What We’re Reading: Great books to cozy up with this winter

By Marci Tate, Library Media Specialist at Vandergriff Elementary School in Fayetteville

There is snow better time to read! Grab your hot cocoa, favorite slippers and something good to read to help battle the winter blahs.

Who doesn’t love looking at a cookbook for fun? The Six Sisters are actually six sisters who started a blog to stay close after they were scattered around the country.  They began sharing recipes, craft projects, and home décor ideas.  Their blog was such a hit that they now have a business from it.  The sisters have created several cookbooks, they have an email newsletter, they are on Pinterest, and they have their own website.  Each of their cookbooks is packed with full-color photographs.

Dinner Made Easy with Six Sisters’ Stuff: Time-Saving Recipes for Busy Moms by Six Sisters is their latest cookbook with quick and easy meals for the family.  Categories include:  30 Minutes or Less,  5 Ingredients or Less, Pantry Essentials, Slow Cooker, Freezer Meals, One Pan One Pot, and Casseroles.

Six Sisters cookbook

From the average gal to the fashionista, this book will give you some great tips to apply to your own wardrobe. Written by a professional costume designer, you learn tips to organize your closet, make your clothes fit better, alterations that are worth it, and shopping thrift/vintage to find the best for your wardrobe.

It would be hard to read this book and not come away with a few good tips for your own wardrobe.  How to Get Dressed:  A Costume Designer’s Secrets for Making Your Clothes Look, Fit, and Feel Amazing by Alison Freer.

how to get dressed book

A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman might be the biggest word-of-mouth book out there this year. I tell everyone that they need to give it a few chapters to get into it.  I stuck with it because a friend I trust assured me I would love it.  I am so glad I kept reading, because it was a really special book.  This is one both male and female readers will equally enjoy.  Ove is a curmudgeon, the kind of man who points at people he dislikes as if they were burglars caught outside his bedroom window. He has staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People call him the bitter neighbor from hell, but must Ove be bitter just because he doesn’t walk around with a smile plastered to his face all the time?  Behind the cranky exterior there is a story and a sadness. So when one November morning a chatty young couple with two chatty young daughters move in next door and accidentally flatten Ove’s mailbox, it is the lead-in to a comical and heartwarming tale of unkempt cats, unexpected friendship, and the ancient art of backing up a U-Haul. All of which will change one cranky old man and a local residents’ association to their very foundations.


If you are in need of something easy on your winter brain, try First Comes Love by Emily Giffin.  This story is about sisters, their lives, how they relate to each other, and how they cope with a tragedy that occurs in their family.  Sisters Josie and Meredith have a complicated relationship.  Josie is the party girl and Meredith is more reserved.  Both sisters have not landed where they thought they would.  Both of them have issues. The book deals with divorce, death, forgiveness, understanding, family, friendship, and all of the things that make it easy to escape into someone else’s world when you open the pages.

first comes love book

This book is written for teenage girls; however I would say any woman who was once a teen will completely enjoy this one.  If you happen to have a tween or teen daughter, this would be a great one to read together. Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek by Maya Van Wagenen is a memoir from a teen author who decides to do a social experiment based on an actual 1950’s popularity guide by former teen model Betty Cornell.  The results are painful, funny, and inspiring as Maya tries out the advice in a current high school.  I completely enjoyed this book (and I am long past the teen years!).

popular book

Pax by Sara Pennypacker is recommended for upper elementary and middle school ages. This book is already on several award lists and I predict it will land on plenty more.  Sensitive readers may need a parent to read it first to be able to discuss it later.  A beautiful story that will both break and heal your heart.  Pax was only a kit when his family was killed and “his boy” Peter rescued him from abandonment and certain death. Now the war front approaches, and when Peter’s father enlists, Peter has to move in with his grandpa. Far worse than being forced to leave home is the fact that Pax can’t go. Peter listens to his stern father—as he usually does—and throws Pax’s favorite toy soldier into the woods. When the fox runs to retrieve it, Peter and his dad get back in the car and leave him there—alone. But before Peter makes it through even one night under his grandfather’s roof, regret and duty spur him to action; he packs for a trek to get his best friend back and sneaks into the night. This is the story of Peter, Pax, and their independent struggles to return to one another against all odds. Told from the alternating viewpoints of Peter and Pax.

pax book

If you are looking for reading suggestions for your elementary age student, here are the top books currently circulating in my school library:

Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, Bad Kitty series, Pete the Cat series, Minecraft guides, Weird by True series, and Guinness World Records.

Marci Tate of Fayetteville is a busy wife, mom of two, avid reader (when time allows) and Library Media Specialist at Vandergriff Elementary School. 

What We’re Reading: Christmas books to read with the kids

by Sara Treat Chance, reading specialist, educator, and local mother of 3

Often in a good book, we either see glimpses of ourselves (a mirror), or lives foreign to ours (a window). Both are great for our children, and what better time of year to show our children a window than the holidays?

I’ve been reading the Little House on the Prairie books with my 4-year old daughter lately, and they’ve been a reminder to me of the power of a “window.” When we read that Ma was making socks, my daughter said, “Making socks?” Before I could respond, she reminded herself, “Oh yeah, because they didn’t have stores they could go to whenever they wanted.”

That concept has been one of the strangest to my children as we’ve read these, since we go to the store at least once a week. The Christmastime stories in these books are also worth seeking out. My kids’ eyes widen a little at the small list of simple gifts Laura and Mary gratefully received — a peppermint stick, mittens, a special cookie, a penny, an apple or orange.orange-resized

Growing up, I always received an apple or orange in my stocking, and I’ve tried to continue that tradition with my own children. Thinking of it in light of the Little House stories, it seems even important.

There are many ways to plant seeds of contentment and joy. Reading special stories with our kids is one. Here are a few books I share with mine:


1. The Laura Ingalls Wilder books (ages 4+; also a good first chapter book read-aloud): The Christmas chapters are easy to find in these books, or you could go crazy and read the whole book together. (With my 4-year old, I skip through parts where the books give detailed descriptions of machines and processes.)

december-book2-resized2. A Homemade Together Christmas, by Maryann Cocca-Leffler (picture book, ages 2-8): A pig family decides that they will make Christmas gifts for each other. The little boy pig has difficulty deciding what he can make but finds a perfect idea in the end. Very focused on giving from the heart and family togetherness with cute illustrations.

december-book1-resized3. The Trees of the Dancing Goats, by Patricia Polacco (ages 5+): Like Polacco’s other picture books, there is a lot of text here, so for younger ones reading aloud in two settings might work better. A Jewish family preparing their beloved Hanukkah traditions discovers that the neighbors have come down with scarlet fever. The family sacrifices their own special traditions to help their Christian friends celebrate Christmas. This book is what the world needs now!

december-book-4-resized4. The Year of the Perfect Christmas Tree: An Appalachian Story, by Gloria Houston, illus. by Barbara Cooney (picture book; ages 4+): I haven’t attempted to read this one to my kids yet because likely I’ll do the ugly cry. A little girl’s dad is away at war; she and her mom are very poor, but it’s their turn to get the church Christmas tree. This also means the little girl is supposed to be the angel in the church Christmas play, but she needs a costume, and of course, there’s no money for mama to buy fabric for the costume. A beautiful story of love and sacrifice.

In this real-life house, we’ll still have fussing and fits (hopefully not too many of mine ;-) ). My children will still want all the toys and probably will make it known more than I’d like. Even I get over-focused on making them happy with “stuff” under the tree.  So we’ll share these stories and talk about what makes gifts special and how being together is what’s ultimately important. I’ll keep on giving them an apple or orange in their stockings and hope the seeds planted grow into real joy.

sara-bio-picSara Treat Chance is a reading specialist, college instructor, wife to an amazing middle school teacher named Andrew and currently a stay-at-home mother of 3 wonderful kids named Seth, Madeline and Joseph. She is passionate about creating lifelong readers and writers. Check out her blog at www.readonsweetchild.wordpress.com.










What We’re Reading: Read these True Lit Festival-worthy books before the event!

whatreading FPL

By Hotspur Closser, teen librarian at the Fayetteville Public Library

The dog days of summer are fast approaching, and what better way to beat the heat than with a visit to the Fayetteville Public Library!  The Library is gearing up to host its fourth annual True Lit Fayetteville Literary Festival, to be held October 17 through 27, so now would be a terrific time to bone up on the works of this year’s featured authors.

For a full schedule of events, head over to www.truelitfest.com.

All highlighted titles are available for checkout at the Fayetteville Public Library.



By Louis Sachar

For the fourth consecutive year, FPL is privileged to host a Newbery Medal winner as its headliner for True Lit.  Perhaps the most prestigious award in children’s literature, the Newbery Medal is given each year to the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children, and in 1999 it was awarded to acclaimed children’s author (and 2016 True Lit keynote speaker) Louis Sachar for his novel Holes, described by Publisher’s Weekly as “a dazzling blend of social commentary, tall tale and magical realism.”  Sachar is also well known for penning both the successful “Wayside School” and “Marvin Redpost” series as well as many other titles such as the beloved There’s a Boy in the Girls’ Bathroom.  Sachar’s most recent novel is Fuzzy Mud.



By Claudia Rankine

Claudia Rankine comes to True Lit courtesy of the University of Arkansas Creative Writing Distinguished Reader sponsorship.  An accomplished poet, playwright, and anthologist, Claudia is perhaps best known for her award-winning Citizen: An American Lyric, a poetic rumination exploring what it means to be black in “post-racial” America.  Her other work includes Nothing in Nature is Private, The End of the Alphabet, Plot, and Don’t Let Me Be Lonely:  An American Lyric.

holding on upside down

Holding On Upside Down

By Linda Leavell

Author Linda Leavell will be lending her writing prowess to the workshop “Narrative Nonfiction:  Turning Facts into Story,” and she is certainly no slouch when it comes to crafting nonfiction.  Her book Holding On Upside Down:  The Life and Work of Marianne Moore won both the Plutarch Award and PEN Award for Biography in 2013 and was also a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award.



By William Bernhardt

Named “Oklahoma’s Renaissance Man” by OSU, William Bernhardt is not only a New York Times bestselling author who has penned more than forty books including the blockbuster Ben Kincaid mystery series, but he is also a traveler, adventurer, and even a “Jeopardy” champion.  Founder of the Red Sneaker Writing Center, Bernhardt will be hosting a “Fundamentals of Fiction” workshop at FPL.  His novel Nemesis:  The Final Case of Eliot Ness is in the works to be adapted into an NBC miniseries.

the improbable life of the arkansas democrat

The Improbable Life of the Arkansas Democrat

By Jerry McConnell

Local history buffs will be interested in checking out University of Arkansas Press Spotlight Author Jerry McConnell will be presenting his book, The Improbable Life of the Arkansas Democrat, which examines the history of the newspaper war between the Arkansas Democrat and the Arkansas Gazette.

less fortunate pirates

Less Fortunate Pirates

By Bryan Borland

Poet Bryan Borland will be leading a “What to Expect When You’re Expecting (to Be Published)” workshop designed for poets looking to publish.  He has published two volumes of poetry:  My Life as Adam and Less Fortunate Pirates:  Poems From the First Year Without My Father.

black rat

Black Rat

By Cole Closser

Cartoonist Cole Closser will be leading graphic novel workshops for both teens and adults at this year’s event.  Closser was nominated for an Eisner Award in 2013 for his homage to early newspaper comic strips, Little Tommy Lost.  His most recent publication is the avant garde comics anthology Black Rat.

champion trees of arkansas

Champion Trees of Arkansas

By Linda Williams Palmer

Hot Springs fine artist Linda Williams Palmer will be leading a discussion and also showing sketches from her book Champion Trees of Arkansas:  An Artist’s Journey, soon to be published by the University of Arkansas Press.

nefertiti the spidernaut-1

Nefertiti, the Spidernaut

By Darcy Pattison

Children’s author and founder of Mim’s House Publishing, Darcy Pattison, will be presenting her soon-to-be published work Nefertiti, the Spidernaut.  Pattison is best known for creating the Novel Revision Retreat and for her “Kell” series of children’s books.

FPL LOGO WITH 100 YEARSAll these books are available for checkout at the Fayetteville Public Library, our What We’re Reading sponsor on nwaMotherlode. Click here to see more about the Fayetteville Public Library’s Summer Reading Program. Win prizes for doing what you love — reading!

What We’re Reading: Inspiring your children to chase new adventures!

whatreading FPL

By Devin Stanley, Youth Librarian at the Fayetteville Public Library

This summer at the Fayetteville Public Library, we’ll be promoting health and fitness as a part of our Summer Reading Club!

We are big believers in using books to inspire children of all ages to learn new activities and explore their surroundings. Each month we add new picture books to our already expansive collection. We picked a few to share with you today that will help get your kids up and moving!

Gator Dad by Brian Lies

“Come on—let’s go! Let’s squeeze the day!” roared Gator Dad to his three slumbering little gators. So starts an adventurous day with an abundant, though fried and fishy breakfast (what else would gators eat?). Throughout the day, Gator Dad will lead his little ones in supermarket competitions, wilderness explorations, and swing-set races to the moon.

This book not only celebrates the many recreational activities to be found outdoors, at home, and even while running errands, but it also celebrates a special figure in a child’s life: Dad. Gator Dad is a great example of showing how the little things in life are made special through time spent with loved ones, as he says, “I’ll be your raft on a sea of grass and a tree for you to climb.”

Brian Lies is the author and illustrator and his use of rich hues and subtle humor will be engaging for ages 2-4. With Father’s Day around the corner, this book is a perfect checkout!

gatordad, resized

The Cow Who Climbed a Tree by Gemma Merino

Tina is a cow but not any ordinary, run of the mill, only eat grass and moo kind of cow. No, Tina is an adventurous spirit, determined to make new discoveries and solve the mysteries of her world.

Unlike her normal (and slightly boring) sisters, Tina explores the outdoors daily, and, thanks to her adventuring spirit, she makes an unlikely friend: a red boot wearing, plant eating dragon. Together they make new and exciting discoveries that are depicted in beautiful watercolor shades of red, yellow, and blue that mix together to make all the shades of the rainbow.

Gemma Merino is the author and illustrator. This book is appropriate for ages 3-5 and will inspire readers to independent thinking and outdoor exploration.

cow who climbed a tree, resized

Clothesline Clues to Sports People Play by Kathryn Heling and Deborah Hembrook

“High on the clotheslines/ the clues swing and sway/ who uses these things/ for the sports that they play?” Rhyming riddles catch the reader’s attention as they learn about baseball, soccer, tennis, fencing, basketball, football, and archery.

With so many sports to introduce your young child to, this book is a perfect read aloud to start the conversation and encourage them to try something new.

This book is illustrated by Andy Robert Davies. His use of bright colors with simple, clean edges is perfect for ages 2-5.

clothesline sports, resized

Devin headshot, croppedDevin Stanley has been a youth services librarian at the Fayetteville Public Library for four years. She designs and leads programs for all ages including story time for toddlers and babies, as well as STEM oriented workshops for elementary and teen students.

  She develops three juvenile collections – parenting, easy reader, and world languages; assists in developing picture books, juvenile film, and the read aloud section; coordinates the 1000 Books Before Kindergarten program, facilitates the introductory volunteer program called 7Ups!, and runs the Homework Helpers afterschool tutoring program.

Devin has worked at the Fayetteville Public Library since the age of 14 and considers the library her second home. She shelved recently returned books and worked the circulation desk for six years before moving to the youth services department and obtaining her Master’s in Library Science and Information Studies.

Event: Summer reading program to kick off at the Fayetteville Public Library!


The Fayetteville Public Library’s Summer Reading Club kick-off party will be Saturday, June 4!

This gonna be FUN! Drop in anytime between 10 am and 1 pm and help FPL kick off the annual summer reading program. Enjoy bounce houses, a photo booth, face painting, balloons, temporary airbrush tattoos, snow cones and more!

FPL ad, Summer Camp GuideOf course, while you’re there, be sure to sign up for the Summer Reading Club. The SRC is for:

If you read more books, there are more chances to win small — and big — prizes! Of course, reading is its own reward, but it never hurts to have a little incentive, right?