Posted in Uncategorized

Gaming in a Winter Wonderland

The weather has been less than predictable lately. That’s not too unusual for Midwestern winters. But that means I don’t get out much lately, not that I need to with so many new games. Here’s a sample of the games to look forward to in 2022. Under each listing, you’ll find the game’s description from our catalog.

Elden Ring (PS4/PS5/Xbox)

“The Golden Order has been broken. Rise, Tarnished, and be guided by grace to brandish the power of the Elden Ring and become an Elden Lord in the Lands Between. ELDEN RING, developed by FromSoftware Inc. and produced by BANDAI NAMCO Entertainment Inc., is a fantasy action-RPG and FromSoftware’s largest game to date, set within a world full of mystery and peril. A NEW FANTASY WORLD – Journey through the Lands Between, a new fantasy world created by Hidetaka Miyazaki, creator of the influential DARK SOULS video game series, and George R. R. Martin, author of The New York Times best-selling fantasy series, A Song of Ice and Fire. Unravel the mysteries of the Elden Ring’s power. Encounter adversaries with profound backgrounds, characters with their own unique motivations for helping or hindering your progress, and fearsome creatures. WORLD EXPLORATION IN THE LANDS BETWEEN – ELDEN RING features vast fantastical landscapes and shadowy, complex dungeons that are connected seamlessly. Traverse the breathtaking world on foot or on horseback, alone or online with other players, and fully immerse yourself in the grassy plains, suffocating swamps, spiraling mountains, foreboding castles and other sites of grandeur on a scale never seen before in a FromSoftware title. GENRE-DEFINING GAMEPLAY – Create your character in FromSoftware’s refined action-RPG and define your playstyle by experimenting with a wide variety of weapons, magical abilities, and skills found throughout the world. Charge into battle, pick off enemies one-by-one using stealth, or even call upon allies for aid. Many options are at your disposal as you decide how to approach exploration and combat.”

Continue reading “Gaming in a Winter Wonderland”
Posted in Award Winners, Fiction, Kids 0-5, Kids 5-12, Nonfiction, Teen & Young Adult, Uncategorized

Children’s Award Books 2022

The American Library Association recently announced the winners of the 2022 Youth Media Awards. Materials for children and teens were selected by committees of literature and media specialists under different categories for their excellence. I’ve listed some of these remarkable award winners below with their publisher’s summary, and also included links to our catalog so you can reserve your copies today! Scroll to the end of the post for a link to the full list of this year’s award recipients.

John Newbery Medal

The Last Cuentista by Donna Barba Higuera
Continue reading “Children’s Award Books 2022”
Posted in Adult, Nonfiction, Uncategorized

New Year’s Resolutions: is 2022 the year you decide NOT to go on a diet?

It seems that every January we are inundated with ads, articles, and conversations about diet, weight, and body size. As we take some time to reflect on the last year and make plans for the upcoming one, can we resolve to reject the dieting cycle in favor of truly improving our mental and physical health? The following books can help you shift your relationship to food, exercise, and body image and their connections to mental health in positive ways. 

Also, consider some self-development goals that are not connected to diet or exercise: sign up to learn a new skill with Gale Courses, enroll in one of many Great Courses through Hoopla, or learn a new language with Rosetta Stone.

Anti-Diet by Christy Harrison

Over two-thirds of Americans have dieted at some point in their lives– and upwards of 90% of people who intentionally lose weight gain it back within five years, often gaining more weight than they lost. Harrison shows that diet culture, a system of beliefs that equates thinness to health and moral virtue, promotes weight loss as a means of attaining higher status, and demonizes certain ways of eating while elevating others. It’s sexist, racist, and classist– and embedded in the fabric of our society. Harrison exposes all the ways it robs people of their time, money, health, and happiness. She provides a radical alternative to diet culture, and helps readers reclaim their bodies, minds, and lives so they can focus on the things that truly matter.

Continue reading “New Year’s Resolutions: is 2022 the year you decide NOT to go on a diet?”
Posted in Adult, Award Winners, Fiction, Uncategorized

Library Reads: Top 10 of 2021

Every December, hundreds of librarians from across the country vote for their favorite books of the year. This year’s picks include a thriller about what happens to the survivors after the credits roll in a horror flick, a historical novel about an abandoned mother who works to save her family during the Dust Bowl, and a fantastical love story between a ghost who needs to cross over to the other side and the ferryman responsible for transporting the souls of the dead.

Top Pick: The Four Winds by Kristin Hannah

Elsa Martinelli has two children, an unhappy marriage, and a farm that she stubbornly helps tend. But when the Great Depression and the Dust Bowl hit, the family’s relations are stretched to the brink. Abandoned by her husband, faced with dying livestock and failing crops, Elsa must choose whether to stay with the land she loves or flee in search of a better life for her and her children.

Continue reading “Library Reads: Top 10 of 2021”
Posted in Uncategorized

Bookish Bingo: Read a Biography about an Influential BIPOC Woman in STEM

This week’s Mead Bookish Bingo challenge uses a couple of anagrams in order to fit on the game square, so let’s start there. If you are unfamiliar, BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and this week’s challenge is specifically about BIPOC women in STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Pictured above is Dr. Mae C. Jemison: physician, engineer, scientist, and NASA astronaut. Jemison was also the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

STEM fields are male-dominated, and like artists, many women in STEM receive recognition posthumously. One famous example is Ada Lovelace.  Ada Lovelace is now credited with being the first computer programmer because of the algorithm she created to be carried out by a machine, Charles Babbage’s analytical engine—a predecessor of the electronic computer which was invented over one hundred years before the first modern computer was built.

Lovelace was not a woman of color, but she is a notable woman of STEM and is the namesake of the international holiday Ada Lovelace Day (ALD).  ALD is recognized worldwide on the second Tuesday in October to raise the profile of women in STEM and celebrate their achievements.  The intention is to inspire more women and girls to pursue their interests and careers in STEM.  For more information on ALD and events taking place, check out findingada.com.

Women of color are even less represented and acknowledged than white women for their achievements, so I’d like to spotlight a few more STEM superstars that everyone should know.

Among the many women of note in “Born Curious”, Dr. Patricia Era Bath was both a physician and inventor who created the Laserphaco Probe—the machine that uses lasers to remove cataracts from eyes.  Read more about Dr. Bath and her many other accomplishments, including being one of the first black women to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame!

Dr. Ellen Ochoa is an American engineer, astronaut and was the first Hispanic director of the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa was also the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

The Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid was the first woman and Muslim recipient to win the Pritzker Prize, known as the Nobel for architecture. Hadid was also the first woman to receive the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) gold medal.

While “Women in Science” is chock-full of amazing female scientists, Chien-Shiung Wu should be particularly noted as a Chinese-American physicist who made significant contributions in the fields of nuclear and particle physics. Wu worked on the Manhattan Project, where she helped develop the process for separating uranium into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion.

In my search to discover the best and most current books on women in STEM to share with you, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that there are not very many full-length biographies for adults written about women and their successes in STEM fields, particularly BIPOC women. Are you listening writers?

In the meantime, here are a few additional titles that include brief biographies on many influential women in STEM: “Wonder Women” by Sam Maggs, “Women in Space” by Karen Bush Gibson, “Twentieth Century Women Scientists” by Lisa Yount, “Women Who Dared” by Linda Skeers, and “Women of Steel and Stone” by Anna M. Lewis.

And if you haven’t read it or seen the movie, yet, check out “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. Just do it! It’s amazing.

One last thing. I would be remiss if I did not mention one of my absolute favorite fall events: Mead Public Library’s Tea & Tech: Girls’ STEM Day coming up on October 23. This virtual program is open to girls ages 8-17 and will feature NASA Langley Research Center’s Dr. Julia Cline, Gearbox Lab’s Isabel Mendiola, Spectrum News 1’s Brooke Brighton, and Laser Tech FTC—as well as, hands-on activities and lightning talks by local women in STEM.

And tea. Of course, we will have tea. And swag. We have some amazing swag bag goodies to share with our T&T participants, courtesy of Starbucks, MilliporeSigma, Gearbox Labs, Spectrum News 1, the Wisconsin Science Festival, and Mead Public Library.

Looking for even more STEM activities this month?  Check out the Wisconsin Science Festival.

*Details of the featured women in STEM were courtesy of Wikipedia, NASA, and the National Women’s History Museum.

Posted in Award Winners, Fiction, Kids 0-5, Kids 5-12, Staff Picks, Uncategorized

Code-Switching in Children’s Literature

Code-switching is becoming an increasingly popular practice in writing children’s literature.  Code-switching happens when one moves fluidly between two languages within written or spoken dialogue.  It is often used when a word cannot be directly translated or loses meaning in translation, or as a way of better illustrating themes where another language may describe something better or be more appropriate than English. Spanglish is a common word used when referring to the code-switching between English and Spanish.

Children’s books are an enjoyable way to introduce your child (or yourself) to another language.  If you are looking to incorporate a second language into your daily life or to keep a language alive in the home, books that use two languages are a good place to begin.  They often include a glossary with translations and use repetition to emphasize words that are in the language other than English. These books can be found in a variety of languages, but the most common are English to Spanish.  Below are a selection of favorites from Mead Public Library’s children’s collection (descriptions provided are taken from the book publishers):

La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya

The Princess and the Pea gets a fresh twist in this charming bilingual retelling, winner of the Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration.

El príncipe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree.

The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesa, but the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too . . .

Readers will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, and captivated by the vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru.

Continue reading “Code-Switching in Children’s Literature”
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Bookish Bingo: Read a Book with a Connection to a Song Written in 2000

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

This morning I awoke with Dua Lipa’s “Love Again” playing in my head, and gawdamn, it’s got me singing the song, again.  Lately, between that and Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits”… I know I should swear off pop music, but I won’t.

My brain is forever a jukebox that is often playing songs that I may have heard recently or haven’t heard in years—maybe I dreamed about it?  There isn’t always a rhyme or reason, but there is one constant, a song is playing. Once in a while, a song even gets stuck on repeat.  (After singing “Mack the Knife” in a college jazz concert, I frequently found myself humming and singing, “Oh the shaaark haaas, prrretty teeeth, Deeear, and he shows themmm, PEHHRRRly white…”)

It’s for this reason that I tend to despise earworm songs—even the term creates a disgusting visual for me, and brainworm is enough to induce the heebie-jeebies.  One of my most hated earworms is Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”, because the only thing worse than an earworm is one that mocks you! (By the way, there is a real term for this condition: Involuntary Musical Imagery or INMI, and Mental Floss offers a cure!)

Earworms aside, I am a music lover.  I enjoy most genres, or at least some songs from each, but alas, as I am recognizing a sign of aging, I feel nostalgic listening to music from the 90’s and early oughts, my teenage and college years.

One of our Mead Bookish Bingo challenges this year is to read a book that has a connection to a song released in the year 2000.  This can mean that the book or title was inspired by a song from that year or that the song from that year was inspired by a book from any time.

This is one of our most challenging challenges, if you will.  I did some deep digging for this one, and here are a few literary options for you.  This list is not exclusive, so if you have additional suggestions, please share them on our Goodreads discussion board.

“Afternoon on a Hill” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
(This is technically a poem, but the poem was made into a children’s book, so it counts.)
Inspired “The Gladdest Thing” by Deb Talan

This whimsical poem expresses the joys of being out in the natural world as “the gladdest thing under the sun.”

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Inspired “Haunted” by Poe

This story focuses on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
(This story, which was inspirited by L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, also inspired an entire musical in 2003.) Inspired seven songs on the Hannah Fury album The Thing That Feels

An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
Inspired “Animal in Man” by Dead Prez

Mr. Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organized to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges…

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Inspired “Brave New World” by Iron Maiden

Brave New World is Aldous Huxley’s 1932 dystopian novel. Borrowing from The Tempest , Huxley imagines a genetically-engineered future where life is pain-free but meaningless. The book heavily influenced George Orwell’s 1984 and science-fiction in general.

Captain Alatriste by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Inspired “La Cruz de Santiago” by Mägo de Oz

It is the height of Spain’s celebrated golden century – but beyond the walls of the Royal Palace there is little on the streets of Madrid that glitters. The Invincible Armada has been defeated. The shadow of the Inquisition looms large. And the Thirty Years’ War rages on in Flanders. When a courageous soldier of this war, Captain Diego Alatriste, is forced to retire after being wounded in battle, he returns home to live the comparatively tame – though hardly quiet – life of a swordsman-for-hire. In this dangerous city where a thrust of steel settles all matters, there is no stronger blade than Alatriste’s.” The captain is approached with an offer of work that involves giving a scare to some strangers soon to arrive in Madrid. But on the night of the attack, it becomes clear that these aren’t ordinary travelers – and that someone is out for their blood. What happens next is the first in a series of riveting twists, with implications that will reverberate throughout the courts of Europe

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Inspired “Ode to Harry” by Switchblade Kittens

Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

During my research, I also discovered that Artists for Literacy began a fundraising campaign in the year 2000 to recruit literary-influenced songs by top artists to inspire new readers and support free tutoring programs.  2000 was indeed a great year for the literature-music connection.


*Book descriptions and images are from Goodreads.com, except for the Harry Potter series description, which is from Wikipedia

Posted in Adult, Kids 5-12, Teen & Young Adult, Uncategorized

Back to School!

Summer continues to simmer as we fall into Autumn. Our students, teachers, parents and caregivers prepare for another new and unusual year of learning, returning to a school schedule into a new grade – all while still navigating the pandemic. This year brings us a mixture of school anxiety and excitement as we build relationships and grow as we learn together. We wanted to share some books from our Monarch system, as well as local and national online resources to assist in making the transition to this new year a little easier with enjoyable, engaging tools sprinkled in. The books listed below are available for request through the Monarch library catalog. (Descriptions provided are taken from the book publishers.) Be sure to take a look at the additional resources we included as well. We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable school year!

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

Continue reading “Back to School!”
Posted in Fiction, Kids 5-12, Uncategorized

Alternative Series for Junie B. Jones Lovers (or Haters)

I often receive requests from young patrons wanting to find Junie B. Jones books. Young readers seem to really enjoy reading her series. She has a spunky personality that kids find hilarious. Not all grown-ups seem to love her though (she is pretty sassy)! I have some alternative series recommendations from our children’s library for Junie B. Jones fans (or for those needing a break from her) that will appeal to new readers just starting to read chapter books. These are all shorter chapter books with illustrations and relatable characters that are appealing to kids building up their reading stamina. Whether you share the love for the popular Junie B. or not, we have many options your new readers will enjoy.

Ivy + Bean series by Annie Barrows

Second graders, Ivy and Bean, are a likeable pair of best friends. They have very different personalities and at first, didn’t even want to be friends with each other! They discover that their differences actually complement each other to make them a dynamic duo. You will enjoy their creative problem solving and humorous adventures, which don’t always go as planned – despite their good intentions. The large font, short chapters, and humorous illustrations will appeal to early readers of this series.

Continue reading “Alternative Series for Junie B. Jones Lovers (or Haters)”
Posted in Adult, Historical, Romance, Uncategorized

While You Wait for The Four Winds

With a whopping 200 holds on its various formats, The Four Winds has topped hundreds of people’s summer reading lists. Kristin Hannah’s tale of a woman’s struggle to keep her farm, family, and marriage alive through the Dust Bowl has hooked readers with deft writing and details of the gritty reality of 1930s rural life. But what to do if you’re still waiting for your copy to turn up?

Below are 5 titles to tide you over while you wait.

Continue reading “While You Wait for The Four Winds