December 2011 Archives

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

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William Golding's classic novel was reportedly rejected by over 20 publishing houses before finally being published in 1954. What were they thinking? It would have been a travesty of monumental proportions if the world had been deprived of this controversial work.

The basic premise has an airplane full of boys crashing onto an uninhabited island with no adults for guidance. A boy named Ralph assumes leadership over the stranded kids and, with advice from his friend Piggy, decides that a signal fire should always be kept burning in hopes of signaling a passing airplane or ship. Over time, different factions of the stranded boys break from Ralph's leadership and their "society" becomes fractured. Chaos ensues with murder as an end result.

Lord of the Flies is a simple story that tackles very complex issues including morality, the good of everyone over individuality and the benefit of rules and laws that govern the populace. Can reason preside over instinct? After all, its mankind's ability to reason that separates us from other life forms. Give this excellent novel a try so you can decide for yourself whether the pig hunters who broke away from Ralph's leadership were truly savages or are the rules of society the true culprit?

This book has also been filmed. Click here for dvd or vhs availability.

The Milwaukee Public Library celebrated the 50th Anniversary of this landmark work of fiction by purchasing an attractive hardcover edition. Check here for this edition.

Submitted by Dan @Central

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We Need To Talk About Kevin by Lionel Shriver

We Need to Talk About Kevin.jpgIf you're willing to ponder the darker side of humanity, consider reading Lionel Shriver's We Need to Talk About Kevin.The narrator, Eva Khatchadourian was never completely sure she wanted to be a mother. She enjoyed the freedom that her career in travel writing afforded her, but it seemed inevitable that she would love her child as much as her she loved her husband. When she gave birth to Kevin, she felt an emotional numbness that she knew would dissipate as she got to know baby Kevin. When Keven cried all day, she tried to soothe him. When he refused to breast feed or engage in play, she questioned herself. When other parents didn't invite them back to play with their children, Eva knew why. When Kevin grew into a young man, things got even more difficult. Kevin is fiercely intelligent, but an unremarkable student. When he is out of sight, bad things happen to the people he's with, but nobody can ever prove he is at fault. Kevin's father readily accepts the excuses that seem so implausible in Eva's recounting. Kevin's power comes from a joylessness that leaves him indifferent to consequences. Eva's recounting of events makes you wonder who to believe in a family that's so divided. The book is as compelling as it is disturbing. Once you know Kevin, you'll never stop wondering about him.
A great book for discussion, We Need to Talk About Kevin has been adapted into a film featuring Tilda Swinton and John C Reilly. We Need to Talk About Kevin sold out in the 2011 Milwaukee Film Festival and is due for wide release in January of 2012.

Submitted by Anna @ Central

Breathe Deeply by Doton Yamaaki

Watching someone you love struggle with a debilitating condition is a tragic and life changing experience. For young Sei and Oishi, losing their friend Yuko to heart failure alters the course of their lives. Years after Yuko's death both Sei and Oishi are scientists in search of a medical breakthrough. Now professional enemies instead of friends each pursue a cure to Yuko's condition from their own strongly held ethical beliefs. Should stem cells be used to create human organs that can be harvested? Should hearts be kept pumping with artificial polymers? Sei and Oishi may have the same goal but their approaches keep them at odds. When they discover Yuko's death may not be as it appeared their worlds are thrown into havoc once again.

Breathe Deeply is by the highly regarded manga husband-wife team Doton Yamaaki. This is their first work to be translated into English.

Submitted by Nobuta @ Milwaukee Public Library

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Pilgrimage by Annie Leibovitz


Pilgrimage is a journal of a personal journey with close up observations of a number of historical and natural wonders. Renowned photographer, Annie Leibovitz takes us with her, starting at Emily Dickinson's house in Amherst, Massachusetts and continuing on to Niagara Falls with her children. She's not on assignment, just taking pictures of places and things that interest her. She visits Thoreau's cabin at Walden Pond, Ralph Waldo Emerson's home and Orchard House as well as the Isle of Wight. Two photos stood out for me; that of Virginia Woolf's writing table and also a shot of Sigmund Freud's couch. From Lincoln's bloodstained gloves to Marion Anderson's concert dress, to a hole in the bedcover in Georgia O'Keeffe's home, surely with access not ordinarily available, you'll find something of interest as well.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central

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The Travel Books of Mark Twain


Celebrated American author and humorist Mark Twain started his tremendous career by penning semi-autobiographical books based upon his extensive travels as a young man. The first book published by Twain was The Innocents Abroad, or The New Pilgrims' Progress in 1869. It's basically a humorous account of his travels through Europe and the Holy Land in 1867 that he took with a group of American tourists. Innocents Abroad was Twain's best selling book during his lifetime and is still one of the best selling travel books in history. It's great fun to revel in Twain's use of language describing foreign customs and peoples from almost 150 years ago. If you plan on travelling through Europe or the Middle East soon, why not let Twain be your guide? (At least you'll get a laugh!)

Roughing It, though written in 1870-71 and published in 1872, is basically an autobiographical prequel to The Innocents Abroad. The book chronicles Twain's travels through the American West from 1861-67, including his brief excursion in the Confederate Army during the Civil War. Twain's first hand humorous accounts of the old west are important historical documents that read like old campfire tales.

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Folks seem to remember Twain for his stories about Tom Sawyer and Huck Finn meandering their way down the Mississippi on rafts encountering all kinds of troubles along the way. Life on the Mississippi, published in 1883, is a memoir/travel book of Twain's various adventures down the Mississippi River as a "cub" (a type of apprentice) of an experienced steamboat pilot and later, as a traveler from St Louis to New Orleans. Witness pre-Civil War America through the eyes of one its most celebrated writers as he travels down the mighty Mississippi.

Following the Equator chronicles Twain's around the world lecture tour taken in 1895 to pay off his mounting debts from an ill advised investment in a typesetting machine that literally bankrupted the author. Though older and wiser, Twain is still funnier than heck as he travels through India and Australia. Only Twain can complain about a carbuncle and make it seem lighthearted. Not as consistently good as Innocents Abroad or Roughing It, this is still required reading for travel book aficionados and fans of Twain's fiction.

Submitted by Dan @ Central

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The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson


Once every hundred years, a child is born to be the bearer of the Godstone, chosen to perform an act of great service. Elisa is not your typical chosen one. The younger and, in her opinion, the more disappointing of two princesses, she is overweight, unsure of herself, and on her sixteenth birthday finds herself secretly and abruptly married off to the king of a neighboring country. Though extremely intelligent and kind, Elisa feels inadequate and alone in an unfamiliar desert kingdom with the challenge of keeping her status as the bearer of the Godstone a secret. For the chosen one, enemies are hidden everywhere, and there are powerful forces after Elisa from the moment she leaves her homeland. Will she be able to escape her enemies and rise above her self-doubt long enough to become the leader her people need? Or will she, like many others chosen before her, die young without fulfilling her destiny?

The Girl of Fire and Thorns is a fast-paced coming-of-age fantasy with a flawed yet likeable heroine in a beautifully constructed world where religion and magic are linked. Elisa is a refreshingly relatable and atypical heroine who struggles with the same insecurities and questions of identity and purpose we all do. There is a religious element to the book and Elisa holds strong beliefs which help guide her quest to find her calling. Sprinkled with Spanish-inspired language, rich details, and yes, a little romance, this is a unique debut novel. The first in a planned trilogy, this one should not be missed by fans of Kristin Cashore's Graceling, or fans of strong heroines and sweeping fantasy. But beware - part 2 isn't due out until fall of 2012.

Submitted by Jessie @ Zablocki

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When Elves Attack by Tim Dorsey


Serge Storm is back in When Elves Attack: A Joyous Christmas Greeting from the Criminal Festive Nutbars of the Sunshine State, another installment of Tim Dorsey's comical series about a well meaning serial killer. Serge and his sidekick Coleman are hauling out the holly in Tampa and the holidays have Serge rethinking his life. Should he try settling down? Maybe across the street from his old friend Jim Davenport? Sure, that way he can see what a true suburban holiday entails. While watching his neighbor he notes some seedy characters lurking around and decides to take a closer look at what's going on. Enter elf suits, some good old-fashioned Christmas spirit and Serge and Coleman are ready to take down any dangers to holiday comfort and joy. As Serge says, "The most exciting holidays are the ones where not everybody is going to make it."

Submitted by Jacki @ MPL Central

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I remember the inevitable Christmas pageants that took place in my schools when I was growing up. The manger scene with doll in the role of baby Jesus, the three wise men coming from afar, prettiest girl in the class playing the Virgin Mary, with the piano music in the background. Nowadays, these pageants are probably not so common, thanks to political correctness. In this delightful little tale, Doug Barnes, a junior high student, reminds us of all the craziness of such pageants. He also creates a terrific picture of life in junior high and family life around Christmas time in 1960. Dave Barry is known for his sense of humor and he doesn't disappoint here. This story of a couple of junior high Christmas pageants is filled with missteps, typical boys' mischievous behavior, bats in the belfry and Walter, the wonderful miracle dog of the title. Short, sweet, and funny, with photos and advertisements from the period to add to your pleasure. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Katherine @ Zablocki

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Cleopatra: The Search for the Last Queen of Egypt is the companion book to the National Geographic exhibit running at the Milwaukee Public Museum (MPM) until April 15, 2012. Cleopatra of Egypt: From History to Myth is the companion book for the British Museum exhibit that crossed the pond to The Field Museum in Chicago 10 years ago. The National Geographic exhibit at MPM goes further than the British Museum exhibit by creating a facsimile underwater resting place of artifacts and statues found in archaeologist Franck Goddio's recent excavation of Alexandria, the Ptolemaic capital of Egypt.

Cleopatra was actually Cleopatra VII. If you expect to see portraits and statues of her, you'll be disappointed to find the Romans were ruthlessly efficient in destroying the likeness of their enemies. A few surviving coins only show her profile. However that hasn't stopped countless painters, sculptors, playwrights and actors from fantasizing about her through the millenniums as both exhibits display.

Even though there is little overlap between the artifacts displayed in both exhibits and their companion books, they put Cleopatra into context by showcasing materials of Ptolemaic Egypt. She wasn't Egyptian, but Macedonian Greek. Her Ptolemy family ruled Egypt for 300 years since Alexander the Great. Even though she was the first Ptolemy to speak Egyptian, her official documents were in Greek as well as using hieroglyphics to maintain continuity with the heritage and rituals of Ancient Egypt.

Explorer Kathleen Martinez has expanded the search for Cleopatra's tomb from underwater Alexandria to excavating around the temple at Taposiris Magna in the belief that she and her last lover Marc Antony might be secretly buried there. Whether or not her tomb is found, Cleopatra will continue to allure us for many generations to come.

Submitted by Van Lingle Mungo

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Still Missing and Never Knowing by Chevy Stevens

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For fans of mysteries and thrillers - or those who just want to give the genre a try - Chevy Stevens is an intriguing new author with a remarkable talent for suspense.

In Steven's debut novel, Still Missing, Annie O'Sullivan is a real estate agent whose primary concerns that day are what she is going to cook for dinner and if she will get the upcoming promotion at work. Then, that evening, after a particularly slow open house, Annie is abducted, stolen away to a remote cabin by a man who knows an alarming amount about her. She is repeatedly told by her abductor, whom she refers to as "The Freak," that she has been redeemed and now has a chance to live the good life - according to his strict rules. She is forced into the Freak's image of the perfect marriage, in which she is tirelessly obedient and passive, and punished when she fails in her role. Annie - who is telling the story of her abduction back home after her return - is clearly changed and traumatized, but the true extent of the horror of her abduction becomes shockingly clear as she reveals more and more details about the experience, and learns more about why and how it happened.

Stevens has matched the intensity and thrills in her newest novel, Never Knowing, with the story of Sara Gallagher. Adopted as a child by parents who later had biological children, Sara always felt like an outsider, even in her own family. Now, engaged to be married and a mother herself, Sara finally gives in to the desire to find out more about her biological parents. But when Sara finds her birth mother, the fear she sees in her face is enough to tell her that all is not right. Before long, the truth comes out: Sara's biological father is the Campsite Killer, a serial killer who had been terrorizing campers for years, and her mother was his only surviving victim. Worse still, when the Campsite Killer learns of her identity, he decides he wants a relationship with her, striking in Sara a fear that slowly begins to take over her life.

In both books, the story is told as a series of meetings between the main character and her psychiatrist. The psychiatrist never speaks, so you hear the story unfold entirely from Annie and Sara's perspectives. This style of narration makes for a more intriguing story, because you get the character's hindsight view of what happened, but without her knowing how it will end, giving a very interesting point of view. The psychiatrist, Nadine, is the same in both books; Stevens has already said that her next book, Always Watching, will come from Nadine's perspective.

I highly recommend both of these books for their style, gripping pace, and intriguing takes on the question: are some things really better left unknown? But I warn you, once you start, you're not going to want to put either down until you've read every last page.

Submitted by Megan @ King

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Stories of Women in India: The Books of Amulya Malladi

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Song of the Cuckoo Bird is the life song of Kokila, a strong, independent woman who lives an unconventional life in a rigidly conventional society. After her parents die, recently married Kokila goes to live in Tella Meda, the home of a spiritual guru, until she is old enough to live with her husband's family. When Kokila is just thirteen she makes a fateful decision to remain at Tella Meda and forgo her marriage. Refusing to go to her husband and barred from marrying again, Kokila's position in a society that defines a woman's worth according her roles as wife and mother is that of an outcast. At Tella Meda Kokila and a band of similarly unconventional women make a life of their own.

A Breath of Fresh Air focuses on two very sensitive topics in Indian society: divorce and the Bhopal gas tragedy of 1984. We see Anjali, a young, recently married woman waiting for her husband at the Bhopal train station. Her husband never arrives and instead she nearly dies as she is exposed to toxic gas released into the air from the nearby Union Carbide India plant. Years later Anjali is remarried and taking care of her twelve year old son who is slowly dying from health issues resulting from the gas incident. Anjali's first husband reappears in her life and she struggles with forgiveness and comes to terms with losing her son.

The Mango Season sees Priya, an Indian born woman living and working in the United States, visit her family and struggle to be truthful about her engagement with an American man. Priya finds the Indian summer hotter than she remembers and her family's expectations that she marry a "nice Indian boy" even more stifling. The Mango Season explores how we define and relate to family. This is one of Malladi's most popular novels.

Submitted by Kristina @MPL Central

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Half-Moon Investigations by Eoin Colfer


12 year old Fletcher Moon (a.k.a Half Moon) is the proud graduate of the Bob Bernstein Academy of Washington, D.C. where over a two year period he took online classes to become a private investigator. He graduated at the top of his class and carries a small leather wallet with a silver-plated detective's badge and laminated ID card to prove it. After studying and memorizing the Bernstein manual and rules for investigating, Fletcher's ready to take on his first real case. All of the proper characters are represented to make this a true PI mystery. There's the snitch - snot-nosed Doobie Doyle. The usual suspect and bad guy - Herod Sharkey (and family). There's the though guy (girl in this case) Bella Barnes. There's the law Principal Quinn and Sergeant Hourihan. Of course this story wouldn't be complete without a pretty (and popular) dame, enter April Devereux. In this case there's also April's pretty little cousin May. Written in an accurate PI style - who, what, where, when and why - this mystery is both fun and hilarious. Now all we need is a crime... see page 2.

Submitted by Valerie @ MPL Central

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Great Ideas for Gift-Giving!

You'll find these books and more in this month's Reader from Milwaukee Public Library.

00homecooking.jpg Home Cooking With Jean-Georges: My Favorite Simple Recipes by Jean-Georges Vongerichten. With 100 recipes and 100 color photographs, three-star Michelin chef Jean-Georges brings his quick, seasonal family favorites to you for the holidays.

00112263.jpg 11/22/63 by Stephen King. In the back room of a diner, high school teacher Jake Epping discovers a portal to 1958 and goes on a mission to try to prevent the assassination of John F. Kennedy. He has to re-acclimate to 1960's culture with sock hops and Elvis - and befriend a troubled loner named Lee Harvey Oswald.

00espn.jpg Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN by James Andrew Miller and Tom Shales (2011). What began in 1979 as a small station in Connecticut broadcasting local sports, became the most successful network in television history. ESPN is synonymous with all sports, spawning eight channels in the U.S. and the world, and changing how television broadcasts sports. This comprehensive history of the network details both the triumphs and the mistakes.

00christmas.jpg The Christmas Wedding by James Patterson and Richard Dilallo. Gaby's four children have drifted apart. They haven't celebrated Christmas together since their father's death three years ago. But when Gaby announces that she's getting married - and that the groom will remain a secret until the wedding day - she may finally be able to bring her family home for the holidays.

For more gift-giving books please see the Milwaukee Public Library Reader.

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Biographies Make Great Gifts!

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Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson. Endgame: Bobby Fischer's Remarkable Rise and Fall - from America's Brightest Prodigy to the Edge of Madness by Frank Brady.

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Then Again by Diane Keaton. Seriously...I'm Kidding by Ellen DeGeneres.

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Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard. Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever by Bill O'Reilly and Martin Dugard.

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The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror, and an American Family in Hitler's Berlin by Erik Larson.

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Catherine the Great: Portrait of a Woman by Robert K. Massie. Cleopatra: A Life by Stacy Schiff.


Bossypants by Tina Fey.

Submitted by Valerie @ MPL Central

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Ransom by David Malouf


A dead man lies in the sand. Eyes still, covered in dirt and bound by rope, the body remains intact, serene almost, and shows little signs of the violence of the past few days. Achilles prepares to drag the corpse from his speeding chariot as he has each morning since Hector's death. Hector's grief-stricken and horrified family weep at the dishonor of Achilles' actions. Hector's father, King Priam, makes a decision: he will get his son's body back at all costs.


For those who have read Homer's Iliad this may sound awfully familiar. David Malouf's novel Ransom revisits and expands upon the encounter between King Priam and Achilles in Homer's epic. The result is a lyrical, artfully crafted tale of the human struggle to deal with loss. Malouf begins in medias res as Achilles learns his beloved friend has been killed by Hector. Sing, O goddess, of the anger of Achilles. Achilles' grief, expressed as unabated rage, leads to his murdering Hector, desecrating his corpse and denying the Trojan hero proper burial rights. Unable to bear the dishonor Achilles brings to his son, King Priam does the unthinkable by disguising himself as a beggar and sneaking into the enemy encampment with a ransom for his son's body. The meeting of Achilles and Priam is moving and revelatory. Their shared experience of loss cuts through circumstances of war and titles. They meet not as Trojan king and Greek warrior but as mourning father and desolate lover. The most exciting part of Ransom is that it makes you forget you're not reading material straight out of the Iliad. Characters are expanded, motivations explored, and it maintains the feel and tone of the original epic. This is a must read for all Iliad lovers.

Submitted by Kristina @ MPL Central

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Rules of Civility by Amor Towles


Have you ever wondered, if not for that one time you were in exactly the right spot at exactly the right time, or in the right spot at exactly the wrong time, how your life would have played out differently? For Katey Kontent, just such an incident occurred on New Years Eve of 1937, where a chance meeting with a young banker in a jazz bar drastically changed the course of the next year, and really, the rest of her life.

Rules of Civility starts out in 1966 at an art exhibit featuring photos taken by hidden camera in the New York subway in the late 1930s (a real exhibit whose photos were published in Walker Evan's Many are Called) where Katey chances upon two photos of the same young man, which bring back waves of memories from her youth. With just that small glimpse of her future life, we plunge back to New Years Eve, 1937, the night that she first met the man from the photos, Tinker Grey.

After this first meeting, Tinker, Katey, and her roommate Eve become fast friends and hurdle head first into 1938 together. Tinker is a wealthy young banker from a very different world than Brooklyn-born secretary Katey and Midwest-transplant Eve, but their friendship is fueled in part by their ability to introduce each other to different social worlds, and to new and exciting sides of New York City itself.

Through this chance meeting, we follow Katey on a winding path through 1938 that leads to a different social set, a new apartment and job, and a new perspective about the world and people around her. Even as their friendship is strained, Tinker continues to play a dominant role in Katey's life, representing most clearly how a person's circumstances - their names, their income, where they grew up - do not always have to define them, and are not the only test of happiness and achievement.

The novel transports you back to a 1930s New York just beginning to suffer the melancholy of the Great Depression. On top of a clear determination and work ethic is, especially for working class Katey, an unmistakable sense of renewed possibility and opportunity that subtly gives the novel a hopeful and revitalizing tone.

Submitted by Megan @ King

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SHOOT! by Jay Cronley


I randomly picked this book off the fiction shelves at the Central Library while simply looking for something light and engaging to read that night. It was like finding a four leaf clover in a field of grass and weeds. The tone of this short novel is light-hearted at best and pretty darn funny at times.

The basic plot describes a crumbling marriage involving cocaine addicted Carolyn and her gambling addicted husband Joe. Both are heavily in debt: Carolyn to her drug dealer and Joe to his bookie. Naturally, they both decide to hire professional killers so they can collect the life insurance policies from each other and pay off their debts.

The two murderous schemes go horribly awry when the hired killers fall in love with each other and both Carolyn and Joe realize they were both trying to bump each other off. The ensuing events reminded me of a twisted Monty Python or Inspector Clouseau skit.

Fun, simple, and short, reading Shoot! was a great way to spend an evening.

Check catalog availability.

Submitted by Dan@Central

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Great Gifts for Kids--More Books Please!

Below are a few great titles to get you started, but there are ideas for babies and toddlers, books to make you laugh, stories to read as a family, mysteries and magic and books for teens at
More Books Please!

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Goodnight, Goodnight, Construction Site by Sherri Duskey Rinker; illus. by Tom Lichtenheld. Ages 3-6. The machines on the construction site say goodnight in this beautifully illustrated tale.

Ultimate Weird But True (National Geographic). Ages 8 - 12. This extensive fact-filled book loaded with pictures includes more than 1,000 pieces of information proving that fact can be as weird as fiction.

Can You See What I See?: Toyland Express by Walter Wick. Ages 4 - 8. In this search-and-find story, children read the simple text and use the picture clues to search twelve photos for 100 hidden objects!

The Fourth Stall by Chris Rylander. Ages 9 - 12. From his 'office' in the underused East Wing boys' bathroom, Mac takes care of almost any middle school problem.

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Silverlicious by Victoria Kann. Ages 4 - 8. After stealing her brother's cookie, Pinkalicious loses her sweet tooth, so she asks the Tooth Fairy for help--with surprising results.

Clementine and the Family Meeting by Sarah Pennypacker. Ages 7 - 10. Clementine faces friends' changing interests, a surprise announcement at the Family Meeting and a missing science project rat.

The Midnight Tunnel: A Suzanna Snow Mystery by Angie Frazier. Ages 8 -12. In the early 1900's, 11 year old Suzanna helps her parents run a hotel. But her dreams of becoming a detetive are put to the test when a guest's daughter goes missing.

Dork Diaries: Tales From a Not-So-Talented Pop Star by Rachel Renee Russell. Ages 9 -13. When Nikki Maxwell enters the talent show, her arch nemesis MacKenzie threatens to expose her secret.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central

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Short Stories - Alan Heathcock & Shann Ray

If you're a fan of short stories - especially those by writers such as Raymond Carver, Ernest Hemingway, Thom Jones and Tobias Wolff - then I highly recommend the following debut collections by Alan Heathcock and Shann Ray:

Volt: Stories by Alan Heathcock (c2011)
Chronologically set in the ill-fated nowheresville town of Krafton, these stories revolve loosely around a reluctant female sheriff. Dark clouds seem to incessantly hover over her and the rest of the town's inhabitant, but they occasionally break to let in a glimmer of light.
Check catalog for availability.

American Masculine: Stories by Shann Ray (c2011)
Set primarily in the modern day American West, these stories of loss carry a heavy weight, but also the hope of redemption. The opener, How We Fall, stuck with me for days.
Check catalog for availability.

-submitted by Tom S @ MPL Central

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To End All Wars by Adam Hochschild


Calm fell. From heaven distilled a clemency;

There was peace on earth, and silence in the sky;

Some could, some could not, shake off misery:

The Sinister Spirit sneered: "It had to be!"

And again the Spirit of Pity whispered, "Why?"

―Thomas Hardy

Adam Hochschild's (King Leopold's Ghost) readable book on World War I shifts the focus from generals and battles to people who unsuccessfully opposed it: conscientious objectors, pacifists, socialists and suffragettes; and how it split British families.

Charlotte Despard championed women suffrage (right to vote), Irish independence from Britain and was a pacifist. Her "beloved" younger brother was Field Marshal John French, the first commander of the British Expeditionary Force in France. Emmeline Pankhurst and her daughters, Christabel and Sylvia, were militant suffragettes who disagreed about the war. Emmeline and Christabel supported it, in part, to win the right to vote for women by proving the loyalty of women to the British war effort. Sylvia joined her lover, Labour Party politician Keir Hardie, in opposing the war.

French's rival and replacement, Gen. Douglas "Butcher" Haig regarded high casualties as a sign of success. On 1 July 1916, the first day of the First Battle of the Somme, more than 19,000 soldiers were killed (8,000 in one hour) and 37,000 wounded and missing in failing to break trench war deadlock, fueling the perception the British were "an army of lions led by donkeys."

One of the more unusual and humane events was the Christmas Truce of 1914, when British and German soldiers climbed out of the trenches to play football (soccer to us Yanks) and sing carols together in No Man's Land. An even more bizarre irony was a secret agreement between the British and German to trade vital war materials via neutral Switzerland to kill each other more efficiently.

The senseless slaughter of World War I and the harsh Treaty of Versailles sowed the seeds of Nazi Germany, Communist Russia, World War II, the Holocaust and other mass genocides. Maybe the peace activists knew the consequences of war better than was commonly believed. Check catalog for availability.

Submitted by Van Lingle Mungo

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Chime by Franny Billingsley


For as long as Briony can remember, her stepmother has insisted, "We must never tell your father." They must never tell him that Briony caused the accidents that hurt stepmother's back and left Briony's twin, Rose, mentally impaired. They must never tell him that Briony can hear the voices of the Old Ones. They must never tell him that Briony is a witch. But now stepmother is dead and there is no one that Briony can talk to about the mystery that is her life. Stepmother has convinced Briony she must never go to the swamp, the one place she truly feels alive and at home. She must spend the rest of her life caring for Rose and hiding her witchery. But then Eldric arrives with his golden mane of hair and his "curling lion's smile" and despite herself, Briony begins wishing for more from life. "How could I bear it, Eldric living with us, this non-child, this boy-man? I'd have to keep on my Briony mask... I'd have to keep my tongue sharp and amusing. Already I was exhausted." With Eldric's help, Briony begins to investigate some of the strange happenings in Swampsea. What is causing the fever that is killing the town's children? Did stepmother really kill herself? Why are so many of Briony's memories jumbled and confused?

Chime is a thoroughly original story. Set in turn of the century England, the author balances the advent of cars, Darwin and Freud with witches and other mythical creatures to create a whole new, wonderfully atmospheric reality. The lovely, unusual prose is easy to get lost in and the romance is beautifully written. But it is the character of Briony that is the author's greatest accomplishment. Sad, funny, passionate, earthy, clever, with a new fresh voice, Briony is not a character who will be easily forgotten.

Submitted by Fran @ Bay View

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Mothers and daughters, grades 7 - 9, who enjoyed the book Matched are invited to take part in a Mother/Daughter book discussion at the Bay View Library, Thursday, December 8th, 6-7pm.

Society Matched Them, But Love Set Them Free.
In the Society, officials decide.
Who you love.
Where you work.
When you die.

In Matched, the Society decides every occurrence in a person's life including the day that they will die. The Society also makes sure that the streets are clean, the trains run on time, there is no illness and peace seemingly prevails, so most people are willing to accept what the government dictates as the price to be paid. Cassia has just turned 17 and is excited for her Matching ceremony where she will learn who she is to marry. She is happy to find that she has been matched with her best friend Xander. But while she watches the data card the government has provided about her match, another face flashes on the screen for a moment. The face of another boy she knows, Ky. That brief flash is enough to make her wonder if Ky is really the person she is meant to be with. Her doubts about her match and the death of her grandfather make her realize for the first time that there may be many experiences, feelings and choices that are closed to her as long as she follows the Society's rules. Allie Condie has created a fascinating dystopian society where the price of perfection is loss of our most basic freedoms.

In Crossed, the second book in the Matched trilogy, Cassia and Ky are separated and sent to the outer provinces to work in labor camps. Their struggles to find each other again make up much of the book, though more information is revealed about the mysterious Xander. Crossed is another beautifully written book that will have readers eagerly awaiting the final installment which is planned for publication in November 2012.

Submitted by Fran @ Bay View

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Flappers and Philosophers by F. Scott Fitzgerald

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The Great Gatsby is undoubtedly one of the greatest novels ever written. F. Scott Fitzgerald hit the nail on the head when he wrote it in 1925. Nobody captured the "Jazz Age" on paper the way Fitzgerald did. His keen eye on the 1920's social norms and trends transcends the romanticism of the time and offers readers in the 21st century a crystal clear view of the "upper crust" of society during the decade before the Wall Street crash in 1929 and the subsequent Great Depression.

A full five years before Gatsby was published, Fitzgerald wrote a number of short stories, some that were first published in The Saturday Evening Post and later collected in 1920 as Flappers and Philosophers.

Featuring eight short stories, Flappers and Philosophers expands on ideas developed in his first novel This Side of Paradise which was published earlier in 1920. Fitzgerald was obviously interested in social hierarchy and how to become popular, especially in high society. For instance, in my favorite story from this collection, "Bernice Bobs Her Hair," the main character, Bernice, follows the mean-spirited advice of her cousin Marjorie and bobs her hair to achieve acceptance among people outside of her normal social set, not knowing that Marjorie is already jealous of her popularity and wants to sabotage Bernice in the eyes of the boys she most wants to impress. Early in the 1920's it was considered rather risqué for women to wear bobbed hair. At the climax, in a kind of O. Henry-ish twist, Bernice repays her cousin's cruelty with a little retribution of her own. Biting social commentary lies just beneath the surface of Fitzgerald's trademark lyrical, flowery writing and snaps like the jaws of a diamondback on the back of a fleeing mouse. This is short story writing at its best.

Other memorable stories in this collection include "The Offshore Pirate" that features a carefree flapper being kidnapped by a boat thief who may or may not be what he seems. In "The Ice Palace" a girl from Georgia heads "North" to "go places and see people." What she finds is that maybe the slow life at home isn't so bad.

These stories, whether read individually or as a collection, highlight the immense talent of Fitzgerald as not only a writer of exceptional talent, but as a sensitive observer of class structure and society in the 1920's.

To see a previous review of other works by F. Scott Fitzgerald please click here.

Submitted by Dan@Central

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The Big Read--Today at Villard Square


Join us today, December 3, 2011, at Villard Square Library and hear the novel come to life as excerpts of To Kill A Mockingbird will be read by local actors, students and community volunteers. A moderated discussion about the themes of the novel will follow. The program begins at 2:00 p.m. We hope to see you there!

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts (NEA) designed to revitalize the role of literature in American culture and bring the transformative power of literature into the lives of its citizens. The Big Read in Milwaukee will focus on Harper Lee's American classic To Kill A Mockingbird.

For a complete list of Big Read programs click here.

Submitted by Jacki @ Central

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11/22/63 by Stephen King


When I heard the premise of Stephen King's latest novel 11/22/63 I was immediately intrigued. The novel explores the possibility of someone going back in time and preventing the assassination of John F. Kennedy. The front cover of the book carries this through by reproducing a Dallas newspaper that tells about the assassination and a back cover that celebrates the fact that the assassination attempt had failed. While not a big fan of horror or science fiction, I have always had a soft spot for time travel fiction and so, undaunted by the 849 pages of this massive tome, I started right in.

And what a wonderful book it turned out to be! The crack in the space and time continuum that allowed Jake Epping to go back and forth in time placed him in September of 1958 and also allowed him to return to 2011. King does not shy from the ethical and philosophical questions of his premise. Does one have a license to kill someone based on less than sure evidence? What if one's presence in the past alters the future in other unknowable ways? What if a different outcome to JFK's assassination didn't produce the safer and happier world one had hoped for? Does one have the right to change the future of someone else to bring about an event that might help a whole country or even the world?

Jake had time to build a life and relationships between 1958 and 1963. He attempts to use his time in the past to find out more about Lee Harvey Oswald and to effect other positive changes, but for some of that time he worked as a high school teacher in Texas and became close to his fellow teachers and students. In the end, the decisions he makes based on those relationships mattered more to me than the resolution of the assassination attempt. Midway through I was torn between turning the pages even faster and not wanting the book to end. By the last 100 pages I couldn't put the book down. Kudos to Stephen King for a wonderful and thoughtful adventure!

Submitted by Pat D @ Central

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The Gift by Cecilia Ahern


The Gift begins with a frozen turkey being hurled through a living room window and a police officer telling us a weird story...

Lou Suffern is a workaholic. Trying to be in two places at one time all of the time and constantly thinking about what needs to be done next, Lou completely forgets about his wife and two children. Lou often makes empty promises to his children, wife and family. He feels that his family should be grateful to him for the money he makes in order to provide them all with a better life.

Due to the holiday spirit, or more so his desire to get a huge promotion, Lou buys a homeless man, Gabe, a cup of coffee and gets him a job in the mailroom at his firm. And that's when things get a bit weird. Gabe is the first person in the office in the morning, appears and re-appears throughout the building, and seems to know a lot about Lou and his family. As the race for the promotion continues between a co-worker and Lou, Lou starts to learn some valuable life lessons from Gabe. Lessons not only important around the holiday season, but things we should know and remember at all times. This Christmas story is filled with twists and turns to keep your interest and it may make you reconsider decisions about how you live your life.

Submitted by Nichole @ Villard Square

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