What We’re Reading: Tween summer reads

whatreading FPL

By Hotspur Closser, Teen Librarian, Fayetteville Public Library

School is out, temperatures are rising and summer is in full swing as thousands of Northwest Arkansas tweens are finding themselves faced with copious amounts of free time.

What better way to spend a summer day than lounging underneath your favorite shade tree with a glass of lemonade and a good book?  Below are a few titles your “tweenager” might enjoy, and all are available for checkout at the Fayetteville Public Library.

Dear Hank Williams, cropped

DEAR HANK WILLIAMS by Kimberly Willis Holt

Perhaps the best titled book in this bunch, Dear Hank Williams tells the story of eleven-year-old Tate Ellerbee, a small-town girl growing up without her parents in Louisiana in the late 1940s.  Tate takes a liking to the relatively new country music star Hank Williams and chooses him as her pen pal for a school assignment.  Author Holt, who won the National Book Award in 1999 for When Zachary Beaver Came to Town, crafts an equally well-written novel here about a young girl growing up in the face of adversity, cleverly documented in the diary-like format of Tate’s correspondence with Hank Williams.

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Primarily a writer of adult fiction, George Hagen (The Laments, 2004) ventures into the world of Juvenile and Young Adult Literature and it proves to be a successful one.  The story follows the title character, an adolescent Brooklynite, as he attempts to uncover the mystery of his parents’ disappearance and how it relates to humankind’s mysterious and secret history with talking ravens.  An interesting novel that’s hard to put a label on (Mystery? Fantasy? Adventure?), Gabriel Finley & The Raven’s Riddle is very much evocative of The Mysterious Benedict Society meeting the magical world of Harry Potter.

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THE MADMAN OF PINEY WOODS by Christopher Paul Curtis

Newbery Medal-winning author (and distinguished guest of the Fayetteville Public Library in 2014) Christopher Paul Curtis wrote The Madman of Piney Woods as a companion novel to his 2007 Coretta Scott-King Award-winning and Newbery Honor book Elijah of Buxton.  Though not technically a sequel, this companion novel revisits the former Canadian runaway slave settlement of Buxton, Ontario, in 1901–forty years after the events of the first book–and follows the stories (and histories) of two friends, Benji and Red.  The Madman of Piney Woods is a well-written coming of age tale full of history, humor, and heart.

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THE GRAVEYARD BOOK by Neil Gaiman (graphic novel ed. by P. Craig Russell)

Fans of Neil Gaiman’s Newbery Award-winning novel The Graveyard Book would be wise to check out the official graphic novel adaptation, edited by author/illustrator P. Craig Russell.  Russell compiles quite an impressive collection of contributing artists (including himself) to bring Gaiman’s dark and mysterious gothic novel to life as a graphic novel (which only seems fitting, considering Gaiman was once renowned as a comics writer rather than a writer of fiction).

To Kill a Mockingbird bookjacket, cropped


No list of tween summer reads would be complete without Harper Lee’s magnum opus, To Kill a Mockingbird.  If you have never read this quintessential coming-of-age classic about growing up in the South, or never even seen the brilliantly-adapted 1963 film of the same name, then you owe it to yourself to do both.  And if you have read it, then now is actually the perfect time to re-read the Pulitzer Prize-winning classic, as Lee’s recently unearthed and previously unpublished sequel, Go Set a Watchman, is poised to hit bookstores this summer.

All 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: Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile

Facebook shareHappy Friday, mamas!

It’s cold and might even snow this weekend, so it’s a good time to cozy up with a fun book by the fire. And we’ve got a great recommendation for you because Gwen’s book, Reporting Live from the Laundry Pile, is on an Amazon special promotion right now which means you can get the e-book version for 99 cents. (That deal will be over by the 20th so grab it while you can.)

You can also give the e-book to a friend (and even schedule the day it arrives in their inbox) so this would be a great way to give a few holiday gifts without rockwood files photo logospending too much money.

In addition to being the co-founder of nwaMotherlode.com, Gwen is also a syndicated newspaper columnist who writes about marriage, motherhood, kids, pets and more, and this book is a collection of columns that her newspaper readers have loved most over the past 18 years.

Click HERE to see read the reviews posted by Amazon readers, and get the e-book version for yourself or a friend. Stay warm this weekend, and Happy Reading!

What We’re Reading: Books that will have your kids begging for more!

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By Devin Fell, Fayetteville Public Library Youth Librarian

At the Fayetteville Public Library, we are always looking for new picture books that will appeal to you and your kiddo.

We know the classics such as, “Guess How Much I Love You” by Sam McBratney and “Goodnight Moon” by Margaret Wise Brown are always a hit but if you are looking for something to spice up your quality read aloud time, these creative novels will have your child giggling and begging to race back to the library to pick out more new books!

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Digger Dog by William Bee

Digger Dog loves to dig up bones. What dog doesn’t? His nose has led him to his latest find but it is proving to be his most difficult task yet. He quickly abandons his shovel in favor of bigger and BIGGER construction equipment because the job must get done!

With the use of fold out pages and bright, patterned pictures, this is a fun but simple book that will have a child yearning to find out what’s on the next page.

The Geese March in Step

The Geese March in Step by Jean-Francois Dumont.

“One, two; One, two” cries Igor, the leader of the geese flock, as they take their daily march down to the pond near the farm. Nothing makes Igor happier than the sound of his flock in perfect rhythm until he hears, “One, two; One, two, TAP; One, two; One, two, TAP”.

Furious to find someone out of sync, Igor determines the cause is young little Zita, a new goose to the group. Banished for her lack of focus, Zita slumps away in shame, thinking, “I’m really no good as a Goose”, as the tears begin to fall with a “splash, splash, splash, SNIFF”. She passes many farm animals on her lonely walk to the pond who contribute noises of their own to a growing rhythm that will have children moving to the beat.

The watercolor artwork is reminiscent of your typical rural paintings, bringing to life the calm scene that is disrupted by quirky animals. This is a perfect read aloud, especially for a group audience, so that children can join along in creating the beat that leads Zita to a happy ending.


Paul Meets Bernadette by Rosy Lamb

Paul is a goldfish with nothing to do but swim. He swims up, down, right, left, around and around. He’s content with the world he knows, until Bernadette drops into his bowl to open up his eyes to the things around him. Their imaginations run wild as they ponder the objects around their little home and what they could be.

When Paul spots a teapot, Bernadette informs him it is an elephant and that, “She is not too dangerous but you must not disturb her when she is feeding her babies” (a.k.a. tea cups). Children will giggle with the hilarious suggestions and love correcting these little goldfish.

Rosy Lamb is the author as well as the illustrator and her use of oil paintings is engaging and brilliantly colorful, so that the objects seem to come right off the page. This whimsical tale is fun for ages 3-6 and teaches children to keep their eyes open to the opportunities around them.

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Camp Rex by Molly Idle

Are you looking for a way to encourage children to get out of the house? With summertime upon us, this new picture book tells the tale of hiking, camping, and canoeing with some very friendly looking dinosaurs and their human companion. Wilderness safety tips are strewn throughout the text while the pictures tell the tale of consequences for those who do not listen to the rules.

This subtle humor will be appreciated by an older preschool audience, particularly when the dinosaurs are chased by the much smaller, but equally intimidating, hoard of bees. The dangers are balanced with fun, as dinosaurs munch some delicious looking s’mores, something children (and adults) can’t resist.

The worn out but happy campers make the trek back home for some additional adventures, emphasizing that “Experienced campers are as much at home in the great outdoors as they are in their own backyard”.

faylibsum2014The Fayetteville Public Library has got it going ON this summer! Workshops, camps and activities galore for kids, teens and adults! Click here for the whole list of activities.

What We’re Reading: Young adult novels worth the read before they hit the big screen

whatreading FPL

By Hotspur Closser, Teen Librarian, Fayetteville Public Library

Summer is once again upon us, and along with the inevitable onslaught of oppressive heat comes the perfect opportunity to avoid it.

Thousands of Arkansans will soon seek shelter in their local library or nearest movie theater in pursuit of escapism and air conditioning, and there is nothing cooler right now in the worlds of literature and film than young adult fiction.

Whether it’s dystopian lit, paranormal romance or even a classic coming-of-age tale, young adult fiction has proved to be an extremely accessible genre devoured by both teens and adults alike.

Hollywood has most definitely caught on to its popularity, as numerous recent box office blockbusters began their lives as young adult novels: The Hunger Games, The Book Thief, The Twilight Saga, The Lord of the Rings, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Vampire Academy, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, The Mortal Instruments, Ender’s Game, The City of Ember, I Am Number Four, The Lovely Bones, Beautiful Creatures, et cetera, et cetera—the list goes on and on.

So if you happen to be one of the many readers or moviegoers who regret not getting a chance to read Veronica Roth’s bestseller Divergent before the movie came out, here are three young adult novels you can soak in this summer and beat the bandwagon before the film adaptation hits the big screen (theatrical release date in parentheses): 



John Green’s character-driven coming-of-age novel tells a very unconventional love story detailing the journey of two teenagers battling cancer.

Extremely well-written, as most John Green novels are (in 2006 Green won the Michael L. Printz Award, given annually to the best book for teens based on literary merit, for his debut novel Looking for Alaska), The Fault in Our Stars is a moving story of self-discovery that is at once beautiful, humorous, somber, insightful, honest and touching.

Readers should have a box of Kleenex handy before tackling this one, both at home with the book and in the theater with the film.


THE GIVER by Lois Lowry  (AUGUST 15)

Winner of the 1994 Newbery Medal recognizing the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children, Lois Lowry’s The Giver is the first in a series of four dystopian novels set in a not-too-distant future “utopian” society in which mankind exists as more automaton than man.

The novel follows 12-year-old Jonas who lives in a world that is safe because it is sterile; void of love and emotion, there are no conflicts and no wars and consequently no worries.People are placid and content with their lives in this colorless place in part because no one is allowed to have memories—no one, that is, except the Giver.

Lowry’s novel is an allegory of truth and humanism and serves as a warning to the dangers of conformity and complacency, and it will be interesting to see how Hollywood goes about adapting such a classic and well-revered young adult novel.  Sequels include Gathering Blue (2000), Messenger (2004), and Son (2014). 


THE MAZE RUNNER by James Dashner  (SEPTEMBER 19)

James Dashner’s best-selling dystopian novel tells the thrilling tale of Thomas, a teenage amnesiac who finds himself fighting for survival alongside 60 other teenage boys, none of whom can remember details about who they are, where they are or even how they got there.

The boys are made to subsist on their own ala Lord of the Flies in a mysterious location known as “the Glade,” which is surrounded by a seemingly impenetrable labyrinth wrought with deadly traps and monsters.

Every night is filled with horrors and dangers the boys must safeguard themselves against, every week supplies are inexplicably delivered, and every month another boy is curiously delivered to their group.

When a girl is delivered to the group along with a note indicating there would be no more deliveries of children or supplies, the boys decide they must find a way out of the maze.Action packed and full of intrigue, The Maze Runner should translate to the big screen nicely.  Sequels include The Scorch Trials (2010) and The Death Cure (2011).

All books are available for checkout at the Fayetteville Public Library.

faylibsum2014Click 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: Picks from FPL youth librarian Caitlyn Walsh

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By Caitlyn Walsh, Fayetteville Public Library

Summer is approaching and many of us might be spending some quality home time with the kiddos, so why not have some good, not drive you crazy, children’s music to enjoy?

I’ve chosen to feature two albums that many listeners may not be as familiar with, but that will provide quality toe-tapping entertainment. Both are available for check-out at Fayetteville Public Library!

Playful and upbeat, children and adults will inadvertently start shaking their hips and nodding their heads with the “Flannery Brothers, New Explorers Club” CD. They keep listeners on their toes by uniquely interpreting several music genres such as rockabilly, funk, and folk.

The diverse instrumentation maintains interest and will spur conversation. Songs include the sounds of the always attention-grabbing ukulele and the deep reedy baritone saxophone.

The “Hi 5 Dance” encourages interaction among children by giving them the opportunity to high five each other, clap, and “shake, shake a little”. “Let’s Go” encourages kids to dance, and make up their own moves. The song’s psychedelic interlude will also intrigue young listeners.

Lyrics like “I swallowed a bug”, “sometimes I want to lie down on the kitchen floor”, and “I’m gonna fly my big kite” will resonate with young children.

Flannery Brothers, New Explorers Club CD.

Put on your dancin’ shoes! David Meinstone’s unique voice paired with distinctive music and lyrics will also entertain young and old audiences alike on his music CD “All I Want”.

Experience rock, folk, soul, and “light” heavy metal through songs reminiscent of greats such as The Beatles, Bob Dylan, The Rascals, and Nirvana.

The original lyrics are playful and appropriate for youngsters. Children will laugh while trying to recreate the “pop” sound in the song “Pop Corn Tree”. Sitting still is not an option in “Dance Song”, which encourages getting up, shaking your hips and even your lips. “I Can Touch the Sky” has listeners touching the sky, jumping, and touching the ground which will be a hit at preschoolers.

The musicianship is top notch and listeners will love the myriad of instruments such as the harmonica, vibes, banjo, trombone and fiddle.

Sign up for the Fayetteville Public Library’s Summer Reading program by clicking HERE. You can start dropping off reading logs at the official summer reading kick-off event on Saturday, May 31, from 10 a.m. to noon throughout the library. There will be free sno cones, a bounce house, face painting, crafts, a photo booth and more! Click here to read more about the kickoff event!