaeAnne Thayne, set in her fictional town of Haven Point.  Elizabeth, a married mother of two, was deep in postpartum depression and grief from the death of her parents when she left her family.  A car accident damaged her memory and prevented her from returning to them for years.  When her husband finds her and brings her home for Christmas, they find a second chance at love and family.

Author Emily March also sets her stories in a fictional small town, Eternity Springs.  Recently, Litchfield Library has gotten “The Christmas Wishing Tree,” the eighteenth in that series, in large print.  International adventurer Devin is visiting his hometown for Christmas when he gets a misdialed call from a little boy who thinks he is talking to Santa.  The little boy’s guardian Jenna thinks that the peaceful town of Eternity Springs sounds like the perfect place to hide from a threat in their lives.  When she meets Devin, he suggests a way to face the danger they’re under and make the little boy’s wish come true.

Charlotte Hubbard is an author of historical romances and Amish novels.  The library has recently added the large print of her novel, “A Simple Christmas” from the “Simple Gifts” series.  The Simple Gifts craft shop is preparing for Christmas amid financial troubles.  Horse trainer Marcus left his Amish life years ago but has returned to seek some help from his family.  Rosalyn is the last unmarried daughter of the craft shop’s owner, and when Marcus walks into the shop, sparks fly.

Wanda Brunstetter is a popular Christian fiction author.  Her novel “A Christmas Prayer” tells a story of a group of pioneers who set out too late to complete their travels west before the snow falls.  Christmas finds them taking shelter in a small cabin in the Sierra Nevada mountains. Cynthia is traveling with her mother and the man she has promised to marry, a loveless arrangement meant to provide for the women.  But the snowstorm allows the entire traveling party to get to know each other better, offering Cynthia new romantic prospects and a chance to reconsider her plans.

Clearly these are all lightweight escapism in book form, but sometimes we need that during the holidays. Pioneerland libraries will be closed on Tuesday, December 24, and Wednesday, December 25, for Christmas.  The libraries will close at 5 p.m. on Tuesday, December 31, and will be closed on Wednesday, January 1, for New Year’s.  All other days the library will be open regular hours.  Merry Christmas!

Closed for Christmas

Monday, December 2, 2019

Tech Deconstruction at Makerspace Dec. 9

Kids in grades 4-6, join us for Makerspace from 3:30-4:30 on Monday, December 9, in the library meeting room.  We'll be doing tech deconstruction with our new Makerspace leader Kevin!

Friday, November 29, 2019

Memorable Memories

By Jan Pease

On Saturday, December 14 at 10:00 a.m., please join us at Litchfield Library to welcome our favorite  magician, Magic Bob, as he presents his new show, “The Magic of the Holidays.”  This will be a fun-filled show that everyone will enjoy.  I like Magic Bob because he always has a literature tie in. This year he promises to include “Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer” and “Twas the Night before Christmas,” as well as “Christmas in Camelot,” part of the “Magic Treehouse” series.”

This represents a break from a long-standing tradition at Litchfield Library.  For many, many years the library has sponsored a Christmas open house on a Thursday evening in December.  Staff often provided cookies or bars, and we usually had one of Santa’s helpers on hand to entertain. 

Before I was on the staff here, Elsie Johnson asked me to be “Mrs. Santa.”  Back then, I had to wear a cap with cotton batting to have white hair.  She sent me home with a plate of cookies, which I put on top of the car while loading my guitar.  I drove off, and the cookies went flying.  Unfortunately, the plastic plate was one Elsie wanted back.  I had to return it to her in pieces. 

The craziest evening was one where we made and decorated small gingerbread houses.  So many people came that we divided into two large groups and took turns making houses in the meeting room.  I had to run to a store to get more decorating supplies.

The most high-risk evening was the open house where I served hot chocolate using a new water pot that heated water to boiling very quickly.  Oops!

Another evening that could have turned tragic was having a library board member portray one of Santa’s elves.  We served “decorate your own sugar cookies,” and it was a blast.  But our elf was very allergic to wheat products and risked an allergic reaction from all the cookie dust.

On one memorable evening, Bob Gasch entertained us with his storytelling and his version of a noisy “Twas the Night Before Christmas,” a fun idea that I have borrowed several times.  He was working as a storyteller back then, and could have made people laugh if he’d just read the phone book. 

Our favorite Santa is a gentleman who has worked as a professional Santa in the Twin Cities area, who loves the libraries in Meeker County. As far as I’m concerned, he is the true Santa.  Unfortunately, he couldn’t come this year.  So instead of a cold, dark evening, we’ll have a get together in the bright daylight, depending on the weather.  


After December 14th, we’ll take a break from children’s
programming, and start again in January.  2020 marks the beginning of my 30th year working at Litchfield Public Library.  I wonder what the New Year will bring?

Early Saturday Closing November 30

The Litchfield Library will close at 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 30, for carpet cleaning.

Monday, November 25, 2019

Closed for Thanksgiving

Pioneerland libraries will be closed on Thursday, November 28, for Thanksgiving.  Libraries will be open Friday. 

Litchfield Library will close at 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 30, for carpet cleaning.

Friday, November 22, 2019

What are you thankful for?

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

As we prepare to gather together next week for our holiday of thankfulness, what are you thankful for?  I’m thankful for my family, my home, and my work at the library, quite honestly.  Work is work, but I’m grateful to have the opportunity to make a difference in people’s lives through the wide variety of interesting things we do in library service.  And what a privilege to work in this beautiful Litchfield Library, making people happy with books and other library resources every day! 

Let me share with you a few of the new books that are about things you might be thankful for.
We can be thankful for children and family.  Mitch Albom’s new book Finding Chika: A Little Girl, an Earthquake, and the Making of a Family tells his personal story of a child he met in an orphanage he runs in Haiti.  Albom and his wife Janine did not have children of their own, and when 5-year old orphan Chika was diagnosed with a brain tumor, the couple took her back to the U.S. and around the world seeking a cure.  Through the short time they all spent together, Mitch and Janine learned about the joys of caring for a child even when her arrival in the family didn’t happen in the usual way. Reviewers describe it as tender, beautiful, and sad.

We can be thankful for people who came before us and made the world a better place.  Hope in the Struggle is a new memoir by Josie R. Johnson, published by University of Minnesota Press.  Johnson is a Minnesota teacher, activist, and public servant who first became involved in the civil rights movement in the 1940s as a teenager in Texas.  She co-chaired the Minnesota delegation to the March on Washington in 1963, and she was the first African-American to serve on the University of Minnesota’s Board of Regents in 1971.  Johnson’s memoir tells her life story, and it also addresses the issue of maintaining hope when it feels like it’s impossible to make a difference.

We might be thankful for education.  Another new book from University of Minnesota Press, Professor Berman: The Last Lecture of Minnesota’s Greatest Public Historian is actually a memoir rather than a lecture.  Jay Weiner put this book together using the writings and interviews of U of M professor Hy Berman, who was a regular on the Minnesota PBS show Almanac.  Berman knew Hubert Humphrey well, and that’s reflected in the book; other Minnesota politicians such as Rudy Perpich and Harold Stassen appear, as well.

Maybe you’re thankful for food and drink, which is of course a big part of Thanksgiving.  I can’t say that I’m personally at all thankful for beer, but if you are, perhaps you’d be interested in The Drink that Made Wisconsin Famous: Beer and Brewing in the Badger State by Doug Hoverson. This is a newly-published history, stretching from the pioneers in the mid-nineteenth century to current breweries and brewpubs in Wisconsin.

On the food front, we have the new cookbook Copycat Restaurant Favorites.  Published by Taste of Home Books, this one includes more than 100 recipes inspired by Olive Garden, Panera Bread, Pizza Hut, and many other popular chains.  We also have Sweet Nature: A Cook’s Guide to Using Honey and Maple Syrup by Beth Dooley and Mette Nielsen.  Dooley is an award-winning cookbook author who covers the Minnesota food scene for the Star Tribune, KARE 11, and MPR.

And of course, we can be thankful for books.  I know I am.  As Robert Louis Stevenson said, “Keep your eyes open to your mercies.  The man who forgets to be thankful has fallen asleep in life.” Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours!

Friday, November 15, 2019

Pumpkins, Patience, and Phalaenopsis Orchids

By Jan Pease

Friday in story time we read a wonderful story by Karma Wilson, “Bear Gives Thanks.”  For our project we made little pumpkins decorated with glitter glue and raffia, two of my favorite things.  The idea was to decorate the table for Thanksgiving.   I enjoyed watching the children, who ranged from very young to school-aged all producing unique pumpkins using the same basic materials.  One of the older children produced a really lovely pumpkin that had just enough glitter to sparkle.  Her youngest brother enthusiastically produced a colorful, somewhat globby creation that somehow captures his personality.  Globby may or may not be a word, but it should be.

On the 22nd we will talk about saying thank you and enjoy Ms. Wilson’s book again.  We’ll also talk about manners and what to do when confronted with a new or different food. Are your children or grandchildren used to eating meals with napkins, silverware, and manners?  Let me know.  I won’t be judgmental, but I’m curious.

Some titles that might help prepare children for holiday manners are books like “Miss Molly’s School of Manners,” by James Maclaine, or “Mind your Manners,” by Nicola Edwards.  For a fun approach to the subject try “Manners Mash-up: a Goofy Guide to Good Behavior,” by Tedd Arnold and other  well-known children’s illustrators.  If you need to brush up on your own etiquette, try “Table Manners: How to Behave in the Modern World and Why Bother,” by Jeremiah Tower.

Many of you know that I like to grow orchids.  I grow phalaenopsis orchids, often called butterfly orchids,  and have several plants.  Right now only one plant has blooms on it, but two of the others have new interesting bits sprouting from the stems that may produce beautiful flowers.  We’ll just have to wait and see. Sometimes I get tired of waiting, because for part of the year I have a plain plant that doesn’t do anything.   About the time I’m ready to give up and throw it out, something interesting begins to happen. 

Watching children grow learn to be creative is a bit like growing orchids.  Not that we would throw them out like a plant!  But sometimes it’s hard to be patient.  But if you provide some basic materials, give them time and patience you’ll see growth and creativity happen.   It takes a lot of time and patience, but it’s worth it.

Friday, November 8, 2019

Cozy in the Kitchen

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

A cozy kitchen can be a good place to find comfort as the days get darker and colder.  You can visit the library for new cookbooks to try out as you warm up your kitchen this fall and winter.

Taste of Home is a popular magazine that publishes recipes submitted by home cooks.  The company, which is part of Reader’s Digest, also publishes cookbooks.  One of their latest is Taste of Home Kitchen Hacks: 100 Hints, Tricks & Timesavers – and the Recipes to Go withThem.  This sounds like a unique cookbook, focused on tricks to make things easier in the kitchen, like how to chop six hardboiled eggs at once or how to hull strawberries with no mess.  Recipes accompany the helpful hints.  I’m intrigued to look at this one.

Award-winning chef Sean Brock’s second cookbook South: Essential Recipes and New Explorations has been named a best cookbook of this fall by a number of media outlets.  Brock covers the core recipes of Southern cooking here, along with a look at the different regions within the South and their history and specialties. Look for fundamentals like grits and fried chicken, along with less familiar foods like eggplant purloo and rhubarb-tomato conserve, in this artfully photographed book.

The smell of bread baking makes a house feel warm and snug.  The new cookbook Living Bread: Tradition and Innovation in Artisan Bread Making might inspire you to try out some new bread baking techniques.  Author Daniel Leader founded the Bread Alone Bakery in the Catskills in 1983 with help from a French expert.  He produces organic, wood-fired, artisan bread on a large scale using environmentally friendly methods, and he has been influential in the artisanal bread world.  Using this cookbook, you can bake basic breads or more complicated things like sourdough and sprouted breads.

Gathering with friends and family is another way to raise your spirits this time of year.  Author Alison Roman says, “It’s not entertaining, it’s having people over.”  In her new cookbook Nothing Fancy: Unfussy Food for Having People Over, Roman presents an array of trendy gourmet recipes that she says are easy to make and crowd-pleasing.  I would say it’s all fancier than what most of us are used to, but the ingredients don’t look overly intimidating.

For another trendy cookbook with recipes that sound a little simpler, you can look for Antoni in the Kitchen.  Author Antoni Porowski is the food and wine expert on the popular Netflix show Queer Eye, and he specializes in teaching people how to become more confident with their cooking.   The cookbook includes sections on vegetables, pasta and rice, meat, and baked goods, as well as a chapter called “weeknight healthyish.” 

For a cookbook with more exotic ingredients, check out Sababa: Fresh, Sunny Flavors from My Israeli Kitchen by Adeena Sussman.  “Sababa” is Hebrew for “everything is awesome” (cue the catchy song from the Lego Movie). This cookbook takes a cheerful approach to sharing the foods Sussman has learned about since moving from America to Israel, especially things she finds in her local outdoor market. 

Thanksgiving is just around the corner, with all of the delicious food involved in that day. Oscar Wilde said, “After a good dinner, one can forgive anybody, even one’s own relatives.”  Check out one of the vast numbers of cookbooks at the library and find some recipes for good dinners to make at your house.

Wednesday, November 6, 2019

No Makerspace in November

The Litchfield Makerspace program for grades 4-6 will not be held in November since the library will be closed for Veterans Day.  Join us on December 9th for the next Makerspace program!

Closed for Veterans Day

Pioneerland libraries will be closed on Monday, November 11, for Veterans Day.

Tuesday, November 5, 2019

Library closing early Nov. 30, no teen program

The Litchfield Library will close at 1 p.m. on Saturday, November 30, for carpet cleaning.  There will be no teen program that day.

Friday, November 1, 2019

Quirky: Characterized by Peculiar or Unexpected Traits. As in "her sense of humor was decidedly quirky"

 By Jan Pease

“Bet You Didn’t Know! 2: outrageous, awesome, out of-this-world facts!”  This quirky book is by the staff at National Geographic Kids.  The book is packed with colorful pictures and all sorts of information that you probably don’t know about. You might not know that you need this book, but you do.

Another quirky book comes to mind, “The Big Book of Silly Jokes for Kids,” by Carole P. Roman.  This book contains more than 800 jokes for kids. The jokes are oldies but goodies like “What word is always spelled wrong?  Answer: the word, wrong.  The quirkiest user of this book was a mom who cut out jokes and put them in her child’s lunchbox.
always spelled wrong?

“Did You Burp? How to ask questions…or not!” is a slightly quirky book by April Pylley Sayre that answers important inquiries such as “what makes a good question?” or “what makes a rude question?” This is an important social skill, and it is useful in many situations.  But it has to be learned, as any parent who has survived the hundreds of questions asked by  young children on any given day.


The “Peanuts” comics can be a little melancholy:  think of that poor little Christmas tree, or Charlie Brown never, ever kicking that football.  But “hopeful joy” is how a reviewer at describes Charles Schulz, and his biography, “Born to Draw Comics.”  Ginger Wadsworth wrote, and Craig Orback illustrated this colorful biography of one of the most influential comic strip artists of our time.

“Prehistoric,” by Kathleen Wiedner Zohfeld, gives a broad look at prehistory.  Contrary to popular supposition, I am not a living fossil. 

Another book, "Megabugs: and other prehistoric critters that roamed the planet," by Helaine Becker, also looks at prehistoric animals, but is limited to insects.   I hope no one gets the idea to clone a bunch of prehistoric insects, including the millipedes that were as big as crocodiles!"

“Charlotte Bronte before Jane Eyre,” by Glynnis Fawkes is a book that is quirky because of its format.  This is a  biographical graphic novel.  It shows the Bronte sisters early life and education and ends with the publication of “Jane Eyre.”  I have affection for this book, because one of the comics I owned as a child was a Classics Illustrated volume of “Jane Eyre,” probably published around 1965.  I read it again and again.  And nostalgically just ordered it online.     See you at the library!

Monday, October 28, 2019

Treat Yourself to a Scary Book

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

Halloween is almost here, so it’s time for some scary books.  This could mean mysteries, crime thrillers, ghost stories, vampire novels, or anything spooky or frightening.

Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child have a new book out that’s pretty scary.  Old Bones features a young archaeologist who is asked to lead a team in search of the supposed “Lost Camp” of the Donner Party, the notorious pioneers who descended to cannibalism when trapped in the mountains.  As the members of the expedition excavate the site, they discover even more shocking details, and they find their own lives at risk.  Characters Nora Kelly and Corrie Swanson spin off of a previous Preston and Child book series in this start of a new series.

For some Victorian crime atmosphere (think gas lamps and fog), you can pick up Mycroft and Sherlock: The Empty Birdcage by Kareem Abdul-Jabbar with Anna Waterhouse.  Set before Sherlock Holmes meets Dr. Watson, this mystery finds Sherlock helping his brother investigate a serial killer who has killed a distant relative of Queen Victoria.  This is the third in the Mycroft series by NBA star Abdul-Jabbar, all of which have gotten good reviews.

Zombies are good Halloween subject matter.  The new novel Last Ones Left Alive by Sarah Davis-Goff features a post-apocalyptic Ireland overrun by zombies called the skrake. A young woman named Orpen has been raised on a small, safe island off of the coast, living only with her mother and her mother’s partner.  She wishes to go to the mainland and meet other survivors despite the risk of the skrake, and when disaster strikes her island, she has no choice but to cross the water and prepare to fight for her life.

If serial killers are more your thing, look for The Chestnut Man by Soren Sveistrup, a Danish television and film writer.  It’s Scandinavian noir, along the lines of Steig Larsson and Jo Nesbo.  A psychopath is leaving a doll fashioned from chestnuts at the scene of each murder, and a pair of detectives must put aside their differences to find the murderer.  Netflix is developing the novel into an original series.

Minnesota mystery author Ellen Hart writes the long-running Jane Lawless series.  Installment #26 is the newest book: Twisted at the Root.  A widower’s family contacts Jane for help proving he was wrongly accused of murdering his husband, and Jane finds that her missing brother was involved in the trial.  Reviewers have praised the fully-realized characters and the ramped-up creepiness of the plot. 

Have you tried an escape room?  The novel The Escape Room by Megan Goldin takes the idea to a terrifying level.  Four Wall Street financiers are ordered to participate in a corporate team-building exercise in an escape room that turns out to be a tense game of survival. Kirkus Reviews says, “Cancel all your plans and call in sick; once you start reading, you’ll be caught in your own escape room.”

Dean Koontz is well-known for creepy books.  His newest novel is The Night Window, the last in his Jane Hawk series.  Jane is a rogue FBI agent with a mission to take down the powerful people trying to control America through an army of mind-altered people.  Reviewers say this is best book in the series, carefully plotted and entertaining.

If you like a book that will scare you one way or another, the Litchfield Library offers plenty of choices. Happy Halloween!

Friday, October 18, 2019

Silly, Scary and Interesting!

By Jan Pease

New books: be on the lookout for these interesting titles!

Sometimes a book just resonates with you.  Sometimes an author surprises you.  Eoin Colfer has accomplished that in his new book, “The Dog Who Lost His Bark.”  Mr. Colfer usually writes suspenseful, humorous stories like the “Artemis Fowl” series.  “The Dog Who Lost His Bark” is a sweet story that is beautifully illustrated.  Although it touches on some heavy subjects like abuse and abandonment, things work out in the end.   I was interested in this book because I re-homed a tiny little dog that had been debarked.  She has about half a bark, and it’s surprising what a difference that makes in her vocalizations.  If you’d like to see a clip of her bowing and grinning, visit my Facebook page.  Go to and type Jan Pease in the search bar.

Another beautifully illustrated book was just published by Patricia MacLachlan, “The Hundred-Year Barn.”  Ms. MacLachlan is an award-winning author, and illustrator Kenard Pak is an award-winning artist and animator.  This book is just lovely.  It captures the feeling of generations living on a farm  
throughout many seasons.

I love koalas.  Actually, I like to watch animal and veterinary shows on PBS, National Geographic Wild, National Geographic, and Animal Planet, to the despair of family members who prefer “something with a plot.”  “Don’t Call Me Bear!” is a funny book written by Aaron Blabey that tells the story of a koala who resents being called a bear.  As in “koala bear,” which is what most of us call this adorable marsupial.  The Koala says, “G’day my name is Warren and I’ve got something to share…Just because I’m furry DOESN’T MEAN THAT I’M A BEAR!” 

“Bruce’s Big Storm,” by Ryan T. Higgins, is another grumpy animal story.  This is the new book in the “Mother Bruce” series.  Instead of Mother Goose, we have Mother Bruce, who raises a family of  baby geese.  In “Bruce’s Big Storm,” Bruce gives shelter to his animal friends and ends up with a very full house in spite of his grumpiness.

Just in time for Halloween, the library has received two very silly “scary” books.  “Giracula,” by   Hide your pies and cakes!  “The Curse of the Werepenguin,” by Allan Woodrow, is written for slightly older but still silly readers.  A boy named Bolt visits a baron who claims to be a distant relative but seems to be a twelve-year-old boy who wears tuxedos and shouts at people all the time.  When Bolt is bitten by the baron, he turns into a half-boy, half-penguin creature.  And it only gets worse from there.

Caroline Watkins, is about a vampire giraffe that has a taste for sweets.

 These sentimental, interesting and silly books are waiting for you at Litchfield Library.  See you there!

Puzzling out library shelf space

by Beth Cronk, Litchfield head librarian

We’ve been playing musical chairs with some of the book collections at the Litchfield library lately. Shelf space is always tight, so we look for creative ways to make room for everything, especially the most popular things.  I’ll give you an explanation of where to look for the collections that have been moved, in hopes that fewer people will be lost while looking for their favorite books.

The library’s large print book collection is well-used, and it hasn’t been in the most user-friendly spot for the past few years: on low shelves behind the computers.  You’ll find the large print books now on full-height shelves along the back wall of the library, behind the regular adult fiction.  We even managed to keep them up off of the bottom shelf, for less bending to reach books. 

You’ll find the adult paperback collection now on the short shelves where the large print books had been.  This places them in a more visible spot, instead of hiding in the back corner of the library.
In the coming weeks, we’ll move the reference books to the tall shelf behind the paperbacks.  We don’t have many reference books anymore, but sometimes people need to consult things like a book of quotations, a concordance, or a dictionary. We keep a small selection of these books in the library without making them available for check out.  

The oversized books will move along with reference; these are unusually tall books that don’t fit on regular library shelves.  Moving both of those will give the adult nonfiction section just a bit more room.

All of this rearranging has happened along with removing books that haven’t been checked out in a few years, the difficult but necessary thing that must happen in order for the library to add newly published books.  The public will have an opportunity to buy some of these, among all of the books offered at the Friends of the Library book sale on Saturday, November 16.

So if you go looking for the large print books or the paperbacks, what kinds of things might you find?  The Litchfield library gets two westerns, two mysteries, and two books that can be described as “gentle reads” in large print automatically every month.  We’ve found that our large print readers especially like those kinds of books. 

We also get some of the most in-demand titles in large print as they are needed.  For example, the library has “Searching for Syvlie Lee” by Jean Kwok, a Chinese-American family drama about a woman who goes missing in the Netherlands and her sister who goes looking for her, discovering family secrets in the process.

One of our most recent large print westerns is “Hang Them Slowly” by William W. Johnstone with J. A. Johnstone.  William Johnstone died in 2004, but his niece is continuing his popular series.  This new addition to the Range Detectives series finds two undercover detectives posing as cowboys getting caught up in a Montana range war.

As far as paperbacks, one of the newest additions is “The Wallflower Wager” by Tessa Dare.  The latest in Dare’s “Girl Meets Duke” regency romance series features an aristocratic spinster who rescues every lost or wounded animal she finds.  Her “wealthy and ruthless” new neighbor insists she get rid of the menagerie, so she enlists him to find homes for the creatures. 

You can find little paperback or big large-print editions of many books at the library.  If Litchfield Library doesn’t have the format you want, ask staff to find out for you whether the publisher has printed that kind of edition and if we can order it from another library.  As always, there’s no charge to request books from other libraries throughout Minnesota.

Tuesday, October 8, 2019

Meet Mary Poppins and Bert

Wind's in the east...  Bring the kids to Litchfield Library on Thursday, October 10, at 4 p.m. for a brief Mary Poppins storytime.  Mary Poppins and Bert will blow in for a meet and greet and to read the Mary Poppins picture book. 

Featuring the cast of Litchfield High School's fall musical, Mary Poppins.

Friday, October 4, 2019

Parents, it's Up to You!

By Jan Pease

Why did an estimated 27% of Minnesota’s five-year-old children enter Kindergarten unprepared?   I tend to focus on that number, but that also means that 73% of our kids did enter Kindergarten ready to learn.  Since I began working here in 1991, that number has been about the same:  roughly one quarter of the children entering Kindergarten are not ready for the experience of school. 

For several years I’ve been a partner of Read, an organization that encourages parents to read to their children: “Every child. Every parent. Every day.”  Their Read Aloud Toolkit gives a lot of information about this subject, and I’ve borrowed a lot of that information for this essay.  According to, the single most important thing we can do to help our children learn and develop is reading aloud to them.  Children are born with about 100 billion neurons in their brains.  By age three there will be about 1,000 trillion connections between them.  Reading, talking and singing to children builds these connections.
At Litchfield Library, we have discussed trying the 1000 Books before Kindergarten program, which involves record keeping and prizes.  I’ll leave that for my successor to implement.  Someday. 

For now, I encourage families to read 15 minutes each day, just as regular as tooth brushing is in most families. According to the Read Aloud Tool Kit, “only 48% of children in this country are read to each day.”

If you read just 15 minutes a day to your child, for 5 years, that adds up to 27,375 minutes.  I can easily read a picture book in 15 minutes, even with talking and asking questions about the book.  That number of minutes would equal 1,825 books.  That’s a lot of books!

That leads me to another point.  Reading isn’t passive.  To draw your child into the story, ask questions.  If a book is about fall, ask, “what colors do you see?”  and “why do some trees lose leaves and others don’t?”  If you’re outside, even without a book, look up at the clouds. Ask, “what’s in the sky?”  or “what  does that cloud look like to you?”  “What kind of cloud is that?”  Or from October first on, “is that a snow cloud?”  

A final point: it’s so important to talk, read, and sing to small children.  In 1995 a book was published   about an important study of how much parents interact with their children. The title is “Meaningful Differences in the Everyday Experience of Young American Children,” by Betty Hart Ph.D and Todd R. Risley, Ph.D. It is available through and

A newer study by Jill Gilkerson, Ph.D and Jeffrey A. Richard, MA is found in their book, “The Power of Talk: The Impact of Adult Talk, Conversational Turns, and TV during the Critical 0-4 years of Child Development.”  This was published in 2009, but I haven’t found a copy of it, although articles by Jill Gilkerson, Ph.D are available through Both studies showed that the number of words young children are exposed to has a direct impact on school and life success.

I had a delightful time interacting with a 15 month old child who is just starting to talk.  She climbed on a couch, and we quickly made up a game of pretending she was asleep and waking up.  So fun.  So important.  See you at the library!