Dave Barry and Ridley Pearson have created a wonderful tale as a prequel to legend of Peter Pan. Peter and The Starcatchers, Peter and the Shadow Thieves, and Peter and the Secret of Rundoon explain many of the hows and whys to the Peter Pan. How does he fly? How did the alligator get the clock in his stomach? Why does Peter never grow old? These questions and more are answered.
Peter Pan, the Lost Boys, and Captain Hook have been reinvented so well that a generation from now no one might remember where J. M. Barrie’s original creation ended and Barry’s and Pearson’s begins. So far, the two have written three incredibly fat and action-packed volumes of Peter’s adventures with the “starstuff ” – the magical fallen stars that gave him his power and – in effect – rendered him immortal, though as a boy doomed never to grow up.
If you haven’t read this trilogy, you can’t wander through them; the books have to be read in order. Peter’s powers grow, as does the villainy of his foes. And readers are gently nudged out of the world that existed then and slid right into Neverland. If you like juvenile fantasy novels, you’ll be hard-pressed to find many better, more quick to read, or more inventive than these. The world is at once familiar and wondrous.
If you are going on a long trip, with or without children, this is a great book-on-CD set to listen to as Jim Dale (narrator for the Harry Potter series) takes you to the magical world of Peter Pan with his many voices.
Who knew there’d be so many interesting, funny, thoughtful books featuring our own backyard? Iowa might not make a lot of headlines (that’s a good thing, actually) but that doesn’t mean it isn’t worthy of some great books. There’s been a lot of national attention on Iowa this summer because of the flooding, but next week there’ll be some more positive news – RAGBRAI‘s annual bike ride (Starting on Monday be sure to watch this blog for a special series of stories from our own Tana on her RAGBRAI experiences) and of course, the Bix Beiderbecke Jazz Festival and Bix 7 Road Race here in Davenport. Keep the Iowa-vibes going with some great reads.
Niagara Falls all Over Again by Elizabeth McCracken. McCracken spent her childhood summers visiting her grandmother in Des Moines, so the first half of the book, set in Des Moines, is filled with authentic details. The story of a comedy team that makes it big in vaudeville and later in Hollywood B movies and the ties that hold the partners together. Funny and moving and beautifully written.
Moo by Jane Smiley. Set at an agriculture college in Iowa (read: Iowa State University) this satire is a look from the inside of the politics and intrigues of academia. Filled with sophisticated humor and clever storytelling. For a grimmer look at life in rural Iowa, don’t miss Smiley’s Pulitzer Prize winning A Thousand Acres.
The Life and Times of the Thunderbolt Kid by Bill Bryson. If you haven’t read Bryson yet, you’re missing out on one of our funniest writers. Born and raised in Des Moines, Bryson went on to travel (and write about) the world. Bryson waxes nostalgic about growing up in Iowa and memories unique to the Midwest (Bishop’s Buffet! the pneumatic tubes at the downtown Younkers!) and evokes a bygone era of innocence.
Shoeless Joe by WP Kinsella. Before it was a movie (Field of Dreams) it was a book. Much more complex and thoughtful than the movie, Shoeless Joe explores timeless American icons – the family farm, a father and son playing baseball, the power of memory and forgiveness.
Eleven Days by Donald Harstad. A series of strange murders tears a small Iowa town apart and leads sheriff Carl Houseman to a cult and the possible involvement of a local pastor. A hard-boiled mystery with droll details and an explosive ending. Harstad was a deputy sheriff in northeastern Iowa for 26 years, lending authentic details of small-town life.
The romance of the open road (and our corresponding love affair with the car) has always been a part of America’s history and character. Maybe it’s the vast distances of the country, or it’s unending variety, or part of our make-up as a nation of immigrants but nothing says America like a road trip. How many of you remember childhood trips, packed into the family car, driving to see tourist destinations like Mt Rushmore or the Grand Canyon or the Great Smokey Mountains? Squabbling with your siblings, counting license plates, swimming in the motel pools – as American as apple pie.
The Lincoln Highway by Michael Wallis is a celebration of the heyday of car travel from the 20s to the 50s. Spanning the country from New York City to San Fransisco, covering more than 3000 miles through thirteen states, the Lincoln Highway was once a popular route for travelers. The modern interstate highway system, with it’s direct routes and smooth multi-lanes, has taken over most of the traffic, and in many places superseded the Lincoln Highway, but it’s still possible to follow it across the country. Wallis takes us along on his adventure; part travelogue, part nostalgia trip, this book is filled with pictures of vintage postcards, historical images and modern photographs. This book celebrates the iconic architecture of “motor lodges”, gas stations and diners, the stunning scenery of the countryside, the funky roadside attractions and most of all, the characters that still live along it.
With Tiger Woods winning the 2008 U.S. Open and the John Deere Classic nearing, I was reminded of my favorite book and movie about golf, The Greatest Game Ever Played by Mark Frost. It is the story of the 1913 U.S. Open held at the Country Club in Brookline Massachusetts. Frost has interwoven the biographies of Harry Vardon and Francis Ouimet, slowly building to the dramatic finish. Born on the Channel Island of Jersey in 1870, Vardon had won five British Open titles by 1913. On this side of the Atlantic, 20-year-old Ouimet was the Massachusetts state amateur champion and had been a caddie at the Country Club; his invitation to the Open was unexpected. The long, wonderful second portion of the story dramatizes the exciting week in September when Vardon, Ouimet, and others battled for the coveted title. Frost paints a lively supporting cast. Ouimet’s mother, brother, and sister were supportive, but his father had no truck with the silly game. Englishman Bernard Darwin, the scientist’s grandson, found his niche as a first-generation golf journalist. Ted Ray, a big bear of a man, punched out a fellow English golfer before joining friend Varner and Ouimet in a three-man playoff. Ten-year-old caddie Eddie Lowery almost stole the show with his pugnacious confidence and sage advice for Francis. It is a wonderful book about the beginning of the sport of golf in the United States.
The book was published in 2002; in 2005 the movie of the same name was released. Starring Stephen Dillane and Shia Labeouf as Harry Verdon and Francis Ouimet were wonderful. The best minor character was Eddie Lowery played by Josh Flitter. The movie puts pictures to Mark Frost’s words. It is a beautiful film.
Be sure to catch exciting professional golf action at our own golf tournament, the John Deere Classic, July 7-13. Because you never know when the next sports hero will emerge.
|clothes·line [ klṓz ln, klṓz ln ]
|noun (plural clothes·lines)
|Definition: line for hanging laundry: a cord on which clean laundry is hung to dry,usually outdoors.
It is a simple word that is causing much discussion these days. The act of hanging out clothes in the fresh air brings back many memories for me. Days with my grandmother and mother, the smell of fresh sheets on the bed at night. I still hang out my clothes, rarely using a dryer. I read an article in the New York Times about a year ago about clotheslines and how some areas, mostly new house subdivisions, have banned the use of clotheslines. The article led me to Project Laundry List where founder Alexander Lee gives the top reasons why you should hang out your clothes, the first and foremost being to save money – about $100 per year on electricity for most households. The organization has designated April 19th as National Hanging Out Day to encourage everyone to hang out their laundry and save energy.
There is a beautiful book on the subject, The Clothesline by Irene Rawlings and Andrea VanSteenhouse, which discusses the history of drying laundry, types of clotheslines, laundry rooms, laundry collectibles and clotheslines as art. The illustrations alone make it worth a look.
Spring is coming. Really, it is. And despite evidence to the contrary, it’s coming soon. Now is the perfect time to get serious about planning your garden – those juicy tomatoes and glorious flowers don’t plant themselves you know!
The Garden Primer by Barbara Damrosch has long been one of my favorites – there is something about her writing style that makes you think “Sure, I can grow that. No problem.” Encouraging and practical, she covers everything – from digging the garden bed to how to grow a wide variety of fruits, vegetables, flowers and bulbs – without being overwhelming. Topics include composting, growing native plants, dealing with critters and essential garden tools. A new, revised edition has just been released with updated plant varieties and additional topics; recommended garden practices are now 100% organic.
And if you’re landless or just don’t have the time to garden but still love to eat well, the Davenport Farmer’s Markets open for the regular season on May 3! (Until then, winter markets will be held at the Freight House on March 1 and April 5)
Just in case you hadn’t noticed, we’ve been having a dozy of a winter with rain, freezing rain, snow and sub-zero temperatures all making headlines. And, I hate to be the one to tell you this but warmer temperatures are still a few weeks away for the Midwest.
What better time for the warmth and comfort of homemade soup? The New England Soup Factory Cookbook by Marjorie Druker will provide you with dozens of ideas. Soups as varied as “Wild Mushroom and Barley” and “Curried Crab and Coconut” as well as familiar favorites such as “New England Clam Chowder” will inspire you. Luscious photos may tempt you to chew on the pages (please don’t) and the stories of the restaurant (a long-time favorite located in Boston) will keep you entertained.
It just might be enough to get you through those last few weeks of cold and snow.
Happy President’s Day! Every third Monday in February has been set aside to observe the birth anniversaries of Abraham Lincoln (February 12) and George Washington (February 22), although it is now generally used to honor all former US presidents.
Ever wonder what goes on at those lavish Presidential State Dinners? The beautifully illustrated The President’s Table: Two Hundred Years of Dining and Diplomacy by Barry Landau gives us a unique picture of the world and work of the Presidents. Showing us history from a social rather than strictly factual viewpoint, Landau makes history fascinating and personal. Included are photographs of menus and invitations, descriptions of meals served, and details of trends in entertaining which reflect the birth, growth and dominance of the United States.
The past is still vivid to Marina, even though the present fades in a fog of age and approaching Alzheimer’s. Now elderly and living in America, as a young woman she had been a docent at the State Hermitage Museum in Leningrad. When Leningrad comes under siege during World War II, Marina and the other museum workers carefully hide the priceless artworks, leaving the frames behind as a promise of their eventual return. Marina painstakingly memorizes each painting and sculpture, memories she can escape to as the winter and continuing siege worsen, memories that now seem more real than her current life. Interspersed with vivid descriptions of the artwork and the suffering of the Russian civilians, this is a beautiful book about the power of memory.
Do you know a struggling reader? Check out our Learning Center at the Main Library!
We have many new graphic novels packaged along with audio CD’s and/or cassette tapes. Using them together, one can listen to the words while reading, thereby reinforcing the words one sees on the page. Also, since graphic novels are very similar to comic books in format, they are more appealing to teens or adults who don’t like to read. We have many classic titles that are often required reading in high school. We also carry other Hi-Lo (high-interest, low-reading level) materials and literacy aides. Check them out!