Chances are you know someone with autism. That’s because it is very prevalent – one in 88 births in the United States with a higher rate for boys (one in 54). Autism is a developmental disability with a neurological basis and is considered a spectrum disorder, affecting individuals to varying degrees, from mild to severe. Autism limits a person’s ability to communicate and interact with others. Certain behaviors are characteristic of and define this disorder.
This heart wrenching article that appeared in the New York Times gives you an inkling of the herculean efforts family members make in order to understand and support their children with autism.
April is National Autism Awareness Month! Considering the relatively great number of individuals and families impacted by this disorder and the fact that lifetime supports are needed to help them, it makes sense to educate the public about issues those with autism face and encourage fundraising to further research on this disability. Increased awareness brings acceptance, which is vital to the integration of the differently-abled into our communities.
Even with my deep love for all things tall, green and leafy, I won’t generally pull out a book about trees to read for entertainment. (Give me a good murder mystery for that.) So I’m pleased to report that I have just read two nonfiction books that were thoroughly entertaining, sometimes even hair-raising – and definitely about trees.
In “The Wild Trees” (Richard Preston, 2007), the author takes us deep into the lives and minds of the original redwood canopy researchers – young men (and a few women) who, starting in the early 1990s, were the first to climb into the tops of the largest trees on earth. There they discovered a fairyland of plant and animal species, many previously unknown to science, and galvanized efforts to protect our remaining redwood forests.
This all sounds like good clean science fun, but in fact it requires both Olympic-level agility and astonishing bravery. The early canopy-climbers faced a gruesome death pretty much every day, and shocking close calls abound in this book. Publication of “The Wild Trees“ rightfully made Steve Sillett, the graduate student (now professor) who is at the center of the story, an international folk hero in the ecological community.
Editor’s note: This review was submitted by a library patron during the 2013 Adult Summer Reading program. We will continue to periodically share the best of these reviews throughout the year.
I was quite simply blown away by Jodi Picoult’s newest novel, “The Storyteller.” I’ve only read two or three of her books, so I don’t know how this one compares to others, but I was absolutely entranced by this story. It wasn’t instantaneous, but once it grabbed me, I felt as if I was in the world of “The Storyteller.”
As with most Picoult books, if not all, the story is told from a variety of different perspectives. So, a variety of sources tells the main story of Sage and her new 90+ year-old friend, Josef. Sage, with Jewish ancestry, meets Josef in a grief counseling group, and they strike up a friendship. Both seem damaged with pain from their past still affecting them, so they take comfort in one another. During the course of their friendship, Josef does something quite shocking. He informs Sage of his past as a Nazi officer in Auschwitz and then asks her if she will kill him.
What follows is a heartbreaking tale of the Holocaust and its costs to the world at large. A large portion of the novel follows Sage’s grandmother, who lived in Germany and was Jewish during World War II. She tells of her time in Auschwitz and how easily good people turned bad. Sage argues with Josef, herself and her own sense of right and wrong in deciding what she should do.
March is National Craft Month! Work on your favorite craft, learn a new craft or make something with your kids. The library has lots of good books to help.
Do you have an overabundance of t-shirts? Give an old t-shirt a new look. “T-shirt Style: Creating Fabulous Must-have Looks” by Gabrielle Sterbenz can help. Or turn a t-shirt into something completely different. Try “Generation T: 108 Ways to Transform a T-shirt” by Megan Nicolay or “T-shirt Quilts Made Easy” by Martha DeLeonardis. The Internet has some great ideas also. Michaels.com has instructions for an easy necklace, and Nancy’s Couture has instructions for a fun fringed scarf.
Do you like to reuse and recycle? Read “Alternacrafts” by Jessica Vitkus or “Upcycling: Create Beautiful Things with the Stuff You Already Have” by Danny Seo. Just need inspiration? “1000 ideas for Creative Reuse” by Garth Johnson has lots of fun photos but no instructions.
Be creative in the kitchen. “Cupcakes, Cookies & Pie, Oh, My!” by Karen Tack & Alan Richardson has instructions for a variety of edible creatures, some easy, some challenging. Or attend a library program, and join us for Cupcake Decorating Basics at the Southern Boone County Public Library in Ashland on April 1.
April showers bring May flowers, and also a great crop of new books from LibraryReads! Here is the monthly list of forthcoming books librarians across the country recommend.
“The Storied Life of A. J. Fikry“
by Gabrielle Zevin
“A middle-aged bookseller mourning his lost wife, a feisty publisher’s rep and a charmingly precocious abandoned child come together on a small island off the New England coast in this utterly delightful novel of love and second chances.”
-Beth Mills, New Rochelle Public Library, New Rochelle, NY
by Emma Donoghue
“Donoghue returns to historical fiction in this latest offering, based on the unsolved murder of Jenny Bonnet, a cross-dressing frog catcher with a mysterious past. Set in 1870s San Francisco, this brilliant book includes impeccable historical details, from a smallpox epidemic to period songs.”
-Diane Scholl, Batavia Public Library, IL
“And the Dark Sacred Night“
by Julia Glass
“Four stars to Julia Glass for this, her best work since ‘Three Junes.’ We become reacquainted with old characters Malachy, Fenno and Walter and learn more about their life stories. The individuals are imperfectly human and perfectly drawn. A wonderful, highly recommended novel.”
-Kelly Currie, Delphi Public Library, Delphi, IN
Why does the term Chick Lit rub me the wrong way? Maybe it is because as a friend of mine recently said, “We don’t have Dude Lit.” I found myself asking this question because March is Women’s History Month. Female writers today, and historically, add much to our culture. One of my colleagues pointed out that four of the New York Times top 10 books of 2013 were written by women. These books are: Donna Tartt’s “The Goldfinch,” Kate Atkinson’s “Life After Life,” Rachel Kushner’s “The Flamethrowers” and Sheri Fink’s “Five Days at Memorial.”
Chick Lit is a term that caught on in the 1990s and was attributed to books such as Helen Fielding’s “Bridget Jones’s Diary.” However, Chick Lit is a label that can change meanings depending on who is applying the label. For some, it is simply fun, light, fiction by and about females. Others see it more as the single working woman’s fiction. Whatever you want to call them, here are some books written by female authors. These are books any woman can appreciate.
“Lives of Girls and Women” by Alice Munro
“Time Flies” By Claire Cook
“Get Lucky”by Katherine Center
“Ladies’ Night” By Mary Kay Andrews