One Book, One Community: Orphan Train events

20141020_030736_OrphanTrain_finalcoverhighres_100Here are some upcoming activities relating to the 2015 One Book, One Community pick, “Orphan Train” by Christina Baker Kline.

Adult Book Discussion Group: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 11, Kaltreider Benfer Library

Adult Book Discussion: 1 p.m.  Feb. 12, Kreutz Creek Valley Library Center

The Orphan Train Movement: 1:30 p.m. Feb. 15, Martin Library

Spend Sunday afternoon at the library for a presentation by Donna Aviles, a descendant of an orphan train rider. Donna shares the story of her grandfather, Oliver Nordmark, as he traveled from their New York orphanage to the small town of Bern, Kansas.  Light refreshments will be served.

Noon Book Talk: Feb. 16, Guthrie Memorial Library

Evening Book Talk: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 16, Guthrie Memorial Library

Presentation followed by book discussion, 6:30 p.m. Feb. 17,  Red Land Community Library

Cindy Washburn from of Oxford Hall Celtic Shop in New Cumberland will be at Red Land Community Library at 6:30 pm to explain about Irish culture and the items that are mentioned in the book. A book discussion will follow at 7 p.m.

The Orphan Train Story Time: 10:30 a.m. Feb. 18, Village Library

The Rowdy Readers Book Discussion Group: 7:30 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 19,  Village Library

Book Discussion: 7 p.m. Feb. 23, Arthur Hufnagel Public Library of Glen Rock

Mystery Readers Book Discussion: noon Feb. 24, Kaltreider Benfer Library

Book Discussion: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24, Dillsburg Area Public Library

K’Nex Rail Lab: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 24, Kreutz Creek Valley Library Center

Working in small groups, students use K’NEX building kits and other learning aids to explore various themes related to railroading, including: bridges; levers and pulleys; wheels, axles & inclined planes; and gears.

Book Discussion: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 25, Martin Library

Thursday Evening Book Club: 6 to 8 p.m. Feb. 26Collinsville Community Library

Orphan Train Discussion: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 26 Glatfelter Memorial Library

Book Discussion: 1 p.m. Feb. 27, Delta Area Community Senior Center

Book Discussion: 6:30 p.m. Feb. 27, Faith United Church of Christ

Pre-Teen Book Club (ages 10 -12): 10 to 11 a.m. Feb. 28, Dover Area Community Library

Join us in the small study room to discuss Poneasequa – Goddess of the Waters by Stephanie A. Duckworth-Elliott. This is a related book for young adults.

Book Discussion: 6:30 p.m. March 3Dover Area Community Library

Riding the Rails in the late 1800s: 6:30 p.m. March 5, at Steam into History, 2 W. Main St., New Freedom

The orphan trains took children to the Midwest in search of a new life. Join us in the station to hear how train travel in the late 1800s would have been on a trip across country. Were they warm? How did they eat? Sleep? Tour a replica coach from the era. Presented at no charge by Paul Smith Library of Southern York County. Space is limited. Please call the library at 717-235-4313 for reservations.

Here is the event listing for One Book, One Community events

Have you read this book? What did you think?

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ALA announces Newbery, Caldecott and Printz awards

The American Library Assn. announced the winners of its slate of book prizes, including the Newbery, Caldecott and Printz awards, at its annual meeting Monday.


The John Newbery Medal for outstanding contribution to children’s literature went to Kwame Alexander’s book “The Crossover.” The novel in verse, about a basketball-playing teen, is the first book for middle-graders from Alexander, a veteran author who has published more than 20 books.


The Randolph Caldecott Medal for most distinguished picture book for children was awarded to “The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend” by Dan Santat. Santat, who lives in Southern California, is the creator of “The Replacements,” a Disney Channel series.

The Coretta Scott King Award for an author went to Jacqueline Woodson for “Brown Girl Dreaming.” The book is also the recipient of a Newbery honor and won the National Book Award in the young adult category.

The Printz Award for young adult novel went to “I’ll Give You The Sun” by Jandy Nelson, a book about fraternal twins whose lives have diverged. It’s the second book by Nelson, who also works as a literary agent.

Have you read any of these books? If so, what did you think?


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Comic Book Wednesday: ‘Doctor Who’

12D_01_Alice_.jpg.square-false_maxheight-835_size-350If you can’t wait for “Doctor Who” to come back on TV, pick up the comic “Doctor Who” and begin to read the “new adventures with the Twelfth Doctor.”

This first issue with our Scottish Doctor is called “Terrorformer.”

The comic opens with Zaxx and his A.I., Clive. They are investigating a weird reading on a planet that looks a lot like Earth. However, when Zaxx gets out of the ship, he soon gets caught up in some hot water.

Cut to The Doctor and Clara. The Doctor is taking Clara to Isen VI to teach her how to ski (or so Clara thought.) But the planet doesn’t look like a huge winter wonderland once they get out of the Tardis — It is more like a tropical jungle!

They soon realize that money will buy anything (which is why the Doctor hates it), and this icy world has been terraformed into a jungle paradise.

We find out that the Doctor wasn’t just taking Clara here to teach her how to ski; the Tardis picked up on a warning signal from the planet that was Gallifreyan in origin. The Doctor explains it was an ancient system where a series of beacons would rove the galaxies and detect threats to universal harmony, disruptions in time and space, and other inexplicable phenomena. And though the Tardis picked up on the signal, it couldn’t tell them what as the system is failing.

Soon, the scouting party stumbles along something, and through a series of unfortunate events, comes face-to-face with a demonic creator hell-bent on destroying the universe.

I really enjoyed this story by Robbie Morrison. It was witty and playful but continued the suspense that we enjoy from “Doctor Who” episodes. It is hard to warm up to the Scottish Doctor (and even harder to understand him!), so I loved all the funny quips from the Doctor and Clara. I was laughing throughout the whole comic.

However, I didn’t enjoy the depictions of the Doctor and Clara. The surrounding art and secondary character designs were great. The coloring was engaging. But Clara and the Doctor sometimes looked nothing like themselves in many panels. I know the characters well, since I watched the TV show, but what about those who have never watched it? It was confusing and a bit lazy, in my opinion. The cover (seen above) is amazing, but that was done by Alice X. Zhang. I think artist Dave Taylor has many talents, but I wish he stuck with what the characters look like on television.

Despite my feelings about the art, the comic is awesome! I really recommend this title, especially if you miss our dear Doctor.

Comic Book Wednesday is a feature that will showcase a variety of visually based books that fit into this wide category, to give a taste of this other form of reading.

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Mark Zuckerberg picks second book

angelsFacebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced his second book club pick for 2015: Steven Pinker’s “The Better Angels of Our Nature: Why Violence Has Declined” published in 2011. The book argues that looking back at human history, violence is on the wane.

Zuckerberg has launched a book club on Facebook, A Year in Books, where he plans to read and discuss a new book every two weeks throughout 2015.

Read how a York County resident helped spark Zuckerberg’s decision to form a book club. 

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High Street Dares middle grade coming Jan. 27

high street dares3

My newest  middle grade comes out Jan. 27. The first offering in the High Street Dares series includes two books, “The Locket of Doom” and “The Ghostly Connection.”

I’m super excited about this new series, which I’ve dedicated to members of the “real” High Street Gang. Growing up on High Street in Manchester, that’s what we called ourselves.

What’s the story behind the name? One year, we were caroling on Maple Street in Manchester when the WSBA van spotted us. I don’t remember who was driving the van, but he stopped and asked us to sing on the radio. So we did. At the end, he asked us our names and we shouted, “We’re the High Street Gang!” The name stuck. I remember running home to tell my parents we were on the radio only to find out they had heard us sing. WSBA was always on in our house!

When I started writing this new middle grade series, I pulled from my childhood. We really did live down the street from a cemetery and there really was an old barn in my backyard and we really did sleep out in a big old tent during the summer. Oh, and we definitely got into plenty of trouble! Especially me.

 So, here’s the skinny on my latest tween adventure:

Dares and danger…

Dare Mags to do anything and she’s game. Make it a double dare, and face the whole High Street Gang.

In the Locket of Doom, Mags’ sister and A.J.’s brother, double dare the gang to walk through the cemetery at midnight and perform a spell to make a stone statue cry. But weird things have been happening ever since A.J. started wearing an old locket she found in the park. For one thing, she can’t take the locket off. When an old woman who smells like rotten garbage and has different-colored eyes shows up, things go from bad to worse. Every time A.J. sees the old woman, the locket shrinks. Somehow the locket, the stone statue, and the lady are related. Can the gang figure out the mystery in time to save A.J.?

In The Ghostly Connection, the gang faces another dare—sleeping in a haunted barn. But there’s a lot more to the dare, including another mystery to solve. There’s a good ghost, a bad ghost, and an important message to deliver. Oh, and a treasure to find!

My other middle grade books “Freaky Frank” and “Will, Middle Name Trouble,” are available in paperback and ebook. High Street Dares will first come out in ebook, followed by the paperback later.

February will be a busy month for me bookwise, too, with two titles releasing. “Ella’s Rain” and “It’s in the Stars.”

ellasraincover“Ella’s Rain” is a beautiful book about love and loss and finding the strength to go on.  It includes 365 letters Grandma D wrote to Ella before she died. Grandma instructs her best friend, Maddie, who becomes Ella’s guardian upon her death, to give Ella a new note every day.

“It’s in the Stars” is a romantic comedy about a girl who follows her daily horoscope in search of love. I had a ton of fun writing this! And the protagonist is a reporter who works for a small newspaper. I hope you check it out!

My other titles include:

The Moment Keeper

The Christmas Violin

The Lion Awakens

The Yearbook Series: Gina and Mike

The Yearbook Series: Sue and Tom

The Yearbook Series: Tess and Jeremy



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York Rescue Mission seeking books for spring sale

The York Rescue Mission is looking for books as part of its spring sale to benefit the organization.

People can donate books at the mission’s Economy Store at 283 W. Market St. in York – not far from the York Emporium – during normal business hours. Or, you can call 845-7662 to schedule a pick-up.

The mission’s spring book sale will take place on Friday, April 24 from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and on Saturday, April 25 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Fellowship Hall of York Alliance Church at 501 Rathon Road in Spring Garden Township, right near Penn State-York.

All proceeds from the sale benefit the mission, a nonprofit organization that provides food, shelter, clothing and spiritual guidance to those in need in York County.

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Comic Book Wednesday: ‘The Underwater Welder’

downloadOnce again writer and artist Jeff Lemire makes it onto my review post.

From break-through story “Trillium” to his time remastering well-known titles, Lemire can create amazing stories and emotional responses from the most unlikely places and simple ideas.

This time the story is about Jack Joseph, an underwater welder off the coast of Nova Scotia. The first few pages of “The Underwater Welder” is just the eerie black-and-white panels of Jack on his way to work and making his way under the ocean water.

Then, we are introduced to Susie, Jack’s very pregnant wife. Jack seems out of it, and we learn that he doesn’t like Halloween and the festivities surrounding it, as if something monumental in his life happened on that holiday that he cares to forget about.

Jack is about to go away on a two-week job, leaving Susie and his baby behind right before the baby’s birth. He is supposed to take some time off after that, but he wants one last shift before that time. All of his co-workers and friends advise him to take a break, but he can’t be deterred.

However, when a small accident happens under water, he is made to stay on land until things with his health are solved.

When he was under the water, he mysteriously saw an old pocket watch that he recognized. He starts to hear noises, and before he can figure it out, his buddies were pulling him up to save him.

And now, he can’t get the strange event out of his mind. Even more weird are the “dreams” he is having. It is as if he is jumping back in time, reliving moments.

Jack can’t just sit on dry land; he needs to figure out what is under the water and why it seems to call his name like a siren. So, he writes a letter to Susie, grabs his gear and takes off for the spot he saw the pocket watch. Unfortunately for both of them, things are about to take a dramatic turn.

“The Underwater Welder” can seem intimidating as a 220-page graphic novel. However, once you start turning the pages and reading the dialogue, Lemire has you: hook, line and sinker.

Some don’t like Lemire’s artistic style, and it is definitely something to get used to. I think it stands out among the crowd of comic book artists. It also gives a creepy, sad vibe to this already sad story (with maybe a happy ending? You need to read to find out.)

If you are looking for something longer to read, to supplement your already-growing list of single issues each month, invest in a copy of “The Underwater Welder.”

Comic Book Wednesday is a feature that will showcase a variety of visually based books that fit into this wide category, to give a taste of this other form of reading.

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Spring Grove graduate returns to sign book ‘Pack of Dorks’

dorkcoverBeth VrabelMeet middle-grade author and York County native Beth Vrabel 11 a.m. Jan. 10 at Glatfelter Library in Spring Grove. Vrabel will sign copies of her first book, “Pack of Dorks,” which is about two loners who pair up to take on frenemies and bullies.

In addition to the book signing, Vrabel will meet with young writers 6:30 p.m. Jan. 8 and spend time with second- and third-grade writers at Paradise Elementary School on Jan. 9.

Vrabel, a graduate of Spring Grove High School, has two more middle-grade books releasing next year, including “The Blind Guide to Stinkville,” which is set in a paper mill town like Spring Grove, and “Dorks in Love,” the second book in the Dorks series.

Prior to moving to Connecticut about three years ago, Vrabel was an editor at the York Daily Record/Sunday News.


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From Page to Projector: ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’

hobbitThis is it: The last Middle-earth movie directed by Peter Jackson, who gave fans of cinema and fantasy the tremendous and epic “Lord of the Rings” trilogy. His trilogy take on J.R.R. Tolkien’s children’s classic “The Hobbit” ended with the release of “The Battle of the Five Armies,” which at the time of writing this post sits atop the box office.

The finale focuses on the final 90 pages or so of the book, as well as events understood to be taking place concurrently in the Tolkien universe. The dragon Smaug goes to scorch the nearby town but is brought down by Bard, the until-previously disgraced ancestor of the king of the destroyed city of Esgaroth. The dragon’s death brings several peoples to the Lonely Mountain seeking its riches, but Thorin and his dwarven company close off the mountain to all seeking aid while he searches for his lost gem and family heirloom, the Arkenstone. The nearby Men and the Elves of Mirkwood join forces to siege the mountain and are set to do battle with Thorin’s brethren, who have come from the north as reinforcements, but then an army of Orcs come down on them to claim Erebor’s riches for their own. The dwarves, elves and men join forces to fight off a common foe, and they are able to win once Thorin and his group decide to join the fray (and once the Eagles come to save the day yet again), but Thorin is killed in the battle. Our titular hobbit, Bilbo Baggins, grieves the loss of his friend before setting out with the wizard Gandalf, who had his own dealings with the Necromancer (aka an early reiteration of Sauron) to take care of before joining the fight, on his journey home to the Shire.

Continue reading “From Page to Projector: ‘The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies’” »

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Comic Book Wednesday: ‘Bodies’

bodies_cover_1_a_p“Four time periods, four detectives, four murders. Identical M.O., identical location — the twist? It’s the same body.”

This is the idea behind “Bodies” by writer Si Spencer.

We are introduced to four time periods, which are drawn by four different artists: Meghan Hetrick for 2014, Dean Ormston for 1890, Tula Lotay for 2050 and Phil Winslade for 1940.

The setting is in London, and in each story, the detective is struggling with some type of hatred in their community: Muslim persecution in 2014, homophobia in 1890, the world’s destruction in 2050 and the Mafia in 1940. Each brings their current logic to the table, the current persecutions and possible reasonings to the front of their minds.

This first issue sets up the scene in each era and gives us a slight background to the characters, but that’s about it. They all end up in the same place: Puzzled by who was killed and why.

Despite this slow start (which I normally hate), I think the overall idea behind “Bodies” is unique. It doesn’t stick to just one era; it ties in the favorite past eras, the current and an idea of a future.

The smart choice was having four different artists for the timeline, which gives each era a different flavor that goes beyond different characters and storylines. It truly separates them and makes each detective stand on his or her own.

This issue has been out since August, so Spencer has had a few more issues under his belt. I think “Bodies” is a good title to grab and catch up on while munching on leftover holiday cookies in front of the Christmas tree.

Comic Book Wednesday is a feature that will showcase a variety of visually based books that fit into this wide category, to give a taste of this other form of reading.

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