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.

Groovin’ with Pete the Cat

Children’s books are notoriously hard to get published. Everyone has an idea for a children’s book, and almost all of them will never see a contract. More than 21,000 children’s titles are published every year in the US, by a number of publishers, which is only a dent in the number of actual submissions. Scholastic, the one who haunts school kids with that monthly flier, publishes just 600 books a year, from board books through High School. So when a children’s book is self-published, sells 7,000 copies in its first ten months and is then signed on by major publisher Harper Collins, you know there’s something really good there. And in this case, the really good is Pete the Cat .

If you haven’t read him, Pete the Cat is a groovy large-eyed, laid-back blue/black cat who lives with his mom and dad and his tuxedo-patterned brother Bob. He has a host of friends (Grumpy Toad, Gus the Platypus, Callie, Squirrel, etc) and he loves bananas and surfing. His stories are mostly easy-readers that play to the 2-7 year old crowd, but he is infinitely more interesting than that. Pete is the kind of story you want your child to like, because you want to read more of his stories.

Pete is the creation of James Dean, whose early illustrations wound up as musically or rhythmically-oriented stories by storyteller/musician Eric Litwin. Litwin wrote four of Pete’s adventures (Pete the Cat and his Four Groovy Buttons, Rockin in my School Shoes, I Love My White Shoes, and Pete the Cat Saves Christmas). I have to admit, these early volumes are my favorites, and I cannot help but read Pete stories as if he’s a surfer dude. Groovy, man. While Litwin and Dean split in 2011, Dean and his wife Kimberly have written more than 60 Pete adventures, with more on the way. Pete’s adventures range from curing hiccups (Mom knows best!) to sleepover friends who won’t sleep, to shopping in the grocery store and scuba diving.

The actual Pete the Cat

Being an artist was not Dean’s plan. His father was an artist, and he didn’t relish  reliving the struggle. While being an electrical engineer paid bills, art crept into his life more and more, until he began to pursue art full-time. When he adopted a tiny black kitten he named Pete, Pete’s antics crept into his artwork , and a legend was born.

Dean’s success is an author’s dream – self-published, picked up by a real publisher just two years later, a runaway success (more than 7 million copies sold), merchandise deals, and now a TV series on Amazon Prime, with voices by no one less than jazz singers Jason Mraz and Diana Krall (which totally fits, because Pete gives off that groovy chill of a cool jazz cat). They say self-publishing doesn’t pay, but Dean is one of those handful of lucky authors who won that lottery.

While I find some of the titles to be uneven and lacking the lyrical qualities of the bigger titles such as Groovy Buttons, Pete remains one of my current favorite preschool titles, stories you don’t mind reading over and over again, with subtle morals (family, keeping your cool, how to be a friend, sharing, learning, etc) that won’t make you roll your eyes with saccharine. Rock on, Pete!

Cheshire Library has more than thirty Pete titles!  Here are some of them:

Pete the Cat: Rockin in My School Shoes
Pete the Cat: I Love My White Shoes
Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttons 
Pete at the Beach
Pete’s Big Lunch
Pete the Cat: Scuba Cat
Pete the Cat: Snow Daze
A Pet for Pete
Pete the Cat and his Magic Sunglasses
Pete the Cat and the Missing Cupcakes
Pete the Cat and the Bedtime Blues
Pete the Cat Goes Camping
Pete the Cat and the Perfect Pizza Party
Pete the Cat and the New Guy

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.

Pride Month Books for Kids

June is here and so is Pride month! The library has a great selection of kid’s books featuring all different kinds of families, relationships, and love! Here’s a list of picture books and chapter books available at the library for you and your family to enjoy during Pride Month, and beyond!

First up, let’s talk about picture books. Here are some great titles available at CPL: 

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff; illustrated by Kaylani Juanita –  This new publication is a beautifully illustrated and touching story about Aidan, who, after realizing he was a trans boy, with the help of his parents fixed the parts of life that didn’t fit anymore. When Aiden becomes a big brother, he wants to make sure everything is perfect, and panics when it isn’t. With his parents help, Aidan comes to understand that mistakes can be fixed with honesty and communication and that he already knows the most important thing about being a big brother: how to love with his whole self. This book is perfect for kids who are becoming older siblings, and for those struggling with trying to be “perfect”. It has great characters and an even greater heart.

Stonewall : a building, an uprising, a revolution by Rob Sanders;  illustrated by Jamey Christoph – Take a look into the history of the Stonewall Uprising in this picture books, which was released on the 50th anniversary of this movement, which led to important changes in LGBTQ+ rights and representation. This can be an important history lesson for you, and your child to learn the true reason we celebrate Pride, and why we have the right to celebrate it safely today.

And Tango Makes Three  by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell; illustrated by Henry Cole This picture book tells the true story of two male penguins raising a baby at the Central Park Zoo. While the other boy and girl penguins at the zoo find each other and become couples when the time is right, Roy and Silo (two boys) do everything together. They even build a nest together like the other penguin couples. When another penguin lays two eggs and can’t care for both, a zookeeper decides to let Roy and Silo care for the egg. They take turns lovingly keeping the egg warm, until one day little Tango is born. This book shows that family is family, no matter what. 

Next, how about some great middle-grade titles? These are all available in our juvenile fiction section at CPL: 

Hurricane Child  by Kheryn Callender  – Being born during a hurricane is unlucky, and twelve-year-old Caroline has had her share of bad luck lately. But when a new student named Kalinda arrives, Caroline’s luck begins to turn around. Kalinda, a solemn girl from Barbados with a special smile for everyone, becomes Caroline’s first and only friend — and the person for whom Caroline has begun to develop a crush. Together, Caroline and Kalinda must set out in a hurricane to find Caroline’s missing mother — before Caroline loses her forever. This story is packed with adventure, as well as things that every kid has to deal with, including bullies, new schools, and new friends.

To Night Owl from Dogfish  by Holly Goldberg Sloan & Meg Wolitzer – A laugh-out-loud tale of friendship and family, told entirely in emails and letters, follows the experiences of two 12-year-old girls–one bookish and fearful, the other fearless and adventuresome–who are sent to a camp to bond when their fathers fall in love. This is a great summer reading book and showcases how different friendships can thrive and develop. 

Princess Princess Ever After by Katie O’Neill; edited by Ari Yarwood; designed by Fred Chao – When the heroic princess Amira rescues the kind-hearted princess Sadie from her tower prison, neither expects to find a true friend in the bargain. Yet as they adventure across the kingdom, they discover that they bring out the very best in the other person. They’ll need to join forces and use all the know-how, kindness, and bravery they have in order to defeat their greatest foe yet: a jealous sorceress, who wants to get rid of Sadie once and for all. Join Sadie and Amira, two very different princesses with very different strengths, on their journey to figure out what “happily ever after” really means—and how they can find it with each other.

These titles and more are available from the library for you to celebrate pride with you and your children.

More titles…

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.