Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Staff Picks

Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl by Carrie Brownstein

Most people will recognize Brownstein as half of the comedic duo that comprises the TV series, "Portlandia." However, if you're like me and were really into indie/punk music in the late 1990s, then you probably have long cherished a crush on Brownstein as your favorite guitarist, who is part of the incredible trio that comprises your favorite band, Sleater-Kinney.   "Hunger Makes Me a Modern Girl" is Carrie Brownstein's perspective of her formative years, her reflections of her time spent recording music and touring over a decade with Sleater-Kinney, and just her observations of the Pacific-Northwest's music and social scenes of the time. Brownstein's prose, like her music, is often introspective, yet, powerfully intoxicating. I both read the book and listened to the audio version. Her elocution on the audiobook performance is perfect. You really feel as if you're listening to your friend.

Meredith Causey
Information Services Supervisor

Staff Picks

Spark Joy: an Illustrated Master Class on the Art of Organizing and Tidying Up by Marie Kondo; translated from the Japanese by Cathy Hirano

This is a companion to The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese Art of Decluttering and Organizing where Marie Kondo offers some more in-depth advice on how to fold and organize. She seems to have relaxed her principles in some areas, but then she still offers some other guidelines that seem a little strange, such as how to dispose of stuffed animals and old pictures.   If you haven't read her first book, this one would be OK but as it's more of a refresher, you will miss some of the underlying principles to the basics detailed in the first book.

Meredith Causey
Information Services Supervisor

Library Limelight: Lisa Echols, Youth Services Supervisor, Post Road Library

Library Limelight is intended to be a quick read to help FCPL patrons get to know our librarians and staff.  We hope you enjoy learning about the people who make our libraries great!

Lisa Echols is pictured with her two children
 and acrobat Cameron Tomele at the 2015 Summer
 Reading Fun Kick-off Carnival.
Lisa Echols
Youth Services Supervisor
Post Road Library

Where is your hometown?
Gainesville, Georgia
How long have you been at FCPL?
Almost three years
What other jobs have you had at FCPL?
Just this one.
Why did you choose to work in a library?
I love the quote that you should first find your dream and then find your purpose. I have always loved books, theater, children and helping people. What better place could I find than a library where I could combine my passions! Nothing makes me happier than the moment when I pull a book off of the shelf and a child's face lights up because it was exactly what they were looking for!
Describe your job in five words or less.
“Awesome resources + programming for youth” or "Serving youth, family, school, community!" (That's a tough one!)
What is unique about your job?
Being a youth librarian is terrific because every day is different. Where else would you get to meet an amusing balloon twister magician, make fluorescent lava bags with kids, sing “Let It Go” from Frozen with teens, and then present a puppet show to a crowd of 100 all in one week? And that was all in one week last summer!
What is your favorite part of your job?
Helping kids who don't think they like reading discover the joy you feel when you discover a book that really speaks to you. Also offering kids who haven't found a "tribe" through school or sports to discover friends and acceptance at the library.
What’s the most interesting place you’ve lived or traveled?
I was lucky to travel a lot growing up because my mom was a Delta flight attendant. Two of the most fascinating places we visited were the Avebury Ring and the Glendalough Monastery ruins. Avebury Ring is on Salisbury Plain in England - like Stonehenge, but bigger, and you can still touch the stones. (No wonder I love Outlander!) Glendalough Monastery is in Ireland, and it’s a place that makes you feel like fairytales about wolves and fairies might be real!
What are you reading right now?
Cruel Crown by Victoria Aveyard, a prequel to the teen novel Red Queen, Echo by Pam Munoz Ryan, a moving and ethereal juvenile book that just won a Newbery honor award, and a lot of picture books about moose for my storytime this week.
Paper books or eBooks?
Paper books forever! Or audio books - I listen to them in my car daily!

Monday, February 1, 2016

Staff Favorites of 2015 - 31st in a Series

As a former chair of the Georgia Peach Book Award for Teen Readers and currently working with teens at Hampton Park Library, I continue to read a lot of books for high schoolers and middle schoolers. However, I’ve suggested Brown Girl Dreaming, a verse memoir of growing up in the two worlds of Greenville, South Carolina and New York City, to all ages from elementary school to my mother.

I love the immediacy and specificity of Jacqueline Woodson’s poems: about eating lemon chiffon ice cream with her grandfather and siblings, about being proud and jealous of her academically-achieving older sister, about trading collards for empaƱadas with the neighbor girl and making a lifelong friend, and finally about discovering and inhabiting her own voice, a voice on paper.

How It Went Down, by Kekla Magoon, begins with a street shooting. A small crowd watches as a young man bursts out of a convenience store, chased by an employee. A car drives up, a man gets out, and moments later, the teenager lies bleeding on the pavement. As one narrator after another unrolls what happened that night, the incident’s backstory, and what it will mean for survivors, the story proves anything but straightforward. This quick but thoughtful read yields a lot to ponder about perspectives, assumptions, and motivations--not only in this Young Adult novel but also in the daily news.

Out of all the fantastic, richly drawn (pun intended!) children’s Caldecott winners for 2015, the one that gave me the most sheer delight was Nana in the City, by Lauren Castillo. Maybe it’s because I’m a country girl, but I could sympathize with the young narrator, who worries that with all its “scary things,” the city is “no place for a nana to live.” Loving his grandmother, the little boy gives her cherished home the benefit of doubt. Wrapped in a bold red cape Nana knits overnight, he takes just a few pages emblazoned by bright crayon-colors to decide her city truly is “extraordinary” instead of frightening.

I tried to catch up on grown-up reading in 2015, after several years of reading teen and children’s books almost exclusively. I listened to the audiobook everyone was raving about, All the Light We Cannot See, by Anthony Doerr—and I was so glad I chose the audio version, because listening seemed to sharpen my senses other than vision, so that I related even more closely to the blind heroine.

But because that one has been mentioned by several other staff, I’m going to “cheat” in favor of two highly-recommended books from the recent past that I just got around to in 2015. If you missed them when they first came out, like I did, you may want to give them a try. I wasn’t sure The Art of Racing in the Rain, by Garth Stein, would be for me, and so I waited seven years to read it. It was about car racing, rain, and dogs, for crying out loud! (Okay, I DO love dogs. But still.) Its narrator, a mixed-breed dog named Enzo with a temperament like a Zen master, won me over. Through his devoted eyes, the tragedies and triumphs of his owner, sometime race car driver Denny Swift, and Denny’s beloved wife and child, come to poignant life.

Cutting for Stone, by A. Verghese, got a lot of book-group attention when it came out in 2009. Infused with the author’s own experiences and narrated by Marion Stone, one of twin brothers growing up in an Ethiopian hospital complex in the second half of the twentieth century, it’s a remarkable blend of tragedy and humor. Beautifully and entertainingly written, this thought-provoking commentary on relationships, African politics, coming of age, vocation, and parenting has returned to my thoughts again and again throughout this year.

Vanessa Cowie
Information Specialist - Youth Services
Hampton Park Library

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Staff Favorites of 2015 - 30th in a Series

Where They Found Her by Kimberly McCreight 

This book kept me intrigued the entire time! The multiple character perspectives also allows you to see the story unfold from all different angles. There are so many surprises that you never see coming!

Gabi Santangelo
Information Specialist