Solano County Library Staff Picks



Under a Pig Tree: A History of the Noble Fruit
A pig and a fig might look similar in writing, but what a hilarious difference there is in reality! A great family read aloud for children who enjoy word play and silly stories.
Recommended by: Natasha N. Want it? 




Jane Eyre (DVD)
A fresh version of Charlotte Bronte’s classic story projected through Cary Fukunaga’s imagination in high relief. Fukunaga weaves together contemporary aesthetics with composer Dario Marianelli’s ability to create moods with simple yet filling sounds. I could enjoy watching this movie even if it lacked dialog and story. The scenery, sometimes muted, minimal and earthly, sometimes fresh, colorful and bright, and sometimes grey and dark are all filled with a kind beauty that appeals to my femininity. Fukunaga finds angles that create pictures I wish I could hang as paintings on my wall. I could watch this movie again and again.
Recommended by: Katrina L. Want it? 




Beyond Magenta : transgender teens speak out
Six resilient youth share their experience of living transgender or gender-neutral. A great read for anyone unfamiliar with the gender spectrum, the medical prognoses for individuals with both male and female sex characteristics, known as intersex, or for youth diagnosed with gender dysphoria. Transgender youth are victimized and face homelessness more often. They’re prone to substance abuse and have higher suicide rates than non-LGBTQ teens. Kuklin does an amazing job of giving readers a glimpse of the many reasons why these teens would willingly go against social norms, defy family beliefs and in many cases ostracize themselves to live as they are. A 2014 Stonewall Honor book.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 




Nnewts. Book one, Escape from the Lizzarks
In a world where magic is fading, a young nnewt named Herk struggles to find his purpose while confined to a swimming hole meant for tadpoles. When reptiles known as LIzzarks attack Nnewtown, Herk sets out on an adventure to save his home and family. Along the way he discovers more than just magic and the strength to fulfill his destiny. A great recommendation for fans of TenNapel’s graphic novel, “Ghostopholis (2010).”
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 




Trigger Warning: Short Fictions and Disturbances
A masterfully written collection of the eerie, the atmospheric, and the sly. Many selections were previously published but that doesn’t make them any less imaginative or breathtaking. I had to pause after each story or poem to savor it.
Recommended by: Natasha N. Want it? 




Three Bargains
This remarkable debut novel has drawn comparisons to the powerful storytelling of Louise Erdrich and Toni Morrison. As in their works, here you'll find violence, beauty, courage, and flawed characters struggling to survive.
Recommended by: Natasha N. Want it? 




Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West (audiobook)
Maguire creates a philosophical (and very adult) reimagining of the Oz tale. It is the story of Elphaba, who is later infamously known as the Wicked Witch of the West. Her story is set within a relief of real world problems inside a fairy tale world. A world that questions religion, politics, social class, race, animal rights and finally what is evil? The rhythm and humor in the story is read and performed so well by John McDonough, he keeps you listening for hours. I know Baum’s Oz stories were supposed to be innocent, but this perspective was so interesting I wish it was part of the original tale.
Recommended by: Katrina L. Want it? 




Poisoned Apples: Poems for you, my Pretty
This book shatters the looking glass. Strong poetic words ripple the reader’s concept of fairy tales, social beliefs, and gender stereotypes. Undulated with pain, strength, humor and hope, this is a book worthy of any strong female character opposing the chains of gender norms. Each poem is accompanied by a grey toned photo.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 




Movi´ la mano = I moved my hand
Crayon, ink and pencil come together in a delightful portrayal of a dancer gliding her way through vivid imagination. Simple actions such as, shake, stir and swirl encourage audience participation. As rainbows appear, readers can identify individual colors by name— making this a great picture book for discussion, storytime and support of immersion language skills.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 




Viva Frida!
Breathtakingly beautiful images capture the artistic wonder of Frida Kahlo. Frida’s pets, Fulang-Chang the monkey, and Xolot the dog, are photographed as stop-motion puppets, adding animation and adorableness to the scenes. Frida’s creations illuminated the rich color, light and strength of the Mexican culture. In this bilingual picture book, readers will experience the inspiration and awe Frida brought to the world.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 




Stitching Snow
Stitching Snow stunningly twists a futuristic adaptation of European fairy tales. R. C. Lewis takes strands from fantasy, gears, genetic alteration and planetary wonder and weaves a tale of romance and war. Essie, an android programmer - cage fighter battles her way into the heart of readers. This is a perfect book recommendation for fans of the Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 




Illustrated in full page color, “Ichiro”, tells the story of an American-born, city kid visiting his grandfather in Japan. What starts as an emotional tangle of loyalty and war weaves into the story of Izanagi and Izanami, two of Japan’s greatest gods. As Ichiro straddles the world of folklore, loyalties and morality, he learns that behind all acts of wrong lies human weakness. Ichiro’s great-grandfather was a general in Japan during WWII, his father, a deceased American soldier. This book culturally resonates with Gene Yang’s “American Born Chinese.”
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 




This is an eerily-gothic, fantastically woven tale of love, madness, science and hope. Suspense grows at the turn of every page. Some parts were spine-chilling, cringing-creepy, with madness that would appeal to readers who enjoy descending into the darkness of insanity. Yet, this story encompasses history, art and the love of a family to a point where readers end in a sense of nostalgia. In the author's note, Zafon writes, "I knew this would be the last I'd write in the genre." I hope not, his writing is horrendously beautiful.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 




This is one of the first Japanese movies to make a splash outside of Japan (1950). It is an intriguing way to present a story, which involves a murder. We hear about the incidents that led up to the murder from various people who were involved in the incident or were eyewitnesses. They each tell a different tale. So viewers are left to interpret things for themselves because we have no way of knowing what the “truth” is. Beautifully filmed.
Recommended by: Jeff K. Want it? 




Brown Girl Dreaming
Nothing I can say here will do justice to this poetic rendering of the author’s childhood. To grow up in South Carolina and New York in the 1960’s and 70’s was to grow up in two very different worlds. Through her story, we are reminded that from a young age, we search for identity, purpose, and home. A well-deserved National Book Award Winner.
Recommended by: Natasha N. Want it? 




When Lunch Fights Back: Wickedly Clever Animal Defenses
Meet intriguing creatures defending themselves in unbelievable ways. Here you’ll find newts that can use poisonous ribs to defend themselves, as well as critters that can squirt blood or extremely foul feces to keep predators at bay.
Recommended by: Natasha N. Want it? 




The Boy who Lived with the Bears: And Other Iroquois Stories
November is Native American Heritage Month. Remembering my ancestors through stories and food will always bring a sense of nostalgia, a time to reflect on those I’ve lost and to give thanks for what they endured. Joseph Bruchac is a renowned storyteller and author from the Abenaki tribe. Storytelling is more than just entertainment; it’s a connection to the past and a guide to the future. Readers will enjoy life lessons told through rabbit, fox, bear and turtle. These are more than just stories; they are examples for us to live by. Reading Bruchac’s introduction reminds me that the Native American culture still brings peace to a warring world.
Recommended by: Vanessa C. Want it? 




Enna Burning (audiobook)
Sequel to The Goose Girl, the story continues with the character Enna as the protagonist, who learns the language of fire and struggles with her desire to burn. Put on by Full Cast Audio, I could see the story so vividly in my mind. Every character has its own voice and occasional music sets the story’s tone. My usual habit is to listen to audiobooks during my commute. I found myself listening while parked in my garage after my commute was over and sneaking in my car during lunches to get in another couple of chapters. I recommend to those who love stories that are extensions of fairy tales.
Recommended by: Katrina L. Want it? 




The Port Chicago 50: Disaster, Mutiny, and the Fight for Civil Rights
War is dangerous but the African-Americans stationed at Port Chicago, California were not lacking in bravery. They wanted to serve their country but racist policies and lack of essential training on loading munitions put them at risk. After 300 sailors were killed in an explosion at the docks, the Port Chicago 50 refused to return to work under the same hazardous conditions. They were court martialed and threatened with a firing squad. Award-winning author Sheinkin brings to light a little known chapter of history that is of special interest to readers interested in local history.
Recommended by: Natasha N. Want it? 




Patrick Marber’s play “Closer” offers an unflinching look at romance and sexual politics. Anna, Dan, Alice and Larry are caught in a romantic quadrangle that tests each person’s need for closeness. In their pursuit for love, each person abandons their own sense of truth and morality. Some people may be more familiar with the film version starring Clive Owen and Natalie Portman; however, the play contains intriguing scenes that were omitted in the film version.
Recommended by: Jonathan W. Want it? 




The Innocent
Will Robie is a professional assassin for the U.S. government. Something about his latest mission, though, doesn’t seem right. He does the unthinkable. He refuses to kill. Fleeing from his own “handlers,” Robie crosses paths with a 14-year old runaway. The more Robie learns about the girl, the more he’s convinced she’s at the center of a vast cover up. Author Baldacci infuses his lead character with a strong humanity that has you feeling for his plight as Robie questions his allegiances, his profession and his solitary life. Is he going to give up The Life before life gives up on him? Fast paced and good.
Recommended by: Yvette K. Want it? 




Night Train (DVD)
I guess the films of the Polish School (late '50s, early '60s) aren't too popular in the U.S. Night Train is not even available in U.S. format from Amazon--but you can get it here at the library, folks! The film is expertly shot and the story compelling. Two strangers share a sleeping compartment, and during the night the police stop the train to look for a murderer.
Recommended by: Jeff K. Want it? 




Paths of Glory (DVD)
While not as famous as certain other Kubrick films, this is a truly brilliant condemnation of war. It exposes some of the corrupt, cowardly, criminal actions that can occur in the upper ranks of the military. Crisp and taut. Kirk Douglas does a fine job. Intense!
Recommended by: Jeff K. Want it? 




Alone On The Ice
Alone on the Ice chronicles the Australasian Antarctic Expedition of 1912-1914, and in particular the stunning feat of expedition leader Douglas Mawson and his incredible journey across 300 miles of Antarctic ice, much of the journey alone. It is a tale of heroism and still stands as one of the greatest polar adventures.
Recommended by: Sandy S. Want it? 




Day of the Triffids
Often and surprisingly overlooked, John Wyndham’s 1951 classic The Day of the Triffids is a post-apocalyptic story similar to many of today’s fan favorites (The Walking Dead, The Road, The Stand). On one remarkable night, the majority of the earth’s population plays spectator to a tremendous meteor shower. Fortunately for Englishman Bill Masen—who lays indisposed in the hospital with his eyes bandaged—this spectacle goes completely unobserved,and he is now one of the few humans on earth not suffering from the meteor shower’s side effects—blindness! As Bill makes his way through chaos and confusion in London’s city streets, he slowly realizes the blind are the least of his worries. He must also watch out for the Triffids—a biologically engineered race of carnivorous plants. When cultivated by mankind, the Triffids serve a wonderful commercial purpose, but now that devastation has struck, the humans have become prey to the Triffid’s appetite. Although laughable in concept, with outdated gender roles, this book remains a gripping and believable cautionary tale from the cold-war era.
Recommended by: Ryan K. Want it? 




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