Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
07/28/2011 - 9:39am
Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware

Greetings, brave adventurers! So you are looking for uncharted territory to claim and conquer, eh? You've already climbed the highest peaks and had lunch in the craters of the moon. So, where do you go next to do your exploring? Look no further than this hidden gem. This is a land of mystery and danger, a land of wonder and fright, a land with Tyrannosaurs, tentacled creatures, and scariest of all....toll booths. Behold, Delaware!

Jasper Dash and the Flame-Pits of Delaware is part of M.T. Anderson's Pals in Peril series, a highly absurdist take on children's detective and adventure series of decades past, the most obvious being Nancy Drew, Goosebumps, and Tom Swift. The title character of this particular book is the star of his own fictional series that has fallen into obscurity. Just looking at Jasper Dash, you can see that he's from another time. Aviator goggles perched atop a perfectly parted swath of blonde hair. And that's when he opens his mouth and 19th-century slang falls out: "Hello, chums...What-ho and tippy tippy dingle and all."

07/27/2011 - 10:21am
A Game of Thrones

When you play the Game of Thrones, you either win or you die.  In George R.R. Martin’s rich fantasy, King Robert of the House of Baratheon wins the game by defeating the Old Dynasty, the House of Tagaryen, but as his best friend, Eddard Stark, Lord of Winterfell’s family motto states, Winter is Coming, and things are changing.  Robert was a better soldier than king so the House of Lannister threatens his power, and a civil war breaks out. Jaime Lannister fights with his brawn, and his brother, the dwarf Tyrion Lannister, with his wit.

Martin’s characters are not black and white; he goes back to Sir Thomas Malory, where even Lancelot, the role model for chivalry, has deep, fatal flaws. Stark is an honest man, yet he does not know whom to trust and endangers himself and his family.  If you love fantasy combined with the Arthurian legend of knights and chivalry and an added twist of Machiavellian political intrigue, this book is for you. The magical elements of the godswoods, the dragon eggs, and the evil beings lurking the wilds of the north add an air of mystery and the supernatural to the novel.

07/26/2011 - 7:49am
Patient Zero cover

Recently when I went to the beach I took Patient Zero with me to read.  While I sat in stopped traffic, motorcyclists weaved in and out, roaring past us laughing.  My first thought was, “That is SO illegal! I hate you!” But my next thought was, “They are going to get to the beach long before we do, and they are having more fun doing it this way.”  If Jonathan Maberry's Patient Zero were a vehicle it would be one of those motorcycles roaring past the stopped cars.  The action is fast and furious from the beginning to the very last page of the book.

Chapter One introduces Joe Ledge--a modern day Rambo. 

When you have to kill the same terrorist twice in one week, then there’s either something wrong with your skills or something wrong with your world.

And there’s nothing wrong with my skills.

07/25/2011 - 12:53pm
Framed by Gordon Korman

You met Griffin Bing and his friends in Swindle and followed their escapades in Zoobreak.  Now Gordon Korman has brought the gang back in his latest installment--Framed.  Griffin always seems to find trouble even when he is not looking for it.  In this latest adventure, Cedarville Middle School has become the recipient of of a Super Bowl ring.  It is put on display in the school's trophy cabinet.  Suddenly, it goes missing. Griffin is held responsible for the heist. His friends decide to prove his innocence and set out to find the real thief.

Griffin has an eclectic group of friends.  There is Ben Slovak, who suffers from narcolepsy and has a therapeutic ferret, and Savannah Drysdale, an avid animal enthusiast.  Logan is a budding actor, and Pitch is a super athlete.  Together with several other characters, the team assembles a sophisticated crime-busting enterprise as they attempt to identify the actual perp.  However, Griffin is sent to "JFK" - Jail for Kids. He is being framed for the crime. He has a reputation of being a trouble maker throughout his town of Cedarville. Even though the John F. Kennedy Alternative School is not a detention center, he is not supposed to see his friends. However, a pesky little detail like that never stopped Griffin.  There is a monitoring system installed in his home and when he ventures beyond the required boundaries a comic episode occurs.

07/22/2011 - 2:31am
 The Power of Babel by John McWhorter

This readalike is in response to a patron'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.

The Power of Babel by John McWhorter: There are approximately 6000 languages on earth today, the descendants of the tongue first spoken by homo sapiens some 150,000 years ago. How did they all develop? What happened to the first language? In this irreverent romp through territory too often claimed by stodgy grammarians, McWhorter ranges across linguistic theory, geography, history, and pop culture to tell the fascinating story of how thousands of very different languages have evolved from a single, original source in a natural process similar to biological evolution. While laying out how languages mix and mutate over time, he reminds us of the variety within the species that speaks them, and argues that, contrary to popular perception, language is not immutable and hidebound, but a living, dynamic entity that adapts itself to an ever-changing human environment." (Catalog Summary")

If you like The Power of Babel by John McWhorter, you may also like these selections.

The Beginning of Language: Opposing Viewpoints by Clarice Swisher
Discusses historical, philosophical, and scientific theories about the mysterious origins of human language. (catalog summary)

Empires of the World: A Language History of the World by Nicholas Ostler
Head of the Foundation for Endangered Languages, Ostler draws on his extensive study and research, mostly into now dead languages, to trace the history of the world's major languages. Language is always linked to a particular time and place, he says, but at the same time it is a unbroken link to all people in all times, and has played a larger role in history than any prince or economy. First he considers early languages that became dominant in certain areas or by migration, then more recent ones that have spread throughout the world by colonialism.(catalog summary)

 

07/21/2011 - 2:31am
Here Comes the Garbage Barge!

On a blazing summer's day, there's nothing quite like the aroma of piping hot...garbage. It's gross, slimy, and we each make about four pounds of it per day. The one thing that everyone can agree on is that no one wants to deal with garbage, and that notion is exactly what Here Comes the Garbage Barge!  is all about.

In 1987, over 3,000 tons of Long Island, New York's garbage was loaded onto a barge and pulled by the tugboat Break of Dawn.  The plan was to unload the cargo in North Carolina, where poor farmers had been paid to bury the waste. But when the barge and its captain arrived, they met a police boat which refused to let them dock there under any circumstances. So began a wild goose chase up and down the coast to find a place to store the disgusting floating dump.