T H E  W I L D   L I L Y   I N S T I T U T E

Selection Of The Month


Recommended Reading List 

during Isolation

A Suitable Boy

August Book Pic

Adults:  A Suitable Boy

by Vikram Seth

Vikram Seth's novel is, at its core, a love story: Lata and her mother, Mrs. Rupa Mehra, are both trying to find—through love or through exacting maternal appraisal—a suitable boy for Lata to marry. Set in the early 1950s, in an India newly independent and struggling through a time of crisis, A Suitable Boy takes us into the richly imagined world of four large extended families and spins a compulsively readable tale of their lives and loves. A sweeping panoramic portrait of a complex, multiethnic society in flux, A Suitable Boy remains the story of ordinary people caught up in a web of love and ambition, humor and sadness, prejudice and reconciliation, the most delicate social etiquette and the most appalling violence. 

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Children: The Apothecary

by Maile Meloy (Goodreads Author), Ian Schoenherr (Illustrator)

It’s 1952 and the Scott family has just moved from Los Angeles to London. Here, fourteen-year-old Janie meets a mysterious apothecary and his son, Benjamin Burrows—a fascinating boy who’s not afraid to stand up to authority and dreams of becoming a spy. When Benjamin’s father is kidnapped, Janie and Benjamin must uncover the secrets of the apothecary’s sacred book, the Pharmacopoeia, in order to find him, all while keeping it out of the hands of their enemies—Russian spies in possession of nuclear weapons. Discovering and testing potions they never believed could exist, Janie and Benjamin embark on a dangerous race to save the apothecary and prevent impending disaster.

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July

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Adults: Stars Come Out Within

by Jean Little  (Autobiography)

A successful writer of children's books in spite of severely impaired vision, Jean Little recounts her battle with worsening eyesight that pushes her to the edge of blindness. Her remarkable story of courage to pursue her dreams in spite of the disability that made "stars come out within" brings tears to your eyes. 

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Children: The World of Pooh

by A.A. Milne, Ernest H. Shepard (Illustrator)

The world of Pooh is a world of enchantment. It is a world forever fixed in the minds and hearts of countless children--a world where Winnie-the-Pooh and his friends Piglet, Eeyore, Tigger, Kanga, and the others share unforgettable adventures with Christopher Robin.

As he wanders through the pages of this book, Pooh remains the whimsical philosopher, the staunch friend, hampered at times by his over-weight but resigned to the futility of trying to control his appetite.

Although Pooh persists in thinking of himself as a Bear of Very Little Brain, the reader soon discovers that his whimsy inevitably leads to wisdom.

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June Book Pics

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Adults: Sea of Tranquility 

by Emily St. John Mandel

The award-winning, best-selling author of Station Eleven and The Glass Hotel returns with a novel of art, time, love, and plague that takes the reader from Vancouver Island in 1912 to a dark colony on the moon three hundred years later, unfurling a story of humanity across centuries and space.

Edwin St. Andrew is eighteen years old when he crosses the Atlantic by steamship, exiled from polite society following an ill-conceived diatribe at a dinner party. He enters the forest, spellbound by the beauty of the Canadian wilderness, and suddenly hears the notes of a violin echoing in an airship terminal--an experience that shocks him to his core.

Two centuries later a famous writer named Olive Llewellyn is on a book tour. She's traveling all over Earth, but her home is the second moon colony, a place of white stone, spired towers, and artificial beauty. Within the text of Olive's bestselling pandemic novel lies a strange passage: a man plays his violin for change in the echoing corridor of an airship terminal as the trees of a forest rise around him.

When Gaspery-Jacques Roberts, a detective in the Night City, is hired to investigate an anomaly in the North American wilderness, he uncovers a series of lives upended: The exiled son of an earl driven to madness, a writer trapped far from home as a pandemic ravages Earth, and a childhood friend from the Night City who, like Gaspery himself, has glimpsed the chance to do something extraordinary that will disrupt the timeline of the universe.

A virtuoso performance that is as human and tender as it is intellectually playful, Sea of Tranquility is a novel of time travel and metaphysics that precisely captures the reality of our current moment.

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Children:  Little Bird's Song

by Emily Isaacson

This moving story will have meaning for any child or adult who has felt powerless when faced with a bully, a devastating illness, disappointment, abuse or mistreatment. Little bird ignites hope and confidence as he receives authentic acceptance. As he opens his heart to love, he learns to fly and sing his song!

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May Book Pics

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Adults: The Betrayals 

by Briget Collins

If everything in your life was based on a lie

Would you risk it all to tell the truth?

At Montverre, an exclusive academy tucked away in the mountains, the best and brightest are trained for excellence in the grand jeu: an arcane and mysterious contest. Léo Martin was once a student there, but lost his passion for the grand jeu following a violent tragedy. Now he returns in disgrace, exiled to his old place of learning with his political career in tatters.

Montverre has changed since he studied there, even allowing a woman, Claire Dryden, to serve in the grand jeu’s highest office of Magister Ludi. When Léo first sees Claire he senses an odd connection with her, though he’s sure they have never met before.

Both Léo and Claire have built their lives on lies. And as the legendary Midsummer Game, the climax of the year, draws closer, secrets are whispering in the walls… 

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Children:  Still More Stories From Grandma's Attic

by Arletta Richarson

American life around the turn of the century is the backdrop for thes

e heart-warming, real-life stories! And while some things have changed for girls, some haven't.Grandma's wonderful memory -- like Grandma's attic -- holds a storehouse of treasures from the past. 

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April Book Pics

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Adults: The City of Joy

by Dominique Lapierre

It's the bestseller that has lifted the hearts of millions, the true stories of living saints and heroes in one of the most crowded places on earth, the sector of Calcutta they call "the City of Joy." Here, amid terrible poverty, you'll share the joy and pain of everytday men and women who abandoned affuent and middle-class lives to dedicate themselves to the poor. And you'll be moved by the people of the City of Joy themselves . . . not only by their tragedies, but by the faith, generosity, and most of all, boundless love that will touch you, bless you, and possibly change your life.

Made into a movie starring Patrick Swayze, this is the inspiring story of an American doctor who experienced a spiritual rebirth in an impoverished section of Calcutta.

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Children:

A Song Called Home

Sara Zarr

From award-winning author Sara Zarr comes a story of the small moments that show us who we are, and how family is not just something you're part of, but something you make.

Lou and her family don't have much, but for Lou it's enough. Mom. Her sister, Casey. Their apartment in the city. Her best friend, Beth. It would be better if Dad could stop drinking and be there for her and Casey, and if they didn't have to worry about money all the time. But Lou doesn't need better--she only needs enough.

What's enough for Lou, however, is not enough for Mom. Steve, Mom's boyfriend, isn't a bad guy, he's just...not what Lou is used to. And now, he and Mom are getting married, and that means moving. Packing up life as they've known it and storing it in Steve's garage. Lou will be separated from everything in her small but predictable life, farther from Dad than ever.

Their last night in the city, Lou receives a mysterious birthday gift: A guitar, left for her by their front door. There's nothing saying who left it, but it must be from Dad. And as she leaves the only place she's ever known, she starts to believe that if she can learn how to play it, maybe she can bring a piece of him, and of her old life, home.

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March Book Pics

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Adults:  Tessa and Scott: Our Journey from Childhood Dream to Gold

by Tessa Virtue, Scott Moir, Steve Milton, David Pelletier (Foreword)

Tessa and Scott tracks the pair's first meeting at the ages of seven and nine; their early competitions at the World Junior Championship and World Championships; and their incredible, history-making gold-medal performance at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver, which established them as icons of ice dancing. Lavishly illustrated with never-before-published personal photographs and memorabilia collected over the course of their lives, this book is as much as a spectacular visual history as it is a behind-the-scenes look at the ascent of two of skating's premiere athletes. A must-have for fans and collectors alike.

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Children:  Little Women

by Louisa May Alcott, Scott McKowen (Illustrator), Vilija Vitkūnienė (Translator), Vainius Bakas (Translator)

Generations of readers young and old, male and female, have fallen in love with the March sisters of Louisa May Alcott’s most popular and enduring novel, Little Women. Here are talented tomboy and author-to-be Jo, tragically frail Beth, beautiful Meg, and romantic, spoiled Amy, united in their devotion to each other and their struggles to survive in New England during the Civil War.

It is no secret that Alcott based Little Women on her own early life. While her father, the freethinking reformer and abolitionist Bronson Alcott, hobnobbed with such eminent male authors as Emerson, Thoreau, and Hawthorne, Louisa supported herself and her sisters with "woman’s work,” including sewing, doing laundry, and acting as a domestic servant. But she soon discovered she could make more money writing. Little Women brought her lasting fame and fortune, and far from being the "girl’s book” her publisher requested, it explores such timeless themes as love and death, war and peace, the conflict between personal ambition and family responsibilities, and the clash of cultures between Europe and America.

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February Book Pics

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Adults:  The Dark Between Stars by Atticus

From the internationally bestselling author of Love Her Wild comes The Dark Between Stars, a new illustrated collection of heartfelt, whimsical, and romantic poems from Instagram poetry sensation, Atticus.

Atticus, has captured the hearts and minds of nearly 700k followers (including stars like Karlie Kloss, Emma Roberts, and Alicia Keys). In his second collection of poetry, The Dark Between Stars, he turns his attention to the dualities of our lived experiences—the inescapable connections between our highest highs and lowest lows. He captures the infectious energy of starting a relationship, the tumultuous realities of commitment, and the agonizing nostalgia of being alone again. While grappling with the question of how to live with purpose and find meaning in the journey, these poems offer both honest explorations of loneliness and our search for connection, as well as light-hearted, humorous observations. As Atticus writes poignantly about dancing, Paris, jazz clubs, sunsets, sharing a bottle of wine on the river, rainy days, creating, and destroying, he illustrates that we need moments of both beauty and pain—the darkness and the stars—to fully appreciate all that life and love have to offer.

Children: Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien

Mrs. Frisby, a widowed mouse with four small children, must move her family to their summer quarters immediately, or face almost certain death. But her youngest son, Timothy, lies ill with pneumonia and must not be moved. Fortunately, she encounters the rats of NIMH, an extraordinary breed of highly intelligent creatures, who come up with a brilliant solution to her dilemma.

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 January Book Pics

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Adults:  The Rose Code by Kate Quinn

1940. As England prepares to fight the Nazis, three very different women answer the call to mysterious country estate Bletchley Park, where the best minds in Britain train to break German military codes. Vivacious debutante Osla is the girl who has everything—beauty, wealth, and the dashing Prince Philip of Greece sending her roses—but she burns to prove herself as more than a society girl, and puts her fluent German to use as a translator of decoded enemy secrets. Imperious self-made Mab, product of East-End London poverty, works the legendary code-breaking machines as she conceals old wounds and looks for a socially advantageous husband. Both Osla and Mab are quick to see the potential in local village spinster Beth, whose shyness conceals a brilliant facility with puzzles, and soon Beth spreads her wings as one of the Park’s few female cryptanalysts. But war, loss, and the impossible pressure of secrecy will tear the three apart.

1947. As the royal wedding of Princess Elizabeth and Prince Philip whips post-war Britain into a fever, three friends-turned-enemies are reunited by a mysterious encrypted letter—the key to which lies buried in the long-ago betrayal that destroyed their friendship and left one of them confined to an asylum. A mysterious traitor has emerged from the shadows of their Bletchley Park past, and now Osla, Mab, and Beth must resurrect their old alliance and crack one last code together. But each petal they remove from the rose code brings danger—and their true enemy—closer... 

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Children: Little Lord Fauntleroy By Frances Hodgeson Burnett

Little Lord Fauntleroy (1885, 1886) by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a beloved children's novel that made a huge impact on the 19th century public, shaping everything from boys' clothing fashions to copyright law. Cedric Errol is a generous, kind, and exemplary middle-class American boy who is suddenly found to be the heir of the Earl of Dorincourt. Saying loving goodbyes to his working-class friends, Cedric goes to England together with his mother to embrace his new fortune. His grandfather, the old earl, is a bitter old man ridden with gout and a foul temper, trusting no one. However the angelic boy elicits a profound transformation in the grandfather, which not only benefits the castle household but the whole populace of the earldom. If only the old man's heart would soften toward Cedric's estranged mother, the family would be healed at last. And when another potential heir to the earldom makes a claim, it seems that everything is lost.... But all things are possible through a child's innocent trust, true friendship, and unconditional love.

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December Book Pics

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Adults: Her Heart For A Compass by Sarah Ferguson

From one of the most famous former members of the British royal family, Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York —a mesmerizing novel of a young noblewoman’s coming-of-age that richly details both high society and low in Victorian England.

Queen Victoria’s close friend, the Scottish Duke of Buccleuch, Lady Margaret Montagu Scott is expected to make an advantageous marriage. But Margaret is an impulsive and outspoken girl in a repressive society where women are, quite literally, caged in corsets and required to conform.

When Lady Margaret’s parents arrange a society marriage for her, she tries to reconcile herself to the match. But shortly before her betrothal is announced, Margaret flees, leaving her parents to explain her sudden absence to an opulent ballroom stuffed with two hundred distinguished guests.

Banished from polite society, Margaret throws herself into charitable work and finds strength in a circle of female friends like herself—women intent on breaking the mold, including Queen Victoria’s daughter Princess Louise. Margaret resolves to follow her heart—a journey of self-discovery that will take her to Ireland, America, and then back to Britain where she finds the life she was always meant to lead.

A bold and thoughtful story about a rebellious woman finding herself and her voice in an age of astounding technological change and great social unrest, Her Heart for a Compass is a delicious costume drama rich in atmosphere, history, and color.

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Children: Black Beauty by Anna Sewell

Black Beauty spends his youth in a loving home, surrounded by friends and cared for by his owners. But when circumstances change, he learns that not all humans are so kind. Passed from hand to hand, Black Beauty witnesses love and cruelty, wealth and poverty, friendship and hardship . . . Will the handsome horse ever find a happy and lasting home? Carefully retold in clear contemporary language, and presented with delightful illustrations, these favorite classic stories capture the heart and imagination of young readers. By retelling the story in a shorter, simpler form, these books become highly engaging for children, and the color illustrations help with both comprehension and interest level. Black Beauty is part of a collectible series that has strong gift appeal.

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November Book Pics

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Adults: Life of Pi

by Yann Martel

Life of Pi is a fantasy adventure novel by Yann Martel published in 2001. The protagonist, Piscine Molitor "Pi" Patel, a Tamil boy from Pondicherry, explores issues of spirituality and practicality from an early age. He survives 227 days after a shipwreck while stranded on a boat in the Pacific Ocean with a Bengal tiger named Richard Parker.

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Children:  Throne of Glass (Throne of Glass #1)

by Sarah J. Maas

After serving out a year of hard labor in the salt mines of Endovier for her crimes, 18-year-old assassin Celaena Sardothien is dragged before the Crown Prince. Prince Dorian offers her her freedom on one condition: she must act as his champion in a competition to find a new royal assassin.

Her opponents are men-thieves and assassins and warriors from across the empire, each sponsored by a member of the king's council. If she beats her opponents in a series of eliminations, she'll serve the kingdom for four years and then be granted her freedom. Celaena finds her training sessions with the captain of the guard, Westfall, challenging and exhilarating. But she's bored stiff by court life. Things get a little more interesting when the prince starts to show interest in her ... but it's the gruff Captain Westfall who seems to understand her best.

Then one of the other contestants turns up dead ... quickly followed by another. Can Celaena figure out who the killer is before she becomes a victim? As the young assassin investigates, her search leads her to discover a greater destiny than she could possibly have imagined.

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October Book Pics

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Adults: Water for Elephants

by Sara Gruen

An atmospheric, gritty, and compelling novel of star-crossed lovers, set in the circus world circa 1932, by the bestselling author of Riding Lessons.

When Jacob Jankowski, recently orphaned and suddenly adrift, jumps onto a passing train, he enters a world of freaks, drifters, and misfits, a second-rate circus struggling to survive during the Great Depression, making one-night stands in town after endless town. A veterinary student who almost earned his degree, Jacob is put in charge of caring for the circus menagerie. It is there that he meets Marlena, the beautiful young star of the equestrian act, who is married to August, the charismatic but twisted animal trainer. He also meets Rosie, an elephant who seems untrainable until he discovers a way to reach her.

Beautifully written, Water for Elephants is illuminated by a wonderful sense of time and place. It tells a story of a love between two people that overcomes incredible odds in a world in which even love is a luxury that few can afford.

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Children:  Cinderella

Book By Brothers' Grimm, now Disney Group

When Cinderella's cruel stepmother forbids her from attending the Royal Ball, she gets unexpected help from her mice friends and her Fairy Godmother. Cinderella attends the ball as a mysterious guest and dances with the prince. At the stroke of the midnight, she loses one of her glass slippers and transforms back into a maid. Will the prince ever find her now? This collectible storybook includes beautiful, full color art in the style of the beloved film.

Note: "Cinderella", or "The Little Glass Slipper", is a folk tale with thousands of variants throughout the world. The protagonist is a young woman living in forsaken circumstances that are suddenly changed to remarkable fortune, with her ascension to the throne via marriage. (Source: Wikipedia).

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September Book pics

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Adults:  The Princess Bride (a re-telling of the classic tale)

by William Goldman

What happens when the most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince of all time and he turns out to be...well...a lot less than the man of her dreams?

As a boy, William Goldman claims, he loved to hear his father read the S. Morgenstern classic, The Princess Bride. But as a grown-up he discovered that the boring parts were left out of good old Dad's recitation, and only the "good parts" reached his ears.

Now Goldman does Dad one better. He's reconstructed the "Good Parts Version" to delight wise kids and wide-eyed grownups everywhere.

What's it about? Fencing. Fighting. True Love. Strong Hate. Harsh Revenge. A Few Giants. Lots of Bad Men. Lots of Good Men. Five or Six Beautiful Women. Beasties Monstrous and Gentle. Some Swell Escapes and Captures. Death, Lies, Truth, Miracles, and a Little Sex.

In short, it's about everything.


Children:  The Last Battle

by C.S. Lewis

During the last days of Narnia, the land faces its fiercest challenge—not an invader from without but an enemy from within. Lies and treachery have taken root, and only the king and a small band of loyal followers can prevent the destruction of all they hold dear in this, the magnificent ending to The Chronicles of Narnia.

The Last Battle is the seventh and final book in C. S. Lewis's classic fantasy series, which has been drawing readers of all ages into a magical land with unforgettable characters for over sixty years. A complete stand-alone read, but if you want to relive the adventures and find out how it began, pick up The Magician's Nephew, the first book in The Chronicles of Narnia.

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August Book Pics

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Adults:  Changing My Mind: A Memoir by Margaret Trudeau

In a love story that shocked the world, Margaret Trudeau became the youngest First Lady when at age 22 she married Pierre Trudeau, a man almost thirty years her senior and the 15th Prime Minister of Canada. Pierre Trudeau served from 1968 to 1979 during a critical time in Canadian and international politics and during her term as First Lady, Margaret travelled internationally on government business and met closely with U.S. Presidents Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, and Jimmy Carter. Stunningly beautiful, Margaret immediately became the focus of attention in any room she entered. Just as Princess Diana refused to submit to traditional expectations to the irritation of Prince Charles and to the criticism of the media, Margaret also remained true to her independent beliefs, which often clashed with the demands of her public role, and the press flocked to her, much to Pierre Trudeau’s chagrin. In her first book in almost thirty years, Margaret looks back on a controversial life and examines the consequences of her lifelong struggle with mental illness.

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Children: The Westing Game by Ellen Raskin

A bizarre chain of events begins when sixteen unlikely people gather for the reading of Samuel W. Westing's will. And though no one knows why the eccentric, game-loving millionaire has chosen a virtual stranger—and a possible murderer—to inherit his vast fortune, one thing's for sure: Sam Westing may be dead ... but that won't stop him from playing one last game!

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July Book Pics

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Adults: Girl at War by Sara Novic

Zagreb, 1991. Ana Jurić is a carefree ten-year-old, living with her family in a small apartment in Croatia’s capital. But that year, civil war breaks out across Yugoslavia, splintering Ana’s idyllic childhood. Daily life is altered by food rations and air raid drills, and soccer matches are replaced by sniper fire. Neighbors grow suspicious of one another, and Ana’s sense of safety starts to fray. When the war arrives at her doorstep, Ana must find her way in a dangerous world.

New York, 2001. Ana is now a college student in Manhattan. Though she’s tried to move on from her past, she can’t escape her memories of war—secrets she keeps even from those closest to her. Haunted by the events that forever changed her family, Ana returns to Croatia after a decade away, hoping to make peace with the place she once called home. As she faces her ghosts, she must come to terms with her country’s difficult history and the events that interrupted her childhood years before.

Moving back and forth through time, Girl at War is an honest, generous, brilliantly written novel that illuminates how history shapes the individual. Sara Nović fearlessly shows the impact of war on one young girl—and its legacy on all of us. It’s a debut by a writer who has stared into recent history to find a story that continues to resonate today.

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Children:  Sentenced to Shakespeare by Iris Dorbian 

"Sentenced to Shakespeare" is a contemporary young adult novel set in suburban New Jersey. The story revolves around Leah, a smart and sensitive 15-year-old girl who is pushed too far by a bully and snaps. Arrested for assault and battery, Leah is sentenced to an unusual form of rehabilitation-she must take and complete a Shakespeare workshop or else risk incarceration. Ostracized by her classmates, abandoned by her only friend, Leah finds comfort and solidarity with the other juvenile offenders in this same program, with one offering her something she's never experienced before--love.

"Iris Dorbian is the rarest talent as a writer--the writer with a heart of gold. Her sensitivity in creating the character of Leah, and in realistically infusing empathy into every corner of Leah's plight and growth as a person, makes this book a must-read for the pre-teen, teen and adult audience. SENTENCED TO SHAKESPEARE is an inspirational, deep, illuminating and wonderfully enjoyable read that makes you think, page by page, of what you would do if in a similar trying circumstance as this complex and fascinating character. Leah's very unique journey of self-discovery rings true on every level; it's so heartening to see a story about a young girl finding her power and strength through creative exposure and expression. Yet her growth will universally resonate with anybody who is or has ever been an adolescent feeling in over his or her head--and that's everyone. The perfect summer read for teenagers and those who support them." --- Lisa Mulcahy, best-selling author of "Building the Successful Theater Company" and "The Essentials of Theater"

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June Pics

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Adults:  Jackaroo by Cynthia Voight 

There is much want in the kingdom and the tales of Jackaroo, the masked outlaw who helps the poor in times of trouble, are on everyone's lips. Gwyn, the innkeeper's lively daughter, pays little attention to the tales. But when she is stranded during a snowstorm in a cabin with the lordling Gaderian, and finds a strange garment that resembles the costume Jackaroo is said to wear, she begins to wonder....

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Children: Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

At birth, Ella is inadvertently cursed by an imprudent young fairy named Lucinda, who bestows on her the "gift" of obedience. Anything anyone tells her to do, Ella must obey. Another girl might have been cowed by this affliction, but not feisty Ella: "Instead of making me docile, Lucinda's curse made a rebel of me. Or perhaps I was that way naturally." When her beloved mother dies, leaving her in the care of a mostly absent and avaricious father, and later, a loathsome stepmother and two treacherous stepsisters, Ella's life and well-being seem to be in grave peril. But her intelligence and saucy nature keep her in good stead as she sets out on a quest for freedom and self-discovery as she tries to track down Lucinda to undo the curse, fending off ogres, befriending elves, and falling in love with a prince along the way. Yes, there is a pumpkin coach, a glass slipper, and a happily ever after, but this is the most remarkable, delightful, and profound version of Cinderella you'll ever read.

Gail Carson Levine's examination of traditional female roles in fairy tales takes some satisfying twists and deviations from the original. Ella is bound by obedience against her will, and takes matters in her own hands with ambition and verve. Her relationship with the prince is balanced and based on humor and mutual respect; in fact, it is she who ultimately rescues him. Ella Enchanted has won many well-deserved awards, including a Newbery Honor.

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May Pics

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Adults:  Memoirs of a Geisha by Arthur Golden

A literary sensation and runaway bestseller, this brilliant debut novel presents with seamless authenticity and exquisite lyricism the true confessions of one of Japan's most celebrated geisha.

In Memoirs of a Geisha, we enter a world where appearances are paramount; where a girl's virginity is auctioned to the highest bidder; where women are trained to beguile the most powerful men; and where love is scorned as illusion. It is a unique and triumphant work of fiction - at once romantic, erotic, suspenseful - and completely unforgettable. 

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Children: Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman

 A collection of quintessentially American poems, the seminal work of one of the most influential writers of the nineteenth century.

Note: My grandmother, who is American, gave  her hardcover copy to me along with her love for poetry when I was a child. I spent many happy hours reading it, and last week I premiered a short movie of the poems I wrote titled "India Passage" that were inspired by the poem in the book called "Passage to India". View the movie.

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April Pics

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Adults: The Black Swan: The Impact of the Highly Improbable by Nassim Nicholas Taleb


 A black swan is a highly improbable event with three principal characteristics: It is unpredictable; it carries a massive impact; and, after the fact, we concoct an explanation that makes it appear less random, and more predictable, than it was.

The astonishing success of Google was a black swan; so was 9/11. For Nassim Nicholas Taleb, black swans underlie almost everything about our world, from the rise of religions to events in our own personal lives.

Why do we not acknowledge the phenomenon of black swans until after they occur? Part of the answer, according to Taleb, is that humans are hardwired to learn specifics when they should be focused on generalities.

We concentrate on things we already know and time and time again fail to take into consideration what we don’t know. We are, therefore, unable to truly estimate opportunities, too vulnerable to the impulse to simplify, narrate, and categorize, and not open enough to rewarding those who can imagine the “impossible.”

For years, Taleb has studied how we fool ourselves into thinking we know more than we actually do. We restrict our thinking to the irrelevant and inconsequential, while large events continue to surprise us and shape our world. Now, in this revelatory book, Taleb explains everything we know about what we don’t know. He offers surprisingly simple tricks for dealing with black swans and benefiting from them.

Elegant, startling, and universal in its applications The Black Swan will change the way you look at the world. Taleb is a vastly entertaining writer, with wit, irreverence, and unusual stories to tell. He has a polymathic command of subjects ranging from cognitive science to business to probability theory.

The Black Swan is a landmark book – itself a black swan.

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Children:Anne Frank: The Diary of A Young Girl  by Anne Frank, Eleanor Roosevelt (Introduction), Barbara Mooyaart-Doubleday (Translator)

Discovered in the attic in which she spent the last years of her life, Anne Frank’s remarkable diary has become a world classic—a powerful reminder of the horrors of war and an eloquent testament to the human spirit.

In 1942, with the Nazis occupying Holland, a thirteen-year-old Jewish girl and her family fled their home in Amsterdam and went into hiding. For the next two years, until their whereabouts were betrayed to the Gestapo, the Franks and another family lived cloistered in the “Secret Annexe” of an old office building. Cut off from the outside world, they faced hunger, boredom, the constant cruelties of living in confined quarters, and the ever-present threat of discovery and death. In her diary Anne Frank recorded vivid impressions of her experiences during this period. By turns thoughtful, moving, and surprisingly humorous, her account offers a fascinating commentary on human courage and frailty and a compelling self-portrait of a sensitive and spirited young woman whose promise was tragically cut short.

More about Anne Frank . . .

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March Pics

Adults: The Vanishing Half  by Brit Bennett

The Vignes twin sisters will always be identical. But after growing up together in a small, southern black community and running away at age sixteen, it's not just the shape of their daily lives that is different as adults, it's everything: their families, their communities, their racial identities. Many years later, one sister lives with her black daughter in the same southern town she once tried to escape. The other passes for white, and her white husband knows nothing of her past. Still, even separated by so many miles and just as many lies, the fates of the twins remain intertwined. What will happen to the next generation, when their own daughters' storylines intersect?

Weaving together multiple strands and generations of this family, from the Deep South to California, from the 1950s to the 1990s, Brit Bennett produces a story that is at once a riveting, emotional family story and a brilliant exploration of the American history of passing. Looking well beyond issues of race, The Vanishing Half considers the lasting influence of the past as it shapes a person's decisions, desires, and expectations, and explores some of the multiple reasons and realms in which people sometimes feel pulled to live as something other than their origins.

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Children:  The Giving Tree by Shel Silverstein


"Once there was a tree...and she loved a little boy."

So begins a story of unforgettable perception, beautifully written and illustrated by the gifted and versatile Shel Silverstein.

Every day the boy would come to the tree to eat her apples, swing from her branches, or slide down her trunk...and the tree was happy. But as the boy grew older he began to want more from the tree, and the tree gave and gave and gave.

This is a tender story, touched with sadness, aglow with consolation. Shel Silverstein has created a moving parable for readers of all ages that offers an affecting interpretation of the gift of giving and a serene acceptance of another's capacity to love in return.

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February Pics

Adults: The Four Winds

by Kristin Hannah

From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Nightingale and The Great Alone comes an epic novel of love and heroism and hope, set against the backdrop of one of America’s most defining eras—the Great Depression.

Texas, 1934. Millions are out of work and a drought has broken the Great Plains. Farmers are fighting to keep their land and their livelihoods as the crops are failing, the water is drying up, and dust threatens to bury them all. One of the darkest periods of the Great Depression, the Dust Bowl era, has arrived with a vengeance.

In this uncertain and dangerous time, Elsa Martinelli—like so many of her neighbors—must make an agonizing choice: fight for the land she loves or go west, to California, in search of a better life. The Four Winds is an indelible portrait of America and the American Dream, as seen through the eyes of one indomitable woman whose courage and sacrifice will come to define a generation.

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Children: All Fall Down: The Landslide Diary of Abby Roberts

(Dear Canada)  by Jean Little

After her father dies, Abby and her family move west to live with relatives who run a hotel in the mining town of Frank, Alberta. Abby keeps busy helping out at the hotel, being chief caregiver to her little brother with Down Syndrome, and learning Morse code at the telegraph office.

When the devastating Frank Slide buries much of the town, Abby must do all she can to help. But a long-buried family secret emerged just before the disaster — and now she will have to wait for the dust to settle before getting the answers she so desperately wants.

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January Pics

Adults:  Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown

by Anne Glenconner

An extraordinary memoir of drama, tragedy, and royal secrets by Anne Glenconner--a close member of the royal circle and lady-in-waiting to Princess Margaret. As seen on Netflix's The Crown.

Anne Glenconner has been at the center of the royal circle from childhood, when she met and befriended the future Queen Elizabeth II and her sister, the Princess Margaret. Though the firstborn child of the 5th Earl of Leicester, who controlled one of the largest estates in England, as a daughter she was deemed "the greatest disappointment" and unable to inherit. Since then she has needed all her resilience to survive the vipers of court life with her sense of humor intact.

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Children: The Great Gilly Hopkins by Katherine Paterson


Details:  Watch out world!

The Great Gilly Hopkins is looking for a home. She's a foster kid who's been angry, lonely, and hurting for so long that's she's always ready for a fight. Be on the lookout for her best barracuda smile, the one she saves for well-meaning social workers. Watch out for her most fearful look, a cross between Dracula and Godzilla, used especially to scare shy foster brothers. Don't be fooled by her "Who me?" expression, guaranteed to trick foster parents, teachers, and anyone who gets in her way.

It's Gilly Hopkins vs. the world! And so far, Gilly seems to be winning. But what she doesn't realize is that every time she wins, she really loses, until she discovers a love as formidable as any enemy she's ever known.

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December Pics

Adults: Beneath A Scarlet Sky by Mark T. Sullivan

Based on the true story of a forgotten hero, Beneath a Scarlet Sky is the triumphant, epic tale of one young man’s incredible courage and resilience during one of history’s darkest hours.

Pino Lella wants nothing to do with the war or the Nazis. He’s a normal Italian teenager—obsessed with music, food, and girls—but his days of innocence are numbered. When his family home in Milan is destroyed by Allied bombs, Pino joins an underground railroad helping Jews escape over the Alps, and falls for Anna, a beautiful widow six years his senior.

In an attempt to protect him, Pino’s parents force him to enlist as a German soldier—a move they think will keep him out of combat. But after Pino is injured, he is recruited at the tender age of eighteen to become the personal driver for Adolf Hitler’s left hand in Italy, General Hans Leyers, one of the Third Reich’s most mysterious and powerful commanders.

Now, with the opportunity to spy for the Allies inside the German High Command, Pino endures the horrors of the war and the Nazi occupation by fighting in secret, his courage bolstered by his love for Anna and for the life he dreams they will one day share.

Fans of All the Light We Cannot See, The Nightingale, and Unbroken will enjoy this riveting saga of history, suspense, and love.

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Children: Mister God, This is Anna by Fynn, William Papas (Illustrator)

THE TOUCHING TRUE STORY THAT WON THE HEARTS OF MILLIONS OF READERS AROUND THE WORLD!

Anna was only four years old when Fynn found her on London's fog-shrouded docks. He took her back to his mother's home, and from that first moment, their times together were filled with delight and discovery. Anna had an astonishing ability to ask--and to answer--life's largest questions. Her total openness and honesty amazed all who knew her. She seemed to understand with uncanny certainty the purpose of being, the essence of feeling, the beauty of love. You see, Anna had a very special friendship with Mister God . . .

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November Pics

Adults:  The Gentleman and the Thief by Sarah M. Eden


A gentleman scribes penny dreadful novels by night and falls in love with a woman who is a music teacher by day—and a thief at night.

LONDON 1865


From the moment Hollis Darby meets Ana Newport, he’s smitten. Even though he’s from a wealthy, established family and she isn’t, he wishes he could have a life with her by his side. But Hollis has a secret: the deep coffers that have kept his family afloat for generations are bare, so he supports himself by writing penny dreadfuls under a pseudonym. If not for the income from his novels, he would be broke.

Ana Newport also has a secret. Though she once had a place in society thanks to her father’s successful business, bankruptcy and scandal reduced his fortune to nothing more than a crumbling town house. So Ana teaches music during the day, and at night she assumes the identity of the “Phantom Fox.” She breaks into the homes of the wealthy to reclaim trinkets and treasures she feels were unjustly stolen from her family when they were struggling.

When Hollis’s brother needs to hire a music tutor for his daughter, Hollis recommends Ana, giving him a chance to spend time with her. Ana needs the income and is eager for the opportunity to get to know the enigmatic gentleman. What neither of them expects is how difficult it will be to keep their respective secrets from each other.

When a spree of robberies rocks the city, Ana and Hollis join forces to solve the crimes, discovering that working together deepens the affection between them. After all, who better to save the day than a gentleman and a thief?

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Children:  Lassie Come Home by Eric Knight

Lassie is Joe's prize collie and constant companion. But when Joe's father loses his job, Lassie must be sold. Three times she escapes from her new owner, and three times she returns home to Joe, until finally she is taken to the remotest part of Scotland—too far a journey for any dog to make alone.

But Lassie is not just any dog.

First published in 1940, Lassie Come-Home has become one of the best-loved dog stories in the world. 

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October Pics

Adults:  Empress of the Night by Eva Stchniack

The follow-up to the #1 bestseller The Winter Palace--perfect for the readers of Hilary Mantel and Alison Weir.

Catherine the Great, the Romanov monarch reflects on her astonishing ascension to the throne, her leadership over the world's greatest power, and the lives sacrificed to make her the most feared woman in the world--lives including her own...

Catherine the Great muses on her life, her relentless battle between love and power, the country she brought into the glorious new century, and the bodies left in her wake. By the end of her life, she had accomplished more than virtually any other woman in history. She built and grew the Romanov empire, amassed a vast fortune of art and land, and controlled an unruly and conniving court. Now, in a voice both indelible and intimate, she reflects on the decisions that gained her the world and brought her enemies to their knees. And before her last breath, shadowed by the bloody French Revolution, she sets up the end game for her last political maneuver, ensuring her successor and the greater glory of Russia.

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Children:  Polyanna by Eleanor H Porter


The orphan girl Pollyanna moves in with her strict aunt in New England. Despite a difficult start, Pollyanna's exuberance and positivity affect everyone who meets her, and she spreads joy and love wherever she goes. But when tragedy strikes, Pollyanna finds her optimistic attitude tested, and she must learn to find happiness again.

A heartwarming tale that has become one of the most loved children's stories of all time, Eleanor H. Porter's 1913 best-seller—the first in a long series of Pollyanna novels by the author and other writers—is a beautiful story with a powerful moral message.

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September Pics


Adults: The Red Tent by Anita Diamant


Her name is Dinah. In the Bible, her life is only hinted at in a brief and violent detour within the more familiar chapters of the Book of Genesis that are about her father, Jacob, and his dozen sons. Told in Dinah's voice, this novel reveals the traditions and turmoils of ancient womanhood—the world of the red tent. It begins with the story of her mothers—Leah, Rachel, Zilpah, and Bilhah—the four wives of Jacob. They love Dinah and give her gifts that sustain her through a hard-working youth, a calling to midwifery, and a new home in a foreign land. Dinah's story reaches out from a remarkable period of early history and creates an intimate connection with the past. Deeply affecting, The Red Tent combines rich storytelling with a valuable achievement in modern fiction: a new view of biblical women's society.

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Children: The Neverending Story by Michael Ende


This epic work of the imagination has captured the hearts of millions of readers worldwide since it was first published more than a decade ago. Its special story within a story is an irresistible invitation for readers to become part of the book itself.

The story begins with a lonely boy named Bastian and the strange book that draws him into the beautiful but doomed world of Fantastica. Only a human can save this enchanted place by giving its ruler, the Childlike Empress, a new name. But the journey to her tower leads through lands of dragons, giants, monsters, and magic and once Bastian begins his quest, he may never return. As he is drawn deeper into Fantastica, he must find the courage to face unspeakable foes and the mysteries of his own heart.

Readers, too, can travel to the wondrous, unforgettable world of Fantastica if they will just turn the page...

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August Pics


Adults: The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society

by Mary Ann Shaffer, Annie Barrows


 #1 NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER - NOW A MAJOR MOTION PICTURE ON NETFLIX - A remarkable tale of the island of Guernsey during the German Occupation, and of a society as extraordinary as its name.

"I wonder how the book got to Guernsey? Perhaps there is some sort of secret homing instinct in books that brings them to their perfect readers." January 1946: London is emerging from the shadow of the Second World War, and writer Juliet Ashton is looking for her next book subject. Who could imagine that she would find it in a letter from a man she's never met, a native of the island of Guernsey, who has come across her name written inside a book by Charles Lamb...

As Juliet and her new correspondent exchange letters, Juliet is drawn into the world of this man and his friends—and what a wonderfully eccentric world it is. The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society—born as a spur-of-the-moment alibi when its members were discovered breaking curfew by the Germans occupying their island—boasts a charming, funny, deeply human cast of characters, from pig farmers to phrenologists, literature lovers all.

Juliet begins a remarkable correspondence with the society's members, learning about their island, their taste in books, and the impact the recent German occupation has had on their lives. Captivated by their stories, she sets sail for Guernsey, and what she finds will change her forever.

Written with warmth and humor as a series of letters, this novel is a celebration of the written word in all its guises and of finding connection in the most surprising ways.

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Children: Ronia, the Robber's Daughter

by Astrid Lindgren, Patricia Crampton (Translation)


 On the night Ronia was born, a thunderstorm raged over the mountain, but in Matt's castle and among his band of robbers there was only joy - for Matt now had a spirited little black-haired daughter. Soon Ronia learns to dance and yell with the robbers, but it is alone in the forest that she feels truly at home. Then one day Ronia meets Birk, the son of Matt's arch-enemy. Soon after Ronia and Birk become friends the worst quarrel ever between the rival bands erupts, and Ronia and Berk are right in the middle.

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July Pics


Adults: The Fountains of Silence by Ruta Sepetys​


Madrid, 1957. Under the fascist dictatorship of General Francisco Franco, Spain is hiding a dark secret. Meanwhile, tourists and foreign businessmen flood into Spain under the welcoming promise of sunshine and wine. Among them is eighteen-year-old Daniel Matheson, the son of an oil tycoon, who arrives in Madrid with his parents hoping to connect with the country of his mother's birth through the lens of his camera. Photography--and fate--introduce him to Ana, whose family's interweaving obstacles reveal the lingering grasp of the Spanish Civil War--as well as chilling definitions of fortune and fear. Daniel's photographs leave him with uncomfortable questions amidst shadows of danger. He is backed into a corner of difficult decisions to protect those he loves. Lives and hearts collide, revealing an incredibly dark side to the sunny Spanish city.

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Children: Five Feet Apart by Rachael Lippincott


 Winner of this year’s award for Young Adult Fiction, Five Feet Apart poses a heartbreaking question: Can you love someone you can never touch? Stella Grant and Will Newman are discovering teenage love—the most potent kind of love—but due to hospital protocol, they’re prevented from getting within five feet of each other. The only way to stay alive is to stay apart. But there’s got to be a way, right?

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June Pics


Adults: On Fortune's Wheel by Cynthia Voight


There are some who say that the Lady Fortune

has a wheel, and all men are fixed upon it.

The wheel turns, and the men rise, or fall,

with the turning of the wheel.

Birle has agreed to be wed to the huntsman Muir as an escape from the drudgery of life at her father's inn -- but the moment she looks into the bellflower blue eyes of the man she comes upon stealing one of her father's boats, Birle knows she cannot marry Muir. Even after she discovers the mysterious stranger is Orien, a Lord and as unreachable to an innkeeper's daughter as a star, Birle is determined to travel with him as far as he will allow.

Their travels take Birle to a world far from home, a world where Lords may become slaves, where Princes rule by fear, and where Fortune's Wheel turns more swiftly and dangerously than Birle could have imagined.

Newberry Medalist Cynthia Voigt's second novel of the Kingdom, set two generations later than Jackaroo, is a memorable combination of thrilling adventure and heart-stopping romance.

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Children: The Brothers Lionheart by Astrid Lindgren

The Brothers Lionheart (Swedish: Bröderna Lejonhjärta) is a children's fantasy novel written by Astrid Lindgren. It was published in the autumn of 1973 and has been translated into 46 languages. Many of its themes are unusually dark and heavy for the children's book genre. Disease, death, tyranny, betrayal and rebellion are some of the dark themes that permeate the story. The lighter themes of the book involve platonic love, loyalty, hope, courage and pacifism.

The two main characters are two brothers; the older Jonatan and the younger Karl. The two brothers' surname was originally Lion, but they are generally known as Lionheart. Karl's nickname is Skorpan (Rusky) since Jonatan likes these typical Swedish toasts or crusts.

In Nangijala, a land in "the campfires and storytelling days", the brothers experience adventures. Together with a resistance group they lead the struggle against the evil Tengil, who rules with the aid of the fearsome fire-breathing dragon, Katla.

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May Pics


Adults: The Auschwitz Escape by Joel C. Rosenburg


A terrible darkness has fallen upon Jacob Weisz's beloved Germany. The Nazi regime, under the leadership of Adolf Hitler, has surged to power and now hold Germany by the throat. All non-Aryans -- especially Jews like Jacob and his family -- are treated like dogs.

When tragedy strikes during one terrible night of violence, Jacob flees and joins rebel forces working to undermine the regime. But after a raid goes horribly wrong, Jacob finds himself in a living nightmare -- trapped in a crowded, stinking car on the train to the Auschwitz death camp.

As World War II rages and Hitler begins implementing his "final solution" to systematically and ruthlessly exterminate the Jewish people, Jacob must rely on his wits and a God he's not sure he believes in to somehow escape from Auschwitz and alert the world to the Nazi's atrocities before Fascism overtakes all of Europe. The fate of millions hangs in the balance.

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Children: I Am David by Anne Holm

David's entire twelve-year life has been spent in a grisly prison camp in Eastern Europe. He knows nothing of the outside world. But when he is given the chance to escape, he seizes it. With his vengeful enemies hot on his heels, David struggles to cope in this strange new world, where his only resources are a compass, a few crusts of bread, his two aching feet, and some vague advice to seek refuge in Denmark. Is that enough to survive?

David's extraordinary odyssey is dramatically chronicled in Anne Holm's classic about the meaning of freedom and the power of hope.

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April Pics


Adults: The Custodian of Paradise by Wayne Johnson


In the waning days of World War II, Sheilagh Fielding makes her way to a deserted island off the coast of Newfoundland. But she soon comes to suspect another presence: that of a man known only as her Provider, who has shadowed her for twenty years. Against the backdrop of Newfoundland's history and landscape, Fielding is a compelling figure. Taller than most men and striking in spite of her crippled leg, she is both eloquent and subversively funny. Her newspaper columns exposing the foibles and hypocrisies of her native city, St. John's, have made many powerful enemies for her, chief among them the man who fathered her children—twins—when she was fourteen. Only her Provider, however, knows all of Fielding's secrets.

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Children: The Night Daddy by Maria Gripe


Julia's mother is a nurse, working the night shift. A young writer eagerly signs up for the job as a baby-sitter. At first Julia is furious about the arrangement, but is gradually won over by the kind though eccentric young man and calls him her 'Night Daddy'. They are sharing midnight snacks, training his pet owl, and tending an exotic tropical plant known as the Queen of the Night.