Tazewell County Public Library

Staff Picks

The River at Night by Erica Ferencik

Reviewed by Lynne Bartlett

If you have ever wanted to go on a hiking and river rafting adventure in the wilderness with your closest friends, you might want to think twice!  This story could change your mind.  Four women set out into the Maine wilderness for a guided hike, camping, and river rafting experience.  Three of these friends had to be convinced by their more adventurous, athletic fourth friend that this would be great fun.  They are guided by a young man who is very convincing about his ability to guide them but a few of the women are skeptical.   Find out what happens in this frightening, bite-off-all-your-nails kind of story.  It’s a story that explores the bonds of friendship during extreme situations and raises questions of what is considered “civilized” in our current times.

Available at TCPL: Book  

School’s First Day of School by Adam Rex & Christian Robinson

Reviewed by Amy Horne

“School’s First Day of School” provides a funny twist to first day jitters. We think about teachers and students being nervous about starting a new school year or perhaps starting a new school altogether, but what if the school building itself is the nervous one?

Frederick Douglass Elementary is a brand new building who does not know what to expect on the first day of classes. Will the students like school?  Will they be nice?

Things get off to a rocky start when several kids are overheard announcing they do not like school.  One kindergarten girl doesn’t want to come in and has to be carried into the building by her mother. She refuses to tell her name, and whispers to herself that she also “doesn’t like being at school.” Constant touching of everything and making messes by students, as well as an accidental fire drill only add to the frustrations.

By the afternoon the school has listened in on lessons and has seen how happy the students are while learning. It then begins to understand how important of a job it has. The school is especially excited when the little kindergarten girl draws a beautiful picture of the school and the teacher hangs it on the bulletin board.  The school is not so nervous anymore after realizing its purpose and it is excited that the students will be returning tomorrow.

This book will make a great read aloud for a parent with an apprehensive child about school and also for teachers to read to their class in the beginning of the school year.

Find many more books about going to school on our School Subject Shelf.

Available at TCPL: Book

Love What Matters: Real People. Real  Stories. Real Heart

Reviewed by Sarah Murphy

Today’s world seems full of anger, bitterness, selfishness, and other negative, soul crushing problems. If you are in need of a quick dose of positivity and reassurance that love and happiness still exist, this book will help. Short anecdotal stories accompanied by a photograph can easily be read for a dose of positivity when things seem bleak and frustrating. Hopefully they will also inspire the reader to see the important, truly valuable people and experiences they have each day and lead to greater appreciation for their own blessings in life.

Available at TCPL: Book

Casting Spells by Barbara Bretton

Reviewed by Kandi Vance

The small town of Sugar Maple, Vermont seems like any other typical small New England town. However, the residents of Sugar Maple happened to be witches, vampires, spites, and many other supernatural beings thought to be just fantasy. Sugar Maple has also been protected by charms placed by a witch named Aerynn Hobbs. These charms will protect the town as long as a magical Hobbs daughter lives and reproduces a daughter. Now, three hundred years later, the last descendant of Aerynn, Chloe Hobbs, has shown no signs of magic and the whole town feels the enchantments weakening. The protections are so weak that for the first time there is a murder in Sugar Maple. The county is now forced to send in the police, Luke MacKenzie, to solve the murder. The whole town is in an uproar because now there is a human among them. As Chloe tries to keep an eye on Luke and keep the towns secrets, she also fights the sparks of chemistry between them.

Casting Spells is the first book in the Sugar Maple series.

Available at TCPL: Book | Large Print


Tooter Pepperday by Jerry Spinelli

Reviewed by Gloria Goins

When Tooter Pepperday’s family moved to Aunt Sally’s farm, Tooter was not happy. Her family was having some financial struggles. They could live at Aunt Sally’s for free. Everyone was except, except Tooter.  As Aunt Sally showed them around the farm, Tootter though a goat was cow.  As she stormed out of the barn, she stepped in goat poop. Then, she remembered why she didn’t want to move to the farm: no pizza deliveries or no ice cream trucks. There was only poop and stinky smells everywhere.

They put an unhatched egg into an incubator so it would hatch. Tooter’s job was to turn the egg every day. She hated it. As the egg was getting ready to hatch, she became excited. Tooter fell asleep the night the egg was hatching.  Although she missed it hatch, she felt she was beginning to like life on the farm. She embraced her family. She said that they “were all happy as hogs in slop.” She realized that she too was as happy as a hog in slop living on the farm.

Available at TCPL: Book

Blackbox by Julie Schumacher

Reviewed by Brittany Holt

Blackbox is a quick read that tackles the issue of depression in adolescents.  Elena and her sister Dora have always been opposites.  Elena is stoic, while Dora is emotional. When Dora becomes consumed with depression, Elena feels protective of her sister. When Dora’s depression begins to destroy and unravel her family, Elena remains indifferent. Elena states that Dora will be okay.  Blackbox can serve as a great conversation starter for you and your teen. You can openly discuss  the signs and symptoms of depression with your teen.

Available at TCPL: Book

History of Wolves by Emily Fridlund

Reviewed by Lynne Bartlett

This haunting story is told by a fourteen-year-old girl, Madeline, who lives in the Minnesota woods in a sparsely populated lake area. She is, perhaps out of longing, greatly attached to the world of nature that surrounds her, which makes up for a minimalist approach to attachment that her parents take at home.

The reader gets to join Madeline (she prefers to be called Linda) during a particularly important summer in her life, but the story sometimes shifts back in time, giving background; and forward in time, giving future context. It all unfolds with great suspense about how things are going to turn out for Linda.

During this summer she begins a friendship with a new neighbor across the lake – a woman and her 4-year-old son. She becomes the babysitter for the boy and seems almost part of the family. But when the father, an astronomer, comes to join the family, there seems to be something not quite right.

Madeline is a striking character – Fridlund, the author, has done an amazing job of having Madeline tell her story. She is a character I won’t soon forget, and I find myself hoping for a better future for her even now that the story is over.

Available at TCPL: Book

Too Close To Home by Lynette Eason

Reviewed by Morgan Hayes

In a small southern town in South Carolina, young teenage girls are disappearing and then turning up dead. Homicide Detective, Connor Wolfe, and Special Agent, Samantha Cash, have been assigned to the case to solve the string of unsolved murders. Will the two be able to find out who is kidnapping and murdering the young girls before it’s too late?

This story is told from multiple perspectives, including Connor and his daughter, Samantha, and even the killer himself. Too Close To Home is a mystery, romance, and inspirational novel all rolled into one and is perfect for anyone who is looking for a light but intriguing read.

Available at TCPL: Book

The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson

Reviewed by Jade Crabtree

First published in 1959, Shirley Jackson’s The Haunting of Hill House has been called a perfect work of unnerving terror.

Hill House has stood for eighty years, the last twenty of them empty. It has long said to be haunted, but is there truth to the rumors? Are some houses just bad? Can a house itself be mentally unstable?

In The Haunting of Hill House four people spend time in the mansion trying to see if they can find proof of the supernatural. Dr. Montague, an occult scholar looking for solid evidence of a “haunting,” is the leader of the group; Theodora an aloof woman with some psychic abilities; Eleanor, a friendless, fragile young woman who has spent her adult life caring for her invalid mother and has encountered poltergeists; and Luke, the future heir of Hill House. At first, their stay seems destined to be merely a spooky encounter with inexplicable phenomena. But Hill House is gathering its powers—and soon it will choose one of them to make its own.

Available at TCPL: Book

We Are the Dinosaurs! by Laurie Berkner

Reviewed by Kelly Schaller

One of my favorite things to do besides reading, of course, is singing and being silly with kids.  I am always on the lookout for fun and catchy books to encourage mad masses of giggling children! I have found that my own kids enjoyed the fun songs of the performer, Laurie Berkner. One of my favorite songs that my kids loved to dance to was, “We are the Dinosaurs!” By Laurie Berkner. Well…Guess what…she has made that song into a sing-a-long book! The best part…. it is here at our library!

“We Are the Dinosaurs!” by Laurie Berkner is not only a fun song but it encourages movement and dancing. Singing is a GREAT tool for early literacy skills too!  You can’t help but sing and romp around as you are reading it! The illustrations are bright and fun…plus who doesn’t like pretending to be a dinosaur?

Don’t know the tune? No problem! You can always head to her website to hear and see the video! (www.laurieberkner.com) Great music for little ears and big fun for everyone!

Available at TCPL: Book

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    P.O. Box 929
    Tazewell, VA 24651
    (276) 988-2541

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    Bluefield, VA 24605
    (276) 326-1577

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    P.O. Box 860
    Richlands, VA 24641
    (276) 964-5282

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