Books in the Park

suggestions from the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library at Pinellas Park

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Books We’re Thankful For

What does it mean to be thankful for a book?

Is it the first book you remember reading? First books are often the catalyst for a lifetime of reading.  The first story you read may have guided you to a career path, a new interest, or helped you bond with someone special. It could have jump-started the habit of reading, which enlarged your vocabulary, improved your reading comprehension, and transformed books from objects into companions. The first book I remember reading is Little Bear’s Birthday Soup by Else Minarik. little bearIt’s the story of how Little Bear thinks no-one remembers his birthday, so he invites all his friends to share in birthday soup. The ingredients list of the soup inspired me to make a soup of mine, thus beginning a life-long love of cooking.

Is it a book that is important to you personally? Some books resonate with us on a personal level, reflecting experiences we’ve had while also pointing us towards new ways of looking at solutions. They can connect us through the story to others, making us feel less alone. They can also give us courage to live our lives in a better way.

Jennifer: I am most thankful for the book The True Confessions of Charlotte Doyle by Avi. It is about a young girl from a prestigious family who is set to sail from her boarding school in England to America where her family awaits her. Charlotte’s apathetic guardian hurries her aboard the ‘Seahawk’ against the warnings of multiple people that this particular ship is too dangerous for a 13 year old to travel on unaccompanied.

After they set sail, the very innocent Charlotte trusts the captain with some information she shouldn’t and gets a friend in serious trouble.  While protecting her friend, Charlotte accidentally injures the Captain, after which he refuses her protection, leaving her to fend for herself in the brutish environment aboard the ship.

By voluntarily taking on the role of a fallen shipmate, Charlotte gains the respect of the crew but the hatred of the Captain who feels she has become unnatural in acting as a charlotte doyleman. As tensions come to a head, lies and betrayal from those around her force Charlotte to fight for her life against the Captain who was supposed to be protecting her.

In the end, Charlotte defeats the Captain and takes command of the ship. Once they arrive in America, Charlotte must decide what kind of life she wants to live: a life of pretty dresses among a stuffy family she hasn’t seen in years or living a life of danger on the seas with her crew mates.

I read this book when I was in elementary school and it taught me that you can accomplish things that seem impossible if you work hard and don’t give up. I also learned that you should have your friend’s backs even if it could get you into trouble and that you don’t have to believe the things people say about you as long as you believe in yourself.

Is it a book that changed your life? When a book give you a new direction, or knocks off the rust of daily living and refreshes your perspective, it can be powerful.

Bonnie: Who Moved My Cheese? by Spencer Johnson. This was the first “self-help” book that I read voluntarily (Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People was required reading in Library School).  bonnie

Johnson stresses the importance of adapting to change.  In the end, it takes more energy to resist change than it does to accept it, face your fears and move forward. When I first read this book, I was unhappy with my position in the library and unsure how to remedy the situation. A friend suggested this book to me.  After reading this book, I realized that what I needed was the courage to change my situation. I went back to Library School, finished my degree, and became a Senior Librarian.

AnnMarieendersgame_2I am thankful to Ender’s Game. The plot twist toward the end of the story had a huge impact on me as a kid and resonates with me to this day. Not only did this book teach me how easy it is to be manipulated and lied to, but it simultaneously illustrated the dangers of treating anyone and anything as “Other”.

Is it a book that you recommend to others? daveSome books are so well-written that you want others to enjoy them. Pat Rothfuss’ The Name of the Wind is such a book for me.  His craft, careful plotting, and polished prose reaffirmed my trust in an author, and the voyage his story takes you on is like no other. He takes typical fantasy tropes and turns them on their head and reinvigorates them, and in the process echoes some of my favorite books.

Is a book you continually re-read? Books can sometimes offer a comforting or enjoyable head-space that we revisit again and again.

JosieJosie: I am grateful for the Adventure Time comics. I’ve been reading these over the past month and they are so charming and silly. I read for all kinds of reasons but, these comics have been pure escapism for me.

Is it a book that reminds you of a time in your life that is important to you?

William: Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli31fk1Qk54ZL._SX320_BO1,204,203,200_

My seventh grade teacher would read excerpts from this book to the entire class and I was intrigued. This went on for about a week, but as a class we didn’t finish the book. We just moved on. My family was going through a divorce at the same time and we were about to be relocated off the military base in Heidelberg, Germany. It never crossed my mind to finish the book until I had already graduated from High School. I read it. Loved it. I’m thankful that I still go back to books I left behind in my past.

Whatever the reason, books give back to us in many ways.

On this day of giving thanks, tell us about the books you are thankful for.

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Announcing hoopla

Great news for residents of Pinellas Park, Florida: your library has partnered with an online service called hoopla to offer thousands of ebooks, audio books, movies, TV shows, music albums, and comics.

Everything in the collection is available to borrow 24/7 on-demand, meaning there are no holds or wait lists.

Plus, hoopla supports popular media players like Chromecast and Apple TV to beam video directly to your television.

Lending information:

  • Borrow up to 7 items each month
  • Ebooks, audio books, and comics go out for 21 days
  • Music albums go out for 7 days
  • Movies and TV shows go out for 72 hours

Using hoopla

Barbara S. Ponce Public Library offers hoopla to residents of Pinellas Park, Florida. If you are not a resident of Pinellas Park, check with the public library in your city to see what digital services they offer.

To register your account, you will need:

  • An email address
  • Your library card number
  • Your library PIN

Using a computer or laptop? Visit Type in ‘Pinellas’ or ‘Barbara’ and choose Pinellas Park-Barbara S. Ponce Public Library from the list. Follow the prompts to create an account.

Using a smartphone or tablet? Visit your app store to download the free hoopla app. Open the app, tap ‘Sign Up’ and choose Pinellas Park-Barbara S. Ponce Public Library. Fill out the form to create an account.

From then on, you will sign in with your email address and password.

Browse the collection by clicking or tapping what kind of item you want: book, movie, or music. Then browse by category or genre, or you can view what’s popular.

You can also search for a specific title, artist, or series. Be sure to note what kind of item it is before you borrow it. Remember: you have a borrowing limit of 7 per month.

Have questions? Don’t hesitate to contact staff at Barbara S. Ponce Public Library for help. Call 727-369-0667 or email us.

Enjoy all the hoopla, and please let us know what you think.

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International Board Game Day!

Are you bored? Well come and join us for International Game Day on November 1st and November 5th.  We will have life-sized versions of classic board games such as: Scrabble, Clue, Candyland, Battleship, and Checkers.  For those who love Harry Potter we have a Quidditch relay race, along with Hungry Hungry Hippos, and PacMan.

In honor of International Board Game Day, we asked our fellow staff members what their favorite board games are.  Here are the results:

  • Toni loves to play Munchkin because she can mess up other players and reign chaos. Mwhahahahahaha!

    but not the creditcard version!!!!!

    Huyen, Will’s floating head, and Cheri

  • Katie likes to play Hungry Hungry Hippos because who doesn’t love hippos eating marbles?
  • Will, Cheri, and Huyen all love to play Monopoly.
  • Krystal loves to play Candyland since she played it often with her four boys when they were young.
  • Josie loves Clue, because: “Murder, of course!”
  • Jennifer: “My favorite game is The Settlers of Catan. I like it because the board changes every time I play.”
  • Sandie likes to play Clue because of the mystery and the different characters.
  • Andrew: “I like to play Risk because I like waging war against others brutally.  I also like 18th century European politics.
  • Tuyet also loves to play risk: “Because I love the idea of dominating the whole world.”
  • AnnMarie likes to play Sorry because it is a frequently used word in her vocabulary.



  • Shana loves to play Sorry too since she can wait until her opponents get close to home and then knock them back to start! Vengeance is hers.
  • Angela: “I like the game Balderdash because it sparks a lot of creativity and it always good for a few laughs.”
  • Debbie likes to play Life, one of the newer versions, because there are quirky houses and professions to choose from. It is fun to use to teach kids.
  • Beth enjoys playing Patchwork because it is a two player game about quilting.
  • Michael enjoys playing Mousetrap because players get to enjoy the careful calculations of the game.
  • Gina likes to play Yahtzee because, “It’s pure luck. I have no skill so luck is good.”
  • Bonnie likes to play Life, “Because you can sell off your children for cash.”
  • Cathy and Dave enjoy playing playing Trivial Pursuit. Cathy because “I finally have a use for the plethora of useless information in my head”. And Dave because, “I like being tested on little facts, and learning facts during the game. I guess you can tell I’m a librarian.”


    Dave playing Trivial Pursuit

  • Bret loves to play Tokaido, because it is Asian themed Silk Road type of game.  “It has a lot of history and strategy”.
  • Elizabeth likes to play Cribbage because of the historical background of the game since it dates back to the 1600s in England, and that careful strategy is required.
  • Colleen loves to play Clue because she is one of six kids and it was the only game she could win.
  • Renee likes to play Backgammon because of the strategy needed to win the game.

As you can see, library staff enjoys playing a wide variety of games. What games do you like to play? Celebrate 2017 International Games Week with us on Wednesday, November 1st at 3:30 and Saturday, November 5th at 2:00. May the odds be ever in your favor.

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Three Books for National Mother-in-Law Day

Ah, mothers-in-law. I’m sure there’s a unicorn out there that gets along well with their in-laws, but most of us simply tolerate our chosen family.

Here are three books about mothers-in-law that you might actually want to spend time with.

1.) Daughters-in-Law by Joanna Trollope
“Rachel Brinkley has given her life to raising her three sons and now that they are adults inevitably has strong views about their partners. Dreamy Petra was hand-picked for brilliant, impossible Ralph, but eldest Edward made his own choice, Swedish Sigrid, who has never felt wholly accepted by her in-laws. Charlotte, newly married to youngest Luke, suffers disapproval when she falls pregnant, too early by Rachel’s standards. When Ralph’s business fails and Petra refuses to move house to help him take a job in London, a crisis of a kind blows up, compounded by Petra’s sudden friendship with another man. Rachel wants to get involved, but it’s the younger generation which finds solutions as daughters talk to mothers, sons to each other and Rachel is finally forced to confront a changed landscape.” — Kirkus review

2.) Cold Wind by C.J. Box
“Wyoming Fish and Game Warden Joe Pickett’s fondest dream becomes his worst nightmare when his loathsome mother-in-law is arrested for murder.” — Kirkus review

3.) The Queen and Di by Ingrid Seward
“A surprisingly fresh addition to the mountain of biographies of the late Princess of Wales—this one focusing on her relations with the Queen.” — Kirkus review

Did we leave your favorite book about mothers-in-law off the list? Do tell!


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Ninefox Gambit, by Yoon Ha Lee

Every so often a science fiction author will have such an interesting, refreshing take on world-building that it makes you look at reality in a different way. The Hexarchate of Yoon Ha Lee’s Machinery of Empire series (of which Ninefox Gambit is the first) is such a universe. Organizing an entire space-faring culture around the effects of the calendar on genetics to enhance battle prowess is a unique and fascinating way to world-build a universe.

The book opens with Captain Kel Cheris winning a battle using unorthodox methods which put her at risk of being declared a heretic, a dangerous place for a young officer. She is allowed to redeem herself by the Hexarchate with a near-suicidal task of retaking a fallen space fortress. When asked what weapon systems she wants, she chooses an unusual way to win – she selects the mind of a brilliant, but dead general as her weapon. The one hitch – the general went insane after his last battle.

By adding this second mind to hers (in short, the process results in a constant conversation in her head between the general and herself), Cheris has the difficult task of taking advantage of the general’s prowess in battle without becoming too sympathetic to the general. It proves difficult because the general is, of all things, kind to her and helpful, belying the historical record of the mad general.

Filled with space battles and high stakes mathematical “calendar” calculations, the story unfolds as the general teases out Cheris’ feelings about the Hexarchate and the state of the world since he died. Lee is brilliant at explaining his universe without getting in the way of the story.  Through action, conversations and flashbacks, you find out details of calendrical warfare, the different races of the Hexarchate, as well as historical details about the general’s past and the events leading up to his last battle. The characters are sympathetic and have clear, if conflicting desires. The story of the Hexarchate continues in the next book, the Raven Stratagem.

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Raven the Pirate Princess Volume 2: Free Women, by Jeremy Whitley

In honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day, we’re continuing our reviews of the Princeless series! Raven’s journey continues. She now has a full crew of pirate women and has taken command of a ship. The crew sets sail to confront Raven’s brothers who have excluded her from her family’s pirate legacy.

The first volume focused mainly on the journey to finding said crew and ship, and volume two explores the characters and their back stories. It also delves into the democracy aboard the ship, which is something that most people don’t think of with pirates. Raven, a stern pirate thanks to her upbringing, is willing to be more flexible to work with her crew and manages them in a way that is kind and fair and gives everyone on board a voice.

As with the first volume, the art is gorgeous! The entire series uses bright colors that truly pop – there are lots of reds, blues, and golds and everything just feels vivid. The costumes that each of the pirates wear are very unique and distinguishable. Even in zoomed out panels you can tell who is who.

This volume also gives us a chance to see the crew in true life or death action. Raven’s brothers have sent a crew after her and her mates to take them captive and the ladies must find a way to foil their plan by working together.

Now, mateys, I challenge ye to go and find yerself a copy of this here graphic novel! It’ll leave ye wantin’ to find yer own crewe of pirate lasses to set sail with!

Search the PPLC catalog for Raven: Pirate Princess.

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Banned Books: Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

Drama, by Raina Telgemeier

Drama is a middle grades graphic novel and a quick read, even for a reluctant reader! The illustrations are charming and colorful and the characters all have distinctly different designs, including the identical twins in the story.

The story stars Callie, a 7th grader at Eucalyptus Middle School, and a member of the theater stage crew. She has a passion for set design and no ambitions to actually perform the musicals that she loves so dearly.

Drama doesn’t just allude to the production being staged in the story, but to the actual drama of middle school life. Callie has a crush on Greg, her friend’s brother, but he’s dating someone else, and so on and so forth – Anyone who has ever been a middle school student will find it easy to relate to. Callie must balance her friendships and relationships with the upcoming production and the rapidly approaching deadlines that come with it.

Telgemeier tells a story that isn’t outlandish or unreal – it’s easy to imagine this happening at one’s own middle or high school. The characters all feel real and fleshed out and it’s easy to read their tone and personality through how they are drawn.

I would definitely recommend Drama to any middle or high school readers or any young adults looking for a trip down memory lane.

Check the PPLC catalog for Drama, by Raina Telgemeier.


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The Best Man, by Richard Peck

In The Best Man, Archer Magill narrates his life from age six on through grade school. His charm as a character, coupled with the gentle humor that permeates the book make for a highly readable story. Archer is a believable character, he’s a young boy, curious but, slightly clueless. He relies on the adults in his life and his self-possessed best friend, Lynette, to steer him toward emotional maturity.

The main appeal of The Best Man lies in Archer’s relationships with the men in his life: his father, the laid back classic-car buff; his architect grandfather; his career driven, sharply dressed uncle Paul; and, his fifth-grade student teacher, Mr. McLeod, a National Guardsman getting a master’s in education. The men in this book talk about their feelings and each one of Archer’s role models has something important to teach Archer about how to be a man. His father and grandfather form a solid foundation, Uncle Paul helps him handle a bully, and Mr. McLeod confronts homophobia by coming out in front of a classroom of sixth graders. Uncle Paul and Mr. McLeod become a couple but, Uncle Paul needs some persuasion to get serious about it. Archer asks his father if they’ll “talk it over.” His father replies, “No, we’re guys. We’ll talk about the Cubs, and cars. . . . But we’ll make sure he sees there’s a place for Ed McLeod in our family.”

Archer’s story is, in many ways, unassuming but, its approach to masculinity is refreshing. It also describes family, school, and community life in an earnest but relatable way. Our lives may not be quite so picturesque but, whether it be the quirky teacher or the lunch room bullies, children and adults alike will find something to relate to in The Best Man.

Check the PPLC catalog for The Best Man

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The Baby-Sitters Club #1 – Kristy’s Great Idea by Raina Telgemeier

The Baby-Sitters Club #1 – Kristy’s Great Idea by Raina Telgemeier (Based on the novel by Ann M. Martin)

The Baby-Sitters Club has been revamped! The classic series has been re-imagined by Raina Telgemeier for a new audience. Kristy’s Great Idea takes the same story from the original Baby-Sitters Club book that many parents will remember and retells it as a graphic novel, or a very long comic book.

The story is about a group of girls who make spare money babysitting neighborhood kids and, in some cases, their own siblings. Kristy, the eventual leader of the club, has the idea to work with her friends so that parents can call one phone number to schedule babysitting and not have to call each of them to see who may be available. The book also introduces the girls’ family situations; Kristy is growing up with her mom and brothers after her parents’ divorce, Mary Anne’s mom died when she was a baby, and Claudia’s creativity goes against everything her parents want for her in life.

I read the original Baby-Sitters Club Books growing up and recommend these for upper elementary and middle school aged readers.

Check the PPLC catalog for The Baby-Sitters Club

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Princess Super Kitty, by Antoinette Portis

“Maggie likes being a kitty. But sometimes that’s not enough. Sometimes a girl has to be SUPER.” This description from the book flap perfectly captures the imaginative and fun tone of this story. Armed with a creative mind and a dress up box, there are no limits to young Maggie’s play. In the span of a few pages she’s a kitty who meows and eats under the table, a Super Kitty who opens jars for everybody, a Princess Super Kitty with lots of jewels, and a Water Lily Hula Porpoise Princess Super Kitty ready for bath time. This little girl really can do anything!

I would recommend Princess Super Kitty, by Antoinette Portis, to children ages 2-5. The vocabulary is simple, yet engaging, and a fun way to get inspired to play make believe!

Check the PPLC Catalog for Princess Super Kitty.