Category Archives: Books & Reading

What We’re Reading: Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me

Where Nebraska Center for the Book board members share their thoughts about the books they are reading. This month’s review is by Laurie Yocom; Director, Wilson Public Library, Cozad.

Review of Wolves, Boys, & Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler.


I’m getting ready to plan a vacation to Yellowstone this fall, so I picked up a 2010 young adult novel, Wolves, Boys & Other Things That Might Kill Me by Kristen Chandler, to get me in the mood. It also happened to fill a niche in our library’s summer reading challenge as far as being set in a national park.

The main character is K.J., who at 16 has a few things on her plate. Her dad, a reformed lawyer, has been a hunting and fishing guide for as long as K.J. can remember, but doesn’t know how to relate to his daughter. What she can’t remember is her mother, who died in a car accident when she was a toddler. K.J. struggles with dyslexia and expectations about school from her father. The resident klutz of her class, She has “bloomed” over the summer, now getting notice from all the townspeople—and not necessarily about her new look.

Thanks to her journalism class, K.J.’s interest in wolves intensifies when she partners with the new boy in town, Virgil. His mother has come to Montana to study the wolves. With Virgil’s photographs and K.J.’s research, it is not long before things escalate between those who want the wolves in the park and those who want them dead. And maybe someone wants K.J. dead, too.

Chosen as her high school newspaper’s editor, K.J. comes of age, falls in love, and learns about standing up for yourself and your ideas. The themes of bravery and not backing down is told throughout the story in terms of the main character as well as the wolves. Jokes, articles, quotes, and poetry sprinkled between chapters keep the serious narrative somewhat light.

By reading this, I got a sense of the Montana wildlife I hope to encounter this fall, especially an appreciation for wolves that I may not have had before. If you’re looking for a nonfiction selection about wolves, check out The Wolf Almanac: A Celebration of Wolves and Their World by Robert H. Busch.

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2024 One Book One Nebraska Bookmarks Now Available!

Looking for more ways to engage readers with One Book One Nebraska? We now have bookmarks for 2024’s selection, “Dancing with the Octopus” by Debora Harding. Contact us at the Nebraska Center for the Book at CenterForBook@nlc.state.ne.us if you’re interested in receiving some bookmarks for your library!

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Young Nebraskans Win Writing Competition    

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
March 26, 2024

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Tessa Timperley
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

Young Nebraskans Win Writing Competition    

Nebraska students competed for the twenty-fifth year in the annual Letters About Literature competition. They wrote to tell an author about how books can make a difference in a young person’s life. Young Nebraska writers who wrote winning letters in the Letters About Literature competition will attend a proclamation signing ceremony on April 11th with Gov. Jim Pillen. Letters About Literature is a state-wide reading and writing promotion program. The competition encourages young people to read, be inspired, and write back to the author (living or dead) who had an impact on their lives.

This annual contest is coordinated and sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Library Commission, Lincoln City Libraries, Humanities Nebraska, Connie Osborne, Francie & Finch Bookshop of Lincoln, and Chapters Bookstore in Seward.

Young Nebraska writers to be honored are:

Level I (Grades 4-6):
Winner is Brooklyn Green of Lincoln’s Irving Middle School, who wrote to S.E. Hinton about their book, The Outsiders.
Runner-up is Justin Kang-Shizuka of Lincoln’s Prescott Elementary, who wrote to George Takei about their book, They Called Us Enemy.

Level II (Grades 7-8):
Winner is Henry Skretta of Lincoln’s Irving Middle School who wrote to Neal Shusterman about their book, Scythe.
Runner-up is Liam Brown Kramer of Lincoln’s Irving Middle School who wrote to Robert Louis Stevenson about their book, Strange Case of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde.

Level III (Grades 9-12):
Winner is Chloe Kasischke of Wahoo Public High School, who wrote to Allison Britz about their book, Obsessed: A Memoir of My Life with OCD.
Runner-up is Aidan Blakely of Omaha North High School, who wrote to Amy Tan about their book The Joy Luck Club.

The students wrote personal letters to authors explaining how his or her work changed their view of themselves or the world. They selected authors from any genre, fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic. Winners were chosen from three competition levels: upper elementary, middle school, and high school.

The Nebraska winners will be honored at a reception at Lincoln City Library’s Bennett Martin branch and receive cash prizes and gift certificates. Their winning letters will then be placed in the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Bennett Martin Public Library in Lincoln. For more information about the competition see http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/programs/LAL.html

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.

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25th Annual Nebraska Book Awards Submissions Now Open!

Entries for the 25th annual Nebraska Book Awards are now being accepted!

The competition is open to Nebraska authors, Nebraska publishers, and other authors or publishers of books set in or relating to Nebraska. Books published in 2023, as indicated by the copyright date, are eligible for nomination in 2024. They must be professionally published, have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), and be bound.

You can submit a book to be entered in one or more of the following categories: Children/Young Adult, Cover/Design/Illustration, Fiction, Nonfiction, and Poetry. Certificates will be awarded to the winners in each category, and they will be invited out to participate as featured authors at the October 12th, 2024 Nebraska Celebration of Books in Lincoln. The event will culminate in an awards ceremony for the authors, publishers, and their families, where winning books will be displayed and authors will have the opportunity to read from and sign their books.

The entry fee is $40 per book and per category entered. Deadline for entries is May 31, 2024. For more information, including entry forms, see: http://www.centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/awards/nebookawards.htm


Interested in learning more about previous winners? You can find a complete list of information on all 25 years of Nebraska Book Award winners, including the title, author, publisher, and category won, here: https://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/awards/winners/nebook.html

To see a list of previous submissions made to enter the Nebraska Book Awards, you can see the records from 2010-2023 here: https://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/awards/nebookawards.html#submissions

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2024 One Book One Nebraska: Now Available on BARD!

Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir of a Crimeby Debora Harding is now available on cartridge and for download on BARD, the Braille and Audio Reading Download service. BARD is a service offered by the Nebraska Library Commission Talking Book and Braille Service and the National Library Service for the Blind and Print Disabled at the Library of Congress.

This memoir of native Nebraskan, Debora Harding, is all about a traumatic childhood event, the aftereffects of which would change her family forever. Harding expertly weaves the past with the present in a riveting story of survival and family dynamics.

“With remarkable narrative skill, Harding untangles the lingering effects of family dysfunction and criminal trauma. This is a page-turner with a deep heart and soul, full of forgiveness but demanding of accountability.”

BookPage, “Best Books of 2020: Memoirs

This title has been selected as the 2024 One Book One Nebraska. The program is now in its 20th year of bringing Nebraskans together for the reading and discussion of one great book written by Nebraska authors or that have a Nebraska theme or setting. Nearly every One Book One Nebraska winner is available on cartridge and for download on BARD.

The narration was done by Connie Healey, who has been volunteering for NLC’s Talking Book and Braille department for 10 years and received a Nebraska Library Association’s Outstanding Volunteer Award in 2022. The recording took over 30 hours in the studio and an additional 20 hours of post-production to prepare for our patrons. Connie has now read three One Book One Nebraska selections, the other two beingThe Bones of Paradiseby Jonis Agee andPrairie Forge by James J. Kimble.

TBBS borrowers can request “Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir of a Crime,” DBC02052, or download it from the National Library Service BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download) website. If you have high-speed internet access, you can download books to your smartphone or tablet, or onto a flash drive for use with your player. You may also contact your reader’s advisor to have the book mailed to you on cartridge.

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Nominate Books Now for the 2024 Nebraska Book Awards

The 2024 Nebraska Book Awards program, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book (NCB) and Nebraska Library Commission, will recognize and honor books that are written by Nebraska authors, published by Nebraska publishers, set in Nebraska, or relate to Nebraska.

Books published in 2023, as indicated by the copyright date, are eligible for nomination. They must be professionally published, have an International Standard Book Number (ISBN), and be bound. Books may be entered in one or more of the following categories: Nonfiction, Fiction, Children/Young Adult, Cover/Design/Illustration, and Poetry. Winners in each category will be invited to participate as featured authors at the October 12th, 2024 Nebraska Celebration of Books in Lincoln. The event will culminate in an awards ceremony for the authors, publishers, and their families, where winning books will be displayed and authors will have the opportunity to read from and sign their books.

The entry fee is $40 per book and per category entered. Deadline for entries is May 31, 2024. For more information, including entry forms, see http://www.centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/awards/nebookawards.html

Books may be entered in one of two ways, either complete the Online Entry Form and submit payment through PayPal, then mail three copies of the book to the below address. Or, mail the Entry Form [pdf], three copies of the book, and the entry fee via a check made out to the Nebraska Center for the Book to the below address.

NCB Book Awards Competition
c/o Nebraska Library Commission
The Atrium
1200 N Street, Suite 120
Lincoln, NE 68508-2023

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars. Together we build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the national Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.    

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Dancing with the Octopus Proclaimed the 2024 One Book One Nebraska

On Jan. 8, 2024, Governor Jim Pillen signed a proclamation honoring 2024 One Book One Nebraska: Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir of a Crime (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020) by Debora Harding. Rod Wagner, Nebraska Center for the Book (NCB) Board member, and Nebraska Library Commission Director spoke about the program and selection. Dancing with the Octopus is a riveting and thoughtful memoir written by Nebraska native Debora Harding. Kidnapped, assaulted at the age of 14, then left abandoned by her attacker in the middle of a snow storm, Harding recounts the trauma inflicted on herself and her family in the wake of the attack. Poignant in the discussion of mental health and fraught family dynamics that Harding would carry into adulthood, she chooses to meet her attacker many years later. The full proclamation can be viewed on the One Book One Nebraska webpages at http://onebook.nebraska.gov.

The One Book One Nebraska reading program, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Library Commission, and Humanities Nebraska is entering its twentieth year. It encourages Nebraskans across the state to read and discuss one book, chosen from books written by Nebraska authors or that have a Nebraska theme or setting. Libraries across Nebraska will join other literary and cultural organizations in planning book discussions, activities, and events to encourage Nebraskans to read and discuss this book. Support materials to assist with local reading/discussion activities are available at http://onebook.nebraska.gov.

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission.

As Nebraska’s state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services-“bringing together people and information.”

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.

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Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir Chosen as 2024 One Book One Nebraska

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 16, 2023


FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Tessa Terry
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir Chosen as 2024 One Book One Nebraska

People across Nebraska are encouraged to read the work of a Nebraskan — and then talk about it with their friends and neighbors. Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir (Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020) by Debora Harding is the 2024 One Book One Nebraska selection.

This memoir of native Nebraskan, Debora Harding, is all about a traumatic childhood event, the aftereffects of which would change her family forever. Harding expertly weaves the past with the present in a riveting story of survival and family dynamics. Harding’s debut book has been compared to bestsellers like “The Glass Castle” by Jeannette Walls and “Educated” by Tara Westover.


“With remarkable narrative skill, Harding untangles the lingering effects of family dysfunction and criminal trauma. This is a page-turner with a deep heart and soul, full of forgiveness but demanding of accountability.” – BookPage, “Best Books of 2020: Memoirs

Debora Harding was born and raised in the midwest. At the age of nineteen she dropped out of university to work for Senator Gary Hart’s presidential campaign, before relocating to Washington DC to run an environmental non-profit. Fed up with politics, she cycled across America where she met her English husband, author Thomas Harding. She then joined him in the UK and worked at an award-winning video production company that focused on the counter-culture protest movement in Europe. Later, she co-founded the UK’s first local television station in Oxford. Wanting the children to enjoy the great outdoors, the family moved back to the USA, and Debora trained as a restorative justice mediator and ran an independent bicycle business. She is now a full-time writer and activist, and splits her time between the UK and the US.

Libraries across Nebraska will join other literary and cultural organizations in planning book discussions, activities, and events that will encourage Nebraskans to read and discuss this book. Support materials to assist with local reading/discussion activities will be available after January 1, 2024 at http://onebook.nebraska.gov. Updates and activity listings will be posted on the One Book One Nebraska Facebook page at http://www.facebook.com/onebookonenebraska.

2024 will mark the twentieth year of the One Book One Nebraska reading program, sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book. It encourages Nebraskans across the state to read and discuss one book, chosen from books written by Nebraska authors or that have a Nebraska theme or setting. The Nebraska Center for the Book invites recommendations for One Book One Nebraska book selection year-round at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/obon-nomination.asp.

One Book One Nebraska is sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska, and Nebraska Library Commission. The Nebraska Center for the Book brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at and supported by the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.    

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Young Readers Invited to Write to Favorite Authors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 29, 2023

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Tessa Terry
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

Young Readers Invited to Write to Favorite Authors

Young readers in grades 4-12 are invited to write a personal letter to an author for the Nebraska Letters about Literature (LAL) contest, a state reading and writing promotion program. The letter can be to any author (living or dead) from any genre-fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic-explaining how that author’s work changed the student’s view of the world. Submissions must be completed online October 1- December 31, 2023. Nebraska Letters About Literature is coordinated and sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book and the Nebraska Library Commission, with support from Lincoln City Libraries, Francie & Finch Bookshop, Humanities Nebraska, and Chapters Bookstore in Seward.

The Nebraska Center for the Book’s panel of judges will select a winner and an honorable mention per competition level (Level I for grades 4-6, Level II for grades 7-8, and Level III for grades 9-12) to be honored in a proclamation-signing ceremony at the state capitol during National Library Week in April 2024. Their winning letters will be placed in the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Bennett Martin Public Library in Lincoln. Nebraska winners and honorable mentions will receive state prizes.

Teachers, librarians, and parents can download the contest guidelines, free teaching materials, information on the online entry system, and past winning letters on the Nebraska Center for the Book website. An informational NCompass Live webinar will air on October 11th, discussing this year’s contest, the submission process, and judging criteria. For more information contact Nebraska Center for the Book.

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the national Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases .

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Shortlist for 2024 One Book One Nebraska Announced

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 21, 2023

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Tessa Terry
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

Shortlist for 2024 One Book One Nebraska Announced

What book will all Nebraskans be encouraged to read in 2024? We will all find out on October 14th at the Celebration of Nebraska Books. A collection of essays by a Nebraska authors, a memoir, a novel set in the Sand Hills, and a Midwest thriller—all stories with ties to Nebraska and the Great Plains—are the finalists for the 2024 One Book One Nebraska statewide reading program. The finalists are:

  • The Big Empty: Contemporary Nebraska Nonfiction Writers edited by Ladette Randolph and Nina Shevchuk-Murray, Bison Books, 2007.
  • Dancing with the Octopus: A Memoir by Debora Harding, Bloomsbury Publishing, 2020.
  • The Echo Maker by Richard Powers, Farrar, Straus and Giroux/Picador, 2006.
  • The Line Between by Tosca Lee, Howard Books, 2019.

The One Book One Nebraska reading program is sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska, and Nebraska Library Commission. It encourages Nebraskans across the state to read and discuss the same book, chosen from books written by Nebraska authors or that have a Nebraska theme or setting. A Nebraska Center for the Book committee selected the three finalists from a list of nineteen titles nominated by Nebraskans. In the coming weeks, Nebraska Center for the Book board members will vote on the 2024 selection.

The Celebration of Nebraska Books, on October 14th, will also honor winners of the 2023 Jane Geske and Mildred Bennett awards. The Mildred Bennett Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to fostering the literary tradition in Nebraska, reminding us of the literary and intellectual heritage that enriches our lives and molds our world. The Jane Geske Award recognizes an organization known for exceptional contributions to literacy, books, reading, libraries, and literature in Nebraska. It commemorates Geske’s passion for books, and was established in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of the libraries of Nebraska.

Nebraskans are invited to take part in the Celebration of Nebraska Books on October 14th, at the Nebraska City Campus Union’s Regency Suite in downtown Lincoln, where the choice for the 2024 One Book One Nebraska will be announced. This year’s One Book One Nebraska selection will be featured in a key note presentation by Professor Rick Cypert on Mignon Eberhart and her novel The Mystery of Hunting’s End (Bison Books, 1998.) See http://onebook.nebraska.gov or https://www.facebook.com/OneBookOneNebraska for more information about ongoing 2023 One Book One Nebraska activities.

The Celebration of Nebraska Books will include readings by the winners of the 2023 Nebraska Book Awards,with book signings by the authors after the event. A list of Nebraska Book Award winners is posted at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/awards.html. The Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book and Nebraska Library Commission. Humanities Nebraska provides support for the One Book One Nebraska keynote presentation.

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the national Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and the Nebraska Library Commission.

As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, “bringing together people and information.”

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.    

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