In a hilariously meta production, Something Rotten! imagines the birth of musical theater as the only recourse left to brother playwrights trying to compete with bad-boy superstar Will Shakespeare. The Broadway cast recording shows off the talent, the fun, the puns, and Easter eggs aplenty to tickle the fancy of any drama geek.
Check It Out Category: Picks by Cathleen
There are 43 more days until the end of Summer Reading! Every day during our countdown we will be featuring slices of library life, books, and topics designed to help you out as you work through 2017 Summer Reading at Mount Prospect. Read more about how you can join in on this celebration of reading and enter to win prizes!
The embattled, soulful Roughneck by Jeff Lemire is a winter noir story that is both gritty and beautiful. Expert brushwork teases out different flavors of night sky, and the landscapes reflect the characters’ shifting degrees of serenity, menace, bleakness, and volatility. A harsh tale of family dynamic and of recovery, and one that has lived under my skin for months.
Read this for Summer Reading!
For the DIY Designers…
This could count as a book with a small town setting or as a graphic novel.
For the Master Class Designers…
This could count as a sad book or as a book highlighted on the MPPL website.
Does warmer weather make you thirsty for a new read? Whether looking to thrill your heart, excite your mind, lift your spirits, or escape to a different time or place, there’s a story for you — and we want to help you find it! Below is a second set of hand-picked selections [part one is here] most likely to keep those pages turning during the hazy days of summer.
On the surface, recent releases Ginny Moon by Benjamin Ludwig and The Garden of Small Beginnings by Abbi Waxman might not have a lot in common, however, both novels deftly balance talking about harder issues with light touches of humor and stunning grace.
Meet Ginny Moon, a spunky, hilarious, and earnest 14-year-old girl who has everyone around her worried as she obsesses about the Baby Doll she left behind when she was saved from her birth mom five years ago. As Ginny shares her perspective as an adopted teenager with autism coming to terms with an abusive past, readers get to experience her joys and frustrations right along with her while she goes to extraordinary lengths to find her Baby Doll. Benjamin Ludwig will take you on a roller-coaster of emotion this summer with his debut Ginny Moon!
Filled with quirky characters, a chance of new love, and a strong family, The Garden of Small Beginnings is a ticket into a realistic slice of someone else’s life. It’s been almost five years since Lilli’s husband died and she was left to raise two young children with the help of her supportive sister. As Lilli and her family continue to work through their healing, a gardening class Lilli’s boss is making her sign up for holds an unexpected chance for a new beginning. For the reader looking for humor, heart, and healing, Abbi Waxman’s latest is a summer must.
1999. In the afterglow of a total solar eclipse, Laura and her boyfriend Kit turn a corner to see what appears to be a violent assault. He said…it was consensual. She said…well, nothing out loud, but the look in her eyes tells Laura all she needs to know. The man is convicted because of Laura’s testimony, but sixteen years later it is Kit and Laura who live in hiding. With another eclipse expected, is this the time for harsh truths finally to be brought into the light? Find out in Erin Kelly’s debut He Said / She Said.
Transport the play Othello to an elementary school in 1970s Washington, D.C., and you have drama ripe for social commentary via sixth graders. In New Boy, a diplomat’s son is the first and only black student the school has ever enrolled. When he easily befriends popular girl Dee, it is too much for Ian, the class bully, who already feels threatened. The playground proves a ready-made setting for the jealousy and manipulation of Shakespeare’s classic, and you won’t want to miss how it ‘plays’ out.
Summer is on its way! To help you prepare for your reading-in-the-sunshine endeavors, we have dipped our toes in recent book releases, poured over top new release lists, and examined reviews just to land on stand-out titles that resonated with us that you would enjoy, too. We’ll be back next week for part two!
We love championing a debut, but I’ll be honest: this book pitch practically sells itself. A popular way to describe Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine is as A Man Called Ove meets The Rosie Project, which right there tells you almost all you need to know. Eleanor is a prickly, solitary woman who (hilariously) speaks her mind and is just fine with avoiding all human interaction. When in a short time she meets a local musician, needs to call on her work’s IT guy, and helps an elderly gentleman who’s fallen, she finds herself being pulled into a world with other people. Take the time to get to know Eleanor. You’ll be very glad you did.
“What did I just read?!?” This was my reaction to Jeff VanderMeer’s stupefying Southern Reach trilogy, so I thought I was prepared for his newest. Borne is something new altogether. We start with the discovery of a fist-sized purple blob caught in the fur of a gigantic flying bear our narrator is using to scavenge for biotech scraps, and it gets weirder from there. The plot may be impossible to summarize in a way that does it justice, but reviewers are comparing to Cormac McCarthy and Margaret Atwood. Smart, literate, and mind-blowing, it’s quite a ride.
I am obsessed with this story collection right now. Arimah covers a lot of ground as she plays with different genres and explores what it means to be a girl, family dynamics, and the relationships people have with the world around them. With sentences like “[the Mathematicians are] …calculating and subtracting emotions, drawing them from living bodies like poison from a wound,” this short story collection is something to be savored. My favorites ended up being “Light”, “Redemption”, “Wild”, and the title story. I’d love to hear your thoughts if you read them!
The relaxing cruise trip cousins Liv and Nora have planned for their families takes a dark turn when their children go missing off of the coast of Central America leaving the parents to work out their feelings of guilt, fear and powerlessness. Best read under a hot sticky sun, Do Not Become Alarmed was something I finished in almost one sitting, as it begs you to keep turning the pages to figure out how everything can possibly end okay!
Cathleen from Fiction/AV/Teen Services suggests Hag-Seed by Margaret Atwood
If you know anything at all about William Shakespeare’s The Tempest, you likely know that it takes place on a remote island buffeted by supernatural storm. So, the idea of translating this story to a literacy program in a present-day county prison may not be an obvious one.
In Margaret Atwood’s brilliantly envisioned Hag-Seed: The Tempest Retold, a very specific play is staged both as class project and as personal vendetta for a director once ousted from a prestigious festival. Watching the action unfold in a clever remix of showmanship, we the audience are treated to parallel dramas that are equally riveting in their creativity, humor, and compassion. To paraphrase a line from the original play, “O brave new world, that has such stories in it!”
For more contemporary tales infused with Shakespearean theatricality…
by Tad Williams
In a fantasy sequel to The Tempest, one that also echoes Beauty and the Beast, the hag-seed Caliban takes Prospero’s daughter Miranda captive and insists she listen to his story.
by Emily St. John Mandel
Because they believe that “survival is insufficient,” a traveling Shakespearean troupe brings art to those who remain after a global pandemic destroys civilization as it was once known.
by Jeanette Winterson
In the first of the Hogarth Shakespeare series, A Winter’s Tale is contemporized as the aftermath of the 2008 recession, following flawed but driven characters from London to the American New Bohemia.
by Matt Haig
An eleven-year old boy is charged with avenging his father’s death, possibly by his own uncle, in a clever and poignant re-imagining of Hamlet.
Each season of this brilliant Canadian television series showcases the staging of a Shakespeare play that finds its themes oddly paralleled in the current cast’s shenanigans.
The world-building in Embassytown is meticulous yet subtle, and it is a fascinating backdrop for a narrative in which an indecipherable language plays a central role in the dynamic between human colonists and the complicated beings on a distant planet. Complex, graceful, and perhaps perfect for any Arrival fans eager for next-level storytelling.
I would blissfully listen to Kristin Chenoweth sing nearly anything, but the dreamy standards in The Art of Elegance (also available via Hoopla) are especially suited to her vocals. Close your eyes and you’ll see yourself dressed glamorously in a formal cocktail lounge, spellbound by “Someone to Watch Over Me”.
Delight your eyes with a work of wonder! Nearly wordless and enhanced with music, Oscar nominee Boy & the World is a warm, uplifting exploration of childlike discovery. This Brazilian fable dazzles with inventive hand-drawn animation, juxtaposing the realities of life’s hardships with the adventure of youth. Exhilarating and unforgettable.
A farcical comedy-of-errors with rhythms of a crackling stage play, Oscar is the screwball story of “Snaps” Provolone, a top-tier gangster who promises to go straight. Supporting cast Tim Curry, Chazz Palminteri, and Peter Riegert tickle with humor that bounces between droll dialogue and broad slapstick. Ridiculous fun.
Cathleen of Fiction/AV/Teen Services recommends The Dress Shop of Dreams by Menna van Praag:
On a winding cobblestone street in Cambridge, there sits an unassuming boutique called A Stitch in Time. It is destined for one special kind of shopper: the woman looking for a lost piece of herself. Whether the customer seeks confidence, courage, beauty, or magnificence, proprietor Etta has a gift for introducing the unique and extraordinary garment to spark the transformation. The one person resistant to this possibility is her granddaughter Cora, a young scientist whose past tragedy has narrowed her gaze only to the potential found in her work.
Menna van Praag’s The Dress Shop of Dreams is an embrace of expectant promise. The gentle spell of interlacing characters, secret attractions, and magic found in simple pleasures will inspire faith in what is truly meant to be.
For more books that blend fantasy indulgences with the promise of personal revelations:
A Vintage Affair by Isabel Wolff tells the exquisite story of Phoebe Swift, who fulfills a long-cherished dream to open a vintage clothing shop that treasures the history behind each unique garment.
Books appearing just when you need them is only one of the magical realities of Sarah Addison Allen’s The Sugar Queen, a bewitching and lightly humorous exploration of the courage it takes to change one’s life.
In Chocolat by Joanne Harris, the truth that others may see us more clearly than we see ourselves is flavored with the rewards of taking bold steps forward and lush descriptions of tantalizing delights.
Lucia, Lucia by Adriana Trigiani celebrates a young seamstress’s passion for beautiful things and her willingness to break with convention to follow her dreams in glitzy 1950s New York.
In the hopeful Sweetshop of Dreams by Jenny Colgan, Londoner Rosie Hopkins’ impulsive decision to re-open her elderly relative’s old-fashioned village candy store stirs surprising possibilities in both life and love.