Books in the Park

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


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Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beatty

Ada Twist, Scientist, by Andrea Beaty

There’s no denying that we need more S.T.E.M. books geared towards children. Andrea Beaty is working towards that goal with her hit picture books about Iggy Peck, Architect, Rosie Revere, Engineer, and now Ada Twist, Scientist. Ada Twist, Scientist is the latest of these books and was chosen as one of the Sunshine State Young Readers Award Jr. books for the 2017-2018 school year.

Beaty has once again paired with David Roberts as the illustrator and the book is adorable! The book, as with the first two, is written in rhyme which makes it really fun to read out loud with younger readers.

Ada is an intriguing character, as it is explained that she is mostly silent until the age of three, at which time she starts asking “why?” Not satisfied with “I don’t know,” young Ada turns to the scientific method to help learn about all of the world’s wondrous (and not sometimes stinky) things. The book follows Ada as she develops her scientific and sometimes troublesome nature. Ada’s family loves to help with her experiments, but sometimes they become troublesome around the house!

I have read this book to my 3 and 6 year old daughters countless times and recommend it to many of our younger readers at the library. It is recommended for grades K-2, but will be fun even for older children. Young scientists will love this book and their parents will surely love the ideas that start popping into their heads when they too discover that they don’t have to just ask “why” and can discover the world of science for themselves.

Check the PPLC catalog for Ada Twist, Scientist.


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The Iron Druid Chronicles, by Kevin Hearne

hounded-iron-druid-hearneI love books written in series because they give you a chance to really get to know the characters and to delve deeply into the world they inhabit. I recently ran across Hounded, the first title in Kevin Hearne’s The Iron Druid Chronicles, and proceeded to binge-read every title in the series. The series does all I ask for with well-crafted plotlines, good world-building, and memorable characters that you root for, including a magically enhanced Irish wolfhound. Plus, there is mythology—lots of it.

Atticus O’Sullivan (his actual Gaelic name looks terrifying to pronounce, but is included in a handy pronunciation guide) is the last druid alive and is at least 2000 years old. Before the Romans exterminated all the Druids left in Ireland, Britain, and Gaul, he escaped in order to be able to fulfill his destiny, to protect Gaia. He now lives in Tempe, Arizona, and takes care of the lands around there while avoiding the attentions of the gods.

Gods? Yes, gods. Hearne’s world-building is masterful, blending all the pantheons in a multiverse sort of way, with the Irish gods, Norse gods, and Greco-Roman gods featuring prominently in the stories. There are also witches, vampires, and werewolves. As Atticus is Irish, most of his dealings are with the Tuatha de Danann, the Irish pantheon of deities. He is under Morrigan’s protection, and as such, is a pawn in their pantheon’s plots and machinations. As gods do, they act through other, less deific agents on earth, and so the first few books deal with the magical inhabitants of the Tempe area. Later adventures involve many other pantheons, including even Ganesh the elephant-headed Hindu god.

Atticus has friends, especially his Irish wolfhound, Oberon. Oberon is magically enhanced and carries on hilarious telepathic conversations with Atticus from a dog’s worldview. Atticus’ legal affairs are taken care of by, of course, a vampire and werewolf. As the series progresses, he adds an apprentice, Granuaile (pronounced gran ya wail, if you want to know) whose decade-long training is interrupted with adventures through seven books.

The stories are full of humor, adventure, and the occasional throwdown between gods and mortals. The books’ events follow in sequence, so they really need to be read in order. Atticus is both brash and human, despite his advanced age. His good intentions occasionally go awry, but they make him likable.  The mixing of the various pantheons allows for magic, science, and deific powers to coexist seamlessly, and even with some broad humor. I enjoyed the series thoroughly and look forward to more of Atticus and Granuaile’s adventures.

Check the PPLC Catalog for:

Book 1: Hounded
Book 2: Hexed
Book 3: Hammered
Book 4: Tricked
Book 5: Trapped
Book 6: Hunted
Book 7: Shattered
Book 8: Staked


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The Creeps, by Chris Schweizer

creeps-schweizerCarol, Mitchell, Jarvis, and Rosario are not popular. Their investigations into the bizarre happenings of their sleepy town have raised the ire of their classmates, their teachers, and even the police. Throughout Pumpkins County they are known as “The Creeps”. Not to say their title isn’t apt; on any given day the gang could find themselves elbow deep in reanimated frog corpses or fighting a mutant pudding monster (creepy stuff), but the ill-will from the townsfolk is completely unwarranted! How many times have these kids saved the town? Lots, just ask them, they’ll tell you! But nobody seems to care about the monsters that threaten the fine folk of Pumpkins County, and so The Creeps will continue their thankless job.

This title currently consists of three volumes, and each one is amazing. The Creeps is marked as juvenile fiction, but I would strongly recommend it to all graphic novel readers. *This series is marked as “multi-cultural”, meaning that roughly 60% of the characters you see on the page are not white. This helps to make Pumpkins County an amazing display of diversity. The townsfolk come in every color, size, shape, and even social circle that humans can come in. You’ll see farmers, punks, jocks, little old ladies, and environmentalists walking the streets. Almost any reader could pick up this book and see a character that reflects them.

Additionally, Schweizer takes care to depict the townsfolk as people who are worth saving, even though they can be cruel. Even the most rotten school bullies are rendered likable to some degree. The most lovable characters of all, though are the Creeps. Each character has their own unique skills and hobbies that complement the group’s goals, making them the perfect mystery solving team. Possibly the very best part of the book, however, is the relationship the Creeps have with one another. Carol, Mitchell, Jarvis, and Rosario joke and pick on each other good-naturedly, but when the stakes are high, they are there for each other 100%.

Each volume of The Creeps is humorous, harrowing, a little bit touching, and completely charming. The volumes are episodic, and there is no need to read them in a certain order. So pick up a volume of The Creeps today!

Check the PPLC Catalog for The Creeps.


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Junji Ito’s Cat Diary: Yon & Mu, by Junji Ito

junji-itos-cat-diary-itoA horror manga artist, J, has recently moved into a new home with his fiancee, A-ko. The artist can see a rosy new life opening up before him—until A-ko asks him the fateful question: “Are you a dog person… or a cat person?” Thus begins J’s life with two fractious cats, Yon and Mu. Yon is  A-ko’s quirky childhood cat, and Mu is a Norwegian Forest kitten, adopted as a companion  In a series of biographical vignettes, Ito chronicles J and A-ko’s life with their exasperating but beloved felines.

Ito is best known for his horror manga, and it is a stroke of genius to bring a creepy element to this sleepy slice-of-life comic. Ito creates a sense of dread, both with the atmosphere and the illustration. This is beautifully juxtaposed with the humorous tone, and the everyday plot of human/cat interaction. It makes for a very surreal and entertaining story. In addition, Cat Diary perfectly captures the joys and frustrations of living with cats. Ito’s love for his fur babies shines through, making the manga adorable and touching.

Admittedly, this is a weird book, and it might not be for everyone. However, if you have had surreal experiences with cats of your own, you will enjoy Junji Ito’s Cat Diary.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Junji Ito’s Cat Diary.


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Harry Potter and the Cursed Child, by John Tiffany, Jack Thorne, and J.K. Rowling

cursed child thorneFirst off, I’m a huge Harry Potter nerd. When I hear those first few musical notes at the beginning of each movie, I get goosebumps. I read my first Harry Potter book when I was 10, and 17 years later I’m still obsessed. Having said that, I was not at all excited for this new installment. I had come to terms with the end of Harry and was content just revisiting the original material. But for some reason when the library got our first copy in for circulation and I was holding it in my hands, I just had to have it. My mom bought me a copy (as is tradition) and I read it all immediately in one sitting. I know there is a lot of hate going around for Cursed Child right now. I’ve seen people refer to it as fanfiction. Honestly, I sort of agree, but it is really really really good fanfiction. It wasn’t written by J.K. Rowling, but it was written by an accomplished playwright who did wonders with a new storyline. Seriously, Jack Thorne and John Tiffany do a great job capturing character with only dialogue. I was beyond impressed.

The story is definitely fast-paced and at times a little confusing, but we’ve got to remember that it isn’t a book, it’s a play. You can’t expect the same level of detail that the rest of the series supplies. Only super nerds like myself would go see an 8 hour Harry Potter play.  What I’m saying with all this is that if you’re fan of the characters, the story, the message—you’ve gotta read Cursed Child. Love it, hate it, you feel how you want but you’ve just got to have this story in your brain. I don’t want to spoil anything so I won’t get into to specifics but TIME TURNERS. Guys, we get more details about time turners and MCGONAGALL. She’s back and just as awesome as before. Read it for her. Cursed Child got me back in the Harry Potter spirit and now I’ve got to see Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them in November. Thanks J.K. Rowling for another great story.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Harry Potter and the Cursed Child.


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Good in Bed, by Jennifer Weiner

good bed weinerWhat do you do when your recent ex calls you out in a newspaper column with his insights on “loving a larger woman”? Candance “Cannie” Shapiro is faced with this in the middle of other life events, and we get to watch her navigate her way through love, friendship, career woes, and body image and daddy issues—all while the bright light of low-level notoriety shines upon her.

Cannie Shapiro has recently broke up with Bruce when he publishes his column about their relationship. Everyone in her circle knows whom he is referring to, and she is embarrassed and hurt. When she confronts him about it, it goes about as well as you can imagine. Soon after an ill-considered liaison at Bruce’s father’s funeral, Cannie decides to take charge of her life. She joins a weight-loss program, decides to get a screenplay published, and pushes through her life’s difficulties.

This is a good attitude, because the hits keep coming. She isn’t able to join the weight loss group (for reasons that I won’t spoil), but gets out to LA to discuss a treatment of her screenplay. She lives the good life in LA for a while, but there still is a tether to her previous relationship with Bruce that keeps pulling her in different directions. A tragedy leads to a revelation near the end of the book, and… You know, while writing this I keep needing to censor myself so as to not give spoilers, so. There are twists and turns, happy and sad, and it’s all wonderful so read it.

This book is about navigating life, with all its joys and tribulations. Things don’t always go the way Cannie imagines they will, but her stick-to-it-ness and chutzpah fuels her transformation and allows her to re-focus on herself and worry less about the noise around her. It’s well-plotted, and the engaging main character and her all-too-real tribulations make this an uplifting read.

Check the PPLC Catalog for Good in Bed.


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The Clasp, by Sloane Crosley

clasp crosleyEver had a short story that you wish someone had made into a complete novel? Guy de Maupassant’s “The Necklace” is hilariously expanded and modernized in the deft hands of Sloane Crosley. Her witty and insightful personal essay compilations, I Was Told There Would Be Cake and How Did You Get This Number, foretold a well-crafted, literary and fun fiction title if Crosley ever turned her hand to it, and The Clasp delivers.

Three college friends meet up eight years after graduation at a wealthy classmate’s wedding. It’s clear right away that the bright futures they had expected have wilted in the onslaught of adult life and the real world. Victor has been recently fired from his job with an Internet search engine company, Kezia has made a critical misstep in her designer jewelry career, and Nathaniel has dropped his literary pretensions to run into a wall as a TV writer. This love triangle (Victor loves Kezia, who loves Nathaniel), find a common cause in the search for a family heirloom, lost in Normandy in World War II. Much of the comedy and tension comes from the group’s inability to connect with each other and be their most essential selves while on this all-consuming quest.

Crosley’s writing is tight and carries you through both interpersonal drama, personal and societal insights, and references to de Maupassant’s original text with delightful ease. Sharp insights zing throughout the text, such as “The world was not subtle about telling single people what they were missing.” Who hasn’t felt that way in early post-college life?

If you want a book full of excellent snark which will make you laugh out loud, reflect, and wince, while having a good time, “The Clasp is for you.” Sloan is a sharp observer of her generation, and I look forward to essays, fiction or, really, anything she writes, tweets included.

Check the PPLC Catalog for The Clasp.