The Cottage in the Woods by Katherine Coville

Reviewed by Anonymous

The new governess Ursula Brown, an Enchanted Bear, moves to the Vaughns’ estate to teach their son, Teddy. As she gets to know the people of the surrounding town, Miss Brown finds the Anthropologist Society, a group that violently tries to silence and take away the rights of the Enchanted Animals. She joins the people who fight against the society. Soon, she solves the mystery of the Vaughn house. A little wild girl , called Goldilocks, also lives there. Miss Brown must fight to keep Goldilocks and Teddy safe from Goldilocks’ past abusers and the Society while discovering her true love.

A good “old-fashioned” story that delves into the issue of racism in an interesting and understandable way. It does a good job of melding the old fairytales together. It will become a personal favorite.

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC COVILLE)

For Self and Country: for the wounded in Vietnam the journey home took more courage than going to battle by Rick Eilert

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

This is the memoir of the author’s journey back from Vietnam in 1967. It was a powerful story when I first read it in 1983. Reading it again in 2021 it still pulled me in, and also helped me understand why there are homeless, troubled Vietnam veterans to this day.

It was reprinted in 2010, with a note on the cover that said President Reagan was so moved by this book that he invited the author to the White House.

The book starts with Rick’s horrific combat injury and his long flight to Great Lakes Naval Hospital in Illinois. He is the oldest soldier on the hospital floor; he is 20 years old.

He endures dozens of surgeries and horrific dressing changes trying to save his legs. He worries that his girlfriend will dump him, the anti-war protests dishearten him, and if he will be a “gimp” forever.

There are light moments too: his blind bunkmate is the floor lookout, he plays chicken with another wheelchair bound patient and re-breaks his leg, and the young soldiers, of course, ogling the Navy nurses and female visitors.

This book was not in the Bridges Library System, Emily the DPL circulation manager found it using the State of Wisconsin (WISCAT) InterLibrary Loan system.

If you watched the Ken Burns Vietnam documentary on PBS, this book will add another dimension to the time period. I strongly recommend it.

Frog on a Log? by Kes Gray & Jim Field

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

In the mood for some new rhyming books for kids? Can’t take one more moment of Dr. Seuss or Mo Willems? This delightfully fun book will enchant young readers. Once Frog figures out that his designated rhyming place to sit is on a log, he will stop at nothing to prove that no, it’s actually DOG that sits on a log. But where does Frog sit then?? Find out the mystery to this silly book with a sneaky frog at the center of it all.

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E GRAY)

Bartali’s Bicycle by Megan Hoyt & Iacopo Bruno

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

This picture book tells the remarkable true story of Gino Bartali, celebrated Italian cyclist and winner of the 1938 Tour de France who performed heroic acts throughout World War II but kept them secret for over 50 years.

As Bartali always said, “Good is something you do, not something you talk about,” and so he kept quiet the fact that he hid forged identity papers in the hollow bars of his bicycle, sheltered a Jewish family in his cellar, rescued POWs, and used his celebrity to cause diversions when necessary.

Iacopo Bruno’s vibrant illustrations play with color and shadows to convey the mood of a world at war and in Bartali’s facial expressions the reader can almost see his mental wheels and sprockets churning a plan to fight injustice. Gorgeous and inspiring.

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E HOYT)

Tisha: the story of a young teacher in the Alaska wilderness by Ann Hobbes as told to Robert Specht

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

I read this book, published in 1976, for the first time over 25 years ago. I enjoyed it so much I lent it to my parents. They loved it and then shared it with my aunt, who had taught in a one-room schoolhouse like the author.

This book was well worth a re-read in 2021. The issue of racism that is weaved throughout her adventure still resonates today.

It is the memoir of 19 year-old Ann, who travels by mule train to the Village of Chicken to teach in 1927. She encounters hardship, poverty and racism between the settlers and the native population. When she takes in two orphaned Indian children and puts them in school, she receives strong backlash and threats of expulsion from her post. She stands up to the School Board for what she knows is the right thing to do.

There are light moments too – when her student does not return from the outhouse, she finds him frozen to the seat; she sleeps with her bag of potatoes so they don’t freeze solid; the beauty of the land; AND she meets the love of her life.

This easy-to-read book is just wonderful, please check it out.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Star Trek: Beyond (2016)

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Quarantining at home means lots of extra time for rewatches of movies! My husband and I just finished watching (for me) and rewatching (for him) all the original and new Star Trek movies. One of the most pleasant surprises was the rediscovery of this entry, Star Trek: Beyond. After the negative critical and fan reaction to the previous entry, Star Trek: Into Darkness, Star Trek: Beyond wasn’t given a fair shake, as the story itself is compelling–after being unexpectedly attacked and crashing on an alien planet, the crew of the USS Enterprise is scattered and alone. With the help of resident alien Jaylah, they will learn where they are and who they are up against. The action sequences are fun, the writing by the delightful Simon Pegg always snaps and the acting is sound. Definitely worth another look!

Located in DVDs (DVD STAR TREK)

Sherlock Bones and the Natural History Mystery by Renee Treml

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

In this silly graphic novel mystery, Sherlock Bones is the skeleton of an Australian bird who lives in the State Natural History Museum. When a giant blue diamond goes missing, Sherlock is on the case, assisted by his partner Watts (an inanimate stuffed parrot) and Grace (a street-smart raccoon interloper). The reader is also invited to assist in the case, as visual clues are cleverly sprinkled throughout the panels. The expressive art, slick humor, and way that Sherlock chats directly to the reader reminded me so much of the Bad Guys series. So far there are 2 books in this new series. Just plain fun.

Located in Children’s Graphic (J GRAPHIC TREML BK.1)

Float Plan by Trish Doller

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

Anna was supposed to go on a sailing trip with her fiancé, but after a heartbreaking loss, she decides to sail by herself. But after a tough night at sea, Anna realizes that she can’t sail alone so she hires a handsome Irish professional, Keane who also has demons to deal with. What follows is an enjoyable trip through the Caribbean as both Anna and Keane grow and learn.

This was a charming story that I enjoyed, especially the two main characters. The settings were gorgeous, and I now want to go sail around the Caribbean!

Located in Adult Fiction (FIC DOLLER)

The Princess in Black and the Perfect Princess Party by Shannon Hale and Dean Hale

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

Princess Magnolia loves frilly dresses and dainty hats, tea parties and unicorns. Today is her birthday and she can’t wait to celebrate with her other Princess friends! But where does Princess Magnolia keep going during her party?? Why, the Monster Alarm won’t give her a moment’s peace since she’s not only Princess Magnolia–she’s the Princess in Black! Fighting monsters and protecting goats are all in a day’s work for the Princess in Black but will Princess Magnolia be able to enjoy her special day? This delightful entry in the series is full of the same whimsical illustrations by LeUyen Pham and the story level is great for medium level chapter readers. Fun for kids and parents, too!

Located in Children’s Fiction (J FIC HALE)

ABC Animals by Christopher Evans

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

I’m probably not telling you anything you don’t know when I say that there are A LOT of alphabet books out there. And a heaping ton of them are about animals. But even in that vast ocean of competition, this book is absolutely stunning.

Graphic designer and illustrator Christopher Evans uses a technique he calls “digital woodcut” and the resulting images blew me away. As he says on the back flap, the illustrations are “somewhere between an impressionist painting and a mechanical drawing.” From hard shells to leathery skin, the depth and texture he achieves with simple digital lines is incredible. My personal favorites were the wavy scales of the iguana and the soft, fluffy face of the alpaca.

Even beyond the breathtaking illustrations, I loved the elegant design aspects of the rest of the book. Each spread features the alphabet letter large and centered, comprised of textures and features seen in the corresponding animal, as well as a dynamic sepia silhouette of the animal, roughly to scale (the giraffe takes up most of the page, while the hedgehog is a small shape near the bottom).

A masterpiece.

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E EVANS)