Monday, December 29, 2014

Guest Post: NCLS Road Trip!

Two of our fearless library directors, Noreen Patterson  (Phoenix) and Betty Maute (Fulton), had the idea to visit all 65 of our North Country libraries in one year. They hope to gain a better understanding of each library, and by writing about their travels, help bring our large system closer together - in spirit, if not in distance. Today's guest post is written by Noreen Patterson, with photos by Betty Maute.

Friday morning when I met Betty Maute and Doug Moore (her new children’s librarian) at the already bustling Fulton Public Library, the weather was overcast but we were excited about starting the adventure of visiting all of the 65 libraries in the North Country Library System.

None of us had ever been to the Hannibal Free Library but the blue library sign pointed us in the right direction. We found a lively community center (residents have reclaimed a retired Baptist church and worked some magic) hosting the library, a senior center, the historical society and a preschool.

Stained glass windows original to the church overlook the public computers.

Shelly Stanton, the director, was away on unexpected business but we were welcomed by Wendy Johnson with warm smiles and lots of information. The library has the church's original stained glass windows and lots of comfortable seating scattered throughout. A patron followed us in to settle at one of the public access computers. We found a charming “secret” corner seating arrangement for children to curl up with a book. A display of lovely bookmarks made by a patron sits for sale on the circulation desk near a book purchase signup sheet for a local author’s new title. The Christmas decorations included a Wish Tree for the library - a small tabletop tree with paper ornaments has notes like “stamps” written on the back for patrons to donate a gift of supplies truly needed by the library.

There is a room above the library that is used for story time and children’s activities and (on alternate days) for the nursery school. It is a bright and cheery space for local children. We watched the nursery school class perform an animated Christmas song during our visit. The homeschoolers and the Historical Society meet there as well - a great multi-purpose room.

Downstairs, a door connects the library with the senior center, a large room with a mounted flat screen TV and an alcove holding a kitchen. Seniors meet there for lunches and activities. The center’s staff were very friendly and very proud of all the amenities the center has to offer.

(Check out more photos of the Hannibal Free Library!)

We next headed to Mexico Public Library to congratulate Dorothy Dineen, the director, on her $50,000 grant from Senator Patty Ritchie.

The front window at Mexico Public Library.

Mexico Public Library is a store front library that is warm and welcoming. The entrance lobby has the door to library, the stairway access to the community room upstairs and a great selection of used books for sale. On this day, the front window held a charming book sculpture Christmas tree complete with lights. Six public access computers are the gateway to connected rooms full of books. Laurel Vanderver and Nancy Nicholson, employees of the library, welcomed us at the front desk.

The children’s room has story book character murals including a Shel Silverman poem and drawing, a rocking chair, children’s table and chairs and stuffed toys. The walls are warm colored or brick and currently display artwork from local schools. We loved the old card catalog as a stand for the computer catalog.

While we were visiting the library, the yoga class finished and we headed upstairs to the community room. This large carpeted room handles most of the library’s programing and is available for rent to the community. The walls have shelves of kid friendly craft supplies and long folding tables also used for adult programs including a recent learn to sew class and water color painting classes. The room is used for “Wild and Wacky Wednesdays” during the six-week summer reading program where special programing is provided for participants. One summer Mexico hosted The Reptile Lady and her 40 snakes! (Dorothy is not only innovative but brave.) When asked what she liked most about the library she mentioned the community aspect of it. Her programs certainly reflect the great connections she has in the community.

Thank you to both Hannibal and Mexico Libraries for being so welcoming and gracious, especially as the first visits in our grand plan. As advocates for libraries and library systems, just these two visits have validated that libraries are strong resources for their communities.

(Check out more photos of the Mexico Public Library!)

And thanks to Noreen and Betty for sharing this project. Follow their continuing adventures here at The Frozen Librarian!

Christmas, with books!

There is nothing like a five and a half day Christmas break - especially when those days are filled with books. Because, yes, of course I'm the auntie who gives books for presents. Like you need more toys? Please. In my day we played with glass soda bottles and wooden napkin rings. And Cabbage Patch Kids. And Barbie. And My Little Pony. And Legos. And I was trying to make a point, what was it.

Right! Books! For presents! Easy to store, easy to wrap.

I also made sure to hit up the library before they closed for the holiday to pick up - among other things - my hold of B.J. Novak's The Book With No Pictures. I figured it would be a good read for my five-year-old niece who would be old enough to appreciate the humor.

And did she ever.

She giggled throughout the first reading, and then asked me to read it again, giggling in anticipation of the parts she had already laughed at once. The next night, she asked for it again, and by the third night, she was reading it to me. (With help from her mother. She is, after all, only five, and the book does include words a bit beyond her current vocabulary.)

There was something kind of amazing about seeing that happen, about watching a child's enthusiasm for a story translate into the desire to want to read herself. On the smallest, most individual scale, I had just witnessed in practice the theory that I preach to all the youth services librarians in my system - that to encourage pleasure reading is to help develop a love of reading in children. Part of that is letting kids pick out books that appeal to them, but another part of it is throwing books in their path that they might not have picked out on their own.

In many communities in my rural system, the library is one of the very few places that kids can even lay their hands on a book, so having the opportunity to expose children to titles that they might not see at school or in the magazine aisle of their local grocery store is just so important and awesome.

 Or at least I think so. But then, I would. I'm the auntie who gives books for presents.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

New e-books added to NCLS!

My Pet Book, by Bob Staake.

Most pets are cats and dogs, but what happens when a boy wants a different kind of pet, one that doesn't meow or bark? Bob Staake's exuberant tale of a little boy and the pet of his dreams will appeal to anyone whose best friends are . . . books!

Books make the perfect pets, the boy decides, and chooses a bright red one. When it goes missing, a lively adventure is in store for readers who love a happy ending. Soon kids everywhere will wish for a pet book of their very own.

Absolutely Truly (Pumpkin Falls #1) by Heather Vogel Frederick.

Now that Truly Lovejoy's father has been injured by an IED in Afghanistan and is having trouble finding work back home, the family moves from Texas to tiny Pumpkin Falls, New Hampshire, to take over Lovejoy's Books, a struggling bookstore that's been in the family for one hundred years.

With two older brothers and two younger sisters clamoring for attention, her mother back in school, and everyone up to their eyebrows trying to keep Lovejoy's Books afloat, Truly feels more overlooked than usual. So she pours herself into uncovering the mystery of an undelivered letter she finds stuck in a valuable autographed first edtion of Charlotte's Web, which subsequently goes missing from the bookshop. What's inside the envelope leads Truly and her new Pumpkin Falls friends on a madcap treasure hunt around town, chasing clues that could spell danger.

The Neil Gaiman Audio Collection. (Narrated by the author.)

Four of beloved author Neil Gaiman's delightfully scary, strange, and hilarious children's tales read by the author, now available unabridged. This collection includes:

"The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish": An unforgettable story that will take readers on a journey into the murky mind of a young boy and the perils of striking a bargain.

"The Wolves in the Walls": Lucy is sure there are wolves living in the walls of their house - and, as everybody says, if the wolves come out of the walls, it's all over. Her family doesn't believe her. Then one day, the wolves come out.

"Cinnamon": This charming fable of an exotic princess who refuses to speak currently exists only on Neil's official website and has never been published in print or any other format.

"Crazy Hair": Bonnie tries to comb the narrator's crazy hair - where gorillas leap and tigers stalk - and is in for a surprise in this delightful rhyming tale.
(All descriptions from OverDrive.)

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

North Country library voices: Noreen Patterson

Our very own Noreen Patterson, the director at Phoenix Public Library in Oswego County, wrote an editorial that appeared in the Watertown Daily Times yesterday.

Noreen Patterson of Phoenix Public Library.

Here's my favorite bit: "When local communities invest in their libraries, they make their communities stronger with programs for children and adults, with computers for job searches and homework assignments. But mostly, they make the statement that they value lifelong learning and the opportunity to access so much information from alternative sources."

True story.

Thanks, Noreen, for being a library advocate!

New e-books added to NCLS collection!

Guys Read: True Stories, by Jon Scieszka

Jon Scieszka's Guys Read anthology series for tweens turns to nonfiction in its fifth volume, True Stories. The fifth installment in the Guys Read Library of Great Reading features ten stories that are 100% amazing, 100% adventurous, 100% unbelievable--and 100% true. A star-studded group of award-winning nonfiction authors and journalists provides something for every reader.

Compiled and edited by real-life literature legend Jon Scieszka, Guys Read: True Stories is a mind-blowing collection of essays, biographies, how-to guides, and more, all proving that the truth is most definitely out there.

The Mystery of the Missing Lion (Precious Ramotswe #4), by Alexander McCall Smith. (Also available in audio, narrated by Adjoa Andoh.)

Precious Ramotswe gets a very special treat. She gets a trip to visit her Aunty Bee at a safari camp. On her first day in camp, a new lion arrives. But this is no average lion: Teddy is an actor-lion who came with a film crew.

When Teddy escapes, Precious and her resourceful new friend Khumo decide to use their detective skills to help track him. They will brave the wilds of the bush--and its hippos and crocodiles--as they try to find where Teddy has gone.

Unbroken (The Young Adult Adaptation): An Olympian's Journey from Airman to Castaway to Captive, by Laura Hillenbrand.

On a May afternoon in 1943, an American military plane crashed into the Pacific Ocean and disappeared, leaving only a spray of debris and a slick of oil, gasoline, and blood. Then, on the ocean surface, a face appeared. It was that of a young lieutenant, the plane's bombardier, who was struggling to a life raft and pulling himself aboard. So began one of the most extraordinary sagas of the Second World War.

The lieutenant's name was Louis Zamperini. As a boy, he had been a clever delinquent, breaking into houses, brawling, and stealing. As a teenager, he had channeled his defiance into running, discovering a supreme talent that carried him to the Berlin Olympics. But when war came, the athlete became an airman, embarking on a journey that led to his doomed flight, a tiny raft, and a drift into the unknown.

Ahead of Zamperini lay thousands of miles of open ocean, leaping sharks, a sinking raft, thirst and starvation, enemy aircraft, and, beyond, a trial even greater. Driven to the limits of endurance, Zamperini would respond to desperation with ingenuity, suffering with hope and humor, brutality with rebellion. His fate, whether triumph or tragedy, would hang on the fraying wire of his will.

In this captivating young adult edition of her award-winning #1 New York Times bestseller, Laura Hillenbrand tells the story of a man's breathtaking odyssey and the courage, cunning, and fortitude he found to endure and overcome. Lavishly illustrated with more than one hundred photographs and featuring an exclusive interview with Zamperini, Unbroken will introduce a new generation to one of history's most thrilling survival epics.

(All descriptions from OverDrive.)

Monday, December 8, 2014

Favorite 2014 Reads

So, I've read a few books this year. Here are my favorites from 2014:

Picture Book

The Book with No Pictures, by B.J. Novak.

One of the most amusing misconceptions about librarians is that we read all day at work. Hilarious! However, if a book is thin enough, and I find a good time in the afternoon to take a short break, I'm sometimes able to read one at my desk. When that book makes me laugh out loud at that desk, that book is a keeper. 

Middle Grade

West of the Moon, by Margi Preus.

Loved, loved, loved. Beautifully written and told with care. Of course, given that I'm a huge fan of stories about sisters, journeys, and the large gray space between right and wrong, this one was already starting out on a pretty good foot.

Young Adult

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, by A.S. King.

I don't typically read a lot of YA, but I put this one on my TBR list the day I first heard about it. Totally worth the wait, and now I have to go find everything else that A.S. King has written.


Fortunately, the Milk, by Neil Gaiman.

There is a part of me that is always, always longing to be back on that round rug in my elementary school library and listening to someone tell me a story. Lucky for me, there's Neil Gaiman.

A disclaimer on my non-youth services reads: You will notice that they are not from 2014. Due to the boatload of children's books I read last year, I absolutely did not keep up with grown-up books. As a result, my nonfiction pick is from 2011, and my fiction pick is from 1855. Enjoy!


North and South, by Elizabeth Gaskell.

The problem I usually have after falling in love with a BBC adaptation of a 19th century novel is that when I go to read the novel, I rarely find it as affecting as the filmed version. Unless it's North and South. And then, yes. Yes, it is.


Destiny of the Republic, by Candace Millard.

I enjoy American history, and as a result, I typically steer toward the 900s when I'm looking for nonfiction. But I have to admit, rarely am I so engaged in a history book that even when I know what horrible, historical thing is going to happen, I keep praying that it won't.

Friday, December 5, 2014

New e-books added to NCLS collection!

Dory Fantasmagory, by Abby Hanlon.

As the youngest in her family, Dory really wants attention, and more than anything she wants her brother and sister to play with her. But she's too much of a baby for them, so she's left to her own devices—including her wild imagination and untiring energy. Her siblings may roll their eyes at her childish games, but Dory has lots of things to do: outsmarting the monsters all over the house, escaping from prison (aka time-out), and exacting revenge on her sister's favorite doll. And when they really need her, daring Dory will prove her bravery, and finally get exactly what she has been looking for.

With plenty of pictures bursting with charm and character, this hilarious book about an irresistible rascal is the new must-read for the chapter book set.

Flora and the Penguin, by Molly Idle.

Having mastered ballet in Flora and the Flamingo, Flora takes to the ice and forms an unexpected friendship with a penguin. Twirling, leaping, spinning, and gliding, on skates and flippers, the duo mirror each other's graceful dance above and below the ice. But when Flora gives the penguin the cold shoulder, the pair must figure out a way to work together for uplifting results.

Artist Molly Idle creates an innovative, wordless picture book with clever flaps that reveal Flora and the penguin coming together, spiraling apart, and coming back together as only true friends do.

Kid Presidents: True Tales of Childhood from America's Presidents, by David Stabler. Illustrated by Doogie Horner.
The kids who grew up to be president were like a lot of other children. Some struggled with schoolwork and got into fights; others pranked their teachers and infuriated their parents. William Howard Taft was forced to take dance lessons. Gerald Ford struggled with dyslexia. Teddy Roosevelt had a bedroom "museum" full of dead animals. Kid Presidents features 20 captivating true stories from the childhoods of American presidents, complete with lively text and more than 200 cartoon illustrations. Laugh-out-loud funny and packed with cool facts, it's the perfect read for all young future leaders of the free world.

Pack of Dorks, by Beth Vrabel.

Lucy knows that kissing Tom Lemmings behind the ball shed will make her a legend. But she doesn't count on that quick clap of lips propelling her from coolest to lamest fourth grader overnight. Suddenly Lucy finds herself trapped in Dorkdom, where a diamond ring turns your finger green, where the boy you kiss hates you three days later, where your best friend laughs as you cry, where parents seem to stop liking you, and where baby sisters are born different.

Now Lucy has a choice: she can be like her former best friend Becky, who would do anything to claim her seat at the cool table in the cafeteria, or Lucy can pull up a chair among the solo eaters—also known as the dorks. Still unsure, Lucy partners with super quiet Sam Righter on a research project about wolves. Lucy connects her own school hierarchy with what she learns about animal pack life—where some wolves pin down weaker ones just because they can, and others risk everything to fight their given place in the pack. Soon Lucy finds her third option: creating a pack of her own, even if it is simply a pack of dorks.

The Witch's Boy, by Kelly Barnhill.

When Ned and his identical twin brother tumble from their raft into a raging river, only Ned survives. Villagers are convinced the wrong boy lived. But when a Bandit King comes to steal the magic Ned's mother, a witch, is meant to protect, it's Ned who safeguards the magic and summons the strength to protect his family and community.

Meanwhile, across the enchanted forest that borders Ned's village lives Áine, the resourceful and pragmatic daughter of the Bandit King, who is haunted by her mother's last wordsto her: "The wrong boy will save your life and you will save his." When Áine's and Ned's paths cross, can they trust each other long enough to stop the war that's about to boil over between their two kingdoms? 

(All descriptions from OverDrive.)

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Holiday multi-tasking.

If you're going to be on Amazon over the next month (and I suspect you might be), please consider using this link:

It's a nice bit of holiday multi-tasking. Do your gift shopping and support your libraries at the same time. And you don't even need to change out of your pajamas.  Everyone wins!

Monday, November 24, 2014

Mexico Public Library to receive $50,000 for building project

So, it's a great time to be the Mexico Public Library.

Senator Patty Ritchie's office announced last week that as part of the $148,000 in special funding that the senator has secured for libraries in her district, Mexico Public Library will receive $50,000 to help with a building project. 

Mexico Public Library, Mexico, NY.
Dorothy Dineen is the library director at Mexico, and she was kind enough to take the time to tell me a little about this unexpected - but very welcome - news:

Angela: Did you have any idea this was coming?

Dorothy: No! I last spoke with a representative of Senator Ritchie's office over the summer.  She asked about our facility needs and if we had any projects going on. 

We had actually hired an architect in 2012 to do a facilities study for us and help us come up with a renovation plan, which they did.  The first phase of that was exterior masonry work that was a must to do because it was required for safety and structural reasons.  We applied for a construction grant and completed that work last year.  The rest of their plan was renovation of currently unused space on the second floor, which included adding more exits, stairways, etc. and their estimate was $500,000!

In the midst of the facility study, they discovered an issue with our roof that would need to be dealt with sooner rather than later.

So anyway, we were at that phase when I talked with Senator Ritchie's office over the summer. I explained about our roof issue and also that we were looking to break up that huge $500,000 renovation into smaller manageable chunks that we could do in phases, the first being a much needed upgrade to our current meeting/program room. 

When I was speaking with her office, I thought it was for one of those $3,000 grants that we were grateful to have received from Senator Ritchie before.  I was completely floored when I read the letter that said we had been granted $50,000!

The current second floor meeting room space during a library program.
Angela: Wow. That's pretty outstanding. So, you'll use the $50,000 for the roof and the second floor upgrade?

Dorothy: Yes, that's the plan.  We will meet with the architect again in January and then begin getting project estimates to submit.  Hopefully we can begin work in the spring.

Angela: That's wonderful. Out of curiosity, how old is the building?

Dorothy: It was built approximately 1868 and was a store, I think.  It was owned by the Brown Family of Grandma Brown's Bean fame in the early 1900's (they made the beans here) and was given to the village in the late 1970's for the library.

Thanks to Dorothy for chatting with The Frozen Librarian, and once again, congratulations!

Friday, November 21, 2014

School Library Journal Best of 2014

So, SLJ released their picks for the best books of 2014, which is very exciting. Even more exciting is being able to link out to those same titles in our e-book catalog. Some titles aren't yet available as e-books (especially picture book titles), but what NCLS can get, we've been getting. Enjoy!


The Scraps Book: Notes from a Colorful Life, by Lois Ehlert.

Eyes Wide Open: Going Behind the Environmental Headlines, by Paul Fleischman.

The Family Romanov: Murder, Rebellion, and the Fall of Imperial Russia, by Candace Fleming. (Also available in audio.)

Red Madness: How a Medical Mystery Changed What We Eat, by Gail Jarrow.
All Different Now: Juneteenth, the First Day of Freedom, by Angela Johnson. Illustrated by E.B. Lewis.

A Volcano Beneath the Snow: John Brown's War Against Slavery, by Albert Marrin.

Josephine: The Dazzling Life of Josephine Baker, by Patricia Hruby Powell. Illustrated by Christian Robinson.

The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights, by Steve Sheinkin. (Also available in audio.)

Winter Bees and Other Poems of the Cold, by Joyce Sidman. Illustrated by Rick Allen. (Not available for checkout until November 25. But you can place a hold!)

The Pilot and the Little Prince: The Life of Antoine de Saint-Exupery, by Peter Sis.

Separate is Never Equal: Sylvia Mendez & her Family's Fight for Desegregation, by Duncan Tonatiuh. (Also available in audio.)

Brown Girl Dreaming, by Jacqueline Woodson. (Also available in audio.)

Picture Books 

The Baby Tree, by Sophie Blackall.

Big Bug, by Henry Cole.

Elizabeth, Queen of the Seas, by Lynne Cox. Illustrated by Brian Floca.

Once Upon an Alphabet, by Oliver Jeffers.

The Iridescence of Birds: A Book About Henri Matisse, by Patricia MacLachlan. Illustrated by Hadley Hooper.

Viva Frida, by Yuyi Morales.

Middle Grade

The Crossover, by Kwame Alexander.
The Night Gardener, by Jonathan Auxier.

El Deafo, by Cece Bell.

Nest, by Esther Ehrlich.

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, by Karen Foxlee. (Also available in audio.)

My Heart is Laughing, by Rose Lagercrantz. Illustrated by Eva Erikkson.

Rain Reign, by Ann M. Martin.

The Boundless, by Kenneth Oppel.

The Red Pencil, by Andrea Davis Pinkney. Illustrated by Shane W. Evans.

West of the Moon, by Margi Preus.

Cartwheeling in Thunderstorms, by Katherine Rundell.

Revolution by Deborah Wiles. (Audio only.)

Young Adult

The Impossible Knife of Memory, by Laurie Halse Anderson.

Avalon, by Mindee Arnett.

The Unfinished Life of Addison Stone, by Adele Griffin.

To All the Boys I've Loved Before, by Jenny Han.

Glory O'Brien's History of the Future, by A.S. King. (Also available in audio.)

Mortal Heart, by Robin LaFevers.

We Were Liars, by E. Lockhart.

Egg & Spoon, by Gregory Maguire.

Althea & Oliver, by Cristina Moracho.

I'll Give You the Sun, by Jandy Nelson.

Gabi: A Girl in Pieces, by Isabel Quintero.

Grasshopper Jungle, by Andrew Smith. (Also available in audio.)

Blue Lily, Lily Blue, by Maggie Stiefvater.

The Accidental Highwayman, by Ben Tripp.

The Strange and Beautiful Sorrows of Ava Lavender, by Leslye Walton.

Afterworlds, by Scott Westerfield.

Belzhar, by Meg Wolitzer.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Lake Effect Reading List

Snowed in? Library closed? No worries! You can always download e-books with your North Country library card! Here's a particularly snowy list of children's titles:

Over and Under the Snow, by Kate Messner. Illustrated by Christopher Silas Neal.

Over the snow, the world is hushed and white. But under the snow exists a secret kingdom of squirrels and snow hares, bears and bullfrogs, and many other animals that live through the winter safe and warm, awake and busy, under the snow. Discover the wonder and activity that lies beneath winter s snowy landscape in this magical book.

Mouse and Mole: A Winter Wonderland, by Wong Herbert Yee. 

Yippee! It is a winter wonderland! What better day for Mouse and Mole to go sledding, whirl around on ice skates, and build snowmen together?

But Mole does not want to go outside. Too cold! Too windy! He prefers to stay as snug as a bug in a rug inside his nice, warm bed.

Mouse is lonely. Ice skating and sledding just aren't as fun for one. Then she gets an idea...a Sno-Mole might do the trick! Mole won't be needing his hat or scarf or mittens...or will he?

Sometimes even best friends want to do different things. But at the end of a cold winter's day, it's nice to know that your best friend will be there waiting for you, with warm mittens and all.

The Story of Snow: The Science of Winter's Wonder, by Mark Cassino.

How do snow crystals form? What shapes can they take? Are no two snow crystals alike? These questions and more are answered in this visually stunning exploration of the science of snow. Perfect for reading on winter days, the book features photos of real snow crystals in their beautiful diversity. Snowflake-catching instructions are also included.

Whale Snow, by Debbie Dahl Edwardson. Illustrated by Annie Patterson.

Amiqqaq is excited when his family catches a bowhead whale. As his family prepares to celebrate the traditional Iñupiaq whaling feast, Amiqqaq learns about the spirit-of-the-whale.

The Life Cycle of a Penguin, by Colleen Sexton.

Penguins must complete their life cycle in very cold temperatures. To protect their eggs from the cold, penguins use brood patches. Students will watch a penguin chick hatch from an egg and grow into an adult.

Balto and the Great Race, by Elizabeth Cody Kimmel.

Balto has a quiet life as a sled dog--until tragedy strikes. Dozens of children in Nome become sick with diphtheria. Without antitoxin serum, they will perish--and the closest supply is 650 miles away! The only way to get the serum to Nome is by sled, but can the dogs deliver it in time? Heading bravely into a brutal blizzard, Balto leads the race for life.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C.S. Lewis.

Narnia . . . a land frozen in eternal winter . . . a country waiting to be set free.

Four adventurers step through a wardrobe door and into the land of Narnia, a land enslaved by the power of the White Witch. But when almost all hope is lost, the return of the Great Lion, Aslan, signals a great change . . . and a great sacrifice.

The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe is the second book in C.S. Lewis's The Chronicles of Narnia, a series that has become part of the canon of classic literature, drawing readers of all ages into a magical land with unforgettable characters for over fifty years.

Cabin Fever (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #6) by Jeff Kinney.

Greg Heffley is in big trouble. School property has been damaged, and Greg is the prime suspect. But the crazy thing is, he's innocent. Or at least sort of.The authorities are closing in, but when a surprise blizzard hits, the Heffley family is trapped indoors. Greg knows that when the snow melts he's going to have to face the music, but could any punishment be worse than being stuck inside with your family for the holidays?

Ophelia and the Marvelous Boy, by Karen Foxlee. (Available in audio!)

A luminous retelling of the Snow Queen, this is the story of unlikely heroine Ophelia Jane Worthington-Whittard who doesn't believe in anything that can't be proven by science. She and her sister Alice are still grieving for their dead mother when their father takes a job in a strange museum in a city where it always snows. On her very first day in the museum Ophelia discovers a boy locked away in a long forgotten room. He is a prisoner of Her Majesty, the Snow Queen. And he has been waiting for Ophelia's help.

As Ophelia embarks on an incredible journey to rescue the boy everything that she believes will be tested. Along the way she learns more and more about the boy's own remarkable journey to reach her and save the world.

A story within a story, this a modern day fairytale about the power of friendship, courage and love, and never ever giving up.

Greenglass House, by Kate Milford.

It's wintertime at Greenglass House. The creaky smuggler's inn is always quiet during this season, and twelve-year-old Milo, the innkeepers' adopted son, plans to spend his holidays relaxing. But on the first icy night of vacation, out of nowhere, the guest bell rings. Then rings again. And again. Soon Milo's home is bursting with odd, secretive guests, each one bearing a strange story that is somehow connected to the rambling old house. As objects go missing and tempers flare, Milo and Meddy, the cook's daughter, must decipher clues and untangle the web of deepening mysteries to discover the truth about Greenglass House—and themselves.

Breadcrumbs, by Anne Ursu. (Also available in audio!) 

The winner of numerous awards and recipient of four starred reviews, Anne Ursu's Breadcrumbs is a stunning and heartbreaking story of growing up, wrapped in a modern-day fairy tale.

Once upon a time, Hazel and Jack were best friends. But that was before he stopped talking to her and disappeared into a forest with a mysterious woman made of ice. Now it's up to Hazel to go in after him. Inspired by Hans Christian Andersen's "The Snow Queen," Breadcrumbs is a stunningly original fairy tale of modern-day America, a dazzling ode to the power of fantasy, and a heartbreaking meditation on how growing up is as much a choice as it is something that happens to us.

In Breadcrumbs, Anne Ursu tells, in her one-of-a-kind voice, a story that brings together fifty years of children's literature in a tale as modern as it is timeless. Hazel's journey to come to terms with her evolving friendship with Jack will deeply resonate with young readers.

The Golden Compass, by Philip Pullman.

Lyra is rushing to the cold, far North, where witch clans and armored bears rule. North, where the Gobblers take the children they steal--including her friend Roger. North, where her fearsome uncle Asriel is trying to build a bridge to a parallel world.

Can one small girl make a difference in such great and terrible endeavors? This is Lyra: a savage, a schemer, a liar, and as fierce and true a champion as Roger or Asriel could want.

But what Lyra doesn't know is that to help one of them will be to betray the other...

Blizzard!, by Jim Murphy. Audio, narrated by Taylor Mali.

Jim Murphy's careful research puts the listener in the front seat of the Great Blizzard of 1888 - one of the most devastating natural disasters in U.S. history -and provides a clear understanding of why life in the United States was forever changed afterward.

(All descriptions from OverDrive.)

Lake Effect Reading List: Grown-up Edition

 The Winter Peopleby Jennifer McMahon.

West Hall, Vermont, has always been a town of strange disappearances and old legends. The most mysterious is that of Sara Harrison Shea, who, in 1908, was found dead in the field behind her house just months after the tragic death of her daughter, Gertie. 

Now, in present day, nineteen-year-old Ruthie lives in Sara's farmhouse with her mother, Alice, and her younger sister, Fawn. Alice has always insisted that they live off the grid, a decision that suddenly proves perilous when Ruthie wakes up one morning to find that Alice has vanished without a trace. 

Searching for clues, she is startled to find a copy of Sara Harrison Shea's diary hidden beneath the floorboards of her mother's bedroom. As Ruthie gets sucked deeper into the mystery of Sara's fate, she discovers that she's not the only person who's desperately looking for someone that they've lost. But she may be the only one who can stop history from repeating itself.

The Wolves of Midwinter, by Anne Rice.

The novel opens on a cold, gray landscape. It is the beginning of December. Oak fires are burning in the stately flickering hearths of Nideck Point. It is Yuletide. For Reuben Golding, now infused with the Wolf Gift and under the loving tutelage of the Morphenkinder, this promises to be a Christmas like no other . . .

The Yuletide season, sacred to much of the human race, has been equally sacred to the Man Wolves, and Reuben soon becomes aware that they, too, steeped in their own profound rituals, will celebrate the ancient Midwinter festival deep within the verdant richness of Nideck forest.

From out of the shadows of Nideck comes a ghost--tormented, imploring, unable to speak yet able to embrace and desire with desperate affection . . . As Reuben finds himself caught up with--and drawn to--the passions and yearnings of this spectral presence, and as the swirl of preparations reaches a fever pitch for the Nideck town Christmas festival of music and pageantry, astonishing secrets are revealed; secrets that tell of a strange netherworld, of spirits other than the Morphenkinder, centuries old, who inhabit the dense stretches of redwood and oak that surround the magnificent house at Nideck Point, "ageless ones" who possess their own fantastical ancient histories and who taunt with their dark magical powers . . .

The Snow Queen, by Michael Cunningham. (Audio, narrated by Claire Danes.)

Michael Cunningham's luminous novel begins with a vision. It's November 2004. Barrett Meeks, having lost love yet again, is walking through Central Park when he is inspired to look up at the sky; there he sees a pale, translucent light that seems to regard him in a distinctly godlike way. Barrett doesn't believe in visions—or in God—but he can't deny what he's seen.

At the same time, in the not-quite-gentrified Bushwick neighborhood of Brooklyn, Tyler, Barrett's older brother, a struggling musician, is trying—and failing—to write a wedding song for Beth, his wife-to-be, who is seriously ill. Tyler is determined to write a song that will be not merely a sentimental ballad but an enduring expression of love.

Barrett, haunted by the light, turns unexpectedly to religion. Tyler grows increasingly convinced that only drugs can release his creative powers. Beth tries to face mortality with as much courage as she can summon.

Cunningham follows the Meeks brothers as each travels down a different path in his search for transcendence. In subtle, lucid prose, he demonstrates a profound empathy for his conflicted characters and a singular understanding of what lies at the core of the human soul.

The Snow Queen, beautiful and heartbreaking, comic and tragic, proves again that Cunningham is one of the great novelists of his generation.

Bury This, by Andrea Portes.  

If twenty-five years can discover the internet, the cell phone, this thing called the iPod, can twenty-five years discover the secret of a girl murdered, abandoned, by the side of the road?
That is the haunting premise of Bury This, an impressionistic literary thriller about the murder of a young girl in small-town Michigan in 1979. Beth Krause was by all intents a good little girl – member of the church choir, beloved daughter of doting parents, friend to the downtrodden. But dig a little deeper into any small town, and conflicts and jealousies begin to appear. And somewhere is that heady mix lies the answer to what really happened to Beth Krause.

Her unsolved murder becomes the stuff of town legend, and twenty-five years later the case is re-ignited when a group of film students start making a documentary on Beth's fateful life. The town has never fully healed over the loss of Beth, and the new investigation calls into light several key characters: her father, a WWII vet; her mother, once the toast of Manhattan; her best friend, abandoned by her mother and left to fend for herself against an abusive father; and the detective, just a rookie when the case broke, haunted by his inability to bring Beth's murderer to justice. All of these passions will collide once the identity of Beth's murderer is revealed, proving once again that some secrets can never stay buried.

The Apartment, by Greg Baxter. 

One snowy December morning in an old European city, an American man leaves his shabby hotel to meet a local woman who has agreed to help him search for an apartment to rent. THE APARTMENT follows the couple across a blurry, illogical, and frozen city into a past the man is hoping to forget, and leaves them at the doorstep of an uncertain future-their cityscape punctuated by the man's lingering memories of time spent in Iraq and the life he abandoned in the United States. Contained within the details of this day is a complex meditation on America's relationship with the rest of the world, an unflinching glimpse at the permanence of guilt and despair, and an exploration into our desire to cure violence with violence.

A novel about how our relationships to others-and most importantly to ourselves-alters how we see the world, THE APARTMENT perfectly captures the peculiarity and excitement of being a stranger in a strange city. Written in an affecting and intimate tone that gradually expands in scope, intensity, poetry, and drama, Greg Baxter's clear-eyed first novel tells the intriguing story of these two people on this single day. Both beguiling and raw in its observations and language, THE APARTMENT is a crisp novel with enormous range that offers profound and unexpected wisdom.  

White Fire, by Preston Child. 

Special Agent Pendergast arrives at an exclusive Colorado ski resort to rescue his protégée, Corrie Swanson, from serious trouble with the law. His sudden appearance coincides with the first attack of a murderous arsonist who-with brutal precision-begins burning down multimillion-dollar mansions with the families locked inside. After springing Corrie from jail, Pendergast learns she made a discovery while examining the bones of several miners who were killed 150 years earlier by a rogue grizzly bear. Her finding is so astonishing that it, even more than the arsonist, threatens the resort's very existence.

Drawn deeper into the investigation, Pendergast uncovers a mysterious connection between the dead miners and a fabled, long-lost Sherlock Holmes story-one that might just offer the key to the modern day killings as well.

Now, with the ski resort snowed in and under savage attack-and Corrie's life suddenly in grave danger-Pendergast must solve the enigma of the past before the town of the present goes up in flames. 

The Ice Balloon: S. A. Andrée and the Heroic Age of Arctic Exploration, by Alec Wilkinson.

In this grand and astonishing tale, Alec Wilkinson brings us the story of S. A. Andrée, the visionary Swedish aeronaut who, in 1897, during the great age of Arctic endeavor, left to discover the North Pole by flying to it in a hydrogen balloon. Called by a British military officer "the most original and remarkable attempt ever made in Arctic exploration," Andrée's expedition was followed by nearly the entire world, and it made him an international legend.

(All descriptions from OverDrive.) 

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Potsdam Public Library in the news

It pretty much makes my day when I see North Country libraries in the news. High fives for Potsdam Public Library, who were recently awarded the Potsdam Chamber of Commerce's Pride in Potsdam Community Award!

Photo by North Country Now.

Field trip to Fayetteville!

There are days at work when I have a chance to get out of the office and visit a library. These are my favorite days.  And when the library is the super-innovative Fayetteville Free Library? Well, it was totally worth what we drove through to get there.

FFL has a makerspace in their building (in fact, the first of its kind) and checking that out was the main reason for our visit. A makerspace is exactly what it sounds like - a space where you can make things - and in the library world, it's become what folks call A Thing. FFL calls theirs the Fab Lab, and you can find sewing machines, electrical wiring equipment, hammers, cardboard tubes, tulle, crayons, and of course, 3D printers.

Sewing machine station.

Tools! In the library!
And of course, 3D printing.

And all of this is super cool, there's no denying it. But what's even better is that the spirit of creativity and innovation behind this space is just everywhere at FFL, from the circulating maker kits just inside the front door... this colorful corner of the children's department, where kids are encouraged to make projects out of whatever craft materials happen to be available that day:


And if that weren't enough, they've got an in-house cafe! Circulating tablets and e-readers! A podcast station!

If this all sounds like the kind of thing your library could never do, don't be so sure. According to the staff, the Fab Lab began as a single cart, and a lot of the materials are donated by the community or funded through grants. But it seems to me that it's the attitude at FFL that's the foundation for all this good work - it's like this wall-to-wall sense of possibility. Staff are always looking for new ideas to try. Library space is frequently evaluated to ensure that it's being used to its fullest potential. No matter how small you are, that's something any library can do.