Mama Lala Reads: Scritch Scratch

Image result for scritch scratch lindsay currie
Scritch Scratch by Lindsay Currie

First Line: “If someone had told me yesterday that I’d be spending my Saturday morning in the aisle of a stuffy bookstore searching for ghost stories, I would’ve told them they were nuts.”

Summary: Claire is the daughter of a ghost-obsessed writer slash ghost tour bus owner. She hates that. She is a scientist and doesn’t believe in that phooeoy. That is, until she is forced to help her dad on the bus. When the ghost follows her home she is forced to face facts she would rather not. To top that off, she’s also has a school science fair to prepare for, a middle school she has to prevent from finding out about her recent outing (hello, rumor mill), and a best friend who might be moving on. Middle school is rough, but ghosts are worse.

Ratings: 8 out of 10

                Once again I read this book alone. No kiddos. It’s too long for the little’s consideration, and it’s a bit scary for the bigger of the two. Perhaps this should be more of a “Mama Lala Reads” blog, as I’m reading these books for my kids, but not always to. Anyhow…

My Thoughts: As an adult who remembers all too well how hard middle school was, I cried. It was a good cry, though. A “I finally can approach this with understanding” cry. I, too, had a friend who moved on without me. I acted much like Claire. Unfortunately, life isn’t like the books, and our ending didn’t turn out like this book’s ending for Claire. Then again, I’ve never been haunted quite like Claire has, and I count that a blessing. This book definitely gives the creepies. It’s a great read for all those creepy kids out there… and their parents too. It addresses real life issues like divorce, friendship, and *gasp* crushes, all while entertaining the reader with a plot line a bit more theatrical. For the cherry on top, it has a historically accurate thread as well.

All in all a great read. Points only discounted for giving a too perfect wrap up. Life isn’t pretty, and sometimes endings have to be a little ugly, too (twelve year olds don’t know how to work out those kind of relationship issues.)

Happy Reading my friends,

Mama Lala (Chelsea)

Looking Ahead to Valentine’s Day!

After the rush of the winter holidays, mid-January starts to feel a little dreary. My instinct is to find something to look forward too. Thankfully a holiday filled with love is right around the corner!

My family doesn’t do anything fancy to celebrate this particular holiday. It typically falls in the middle of some serious school time chaos but I love to do a little baking, and if some extra energy reserves are available a little something to give away to friends. This year my daughter is getting into the game and helping motivate my efforts!

Since we are still social distancing, she decided to put together little gift buckets to drop off on her best pals porches. Because I’m determined to incorporate more math into her world, I saw this as the perfect opportunity. She has been given a budget per bucket as well as a total amount to spend. Now off to the internet for research!

We have plenty of fun cooked up at the Library as well. Craft kits for all kid age groups, a Family Fun Challenge and more! Need some details? Click here

The library has loads of holiday books perfect to help spark some ideas on how to celebrate! My favorites though are the ones that help us learn how to be more kind and loving to the people around us, friends and stranger alike. Each title below will link to the catalog, ready for you to place it on hold for checkout at the drive-thru! Happy Valentines Day!

By: Emily Pearson
By: Pat Miller
By: Carol McCloud
By: Mij Kelly and Gerry Turley
By: Nancy Rose
By: Ruth Owen
By: Megan Borgert
By: Mike Berenstein

Monica’s Musings: The Water Cure

The Water Cure by Sophie Mackintosh

Trauma is a toxin that hooks into our hair and organs and blood and becomes part of us, the way heavy metals do, our bodies nothing more than a layering of flesh around everything ingested and experienced.

-Sophie Mackintosh

Sisters Grace, Lia and Skye are raised to believe that the world outside of their island is extremely toxic and deadly, especially for women. Their parents, whom they call King and Mother, have the girls living a life of purity, which is practiced through various cleansing rituals. One of which is called the water cure, where the girls put on a weighted dress and hold themselves under the water for as long as they can. This cult-like behavior begins to unravel, first when King disappears, and second when new men from the toxic mainland arrive on their island.

I will admit, this story was quite odd. The behaviors of this family were so strange, but it kept me intrigued. The dysfunction and cruel mindsets of these sisters had me unsure of who I was supposed to root for. All three of the girls had been brainwashed into maintaining an unhealthy lifestyle of “purity”. Although their practices seemed absurd, I am still unsure of what all is true of the outside world and what is not. Since the story is told from the girls’ point of view, we are also experiencing their confusion as the story unfolds. I believe the author, Sophie Mackintosh, left readers a little perplexed on purpose to replicate that of the sisters.

As I listened to this story on Libby, I had to backtrack multiple times to understand who was talking. The viewpoint switches between all of the sisters, so sometimes it was difficult keeping up with who was telling the story. I would recommend reading the hardback version because of this. Overall I found this to be an interesting read. Sophie Mackintosh created an intriguing yet troubling story to experience through the lives of Grace, Lia and Skye.

Halloween Celebrations!

Due to some truly boring and frankly hard to spell medical stuff, my middle child was unable to eat most common foods until he was roughly 9. This meant 9 holiday celebrations that we had to find different ways for him to be included. My daughter’s 4th birthday was celebrated surrounded by a house of unopened packing boxes, in a brand new city, with a cake we had literally just grabbed from the grocery store. Another time a particularly rotten cold and flu season had us laid up during Christmas. One of the benefits in having older kids is being able to look back and see that we will all miss out on some particular celebration due to things outside our control. And sometimes those moments really do create some truly magical memories.

There are some really fun ways to celebrate a holiday or event even without the traditions you may have been expecting. Here are some of the fun ways I have found:

Halloween Fairy

This lovely lady is a life saver. She usually comes during the night of Halloween to whisk away the bulk of the candy your darling children have received through their Trick of Treating, and leaves behind a new book or small toy. This is particularly wonderful for those of us who have no self-control and will be the ones eating the majority of those mini-Snickers. It’s also nice for families dealing with food allergies! Perhaps this year, she might be filling their Trick or Treating buckets with candy and other surprises for them to find.

You’ve Been Boo’ed!

Have your children help you put together small bags or buckets filled with Halloween themed goodies to deliver to the front porch of friends and families. Make sure to include a note letting them know who “booed” them!

Pumpkin Patches

There is no reason not to continue this outdoor tradition! Fall weather and pumpkin patches are one of the big perks to living in the Midwest. So triple check the ever-changing temperatures, grab a mask/hand sanitizer, and have a great time picking your pumpkins and burning off some kid energy!

Family Fun Challenge

After you bring home your pumpkin patch pumpkins, it’s time to decorate them! Carving them and roasting the seeds is always fun, but with little’s it might lean towards the “are you kidding me” level of project. Instead you can readily find plenty of kits that will help your family decorate the pumpkins in style. Even a page of stickers can be the perfect way to let their creativity shine. Once you are all done, submit a picture to enter to win 1 of 5 Party Packs from the library!

Library Drive-Thru

The week of Halloween, put those costumes on your kids, toss them in the car, and stop by the library drive-thru. We will have plenty of candy to give your little darlings as well “ohhs and ahhs” at the ready to marvel over their costumes!

My crew of kiddo’s are all over the age of 10, so I can ask them what they remember about those non-traditional holidays. Did they miss out? Did they feel different? Sad? And other than my daughter wishing to keep 50 pounds of candy(never going to happen), they remember nothing but happiness. We can’t always create the picture we have in our heads of the experience we want to give out children. This year has been particularly filled with those moments and will likely continue to be. All we can do is focus on our children, and remember that they won’t feel like they missed out. They will remember their family, happily celebrating in the best way they can.

Xochitl’s Book Thoughts: Convenience Store Woman

Convenience Store Woman by Sayaka Murata

First line: A convenience store is a world of sounds.

Summary and Thoughts: In Japan, convenience stores are essential to the Japanese lifestyle. They are on every block, sometimes two facing each other. Keiko Furukura sees convenience stores to be a part of her as much as they are a part of Japan. Odd since birth, Keiko has always found trouble fitting in. She took everything literally and always seemed to get in trouble no matter what she did to correct her behavior. At the age of eighteen she started working part-time at a new convenience store in hopes to blend in to normal society. There she learns how to interact with people only as a convenience store worker. It’s also there that she learns to copy the clothing style and mannerisms of her coworkers. Eighteen years later she is still doing her usual routine much to the distaste of those around her, despite her being perfectly happy as a convenience store worker. In fact, she believes she can only live and breathe as a convenience store worker. An opportunity with an ex co-worker means she can finally pretend to please her family and friends’ wishes, but she’s not sure if she’s truly happy about it.

This was a quick read as it was small with only about 170 pages. It was also quick in that I didn’t want to put it down. I found the main character to be hilarious and relatable without her even trying to be. You can tell she is coded as an autistic character with a lot of self-awareness. She knows what it takes to be a normal person in society and that her odd behavior has made those around Keiko want her to be ‘cured’, but she can’t. I got frustrated along with her when some of her attempts where met with criticism. What is she supposed to do when no one is clear with her? This book also helped me understand Japanese cultural norms but also understand why someone like Furukura would be frustrated with what society thinks she should do. It was refreshing to see marriage not be the end or desirable goal. To me, this book was a good way to show that Japan still has some ways to go in terms of understanding and educating themselves about people with autism. For a quick read, I was able to learn so much and be entertained.

FYI: Main character has violent intrusive thoughts.

Book Suggestion Super Heroes aka Librarians!

One of my favorite parts of being a librarian is helping someone find the perfect book. That book that calls to them when they have to put it down. The book filled with characters that become friends and family. The book that allows the person to escape for a time. It’s really good stuff.

I haven’t been able to do this as often in person lately but it doesn’t mean that I can’t help from afar! We have several options to help find you the perfect book for yourself or your child. So, jump in and put us to work!

Book Fix

Book Fix is a fantastic option set up by our amazing staff members to have you answer a couple questions and then we pick out up to 6 books for you based on that information. Then we pull those books, give you a call/email when they are ready, and you pick them up in the drive-thru! You can use this service for kids or adults. I got to put together a pile of books for a kiddo last week full of construction vehicles and monsters. It was so much fun! Click on “Book Fix” above to get started or find this service under “Readers Advisory” on our home page under “Services”.

Themed Book Lists and Award Winners

Looking for books all about the same theme? Or curious about all the Caldecott winners for a specific year? Need some help with potty training? Explaining divorce or other challenging issue?

We’ve got books for that. Click on the link above to see!

We’ve put together lists of books by theme. Simply click on the desired theme and you will be taken to the page for those titles. On that page will be a list of books that you can click on and then place them on hold. We pull the books from the shelves and then give you a call/email that they are ready. A trip through the drive-thru later and you have a new stack of books ready to go!

So whether you want a stack of surprises or the best books on insects we are ready to help! Books for littles, school age, teens or you, we would love nothing more than to put together a stack tailored to your individual house.


Youth Services @Derby Library

Grow a Reader Packs

Click here to put one on hold today!

Feeling a little cooped up? Are the small children at your house staring at you wanting to know, what’s next? Worried you aren’t providing enough education for your small charges?

The Library can help.

First off, you are rocking this whole parent thing. The kids are all fed and brushed most of their teeth so you deserve a huge gold star! We do have something to help entertain and educate them though. Check out a Grow a Reader Pack.

There are 15 themed Grow a Reader Packs. Each pack comes in a blue backpack filled with books, games, puppets, and more! Everything found in a pack will help strengthen your child’s early literacy skills. Just by bringing one home, you can pat yourself on the back for scoring a few more parenting points.

You can put one pack on hold and then pick it up in the drive-thru. Don’t even take those lovely littles out of their carseat! We are taking extra steps to ensure each pack is clean and ready to go. A couple clicks and you are this much closer to super parentdom. Way to go!

Cathy’s Book Chat

The One Memory of Flora Banks by Emily Barr Review

                The One Memory of Flora Banks is a wild ride! This story is about a seventeen year old girl named Flora who has suffered from anterograde amnesia since the age of ten. The book is told from Flora’s point of view so she frequently repeats to herself the few things she can remember or she writes them down (on post-its, in her journal, or on her arms). Flora is on medication for her amnesia and she lives with her parents. Paige is her only friend, they’ve been friends since they were quite young, but lately things with Paige are fractured. Drake, Paige’s ex-boyfriend kisses Flora on the night before his trip to Svalbard. A few days later, Flora’s parents flee to Paris to be with Flora’s brother, Jacob since he is very ill. Flora is tasked with staying home and having Paige look after her. The only problem is that she kissed Paige’s boyfriend, so Paige backs out of this plan and Flora is home alone. Will Flora be able to care for herself while her parents are gone? Will things with Drake become more than just a kiss? Read this adventure to find out!

                I found the perspective of this story to be quite interesting. Since the reader only has Flora’s thoughts to work with, you learn bits and pieces of her past as well as her current reality. It becomes a mystery for the reader to connect the dots of Flora’s life. At times I felt annoyed by Flora’s repetitive nature, but overall I really felt for what Flora and her loved ones were going through. It must be annoying and frustrating for them to have to retell Flora about her life, but it would be even tougher to be stuck in a state of unknown. This book teaches the reader to have sympathy for what other people are struggling with. This is a story you will not want to put down! It has adventure, mystery, love, and a unique narrator.

Love, Cathy–Youth Services

Ready to put this on hold? Click here!

Chelsea’s Confessions

Confession: I am a Youth Services Library Assistant, and I do not (typically) enjoy reading elementary and middle grade fiction. I reread my favorites, and introduce them to my kids, but it is quite difficult of my heart to leach on to most books of the genre. I read “Small Spaces” as a suggested project during quarantine, and I must thank Miss Carrie for it.

First line: October in East Evansburg, and the last warm sun of the year slanted red through the sugar maples.

Summary: Olivia Adler escapes the world she can no longer love through her books. After an eventful day at school, the eleven year-old pedals her bike to her favorite spot. There she finds a woman crying; worse yet, the woman is throwing an innocent book into the river! Olivia rescues the book and becomes encapsulated in the mystery it presents. When mystery finds its way into her world looking much like the mystery of her novel, she has to choose her direction carefully.

Highlights: The first line, while beautiful, worried me the novel would be an attempt at a literary award which forgets the plot for the sake of its own beauty. Luckily, I was let down. The writing remains beautiful throughout the novel. The plot does not suffer for its beauty—thank goodness.

One of the first rules a writer learns is “Show, don’t tell”. Arden presents this skill artfully in the example of Olivia’s mother. To my recollection, the words “die”, “death”, or “dead” are never used in conjunction with Olivia’s mother. Her absence is felt like a hole in the main characters heart, ever present and without words.

The characters who join Olivia in her quest, purposeful or not, are also well developed. Each character gets a chance to surprise the reader. All in all, I thoroughly recommend this book to any reader, big or small.

Lowlights: As some parts of this story are quite dark, it is not suitable for all audiences. This is targeted toward elementary and middle grade readers, so be certain of their capability to read “creepy stories” before you put this book in their hands.

FYI: This is the first story in a series! It is a great stand-alone, but I look forward to joining Ollie for another mystery soon.

Chelsea–Youth Services Librarian Assistant

Ready to put it on hold? Click here!

Cathy’s Book Chat

A Very Large Expanse of Sea by Tahereh Mafi

A Very Large Expanse of Sea is about a sixteen year old girl named Shirin. Shirin wears a hijab and is treated extremely unkindly by her classmates, teachers, and complete strangers. This story takes place in 2002 in a town obsessed with basketball. Shirin has become quite good at suppressing her emotions and blocking out the world with music and a tough exterior. The only solace in her day is breakdance practice with her brother, Navid and his friends. Then she meets a classmate by the name of Ocean who makes her think that maybe there are people worth talking to. Ocean is the star basketball player at school and he desperately wants to get to know Shirin. When their interactions make others angry and cruel, the two must decide whether the connection they have is worth protecting.

At the beginning of the novel I felt like Shirin was a bit harsh to those around her. She didn’t have the best attitude and seemed really passive about life. Then I learned more about her experiences with racism and how she felt like she couldn’t confide in her parents about her personal life. When her breakdancing partners and brother confronted her about how she comes off to other people, I could see Shirin start to grow and reconsider her approach. When you are sixteen it’s easy to be angry with the old, on top of normal teenage emotions Shirin was going through both verbal and physical abuse all because of her religion. I began to feel her frustration and wanted to scream at her peers, too. This book may be fictional, but there are enough bigoted people out there that it is easy to be up in arms about the treatment minorities face in this country. Surprisingly Shirin was able to block that ugly side of people out and focus on what made her happy. That was what made her story inspiring and brave.

Happy Reading!

Cathy–Youth Services

Ready to put this book on hold? Click here!