British Mysteries from Book to Screen

Today’s post comes to us from our Deputy Director Deb, who loves a good mystery!

Many devoted mystery readers began with Agatha Christie’s classic golden age mysteries featuring Miss Jane Marple and Hercule Poirot. I certainly did! These distinctly British offerings are a perfect gateway into the world of mysteries. And like so many other British mysteries, they have been made into marvelous television series, which you can watch using the library’s new streaming video service, Acorn TV. Or you can download the books in e-book or e-audio from the library’s website.

Here are some suggestions to get you started.

Hercule Poirot and Miss Marple are both well represented on Acorn TV and in our e-book and e-audiobook collections. Consider reading or listening to Murder on the Orient Express, The ABC Murders or The Mysterious Affair at Styles. Check out Acorn TV and watch Marple, Agatha Christie’s Partners in Crime, The Agatha Christie Hour and Agatha Christie’s Poirot. Also try Christie’s classic locked-room mystery, And Then There Were None, considered to be the world’s best-selling mystery, available in e-book and e-audio and on Acorn.

The Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton features a middle-aged woman who sells her London PR firm and moves to the country (the Cotswolds, to be precise), where, in true amateur detective fashion, she encounters—and solves– murders galore! Try the first book in the series, Agatha Raisin and the Quiche of Death, available in both audio and ebook. Or read any of the others—like so many long-running mystery series, it isn’t necessary to read them in order. Then watch Agatha Raisin on Acorn, a top pick for fans of cozy British mysteries.

One of my favorite village cozy series, also by M.C. Beaton, features the unambitious and charming policeman Hamish Macbeth who patrols the village of Lochdubh in the Scottish Highlands. I have listened to all of them on audio. The reader, Graeme Malcolm, imbues the audiobooks with such charm and personality that I’m betting you, too, will be hooked! We have more than a dozen titles available on e-audio, including Death of an Honest Man and  Death of a Gossip. Then check out Hamish Macbeth on Acorn.

The Phryne Fisher series by Kerry Greenwood, featuring a glamorous private detective in 1920s Melbourne, is actually Australian, but close enough to fit in with our British theme. The supremely independent Miss Fisher has class, sass and the means to pull it all off! Try Cocaine Blues, the first in the series, or The Spotted Dog. The clothes alone make the series worth watching Miss Fisher on Acorn!

Ann Cleeves’ series featuring Detective Chief Inspector Vera Stanhope is considerably darker than the other series in this post. DCI Stanhope is a solitary, obsessed, caustic, brilliant investigator near the end of her career working in northern England. Try listening to the first in the series, The Crow Trap, or read The Seagull. And be sure to watch Vera on Acorn TV.

Set in Ireland, the long-running Jack Taylor series by Ken Bruen has been thrilling readers (and now TV fans) for years. Taylor is a classic ex-cop turned seedy private eye prowling the underbelly of Galway. Try e-book or e-audio  Galway Girl or e-audio Purgatory and check out Jack Taylor on Acorn.

What’s Happening (virtually) at Cheshire Library in July

Welcome to summer! Our virtual programming continues this month as we begin to expand services, and continue to maintain social distancing protocols for the health and safety of our patrons and staff. Here are some of the great programs you can “tune in” to this July:

Starting a Vegetable Garden

Thursday, July 2, 2020, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Have you wanted to start a vegetable garden but don’t know where to begin?  Join us with master gardener Sarah Bailey as she shows you the tools you will need and the techniques to use to start a vegetable garden and enjoy vegetables all summer long. No gardening experience required.  Registration is required, registered participants will receive an email with a Zoom link on the day of the program.

Virtual Teen Volunteers

Mondays, from 3:00 – 4:00pm

Let’s give the world as much kindness as we can right now. Virtual volunteering makes it possible for teens to make a difference in the world, even during the pandemic. We can meet via Zoom to socialize while we’re volunteering but it’s not required. Head to our Event Calendar to register and see some suggestions for virtual volunteering (but you can certainly come up with your own ideas as well).

Virtual Tech Help

Do you have questions about your laptop, smartphone, or iPad? Do you need help downloading an ebook or audiobook? Are you wondering how to get started with Acorn TV or other streaming services? Let our tech experts help! Bring your technology-related questions and issues to Cheshire Public Library’s Virtual Tech Help. three half-hour appointments will be available for each day.  Our librarians will be available to answer your questions and offer advice. Please register in advance, registered participants will receive a Zoom meeting link the morning of the program.

Switch it up at CPL! Super Smash Bros. Ultimate

Wednesdays, 3:00 – 4:00PM

Social distancing got you down? Got a Nintendo Switch? Join us at CPL’s Smash Ultimate arena! Play against your friends and folks from all across Cheshire! For TEENS in grades 6-12. All skill levels welcome, no registration required. View the program description in our Event Calendar for details on how to join.

Introduction to Composting

Thursday, July 9, 2020, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Presenter Dawn Pettinelli, Associate Extension Educator, Department of Plant Science & Landscape Architecture at UConn will detail how to create a successful compost. Registration is required, registered participants will receive an email with a Zoom link on the day of the program.

Science Tellers: Dragons and the Return of the Ice Sorceress

Thursday, July 9, 2020, 3:00 – 3:45pm

Don’t miss this fun, fantasy adventure featuring awesome dry ice effects brought to you by Science Tellers! Best for ages 5-12. Please register in advance,  a link to the Zoom meeting will be sent 1 hour prior to the program.

Virtual Cheshire Anime Club

Fridays (except July 3rd), 3:00 – 5:00pm

Konnichiwa, minna-san! Can’t get enough Anime and Manga? Be an “Otaku” and join the Cheshire Anime Club! We’ll meet on Zoom and watch Anime movies together! For grades 7-12. The link to this Zoom Virtual Program will be posted on Cheshire Anime Club’s Facebook Page (https://www.facebook.com/groups/13673851607/) OR you can register on our Event Calendar, and we will email you before start time with a link to join this Zoom Virtual program.

ABC Amigos

Tuesdays from 10:00 – 10:30am

ABC Amigos is a bilingual program to start teaching Spanish to preschoolers. This storytime will be tons of fun with songs, games, activities and stories in both English and Spanish. No prior knowledge of Spanish is necessary. Best for ages 3-5. Please note, this is a virtual program that will be held on Facebook. You can access the program by visiting https://www.facebook.com/cheshirelibrary and clicking on the “live” tab. You may register to receive an email reminder.

Mad Science

  • Wacky Water (Grades K-2): Wednesday, July 22, 2:00 – 3:00pm
  • Kitchen Chemistry (Grades 3-6): Thursday, July 30, 2:00 – 3:00pm
  • Bugs (Grades K-2): Friday, July 31, 2:00 – 3:00pm

A series of fun science themed programs for two age groups, grades K-2 and 3-6.  Please register for each session individually, through our Event Calendar. Registered participants will receive a link to join the program in Zoom.

Lunchtime Sing-along

Start your afternoon on a good note with a family-friendly lunchtime sing-along! Listen in and sing along to storytime favorites with Miss Andrea, Miss Lauren, and Miss Ali!There are two options to view: either join us on Zoom (link in the program description on our Event Calendar or watch us on Facebook Live https://www.facebook.com/cheshirelibrary/

Food Explorers

Join Registered Dietitian, Katie, from Food Explorers will show young chefs how to make some homemade pasta, and make and bake homemade bagels with a twist!!   Please register through our Event Calendar to see what ingredients you will need for each program. Registered participants will receive a Zoom meeting link one hour prior to the start of the program.

Sing Your Story

Friday, July 17, 2020, 11:00am – 12:00pm

Sing Your Story is an education music experience where kids become songwriters! Creator, Michele Urban, is an Early Childhood Music specialist, songwriter and vocal performer. She combines music and language instruction to help kids tell their story through song lyrics. Best for children in grades K-6. Please register for this virtual program to receive a link to the Zoom meeting 1 hour prior to the program start time.

Family Jamboree with Liz McNicholl

Wednesday, July 22, 2020, 10:00 – 11:00am

During this fun interactive concert for ages, Liz McNicholl from Musical Folk leads the audience in drumming while she plays on a wide range of musical instruments including guitar, ukulele, banjo, and a traditional Irish drum. There are two options to view: either join us on Zoom (link on our Event Calendar) or watch us on Facebook Live.

Virtual Books Over Coffee

Wednesday, July 29, 2020, 12:00 – 1:30pm

Want to engage in great discussions about books? Meet new people? Join us for an adult monthly book club program called Books Over Coffee. We will meet over Zoom for our July meeting. This month’s book is The Nickel Boys by Colson Whitehead. Registration is required. Multiple copies of the e-book or eaudio will be made available to download on Overdrive/Libby for 1 Day ONLY on Monday July 6 from 8:00am-9:00pm.  If you register after July 6 you will be able to participate in the discussion but multiple copies of the book will no longer be available to download from Cheshire Library.

Author Talk with Deborah Vadas Levison

Thursday, July 30, 2020, 3:00 – 4:30pm

Join award-winning author Deborah Levison for the true story of her family’s discovery of a gruesome crime and of surviving the Holocaust. Her presentation is based on her debut book The Crate, an account of her parents’ ordeals, both in one of the darkest times in world history and in their present-day lives. Registration is required, registered participants will receive an email with a Zoom link on the day of the program.

7 Full-Cast Audiobooks that are like theater for your ears

Did you know that June is Audiobook Month? There’s no denying the increasing popularity of audiobooks. And within the format, there are many different styles of narration to be had. To use a food analogy,  while the author creates the original recipe, the narrator is responsible for presenting the finished meal in the most appetizing way possible. Most often, a single narrator takes on the task of bringing a story to life, but occasionally a story lends itself to a more theatrical telling, and that’s when a full cast narration can be so much fun.

Full cast recordings can often take on the feel of an old-fashioned radio show, and the best ones are like listening to a Broadway play. If you’re missing the experience of attending the theater,  try one of these full-cast audiobooks that are almost as good as a trip to the theater.  They’re available for Cheshire Library cardholders from RBdigital.

1. The His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, starting with The Golden Compass. The author, himself an excellent narrator, anchors these stories, with a full cast assuming all the speaking roles. It’s outstanding, and the full cast makes it easy to distinguish between the many characters that populate this series.

2. The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien. The original American full dramatization as broadcast on National Public Radio, this really is the recording of a radio show. Bilbo Baggins, a gentle hobbit who loves the comforts of home, reluctantly joins a company of dwarves on a journey to recover plundered gold from a fierce dragon.

3. Lincoln in the Bardo by George Saunders.  The author acts as narrator, with an all-star supporting cast. Nick Offerman, Megan Mullally, David Sedaris, Susan Sarandon, Bill Hader, and 160 more cast members breath life into the  story of President Lincoln spending a night of mourning at the crypt of his eleven-year-old son.

4. The Rise and Fall of D.O.D.O by Neal Stephenson and Nicole Gallant. This sci-fi/thriller/fantasy/historical/mystery about a  shadowy government agency–the Department of Diachronic Operations – and the discovery that magic was once real and could be again, comes alive with a “magical’ cast of narrators.

5. A Brief History of Seven Killings by Marlon James. Fans of the true-crime genre will devour this fictional tale that explores the events and characters surrounding by the 1976 attempted assassination of Bob Marley. The cast of characters are vividly portrayed by a terrific group of narrators.

6. Daisy Jones & The Six by Taylor Jenkins Reid. This audiobook chronicles the rise and fall of a fictional rock band in the 1970s, and boasts an impressive cast of narrators, including Jennifer Beals, Benjamin Bratt, and Judy Greer, among others.

7. Sandry’s Book by Tamora Pierce. Narrated by the author and fleshed out by a talented cast of character actors, the first book in Pierce’s wonderful Circle of Magic series introduces the listener to four young misfits with a talent for magic, and is a treat for all ages.

 

Broadening Your Story – People of Color in Children’s Literature

People of color have historically been under-represented in children’s literature. Thankfully, that has been changing in recent years. If you’re a black child, it’s important to see yourself represented positively in books. Equally important, it is important for white children to see positive representation of people of color. Here’s a list of books written by black authors that are available at your local library. These stories center, reflect and affirm the lived experiences of black children.

Sam Brown, writer for Bookstr summed it up perfectly, stating “Children’s books are powerful tools that help instill a sense of empathy in young readers. They are testing grounds for new ideas and exercises in ethics. Reading, at any age, teaches us that the experiences of other people are not only valid, but influential to our own lives. It’s for this reason that representation in children’s books matters”

Hair Love by Matthew A. Cherry ; illustrated by Vashti HarrisonZuri’s hair has a mind of its own. It kinks, coils, and curls every which way. Zuri knows it’s beautiful. When Daddy steps in to style it for an extra special occasion, he has a lot to learn. But he LOVES his Zuri, and he’ll do anything to make her — and her hair — happy.

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson ; illustrated by Rafael LópezThere are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it. Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

My Hair is a Garden by Cozbi A. CabreraAfter a day of being taunted by classmates about her unruly hair, Mackenzie cant take any more and she seeks guidance from her wise and comforting neighbor, Miss Tillie. Using the beautiful garden in the backyard as a metaphor, Miss Tillie shows Mackenzie that maintaining healthy hair is not a chore nor is it something to fear. Most importantly, Mackenzie learns that natural black hair is beautiful.

Thirteen Ways of Looking at a Black Boy by Tony Medina & 13 artistsThese short, vibrant tanka poems about young men of color depict thirteen views of everyday life: young boys dressed in their Sunday best, running to catch a bus, and growing up to be teachers, and much more. Each of Tony Medina’s tanka is matched with a different artist―including recent Caldecott and Coretta Scott King Award recipients.

Radiant Child : the story of young artist Jean-Michel Basquiat by Javaka Steptoe – Jean-Michel Basquiat and his unique, collage-style paintings rocketed to fame in the 1980s as a cultural phenomenon unlike anything the art world had ever seen. But before that, he was a little boy who saw art everywhere: in poetry books and museums, in games and in the words that we speak, and in the pulsing energy of New York City. Now, award-winning illustrator Javaka Steptoe’s vivid text and bold artwork echoing Basquiat’s own introduce young readers to the powerful message that art doesn’t always have to be neat or clean–and definitely not inside the lines–to be beautiful.

The King of Kindergarten by Derrick Barnes ; illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-NewtonStarting kindergarten is a big milestone–and the hero of this story is ready to make his mark! He’s dressed himself, eaten a pile of pancakes, and can’t wait to be part of a whole new kingdom of kids. The day will be jam-packed, but he’s up to the challenge, taking new experiences in stride with his infectious enthusiasm! And afterward, he can’t wait to tell his proud parents all about his achievements–and then wake up to start another day.

Woke Baby by Mahogany L. Browne ; illustrated by Theodore Taylor III, and Woke : a young poet’s call to justice by Mahogany L. Browne, with Elizabeth Acevedo and Olivia Gatwood ; illustrated by Theodore Taylor III. Woke Baby is a lyrical and empowering book for all the littlest progressives, waking up to seize a new day of justice and activism, Woke is a collection of poems by women that reflects the joy and passion in the fight for social justice, tackling topics from discrimination to empathy, and acceptance to speaking out.

Sulwe by Lupita Nyong’o ; illustrated by Vashti HarrisonSulwe has skin the color of midnight. She is darker than everyone in her family. She is darker than anyone in her school. Sulwe just wants to be beautiful and bright, like her mother and sister. Then a magical journey in the night sky opens her eyes and changes everything.

I am Enough by Grace Byers ; pictures by Keturah A. Bobo -This gorgeous, lyrical ode to loving who you are, respecting others, and being kind to one another comes from Empire actor and activist Grace Byers and talented newcomer artist Keturah A. Bobo. We are all here for a purpose. We are more than enough. We just need to believe it.

Now more than ever is the time to promote and share stories of all kinds. Know that the library is a place that welcomes everyone, following Cheshire Public Libraries mission statement “The Cheshire Public Library transforms lives and strengthens the community”.

Looking for more? Here are some other titles available from the Cheshire Library:

Check out Sync Audiobooks for Teens – Now available through Cheshire Public Library

Sync Audiobooks are now available through the Cheshire Public Library for young adults and teens! SYNC is a free summer audiobook program for teens 13+. Returning April 30th and continuing 13 weeks until July 29,  SYNC gives participants two thematically paired audiobooks for free each week.   You can download these titles through Sora, the student reading app available through Overdrive, available on multiple different platforms, including Android, Apple, and tablets.

This is a great opportunity to keep teens reading during the summer, and to encourage a lifelong love of reading! Different free audiobooks are available every week, so if you’re not interested in what’s available for one week, just wait a week and try again. For the week of May 21st, there’s a mix of genres available to download. First up is Sister’s Matsumoto by Philip Kan Gotanda. Described as “Three Japanese-American sisters return to their California farm in 1945, after years in an internment camp. But the once prosperous family finds it’s not easy to pick up the pieces of their former lives.”  It’s a great title for those who are interested in historical fiction, and stories with strong female characters.

Next up is Disappeared by Francisco X. Stork, a mystery of criminal intrigue with  characters who are drawn up into a web of lies. The book description: “Four months ago… Sara Zapata’s best friend disappeared, kidnapped by the web of criminals who terrorize Juarez. Four hours ago… Sara received a death threat – and, with it, a clue to the place where her friend is locked away. Four weeks ago… Emiliano Zapata fell in love with Perla Rubi, who will never be his so long as he’s poor. Four minutes ago… Emiliano got the chance to make more money than he ever dreamed – just by joining the web. In the next four days, Sara and Emiliano will each face impossible choices, between life and justice, friends and family, truth and love.”

This is just a taste of the books that Sync offers, and if you’re not interested in any of these, just wait another week! This program will be going until July 29th, for a total of 26 titles. Each week has a different mood, one week mysteries, the next romance, so there’s plenty for everyone. Below is the full calendar of titles, so you can see what’s coming up next.

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If you’re worried about school ending and summer slide, this is a great way to combat the fear of learning ending when the school year ends. Encouraging a consistent love of reading and learning is a great way to keep your teens reading and discussing books throughout the summer months.

Need help downloading?  Our Librarians are working remotely to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We are still available by email or phone Monday through Friday between 9am and 5pm to answer your questions, help you download digital materials, or resolve issues with your library account.