Library Displays: Amazing Women and Spring

Amazing Women

The first display I made in March was highlighting Women’s History Month. I created a graphic in Publisher which I would be sharing right now if I hadn’t accidentally deleted it. And then I pulled together a bunch of books, trying to feature different times and kinds of being women, as well as representing a diverse group. I think I ended up with a good mix, and this display circulated really well for a more serious subject. I mostly focused on picture book biographies, because I think they’re more eye-catching, with some non-fiction mixed in.


I always enjoy putting together a spring display for the library. Last year, I did a row of over-sized tulips and the year  before I did a rainy day theme. This year, I was inspired by a program I did a month or so ago, where we made tissue paper flowers. I created a swag of colorful flowers, printed off a banner, and assembled it.


The finished product


Here’s a close-up of the flowers. Some of them were inspired by real flowers, and some weren’t, but I’m very happy with how they turned out overall (I tried to make a tulip and it looks like a poppy, I think because tissue paper isn’t stiff enough to hold shape well).


What I especially like about this display is the three-dimensional aspect. My normal default is to make displays that are 2-D, because I like paper crafting. But this is really different and eye-catching, imo. Something to remember!


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The Penderwicks in Spring by Jeanne Birdsall

penderwicks in springWhen I first picked this book up, the premise made me nervous. I have grown to know and love the Penderwicks over the first three books in this series, but in this fourth book, we’ve moved five years forward. Rosalind is in college, Batty and Ben are the focus of the story, and there’s a new Penderwick. Worst of all, when the story opens, Hound, the Penderwicks’ beloved dog, has just died. With all of these changes, how could I hope to love this book nearly as much?

Well, really, I should have known. The Penderwicks are a little bit magic, and Jeanne Birdsall doesn’t falter. Batty has never been my favorite of the sisters, and now she is. There’s the bittersweet feeling of some things ending and some things beginning, but woven through it all is the marvelous sense of family and both the stresses and warmth that entails.

Batty, at the beginning of the story is both grief and guilt-stricken. She can’t face the idea of another dog, ever, and with everything in her family still changing around her, the loss of Hound runs very deep. Besides all of this, she feels very strongly that she should have been able to love him a little better, to keep him around a little longer. Although as adult readers, this may seem obviously impossible, it reminded me quite a bit of the deepest fears and anguishes of childhood, these things that can’t possibly be said.

And there’s the fact that Batty is discovering her own talents as a musician, in a not-very-musical family. Jeffrey, the family friend, has been her support and mentor in this, but he is in school and not with them very often. When he is with them, the not-quite-romance between him and Skye keeps getting in Batty’s way.

Most of all, Batty’s place in the family feels almost tenuous. She alone of the original Penderwick siblings does not remember their mother, and although her new brother Ben shares the death of a parent, he doesn’t seem haunted by it in the same way. (I loved how warm and natural the relationship between Batty and Ben seems.) With Lydia, the baby, a demanding presence in the household, with Rosalind away and Jane and Skye distracted by their own concerns, with the Penderwick parents busy, and Hound gone, Batty is in danger of slipping through the cracks.

And for most of the book, she does slip through. This was really quite hard to read, as I wanted everything to be okay for her. She’s trying so hard to make sense of who she is and where she fits into the world; she’s trying to deal with both the fresh grief of Hound’s death and the long-ago echo of her mother’s. This is, even more than the other Penderwick books, a really emotional read. I cried quite a bit, both at individual moments in the book and through the whole denouement. (I am habitually weepy, but also this is a very RIGHT IN THE FEELS-y book.) At the same time, I never felt emotionally manipulated or like Birdsall was adding unnecessary complications.

There are several important characters in this one, including Ben. But most of all, I felt for Batty, and her attempts to define who she is as herself and as a member of the Penderwicks. It’s a beautiful story and one I loved. There’s one more Penderwicks book to come after this, and I can’t wait to see what happens.

Book source: ARC from Midwinter
Book information: 2015, Random House; juvenile/middle grade contemporary fiction


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Top Ten Tuesday: Spring TBR list

This is a post for Top Ten Tuesday, hosted at The Broke and the Bookish. You can find out more and follow along there!

There are quite a few books I’m excited about that are coming out this spring. I’m including a few I’ve already read, because I can.

agency shadow scale ravensbruck black dove white raven

Shadow Scales by Rachel Hartman: I LOVED Seraphina when it was published a few years ago, and I’m excited about the sequel! I have an ARC from Midwinter just waiting for me to get to it.

Ravensbruck by Sarah Helm: I’ve been fascinated by Ravensbruck for years and especially since I read Elizabeth Wein’s excellent Rose Under Fire. Helm wrote an interesting biography of Vera Atkins, so I have no doubt she’ll do justice to this topic.

Rivals in the City by YS Lee: Latest and last (?) book in the Agency series, which I adore. Victorian mysteries, a Chinese main character, and a great romance. Plus the covers are AMAZING.

Persona by Genevieve Valentine: Girls at the Kingfisher Club was absolutely one of my favorite books last year, so I’ll basically read anything Genevieve Valentine writes. Plus this one sounds really intriguing.

Black Dove, White Raven by Elizabeth Wein: This is one I’ve already read. Elizabeth Wein has written books set in Ethiopia in the past and I loved the story of Teo and Emilia.

Bone Gap by Laura Ruby: Another I’ve already read and it is so, SO good. If you like dark fairy tales, or stories about families, or books where the writing sings, read this one.

Gone Crazy in Alabama by Rita Williams-Garcia: The Gaither sisters return in this sequel to One Crazy Summer and P.S. Be Eleven! I love these books so much and I can’t wait to find out what everyone is up to.

Lumberjanes: Technically this one has been out for awhile as individual comics, but the first volume is being released in April and I am really looking forward to it! Not only is by Noelle Stevenson, but Anna of Bellwether Friends loves it.

All the Rage by Courtney Summers: Several people have been singing the praises of this book for MONTHS and it’s not even out yet! Summers writes thoughtful, angry, feminist books and this one sounds like it will be no exception.

Nimona by Noelle Stevenson: I have already read Nimona, as a web comic, but I am still so excited for it to come out as a book! Shapeshifting girls, evil supervillains, and a storyline that will make you happy and then stomp on that happiness and rip it into a thousand shreds.

bone gapall the ragenimona


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Favorite Authors: Terry Pratchett

I was planning to write a favorite authors post today and talk about Connie Willis. And I will definitely talk about Connie Willis soon, because she is wonderful, but I can’t pass up the opportunity to talk about Terry Pratchett a little bit.

I’m actually a very late-comer to Pratchett fandom. I read a few of the main Discworld books in 2009, but I bounced pretty hard off of them and decided that Pratchett might not be for me. Then for a reason I can’t now remember, I decided to try the Tiffany Aching books in 2012 and I loved them. And then several people told me to try the City Watch books and I tried Night Watch and cried a lot.

I still bounce pretty hard off of the main Discworld books (I WANT to like them, but something about the satire? irreverence? I can’t quite put it into words? doesn’t quite work for me) but I love both the Tiffany Aching and Watch books so much that they’re one of those series I retcon into thinking I’ve read them for far longer than I actually have. They’re a wonderful mix of trenchant and kind. I’m so grateful for his stories and so sad that they’re finished.

Favorite books by Terry Pratchett
1. A Hat Full of Sky
2. Night Watch
3. I Shall Wear Midnight
4. The Fifth Elephant
5. The Wee Free Men

All of my Terry Pratchett reviews
Mort, briefly (2009)
Reaper Man, briefly (2009)
Good Omens, briefly (2011)
The Wee Free Men, briefly (2012)
A Hat Full of Sky, briefly (2012)
The Wintersmith, briefly (2012)
I Shall Wear Midnight, briefly (2012)
Night Watch (2013)
Feet of Clay, briefly (2013)
Jingo, briefly (2013)
The Fifth Elephant, briefly (2013)
Thud!, briefly (2014)


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Links from around the web 3-11-15

Rep. John Lewis’s recollections of the Selma march. It’s so amazing to me that we can have this living witness to the events of 50 years ago.

– And on the subject of tweeting, I found this pretty powerful: livetweeting the apocalypse.

– On the subject of Ferguson: key points from the DOJ report and on a happier note, the Ferguson Public Library hired a new children’s librarian!

– Nice to see this getting some traction outside the kitlitosphere: “The world of children’s books is still very white”

– Ursula K LeGuin is as awesome as ever: Are they going to say this is fantasy?

LA Times Book Prize finalists, including LeVar Burton and E.K. Johnston for Story of Owen!!

– The Nebula and Norton shortlists were announced and I LOVE THEM.

– Kate Elliott wrote a magnificent post about writing women as human beings. The whole thing is definitely worth reading, but the ending is especially great: “In a narrative that you write and which you encompass the whole of, there can be no “them.” If there is you have already lost the battle because you are relegating characters you feel uncomfortable writing to a lesser, inferior, not-fully-human state, as if they are people who vaguely resemble you in having arms and legs and heads but are otherwise aliens. People are not aliens. They are people. Treat all your characters as people. It’s that simple. It’s that hard.”

– Shannon Hale has a really important post about school author visits and gender. This right here, this is the problem: “I talk about books and writing, reading, rejections and moving through them, how to come up with story ideas. But because I’m a woman, because some of my books have pictures of girls on the cover, because some of my books have “princess” in the title, I’m stamped as “for girls only.” However, the male writers who have boys on their covers speak to the entire school.”

– THIS THIS THIS: girls liking pink is not the problem.

– I know this weasel is trying to kill the woodpecker but I still want them to become the stars of a children’s book where they solve crime.

A real life SOE heroine

– And finally, this is my new life goal


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Recent Reading: Sheinkin, Cypess, Carroll, Neumeier

port chicago 50Port Chicago 50 by Steve Sheinkin: I have had somewhat mixed feelings about Sheinkin’s non-fiction in the past, mostly due to his tendency to fudge some of the details just a little. However, I thought Port Chicago 50 did an excellent job of letting the people who were involved tell their own story, while at the same time giving the context and background for readers. I also appreciated that Sheinkin several times said, “We simply don’t know what actually happened at this point.” I would much rather have this kind of statement than a supposition or even a recreation. This is an important and powerful story, and casts light on an often-forgotten moment in the history of civil rights in America. I think it will work best for readers who are ready to grapple with the idea that courage doesn’t always get an outward reward, but I would certainly recommend it for a wide audience.

Book source: public library
Book information: 2014, Roaring Book Press; mg/YA non-fiction

death markedDeath Marked/a by Leah Cypess: After reading and mostly liking Cypess’s Death Sworn last year, I definitely wanted to read the second book in the duology. Ileni has left the assassins’ cave and is now in the sorcerers’ power. But what she finds there will test her loyalty all over again. As with the first book, my reaction is mostly positive. I like Ileni quite a bit, and especially the way she’s shown to be powerful without being the awesomest everrr!!!! Her power does have limitations and a lot of the book is her grappling with the moral issues that her use of the sorcerers’ lodestones brings up. At the same time, I felt that the romance subplot never worked for me, even less than it did in the first book. And I found the conclusion more than a bit abrupt and not entirely convincing. All in all, this is one I perhaps wanted to like more than I did, although I suspect that some readers will love it.

Book source: eARC from Edelweiss
Book information: 2015, Greenwillow Books; YA fantasy

through the woodsThrough the Woods by Emily Carroll: Genuinely frightening graphic novel with fairy tale echoes. I recommend NOT reading this one right before bed, as I unfortunately did. The art and story work marvelously together, and I love the way the pictures sometimes flow out of the confinement of boxes to take over the whole page. I felt that the overall conceit reminded me a bit of Poisoned Apples, but the themes are more subtly dealt with here and in general, I liked Through the Woods better. If you don’t like to be scared, this probably isn’t the book for you, but it’s dark and delicious and will definitely be sticking with me.

Book source: public library
Book information: 2014, Margaret McElderry books; YA graphic novel

lord of the changing windsLord of the Changing Winds by Rachel Neumeier: So, I honestly thought I had read this book, and only got it out to re-read it. It turns out that I hadn’t read it at all, or at least have no memory or record of doing so! Which is a shame, since it’s a really marvelous story. (Also, there’s the whole favorite author/Twitter friend thing.) I love the worldbuilding here, both the details of everyday life and the wider political issues and implications. (There is also some truly excellent food.) Although the story takes on big topics, there is at the same time an intimacy to it. We stick pretty closely to two viewpoints and the arcs of these two main characters are pretty closely interwoven. I found that I liked this one with the same part of my reading brain that likes Andrea K. Höst’s books (which is not surprising at all). I’ve already devoured the second and am part-way through the third book.

Book source: public library
Book information: 2010, Orbit; adult fantasy (though excellent YA crossover)

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Bone Gap by Laura Ruby

bone gapFinn O’Sullivan is used to people leaving him. His father died a long time ago and his mother walked away from him and his brother, Sean, to start a new life in Oregon. But when Roza, the girl who appeared in the O’Sullivan’s barn, is abducted by a mysterious man, Finn is the only one who sees and the only one who won’t give up until she’s found.

Roza herself is actually a point of view character, but when I tried to write a plot summary for her part, it turned out to be horrifically spoilery. But she, no less than Finn, is at the heart of this story and important to it. She is no voiceless damsel; in fact, she is possibly my favorite character.

I’ve liked Laura Ruby’s books in the past–The Wall & The Wing and The Chaos King are complex, inventive stories. But Bone Gap is really something else. It’s a story that combines many of my favorite things, and I truly loved it.

I am a huge fan of stories about families, especially when relationships between siblings are at the heart of the book. This is definitely the case when it comes to Bone Gap. Roza’s disappearance is hard for Finn because she’s his friend, but Sean was going to propose to her. Since she’s disappeared, the brothers barely talk. It’s a hard thread to read because I want so much for them to be all right.

And then there’s the town of Bone Gap. A lot of times “quirky” towns just don’t work for me, but here there’s something deeper and maybe darker underlying the quirkiness. There are bullies and heartbreak and people leave. There’s also corn that whispers to people and possibly magical bees. I got a sense both for why people love the town, and why it is a little bit broken.

Woven into all of this is an echo of fairy tales and mythology that give the story a lot of depth and resonance. It’s one of my favorite fairy tales/myths, and Ruby shows us the dark side of it. (I don’t want to give too much away here, so I’m being cagey. Part of the joy of this book is seeing the pattens come together both in subtle and more obvious ways.) But I think it’s possible to love both the original and Roza’s story. And it says a lot about our world and the way women are treated, which is important but also comes naturally to this particular story and what it’s about.

While there is darkness here, it’s never utterly bleak. I loved the resolution and the sense of hope hard won. I laughed at some parts and cried at others. It’s a beautifully written, emotionally devastating story that will stay with me for a long time.

Book source: ARC from ALA Midwinter
Book information: 2015, Balzer + Bray; YA fantasy


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