Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
Thu, 07/13/2017 - 12:24am
Cover to Caroline’s Comets: A True Story by Emily Arnold McCully

Caroline Herschel had a very hard life early on. Born into a family of royal musicians in what is now Germany, two childhood illnesses left her face pockmarked and her body stunted. Her mother treated her very much as a servant while worrying that no man would ever want to marry her. In the 1700s, this was a real concern, for it was hard for women to make enough money to survive on their own. Caroline's life was pretty miserable as she was expected to do exhausting housework, including knitting stockings for everyone, over and over again.

Fortunately, Caroline’s older brother William wanted to help her. He had moved to England where he was working as a choral conductor and piano teacher. William had the idea that Caroline could learn to sing and be paid for it, and that is exactly what she did. But that is not where her story ends.

Wed, 07/12/2017 - 12:23am
The Sword and the Broom: The Exceptional Career and Accomplishments of John Mercer Langston

When Glory came out in 1989, movie audiences were excited to see a relatively unknown side of the Civil War that highlighted the sacrifices of the Massachusetts 54th, a “colored” volunteer regiment. Gripping as the story that unfolded on the screen was, there was much more to it, of course. In real life, other people’s stories became part of the regiment’s history as the Civil War gripped the nation.

John Mercer Langston, along with Frederick Douglass, acted as a recruiter for the 54th. As an abolitionist and orator, he was an excellent choice, and this task was just one of Langston’s civic accomplishments. Although he had spent most of his life in a free state, John was familiar with plantation life. His father had been a white plantation owner in Louisa County, Virginia—not far from Spotsylvania. His mother had been his father’s slave. But his parents’ story was not a common one for the era. His father freed his mother, and, although they were not allowed to marry for legal reasons, they lived together as man and wife for the rest of their days, their children considered to be freeborn.

Tue, 07/11/2017 - 12:22am
Dying Breath: A Krewe of Hunters Novel by Heather Graham

When she was a teenager, Boston native Vickie Preston and the little boy she babysat were almost killed by an escaped serial killer, who chose them at random. Her escape was aided by none other than a real life ghost—the ghost of the little boy's 17-year-old brother who lost his life in a car crash. 

Vickie, now a historian, has returned to her hometown many years after the incident. But she doesn't return alone. The teenage ghost has followed her around most of her life, acting as her spectral protector. Overall, Vickie doesn't mind the company.

Mon, 07/10/2017 - 12:22am
Cover to Knit, Hook, and Spin: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Fiber Arts and Crafts by Laurie Carlson

Is Arts & Crafts class your favorite camp activity? Does working with yarn, felt, and fabric put you in a happy, creative place? Then, Knit, Hook, and Spin: A Kid’s Activity Guide to Fiber Arts and Crafts, by Laurie Carlson, might be the best book ever.  It has directions for all kinds of fun. With its very clear instructions, you can learn to weave, knit, crochet, and even spin your own yarn if you like.

Fri, 07/07/2017 - 12:19am
If you like Loki's Wolves by Kelley Armstrong

This readalike is in response to a customer's book-match request. If you would like personalized reading recommendations, fill out the book-match form and a librarian will email suggested titles to you. Available for adults, teens, and kids. You can browse the book matches here.

Loki's Wolves (Book 1 of The Blackwell Pages series) by Kelley Armstrong
Matt Thorsen is a direct descendent of the order-keeping god Thor, and his classmates Fen and Laurie Brekke are descendents of the trickster god Loki. When Ragnarok—the apocalypse—threatens, the human descendents of the gods must fight monsters to stop the end of the world. (catalog summary)

Read the other two in The Blackwell Pages series: Odin's Ravens (Book 2) and Thor's Serpents (Book 3)

If you like Loki's Wolves, you may enjoy these other magical kids/teen titles as well.
 

Antigoddess by Kendare Blake

Antigoddess
 by Kendare Blake

Old Gods never die . . . Or so Athena thought. But then the feathers started sprouting beneath her skin, invading her lungs like a strange cancer, and Hermes showed up with a fever eating away his flesh. So much for living a quiet eternity in perpetual health. Desperately seeking the cause of their slow, miserable deaths, Athena and Hermes travel the world, gathering allies and discovering enemies both new and old. Their search leads them to Cassandra—an ordinary girl who was once an extraordinary prophetess, protected and loved by a god. These days, Cassandra doesn't involve herself in the business of gods—in fact, she doesn't even know they exist. But she could be the key in a war that is only just beginning. (catalog summary)
 

Thu, 07/06/2017 - 12:18am
Cover to Over and Under the Pond

A boy and his mother are canoeing on a pond in the Adirondack Mountains. It is peaceful place, maybe even dull. Or, is it? The boy asks his mother, “What’s down there?”

So many things! His mother tells him about them, from the minnows, crayfish, and bullfrogs to beavers hunting “delectable roots” found in the mud and otters clawing for freshwater mussels.

And, over the pond? A great blue heron catches one of those minnows for his dinner. A moose munches a mouthful of waterlilies. As the sun sets, mother and son paddle back to shore and head for home. In the dark, life goes on at the pond. Raccoons come out to prowl, and catfish glide as they seek their suppers in the cool of the night.

Kate Messner’s Over and Under the Pond does several things very nicely. First, it tells a soothing story, perfect for bedtime. But it also introduces an ecosystem, making the science of living things and the secrets found below a pond’s surface very accessible, and it manages to do so without sounding like a textbook.

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