Cynthia's Picks

Cynthia Claridge
Cynthia taught preschool through third grade for 28 years, so she’s our resident expert on kid’s books. She’s a voracious reader and especially enjoys history, nature, science, cookbooks, biography, historical fiction---well, as you can see, Cynthia reads a LOT! She’s also a quilter and loves to chat about quilting with customers. Cynthia has four grandchildren that live in other states, so if she’s missing, guess where you might find her. Just so you don’t think she’s the typical quilting grandmother, Cynthia has ridden an elephant through the jungle of Thailand. Wow-ask her about that one!




Applesauce Weather Cover Image
By Helen Frost, Amy June Bates (Illustrator)
ISBN: 9780763675769
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Candlewick - August 9th, 2016

This is a touching poetic novel for young people of a story bringing family together. The lyrical writing shares a family's love of apple picking season, but also serves as a time to remember a family member who has passed away. Brother and sister, Peter and Faith, wonder if their beloved Uncle Arthur will return to the farm during apple season since his wife, Lucy has died. Faith is positive that when the "first apple falls" Arthur will be by their sides. With his gift for storytelling and love of tricks, Arthur helps the family remember their love for Aunt Lucy and her love for them. Frost uses each characters reflection of their thoughts and feelings to advance the story forward. The lovely and detailed pencil drawings by Amy June Bates reflects a simple time in children's lives as they interact with one another and their cherished apple orchard. This is a gentle story dealing with the death of a loved family member.  

Last Bus to Wisdom: A Novel (Two Medicine Country) Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101982563
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Riverhead Books - August 16th, 2016

Ivan Doig has been a favorite author of mine since reading English Creek, the first of the Montana trilogy. He creates characters I want to meet and life moments I want to experience. Last Bus to Wisdom was Doig's last book and I for one will miss him and his wonderful storytelling. The book is considered a semi-autobiographical incident from Doig's youth. Eleven years old Donal was being raised in Montana by his grandmother after an accident left him without his parents. Gram needed a "female surgery" and so Donal was put on a bus bound for Wisconsin to spend the summer with a great aunt he had never met. The bus trip was an amusing and exhilarating journey as Donal decided creating an imaginary life mixed in with his real life to share with fellow travelers would make the time goes by all the faster. Autograph books were popular in the 1950's and Donal attempted to gather a signature and thought from everyone he met on his travels. Some of the autographs he collected were a quite a hoot. When he finally arrived in Manitowoc, his Aunt Kate is less than happy to have a visitor and made Donal's life miserable. As Donal got to know Herman, his aunt's husband, he finally had a friend and cohort in several adventures. Eventually Donal decided that Aunt Kate's rules were just too much, so he "takes back" his card game winnings and secretly leaves on a bus bound for the west. Much to Donal's shock, Herman had also decided it was time to flee the shackles of Kate and was sitting on the bus waiting for his partner in crime. The troubles and adventures the pair gets themselves into are hilarious and exciting. Told through the voice of an eleven year old, the reader learns the "wisdom" of a growing young man. If you are a reader of Doig, this one isn't too be missed. 

Words in Deep Blue Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101937648
Availability: Usually Ships in 1-5 Days
Published: Knopf Books for Young Readers - June 6th, 2017

I literally could not put this book down as I read it in one sitting. Cath Crowley, an Australian author, creates the most believable and endearing characters. Her poetic and philosophical method of writing is enlightening and spellbinding. Rachel and Henry have known one another since grade school and have been one another's best friend. Unfortunately for Rachel when she begins high school, she falls in love with her best friend, but Henry longs for another classmate. This sounds like just another love story, but it is so much more as the love story weaves around several other instrumental characters and plots. The setting for this story is a beloved bookshop. Book titles, characters and lines from novels run throughout the book in a cohesive and colorful style. Flowing between Rachel's and Henry's voices, letters left, and marginalia from books in the shop, Crowley conveys the themes of loss, love, family and loyalty. Loss can consist of people as well as things and this is a major theme in Words in Deep Blue. It is how we accept that loss and move on, "the laws of the universe have been tinkered with, and you are blindly wheeling" shares one character. Grab a handkerchief, as you will be sobbing with tears rolling down your cheeks for at least the last 30 pages. If you love words and books, you'll love this novel.

News of the World: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062409218
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: William Morrow Paperbacks - June 20th, 2017

This surprisingly charming novel is a very pleasant read to help escape
today’s chaotic and antagonistic culture. Set in rural Texas in 1870, it is the
story about a special bond between an older man, Captain Kidd and a 10-year-
old girl, Johanna as they travel 400 treacherous miles from Wichita Falls to
San Antonio. Captain Kidd, an itinerant newsreader who had been spreading
the word about the ratification of the 15 Amendment, giving all men
regardless of race the right to vote, when the US Army approached him with
a $50 gold piece as a fee requesting he return Johanna to her relatives in
San Antonio. Kiowa raiders had massacred her family and kidnapped Johanna
when she was 4 years old. Her only recollection was of the life she had lived
and learned to love, within a Kiowa tribe. When she first joins the captain
she can barely understand or speak English, but through the course of their
travels they learn to communicate and grow to care deeply for one another.
Jiles is a masterful storyteller, as she weaves the story of the captain and
Johanna’s lives in the time of their adventures. Within the simple 213 pages
magic appears to the reader as the time period and people come alive.

Commonwealth: A Novel Cover Image
ISBN: 9780062491831
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Harper Perennial - May 2nd, 2017

Ann Patchett is a favorite author of mine. I have read several of her books
and found this one to be very different from her others, but written from
the wonderful perspective and character development that readers find in
Patchett’s books. Semi-autobiographical, in that Ann herself was raised in a
blended family, she drew from her own life experiences to tell the story of
the Keating and Cousins families. A kiss between a man and woman married
to other people is what starts this story of infidelity and broken families.
Weaving back and forth through over fifty years we learn of the impact the
divorce has had on each of the six children and the four adults. With one
family living in Virginia and the other in California, the six stepchildren live
together every summer creating a kind of havoc that drives them. The
children learn to have a common enemy, the parents, which bind them
together. As adults they view their childhood through different lenses,
which Patchett so beautifully illustrates. An underlying mystery within the
family is slowly revealed as each of the children as adults share their
understanding of the events that led to the death of one of their siblings. I
thoroughly loved reading this book and look forward to the next Patchett

Homegoing Cover Image
ISBN: 9781101971062
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Vintage - May 2nd, 2017

Homegoing was the Novel Idea for the Deschutes County Library last year.
I found this book to be one of my favorite reads for 2017. The impact of
slavery on the US as well as the continent of Africa was a major theme of
Gysai’s debut novel telling the stories of one family growing and living on two
separate continents over 300 years time. One character says, “The curse of
enslavement is like a fisherman casting a net into the water. He keeps only
the one or two fish that he needs to feed himself and puts the rest in the
water thinking that their lives will go back to normal. No one forgets that
they were once captive, even if they are now free” this summed up very
poetically the impact of an evil system that tore apart many families, people
and countries and still impact us today. Two sisters living in separate villages
begin this story as one sister is sent off to the US as a slave, while the
other sister remains in Ghana married off to an Englishman in the slave
trade. In alternating chapters Gyasi weaves the stories of two families over
the next 300 years. She follows the strand of one family beginning as slaves
in the US through emancipation, the Jim Crow era, the Civil Rights
Movement, up to the present, while the other family makes their way in
Ghana dealing with colonization, poverty, warring tribes and exploitation.
Both sides of the family suffered at the hands of white civilizations. The
rich storytelling and exquisite language make the stories of each individual,
in their own time period, come alive. She ends the novel completing the
circle of the family with a perfect encounter.

Evicted: Poverty and Profit in the American City Cover Image
ISBN: 9780553447453
Availability: On Our Shelves Now
Published: Broadway Books - February 28th, 2017

Once again I found myself reading about another broken system in our
country. Everyone deserves a home, a place to live where they feel safe and
secure. But for many in our country this isn’t a reality. Desmond goes into
the poverty-stricken communities of Milwaukee to share how the families
living there are struggling to keep a roof over their heads while the
government systems protect and defend the landlords at the expensive of
the people. He describes the housing these families move into that are unfit
for human occupancy. Most months these families have to choose between
groceries, medicine for illness or rent. As a society, Desmond points out how
we have allowed the safety net systems of affordable housing, legal aid and
financial assistance that were once in place have become diminished. He
shares the lives of people who have not made the best choices or have
received unlucky breaks and now there is seldom an extending hand to help
them get back on their feet. He points out that we need to put back in place
the agencies that can assist people so they have a home, which is central to
helping them begin to make a life for themselves and their children. “What
have we allowed our country to become?” is the question Desmond asks.
Reading about the failures of our society, I must look around and see what I
can do to be part of the solution and not to ignore the problem. It is a
difficult book to read, but a necessary look at our society and community.