Shelf Life Blog

06/20/2017 - 2:00pm
Identity Unknown: Rediscovering Seven American Women Artists

As an art student, Donna Seaman naturally studied artists of the past, thumbing through photographs and reading sketches of their lives and works. It didn’t take her long to figure out there was something wrong with these pictures. In too many, the male artists’ names were proclaimed, but the women, when they did appear, were simply listed as, “Identity Unknown.”

On a mission to make these women and their works known, Seaman did the research on seven whose art and lives were every bit as intriguing as their male counterparts. We meet the provocative sculptor Louise Nevelson, “The Empress of In-Between.” Her medium was wood, and she derived much inspiration from ancient cultures. The essay “Girl Searching” introduces Gertrude Abercrombie, whose specialty was edgy, emotional and autobiographical paintings. She cruised Chicago in her vintage Rolls-Royce and held jam sessions in her three-story Victorian brownstone, earning her title, “Queen of the Bohemian Artists.”

04/03/2017 - 8:43am
Cover to poemcrazy

Are you inspired by life, whether light or dark, to mark moments or passages with words that dance, shout, or whisper your personal truth? You might be poemcrazy. Author (and poet) Susan Goldsmith Wooldridge certainly is. In her book, she shares how she sees the world as a poet as she’s progressed from shy teen to mother to writing workshop presenter.

03/31/2017 - 9:03am
If you like The Zookeeper's Wife by Diane Ackerman

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.

The Zookeeper's Wife: A War Story by Diane Ackerman
The true story of how the keepers of the Warsaw Zoo saved hundreds of people from Nazi hands. When Germany invaded Poland, Stuka bombers devastated Warsaw—and the city's zoo along with it. With most of their animals dead, zookeepers Jan and Antonina Żabiński began smuggling Jews into empty cages. Another dozen "guests" hid inside the Żabińskis' villa, emerging after dark for dinner, socializing, and, during rare moments of calm, piano concerts. Jan, active in the Polish resistance, kept ammunition buried in the elephant enclosure and stashed explosives in the animal hospital. Meanwhile, Antonina kept her unusual household afloat, caring for both its human and its animal inhabitants—otters, a badger, hyena pups, lynxe—and keeping alive an atmosphere of play and innocence even as Europe crumbled around her. (catalog summary)

The Zookeeper's Wife is a 2017 British-American war drama film directed by Niki Caro and written by Angela Workman. The film stars Jessica Chastain, Johan Heldenbergh, Michael McElhatton and Daniel Brühl. The film is scheduled to be released on March 31, 2017, by Focus Features. View the offical HD Trailer below the book recommendations.

Looking for a war-time drama like The Zookeeper's Wife? Check out these other titles.
 

A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell

A Blessing on the Moon by Joseph Skibell

At the center of A Blessing on the Moon is Chaim Skibelski. Death is merely the beginning of Chaim s troubles. In the opening pages, he is shot along with the other Jews of his small Polish village. But instead of resting peacefully in the World to Come, Chaim, for reasons unclear to him, is left to wander the earth, accompanied by his rabbi, who has taken the form of a talking crow. Chaim's afterlife journey is filled with extraordinary encounters whose consequences are far greater than he realizes. (catalog summary)

 


03/31/2017 - 1:19pm
Cover to Prairie Day

Are you looking for warm and classic stories to entrance little ones? Introduce them to Laura Ingalls and her family with My First Little House Books. The original Little House series has been beloved for generations, so why, fans of the chapter book series might ask, do we want to look at a series rewritten and freshly illustrated for small children? Why not just read the original?

My First Little House Books have a different intended audience and therefore a different method of telling the story of the pioneering Ingalls family, who move from territory to territory, looking for a better life and being willing to work hard for it—but also having fun.

Perfect for a lap-sit storytime, these 14 books joyfully recreate the atmosphere of the original Little House books, while Renée Graf’s glowing illustrations faithfully follow and enlarge upon original illustrator Garth Williams’ gentle style.

03/29/2017 - 2:01am
Cover to Storm in a Teacup: The Physics of Everyday Life

The best science teachers bring their subjects to life. They intrigue and entrance their students, often by explaining how everyday events they have observed, such as swirling a dollop of milk in a cup of tea or coffee, are really quite similar to what happens elsewhere in the Universe on both a much larger and much smaller scale. By hooking their students’ interest in a relatable way, a great teacher can inspire them to see their world differently, to open their minds, and to understand the underpinnings of our daily lives.

03/27/2017 - 12:27am
Cover to Flygirl by Sherri L. Smith

Sherri L. Smith’s Flygirl is an extremely moving historical novel about friendship, freedom, love, and loyalty.

Ida Mae Jones dreamed of doing something to help U.S. troops defeat the Nazis in World War II. She was young, smart, and knew how to fly an airplane. But that wasn’t enough, not even when they started accepting women to fly non-combat missions. Because Ida Mae was black, and only white women were allowed to join the flying service. So there was no way she could help win the war and bring her brother home all the sooner. Unless she broke the rules.

03/24/2017 - 11:07am
If you like Ghost in the Shell

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.

Ghost in the Shell [Volume 1] by Masamune Shirow
Deep into the twenty-first century, the line between man and machine has been inexorably blurred as humans rely on the enhancement of mechanical implants and robots are upgraded with human tissue. In this rapidly converging landscape, cyborg superagent Major Motoko Kusanagi is charged to track down the craftiest and most dangerous terrorists and cybercriminals, including "ghost hackers" who are capable of exploiting the human/machine interface and reprogramming humans to become puppets to carry out the hackers' criminal ends. When Major Kusanagi tracks the cybertrail of one such master hacker, the Puppeteer, her quest leads her into a world beyond information and technology where the very nature of consciousness and the human soul are turned upside down. (catalog summary)

Ghost in the Shell is an upcoming American epic science fiction action film based on the Japanese manga of the same name by Masamune Shirow. The film stars Scarlett Johansson, Michael Pitt, Pilou Asbæk, Chin Han and Juliette Binoche. It will be released on March 31, 2017, in 2D, 3D, and IMAX 3D. See the trailer for the movie below the book recommendations.

If you like science fiction titles like Ghost in the Shell, check out these other far-out-there titles.
 

Akira: Book OneAkira: Book One by Katshuiro Ōtomo
Set in Tokyo 38 years after its destruction in World War III (which, according to this story, happened in 1992), Akira eventually evolves into a philosophical investigation of time. But this first volume is all action, nonstop car chases and gun fights strung together with exaggerated speed lines and lots of gigantic machinery. The complicated plot revolves around two teenagers in a motorbike gang that encounters a strange child with an old man's features. When one of the young bikers begins manifesting violent, supernatural powers that threaten to destroy him, both bikers find themselves enmeshed in a massive conflict between two sinister agencies (which both believe they're fighting to save the world) over some unnamed thing so terrifying it's locked away in a vault and frozen to absolute zero. (catalog summary)


03/24/2017 - 11:05am
The Girl Who Drank the Moon

There is a witch in the woods. The people of the Protectorate know it. Each year, they are forced to leave a baby as a sacrifice to the witch, lest she destroy the whole city.

But just who is the witch in Kelly Barnhill’s Newbery Award-winning book, The Girl Who Drank the Moon? Maybe it’s Xan, who can’t figure out why the people of the Protectorate keep abandoning their children, but protects the babies with her magic until she can find them adopted homes in the Free Cities. Or, perhaps it’s Xan’s adopted granddaughter Luna, who became enmagicked and now spends her days with Fyrian, the Perfectly Tiny Dragon who thinks he’s a Simply Enormous Dragon, or Glerk, the poetry-obsessed monster who lives in the Bog. It’s certainly not Antain, a young man from the Protectorate who is becoming more and more determined to stop the yearly sacrifice.

03/22/2017 - 8:09am
Dark Matter: A Novel by Blake Crouch

Forty-year-old atomic physicist Jason Dessen is living a normal life in present-day Chicago. Working as a undergrad physics professor, he lives in a brownstone with his wife and teenage son. Every Thursday evening, the family enjoys a home-cooked meal and spends time together. Sometimes, Jason and his wife ponder on what their lives could have been before their son—but Jason believes he has a life that he wouldn't give up for anything.

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