The Bitter Side of Sweet

"The Bitter Side of Sweet" book coverFor most folks summer reading means fun, lighthearted beach reads. However, as summer winds down, you may find yourself in need of a break from the saccharine. If you are looking for a summer read with some substance and meaningful discussion, then look no further than Tara Sullivan’s “The Bitter Side of Sweet.”

This is Sullivan’s second novel and her first title for middle grade readers, but make no mistake- the subject matter in “The Bitter Side of Sweet” is not for the faint of heart. This novel deals with child slave labor in cacao farms along the Ivory Coast. Brothers Amadou and Seydou go to work one season on the farm in order to help bring in money for their family in a small Malian village. However, two years later they are still on the farm with no idea how much money they have earned or if it will be enough to pay off the debt they’ve incurred for living and working on the farm. Then one day a new girl, Kadisha, is brought to the farm. After several failed escape attempts on her own, she enlists the help of Amadou and Seydou to plot another escape. You’ll have to read to find out what happens next! Continue reading

Audiobooks We Love: Summer Reads

Summertime often means travel, which typically includes long car rides or flights. It can be hard for everyone to agree on the same music and even harder for most parents to listen to that one soundtrack over and over and over. You know the one I mean! It’s time to let it go and embrace audiobooks. Here are some favorites that the whole family can enjoy.

"Some Kind of Courage" book cover“Some Kind of Courage” by Dan Gemeinhart
This title is getting some early Newbery buzz, and rightfully so, as Andrew Eiden does an excellent job of bringing this historical fiction set in the 1890s to life. This is a classic tale of a boy and his horse with lots of twists and turns along the way. “Some Kind of Courage” is a great listen for anyone seeking action and adventure, but be warned it is not for the faint of heart. (I may or may not have cried during the last 45 minutes of the book.) However, it is well worth the tears to reach the end of this powerful story where a boy loses just about everything along his journey but his courage — and gains a lot more.

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2016 Youth Media Award Winners

Each year the American Library Association honors books, videos, and other outstanding materials for children and teens. Selected by committees composed of librarians and other literature and media experts, the awards encourage original and creative work in the field of children’s and young adult literature and media. The following titles and contributers are some of the 2016 YMA winners.

Caldecott Winner

Finding Winnie book coverFinding Winnie: The True Story of the World’s Most Famous Bear,” illustrated by Sophie Blackall and written by Lindsay Mattick.

A woman tells her young son the true story of how his great-great-grandfather, Captain Harry Colebourn, rescued and learned to love a bear cub in 1914 as he was on his way to take care of soldiers’ horses during World War I, and the bear became the inspiration for A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh. Continue reading

2015 Mock Newbery Winners

image of John Newbery MedalThis past fall, the Columbia Public Library hosted its fourth season of the Heavy Medal Mock Newbery program. Youth in grades 4-8 were invited to join us twice per month to discuss possible Newbery Award contenders for 2015. The John Newbery Medal is an award given annually for the most distinguished contribution to American Literature for children. At these interactive sessions, we discussed six Newbery contender books, and kids were able to defend the book they felt deserved the Heavy Medal Mock Newbery Award.

This year we read the following books:

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2015 Mock Newbery Awards

Mock Newbery Award
The Newbery Medal is awarded each year to “the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.” The Newbery Medal is to children’s literature what the Oscar is to the Academy Awards. In plain English: This award is given to the best chapter book of the year. Some popular Newbery award-winning titles include “The One and Only Ivan” by Katherine Applegate, “The Giver” by Lois Lowry and “The Graveyard Book” by Neil Gaiman.

About our Mock Newbery Program:

Throughout the fall, we are inviting youth in grades 4-8 to join us twice per month to discuss this year’s Newbery finalists. Library staff will facilitate the sessions along with Nancy Baumann, a local educator and previous Newbery committee member. This is the fourth year that the library has offered this unique book club opportunity, and we hope that you will consider signing up.

How to get involved:

Sessions will be held from 4:30-5:30 p.m. at the Columbia Public Library on the following Wednesdays: September 9 and 23, October 7 and 21, November 4 and 18 and December 2 and 16. Registration begins Tuesday, September 1. To sign-up, please call (573) 443-3161. Continue reading