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  • December 2019
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Winter reads

If you’re reading this on the 25th, I hope you have time today to relax and read a good book! Here are some suggestions if you want to get in the wintry spirit. These would all be great selections, and they’d all count for the Winter Reading Raffle!:


Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett

At 9, Tiffany Aching defeated the cruel Queen of Fairyland. At 11, she battled an ancient body-stealing evil. At 13, Tiffany faces a new challenge: a boy. And boys can be a bit of a problem when you’re thirteen … But the Wintersmith isn’t exactly a boy. He is Winter itself–snow, gales, icicles–all of it. When he has a crush on Tiffany, he may make her roses out of ice, but his nature is blizzards and avalanches. And he wants Tiffany to stay in his gleaming, frozen world. Forever. Tiffany will need all her cunning to make it to Spring. She’ll also need her friends, from junior witches to the legendary Granny Weatherwax. They–Crivens! Tiffany will need the Wee Free Men too! She’ll have the help of the bravest, toughest, smelliest pictsies ever to be banished from Fairyland–whether she wants it or not. It’s going to be a cold, cold season, because if Tiffany doesn’t survive until Spring–Spring won’t come.


Dash & Lily’s Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

“I’ve left some clues for you. If you want them, turn the page. If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.” So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the New York Times bestselling authors of Nick and Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?


Zombie Winter by Jason Strange

Which is worse, a long, cold winter, or a town of zombies?


The Twistrose Key by Tone Almhjell

Something is wrong in the house that Lin’s family has rented; Lin is sure of it. The clocks tick too slowly. Frost covers the flowerbed, even in a rain storm. And when a secret key marked “Twistrose” arrives for her, Lin finds a crack in the cellar, a gate to the world of Sylver. This frozen realm is the home of every dead animal who ever loved a child. Lin is overjoyed to be reunited with Rufus, the pet she buried under the rosebush. But together they must find the missing Winter Prince in order to save Sylver from destruction. They are not the only ones hunting for the boy this night. In the dark hides a shadow-lipped man, waiting for the last Winter Prince to be delivered into his hands.


After the Snow by S.D. Crockett

The oceans stopped working before Willo was born, so the world of ice and snow is all he’s ever known. He lives with his family deep in the wilderness, far from the government’s controlling grasp. Willo’s survival skills are put to the test when he arrives home one day to find his family gone. It could be the government; it could be scavengers — all Willo knows is he has to find refuge and his family. It is a journey that will take him into the city he’s always avoided, with a girl who needs his help more than he knows


The Wickit Chronicles: Ice Road by Joan Lennon

It’s the harshest winter anyone can remember, and the vast waterways of the Fens are frozen solid, transformed into an Ice Road. The conditions are ideal for a surprise invasion by young King Arnald’s banished uncle. Wickit Monastery is under threat too a bitter illness has struck down almost all the brothers, and a ghost walks across the snow. Can the orphan Pip and Perfect, the stone gargoyle, save the Brothers, their friend the King, and their country?


Star Crossed by Elizabeth C. Bunce

On the lam after a failed theft, 16-year-old runaway Celyn bluffs her way out of the city with four young nobles. She finds refuge as maid to one of them, Lady Merista, in a snowbound mountain castle. When Lord Daul discovers Celyn’s thieving tendencies, he forces her to spy for him. Delving even deeper into the castle’s secrets than she reveals to Daul, Celyn’s eyes are opened to the myriad secrets and schemes of its many guests and occupants. In choosing her path, she confronts her own past, uncovers a rebellion that could lead to civil war, befriends a prince, contemplates religious persecution, and faces betrayal.


The Dark is Rising by Susan Cooper

On the Midwinter Day that is his eleventh birthday, Will Stanton discovers a special gift — that he is the last of the Old Ones, immortals dedicated to keeping the world from domination by the forces of evil, the Dark. At once, he is plunged into a quest for the six magical Signs that will one day aid the Old Ones in the final battle between the Dark and the Light. And for the twelve days of Christmas, while the Dark is rising, life for Will is full of wonder, terror, and delight.


Trapped by Michael Northrop

The day the blizzard started, no one knew that it was going to keep snowing for a week. That it would be “one for the record books,” as the forecasters safe and dry in their TV studios would later say. That it would become not just a matter of keeping warm, but keeping alive & Scotty and his friends Pete and Tommy are among the last kids waiting to get picked up at their high school that day, and it doesn’t take them long to realize that no one is coming for them. Still, it doesn’t seem so bad to spend the night at school, especially when Krista and Julie, two hot-to-the-point-of-being-distracting freshmen, are sleeping in the next classroom over. But then the power goes out. Then the heat. Then the emergency generator. As the snow piles higher and higher, and the empty halls grow colder and darker, tempers rise and friendships fray….


Help! I’m a Prisoner in the Library by Eth Clifford

Mary Rose and Jo-Beth are sisters who hardly ever agree on anything, but they both feel as if this night will never end. First their car runs out of gas in an unfamiliar city and their father goes in search of a gas station. Then Jo-Beth makes Mary Rose go with her to find a bathroom and they stumble across a curious old library. And then, worst of all, they get locked in! But their troubles are just beginning. Is Jo-Beth right about the library being haunted by banshees? Or is there a logical explanation, as Mary Rose claims?

– Tessa, CLP – East Liberty (not a prisoner in the library)

Black Friday / Buy Nothing Day


By now, you’re probably stuffed with turkey (or tofurkey), mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and pumpkin pie.  I know I am!  In addition to being a day of widespread food hangovers, today is also Black Friday and/or Buy Nothing Day.  The day after Thanksgiving has been known as the start of the holiday shopping season since the late 19th century.  Department stores would sponsor Thanksgiving and Santa Claus parades, using these events as a time to launch their huge advertising pushes before Christmas.  Eventually, this date became the official start of holiday shopping, with large retailers nervous to break with tradition.

Though the term ‘Black Friday’ originally had a negative connotation (referring to the horrible traffic jams created by the massive shopping day), now retailers have taken it to mean the time of the year when business profits are in the black, or no longer negative (in the red).


In recent years, there has been a pushback against the consumerism promoted by many large retailers.  There have also been instances of violence as shoppers vie for the best deals.  In 2008, a Wal-Mart employee was knocked over and killed as shoppers stormed the front doors.  From these concerns has emerged the Buy Nothing Day movement of actively abstaining from purchasing.  Others advocate Small Business Saturday as a way to buy local and support smaller businesses.

What are your plans on this controversial day (besides eating Thanksgiving leftovers, of course!)?

Happy Thanksgiving!

Amy, CLP-Lawrenceville

Make way for 2013!

2013 As everyone settles into the post-holiday phase and begins making fresh plans for the future, it’s fun to think about all the ways people around the world welcome the start of a new year. Here in the U.S., we go to parties, watch the Times Square ball drop on TV, and make resolutions for self-improvement. But pretty much every place on earth has its own quirky traditions for the new year’s beginning.

People in Latin American countries practice all kinds of customs to lock in some luck for the next twelve months. Some eat twelve grapes at midnight– one for each month of the new year. Others jump in the ocean for a midnight swim, or, if they’re hoping for some travel in the near future, they might take a walk around the block with their suitcases. Some swear by sporting yellow underwear on New Year’s Eve, a superstition thought to bring happiness, luck, and wealth to the wearer over the next year.

In Japan, the New Year’s celebration is known as oshogatsu, a festival that lasts from December 28 into the beginning of January. For oshogatsu, the Japanese do some serious deep cleaning to purify their homes for a fresh new start. They also observe the first sunrise of the year (a.k.a. hatsuhinode), listen to Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony, and eat lots of mochitasty rice cakes so sticky that they usually cause some New Year’s choking deaths…yikes.

The Hogmanay Torch Procession in Edinburgh, Scotland.

The Hogmanay Torch Procession in Edinburgh, Scotland.

A few years ago, I spent New Year’s Eve in Edinburgh, Scotland, which hosts one of the most epic celebrations in the world. The week-long festival is known as Hogmanay and features all sorts of enchanting activities including music, food, fireworks, Ferris wheels, and giant crowds of revelers partying in the streets. But my favorite part was the Torchlight Procession, in which 25,000 some people march through the streets of Edinburgh carrying torches, creating a massive “river of fire” to purify the darkness with light and make way for the new year– a tradition rooted in ancient Viking customs and pagan solstice celebrations. Oh, and when I was there, the torch parade was led by some guys dressed as Vikings, who dragged a giant Viking warship to the top of a hill and set it on fire. That’s when the fireworks started. It was pretty awesome.

No torch parades for me this year, but the year is still young! It’s not too late to start some new traditions of your own. Clean your room, get yourself some yellow underwear, eat some sticky rice, set some Viking ships aflame (but exercise caution with those last two)…make way for 2013!

Happy Seward’s Day!!

You probably have never heard of Seward’s Day. I had never heard of it until a few days ago when I was looking for odd holidays that happen in March (like Girl Scout Day on March 12th or Make Up Your Own Holiday Day on March 25th). One of those odd holidays was Seward’s Day, which celebrates the purchase of Alaska from Russia in 1867. William H. Seward was the US Secretary of State who negotiated the deal, so the day is known as Seward’s Day. I do remember that the purchase of Alaska was originally called ‘Seward’s Folly’ because some people thought $7 million was too much to pay for such a barren wasteland. I guess Seward was right though as Alaska has provided the United States with lots of natural resources, Jewel, and the TV show Northern Exposure.

I am choosing to write about Alaska though because it has been my dream vacation destination for as long as I can remember. I actually prefer to not leave the house (or at least the western Pennsylvania region), but if I could travel somewhere Alaska would be my choice. I have always thought that Alaska was beautiful and majestic and would be a cool place to visit. I’ve always dreamed of seeing the glaciers, flyfishing, and visit Denali National Park. Plus, I love seafood and Alaska probably has some awesome fresh seafood! I even know where I would stay- the Mt. McKinley Princess Wilderness Lodge near Denali National Park. Maybe some day I’ll be able to visit and then I can blog about my adventures! Until then have a great Seward’s Day and keep dreaming of your own fantasy vacation!

Shop Responsibly This Season – Buy Local, Buy Handmade!

Thanks to Michael for the post about the history of Black Friday, and the movements that oppose it.  I, myself, practice Buy Nothing Day on Black Friday, however I’m not as radical as some.  For example, take activist Reverend Billy and the Church of Stop Shopping.  Reverend Billy’s team of activists battle consumer culture and the fact that now, for many, consumerism is the point of the holiday season, and he has worked tirelessly against this “shopocalypse,” for 14 years.  Below you can see him perform a credit card exorcism.

While his mission makes sense to me, I still do like to give gifts for the holidays.  How do I accomplish this and still maintain my beliefs in sustainable shopping practices?

I buy local. I buy handmade.  I don’t only do so on Small Business Saturday – the day after Black Friday – but all year long.  I also *try* to be crafty myself.  While it doesn’t always turn out so great, like the 1/2 knitted baby blanket that was supposed to be for my niece’s 1st birthday (we just celebrated her 2nd) or the cookie batter I made a few years ago that was supposed to yield 2 dozen, yet only yielded 6 (and tasted quite funky), I still have a really good time in the attempts.

(Image courtesy of ningmilo)

If you’re interested in following suit, here are some resources to justify your choice, and to help you find your way to shopping responsibly this holiday season!

Check out this ABC article on gift ideas for items made in America.

Branded: The Buying and Selling of Teenagers By Melissa Quart

This book will prove to you the that there is more to participating in this world than to “turn oneself into a corporate product”.

The Power of Half: One Family’s Decision to Stop Taking and Start Giving Back By Kevin Salwen and Hannah Salwen

It all started when a 15 year old teen was struck by the image of a homeless man standing by a Mercedes coupe.  It continued when her family decided to sell their mansion, move to a house 1/2 as big, and donate 1/2 the profit to a charity.  Inspiration will surely follow, if you check this book out.

Etsy is a community of artists and those who love their work and are able to support it.  You can purchase most anything here – from handcrafted wallets to greeting cards to teddy bears.

Visit the I Made it Market’s Nomadic Indie Crafts Marketplace events this month to find the perfect handcrafted gift for that special someone!

To get crafty yourself, take a look back at some of these blog posts – or check out the craft section at the library!


Artsy Shoes!

Altoid Tin Speakers!

Altered Books!

-LeeAnn Anna

POW: Poems for Occasions

Bartlett's Poems for Occasions, edited by Geoffrey O'Brien

We are officially in the thick of Holiday Season.  Who knows, you may need just the right words for a card you’re writing to a relative, or a toast you have to give at a party or at the dinner table.  Why not look in Bartlett’s Poems for Occasions? It has selections ranging through the centuries that address the cycles of nature, New Year’s, Valentine’s Day, celebrating family, the 4th of July, Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas, Birth, Childhood, Youth, Adulthood, Marriage, Midlife, Retirement, Aging, Death, Mourning, Friendship, Contentment, Working, Love, Disappointments, Farewells, Solitude, Sorrow, Comfort, Endurance, Spirituality, Fates of Nations, War, America, God, and the Unknown.

So… almost anything you’d want, unless you celebrate Hannukah, Kwanzaa, etc.  But we’ve got you covered there, too.

And it’s not all Hallmark-style verse.  If I would suggest one for you to read alone on a Sunday, it would be Robert Hayden‘s Those Winter Sundays, which starts out with this stanza, filled with short, Anglo-Saxon words and manages to be evocative and rough at the same time:

Sunday too my father got up early

and put his clothes on in the blueblack cold,

then with cracked hands that ached

from labor in the weekday weather made

banked fires blaze. No one ever thanked him.


Check out a copy to read more of that poem, and explore other occasional poetry!

-Tessa, CLP – East Liberty

Is there anything good about February?

I don’t much care for the shortest month of the year. At least it is short and puts us 28 days closer to June when it is over.

Here are a few other reasons that February might be kind of okay.

The Winter Olympics in Vancouver start on February 12th. This year, the Canadian and Russian men’s ice hockey teams are sick. Crosby and Malkin, Fleury and Gonchar. Ovechkin! Brodeur! The competition for the gold this year is intense. And the Americans are looking pretty good. The best of the best from around the NHL and in the world will convene, and I, personally, cannot wait.

Also, there’s you know, the skating and skiing and stuff, too. Check it out: http://www.vancouver2010.com/

Most teens I know hate Valentine’s Day. But, I like chocolate and pink things. And crafts. It has nothing to do with romance. Unless you want it to, of course. http://www.craftster.org/blog/?p=329


Chinese New Year 2010 is also on February 14th. This will be the year of the Tiger: unpredictable, rebellious, colorful, powerful, passionate, daring, impulsive, vigorous, stimulating, sincere, affectionate, humanitarian, generous. Watch out, the Tiger can also be restless, reckless, impatient, quick-tempered, obstinate, selfish, and aggressive. Learn more at: http://www.infoplease.com/calendar/chinese-zodiac.html

I may have seen the movie one too many times, but I can’t help but love Groundhog Day. Even when the little critter sees his shadow and we get six more weeks of winter, that’s okay. I blame the guys in the top hats for scaring him.

Also, did you know in some parts of the country, groundhogs are known as “whistle pigs”? http://www.infoplease.com/spot/groundhogday1.html

The last good thing about February that I can think of is a nice, warm, cozy spot and a good book. You need a miserable time of year to really appreciate many warm and cozy things.  I recommend visiting your local library and making the effort to find the very most warm and cozy spot. Ask a librarian to suggest a good read. If you are allowed, enjoy some hot chocolate with your book.

Connie – CLP Main

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