Reviewing The Children’s Crusade by Ann Packer
I still remember when my mom gave me Ann Packer’s The Dive from Clausen’s Pier, for two reasons. One: I could not put it down and suffered a night without sleep, followed by a day of dark circles under eyes and stumbling. Two: it made me think, a lot, both while I was reading and after. I still find myself bringing up that book, and the questions that it asked even though I read it over 10 years ago. It is the classic girl and boy are high school sweethearts, girl starts to feel suffocated by her small town life and right before she goes to leave boy and town, boy is paralyzed in a freak accident, and girl must decide if she stays for him or leaves for herself. Ann Packer is a brilliant writer who evokes great emotion, and when I heard that she was releasing a new book, The Children’s Crusade, I knew I had to have another sleepless night with her words.
The Children’s Crusade takes readers to San Francisco starting in the 1950s and carrying us through today, all through the eyes of one family, the Blair’s. Packer’s stories often focus on complicated family relationships, and we benefit from her comfort in the genre, as this book is full of the tension and love of families, without falling into the overdramatic tropes of some less experienced writers. Dr. Bill Blair is a Midwestern transplant to the Bay Area in the early 1950s, where he is hoping to create a new life for himself after all that he saw working as a doctor in the war. When he meets Penny, he finds his opportunity to create the family that he has always wanted, but, of course, things never work as planned. The story is told from the alternating perspectives of each of the now-adult Blair children, Robert, Rebecca, Ryan, and James, all centered around their decision whether or not to sell the family home and land a few years after their father’s death.
Packer moves back and forth in time, leaving breadcrumbs for the reader to know what will be coming next, wondering what explanations will exist for all of their strife. As with many families, the Blairs project a perfect All-American family to the world, until things start to crack under the weight of Penny’s unhappiness with her role as a wife and mother, James’ feeling of disillusionment, and Bill’s inability to be everything for all of his children, who are all so very different from each other. As a reader, you become invested in this family, and I found myself unable to put down the book, again wondering what decisions the family would make, good or bad, just like with Packer’s other stories. She possesses a gift for making the reader truly care about her characters in a way that few can.
This is a book for anyone who loves to read complicated family stories or character driven stories, especially as Packer manages to make all of her characters, even the house, multi-layered and quite human. For those who prefer audiobooks, there is the added bonus of multiple narrators for each of the chapters told in different family member perspectives, and it is very well read (yes, I both read the eBook and listened to the audiobook, but how else was I going to constantly know what was going on in the story?!?). Becoming part of the Blair family, even for a short while, was a gift from Packer, and one that I will not soon forget.
Reviewed by Meghan Volchko is a Collection Development Specialist at OverDrive, and she should not pull all-nighters any more like she did in college.
Last week we released the most recent version of the OverDrive app with a number of enhancements including the option to select a dyslexic font when reading eBooks.
Standard typefaces are often difficult to read for people with dyslexia as the letters are hard to differentiate and words tend to jumble together. Dyslexic fonts provide greater contrast in letters which solves this problem.
This new font option will make reading easier for students with dyslexia as well as library patrons who struggle with the condition.
Determining letters is now much easier, allowing readers to concentrate on the book’s content instead.
NOTE: This option is currently available on all devices running OverDrive v3.3.0.
For iOS devices: To select the dyslexic font, tap the center of your device’s screen when reading a title and choose the font options button (Aa), tap the font style name, then scroll to either OpenDyslexic or OpenDyslexic Bold.
For Android devices: To select the dyslexic font, tap the icon located to the right of the title or find the option that displays font styles. Choose the font options button (Aa), tap the font style name, then scroll to either OpenDyslexic or OpenDyslexic Bold.
Kobo offers this font option on their eReaders.
Kindles and Nooks: Kindle books are read in the Kindle app which is controlled by Amazon. Check with them to see if they offer a dyslexic font or comparable option. Currently, the Nook doesn't offer the OpenDyslexic font.
As always, you can also adjust the spacing, font size and screen color to make your reading experience more enjoyable.
This update is one of many enhancements planned for the app – with more coming later in the year – that will continue to help users get the most out of their digital reading experience.
How many times have you started reading a blog post and ended up scrolling through the text? How many times have you stopped reading a book, just to reply to a tweet or like a Facebook status?
Internet is the blessing of the 21st century, but it also has a dark side. Its main sin is that it makes us distracted. There as too much information and it’s too diversified.
As a result, we spend more time on the web, dealing with shorter chunks of information. Our attention span shrinks.
Reading books becomes a daily dream, often unfulfilled. Even if we find time for reading, we discover it’s hard to focus on the text.
This trend can be reversed. Want to relearn the skill of reading, and move to the next level? Here are selected infographics that can help you read faster, understand more, and keep you focused longer.
posted by Piotr Kowalczyk
The Junior League of Lake Charles, Inc. has teamed up with the Calcasieu Parish Public Library to add American Girl dolls to the Library collection.
Twenty dolls have been donated to the library to promote literacy and writing, and children who check out the dolls will also learn about the significant role of women during different periods in history.
Each doll comes with her own story book and a journal, so that children who check out a doll can write about the experience they had with it. Did they go on an adventure? See someone special?
Details on the American Girl® doll Lending Program.
Alice Hoffman, the author of such popular books as The Dovekeepers and Practical Magic, just penned her first middle grade novel, Nightbird. As in her previous novels, Hoffman uses magical realism to explore life in a small town where one small girl lives a lonely life due to a centuries-old family curse.
You do not cross a witch. This is a fact that the Fowler family understands better than any other because a long time ago a curse was enacted upon them. Due to the curse, the family withdrew as much as possible from society, away from prying eyes. Twig Fowler is a lover of climbing. She loves nature, acting and her family. More than anything, Twig wants a friend. But life is not easy for the Fowlers, for what would the town’s people do if they found out that what they think of as “the Sidwell monster” is actually Twig’s big brother?
When new neighbors move into the vacant cottage next door, life gets more complicated. Twig struggles with wanting to be friends with Julia and knowing it’s against the rules. Not only is this family a threat to the Fowler’s isolation, but they are ancestors of Agnes Early, the witch who cursed the family so long ago. But what if the curse could be broken? What if there’s more to the story of Agnes Early and Lowell Fowler, the long ago ill-fated sweethearts?
This was a very sweet read. Twig is a wonderful character who has a lot to deal with for one so young. She learned to keep secrets long ago and repress her desire to make friends and be well liked. Any child who has felt isolated by his peers will recognize the yearning Twig feels. I enjoyed that there was no bad guy. It gets difficult to read books where one character is blatantly bad. Instead Nightbird concentrates on misunderstandings. People in the town of Sidwell are well-meaning and the reader gets the sense of small town living.
This is the perfect book for Middle Schoolers and a great companion to spring/summer reading lists! Hopefully Alice Hoffman continues writing for children because her first attempt was a beautiful addition to children’s literature.
reviewed by Kristin Milks is a Collection Analyst with OverDrive
Did you know that you can sync your libraries, saved searches, and reading or listening position across multiple devices? Sign up for an OverDrive account and enjoy your favorites on your phone and your tablet.
What is an OverDrive account?
You can sign up for an OverDrive account to take advantage of great features at overdrive.com or in the OverDrive app, where you can find eBooks, audiobooks, and more from a digital library near you. You'll be required to sign into or sign up for an OverDrive account when you install the latest version of OverDrive for Android, Chromebook, iOS, or Windows 8.
- Simplify Adobe ID registration---After you sign up for an OverDrive account, we'll automatically activate new devices for you when you sign in on each one. You can have up to six devices synced and authorized with your account, and you can quickly manage them on overdrive.com.
- Sync your progress and bookmarks--Devices with the latest OverDrive app (for Android 4.0+, Chromebook, iOS 6.0+, or Windows 8/RT) work with your OverDrive account to sync progress and bookmarks for eBooks, audiobooks, and streaming videos that you've downloaded or added to the app. So when you move from your iPad to your Nexus 6, you don't have to spend time scrolling through pages or fast-forwarding to find your current place or favorite passage.
- Save libraries--When you save libraries to your OverDrive account, you can access them from any device you've signed in with. For example, when you get a new tablet and install the OverDrive app, just sign in to your account and your saved libraries will appear automatically. When searching at OverDrive.com, you can filter results to show only titles available at your libraries.
- Save searches to your account--Are you a Jim Butcher fan? With an OverDrive account, you can search for "Jim Butcher," save the results, and then return to them each time you're ready to borrow the next book in the series.
What is the difference between an OverDrive account and your library account?
An OverDrive account (required when installing the latest version of the OverDrive app) authorizes the app to read protected eBooks, allows you to save a list of your favorite digital libraries, and syncs your bookmarks and progress in eBooks and audiobooks across devices.
A library account (represented by your library card) lets you borrow titles from your library's digital collection. Even if you create an OverDrive account to use the app, you'll still need your library card to get titles from your digital library.
Your global book club, Big Library Read is now live. Big Library Read offers you and millions of users around the globe the opportunity to join the largest global book club in the world. For the next two weeks Shakespeare Saved my Life by Laura Bates will be available to borrow without any wait lists or holds.
From March 17th through the 31st, feel free to read Dr. Bate’s story of teaching Shakespeare in a supermax solitary confinement prison and how she formed a lasting friendship with a convicted murderer that saved more than one life.
Dr. Bates has been featured on MSNBC-TV and just recently sold the rights to her book to be turned into a movie! You can learn more about her and Shakespeare Saved my Life at biglibraryread.com and be sure to join the conversation on Twitter by following the hashtag #BigLibraryRead. On Friday, March 27th at 1 pm (CST) we’ll have a live twitter chat where we will ask Dr. Bates questions from readers so be sure to tweet @OverDriveLibs your questions for the author!
Also, if your school or book club would like to use this title for group discussions you can use this discussion guide for questions and topics.
Food for Fines Program Benefits Local Food Pantry
The Calcasieu Parish Public Library is partnering with the Faith and Friends Food Pantry to gather much needed items in exchange for removing library fines.
Patrons can bring in any non-perishable food item starting Sunday, March 15th through Sunday, April 5 to receive a coupon that is good for five dollars off of any library fine.
The coupon is not valid for copies or prints and cannot be used for lost items. There is no cash value to the coupon and no remaining balance on the coupon will be accepted. The coupon is only good for a one time use, and once a coupon is used, it cannot be reused again, regardless of fine amount.
One voucher per account will be handed out and a maximum of 1 voucher will be given regardless of size of donation. The coupon will expire at the end of the year on December 31, 2015.
The Faith and Friends Food Pantry was established in 2000 and is the only organization of its type that serves the entire Calcasieu Parish area. It is located at 4009 J. Bennett Johnston Avenue in Lake Charles (on the corner of J. Bennett Johnston Avenue and Main St.) and those interested in learning more about them can call (337) 439-9494, Monday through Thursday from 1:00 p.m. – 2:30 p.m.
For more information on the Food for Fines program, contact your local library.
We’re excited to announce the return of the Big Library Read, our global digital book club where millions of people from around the world have the ability to read the same eBook at the same time. This time around, OverDrive users will be able to read Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard, by Laura Bates, without any wait lists or holds.
At the Calcasieu Parish Public Library, the title will be available from March 17 through April 1 simultaneously for users who would like to join.
During the week of March 23, we will also be doing a Twitter chat with Bates, where readers will be able to ask her questions about her book and her personal and professional life.
Shakespeare Saved my Life is Bates’ autobiography about working with inmates in solitary confinement, teaching them the works of William Shakespeare. Her fascinating life’s story is sure to captivate you as she shares the unlikely friendship she formed with Larry Newton, a convicted murder with multiple escape attempts to his name.
This edition of Big Library Read has been made possible by Sourcebooks, Inc., who have enabled us to make Shakespeare Saved my Life available to more than 30,000 libraries and schools worldwide. Join us in reading this enthralling tale starting March 17 and discover how eBooks can change lives!
Adam Sockel is a Social Media Specialist at OverDrive. He believes that all the world’s a stage…
- 1 of 15