September 2013 Archives

People Who Eat Darkness by Richard Lloyd Parry


People Who Eat Darkness: The True Story of a Young Woman Who Vanished from the Streets of Tokyo--and the Evil That Swallowed Her Up is the story of a young British woman named Lucie Blackman who vanished off the streets of Tokyo in 2000. Many true crime novels play up the sensational angles of the story they tell, giving a lurid and voyeuristic tone to horrible crimes. People Who Eat Darkness is different. It reads more like a biography or a cultural study and remains respectful towards Lucie and her family.

At the time of her disappearance, Lucie was attempting to pay off debts she had accrued by working as a hostess in a Japanese night club. The role of "hostess" is something that is uniquely Japanese; Lucie was paid to pour drinks and make conversation. The hostess is not quite a geisha, and is not expected to have sex with her customers, although after-hour dates with the men she meets is a requirement to remain employed. Unfortunately for Lucie, one of her customers ended up being a sexual predator, who had a long history of drugging and raping foreign hostesses.

At the time of Lucie Blackman's disappearance, Parry was a British foreign correspondent based in Japan. Over the course of the next ten years he closely followed every twist and turn in the case. He became close to Lucie's family, and the first part of the book is devoted to painting a picture of Lucie and what her life was like before she moved to Japan. He gives a thorough account of the investigation, the trial, and even attempts to delve into the motives of a reclusive killer, whose past is shrouded in mystery.

Jennifer P @ Central

Banned Book Week: Sci-Fi and Fantasy Friday

handmaidstale.jpegI can hardly believe The Handmaid's Tale, the 1985 Sci-Fi masterpiece, is only Margaret Atwood's fifth novel. And I can hardly talk about the book without getting overly excited, because it is one of my very favorite books by my very favorite author. When I finished reading it, I felt so energized by the subject, the themes, and the language. I kept thinking about it, turning it over in my mind, combing through the details, and letting it sink in.

It takes place in the dystopian, distant-ish future in the Republic of Gilead, ambiguously located somewhere within the former United States. The society is a theocratic military dictatorship initially founded by a radical pseudo-Christian cult via a terrorist coup d'état. Some unnamed kind of environmental, social, and physical degradation presumably motivated the overthrow. Whatever happened left most of the women infertile and most of the newborn babies deformed. The job of having children falls to Handmaids, women conscripted into domestic servitude and used solely for their reproductive capacity. The idea of Handmaids is loosely based on the biblical story of Jacob impregnating his wife's handmaidens Bilhah and Zilpah. They distort that idea and use it idea to justify sexual slavery; they're trying to repopulate after all.

The main character (and first-person narrator of the book) is a handmaid named Offred - signifying that she is the handmaid Of Fred. The narrative flashes from the bleak present to her past. She remembers these totalitarian ideas taking hold and her world changing, slowly at first and then at a break-neck pace. In her past she was married to a man named Luke and had a daughter. They were all separated, and the extremely remote possibility of being reunited with either keeps her going. All Handmaids do on a daily basis is the grocery shopping, which seems dull except that all the while she has an intense inner world where she tries to preserve parts of her identity that are gradually being worn away. She has endless, uneventful days which she tries not to fill with painful memories of a world where things made sense.

This book is so rich with imagery and ideas that I could not possibly take it all in on one reading. It was banned in North Carolina for being "sexually explicit, violently graphic and morally corrupt" - hardly things we're unfamiliar with in our world today. Margaret Atwood is very careful to incorporate only things that either had happened in different contexts already or things that were in the realm of possibility. She takes ideas and historical events and pushes them to a very extreme conclusion. That idea gives you a novel that at times seems fanciful, until you really think about it and there are distinct historical precedents. This book forces you to look at the world and see what it could become of the straits were dire enough.

Allie @ Central

Banned Book Week: Looking for Alaska by John Green

looking4alaska.jpegJohn Green is a lot of things: YouTube celebrity, award-winning author, father, pizza lover, and a man who has actually posted a video on the internet where he draws on himself with permanent marker. One thing he has famously argued, however, is that he is definitely not a pornographer (nor is he a member of The New Pornographers, but that has little bearing as more than a semi-nonsensical aside). It is not often that one argues that point, as rarely does one get accused of being a pornographer. But in the instance of John Green's debut novel Looking for Alaska (a winner of the ALA's Michael L. Printz Award for Excellence in Young Adult Literature); it's not hard to see why it would drum up controversy.

You see, Looking for Alaska has a smattering of elements that read like a top ten list of "Things Parents Don't Want Their Precious Babies Becoming Involved With": smoking, drinking, swearing, sex, skipping class, elaborate pranks, swearing, lying to parents, hiring strippers, religious discourse and more. The story revolves around the teenaged Pudge (nicknamed under the same conceit as gargantuan men with meat-mallet hands with the name 'Tiny'), who moves off to a boarding high school in Alabama during his junior year. The book then details the adventures and misadventures of Pudge and the group of friends he makes, most important of which is the titular Alaska, the beautiful blonde girl whom Pudge becomes infatuated with.

With seemingly demonic swans, eagle-eyed teachers, assignments delving into the great mysteries of life, there's actually a fair amount of depth to this book. If I had one major complaint (ignoring the many little fiddly details that make it obvious this is Mr. Green's first novel), it is that the very end of the book reads much like the famous conclusion to beloved Brat Pack movie The Breakfast Club, but instead of a letter about the fundaments and challenges of teenage identity in high school, we receive Pudge's essay on the meaning of the afterlife and existence itself. If you think that sounds more than a little pretentious, you are more than a little correct. That said, it doesn't spoil the book in the least, and it's definitely worth your time to check this book out.

Tim @ Central

agonyofalice.jpg"Life is like a dumpster. As soon as you get rid of one embarrassment, you pick up another," Alice McKinley explains in The Agony of Alice by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor. From relocating to a new city to not getting the teacher she wants, Alice encounters a series of shortcomings, downfalls, and mishaps from meeting new friends to finding a role model to look up to since the loss of her mother. Plus, living in an all-male household is not easy, but this coming-of-age story marks Alice's growth from a girl to a young lady including buying a bra, getting her first period, and learning how to acknowledge inner beauty.

The Agony of Alice is the first title of a 28-book series that chronicles Alice's life from middle school to the summer before she leaves for college. While the Alice series speaks to a wide audience, especially young female readers, it has also been frequently challenged by critics on multiple grounds. Some believe that various titles contain material that is "unsuited to age group" or argue that content is "sexually explicit." Others are bothered by what they feel is "offensive language" or disagree with homosexual and religious viewpoints that Naylor presents. Because of this, the Alice series appears on the American Library Association's "Top Ten Challenged Books Lists by Year" for 2001, 2002, 2003, 2006, and 2011.

Despite what critics may say about the Alice series, Naylor presents a sequence of familiar yet meaningful life events set in a realistic tone. Readers have the opportunity "grow up" or "relive their youth" with Alice, and while the series started years ago, children and young adults still face similar issues today. So don't feel embarrassed about picking up the Alice series; check one out today!

Hayley @ Central

persepolis_cover.jpg With its vivid black and white comic strip images, Persepolis is a powerful coming of age story. Marjane Satrapi, the great-granddaughter of Iran's last emperor and the daughter of ardent Marxists, describes growing up in Tehran during and after Iran's Islamic Revolution. Written through the eyes of a child trying to navigate the rapid and confusing changes in her county, it serves as a unique window into life in Tehran during this turbulent period. The autobiographical graphic novel explores themes of family, religion, and the toll violence and repression can have on both the individual and society.

Persepolis image.png In March of 2013 Persepolis was removed from Chicago Public Schools via a district directive citing its "graphic illustrations and language" and concerns about "developmental preparedness" and "student readiness." The directive was later retracted after outcry from students, teachers and the Chicago community.

Central Library will host a Persepolis book discussion on Monday, October 7, from 6-7 p.m. in the Richard E. and Lucile Krug Rare Books Room, 814 W. Wisconsin Ave. Join us as we discuss this unique autobiography!

Kristina @ Central

Banned Book Week 2013


Image used by permission of the American Library Association

Every year, the American Library Association sets aside one week to celebrate the freedom to read. The celebration is labelled as Banned Book Week, to bring attention to those books that have been banned or removed from libraries or had a public outcry demanding their removal from a library. This year, Banned Book Week is from September 22nd through the 28th. You too can celebrate by picking up a challenged or banned book from your local library branch.

Also each year, the ALA's Office of Intellectual Freedom puts together a list of the ten most challenged books of the previous year. The following ten titles are those most challenged books, all of which are freely available in the Milwaukee library system.

1. Dav Pilkey's Captain Underpants Series.
Yes, somehow a series about two fourth grade kids who accidentally hypnotize their school principal into thinking he's the titular brief-wearing superhero is the most challenged of 2012. This is as telling about modern society as it is ridiculous.

absolutelytruecover.jpg2. The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Sherman Alexie's tale of a budding cartoonist Junior leaves his troubled school on the Spokane Indian Reservation to attend an all-white farm town school where the only other Indian is the school mascot has ended up on this list many times, and for good reason: it's a brilliant, honest book about being young and growing up.


3. Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay Asher.
Asher's story is about a young girl who commits suicide, and the thirteen reasons for her decision to end her life that she records and passes on to those she holds responsible. Praised for its eloquence steeped in tragedy, this is another book challenged for showing dark realities that can afflict young people.


4. E.L. James' Fifty Shades of Grey
The sexcapades of Anastasia Steele and her new boyfriend Christian Grey sparked the runaway publishing hit of 2012, and the fastest selling paperback of all time! They even tried to pull it off library shelves in Florida, until unsurprisingly the public demanded it be made available again.

tango makes three.jpg5. And Tango Makes Three by Peter Parnell and Justin Richardson
This one is a children's book about the real story of two male penguins raising an egg together in the Central Park zoo, creating a supposed threat to cherubic innocence horrific enough to place the book atop the most challenged list for four separate years.


6. The Kite Runner by Khaled Hosseini
This best-selling novel traces the period between the final days of Afghanistan's monarchy through the horrific rule of the Taliban through the unlikely friendship between a wealthy Afghan boy and the son of his father's servant.

7. John Green's Looking for Alaska
John Green's big success may be the more recent The Fault in Our Stars, but it is his first novel that lands on the top 10 most challenged list. The book is about a high school junior, nicknamed 'Pudge' who transfers to a boarding school and his experiences there making new friends and more. One short, awkward teenage sex scene in the book is what attracts most of the controversy to the book.


8. Alvin Schwartz's Scary Stories series
This series of gross and ghastly short stories gets challenged and banned on the basis that it is too scary for children. One would think that the content was obvious from the title.


9. The Glass Castle by Jeanette Walls
A deeply personal memoir that unflinchingly details the author's childhood experiences; included are passages of molestation and other tragic matters, which are the source of the controversy surrounding the book.

10. Beloved by Toni Morrison
This is the story of Sethe, an escaped slave living in post-Civil War Ohio with her daughter and mother-in-law, who is haunted persistently by the ghost of the dead baby girl whom she sacrificed. The commonly cited reasons this book has been challenged include violence, sexual content, and oddly enough 'religious viewpoint'.

For more information and lists on frequently challenged books, check out the ALA's website on banned and challenged books.

The above annotations are in part from our catalog or the readers' advisory database NoveList.

Which Book Next? Monday@5:30 pm!


Blacksad by Juan Díaz Canales and Juanjo Guarnido

blacksad1.jpegIt's a bit of a hard sell, a Film Noir styled graphic novel about a private detective in a world of anthropomorphic animals. Since we tend to associate such a visual style with children's entertainment, Disney cartoons and Winnie the Pooh and the like, we as an audience tend not to take it entirely seriously. Blacksad, however, takes the concept of animals-as-people and utilizes it to show much people are animals themselves. The actual stories of Blacksad, the cases that this old unlucky black cat takes on, aren't exactly groundbreaking in their plotting. A Hollywood starlet mysteriously murdered, a little girl kidnapped in a neighborhood blanketed with race crime, and a Cold War intrigue tale of former Nazi scientists and their past coming back to haunt them. None of these yarns are exactly original, but it is precisely their familiarity that allows the other elements (the gorgeous art and social commentary, among others) to come to the forefront and shine all the brighter.

The creators behind the series are two Spanish men (Juan Díaz Canales is the writer, Juanjo Guarnido is the artist), yet it is initially published in France. Dark Horse Comics decided to bring the comic over to the States and have it translated into English, thank goodness. The first volume is simply titled Blacksad, and contains the three stories mentioned above. A second volume, Blacksad A Silent Hell, is also out, containing just one story about a missing jazz musician and a dying prison warden, and is just as great as the first volume. Make no mistake; this is definitely not a graphic novel for kids. In between the covers of Blacksad are murder, intrigue, backstabbing, romance, deadly gunfights, sex, and more. Basically, it's all the glorious elements of Film Noir, now in beautiful watercolor with an extra dose of fur, scales, and other animalistic elements. Blacksad comes highly recommended for anyone who loves old private detective stories.

Washington Park Reads


101 Classic Cookbooks: 501 Classic Recipes with text by Marvin J. Taylor is like a hall of fame for cookbooks, featuring 501 recipes from favorite authors. Take a stroll down memory lane with some of the best cookbooks of the last century. Complete with photographs of the original covers and sample pages, this compilation is great fun for cookbook collectors and casual cooks alike.

Selected by some of the most respected cookbook authors of our time. You'll discover so many timeless gems, such as Julia Child's Boeuf Bourguignon, Elizabeth David's Bouillabaisse, Marcella Hazan's Bolognese Ragu, Jacques Pepin's Brioche, James Beard's Pig Hamburgers, and Irma Rombauer's Devil's Food Cake Cockaigne.

Kathryn @ Washington Park

Washington Park Reads


Scotland Yard's murder squad is back at work in Alex Grecian's follow-up to The Yard. Inspector Day and Sergeant Hammersmith have several mysteries to unravel in the British Midland's coal mining village of Blackhampton. Everyone seems to have a secret, superstitions run high, and danger abounds in The Black Country; an historical thriller set in the late 19th century.

Kathryn @ Washington Park

Rookie Yearbook One edited by Tavi Gevinson


Jam packed with info, music, fashion, advice, and fun, Rookie Yearbook One is a compilation of an entire (school) year of articles from the online magazine Rookie, the magazine is broken up into quirky topics like "eye candy" and "dear diary". Yearbook One, however, chronicles the articles from each month, September 2011 through May 2012. Why the change in format? Founder and editor, Tavi Gevinson, explains to her readers, "This is the stuff that needed to be in pages adorned with doodles and glitter; that is revisited in times of angst and crisis, and that couldn't just be stared at on a screen for such an occasion."

Where to begin: Is it a book? Is it a magazine? Is it a piece of art? Yearbook embraces its identity as a magazine, and then goes above and beyond. Paging through Yearbook One is like paging through someone's diary; doodles, playlists, photos, and love notes included! Each article is unique, with art including photos, handwritten notes, collages, or sketches. Not only is Yearbook a literal piece of art, but the content is smart, current, and direct. Articles like "How to Approach the Person You Like Without Throwing Up" and "Thrifting: The Master Class" give advice in a fun yet genuine way. Celebrity contributors include Lena Dunham, Sarah Silverman, and Zooey Deschanel, to name a few. Read it article by article or all at once; this "yearbook" is sure to brighten your day. P.S. Stickers and paper crown included!

Hillary @ Central

The Silent Wife by A S A Harrison


The Silent Wife explores the termination of the common law marriage of Jodi Brett and Todd Gilbert. Todd and Jodi alternate in telling their side of the story. Todd is a successful architect, who is habitually unfaithful. Jodi, who is a therapist, prefers to remain silent about Todd's affairs in order to maintain her wealthy lifestyle. Todd's decision to leave Jodi for his pregnant mistress propels Jodi's life into a tailspin. Todd moves in with his new love, yet he wants to maintain his comfortable connection with Jodi. Jodi is devastated over the loss of her marriage. She struggles to maintain her grip on her life. Todd begins eviction proceedings against Jodi, which escalates the tension within the relationship. A tragedy occurs that blasts this complicated love triangle apart.

In many reviews, The Silent Wife has been compared to Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl. The two novels have a few similar themes, but the two works are quite different in tone and intent. Gone Girl has the immediacy of the first person point of view of the characters and tighter plotting and pacing. The Silent Wife is a contemplative, more subtly paced novel which explores the breakup of a marriage in an observatory manner. Harrison's debut novel is compelling in its portrayal of the psychology of this long term relationship. A couple of issues raised in the novel remain a mystery, but overall The Silent Wife was a satisfying read.

Gabriel @Central

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays

The Forest of Hands and Teeth Trilogy by Carrie Ryan brings to life a world set decades after a catastrophic zombie infestation has left survivors throughout the world isolated and struggling to survive. The last remnants of civilization collapse as huge zombie hordes threaten to overrun the last remaining cities and outposts.


Forest of Hands and Teeth
Teenager Mary struggles against the constraints of her village. The Sisterhood has always protected her people since the Return. The Sisterhood claims that the village is all that remains, but Mary can't help but wonder if there is a world beyond her village. When the fences that protect her village from the Unconsecrated are breached, Mary is forced to seek her answers in the Forest of Hands and Teeth.


The Dead Tossed Waves
Gabry enjoys her uneventful life in a seaside town until a teenage prank spirals out of control. In the course of one night, Gabry finds her quiet life irrevocably gone, her friends dead and her mother missing. Gabry must flee into the forest she has feared her whole life to escape.


The Dark and Hollow Places
Annah and her brother, Elias have always found a way to survive together in the Dark City until the day Elias leaves for the recruiters and Annah is left behind. Annah, a tough and daring protagonist, manages to survive from day to day but desires more from life than just getting by.

Laura @ Central

Booker Prize Shortlist Announced

weneednewnames.jpeg luminaries.jpeg harvestcrace.jpeg

lowland.jpeg taleozeki.jpeg testofmary.jpeg

The Man Booker Prize promotes the finest in fiction by rewarding the very best book of the year. The prize is the world's most important literary award and has the power to transform the fortunes of authors and publishers.

We Need New Names by NoViolet Bulawayo
Follows 10-year-old Zimbabwe native, Darling, as she escapes the closed schools and paramilitary police control of her homeland in search of opportunity and freedom with an aunt in America.

The Luminaries by Eleanor Catton
Arriving in New Zealand in 1866 to seek his fortune in the goldfields, Walter Moody finds himself drawn into a series of unsolved crimes and complex mysteries.

The Harvest by Jim Crace
A stable fire in a remote English village leads to disputes between newcomers who are wrongly accused and long-term residents who refuse to believe one of their own could be responsible.

The Lowland by Jhumpa Lahiri
Brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra pursue vastly different lives--Udayan in rebellion-torn Calcutta, Subhash in a quiet corner of America--until a shattering tragedy compels Subhash to return to India, where he endeavors to heal family wounds.

A Tale for the Time Being by Ruth Ozeki
A novelist on a remote island in the Pacific is linked to a bullied and depressed Tokyo teenager after discovering a Hello Kitty lunchbox that washed ashore.

The Testament of Mary by Colm Tóibín
An imagining of the later years of the mother of Jesus finds her living a solitary existence in Ephesus years after her son's crucifixion and struggling with guilt, anger, and feelings that her son is not the son of God and that His sacrifice was not for a worthy cause.

The shortlisted authors each win £2,500 (about US$3,925) and a specially bound edition of their book, while the winner--to be announced on October 15--will receive an additional £50,000 ($78,500).

Jacki @ Central

Washington Park Reads


With The Deserters: A Hidden History of World War II, ABC News correspondent Glass tells the stories of three soldiers among the 150,000 deserters in WWII's European Theater.

Far from cowards, these men were soldiers who broke under the extreme duress of serving on the frontline for inordinate lengths of time. What they then endured at the hands of their government after surrender or capture is shocking.

Kathryn @ Washington Park


Dorothy Woodruff and Rosamund Underwood were two high-society girls from Auburn, New York who didn't want to settle into the boring routine of social calls and committees that was expected of young ladies at that time. Instead, the pair of friends set off to Elkhead, Colorado to spend a year teaching in a remote schoolhouse in the mountains. Although their time spent in Elkhead was a far cry from the pampered and luxurious life they were used to living, both women adapted to life in the West and considered it the best year of their lives.

The families of Rosamund and Dorothy saved the letters and photographs both women sent home, which Woodruff's granddaughter (and namesake) used to write Nothing Daunted. This book takes a look at a fascinating time in history when the western most states had yet to be as built up and settled as the more "modern" east coast states. Part adventure story (a good friend of the ladies is kidnapped and held for ransom), part history, and part family memoir, Nothing Daunted is a fascinating look at the lives of two young women at the beginning of the modern age.

Jen P @ Central

From the Depths of the Central Library: Dolphin Dishes

Did you know that downtown library location has thousands of books kept in storage underground? While you can't go down and browse the shelves yourself, all of them can be called up for you to look at, and many can even be checked out.

So what all is down there, you ask? Well a lot of what we keep there are materials less commonly utilized than those out on the open shelves. Older books that remain relevant or retain historical importance even as their popularity gives way to modern titles, special interest titles we don't quite have space for on the upper floors, that sort of thing. Some of these titles are really unique, and from time to time we'll bring one of these particular (and sometimes peculiar) treasures to your attention here on the Read @ MPL blog.
dolphindishes.pngThe first little book we'd like to feature is called Dolphin Dishes. Don't worry; this isn't a book on how to cook meals from the meat of the beloved aquatic mammal. No, the dolphins that this title refers to are on the US Navy insignia for submarine warfare; this is a cookbook by the families of the US Navy submarine division, originally written in the 1950s (the library's copy is from a later printing, from the 60s). Contained inside, and on the original cover (still there, just within the hardy plain library binding MPL placed around the book in 1964), are some amazing and ridiculously drawings of an anthropomorphized submarine drinking alcoholic punch, roasting a pig at a luau, preparing fabulous meals, and more.

Of course, there are recipes, too. Some definitely show their age. I personally wouldn't want to try anything called 'Mystery Salad' on most days, but especially when it apparently asks you to mix cottage cheese and pineapple into Jell-O. Overall, these recipes actually paint a wonderful and vivid picture of the food that our underwater forces for freedom enjoyed when they came home in the 1950s. Sadly, there are no actual pictures of the food (just the aforementioned cartoons), but then again, that a picture might take away from the mystique of the Mystery Salad.

This book and many more cookbooks from bygone days are available at the downtown library. Stop in today!

Tim @ Central

beer crafts.jpeg

Want to be able to drink in the name of art? Pick up Beer Crafts! Learn how to make numerous types of hats out of beer cans, their labels or even the boxes. This book includes a wide range of projects from home decorating to wardrobe accessories; there are lots of cute ideas and the instructions are easy to follow. Also, don't fret soda drinkers - many of these projects can be created from your favorite beverages as well.

Meredith @ Central

Sci-Fi & Fantasy Fridays-Hugo Awards

The Hugo Award and John W. Campbell Award winners were announced over the weekend at LoneStarCon 3, the 71st World Science Fiction Convention.

The John W. Campbell Award for the best new professional science fiction or fantasy writer of 2011 or 2012, sponsored by Dell Magazines, went to Mur Lafferty.

For a complete list of Hugo winners, click here:


Best Novel: Redshirts: A Novel with Three Codas by John Scalzi

Best Novelette: The Girl-Thing Who Went Out for Sushi by Pat Cadigan

Best Graphic Story: Saga, Volume 1 written by Brian K. Vaughn, illustrated by Fiona Staples

Jacki @ Central


Kids introduce entirely new levels of chaos, emotion and, most of all, exhaustion into the lives of parents. It's hard to explain this to non-parents (who probably spend their free time going on long vacations and drinking margaritas by the pitcher full, for all I know), but if anyone comes close to capturing this roller coaster life we parents have chosen, it's Drew Magary.

In Someone Could Get Hurt: A Memoir of Twenty-First Century Parenting Magary, a writer for the irreverent sports blog Deadspin, shares in excruciating detail his experiences as the dad of very young children. He captures vividly the moments of mayhem, despair and abundant joy that come with fatherhood with candor and a sharp wit. While humor is the centerpiece of the book, Magary also talks very frankly of his mistakes and insecurities as a dad. His stories are immediately relatable for parents and uproariously funny for any reader. Imagine David Sedaris with toddlers.

Brett @ Central

Washington Park Reads


The hard luck stories in We Live in Water: Stories, Jess Walter's first collection, are told with a dark, witty sense of humor. In the first story, "Anything Helps," a homeless man with a unique speaking style reveals his own interesting theories about the best ways of "going to cardboard" after being kicked out of the "Jesus beds." Set in a brief moment in time, all of the stories deliver a meaningful message.

Christy @ Washington Park


Stuart Horten is a 10-year-old with a hard life. He's already dealing with his very small stature and his unfortunate name (S.Horten) when his family moves him to their small hometown. Stuart is battling boredom when he stumbles upon an ancient hidden note and some old coins from his great-uncle Teeny Tiny Tony Horten. Teeny Tiny, a great illusionist, disappeared into thin air along with his illusions many years before.

Stuart sets off to solve the mystery of his uncle with unexpected help from 10-year-old triplets April, May and June. Solving the puzzle, however, involves running from one town landmark to another uncovering old and sometimes forgotten mechanical illusions. Kids and their parents will have fun following the map and chasing the mystery before time runs out. Horten's Miraculous Mechanisms combines just enough humor, suspense and magic to make you not want to put the book down, even if you aren't 10-years-old.

Lizzy @ Central Library Children's Room

Treasures of the Rare Books Room: World War I posters

The Rare Books Room is home to some striking examples of original World War I posters. In a time before the widespread use of radio and film, they were a vitally important way to communicate the messages of the countries involved in the conflict. Many were illustrated by the famous artists of the day. The library posters have been backed with linen and encapsulated for preservation and are in wonderful condition. A selection of them is viewed regularly by Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design students each semester as part of a field trip.

American posters were often brightly colored and appealed for money (in the form of liberty bonds) and recruits. The Uncle Sam poster featured here is one of the most famous images ever created by the artist James Montgomery Flagg who used himself as a model for Uncle Sam.

Some posters played on fear and prejudice to make their point.

European posters often featured the realities of war, including the depiction of casualties.

If you are interested in viewing these historic posters, please call the Art, Music and Recreation Department at 414-286-3071 to arrange a visit.

Patricia DeFrain, Rare Books Librarian @ MPL Central




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