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Three Great Book Choices You Can Check Out from Home: Blue Plate Special, Space Opera, and Mittens

19 Sep

Yesterday I posted about Read an eBook Day.  Today I thought I recommend two books I’ve enjoyed and one recommendation from my son who is also an ebook fan.  A great feature of eBooks is that they are perfect to borrow on rainy days or when you are feeling under the weather and don’t want to or can’t leave the house to stop in at the library in person.  Share with us in the comments if you checked out an ebook or digital audiobook recently and want to recommend it to our readers!

Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites

by Kate Christensen
I decided to read Blue Plate Special when I was craving something to read late at night before bed and did a quick search on eBCCLS; this seemed like a great choice since I had enjoyed Christensen’s novel, The Last Cruise, and am a fan of Foodie Memoirs. I enjoyed Christensen’s writing, but her life had a lot of trauma, complications, and was dominated by bad relationships – including an abusive father that made this a bit of dark read. I can see how the complexity of her own life has led her to be able to create such rich and nuanced characters in her fiction. Recipes are included in each section of her autobiography which was broken into the different places she has lived which include everywhere from California, New York, Iowa, and Paris. She mentions several times about journaling and I felt that she had kept logs of her life because of how detailed reflected events were recounted.  Christensen is one of three sisters and I felt her sibling’s lives sounded as interesting as her own with one, an aspiring ballerina and the youngest one, who winds up temporarily becoming part of a religious cult on the other side of the world.  Blue Plate Special ends with Christensen’s move to New England something she chronicles in How to Cook a Moose that I will pick up when the memoir mood strikes me again.

If you want even more foodie memoirs/fiction check out some of our previous posts. Three of the authors I wrote about previously you may recognize now from Food Network shows including Gesine Bullock-Prado’s Baked in Vermont, Molly Yeh’s Girl Meets Farm, and Jessica Tom as a contestant on the Next Food Network Star. You can borrow Jessica’s Tom’s novel Food Whore from eBCCLS and Gesine Bullock-Prado’s memoir My Life from Scratch from eLibraryNJ.

Space Opera
by Catherynne M. Valente
read by Heath Miller
Space Opera
If you are thinking you don’t have time to read an ebook, consider listening to one instead.  They are a relaxing way to commute to work (you might even wish that there was more traffic so you could get through one more chapter) or pass the time while doing some of your daily chores (I love listening to them while I’m folding laundry).  You can listen to Catherynne M. Valente’s latest novel Space Opera as a digital audiobook read by Heath Miller from Hoopla. I have written several times previously about Catherynne M. Valente, including her works Radiance and her Fairyland series, which I am fans of.  Valente’s worlds and characters are always highly original and quirky and those of Space Opera are no exception. Space Opera is set after a brutal intergalactic war tore civilizations apart; now in order to keep order, species must prove their worth not with military might but by competing in a singing competition like one you’ve never imagined.  This year humanity’s only hope is two thirds of a washed up glam rock band.  If you love Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy than you will enjoy Space Opera!

by Lola M. Schaefer
Pictures by Susan Kathleen Hartung
This pick comes from my son, Tommy, who just started first grade this month.  One of the great things you can borrow for kids from Hoopla is Read-Along ebooks. Think of them as an ebook/audiobook hybrid for emergent readers. It lets children hear books read and allows them to read along.  You can either have the pages automatically turn or turn them yourself. You can even pick how fast the pages are read. Over the summer we tried to read at least one book a day together and we’ve been transitioning from me reading to him to him often reading to me, with me giving assistance when he gets stuck on a word. The Read-Along ebooks provide a fun way for beginning readers to feel more confident about learning to read themselves.  First my son has them read the book and then he tries to read the books himself.  He loves cats and recently got a new kitten of his own so was enamored with the story of Mittens who must adjust to moving into a new home.  Since he was starting a new school this year it provided a good opportunity to discuss concerns about being in a new space himself; books can be a great way to get kids to open up about things. Besides the Mittens series, you can also borrow books in the Tommy approved Biscuit series by Alyssa Satin Capucilli if you have puppy dog fans in your house.

Written by:
Aimee Harris
Head of Reference

Finding Your Inner Sunshine: Unconditional

5 Sep

My last blog post was about dancing, and even though it seems at first it has nothing to do with this post – I feel that it is a perfect fit and segue to what this post is about.

Sometimes children’s books can teach even the well-seasoned adult something new. Now, I actually heard about this book from a movie. What intrigued me about the book was first, whether or not it actually existed and second, the struggle that the film portrayed that the person had creating this children’s book.

The movie, which was inspired by true events, is called Unconditional. Now, although the movie’s plot isn’t a direct storyline about the journey of the children’s book, it is the events in the movie to which give heed to the plot in the book itself. The book, Firebird: He Lived for the Sunshine, is mentioned in the beginning and end of the film and it is actually the turning point of the film. But what caught me was the fact that the book itself wasn’t featured in the film. So I did what any English major graduate would do and I looked it up. Low and behold, the book is now real (it is co-authored by Brent McCorkle, the film’s director and Amy Parker).

Fast forwarding to the end of the Firebird – without revealing spoilers – the last page reads, “He still loved to bask in the sunshine. But more importantly, knowing that the sun was always there, Firebird had learned to rejoice in the rain.” Now, the word dance comes back to us here – and whatever that means to you is also another kind of beauty. Recalling my last blog where I mention “even in the midst of the ugly, of the terrible and unrecognizable moments, there is always beauty living amongst it”, this also alludes how even in the rain there is still light surrounding us.

Of course the Unconditional is a lot more theatrical in its production and how it chooses to portray significant plot twists that may not be so pertinent to the children’s book. But in the end it’s evident that hope is something that is alive in us all and just like a rainy day may feel a little cloudy in your heart and mind, it doesn’t mean that hope/light doesn’t exist inside you.

So all in all, this combination of movie and book spiked an interest in me because of the rarity and reality of the conflict we deal with between the natural, tangible and the intangibility of life.

You can check out Unconditional from BCCLS libraries.  Several of Amy Parker’s inspirational books for children are also available from BCCLS libraries including Tiny Blessings for Giving Thanks and Tiny Blessings for Bedtime.

Written by:
Sherissa Hernandez
Adult Programming Assistant

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