Tag Archives: Library

The True Tails of Baker and Taylor

the-true-tails-of-baker-and-taylor

Title:  The True Tails of Baker and Taylor
Author:  Jan Louch
Publisher:  St. Martin’s Press
Publication Date:  2016
ISBN:  978-0-250-08107-0

Book Summary:
In the early 1980’s, a new library was built in Douglas County, Nevada.  As is often with new construction, there were mice.  Unpleasant in any place, mice present a more dangerous problem in a library.  Attracted the glue, mice will eat through books and the taxpayer’s investment.  So, librarians and cat lovers Jan and Yvonne decide the best solution would be to get a cat.  With the library board’s approval, a purebred Scottish Fold named Baker joined the staff.  Such begins the true tale of two amazing cats and the people who loved them.

Baker quickly became a fixture of the library; his presence seemed to deter mice and so his job expanded to Official Greeter.  Patrons young and old would scratch him behind the ears as they were checking books out, and when he wasn’t at the circulation desk, they would seek him out in the sunniest spot they could find.

Jan and Yvonne purchased Baker and paid for all this needs – food, toys, litter, vet visits – out of their own personal salaries.  As much as they wanted a companion for Baker, time was need for more funds to be saved.

Baker & Taylor is a worldwide distributor of books; Bill Hartman, the sales and marketing director for the western division of the company, stopped in the library every few months to talk about books.  A few days after a visit, Jan and Yvonne received a surprising call from Bill.  Baker & Taylor wanted to buy “Taylor” for the library.  In exchange, the company wanted to take some pictures of the two cats to use in their marketing campaign.  Taylor arrives at the library and after a week or so of adjustment, the library was more relaxed and happier because of Baker and Taylor.

The story goes on to tell of the impact that these two cats made on the lives of these librarians and the library patrons.  As the ad campaign became successful, Baker and Taylor were known throughout the world.  Children would write letters to the cats and tourists would stop to see them on their travels.

Through changing economics, new technology, and diverse populations, Baker and Taylor remained a fixture for what makes a library so magical.  A room full of books, a warm sunbeam, and a cozy cat curled up next to you.  Heaven.

Book Commentary:
I laughed and I cried when I read this book.  It is a beautiful tribute to two incredible felines and the woman who cared for them.  It is also a reminder of enjoying the simple things in life.  The reader gets a feel that the library patrons who filtered in and out of the library over years were touched and enlightened by the presence of these two cats.

As a college student, I spent a few summers working at Robin’s Bookshop in Geneva, Illinois.  It was truly the most perfect job I have ever had, surrounded daily by books, and it is one of the places that my love of mysteries developed.  One of my favorite jobs at the store was to unpack and catalogue the new books that arrived.  Every morning, a pile of Baker & Taylor boxes sat on the doorstep and my anticipation would heighten; what magic might those boxes contain.

Growing up, we always had a menagerie of animals – cats, dogs, a ferret, a guinea pig, a turtle, fish, and even a snake . . . although not while I was living at home.  I enjoyed the animals but never felt a compelling reason to have any of my own.  Fast forward to my oldest daughter whose first words I think were “I want a cat;” we finally caved almost seven years ago, and are the proud servants (because yes, you are, when you have cats) of Merlin and Arthur.  I couldn’t imagine life without them now and as my children get older, they have truly become my other children.  And according to my kids, more spoiled!

img_1495

Who might like this book:, 
If you like cats or books or libraries or a really, up-lifting good story, check this book out.  The author has a very engaging and straightforward prose that is a delight to read.  The subtitle of the book, The Library Cats Who Left Their Pawprints on a Small Town . . . and the World, truly says it all.

 

Better Late Than Never

better-late-than-never

Title:  Better Late than Never (Library Lovers Mysteries 7 )
Author:  Jenn McKinlay
Publisher:  Penguin
Publication Date:  2016
ISBN:  978-0-399-58373-5

Book Summary:
Librarian Lindsay Norris feels that books back in the library for recirculation are worth the loss of any fines collected, and she organizes Briar Creek Public Library’s first overdue book amnesty day.  The flood of books is so overwhelming that Lindsay not only recruits her entire staff, but also the group of crafternoon ladies who come to the library weekly to craft, discuss books, and enjoy a lunch together.

A copy of J.D. Salinger’s The Catcher in the Rye wins the prize of the most overdue book at almost 10 years, but what is more shocking is that the person who checked it out was Candice Whitley, a local high school English teacher who was murdered.  The plot thickens when Lindsay and the staff realize that the book was checked out on the very day her body was discovered and that the killer was never found.

Always curious and possessed with a natural inclination to want to find the answers, Lindsay uses her research skills to look into this cold case.  The case may be cold, but it seems that the memories of the horror of Candice’s murder and the secrets contained are warming up and Lindsay finds her researching skills put her in the hot seat.

Book Commentary:
This is the seventh book in this delightful cozy series.  Jenn McKinlay writes three cozy series – the Library Lovers, the Hat Shop, and the Cupcake Bakery – and they all embody what makes a cozy mystery so enjoyable:  a fun protagonist, likeable characters, a fun setting, and plot that is interesting without being too complex.  Of the three series, I enjoy the Library Lovers the most; a combination of the library setting and book references interests me, and the book is also set on the Connecticut coast with several adventures on the open water.

Lindsay is a very likeable character and her rationale for research and curiosity are very believable.  The author weaves in a bit of romance with two gentlemen vying for Lindsay’s attention.

Who might like this book:
These books are perfect for the carpool lane or waiting in the doctor’s office.  Each time a new one comes out, I feel like I am visiting with an old friend.

Make sure that you read them in order!

Books Can Be Deceiving
Due or Die
Book, Line, and Sinker
Read It and Weep
On Borrowed Time
A Likely Story
Better Late Than Never

The Bookshop on the Corner

the-bookshop-on-the-corner

Title:  The Bookshop on the Corner
Author:  Jenny Coogan
Publisher:  William Morrow
Publication Date:  2016
ISBN:  978-0-06-246725-6

Book Summary:
In the current age of technology, social media, and financial cutbacks, the Birmingham library where Nina Redmond works finds itself without purpose and Nina, without a job.  At age twenty-nine, all Nina has ever known and loved are books.  Her roommate has finally hit her limit of all the lost and lonely books that Nina brings home and declares that Nina and her books must go.

Now, out of a job and a home, Nina searches for a new start.  In the transition program that is meant to help the displaced workers find that next step, Nina reveals her lifelong dream – to own a bookstore.  However, with limited means, Nina instead settles on a search for a book van and she finds one . . . in Scotland.

As so begins a grand adventure of negotiating the purchase of the van, finding a new place to live, figuring how to get her books to the van, learning how to drive the van, and endeavoring to make a living sharing her love of books with the readers she meets.

Along the way, she meets a host of characters: Edwin and Hugh, her pub buddies; Lennox, her cantankerous landlord, Marek, her mysterious and sexy book smuggler; and Ben and Ainslee, the children whose secrets tug at her heart.  But as Nina shares her passion for books and talent at perfectly matching reader to story, she must also decide which chapter of her own life she will follow and if she is willing to step out from behind the pages of the books that she is reading and face the world.

Book Commentary:
I loved this book.  Straightforward and simple, it had all my favorites – a nerdy heroine, a rakish hero, books, and Scotland.  Sigh.  As with the other Jenny Colgan books, for many they might be considered “chick lit,” but I really feel that her metaphors for life are spot on.  She comments that for Nina, whenever the grim, harsh, and unpleasant realities of life rear up, “she always turned to a book.”  I think a lot readers do this; find sanctuary and peace in stories that aren’t their own realities.

The author, however, through Nina does warn of the dangers of constantly escaping into a book and forgetting to live your life.  The constant imagery and metaphors of books and new chapters really resonate with the reader; the story is a delightful tale, but also a cautionary one.

The author comments that this book – her seventeenth – was written for her readers.  She expounds on her favorite reading spots and understands the spark of matching a perfect book to a wounded, expectant, or nervous soul.

As someone who has read a lot of books to children, I also appreciated the theory that “children were evolutionarily engineered to listen to stories, because it stopped them from wandering off in the woods and getting eaten by hairy mammoths.”  Makes sense!

Who might like this book:
This book is for book-lovers.  It will make you think a bit about why you read and how you read, but most all, it will make you smile.

I have read and loved two other Jenny Colgan books – Little Beach Street Bakery and Summer at Little Beach Street Bakery . . . and I might possibly have two more waiting in my to-be-read pile.

Four FAVORITE CHILDREN’S BOOK Librarians

mike's house Library Lion all of a kind family library lil

I have always felt that truly good librarians are magic makers: they inspire readers to follow their passions and ignite new ones by introducing book selections that might not have been considered.  I love to check out books from the library and have the librarian give his or her thoughts or ask for my opinions.  As helpful and encouraging as librarians are to adults, I think their true spark comes from their interaction with children. 

The librarian at my children’s New Hampshire elementary school and the Amherst town librarian took on the role of an adult confidant and mentor to my own children.  She (in both cases) assumed the role of an adult who wasn’t there to evaluate or to reprimand (usually), but someone who the children could share their thoughts, questions, and inspiration about the books they read.  As much as I enjoyed teaching, I often admired and envied the role of a librarian: to be able to read and share books and authors without worrying about grades or projects or state requirements.

Now I know that good librarians do so much more than that!  They seem to possess a unique gift to recognize what type of book a child wants or needs and be able to find a suitable title to fit just that purpose.  Although a librarian’s work with technology has changed over the years – from microfiches and film strips to ebooks and websearches – I’d like to think that their passion lies truly with the books themselves.

Here are four of my favorite librarians from children’s literature.

Miss Merriweather from Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
I have to admit that this is one of my all-time favorite children’s picture books and I have to thank a librarian for sharing it with me and my children – thanks, Miss Jackie!  One day, a lion wandered into the library and sat down for a snooze in the children’s section.  As he wasn’t breaking any rules, he was allowed to stay.  He became a soft pillow during story-time, helped dust the shelves with his tail, and licked the overdue notice envelopes.  When something happens that requires the lion to break the rules, he must leave the library.

This is a beautiful story about rules and when to break them.  And more importantly, it is about the friendship between a librarian and a four-legged patron.

Lil in Library Lil by Suzanne Williams
Every since she was a child, Lil loved books and loved the library. One time she even checked out the entire set of encyclopedias and read them from cover to cover; so of course, she grows up to be a librarian.  Unfortunately, the people of Chesterville were not avid readers.  When a storm knocks out all the power in town and the television service is cut off, Lil jumps at the opportunity, pulls out the bookmobile, and inspires the town to read.  Life in Chesterville is good until Bust-‘em-up Bill and his motorcycle game come to town; they discover that they are unable to watch their favorite shows on Tuesday night because there are no televisions in town and they seek out the culprit behind this heinous act.  Lil stands firm and converts them all to be book lovers.

This very fun book is illustrated by the immensely talented Steven Kellogg.  The vivid and detailed illustrations just add to the humor and depth of the story.  Younger readers can appreciate the passion for reading that Lil inspired.  My favorite part is when the motorcycle gang members get in a fight over who will check out The Mouse and the Motorcycle.

The Library Lady in All-of-a-Kind Family by Sydney Taylor
This is a delightful book about five sisters who live in New York City with their parents at the turn-of-the-century.  This chapter book series was one of my favorites as a child and tells an engaging story while still teaching the reader about the city, the time period, and the customs and traditions of a Jewish family.

One chapter has the girls going on their weekly visit to the library, but Sarah can’t find her book.  When they inform the library lady, her kindness and generosity warms the readers’ hearts.  A mistake can be made by anyone and her compassion and problem-solving truly make her an exemplary librarian.  Although her part in the whole story is small, her impact and influence on the lives of these young girls is memorable.

Mrs. Mullan in Mike’s House by Julia L. Sauer
This enchanting picture book was first published in the 1950’s and truly captures the humanity of the time.  Four-year-old Robert gets lost on his way to Picture Book Hour at the Public Library.  He really just gets a bit confused and a young policeman rescues him.  Unfortunately, Robert’s explanation that he was going to Mike’s House is unclear to the officer; some hilarity and charm ensue as he realizes that Mike’s House is where the book Mike Mulligan and his Steam Shovel lives.

My admiration of librarian Mrs. Mullan is how she able to enchant a young child that books can be personified; that a reader can have such an emotional attachment and a vested interest in the characters and story that the book can have its own personality.  A book or story can have feelings, create emotional ties with others, and live in its own house!  I remember this book as a child and was thrilled to discover a very old, worn, and well-loved copy at our library’s rummage sale.  A treasure find for me!

So in honor of all the wonderful librarians in your lives, what literary librarians do you admire?