Books in the Park

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


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Assassin’s Creed (2016)

Assassin’s Creed, for those unfamiliar, takes the player into the past to relive the memories locked within their DNA and passed down from their ancestors. For the first several games you travel into this world with the help of Desmond Miles, a modern day assassin with genetic ties to many important figures within the history of the Assassin’s Brotherhood. He is being forced to relive these memories by Abstergo, a mega conglomerate that is a front for the Knights Templar.

You don’t need to know that to watch Assassin’s Creed. We pick up with a brand new protagonist: Calum “Cal” Lynch, played by Michael Fassbender. Little is shared about Cal’s backstory outside of the events that start off the film. He’s not necessarily a likable character, being on death row when we first meet him, but you quickly begin to wonder about his past and be a bit concerned for him as he is brought in by Abstergo to help them test their Animus project and delve into the history of his own ancestor, Aguilar de Nerha.

It’s at this point that the story really picks up the pace. Cal is placed into the Animus and his ancestor’s memories play before him. He must keep up with Aguilar and not stray from the path that he took. Doing so would risk desynchronization, which could lead to ejection from the Animus, insanity, or even death.

Aguilar lived in 15th Century Spain, during the time of the Spanish Inquisition. We see him and the other members of the Assassin’s Brotherhood fighting against troops led by Torquemada – a member of the Templar Order, of course – to keep an item of great power out of their hands.

While the present day story line is interesting, the historical aspect is what screams Assassin’s Creed about this film. Watching Fassbender (who also plays Aguilar) running through the streets of Seville in 1491 to escape Torquemada’s men is fast paced, heart pounding action that could keep nearly anyone entertained. The series has always been known for their use of Parkour or Free running, which is predominantly displayed through the ancient city.

Overall, as an Assassin’s Creed mega fan with high expectations, I was entertained and enjoyed the film. There were enough differences from the games that it felt like something that was new and it’s own instead of a game sequel. Was it the best movie of 2016? No. Will I re-watch it anyway? Absolutely, and for that reason I will gladly recommend it to anyone looking for a fun movie.


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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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Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), by Lin Manuel Miranda

Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording), by Lin Manuel Miranda

Few musicals have taken off in popularity the way that Hamilton has. The hit show about founding father Alexander Hamilton has been going strong on Broadway for two years and the original cast recording has gone platinum twice.

The story begins with a narration by Aaron Burr, played here by Leslie Odom, Jr., who describes himself at the end of the first song as “the damn fool that shot him.” The introduction, Alexander Hamilton, tells the story of Hamilton’s tragic upbringing and his immigration to the United States, setting up his involvement with the American Revolution.

The themes of friendship, revolution, toil, and arrogance ring throughout the musical. Ambitious as can be – Miranda described the titular character as a Slytherin when asked about his Hogwarts house – Hamilton is quick to make influential friends, including Aaron Burr, the Marquis de Lafayette, and George Washington. Burr, as most likely remember, was later Vice President of the United States – the post that he held when he and Hamilton dueled in 1804.

I will say that I am not much of a hip hop fan. This was one of my first forays into the genre, and it was a good introduction, indeed! Miranda’s writing combined with music by Alex Lacamoire is catchy, witty, and holds the attention of five and fifty year olds, alike (However, while my children enjoy the clean version of the soundtrack, it’s not something that I’d recommend for all children!).

Check the PPLC catalog for Hamilton (Original Broadway Cast Recording). 


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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


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The Incredible Book Eating Boy, by Oliver Jeffers

incredible book eating boy jeffersHenry loves books just as any child would, although he takes his love for books to the next level. While many children love to read books, Henry, on the other hand, loves to eat books. Yes, you read that right: he eats books, devours them even. Big books, picture books, even reference books! Henry especially prefers red ones; those are his favorite. The more he eats, the smarter he becomes. He eats at an alarming rate until one day all that knowledge he ate is jumbled inside him and makes him sick to his stomach. What could be the matter? Is there any way to relieve such pain?

Although written for ages 4-8, Oliver Jeffers’s quirky story line and distinctive illustrations make this a must-read for all ages. If your little happens to be a book chewer, this story might discourage such behavior in a gentle and enjoyable way.

Check the PPLC Catalog for The Incredible Book Eating Boy.


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2015 Year in Review

Looking back on our first calendar year, we thought we’d take a look back at some of blog’s best moments, and look at what worked and did not work for the year.

2015 Top Five Posts by number of visits:

  1. The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, by James Thurber
  2. Steelheart, by Brandon Sanderson
  3. The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis
  4. In Real Life, by Cory Doctorow and Jen Wang
  5. The Sculptor, by Scott McCloud

That’s an even mix of reviews on a variety of genres.  Walter Mitty benefitted, no doubt, from the Ben Stiller movie, but we have a top 5 with a Young Adult title, Science Fiction, two classics, two Graphic Novels, and Christian title.  That’s a pretty well rounded list.

Social Media Stats: Well, let’s start with Books in the Park site in total. On this date in 2014, Books in the Park had 918 views for the year(a year consisting of only October, November, and December with 51 posts). As of today, for 2015, Books in the Park has 3008 views for 163 posts, which is to say, essentially the same number of visits per posts as last year (it’s slightly more). That’s just a smidgen over 8 visits a day to the blog.

However, visits to the blog is not a complete look, because the site also has 132 WordPress followers, up from 56 on this day last year, which is healthy growth for followers, but also is a number of people who don’t visit the blog because the entries get pushed to them instead. Essentially, if we were to take the average of the WordPress follower numbers of the last couple years (which would be 132) and multiply that by the number of Books in the Parkentries for the year so far (163, not counting this one), that would be another 21,516 “visits” to our blog posts, for an aggregate average of 67 daily “visits” to our reviews. This also doesn’t count the people who see it through RSS feeds (Feedly, etc) or via Tumblr and other sources.

Here’s how people came to the site from other sites in 2015: Google was by far the largest driver of visits, followed by Twitter, Pinellas-park.com (our webpage) and Facebook.  These four made up 84% of the referring sites. We promote our posts on Twitter, Facebook, and our webpage, so those are to be expected.  Google searches total more than all of these, and interestingly, there are about 10% of the Google searches which are Google Image Search.  We imagine there are other book reviewers looking for book cover images for their reviews!

We find that about 5% of our clicks from our site are leading to the items in our collection, which is gratifying. One of our goals was to introduce books which were good but not getting a lot of press.

All in all, it has been a pretty prolific year for Books in the Park. Looking forward to next year, we have plans to add reviews for new books added to our collection, and more article-type content about books and other media.

What would you like to see more of from our blog?  Please comment!