Monday, December 29, 2014

Checking out "Big Books" from the Library

If you’ve ever been to an early literacy program at the library or in a school classroom (or if you cast your mind back to your own childhood!) you’ve probably seen examples of “big books” – oversized versions of (usually favorite) picture books. 

We use big books in group settings for obvious reasons: primarily, that the oversized illustrations and print make it easier for large groups of children to see the pictures and make connections between the printed words and the words that are spoken. But many of the libraries in Rock County, including Eager Free PL, have big books available for checkout, too.

Why take home a big book? The oversized nature of these books can make “normal” family reading time exciting, especially if it’s a big version of a favorite title. Here are some ways to use big books at home:
  • Talk about the cover of the big book. Is this a book you’ve read before, maybe one that you even have at home? What’s on the cover, and based on that, what do you think the book is about
  • Encourage children to practice turning the pages of the big book (have very young children help you turn the pages to protect them from tearing).
  • Run your finger along under the words as you read them to help establish “left to right” as a print convention.

Find Big Books at Eager Free Public Library (links to RockCat, the library’s online catalog).
Find Big Books at Hedberg Public Library (links to RockCat, the library’s online catalog).

Friday, December 19, 2014

"Best Books" Lists to Help You Find Your Next Book

A great thing about the end of the year is all of the “Best of 2014” lists that come out! Here, in no particular order and with no particular agenda, is a roundup of some “Best Books” lists for you, should you be in need of something good to read in early 2015.

Monument 14: Sky on Fire by Emily Laybourne 
Publisher’s Weekly Top Ten – editors for this review publication pull a “top ten” from the 9,000+ titles they reviewed this year, highlighting five fiction and five non-fiction titles.

NPR’s Maureen Corrigan couldn’t commit to just 10, so here are her “Top 12” favorite titles for 2014.

The editors of the New York Times Book Review also came out with their choices for the top ten books of the year, including fiction and nonfiction.

For the young readers in your household, check out the top-ranked titles in a variety of categories from School Library Journal – a whopping 70 titles made up their “best of 2014” list.

And finally, let’s not forget about the young adults – the Teens’ Top Ten from 2014 is a list that is voted on by teens from around the country.

Visit RockCat to find these “best books” at a Rock County library today!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Hands-On Activity Books

Looking for some fun activity books to occupy your time over winter break this year? Check out this list of entertaining, hands-on guides to keep your family busy this winter!

Checkerboard How-To Library: Cool Art with Math and Science - these guides are a fun way to explore STEM and STEAM learning in a hands-on, accessible way.

Great American Artists for Kids: hands-on art experiences in the styles of great American masters by MaryAnn F. Kohl - learn about art-making and history at the same time with this book of hands-on explorations.

Hands-on Art: more than 100 delightful, skill-building ideas and activities for early learners by Jean R. Feldman - great early art education resource especially for preschoolers and kindergarteners.

Let’s Try it Out with Towers and Bridges: hands-on early learning science activities by Seymour Simon and Nicole Fauteax - building and engineering activities for young learners.

Hands-on America series by Jennifer Quasha - if you love American history in your family, try out this series that pairs hands-on projects and activities with various eras and phenomena in American history, such as the Gold Rush and the Westward Expansion.

Hands-on series by Yvonne Young Merrill - this series of hands-on books explores cultures and historical periods on an international scale.

Knights and Castles: 50 hands-on activities to experience the Middle Ages by Avery Hart and Paul Mantell - projects that aide in the exploration of medieval history, such as creating a catapult, coat of arms, and more.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Books for Snowy Days

Even though we haven't had a ton of snow yet this year, we all know we're bound to get some eventually! Books about weather and seasons are a fantastic way to connect what you're seeing outside your windows with the stories you're reading. We'll be reading some of these in upcoming library story times, but they're fun to share one-on-one too.

Here's a nice roundup of books about snow from No Time for Flashcards, as well as seasonal books from the Cooperative Children's Book Center at UW-Madison (check out their Winter section!).

Monday, December 1, 2014

Funny Picture Books

This post brought to you by Emily Koel, intern at Eager Free Public Library this fall!

Are you a parent who reads to your kids? Do you and your children love funny stories? I know that I still love a picture book with a silly story. Here are some picture books that might make you and your child laugh together.

This is a Moose by Richard T. Morris

I am Cow, Hear Me Moo by Jill Esbaum

Dragons Love Tacos by Adam Rubin

Duck for President by Doreen Cronin

The Book with No Pictures by B. J. Novak

Up, Tall and High by Ethan Long

It's a Tiger by David LaRochelle

Unicorn Thinks He's Pretty Great by Bob Shea

Z is for Moose by Kelly Bingham

Rhyming Dust Bunnies by Jan Thomas

Shh! We Have a Plan by Chris Haughton

This is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen

Weasels by Elys Dolan

He Came with the Couch by David Slonim

Interrupting Chicken by David Ezra Stein

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Monday, November 24, 2014


The December book for discussion is Catch-22 by Joseph Heller.  Catch-22 tells the story of a bombardier named Yossarian.  He wants to complete his service with the army, but the army continues to increase the number of missions that men must fly before their service is over.  If Yossarian tries to get out of the mission, then he is in violation of Catch-22: a man is considered insane if he willingly flies dangerous missions, but if he makes an attempt to be removed from duty, then he is proven sane and cannot be removed.  Catch-22 has been applauded for its depiction of war and has introduced the phrase Catch-22 into the American language.

Other work by Joseph Heller:
Something Happened
Good as Gold
God Knows
Picture This
Closing Time
Portrait of an Artist, as an Old Man

Books similar to Catch-22:
Slaughterhouse-Five, or The Children's Crusade by Kurt Vonnegut
Fight Club by Chuck Palahnuik
Everything Is Illuminated by Jonathan Safron Foer
Cat's Cradle by Kurt Vonnegut
The Yellow Birds by Kevin Powers
Fobbit by David Abrams
The Uglies by Scott Westerfeld

1984 by George Orwell
Brave New World by Aldous Huxley

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Monday, November 17, 2014


The 6th Grade Book Club chose A Wrinkle in Time by Madeleine L'Engle as it's pick for November.  Madeleine L'Engle was born in 1918 and spent the early years of her life in New York City.  She later moved to the French Alps with her family and attended a boarding school before returning to the United States.  She studied English at Smith College and began her writing career which resulted in publishing over 60 books!

For more information on Madeleine L'Engle and her work, visit

The Time Quintet:
1. A Wrinkle in Time
2. A Wind in the Door
3. A Swiftly Tilting Planet
4. Many Waters
5. An Acceptable TIme

The O'Keefe Family Series:
1. The Arm of the Starfish
2. Dragons in the Waters
3. A House Like a Lotus

The Austin Family Series:
1. Meet the Austins
2. The Moon by Night
3. The Twenty-Four Days Before Christmas
4. The Young Unicorns
5. A Ring of Endless Light
6. Troubling a Star
7. A Full House

Already finished with the Time Quintet?  Looking for something similar?  Try one of these titles!

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead: As her mother prepares to be a contest on a television show, a 12 year old girl tries to solve a the mystery around a series of notes that she received from an unknown source that seem to defy the laws of space and time.
Coraline by Neil Gaiman tells the story of a young girl who goes through a door into another world.  The new world is similar to her own, but also quite different.  She must challenge an enemy in order to save herself and her family.

The Time Hackers by Gary Paulsen follows Dorso Clayman and his best friend as they take a journey through space and time to try and stop the those who are endangering the universe.
The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe by C.S. Lewis is the story of four children who find their way into the magic land of Narnia.  Once there, they assist Aslan in order to defeat the White Witch who has cursed the land.

The Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster:  This fantasy centers around Milo, a bored child, who comes home to fine a tollbooth sitting in his room.  Milo passes through the tollbooth's gates and embarks on a memorable journey.
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Monday, November 10, 2014


This month's selection for Book to Movie Club is East of Eden by John Steinbeck.  John Steinbeck was an American author of numerous novels, short stories, and nonfiction.  He was born in 1902 and died in 1968.  During his lifetime, he attended Stanford University, worked as a war reporter for the New York Herald Tribune, and won the Pulitzer Prize for Fiction.  For more information on John Steinbeck and his work, visit

East of Eden is set in the farmland of California and follows the intertwined lives of two families: the Trasks and the Hamiltons.  These families helplessly reenact the fall of Adam and Eve and the rivalry of Cain and Abel.  The 1955 film stars James Dean and Jo Van Fleet and was nominated for four Academy Awards.

If you enjoyed East of Eden, try one of these similar works:

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel Garcia Marquez is the story of the rise and fall of the town of Macondo through the history of the Buendia family.

Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner is a Pulitzer Prize winning novel that tells the story of Lyman Ward and his family.

Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell won the Pulitzer Prize that depicts the Civil War and Reconstruction.  It is the story of Scarlett O'Hara and how the war changes her life.

Want more Steinbeck?  Check out some of his work today!
East of Eden
The Grapes of Wrath
Cannery Row
Of Mice and Men
The Pearl
The Red Pony
Sweet Thursday
The Moon Is Down
Travels With Charley
The Winter of Our Discontent

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Monday, November 3, 2014


Philippa Gregory's latest novel in the Cousins' War series, The King's Curse, came out a little over a month ago.  This work centers around lady-in-waiting Margaret Pole.  Margaret Pole was the cousin to Elizabeth of York and married to Sir Richard Pole.  For his loyalty, Sir Richard is given the governorship of Wales and the care of Arthur, the Prince of Wales and his bride Katherine of Aragon.  Margaret Pole later becomes a lady-in-waiting to Queen Katherine after Katherine's marriage to Henry VIII.  Margaret is around to see the rise of Anne Boleyn and the deterioration of the Tudor court.  In the end, Margaret must choose between her king and her queen.

The Cousins's War Series:
The White Queen
The Red Queen
The Lady of the Rivers
The Kingmaker's Daughter
The White Princess
The King's Curse

Already read all of the books in the Cousins' War?  Try some of the works below to get your Tudor fix!

The Boleyn King by Laura Andersen
The Lady Elizabeth by Alison Weir
Bring Up the Bodies by Hilary Mantel
The King's Deception by Steve Berry
Dark Aemilia by Sally O'Reilly
Mary Queen of Scotland and the Isles by Margaret George
The Autobiography of Henry VIII by Margaret George
Queen's Gambit by Elizabeth Fremantle
At the Mercy of the Queen by Anne Clinard Barnhill
To Die For by Sandra Byrd
The Constant Princess by Philippa Gregory
The Rose Without a Thorn by Jean Plaidy
The Spanish Queen: A Novel of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon by Carolly Erickson

The Children of Henry VIII by Alison Weir
Elizabeth of York: A Tudor Queen and Her World by Alison Weir
The Lady in the Tower: The Fall of Anne Boleyn by Alison Weir
Mistress Anne by Carolly Erickson

Elizabeth I: The Virgin Queen
Elizabeth I
The White Queen

Place a hold on these titles by clicking the hyperlink, visiting RockCat, or giving the Library a call at 882-2260.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2014


I’m working my way through a delightfully haunting book at the moment, Keith Donohue’s The Boy Who Drew Monsters. It was featured in a recent issue of Book Page as one of the featured titles in Anne Rice’s list of horror novels to watch for, and as a horror story fan, I immediately put it on hold. 

Here’s a description of this book from Novelist: 

"Ever since he nearly drowned in the ocean three years earlier,10-year-old Jack Peter Keenan has been deathly afraid to venture outdoors. Refusing to leave his home in a small coastal town in Maine, Jack Peter spends his time drawing monsters. When thosedrawings take on a life of their own, no one is safe from the terror they inspire. His mother, Holly, begins to hear strange sounds in the night coming from the ocean, and she seeks answers from the local Catholic priest and his Japanese housekeeper who fill her head with stories of shipwrecks and ghosts. His father, Tim, wanders the beach, frantically searching for a strange apparition running wild in the dunes. And the boy's only friend, Nick, becomes helplessly entangled in the eerie power of the drawings. While those around Jack Peter are haunted by what they think they see, only he knows the truth behind the frightful occurrences as the outside world encroaches upon them all. In the tradition of The Turn of the Screw, Keith Donohue's The Boy Who Drew Monsters is a mesmerizing tale of psychological terror and imagination run wild, a perfectly creepy read for a dark night. - For readers of Neil Gaiman, Jason Mott, and Audrey Niffenegger.

Interested? You can find this title in RockCat here. Looking for similar haunting psychological fiction while you’re waiting for The Boy Who Drew Monsters to become available? Try these authors:

1. Brockmeier, Kevin
Reason: Brockmeier and Donohue write fantasy-laced literary fiction which raise questions about our world and the choices we make. Their character centered novels build deliberately, moving steadily toward a compelling conclusion. -- Becky Spratford

2. Hoffman, Alice
Reason: These authors' works are Haunting and Character-driven, and they share: the genres
'Magic realist fiction' and 'Literary Fiction' and the subject 'New England'.

3. Lahiri, Jhumpa
Reason: These authors' works are Haunting, Moving, and Character-driven, and they share: the genre 'Literary Fiction' and the subject 'Identity (Psychology)'.

4. Rachman, Tom
Reason: These authors' works are Moving and Character-driven, and they share: the genre 'Literary Fiction' and the subject 'Identity (Psychology)’.

Monday, October 20, 2014


This post brought to you by Emily Koel, practicum student at Eager Free Public Library for Fall 2014.
Have you ever finished a book but didn't know what to read next? NoveList is a great website that allows users to search for the next book to read.

At NoveList's home page, you can find a variety of tools that allows you to look for books. First of all, on the main part of the screen there are some popular books with a short list of Read-Alikes underneath each book. On the left of the screen, you can find "Recommended Reads Lists". NoveList provides different lists for adults, teens, ages 9-12, and ages 0-8. Each list provides at least 10 books that NoveList recommends reading. At the bottom of the home page, you can find more links. NoveList provides quick links to such as Authors Read-Alikes, Book Discussion Guides, and Featured Articles. You can also find links to the Professional Toolbox and Help to Use NoveList.

NoveList allows you use the search bar to find what they are looking for. Through basic search, there are four ways to search for books. One way to search is to search for using keywords. In the column to the left of the results, NoveList provides different categories that will help refine your search. You can also search NoveList by title, author, or series. You can also do an advanced search for books that provide many different categories you can use to search for as well as many different limiters to refine your search.

Once you find the book that you are looking for, you can click on the book title and it will take you to a page where NoveList provides information on the book such as the summary, genre, tone, dialogue, and reviews. You can also find a link to goodreads for more reviews. On the right side of the page, NoveList provides a list of Read-Alikes.

Personally, my favorite feature on NoveList is the "Search for More" box that is at the bottom of the page about the book, author, or series you selected. This box allows you to check off one or more of the reasons you liked the book and then search for more books like it. The more reasons you check off, the more refined your search will be for a similar book. I think this feature is better then other websites that allow you to search for new books to read. The "Search for More" box goes above and beyond the usual reasons for liking a book such as genre and subject matter because NoveList also includes reasons like storyline, writing style, tone and location.

So just remember to use NoveList next time you need to find the next book to read. You can link to NoveList or find a link at the Eager Free website under "Resources."

Monday, October 13, 2014

Books to Get You in a Spooky Mood

The trees are getting bare outside, the wind is picking up, jack’o’lanterns are making an appearance on front steps. It’s clearly time for a list of spooky books! Below are some of our favorite ghostly titles for school-age kids.

  • Home Sweet Horror by James Preller; illustrated by Iacopo Bruno. After the death of his mother, eight-year-old Liam and his father and sister move to a new house for a fresh start, but Liam soon discovers that the old house is haunted.
  • The Goosebumps series by R.L. Stine. Classic kids’ series with spooky mysteries.
  • Dial-a-Ghost by Eva Ibbotson; illustrated by Kevin Hawkes. A family of nice ghosts protects a British orphan from the diabolical plans of his evil guardians.
  • Ghosthunters and the Incredibly Revolting Ghost (1st in the Ghosthunters series) by Cornelia Funke. A timid boy named Tom reluctantly agrees to help professional ghostbuster Hetty Hyssop dispel an IRG (Incredibly Revolting Ghost) from an old house.
  • Zero to Hero (1st in the Ghost Buddy series) by Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver. When Billy Broccoli moves into his new house, he discovers Hoover Porterhouse, a teenage ghost, is haunting his room, and he helps Billy get in style, stand up to bullies, and conquer his new school.
  • In a Creepy, Creepy Place and Other Scary Stories by Judith Gorog; illustrated by Kimberly Bulken Root. A collection of scary stories with unpredictable events and bizarre characters.
  • A Newbery Halloween: A dozen scary stories by Newbery award-winning authors. A collection of short stories with a Halloween theme, by such Newbery Award-winning authors as E.L. Konigsburg, Beverly Cleary, Virginia Hamilton, and Paul Fleischman.

Monday, October 6, 2014


This post written by Emily Koel, EFPL practicum student for Fall 2014.

Recently, the movie adaptation of Gayle Forman's book, If I Stay, was released in theaters.  If I Stay is about Mia, a 17 year-old girl who is a talented cellist. She has a loving family, a great boyfriend, and an amazing best friend. When Mia and her family get into a car accident, Mia is rushed to the hospital and is stuck between life and death. Mia watches as her family and friends come to visit her in the hospital. But Mia has a choice to make: should she live or die? If you read the book or watched the movie and are looking for a similar book to read next, here is a list of other books you may enjoy.

Other Books by Gayle Forman:

Similar Books by Other Authors:

Monday, September 29, 2014


As the days and nights turn colder, people start to look for more things to do indoors.  And, what could be better than a nice craft project?  Whether you want to pick up a new hobby or want some new ideas for an old favorite, the Library has a wide variety of books for you to check out!

General Crafting:
The Big Book of Crafts and Activities
Martha Stewart's Handmade Holiday Crafts
The Complete Book of Home Crafts: Projects for Adventurous Beginners
Green Crafts: Become an Earth-Friendly Craft Star, Step by Easy Step!
Fairy World Crafts
Dazzling Bead & Wire Crafts

Jewelry Making:
Junk-Box Jewelry: 25 DIY Low Cost (Or No Cost) Jewelry Projects
Cool Beaded Jewelry
The Complete Jewelry Making Course
Wire Jewelry in an Afternoon
Earringology: How to Make Dangles, Drops, Chandeliers, & More

Fat-Quarter Quilting: 21 Terrific 16" x 20" Projects
60 Pieced Quilt Borders: Mix & Match
505 Quilt Blocks: Plus 36 Beautiful Projects
Quilting With a Modern Slant
Jane Austen Quilts Inspired By Her Novels
How to Make String Quilts
T-Shirt Quilts

Knitting & Crocheting:
Start to Knit
Kids Knit!: Simple Steps to Nifty Projects
Hip to Knit: 18 Contemporary Projects for Today's Knitter
100 Colorful Granny Squares  to Crochet
Knitting Loves Crochet
Learn to Crochet
Scarf Style 2: Innovative to Traditional, 26 Fresh Designs to Knit
Simple Crocheting

Designer Cross Stitch Projects
Doodle-Stitching: Fresh & Fun Embroidery for Beginners
Stitch Savvy
Sew Sunny Homestyle

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Monday, September 22, 2014


Next month the Antemeridian's Book Club will meet to discuss Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald by Therese Anne Fowler.  This novel tells the story of Zelda (Sayre) Fitzgerald as both an individual and as the wife of novelist F. Scott Fitzgerald.

For more information on the novel or the author, visit

Already finished with Z?  Try one of the titles listed below.  You can place holds on them by clicking the link to our catalog or by calling the Library.

The Paris Wife by Paula McLain: After a small wedding, Hadley and Ernest Hemingway leave for Paris where Hadley makes a life aiding her husband in his career.
The Aviator's Wife by Melanie Benjamin: Even though she became the first licensed female glider pilot in the United States, Anne Morrow Lindbergh is known by many only as Charles Lindbergh's wife.

Bandbox by Thomas Mallon: A story about the rivalry between two magazines, Bandbox and Cutaway set in the 1920s.

Loving Frank by Nancy Horan: Loving Frank tells the story of a long-lived affair between Frank Lloyd Wright and Mamah Cheney.

The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald: The story of wealthy Jay Gatsby and his love for the beautiful Daisy Buchanan.

The Double Bind by Chris Bohjalian: This novel travels between the Roaring Twenties and the twenty-first century.  After Laurel Estabrook is attacked while riding her bicycle, she begins to withdraw into her photography and works at a homeless shelter where she meets Bobbie Crocker, a man who claims to have been a successful photographer who worked with legends such as Chuck Berry, Robert Frost, and Eartha Kitt.

Under the Wide and Starry Sky by Nancy Horan: Horan's novel chronicles the love affair between Robert Louis Stevenson (author of Treasure Island) and American divorcee Fanny Van de Grift Osbourne.

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Monday, September 15, 2014


I recently finished reading the Boleyn trilogy by Laura Andersen.  This trilogy is an alternate history in which Henry VIII and Anne Boleyn have a male child who becomes king.  If you are a fan of historical fiction and/or alternate histories, I would definitely recommend this series to you.  For more information on alternate histories, check out our previous blog post here.

Have you ever read a book and fell in love with the characters, writing style, or story only to finish it and find that it is a stand alone novel?  The best thing about trilogies, and series in general, is that they allow you to continue visiting your favorite stories and characters.  For a list of some popular trilogies, check out the list below.

The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson

The Century Trilogy by Ken Follett

The Boleyn Trilogy by Laura Andersen

The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Maze Runner by James Dashner

Divergent by Veronica Roth

Matched by Ally Condie

Delirium by Lauren Oliver

Millennium series by Steig Larsson

The Infernal Devices by Cassandra Clare

Daughter of Smoke and Bone by Laini Taylor

All Souls' Trilogy by Deborah Harkness

The Grisha by Leigh Bardugo

Unearthly by Cynthia Hand

Abandon by Meg Cabot

His Fair Assassin by Robin La Fevers

Ruby Red by Kerstin Gier

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Monday, September 8, 2014


Who doesn't like a good fantasy?  With the popularity of television shows like Game of Thrones and movies like The Hobbit, it is nice to remember that these are based off of books.

If you are looking for something to hold you over until the new season of Game of Thrones or the next installment of The Hobbit, try one of the series listed below!

The Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin

The First Law series by Joe Abercrombie

The Lord of the Rings series by J.R.R. Tolkien

The Thieftaker Chronicles by D.B. Jackson

The Stormlight Archives by Brandon Sanderson.

The Gentleman Bastard series by Scott Lynch

The Wheel of Time by Robert Jordan.

The Bartimaeus trilogy by Jonathan Stroud

The Dresden Files by Jim Butcher

Harry Potter by J.K. Rowling

The Dark Tower series bye Stephen King

His Dark Materials by Philip Pullman

Murry Family Time Quintet by Madeline L'Engle

Alice series by Lewis Carroll

Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini

Fire and Thorns series by Rae Carson

These are all available at the Eager Free Public Library.  You can place holds on these items by clicking on the links above or by calling us at 882-2260.

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