Welcome! Thought we'd give this blogging thing a spin. We'd like to share some good reads and allow our patrons to do the same. The reader who is recommending may be a staff member here at Peter White Public Library; it might be you, leaving a comment in our guest book.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Sparrow Migrations

Several co-workers here at the library encouraged me to read Sparrow Migrations by Traverse City author, Cari Noga; the author is coming here to give a talk and the novel features an autistic character, and my co-workers all know I am put more holds on books about autism than anyone else who works here.  Truth be told, I don't always like autism books, but I liked this book.  Sparrow Migrations is a book about people in general and just happens to include amongst the many strong characters in this novel one who has autism.  There are three main story lines that are connected by all started at the same time and place as the "Miracle on the Hudson" emergency plane landing, back in late 2009.  None of the characters are hurt in the crash, but each of their lives, like the plane, changes course.

Cari Noga will be here for an informal book discussion on Monday, July 14 at 6:30 in the Community Room.  Local musician Michael Waite will also be on hand, performing acoustic music.

--Ellen, Reference Department

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Two new books for sci-fi and fantasy readers

The Forbidden Library by Django Wexler is the  first book of a new fantasy series that will by enjoyed by fans of Cornelia Funk and Lewis Carrol.  It’s aimed toward a middle-school audience but older readers and adults will enjoy it as well. As the story opens, the main character, suddenly orphaned Alice, goes to live with her never-heard of uncle.  This uncle’s only instruction is to not enter the enormous library on the grounds. What follows is a wild adventure with snarky talking cats, inscrutable scruffy boys, strange creatures and a newly discovered power that turns books into dangerous gateways.  Soon Alice is fighting for her life. Readers will cheer along with Alice as she follows her intuition and becomes a strong, clever and curious heroine.  The ending will have you eagerly awaiting the second book.

Good space-travel science fiction for teens is hard to find, but Tin Star hits the mark. Cecil Castelluci’s biggest strength is his ability to create characters with immense depth. The main character, 14 year-old Tula, has strength, gritty gumption and an infinite determination to survive.  She and her family leave earth to colonize a new planet, led by the charismatic cult-like leader Brother Blue.

One day Tula sees something she shouldn’t, and Brother Blue turns on her, savagely beating her and abandoning her on the remote space station of Yertina Feray--the sole human in a place where humans are considered infinitely inferior. An alien creature named Heckleck takes her under his wing, albeit a bit reluctantly, and teaches her how to survive and even start to thrive. But even though three years pass, Tula is driven by thoughts of revenge on Brother Blue. When three new humans with ties to Brother Blue suddenly arrive on the scene, Tula has her chance.

~Sarah, Youth Services


Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Matt Novak: Young Authors Guest

Only a few authors get the honor or illustrating their own books. Matt Novak is one of those authors. He has written more than 20 books, illustrating all of these and some for other authors, as well. He uses bright colors and a cartoon style with a dash of humor that appeals to young readers.

NO ZOMBIES ALLOWED is tale of two party planning witches getting ready for their annual monster party. While cleaning the house for the party, they find various photographs from last year’s gathering and begin to think about improving their guest list. They cross off the zombies who “kept dropping their eyes into the punch bowl,” the werewolves who “coughed up furballs all over the house,” and the vampires who “sucked all the juice out of the fruit.” As the guest list gets shorter and shorter, the party sounds less and less fun. You probably guessed that they ended up inviting all their friends, just like last year, and had the best time ever!

MY FROGGY VALENTINE is a twist on the story of “The Frog Prince.” In this version, Princess Polly wants to meet a wonderful prince, but is pursued by four frogs, all claiming that a kiss from her will turn them into a prince. One turns into the prince of trolls, the next into the prince of goblins, and the third becomes prince of hairy beasts; each one worse than the other. Should she take a chance on the fourth frog? Read on if you are looking for a happy ending.

This talented author will be featured at the Young Authors Conference this week. His books are available in the Youth Services area of the library.


Monday, May 5, 2014

Some Superheros

If you’ve got the comic book bug after seeing all the recent superhero movies, you may want to check out these two graphic novels, new to Peter White Public Library.

Captain America: Winter Soldier
Author: Ed Brubaker
Location: Adult Graphic Novels
If you saw the new Captain America movie, you now know who the Winter Soldier is. However, did you know that the Winter Soldier is based on a comic story written by Ed Brubaker, who wrote Captain America for 8 years, and illustrated by Eisner-Winning artist Steve Epting? Much like the film, this story is about Steve Rogers, Captain America, man out of time. Working with S.H.I.E.L.D., Rogers must take on a crew of Russian assassins working for a man named Lutkin and uncover the truth behind their secret weapon, the Winter Soldier. Along with his friend, Sam Wilson, the Falcon, the Captain discovers secrets from his past and must decide how to move forward with his future. If you liked the movie, you should certainly give this book a shot.

Guardians of the Galaxy
Author: Brian Michael Bendis
Location: Adult Graphic Novels
Brian Michael Bendis is one of the most prolific writers in the Marvel Comic Book Universe. With the new Guardians of the Galaxy movie set to hit theaters this summer, Bendis is the perfect choice to write the comic book to run alongside it. Guardians follows Peter Quill, a half human, half alien who discovers his rightful place in his intergalactic family. Then, he swiftly denies his alien family’s legacy and meets an odd group of interstellar warriors:  a talking tree, a genetically engineered talking raccoon, the daughter of an evil, intergalactic destroyer, and Drax the Destroyer. Together they make up the Guardians of the Galaxy. With the addition of Iron Man, this comic takes you on an adventure through space and what may be the beginning of an intergalactic war.


Monday, April 28, 2014

The Star of Istanbul: A Christopher Marlowe Cobb Thriller

In this exhilarating novel, Robert Olen Butler does a fantastic job blending fiction with real-life 1915 global hysteria. With WWI in full swing, American spy and war correspondent Christopher Marlowe “Kit” Cobb finds himself hot on the trail of a German-American spy named Bauer.  He follows this trail right aboard the doomed ship Lusitania. While aboard the ship, Cobb meets actress Selene Bourgani with whom he begins a romantic attachment. It becomes apparent to Cobb that the mysterious Selene has her own secrets regarding the conflict raging in Europe. Following the historic sinking of the Lusitania, Cobb becomes further entangled in the web of deceit cast by Selene as he follows her to Istanbul. Through all of the blood-soaked drama, Cobb relies on his intuition to uncover Selene’s true motives, only to discover her hidden agenda could bring down some of the great powers of the world.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Annie's Ghosts

This year's pick for the Great Michigan read, Annie's Ghosts by Steve Luxenberg, is an intriguing blend of personal, regional and world history.  The book begins when a family secret is uncovered.  Luxenberg learns, as his mother's health is failing, that she had a sister who was institutionalized; in the past his mother had always referred to herself as an only child. 

After his mother's death, the story unfolds, and he learns the sisters in fact grew up together.  The younger sister lived at home till just before her 21st birthday, and she spent the duration of his own childhood in an asylum not far from where he grew up.

The more Luxenberg learns, the more questions he has:  who was in on the secret, what steps were taken to keep the secret, and why keep the secret at all?  Finding the answers to his questions involves not just exploring his own family and those relationships but learning more about the history of the mental health system in Detroit and throughout the United States and about the immigrant experience of Jewish Americans before and after the Holocaust. 

Monday, April 14, 2014

A Couple of Cookbooks

There is nothing I like to read better than cookbooks, and the PWPL has received a variety of new additions to the collection.

The Kitchen Pantry Cookbook by Erin Coopey is a handy compendium of how to make fresh, tastier and healthier staples like salad dressings, stocks, sauces, butters and condiments. The instructions are easy to follow and most cooks will have the ingredients on hand. If you want to try your hand at making your own ketchup, mustards, mayonnaise, pumpkin puree, pickles and salad dressings, this is the book for you.

Local chefs Deborah Pearce and Chris Kibit have written the “go to” cookbook for whitefish lovers.  Wild Caught and Close to Home, Selecting and Preparing Great Lakes Whitefish is a project completed in cooperation with the Michigan Sea Grant. Chefs and cooks from across the Great Lakes share their favorite whitefish recipes and techniques.


Saturday, April 12, 2014

A pair of picture books

As a proud grandmother of four, I have come to enjoy so many of the picture books we have here at the library. My grandchildren love the pictures and the stories and sometimes we read them what seems like one hundred times before we have to take them back. Here are two for you.

I Like Old Clothes by Mary Ann Hoberman was recently re-released with new illustrations.  This whimsical book is full of imagination, wonder and just plain fun. A little girl and her brother find so many fun things to do with hand-me-down clothes. The illustrations are fantastic and add to the story. What imagination old clothes can produce and what adventures and sights they can experience--who knew?

For the kids interested in dinosaurs, Julie Middleton’s book, Are the Dinosaurs Dead, Dad?  is  very funny.  It's about a little boy who just may know more about dinosaurs than his father gives him credit for. The story has a great surprise ending and nudges parents to value listening to what their children say. The pictures and illustrations make the book come alive.

~ Nicki

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Frozen in Time

Frozen in Time by Mitchell Zuckoff is a gripping story of survival, bravery, and honor in the vast Artic wilderness during World War II. On November 5, 1942, a US cargo plane slammed into the Greenland Ice Cap. Four days later, the B-17 assigned to the search-and-rescue mission became lost in a blinding storm and also crashed. Miraculously, all nine men on board survived, and the US military launched a daring rescue operation. But after picking up one man, the Grumman Duck amphibious plane flew into a severe storm and vanished. Frozen in Time tells the story of these crashes and the fate of the survivors, bringing vividly to life their battle to endure 148 days of the brutal Arctic winter, until an expedition headed by famed Arctic explorer Bernt Balchen brought them to safety. Mitchell Zuckoff takes the reader deep into the most hostile environment on earth, through hurricane-force winds, vicious blizzards, and subzero temperatures.


Sunday, March 23, 2014

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen

I discovered Lucy Knisley's graphic novel Relish on the latest list of Alex Award Winners.  The American Library Association gives Alex Awards each year to adult titles that are likely to appeal to teens.  It's been a long time since I was a teenager, but I have found a lot of good reads on these lists-- a new author with a fresh perspective, in innovative spin on the art of fiction.

When I took Relish to the check-out desk, the friend and co-waorker who was working there picked it up and flipped through the pages and shrugged.  She said she liked graphic novels where the artwork really stood out.  I can't say that about this book.  The images are skillfully rendered, colorful and balanced, but they are not breaking new ground. 

So why am I recommending this book (and why did it win an award)?  Is it simply the writing?  Would this book work just as well as a short story?  I think there is something about that graphic novel format that makes it not just about writing and not just about art that has to do with the pacing and the package and the experience. 

Relish is a book about an American kid coming of age, surrounded by a whole wonderful world of food.  It's about comfort and tradition and travel and trying new things.  Perhaps Knisley uses her drawings more to explain and illustrate than to impress or inspire her audience. Often the images convey humor.  Each section ends with a recipe that is depicted partly in diagram and partly in illustration, making it clear to the novice exactly how to recreate the item in question, whether wrapping sushi rolls or sauteing mushrooms.

--E.M., Reference desk

Monday, March 17, 2014


Whenever I have a friend whom I both love intensely and who can really get me mad, I say she is like a sister.  I have a lot of sisters; it's a relationship dynamic I'm very familiar with.  Perhaps that is what drew me to Curtis Sittenfeld's latest novel, Sisterland.

Sittenfeld takes the relationship a step further and makes her characters twins.  Twins who share psychic abilities they refer to as senses, as in "I have a sense about" anything that might happen.  Their senses, however, seldom help them make good choices.

The novel begins with an argument between sisters in a restaurant.  At first it seemed that the things said would cause irreparable damage to their relationship, but then I realized, no, their relationship is much stronger than bickering they engage in.  Which is part of the pleasure of reading this book.  Sittenfeld seems to have deep understanding of how people can fail and still endure in their personal lives.  The course of this novel follows their relationship through childhood, adolescence, college and early adulthood.  By the end of the book there is a strong sense of lessons learned and unbreakable bonds.  

--E.M. Reference Desk

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New nonfiction for children

The year 2013 saw the release of several great children's books, including a handful selected for the 2014 Great Lakes Great Books list, recently released by the Michigan Reading Association. These two are favorites:

He didn’t speak until he was three. He was a disruption to his class. And he didn’t like to wear socks with his shoes. Read about how one boy's curiosity changed science forever in On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne. This endearing story chronicles the life of the most famed scientist of the 20th century in a fresh and fun way. The light colored backgrounds reinforce Einstein as the creator of the theory of relativity, but offer text and a story young readers can relate to. Einstein was simply a man who asked questions, again and again, dreaming about the possibilities of the universe. What child doesn’t do the same?

All aboard! “Clang-Clang! Clang-Clang! Hissssssss. Huff, huff, huff!” Jump
on the iron horse for an adventure.  Winner of the 2014 Caldecott Award, Locomotive by Brian Floca offers stunning illustrations of a family moving cross country from Omaha, Nebraska to Sacramento, California on a steam locomotive. Hear the sounds, smell the smells as Floca paints the plains, deserts and mountains of the U.S. interior with his words and drawings. Chocked full of facts on the mode of transportation that connected the country for the first time, this non-fiction book will appeal to train aficionados and all audiences that enjoy a good trip.


Saturday, March 8, 2014

Three titles for young adults

The outstanding books on the Michigan Reading Association’s Great Lakes Great Books list are chosen by a committee of teachers and librarians from throughout the state, and that committee meets right here at the Peter White Public Library. This year in particular, the Young Adult (YA) books on the GLGB list are wonderful choices for high school students as well as adults far beyond their teen years. Here are three of the books nominated for students in Grades 9 to 12 to read and evaluate before voting for their favorites. All the Truth That’s In Me by Julie Berry is a book full of mystery.
Though it feels like historical fiction, Berry cleverly left her story’s time and place undefined. Four years ago, Judith and her best friend disappeared from their small town. Two years later only Judith returned, mutilated, shunned by everyone in her puritanical town and unable to speak. Luckily for the reader Judith’s narrative voice remains strong, clear and full of passion as she silently tells her story to the young man she has secretly loved since childhood. Touching on the power of language, the right to education and the horrors of war, Berry delivers a powerful and disturbing book.

Boy21 by Matthew Quick was my hands-down favorite YA book published in 2013. Its multi-layered story of redemption through basketball and friendships deep and true is beautifully told by Finley, a self-described “minimal talker.” Finley’s life is colored by past tragedy and the grim reality of life in his hardscrabble town where the Irish mob, drugs and racial violence rule; basketball is his escape. His position on the team is threatened when a very troubled but extremely talented basketball player who calls himself Boy21 arrives in town just before their senior year. At their coach’s request, the eternally loyal and goodhearted Finley applies himself to helping Boy21 overcome his intergalactic obsession and return to the basketball court.

 If you enjoy a fun story with plenty of food for thought, check out Every Day by David Levithan. Everymorning “A” wakes up in a different person’s body, living that person’s life, with no warning or control over which body and life he’ll assume. Even under the circumstances, “A” has developed a strong sense of self and a good moral compass. He has figured out the rules and has come to accept this existence, until the day he assumes Justin’s body and falls head over heels in love with Justin’s girlfriend Rhiannon. Can Rhiannon love him back? Is it possible to truly love someone no matter what they look like on the outside?


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Tales of Two Cities from Michigan Notable Books 2014

Pulitzer Prize winning journalist Charlie LeDuff returns to his hometown
to uncover what destroyed his city.  He beats on the doors of union
bosses, homeless squatters, businessmen and woman as well as struggling
homeowners.  What he reveals is a story of ordinary people holding the
city together with sheer determination.  Detroit: An American Autopsy is
filled with some of the strangest and strongest people this country has
to offer.

Tear-Down: Memoir of a Vanishing City by Gordon Young is another story about a city ravished by poverty and crime.  Gordon Young grew up in Flint.  After 15 years in San Francisco, he found himself interested in what was happening in his hometown.  What he found was a city that could once boast that it had one of the world’s highest per capita income levels, but is now one of the most dangerous places to live.  A city where an exotic dancer can afford a lavish mansion, speculators scoop up cheap houses by the dozen, and where arson is often the quickest way to improve a neighborhood.


Monday, February 24, 2014

The Magicians

Quentin Coldwater, as his name might suggest, is not happy with his lot.  When Lev Grossman’s novel The Magicians begins, he is on his way to an interview with a Princeton alumnus as part of his application process.  He is with his two best friends, also gifted and talented, but more bonded to each other than they are to him.  Nothing, that day or at any other time in this novel, goes as he expected.  He does not find exactly happiness, at least not lasting happiness, but he finds a lot of other things he never expected to see.  And he doesn’t go Princeton. 

I’ve heard The Magicians described as Hogwarts for grown-ups.  I don’t know that I would agree with that.  It is certainly full of magic and learning.  If you like it as much as I did, you'll want to read the sequel, The Magician King, also available at Peter White Public Library, and the third book, The Magicians' Land, which will be available at PWPL when it comes out in August. 

~E.M. Reference Department

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan

What is life like when you think on a different plane than anyone else your age, focusing on the small details around you while compiling them all into a larger picture of the world? You can count by 7's.

This is Willow Chance's world until her parents are killed in a car crash and she's left in the care of five very different people who try to make her life manageable. However, they all have challenges of their own to overcome, which makes them all the more interesting. There's a guidance counselor lacking in self-esteem, an industrious Vietnamese family living in poverty, and a taxi driver who dreams of going to college. One of the side plots involves Willow's penchant for gardening which highlights the personalities of the leading characters based on their approaches to the planting process.

Sloan has delivered a unique story that will delight and inspire middle school readers.


Friday, February 14, 2014

Exclamation Mark by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

Look beyond the minimalist cover to Tom Lichtenheld’s brilliant characterization of the exclamation mark, all illustrated on elementary school penmanship paper. With the help of question mark, and very clever dialogue, exclamation mark finds purpose on the page and joins in the conversation. Educators will enjoy reading this story aloud and spinning off into a mini-lesson on punctuation.

~Lynette Suckow

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Literary Knits

I love to knit. Recently I discovered two new types of knitting that might interest other knitters in Marquette. One is called arm knitting. Rather than using needles with yarn to create scarves, hats and lap throws, the knitter uses his/her own arms to “knit” yarn into an item. The other type, yarnbombing, is more fine art. For those knitters and readers of this column who don’t know this type of knitting, yarnbombing is a term for graffiti knitting. Visualize a tree trunk wrapped in lights at Christmas; that’s the same colorful look presented when one knits graffiti for that same tree, or a light pole, sign post, or whatever item needs a bit of color in today’s stark, urban environments like Houston, TX where it began. Knitters do similar knitting when we create clothing or accessories; we create colorful decoration for our loved ones or ourselves.

Try out Literary knits: 30 patterns inspired by favorite books, written by Nikol Lohr, who blends her love of classic literature and knitting to create some fresh new projects. The book’s patterns are designed  for intermediate knitters, but the detail is explained with excellent photographs if a knitter needs help to complete. Among the lovely patterns are two different mitten patterns based on what might have been knitted by Marmee for Jo or Meg from the book Little Women, a cloche hat inspired by the ladies of The Great Gatsby, shawl patterns influenced by those worn by Emma and Jane Eyre and many other projects for the entire family.


Monday, February 3, 2014

Cold weather escapes

Reading can provide an escape from this biting cold weather gripping the UP. Local resident and award-winning author, John Smolens knows cold and that single word is the title of his book about a prisoner who escapes during a snow storm. Cold captures the lives of six people who face love, greed and the promise of a last chance set against the unforgiving terrain of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula.

One of my favorite authors, mystery writer Steve Hamilton uses UP weather like a character in his Alex McKnight novels set in Paradise, Michigan. Hamilton’s A Cold Day in Paradise is the first book in this series of mysteries featuring a retired cop turned reluctant private eye. Is Alex imagining things, or is the man who shot him and killed his partner on the loose and stalking him?

Warm up with a good book from the library.

~Pam Christensen

Sunday, January 26, 2014

Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood

The “Let’s Talk About It: Muslim Journeys” book discussions series begins Wednesday, January 29 at 1:00 p.m. in the library’s Shiras Room.  

Dreams of Trespass: Tales of a Harem Girlhood by Fatima Mernissi is the third book scheduled for discussion on Wednesday, March 26. Mernissi grew up in Fez, Morocco in the 1940s. In this memoir, she writes about her large, extended family in which the women and children were confined to their shared home and restricted in their behavior. Mernissi focuses on her strong, colorful female relatives and their conflicting attitudes about traditional harem life and the political and social changes facing Morocco including the waning of the French occupation, World War II, the Westernization of Morocco and the challenges faced as educational opportunities opened up. The author took advantage of these opportunities. She studied at the Sorbonne and earned her doctorate at Brandeis University. She is a sociologist and teaches at Mohammed V University in Rabat. You can find this biography on the top floor of Peter White Public Library under call number: 921 Mernissi.

~C.S. Reference Desk

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Jamrach's Menagerie

I think one of the reason’s Jamrach’s Menagerie by Carol Birch is such a compelling story is that it is so close to being a true story.  All the components are at once fantastic and based on fact.  The opening scene, in which a small boy is almost consumed by a tiger, but lives to tell the tale, is based on a recorded incident.  The story that follows of a group of adventurers out in search of real live dragon, could just as easily be true if you allow yourself to imagine what it would be like to live in a time when no one in your part of the part of the world had ever seen a Komodo dragon and all you knew were the stories.  
Terrible things happen in the course of this novel, but what I was left with was a sense of wonder and possibility.  

~EM, Reference desk