Author Archives: Aimee Owen

Friday Reads – The Labors of Hercules Beal by Gary D. Schmidt

I do read more age-appropriate books occasionally, I promise. But when my hold for The Labors of Hercules Beal became available, I tossed aside the mystery I was halfway through to dive into this instead. Whodunit? Who cares? Gary D. Schmidt is just that good.

If you have never read one of his middle-grade novels, start with The Wednesday Wars, or Okay for Now (both are available as Book Club Kits here at the Nebraska Library Commission!). If you are more familiar with Schmidt’s writing, this latest book will feel like coming home.

Hercules Beal is about to start 7th grade. But instead of joining his friends on the bus to the local public middle school, he will be walking to the Cape Code Academy for Environmental Sciences. He is not excited about this latest revelation, but not surprised. Over the last 18 months, it’s been nothing but bad news. He lost both of his parents in The Accident. His older brother Achilles reluctantly moved home, leaving his globe-trotting journalism career to run the Beal Family Farm and Nursery. His request for a pet dog was overruled in favor of a pet rabbit named “Honey Bunny.” Oh, and his new teacher this fall is a retired Marine lieutenant colonel. That’s a lot of rotten luck for a kid who hasn’t yet hit his Beal Family Growth Spurt.

But middle school begins, as sure as the sun rising over the dunes of Cape Cod, and Hercules does grow, both in his statute and in his understanding of what great possibilities life still has in store. Lt. Colonel Hupfer gives each student in his class a yearlong assignment based on a mythological topic. Our “hero” is tasked with performing the Twelve Labors of Hercules, or as close to them as he can manage. As he struggles through each labor, he receives help from some unexpected sources. Many things go wrong… so very, very (often hilariously) wrong! But many more go just heart-breakingly right.

That is my favorite aspect of Schmidt’s novels; how wonderfully he captures the ups and downs of adolescent life. He makes me laugh out loud, and then burst into tears in the next chapter. Will he have the same affect on actual adolescents? Maybe, maybe not. Maybe I’m more susceptible to the tear-jerking scenes because I’ve already been through this part of life and I know how it turns out. But even if you are a 13 year old kid and you don’t cry when the [redacted so you can find out for yourself], I hope you can at least recognize that when Schmidt’s characters feel alone, but they are not actually alone; there are people looking out for them, cheering them on, ready to help when things get tough. And if you are well past middle school, as I am, I hope you can remember what those years were like, and keep an eye out for those kiddos that might need a supportive grownup in their corner.

Schmidt, Gary D. (2023). The Labors of Hercules Beal. Clarion Books.

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#BookFaceFriday “El Conejito Knuffle” by Mo Willems

¿Dónde está el #BookFaceFriday?

No need to retrace your steps to find this #BookFaceFriday! This week, we are highlighting one of the new Spanish language titles recently added to our Book Club Kit Collection, “El Conejita Knuffle” by Mo Willems (Hyperion Books for Children, 2007).

Browse all available titles using the keyword “Spanish” in the keyword search field. For kits that were already available in English, the title will be shown in English; for titles only available in Spanish, the Spanish title will be shown. For both types of kits, the number of Spanish copies is listed at the bottom of the title’s record. At the present time, most of our new Spanish-language kits are geared towards younger readers, but we hope to expand this selection in the future.

“En esta combinación de unos expresivos dibujos de cmic con preciosas fotografías de Brooklyn, Nueva York, el autor de ¡No dejes que la paloma condeuzca el autobús! crea un cuento brillante de la vida real sobre lo que pasa cuando Papá es el que manda, y todo sale humorística ya terriblemente mal.

Using a pastiche of muted black and white photography and expressive illustrations, this stunning book tells a brilliantly true-to-life tale about what happens when Daddy’s in charge and things go terribly, hilariously wrong..”

– Back cover

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  1. These kits can be checked out by the librarians of Nebraska libraries and media centers.
  2. Circulation times are flexible and will be based upon availability. There is no standard check-out time for book club kits.
  3. Please search the collection to select items you wish to borrow and use the REQUEST THIS KIT icon to borrow items.
  4. Contact the Information Desk at the Library Commission if you have any questions: by phone: 800/307-2665, or by email: Information Services Team

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday “The Chaperone” by Laura Moriarty

Better keep an eye on this #BookFaceFriday!

This #BookFaceFriday shouldn’t be left unattended! The story of young silent movie star, Louise Brooks, and the woman who escorts her to New York City, The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty, (Riverhead, 2013) is available as a Book Club Kit.

This title is also available as an ebook in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries. Looking for more historical fiction for your reading group? Use the “Genre” drop-down menu to browse all titles available in our collection.

“The Chaperone is the enthralling story of two women . . . and how their unlikely relationship changed their lives. . . . In this layered and inventive story, Moriarty raises profound questions about family, sexuality, history, and whether it is luck or will—or a sturdy combination of the two—that makes for a wonderful life.”

—O, The Oprah Magazine

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  1. These kits can be checked out by the librarians of Nebraska libraries and media centers.
  2. Circulation times are flexible and will be based upon availability. There is no standard check-out time for book club kits.
  3. Please search the collection to select items you wish to borrow and use the REQUEST THIS KIT icon to borrow items.
  4. Contact the Information Desk at the Library Commission if you have any questions: by phone: 800/307-2665, or by email: Information Services Team

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: The Guest Lecture by Martin Riker

If stream-of-consciousness writing, existential dread, and fun facts about 1930’s economic theory are your jam, you are in for a treat.

When Abby accepted the invitation to give a guest lecture on the economic optimism of John Maynard Keynes, she was full of that rose-colored confidence herself – a published academic on her way to securing tenure at a prestigious university, secure in her marriage, renovated home, and promising career.

Now, the night before the speaking engagement, she lies awake in her shabby hotel room, unable to sleep and burdened with self-doubt. Her entire world upended, she has been denied tenure, her book on Keynes declared derivative, and imposter syndrome looms large. Woefully unprepared for her talk, she attempts to silently rehearse while her family slumbers. With an imaginary Keynes keeping her company, she mentally wanders the rooms of her house while discussing the economist’s predictions and historical relevance. Each room conjures memories of mistakes past, anxiety about current political and environmental crises, and rising panic about her future prospects.

As someone who often has trouble shutting off their brain to drift into dreamland, it was nice to step into someone else’s headspace for a while. I’ll admit, I read well past my bedtime.

Martin Riker. The Guest Lecture. New York, Grove Press, Black Cat, 2023.

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2024 ‘One Book For Nebraska Kids & Teens’ Titles Selected

The Nebraska Library Commission is excited to announce the 2024 titles selected for the One Book For Nebraska Kids & Teens program:

Wouldn’t it be great if kids all over Nebraska were talking about books? And wouldn’t it be even better if those kids were talking about the SAME book? Hold on to your bookmarks, the Nebraska Library Commission and Regional Library Systems have a program for that!

Each year, the One Book for Nebraska Kids & Teens program selects a title for kids (roughly grades 4-6) and teens (older readers) and encourages youth across the state to read and discuss the book together. Read more about the program, and see current and past selections here: http://nlc.nebraska.gov/Youth/OBOK/index.aspx

One Book For Nebraska Kids 2024:
Parachute Kids, by Betty Tang (Graphix, 2023).
A middle-grade graphic novel that follows Feng-Li and her siblings as they navigate life alone in a new country. After a fun-filled vacation in California, Mom and Dad announce that the family is staying and enroll the children in school. When their parents’ visas expire, the children are left in their rental house while their parents return to Taiwan to sort out a legal reentry to the United States.

One Book For Nebraska Teens 2024:
Between the Lines, by Nikki Grimes (Nancy Paulsen Books, 2018).
This 2018 companion to Grimes’ Bronx Masquerade combines verse and prose to explore the thoughts, feelings, and struggles of a diverse class of poets as they prepare for their school poetry slam. In addition to honing their writing skills, they find friendship and support in each other.

The Nebraska Library Commission and each Regional Library System will have book sets for the 2023 and 2024 titles to check out to librarians and school media specialists for their book clubs. See our Book Club Kit page, or contact your regional library system directory for details.

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Friday Reads: Lord of the Fly Fest by Goldy Moldavsky

What would happen if you lured all the Instagram beauty influencers to a tropical island with the promise of music, luxury accommodations, and access to other beautiful people… and then left them stranded without food, electricity, and gasp, WiFi? Small-time podcaster Rafi Francisco is about to find out. Shelling out her meager life savings for a ticket to the Fly Fest, an exclusive island festival where she hopes to score a chance to dig up some dirt on a famous performer, Rafi instead finds herself stuck on the beach with a bunch of spoiled and increasingly dirty trust-fund kids who have mistaken her for staff. But there is no staff. No staff, no gourmet meals, no private villas, no music festival…and no way to get in touch with anyone off the island that can rescue them.

If this sounds a lot like a recent island festival scandal that resulted in fraud charges and felony convictions, you are not mistaken. Described as “Lord of the Flies meets Fyre Festival” the setup is not as unlikely as you’d hope.

Rafi recognizes that the situation will quickly become dire and tries to rally the festival-goers into working together to find food and shelter, while still trying to secretly investigate her podcast subject. But she soon finds herself up against a prominent makeup guru who has deluded himself and an increasing number of others that the festival has not been canceled; the promoters are just testing the attendees to see if they are worthy of such an experience. Will reason prevail? Or will Fly Fest end in #disaster?

A quick YA read, it’s a good reminder that everything you see on social media is not as perfect as it appears.

Moldavsky, Goldy. Lord of the Fly Fest. Henry Holt & Co., 2022.

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Friday Reads – Simon Sort of Says by Erin Bow

Simon Sort of Says book cover

Imagine being 12 years old and moving to a tiny Nebraska town with no internet, no TV, and no cell phone service. Heck, imagine being 40 and doing that! In this day and age, it’s almost unthinkable. Now imagine being famous for being the sole survivor of a mass shooting – also unthinkable – and needing a fresh start where no one has heard of you.

Simon and his parents move to Grin And Bear It, Nebraska, a small town set in the National Quiet Zone – a space where radio signals are banned as to not interfere with the operation of radio telescopes used by the astronomers and scientists searching for signs of life beyond our planet. His mother takes over the local mortuary, his father settles in as deacon of the Catholic church, and Simon just tries to resume life as a normal, anonymous kid. So far, so good – no one here can Google him. He can make up whatever goofy story he wants about why his family relocated.

Then disaster strikes. And keeps striking – a rogue squirrel ransacks the church’s communion wafers, a flock of emus get loose, the mortuary’s driver loses a body, a tornado bears down on the town… and someone finds out Simon’s secret. In the midst of his family getting all the wrong kinds of attention, Simon and his friends scheme a way to shift the focus from him to the stars, using a forbidden microwave, a metronome, and a whole lot of math.

Despite the devastating tragedy underlying the story, this was actually one of the most hilarious books I’ve read in a while. The author, originally from Iowa, lived in Nebraska for a time, and is familiar with the state’s geography and love of football. There is so much to love about Simon and his family and friends, as well as the odd little town they find themselves in. If you are looking for an entertaining read that will make you laugh AND cry, Simon says read this book!

Bow, Erin. (2023). Simon Sort of Says. Disney Hyperion.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise” by Dan Gemeinhart

Fasten your seat belts, it’s #BookFaceFriday!

Get ready to hit the road with this week’s #BookFaceFriday! Looking for the next great read for your middle grade book club? The Nebraska Library Commission’s has book club kits in multiple genres for a wide range of reading levels, including historical fiction, mysteries, adventure stories and more! How about this realistic fiction title, “The Remarkable Journey of Coyote Sunrise” by Dan Gemeinhart

(Henry Holt and Co, 2019)? Both a 2019 Parents’ Choice Award Gold Metal Winner and a School Library Journal Best Book of 2019, it’s available as a book club kit, as well an eBook and audiobook in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries.

 This week’s #BookFace and other middle grade titles can be found on the NLC Book Club Kit webpage; you can search by grade level or by genre. This service allows libraries and school librarians to “check out” multiple copies of a book without adding to their permanent collections, or budgets.

“Coyote’s bold, engaging voice pops off the page…Gemeinhart infuses the story with moments of lyrical writing and folksy wisdom served up with a dollop of girl power.”

— The New York Times

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  1. These kits can be checked out by the librarians of Nebraska libraries and media centers.
  2. Circulation times are flexible and will be based upon availability. There is no standard check-out time for book club kits.
  3. Please search the collection to select items you wish to borrow and use the REQUEST THIS KIT icon to borrow items.
  4. Contact the Information Desk at the Library Commission if you have any questions: by phone: 800/307-2665, or by email: Information Services Team

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday – “Cotton Candy” by Ted Kooser

That one looks like a…#BookFaceFriday!

There is something so sweet about this week’s #BookFaceFriday, “Cotton Candy: Poems Dipped Out of the Air” by Ted Kooser (‎University of Nebraska Press; 2022.) Kooser was the U.S. poet laureate from 2004-2006, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 2005. You can find this title and many more of his works in the Nebraska Library Commission’s permanent collection; the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP). UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

“That Kooser often sees things we do not would be delight enough, but more amazing is exactly what he sees. Nothing escapes him. Everything is illuminated. ―Library Journal

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: Toad by Katherine Dunn

I don’t remember how I came to read Katherine Dunn’s cult-classic novel, Geek Love. It is the story of a circus couple and their literally homemade “freak show”; all of their children were purposely subjected to chemicals and drugs in utero in order to produce “show-worthy” birth defects. I was likely still reading The Babysitters Club when it was published in 1989, and while it was being praised by Kurt Cobain and Terry Gilliam, there is little chance it was carried by my small town library. Nonetheless, it eventually popped up on my literary radar and Dunn’s vivid and often grotesque imagery is forever seared into my subconscious. That Tim Burton bought the rights to the book probably says enough.

Geek Love is not the book I’m talking about today. However, without it, I would have probably never given a second glance to Toad.

Toad, published this past fall, 6 years after Dunn’s death, was penned long before she wrote Geek Love. Although she had two previous novels under her belt, this third book was declined by her publisher, and attempts to revise it and shop it around to a new house were unsuccessful. The story is based on Dunn’s experience in 1960s Portland, and having the largely autobiographical work rejected over and over was a blow to Dunn, who eventually shelved the book. She then spent years perfecting her ultimately-acclaimed next project, Geek Love, before submitting it to professional critique. Dunn never did try to find a publisher for Toad again, but after her death, her son Eli was contacted by an editor searching for Dunn’s lesser-known writing and he lent her the manuscript. After she overcame her shock that no one had tried to release the book before her, she helped usher it into print.

Compared to Geek Love, the characters in Toad are almost boringly normal. Sally Dunn, our protagonist, oscillates her narrative between her current life as a near-recluse, alone with her regrets in a small house she pays for with her disability check, and tales of her misspent youth near a college campus in Portland. She tags along after a group of hippie students, with their lofty (often naive) ideals and lack of work ethic, that she seems to simultaneously envy and loathe. She despises them because they come from cushy middle-class backgrounds and choose to live in bohemian squalor, but she despises herself even more for not fitting in, always being the outsider.

There are no heroes in Katherine Dunn’s world – only victims and villains, and they are often one and the same. There is no one to root for, or against, as everyone has the capacity for cruelty, kindness, love, and loss. Sally tells the story, but without the rose-colored glasses through which we often view our good old days. She recognizes that she, too, can be both brutal and benevolent, and that realization is among her reasons for her self-isolation.

At times sad, humorous, honest, and grotesque, Katherine Dunn’s writing is not for everyone. She doesn’t sugarcoat humanity – people can be gross, crass, and annoying. Nonetheless, I’m glad these books crossed my path. Now I need to go wash my hands.

Dunn, Katherine. Toad, ‎ New York, New York : Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2022.

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#BookFaceFriday “An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good” by Helene Tursten

This #BookFaceFriday will leave you in stitches!

Don’t be fooled by the diminutive size of this week’s #BookFace – it’s more than meets the eye. Just like Maud, the tiny octogenarian protagonist of this short story collection, “An Elderly Lady Is Up To No Good: Stories” by Helene Tursten (Soho Press, 2018). All Maud wants is to live in peace in her rent-free apartment, and travel the world as she pleases… but other people just keep getting in her way. If your book group enjoyed the senior sleuths in “The Thursday Murder Club” or the quirky loner in “Eleanor Oliphant is Just Fine”, you may want to check out the misadventures of Maud – but don’t turn your back on her!

You can find this title and all the new books available on our Book Club Kits page; just look in the Browse Options section and select the Browse New Additions link for our latest reads. It is also available as an e-book and audiobook on Nebraska Overdrive Libraries, along with the sequel, “An Elderly Lady Must Not Be Crossed” and many of Helene Tursten’s other books.

“Wickedly fun . . . if you’ve had your fill of gooey, saccharine sweet holiday books or movies, then this collection of vignettes featuring Maud, an eighty-eight year old serial killer, will cure your holiday sugar rush.”

—The Book Review

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  1. These kits can be checked out by the librarians of Nebraska libraries and media centers.
  2. Circulation times are flexible and will be based upon availability. There is no standard check-out time for book club kits.
  3. Please search the collection to select items you wish to borrow and use the REQUEST THIS KIT icon to borrow items.
  4. Contact the Information Desk at the Library Commission if you have any questions: by phone: 800/307-2665, or by email: Information Services Team

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 189 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday “Johnny Carson” by Henry Bushkin

Heeeeere’s #BookfaceFriday!

Ever wonder what the librarians at the Nebraska Library Commission do in their free time? When we aren’t ironing our cardigans or putting our grocery lists in alphabetical order (just kidding, I think?), we’re probably reading juicy celebrity biographies like this week’s BookFace selection, “Johnny Carson” by Henry Bushkin (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2013). This title is also the subject of this week’s Friday Reads post, written by Information Services Director, Lisa Kelly. Library Commission staff take turns writing weekly book reviews of titles they have enjoyed (and sometimes not!) in our weekly Friday Reads series. Want to read it yourself? “Johnny Carson” is available as an ebook on Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

“Henry Bushkin’s ‘Johnny Carson’ is that rare celebrity tell-all by an author who knows whom and what he’s talking about.”

The New York Times

Find this title and many more through Nebraska OverDrive! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 189 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday – “Ghost Eaters” by Clay McLeod Chapman

Stare at the dark for too long, and you will eventually see… #BookFaceFriday!

This week’s #BookFaceFriday conjures things that go bump in the night… Stay up late and read “Ghost Eaters” by Clay McLeod Chapman (Quirk Books, 2022.) This title is available as both an eBook and an audiobook in Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Find this title and other tales of horror in Nebraska OverDrive’s curated collection, “It Came From the Library“, perfect for late-night reading!

“Chapman has created an experience so anxiety inducing, immersive, and intense that readers will feel like something is actually there, lurking over their shoulder as they turn the pages. A great choice for fans of A Head Full of Ghosts by Paul Tremblay, Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia, and Orphans of Bliss, edited by Mark Matthews.”

—Booklist, starred review

Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 189 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: Ten Thousand Tries by Amy Makechnie

The other players on the team looked at me funny when I borrowed a ball to take this photo at the end of their practice, but my kid just rolled his eyes and smiled. “Yeah, my mom does stuff like this all the time.” Being a a recurring #BookfaceFriday model has jaded him to the weird things I do with book covers. (He’s even better at lining up the shot than I am now.)

This book is also about a boy whose parents spend a lot of time with him on the soccer field. Golden Maroni’s dad was a pro soccer player, and now coaches the local high school team. His mom coaches Golden’s middle school team – she’s referred to as Coach or Mom depending on the chapter’s setting.

The title refers to Malcolm Gladwell’s assertion in his book “Outliers” that it takes 10,000 hours to achieve mastery of a skill. While Amy Makechnie specifies in her end-of-book acknowledgements that this rule doesn’t apply to sports, our hero Golden is sure that 10,000 hours of soccer practice will make him as phenomenal as his idol Lionel Messi. But off the field, things aren’t going as well.

Lucy, his team co-captain and best friend (and maybe more?), will move soon if Golden can’t drive away her annoying future stepfather. His older sister Jaimes certainly needs another 10,000 hours of driving practice before Golden feels safe riding with her. And worst of all, a year and a half after a surprising diagnosis, Golden’s dad is losing his battle with ALS; no amount of positive thinking and hard work can stop the progression of this terrible disease. It feels like Golden’s whole world is crashing down around him. The Maroni family motto is “We do hard things.” They work hard, play hard, and never give up on each other. But this year will be different, and Golden must learn that letting go isn’t the same as giving up.

This book was chosen as one of the 10 nominees that young adults across the state will read and vote on for the 2023-24 Golden Sower Novel Award next school year.

Makechnie, Amy. Ten Thousand Tries, ‎ New York, New York : Simon & Schuster, 2021.

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#BookFaceFriday “The Lottery, and Other Stories” by Shirley Jackson

The real winner is #BookFaceFriday

Let’s start October off with a scream with this week’s #BookFaceFriday, “The Lottery, and Other Stories” by Shirley Jackson (Blackstone Publishing, 2014). First published in the New Yorker in 1948, Jackson’s short story, The Lottery, has elicited shock and horror from readers for decades. This audiobook, available in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries, includes “The Lottery” as well as 24 other unusual tales from this masterful storyteller. You can find many of Jackson’s other titles on Overdrive, including “The Haunting of Hill House” and “We Have Always Lived in the Castle,” as well as some of her lesser-known works.

“The stories remind one of the elemental terrors of childhood.”

James Hilton, Herald Tribune

Find this title and many more spooky tales in Nebraska OverDrive’s curated collection, “It Came From the Library“, perfect for late-night reading! Libraries participating in the Nebraska OverDrive Libraries Group currently have access to a shared and growing collection of digital downloadable audiobooks and eBooks. 189 libraries across the state share the Nebraska OverDrive collection of 21,696 audiobooks, 35,200 eBooks, and 3,964 magazines. As an added bonus it includes 130 podcasts that are always available with simultaneous use (SU), as well as SU ebooks and audiobook titles that publishers have made available for a limited time. If you’re a part of it, let your users know about this great title, and if you’re not a member yet, find more information about participating in Nebraska Overdrive Libraries!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

 
 

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#BookFaceFriday “The Forgotten Home Child” by Genevieve Graham

Who could forget #BookFaceFriday?

This week’s #BookFaceFriday is the unforgettable “The Forgotten Home Child” by Genevieve Graham (Simon & Schuster, 2020). Based on the true story of the British Home Children, this historical novel will surely leave your book club group with much to discuss. Didn’t remember to put in your request before this popular title was reserved by another group? Check out these similar titles on our read-alike suggestion page. We’ve taken the work out of finding other books to tide you over until your first choice is available, or just to help you find that next great selection. All titles on this page are in the Book Club Kit collection and suggestions were compiled with the help of the NoveList database from NebraskAccess.

You can find this title and all of the historical fiction available on our Book Club Kits page; just look in the Search Options section and select the Historical Fiction in the Genre drop-down list.

The Forgotten Home Child is a poignant, edgy, and skillfully written portrayal of a Home Child’s experience that typified so many. The absence of any sugar coating makes this story come to life and brings a level of reality that is often lacking—an emotional journey well worth reading.”

LORI OSCHEFSKI, CEO of the British Home Children Advocacy and Research Association

Book Club Kits Rules for Use

  1. These kits can be checked out by the librarians of Nebraska libraries and media centers.
  2. Circulation times are flexible and will be based upon availability. There is no standard check-out time for book club kits.
  3. Please search the collection to select items you wish to borrow and use the REQUEST THIS KIT icon to borrow items.
  4. Contact the Information Desk at the Library Commission if you have any questions: by phone: 800/307-2665, or by email: Information Services Team

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

 
 

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Friday Reads: Imaginary by Lee Bacon

Artwork by Asher Owen

I have an 11-year-old son that is going into middle school this fall, so when I picked up Imaginary by Lee Bacon this spring and saw that it was also about an 11-year-old starting middle school, I suggested we read it together. I mentioned to my son that I was going to write about the book for our Friday Reads series, and he kindly offered to just let me copy the review he wrote for school. It is summer after all, so I should be taking it easy, right?

“This story is about a kid named Zach who is going into middle school. Yeah, I know, like it’s middle school, it’s not that complicated… or is it? This book is in the perspective of his imaginary buddy, and not Zach’s.”

The imaginary buddy is Shovel, whom Zach invented when he was a small child. Shovel is basically a big ball of purple fur with arms and legs. Many kids have imaginary friends, but most outgrow those friends as they age. Zach does not. Shovel remains a constant in his life when so many other things change – his family, his home, his friendships, and his attitude. Shovel is our narrator and he is self-aware enough to know that his existence at this point in Zach’s life is both unusual and also necessary for some yet-unknown reason. He wants to help Zach but he is also afraid that Zach will forget about him, as all children eventually must.

The setting of this story is the backyard of a kid named Zach.”

The first appearance of Shovel takes place in the backyard of Zach’s first house. The story also takes the duo to Zach’s new home on the other side of town, to the middle school, and deep into Zach’s imagination, where he and Shovel are heroes that fight dragons and trolls.

“In this book the main characters, or the characters you have to know about, are named Zach, Shovel, Anni, Ryan, and Principal Carter.”

Besides Zach and Shovel, we meet Zach’s first best friend, Ryan, who by middle school has joined the cool crowd. Anni is a new student and Zach’s chance to start fresh with someone that doesn’t know his past. Principal Carter, towering over the student body, is an unexpected ally who knows how to gently guide her charges’ emotional development. Zach’s mom also appears frequently in the story, as well as flashbacks to Zach’s dad.

“Overall, I think this book is a funny, good, and amazing book and deserves a five star rating. Most people think it is worth a 1 star (which is reasonable), but I think it is worth much more!”

I am pretty certain no one would give this book only 1 star, because it is truly funny, good, and amazing, and definitely worth 5 stars. It is also about grief, forgiveness, empathy, learning when to hang on and when to let go, and the importance of a good imagination…and good friends.

Lee, Bacon. Imaginary ‎ New York, New York : Abrams, 2021.

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Friday Reads: Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake

I first read Skunk and Badger by Amy Timberlake last winter with my kids, who both enjoy humor and talking animals (who doesn’t, right?). A story of an unlikely friendship, Badger and Skunk must learn to co-exist in Aunt Lula’s brownstone. Quiet Badger has lived contentedly alone, doing Important Rock Work, when a knock on the door heralds the arrival of his new roommate, Skunk. An arrival Badger would have foreseen had he checked his mail more often and read Aunt Lula’s letter informing him of her decision to invite Skunk into the house. Alas, he had not and the knock is an unpleasant surprise. Now Badger’s world is chaos: no quiet time for reflection and Important Rock Work, piles of dishes to scrub after Skunk cooks them both delicious meals, an errant potato left in the corner of the kitchen. And the chickens! It’s too much for one Badger to bear. Change is hard, but sometimes even the most stubborn of Badgers will realize that life is better with a good friend.

This book was reread this past week by my 11-year-old to present as a book report, and an Important Brownstone Diorama is in the works on our kitchen table. We both highly recommend this first book in the series, as a read-aloud if you are more like Skunk, or as a quiet read-alone if you are more Badger-like. We are currently awaiting the arrival of the sequel in the mail, which we check about as often as a certain Badger.

Timberlake, Amy. Skunk and Badger. ‎ Chapel Hill, North Carolina : Algonquin Young Readers, 2020.

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#BookFaceFriday “Women Made Visible” by Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda

 #BookFaceFriday, we see you!

Start your Women’s History Month with this week’s #BookFaceFriday, “Women Made Visible: Feminist Art and Media in Post-1968 Mexico City by Gabriela Aceves Sepúlveda (University of Nebraska Press, 2019). One of the most prestigious academic presses in the country, the University of Nebraska Press sends us around 75 select titles per year, which are added to the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse, also known as the Nebraska State Documents Collection. This collection is comprised of publications issued by Nebraska state agencies, ensuring that state government information is available to a wide audience and that those valuable publications are preserved for future generations. University of Nebraska Press books, as well as all state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

“Timely and necessary, Women Made Visible advances the field of Latin American, Chicanx, and Latinx art history.”

—Teresa Eckmann, Woman’s Art Journal

This week’s #BookFace was shot on location at the Nebraska Library Association‘s annual Library Advocacy Day. This event gives Nebraska librarians an opportunity to meet with their state legislators to showcase the outstanding work done in Nebraska libraries!

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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#BookFaceFriday “Fifty-Four Things Wrong With Gwendolyn Rogers” by Caela Carter

There’s nothing wrong with this #BookFaceFriday!

Woman with short hair poses with a book. The book is positioned so that the cover blends with the woman's body.

Writing your New Year’s Resolutions? Lots of folks create lists of things they’d like to accomplish or change about themselves. In this week’s #BookFace, “Fifty-Four Things Wrong With Gwendolyn Rogers” by Caela Carter (Quill Tree Books, 2021), our protagonist has a long list of things other people thinks she needs to change. But are they truly flaws, or are they just the traits that make Gwendolyn… Gwendolyn? This middle-grade book has a lot to say about acceptance of one’s self and others.

“This sensitive #OwnVoices novel balances the frustration and challenges being dealt with by all the characters. Particularly effective is the cadence of Gwendolyn’s thoughts and voice, creating a likable, realistic character that readers will gravitate to. Recommended to everyone, but particularly for those drawn to Kathryn Erskine’s Mockingbird and Ann M. Martin’s Rain Reign.” — Booklist (starred review)

This title comes from our large collection of children’s and young adult books sent to us as review copies from book publishers. When our Children and Young Adult Library Services Coordinator, Sally Snyder, is done with them, the review copies are available for the Library System Directors to distribute to school and public libraries in their systems.

Love this #BookFace & reading? Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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