07/12/2018 - 10:46am

When people hear the name Ann M. Martin, they naturally think of her wildly popular Baby-sitters Club series. What was supposed to be just a four-book set turned into a 130-book saga, not counting the 120-book series for younger readers, Baby-sitters' Club Little Sisters and other spin-offs. In recent years, she's added other series about children and teens experiencing challenging times, but she will always be known for The Baby-Sitters Club books, several of which are now graphic novels.

Why did these books about four very different middle-school friends take off on the bestseller lists? The secret must lie with Ann's gift for remembering her feelings throughout childhood and young adulthood. She was a babysitter herself, and a lot of the things that she writes happened to the babysitters on the job happened to her or her friends. She also remembers what it feels like to lose a parent, have an annoying little sister, and deal with family secrets.

07/11/2018 - 2:25pm

Jack Gantos knows that a kid can be wacky AND wonderful. Crazy things happen to kids all the time. Take Joey Pigza. He can't sit still in class, and accidents seem to be waiting to happen. He's a live wire, just like his dad and his grandmother. No matter how hard he tries, he just can't settle down. But Joey is lucky; he does have people who care about him and can help him get what he needs to be happier.

07/11/2018 - 9:39am

The best craft store may be right outside your door. This summer, take time in the cool mornings to gather together pieces of nature to work into craft projects in the afternoons. That way you’ll have a remembrance of summer to keep all year long. Rocks can become patterned pictures. Leaves can make delicate prints. Everything in nature can inspire your arts and crafts.

Check out these books and Web sites for craft project ideas that will bring you something of the outdoors inside your house all year long:
05/30/2018 - 12:12pm

January 30, 1649, was chosen to be King Charles’ death day. Among the sober observers were tall, flaxen-haired Gideon Jukes, musketeer and spy for Cromwell’s New Army, and lovely Juliana Lovell, the still loyal though seemingly abandoned wife of a Cavalier officer.

Juliana has crisscrossed wartorn England and now lives in London on the brink of starvation with her two young boys. She has a lady’s manners but has had to develop cunning to survive her years alone while her husband serves in the King’s army. Her path crosses with Gideon’s when they both flee the Tower in the aftermath of the King's execution.
 
Their lives before the war were so very different. Gideon, rebellious son of a wealthy merchant, nonetheless was cheerfully apprenticed to a printer of many things, including seditious literature. When the call came to join Parliament’s cause with the London trained bands, he quickly volunteered, eager to get away from a strange and unpleasant marriage. Without family and in need of a protector, Juliana had wed a trickster, a lesser noble, who fascinated her and kept her true to him despite their years apart.
 
Rebels and Traitors is a massive novel—nearly 750 pages—set in a time most Americans know little about. But they should, and this story is an engrossing way to immerse oneself in a time every bit as exciting and compelling as the American Civil War or the French Revolution. Those who enjoy James Michener’s historical sagas and Bernard Cornwell’s military tales of the British past should find summer solace in this lengthy tale. The pacing fluctuates between battles and sackings of towns--punctuated with periods of domestic normality, friendships, love, and even humor.
06/19/2018 - 9:37am

Looking for something to do on a summer day? Grab a piece of chalk, some bottle caps, and maybe even a bag of marbles. Have friends over. Eat, laugh, play in the sun, drink something icy, and chalk out your own game board. It's summer, after all. As in sun. As in fun. When you're done chalking circles, squares and secret messages on the sidewalk, head over to a field or a playground and try your luck with Amoeba Tag or Ghost in the Graveyard. Outside. It's the place to play. After all, whoever tried the Water Balloon Toss in the den and lived to tell the tale?

You can find rules to great games both online and in the library.

05/29/2018 - 3:19pm

Award-winning author Sharon Creech wove a lot of her own life into her books for young adults, including her first one, Absolutely Normal Chaos. Written as a journal as are many of her novels, what strikes a reader immediately are her humor and casual way of storytelling. Everything is told offhand, as if it doesn’t really matter—just a 13-year-old chattering. Until what happens does matter and things get serious. That’s when readers are grateful for the humor, and having a strong if strange family really becomes important.

05/25/2018 - 9:38am

"Long, long ago, when the earth was set down and the sky was lifted up, all folktales were owned by the Sky God."

So begins an Ashanti tale, Anansi Does the Impossible!, retold by Verna Aardema. Anansi the Spider and his clever wife, Aso, use their wits to buy the folk tales for the Ashanti people. Verna Aardema spent much of her life retelling these folktales.

05/22/2018 - 10:12am

The long hot days of summer are fast upon us, and with them there will be time for sports, time for camp, time to dream, and time to do. Time to start a diary or journal?

A journal can be written for only yourself, to write down the things that are important to you: lists of favorites (music, t.v., and movies), pictures of friends and family, and, of course, your innermost thoughts. Fun times deserve to be remembered, and sometimes writing about a bad situation can help you deal with it better as you think it through on paper. That kind of journal is personal, and you may not wish to share it with anyone.

04/26/2018 - 10:09am

October 31st: a night for spooks, shrieks, and overall thrills. Monsters, witches, ghosts, pumpkins--where did they all come from? Read on to learn more about this bewitching time of year.

04/24/2018 - 8:41am

Ponds, lakes, streams, and, of course, the Rappahannock River—there are lots of places to drop a line in the area. Whether you’re new to fishing or want to wade back in, we have suggestions on where to fish locally and books that will help you get your lines cast and your lures tied.

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