Thanksgiving-themed Books for Kids and Adults


For many of us, Thanksgiving has been a time when family members far and wide gather together, with as many people and as much food crammed around the dinner table as we can fit. Ah, the good old days! Thanksgiving may look a little different this year,  when social distancing and travel restrictions can put a damper on social gatherings.  Never fear! We’ve put together some Thanksgiving-themed reading to help keep your holiday spirit going, even if you’re celebrating from a distance.

For Kids:

 

For Adults:

 

 

A Double Dose of Girl Power: Enola Holmes and Flavia de Luce

When the Enola Holmes movie was recently released on Netflix, I decided to read the book that it was based on (The Case of the Missing Marquess by Nancy Springer) before watching the movie. As I read the book, I was struck by two things. #1, though this book series is found in the Children’s Room, it has surprisingly sophisticated themes and I found it very appealing as an adult reader. #2, the protagonist, Enola Holmes, precociously adept at solving mysteries, reminded me of another young sleuth I loved, the delightfully quirky Flavia de Luce from Alan Bradley’s series.

I quickly devoured The Case of the Missing Marquess, and immediately checked out the rest of the series. I’m happy to report that all six books are wonderful, quick reads that will appeal the fans of dear Flavia, or cozy mysteries in general. Let’s take a look at the young protagonists from each series.

Enola Holmes is the much younger sister of Mycroft and Sherlock Holmes, whom she admires but rarely sees. Raised by her mother in a very unconventional way, and often left to her own devices for extended periods of time, Enola has a skill set not normally found in young ladies of her era, with a particular talent for cryptology. In 1900, on her 14th birthday, her mother mysteriously disappears, leaving coded clues behind. Enola sets out to solve the mystery of her disappearance, much to the consternation of her brothers, who want to put her into boarding school and make a proper lady out of her. She is in hiding from them for most of the series, and it’s fun to watch Enola outsmart the brothers who think themselves so much smarter than her.

Flavia de Luce is an 11-year-old girl in 1950 who lost her mother when she was a baby. She lives with her largely-absent father and two annoying older sisters on an English country estate that’s seen better days. Flavia’s upbringing is also quite unconventional, and she spends much of her time indulging her passion for chemistry, becoming quite an expert in poisons through the many experiments she conducts in her laboratory. Flavia’s obsession with the gruesome and deadly along with her need to get to figure out why things happen is a by-product of losing her mother at such an early age; indeed Harriet de Luce remains a presence in the sad little family throughout the series. While this could be maudlin, it is never overdone, and Flavia’s determination to make sense of events in the world around her drives everything she does. She is the definition of “pluck”.

Both girls are motherless and do not follow the social norms of their times. Both have older siblings who are the banes of their existence.  Both are whip-smart and often underestimated by the adults around them. And both have the uncanny knack for landing in the middle of trouble, over and over again, and are able to survive largely by their wits.

The Flavia de Luce stories are longer and a bit more complex than the Enola Holmes stories, but watching both of these unconventional sleuths get to the bottom of each mystery they land into is pure delight. I’ll add an additional plug for the audiobooks, the narrators of each series are pitch-perfect in their portrayals, and really bring the characters to life.

It’s recommended to read the books in both series in order, as each book builds off the previous one. Get a double dose of girl power with these terrific mysteries!

Flavia de Luce Mysteries:

  1. The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie
  2. The Weed That Strings the Hangman’s Bag
  3. A Red Herring Without Mustard
  4. I Am Half-Sick of Shadows
  5. Speaking from Among the Bones
  6. The Dead in Their Vaulted Arches
  7. As Chimney Sweepers Come to Dust
  8. Thrice the Brinded Cat Hath Mew’d
  9. The Grave’s a Fine and Private Place
  10. The Golden Tresses of the Dead

Enola Holmes Mysteries:

  1. The Case of the Missing Marquess
  2. The Case of the Left-Handed Lady
  3. The Case of the Bizarre Bouquets
  4. The Case of the Peculiar Pink Fan
  5. The Case of the Cryptic Crinoline
  6. The Case of the Gypsy Goodbye

Magic, Mayhem… and Laughter? 15 Tales of Fantasy and Humor

Our teen librarian, Kelley, has some book recommendations for those who like their fantasy with a dash of humor.

 

While most folks may not head to fantasy novels for the laughs, there are lots of fantastical books out there that provide some escapism and comic relief at the same time. Here are fifteen delightfully funny fantasy books that shake up the genre– there are high fantasy parodies, taking on tropes of faux-medieval fantasy worlds, sometimes with a meta-fictional twist. Then there are satirical takes on urban fantasy and the paranormal, tongue-in-cheek updates of myths and fables, and books that are just plain funny and/or weird. So if you need a break from the darker end of the fantasy spectrum, consider one of these triumphs of fantastical humor and get ready to fall down a rabbit hole of laughter and wonder!

 

The Amulet of Samarkand by Jonathan Stroud . If you somehow missed out on reading the Bartimaeus Sequence when you were younger, now is the time to read it. If you read it as a kid, now is the time to read it again (and pick up on all the historical jokes that whizzed over your head the first time around). It all begins when a magician’s apprentice decides to skip ahead in his studies and secretly summon a 5,000-year-old djinni for his own purposes. Unfortunately for him, this djinni happens to be the snarkiest magical being the world has ever known, and he is none too happy to be working for a bratty kid. A novel of alternate history, magic, and sarcasm which successfully bridges the divide between children’s and adult fiction.

 

The Big Over Easy : a Nursery Crime by Jasper Fforde. Humpty Dumpty, a known ladies’ man, has been found dead next to a wall. Did he fall… or was he pushed? It’s up to Inspector Jack Spratt, head of the Nursery Crime Division, and his partner, Mary Mary, to find out all the dirty details. The Big Over Easy is brimming with wit and word-play, as well as clever references to pretty much every fairy tale or fable out there (and also there are aliens, somehow?). It’s a smart, literary, pun-laden riot, with a genuine mystery at its heart.

 

The Blacksmith Queen by G.A. Aiken. Keeley is a blacksmith who doesn’t pay much mind to the old king’s passing and a prophecy declaring that the new sovereign will be a queen to usurp the kingdom’s princes. War is good for her business. But she has to start caring when she discovers that the prophesied queen is her younger sister, and a band of mountain warriors are determined to see her on the throne. Powerful women, irreverent snark, and humor are layered into bloody battle scenes- it sounds unlikely but somehow the author pulls it off. Romance takes a back seat to the main storyline and the hilarious interactions between all of her characters- sit back and enjoy a sometimes gory, truly funny feminist romp that just screams girl power.

 

Carry On : the Rise and Fall of Simon Snow by Rainbow Rowell. Simon Snow and his roommate Baz are mortal enemies. Simon is the Chosen One, and Baz is evil, but they have their routines and when Baz goes missing, Simon is concerned. It’s their last year at the Watford School of Magicks, and Simon’s infuriating nemesis didn’t even bother to show up. Carry On is a ghost story, a love story and a mystery. It has just as much kissing and talking as you’d expect from a Rainbow Rowell story – but far, far more monsters.

 

Gideon the Ninth by Tamsyn Muir.  Set on an abandoned space station, Gideon is a sword-fighting cavalier sworn to protect her worst enemy as she uses necromancy to figure out how to win the emperor’s competition. The winners get immortal life, but it’s not an easy prize to obtain, especially when the murders begin. Gideon the Ninth is too funny to be straight horror, it’s a mix of science fiction and fantasy, and is much more gory than your average romance. It is gothic and irreverent- brilliantly original, messy and weird straight through with surprising depth and appeal.

 

Good Omens by Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett.  Someone has misplaced the Antichrist. But, according to “The Nice and Accurate Prophecies of Agnes Nutter, Witch” the world is to end next Saturday. And only Aziraphale, a finicky angel, and Crowley, a chilled out demon, seem to have any problem with that. Comedic fantasy great Terry Pratchett teamed up with Neil Gaiman, another all-time master of the genre, to create top-notch apocalyptic humor. This book is laugh-out-loud funny, and it doesn’t skimp on the plot, either. Plus, not only is the situation a hilarious, horrifying mess, but the characters are some of the most memorable in any genre. (Check out the BBC series once you’ve read the book!)

 

The Hike by Drew Magary.  An epic fantasy adventure with a simple premise: a guy gets lost in the woods. But getting lost turns into a journey across a strange world populated with hungry giantesses, witheringly sarcastic crabs, dog-men, and dwarves. In short, things get very, very weird. One of the strangest and funniest fantasy sagas unlike any you’ve read before- weaving elements of folktales and video games into a riveting, unforgettable tale of what a man will endure to return to his family.

 

The House in the Cerulean Sea by TJ Klune. Linus Baker works in the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, and his latest assignment is rather odd: He must travel to Arthur Parnassus’s orphanage and evaluate six children to determine what the chances are that they’ll bring about the end of the world. But when Linus arrives, it’s clear that Arthur is safeguarding some pretty big secrets about these children, and will do whatever it takes to keep them safe. A balance of crazy humor, a keen sense of storytelling, and a gentle romance infuses this tale of found family, the importance of kindness and the courage to speak up for those who need it most.

 

Kings of the Wyld by Nicholas Eames.  Clay Cooper and his band were once the best of the best, the most feared and renowned crew of mercenaries this side of the Heartwyld. Their glory days long past, the mercs have grown apart and grown old, fat, drunk, or a combination of the three. Then an ex-bandmate turns up at Clay’s door with a plea for help–the kind of mission that only the very brave or the very stupid would sign up for. It’s time to get the band back together! A comedy, an adventure tale, a consideration on growing older, and rock ‘n roll all rolled into a fantastically original romp of a book.

 

The Princess Bride by William Goldman.  Rich in character and satire, the novel is set in 1941 and framed cleverly as an “abridged” retelling of a centuries-old tale set in the fabled country of Florin that’s home to “Beasts of all natures and descriptions. Pain. Death. Brave men. Coward men. Strongest men. Chases. Escapes. Lies. Truths. Passions.” This is one of the most unique books you will ever read: a cynical, ironic, hysterical, and somehow stunningly romantic fantasy novel (and don’t miss out on watching the movie!).

 

Small Gods by Terry Pratchett. Terry Pratchett is the master of the fantasy humor genre, so it’s hard to go wrong with any book from his Discworld series. The Discworld is, of course, a flat disc balanced on the backs of four elephants which are standing on the back of a giant turtle, and it’s populated with some of the funniest oddballs that fantasy has to offer. Small Gods is not the first book in the series, but it’s a stand-alone novel set in the Discworld, and it’s got some of Pratchett’s absolute sharpest wit. The Great God Om has run into a bit of a problem: How do you go about being a god if no one believes in you?

 

Sorcerer to the Crown by Zen Cho.  In Zen Cho’s witty debut novel, Zacharias Wythe is the Sorcerer Royal of the Unnatural Philosophers, tasked with overseeing that all magic in England is kept in balance. But when magic drains away, he goes to the edges of fairyland to discover the cause–and meets a young woman with formidable powers that he won’t soon forget. A wonderful and charming book that combines regency romance and fantasy while at the same time exploring some of the problematic aspects of those genres in regards to race and gender. It examines the relationship between politics and power all the while managing to remain light, delightful, endearing, and funny.

 

Soulless by Gail Carriger.  All of Gail Carriger’s Victorian steampunk novels populated with vampires and werewolves are hysterically funny, but you might as well start out with her debut novel and the first in the Parasol Protectorate series. Lady Alexia Tarrabotti is a spinster, and she’s soulless- her touch renders an immortal mortal. For that reason she’s feared, but when someone tries to kill her, she must work with a brooding werewolf earl in order to get to the bottom of the mystery. Light-hearted and fast-paced, Soulless is a mix of historical fantasy and paranormal romance with a touch of screwball comedy you won’t want to put down.

 

To Say Nothing of the Dog : or How We Found the Bishop’s Bird Stump at Last by Connie Willis. The invention of the time machine has opened up the past to historians in a way that their forebears could only dream of. There are rules, though: You aren’t supposed to bring anything back with you from the past- least of all a cat. Now an overworked Oxford Don has to return to the 19th century to set things right. A comedic frolic through an unpredictable world of mystery, love, and time travel.

 

Welcome to Night Vale : a Novel by Joseph Fink and Jeffrey Cranor.  Located in a nameless desert somewhere in the great American Southwest, Night Vale is a small town where ghosts, angels, aliens, and government conspiracies are all commonplace parts of everyday life. Whether you’re a fan of the strange and upsetting Welcome to Night Vale podcast or you’re new to Night Vale and its quaint desert conspiracies, it’s never a bad time to visit Night Vale. As their tourism board says, “We’ll show you the fun in a handful of dust!” Night Vale is the hysterical, paranormal Gothic novel you never knew you were looking for (but it’s most certainly been looking for you).

Delightfully Creepy Chronicles for Kids

Ah, it’s October. We’re all reaching for our big thick cardigans (at least, that’s what we librarians are doing), admiring the mums and pumpkins at the local nurseries, and wondering why pie spices keep showing up in places they don’t belong. But if you’re anything like me, you’re more intent on finding something more than that chilly evening wind to send a shiver down your spine. Yep. I’m talking horror stories.

You know the hard stuff you can find in the adult section of the library: Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Shirley Jackson, Paul Tremblay. But what about spooky stories that are just right for your young ghouls and goblins? You can’t just plop the Necronomicon into the hands of your third-grader and leave her to her own devices while you go heat up the centaur’s blood apple cider or rake the leaves off the ancient graveyard lawn. No, you need to start them off with little scares. And have I got the scares for you. Hold on a sec while I light a candle and look around this dark bookshelf of mine. This one, this one… and this one. Now just let me dust the spiderwebs off the covers of these books. Those whispers you hear swirling around the room? Nothing. Nothing you need to worry about, anyway. Here’s your books. You better take them and go. Quickly. Back out to the light. You never know what might emerge from the darkness if you stare into it for too long.

 

Scary Stories to Tell in the DarkWhen kids are more interested scary tales than fairy tales, this classic title delivers. With stories derived from folktales, they range from terrifying to creepy to humorous at times. And if you can’t get enough of them, don’t miss More Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark and Scary Stories 3: More Tales to Chill Your Bones!

In a Dark, Dark Room. Need scary stories that still have some training wheels? Step into the dark spaces of In a Dark, Dark Room, a collection of seven scary stories that are perfect for budding readers. This book includes that story – you know, that story – with the girl who always wore a ribbon around her neck.


Eerie ElementaryThey say that horror is a safe way to explore real fears, and what better way to channel the anxieties of school than by reading a series of books where the school itself is out to get its students? Sam Graves and his friends take on science fairs, recess, substitute teachers, and maybe some mad scientists in their efforts to keep themselves and their fellow students safe in this series just for early chapter book readers.

The Jumbies. In a spine-tingling tale that is rooted in Caribbean folklore, 11-year-old Corinne must call on her courage and an ancient magic to stop an evil spirit and save her island home. Look for the second and third books at the library too!

City of Ghosts. After surviving a near-fatal drowning that gives her the ability to enter the spirit world, Cassidy, the daughter of television ghost-hunters, visits Edinburgh where the encounters with the city’s old ghosts reveals the dangers that come with her powers.

The Girl in the Locked Room. Mary Downing Hahn is a veteran author of ghost stories for elementary school kids, and her latest book is sure to scratch that phantom itch. Told in two voices, Jules, whose father is restoring an abandoned house, and a girl who lived there a century before begin to communicate and slowly, the girl’s tragic story is revealed.

The Peculiar Incident on Shady Street. When lights start flickering and temperatures suddenly drop, twelve-year-old Tessa Woodward, sensing her new house may be haunted, recruits some new friends to help her unravel the mystery of who or what is trying to communicate with her and why.

Scary Stories for Young Foxes. When Mia and Uly are separated from their litters, they discover a dangerous world full of monsters. In order to find a den to call home, they must venture through field and forest, facing unspeakable things that dwell in the darkness: a zombie who hungers for their flesh, a witch who tries to steal their skins, a ghost who hunts them through the snow . . . and other things too scary to mention.

Ghosts. Catrina and her family are moving to the coast of Northern California because her little sister, Maya, is sick. Cat isn’t happy about leaving her friends for Bahía de la Luna, but Maya has cystic fibrosis and will benefit from the cool, salty air that blows in from the sea. As the girls explore their new home, a neighbor lets them in on a secret: There are ghosts in Bahía de la Luna. Maya is determined to meet one, but Cat wants nothing to do with them. As the time of year when ghosts reunite with their loved ones approaches, Cat must figure out how to put aside her fears for her sister’s sake — and her own.

Small Spaces. After eleven-year-old Ollie’s school bus mysteriously breaks down on a field trip, she has to take a trip through scary woods, and must use all of her wits to survive. She must stick to small spaces.

The Song from Somewhere ElseFrank thought her summer couldn’t get any worse–until big, weird, smelly Nick Underbridge rescues her from a bully, and she winds up at his house. Frank quickly realizes there’s more to Nick than meets the eye. When she’s at his house, she hears the strangest, most beautiful music, music which leads her to a mysterious, hidden door. Beyond the door are amazing creatures that she never even dreamed could be real. For the first time in forever, Frank feels happy . . . and she and Nick start to become friends. But Nick’s incredible secrets are also accompanied by great danger. Frank must figure out how to help her new friend, the same way that he has helped her.

Become a “Fake News” Detective – how to verify what you see online before you share it

In 2019, Pew Research found that 55% of American adults said they get their news from social media either “often” or “sometimes” .  And while some news on social media may come from reliable sources, plenty more “news” may be from articles reposted or retweeted by friends.  So, as you’re scrolling through your newsfeed and seeing articles (or comments on articles) that provoke a reaction in you, how do you know what you’re seeing is legitimate?

We are living in an age of misinformation – just about anyone can become a “publisher” these days with little to no oversight or verification. And many of these publishers aren’t even people! Recently,  researchers at Carnegie Melon University studied more than 200 million tweets about the novel coronavirus. Of the top 50 most influential retweeters, 82% of them were bots! What were they retweeting? Dozens of inaccurate stories about things like bogus conspiracy theories and phony cures.

How do we know what’s real and what isn’t nowadays? It takes some digging. And it’s worth doing a little fact-checking of your own before hitting the “share” button. We should also understand that there are different types of unreliable information out there. For instance there’s a difference between deliberately misleading information (propaganda and libel) and unintentional misinformation (mistakes). But we don’t want to spread either kind, so let’s look at how to separate the fact from fiction.

The C.R.A.P. Test, developed by Dominican University Librarian Molly Beestrum, is a helpful tool to use when trying to decide if something is a credible, valid source. When you come across questionable information, run it through these four categories:

Current

  • How current is the information?
  • How recently was it was posted? Has it been updated?

Reliable

  • How reliable is the information?
  • Does the author provide references or sources?
  • What proof do you have that the information is reliable?

Authority

  • Who is the creator or author of the information? What are his or her credentials?
  • Who is the publisher or sponsor of the information? Is this a reputable information source?

Purpose/Point ofView

  • What is the purpose of this information? Is it intended to inform, entertain, or persuade?
  • Does the information sound like fact or opinion? Is it biased?
  • Is the creator or author trying to sell you something?

Something else to think about is the emotional response an article or post evokes in you. Content creators are all about the emotional response, and “fake news” stories often use emotionally driven content to push their agenda and compel people to share it. The next time you are outraged or amazed by a story, look a little deeper. Fact checking sites like Snopes.com and  FactCheck.org, can help you determine if what you’ve seen is legitimate or not.

Here’s a helpful checklist by ProQuest (a global information-content and technology company that provides applications and products for libraries),  which contains a lot of useful tips for vetting online content:

Want to go deeper into the subject of information literacy and “fake news”? Here are a few books to get you started:

Fake news, Propaganda, and Plain Old Lies : how to find trustworthy information in the digital age by Donald A. Barclay

Merchants of Truth : the business of news and the fight for facts by Jill Abramson

The Smear : how shady political operatives and fake news control what you see, what you think, and how you vote by Sharyl Attkisson

21 Lessons for the 21st Century by Yuval Noah Harari

What’s Fake News?  by Joyce Jeffries

 

 

 

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