Tuesday, February 7, 2017

Book Review: The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

The Faraway Nearby by Rebecca Solnit

At the heart of it, Rebecca Solnit’s, The Faraway Nearby is not just about Solnit’s life. The Faraway Nearby is so much more than just a memoir; entwined with aspects of Solnit’s own life from her mother’s disintegrating memory to her own bout with illness, Solnit takes us into the lives of others both real and imaginary to help us better understand our own plights.
We are introduced to cast of characters from Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein to an arctic cannibal and a young Che Guevara. Along the way, Solnit teaches her readers about kindness, imagination, and empathy. Solnit travels to Iceland where she lives in the Library of Water – formerly a library of books which is located on a hill that overlooks a harbor where each night she slept under these glaciers of frozen water.
Readers are treated to Solnit’s famous lyrical prose full of beautiful passages on her reading, her own life, her family, and on story, art, and history. Solnit’s memoir is not a story about just herself, but rather a story which opens into other stories in a way that is both compelling as well as profound. It is through the weaving together of all these threads that Solnit shows how all of our stories are interconnected, and why we create art and literature.
I leave you with a quote from the opening pages of The Faraway Nearby:
“We think we tell stories, but stories often tell us, tell us how to love, or to hate, to see or to be blind. Often, too often, stories saddle us, ride us, whip us onward, tell us what to do, and we do it without questioning. The task of learning to be free requires learning to hear them, to question them, to pause and hear silence, to name them and then to become the storyteller.”
Lindsey Bartlett

ARC- Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods: A Novel

Warren the 13th and the Whispering Woods: A Novel available March 21, 2017
by Tania del Rio (Author), Will Staehle (Illustrator)
Book 2 of 2 in the Warren the 13th series

What begins as a “Sleeping Beauty” tale transforms into an enchanting fantasy. Warren the 13th is not your average twelve year old; he is a caring, responsible, and honest orphan. As the naive groundskeeper, bellhop, and manager of the family hotel, he guides the staff as they tend the guests in his cruising hotel, “where every stay is a go!” Indeed, these traveling hotel guests encounter fanciful settings ranging from the Malwoods captivating forest to raging rivers.

Slippery Sid operates a Sundry Shoppe with magical potions, special oils, notions, and assorted products. This old-fashioned haberdashery is complete as a men’s outfitters and tailor; the shopkeeper also serves as a dentist. Read how the elusive Sid becomes Warren’s imposter and calls himself Warrin.

Ordinary animals with magnificent alterations mesmerize readers in grades four through ten. Those who appreciate Tim Burton’s artistic interpretations and stories will enjoy this book. More than a comic book, the literary elements engage the reader with alliteration, simile, metaphor, and onomatopoeia with clever sounding words and expressions. The descriptive scenes of formidable quicksand, sticky sap, venomous snakes, and supernatural forests leave the reader bewildered and astonished. Stylish fonts and imaginative shading enhance the unique drawings.

Learn how Warren faces the obstacles Warrin creates. After continued failed attempts to repair the hotel and redirect the course, can Warren transform the walking hotel into a cruise ship and save the guests and employees? Will Mr. Friggs’ experiences in reading and tutoring aid the passengers? Will the evil tattooed witches plague the course? Will Petula, the perfumier in training, portend the future? Will Warren’s fondness for and knowledge of Jacques Rustybooks piratology properly guide him?

Although the sinister characters in this fable may startle a young reader, the persistence of Warren provide hope that good will prevail over evil. The book is dark without causing nightmares and comical without being preposterous. Read Warren the 13th, solve the riddles, and appreciate the decorative, gothic illustrations. The book is a sequel; nonetheless, books in this series do not need to be read chronologically.  

Recommended Reading:
Warren the 13th and the All-Seeing Eye: A Novel published November 24, 2015
by Tania del Rio (Author), Will Staehle  (Illustrator)
Book 1 of the Warren the 13th series

By Carmaine Ternes

Book Review: No Weeds, No Bugs, No Bunnies

No Weeds, No Bugs, No Bunnies by Jerilynn Henrikson (Author), Patty Kahn (Illustrator)

“Jerilynn Henrikson and Patty Kahn created a series of early readers featuring Joe and his adventures with gardening. Any gardener knows that planting a garden takes determination. It seems problems always come up like weeds... or bugs... or bunnies. Follow gardener Joe in his three book journey as he learns more and more about the joys of planting, growing, and harvesting, and young readers learn more and more about the joys of learning, growing and reading!”

If you want a creative and imaginative book, read No Weeds, No Bugs, No Bunnies! 
This children’s book engages and intrigues the reader. If you adore bunnies, you will be drawn to this book. If you are a gardening expert or you have never planted a garden, you will enjoy the experiences, animal and plant identification, and problem-solving skills in this amusing tale.
Alliteration, rhyme, repetition, and imagery enhance this adorable story. The text flows smoothly introducing words at a gradual pace; repetition is not overdone and empowers learning; and sentences are clear and flawless.

If you want “reap the rewards of your labor,” read No Weeds, No Bugs, No Bunnies! 
Readers will identify and appreciate the moral of this fable. Learning to face adversity and overcome obstacles demonstrate how determined the main character, Joe, remains throughout the story. Rather than pout, scream, hurt others, or quit, Joe’s willpower inspires him to face his gardening woes. Children will be intrigued by Joe’s steadfast desire to outsmart the weeds, the bugs, and the bunnies.

If you want a “recipe for success,” read No Weeds, No Bugs, No Bunnies! 
The word list guides novice and experienced readers. A tasty lettuce salad recipe provides simple, step by step instructions and a wholesome connection to family dining. Whether you live in wealth or poverty, you will gain from this gardening experience. If you are familiar with a garden, participate in a community garden, or have no prior knowledge of gardening, you will make real world connections. Advanced learning beyond enjoying a good book is an added bonus.

If you like pictures, read No Weeds, No Bugs, No Bunnies! 
Realistic illustrations creatively enlighten the pages with color and augment the story. The brilliant shades and artwork imaginatively highlight the setting and define Joe’s antagonists giving meaning to the tale. The number of pages and dimensions of the book invite readers of any tactile mobility to view with pleasure. This is a perfect lap-size reader.

If you like a page-turner, read No Weeds, No Bugs, No Bunnies again and again.

Carmaine Ternes
Librarian, Researcher, Writer, Presenter
American Association of School Librarians

Book Review: Little Wizards by Antoine Bauza

Book Review: Little Wizards by Antoine Bauza
By: Tyler L. Felt

“Little Wizards” is a wonderfully interesting game created by French Comic and Game Designer Antoine Bauza. This seemingly simplified version of Dungeons and Dragons is both enticing and creative. It can be played as a family game that can be done in one sitting or several. Though it has a set story written out for anyone to just pick up and play, it allows for creativity and an open mind. The simplicity makes it so that younger children can play with little to no effort. This is much different from normal Dungeons and Dragons where you need to memorize different numbers and do at times some extensive math. I suggest that any parents that play table top, pencil and paper games pick up this book if they are interested in getting their children into the Table Top scene.
    The most wonderful thing about this game is that you the player create the story. Yes the game comes with pre-fabricated stories but it opens the door for more possibilities. The game itself takes place in a world called “Coinworld”. A small snip bit from the page 7: “It’s a game without winners and, more importantly, without losers”. This meaning that there is no right or wrong way to play the game. It is solely up to the players to both explore and build the story. I think my favorite part of the book is that is simplified so that kids (I’d say ages 8+) can pick up the game and understand it’s elements rather easily. It describes the roles each person takes in the game very clearly and gives you step by step instruction as to how to create a character and play the game.
    Another wonderful aspect of the game is that it doesn’t require a lot of items to play. Pencils, 6-sided die, and some copies of the character sheets in the book are all that is required. But of course the game takes time so an hour at a time works ok. Much more and I would be afraid the kids would lose interest. But if they are immersed in the story, playing longer may still be in the cards so to speak. But imagination is the key element of the game. The players need to be open to different ideas and elements of the game. Be creative with how they do things and how they go about playing the game.
    “Little Wizards” comes with everything you will need for the game (except pencils and 6-sided die). This includes a full map of Coinworld. There are two sides to Coinworld (head and tails) and depending on what side of this Coinworld your character comes from, decides what abilities you have! It is rather fascinating. Overall the book and game are wonderful and fun!

Wednesday, February 1, 2017

EVENTS: Valentine's Day Poems

February 10-14:

Get an original poem written for you (or your love), for only $5.00 at the bookshop!
We'll have poets and writers standing by at our typewriters, to compose an original ode to love, written while you wait!
Five bucks cash gets you the most original Valentine's gift in our fair city! Add one of our signature Sweet Granada Truffles and you're still under ten bucks!
Sweetest deal in town!

EVENTS: Senior Day!

The first day of each month is Senior Day at Ellen Plumb's! That means senior citizens get 10% off their purchase at Ellen Plumb's! This discount includes the large print books that we now have in stock! Happy reading! :)

First Drafts- A Literary Social: 31 January 2017

Ellen Plumb's prides itself in showcasing local writers and spreading literacy throughout our wonderful community. Each week we create prompts to engage the community in different forms of writing, allowing writers to practice their skills in a fun, encouraging environment. Here are our submissions for this week's potluck writing prompt. This week we received our first ever comic art submission!

Potluck Writing Prompt: Dream up a world in which NOT having a social media account is fiercely illegal. What happens to those who dare to "unplug"?

by Frances Mihulec
Jenny had this strange knack for standing straighter than everyone else in our class. The rumor going around Facebook was that she had been raised somewhere beyond the reach of the Internet, and had been forced to register for social media accounts. It wasn’t unheard of, but most people didn’t wait until the recommended age of 13. I mean, why would they? My cousin Sky even tweeted me a YouTube video that was supposed to have been Jenny’s parents being detained by Homeland Security. I didn’t care about whether these rumors were true or not – she had been an interesting change to the peers I’d grown up with most of my life. She had hidden details to life that no one didn’t even know about. It was like having a friend who could revolutionize and change the narrative.

She would occasionally tell me about what life was like with her parents, before she had to move in with her uncles last year. “Everything was so much more quiet. Don’t you remember what it was like not to have a constant stream of memes and updates about what people are eating for lunch? I miss being able to read in silence in the library without having my location auto-checked in and people telling me what I need to read.” She paused, then grinned, “Well, I like the recommendations, just not constantly fighting to take over my attention span. There’s nowhere I can go to just be in nature anymore and enjoy the stillness. I can’t even sleep without hearing those chimes ringing in my head; worse than a death knell calling for the demise of my own sanity.”

She always made profound and poetic statements like that. I told her that she ought to put her own quotes on a meme generator once. She didn’t speak to me for three days. I mean, she messaged me, because I’m her only friend and how else would she make her minimum engagement requirement?

I suggested she start blogging. She might make a career of writing that way if she were interesting enough. She did like books a lot. I got a strange look followed by a shake of her head. “No, Star, I’m not interested in digital media. I’d rather be able to hold my books in my hands and smell the pages.”

Smell the pages – I mean, who talks like that anymore? Like I said, she’s interesting.

“Maybe you should blog anyway about how terrible it is that it’s hard to get published into print unless you’ve been dead for fifty years? Put a petition up to plant more trees to make more paper. Something.” We were all taught about the necessity of being a commodity in one or another for society. Everyone wanted to make content and be paid for it if they could. Even their teachers were required to offer content across social media about their pedagogical styles, their subject matters, their reading habits, and the like.

The times she liked the best, she admitted, were the nine hours of quiet time that underage citizens got each night to ensure they had plenty of rest. “It’s the only time I feel at peace, like the world is still somewhat at ease, so long as I don’t look at my phone or turn on the TV or the computer. That usually doesn’t fly too well with my uncles, though. They’re like you.”

I wasn’t entirely sure if she meant that as a compliment or an insult. Sometimes, I thought Jenny didn’t have much practice with making and keeping friends. Still, it wasn’t like I wasn’t awesome – I had ranking as #3 most liked student in my class and I had way more RTs than the class president. My tumblr was up-and-coming on the regional hub, even more so since I started blogging about Jenny. I kept hoping if I showed her how popular she was to the world at large, she’d start to adopt social media.

I listened as she talked to me about how her parents had managed to get past the mandates for so long. “My uncles tell me that they’ll be free one day, once they’ve been rehabilitated. They tell me to be careful and not to overuse quiet time. We’re not supposed to be quiet unless we’re sleeping or dead, apparently.” She rolled her eyes. “Honestly, I’m underage. What are they going to do to me? Lock me up because I hate social media? Kill me because I’ve bricked my phone to be less annoying with the constant notifications?”

I laughed, agreeing with her. No one really did much to kids who broke the law – that stuff was good media coverage. The worst she might get is community service and a mandatory blogging class to work on improving her content creation. Honestly, she’d probably have her career made after that point.


Jenny got dragged out of class last week by a police officer. I managed to take some video of the event. She’s not been back and she won’t respond to my texts. It never occurred to me that our conversations might be monitored through our phones or that the scant details I’d put on social media might be traced directly to her or me. At least, not until the police showed up at my house. But they let me take a selfie and chatted with me about my increased social media usage, so it was alright. I wasn’t even given a warning after my logs were checked and copied. That’s why I’m blogging about this now.

I keep wondering when I’ll see Jenny again. A week is a long time to miss school and she’s been completely silent on social media, which is unheard of these days. Maybe she finally got the quiet she wanted. I hope so.

Personally? I think the notification chimes are calming. They mean the world is still chugging along and everyone wants to share themselves with the rest of the world. That’s what it means to be free… Right?

by A.B. Brownlee