Each Saturday a staff member is featured on the website and social media with a book selection from the Allegany County Library System collection that really stood out to them. See what catches your attention and next time you visit the library, chat up the librarian about the book you saw on the Staff Picks!
August 24 – Maureen
Forget Me Not by Ellie Terry
This book is written in poetic verse, and is so full of emotion. It made me cry, smile, and wonder at the resilience Calli shows. When middle school student Calliope’s mom breaks up with yet another boyfriend they move again, and Calli starts at a new school for the ninth time. Not only does Calli keep having to adjust to new schools, she is bullied because of her Tourette syndrome and misunderstood by her mother who is ashamed of her daughter’s tics. At first Calli tries to hide her tics, but it isn’t possible. This book feels so honest and accurate, since the author Ellie Terry was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome herself. Forget Me Not speaks to everyone about being true to oneself.
August 17 – Kristin
Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures by Kate DiCamillo
Newbery Medal-winner Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures, by Kate DiCamillo, is just the dearest book — touching, humorous, imaginative. I simply loved it. So glad I gave it a chance, because at first I thought it might be a little bit ridiculous! A story about a squirrel that gets sucked into a vacuum cleaner and is transformed into a superhero who writes poetry? Ummm….maybe entertaining for a sixth-grader. But there’s so much going on beneath the story’s comic-book veneer (illustrations are gridded, graphic novel style, including thought bubbles for dialogue and bold-type, ALL CAPS plot developments : “The squirrel typed. The people waited. Destiny bestirred itself….”) As we follow the adventures of Flora and Ulysses, we learn about her parents’ recent divorce and the sadness that informs Flora’s self-proclaimed cynicism, her father’s withdrawal, and her mother’s manic work ethic. By the story’s end, we can feel the love that underlies it all, not least of all Ulysses’ love for Flora. A sample from a squirrel poem: “I love your round head,/ the brilliant green,/ the watching blue,/ these letters,/ this world,/ you.”
August 10 – Linda
Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlitz
Are you a drama queen? or lord? Good Masters! Sweet Ladies! by Laura Amy Schlitz is the book for you. It was written by a school librarian for a middle school class who all wanted lead roles in their drama production. Schlitz writes a series of monologues and dialogues that portray different children in a medieval village. She adds footnotes and background material to educate the reader about life in 1255 England. And the illustrations by Robert Byrd are fun to investigate!
August 3 – John
Radical candor: how to be a kickass boss without losing your humanity by Kim Scott
I immediately recognized myself in some of the mistakes Kim Scott uses to illustrate her points. But more importantly, I also recognized that caring personally and challenging directly were achievable changes in my style that would benefit everyone around me.
July 27 – Paula
Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back): A Memoir of Recording and Discording with Wilco, Etc. by Jeff Tweedy
Let’s Go (So We Can Get Back) traces the adventures of Wilco’s Jeff Tweedy, weaving tales of his love for vinyl records that fueled his self-discovery as a teenager in Belleville, Illinois and helped form his unique voice as one of contemporary American music’s most accomplished songwriters, musicians, and performers. Tweedy offering of the good and the bad – the birth and death of the legendary alt-country band Uncle Tupelo, the birth and rebirth of Wilco, his life on the road and in the studio, his struggles with addiction, and his unending love for his wife and children – highlights the sincerity, grace, and humor of this talented artist.
July 20 – Laura S.
Radium Girls The Dark Story of America’s Shining Women by Kate Moore
Radium Girls tells the stories of women at two different U.S. factories after World War I who used radium in paint to create glow-in-the-dark watches and instrument panels. They used the “lip, dip, paint” method to create finer brush strokes, which caused the girls to suffer the horrible consequences of radium poisoning. At the start of their careers, radium was believed to be a magical “cure-all,” but as time went on, more became aware of the dangers associated with radium, including the leadership at these factories–but no one told the women. Radium Girls shows the horrors these women faced as they met inevitably painful deaths (Stephen King has nothing on the true life terror in this book), but it also showed their courage as they mounted an ambitious case against the companies that failed to protect them. You’ll even read of testimony given by one “Radium Girl” from what was essentially her deathbed. Their courage in the face of corporations, death, and massive financial strain paved the way for protections we have in place as American workers today, and also led to innovative research on radioactivity. I highly recommend this book. It will terrify you and inspire you at the same time.
July 13 – Regina
The Last Year of the War by Susan Meissner
A story of two girls, sent to a Texas internment camp with their families during World War ll, whose friendship grows close in the short time they spend together. Elise Sontag, 14, a young German American, her younger brother, mother, and father – who has been arrested on suspicions of being a Nazi sympathizer, have all been sent to a hot, dusty camp behind barbed wire and stripped of everything they hold dear in Iowa. There Elise meets Mariko Inoue, a Japanese American teen from Los Angeles, who helps her believe that life will become normal again. It’s a difficult book to read, knowing that Americans allowed their fears, once again, to detain those who were innocent of any crimes. Things become worse when these families are traded back to their ancestral countries that are still heavily involved in the war. The Last Year of the War is a good read and a different look at history that is overlooked. Favorite Quote: “We decide who and what we will love and who and what we will hate. We decide what we will do with the love and hate. Every day we decide. It is this that revealed who we were, not the color of our flesh or the shape of our eyes or the language we spoke.”
July 6 – Liz
Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo
It’s a glorious book about a young girl(Opal ) moving to a new town, befriending a dog she named Winn-Dixie after the market she meet him in and the new friends she made because of Winn-Dixie. This is a true feel good read. Remember that friends can change your life.
June 29 – Toni
Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de La Pena Illustrated by Christian Robinson
I just love Nana and her perspective on all that surrounds her as she spends the day with her grandson CJ. This wonderfully written book and its delightful illustrations, which is adorned with both a Caldecott and Newbery Medal, challenges the reader to notice beauty everywhere! Just like CJ, we often wonder why our lives are not like someone else’s, but Nana’s words of wisdom help both CJ and the reader value the simple gifts around us. A charming story celebrating diversity and beauty! Check out this children’s book from one of our libraries or find it on one of our online resources. Hoopla has an engaging animated version of this story with read along that everyone can enjoy!
June 8 – Cathy R.
The Crossover by Kwame Alexander
2015 Newbery Medal Winner.
Josh and Jordan are twins. They are awesome on the basketball court. This book is humorously written in verse. A true coming of age story. Growing up can be painful but having family is everything.