Books in the Park

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


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The Stars Are Fire, by Anita Shreve

The Stars Are Fire, by Anita Shreve

I have several favorite authors that I routinely rely on for captivating stories that take me away from my everyday life and then stay with me long after I return their book. Anita Shreve is one of those authors. Her latest novel, The Stars Are Fire is based on the true story of the largest fire in Maine history. Shreve had me on the hook right away. Her latest novel is suspenseful and fast paced. It was easy to get lost in the story; not so easy to put it down until I found out how things turned out for Grace and her children.

It is October 1947 in Maine. Grace is a young wife and mother of limited means and resources, doing what it takes day by day to care for her husband and small children. Although she has a mom nearby and close friend, Rosie, to talk to and commiserate with, she struggles to make the most of her long days caring for her children and mostly absent husband.

After a summer long drought, a fire breaks out. While her husband goes off to help as a volunteer firefighter, Grace is left alone to fend for her children during the devastating fire.

The expert story telling puts you right in the coastal town where people are fighting for their lives and dealing with a tragedy too horrendous to fully comprehend. At times, I could not put the book down wondering how Grace was going to get out of certain situations. Compassionate strangers help Grace along the way. There are interesting side stories about these strangers and how they help Grace move forward in her new life.

Check out The Stars Are Fire by Anita Shreve. You too may get lost in this suspenseful story and think of Grace and her children long after you return this book.

Check the PPLC catalog for The Stars are Fire.


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Seconds, by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Seconds, by Bryan Lee O’Malley

Until now I haven’t read an entire book in one sitting since I checked out Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban as a teenager and stayed up all night to read it. I picked up Seconds the other day and brought it home. I was exhausted but I decided to start reading anyway. What harm would a chapter or two be before bed? 

What I didn’t know, as I cracked open the book, was that I wouldn’t put it back down until I’d finished the last page. I loved O’Malley’s Scott Pilgrim series and, if I’m totally honest, I wasn’t expecting to like this as much. I hadn’t read much about Seconds, but knew that it always caught my eye on the shelf or in the bookstore. Now that I’ve read it, I can say that comparing Seconds to Scott Pilgrim is apples to oranges. The art style is similar and the writing hooks you, but they’re truly worlds apart in direction.

When we meet the main character, Katie, she’s 29 and is a chef at one of the city’s best restaurants – Seconds. Katie had opened the restaurant with friends and is gearing up to open her very own restaurant in another part of town. She’s got the place picked out and the contractors are working on the renovations. With one foot out the door at Seconds, Katie is feeling a bit lost. After a serious accident at work, she’s presented with a mushroom and a choice – if she could change one thing, would she? The mushroom not only comes with the choice, but with a set of rules.

Katie makes her decision and thus begins her descent down the rabbit hole à la Alice. As Katie falls deeper into a world that is changing day by day, she wonders what has brought her to this point and how can she fix it.

I’ll end my synopsis there, as this book truly takes some wild turns and I’d hate to spoil anything for the next potential reader. Going into Seconds blind (which sounds a lot cooler than saying I checked out a book without reading the description on the cover) turned out to be a good decision. I knew when I picked it up that if I didn’t connect with the story, I’d at least have loved the art and I wasn’t expecting any of the twists that came along.

Wait! One last thing! The art! That’s what I’ll leave you with. If you liked O’Malley’s art in Scott Pilgrim then you’ll love it in Seconds. His style is still the same but it feels very unique to this story. My favorite character design is Lis with her white hair and red eyes. She is somehow creepy and adorable in the same panel and has an epic sense of style thanks to Hazel’s contributions to her wardrobe. Now, go! Pick up a copy of Seconds and tell us what you thought of it!

Check the PPLC catalog for Seconds.

 

 


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The Ables, by Jeremy Scott

ables-scottThe Ables posits a world in which superheroes are real. They call themselves Custodians and live secretly among us. Their powers manifest around adolescence and they live in cities comprised of other Custodians. Phillip Salinger is in the awkward position of having superpowers as well as a physical disability. In Phillip’s case, he can move objects with his mind but cannot see. The Ables tells the story of a group of young people with extraordinary abilities who are limited by their physical and mental disabilities. Or are they?

The author does an admirable job of creating a world of amazing super people and explaining how this society works. He even creates a fairly complicated history for this world that goes back thousands of years. Some bullies use derogatory words such as “cripple” and “freak” but it’s clear from the text that this is not acceptable behavior. The characters are fairly complex and portray a wide range of personality types, and the interactions between them are believable. There is a community of special education kids and they all use appropriate language when referring to each other’s disabilities.

I would recommend this title for anyone. I think it’s great that kids with disabilities can read a story in which people like them are front and center. The message of the book is that everyone is different and each person faces a unique set of challenges in their lives. The superpowers act as a metaphor for the talents that everyone has, and the book tells us that by working together we are all stronger as a whole rather than being merely the sum of our parts.

Check the PPLC Catalog for The Ables.


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The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi

The Collapsing Empire, by John Scalzi

When I think of authors who have a “voice” that I always enjoy, I turn to John Scalzi. I’ve read everything he’s written, and even reviewed a few already on this blog.  His writing is conversational, clever, and snarky. He writes stories that move along at a quick pace, and he excels at writing the “thought experiment” novel.  “Lock In” is a perfect example, positing a disease that “locks in” sufferers to their bodies while their mind is active. He is brilliant at building the world around his experiment – what would society be like if this was true? How would governments, medicine, and daily life change if this happened? His exploration of that new world builds with the story and characters of his novel, and often uncovers unusual twists that surprise at the end.  The Collapsing Empire is like this – a giant What If? space travel depended on a “Flow” between worlds that allows interstellar travel. How would planets be colonized? What would government be like? What would happen if the Flow wasn’t stable?

The book opens with Cardenia, whose father’s death was unfortunately preceded by the deaths of his heirs – except for Cardenia. She inherits the title of Emprox of the Interdependency and a problem unknown to the rest of her empire. Her unexpected rise to power also proves a challenge, as she is now marriage material for the most powerful families in the empire. She navigates this as best she can while trying to uncover the plots and schemes around her.

Meanwhile, on the farthest possible planet from Cardenia’s, events are unfolding in a backwater world that suddenly has immense significance. A fitful civil war escalates into a conflict involving all the players in the center of the Interdependency. We meet all the characters that we know will play large roles in the future of the empire.

Scalzi’s pacing is fluid and the action moves along swiftly. His characters are interesting, funny and sometimes a little bit scary. We know this title is the first in a series, and there is a little bit of framing for the story to follow, but the read is so entertaining that the framing fades into the background. A nice read to start off the series.

Check the PPLC Catalog for The Collapsing Empire.

 


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The Secret Panel (Hardy Boys #25), by Franklin W. Dixon

We recently found the somewhat spooky obituary of the Widow Lankamp, a former Librarian at the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library. Here is a review of her favorite book, as reviewed by one of our current librarians:

The Secret Panel (Hardy Boys #25), by Franklin W. Dixon

Another exciting mystery begins for Frank and Joe Hardy when they help a stranger who has had an accident with his car. The man introduces himself as John Mead, owner of a nearby estate. After he continues on his way, Frank finds an odd-looking house key which belongs to Mead. But when the Hardy’s try to return it, they learn that John Mead died five years ago! They are even more amazed when they find that the intricately carved doors in the dead man’s deserted mansion have no visible knobs or key locks. While working on this mystery, the boys assist their detective father in tracking down a highly organized ring of thieves who are robbing warehouses of television and stereo equipment.

What happens when Frank and Joe discover that there is a link between Mr. Hardy’s case and the mysterious Mead mansion will keep the reader on edge with thrills and suspense.

Fun Fact: The Secret Panel is part of a huge series called “The Hardy Boys.” by Franklin W. Dixon. But Franklin W. Dixon is actually a pen name and never actually existed. The original creator of The Hardy Boys was Edward L. Stratemeyer, and he hired other authors to write more books for his series.

It is no secret to our staff that dear old Widow Lankamp had taken a liking to this book back in the day. Seems she loved mystery and suspense. Too often, this particular book at our library mysteriously falls to the floor for no reason whatsoever. The library did have a first edition copy of this title on our shelves, however it went missing in the 1950’s and the current copies tend to go missing quite often. Check this book out if you dare…

#EscapeTheHauntedLibrary


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Build a Better World with Summer Reading!

Our Summer Reading Program has officially kicked off! We celebrated the beginning of the program this past Saturday, June 3rd, with a kick-off party of epic proportions!

Corey Thornton was our entertainment for the event and was playing the hits for our patrons throughout the day.

Our Pre-K friends got signed up for our Preschool Reading Adventures Summer Program with Ms. Krystal and Ms. Katie. They took home some awesome backpacks filled with their reading logs and other summer reading essentials!

Pre-K friends painting rocks!

Older children in grades K-5 had an awesome rotation of activities to go through, in addition to signing up for their reading incentive program and receiving their goodie bags. They participated in a S.T.E.A.M. challenge with Mr. Pepper at the station for our upcoming Rosie Revere, Engineer program (7/11 @ 2:00 p.m.) and had fun building with spaghetti, marshmallows, and gumdrops!

Drawing some WILD things!

They also visited Ms. Gerri at the Nature table for our Great Kapok Tree program (6/6 @ 2:00 p.m.) to color wildlife using texture plates and made crocodile bookmarks!

Finally, the K-5 group also had an opportunity to get artistic with Mr. Will at our Where the Wild Things Are station! They used chalk to color and add to our Wild Things mural, which can now be found hanging in our Youth Services Department. The Where the Wild Things Are program will be held on Tuesday, June 20th at 2:00.

Making Wonder Woman cuffs

For our teen and adult patrons we had the Wonder Woman and Me station, where they could make DIY superhero cuffs. There were two rock painting stations – one with the reference staff for the teens and adults and one inside at the pre-k booth for our younger friends. At these stations, patrons were invited to paint or decorate rocks to hide in the community for others to find. These rocks have “#BSPLRocks” on the back. If you find one, be sure to share a photo so that the painters can see that their rocks have been discovered!

The teens also had a blast making steampunk themed magnets  with Ms. Josie! The Steampunk Extravaganza program for kids in grades 6-12 will be held on June 9th at 7:00 p.m.

The kids loved the PPFD truck!

The Pinellas Park Police and Fire Departments stopped by with their vehicles and were on hand to meet with members of the community. As always, the kids loved seeing the giant fire truck and the police car!
All in all, the event was a roaring good time! We would like to thank all of the partners that helped make the event possible and our wonderful patrons for coming out and having a great day with us! We look forward to seeing everyone throughout the summer for our programs for all ages. If you have any questions about the reading incentive programs or scheduled events please check out our website or ask any of our library staff!


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New Information about Widow Lankamp

If you’ve ever been curious about the seemingly random portrait of a young lady located near the Youth Services section of our library, we recently stumbled upon an old newspaper clipping about her. It seems Daisy Lankamp was a librarian here in the 50’s who died on the library’s property. Maybe that’s why staff regularly complains about cabinets and drawers opening on their own and books falling to the floor for no apparent reason. We’ve transposed the contents of the newspaper clipping below:

Lankamp, Daisy H.

Died May 22, 1956. Born Aug. 16, 1900. She was predeceased by husband, David M. Lankamp. Interment will be private. More information is available from: Serenity Funeral Home, Pinellas Park, FL.

Widow Lankamp, known to her friends simply as Daisy, will be a sorely missed member of our community. Daisy, a friend to all, was an integral part of the Pinellas Park Garden Club and a valued staff member at the Pinellas Park Library. She departed from this earth doing what she loved best, caring for the library’s collection.

Pictured is Widow Lankamp in her more youthful days. This portrait still hangs in the Barbara S. Ponce Public Library in Pinellas Park to this day. 

#EscapeTheHauntedLibrary