Please join us! Feel free to drop in and join us — a long term commitment not necessary.
Book discussion is open to everyone interested in sharing their reading experience with others.
Meetings are held the first Thursday of each month at 6 pm in the Bottom Shelf Room.
Books are selected by the entire group based on suitability for discussion and interest to the group as well as availability of copies in the MORE library. Each type of genre and literary form is considered in terms of its own excellence and the audience for which it is intended. Suggestions from readers are welcome.
You can click a book cover to order the book from the MORE Library Catalog!
August 6th at 6pm- While Beauty Slept by Elizabeth Blackwell
In this magical reimagining of the fifteenth-century fairy tale, Sleeping Beauty’s story is told from the perspective of Elise Darliss, a poor farm girl who finds
a place in the castle as a maid. Thanks to a strong work ethic and her rare ability to read and write, she eventually earns the position of private maid to
the queen herself. The queen is kind, and Elise comes to know her well, and when the legendary princess is born, she befriends her, too. The rest of the
tale is famously well-known, but Blackwell treats readers to a retelling that makes historical fiction of the fantasy. And, while she relates what really happened at the castle, we also get to see Elise bloom as she grows from farm girl to respectable lady. The story is dark and enchanting, if a little contrived at times, and Blackwell’s rendering of the medieval setting is rich and detailed. Following in the inspired footsteps of Gregory Maguire’s fairy-tale twists, this debut novel puts a spellbinding new spin on a classic yarn. –Cortney Ophoff (From Booklist)
September 3rd at 6pm- The Latehomecomer by Kao Kalia Yang
Born in Thailand’s Ban Vinai Refugee Camp, Yang immigrated to St. Paul, Minnesota when she was only six years old. Here, Yang describes her family’s harrowing escape from Laos, their life in the refugee camps, the hardships and great joy of caring for a growing family in a new land, and her own experiences with American life and learning. -Summary from MORE website
July 2nd at 6:00pm-The Twelve Tribes of Hattie by Ayana Mathis
“In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins succumb to an illness a few pennies could have prevented. Hattie gives birth to nine more children whom she raises with grit and mettle and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. Captured here in twelve luminous narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage and the journey of a nation”–Provided by publisher
June 4th at 6:00pm- Night by Elie Wiesel
Born in the town of Sighet, Transylvania, Elie Wiesel was a teenager when he and his family were taken from their home in 1944 to the Auschwitz concentration camp, and then to Buchenwald. This book is the terrifying record of his memories of the death of his family, the death of his own innocence, and his despair as a deeply observant Jew confronting the absolute evil of man. (From MORE catalog)
Pageturners Review: 2 1/2 books of 5 This book was found “fascinating” by one, “boring,” “gross,” and “tolerable” by others. They all agreed that Roach’s humor and footnotes helped get them through the book.
“America’s funniest science writer” (Washington Post) takes us down the hatch on an unforgettable tour of our insides. The alimentary canal is classic Mary Roach terrain: the questions inspired by our insides are as taboo, in their way, as the cadavers in Stiff and every bit as surreal as the universe of zero gravity explored in Packing for Mars. Why is crunchy food so appealing? Why is it so hard to find names for flavors and smells? Why doesn’t the stomach digest itself? How much can you eat before your stomach bursts? Can constipation kill you? Did it kill Elvis? We meet scientists who tackle the questions no one else thinks—or has the courage—to ask. And we go on location to a pet-food taste-test lab, a bacteria transplant, and into a live stomach to observe the fate of a meal.
Like all of Roach’s books, Gulp is as much about human beings as it is about human bodies.
March 5- We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler
Meet the Cooke family. Our narrator is Rosemary Cooke. As a child, she never stopped talking; as a young woman, she has wrapped herself in silence: the silence of intentional forgetting, of protective cover. Something happened, something so awful she has buried it in the recesses of her mind.
Now her adored older brother is a fugitive, wanted by the FBI for domestic terrorism. And her once lively mother is a shell of her former self, her clever and imperious father now a distant, brooding man.
And Fern, Rosemary’s beloved sister, her accomplice in all their childhood mischief? Fern’s is a fate the family, in all their innocence, could never have imagined.
February 5 –Look Me in the Eye by John Elder Robison
Ever since he was young, John Robison longed to connect with other people, but by the time he was a teenager, his odd habits—an inclination to blurt out non sequiturs, avoid eye contact, dismantle radios, and dig five-foot holes (and stick his younger brother, Augusten Burroughs, in them)—had earned him the label “social deviant.”
It was not until he was forty that he was diagnosed with a form of autism called Asperger’s syndrome. That understanding transformed the way he saw himself—and the world.
A born storyteller, Robison has written a moving, darkly funny memoir about a life that has taken him from developing exploding guitars for KISS to building a family of his own. It’s a strange, sly, indelible account—sometimes alien yet always deeply human. (From the publisher.)
January 8- A Map of the World by Jane Hamilton
*Note date change due to the New Year holiday.
Alice Goodwin lives on a farm in Wisconsin with her husband and daughters and works part-time at the local school as a nurse. When a friend and neighbor leaves her two-year-old daughter in Alice’s care, a moment’s inattention leads to the child’s death. This singularly tragic event triggers a series of other occurrences that will rock the tiny community where Alice lives and undermine everything Alice holds dear. -from MORE catalog
December 11 2014 – The Book Thief
Be prepared to cry as you read this book about a young girl growing up in Germany during World War II, but the end is satisfying. The Book Thief has been on the New York Times bestseller list almost continually since it was published in 2005, so we had high expectations for it. Most of us seemed to enjoy it quite well, but it seemed we spent most of our time talking about the things that bothered us about this book. All agreed that the beginning of the book was very confusing. It took awhile to figure out who was narrating, and the narrative style was somewhat different that we’re used to. The plot was chopped into small sections with short interludes–one of our members suggested that it was a style that might appeal to a young adult audience (for which the book was intended). The narrator also had a habit of “giving away” some of the important plot points throughout the book, and we thought it was possible he did that in order to soften the impact of some very sad scenes.
Two of our members had seen the movie, so we spent some time discussing differences between the two formats. The movie wasn’t able to take time to develop the characters as deeply as this 500+ page book did, so many of the wonderful details of the characters were lost. Our movie watchers particularly missed the complicated relationship between the main character, Liesel, and her best friend Rudy who is also in love with her. It seemed there was also a discrepancy between the social class of the main family–the book made it clear that they were quite poor, but the movie presented them as a little more affluent. The one member of our group who had both read the book and watched the movie recently said she definitely preferred the book.
We forgot to rate the book at the end of our discussion, but we did think of other books that might interest those who enjoyed this book:
November 2014 – Too Much Happiness
We had a small group this month to discuss Alice Munro’s collection of short stories, Too Much Happiness. Without exception, this book received a tepid response from the members of the group. The most frequent comment was that most of the stories seemed to end abruptly, without giving readers a sense of conclusion. One member commented that she was used to stories by O. Henry and other similar authors, and she felt that these were very different. They weren’t memorable; in fact, although we all had just finished reading the book, we had trouble sorting out the details of the stories. However, everyone agreed that Munro’s writing is well-crafted.
Almost all of these stories seemed to have one character, a middle-aged woman, showing up again and again, which gave them a sense of cohesiveness. One of our members had read Hateship, Friendship, Courtship, Loveship, Marriage, another of Munro’s books, and said that it was similar to this book in that way. Another way that these stories fit together is that Munro seemed to be able to take a common trait of human nature and inflate it to an extreme. For example, in “Child’s Play,” two young characters respond to a third in a way that we remembered doing as children; however, their behavior eventually escalates to an unfortunate end.
The most popular stories with the group: “Free Radicals,” “Fiction,” and “Child’s Play.”
All but one of our members rated the book a 3 out of 5. The final member gave it a 2.5.
October 2014 – Spilled Blood
We were fortunate to have Brian Freeman himself lead our discussion of Spilled Blood. He began by giving us a bit of history behind the book, where he found inspiration (a Lady Gaga song!), and what he was trying to accomplish. Spilled Blood is very different from Freeman’s other books in that it is a stand alone novel rather than part of a series. We learned how writing a stand-alone presents some challenges; for instance, the author knows he will have to leave his characters behind at the end of the book rather than entering their lives again at a later time. At the same time, Mr. Freeman said that he felt he had more freedom in developing the characters in this book than in the others that he’s written.
Our discussion often centered around the topic of creating characters. We agreed that it’s important to realize that every person is a mixture of good and bad to some degree. Freeman said he works hard when developing his characters to reflect that reality. There’s only one character in the book who might be considered a true villain, and even so there was one moment in his history in which he acted in part out of love for another person.
Redemption was an important theme in this book. Freeman talked about how he intended the story to be a journey of redemption for the main character. Other characters made good out of terrible circumstances. This is also a book that explores the relationships between fathers and teen-aged daughters–Freeman created three such pairs to show what parents will do out of love for their children. Some of our readers didn’t like the teen-aged characters at the beginning of the book but felt that they were more likable as you got to know them.
Other issues that came up in our discussion of Spilled Blood: lawyers and legal standards, and the effects of agribusiness on surrounding communities and the world. Freeman covered some controversial topics in this book, but he steered clear of leading his readers to one opinion or another. Rather, he laid out the information and let us come to our own conclusions.
Local readers of Spilled Blood might do a double take over the names of the two towns in the setting–Barron and St. Croix. It’s not a coincidence that we have their namesakes so close to us here in northern Wisconsin. Although the fictional towns are located in southwestern Minnesota, Freeman deliberately chose their names as a tip of the hat to his Wisconsin readers.
It was a wonderful evening, and we appreciate Brian Freeman for offering to join us for the discussion. Because of the different format, we didn’t rate the book as we usually do. However, anyone interested in Brian Freeman’s books should come to the library on October 23 at 6:30, when he’ll be taking us on a photographic tour of the places in Duluth where his Jonathan Stride series is set.
September 2014 – Orphan Train
Orphan Train was very well received by our book club. Most of us had never heard of the orphan trains before, so the book was informative as well as entertaining. However, the parents of one of our members lived next door to a man who had been a child on one of the trains, and it was interesting to hear about a connection that brought the book closer to home for us.
One thing we liked was the interesting characters that Ms. Baker Kline created. Many of us felt a connection to one or another of the orphans in the narrative, which pulled us into the story. A few members commented that some of the characters didn’t feel as well-developed as they could have been, but overall this wasn’t a major complaint. Another negative mentioned in our discussion was that the end of the story seemed hurried and that some of us would have liked to have known more about what happened to Vivian during the time between her young adulthood and when she became an elderly woman. One person mentioned that it almost seemed like there should be a sequel.
Our discussion topics ranged from the current foster care system to the importance that possessions play in our lives. Many of us were able to relate our own struggles with purging or preserving memorabilia.
All ratings were between 3.5 and 4.5 with an average of 3.89.
August 2014 – Wild:From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail
There were strong opinions expressed about Wild when we discussed it as a group. A few people thought that Strayed gave her readers too much information–for example, incidents from her past, her health and drug problems, and romantic relationships. This brought up an interesting discussion about how Facebook and other social media have changed opinions of what is an appropriate amount of openness in a person’s private life and how different generations view privacy. Many also felt strongly that Strayed was foolish to set out on this journey being as ill-prepared as she was. We noted that there were dozens of times she could have been killed or seriously injured. She didn’t seem to take the danger seriously enough. Despite the risks, however, one member pointed out that this hike mostly likely saved Strayed’s life because it didn’t seem likely that she would have broken the downward spiral of her life without doing something drastic like this.
Other topics that came up during our discussion: fear, drug abuse, self-destructive behavior, and favorite books. Strayed read (and burned) several books over the course of her hike, and she lists them in the back for those who might be interested.
One person in the group rated this book a 5, but all other ratings ranged from 2.5 to 3.5. Our average was 3.33.
July 2014 – And the Mountains Echoed
And the Mountains Echoed was a popular choice with our group. Although there were several story lines that sometimes were confusing, one of us commented that the author did a good job of recapping past events so that you could piece together the narrative without too much trouble. The most frequent complaint was that the stories didn’t seem to obviously fit together. Some characters might have been lifted from the book without damaging the story. However, we came to the consensus that Hosseini is a master at creating multi-dimensional characters. Even the “villains” had a few good qualities, just as is often the case in real life.
Another thing that set this book apart from other books was the way the author handled the setting. Much of the book takes place in Afghanistan, but there’s little mention of the Taliban. Several of our members thought that it was refreshing to read other perspectives on a country that’s been in the news so much over the past decade.
We discussed a theme that seemed to arise frequently: in many of the stories a character is caring for a disabled friend or family member. It was interesting to see how each character responded to the sacrifices that she or he had to make under those circumstances.
Our rating: 4/5.
June 2014 – The Other Typist
We came to a consensus that this book, especially the end, is confusing and disorientating. One woman commented, “All I know is that I don’t have a clue what happened.” That seemed representative of the feeling of the group as a whole. Because of the vague ending, we formed our own ideas about what happened, splitting ourselves pretty evenly between two different theories.
Many don’t enjoy unreliable narrators, and their scores reflected that preference. The member who enjoyed the book the least thought that it pulled too much from other books, such as Double Bind (Chris Bohjalian) and The Great Gatsby. If you’ve read and enjoyed those books, you may appreciate this one as well.
One of our members commented as we left, “The best part of reading this book was the discussion we had.” We talked about subjects ranging from dissociative identity disorder to the reliability of photographs as evidence. In the end, almost everyone gave a mediocre 3 of 5 rating to this book.
May 2014 – Aimless Love
We have a wide range of tastes in our group, and that extends to our enjoyment of poetry. Several are frequent or avid poetry readers and a couple don’t read it at all. However, most of us were able to appreciate Billy Collins’ poems collected in Aimless Love.
Frequent comments were that these poems are “accessible” and “enjoyable, even for someone who doesn’t read poetry.” Many of them were so humorous that we laughed as we read them out loud. One group member commented that she appreciated that she didn’t feel like she had to dissect every poem in order to find its meaning. Another checked out the audio version of the book–featuring Billy Collins himself reading the poems–and she highly recommended it!
Some of our favorites:
“To My Favorite 17-Year-Old High School Girl”
“This Little Piggy Went to Market”
“The Suggestion Box”
“Old Man Eating Alone in a Chinese Restaurant”
A couple of our members rated the book lower because they didn’t like poetry at all or preferred it to be more structured and metered. In the end, our average rating was 3.80.
April 2014 -The Circle
The group thought The Circle was a thought-provoking story, although the author could have accomplished his mission in fewer pages. We discussed how some of the privacy and social media issues that are addressed in this book might already be sneaking up on us, especially in the area of medicine. A couple from the group recommended the book to their friends because it made them think about issues of privacy and the Internet. In the end, though, we all gave it a mediocre rating because we figured out the point of the story early on and the characters were not believable. Average score: 2.8 out of 5.
March- A Tale For the Time Being
The group had mixed feelings about this book. All agreed it was a unique writing style. Some didn’t care for the supernatural time travel. Others thought that that added to the book along with the Zen and the science. Most liked the character of the grandmother the best. It was an interesting different type of read. The ratings varied between 2.5 and 4.5 with the average of 3.5.
“”A time being is someone who lives in time, and that means you, and me, and every one of us who is, or was, or ever will be.” In Tokyo, sixteen-year-old Nao has decided there’s only one escape from her aching loneliness and her classmates’ bullying. But before she ends it all, Nao first plans to document the life of her great grandmother, a Buddhist nun who’s lived more than a century. A diary is Nao’s only solace–and will touch lives in ways she can scarcely imagine. Across the Pacific, we meet Ruth, a novelist living on a remote island who discovers a collection of artifacts washed ashore in a Hello Kitty lunchbox–possibly debris from the devastating 2011 tsunami. As the mystery of its contents unfolds, Ruth is pulled into the past, into Nao’s drama and her unknown fate, and forward into her own future.”– Provided by publisher.
February- Five Days At Memorial
The group thought this book was a difficult read about a tragic event. They also thought it was very well written and researched. Comments included: they were glad they read it, they wouldn’t have read it without it being a book group read, and they hadn’t realized what was going on during this time period. Everyone agreed that the book deserved a 4.5 book rating (and we usually are not so unanimous!).
Fink provides a landmark investigation of patient deaths at a New Orleans hospital ravaged by Hurricane Katrina– and a suspenseful portrayal of the quest for truth and justice. After Katrina struck and the floodwaters rose, the power failed, and the heat climbed, exhausted caregivers chose to designate certain patients last for rescue. Months later, several health professionals faced criminal allegations that they deliberately injected numerous patients with drugs to hasten their deaths. Fink unspools the mystery of what happened in those days, bringing the reader into a hospital fighting for its life and into a conversation about the most terrifying form of health care rationing.
Overall the group gave the book a 3.5 because it was so well done but we do not recommend it since it was so (fill in adjectives!).
“Meeting at an Amsterdam restaurant for dinner, two couples move from small talk to the wrenching shared challenge of their teenage sons’ act of violence that has triggered a police investigation and revealed the extent to which each family will go to protect those they love.”–From NoveList.
December -The Gamal by Ciaran Collins
It was a small group of us on the 19th to discuss The Gamal. Gamal is an Irish slang word for village idiot. Charlie, the Gamal, is the main character and author of the book. Charlie is autistic and dealing with depression and knowledge of a horrible wrong. As it turns out the story is a new updated to Ireland, version of Romeo and Juliet. The writing is wandering at best and hard to decipher at worst. So some people loved the wandering writing and others found it totally unreadable. All agreed it was an interesting creative way to write a book. The group gave it an average of 3.5; which the highest rating a 4.5 and the lowest a 1.0.
“Meet Charlie. People think he’s crazy. But he’s not. People think he’s stupid. But he’s not. People think he’s innocent– He’s the Gamal. Charlie has a story to tell, about his best friends Sinéad and James and the bad things that happened. But he can’t tell it yet, at least not till he’s worked out where the beginning is. Because is the beginning long ago when Sinéad first spoke up for him after Charlie got in trouble at school for the millionth time? Or was it later, when Sinéad and James followed the music and found each other? Or was it later still on that terrible night when something unspeakable happened after closing time and someone chose to turn a blind eye? Charlie has promised Dr Quinn he’ll write 1,000 words a day, but it’s hard to know which words to write. And which secrets to tell. This is the story of the dark heart of an Irish village, of how daring to be different can be dangerous and how there is nothing a person will not do for love” — from author’s web page.
November – Coal Run
This book was well liked in the book discussion. People especially mentioned the strong characterization of the novel and the sense of place. There was some discussion of the stereotypic -ness of the characters and how one character seemed to be in the book for comic relief. The richness of the descriptions and the strong emotionalism of the story line left many wanting to “read the next one”. This book is not part of a series, although the author has written two other books in the same locale. The group liked this book and gave it 4.5 books.
Coal Run is a community of ghosts and memories. After a mining explosion took the lives of so many men and transformed their families, the reverberations are still being felt in the generation of survivors thirty years later. Narrator Ivan Zoschenko, the local deputy, spends a week seemingly preparing for an old friend’s imminent release from prison. In doing so, Ivan introduces a rich cast of characters. And during the events of this week, Ivan confronts his demons and reveals himself to be a man whose conscience is burdened by a long-held and shocking secret that must be reckoned with.
October-Dry Grass of August
Page Turners as a group liked this book. It wasn’t a wow book like the Cellist of Sarajevo but, in it’s own way it seemed like a good representation of North Carolina life in 1954. This book reminded some of “The Help” except from the point of view of a 13 year old. Some thought the characterization was pretty flat — the good people were all good and the bad; all bad. Overall the book was liked.
On a scorching day in August 1954, thirteen-year-old Jubie Watts leaves Charlotte, North Carolina, with her family for a Florida vacation. Crammed into the Packard along with Jubie are her three siblings, her mother, and the family’s black maid, Mary Luther. For as long as Jubie can remember, Mary has been there–cooking, cleaning, compensating for her father’s rages and her mother’s benign neglect, and loving Jubie unconditionally. Bright and curious, Jubie takes note of the anti-integration signs they pass, and of the racial tension that builds as they journey further south. But she could never have predicted the shocking turn their trip will take. Now, in the wake of tragedy, Jubie must confront her parents’ failings and limitations, decide where her own convictions lie, and make the tumultuous leap to independence. –Barnesandnoble.com
September – The Cellist of Sarajevo
The Page Turners group loved this book. We felt the author has created a really good novel of war and it’s effects on people — the choices they had to make and how they tried to survive. The group rated this book as 5 books!
While a cellist plays at the site of a mortar attack to commemorate the deaths of twenty-two friends and neighbors, two other men set out in search of bread and water to keep themselves alive, and a woman sniper secretly protects the life of the cellist as her army becomes increasingly threatening.
August 1 -The Burgess Boys
Some of the page turners did not enjoy this book at all. They found none of the characters likable. Others found at least one of characters likable — although we all agreed that they all were flawed. Also others thought the story line at the ending pretty unbelievable….
“Catalyzed by a nephew’s thoughtless prank, a pair of brothers confront painful psychological issues surrounding the freak accident that killed their father when they were boys, a loss linked to a heartbreaking deception that shaped their personal and professional lives.”
July- Secret Scripture
Overall this book was well liked by the group. We felt the author had done a good job portraying the life of the two main characters and having the climax at the end of the book, wrapping up everything in the last 10 pages made for an interesting twist. That being said, some thought the book dragged getting to those last 10 pages and it was somewhat of a confusing read with memories being in almost a dream state.
When she was a young woman, Roseanne McNulty was one of the most beautiful and beguiling girls in County Sligo, Ireland. Now, as her hundredth year draws near, she is a patient at Roscommon Regional Mental Hospital, and she decides to record the events of her life. As Roseanne revisits her past, hiding the manuscript beneath the floorboards of her bedroom, she learns that Roscommon Hospital will be closed in a few months and that her caregiver, Dr. Grene, has been asked to evaluate the patients to decide if they can return to society. Roseanne is of particular interest to Dr. Grene, and as he researches her case he discovers a document written by a local priest that tells a very different story of Roseanne’s life from what she recalls. As doctor and patient attempt to understand each other, they begin to uncover long-buried secrets about themselves.
This book was an interesting read about commune life. Several members of our group had strong negative opinions about commune life and the book in general. The gaps in the storyline — years passing — made the story difficult to follow. Other group members found the story an interesting look at a “what could have been story line for their own lives”.
We were snowed out in May! So Arcadia was discussed as the June book!
“In a haunting story of the American dream, Bit, born in a back-to-nature commune in 1970s New York State, must come to grips with the outside world when the commune eventually fails.”–From Novelist.
Thursday – NW
Ha! This book was not well liked by the Page Turners group. We thought the writing style was very fragmented and the story line was minimal. We wondered if the writing style was to reflect the fragmented, disconnected life style of the people in NW London. Also noticed that the number 37 was mentioned often in the book and that the author was 37 when she wrote this. Overall we only gave this book and some of us couldn’t even finish the book….
The PageTurners book club discussed the children’s fiction book, Wonder by R.J. Palacio last week. The book was unanimously declared “heartwarming” with many of the club sharing that they both laughed and cried. Our group rating was a solid 4 out of 5.
We’re looking forward to discussing The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka, NW by Zadie Smith, and Arcadia by Lauren Groff over the next few months. New members are always welcome, so please join us the fiorst Thursday of every month at 6 p.m.
The Rice Lake Public Library sends our sincere condolences to the people and families affected by the violence at the Sandy Hook Elementary school in Newtown, Connecticut. Even though we are so far away geographically from Connecticut, this terrible tragedy affects us all.
Here are some tips on how to cope:
Be aware of your feelings and thoughts. Anxiety, worry, sadness and anger are all expected reactions to violent events such as school shootings. It is important, however, that you understand your feelings and thoughts.
Do not make assumptions. Each individual has different reactions and responses to a traumatic event. It is important that you do not make assumptions about other’s thoughts and feelings.
Engage in open communication.
Expect emotions. Expect that everyone will be experiencing a number of emotions and that feelings will fluctuate from day to day.
Validate emotions. A great variety of feelings can be expected as a result of school violence. For example, you can say “I can see that you are very worried about going back to school”, “I know how confused you are about all this. I feel the same way” or “I can see that you are very sad.”
Be honest and open. Sharing your own feelings may help to normalize the experiences and reactions of others.
Keep it in perspective.
Discuss the signs of violence. Have conversations with others about signs of violence in your surroundings. Keep in mind that although warning signs may exist, not everyone with warning signs will engage in aggressive or violent behaviors. Some of the signs include a history of threatening behaviors, violence or aggression, difficulty controlling anger and frustration, and regular run-ins with the law. Other warning signs include significant withdrawal from social activities and friends, a history of rejection or victimization through bullying, and a sense of loneliness and alienation. However, be sure to communicate that not everyone they encounter with these signs is potentially a danger to them.
Be proactive. Research the safety procedures and plans at your child’s school with your children. Read information on the school’s website or handbook and ask questions of the administration.
Continue with your goals and plans.
Use and model coping skills. Use relaxation techniques that have worked for you in the past. Relaxation techniques include taking slow, deep breaths from the diaphragm and visualizing a safe and calm place, such as a sandy beach or pleasurable memory.
Give back to your community with volunteering.
Seek professional guidance.
Seek social support.
Some of you may be wondering how to discuss this violence with children. The National Association of School Psychologists offer a series of suggestions for doing so. Click here for this handout. Here are some important points to emphasize:
Schools are safe places. School staff work with parents and public safety providers (local police and fire departments, emergency responders, hospitals, etc.) to keep you safe.
The school building is safe because … (cite specific school procedures).
We all play a role in the school safety. Be observant and let an adult know if you see or hear something that makes you feel uncomfortable, nervous or frightened.
There is a difference between reporting, tattling or gossiping. You can provide important information that may prevent harm either directly or anonymously by telling a trusted adult what you know or hear.
Don’t dwell on the worst possibilities. Although there is no absolute guarantee that something bad will never happen, it is important to understand the difference between the possibility of something happening and the probability that it will affect our school.
Senseless violence is hard for everyone to understand. Doing things that you enjoy, sticking to your normal routine, and being with friends and family help make us feel better and keep us from worrying about the event.
Sometimes people do bad things that hurt others. They may be unable to handle their anger, under the influence of drugs or alcohol, or suffering from mental illness.
Violence is never a solution to personal problems. Students can be part of the positive solution by participating in anti-violence programs at school, learning conflict mediation skills, and seeking help from an adult if they or a peer is struggling with anger, depression, or other emotions they cannot control.
Tips and topics provided by the National Association of School Psychologists.
New Books of December 2012
The Twelve Tribes of Hattie (Oprah’s Book Club 2.0)
In 1923, fifteen-year-old Hattie Shepherd flees Georgia and settles in Philadelphia, hoping for a chance at a better life. Instead, she marries a man who will bring her nothing but disappointment and watches helplessly as her firstborn twins succumb to an illness a few pennies could have prevented. Hattie gives birth to nine more children whom she raises with grit and mettle and not an ounce of the tenderness they crave. She vows to prepare them for the calamitous difficulty they are sure to face in their later lives, to meet a world that will not love them, a world that will not be kind. Captured here in twelve luminous narrative threads, their lives tell the story of a mother’s monumental courage and the journey of a nation.
By Joy Fielding
Due to a last-minute change in plans, a group of unlikely traveling companions finds themselves on a camping trip in the Adirondacks. They include the soon-to-be-divorced Valerie; her oddball friends, Melissa and James; her moody teenage daughter, Brianne; and Val’s estranged husband’s fiancée, Jennifer. What Val and her companions don’t know is that a pair of crazed killers is wreaking havoc in the very same woods. When an elderly couple is found slaughtered and Brianne goes missing, Val finds herself in a nightmare much worse than anything she could have anticipated. She was half-expecting it to be the trip from hell, but what she never could have predicted was that this impromptu little excursion might be the last she ever takes.
A Possible Life: A Novel in Five Parts
By Sebastian Faulks
Five interconnected stories form the heart of this book. The links between Jones’ stories are subtle and curious; a name might re-appear in a different context, or a location will feature again, but at a different time or with different people. This novel journeys across continents and time to explore the chaos created by love, separation and missed opportunities. From the pain and drama of these highly particular lives emerges a mysterious consolation: the chance to feel your heart beat in someone else’s life. Soldiers and lovers, parents and children, scientists and musicians risk their bodies and hearts in search of connection – some key to understanding what makes us the people we become.
Too Bright to Hear Too Loud to See
Greyson Todd is a successful Hollywood studio executive who leaves his wife and young daughter and for a decade travels the world giving free reign to the bipolar disorder he’s been forced to keep hidden for almost 20 years. The novel intricately weaves together three timelines: the story of Greyson’s travels (Rome, Israel, Santiago, Thailand, Uganda); the progressive unraveling of his own father seen through Greyson’s eyes as a child; and the intimacies and estrangements of his marriage. The entire narrative unfolds in the time it takes him to undergo twelve 30-second electroshock treatments in a New York psychiatric ward.
Promises to Keep
by Malcolm Macdonald
Despite concerns on the national and international stage, life for the ambitious nine young families who live in the Dower House, including concentration camp survivor Felix Breit, his wife Angela and their four children, is good. But when a menacing figure from Angela’s past turns up – a former death camp guard who was especially brutal to her – it becomes clear that both Angela and Felix will have to face up to the truth of their German heritage if they are to embrace their English future.
Because I Said So!: The Truth Behind the Myths, Tales, and Warnings Every Generation Passes Down to Its Kids
By Ken Jennings
Ken Jennings wants to find out if mother and father always know best. Yes, all those years you were told not to sit too close to the television (you’ll hurt your eyes!) or swallow your gum (it stays in your stomach for seven years!) or crack your knuckles (arthritis!) are called into question by our country’s leading trivia guru. Jennings separates myth from fact to debunk a wide variety of parental edicts: no swimming after meals, sit up straight, don’t talk to strangers, and so on. Armed with medical case histories, scientific findings, and even the occasional experiment on himself (or his kids), Jennings exposes countless examples of parental wisdom run amok. Whether you’re a parent who wants to know what you can stop worrying about or a kid (of any age) looking to say, “I told you so,” this is the anti–helicopter parenting book you’ve been waiting for.
Holidays in December
Happy Hanukkah! Merry Christmas! Happy Kwanzaa! These are three major holidays in December. The library has something to offer you regardless of which event you celebrate.
Hanukkah is the first holiday celebrated in December. It is held from December 8 – 16, this year. This holiday celebrates the victory of the Jews over the Greek Syrians in 165 BC. According to Jewish tradition, the triumphant Jews entered the Holy Temple in Jerusalem and dedicated it to the service of their God. But when they entered the temple, they found only enough lamp oil to last one night, but the oil somehow managed to burn for the whole eight days it took to go in search for more oil.
Christmas is the next holiday celebrated in December. It is held on December 25. This Christian holiday celebrates the birth of Jesus Christ.
Kwanzaa is the final holiday celebrated in December. It is celebrated on December 26. Kwanzaa, which means “first fruit of the harvest” in Swahili, is a time to focus on the traditional African values of family. It is based upon the celebration of seven principles or beliefs called the Nguzo Saba and was created by Ron Karenga in 1966 to celebrate African-American heritage.
Happy holidays, everyone! We wish you the best. Everyone is always welcome at the Rice Lake Public Library.