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Juvenile Book Review: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper

Recently there have been quite a few books on topics of terminal disease and disability, including The Fault in our Stars, Wonder, and My Sister’s Keeper. Somehow I missed this one: Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper. I had read other books by her and knew she was a good writer. So I finally started reading this on my lunch hour. Pretty soon I was hooked, laughing and reading parts out loud to anyone who would listen.


Melody, a fifth-grader with cerebral palsy, tells us about her (fictional) daily life as she goes to the special class at school, where she has a personal aide to feed her and take her to the bathroom and move her wheelchair from room to room. She shares her excitement as new technology provides her with a powered chair she can control herself. Next, she sees a girl with a laptop and asks her family if she could have one. The day her special device arrives, she and her afternoon caregiver program it so that, when her parents arrive, she is able to tell them for the first time, through the voice of the device, that she loves them. Major emotional moment.

No more spoilers—this story has a twist I never saw coming: it really jolted me. Highly recommended.~ Tessa April 2015 4.5 out of 5 stars


Recognizing The Libraries of Jackson, Michigan

We are very pleased to share the following extensions of remarks from Monday’s Congressional Record. The Hon. Tim Walberg of Michigan’s 7th Congressional District had the following to say:


Mr. Speaker, I rise today to
recognize the rich tradition of libraries serving
Jackson, Michigan.
Libraries in our community date back to
March 15, 1864 when the Young Men’s Association
(YMA) established a reading room. In
late 1865, it turned into a subscription library
for YMA members.
In 1885, the Jackson Public Library was
formed following a new law allowing cities to
use tax revenue to support a free public library.
In 1929, the Jackson County Library was
created for residents living outside the city of
The two separate entities merged together
in 1978 to form the Jackson District Library.
Today, the Jackson District Library is a vital
anchor of the Jackson community where residents
of all ages come to learn, research, and
From story-time for children to researching
family histories to taking an online course, the
library provides a wide range of services.
A hub for community activity, the library will
coordinate a festival in May 2015 for nationally
recognized storytellers where over eleven
thousand children will attend.
The Jackson District Library is a place
where residents gather freely to learn and discuss
the important issues of the day and
where they are continually inspired to acquire
more knowledge and skills.
I ask my colleagues to join me in celebrating
150 years of libraries in Jackson County,
thank these institutions for all they contribute
to the community, and wish them another
150 years of success.


2015 Young Poets Contest Winners


2015 Young Poets Contest Prize Winning Entries

This year there were 1179 entries from students throughout Jackson County! Entries were received from 33 Jackson County schools representing 12 school districts as well as charter and parochial schools. In addition, 32 home-schooled students submitted poetry. The judges were extremely impressed with the efforts displayed in the poems submitted.


Letters will be sent to the winning student authors inviting them, their family members, friends and teachers to attend the Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, May 12, 2015 at 6:00 p.m. in the Auditorium at the Middle School at Parkside. Barry Louis Polisar will be speaking and we will be presenting the student prizes, certificates and ribbons at this ceremony. The students will read their poems and recordings will be available on the Library website. In addition to the usual prizes, student award winners this year will also receive a signed copy of one of Barry Louis Polisar’s books.

While in Jackson, Barry will be visiting schools for presentations to students who participated in this year’s contest. He will also be presenting a special family night program to be held Wednesday, May 13th at 6:00 p.m. at the Middle School at Parkside.

Congratulations to the following teachers

Teachers who had the most student entries in each grade level will receive a special award to be presented books at the Awards Ceremony on Tuesday, May 12, 2015.

  • Kindergarten

    Leanne Moore, Parnall Elementary School

  • 1st Grade

    Dakota Bahlau, George Long Elementary School

  • 2nd Grade

    Amber Keathley, Parnall Elementary School

  • 3rd Grade

    Jill Barney, Jackson Christian Elementary School

  • 4th Grade

    Cathy Walker, Bertha Robinson Elementary School

  • 5th Grade

    Jennifer Raburn, Hanover-Horton Elementary School

  • 6th Grade

    Deda DeCapo, Hanover-Horton Middle School

  • 7th Grade

    Becky Adams-Hutchinson, Concord Middle School

  • 8th Grade

    Leslie Schmidt, Columbia Middle School

  • 9th Grade

    Kim Samson, Columbia Central High School

  • 10th Grade

    Shelley Job, Hanover-Horton High School

  • 11th Grade

    Brenda Ortega, Vandercook Lake High School

  • 12th Grade

    Sherril Studley, Concord High School


Book Review: Cat out of Hell by Lynne Truss

CatoutofHellprintI spent the entire time I read the book Cat Out of Hell asking myself, “Is it humor? Or is it horror?” I would alternately laugh out loud or expect creepy music. This strange English tale begins at the seaside, where we find retired Cambridge periodicals’ librarian Alec Charlesworth. Recently widowed, Alec has rented a tiny cottage to get away from all the memories of his beloved wife, Mary.

Cat out of Hell eAudio book

A colleague asks him to read over a file he was working on with Mary. Alec begins to read, and then he begins to wonder, as I did, whether the file is a spoof or a work of fiction. For the file reports interviews between a man and, wait for it, an elegant, refined, and well-educated cat. Yes, a tomcat named Roger. Who sounds like Vincent Price (before you get huffy, the dog sounds like Daniel Craig).

Then there are deaths. More deaths, in the cellar, at the library, up north—people who have been involved in some way with Roger and his life story. Alec is suspicious someone is trying to put one over on him until he visits his old workplace (which was Mary’s workplace, too) and sees what a cat has done to Mary’s rented carrel. Appalled by the size of the claw marks and by the horrendous smell, Alec is suddenly uneasy. But the story is only beginning!

When I finished the book, I asked myself, “Is it humor? Or is it horror?” And I answered, “Yes,exceedingly!” A short little book, it’s sort of fun. (By the author of Eats, shoots and leaves.) ~ Tessa March 2015 3.5 out of 5 stars


Book Review: The Martian by Andy Weir

Once again a bestseller much touted by everyone has failed to live up to the praise. There is a trend here that the public should take note of—if a book falls into a genre category, check with those who love the category before buying the book. In this case, The Martian could be called MacGyver Goes to Mars. If you like such things, read it. If, however, you have been reading science fiction for a while, realize that this might not be the best book for you.


First, the money! This has always been one of NASA’s major hurdles, the huge amounts of money involved in space exploration and discovery. The astronomical amounts involved in this book kind of make me want to hurl. How many Star Trek episodes argued about the value of the many vs. the one? This book turns all of that on its head. And then all the blood rushes there and makes the reader pass out. Seriously, the scenario is believable, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it. The marketing angle in this alone is crazy-making.
Second, if you love technical manuals, this is a book for you. Apparently, all the science is accurate. So, yes, it’s all possible. However, that doesn’t mean I’m thrilled to read about it. I don’t read sci-fi for accurate technical details, surprise, sorry! If I wanted that, I would subscribe to Popular Mechanics and Popular Science. (Actually, I like the occasional dip into these, but not many engineering or chemistry books make it to my reading lists.) Science fiction has been aptly called speculative fiction because people speculate what could be someday, not give the steps for what could happen tomorrow.

This will make a great movie—better than Gravity, but only somewhat. The same conundrum exists: it just isn’t believable nor probable that so many things could go right. We get our happily-ever-after, but at what cost? It is a fairy tale! This technical dissertation disguised as science fiction is actually filled with Pollyanna’s special magic for a lovely happily ever after. Just skip it. ~ Tessa March 2015


Hurry Up and Hold: Ms Marvel

kamalaI cannot wait to have Ms Marvel in my library.

For those unfamiliar, Ms Marvel is only the greatest comic ever. And the last year of issues were 100% my gateway into the world of comics.

But backing up to the 70s, Marvel has a pretty great, entwined history with the honorific “Ms” thanks to Wonder Woman and Gloria Steinem. Even if you care nothing at all about comics or feminism, do read Jill Lepore’s phenomenal The Secret History of Wonder Woman because the man who created that series has the soapiest, weirdest life story.

So, Marvel married the terms in 1977 with the creation of Ms Marvel, a series that existed on and off for the next 33 years starring Carol Danvers (the eventual Kamala Khan’s hero and namesake). Promoting Danvers to Captain means Kamala gets to head a reboot and that we’ll get a Captain Marvel movie in 2018. A win for everyone.

So, the new Ms Marvel, Kamala Khan, is a Pakistani American teenaged girl first and foremost. Beyond that, she learns that she is a shapeshifter and must use those powers to save her world. Along the way, she gets to work with Wolverine and a giant teleporting dog (Lockjaw) while trying to balance her exciting new life with the demands of her family.

I started the series not having really read much by way of comics but knowing that Kamala was extraordinary. People love her, people relate to her, and I think just having her as an option for what a hero can look like is so important. I went in with the highest of expectations.

There is no possible way that this series can do anything but exceed even the most astronomical of expectations. It’s funny, exciting, hopeful, and is really compassionate to its characters.

And Henrietta is getting the two most recent volumes starring Kamala (No Normal and Generation Why) as well as about half of the original 1977 Danvers run. I can’t wait to have Kamala in my library and to be able to read where she came from.

But hurry up and hold them because as much as I want to be able to see their beautiful covers everyday, I want even more to be able to share the fun.


New Harper Lee Novel Announced!

Chills ran up and down my spine as I watched clips of people reading aloud from the book To Kill a Mockingbird. The clips were aired with the huge announcement that there is a sequel, with a scheduled release date of July 14th. The sequel, written in the 1950’s, is called Go Set a Watchman. The announcement has taken fans the world over by surprise.


The new book features the main character, Scout, as an adult returning home to Maycomb, Alabama. She must deal with the issues surrounding her father, the community, and her own life. Harper Lee, now 88, was delighted when the manuscript of Watchman turned up last autumn attached to an original copy of Mockingbird. She showed it to a few people and, with their encouragement, arranged for publication.

Almost immediately charges began swirling around the announcement. Many people were suspicious about the timing, since Lee’s lawyer, her older sister, passed away mere months ago. But Lee herself has confirmed multiple times that she is aware and excited about the new release.

The original book Lee submitted for publication was actually Go Set a Watchman, but her editor at the time became more interested in Scout’s childhood backstory. When asked to write about that, Lee put aside Go Set a Watchman and wrote To Kill a Mockingbird.

Now we will all find out what happened next. In preparation for this astounding event, Jackson District Libraries have ordered multiple copies of the new novel. Come in, call or go online to place your hold on the waiting list for Harper Lee’s new book, Go Set a Watchman.


March/April 2015 Newsletter

March is a great time to grab your favorite book and dive right into reading!

To kick things off, join us at the fun-filled Where’s Waldo Carnival, or one of the many March is National Reading Month activities we have planned throughout the district.

Not only is March a great month to get into reading, it is also a great time to seek out fun events to enjoy with family or friends!