Midnight on the Marne

I haven’t read a lot about World War I, so I enjoyed this title by Sarah Adlakha. Her main character is a French woman named Marcelle Marchand, who joins a nursing unit along with her sister Rosalie, with whom she is very close. Marcelle also becomes a spy for the British Intelligence, and is called “the witch of the river” for her ability to outsmart the Germans. Eventually she is captured, and tortured until two American soldiers help her escape. The descriptions of the torture were tough to read, but it was the reality of her experience. The author offers differing views of the plot, with the idea that two of the characters return after being killed, to change outcomes of the war. Adlanka did model her story on real people, places and events, even while taking liberties with other elements. All in all, it was a satisfying read.

The Long Ride Home

A new picture book recently released tells the poignant story of two best friends, a koala and a tiger. On a long car ride home, the koala friend is reminiscing about the good times they’ve had together in the past. But as the car ride ends, it turns out they had lived next door to one another, until the tiger moved away. A sweet children’s story about separation, just in time for the angst of starting school…

Children’s library play area

I recently read an article in Children & Libraries about the importance of play in early literacy development. You needn’t spend a fortune on toys to support this learning for babies and toddlers. Find out how to make some simple tabletop activities in a blogpost by a new youth services assistant, Kirsten Caldwell. She suggests a simple sorting activity for younger children, and making tangram shapes to laminate and use as puzzles, or a Mr. Potato Head made from felt for older kids.

Any Other Family

Eleanor Brown has crafted a novel with a new premise: a mother has birthed four children, placing them all up for adoption. The three families that agree to adopt the siblings then form a new family, where they spend holidays together, along with the birth mother, Briana. Vacations, birthdays, really any event of importance, are also celebrated as a group. The idea is to raise the siblings together to keep their familial bond. But when the birth mother is again pregnant, the families need to scout out a yet another couple to join their circle. Of course the moms grate on each other’s nerves from time to time, but ultimately get along. I wonder if this has happened in real life. The author herself has adopted a child, and her intent with this title was to challenge people to redefine their idea of what families are…

The Littlest Library

Poppy Alexander’s debut novel is a delightful read. Jess, a librarian in a small English village, decides to uproot herself after losing both her job and her beloved grandmother. She finds a little house near the sea and impulsively buys it, and finds out she is responsible for the red telephone box on the property as well. Deciding to convert it into a tiny library, Jess stocks it with her own and her grandmother Mimi’s books. The little library slowly catches on, as villagers delight in finding different books to read, and Jess comes to know and love them. But when the only job offer she lands is in Birmingham, too far away to commute, Jess faces up to the fact that she must sell and uproot once again. Will anyone else step up and save the day? Read it and find out…