Shelf Life Blog

Ghosts in the House! by Kazuno Kohara

A young girl and her cat enter a dark, old, ramshackle house. Ghosts are waiting for her there. As she opens the door they all fly out. This is where the fun begins in Kazuno Kohara’s Ghosts in the House!

The book dodges a potentially frightening situation by having the little girl don a witch hat and immediately contain the ghosts. She washes them out and uses them as helpful household items like tablecloths and curtains. Our main character is not only brave, but friendly too, and the ghosts enjoy assisting her throughout her daily tasks.
 
The charm of the book comes from the simple text combined with bold illustrations. The limited use of color (orange, black, and white) allows the pictures to jump off the page and create a powerful Halloween world for you to enter. White ghosts have a texture and dimension as if someone had stamped them onto the pages with a wood block. All of these stylistic choices make the book feel like a hidden gem from the 1950’s, when really it was only published a couple of years ago. Kohara followed her debut picture book with one that may be worth checking out in a couple of months, the equally delightful Here Comes Jack Frost.
 
Looking for a children’s book that will evoke the spooky fun of Halloween without scaring the younger ones? Kazuno Kohara’s Ghosts in the House! has it all.

Big Buy Cooking from the Editors of Fine Cooking

As a Fine Cooking magazine subscriber and fan, whenever the Fine Cooking team releases a new book I rush to check it out. The title of this new volume, Big Buy Cooking: The Food Lover’s Guide to Buying in Bulk and Using it All Up, appealed to me as a mom of four children who often shops at bulk warehouses like Costco. I was a little surprised to see that the “bulk” ingredients included such items as kalamata olives, brie, and mangoes….all of which I would consider a pricier gourmet option, not a weekday dinnertime staple.

The introduction, however, explains that the purpose of this book is to give you options to fall back on when you come home with that large wheel of brie from Costco: “It’s cheap, ripe, and calling out to you. Go on, give in. Once home, cut yourself a wedge to enjoy with grapes and crackers…brie on crostini, warm and melting, with dates and walnuts. Brie, ham, and tart apples on a toasted baguette, with a hint of Dijon mustard and honey. Brie in the best-ever version of fondue.” So, once you know that this book is not going to save you money but is going to aid your food indulgences, you can feel free to dabble.

The Dog Selector by David Alderton

If you are thinking about being a dog owner, whether it's your first time or your first time considering a new breed, you'll want to check out The Dog Selector: How to Choose the Right Dog for You by David Alderton. 

The Dog Selector provides an overview of 130 popular dog breeds with the goal of pairing a potential owner with the right type of dog for his or her lifestyle. Alderton provides a brief history of each breed as well as a "canine characteristics" chart which covers personality, exercise requirements, typical behavior at home and in public, grooming requirements, and common health issues. Of course, you'll see a picture of each dog and sometimes a puppy too!

Each chapter features ten breeds (which can vary widely in size and look) which share common characteristics that would make them good for beginners, or low-maintenance (and high-maintenance too, if you're brave and energetic), or good for people with allergies, or good for families, etc. 

Nylon Magazine - Serious Fashion

Fashion, music, celebrities, art, design, travel…what more could a teen wish for? Nylon magazine first graced newsstands in 1999 and since then has garnered awards for its funky, hip style of presenting the latest in pop culture for the need-to-know teen. I recently picked up The TV Issue here at the CRRL, and a quick scan through this hot teen pick showed why it’s doing so well.

Mock-up style layouts and bold, creative photos accompany articles ranging from jewelry and clothing designer updates to bios of the newest musicians. The strong colors are contrasted with plenty of white space, so it’s not a headache to read, and longer articles are nicely interspersed with short blurbs for readers with a shorter attention span. The fashion conscious teen will love all the impressive photos that are not just ads, and appreciate the detailed articles about designers’ newest trends.

If you like the "Sword of Truth" series by Terry Goodkind...

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.

If you liked the "Sword of Truth" series, by Terry Goodkind, for the way an ordinary person rises to be a hero and for the way the story was flavored by the author with humor and suspense, you may enjoy these titles:

Good Omens

by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett
"From two delightful imaginations comes a comic masterpiece in which the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride motorcycles, the hound of the devil chases sticks, and the end of the world is subject to Murphys Law."-catalog summary


Bill the Galactic Hero
by Harry Harrison
"It was the highest honor to defend the Empire against the dreaded Chingers, an enemy race of seven-foot-tall lizards. But Bill, a Technical Fertilizer Operator from a planet of farmers, wasn't interested in honor-he was only interested in two things: his chosen career, and the shapely curves of Inga-Maria Calyphigia. Then a recruiting robot shanghaied him with knockout drops, and he came to in deep space, aboard the Empire warship Christine Keeler. And from there, things got even worse... From the sweltering fuse room aboard the Keeler, where he loses an arm while blasting a Chinger spaceship, to the Department of Sanitation far below the world-city of Helior, where he finds peace, job security, and unlimited trash...here is Bill, a pure-hearted fool fighting a deluxe cast of robots, androids, and aliens in a never-ending losing battle to preserve his humanity while upholding the glory of the Empire."-catalog summary

Trick or Treat Smell My Feet! By Lisa Desimini

A pair of particularly nasty twin witches are bad news for the neighborhood in Lisa Desimini’s Trick-or-Treat, Smell My Feet! They chase kids with fire-powered umbrellas, steal their neighbors’ socks, and fool with everyone’s electricity on stormy nights.

This Halloween, the witches have hatched a particularly evil plan to foil the children’s Halloween fun. Brewing a foul concoction made of smelly socks, the greenish smoke rolling out of the chimney spreads across town and affects a key change in the typical Halloween procedure. Instead of saying, “Trick or Treat!” kids have no choice but to say “Smell my feet!” when going door to door. Worse still, instead of candy, the kids get a slammed door in their faces.
 
Luckily, a pair of sweet, pink socks accidentally falls into the witches’ brew, and their plan backfires in a funny way. Halloween is saved for the neighborhood kids, and the twin witches are even given another chance to be a little nicer, although who knows if they will take it. Given their love of black, their mean disposition, and pinched, green faces, I wouldn’t bet on it.
 
Lisa Desimini’s book is great fun to read with preschoolers and early elementary students. The witches are just scary enough, and the cut-paper illustrations are perfect. This story is a great addition to your Halloween read-aloud tradition!
 

A New England Fish Tale: Seafood Recipes and Observations of a Way of Life from a Fisherman's Wife

Martha Watson Murphy’s A New England Fish Tale combines two of my favorite things: good recipes and folk culture. The best of these books are like visiting with new friends at their kitchen tables. Alongside Fish Tale’s recipes are photos and information both historic and modern that capture some of the atmospheric flavor of New England maritime life.

The author is a commercial fisherman’s wife who never expected to become part of that world, but she learned to respect it and make the most of it. As seen on Deadliest Catch and A Perfect Storm, it’s a hard and dangerous life for those who go out to the sea to catch a living. The loved ones left at home can usually expect a bounty of seafood when the boats come in so it’s very much the focus of fishermen’s family cuisine, much as it is here in our Chesapeake Bay region. While we certainly do have favorite seafood recipes in Virginia, getting more creative takes on them beyond our traditional steamed crabs, fried oysters, and crab cakes is always a welcome experience.
 
The recipes contained here are largely of Murphy’s devising. In addition to being a fisherman’s wife, she is also a professional chef who ran the award-winning Murphy’s Bed & Breakfast in Narragansett, Rhode Island. Although New England fishermen of Melville’s time surely never saw Clam and Potato Pizza or Mussel-Filled Focaccia on their dinner tables, those recipes look tasty as does more traditional fare such as Old-Fashioned Fish and Chips and Panfried Flounder with Lemon and Wine Sauce.

I Love You, Beth Cooper by Larry Doyle

The awkwardness, the loneliness, the humiliation and the anxiety...high school has it all for you. This is one of the messages in Larry Doyle’s devilishly witty debut novel I Love You, Beth Cooper. On graduation day, Denis Cooverman makes those five words the basis of his valedictorian speech, declaring his love to that perfect girl that he constantly sat behind…but never actually spoke to. 

Sure, she was the head cheerleader and he was the debate team captain. And sure, she hung out with a posse of foxy young women while he spent his high school years with his obsessively movie-quoting buddy Richard Munsch. And it's an absolute fact that Denis cannot hold a conversation without constantly peppering it with random bits of inane knowledge. But after high school, none of that should matter anymore...right? 

It's Kind of a Funny Story by Ned Vizzini

This past weekend, the film adaptation of Ned Vizzini’s It’s Kind of a Funny Story opened in theaters across the country. Vizzini’s book centers on a smart teenager named Craig Gilner, who has had growing issues of anxiety and depression since joining an extremely selective, intense private high school in Manhattan. After obsessively studying and getting a perfect score on the entrance exam, Craig finds himself in way over his head, drowning in a sea of labs and math equations. Partying and pining for his best friend’s girl doesn’t help matters either.

Craig can’t sleep or eat. During an especially fitful day, he makes a decision to call 1-800-SUICIDE. Their suggestion for him to check into an emergency room brings Craig to Six North, a Brooklyn psychiatric hospital...for adults. There Craig finds a collection of people at least twice his age with a variety of mental issues. Strangely enough, he finds it incredibly easy to make friends. Craig starts to compare his issues to his new peers, and finds life in Six North to be simultaneously simpler and more complicated than his regular life. His own evaluation of life, friendships, and his doctors help to push Craig in a better direction.

If you like "Pride and Prejudice" by Jane Austen...

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.

The first place to start is to read all of Jane Austen’s novels. She only had six novels published, but no writer has ever surpassed her in writing the novel of manners, revealing the human heart through the minutiae of social interaction.

Emma. by Jane Austen - As daughter of the richest, most important man in the small provincial village of Highbury, Emma Woodhouse is firmly convinced that it is her right--perhaps even her "duty"--to arrange the lives of others. Considered by most critics to be Austen's most technically brilliant achievement, "Emma" sparkles with ironic insights into self-deception, self-discovery, and the interplay of love and power.

Mansfield Park  by Jane Austen - Fanny is an impoverished young woman, snubbed by society, who earns the respect and love of her cousin in this classic set in 19th century England.