Shelf Life

Our Shelf Life Blog features the latest recommendations chosen by library staff and volunteers.
Thu, 10/28/2010 - 3:31am

I just read One Crazy Summer by Rita Williams-Garcia. I really, really enjoyed this book. I love historical fiction and am usually attracted to any new historical fiction title that comes through our Children’s area. I’m just sort of magnetically attracted to these books. But with this one, my radar was ringing in my head and alarms were going off… Check me out… Check me out! The book cover is beautifully illustrated and so attractive! It would catch any reader’s eye, even those reluctant to read “History” books. 

The setting is back in the late 1960’s, Oakland, California, during the beginning of the “Black Panther” movement. It was a time of civil distress and upheaval across the country and within the Black community. It was the time of Malcolm X and Martin Luther King Jr. and the clash of their two philosophies.
 
Three young sisters are sent to spend the summer with their mother who they have not seen since the youngest sister was born seven years ago. Big Ma, their grandmother, doesn’t want them to go and warns Pa what a bad idea this is. But, Pa says, ”It’s time. They need to know Cecile.”   
Wed, 10/27/2010 - 3:31am

Charlotte Ellison lives a outwardly beatific and genuinely boring existence at her home in the London suburbs. To her mind, her most vexing problems are her father’s refusal to allow her to read his newspapers—a common enough attitude in Victorian England—and her unresolved, unadmitted crush on her brother-in-law Dominic. Anne Perry’s Cater Street Hangman portrays Charlotte’s extremely circumscribed position as one that might have yawningly gone on for years, filled with good works and a suitable marriage, were it not for the gruesome murders of young girls in the environs of her Cater Street home.

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 8:22am

Clare Clark's The Great Stink brings to life the literal dank and dismal underbelly of Victorian London.

During the summer of 1858 a heat wave gripped London. The water level in the Thames sank from the accompanying drought. Raw sewage flowed into the Thames, spilled over the banks, and caused a stench that filled the city. The powerful machinery of the House of Commons ground to a halt as a hot, fetid miasma enveloped the chambers. Curtains soaked in a solution of chloride of lime did nothing to block the foul air. The Great Stink had arrived.

An outbreak of cholera rapidly followed. Members of Parliament, sick and dizzy from the heat and smell, finally passed legislation to fund a new sanitary sewage system for the city of London. The newly formed Metropolitan Board of Works got busy. Engineers and surveyors were hired. Massive contracts for bricks and supplies and construction were awarded. The potential for profits - and corruption - was enormous.

Tue, 10/26/2010 - 11:23am

Seventh graders Emily, Spencer, Aria and Hanna worship Alison in Sara Shepard's Pretty Little Liars. Alison’s the prettiest, most popular girl at Rosewood Day School. When the five girls are thrown together at their school’s charity drive, they quickly become friends. Over a year later, the girls are still friends, but the power Ali wields over them all has them feeling uncomfortable. She knows all of their deep, dark secrets: secrets that could ruin their lives if anyone else found out. When Ali disappears, the four girls are shaken, but also…relieved.

Three years later the girls start getting strange text messages, emails and notes from someone: someone who seems to know all of those secrets that they thought were safe since the disappearance of Ali. The messages get more and more threatening and the girls can’t help but wonder: Is Ali sending the messages? If not, then who?
 
Wed, 07/22/2015 - 3:31pm

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.
Wed, 10/20/2010 - 3:31am

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.

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