Hello Hoboken patrons. I’m excited to join the community and this blog as a new librarian on the block. For my first post I thought I’d share some of my favorite books, television shows and movies as a way of introducing myself. I enjoy a huge range of genres and topics, everything from The Wizard of Oz to Harry Potter to The Walking Dead, but I’ll focus on a few titles that may not be as popular or may have been forgotten.
Some of my favorites for children are:
Little House on the Prairie, by Laura Ingalls Wilder
The Little House series (and the TV show loosely based on the books) made a lasting impression on me. As a child I wanted to be Laura Ingalls and often pretended that I was her. Although the books are fiction, not autobiographies, they paint an incredible picture of being a pioneer family and growing up in the 1870s. Laura wrote about the excitement of discovering new places, the heartbreak of losing a huge wheat crop and the fear of living through blizzards in a clear, matter-of-fact style. I recommend these books to any kid who is interested in history or just wants to read a good story. And if you haven’t read the books since you were a child, I’d recommend you pick them up again. I recently re-read them, and found new things I missed the first ten times.
Amelia Bedelia, by Peggy Parrish
Amelia Bedelia is a character who takes everything she is told literally. In my favorite story, Play Ball, Amelia Bedelia, Amelia learns how to play baseball. When she hits the ball and is told to “run home” she runs to her house. When I read these books as a child I thought I was so smart for knowing why Amelia was wrong. These books are silly and fun, and I recommend them to every kid I know.
The Three Pigs, by David Wiesner
This picture book starts out like every other version of The Three Pigs that you’ve ever read or heard. The pigs build houses out of different materials, the wolf huffs and puffs and blows the house down, but then something unexpected happens: the pigs are blown right out of their story and into others. Wiesner illustrates the story in different styles that match where the Pigs are exploring. This is a great book to read with your favorite kids, and offers an opportunity to use your imaginations to take the pigs on your own made-up adventures. If you enjoy this book, look for additional Wiesner.
E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial – Directed by Steven Spielberg
E.T. is the story of a boy and his alien. A young visitor from outer space is stranded on Earth when his spaceship leaves without him. Elliot, his brother, sister and their friends work to reunite E.T. with his family. I could watch this movie every day and not get bored. It has adventure, frightening encounters, and real emotion. The friendship that Elliot and E.T. develop is deep and real and can resonate with anyone who has ever had a friend.
A few of my favorites for adults are:
Fringe – TV series
If you liked The X-Files and Lost, check out Fringe starring Anna Torv, Joshua Jackson, Jasika Nicole and John Noble. This series had all of the mythology and mystery of both of those series, but with a much less convoluted story. The monster of the week, the relationships between the characters and the overall arc of the show were beautifully intertwined to create something I haven’t seen much of: a series with continuity that (mostly) made sense. The series flew under the radar, and was constantly at risk of cancellation but if you like science fiction with complex characters I’d recommend watching the series.
Hannibal – TV series
Hannibal starring Hugh Dancy as profiler Will Graham and Mads Mikkelsen as Hannibal Lector isn’t for everyone. It’s violent and gruesome, yet it is also completely fascinating. It’s based on the novels by Thomas Harris, especially Red Dragon, and takes place before the events of Silence of the Lambs. The cinematography on this series is unparalleled. It’s stylish and haunting, as is the show itself. I often have to watch during the day because it’s very scary, but I still look forward each new episode. Season 3 is filming now, and this X-Files fan is very excited that Gillian Anderson has been promoted to series regular.
Wicked, by Gregory Maguire
My colleague Lois has already written about Wicked in her blog post about The Wizard of Oz, but I have to second the recommendation for this novel. I tend to re-read only books from my childhood, but this one (and my next entry on this list) are the exceptions. Maguire makes the politics and the people of Oz so real that you almost expect to read about Munchkinland in an actual newspaper. The book took me a little while to get into, but within a few chapters I was hooked.
Jane Eyre, by Charlotte Bronte
Jane Eyre is such a typical, old-fashioned, high-school English class book that I was surprised that I loved it. Even though I enjoy reading, and English was my favorite class, I didn’t always like the books we were forced to read. Jane Eyre is different and right from the first paragraph I was enthralled. Some of my opinions about the characters have changed over time, but the perfect language and sympathetic characters keep me coming back over and over. If you haven’t read Jane Eyre since your own high school English class, I recommend that you give it another chance.
All of these titles can be borrowed from the library.
-Written by Kim Iacucci, Children’s Librarian