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Wednesday, July 01, 2015

Same, But Different: European Picture Books

Looking for a picture book that offers something a bit different – artistic, nuanced, off-beat, maybe even a bit dark?  The library has several beautifully illustrated new picture books from Europe that might catch your eye, or that of a discerning child. 

The World in a Second by Portuguese author and illustrator Isabel Minhos Martins and Bernardo P. Carvalho explores moments occurring simultaneously around the world in the span of one second. There is a mysterious tone to the book, and the events featured are not necessarily child-centered: a man getting his mustache shaved on the island of Azores, a woman dropping a letter in Hungary, a watch stopping on a subway platform in Chicago. Bold illustrations of scenes around the globe make this book a visual treat.

A Lion in Paris by Beatrice Alemagna is an oversized picture book inspired by the lion statue in Place Denfert-Rochereau. The lion in the story leaves his home in the grasslands to journey through the city of Paris, encountering many famous landmarks, until he finds the perfect spot to live. The illustrations synthesize a fresh mix of drawing and collage to convey details of the urban landscape. 

Fox’s Garden by Princesse Camcam is a wordless picture book featuring a fox and a young boy whose paths cross one snowy evening. The work of a French artist living in Germany, the images combine paper cutting, painting and lighting to create a gentle, magical world.


In Harold Finds A Voice by Courtney Dicmas, Harold the parrot can imitate any sound he hears, including the daily symphony that occurs within his little Parisian apartment: the growling vacuum, the ringing doorbell, the whirring blender, even the flushing toilet. But does Harold have a voice of his own? An adventure helps him discover his unique voice in this fun, noisy read-aloud.

Mr. Tweed’s Good Deeds is a delightfully odd and colorful book by London-based author and illustrator Jim Stoten. Mr. Tweed and his extra-tall hat can’t seem to go for a walk without attracting a lot of friends in need of help. Little Colin Rocodile lost his kite, Mrs. Fluffycuddle has misplaced her kittens and Pingle Penguin‘s balloons have escaped. Readers can use the detailed seek-and-find illustrations to help Mr. Tweed save the day. 

--Suzanne LaPierre, Kingspark Library

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

8 Websites to Help You Find Your Summer Reads

Do your homework! School may be out, but life is too short to read books you don’t like. Use these websites to help you pick a summer’s worth of good reads.

1. This Blog!

Browse our archives or click on tags at the end of posts to find posts about similar books.

A well-curated and sophisticated website. Find articles, author interviews, Friday reads (what you should read this weekend), summer previews and lists. There are lots of great recommendations here.

Great lists and book exploring at

Can’t keep your Alex Cross’s straight? Need to know the title of Book 4 of Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson series?  Find series lists in order here.

4. Find Your Reviewer Crush

Ever read a glowing book review, then read the book, disliked it and wonder what went wrong? Take a different approach. Check out some reviews of a book you’ve already read and see which critics’ or which publications’ appraisal resonated most with you. Match made. Then follow that reviewer or see what else they recommend. Me? I appreciate NPR reviews. Plus, they have a great Tumblr page.

Mystery fans can browse this site by author name, character name or by genre index: Cozy (Traditional) Mysteries vs. Gothic Suspense. Or, you can pick mysteries set in a certain time period with their Historical Index. Only like Victorian mysteries? Look no further.

Great for helping your junior readers. Books receive reviews from kids and adults alike. “Kids say…” vs. “Parents say…”

7. Slate Magazine’s Audio Book Club podcast

I love listening to Slate’s editors discuss their monthly book club pick. Check them out, see what they are reading, then plan to listen to the podcast once you’ve finished the book.

Smart discussions of popular works and classics.
This site has many visually compelling ways to explore new titles based on what you’ve read and liked. It’s “You might also like…” in a fun, graphic format.

-Ginger Hawkins, Patrick Henry Library

Wednesday, June 17, 2015

Summer Reading Fun for Grown Ups

Does it ever seem like kids have all the summer fun? Adults get sweltering commutes, while kids get days at the pool, summer camp and plenty of time to read just for fun. While the library loves to reward kids for their reading, there are also lots of ways for adults to join in the library festivities this summer.

When the Summer Reading Program kicks off on June 19, adult reading programs will begin at many library branches as well. This year adults can read to earn coupons at some branches for use in their ongoing book sales or for a chance to win prize drawings. Contests include a variety of reading challenges, from reading bingo to identifying the first lines of famous books. Requirements and rewards will vary at participating branches, so check our calendar of events to find an adult summer reading program near you.

Library events aren’t just for kids this summer either. We’ve got all kinds of books clubs and reading groups for adults. But you’ll also find a variety of special programs, from poetry read-arounds and seminars exploring the intricacies of foreign policy decisions to an inside look into a paranormal investigation. As always, we’ve also got fabulous events planned for preschoolers, kids and teens this summer. So check our online calendar of events or pick up a copy of the summer calendar at your local branch or view it online to see what’s happening.

Don’t forget to pick up a reading log or sign your kids up online for the Summer Reading Program--Read to the Rhythm. Children up to sixth grade read 15 books and teens in grades 7-12 read six books to earn a coupon booklet with great prizes including free and discounted items. Make sure they complete their reading and visit a local library branch to pick up their prize by September 5.

Communities that read together grow strong together. Be a reading role model for the kids in your community this summer – we’ll make it worth your while!

-Rebecca Wolff, Centreville Regional Library