Newbery Winners Through the Decades

by Lisa Q. Harling, Youth Services

Lisa explores award-winning children’s literature that has stood the test of time. All great gift ideas this holiday season!

Newbery Winner 1964 It's_Like_This,_Cat
I picked up a copy of It’s Like This, Cat by Emily Neville because the retro cover caught my eye. Turns out the cover wasn’t intended to be ironic in any way – it’s just old! The book was published in 1964, making it a bit older than me. In this charming book we meet Dave and his adopted stray cat with whom we travel the streets of NYC. We join Dave as he makes and loses friends, has his first crush, and navigates a mild teenage rebellion. It’s a treat to travel back in time and find that regardless of the decade kids are kids.

Newbery Winner 1974
Historical fiction is a wonderful way to introduce young readers to a part of our collective past by bringing it to life in story form. In Slave Dancer, Paula Fox reveals aspects of slavery as seen through the eyes of Jesse, a teenage boy from New Orleans. Jesse tries to earn money for his struggling family by playing his fife at the docks for tips. He is kidnapped and taken aboard a slave trading ship where he is forced to play music to which the slaves are required to dance in order to maintain their physical condition and guarantee a good price. The author is able to take us aboard the ship and let us feel what Jesse does as he encounters the horrors of slavery.

Newbery Winner 1984 9780380709588
While reading Dear Mr. Henshaw, I got so caught up in the story of Leigh’s life as it unfolded in letters that I forgot the book wasn’t really written by its main character, Leigh but by Beverly Cleary – she is just that talented. Beginning in second grade and continuing for the next four years, Leigh writes letters to his favorite author, Mr. Henshaw. Some of the letters he mails others he doesn’t and these function as his diary. Leigh uses his correspondence with Mr. Henshaw as a way to work through family and school problems large and small.


81cJChEQjSLNewbery Winner 1994
The Giver, by Lois Lowry, is one of the first dystopian books to have wide spread appeal for younger readers. In this thought provoking novel, Lowry creates a world in which everything is perfect – there is no disease, no divorce, no unemployment and each family has two children. Everyone in the community accepts things as they are, obeys the rules and doesn’t question anything, until 12 year old Jonas does…


The_Tale_of_DespereauxNewbery Winner 2004
Without reservation I can honestly say that The Tale of Despereaux, by Kate DiCamillo, is the best read-aloud book I have ever found. It is the unlikely story of a mouse who loves a princess and the journey he takes. He leads us through a castle and its dungeon encountering unforgettable characters along the way. Periodically the author addresses the reader which is engaging for the reader and listener alike. The dialog welcomes the use of accents making it a fun an entertaining read for kids and adults.

16052012Newbery Winner 2014
Kate DiCamillo manages to take an unlikely friendship and make it seem completely plausible on every page of Flora & Ulysses. After rescuing a squirrel (Ulysses) from a near-death experience with a vacuum cleaner, Flora, a comic book obsessed 10 year old, is convinced that the squirrel has superhero powers. And a superhero is just what Flora needs as she copes with her parent’s divorce – not to mention her parents’ eccentric personalities. Wonderful illustrations complete this endearing story of a young cynic and her offbeat life.

Slow Film… Films you may have missed.

Brief reviews of films that are subtle and thought provoking – in short, food for thought. By Bob Miller.

Never Let Me Go

Starring: Keira Knightley, Carey Mulligan, Andrew Garfield

Directed by: Mark Romanek

Few films deal with “what if” in a controlled and accepting way. Too often in films the future is transformed into a dynamic flowing series of crises and disasters (most certainly with explosions!!) one after another.

Never Let Me Go, a film based relatively faithfully on the novel by Kazuo Ishiguro, succeeds in following a “what if” scenario in an “everyday” background. The “what if” film concerns a “medical breakthrough” that permits the human lifespan to be extended beyond 100 plus years.

The story unfolds with a narration by Kathy as she recalls her childhood at Hailsham, an apparently exclusive boarding school. We meet her classmates and friends, and revisit a disturbing incident when a teacher tells them of their fate. I won’t reveal that fate, though it is revealed early in the film. The ways in which each of the characters handles the revelation is the core of the film. It is well acted, but the subject and the subdued acting has made some critics love it and others find it less than stellar.

Never Let Me Go gives us all something to think about, because broadly speaking it is a “fate” that is close to home.

Never Let Me Go on Wikipedia | Roger Ebert’s Review


Starring: Toshiro Mifune

Directed by: Akira Kurosawa

What is true? Is a witness always completely objective? When we see something happen between two people what assumptions have we made “unconsciously”? What if we are directly involved, can we be counted on to be completely objective? Rashomon, a film by Akira Kurosawa, explores these questions through the eyes of several people. Simply told, the film recounts a bandit’s ambush of a couple in a forest from several contradictory perspectives. The film’s beautiful photography complements the story and is often stylized. Volumes have been written about this film, and if your interest has been peaked by this brief description, all the better. In Japanese with English subtitles.

Rashomon on Wikipedia | Roger Ebert’s Review

Land and Freedom

Starring: Ian Hart and Rosana Pastor

Directed by: Ken Loach

Ken Loach, a renowned independent film director, has created an impressive number of socially and politically engaged movies. Land and Freedom deals with the Spanish Civil war. Loach’s presentation of the tension between the coalition Republican forces fighting against Franco’s fascists is both compelling and tragic.

The story circles around David (played by Ian Hart), who is inspired to join the Republican forces to fight against Franco’s attempt to overthrow the Spanish government. David quickly and deeply bonds with his comrades, especially Blanca (Rosana Pastor), but becomes more and more dismayed as political infighting and intrigue threatens to plunge the whole Republican movement into turmoil. The resulting dramatic consequences deeply impact David and ultimately the Spanish Republic. This film is in English.

Other notable films of Ken Loach’s that the library owns include The Wind That Shakes the Barley, dealing with the Irish rebellion and the beginning of the subsequent Irish civil war; and Kes, which focuses on a boy and the kestrel he takes on as a pet in the industrial north of England.

For those interested in the political background dealt with in “Land and Freedom” Wikipedia has an excellent brief overview.

Read other reviews of this film.

Feasting on Fiction – Novels with Recipes

Cathy’s Hidden Gems features favorites & lesser known selections from the fiction shelves of the Portsmouth Public Library. By Cathy Okhuysen.

Feasting On Fiction Book Covers

The Recipe Box

In her debut 2013 novel, Recipe BoxSandra Lee , host of shows on the Food Network and HGTV and author of many cookbooks, tells the story of a grandmother’s recipe box, which holds family history in the form of favorite recipes and a devastating secret. The recipes in the book punctuate events and turning points for the characters, including the protagonist Grace, and “the secret” continues to play out in her relationship with both her mother and daughter. Set in both Los Angeles and Wisconsin, the novel explores how the death of Grace’s best friend back home acts as a wake up call. Enticing original recipes include Firehouse Chili, from the new man in Grace’s life, and Independence Cupcakes for a great community project.

As one thing leads to another, in this season of feasting there are many hidden gems of fiction with delicious recipes as well as reading. All of these novels have the actual recipes written out!

Rosewater and Soda BreadSome hidden gems are Pomegranate Soup and Rosewater and Soda Bread by Marsha Mehran. The Iranian Aminpour sisters find refuge in the village of Ballinacroagh, in lovely County Mayo, Ireland. Not only are the recipes mouthwatering – from Colcannon (potatoes and kale) and Torshi (eggplant), to Irish Soda Bread and chickpea cookies – but Mehran weaves these with tales of assimilation into Irish village life, and a little romance and suspense as well.  Sadly, the author died in Ireland in 2014, at age 36.  There are indications that other novels may be published posthumously. We hope so!

Friendship CakeIn the church community of Hope Springs, North Carolina, the trials and tribulations of young pastor Charlotte Stewart include the Women’s Guild Cookbook. Friendship Cake (2000) is by Lynne Hinton, and each recipe has the personal touch of a story from a member of the church, as well as some well-meaning gossip. A recipe introduces each character, like Jessie’s Pecan Pie, Ernestine’s Corn Relish and Peggy’s Fried Okra.  My favorite is Beatrice’s Prune Cake: “Lord knows, there’s nothing like a good prune cake to smooth out the kinks!”

The themes in Hinton’s novel are akin to those in Jan Karon‘s Mitford Series – and it wouldn’t be the holidays in Mitford without Esther Bolick’s Orange Marmalade Cakes. There is even a sweet little book, Esther’s Gift, with a special dilemma and the recipe.

Give the gift that keeps on giving any time of year with one of these titles, or a Cupcake Club Romance like Sugar Rush by Donna Kauffman, or the many cozy cooking mysteries by Joanne Fluke, Diane Mott Davidson, or J.B. Stanley!

There are many works of fiction without recipes that can still inspire you to try new foods, but those are for another post…

NaNoWriMo Check-In #3 – Better late than never. (2014)

Hi Wrimos! So, last week was kind of hectic for me. My laptop broke (thankfully I backed-up my novel!) and I had to replace it, so I went a few days writing by hand and a few more days not writing at all. By now, a respectable word count is around 40K. I’m certainly not there yet, but perhaps some 5Ks would be beneficial. Speaking of 5Ks, on Sunday the 16th we held a write-in at the library. I want to thank everyone who came! We had a very quiet, productive group. I wrote about 3.5K and that was between co-hosting the event and making sure everyone had everything they needed.

At this point in the month it’s time to think about whether or not it is likely you will finish on time. If you don’t see yourself surpassing 50K by the 30th, it’s okay! Just keep writing daily and you WILL finish. And that’s all that really matters. However, if you DO finish, you will be rewarded in a different way. NaNoWriMo will send you a badge of completion, and if you bring that badge to the NaNoWriMo Wrap Party at Portsmouth Book and Bar on Thursday, Dec 4th, you can get a free drink! 2012’s badge looked like this:

winner nanowrimo

I would like to wish all of you writers (and readers) a Happy Thanksgiving, and can tell you that if you had written 2000 words a day, you could have taken tomorrow off. You could have an entire day of turkey, ham, lamb, tofurkey, or broccoli and then take a nap. I guess you could still do that, but if you are like me and have a lot of work to do, you might spend a few hours in writer-mode.

Good luck, and remember, the library will be closed tomorrow and Friday! We are open bright and early (9:00 am) on Saturday!

Here are some fun food links related to writers and writing!

Snacks of the Great Scribblers

Writer food from A-Z

Authors and their favorite foods

Also a really cool article about a cookbook ghostwriter from 2012.

And Saveur magazine’s most well-written food blog.



The School of Life’s How to Think More About Sex

How to Think More About Sex (2012) by Alain de Botton
Review by Marina Buckler, Reference Librarian

How to Think More About Sex is brought to us by the London-Based (and author-founded) “The School Of Life,” a self-help center that seeks to destigmatize, redefine, and reinvigorate the self-help genre with philosophical approaches to some of our most common problems. Given that this slim volume clocks in at under 200 pages, de Botton manages to cover a lot of ground here, from why we can recount our first kiss with a new partner in such detail, to fetishism, fear of rejection, pornography, and adultery. The book is arranged into two sections (not including the introduction)–the first, titled “The Pleasures of Sex” takes up 38 pages while the second, titled “The Problems of Sex” takes up a telling 100.

In “The Pleasures of Sex,” de Botton pays close attention to ways we might be more considerate of the budding stages of attraction. Rather than spending a lot of time re-articulating the oft-cited evolutionary (and, in de Botton’s opinion at least, incredibly reductive) explanation for the pleasures of sex, de Botton posits a more humanistic idea: that the pleasure of these encounters are enhanced by “the joy we feel at emerging, however briefly, from our isolation in a cold and anonymous world.”

De Botton spends a little bit of time revelling in descriptions of the weird miracle of mutual attraction, and after that gives the reader a whole lot of Freud to sort through. Starting with ideas of how detachment feeds into yearning (“deep inside, we never quite forget the needs with which we are born: to be accepted as we are, without regards to our deeds; to be loved through the medium of our body; to be enclosed in another’s arms; to occasion delight with the smell of our skin”) to preferences formed in reaction to our parents’ failings/successes (“To explain why the man delights in his partner’s shoes, his whole past must be invoked. His mother was a successful actress who dressed in loud and immodest clothes,” “She loves the man’s watch… [which] is the same sort her father used to wear. He was a kind, playful, brilliant doctor who died when she was twelve,” etc.). His ideas are articulate, and may challenge the reader to think more critically (or to rethink more critically) about these very personal interactions, which is all in line with the mission statement of “The School of Life”. The section is quite brief, but provocative, and will appeal to a wide range of readers.

The second section of the book, “The Problems of Sex,” sees de Botton going into a little more depth. He tackles a lot of the problems associated with trying to maintain a love/sex/child-rearing relationship long-term, including boredom, fear of rejection, lack of desire, the tiny, myriad offenses that build into resentment, and the influences of outside distractions, including pornography and the ever-alluring newness promised by adultery. One of my favorite parts of this book is in the sub-section titled “Lack of Desire: Infrequency, Impotence, Resentment” where de Botton lays out some basic principles for thinking about and understanding the difficulty inherent in being vulnerable to a person you depend on. It’s one of the best chapters in the book for stating plainly some of the confusion that is seemingly inevitable–and often difficult to parse–regarding the balance necessary for finding and creating safe places within relationships to express and meet needs, an act which can involve back-tracking over insecurities, small hurts, and desires which leave us feeling ridiculous and exposed in lives in which we are often busy, tired, and disinclined to do exactly this sort of work.

De Botton does a decent job of outlining many of the presented issues, but unlike in the first section–which prompts readers to reengage with their own views and encounters with sexuality–the second section seems lacking in the sort of direct calls to action we’ve grown accustomed to in self-help manuals. Still, given the length of the book, those sorts of faults are easy enough to forgive.

All in all, How to Think More About Sex is a pretty good introduction to applied philosophy, and mixes in a variety of popular thinkers’ ideas on the topics of sex and love. While I wouldn’t recommend it for someone having real issues in their relationship, it’s a very good guide for someone considering embarking into a new relationship, who is new to relationships, or  a casual reader interested in the topic (that covers most of us, right?).

NaNoWriMo Check-in #2 (2014)

We have reached the end of Week 2 of NaNoWriMo, and you should have 23,338 words at the end of today. There is one more full week before Thanksgiving prep, celebrations, and cleanup. How will you find the time to write? Here is an excerpt from a blog post about NaNoWriMo that I find exceptionally helpful:

“4. November really is a terrible month for this.

Oh, November, you so crazy. Thanksgiving. The day after Thanksgiving. In-laws showing up and lingering around like a herpes flare-up. November is a month full of distractions, obligations, and easy excuses for giving up on Nanowrimo. But here’s the thing: so are the other twelve months of the year. After all, after Thanksgiving comes Christmas, and then New Year’s, and then you’ve got spring cleaning, and who wants to sit cooped up all summer hunched over a laptop, and suddenly, oops, it’s November again.

Writers love to wait for that moment when they’ve just slept for ten hours, the kids are at the neighbor’s house, the boss just gave them the week off, the world’s most delicious cup of coffee magically brewed itself, the Internet stopped working, and the Muse has descended from on high to whale them in the back of the skull with the wiffle-ball-bat of inspiration. If you’re lucky, a day like that comes about once a year. You can’t count on it. Writing through inconvenience is something you have to learn to do, and November’s as good a time as any.”

-SurlyMuse‘s 13 Ugly Truths about NaNoWriMo

With that said, don’t forget to check the NaNoWriMo Forums if you get stuck. Discuss your plot with friends or writing buddies. But most of all, keep writing.

The Portsmouth library is holding a 5K Write-In where we encourage you to write 5 thousand words in 4 hours. We will provide snacks and caffeine! The event is from 1-5 this Sunday, the 16th, in the Hilton Garden Room.

Until then:

A Comic with a NaNo-worthy book title in the second strip!

by Kate Beaton

by Kate Beaton

NaNo Advice w/ Cat Pics

My Tried-and-True word-sprint helper.

Good luck!


NaNoWriMo Check-in #1 (2014)

Hello again, Wrimos. We are officially 1 week into NaNoWriMo!procrastination

By the end of today, your word count — if you have been steadily writing 1,667 words a day — should be 11,669. You should have your 5K and 10K badges, and it has only been a week! Next stop, 25K!

Don’t worry if you aren’t there yet, though.

A helpful hint I received from a local author at last year’s NaNoWriMo kick-off event was to plan for 5 days of no writing and write 2,000 words a day when you do write. That would take you 25 days to finish your novel. Not so bad, huh? Even if you haven’t started yet, you could write 2,000 words a day for 21 days and spend 2 other days writing 4,000 words. Or you could come to the NaNoWriMo 5K write-in and write 5,000 words one day, and 3,000 another.

I haven’t been writing all 2,000 words in one sitting. I write a few hundred in the morning, a few hundred at lunch, and then finish up after dinner. When I work late, I take my mornings to write the most and finish up a few hundred words at night. How do you reach word count daily?

Some of you are not participating in NaNoWriMo, but here’s a different kind of challenge: El Santo (Larry Cruz) of The Webcomic Overlook had this to say about November: “Heck, maybe we should just rename the month “National Challenge Yourself Month” (NaChaYouMo), no?” I think he’s on to something there. Whatever you do, or want to do, what better time to do it than right now? Last year, I didn’t finish NaNoWriMo, but I fleshed out a graphic novel project that I am still working on. Even if you don’t have anything in mind, use this month to just BE BETTER. Stick to your grocery lists, sing karaoke in front of a crowd, submit a photograph to a contest, propose a new idea at work, or wake up earlier. It’s up to you.


Writing in the library? It can be done! We have some tips for you. It… it gets a little weird.


NaNoWriMo SubReddit

More Motivation to Complete your Novel: NaNoWriMo Wrap Party at Book and Bar! Finish your novel, get a free drink!!


Gemma Correll draws all day! If you aren’t writing, try this!


Good luck this month!

-Stacia, Library Assistant, Tech Services

Letters from the War – Mothers, Brothers & Lovers

Cathy’s Hidden Gems features favorites & lesser known selections from the fiction shelves of the Portsmouth Public Library. By Cathy Okhuysen.

Book Covers - Letters from the War

Geraldine Brooks gives a voice to the beloved absent father from Little Women (Louisa May Alcott, 1868),  Mr. March, in her 2006 Pulitzer Prize winning novel of the same name:  March. She does this in part through letters he writes home.

 November 1, 1861

My Dear, Your very admirable letter and the welcome contents of your parcel came straight to hand. Many thanks to you for the warm wishes of the former and the warm wool of the latter. I rejoice to hear that you and my girls continue well as the cold season creeps onward; tell my dear Jo that she must not despise her knitting, but see her needles as jousting lances, for her fine blue socks are marching now into the fray.

Outside Harper’s ferry, January 15, 1862
March by Geraldine Brooks
…The ridges, though picturesque, made for hard marching, and we had every kind of precipitations to contend with. The new recruits joined us before marched, fresh-face New England boys, and not a few of them fell out with exhaustion attempting to carry packs and equipment weighing more than fifty pounds. Despite the hardships, the newcomers are in good spirits and spoiling for a fight (Simply because they have not yet had one) and that in itself cheers the veterans.

The Secret of Raven Point

There is something about reading a letter that connects us to the character in a more intimate way. From The Secret of Raven Point by Jennifer Vanderbes:

Somewhere in Italy, 1944…..Dear Papa and Pearl……The doctors have been performing about eighty operations a day and everyone shuffles around like sleepwalkers.  Was it like this when you were in Belgium, Papa?  Is this why you never spoke about it?  I’m living in a pup tent with two other nurses…..Love, Juliet

As one thing leads to another…

A review of letters from, and during, wartime brings up several hidden gems, appropriate as we consider the sacrifice of our military veterans and families this Veterans Day.

Long, Long, Way, by Sebastian Barry, is our November book discussion title, and an achingly beautiful novel from an Irish writer who doesn’t shield reader from the horrors of war.   Our good wishes for Willie hold us through the poignant end of the book.

A-Long-Long-Way-by-Sebastian-Barry-Book-CoverThis letter from Willie sets up a terrible disagreement with his father – a unique view of an Irish soldier from Dublin who sees conflict both abroad and at home.

Royal Dublin Fusilers, Belgium 3 May 1916

Dear Papa, Thank you for writing back, Papa.  I am glad everyone is safe, very much so….Maybe at home some of the lads might be getting into trouble with you and your men!  Here I have to say they make fine soldiers….

In Elizabeth Berg‘s 2007 novel Dream When You’re Feeling Blue , in addition to the many letters that the Heaney sisters write to the fellas they meet at the USO dances, both Kitty and Louise have boyfriends overseas:

England January 1944

Last night I dreamed by mom was alive again, and she’d come over here with all her pots and pans in a big trunk.  She showed them to me and said she was going to cook me a big steak dinner, but that I shouldn’t tell the other boys, because she didn’t have enough for all of them……Well, I couldn’t do that, of course, so I told her, Oh, Just make hamburgers for all of us.

You Know When The Men Are Gone

Siobhan Fallon’s You Know When the Men Are Gone (2011) is a collection of connected stories about modern military wives. In one story, Alpha Company from Fort Hood suffers casualties and Kilani’s emails to her husband in Bravo go unanswered:

ARE YOU OK?  Javier took two steps today!  E-MAIL ME ASAP!


Romance has always been challenging during wartime, whether by email or letter, such as this one in the well-reviewed novel Emily Hudson (2010), by Melissa Jones….

April 16th, 1861

My Dear Young Lady, It seems melodramatic to be bidding you farewell on the eve of battle, so I will simply inform you that we are on the move at last….I recall clearly your blue dress against the dark of the carriage, and the gaiety of our last meeting.  I hope neither of us will be so very much older when next I grasp your hand.  Yours truly, Captain James C.H. Lindsay

Some novels are almost entirely told by letters, like the beloved Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, set during the Nazi Occupation of Guernsey during WWII.  If you loved that, you must read Letters from Skye (2013), which bridges both WWI and WWII:

Isle of Skye 15 October 1915

You stupid, stupid boy! Did you expect me to be happy about this plan of yours?  With a husband at the front and a brother crippled from this blasted war, what on earth did you think I’d really say?

Edinburgh  Wednesday, 14 August 1940

Dear Paul,

It was working.U ncle Finlay was telling me about my mother in dribs and drabs.  There was something that he said “broke our family in pieces.” An then I mentioned the letter and the American and he’s stopped writing…….Margaret

Isle of Skye 23 February 1916

My darling boy, I am sorry for doubting you and the reasons you  joined the Field Service….There is a big difference between rushing out with a bayonet….and channeling all of that reckless energy into saving lives….E

Watch this sweet book trailer for Letters from Skye if you remain unconvinced!

We Are Called To RiseAnother epistolary fiction , Travis Nichols’s 2010 novel Off We Go Into the Wild Blue Yonder,  engages the reader in a present day correspondence. “Pensive in the wake of 9/11, a young man—our ‘correspondent between the past and the present’—launches a mission to reunite his beloved grandfather, an American bombardier, with Luddie, the woman who saved him during WWII. Armed only with the address on the back of an old photograph and his grandfather’s memories, the young man begins writing letters to Luddie.”

A letter also plays a critical part in Laura McBride’s 2014 novel We Are Called to Rise… but perhaps that’s for another post!

Like this review? You can find more Staff Picks on our new Goodreads page!

The Greenglass House

The Greenglass House by Kate Milford (Clarion Books, 2014)
Reviewed by Mollie Mulligan, Library Assistant Youth Services

ggh.phpWhen you work as a youth services librarian you often feel like the proverbial kid in a candy shop. Almost every day a cart (librarian lingo: “truck”) of new books arrives and you are required to look through each book before it can go out into circulation for the general public.  Kate Milford’s The Greenglass House called to me like the siren’s song to a weary pirate when it arrived.  Wow!  IT DID NOT DISAPPOINT!  This is exactly the kind of book I would have loved as a child and loved almost more as an adult because it took me right back to the pure joy of a great story, rich characters and a take-me-there-now setting.

Milo’s parents are the owners of Greenglass House, a cliff top inn for smugglers. Just as they are snuggling in for a quiet Christmas break alone they are stunned to hear the bell ring.  Suddenly a stream of guests, each one more peculiar than the next, brings a string of mysteries.  Milo and the cook’s daughter, Meddy, fill their days trying to piece together clues and answer these perplexing questions: Where are the stolen items? What are the unusual symbols they keep stumbling upon?  Why did all of these people show up in the middle of a blizzard?  Why is it that they all seem connected somehow? And when are they leaving?!?

From start to finish this is a well detailed book. The setting is intriguing and so well flushed out that there is even a Board of Tourism website  for the fictional city.  The characters are lusciously developed – some more sympathetic than others, of course – and kids will readily identify with Milo.  From his disappointment over losing a quiet Christmas, to some mild insecurity about his abilities, kids will definitely relate.  I particularly love how the author, Kate Milford, delicately interweaves Milo’s feelings about being adopted.  She allows Milo to be a typical twelve-year-old who also happens to be curious about his birth parents and frustrated by everyone commenting on his family’s racial mix.  As with any good adventure story, there are not one, but TWO big twists at the end that will keep kids of all ages up at night reading by flashlight after the lights go out!

Part Agatha Christie-style country house mystery and part ghost story, this is a tale of intrigue and adventure that will delight all readers. I enthusiastically recommend The Greenglass House to middle grade (4th -7th grade) readers who have enjoyed Mysterious Benedict Society, Rooftoppers, and Escape from Mr. Lemoncello’s Library. Kids and adults should put a hold on this book ASAP! I’m off to read Kate Milford’s first book, Boneshaker.

Kate Milford is the author of The Boneshaker and The Broken Lands, as well as the companion novellas, The Kairos Mechanism and Bluecrown. She has also written several plays, screenplays, and an assortment of scholarly articles on subjects as diverse as self-aware ironmongery and how to make saltwater taffy in a haunted kitchen. She lives in Brooklyn. Read her awesome blog, The Clockwork Foundry.

Like this review? You can find more Staff Picks on our new Goodreads page!

Preparing for the Month Ahead and a Kick-Off Party!

hemingpizzaIt’s that time of year again, and you know what that means don’t you? It means that the library is having another NaNoWriMo Kick-Off Event! NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, and the goal is to write 50,000 words in 30 days. We hope you will use the library to write your greatest novel yet!

Our kick-off party is tomorrow, October 28th at 6:30 PM in the Levenson Room. Local author Jeff Deck will be here to give an intro to NaNoWriMo and will be leading a writing boot camp. Bring your laptop, because one of the exercises is to write 500 words in 20 minutes. Think you can do it?

We will also have free pizza, courtesy of Flatbread Company!

You can sign up for NaNoWriMo HERE. We will also be showing people how to sign up at the event.

A link to all of the library’s NaNoWriMo events HERE.

And here are a few helpful links to get you psyched (or to frighten you, or to help you prepare) for the month ahead:

Writing tips from George R. R. Martin and Robin Hobb (buzzfeed)

NaNo Prep (

The 46-Question Character Questionnaire (

And, finally, if you can’t think of anything else to write you can always write these books (buzzfeed)

Enjoy your last 4 days of October! I am participating again this year, so if you have any questions regarding the library’s NaNoWriMo programs or if you need help signing up for NaNoWriMo, you can call me at 603-766-5124.

-Stacia, Library Assistant

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  • Happy Birthday to us! This fabulous library building opened 8 years ago today. But shhh: our real age is 133! #tbt Food for Fines by the numbers: Over 75 people donated. Nearly $600 in overdue fines were forgiven. Many people donated with no fines, or paid their fines anyway! Countless happy families. One big THANK YOU from the library and the Seacoast Family Food Pantry! Our book bags ($10) make great holiday presents! So does a gift certificate for a non-resident library card ($45 - $90). Just sayin'. All of these authors & publishers gave up their time on this rainy day to be part of a panel on publication! Good stuff, good people. Sharing #NaNoWriMo stories at #PortsmouthBookandBar Stacia's #inspiredbyDVDs
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