Shelf Life Blog
For the past two decades, Martin McDonagh has established himself as a sensational writer of emotional disturbance and darkly funny exchanges in his Irish-set plays and crime-focused films. He may not be a household name, but that name already has an Academy Award and several Tony nominations under its belt. We have a number of his works in the collection worth recommending.
Written in the mid-Nineties, The Beauty Queen of Leenane and Other Plays offers a trilogy of stories centered around the same town and immediately shows McDonagh's gifts for cleverly inane banter and simmering tensions.
Theodora is an Odd Duck, but she doesn't realize it yet. She does all the normal chores that ducks do: swimming; buying mango salsa; and checking out library books. She knows what she wants in life, preferring to stay home in the winter with a nice cup of tea while all of the other ducks fly south.
Have you ever been in a situation where you faced impossible odds to succeed? Or, have you ever gone up against an opponent seemingly superior to you in every way? These traits are usually associated with a brave protagonist “overcoming the odds” but can sometimes be compellingly applied to a villain as well. Lex Luthor, a villain almost as old as the Superman mythos itself, has long existed without a compelling character hook. He was originally a fat, bald man who schemed to ruin Europe simply because he could.
Jim Henson: The Biography approaches the man through his work. This makes sense since, as he was the artist who redefined puppetry, Henson created and entertained almost non-stop for four decades.
Eel’s early morning spent scavenging on the Thames River as a “mud-lark” brought a few things to the surface. There was a nice piece of copper, but he had to give that over to one of the stronger mud-larkers, a kindly blacksmith turned to this low way of making a living. But he did come away with two valuable things—or at least valuable to him. One was a half-drowned cat, thrown into the river by a bully boy. The other was a word of warning from the old blacksmith. Fish-Eye Bill was looking for him again, he said. A year Eel had spent in an easier life, getting his schooling, working two jobs and staying away from places he might be seen by Bill’s crew. It sounded like the makings for serious danger. Though in Deborah Hopkinson’s The Great Trouble, Eel’s problems are only beginning.
The Day the Crayons Quit is a most imaginative book in terms of its story and its artwork. One day while looking in his crayon box, Duncan finds a stack of scrawled messages instead of crayons.
One by one we read each color's reason for going on strike, written in its color. Red feels totally overworked. Purple is tired of contributing to messy pictures. Yellow and Orange cannot agree on who deserves to be the color of the sun. This is a young artist's worst nightmare.
We are all about lifelong learning at the Central Rappahannock Regional Library, and we hope that you are, too. Whether it is through our collection or our classes and events, we offer ways to educate for so many different types of learners. I learn best by listening, so one of my favorite methods of acquiring new information is though our Modern Scholar audio courses.
Calamity came to Earth ten years ago in the book Steelheart, by Brian Sanderson. David was eight years old when the entire planet was changed by Calamity and the Epics were created. The Epics were ordinary folks who gained superpowers and were transformed into super villains.
No one knows the Sahara Desert like Issa. He is a famous guide along the dangerous paths the gold and salt caravans take to their far destinations. Everyone knows to ask for his help. But one day five riders with six camels come bounding through the village with a desert storm quick on their heels. They do not stop to ask for Izza's help. They gallop on, with the sixth camel carrying a basket with its tiny burden. In Mal Peet and Elspeth Graham’s The Mysterious Traveler, Issa watches them ride out of sight not knowing that the scrap of ribbon they leave behind will change his future.
“We laugh and we cry.”
In Tamar Myers’ The Girl Who Married an Eagle, there is a lot of both.
Julia Elaine Newton has come all the way from Ohio to the Belgian Congo to save souls and teach English to young girls who are runaway child brides. She’s really quite pleased with herself and thinks she knows what she’s doing. It’s 1959, and her spotless cotton circle skirt is just the thing to wear in Africa, comfortable and fresh, or it is until it becomes blood-soaked while she tends a future student who has been attacked by hyenas. Exquisite, brilliant, ten-year-old Buakane has run away on her marriage night from Chief Eagle, a man nearly four times her age. She is his 23rd wife.