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Farmington Hills

February 5, 2013

Stories that are worth sharing

Local librarians recommend a few of their favorites

By Sara Kandel
C & G Staff Writer

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Farmington Hills librarian Laurie Scott recommends a few titles with good themes, such as peace and being kind, and a few that are just flat-out fun reads for kids of all ages.

FARMINGTON HILLS — With approximately 200,000 books at the main branch alone, the Farmington Community Library has something for everyone.

From staff picks to book club favorites and aisles of shelves filled with fiction and nonfiction reads, the library boasts a collection of some of the best books for readers of all levels and interests, and the librarians who keep the collection growing year after year know a thing or two about good reads.

Here are a few of their favorites for adults, teens and children.

Adults
“The Art of Racing in the Rain,” by Garth Stein, tells the tale of a young racecar driver who is forced to fight for custody of his son after his wife dies. What makes it so unique is that it is written from the perspective of his dog. 

“This is one of my personal favorites,” said Bonnie Greschaw, a paraprofessional at the Farmington Community Library’s main branch. “It sounds a little far-fetched, but it’s a charming book, and I don’t know of anybody that didn’t like it. Many, many book clubs have done it, and everyone who reads it really seems to like it.”

The book is so popular that the Farmington Community Library stocks multiple copies in the book club section, where it comes with background information on the author, and there are no due dates.

Another of Greschaw’s favorites is “The Cookbook Collector,” by Allegra Goodman, which is about a young woman who works in an antique bookstore owned by a man who is secretly in love with her.

“This is a very good author. She’s quite literary,” said Greschaw. “It’s really goes into cooking and cookbooks, too, which I am not into, but it was fascinating. It was very interesting.”

Patricia Wood’s “Lottery” also made Gre-schaw’s list. It tells the story of young man with limited cognitive abilities who ends up wining the lottery shortly after his grandmother/caregiver dies.

“All the sudden, all these relatives come out of the woodwork claiming he is incompetent and needs the money managed,” Greschaw said. “But he has very staunch, strong friends that stick with him. It’s very upbeat and uplifting.”

In nonfiction titles, Greschaw recommends “The Day the World Came to Town,” by Jim DeFede. Offering a different perspective on 9/11, this book tells the true story of an American family that got stuck in Gander, Newfoundland, when their plane was grounded.

“There they were in this small town, at this huge, huge, huge Air Force base that I didn’t even know existed, and they were treated so fabulously by these townspeople,” Greschaw said. “It is just so heartwarming the ways these townspeople opened up their homes to this family.”

Over in the staff favorite’s section, Greschaw pointed out a few more worthwhile reads: “Loving Frank,” the historical fiction novel rooted in fact, written from the perspective of a woman who left her husband and children to be with Frank Lloyd Wright, by Nancy Horan; “Major Pettigrew’s Last Stand,” by Helen Simonson, which is the story of an elderly gentleman who falls in love with a Pakistani woman who owns a shop in the little English village where he lives; and “The Number One Ladies Detective Agency,” a series that examines human nature through the work of a detective agency in Botswana, by Alexander McCall Smith.

Greschaw also recommended anything by Lee Child, especially for male readers, but she said woman love the Jack Reacher series, too.

Teens
The first book teen librarian Kevin Yezbick recommended was a Time Magazine book of the year. “The Fault in Our Stars,” by John Green, tells the story of two terminally ill teenagers who meet and fall in love.

“‘The Fault in Our Stars’ is his most recent book, but anything by John Green is going to be hugely popular with teens,” Yezbick said. “He writes witty, coming-of-age stories specifically for the teen base.”

Yezbick just finished reading “Everyday,” by David Levithan, and said it, too, was a great book for teen readers.

“It is about a person who wakes up every day in a different body, and that was going swimmingly, well, as swimmingly as that can go, until one day he falls in love with a girl, and I call the person a he but the person would wake up as either gender,” Yezbick said. “Anyway, one day he falls in love with a girl and then the next day he wakes up as a different person, but he still remembers falling in love with that girl and he goes about finding her.”

Yezbick also recommended two graphic novels. “Anya’s Ghost” by Vera Brosgol starts when a young Russian-American girl falls into a well and meets the ghost of another young girl who fell into the well and died decades earlier.

“When she falls asleep, the ghost hears somebody coming and wakes her up so she can scream for help,” Yezbick said of the graphic novel.

“The man walking by hears her screams and lowers a rope to hoist her out, but the girl discovers the ghost can’t come with her unless a part of her is removed from the well, so the girl takes a bone and the ghost is able to follow her home where they develop a friendship, but it’s not as friendly of a friendship as it first seems.”

The coming-of-age graphic novel “Page by Paige,” by Laura Lee Gulledge, was high on Yezbick’s list because of its story development and dreamlike artwork. It tells the story of a girl who moves to Brooklyn from a small town and picks up a sketch book to help her release some of her feelings about the move to a big city.

“You see her own identity developing and coming out through the sketches she is doing,” Yezbick said. “The artwork is very dreamy, and it’s a good story. Both the graphic novels are, and they’re both very quick reads. You can get through them in one sitting.”

Children
Laurie Scott had to choose between dozens of books in multiple age groups to come up with a short list of the ones she most recommends. Scott is the head of children’s services at the main branch of the Farmington Community Library, and she knows many of the books in her department inside and out.

“We are currently doing a communitywide reading program with the licensed child care facilities in our service area using the book ‘Do You Know Which Ones Will Grow?’ by Susan Shae and Tom Slaughter,” Scott said.

“This is a really fun book that helps kids understand the difference between living things and nonliving things. It’s done in a rhyming format, and it’s a wonderful way to start that conversation about living things in our world.”

Scott recommends the book for children ages 2-5, saying it has appeal for repeated readings throughout the year.

Another great read for younger children is “A Kiss Means I Love You,” by Kathryn Allen, which features vibrant photographs of children expressing basic emotions.

“‘A smile means I’m happy,’” she read aloud. “‘A tug means let’s go. A laugh means it’s funny. A cry means I’m sad,’ so it has fun rhymes, beautiful photographs of multicultural children, and it was written by Kathryn Allen, who is a professor at OCC in the English department.”

For kids a little older, anywhere from 4-8 years, Scott recommended “Library Mouse,” by Daniel Kirk, which is about a little mouse that lives in the library and writes stories for the children to find. The children all love his stories and want to meet him, but Library Mouse is shy.

Scott recommended anything by Gordon Korman for children 10 and older.

“Gordon Korman is a hugely popular author in this community,” Scott said. “He started writing books when he was in seventh grade and he was published when he was 19, and he has been writing for almost 30 years.”

In his hit “Swindle,” Korman tells the story of a boy who schemes with his friends to get back the very valuable baseball card he was swindled out of by an unscrupulous dealer. “Swindle” is the first in a four-book series.

“Wonder” by R.J. Palacio is one of Scott’s favorites. “Wonder” is about a 10-year-old boy who was born with severe physical deformities and the struggles he faces when he starts public school for the first time in the fifth grade.

“This book chronicles that year in his life and how he has to work with kids to make friends and the reactions of kids to his face, which are pretty uniformly negative,” Scott said. “It’s a tremendous story about his spirit and the way he copes with this through humor.”

She calls its message about being kinder than necessary both inspiring and memorable, and said it is a children’s book that adult readers love, too.

The main branch of the Farmington Community Library is located at 32737 12 Mile Road in Farmington Hills. The library is open from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays and 1-5 p.m. Sundays. For more information, call (248) 553-0300.

You can reach C & G Staff Writer Sara Kandel at skandel@candgnews.com or at (586)498-1030.