What We’re Reading: Books to read on your holiday break

If you’ve got a few days off to enjoy the holidays — and you’re a book lover — you may be looking for some good reads.

Here are a few we’ve enjoyed recently.

If you’re in a rut:


Start by Jon Acuff. Jon has been the keynote speaker at several conferences we’ve attended and we think he’s great. This is a good book to read if you’d like to Start something new. This is not a quit-your-job-and-go-nuts book; it’s more a kick in the pants to go from average to awesome.

If you like your books with mysterious twist…

book don't go

Don’t Go by Lisa Scottoline. This author pretty much delivers no matter what the book. This one is from a dad’s — and soldier’s — perspective. Here’s a summary: “When Dr. Mike Scanlon is called to serve as an army doctor in Afghanistan, he’s acutely aware of the dangers he’ll face and the hardships it will cause his wife Chloe and newborn baby.  And deep inside, he doesn’t think of himself as a warrior, but a healer. However, in an ironic turn of events, as Mike operates on a wounded soldier in a war-torn country, Chloe dies at home in the suburbs, in an apparent household accident.”

If you like to read humorous memoirs about motherhood:


Sparkly Green Earrings: Catching the Light at Every Turn. This is Melanie Shankle’s memoir about first motherhood written in a funny, engaging way. It also captures the quirkiness she shares on her blog, Big Mama. And Melanie is coming out with a new book that sounds hilarious called: The Antelope in the Room: The Real Story of Two People Sharing One Life. Here’s the cover:



What We’re Reading: Halloween books for kids of different ages

silly skeletonsSilly Skeletons

If your little one isn’t quite ready for anything too scary, we love the idea of this Halloween pop-up book called Silly Skeletons, written by Janet Lawler. (We’ve never met a kid who didn’t LOVE a fun pop-up book.)

This one is described as “not-so-spooky,” and the story is about two kids and their dog who make the rounds on Halloween night. Click on the book cover for more info.

lula's brewLula’s Brew

This rhyming picture book is about a would-be witch who really dreams of being a chef instead. See what she cooks up when her aunts encourage her to try making just one last potion. Click on the book cover for more info.

And here’s a bonus: The illustrator of this book lets you download free coloring pages at her website. Click HERE to see download the coloring pages, some of which are fun Halloween pictures.


relicFor teen readers who like a good “who did it” mystery, check out Relic, written by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child. It received more than 300 reviews on the Barnes & Noble website and ended up with a 4+ star rating. It’s available in paperback or as a Nook Book. Click on the book cover for more info.

This book is part of the Special Agent Pendergast series, so if your teen likes it, he or she will probably end up reading the entire series. (We love a great series of books that keeps kids reading!)

What We’re Reading: New book by author of Must Love Dogs

Have you read any good books lately?

We got a little extra time to sneak in some reading over the summer and have a few recommendations if you’re looking for something new.

Wallflower in Bloom is a novel by Claire Cook, author of Must Love Dogs. (Remember that movie with Diane Lane and John Cusack?) Deirdre Griffin is the lead wallflower in this book and she’s the personal assistant to her brother, a New Age guru.

When her on and off-again boyfriend tells her he’s marrying another woman, who’s pregnant with his baby, she goes a little nuts and ends up getting herself voted on as a last-minute replacement on the show Dancing with the Stars. There are lots of insights about families, siblings and what it means to take responsibility for your own life.

An aside about the author, Claire Cook: She wrote her first novel in her minivan when she was 45. Love that!

wallflower in bloom

Right now I’m reading a book called Mom In The Mirror. Whoa. It is about body image, beauty and how that all can collide once we become moms. It’s written by eating disorders expert, Dr. Dena Cabrera, and an author and recovered anorexic, Emily T. Wierenga.

If you feel like you need help restoring a positive body image, this is a thought-provoking book. Of course, I’m only on page 21, but it’s truly insightful and makes you rethink how you feel about the mom in the mirror: you.

mom in the mirror

What We’re Reading: Meet author Jack Gantos at the inaugural ‘True Lit’ Literary Festival!

whatreading FPL

By Lolly Greenwood, Director of Youth and Outreach Services, Fayetteville Public Library

jack gantos book, croppedNewbery Award winning author Jack Gantos is coming to Fayetteville!

The Fayetteville Public Library, Fayetteville Public Schools, Fayetteville Education Foundation, the University of Arkansas and The Montessori School are partnering to present True Lit, the first ever Fayetteville Literary Festival.

The four-day event will be held September 5th through 8th, 2013.

Jack Gantos will be the keynote speaker for this inaugural event. He will also:

  • Deliver an author talk and creative writing exercise to the Fayetteville schools 4th grade Young Author series and the Sophomore Blair Lecture series.
  • Be the featured speaker at the U of A Literacy Symposium for teachers.
  • On Friday evening, September 6th, Mr. Gantos will be at the Fayetteville Public Library to present an author talk, free and open to the public.

Jack Gantos is the author of over forty books for children from the Rotten Ralph picture books, collections of Jack Henry short stories, upper elementary and middle school Joey Pigza novels, teen novels, Love Curse of the Rumbaughs, Desire Lines and a memoir, Hole In My Life.

His novel, Dead End in Norvelt, received the 2012 Newbery Award and the Scott O’Dell award for Historical Fiction. In addition, his works have received the Newbery Honor award, Printz Honor, Sibert Honor, National Book Award Finalist Honor and he is the 2010 recipient of the NCTE/ALAN award for his contribution to the field of Young Adult and Children’s Literature. His most recent novel, From Norvelt to Nowhere, was published in 2013.

The character in the Rotten Ralph books is a cat, a bright red cat that plays jokes on his human family. He is a truly, rotten, loveable, mischievous critter!

rotten ralph

Joey Pigza, the main character in the Joey Pigza books, longs to be a normal pre-teen, but diagnosed with ADHD, he often struggles to balance his desire to behave and the alternative. He loses control, but never loses his heart.  He is a loveable, disaster prone hero dealing with real life issues.

Dead End in Norvelt, features a main character named Jack Gantos, who lives in a real town built during the Depression. At the time of the book, the town is dwindling as people move away or pass away. Jack spends his summer vacation paired with a feisty, old neighbor who writes the obituaries of people who founded this dying town. Jack’s job is to type the obituaries. This is a laugh out loud, dead funny depiction of growing up in an small town where the past is present and the future is unknown.

Please join us September 5th through the 8th for True Lit, Fayetteville’s Literary Festival and meet this amazing author. It is very exciting and quite an honor to have a writer of this caliber in Fayetteville.

Lolly, FPL croppedLolly Greenwood (pictured, right, in her amazing office) is Director of Youth and Outreach Services for the Fayetteville Public Library. She has been with the library 19 years and is involved in the planning and implementation of youth programming, collections and services both in the library and out in the community.

“Miss Lolly” develops the juvenile film collection, the Read Aloud collection and the Picture Book collection and leads preschool storytime. In the community, she is involved in the development and delivery of Reading Roadshow, a volunteer-driven storytime experience for youth in Fayetteville pre-kindergarten classes, Head Start, and Richardson Center;  the development of a Kindergarten readiness tutoring program that is delivered at the Fayetteville Head Start Centers; and all other opportunities in the community that promote Fayetteville Public Library.

What We’re Reading: Bob Shea and Sandra Boynton books!

whatreading FPL

By Kena Bailey, youth librarian at the Fayetteville Public Library

dinoIt’s never too early to start reading to your child. Reading to your child early and often helps your child develop essential pre-literacy skills and also fosters a lifetime love of reading.

Make reading time fun for you and your child by choosing books that you both will enjoy. Bob Shea’s Dinosaur vs Bedtime and Sandra Boynton’s Greatest Hits are sure to please adults and kids alike.

Dinosaur vs Bedtime by Bob Shea will make a welcome addition to any home library. In Shea’s picture book, a little red dinosaur faces everyday challenges, including a pile of leaves, a bowl of spaghetti, and even talking grown-ups—“Blah! Blah! Blah!”

The sparse and predictive text will have children joining in as every challenge is met with a “Roar!  Roar! Roar!” Each of the dinosaur’s encounters end in success as “Dinoasaur wins!” until he faces his “biggest challenge”—bedtime.

The little dinosaur puts up quite the struggle, but inevitably succumbs to sleep, “Snore, snore, snore.” Shea’s simple and bold mixed media illustrations with a retro feel will appeal to children and adults alike. This book is also available as a board book.

Sandra Boynton’s books have long been considered a must have for any toddler book collection. Her whimsical illustrations and silly, often rhyming, text are a big hit with both children and adults.Favorites of Boynton’s classic books come together in this collection of Sandra Boynton’s Greatest Hits Volumes I and II.

Sandra Boynton’s Greatest Hits: Volume I includes Blue Hat, Green Hat; A to Z; Moo, Baa, La La La!; and Doggies.

Blue Hat, Green Hat serves as both a color primer and a getting dressed how-to. Each spread depicts various anthropomorphized animals wearing the same article of clothing in different colors, with the last animal, a turkey, always wearing the article of clothing incorrectly. The text next to each animal describes the color and type of clothing; red shirt, blue shirt, etc., with the mis-dressed turkey labeled “oops.”

boynton's greatest hitsA to Z is a simple ABC book enhanced by Boynton’s charm. Each letter is accompanied by an illustration and alliterative text of an animal doing an action. Such as, “dinosaur dancing” and “moose mowing.”

Moo, Baa, La La La! Starts out as a simple animal sounds primer, “A cow says moo”, until you get to the page where “Three singing pigs say La La La!”  The reader is quickly informed “that isn’t right.  Pigs say oink all day and night.” What follows is a rhyming romp as readers are introduced to different animals and their sounds. Mostly depicting farm animals, Boynton also throws in dogs, cats, and even a rhino for good measure.

Doggies is a counting primer based on counting, you guessed it, dogs. Each number is accompanied by the appropriate amount of dogs, all making a different doggie sound ranging from “woof” to “…nnn…nnn…nnn…” Kids will enjoy joining in on the doggie ruckus.

Boynton’s Greatest Hits: Volume II includes The Going to Bed Book; Horns to Toes; Opposites; and But Not the Hippopotamus. In the Going to Bed Book, various animals on a boat go through their nightly routine as they prepare for bed. Except for the exercise time just before bed (and after bath time), kids will be familiar with the nighttime schedule. Boynton’s simple, rhyming text make this book a fun read.

Horns to Toes uses pastel pink and blue monsters to show different body parts and their respective functions. In addition to learning parts of the body, rhyming text also guide children through patting their bellies and tickling with their ten fingers, making this a great movement book.

Boynton’s book Opposites depicts opposites ranging from the standard short and tall to the more rare right and wrong. As usual Boynton’s cute and quirky illustrations help to make this a great book.

In But Not the Hippopotamus, readers see a lonesome hippo in the background of various scenes as other animals enjoy an activity. But, don’t worry, the book closes with a happy ending when the hippo is invited by the other animals to join in on the fun. Rhyming and repetitive text will no doubt appeal to children and have them chiming in with, “But not the hippopotamus.”


Even the youngest child can participate in the Fayetteville Public Library’s Summer Reading Club! CLICK HERE to sign up for the club which is for children, teens and adults. CLICK HERE to see a full listing of all the FPL awesome events and activities planned for this summer!

kena, adjustedKena Bailey has worked at the Fayetteville Public Library for eleven years and is currently pursuing her MLIS at Florida State University. She leads storytime for babies 0-24 months and develops four juvenile collections—Toddler, Award Winner, Music, and Parenting.