October 2010 Archives

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Max Brooks' World War Z is hands down one of the best books in the zombie genre written in the past decade. Survivors of a ten year war against the hordes of living undead tell their stories of survival in a world overrun with zombies. Written as a series of first-hand accounts of the events preceding and following the zombie war, this novel presents an eerily realistic depiction of the political, military, and societal response to a zombie plague. The zombie war, called "The Crisis", sees entire countries overrun as fear paralyzes citizens and governments fail to defend their borders against the plague. It's a riveting account of a global human effort for survival. If you're looking for tips on how to survive a zombie apocalypse, check out Max Brooks' previous work, The Zombie Survival Guide : Complete Protection From The Living Dead.

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David Wellington's Monster trilogy is an inventive take the zombie apocalypse tale. The first book, Monster Island, takes place in New York City years after the rise of the undead. The majority of the world's population has perished at the hands of flesh-hungry zombies, countries and governments as we know them have collapsed, and small pockets of fighters are the only resistance against the undead. A former U.N. weapons inspector and small band of teenage-girl soldiers are sent to New York City to search for the rarest of commodities in the new zombie world, medicine. To succeed in their mission they must escape the million zombies that occupy Manhattan Island. They soon discover not all zombies are as brain dead as they appear. Monster Nation is a prequel chronicling the first months of the zombie outbreak in the United States, and Monster Planet continues years after Monster Island as the thinking undead continue to amass power and threaten to exterminate what remains of the human race.

Zombie Anthologies

Whether you prefer zombies of the classic George Romero variety (moaning, sluggish ghouls aware of nothing but their unending hunger for human flesh), or with a new twist (the speaking, thinking, planning undead), The New Dead and The Living Dead has something for everyone. Featuring such giants of the zombie, fantasy, and horror genre as Stephen King, Max Brooks, Clive Barker, and David Schow, these are exceptional short story collections. Lazarus from The New Dead and This Year's Class Picture from The Living Dead are some standouts of the collections.

For more zombie tales available at your Milwaukee Public Library check out this list of zombie fiction titles.

Submitted by Kristina @ MPL Central



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Werewolves Of Montpellier

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Werewolves Of Montpellier by Jason (c2010)

Norwegian graphic novelist Jason returns with a new offering of his trademark pictorial noir... this time involving jewelry heists, poker parties, excessive drinking, unrequited love and, yes, werewolves. Poignant and funny, another Jason classic. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central


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Going Batty for Not-Too-Scary Books

Who doesn't love a scary read on a dark and stormy autumn night, with the witching hour drawing close - wait, what's that suspicious creaking on the stairs?

Well... me, actually. Don't get me wrong; I adore the atmospheric, the dark, and the macabre. When it comes to the seriously bloodcurdling, however, quite frankly I'd prefer not to have nightmares for the next week and a half. Luckily, there are some great hair-raising reads for all levels of fear-tolerance. Whether you're looking for something mildly eerie, moderately shiver-inducing, or positively knock-your-socks-off bone-chilling, there's a spooktacular book here for you.

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The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman

In this multi-award winning bestseller, toddler Nobody "Bod" Owens survives his family's mysterious assassination by scooting to the nearest graveyard. Happily raised by ghosts, he must someday return to the land of the living - and the dangers that still await him there. Darkly atmospheric and suspenseful, this book will make you shiver, not scream.


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Edgar Allan Poe's tales of death and dementia, illustrated by Gris Grimly

Poe's bone-chilling classics get an uncanny upgrade from Gris Grimly's grisly illustrations. Grimly avoids excessive gore for an experience that is deliciously unsettling without being upsetting.


Bat.jpg Bat.jpg Bat.jpg Be prepared to sleep with the light on - all week!


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Heart-Shaped Box, by Joe Hill

I tried to find something not written by the horror-master himself, Stephen King. I didn't get far, however; Joe Hill is King's son. In his debut novel, he proves he inherited his father's sense of the truly terrifying. This tale of a washed-up rock star haunted by a vengeful ghost is gory, visceral, shocking - and surprisingly moving.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central


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Rosemary's Baby by Ira Levin

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Rosemary Woodhouse has everything going for her. She's happily married, recently pregnant, has a wonderful new New York City apartment and her husband's career has really taken off. The Woodhouse's seem like a picture perfect couple with a bright future ahead. Or do they? Why did a nice neighbor leap off the roof of their building when she seemed so happy? Why were her elderly neighbors so interested in her pre-natal care? Why is her trusted doctor warning her about her new building? Witchcraft--are you kidding?
As strange coincidences pile up around her, she starts to develop paranoid feelings about her sudden pregnancy, her husband and her new neighbors. Everything is great, isn't it? Huh, isn't it? Nope. It's really not.
Rosemary's Baby is one of the finest contemporary chillers written. The subtlety of the suspense in this novel grows like a cucumber vine up a wood fence, slowly, surely and with a determined purpose. After all, Satanists couldn't really exist in modern New York City, could they?

If you like this shocker of a novel, I recommend these other works from author Ira Levin: A Kiss before Dying, The Stepford Wives, and The Boys from Brazil. Along with Rosemary's Baby, these novels were also adapted into films with great success.



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Naughty Knits

At our very successful Milwaukee Knits program (yay!) this past week, a guy came up to me. "Why're you doing this?" he asked, pointing to the yarn-loving hordes. "Isn't knitting just for old ladies?"

Well, according to this timely article in the Journal-Sentinel, as well as my own personal experience as a knitter under thirty, knitting is definitely not just reserved for the retirement set. If you're a punk, a vixen, an eco-chic hipster, or just a fabulous person of either gender at any age, there's needlecrafting awesomeness for you.

The Rebel
You love knitting, but the little fluffy duckies and clouds you see in so many patterns make you want to run screaming. If you're more the skull-and-crossbones type, you'll enjoy these books.

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Anticraft : knitting, beading, and stitching for the slightly sinister, by Renée Rigdon and Zabet Stewart
Pretty in punk : 25 punk, rock, and goth knitting projects / by Alyce Benevides and Jaqueline Milles

The Vixen
If knitting is for grandmas, well, you're one hot mama. The patterns in these books aren't necessarily bare-all (though some are); many simply embrace your inner confidence, sexiness, and sense of fun.

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Domiknitrix : whip your knitting into shape, by Jennifer Stafford
Naughty needles : sexy, saucy knits for the bedroom and beyond, by Nikol Lohr
Big girl knits : 25 big, bold projects shaped for real women with real curves, by Jilllian Moreno and Amy R. Singer

The indie crafter
You have a DIY ethic that values community and creativity over processed, perfect, and prepackaged products. These books are about getting to know the writers and creating quirky handmade projects.

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Knitting mochimochi : 20 super cute strange designs for knitted amigurumi toys, by Anna Hrachovec
Mason-Dixon knitting : the curious knitters' guide: stories, patterns, advice, opinions, questions, answers, jokes, and pictures, by Kay Gardiner and Ann Shayne
AwareKnits : knit & crochet projects for the eco-conscious stitcher / Vickie Howell and Adrienne Armstrong

The man
Of course, people of either gender can enjoy the books above. However, it's true that knitting resources are mostly targeted at or used by women. So, guys, here are a few books just for you.

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Knitting with balls : a hands-on guide to knitting for the modern man, by Michael del Vecchio.
Knitting for him : 27 classic projects to keep him warm, by Martin Storey & Wendy Baker

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Do you need help with when to use an ellipses? Or how about an em dash? This book defines those terms and gives interesting examples for assistance. Although this book is geared toward students, it is an excellent reference resource for anyone who has questions about correct usage of grammar, punctuation, writing procedures and more. Check the catalog for availability.



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Submitted by Valerie

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Who among us has not wished to live in the world that exists in one of our favorite stories? Or to have some wonderful piece of that story become a reality in ours? For Meggie and her father Mo the pages of books become portals to other worlds that allow people, animals, and everything else to pass back and forth... although sometimes at a high or dangerous cost. Not the lighthearted children's fairytale you may think it would be Inkheart overflows with malevolent characters vying for power and revenge popping up in one world and then blasting back into their own wreaking havoc wherever they land. In this trilogy readers and writers (those featured in the book), and those who control them, hold the ultimate power to permanently alter the worlds around them constantly leaving the characters and us precariously unbalanced and unsure of how it will all turn out. Who will live? Who will die, when, and how many times?

Check catalog for availability.




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Cornell Woolrich: Hardboiled Writer

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If you'd really like to cook your brain with some outstandingly bleak writing, check out the works of Cornell Woolrich. I mean this guy puts the "black" in Noir.
A contemporary of fellow hardboiled writers Dashiell Hammett and Raymond Chandler, Cornell Woolrich starting writing stories for mystery "pulp" magazines in the late 1920's and 1930's. It wasn't until the 1940's that Woolrich really hit his stride and started writing quality dark novels.
A good starting point into the dreary world of Woolrich is Rendezvous in Black (1948). The story is set in the early 1940's and revolves around the murder of Johnny Marr's fiance Dorothy as she waits for him on a street corner. Enraged at the loss of his true love, Johnny vows revenge against the drunken men responsible for Dorothy's death and exacts shocking vengeance against them.
Woolrich writes with a flair for details and the descriptive sense to make those details come alive. His "bad" characters are really bad and his "good" characters are even worse, but somehow the paranoia and bleakness of Woolrich's stories come across as enlightening to me. So with the coming of winter and the grey days ahead, why not enhance the dreariness of your day with a book by this macabre master of dark and brutal literature.

While your at it, why not watch one of his films after reading one of his stories. Some of his more memorable stories that were made into film noir classics include The Leopard Man, Black Angel and Rear Window.
Submitted by Dan@Central



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Driftless Stories by John Motoviloff

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Driftless Stories: Outdoors In Southwest Wisconsin by John Motoviloff (c2001)

My favorite part of Wisconsin is the rolling-hilled and river-laced Driftless Area in the Southwest corner of the state. Same goes for Wisconsin author John Motoviloff. In Driftess Stories, Motoviloff delivers a collection of vignettes based on his outdoor adventures in the region, and while they focus primarily on fishing and hunting, it's his reverence for the Driftless landscape itself that really shines through. Beautifully written with a style that made me recall Hemingway's Nick Adams Stories more so than I did Field & Stream or Outdoor Life. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central


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With the final week of the Benjamin Franklin: In Search of a Better World exhibit and the approach of the annual Benjamin Franklin Awards Celebration, good old Ben just seems to be in the library air lately. (Perhaps that's not surprising, considering he had a hand in creating them.) Get involved by reading about one of the most interesting and accomplished men in history.

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Benjamin Franklin : an American life, by Walter Isaacson.

This truly enjoyable read focuses as much on Franklin's personal life as it does on his extraordinary civic and scientific accomplishments. I loved discovering Ben Franklin as a whole person, multifaceted, flawed, and fascinating, rather than just an icon.

The first scientific American : Benjamin Franklin and the pursuit of genius, by Joyce E. Chaplin.

When you think of Benjamin Franklin, what comes to mind first? Chances are it's related to his role as a founding father. This biography focuses instead on his scientific achievements, which are often overshadowed in our memory by his political self. A unique look at Franklin's life and achievements.

The autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, introduction by Lewis Leary

What better way to learn about a man than from his own book? Although Franklin's bestselling autobiography is unfinished, and what exists is widely regarded as exaggerated, it still offers a compelling insight into a complex, brilliant man. To me, it's most interesting not because it tells us who Franklin really was, but because it tells us how he wanted to be perceived.

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Sookie Stackhouse can hear everyone's thoughts, well nearly everyone's. She waitresses at the local bar where her boss, Sam Merlotte, has a crush on her and a secret of his own. Sookie's thrilled when she meets Mr."Vampire Bill" Compton, a new, depending on how you look at it, resident in Bon Temps, Louisiana. She and Bill begin a tenuous relationship that mysterious events, murders and locals constantly test. All of the characters have colorful personalities that make each chapter absolutely entertaining. The fun stories never end, and you won't want them to. So here's a link to the author's website. You'll be pleased to see the plethora of books Charlaine Harris has written. Enjoy!

Check catalog for availability.



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Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson

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Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (c2003)

Out Stealing Horses by Norwegian author Per Petterson has recieved numerous awards and accolades since its native release in 2003 and subsequent English translation in 2005. And for good reason, as it's easily one of the best works of fiction I've read in recent years. The story is that of Trond Sander, 67 years old and a recent widower, who has just relocated from city life to a rustic cabin in an isolated section of eastern Norway. Here he lives with his dog, Lyra, and seeks a simple, autonomous, no-frills existence. With it comes ample time to reflect on his past and specifically his childhood summers spent in a similarish setting with his father. Petterson employs a somber tone and slogging pace that leaves the impression that something not quite graspable is lurking just beneath the surface, or something ominous is on the horizon. A beautifully written novel and ideal for a fall or winter read. Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central


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Hooray for Autumn!

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This is my absolute favorite time of year. There's just something about the brisk air, the rich palette of falling leaves, and the sudden preponderance of apples and pumpkins that makes me want to throw on a cozy sweater and start getting my hands dirty. Gardening, cooking, and crafting, often pushed aside during the summer season in favor of lounging in the sun, become my passions all over again. If nothing says fall to you like the scent of cinnamon and cloves wafting through the kitchen, the feel of heavy hand-dyed wool on your needles, or a thick mulch on your garden beds, these books are for you.

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The Blue Chair Jam Cookbook, by Rachel Saunders

Whether you're trying to hold onto the last taste of summer tomatoes or welcoming the deep, spiced flavors of the cooler season, there's a recipe here for you. Stunning photographs complement simple directions for creating seasonal jams, preserves, marmalades, and fruit butters. Just reading about the Brandied Red Cherry Conserve, overflowing with candied citron, currants, almonds, and plum brandy, makes my mouth water. You can also peruse other canning books.

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Fiber gathering : knit, crochet, spin and dye more than 25 projects inspired by America's festivals, by Joanne Seiff.

Two of my favorite fall activities, fiber-crafting and festival-hopping, are all rolled up into one fabulous reading experience! Each festival features stories chock full of local color, photos, at least one pattern, and even some extras, like recipes. Many patterns are fairly complex, but even the ones you might not attempt are inspiring and a joy to look at. If you're a knitter specifically, you might also enjoy another nifty fall-friendly mash-up, Jane Gottelier's Knitting and Tea.

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Fall Scaping : extending your garden season into autumn, by Nancy J. Ondra and Stephanie Cohen

This colorful book's imaginative yet practical plans and copious photographs will send you running to your garden. It covers things to do in the garden right now, as well as what you can do all year to have a garden that really shines in the autumn. The authors focus mostly on ornamentals, so if you're a veggie gardener, you may also want to take a look at some of our books on vegetable gardening in the Midwest.

Other fun fall topics are gourd art, seasonal cooking , and holiday decorating.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central


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Some war stories seem to romanticize and glorify war. The Red Badge of Courage isn't one of them. I consider this story, published in 1895, the quintessential Civil War novel and one of the great works of American literature from the nineteenth century. Set on an unnamed battlefield, 18 year old Union soldier Henry Fleming confronts his fears head on after doubting his courage in battle. Grim, unsettling and serious as a heart attack, this gem of a novel is much more than a war story told around a campfire. It is a story of morality, duty, and honor wrapped in prose that, though archaic and dated, describes fear until the foreboding tone seems concrete and viable.

If you are interested in other awesome works of fiction with a Civil War setting, why not read the book that spawned the classic film Gone with the Wind.

For a truly remarkable short story set during the war, I recommend An Occurence at Owl Creek Bridge. As a Confederate sympathizer is being prepared to be hung by the Union army at Owl Creek Bridge, an elaborate escape to freedom occurs, or does it? This enthralling short story by famed recluse and all around nasty guy Ambrose Bierce was published in 1890 and influenced a powerful short film that became a Twilight Zone episode in 1962.

Submitted by Dan@Central



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Nobel Prize in Literature

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The winner, Peruvian Mario Vargas Llosa was announced in Stockholm this week. He is the first South American to win the prize since Colombian writer Gabriel Garcia Marquez in 1982. Vargas Llosa is currently in the US, as a visiting professor at Princeton, teaching a course on the writing of novels as well as one on Jorge Luis Borges at Princeton. Check catalog for availability of his work.


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Get Dressed (Up) with Nina

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Nina Garcia is fashion director of Marie Claire and a judge on Project Runway and she has several illustrated guides on what to wear for any occasion. "Every time you dress, you assert your identity. With style, you tell the world your story." --Nina Garcia

The Little Black Book of Style includes tips on how and when to wear an outfit, occasion-appropriate wear, advice on how to combine colors and textures, and inspiration on how to achieve your own signature look. The One Hundred addresses the question, what exactly, are fashion's timeless pieces? Here are the 100 items that Nina believes will never go out of style, and that have become absolutely indispensible for any woman reaching for her own eternal fashion look. The Style Strategy shows women how to stay stylish and chic while saving money, in a guide that explains how to maximize what one has through maintenance, ingenuity, and creative style choices. Nina Garcia's Look Book shows us the pieces, the accessories, and the strategies to create the looks that will take us from the first day on a job through the day we ask for a raise and beyond, from the first time we meet our boyfriend's parents (or his children) through the day we see our own children walk down the aisle.

"True style is not about having a closet full of expensive and beautiful things--it is instead about knowing when, where, and how to utilize your collection." --Nina Garcia


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The Social Network

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Were you one of the many moviegoers this weekend driving The Social Network, the movie about the founding of Facebook, to a lead spot in the box office? The tie-in edition of the book it was based on, Accidental Billionaires, tells the story of the Facebook phenomenon. Ben Mezrich spins a fascinating story of betrayal, huge amounts of cash and two friends who changed the way we connect with each other. The end result was a colossal falling out. Eduardo Saverin and Mark Zuckerberg were awkward Harvard undergrads that wanted to be cool. Eduardo tried to gain acceptance into one of the school's semi-secret Final Clubs. Mark hacked into Harvard's computers to create a 'hot or not' site exclusive to campus. The prank nearly got him kicked out, but he and Eduardo realized the concept could be something big.

Another recent title about the company, The Facebook Effect explains how Facebook went from a dorm room pastime to having 500 million users. It's become an essential part of social life for many teens and adults worldwide and as it spreads it produces amazing effects. David Kirkpatrick had Facebook's key execs go ahead in researching the company and its impact on our lives. Pointing out successes as well as mistakes, he gives readers the Facebook story that can't be found anywhere else.


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Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris

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Aesop fables for today. Squirrel Seeks Chipmunk by David Sedaris, illustrated by Ian Falconer (of the Olivia children's books), is different than his previous books, but quite clever. Human thoughts and actions are imposed on the mouths and beaks of animals resulting in jaded portrayals of reality. There's the potbellied pig who diets with so much will power yet still finds himself rounder than he'd like and the bear who's lost her mother that can't help but seek pity via self-centered whining. My fave was probably The Crow and the Lamb because of it's keen depiction of gullibility. He'll be in Milwaukee at the Riverside on October 23, 2010 if you'd like to hear him in person.


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It's Money Smart Week, which got me thinking about a fun personal finance book I read recently. Yes, you read that right - it's a finance book that's actually enjoyable to read. Jeff Yaeger's The Cheapskate Next Door is funny, hands-on, and not preachy for a moment. It avoids everything that might be intimidating about classic personal finance works; there are no strict budgets, investment pie charts, or nine-step programs to make you feel inadequate. It's just stories. Yaeger tells the real-life stories of fellow "cheapskates" who live very, very happily well below their means. Their anecdotes range from silly to hilarious to unbelievable to sweet. Best of all, they're each unique. The people and families in Yaeger's book don't all follow a particular financial plan or spend every waking moment obsessing over pennies. They've just learned, each in their own way, how to keep their stuff from ruling their lives. The Cheapskate Next Door will leave you feeling as liberated as they are, empowered to find your own way to achieve balance and lasting happiness. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Audrey @ Central


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Banned Book Week: The Bluest Eye by Toni Morrison

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Published in 1970, The Bluest Eye is the first novel written by future Pulitzer Prize and Nobel Prize in Literature winner Toni Morrison. Set in Lorain, Ohio during the aftermath of the Great Depression, The Bluest Eye tells the tale of a young African-American girl named Pecola and the personal, racial, familial and cultural hardships she bears through the eleventh year of her life.
The emotional and physical brutality that Pecola endures, including a rape from her own drunken father, has ensured this book remains at the top of many a book-banners list. Throughout the book, Pecola wishes to become a blue eyed Caucasian girl so she can receive love and acceptance from a family and culture that repeatedly tells her she is "ugly."
Stark, beautifully written and told from many different points of view, The Bluest Eye is a novel of exploration, of opening doors that should never remain closed and of uncanny self reflection. This beautiful piece of literature will most likely mean different things to different readers, but one common thread through everyone who reads it will be this: You won't forget it.

Submitted by Dan@Central


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While graphic novels are relatively new to the world of libraries and literature, as they steadily gain readership and exposure, a growing number of titles have been brought under challenge. Here's a list from the American Library Association.

In the case of Art Spiegelman's Pulitzer Prize winning Maus, which was called out for being "Anti Ethnic", one wonders if the challengers had even read the work. If you haven't, you should. It is an excellent documentary-style account of actual Holocaust events which is at once harrowing, gripping and impactful. The anthropomorphic illustration lightens the mood a tad, but perhaps adds to the horror that it was in fact humans that were capable of and committed such acts.

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Check catalog for availability.

- submitted by Tom @ MPL Central



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