These books, piled on a dresser, wait to be read, given away or returned to the library.

Congratulations to all Summer Readers!


SRP2014We had 1730 kids and teens from over 30 schools participate in “Paws to Read,” the 2014 Summer Reading Program.  These fantastic kids and teens read over 13,500 hours during 8 weeks, earning “s-pup-tacular” prizes and helping their schools in the Summer Reading Trophy competition!  We’d like to say thank you to our 70 Teen Volunteers, who registered participants and handed out prizes.  With their help, the Paws to Read program was a barking success!

As much fun as the Summer Reading Program was, all good things must come to an end.  We closed out the summer in style with a wild and wonderful show from Deb Krohn, the Frog Lady!  Deb amazed us with amphibians and rendered us speechless with reptiles, including the adorable Dirk and Diesel.  It was definitely a show to remember!

FrogLady3 FrogLady2
FrogLady5 FrogLady4

Stay tuned for the announcement of this year’s Summer Reading Trophy winner and information on upcoming reading programs for kids of all ages.  Happy reading!


Back to School Blues


For those of you readers under 18,  at what point does reality hit you that summer is almost over? For me it was looking at my calendar, realizing that school starts in less than a week, and that I have nothing that I need for school. As summer comes to a close, I’ve assembled some tips to make the start of school slightly less painful than it can be.


1) First day back

The first day (for me) is the toughest because I really have no desire to get out of my bed. What I recommend is to have things ready to go the night before. Lay your outfit out and leave your backpack by the door so you can just roll out of bed, change and go. You could also make a special breakfast for yourself to get you going through the day.


2) School Supplies

A lot of high schools don’t give out school supply lists until the first day when teachers tell you what is required for their class. However, many teachers will require things like binders, notebooks, lined paper and things of that nature. You’ll always need pencils, erasers, paper clips, and post-its.

Things that you think/know you will need this year should be purchased before school starts so you can avoid the problem of not getting an item you need in time. Worst comes to worst you can always return unopened supplies if you end up not needing them later.


3) Parking

If you are an upperclassman who drives to school, being early is always best. The earlier you are, the better parking spot you will get. Check the night before to make sure your parking pass is in your car to avoid having your car towed. Other key things to keep in your car (but out of sight) are insurance cards, registration, and extra money.


4) First day in a new school

Whether you be entering 6th, 9th, or a new school in general the best thing to remember is that it’s everyone’s first day of school too. Don’t be afraid to ask a teacher or a fellow student for help if you have questions or get lost.


5) Getting help at school

One of the nicest aspects of school is that there is a lot of help, in a lot of places and all are very available. Friend problems? See a counselor/psychologist. College stress? Schedule a meeting with your counselor. Struggling in a subject? Talk to your teacher or if your school offers a tutoring program, take a few minutes to check it out. Utilizing what the school offers is one of the best ways to survive school.

If the thought of school is still causing you dread just think: Football season is just around the corner and not too long after comes Winter Break. Happy first day of school!

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A confession


What I am about to say may shock you but I just have to let go of a dark secret I have been carrying around for the last couple of years. Here goes then (takes deep breath): I don’t like the TV series Downton Abbey. What is worse, I am from England I and do not like Downton Abbey.  Some of you have been kind enough to say nice things about my English accent when you talk to me at the library. You say that it reminds you of things you enjoy watching on Masterpiece Theater, like Downton Abbey. I hope you do not feel too betrayed.

So what British TV series do I like? Here are three that I have enjoyed immensely and would encourage you to take a look at:


The Bletchley Circle


Four women work together at Bletchley Park during World war II. The all have razor sharp intellects and their code breaking efforts help to shorten the war. In 1952 they are stuck in dull jobs or domesticity with no outlet for their extraordinary skills. Then one of them begins to read about a string of unsolved murders in London and believes that this is a puzzle that she and her former colleagues can crack. Together they must face being patronized and belittled by the police, and the men in their lives, as they try to stop a killer. There will be danger too.



George Gently 


George Gently is working as a detective in London in the early 1960′s, an era when some of the force was notoriously corrupt. He is upright and honest and his unrelenting opposition to dangerous criminals results in the murder of his wife. He relocates to the far north east of England at at time when sweeping changes in attitudes and values are affecting all areas of life, including police work. He must find his place in this new part of the world and adapt to new ideas but can he do it without letting go of his strongly held principles?




So what would it be like if Sherlock Holmes was born in our own times and was running around London solving crimes with the help of his amazing detection skills and his mobile phone? It turns out that it would be hugely entertaining. Sherlock has no social skills and zero patience and never tires of letting those around him know how clever he is. No wonder no one likes him. Luckily for him he meets Dr. John Watson, newly returned from the war in Afghanistan, who appears to be quiet and unassuming but has the ability to put Sherlock in his place and to encourage him to behave a little better. The good doctor is also a crack shot, which comes in very handy.






Summer Exploration in Chicago and the Surrounding Area



Are you looking for a way to disconnect from the daily grind and enjoy the great city of Chicago and the surrounding Midwest region? You’ve come to the right place: the library has many travel guides that showcase the variety of activities that Chicago, the greater Chicagoland area, and nearby states have to offer. From outdoor activities such as biking and hiking to historical and architectural tours, these guidebooks will have something for everyone’s taste. They are also useful for planning activities/trips of various time lengths, from a single day, to a relaxing weekend, to a bustling week. Take a look at some of my guidebook suggestions below, and come peruse our travel section as well:


General Chicago Travel Guides:

Lonely Planet Chicago

Time Out Chicago


Chicago Restaurants and Bars:

Historic Bars of Chicago

The Michelin Guide, Chicago. Restaurants

Zagat Chicago Restaurant Survey


Hiking and Biking around Chicago:

Hiking & Biking in Cook County, Illinois

Hiking & biking, Lake County, Illinois


Historical Chicago:

AIA Guide to Chicago

Literary Chicago: A Book Lover’s Tour of the Windy City


Day Trips from Chicago:

Day Trips from Chicago: Getaway Ideas for the Local Traveler

Fodor’s Where to Weekend Around Chicago


Michigan Travel Guides:

50 Hikes in Michigan

Backroads & Byways of Michigan

Michigan Day Trips by Theme

Moon Handbooks: Michigan


St. Louis, Missouri Travel Guides:

Best Easy Day Hikes: St. Louis

Moon Handbooks: St Louis


Wisconsin Travel Guides:

Best Tent Camping Wisconsin: Your Car-Camping Guide to Scenic Beauty, the Sounds of Nature, and an Escape from Civilization

Moon Handbooks: Wisconsin

Wisconsin’s Door County

Wisconsin, Off the Beaten Path


A Mug, a Microwave and This Fabulous Book


Mug bookPeople think I’m a good cook, but I know my culinary reputation is built more on the fact that I can find good recipes rather than talent. Why do I tag this book, 250 Best Meals in a Mug: Delicious Homemade Microwave Meals in Minutes, as fabulous?  Many reasons:  I’m more of a spur-of the-moment eater, rather than a planner; I often have a “taste” for a small portion of something (and would rather not have that whole pie teasing me), and I like it simple. The concept of making a meal or treat in a mug was brought to my attention by two of my younger colleagues, who shared a webpage with me that listed desserts in a single-portion cup that could be made in minutes.  That night I made a cinnamon coffee cake in a mug, an easy and aromatic evening treat. This book goes much further, including recipes for breakfast, soups, meat and meatless main dishes, pasta, and my favorite chapter, “Super-Fast, Cheap and Easy Recipes with 4 Ingredients (or Less).”

I and my late-night snack partner picked out two recipes to test for this blog post, and we chose “Bistro Onion Soup” and “Lemon Cream Pie”.  The onion soup was a perfect choice because normally I wouldn’t want to make a big pot of it. And pie?  Again, the mug portion is the better option for me; a Weight Watcher.

Tonight was test kitchen night and verdict is in:  4.5 stars (out of 5) for both creations, with a slight favor for the pie.  Here’s the Lemon Crème Pie (in a mug) directions:



Use a 12-16 oz mug (I used a ramekin)Pie2


¼ cup white chocolate chips

1 container (5-6 oz.) lemon, honey or vanilla Greek yogurt

1 tsp. finely grated lemon zest

1 ½ tbsp. freshly squeezed lemon juice

1 tbsp. butter

2 crème-filled vanilla sandwich cookies, crushed


1. In the mug, microwave white chocolate chips on High for 30 seconds. Stir. Microwave on High for 15 seconds. Stir until melted and smooth. If chocolate is not melted, microwave on High for another 15 seconds. Stir.

2. Remove lid from yogurt. Stir white chocolate, lemon zest and lemon juice into the yogurt  until blended and smooth.

3. Add butter to the mug (do not clean out traces of white chocolate). Microwave on High for 15 to 30 seconds or until melted. Stir until blended, then stir in cookies until combined. Gently press cookie mixture into bottom of mug.

4. Spoon yogurt mixture over cookie mixture. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes or until filling is set.

Eat directly from mug.


How to Read a Call Number Part II


In my last post I promised that we’d look at the next part of a call number. So, here we go.How do I?

Fiction (including genres like Mystery, Science Fiction, etc) don’t use numbers at all. After the appropriate prefix they are arranged by the author’s last name. So if you are interested in novels by a particular author you can go straight to the shelf without looking them up first. Some authors write books in multiple genres (Fiction and Mystery have a lot of cross over) so if you didn’t check the catalog first take a look around — your book may be in another genre collection. Short story anthologies are a special case: since they have many authors they are filed by the first word in the title.

The Biographies Collection includes both biographies (written by someone other than the subject) and autobiographies (the author and subject are the same person) and are arranged by the name of the subject. This puts books about each person into the same area. Once again there are special cases. Books about the careers (as opposed to the entire lives) of many sports figures, actors, musicians, disease survivors, scientists, religious figures, presidents, and a few others are mixed into the regular run of non-fiction shelves. These biographies are also filed by the subject’s last name (thus John Lennon books are found at BIOG LENNON and 782.42166 LEN, books on all of the Beatles are at 782.42166 BEA).

Dramatic movies, on DVD and BLU-RAY, are filed by title. Once you are in the right genre area you can look for the movie’s name. Non-fiction movies follow the same numbering rules as the books. If you are looking for anything you can get on yoga you’ll find books and movies in their respective collections under the same number (613.71).

Non-Fiction, including several collections that have been pulled out for special attention, is where you will find the numbers. The special code. In theory each digit narrows down on more specific topics. In practice there are some sequences of numbers that convey meaning (. . .092, for example, means a work about a person), many books have multiple subjects but are placed in an area that a cataloger deems as the central or most important subject of the book, and the code has been updated and changed over the years but not every book has had its call number updated. The collection here at the Indian Trails Public Library District is a “current and popular” collection rather than a comprehensive or archival one. So changes to the Dewey Decimal System are only relevant to a small fraction of a percentage of the items on the shelves. That said, the first digit or two convey a lot of meaning for anyone who knows how to read them.

Overview of DDC

There you have it. A quick and short guide to how to find materials at the library. Hopefully that will remove some of the mystery of where things live in the library. There is a lot to it and we’ve just scratched the surface here. We have desk staff who are always there and ready to help you find whatever you need.



Swimming with the Swedes       


What’s not to love about a country that has a special day to honor the kanelbulle – a cinnamon

Stellan and Alexander Skarsgard, two members of the Skarsgard family.

A tasty Swedish treat, enjoyed during a fika.

A tasty Swedish treat, enjoyed during a fika.

bun? Or for that matter, what’s not to love about a country that is home to the Skarsgard family, Ingrid Bergman, Lena Olin, Joel Kinnaman and Pippi Longstocking. Ikea? – don’t even get me started there.

I love Paris but there is something about Sweden that has moved this northern country to the top of my “must see” list. And no, it is not the Girl with the Dragon Tattoo books, although I did read and enjoy them.

A few years back I discovered a marvelous documentary called Men Who Swim (sadly unavailable on DVD in the U.S., but available streaming on Amazon Prime) about a group of middle-age men in Sweden who decide to start a synchronized swim team. It is charming and funny and you cheer for the men to win their first competition.

I devoured the English and Swedish versions of the Kurt Wallander series based on Henning

Kenneth Branagh stars in the English version of Wallander.

Kenneth Branagh stars in the English version of Wallander.

Let the Right One In

Hands down, the best vampire movie ever filmed.

Mankell’s novels, which led me to read Karen Engelmann and Jo Nesbo.

Slide in the stunning good looks of the Skarsgard actors (Good Will Hunting, True Blood, Vikings), the smoldering Joel Kinnaman (The Killing), classic Ingrid Bergman and Lena Olin, and the darkly scary Let the Right One In and you might as well pack your bags and move there.

This summer NBC aired Welcome to Sweden, a sitcom by Amy Poehler and her brother Greg (who stars) about an American accountant who quits his job and follows his girlfriend to Sweden. Most of the comedy centers around the “fish out of water” scenario – but the scenery is breathtaking.

If you love Sweden, or are just madly curious about it, – why not visit through the books and movies at the library? Maybe we can meet for a fika?


Far From the Tree


Ever since it was published in late 2012, I’ve been reading glowing reviews of Far From the Tree, Andrew Solomon’s latest nonfiction work. I was intrigued by the book’s description and by all the praise it was receiving, but I was hesitant to start the book. Coming in at 962 pages, and tipping the scales at over three pounds, the book seemed like a time commitment I wasn’t sure I was ready for. After a few months of hemming and hawing, I finally bit the bullet and checked the book out from the library. Staggering home under the weight of this tome, I quickly realized that it wasn’t going to be a book that I would tote around town in my bag, ready to pull out and read during any free moment that would otherwise be wasted. Instead, this doorstopper of a book would reside on my coffee table during the next few weeks, demanding my full attention and most of my arm strength as I read.


Far From the Tree next to a more standard 229-page book

So, was this heavy-lifting reading experience worth it? Absolutely! If you’re not familiar with Far From the Tree, it’s a brilliant study of families, specifically investigating how parents deal with raising children that are very different from them. In the book, Solomon explains the concept of vertical and horizontal identities. Vertical identities include things like language and race, and are typically passed down from parent to child. Horizontal identities are characteristics of children that their parents do not share, and can be the cause of significant stress for families. In his book, Solomon spends time with parents who are raising children who have horizontal identities that are very different than their own – average people who are raising child prodigies as well as children with conditions like Down Syndrome, dwarfism, Deafness, autism, physical disabilities, and schizophrenia. Solomon explores the common struggles that these parents face, and is heartened to find that even those who are initially devastated by their child’s differences end up finding joy, meaning, and love in parenting. It’s sure to open your mind to new ideas spark some great discussions. So don’t make the same mistake I did – grab a copy of Far From the Tree today! Your brain and your biceps will thank you.



The Possibilities


One you might have missed. Have you read the Possibilities? Our staff recommends it in our Page Turners newsletter.

The Possibilities by Kaui Hart Hemmings (author of The Descendants)


Sarah’s life changes forever when her son Cully is killed in an avalanche. He was twenty two years old. She feels isolated in her grief even though her dad lives with her and in spite of having renewed contact with Cully’s father. Three months after the accident she is barely coming to terms with her loss and finding that platitudes from well-meaning people can be hard to handle. Her return to work does not go well and when she tries to move on by cleaning out her son’s room things come to light that she cannot explain. Then a young girl shows up on her doorstep with revelations about Cully that may have a profound effect on everyone who loved him. This is an unsentimental portrayal of people doing their best to deal with tragedy and hard choices.


Wake me up before you go


How do you set your alarm clock in the morning? Do you set it at the time you need to wake up and awaken when it goes off? I suspect that most people do. My wife sets her alarm and gets out of bed the moment it goes off. Me? I am a snoozer. I am not sure if I am in the minority or not, but I set my alarm clock earlier than I need to just so I can hit that snooze button. It feels like I am cheating with a snooze but not really since I purposefully set my alarm sooner. I also use an alarm clock and not my phone because I like keeping my phone off at night to save battery. I mention this only so that all the poor unused alarm clocks in America can get a second chance at life.

Apparently, this setting of alarm clocks early or not is a moot issue if you have great sleep habits. Did you know you can train your body to naturally wake up at a set time without the need for alarm clocks? By “you” I mean certain rare people because I cannot ever conceive of doing so. Probably the same type of people that run five miles a day and eat only healthy foods. Bah! ;-)

If you want to read more about sleep you can check out one of our books on the science of sleeping.

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