It may seem counter-intuitive to give new readers, students with disabilities, or ELL students books without words to help build vocabulary, but that is exactly what I’m going to suggest.  They can help all readers develop a more descriptive vocabulary, help teach visual decoding, assist readers in understand multiple viewpoints, and teach readers to interpret meaning from visual objects.  According to a 2011 Utah State University study, parents use more complex language when discussing wordless picture books than they do with books with text and pictures.  Not to mention the fact that they can be less intimidating than traditional books and they can be exceptionally entertaining. The last few years some fantastic wordless books have been added to the collection at the Davenport Public Library, so pick these books up for an emerging reader or for yourself!

floraandtheflamingoFlora and the Flamingo by Molly Schaar Idle

The newest wordless addition to the library collection, Flora and the Flamingo tells the story of a girl named Flora and a flamingo as they learn to dance together.  The beautiful illustrations are full of humor and call back to the mimicking game many played as children.

aballfordaisyA Ball for Daisy by Christopher Raschka

Daisy, a dog, has a great time with her ball, until it is lost.  Her story is told through bright, primary colored illustrations.  The story is perfect for toddlers and preschoolers, but would delight all children (and adults!) that love dogs.

unspokenUnspoken: A Story from the Underground Railroad by Henry Cole

The detailed pencil drawings set the scene in this story of a southern girl helping a runaway slave.  The format is perfect in setting the quiet, but intense mood of this story.

whereswalrusWhere’s Walrus by Stephen Savage

After escaping from the zoo, a clever Walrus disguises himself to outsmart the zookeeper that is pursuing him.  With vintage style illustrations, this humorous picture book will appeal to kids and adults.

waterloo&trafalgarWaterloo and Trafalgar by Oliver Tallec

This anti-war tale, with tri-colored die-cut illustrations is a perfect example of using a wordless book to facilitate conversation.  While the subject matter is somber, the book has expertly used humor throughout.

beardespairBear Despair by Gaëtan Dorémus

Never, ever, under any circumstance steal a bear’s teddy bear.  This humorous story follows the plight of a bear after his closest pal is snatched by a mischievous wolf.

The Boys by Jeff Newman

A book about being the shy new kid, Newman’s The Boys employs subtle humor and a sense of nostalgia that shapes this water colored wonder into an instant classic.

If you’re looking to start reading Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn today, you might be out of luck (make sure you place a hold!), but that doesn’t mean you have to leave the library empty handed.  Feel free to visit us at the Reference/Information desk, and we can help you find books that read similarly to Gone Girl (or any title that you’re looking to read.)  If you’re looking from home, the catalog can provide read-alike suggestions.  You just need to search for the book, and select “details” to the right of the title and book cover.  Once you are looking at the details about the book, you can scroll down to “Suggestions and More” where you will find similar titles and similar authors.  Here are some suggestions for Gone Girl read-alikes.

silentwife beforeigotosleep defendingjacob thedinnerdieforyou





The Silent Wife by A.S.A Harrison
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books are suspenseful, the story alternates between the husband’s and wife’s voices, and highlight marital woes.

Before I Go to Sleep by S.J. Watson
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books are suspenseful, have complicated plots, and feature discrepancies between what is being said and what is actually happening.

Defending Jacob by William Landay
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books focus on crime and family, with nimble and smart writing.

The Dinner by Herman Koch
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books are suspenseful, darkly funny, and feature unlikable and unreliable narrators.

Die for You by Lisa Unger
How is it like Gone Girl?  Both books are psychological suspense novels that evolve from different perspectives.

I have recently been hearing parents mention how their kids are no longer being taught cursive handwriting in school. GASP! ::fainting spell:: Although this educational shift horrified me at first, I had to admit that cursive’s practical benefit of speedy textual communication had long been eclipsed by the QWERTY keyboard. Luckily, as things often do, handwriting’s decreasing efficiency seems to correspond to a rising swagger for the beauty of calligraphy. I have collected a few items as evidence (available at your local library, of course) to support my case:

Amelia Lost: The Life and Disappearance of Amelia Earhart by Candace Fleming is perfect example of calligraphy swagger. I read A LOT of books about Amelia Earhart as a kid, but this recent kids’ nonfiction is so amazing that I cannot walk past it on the shelf without stopping and giving it a little hug. Part of my love is due to the fantastic, thrilling writing of Candace Fleming, but it is the book’s design, specifically the hand-lettered chapter titles, that really makes me go weak in the knees. I would like to frame and hang on my wall one page in particular– the opening page for the chapter titled “Vagabonding, Record Breaking and Romance: 1928 to 1935.” Glorious.

As one of the most star-reviewed graphic novels of 2011, Craig Thompson’s Habibi is an epic tale about relationships with people, religion, and text. The story, in addition to the printed pages, drips with intricate lettering:

“The healer wrote out magic squares and sacred texts on a wooden board. A mirrored bowl was filled with water, and the ink was washed into the bowl. I was asked to make a wish in the mirror, and drink the inky water.
Drink each of the letters
The closest one can get to the text
The body absorbs the message
The word becomes flesh”

The Illuminator and a Bible for the 21st Century is a fascinating documentary about the creation of the Saint John’s Bible–yup, the very Bible project displayed at our Davenport Public Library last summer (which I absolutely GEEKED out about). I originally saw this documentary about five years ago as a graduate student in the University of Iowa Center for the Book and it has stayed on the fringes of consciousness ever since. While hearing about the development and production of a such a massive cultural project happening during our time is in itself fully worth the viewing of this documentary, it is watching the brilliant artistry and craftsmenship of the head calligrapher, Donald Jackson, and his staff, which makes me want to dedicate my entire life to improving my handwriting.

Adam Newman’s destiny has been predetermined as far back as he can remember in Francesca Segal’s debut novel, The Innocents.

In his close knit Jewish community of North London, Adam has known everyone since birth, including Rachel Gilbert, to whom he is now engaged.  Adam and Rachel have been a couple since their were 16 years old and their wedding is fast approaching.  The couple has a seemingly perfect life – Adam has been embraced by Rachel’s family, especially her father, who has become a father figure to Adam after he lost his own father at a young age.

Their life is moving ahead rapidly when Rachel’s cousin, Ellie, surprisingly appears in town and everything Adam has every known is thrown into upheveval.  As his attraction to Ellie is growing, he is torn between the life that has been scripted for him and a life that he never could have imagined with a person he has not seen for years. This love triangle is coupled with another scandal that could tear his new family apart.

Segal takes her inspiration from Edith Wharton’s The Age of Innocence, but spins a story that is fresh and modern.  I am eagerly waiting for Segal’s next novel.


Thank goodness authors and actors and artists keep using Jane Austen as a muse to keep us Janeites busy. Here is a list of a few recent Austen-related items I’ve enjoyed:

From Prada or Nada: I have been a fan of actress Camilla Belle since her Disney Channel days, so I checked out this movie for some fun and silliness. My first shock was that despite the girly title and DVD image, this film has more drama than comedy. Then my second shock came at the end of the movie when I realized I had been watching a pretty direct retelling of Sense and Sensibility! (The girls are even named Nora and Mary–I was so embarrassed it took me so long to register the plot.) The movie follows two sisters as they deal with their father’s death and moving from his wealthy home to live with their Mexican Grandmother and extended family in a poor neighborhood in East LA. The film did a fantastic job of keeping true to Austen’s story while also staying accurate to today’s society and the lives of Mexican-Americans.

Austenland by Shannon Hale: Although I tend to love films that do an Austen retelling, I am always hesitant of books that attempt the same. The exception to the rule is those self-aware books where a modern Janeite finds herself living as an Austenian Heroine in her own life. In Austenland, Jane Hayes has been given a trip to stay at Pembrook Park, one of England’s Regency Era resorts that caters to those with Jane Austen fantasies. Although at first she is hesitant to play along with the staff and actors, Jane eventually convinces herself that she will never let go of her Mr. Darcy obsession unless she fully allows herself to participate in the romantic experience. Unfortunately, her love life just gets more complicated as she begins to confuse reality and Austen fantasy. Shannon Hale just wrote a companion book called Midnight in Austenland that sets a murder mystery in Pembrook Park.

The Lizzie Bennet Diaries The Lizzie Bennet Diaries: This popular youtube series is one of my favorite new things! As you may have gathered from this post (and my other Jane Austen posts), I love Jane Austen with a modern twist, and the Lizzie Bennet Diaries add a twist that I have never seen before: they are telling the story of Pride and Prejudice in real-time! Yup, Jane started her web diaries back in April when she first found out that a young doctor, Bing Lee, bought the mansion near her parents’ home and her mother was becoming insane about it. Her and her bf, Charlotte, (along with occasional help from her sisters, Jane and Lydia, and Bing’s sister, Caroline) produce two videos a week that are usually about 3-5 minutes each. Right now, Lizzie and Jane are staying over with Bing while their mother is remodeling their home (in case they have to sell it). The actors are fantastic, the scripts are fresh, and the whole shebang is produced by youtube superstars Bernie Su and Hank Green. You can catch up on the videos directly from the LBD youtube channel: or find out more about the whole project at:

Who says summer road trips have to be boring? Load up the family and hit the open road: the trip will fly by when you bring an audiobook from DPL! Unlike your child’s Nintendo DS or iPod Touch, audiobooks don’t require charging and they will entertain more than one person at a time, including the driver.

These recorded books are winners for the entire family:

Harry Potter series, read for you by Jim Dale: The whole family is sure to love the expertly performed Harry Potter series. Jim Dale’s narration is absolutely perfect; even if you’ve already read the novels, you’ll find something new to love in the recordings. If your children are a bit younger, there are admirable recordings of the Magic Tree House series. For the kids who’ve already read (or aren’t interested in) HP, try Artemis Fowl or Percy Jackson.


Bring a box of tissues along with the kids’ classic Bridge to Terabithia, warmly brought to life by narrator Tom Stechschulte. The poignant story of Jess and Leslie has been a favorite since Katherine Paterson penned it in the ’70s. For kids 10+.

Recordings of Suzanne Collins’ runaway hits The Hunger Games, Catching Fire, and Mockingjay will be a hit with everyone: mature themes and violence probably make this too grown up for the littlest ones, but don’t let the YA label fool you – adults adore the series too. For kids 12+.

In Nerd Girls: The Rise of the Dorkasaurus, 8th grader Maureen risks life and limb – ok, she risks embarrassing herself in front of the whole school – to stand up to the popular girls who bully her. A funny, relatable story about friendship and the perils of middle school. For kids 12+.

Megan McDonald’s Judy Moody series makes for a charming listening experience – Judy’s misadventures show kids how to handle things when their grand plans don’t work out, and narrator Kate Forbes captures her spunky spirit. Just Grace, about another spirited grade schooler, is a fun choice for the kids who’ve already enjoyed Judy Moody. For kids 8+.

All kinds of great books for kids are available from DPL, from classics like The Chronicles of Narnia and Harriet the Spy to popular new hits like The Mysterious Benedict Society and the Warriors series. Princesses, Sports, Dragons, Animals – whatever your child is interested in, we have an audiobook for it!

*Age recommendations reflect the guidelines printed by the publisher, not DPL’s opinion. Always take your child’s unique level of maturity and experience into account when helping him or her choose books to read.

Good luck finding a copy of the sudden phenomenon known as Fifty Shades of Grey, a scintillating romance novel – the first in a trilogy – that’s stirred up a whirlwind of conversation lately. The novel started its life as an online-only Twilight fan fiction story; once it picked up some enthusiastic readers and momentum, Ms. James modified her main characters’ names, professions, and paranormal status and Fifty Shades was born. Since then, it’s found a major publisher and a movie deal in addition to a spot on the national scene. Find your reason for not reading this sexy novel below and read on for your next great read!


  • I like ‘romantica’ (romance novels with very erotic scenes), and I’ve already read (or I’m impatiently waiting for) this trilogy. What should I read next? If you’re a fan of the genre, try books by any of these authors, who mix plenty of sensual action into their happily-ever-afters: Shayla Black, Colette Gale, Kresley Cole, Zane, Janice Maynard, J.R. Ward, and Lora Leigh.
  • This book was too racy for me! For a gentler read with contemporary setting and a happily ever after, try any of these writers who focus on lighter romance: Lisa Kleypas, Jennifer Crusie, Susan Elizabeth Phillips, Nora Roberts, and Rachel Gibson.
  • I’m so sick of Twilight and all its spin offs – whatever is the opposite of that is what I want to read. Try out these realistic, literary, thought-provoking novels for a reading experience just as compelling as the-vampire-book-that-must-not-be-named but minus all the bloodsucking, romantic quivering, and hype: Winter’s Bone by Daniel Woodrell; The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach; Arcadia by Lauren Groff; The Sisters Brothers by Patrick DeWitt; Swamplandia! by Karen Russell; Sacre Bleu by Christopher Moore. Nary a vampire in sight!
  • I want to read romance or erotica, but I’m embarrassed to let people see me with them. Don’t sweat it, a lot of us are in the same boat, and DPL has some awesome solutions! For the ultimate in anonymity, check out our WILBOR database of ebooks you can check out for free. You don’t have to own a smartphone, Nook, Kindle, or iPad – WILBOR offers tons of audiobooks that can be played from an mp3 player, and ebooks can frequently be read on your computer without transferring to an e-reader. Explore WILBOR’s help page or call the Reference desk if you need assistance. Also, don’t forget that all three branches have self-checkout counters, so you can pick out your favorites and none of the staff need to be any the wiser! Or take matters into your own hands with a Do-It-Yourself or inexpensive book cover. If anyone asks, just shrug and say, “oh, I’m finally trying to finish Middlemarch – the darn thing is just so long!” No one wants to talk about Middlemarch, so you’re free to read your salacious paperbacks in peace.

Demand for the library’s copies of The Hunger Games has skyrocketed since the movie came out.  Don’t worry, we can put you on the reserve list, but you might have a little bit of a wait ahead of you before your copy comes in.  So while you wait, here are a few similar titles you might want to try:

If you like plenty of action and powerful female characters:

Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

If you’re looking for fast-paced stories about survival:

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

The Knife of Never Letting Go by Patrick Ness

Gone by Michael Grant

If you’re interested in a dystopian world with a government gone bad:

1984 by George Orwell

The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood

When She Woke by Hillary Jordan

Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

If you want something with a bit of romance:

Matched by Ally Condie

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

If you’re looking for some cool sci-fi:

Feed by M.T. Anderson

Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card

As someone who loves to read mysteries and is always on the hunt for another series to start, I stumbled upon the Bailey Weggins mystery series by Kate White and just finished If Looks Could Kill, the first book in the series.  Bailey Weggins is a freelance writer of crime and human interest stories for the monthly fashion and lifestyle magazine Gloss.  Early one Sunday morning Bailey is roused out of bed by her boss and the editor of Gloss, Cat Jones, who can’t get her live-in nanny, Heidi, to answer the door of her basement suite.  Bailey springs to action to help her boss figure out where Heidi has gone – and it isn’t far – when Bailey discovers the nanny dead in her suite.  Cat pleads with Bailey to use her sleuthing skills to try and figure out why Heidi was murdered.  Bailey, who puts her investigative skills right to the test, dives into the case.

The mystery heats up when it is determined that Heidi died from eating poisonous chocolate truffles that were an intended  hostess gift for Cat.  Who was the intended victim – Cat or Heidi?  Bailey uncovers evidence that points to someone trying to poison the editors of high profile magazines and she puts her life at risk with her unofficial investigation.

If Looks Could Kill is a light (as far as mysteries are concerned) and easy read that effortlessly blends fashion, vibrant New York City life and murder.

On February 7, 1964 the Beatles arrived at New York’s Kennedy Airport to thousands of screaming fans. It was awesome. Or so I’ve heard.

Luckily, for those of us who were too young to experience Beatlemania first-hand (and have yet to be invited by a certain Time Lord to accompany him in his TARDIS), the Beatles continue to be hot topics for books and film. Here are a couple of recent items that celebrate two people who didn’t live to see Beatlemania and yet had a distinct effect on the Beatles becoming The Beatles: original bass player, Stuart Sutcliffe, and John Lennon’s mother, Julia.

Baby's in Black Baby’s in black : the story of Astrid Kirchherr & Stuart Sutcliffe by Arne Bellstorf tells the epic love story between Stuart and Astrid during the era of the Beatles early Hamburg gigs. Although the names were all familiar to me, as was the tragic ending, I knew very little about Astrid and Stu’s life together nor Stuart’s passion for painting. The heavy, stark drawings by Bellstroff manage to evoke and complement both the mod existentialist world of Astrid and the moody rock & roll environment of the Beatles and Stu.

Nowhere BoyNowhere Boy, a film directed by Sam Taylor-Wood, takes place before John Lennon formed the Beatles, before Stuart met Astrid and before John had even met Stuart. Nowhere Boy takes place in the mid 1950’s when John Lennon was in his early teens and struggling to maintain relationships with both his strict and caring guardian, his Aunt Mimi, and his musically-talented, free-spirited mother, Julia, who had just recently reappeared in his life. This story also ends sadly, but there is some fun along the way as we get to see John form his first group, The Quarrymen, and invite Paul McCartney and then George Harrison to join him. Actor Aaron Johnson (the star of two of my favorite films, Angus, Thongs and Perfect Snogging and Kick-Ass) is absolutely amazing as a cheeky & insecure young John Lennon.

And, just to throw in a book with happier vibes, here is one of my all-time favorite Beatles-related books:

Postcards from the Boys by Ringo Starr showcases some of the cards Ringo has received from John, Paul, and George (and their families) from the 1960’s to now. Each card is shown both front and back and includes a bit of commentary from Ringo. No other way to describe this book, but absolutely DELIGHTFUL.