Monday, June 16, 2014

Get Out and Explore Olympic!

Olympic National Park and the North Olympic Library System are teaming up to help local families explore the spectacular national park in our own backyard. Explore Olympic! daypacks are available for check out at any NOLS branch. Daypacks are filled with discovery tools for exploring the park, including trail and field guides, binoculars and reading materials for kids. Families who check out a pack will receive a seven-day entrance to Olympic National Park thanks to a generous donation from Washington’s National Park Fund.

Friday, January 31, 2014

Graphic Novel and Manga Madness

Graphic Novels

NOLS has graphic novels for all ages and reading levels.  Graphic novels are shelved separately from non-fiction and fiction in the children, young adult, and adult sections of the library.  Also included in the collection are omnibus editions of comics from the newspapers such as Dilbert and Garfield, Prince Valiant, and even Star Trek.

For those who want lots of text to tell you about the history of graphic novels and all the various genres, the Internet Public Library has a great site:

Unlike the Sunday funnies or comic books of an earlier age, graphic novels are longer book length stories. As the name implies, the plot is developed and unfolds primarily in pictures.  Graphic novels do include the traditional superhero tales, but also run the gamut of all fiction genres, especially mystery, thriller, steampunk, and science fiction. There are also biographies, memoirs, war reporting, satire, history, and even math and science books in graphic novel form. 

If you are new to graphic novels, a good place to start is to pick one from a genre you already love and try it out.  For zombie fans, The Walking Dead series will give you visual gore galore, and for Diana Gabaldon fans, there are even Outlander graphic novels featuring hunky Scot Jamie Fraser. You can also check out some juvenile graphic novels/comics like Tintin or Archie.

Suggested Graphic Novels

A good general list with something for every age is here:

A Game for Swallows by Zeina Abirached - a memoir of a moment in the civil war in Lebanon as told by a teenager – poignant, beautiful spare black & white graphics, a way to understand the conflict that is more impactful than the news reports. (Young Adult or YA GN)

Maus I and Maus II, both by Art Spiegelman—Maus is the graphic novel memoir which made reviewers, librarians, scholars, and other skeptical adults take this format seriously.  A story of a Jewish survivor of Hitler's Europe and his son, a cartoonist who tries to come to terms with his father's story and history itself.  (Adult or AGN)

Lest you think graphic novels are only serious, for fun and a slice of everyday working-class life as seen through the eyes of a 20-something in New York, try: Johnny Hiro: Half Asian, All Hero and Johnny Hiro: The Skills to Pay the Bills by Fred Chao. (AGN)

Drama by Raina Telgemeier: Callie rides an emotional roller coaster while serving on the stage crew for a middle school production of Moon over Mississippi as various relationships start and end, and others never quite get going.  This is a really good slice of middle school life and coming of age story.

Magic Pickle by Scott Morse: when Weapon Kosher, the Magic Pickle, erupts from her bedroom floor, young Jo Jo Wigman works with him to stop the Brotherhood of Evil Produce from taking over the world.

Trickster: Native American Tales, edited by Matt Dembicki: this extraordinary graphic novel depicts traditional Native American trickster tales with inspired artists and native writers.



Manga are comics from Japan, not to be confused with anime, which are animated films. (The library does carry some anime on DVD, including the popular works of Hayao Miyazaki.) Again, there is a diversity of genre and story for every age group available in this form.  In Japan, readers also select manga based on gender, so there is “girl’s manga” and “boy’s manga.” The same is true for adult manga series.  NOLS currently carries primarily juvenile and teen Manga.  

Since Japan has different cultural norms about sex and sexuality, the human body, and violence, manga books in the United States come with ratings like films to give some guidance to the contents which can include language, violence, nudity and sexual situations. The ratings are:

E = Everyone or A = All Ages
Y = Youth, Age 10+
T = Teens, Age 13+
OT = Older Teens, Age 16+
M = Mature, Age 18+

The ratings on manga, like those on DVDs, are there to help people make their own choices. The library does not restrict check outs of any manga or other material to anyone based on their age or the ratings.

Suggested Manga

For younger kids and cat fans:  Chi’s Sweet Home by Kanata Konami (JGN)
For a sample of teen boy manga, which is called Shonen:  Naruto (series) by Masashi Kishimoto (YA GN)
For an example of teen girl manga, which is called Shoujo: Fruits Basket (series) by Natsuki Takaya (YA GN)
For adults:  The Drops of God by Tadashi Agi, a 4 part series involving wine connoisseurs (AGN)

Those who want to know more about manga and get some recommendations can visit:

Monday, January 13, 2014

Nordic Noir at NOLS

One pleasantly alliterative genre is Nordic Noir: Scandinavian crime fiction written and set in Sweden, Norway, Iceland, Greenland, Finland, and Denmark.  As the name suggests, this genre is dark; detectives are brooding, crimes are gruesome, police and social services are overworked and underfunded, and characters struggle to make connections in an impersonal society. The Scandinavian landscape is painted in shades of grey rock and freezing rain; if ever it is springtime or the sun is shining, you can be sure the fair weather is being used as a counterpoint to a hideous crime.   

Steig Larsson, Jo Nesbø, and Peter Høeg deliver fast paced crime novels with serial killers and vast political conspiracies, but not for the faint of heart–forensic description of crimes and the suffering of victims are written in explicit detail.  Inger Frimansson writes compelling psychological thrillers in the style of Ruth Rendell; there is a lot of character development building up to the crime, and a heavy emphasis on deteriorating mental states.  Camilla Läckberg writes a series set in the small town she grew up in, and writes vivid descriptions of the landscape and local village life. Deteriorating social conditions are an overarching theme in the work of Henning Mankell, whose Wallander books have been adapted for television in Sweden and Britain, Kjell Ericksson, and Åke Edwardson.

Fans of crime series that follow a central character will find some intriguing characters in this genre.  Jo Nesbø, Arnaldur Indriðason, and Håkan Nesser deliver single-minded, intuitive detectives with dysfunctional families in Harry Hole,  Erlender, and Van Veeteren.  Henning Mankell’s Wallander, Karin Fossum’s Inspector Sejer, and Åke Edwardson’s Eric Winter feature well-crafted police detectives that struggle to come to terms with the underlying social conditions that lead to crime.  Liza Marklund, Helene Tursten, Yrsa Sigurðardóttir, Anne Holt, and Åsa Larsson have strong female protagonists.

You can learn more about Scandinavian Crime Fiction in print and on screen from these articles:

And find Nordic Noir in the NOLS catalog by following these links:

Police fiction-Norway:

Swedish police fiction:

Police – Norway/Oslo:

Monday, September 16, 2013

Cloudy With A Chance of Reading!

3M Cloud Library debuts today at NOLS. The Cloud Library is a new service that provides NOLS customers with additional, and even easier to use, access to downloadable e-reader titles. Unlike NOLS’ other e-book service, Washington Anytime Library, 3M Cloud Library titles are not shared with other libraries in a consortium. The opening collection in the Cloud Library offers 400 titles for readers of all ages, with more to come.
Click here for full instructions on using the 3M Cloud Library for the first time.
The library is celebrating this new service with contests on Facebook. Friend or follow the library to participate in the celebration.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

Ten Minutes Well Spent

My husband, Mike, often likes to tell me about the book he is reading. Because I frequently get asked to suggest titles to library patrons, his reviews are especially helpful to me. Not only do I have my own reading list to draw upon, but I also get to read vicariously through him. Last night he tipped me off to his newest discovery- author George Saunders. I think he chose The Tenth of December: A Collection of Short Stories because the book jacket declared Saunders a self-described disciple of Twain and Vonnegut. I was intrigued by Mike’s choice and filed Saunders’s name away for future reference. I didn’t have to wait long. Just this morning I ran across the name George Saunders  when a Facebook friend posted a link to an article about a commencement speech Saunders had recently given at Syracuse University. I read the speech. It was inspiring, thoughtful, and touching. I have been thinking about the article all day. Read it. I guarantee it will be ten minutes well spent. Then when you are done, check out a George Saunders novel. Mike says they are pretty good.

Thursday, August 1, 2013

Outside Your Window by Nicola Davies

I absolutely loved the children's book 'Outside Your Window' by Nicola Davies. Davies fills the book with fun, easy to understand information about all things nature! You learn about the 4 seasons, all different types of animals, and the wonderful elements sunshine, rain and snow. The book also talks about gardening from growing delicious juicy berries to composting in your garden and seed saving, and everything else between the sky and the earth! There's even recipes for making yummy pies and suet for the birdies! To top off all the goodness the illustrations in this book are BEAUTIFUL. Very colorful and stimulating for the children's brains. This is the perfect book for getting kids excited and learning about nature and is definitely going to be an addition to our collection at home. Check it out today here:  and go explore!

Monday, July 8, 2013

Ne'er do Well Bunny Meets Giant Radish

Summer Reading continues in July at each branch of the library. Kids are encouraged to “dig into reading.”  One way to “dig in” is to listen to or read the stories of Peter Rabbit and other creatures written an illustrated by Beatrix Potter. The Tale of Peter Rabbit and The Tale of Benjamin Bunny were two of my childhood favorites. For those who can’t get enough of Peter Rabbit, try The Further Tale of Peter Rabbit written by Emma Thompson and illustrated in the style of Beatrix Potter by Eleanor Taylor. Peter has many new adventures including a run-in with a giant radish.
Besides writing books, Beatrix Potter was an accomplished artist and keen observer of the natural world. Older children might enjoy The Country Artist: A Story About Beatrix Potter by David R. Collins. The world of Peter Rabbit and friends comes to life in Tales of Beatrix Potter (DVD) through the magic of music and dance performed by England’s Royal Ballet company. The whole family can enjoy the bio-pic Miss Potter (Rated PG) starring Renee Zellweger as the plucky young author and Ewan McGregor as the young publisher who understands her vision.
About the radish – the local farmer’s markets are carrying gorgeous radishes right now. In the English tradition – slice them thin and put them between two slices of bread spread with butter and a little pinch of sugar or salt. With crusts or without, slice the bread into triangles for a treat fit for little bunnies. Or if your young ones doesn’t like them raw, cut off the greens (sauté or roast the greens separately), cut the radishes in half, sprinkle with salt and a little olive oil and roast over the coals or in 450 degree oven for about 18 minutes. For a complete recipe check out the library’s April 2013 copy of Bon Appetite magazine or visit One taste of roasted radishes and Radish will be synonymous with delicious!