The Boys: A Memoir by Ron Howard and Clint Howard

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Ronny Beckenholdt? Famous child actor in the 1960s?
Does Ronny Howard ring a bell?

This is just one tidbit about the acting family that the brothers share – their father changed his name from Harold Beckenholdt to Rance Howard, and forever after the family surname became Howard.

Ron and Clint tell the story of their parents growing up in Kansas and Oklahoma and yearning to become successful actors. Ron’s mom suffered a tragic injury, gave up acting and then devoted herself to raising her children. Rance struggled to get his “breakout” role that would propel him to stardom, while his two sons became successful child actors under his guidance.

Ron and Clint take turns giving their recollections of their times on the Andy Griffith Show, Gentle Ben, Happy Days and various parts in movies. Their father was their acting coach and guardian on the sets and picked up parts for himself along the way, but never achieved his leading man goal.

Ron gave insight on how his acting experiences drove his desire to pursue directing films for a living. Clint aged out of child roles and dealt with drug addiction, but still managed to pursue a career as a character actor.

This memoir is a story of love and appreciation for Rance and Jean Howard, and how they kept the family grounded with Hollywood glamour all around them. It was a heartwarming read and I thoroughly enjoyed it. If you grew up with Opie and Richie Cunningham you’ll love it too!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (792.092 HOW)

King of Ragtime: The Story of Scott Joplin by Stephen Costanza

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

With the very first lines (“In the valley of the Red River, / where the soil was as rich / as most folks were poor”) I knew I could trust Stephen Costanza to lead the way through the uplifting story of ragtime legend Scott Joplin.

Throughout the book, he paints Joplin’s rise to the ragtime throne using a patchwork of perfect words and heaps of hues in each image. The sophisticated folk art style expertly reflects how Joplin pieced scraps of music into original compositions – “He’d patch in a riff from a work song, / a thread of gospel here, a string of ring shout there– / sewing together new tunes”.

The large spreads of undulating images and dynamic text make you feel the ragtime rhythm, even though you cannot hear it. A toe-tapping treat.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Oliver Jeffers: The Working Mind & Drawing Hand by Oliver Jeffers

Reviewed by Melissa Beck (Library Staff)

Before picking up this book, I didn’t know much about Oliver Jeffers. I had read a few of his picture books and would recognize his art style and signature handwriting in passing, but that was it. I have to tell you, though–this oversized deep dive into his artistic process entranced me and got me to check out every single Oliver Jeffers book.

I learned that in addition to writing and illustrating picture books, Jeffers also produces high-concept philosophical and political art that is displayed in galleries. I especially loved learning about a series of portraits he painted, which he would then dip almost completely in paint at a very small exhibition of around a dozen people. Those people would be the only humans to have seen the completed portrait, which now exists only in their memory.

This is a quick read, with far more pictures than words, but you could conceivably spend hours poring over the details in the immersive matte spreads. I recommend checking it out to see which details surprise you.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Yearbook by Seth Rogan

Reviewed by Stephanie Ramirez (Library Staff)

What an unexpected delight this was. Actor Seth Rogan tackles the memoir but rather than a chronological retelling, tells tales of his two lives–one growing up in Canada and the other, when he reaches the pinnacle of Hollywood. Rogan’s writing is refreshing and conversational, fun and light. Though he doesn’t shy away from speaking his mind, it is not presented in an in-your-face manner. A funny read!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (792.092 ROG)

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP by Mirin Fader

Reviewed by Emily Terasa (Library Staff)

I’m a big Wisconsin sports fan (except for the Badgers, but that’s another story!) So this year, when the Bucks had their championship run, I was all in and excited to cheer them on. And then they won and it was fantastic! Then I saw there was a book coming out about Giannis and I knew I had to read it.

Giannis: The Improbable Rise of an NBA MVP follows the life of Giannis, as a young boy in Greece selling trinkets on the streets to an NBA superstar, and everything in between. The book shows how much he loves his family, the racism he has had to deal with, and his journey to America.

I loved this book so much and I enjoyed learning even more about Giannis. He truly is one of my favorite athletes, and this book just affirmed that fact. My only complaint with the book (which was just due to timing) is that the book was finished/sent to print before the Bucks championship win this summer, so there was no information about the championship and what it meant to Giannis and the city of Milwaukee. But I urge anyone who is a fan of the Bucks, Giannis, or just good athletes in general should read this book right away!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (796.323 ANT)

Nonsense! The Curious Story of Edward Gorey by Lori Mortensen

Reviewed by Cassidy Hammel (Library Staff)

This title was recommended to me by another DPL staff member and as soon as she slid it towards me, I was absorbed with Chloe Bristol’s illustrations. The style just borders on creepy which is the essence of the real life subject of this biography, Edward Gorey. The characters are rail thin with elongated feet and facial expressions that draw you in. They look slightly melancholy at times which embodies what Gorey believed, life isn’t always sunshine, rainbows and happy endings. “To Edward, the world was an uncertain place where anything might happen.” This was the primary reason people didn’t care for his work, they found him and his stories weird.

This biography carries an important message; being different is not bad and that you must keep doing what you love, even when the world tries to dissuade you.

Fans of Tim Burton will adore this book; the characters are reminiscent of those in the Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline and the Corpse Bride.

Located in Children’s Picture Books (E MORTENSEN)

The Boys in the Boat: Nine Americans and their Epic Quest for Gold at the 1936 Berlin Olympics by Daniel James Brown

Reviewed by Jayne S (Library Staff)

Good things are worth waiting for. This book was very popular when it was published in 2013, the waitlist time was long, so I decided to check it out in the future and then promptly forgot about it. I just happened to pick it up now and am so happy that I finally got to read it.

The author chronicles the life of one of the rowers, Joe Rantz, on his difficult journey to his greatest triumph at the Olympics. With the back drop of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl summers, and Hitler’s rise to power, the story makes you cheer for the ragtag group of college men from the University of Washington.

If you liked the 2003 movie Seabiscuit and the 2005 movie Cinderella Man, this book will be page-turner for you. I loved the underdog story highlighting the effort made during the most challenging times of the 1930s.

I’m sure there are many bestsellers that I missed in previous years. My new goal is to look them up and start plugging away at these great books that are now readily available. I’m excited to start this new personal challenge!

Located in Adult Nonfiction (797.123 BRO)

Juniper: The Happiest Fox by Jessika Coker

Reviewed by Cassidy Hammel (Library Staff)

I extend a huge thank you to Whitewater Public Library for being the only one in our consortium of 24 libraries to carry a very special book, Juniper: The Happiest Fox by Jessika Coker. This amazing and true story reads like a picture book for adults. Images of a lovely snaggle-toothed fox pepper the pages and in each, Juniper the fox radiates pure joy, evident in her ever present-smile. This is a story about saving the animals we have put at risk, those that couldn’t survive because of how we have bred them and that often grow up without proper care and love. Jessika Coker and Juniper have done remarkable things and if I could grow up (more) to be just like her, I would. She is creating a safe haven for animals like Juniper, oddballs, who are passed by based on their looks or disabilities. “The light shines right through her eyes, straight to her heart, and when she looks at me I melt.”

There are so many wonderful quotes in this book and any animal lover will appreciate all the work she’s done to help give animals the happy lifetime homes they deserve, snaggle-toothed, missing an eye or a paw, what have you. “I was yours before I knew, and you have always been mine too.” Juniper’s best friend is a rescue dog named Moose who has “been there for everything. And he looks after me just as much as I look after him.” Coker understands these animals become family and the relationships we have with them are symbiotic. “I adored that she was being the animal she was born to be, that she would never be a conventional “pet.” I never wanted her to be that.”

Animals change lives. It doesn’t matter what species they are, Coker shows us that. “My goal was to remind them that we all share this earth, that all animals are individuals, just like we are.” In my opinion, she more than met her goal. This is a beautiful and sweet story complete with art made my Juniper herself. I’m so fond of this book because I don’t know what I’d do without the animals in my life; they give me hope each day. “She is my constant reminder that there is still goodness, purity and unconditional love in the world. The world can be heavy, but there’s still a little bit of magic if you know where to look.

Available through the Bridges Library System

Dairy-free gluten-free baking cookbook : 75+ delicious cookies, cakes, pies, breads & more by Daniellle Fahrenkrug

Reviewed by Diane Basting (Library Staff)

I loved the concept of this book as we move towards picnic season you never know when you are going to need a gluten-free recipe and when you can bring something that is safe for a variety of food sensitivities it’s a win all around. The beginning of this book gets a gold star if you are just starting to bake gluten or dairy free and are not really sure about how the different flours react, what substitutes actually work or even where to start. The second half was a little disappointing. I loved how the variety and the set up but as much as I love to bake I still need a recipe to have all of the directions, and not list ingredients without telling me what to do with them. Did it ruin the recipe I was making no because I was working on a forgiving cookie, but I didn’t even touch the bread section because of the unreliable breakfast section. If you are just starting out in the gluten free baking life, give this one a look, but read through all the ingredients and steps before you start.

Available through the Bridges Library System

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

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