Love Your Library During a Reading Slump

If you just can’t read a book right now, don’t feel bad! You’re not a worse person because you can’t get yourself to read anything more than a cereal box or social media post. Whether you’re busy with schoolwork, family obligations, or just plain burnt out, you can still love and support your library and be part of our bookish lifestyle without picking up a single book.

Tip #1: Do something cool! Try the TechKnow library (featuring a digital camera, a mobile scanner, Snapchat spectacles, and MUCH more), our collection of board games (from Scrabble to Super Mario Checkers), or a community experience pass to a local museum like the Figge.

Tip #2: Go multimedia! Save some serious money by checking out a new movie (like Till or the new season of You), music CD (maybe Charlie Puth’s latest?), or video game (including PS5 games like Dying Light 2) so you can try before you buy.

Tip #3: Read without reading! Skim a heartwarming graphic novel like Moonstruck, or listen to a book on playaway or CD (pro tip: pick a short one like The Poet X, a 3.5 hour listen) for a quick lit fix. (Disclaimer: these are definitely real books and count as real reading, but since they may be easier than traditional print, I’m including them.)

Tip #4: Just show up! Come exist in our spaces – read magazines and enjoy the view at Eastern, warm up at Fairmount’s fireplace, or schedule a Makerspace tour at Main.

Tip #5: Be social with it! Engage on social media from home — repost our news and events, browse databases and digital resources, and check out challenges in the Beanstack website or app.

However you engage with the library, we appreciate you and we want to hear from you! What’s your favorite way to ride out a reading slump – or your favorite way to love the library?

A Love Letter to Miss Jane Marple

I’m a big Agatha Christie fan (as you may know). But while her Belgian detective gets a lot of limelight (including from award-winning director Kenneth Branagh) I’m increasingly obsessed with her unassuming village spinster Jane Marple. A woman underestimated by many, her keen wisdom about human nature inevitably uncovers the truth. I love her for many reasons, not least for the message (like Father Brown‘s) that kindness, humility, and observant social skills are just as powerful as Poirot’s ego and famed ‘little grey cells’. Miss Marple is also a fantastic role model for self-acceptance: she knows people see her as a doddering old woman, but she’s OK with that; she knows her limits and her abilities and lets them speak for themselves. If you haven’t tried a Miss Marple book before – I highly recommend it! Here are three of my favorite Marple reads to get you started:

In The Moving Finger, the narrator is Jerry, a man recovering from a plane accident. He and his sister come to stay in the town of Lymstock just as a rash of odd poison pen letters starts sweeping the community. The police start methodically searching for the sender, but not before someone dies. When another death follows, the vicar’s wife sends for an expert to help: Jane Marple. This is a fun read because Jerry, while a sympathetic and enjoyable narrator, is slightly oblivious both to the truth of the letters and his own feelings, which lets the wisdom of women shine – not only Miss Marple but also Jerry’s sister Joanna and the vicar’s wife, among others.

4.50 From Paddington is another classic story of women’s intelligence being overlooked. First, Elspeth McGillicuddy happens to see a woman being murdered on a passing train – but no one believes her. Everyone thinks she’s a vaguely hysterical old woman who’s seeing things. So she goes to her friend Jane Marple and tells her the story. Miss Marple believes her but knows no one else will, especially since they can’t find a body. So she hires Lucy Eylesbarrow, a powerhouse of domestic help, to work at a house near the scene and scout around. Sure enough, she finds it, and it’s up to Lucy and Miss Marple to help the police figure out who she is, and why she’d be murdered on a train and hidden on the grounds of the Crackenthorpe mansion.

In The Mirror Crack’d Miss Marple is called in after a reception welcoming famous actress Marina Gregg to her village. Famous for both her films and her dramatic personal life (including desperation to have a child), her move to St. Mary Mead is a source of wild excitement in town – hence the welcoming party. Suddenly disaster strikes – a local nuisance and blabbermouth collapses after drinking a poisoned cocktail. Everyone assumes the actress was the real target, but when her friend tells her the story Miss Marple isn’t so sure. As more people die and the stakes get higher it’s up to Miss Marple to dig into Marina’s past to figure out the truth.

You can also experience Miss Marple in short stories, large print versions, ebook collections, books on CD, eaudiobooks, or DVD adaptations.

Never Coming Home by Kate Williams

I picked up Never Coming Home by Kate Williams because I’m a sucker for a YA murder mystery, but squealed internally when I realized that it’s a modern retelling of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None – easily one of the most chilling and addictive mysteries published (made into a miniseries in 2015!). Even better, it also has bits of The Breakfast Club mixed in, which gives a one-two punch of cult classic storylines.

Unknown Island is a new, highly exclusive hospitality experience (read: fancy resort) that’s been building hype for months through a slick and tempting ad campaign. Now, the island has finally invited it’s First Ten guests: ten influencers from various platforms and niche interest areas, all under 21 and up-and-coming. But it’s not until they arrive that they realize there’s something else they all hold in common…they all hold a deadly secret. That in itself might just be unsettling, until the first of them dies. And then it soon becomes clear that whoever’s invited them has no intention of letting them leave alive.

I appreciated a lot of things about this book including the quick-paced storyline, the multiple POV narration, and the true diversity represented. As a fan of the original it was fun to find the echoes of the original material sprinkled throughout the text; while it skillfully follows the same path as the original, the characters and their backgrounds aren’t exact copies of Christie’s originals, so it’s not immediately obvious who’s the dastardly criminal mastermind.  Each of the characters gets their own voice and has a distinct identity — which is not to say it doesn’t get confusing at times to remember who’s who — but what’s really effective about the narrative style is that flipping quickly between different perspectives mirrors the horror of paranoia kicking in as the body count keeps climbing and you’re not sure who to believe. Moreover, while I wouldn’t say this adaptation is necessarily better than Christie’s original, it’s definitely more relevant to modern senses of what’s terrifying, as it shines a spotlight on how not anonymous social media is and what can really happen to kids who live mostly online. True to the original, however, it doesn’t shy away from a nuanced and unresolved examination of what it means to be a good or bad person, or what it really means to have justice be done.

If you’re a mystery lover, distrustful of social media, devour slasher films and psychological thrillers, or are generally haunted by Lord of the Flies‘ death-in-paradise vibes, DO NOT miss out on this genius, terrifying thrill ride.

The Batman on DVD

You could probably tell a lot about a person by their answer to the question: “Who’s your favorite Batman?” Me, personally, I’d probably say Michael Keaton from the Tim Burton Batman and Batman Returns movies, with Christian Bale’s Dark Knight a close second (but that’s because of Michael Caine as Alfred). I don’t know what that says about me (escapist nostalgia?), but I have a theory about people whose favorite Batman is now Robert Pattinson in The Batman: they’re probably thoughtful, complex people who know what it’s like to struggle with trauma and anger, and who care about responsibility and accountability.

Here’s why I think that. I’m not going to summarize the plot for you too much, because you’ve probably heard plenty about this movie while it was coming out (I sure did). I wasn’t surprised that a brooding Bruce Wayne faces a brutal Riddler after two years fighting crime as Vengeance. What I was surprised by was how NOT romanticized the Batman figure was. Rather than making him a kooky crimefighter (Adam West style), a pitiable and misguided orphan martyr (like in the Gotham TV series) or a playboy and noble warrior for justice (Christian Bale style), this film makes him (and his Bruce identity) undeniably problematic both as a person and as a symbol to Gotham. Feminists will probably be notably uncomfy with his behavior toward Selina Kyle, Alfred fans (like me) will be startled by how little time and affection Bruce has for his surrogate father, mental health advocates will recognize a truly troubled personality in the unwashed and obsessive Bruce, and by the end of the movie there will be a deep dive into the dark effects a violent vigilante like Batman would really have on the culture and crime rates of Gotham. It’s an important thing to consider in an age of radicalization, polarization, and people pushed to extremes – and it makes a film that really sticks with you.

I know many people were struggling to accept Pattinson’s jump from Twilight mega-fame to tough-guy Bruce, but if you haven’t already you should definitely give this film a watch. If you’re not interested in the philosophical exploration of violence and accountability, try it for the truly wild card atmosphere of this film. For one thing, I promise you are not prepared for the Wayne Manor, and second, I would not be surprised if the casting call for this film stated “must have an unusual or silly-sounding voice”. Moreover, Zoe Kravitz’ Selina Kyle is as tough and sultry as advertised, and ALMOST as good at critiquing Batman’s privileged perspective on the world as Michelle Pfeiffer’s in Batman Returns. Other worthwhile highlights for longtime Batman fans include a clearly retro-inspired Batmobile, an ethnically diverse cast including a particularly effective Jim Gordon, and skillful camera work and orchestration (almost as good a score as The Dark Knight, though not quite at that unsettling level).

Whatever your reason, don’t miss the latest reimagining of The Caped Crusader, now available in DVD and Blu-Ray at the library. Did I miss your favorite Batman? Tell us in the comments!

Belfast on DVD

Buddy, a 9-year-old boy living in Belfast, Ireland in 1969 enjoys simple things – playing in the streets with his cousins, walking to school and working on his maths (homework) and going to the cinema and being dazzled by the films. He is loved and watched over by his older brother, his parents and his Pop and Granny (grandparents) as well as all of the people living in their tight-knit neighborhood where everyone knows everyone.

This safety and peace is shattered when “the troubles” explode on their street. A gang attacks the neighborhood, breaking windows, setting cars on fire and creating havoc, demanding that Catholics must leave. While Buddy and his family are Protestant and have no problems living next to Catholics, his father is pressured to either join the gangs or pay them, money that the family can’t afford.

They must now all face a terrible choice – stay in the place that they’ve always known and loved but which has become deadly dangerous, or move away for better opportunities but in a place where they know no one and no one knows them?

Directed and written (for which he received an Oscar) by Kenneth Branagh, Belfast features a collection of some of the finest actors alive today including Dame Judi Dench, Ciaran Hinds, Jamie Dornan and Catriona Balfe. Jude Hill, who plays Buddy is mesmerizing. Based on Kenneth Branagh’s own life story, this movie is by turns funny, heartbreaking and suspenseful but most of all, it’s about family love and the sacrifices one will make for them.

Waste-Free World: Recycling and Sustainability

We all know we should be doing more to protect the planet and dispose of waste responsibly. But if you’re like me, you might spend a lot of time wondering what’s recyclable and what’s not, and what sustainability really means. Here are three ways we at the library and in the city of Davenport are here to help you figure out the world of eco-friendly living.

READ: The Waste-Free World by Ron Gonen is a manifesto highlighting what companies can and should do to make recycling and reuse part of their normal daily processes in order to protect the earth and increase sustainability.

Can I Recycle This by Jennie Romer is a more practical guide to reducing plastic waste in your home.

WATCH: Going to green. Volume 1, Towards a more sustainable community is a series of documentary episodes discussing specific environmental and sustainability issues with helpful information for all ages.

PLAY: the Quad City Recycling Quest Game through the City of Davenport Public Works department website is a fun way to test and build your knowledge of waste disposal practices locally. The game allows you to pick whether a given item goes in recycling, compost, trash, a hazardous materials facility, or an electronics facility. It doesn’t take long to play and it will definitely teach you something!

Check out this LibGuide for more resources on how to make an eco-friendly home – and thanks for anything you do to make this world a greener, healthier place.

Freaky Friday, Then and Now

When I was younger, one of our favorite movies to watch as a family was Freaky Friday starring Lindsay Lohan and Jamie Lee Curtis. The sass and attitude that both Lohan and Curtis (to say nothing of Mark Harmon) brought to the screen were (and remain) comedy gold. I felt both old and excited recently when I discovered how many iterations of the story there are to discover. Here’s a rundown of how you can laugh your way through some body-swapping action.

Start here: 

Through inter-library loan, you can start with the 1977 original Freaky Friday, based on a book of the same name by Mary Rodgers. This is the classic storyline: thirteen-year-old Annabelle thinks her mother Ellen sure has it easy, and doesn’t understand how hard Annabelle’s life is at all. But then, one hilarious and freaky Friday, she gains a greater understanding and sympathy for her mother after they swap bodies for the day. Hijinks include an out-of-control washing machine, parent-teacher conferences AND losing her little brother.

Then, a walk down memory lane:

Next comes the 2003 film Freaky Friday starring Curtis, Lohan, Harmon, and more comedic geniuses from my childhood. In this version, punk rock guitarist Anna changes her contentious relationship with straitlaced psychotherapist mother Tess after a magic fortune cookie makes them swap bodies…the day before Anna’s band is supposed to have the audition of a lifetime, and Tess is supposed to get remarried! It’s a laugh-a-minute race against the clock, and I doubt I’ll ever really get sick of it.

Gender-bend it!

In 2011, there was a gender-bending take on the concept with The Change-Up, starring Ryan Reynolds and Jason Bateman as childhood best friends Mitch and Dave who have drifted apart, and now find themselves envying each other’s lifestyles. While Mitch is still single and partying, Dave is an overworked father. After a crazy night and a bit of magic, they wake up in each other’s bodies, and not only have to figure out how to switch back but also discover the truth in the adage “Careful what you wish for…”

Next, a musical reboot:

In 2018, Disney made an updated version of the original story, with a few interesting tweaks. In this musical version of Freaky Friday, mother Katherine and her 16-year-old daughter Ellie are at the most stressful times of their lives, and struggling to see each other’s point of view, when a magic hourglass from Ellie’s late father sends them on a body-swapped adventure. Once again, the next day’s wedding adds urgency to their quest to switch back.

And now, a horror-movie twist!

Originally released in 2020, Freaky is the dark comedy story of Millie, a 17-year-old trying to survive high school, who finds herself the latest victim of the local serial killer The Butcher. The magic of his dagger swaps their bodies, and it’s up to Millie and her friends not only to find a way to switch back before it becomes permanent, but also to survive The Butcher on a killing spree, emboldened by his new innocent and feminine appearance.

Women’s History Month: Recommended Reads for Kids & Teens

To celebrate Women’s History Month, we asked staff for their favorite reads. Below you will find our recommended reads for kids and young adults. The descriptions are provided by the publishers.

Juvenile Nonfiction Series

Chelsea Clinton’s She Persisted series

She Persisted: 13 American Women who Changed the World

Chelsea Clinton introduces tiny feminists, mini activists and little kids who are ready to take on the world to thirteen inspirational women who never took no for an answer, and who always, inevitably and without fail, persisted.

Throughout American history, there have always been women who have spoken out for what’s right, even when they have to fight to be heard. In early 2017, Senator Elizabeth Warren’s refusal to be silenced in the Senate inspired a spontaneous celebration of women who persevered in the face of adversity. In this book, Chelsea Clinton celebrates thirteen American women who helped shape our country through their tenacity, sometimes through speaking out, sometimes by staying seated, sometimes by captivating an audience. They all certainly persisted.

She Persisted is for everyone who has ever wanted to speak up but has been told to quiet down, for everyone who has ever tried to reach for the stars but was told to sit down, and for everyone who has ever been made to feel unworthy or unimportant or small.

This book features: Harriet Tubman, Helen Keller, Clara Lemlich, Nellie Bly, Maria Tallchief, Claudette Colvin, Ruby Bridges, Margaret Chase Smith, Sally Ride, Florence Griffith Joyner, Oprah Winfrey, Sonia Sotomayor—and one special cameo.

She Persisted in Sports: American Olympians who Changed the Game

Throughout history, women have been told that they couldn’t achieve their dreams, no matter how hard they tried. Women athletes have faced their own unique set of challenges, across countless sports and levels of play. In this third She Persisted book, Chelsea Clinton introduces readers to women who have excelled in their sports because of their persistence.

She Persisted in Sports is a book for everyone who has ever aimed for a goal and been told it wasn’t theirs to hit, for everyone who has ever raced for a finish line that seemed all too far away, and for everyone who has ever felt small or unimportant while out on the field.

This book features: Margaret Ives Abbott, Gertrude Ederle, Mildred Babe Didrikson Zaharias, Wilma Rudolph, Jean Driscoll, Mia Hamm (and the 1996 Olympic soccer team), Kristi Yamaguchi, Venus and Serena Williams, Misty May-Treanor and Kerri Walsh Jennings, Diana Taurasi, Simone Biles, Ibtihaj Muhammad and Jocelyne and Monique Lamoureux.

She Persisted Around the World: 13 Women who Changed History

Women around the world have long dreamed big, even when they’ve been told their dreams didn’t matter. They’ve spoken out, risen up and fought for what’s right, even when they’ve been told to be quiet. Whether in science, the arts, sports or activism, women and girls throughout history have been determined to break barriers and change the status quo. They haven’t let anyone get in their way and have helped us better understand our world and what’s possible. In this book, Chelsea Clinton introduces readers to a group of thirteen incredible women who have shaped history all across the globe.

Julia Adams’ Women Who Made History Series

Activists and Leaders

Women around the globe have made history through their activism and leadership. Through concise, but detailed biographies, readers of this inspiring volume can learn about some of these world-changing women. Colorful illustrations and captivating text introduce motivational figures readers may not be familiar with, and provide deeper insight on many they likely already know about, such as former presidential candidate Hillary Clinton. Featuring high-interest, historical content, this book is the perfect supplemental resource for any elementary social studies curriculum.

Adventurers and Athletes

From sports stars such as tennis icon Serena Williams to aviators and mountaineers, many women have overcome great hurdles to succeed as athletes and adventurers. These women have made history in their own rights and have paved the way for future generations to do so as well. This engaging resource tells the stories of these incredible women. Brief but detailed biographies hold readers’ attention while colorful illustrations bring the stories into splendid detail. This high-interest volume pairs well with social studies curricula and is sure to be a popular addition to any library and classroom. 

Inventors and Scientists

Women have always made great contributions to science, and some of the greatest inventors in history were women, but for far too long many of these individuals weren’t recognized for their accomplishments. For example, even today, many people don’t know it was a woman, English mathematician Ada Lovelace, who wrote the first computer program. Readers of this accessible volume will learn about Lovelace and many other inspiring women who changed the course of history through their inventions and contributions to science.

Writers and Artists

Throughout history, women have made countless contributions to all forms of art. This informative volume introduces readers to female musicians, writers, painters, and performers from many different countries and cultures. With the help of beautiful illustrations and engaging text, the stories of these women are delivered with fascinating detail. Detailed biographies of artists, such as Mexican painter Frida Kahlo, will captivate readers and perhaps inspire them to become involved in art in their own ways. This stimulating text includes key historical content, making for an excellent resource to be paired with any elementary social studies curriculum. 

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series by Elena Favilli

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Immigrant Women Who Changed the World

The latest installment in the New York Times bestselling Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls series, featuring 100 immigrant women who have shaped, and will continue to shape, our world.

Packed with 100 all-new bedtime stories about the lives of incredible female figures from the past and the present, this volume recognizes women who left their birth countries for a multitude of reasons: some for new opportunities, some out of necessity.

Readers will whip up a plate with Asma Khan, strategize global affairs alongside Madeleine Albright, venture into business with Rihanna, and many more. All of these unique, yet relatable stories are accompanied by gorgeous, full-page, full-color portraits, illustrated by female artists from all over the globe.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls: 100 Tales of Extraordinary Women

To the rebel girls of the world: dream bigger, aim higher, fight harder, and, when in doubt, remember you are right.

Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls is a children’s book packed with 100 bedtime stories about the life of 100 extraordinary women from the past and the present, illustrated by 60 female artists from all over the world. This book inspires girls with the stories of great women, from Elizabeth I to Serena Williams.

 

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Juvenile Nonfiction

I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark by Debbie Levy, illustrated by Elizabeth Baddeley

Get to know celebrated Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg—in the first picture book about her life—as she proves that disagreeing does not make you disagreeable!

Supreme Court justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg has spent a lifetime disagreeing: disagreeing with inequality, arguing against unfair treatment, and standing up for what’s right for people everywhere. This biographical picture book about the Notorious RBG, tells the justice’s story through the lens of her many famous dissents, or disagreements.

Mother Jones and Her Army of Mill Children by Jonah Winter and Nancy Carpenter

A stunning picture book about Mary Mother Jones and the 100 children who marched from Philadelphia to New York in a fiery protest against child labor.

Here’s the inspiring story of the woman who raised her voice and fist to protect kids’ childhoods and futures– and changed America forever. Mother Jones is MAD, and she wants you to be MAD TOO, and stand up for what’s right!

Told in first-person, New York Times bestelling author, Jonah Winter, and acclaimed illustrator, Nancy Carpenter, share the incredible story of Mother Jones, an Irish immigrant who was essential in the fight to create child labor laws. Well into her sixties, Mother Jones had finally had enough of children working long hours in dangerous factory jobs, and decided she was going to do something about it. The powerful protests she organized earned her the name the most dangerous woman in America. And in the Children’s Crusade of 1903, she lead one hundred boys and girls on a glorious march from Philadelphia right to the front door of President Theodore Roosevelt’s Long Island home.

The Woman’s Hour: Our Fight for the Right To Vote by Elaine F. Weiss

American women are so close to winning the right to vote. They’ve been fighting for more than seventy years and need approval from just one more state.

But suffragists face opposition from every side, including the “Antis”–women who don’t want women to have the right to vote. It’s more than a fight over politics; it’s a debate over the role of women and girls in society, and whether they should be considered equal to men and boys.

Over the course of one boiling-hot summer, Nashville becomes a bitter battleground. Both sides are willing to do anything it takes to win, and the suffragtists–led by brave activists Carrie Catt, Sue White, and Alice Paul–will face dirty tricks, blackmail, and betrayal. But they vow to fight for what they believe in, no matter the cost.

Herstory: 50 Women and Girls Who Shook Up the World by Katherine Halligan, illustrated by Sarah Walsh

Move aside history—it’s time for herstory. Celebrate fifty inspiring and powerful women who changed the world and left their mark in this lavishly illustrated biography compilation that’s perfect for fans of Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls and She Persisted.

Throughout history, girls have often been discussed in terms of what they couldn’t or shouldn’t do. Not anymore. It’s time for herstory—a celebration of not only what girls can do, but the remarkable things women have already accomplished, even when others tried to stop them.

In this uplifting and inspiring book, follow the stories of fifty powerhouse women from around the world and across time who each managed to change the world as they knew it forever. Telling the stories of their childhood, the challenges they faced, and the impact of their achievements, each lavishly illustrated spread is a celebration of girl power in its many forms. From astronauts to activists, musicians to mathematicians, these women are sure to motivate young readers of all backgrounds to focus not on the can’ts and shouldn’ts, but on what they can do: anything!

Women Artists A to Z by Melanie Labarge, illustrated by Caroline Corrigan

How many women artists can you name? From Frida Kahlo and Georgia O’Keeffe, to Jaune Quick-to-See Smith and Xenobia Bailey, this lushly illustrated alphabet picture book presents both famous and underrepresented women in the fine arts from a variety of genres: painting, drawing, sculpture, photography, and more. Each spread features a simple line of text encapsulating the creator’s iconic work in one word, such as “D is for Dots” (Yayoi Kusama) and “S is for Spider” (Louise Bourgeois), followed by slightly longer text about the artist for older readers who would like to know more. Backmatter includes photos, extended biographies, and discussion questions for budding creatives and trailblazers.

Artists featured: Mirka Mora, Betye Saar, Helen Frankenthaler, Yayoi Kusama, Kay Sage, Georgia O’Keeffe, Agnes Martin, Jaune Quick-to-See Smith, Elizabeth Catlett, Judith Leyster, Leonora Carrington, Carmen Herrera, Edmonia Lewis, Maya Lin, Hilma af Klint, Maria Martinez, Gee’s Bend quilters, Frida Kahlo, Louise Bourgeois, Loïs Mailou Jones, Alice Neel, Helen Zughaib, Ursula von Rydingsvard, Dorothea Lange, Xenobia Bailey, and Maria Sibylla Merian.

Women Who Dared: 52 Stories of Fearless Daredevils, Adventurers & Rebels by Linda Skeers, illustrated by Livi Gosling

Women have been doing amazing, daring, and dangerous things for years, but they’re rarely mentioned in our history books as adventurers, daredevils, or rebels. This new compilation of brief biographies features women throughout history who have risked their lives for adventure—many of whom you may not know, but all of whom you’ll WANT to know, such as:

• Annie Edson Taylor, the first person who dared to go over Niagara Falls in a barrel
• Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman who dared to fly in space
• Helen Gibson, the first woman who dared to be a professional stunt person
• And many more!

This is the perfect read for anyone who wants to know what it means to explore, discover, play, climb, and fight like a girl!

Bad Girls Throughout History: 100 Remarkable Women Who Changed the World by Ann Shen

Aphra Behn, first female professional writer. Sojourner Truth, activist and abolitionist. Ada Lovelace, first computer programmer. Marie Curie, first woman to win the Nobel Prize. Joan Jett, godmother of punk.

The 100 revolutionary women highlighted in this gorgeously illustrated book were bad in the best sense of the word: they challenged the status quo and changed the rules for all who followed. From pirates to artists, warriors, daredevils, scientists, activists, and spies, the accomplishments of these incredible women vary as much as the eras and places in which they effected change.

Featuring bold watercolor portraits and illuminating essays by Ann Shen, Bad Girls Throughout History is a distinctive, gift-worthy tribute.

The A-Z of Wonder Women by Yvonne Lin

Celebrate historic and contemporary Wonder Women from around the world, from Ada Lovelace to Zaha Hadid!

Highlighting notable and inspiring women from across the globe and throughout time, The A-Z of Wonder Women features biographies of trailblazers and groundbreakers, including Ada Lovelace, Oprah Winfrey, Ruth Ginsberg, and Wajeha al-Huwaider.

This empowering alphabet-style book celebrates a wide range of skills and masteries in the arts, politics and activism, STEM, and more, providing accessible facts about these heroic women–and inspiring young readers to make the change they want to see in the world.

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Young Adult Nonfiction

Women Aviators: 26 Stories of Pioneer Flights, Daring Missions, and Record-Setting Journeys by Karen Bush Gibson

From the very first days of aviation, women were there. Katherine Wright, though not a pilot, helped her brothers Orville and Wilbur so much that some called her the “Third Wright Brother.” Pioneers such as Baroness Raymonde de Laroche of France ignored those who ignorantly claimed that only men possessed the physical strength or the mental capacity to pilot an airplane, and in 1910 became the first woman awarded a license to fly. A year later, Harriet Quimby was the first woman to earn a pilot’s license in the United States and in 1912 flew across the English Channel—another first.

Author Karen Bush Gibson profiles 26 women aviators who sought out and met challenges both in the sky and on the ground, where some still questioned their abilities. Read about barnstormers like Bessie Coleman and racers like Louise Thaden, who bested Amelia Earhart and Pancho Barnes to win the 1929 Women’s Air Derby, sometimes called the Powder Puff Derby. Learn about Jacqueline Cochran who, during World War II, organized and trained the Women Airforce Service Pilots—the WASPs—to serve their country by ferrying airplanes from factories to the front lines and pulling target planes during anti-aircraft artillery training. And see how female pilots today continue to achieve and serve while celebrating their love of flight.

Rad American Women A-Z by Kate Schatz, illustrated by Miriam Klein Stahl

Like all A-Z books, this one illustrates the alphabet—but instead of “A is for Apple”, A is for Angela—as in Angela Davis, the iconic political activist. B is for Billie Jean King, who shattered the glass ceiling of sports; C is for Carol Burnett, who defied assumptions about women in comedy; D is for Dolores Huerta, who organized farmworkers; and E is for Ella Baker, who mentored Dr. Martin Luther King and helped shape the Civil Rights Movement.

And the list of great women continues, spanning several centuries, multiple professions, and 26 diverse individuals. There are artists and abolitionists, scientists and suffragettes, rock stars and rabble-rousers, and agents of change of all kinds.

The book includes an introduction that discusses what it means to be “rad” and “radical,” an afterword with 26 suggestions for how you can be “rad,” and a Resource Guide with ideas for further learning and reading.

American history was made by countless rad—and often radical—women. By offering a fresh and diverse array of female role models, we can remind readers that there are many places to find inspiration, and that being smart and strong and brave is rad.

Bad Girls of Fashion: Style Rebels from Cleopatra to Lady Gaga by Jennifer Croll, illustrated by Ada Buchholc

The title says it all: Bad Girls of Fashion explores the lives of ten famous women who have used clothing to make a statement, change perceptions, break rules, attract power, or express their individuality. Included are Cleopatra, Marie Antoinette, Coco Chanel, Marlene Dietrich, Madonna, and Lady Gaga. Sidebar subjects include: Elizabeth I, Marilyn Monroe, Rihanna, and Vivienne Westwood.

Photos illuminate the text, while edgy, vividly colored illustrations depict the subjects with interpretive flair. Readers will learn not only about changing fashion styles through history, but about changing historical attitudes toward women, and the links between fashion and art, film, music, politics, and feminism. With an energetic, appealing writing style, Croll demonstrates how through the ages, women — often without other means of power — have used fashion as a tool, and how their influence continues to shape how women present themselves today.

Brazen: Rebel Ladies Who Rocked the World by Penelope Bagieu

Throughout history and across the globe, one characteristic connects the daring women of Brazen: their indomitable spirit. Against overwhelming adversity, these remarkable women raised their voices and changed history.

With her one-of-a-kind wit and dazzling drawings, celebrated graphic novelist Pénélope Bagieu profiles the lives of these feisty female role models, some world-famous, some little known. From Nellie Bly to Mae Jemison or Josephine Baker to Naziq al-Abid, the stories in this comic biography are sure to inspire the next generation of rebel ladies.

Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers who Changed the World written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Science highlights the contributions of fifty notable women to the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) from the ancient to the modern world. Full of striking, singular art, this collection also contains infographics about relevant topics such as lab equipment, rates of women currently working in STEM fields, and an illustrated scientific glossary.

The women profiled include well-known figures like primatologist Jane Goodall, as well as lesser-known pioneers such as Katherine Johnson, the African-American physicist and mathematician who calculated the trajectory of the 1969 Apollo 11 mission to the moon. 

Women in Sports: 50 Fearless Women Who Played to Win written and illustrated by Rachel Ignotofsky

Women in Sports highlights notable women’s contributions to competitive athletics to inspire readers young and old. Keeping girls interested in sports has never been more important: research suggests that girls who play sports get better grades and have higher self-esteem–but girls are six times more likely to quit playing sports than boys and are unlikely to see female athlete role models in the media.

A fascinating collection full of striking, singular art, Women in Sports features 50 profiles and illustrated portraits of women athletes from the 1800s to today including trailblazers, Olympians, and record-breakers in more than 40 different sports. The book also contains infographics about relevant topics such as muscle anatomy, a timeline of women’s participation in sports, statistics about women in athletics, and influential female teams.

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Bill Nye The Science Guy Appreciation Post

If you’ve read some of my other posts, you know I’m developing a real love for non-fiction books about cool science. Recently, I combined that love with a taste of nostalgia by reading an informative and often funny book by one of my childhood icons, Bill Nye (The Science Guy). Bill Nye became iconic in the 90s with his TV show about science for kids, and he remains a beloved source of science and inspiration to many today. This post is not only to recommend you read one of his enthusiastic, fascinating, and inspiring books, but to highlight how much Bill Nye you can get from your local library (or at least the Rivershare library system as a whole).

For Adults: 

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There are three books for adults that Nye has published in the last few years. To catch some of his general enthusiasm, check out Everything All At Once, an energizing look at how to identify your passions, strengthen your critical thinking, and solve ‘unsolvable’ problems. Embrace your inner nerd! If one of your passions turns out to be scientific causes, try one of his other two books: Undeniable and Unstoppable, about evolution and climate change, respectively. In these books, it’s obvious how much Bill Nye cares about kids and wants them to love science, create a better world, and have a fantastic time. And, he gets his message across with humor, which I always appreciate.

If those aren’t for you, you may appreciate his sense of wonder; he wrote the preface for both Earth + Space and The Planets, collections of breathtaking photographs from NASA’s archives.

For Kids (or Kids-At-Heart)

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Of course, this is where Bill Nye shines as a passionate educator and enthusiastic science nerd: he’s created a number of nonfiction titles including Bill Nye’s great big world of science, Bill Nye the science guy’s big blue ocean, Bill Nye the science guy’s big blast of science, AND a fiction series called Jack and the Geniuses.

Even better, you even can check out DVDs of some vintage Bill Nye the Science Guy content including Bill Nye the science guy. Electrical current, Bill Nye the science guy. Dinosaurs, Do-it-yourself science, and much, much more.

In any case, whether it’s a walk down memory lane or a call to action, I really do recommend you look at some Bill Nye for a wholesome dose of lifelong learning, can-do spirit, and hope for the future. 

Game Changers documentary

The recent passing of “Jeopardy” host Alex Trebek inspired me to watch the 2019 documentary Game Changers, about the phenomenon of TV game shows, the hosts, the contestants, and the controversies. Viewers are immediately drawn in as Trebek recites a whimsical poem about all the things he could be when he grows up.

“My parents always said:
Alex, get a good education and you can be anything you want to be.
A miner, a designer, or a Vegas headliner.
A teacher, a preacher, or a deep sea researcher.
An actor, a factor, or a farmer in a tractor.
A banker, a flanker, or captain of an ocean tanker.
No one prepared me for game show host. It wasn’t one of the options in the high school career guide.”

From there, Trebek opens the door to the behind-the-scenes world of game shows. The documentary takes viewers through:
• the history of game shows making the transition from radio to television
• the 1950s game show scandals and how that changed the rules and regulations of the contests
• trends in daytime and prime time game shows
• and the more recent phenomenon of shows like “Deal or No Deal” and “Who Wants to be a Millionaire?”

Trebek is featured not only as a subject of the documentary, he also lends himself as the interviewer to other game show hosts such as Drew Carey, Howie Mandel and Regis Philbin. In turn, the hosts talk about how they got their gigs and their thoughts on their unusual jobs. Like his game show host persona, Trebek strikes the perfect balance of not taking himself too seriously in interviews while also protecting the integrity of the hosts.
At times a bit slow, there are enough anecdotes mixed in to make up for it. Pat Sajak’s first impression of Vanna White was that she was “too nervous” for the “Wheel of Fortune” job. The “Jeopardy” think-music will definitely get stuck in your head as Merv Griffin’s son explains how quickly it was written.

Plenty of nostalgia is woven throughout the documentary. Contestants reminisce about watching game shows with grandparents or while home sick from school. This documentary will motivate you to pick up the remote and play along with a TV game show again, perhaps “Jeopardy” as the final Trebek episodes run their course in the coming weeks.