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The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek–the blue librarian

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek

by Kim Michele Richardson

The Book Woman of Troublesome CreekTwo tales woven seamlessly into one—that’s The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek, a work of historical fiction carefully researched and crafted by Kim Michele Richardson. Cussy Carter is a blue-skinned young woman, strong, determined, and the subject of suspicion, hatred, and discrimination in the backwoods of the Kentucky Appalachians in the 1930’s. She is also a Book Woman, a librarian who travels by mule to deliver books to the far reaches of the mountains to patrons who otherwise would have no reading options. Cussy, also called Bluet, knows her place in society as does her Black friend Queenie. They are both considered “colored.” Most people are disgusted by looking at Cussy and certainly avoid any kind of touch.

Richardson paints a moving portrait of Cussy and what it must be like to be an object of ridicule and perhaps the last of her kind. You will be hoping for the best for Cussy who, as a coal miner’s daughter, lives in poverty but shares freely with her even more impoverished patrons. Her father, also a Blue, suffers from lung issues and horrible working conditions.

The Book Woman of Troublesome Creek is a work you will read with your heart in your throat, amazed at the struggles and sufferings of Cussy, her pa, her patrons, and those who dare show kindness to her. At the same time, the book is uplifting because there are good people included in the story and Cussy always stands as a model of someone who does what is right because it is right and in spite of those who would hurt her.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Sourcebooks Landmark for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Historical Fiction

Notes: There are helpful Author’s Notes at the end of the book discussing the rare condition called methemoglobinemia. Richardson also gives background on the Pack Horse Library Project and courting candles. She explains that she altered one fact regarding dates so that she could include certain medical information.

Publication:  May 7, 2019—Sourcebooks Landmark

Memorable Lines:

I lived for the joy of bringing books and reading materials to the hillfolk who were desperate for my visits, the printed word that brought a hopeful world into their dreary lives and dark hollers. It was necessary. And for the first time in my life, I felt necessary.

I couldn’t help notice again how the students waited for me, looked up at me, all quiet and not a single fidget or wiggle, as hungry for the stories in these books as they were for the food that always seemed sparse in this real land.

Nary a townsfolk, not one God-fearing soul, had welcomed me or mine into town, their churches, or homes in all my nineteen years on this earth. Instead, every hard Kentucky second they’d filled us with an emptiness from their hate and scorn. It was as if Blues weren’t allowed to breathe the very same air their loving God had given them…

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The Library of Ever–unforgettable library adventures

The Library of Ever

by Zeno Alexander

The Library of EverLenora is a rich, privileged, eleven year old, cared for by a nanny in the absence of her vacationing, neglectful parents. With a nanny absorbed by shopping and tech devices, Lenora is understandably bored, but that changes quickly when she escapes the nanny’s unwatchful eye in the LIBRARY. To her delight, she is hired to work there. What follows is a series of magical librarian adventures. With each one of them, Lenora proves her worth and advances from Fourth Assistant Apprentice Librarian up through the ranks.

The adventures are fun and scary in this amazing library created by Zeno Alexander in The Library of Ever. Lenora is set on tasks by Malachi, the Chief Answerer, and she bravely confronts the Forces of Darkness who want to destroy Light in the world by destroying knowledge. The scary features are appropriate to Middle Grade readers with transporting by tubes, shrinking and unshrinking, dark caverns, holes that suddenly appear, evil men in bowler hats who can chill a room, and robots with spinning swords for arms.  There are lighter moments too. Lenora becomes a cat in a diorama to rescue a lost kitten. Lenora is ever helpful, for as a librarian that is her job. Her good deeds include resettling a colony of penguins and helping a kindly robot find a lost memory. The plot moves quickly from adventure to adventure and is an appropriate length for Middle Grade readers. As an adult reader I enjoyed it too, smiling over antics and anticipating each new adventure along with each promotion for Apprentice Librarian Lenora who has always enjoyed the adventures to be found in books.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Fiction, Middle Grades

Notes: Ages: 8-11

  Grades: 4-7

Publication:  April 30, 2019—Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Memorable Lines:

Malachi burst onto the scene looking rather disheveled, meaning a wisp of hair had escaped from her bun and her badge was ever so slightly askew.

“This isn’t the Complaints Desk,” said Lenora shortly. “The Complaints Desk is down the stairs, across the hall, over the bridge, past the waterfall, then you take the fifth left after the third right and straight on ’til morning.” Lenora had no idea if there was a Complaints Desk. “You’ll also need ice skates.”

Remember, Lenora, you are not alone in this fight, even if it will feel like that sometimes. You have allies, and you can rely on them to help you with the battles you are not yet ready to fight.

The Library of the Lost and Found–family secrets

The Library of the Lost and Found

by Phaedra Patrick

The Library of Lost and FoundThe Library of Lost and Found is Martha’s story woven by author Phaedra Patrick into a tapestry of several generations of women trying to survive, to see their way through. The background is emotional abuse and family secrets. Martha devotes her life to caring for her aging parents, Betty and Thomas, and later trying to please her contacts at the library where she volunteers. Because Martha does not value her own contributions, no one else appreciates her. As a child, Martha is imaginative and creative and her flamboyant nana, Zelda, encourages her to be a storyteller. Unfortunately Martha’s inventiveness is in direct conflict with the wishes of her overbearing father.

The basic plot line-up to this point in the story appears fairly straight forward, but much more conflict brews beneath the surface. There are past romantic entanglements that affect Martha and her sister Lilian. Zelda disappears from Martha’s life and is proclaimed dead. The past and its secrets affect the present and the future.

One of the fun characters is Suki, a young, single, pregnant co-worker with a tendency to misuse words. For example, speaking of her baby’s father she says “He says he can’t make up his mind between us. I’ll have to give him a culmination.” “Do you mean an ultimatum?” She may not always use words correctly, but she believes in Martha and ends up being an encourager for her as Martha takes steps to find her independence.

There are lots of surprises along the way as figurative skeletons in the closet are revealed and as Martha finds herself again. The Library of Lost and Found is appealing to book lovers as books, libraries, bookstores, writing and reading all play important roles. Its appeal spreads wider  though as it addresses universal issues of power and control, love, whimsy, family, and self-worth, and their emotional impact.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Harlequin (Park Row) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: General Fiction (Adult)

Publication:   March 26, 2019—Harlequin (Park Row)

Memorable Lines:

She often felt like there was an electrical storm around him, and she could sense it crackling now, between him and Zelda.

She didn’t usually feel jealous, but as she watched her mother and daughter, it crept over her now like winter frost across a window.

“Why does something have to last forever to be classed as successful? Surely it’s okay to give things a try.”

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog–introduction to the animal shelter

Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog

written and illustrated by Lisa Papp

Madeline Finn and the Shelter DogIf you like kids and reading and you have a heart for shelter dogs, then you will enjoy sharing Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog by Lisa Papp with a child in your life. The storyline is simple. A little girl, Madeline, begs her mother for a puppy. Mrs. Dimple, who volunteers at a shelter, has a rescue dog, Bonnie, with some pups. Madeline is allowed to choose one, and in the process she learns about shelters where animals wait for their forever homes as well as how to care for her new puppy. Madeline is a girl of action. She not only helps at the shelter, she also rallies her community to bring blankets and books to read to the shelter animals. Madeline Finn and the Shelter Dog is a sweet read with gentle and engaging illustrations.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Peachtree Publishers (Myrick Marketing) for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 4/5

Category: Children’s Fiction

Publication:  March 1, 2019—Peachtree Publishers (Myrick Marketing)

A Literary Tea Party: Blends and Treats for Alice, Bilbo, Dorothy, Jo, and Book Lovers Everywhere

A Literary Tea Party

by Alison Walsh

A Literary Tea Party2A Literary Tea Party, subtitled Blends and Treats for Alice, Bilbo, Dorothy, Jo, and Book Lovers Everywhere, is a delightful book tantalizing the senses with beautiful color photos and delicious themed recipes. The Table of Contents categorizes the recipes into Savories, Bread and Muffins, Sweets, Homemade Tea Blends, and Tea Alternatives. Each recipe is then listed by its themed name and the book or author associated with it. For example, Savories includes Poetical Egg Salad Sandwich referring to Anne of Green Gables.

Although many of the books referenced are childhood favorites, this is not a children’s recipe book. The recipes are of various difficulty levels and although they generally are aimed at sophisticated tastes, the whole tea party atmosphere is so special it would entice children to sample something a little different. Most recipes include a photograph, a quote tying in the literary reference, a note about the recipe, a listing of ingredients, and clear directions followed by a serving note that again references the literary work. Sometimes important cooking notes are added and highlighted. For some recipes a tea pairing is included. There is also a section of the book which gathers five or six recipes together into a theme for a tea party. Some draw on recipes that refer to one book. Some refer to a theme such as murder and draw from a variety of authors.

The author, Alison Walsh, displays her creativity and artistic skills in the various dishes she shares as well as her photography. Walsh is a self-taught food blogger (Alison’s Wonderland Recipes) who also loves books. In the process of writing A Literary Tea Party, Walsh researched the science behind cooking and devoted herself to developing her culinary skills. The result is a beautiful book that any food lover or book lover would  appreciate; it is a magnificent combination of culinary and literary interests immersed in a refined, but fun, atmosphere only achievable in a tea party setting.

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Skyhorse Publishing for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Cooking and Food

Publication:   June 5, 2018—Skyhorse Publishing

Memorable Lines:

Note that accompanied “Candied Nuts with Meadowcream” from The Legend of Luke: A Tale of Redwall by Brian Jacques: Most Redwall recipes are simple, rustic dishes, and dessert is no exception. In fact, sugar doesn’t even make an appearance in this recipe. Instead, lightly honeyed spiced walnuts are the star of this dish, accompanied by a generous helping of Redwall’s famous meadowcream. This dessert’s cozy flavors and homey feel make it a perfect Redwall dish!

Note that accompanied “Dark Chocolate Earl Grey Lavender Truffles” from “The Naval Treaty” by Arthur Conan Doyle: There’s nothing more British than Earl Grey tea or Sherlock Holmes, so why not bring them together? These dark chocolate truffles use cream steeped in tea to get that distinct Earl Grey flavor.

Note that accompanied “ Fairy Dust Star Cookies” from Peter Pan by J. M. Barrie: This imaginative take on the linzer cookie features a raspberry jam center and silver sprinkles. Delicately sweet with an otherworldly twinkle, they’re a dessert even Tinker Bell couldn’t resist.

Animals Do Too! How They Behave Just Like You–Parents and Teachers, take note of this one!

Animals Do Too! How They Behave Just Like You

by Etta Kaner

Animals Do TooAnimals Do Too! How They Behave Just Like You is a wonderful picture book that can be read on so many different levels and in many different ways. Preschoolers would enjoy the basic predictable story pattern that compares their action to that of an animal (e.g. “Do you like to dance? Honeybees do too!). The young elementary student will enjoy the scientific description of what the animal does that is like what the child does and why. The slightly older student would enjoy reading the book independently.  At the end of the book is an illustrated glossary of all the animals in the book with a short description of each. No review of this book would be complete without kudos to the illustrator, Marilyn Faucher. Her illustrations of both people and animals are colorful, engaging, and fun. They will make you smile!

I would like to extend my thanks to netgalley.com and to Kids Can Press for giving me the opportunity to read this book in exchange for an honest review.

Rating: 5/5

Category: Children’s Nonfiction

Publication:  May 2, 2017—Kids Can Press

An Open Apology To Dolly Parton 

Dolly Parton has helped make readers one book at a time. Read this reblogged post if you do not know the story of Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, her importance to the economy of Tennessee, or her generosity in the wake of the terrible fires.

Rawe-struck

Dear Dolly,

10040291_300x300I’ll be honest. I used to think you were a bimbo. I used to think you flaunted your big boobs, teased hair, tiny waist, and your syrupy-sweet southern accent to sell yourself and your brand as a country singer. Granted, I was raised in the Midwest and lived as an adult for many years in the Northeast. I didn’t get you, much less the South.

For example, I’d heard about your origins as a poor girl from the hills of East Tennessee, and when I learned you’d created a theme park in your native Sevier County I rolled my eyes. “Really, a theme park?” I thought. “As if rollercoasters will really help the people of rural Appalachia. Why not create something truly useful to give back to your community, like a library.”

Oh.

You have created a library, actually, and possibly in a bigger and more magical…

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