Category Archives: Books & Reading

#BookFaceFriday – “No Truth Without Ruth”

Dissent is patriotic, and so is this #BookFaceFriday.

In honor of the notorious R.B.G. we wanted to highlight this throwback #BookFace. May your storytimes be filled with heroes that inspire us as much as Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Check out “No Truth Without Ruth: The Life of Ruth Bader Ginsburg” written by Kathleen Krull and illustrated by Nancy Zhang (Quill Tree Books, 2018.) 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. Public and school library staff are also welcome to stop by and select some titles for their library collections. We think this one would be a great addition to any library. Contact Sally Snyder for more information.

“Large, colorful illustrations complement and highlight the text. Zhang captures the look and style of each era in Ginsburg’s life. Employing a strongly admiring tone and accessible language, the author emphasizes Ginsburg’s struggles, strengths, and triumphs. Informative, well-told biography.” (Kirkus Reviews)

More R.B.G. Children’s Books:

  • A Is for Awesome: 23 Iconic Women Who Changed the World, by Eva Chen
  • I Look Up to Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Anna Membrino
  • My Little Golden Book About Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Shana Corey
  • When Ruth Bader Ginsburg Chewed 100 Sticks of Gum, by Mark Andrew Weakland
  • Ruth Bader Ginsburg: The Case of R.B.G. vs. Inequality, by Jonah Winter
  • I Dissent: Ruth Bader Ginsburg Makes Her Mark, by Debbie Levy
  • Who Is Ruth Bader Ginsburg, by Patricia Brennan Demuth
  • Notorious RBG: The Life & Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Young Readers Edition, by Irin Carmon & Shana Knizhnick

This week’s #BookFace model is Mary Geibel, our Information Services Technician!

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available in our Book Club collection, permanent collection, and Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Friday Reads: The Dutch House by Ann Patchett

Ann Patchett’s Bel Canto was the first book that I read of this author’s many books. At the time, it was Lincoln City Libraries’ selection for its One Book – One Lincoln community reading project. That book led to reading several other of Patchett’s novels and memoirs. The Dutch House is Patchett’s eighth novel and shares characteristics of her previous books. Common are interesting settings, shifting timelines, well-drawn characters, blended families, and complicated relationships. Notable are Patchett’s skilled writing, wit, and imaginative stories. Dutch House (a mansion near Philadelphia) is both background and central to the story.

Somewhat akin to a fairy tale, Danny and Maeve Conroy, brother and sister, are the central characters (Hansel and Gretel?). There are the experiences of abandonment, banishment, the evil stepmother, and not-at-all evil stepsisters. Danny is the book’s first-person narrator. Danny’s and Maeve’s closeness over five decades evolves from their early childhood loss of mother and father. Interesting to me was the dialogue. Though, dialogue was especially notable because I listened to the audiobook narrated by Tom Hanks, perhaps more accurately described as performed by Hanks.

Patchett, Ann. The Dutch House. HarperCollins. 2019.

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Celebrate Nebraska’s 2020 Book Award Winners at Week Long Virtual Celebration

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
September 23, 2020

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

Celebrate Nebraska’s 2020 Book Award Winners at Week Long Virtual Celebration

Celebrate Nebraska’s 2020 Book Award winners with author readings and an awards presentation ceremony at the Nebraska Center for the Book’s week long virtual Celebration of Nebraska Books starting October 19th. Winners of the 2020 Nebraska Book Awards will be honored and the celebration will include readings by some of the winning authors, designers and illustrators of books with a Nebraska connection published in 2019. And the winners are:

Children’s Picture Book: Your Bridge to History by Portia Love & Preston Love, Jr. Illustrated by Regina Jeanpierre. Publisher: Preston Publishing

Children’s Picture Book Honor: Major: A Soldier Dog by Trevor Jones. Illustrated by Ming Hai. Publisher: Six Foot Press

Cover/Design/Illustration: The Spirit of Nebraska: A History of Husker Game Day Traditions – the Tunnel Walk, Mascots, Cheer, and More by Debra Kleve White. Design by Concierge Marketing and Publishing Services. Publisher: Cheerful Books

Fiction: See Willy See by Faith Colburn. Publisher: Prairie Wind Press

Fiction Honor Series: The Line Between: A Thriller and A Single Light: A Thriller by Tosca Lee. Publisher: Howard Books

Nonfiction Investigative Journalism: Zoo Nebraska: Dismantling of an American Dream by Carson Vaughan. Publisher: Little A

Nonfiction Nature Reference: Great Plains Birds: Discover the Great Plains by Larkin Powell. Publisher: Bison Books

Nonfiction Immigration Story: Citizen Akoy: Basketball and the Making of a South Sudanese American by Steve Marantz. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press

Nonfiction Nebraska Perseverance: Nebraska During the New Deal: The Federal Writers’ Project in the Cornhusker State by Marilyn Irvin Holt. Publisher: Bison Books

Nonfiction Native American History: Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power by Pekka Hämäläinen. Publisher: Yale University Press

Poetry: This Bright Darkness by Sarah McKinstry-Brown. Publisher: Black Lawrence Press

Poetry Honor: In a Good Time by Mark Sanders. Publisher: WSC Press

The virtual Celebration of Nebraska Books will also honor winners of the 2020 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 is presented to a Nebraska organization for exceptional contribution to literacy, books, reading, libraries, or 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.

The 2020 One Book One Nebraska selection, All the Gallant Men: An American Sailor’s Firsthand Account of Pearl Harbor by Donald Stratton with Ken Gire (William Morrow, 2016) will be featured in a keynote presentation. The introduction of the 2021 One Book One Nebraska book choice will conclude the festivities on Friday, October 23rd.

The Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book and the Nebraska Library Commission, with support from History Nebraska’s Nebraska History Museum. Humanities Nebraska provides support for One Book One Nebraska. 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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#BookFaceFriday “The Bookseller” by Cynthia Swanson

Reading is for everyone with #BookFaceFriday!

Nothing is as permanent as it appears . . . like this week’s #BookFace and our Book Club Kits. This service allows libraries to “check out” multiple copies of a book without adding to their permanent collections, or budgets. Check out “The Bookseller: A Novel” by Cynthia Swanson (Harper Paperbacks, 2016). This debut novel is a new addition to our book club kit collection and available for your next read!

What if? These words tantalize and haunt us. In The Bookseller, writing with a sharp-tinged empathic pen, Cynthia Swanson takes us on a startling journey where a woman is thrust into the alternative world that might have been, had she made different choices.” (Randy Susan Meyers, author of Accidents of Marriage)

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

This week’s BookFace model isn’t a bookseller or a giraffe, she’s our Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services, Sally Snyder!

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

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Friday Reads: B is for Beer

This book is described, appropriately, as a children’s book for grown-ups or a grown-up book for children. In addition to reading it myself, my 9 year old and my 13 year old also enjoyed it. The book, obviously, is about beer. It details the history and finer facts about beer, weaved into the story of young Gracie Perkel, a 6 year old living in the Pacific Northwest, namely, Seattle. Gracie becomes interested in the stuff her daddy and uncle Moe (who steals the show) drink, that looks like “pee-pee”. Robbins has a way of describing the mundane in a way that brings hilarity into the room. In this story, that is Gracie’s interactions with Moe (full time beer drinker, part-time philosopher), a visit from the Beer Fairy, and the condescending teetoaler Sunday school teacher (who’s breath transcends bad, having the potency to “paralyze a rattlesnake”). At any rate, the novel is a good mix of the plot story of Gracie’s life, the life of Moe, Gracie’s parents (mostly her mom), and the beer stuff.

Robbins suggests this is a good book for a grandpa to read to his grandkids, whilst cracking a “cold one”. It very well may be. At least it is an entertaining and quick read.

Robbins, T. B is for Beer Ecco, 2009.

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NCompass Live: The Golden Sower Award: Nebraska’s Children’s Choice Literary Award

Want to know more about the Golden Sower Award, Nebraska’s Children’s Choice Literary Award? Then join us on next week’s FREE NCompass Live webinar on Wednesday, September 16 at 10am CT.

Thousands of Nebraska’s children and teens participate in the Golden Sower Award program each year by voting to choose the winners and honor books. The 2020 Golden Sower Award winners and the lists of Nominees for the 2021-2022 school year have been announced. Join Golden Sower Award Committee Chair, Kathy Schultz, and NLC Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services, Sally Snyder, to learn about the history and the process of the Golden Sower Award, including how librarians and teachers can be involved with sending in book suggestions and voting to determine the final lists of ten titles for each level.

Upcoming NCompass Live shows:

  • Sept. 23 – NLC Grants for 2021
  • Sept. 30 – Pretty Sweet Tech – Revamping Your WordPress Website
  • Oct. 21 – Migrating to an Open-Source ILS in an Academic Library: How to Celebrate Successes and Bounce Back from Problems
  • Tues. Nov. 10 – Creating an Open Educational Resource: Grenzenlos Deutsch, German Language Online Curriculum

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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#BookFaceFriday “Neither Snow nor Rain” by Devin Leonard

Neither snow nor rain nor heat nor gloom of night stays these #BookFaceFridays!

er… I mean, couriers from the swift completion of their appointed rounds. “Neither Snow Nor Rain: A History of the United States Postal Service” by Devin Leonard (Grove Atlantic, 2018). It’s available to all Nebraska OverDrive Libraries in eBook format. 173 libraries across the state share this collection of 17,165 audiobooks and 28,972 eBooks. 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!

“Delectably readable . . . [Leonard] has a zesty prose style, a great sense of humor, a fine eye for the telling anecdote, and a lucid way of unraveling some of the controversies and challenges our postal service has faced in its 224 years of existence. Leonard’s account offers surprises on almost every other page . . . [and] delivers both the triumphs and travails with clarity, wit, and heart.”Chicago Tribune

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

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Friday Reads: Pumpkinheads by Rainbow Rowell

Pumpkinheads book cover

Is there anything better than a crisp cool night at the pumpkin patch in the fall? The smell of campfire smoke, kettle corn, and apple cider in the air?

Deja and Josiah have been partners in the Succotash Hut for 4 seasons at the world’s greatest pumpkin patch. It’s their last night, and Deja is on a mission to get Josie to finally talk to his long-time crush at The Fudge Hut…and score some snacks along the way.

This YA graphic novel by Nebraska author Rainbow Rowell and Canadian artist Faith Erin Hicks was the perfect quick read to kick off my autumn. While I may not visit the local pumpkin patch this year (darn you coronavirus!), I am definitely ready for s’mores, fire pits, and pumpkin pie.

Rowell, Rainbow. Pumpkinheads. First Second Books, 2019.

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Book Briefs: New University of Nebraska Press Books at the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse

The Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse receives documents every month from all Nebraska state agencies, including the University of Nebraska Press (UNP).  Each month we will be showcasing the UNP books that the Clearinghouse receives.  UNP books, as well as all Nebraska state documents, are available for checkout by libraries and librarians for their patrons.

Here are the UNP books the Clearinghouse received in July and August 2020:

DEZA AND ITS MORISCOS : RELIGION AND COMMUNITY IN EARLY MODERN SPAIN. Patrick J. O’Banion (Series: Early Modern Cultural Studies)

Deza and Its Moriscos addresses an incongruity in early modern Spanish historiography: a growing awareness of the importance played by Moriscos in Spanish society and culture alongside a dearth of knowledge about individuals or local communities. By reassessing key elements in the religious and social history of early modern Spain through the experience of the small Castilian town of Deza, Patrick J. O’Banion asserts the importance of local history in understanding large-scale historical events and challenges scholars to rethink how marginalized people of the past exerted their agency.

Moriscos, baptized Muslims and their descendants, were pressured to convert to Christianity at the end of the Middle Ages but their mass baptisms led to fears about lingering crypto-Islamic activities. Many political and religious authorities, and many of the Moriscos’ neighbors as well, concluded that the conversions had produced false Christians. Between 1609 and 1614 nearly all of Spain’s Moriscos—some three hundred thousand individuals—were thus expelled from their homeland.

Contrary to the assumptions of many modern scholars, rich source materials show the town’s Morisco minority wielded remarkable social, economic, and political power. Drawing deeply on a diverse collection of archival material as well as early printed works, this study illuminates internal conflicts, external pressures brought to bear by the Inquisition, the episcopacy, and the crown, and the possibilities and limitations of negotiated communal life at the dawn of modernity.

Millennial Cervantes : New Currents in Cervantes Studies Edited by Bruce R. Burningham (Series: New Hispanisms)

Millennial Cervantes explores some of the most important recent trends in Cervantes scholarship in the twenty-first century. It brings together leading Cervantes scholars of the United States in order to showcase their cutting-edge work within a cultural studies frame that encompasses everything from ekphrasis to philosophy, from sexuality to Cold War political satire, and from the culinary arts to the digital humanities.

Millennial Cervantes is divided into three sets of essays—conceptually organized around thematic and methodological lines that move outward in a series of concentric circles. The first group, focused on the concept of “Cervantes in his original contexts,” features essays that bring new insights to these texts within the primary context of early modern Iberian culture. The second group, focused on the concept of “Cervantes in comparative contexts,” features essays that examine Cervantes’s works in conjunction with those of the English-speaking world, both seventeenth- and twentieth-century. The third group, focused on the concept of “Cervantes in wider cultural contexts,” examines Cervantes’s works—principally Don Quixote—as points of departure for other cultural products and wider intellectual debates.

This collection articulates the state of Cervantes studies in the first two decades of the new millennium as we move further into a century that promises both unimagined technological advances and the concomitant cultural changes that will naturally adhere to this new technology, whatever it may be.

ON DISTANT SERVICE : THE LIFE OF THE FIRST U.S. FOREIGN SERVICE OFFICER TO BE ASSASSINATED. Susan M. Stein

On July 18, 1924, a mob in Tehran killed U.S. foreign service officer Robert Whitney Imbrie. His violent death, the first political murder in the history of the service, outraged the American people. Though Imbrie’s loss briefly made him a cause célèbre, subsequent events quickly obscured his extraordinary life and career.

Susan M. Stein tells the story of a figure steeped in adventure and history. Imbrie rejected a legal career to volunteer as an ambulance driver during World War I and joined the State Department when the United States entered the war. Assigned to Russia, he witnessed the October Revolution, fled ahead of a Bolshevik arrest order, and continued to track communist activity in Turkey even as the country’s war of independence unfolded around him. His fateful assignment to Persia led to his death at age forty-one and set off political repercussions that cloud relations between the United States and Iran to this day.

Drawing on a wealth of untapped materials, On Distant Service returns readers to an era when dash and diplomacy went hand-in-hand.

SILVER VEIN, DUSTY LUNGS : MONING, WATER, AND PUBLIC HEALTH IN ZACATECAS, 1835-1946. Rocio Gomez (Series: The Mexican Experience)

In Mexico environmental struggles have been fought since the nineteenth century in such places as Zacatecas, where United States and European mining interests have come into open conflict with rural and city residents over water access, environmental health concerns, and disease compensation.

In Silver Veins, Dusty Lungs, Rocio Gomez examines the detrimental effects of the silver mining industry on water resources and public health in the city of Zacatecas and argues that the human labor necessary to the mining industry made the worker and the mine inseparable through the land, water, and air. Tensions arose between farmers and the mining industry over water access while the city struggled with mudslides, droughts, and water source contamination. Silicosis-tuberculosis, along with accidents caused by mining technologies like jackhammers and ore-crushers, debilitated scores of miners. By emphasizing the perspective of water and public health, Gomez illustrates that the human body and the environment are not separate entities but rather in a state of constant interaction.

Teaching Western American Literature Edited by Brady Harrison and Randi Lynn Tanglen (Series: Postwestern Horizons)

In this volume experienced and new college- and university-level teachers will find practical, adaptable strategies for designing or updating courses in western American literature and western studies. Teaching Western American Literature features the latest developments in western literary research and cultural studies as well as pedagogical best practices in course development. Contributors provide practical models and suggestions for courses and assignments while presenting concrete strategies for teaching works both inside and outside the canon. In addition, Brady Harrison and Randi Lynn Tanglen have assembled insights from pioneering western studies instructors with workable strategies and practical advice for translating this often complex material for classrooms from freshman writing courses to graduate seminars.

Teaching Western American Literature reflects the cutting edge of western American literary study, featuring diverse approaches allied with women’s, gender, queer, environmental, disability, and Indigenous studies and providing instructors with entrée into classrooms of leading scholars in the field.

THINKING ABOUT GOD : JEWISH VIEWS. Rabbi Kari H. Tuling (Series: JPS Essential Judaism)

Who—or what—is God? Is God like a person? Does God have a gender? Does God have a special relationship with the Jewish people? Does God intervene in our lives? Is God good—and, if yes, why does evil persist in the world? In investigating how Jewish thinkers have approached these and other questions, Rabbi Kari H. Tuling elucidates many compelling—and contrasting—ways of thinking about God in Jewish tradition.

Thinking about God addresses the genuinely intertextual nature of evolving Jewish God concepts. Just as in Jewish thought the Bible and other historical texts are living documents, still present and relevant to the conversation unfolding now, and just as a Jewish theologian examining a core concept responds to the full tapestry of Jewish thought on the subject all at once, this book is organized topically, covers Jewish sources (including liturgy) from the biblical to the postmodern era, and highlights the interplay between texts over time, up through our own era.

A highly accessible resource for introductory students, Thinking about God also makes important yet challenging theological texts understandable. By breaking down each selected text into its core components, Tuling helps the reader absorb it both on its own terms and in the context of essential theological questions of the ages. Readers of all backgrounds will discover new ways to contemplate God.


  **All book covers and synopses courtesy of University of Nebraska Press  (https://www.nebraskapress.unl.edu/)

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What’s Up Doc? New State Agency Publications at the Nebraska Library Commission

New state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for July and August 2020.  Included are reports from the Nebraska Abstracters Board of Examiners, the Nebraska State Board of Public Accountancy, the Nebraska Accountability and Disclosure Commission, the Nebraska Commission for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing, and new books from the University of Nebraska Press, to name a few.

Most items, except the books from the University of Nebraska Press, are available for immediate viewing and printing by clicking on the highlighted link above, or directly in the .pdf below.  You can read synopses of the books received from the University of Nebraska Press in the Book Briefs blogposts.

The Nebraska Legislature created the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse in 1972, a service of the Nebraska Library Commission. Its purpose is to collect, preserve, and provide access to all public information published by Nebraska state agencies.  By law (State Statutes 51-411 to 51-413) all Nebraska state agencies are required to submit their published documents to the Clearinghouse.  For more information, visit the Nebraska Publications Clearinghouse page, contact Mary Sauers, Government Information Services Librarian; or contact Bonnie Henzel, State Documents Staff Assistant.

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Friday Reads: Tempest Tossed

September is Library Card Sign-up Month! And ALA has named Wonder Woman as this year’s Library Card Sign-up Month Honorary Chair.

To celebrate, I read the new graphic novel, Wonder Woman: Tempest Tossed, written by Laurie Halse Anderson and illustrated by Leila Del Duca.

Tempest Tossed is a re-imagining of Wonder Woman’s origin story. While it is part of DC’s Graphic Novels for Young Adults imprint, it is definitely a book for all ages.

Some of the story is familiar. Unlike the other Amazons who were created on Themyscira as adults, Princess Diana was molded out of clay as a baby by her mother, Queen of the Amazons. So, she is the only person on the island who actually grew up, through the terrible toddler years and into teenage puberty. Since none of the other Amazons have gone through this, the changes that Diana experiences are very confusing to them. Mood swings, her body developing, acne, growth spurts making her awkward and clumsy. This causes some of the other Amazons to call her the Changeling. Definitely something that anyone reading this book will identify with.

As she reaches her 16th Born Day, rafts full of refugees fleeing their war-torn country break through holes in the barrier protecting Themyscira, and Diana goes against Amazon rules to help save a group from drowning. But, she ends up trapped outside the barrier on the refugee’s raft and cannot return to her home. She becomes a refugee herself.

The raft eventually finds land, and Diana is thrown into a new and foreign world. We follow her personal experience navigating the refugee process, as she learns about the struggles and failures of the immigration system. She also makes new friends and works with them to fight new injustices – homelessness, poverty, food insecurity, child trafficking. Through Diana’s eyes readers are exposed to the harsh realities of being poor in our world.

On a lighter note, I also really enjoyed the version of Steve Trevor in the story. No spoilers! I won’t give anything away, but it’s one of the most unique portrayals I’ve read and perfect for our times.

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#BookFaceFriday – “Humphrey’s Pet Show Panic”

There’s nothing like man’s best friend and #BookFaceFriday!

Now it’s time to hit the books… er, #BookFace. Help your kids unwind and improve their reading skills by letting them read to their favorite pet! “Humphrey’s Pet Show Panic” by Betty G. Birney, illustrated by Priscilla Burris (G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers, 2018) would be a perfect fit. 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. Public and school library staff are also welcome to stop by and select some titles for their library collections. We think this one would be a great addition to any library. Contact Sally Snyder for more information.

“Small but mighty, Humphrey is an endearing and earnest narrator whose gentle but on-the-nose observations will resonate with budding readers.” — School Library Journal

Love this #BookFace & reading? We suggest checking out all the titles available in our Book Club collection, permanent collection, and Nebraska OverDrive Libraries. Check out our past #BookFaceFriday photos on the Nebraska Library Commission’s Facebook page!

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Youth Grants for Excellence now available

Applications for the Youth Grants for Excellence are now available for accredited public libraries and state-run institutional libraries in Nebraska. The program is designed to encourage innovative projects for children and teens via creative thinking, risk-taking, expanding current programs, and new approaches to address problems and needs of children and young adults in your community. Grant applications are due October 7, 2020. Applications must be received by the Nebraska Library Commission submitted electronically by 11:59 p.m. CT. You will be notified by November 13, 2020 if you are awarded a grant.  Find the application form here, near the bottom of the page.

Join us on September 23, 2020 for the NCompass Live program that will address recommendations for your application for this and other grants from the Library Commission.

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#BookFaceFriday “Canoeing the Great Plains” by Patrick Dobson

Row, row, row, your #BookFace!

Go jump in a lake with this week’s #BookFaceFriday, “Canoeing the Great Plains: A Missouri River Summer” by Patrick Dobson (Bison Books, 2015). It’s available to all Nebraska OverDrive Libraries in eBook format. 173 libraries across the state share this collection of 17,165 audiobooks and 28,972 eBooks. 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. We also have the “Diverse Reads for Kids & Teens” collection of 56 titles available through August 31st!

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!

“Part travelogue, part social commentary, Dobson narrates a gritty and multidimensional tale, even as his descriptions of the landscape and the river are as warm as the summer sun. It was a journey I didn’t want to end.”—Sandra Moran, anthropologist and award-winning author of Letters Never Sent and Nudge

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

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Friday Reads: Shine! by J.J. and Chris Grabenstein

Piper (7th grade) considers herself a “blender,” one who would rather blend in with the crowd than stand out.  When her father is hired as the music teacher at the exclusive Chumley Prep, she is thrust into a new school where, it seems, everyone excels.  The quintessential mean girl is there, Ainsley, and she is almost nonstop mean.   Still, Piper finds some good friends and things are looking up. 

Then a new competition is announced: The Excelsior Prize, and everyone is determined to win it, though no one is quite sure what accomplishments it celebrates.  Piper manages to continue being herself, helping others and working hard in her classes.  She also would like to win the new prize, and the Science Fair seems to be the first step.  Piper is feeling good about her entry, and then she is blindsided by Ainsley, who uses a technicality to exclude Piper from the Science Fair, taking first place for herself, hoping it will help ensure that she, Ainsley, wins the new Excelsior Prize. 

This is a positive book about being true to yourself and caring about others. It is for upper elementary and early middle school readers. 

Grabenstein, J.J. and Chris. Shine! Random House Books for Young Readers, 2019.

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Friday Reads: Upright Women Wanted by Sarah Gailey

ARE YOU A COWARD
OR ARE YOU A LIBRARIAN?

tagline from the cover

When it seems like absolutely everything is going awry, cracking open a work of dystopic fiction doesn’t sound like the wisest idea, but Gailey’s novella Upright Women Wanted is a timely message of hope, community, and resistance – and of Librarianship. 

Yes, this book is about Librarians. Gunslinging, horseback-riding, revolutionary queer librarians. Upright Women Wanted is something of a Western, set in the near-future, and is pretty much everything I’ve ever wanted from a story.   

When Esther flees from home after her (secret) girlfriend Beatriz’s execution at the hands of her father, she stows herself into the back of a Librarian wagon, determined to become a morally upright woman (as all Librarians, who are tasked in this dystopic, what Publisher’s Weekly called “neo-western,” America to distribute Approved Materials, are supposed to be).   

What Esther is soon to discover is that nothing she was told about the world, about Librarians – and about herself – is true. As she makes her way across the Southwest in the company of the Librarians, she’s forced to reckon with the State of things (pun intended), and with who she is and who she can be and love.

I love a Western, and I love a diverse Western, especially, and most of all I love a diverse, science-fiction Western. Throw a band of roving librarians into the mix and I’m sold. One of the events in history that I am most fascinated by is the WPA Pack Horse Library Project, ever since I stumbled across That Book Woman by Heather Henson. The Pack Horse Library Project is such a unique time period, and it captures the imagination and inspiration. Librarians are connected to our communities in a unique way, and the way we strive to maintain those connections – and advocate for those communities – is just as important as the distribution of materials. I couldn’t find any evidence to confirm that Gailey was inspired by this era, but it’s clear that love and a similar spirit went into the novella, regardless. 

Upright Women Wanted is a fast-paced, quick-read of a book, with plenty of well-written action and characters. While my main complaint was that I wanted it to be longer, to have its world and all its circumstances and people fully fleshed out, it truly holds its own for a 170-odd page novella. I would definitely pick up a full novel of this story, or I hope that Gailey at least decides to pen a longer follow-up.


Gailey, Sarah. Upright Women Wanted. Tom Doherty Associates, 2020.

Henson, Heather. That Book Woman. Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2008.

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#BookFaceFriday “You Should See Me in a Crown” by Leah Johnson

Envelop, please! This year’s prom queen is… #BookFaceFriday!

Put on your dancing shoes and get ready to boogie with YA rom-com “You Should See Me in a Crown” by Leah Johnson (Scholastic Inc., 2020). It’s available to all Nebraska OverDrive Libraries in eBook and Audiobook format. 173 libraries across the state share this collection of 17,165 audiobooks and 28,972 eBooks. 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. We also have the “Diverse Reads for Kids & Teens” collection of 56 titles available through August 31st!

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!

Johnson puts a fresh spin on this novel with an unlikely romance, heartwarming friendships, and the tension of being Black, poor, and queer in a small town. A feel-good title for sure. — Booklist

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

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Friday Reads, Death on Demand by Carolyn G. Hart

Carolyn G. Hart’s Death on Demand is the first in a series of cozy mysteries located in Broward’s Rock, South Carolina, an island. Annie Laurance moved to Broward Rock to spend the summer with her uncle, he dies in a boat accident, and so she inherits his bookstore, remodels it, and names it Death on Demand. The story begins with a list of items, and an incident and death in a veterinary clinic. Then, with hints already placed, we meet Annie, in her bookstore, putting off a phone call. Instead of making the call, she receives a call from Max Darling, the young man she was attracted to in New York City. She left no forwarding information; he’s had to find her through a series of calls and detective work. In addition, because he tracked her to South Carolina, he’s also driven down from New York, to visit, and find out what took her from her career in the city. And away from him.

I had missed Ms. Hart’s writing as much as these two characters. Annie is a straight shooting girl from Texas with a strong work ethic, and Max “delighted in ambiguities, disdained certainties, and loved above anything to puncture pretensions.”* But he makes her smile and her heart lifts when she finds out he’s in South Carolina. And the tiny island has several mystery writers of some note living there full time, as well as a small town community. What could go wrong? Well, at the usual meeting of the writers, her landlord, a true crime writer, has told her that he’s going to share information in his next book—about his fellow mystery writers’ dirty laundry. And the writers are as varied as possible, thriller, cozy, police procedural, children’s and true crime. At the party, the lights go out, the usual kerfuffle of bumped tables, people shouting, and offering directions. When Annie gets the lights on, her landlord is found on the floor with a dart in his throat, and dead. When the sheriff arrives, he blames Annie, for both the death of her landlord, but also her Uncle, with whom she had a close relationship. It all spurs her to clear her name.

I will admit the series begins in 1987, so sometimes one has to recall the state of technology, not just phones, but computers. So much needs to be seen in the correct timeline. The island also relies on a ferry that crosses to and from the mainland at set times. Although there are private boats, and a marina, the story reads like a closed system. Also, the two main characters, (and the author), throw in references to mystery writers and their books, from the golden age of mystery to the present. Which, if you don’t know them, will have you writing lists of titles of books. And did I mention Ms. Hart’s writing? This is just the book to read, or reread, during stressful times.

Death on Demand, by Carolyn G. Hart, 1987.

*quoted from Death on Demand, Chapter 3, page 7, in omnibus, Death on Demand/Design for Murder, Bantam Book, printed in 2008.

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#BookFaceFriday 2020 Challenge

It’s been quite a year with #BookFace!

Our 2020 challenge, #BookFace style! We decided to jump on the meme bandwagon and share some classic NLC #BookFace photos. Because no matter what’s happening out in the world, we’ve still got your back. Check out a few of our great services like:

And these are just the services we promote with #BookFaceFriday. Visit the Nebraska Library Commission main page to explore everything we offer!

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

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Friday Reads: Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss and Hope in an African Slum

This past year has slapped us all in the face. Now more than ever, it is apparent that the world has problems. But we can’t stop there. The world has solutions too.

Today I am reviewing Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in an African Slum by Kennedy Odede and Jessica Posner. It’s a love story centered around extreme poverty in Kibera, the largest slum in Africa.

Honestly, I read it to get out of my head and see the world from other perspectives. Part of me cringed at the title, expecting to find another sob story, simply trying to make me feel guilty for existing in comparative luxury. But it wasn’t like that. The story was frank and unapologetic.

This is the story of Jessica Posner, a student at Wesleyan University who went on a study abroad trip to Africa. It was here that she insisted upon staying with Kennedy in Kibera. The description of Kibera was too real. I could see and smell the stinking scent of poverty, accented by the behavioral and economic forces perpetuating the cycle.

I felt a pang in my heart as Jessica witnessed new traumas. But she also brought new hope. Kennedy had been doing the long, slow work of economic development in Kibera. He brought people together over things as simple as soccer, then escalated to women’s rights. It was hope that drew Jessica to Kennedy, and visa versa.

Much of this story is about the school for girls that the two built together. It is about Kennedy finding a path towards education, and attempting to bring prosperity back to Kibera. This book shows that the road to change and forward momentum is slow. Achingly slow. But the work is worth doing.

I did get out of my head while reading this book. I held paper differently, and appreciated my ability to read. I thought about Kennedy learning to read from scraps of newspaper in the garbage. There was no other alternative there.

I shopped for groceries differently and considered food waste. Before, I rarely thought about the supply chain and how goods arrived at my doorstep. Many of them in under two days. This book made me reconsider my life and how I live it.

But a large part of that was because of the events of this year. Covid, climate change, black lives matter, massive unemployment, and a bit of gender equality for good measure. Problems are mounting. 

If Jessica and Kennedy can build a school and change the lives of girls who were dealt an unfair hand in life, what am I doing? All I know is that it could be more. Read this book and try new things. Find words and stories that keep you going.

“It always seems impossible until it’s done” – Nelson Mandela.

Odede, Kennedy and Jessica Posner. Find Me Unafraid: Love, Loss, and Hope in an African Slum. HarperCollins, 2015.

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