Shelf Life Blog
Awkward, by Svetlana Chmakova, is a graphic novel that delves into the world of middle school and all of the ups and downs that come with it.
For Penelope, who also goes by Peppi, surviving school means following a set of very simple and very straightforward rules. Some of these rules, such as “seek out groups with similar interests and join them,” are not so hard to follow. As an artist, she found her niche within the art club. Some of her rules, particularly “don’t get noticed by the mean kids,” are turning out to be much more difficult to follow—even on the very first day!
Once upon a planetoid, amid her tools and sprockets, a girl named Cinderella dreamed of fixing fancy rockets.
One day, aspiring rocketeer Cinderella and her evil stepmother and stepsisters receive an invitation to the Prince's Royal Space Parade. How spectacular! But there seems to be no room for Cinderella in her family's car. If she can fix a broken ship, she can fly it to the parade! But, alas, her toolbox is missing. What can she do to make it to the interstellar parade without tools?
Rachel Kadish’s talent as a writer in The Weight of Ink engages you in the lives of all her characters. Her gift for making all her characters in both the 20th and 17th centuries come alive will pull you into their stories.
Eleanor is nearly thirty years old. She lives alone and follows a strict schedule that includes work, talking to her Mummy, and avoiding contact with others. People attempt to help her unlock the issues of her past, but Eleanor maintains she is, in fact, completely fine. In Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely Fine, Eleanor tries to cope with abuse, neglect, and loss.
During World War II, victory gardens were important to Americans around the country. The steel and tin industry was working hard on supplying the army with weapons, so there were not enough raw materials to make these and tin cans for vegetables. Trains were being used to carry soldiers instead of civilian food supplies. And, to make matters worse, Japan controlled most of the rubber factories overseas, which meant there was no rubber for new tires on trucks that carried food across the country.
Let Kate Riggs’ Under the Sea take you and your toddler on a dreamy trip to the ocean’s depths. Bonus! This is also a concept book, teaching relative positions—over/under, bottom/top, and so on. Clownfish wiggles OUT of an anemone. Octopus waits IN a dark den. Sea turtle swims AFTER jellyfish but BEFORE tuna. Learning these direction concepts and the names of sea creatures happens happily when accompanied by Tom Leonard’s lovely, glowing illustrations.
In 2008, a young woman from the Blue Ridge Mountains, who loves poetry and literature, arrives in Bulgaria. She’s been hired to teach English but has a month to explore on her own. Jet-lagged, at the wrong hotel and in need of rest and a shower, it’s not surprising Alexandra makes a terrible mistake while simply trying to help a family with their luggage. It’s not the first awful mistake she’s made, either.
In the late 1930s, a 20-something violin virtuoso, who has everything in the world to look forward to, slips back to his Bulgarian hometown on the eve of World War II. When the conflict is over, Stoyan Lazarov has very good reason to believe his talent will grant him fame. So what if he has to play second chair for now in a provincial orchestra? He has the love of his life, brilliant talent and enough patience. But musical genius though he may be, he has not factored in the crushing power of the political police.
In 2008, Alexandra’s and Stoyan’s paths will cross, and their separate, shameful secrets will be laid bare. Elizabeth Kostova’s The Shadow Land is at once a historical mystery and a modern thriller. There is true bravery and true love in this page-turner that spans decades, even as it illuminates an ancient country’s marvels and sorrows.
Kathy Schmitz does not believe in idle hands, as shown by her stitchery projects in Stitches from the Garden. She has clear instructions for 14 projects, including pillows, a bag, sachets, a pincushion, a journal cover, and a wrist bracelet. There are also instructions for the stitches used in each creation.
With romantic colors, she creates the colors, textures and shapes of nature. Birds perch, bees buzz, cherries hang from a tree, and lavender’s lacy shape all adorn her embroidery. Her table runner pattern has a garden full of flowers and insects stitched around the edge. Her artist’s eye captures the joys of a country garden with fabric and thread.
Sometimes it’s better to not know what the future holds. King Acrisius asks the oracle serpent how he will die. The answer frightens him: by his grandson’s hand. But he has no grandson. His daughter Danaë isn’t even married…. And now, the king is determined she never will be.
He builds an astonishingly tall tower just for her. Trusting him as she does, she goes to the top to see the view, only to find she is imprisoned. That’s the plan her father had for her. To let her grow old without ever knowing the comfort of a husband or a child. He thought he was being merciful—after all, he didn’t kill her, did he? She could have anything she wanted up there, as long as she stayed up there and away from everyone else.