Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Book Review: The Tilting House by Tom Llewellyn

✰✰✰✰ After living in a cramped apartment for years, the five member Peshik family decides to buy a house. However, the only one that Mr. & Mrs. Peshik can afford comes with a few eccentricities like floors that are tilted 3 degrees and a dimmer switch that makes the house invisible. The entire town knows that strange things happen at the house known as Tilton House.

Follow along with Josh and Aaron Peshik as they explore Tilton House and all of its fantastical mysteries. There's the talking rat, magical grow powder, a locked box with a miniature key, an old journal, and a mysterious black sack. The fact that every single wall in the house is covered with strange scribbles and equations made by the previous owner adds to the puzzle that is the house itself.

Additionally there's no shortage of peculiar neighbors like the Talker, the old man who lives across the street and talks to no one in particular all day long. Then there's the Purple Door Man, who's suspected of pilfering everything in the neighborhood from bicycles to soccer balls. And we can't forget Lola, the neighbor girl who helps rescue Aaron from an appointment with death. As each mystery is revealed, the secret of Tilton House and its eccentric creator is unraveled. And with a little help from Grandpa, the boys uncover a surprise twist ending. Everyone who reads this book is sure to find something intriguing.

The Bottom Line: The Tilting House is a fast-paced and entertaining adventure story. Throw in a few quirky neighbors and mysterious events and you have a winner. Each chapter is like a self-contained short story that can stand alone; however, the chapters are then seamlessly woven together to form a whole. Cool black and white illustrations by Sarah Watts add to the intrigue of this book. Appropriate for kids in middle school; however, sensitive readers may be troubled by the death of a rat in the beginning.

Details: The Tilting House by Tom Llewellyn. Illustrations by Sarah Watts. Published by Tricycle Press in 2010. 160 p. ISBN: 978-1-58246-350-6

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Banned Books Week 2010

Let me say it loud and clear, "I read banned books." You should too, and here's why. Imagine a world where you are not allowed to read the book you want simply because someone else has decided that you shouldn't. Every year hundreds of books are challenged worldwide; a few end up being banned under the guise of protecting readers.

There are various reasons why people seek to ban a book. These reasons include: violence, profanity, slang, descriptions of sexually explicit acts, nudity, and being unsuited for an age group. Surprisingly timeless classics are just as likely to be challenged as controversial contemporary titles. It seems that no book is safe from being challenged.

Launched in 1982, Banned Books Week (BBW) occurs annually during the last week of September. For 2010, the dates are September 25 - October 2. In order to focus on the benefits of free and open access to information and the potential problems of censorship, libraries and booksellers across America host events and create displays featuring challenged books. The books featured during BBW were all targets of possible banning at one time or another. Luckily, in most cases books are not actually banned.

We live in a country where books are available regardless of being controversial or unpopular. We enjoy open access to all kinds of information. To keep it that way, speak up for your favorite challenged title. Celebrate the freedom to read by picking up a challenged book today!

For more information about challenged books and Banned Books Week, visit the following sites:

For fun, check out the Huffington Post's List of 11 Most Surprising Banned Books, and don't forget to visit the BBW FaceBook page!

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

September is Library Card Sign-up Month...Don't Miss Out!

Did you know that your library card is your passport to savings? When times are tough, the library is there for you. All you have to do is show your card for free access to books, databases, DVDs, CDs, movies, computer classes, and more.

For more ideas on how to make the most of your very own library card, check out the American Library Association's
52 Ways to Use Your Library Card. Also, check out our previous article, Save Money @ Your Library, to see just how much one visit to the library can benefit you.

And don't forget...September is a great time to sign up for a new library card. Visit your library's homepage or give them a call for more information on how to register for a card. Get one today; it's free!

To find your local library, visit the
Library Locator.

Saturday, September 4, 2010

Book Review: The Parisian Prodigal by Alan Gordon

✰✰✰½ Follow the Chief Fool of Toulouse through the twists and turns of this engaging medieval mystery. In the 8th installment of the Fools' Guild Mysteries, the fool Theophilos or Theo (a.k.a. Tan Pierre) and his family are still living in Toulouse. Count Raimon VI is the current ruler of Toulouse and favored by the guild.

When a stranger from Paris, called Baudoin, shows up proclaiming to be the Count's long lost brother, things start to get interesting. As Baudoin's claims are being looked into, Baudoin is found sleeping next to a dead prostitute in a bordello. Baudoin steadfastly insists that he is innocent and beseeches Theo to clear his name.

Only the fools Theo and his clever wife, Claudia, are crafty enough to get to the bottom of things. With the help of their apprentice, Helga, the fools must hurry to uncover the truth before a condemned man is hanged.

The Bottom Line:
This highly entertaining mystery gives readers a peek into the live of jesters who did more than just entertain. It is told from the first person point of view of not one, but two, characters: Theo and Claudia. Author Alan Gordon includes fascinating historical details that make the characters and era come alive. Although this is the 8th book in the series, I was able to delve into it without feeling lost. It would be helpful, however, if a glossary were included. In sum, Theo and his family make for fun weekend reading for mystery buffs who want to try something new.

The Parisian Prodigal by Alan Gordon. Hardcover published by Minotaur Books in 2010. 336 p. ISBN: 978-0-312-38414-2