To Night Owl from Dogfish is pitch perfect middle grade fiction at its best! Bett and Avery did not end up at the same summer camp by choice and, despite the best plans of their respective single dads who want to start a family together, the girls do not intend to become friends. But just as Bett and Avery’s relationship becomes more supportive, their dads’ relationship hits the rocks. This book is full of wonderful characters and packed with surprises and fun. A terrific read for our kids transitioning from Elementary to Middle School. Holly Goldberg Sloan has written other excellent books for this age range as well including, Short and Counting by 7s.
Just finished Charlie Jane Anders newest speculative novel The City in the Middle of the Night and found it to be wholly different though just as enigmatic as her first Nebula award-winning work, All the Birds in the Sky. The highlights for me were the world-building that Anders brought to the planet January and the various settlements and groups of people that inhabit it, as well as the backstory of the mothership and the various ethnic groups who pooled their knowledge to create it. As in her first book, I deeply respected the author’s focus on both human society as well as the larger planetary ecosystem. There was a lot to appreciate in this SciFi novel – characters, setting, themes, issues. My main feeling at the ending was sadness to disengage from these visions of the planet January; images are still resonating in my memory of this beautiful world. Both books are available in our science fiction section.
The Pulitzer Prize in Fiction was announced last week on April 16th and the winner was The Overstory: a novel by Richard Powers. If you are looking for a deep and rich story about humanity’s connection to nature then this books is an absolute gem. Powers novel is divided into 3 broad sections: “Roots” creates origin stories for each of the unique individuals in the book, “Trunk” ties their stories together, and “Branches” allows the characters’ stories to move to toward their independent conclusions. It’s a wonderful piece of literature and such a timely choice so close to Earth Day.
The runner-ups The Great Believers and There There are both excellent choices to borrow from our literature section as well. The Great Believers explorers the early days of the AIDS epidemic in Chicago. It sounds unbearably heavy but I found a lot of humor in the pages and really loved the main characters. There There delves into the lives and stories of Native American people, not through stereotypical representations of displaced people on reservations but as urban dwellers, seeking to connect with cultural roots while also living very modern lives.
It was a strong year for fiction and our Literature section is filled with so many titles to enjoy.
Alongside thousands of readers worldwide, AAS Moscow patrons can discover a remarkable true story through the largest global digital book club, Big Library Read. From April 1–15, booklovers can borrow, read and discuss Abu Bakr al Rabeeah and Winnie Yeung’s heartbreaking yet hopeful Homes: A Refugee Story ebook from their library with no waitlists or holds. AAA Moscow readers may join by visiting https://soraapp.com/library/aasru downloading the Sora or Overdrive app. More than 19,000 libraries around the world are participating.
Big Library Read is available in more than 90 percent of public libraries in North America and facilitated by OverDrive, the leading platform for ebooks, audiobooks and magazines. Homes: A Refugee Story, a 2018 Governor General’s Literary Award finalist for nonfiction, was chosen by a popular vote of readers and librarians worldwide.
Homes: A Refugee Story chronicles the struggles of the al Rabeeah family who left their home in Iraq for Syria in hope of a safer life – just before the Syrian civil war broke out. Abu Bakr, one of eight children, was ten years old when the violence began on the streets around him: car bombings, attacks on his mosque and school, firebombs late at night. Homes tells of the strange juxtaposition of growing up as a typical teenager in a war zone: horrific, unimaginable events punctuated by normalcy – soccer, cousins, video games, friends.
Readers can join an online discussion about the book at https://discuss.biglibraryread.com/. The free program runs for two weeks and only requires an AAS Moscow Overdrive account to get started.
Read with us and enjoy!
The Friend really cracks open the world of modern literature with so many revelations about the culture, secrets, choices, sacrifices and mythos of those living the “dream” of being full-time writers. The self-awareness of this novel is what amazed and intrigued me but equally beautiful is the author’s exploration of grief as well as the bond between human and pet. A stunner in a tiny package, I am looking forward to reading this one again in a few years and appreciating new angles and perceptions. (Those with elderly pets as well as those with writing ambitions should proceed with caution – this book will probably hit too close to home.)
Take a look at the National Book Award site to see other winners in finalists in more categories. It’s very very well laid out and easy to click through.
The library is always adding new cookbooks both the to adult and kids’ section. I thought that this one was terrific as it is filled with so many refreshing whole food recipes. So far I’ve tried the yogurt bowl with roasted oats and cherry pesto (amazing), the cauliflower tofu curry (fast, easy and savory), the miso meal (wonderfully flavored broth) and the desert chickpea cookie dough dip (very yummy on apple slices or just rolled into balls). Ingredients are pretty basic and have been easy to source and the recipes are largely vegan or simple enough to veganize so that works well for us. Can’t wait to make the gorgeous bowl on the cover and many others.
I have often noticed the books that stay in my memory the longest are well-written narrative nonfiction. Here are 3 recent publications that were excellent.
The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century
This book was a fascinating true-crime tale that connects the worlds of natural history and fly-fishing, or more specifically the tradition-laden art of fly-tying. This would be a terrific one for discussion.
How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals
Sy Montgomery’s account of her life as a scientist and writer, told by reflecting on her connections with 13 amazing animal companions is a true jewel. Those border collies! The octopi! The emu! A gem to share with anyone who loves animals or memoir.
The Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees
This work created an absorbing portrait of the developments in Syria that led to the diaspora. This book was a terrific way to tune into a world crisis. It’s a short graphic work that leaves an impressive impact.
At AAS many students love reading science fiction, fantasy and dystopian novels and I do too. Some new and wonderful options are Dry, The Wicked King and Trail of Lightning. Here’s more info about each.
Dry: The residents of Southern California were warned to conserve water but almost no one was prepared for the day that the water taps were turned off. This harrowing survival story feels all too possible.
|The Wicked King: The sweet and horrifying splendor of the world of faerie is back in book 2 of the Folk of the Air, but alas it was such a scintillating read that I finished it in one day. I’m considering reading the Cruel Prince again and then this one a second time. It was a brief but rich dalliance and I can’t wait for more.|
|Trail of Lightning: Packed full of action with mysterious characters both human and from Pueblo mythology. I thoroughly this enjoyed this fast-paced dystopian adventure.|
Recently the fourth and fifth grade classes have both begun literature units exploring historical fiction with a special focus in the fourth grade on refugee stories. These two new books are both excellent choices in the genre. A Story Like the Wind begins with 9 people on a boat on the open waters of most likely of the Mediterranean Sea. The refugees are all sharing the small supplies that they have managed to bring such water or a bit of food, however one boy has nothing to share but the story of a white horse that through his refusal to be tamed brought about the end of a despotic tyrant. It’s an especially lovely book with a scattering of beautiful drawings along with the story-within-a-story text. The Night Diary is set in 1947 at the time that Pakistan was established as a separate state from India. This is a problem for young Nisha and her family as her father is a Hindu and must now relocate the family. Because he is a doctor, Nisha’s father delays the move until another doctor can come to replace him at the hospital. This means that when the family finally begins their journey ethnic tensions and conflict have become quite dangerous. The perilous trip is also complicated by drought conditions and the health of both Nisha’s elderly grandmother and twin brother. The text of the story is recorded in diary entries from Nisha to her mother who died during childbirth. It is quite a heartfelt and memorable tale.
The end of January always brings a wave of excitement to libraries around the world because this is when the Library Youth Media Awards are announced. This prestigious list includes the Newbery Award for best children’s book (for 2019 … Mercy Suarez Changes Gears), the Caldecott award for best illustrated book (Hello Lighthouse) and the Printz award for the best young adult book (The Poet X). There are also many other categories including nonfiction at both the children’s and young adult level (Unwanted: Stories of the Syrian Refugees), adult books recommended for high school readers (Educated) and more. Take a look at the complete list; almost all are already available at the AAS library. Stop in and pick up a winning title to enjoy.