Jun 16, 2021

Nature Play Activities

Sweet, sweet summertime. With the lifting of Ohio's health mandates and the gorgeous weather we've been having, we're really enjoying our summer of Tails and Tales. To join the fun, download the Beanstack Tracker app on your mobile device or visit the Library's Beanstack URL here. Create an account listing all your readers and join the 2021 reading and recreation challenge that fits your needs best. With challenges for babies and toddlers, children, teens, adults, and even families this year, everyone can learn and explore. 

This summer, we're giving budding scientists and animal lovers the chance to explore nature closeup with our Nature Play Series. Since the series is full, we'll be sharing some of the activities we're doing so you can explore at home. Check out the details below for pollinator gardens, butterfly feeders, bug hotels, and papier mache wasp nests.




We received 37 caterpillars from Insect Lore around May 7. Miss Maggie and Miss Kari named all the caterpillars, set up their special food, and watched them eat for about a week. Once they had their fill of food and grew to be fluffy and chubby, they formed chrysalides. It took another week or so for the caterpillars to emerge as Painted Lady Butterflies. 27 of the caterpillars successfully metamorphosed. One caterpillar made his chrysalis in his food so when he emerged, his wings were curved and wouldn't fully open. We fed the butterflies fresh fruit until June 8 when we released them outside.    

About 75% of the world's flowering plants need to be pollinated so they can reproduce. Butterflies, hummingbirds, bees, and other pollinators carry pollen from plant to plant when they eat nectar. You can make a pollinator garden to attract these helpful critters and encourage the work they do.

Supplies:
Cardboard egg carton
Scissors 
Potting soil
Seeds that attract pollinators, such as Milkweed, Black-Eyed Susan, Lavender, Mint, Aster, or Zinnia
Water
Spray bottle

Directions:
Cut the lid off your cardboard egg carton. Fill each individual egg cup with soil. Use one finger to create a hole in the center of each cup. Place one or two seeds in each hole and cover. 

Use a spray bottle to water the newly planted seeds. Place the egg carton in a warm, indoor location with plenty of sunlight until the seeds begin to sprout. Keep the soil very moist. 

Once the seeds have sprouted into small seedlings, you can transfer them outside. Move them into a large pot or plant the whole pollinator garden, egg carton included, into your backyard. 
 


You can also make a simple feeder to attract butterflies and hummingbirds to your garden. Thanks to PBS Kids for Parents for this awesome project! 

Supplies:
Plastic bottle with lid. We used 16 oz. Pepsi bottles.
Cotton ball
Rubber band
Yarn
Water
Sugar
Flowers (optional)

Directions:
If you'd like, you can decorate your plastic bottle with sharpies, washi tape, stickers, or more. When you're ready, slide the rubber band around the middle of the bottle.

Tie a piece of yarn to the rubber band on both sides of the bottle. This will create the feeder's handle. If you'd like, you can place flowers under the rubber band to help attract butterflies to your feeder.  

With help from a grownup, cut a small hole in the plastic lid. Place the cotton ball through the hole. Dissolve 1/4 cup of sugar in 1 cup of warm water to make butterfly food. Pour the butterfly food into the bottle and screw the cap back on. The mixture will saturate the cotton ball so butterflies and hummingbirds can drink it. Change the butterfly food, cotton ball, and flowers every few days. You can also use a sponge instead of a cotton ball.  



Bugs need warm, safe places to rest just like humans. Bug hotels are a fantastic project because they can be as simple or elaborate as you desire. They attract healthy bugs to your garden, such as bees, ladybugs, and ants, and provide plenty of closeup observation opportunities for your little ones. Find out how we constructed ours at the Library below.

Supplies:
2 liter plastic bottles or gallon milk cartons
Toilet paper rolls  
Newspaper
Paper or plastic straws
Cupcake liners
Glue or tape
Lots of leaves, sticks, rocks, acorns, pinecones, flowers, and more

Directions:
Cut an opening in your plastic bottle or milk carton to serve as the entrance of your bug hotel. 

Fill your hotel with a variety of recyclable materials and items collected from outside. We walked the Library's Trail Tale and we collected plenty of fallen leaves, sticks, rocks, acorns, and more goodies to place in our bug hotels. We rolled newspaper into tubes and placed them inside along with straws and toilet paper rolls. Let your imagination run wild and create a home that you think would be perfectly comfy for bugs! 


Paper wasps bite pieces of old wood from houses or fences, and chew them with water until they make a pulpy kind of paste. The paste is then layered until they create a colony for a home. Here's what you need to create a papier mache wasp nest.

Supplies:
Flour
Water
Balloon
Newspaper
String or yarn 
Paint and brushes

Directions:
Mix equal parts of water and flour to make a papier mache paste. We did a 1/2 cup of flour and 1/2 cup of water. Add more flour if the paste is too thin. Add more water if the paste is too thick. 

Blow up the balloon and tie a long piece of yarn or string at the end. Use the string to hang the balloon in an area where you can work. Dip newspaper strips in the paste and stick them onto the balloon. Cover the whole balloon, overlapping the newspaper strips in a variety of directions. 

Let your papier mache nest dry overnight. Once it is dry, gently pop the balloon and pull it out of the wasp nest. Use paint, stickers, or more to decorate the outside of your nest. 

May 4, 2021

Maggie's Book Haul


Each of the titles below are books that I have taken home from the library within the last six months… and have yet to read. I know how exciting it can be to hear all about the books that we have read as well as our reviews. BUT I also think it can be fun to look at the titles that intrigue us and make us take them home. Some of these I found on TikTok, others were new titles advertised in our catalog, and others were ones that I happened to see as I was walking through the shelves before closing.

See any that you have on your TBR list? 


The Inheritance Games
Jennifer Lynn Barnes

I love Jennifer Lynn Barnes’ work; I remember reading her The Naturals series and wanting to dive right into another Barnes’ novel/series. I initially saw this book on TikTok and when I saw her name, I knew I had to pick it up. 

Avery Grambs has a plan for a better future: survive high school, win a scholarship, and get out. But her fortunes change in an instant when billionaire Tobias Hawthorne dies and leaves Avery virtually his entire fortune. The catch? Avery has no idea why -- or even who Tobias Hawthorne is.

To receive her inheritance, Avery must move into sprawling, secret passage-filled Hawthorne House, where every room bears the old man's touch -- and his love of puzzles, riddles, and codes. Unfortunately for Avery, Hawthorne House is also occupied by the family that Tobias Hawthorne just dispossessed. This includes the four Hawthorne grandsons: dangerous, magnetic, brilliant boys who grew up with every expectation that one day, they would inherit billions. Heir apparent Grayson Hawthorne is convinced that Avery must be a conwoman, and he's determined to take her down. His brother, Jameson, views her as their grandfather's last hurrah: a twisted riddle, a puzzle to be solved. Caught in a world of wealth and privilege, with danger around every turn, Avery will have to play the game herself just to survive. 

Book number two, The Hawthorne Legacy, will be released in September 2021.


A Curse So Dark and Lonely 
Brigid Kemmerer

I am instantly drawn to any kind of Beauty and the Beast retelling; it is my favorite fairy tale! I also have a personal connection with this book because one of my older sister’s has cerebral palsy and people constantly underestimate her because of it. I am very excited to see all that Harper can do!

It once seemed so easy to Prince Rhen, the heir to Emberfall. Cursed by a powerful enchantress to repeat the autumn of his eighteenth year over and over, he knew he could be saved if a girl fell for him. But that was before he learned that at the end of each autumn, he would turn into a vicious beast hell-bent on destruction. That was before he destroyed his castle, his family, and every last shred of hope.

Nothing has ever been easy for Harper. With her father long gone, her mother dying, and her brother barely holding their family together while constantly underestimating her because of her cerebral palsy, she learned to be tough enough to survive. But when she tries to save someone else on the streets of Washington, DC, she’s instead somehow sucked into Rhen’s cursed world.

A prince? A monster? A curse? Harper doesn’t know where she is or what to believe. But as she spends time with Rhen in this enchanted land, she begins to understand what’s at stake. And as Rhen realizes Harper is not just another girl to charm, his hope comes flooding back. But powerful forces are standing against Emberfall . . . and it will take more than a broken curse to save Harper, Rhen, and his people from utter ruin.

This is the first book in the Cursebreaker Series.

The Blossom and the Firefly 
Sherri L. Smith

Earlier this year, I read a book entitled The Game of Love and Death by Martha Brockenbrough and another called Lovely War by Julie Berry. I loved both of them so much that I immediately went to Novelist to find a readalike; The Blossom and the Firefly was the first title on the list so I thought I would give it a chance.

Japan 1945. Taro is a talented violinist and a kamikaze pilot in the days before his first and only mission. He believes he is ready to die for his country . . . until he meets Hana. Hana hasn't been the same since the day she was buried alive in a collapsed trench during a bomb raid. She wonders if it would have been better to have died that day . . . until she meets Taro.

A song will bring them together. The war will tear them apart. Is it possible to live an entire lifetime in eight short days?


Legendborn
Tracy Deonn

After her mother dies in an accident, sixteen-year-old Bree Matthews wants nothing to do with her family memories or childhood home. A residential program for bright high schoolers at UNC Chapel Hill seems like the perfect escape until Bree witnesses a magical attack her very first night on campus: A flying demon feeding on human energies; a secret society of so called "Legendborn" students that hunt the creatures down; and a mysterious teenage man who calls himself a "Merlin" and who attempts, and fails, to wipe Bree's memory of everything she saw.

The mage's failure unlocks Bree's own unique magic and a buried memory with a hidden connection: the night her mother died, another Merlin was at the hospital. Now that Bree knows there's more to her mother's death than what's on the police report, she'll do whatever it takes to find out the truth, even if that means infiltrating the Legendborn as one of their initiates.

She recruits Nick, a self-exiled Legendborn with own grudge against the group, and their reluctant partnership pulls them deeper into the society's secrets - and closer to each other. But when the Legendborn reveal themselves as the descendants of King Arthur's knights and explain that a magical war is coming, Bree has to decide how far she'll go for the truth and whether she should use her magic to take the society down or join the fight. 


The Lost Apothecary
Sara Penner

Just the cover art on this book alone had me drawn to it! Add in the fact that it’s about a female apothecary who sells poisons to women to use against the oppressive men in their lives. The feminist inside of me was itching to get my hands on this book.

Hidden in the depths of eighteenth-century London, a secret apothecary shop caters to an unusual kind of clientele. Women across the city whisper of a mysterious figure named Nella who sells well-disguised poisons to use against the oppressive men in their lives. But the apothecary’s fate is jeopardized when her newest patron, a precocious twelve-year-old, makes a fatal mistake, sparking a string of consequences that echo through the centuries.

Meanwhile in present-day London, aspiring historian Caroline Parcewell spends her tenth wedding anniversary alone, running from her own demons. When she stumbles upon a clue to the unsolved apothecary murders that haunted London two hundred years ago, her life collides with the apothecary’s in a stunning twist of fate—and not everyone will survive.

With crackling suspense, unforgettable characters and searing insight, The Lost Apothecary is a subversive and intoxicating debut novel of secrets, vengeance and the remarkable ways women can save each other despite the barrier of time.

Honorable Mentions:

Into the Heartless Woods by Joanna Meyer

Oh My Gods by Stephanie Cooke

Namesake by Adrienne Young

Follow Your Arrow by Jessica Verdi

Caste: The Origins of Our Discontents by Isabel Wilkerson

Somewhere Between Bitter and Sweet by Laeken Zea Kemp

You Don’t Have to be Everything by Diana Whitney

The Unkindness of Ravens by M.E. Hilliard

Ms. Frogbottom’s Field Trips series by Nancy Krulik

Kisses and Croissants by Anne-Sophie Jouhanneau

The Catcher in the Rye by J.D. Salinger

House of Dragons by Jessica Cluess

Apr 14, 2021

Book Spotlight: Sheets


Marjorie Glatt feels like a ghost. She has lost interest in a lot of things that she used to love, like swimming and playing the piano. She is running her family's laundromat and taking care of her little brother since her mom passed away and her dad subsequently fell into a deep depression. The laundromat... well, it's going horribly. Business is slow and the yoga-loving Mr. Saubertuck is pushing the Glatts to sell the place so he can transform it into a spa. Enter Wendell. Wendell is a ghost, but he's really sick of wearing a sheet, attending his group therapy sessions, and following all the rules of the Land of Ghosts. When Wendell decides to leave the Land of Ghosts, he discovers the Glatts' laundromat and makes it his own midnight playground. Pick up Sheets by Brenna Thummler to find out what happens when these two worlds collide. 


I will say that the pacing of this graphic novel feels a little off. It starts very slow, there's several wordless pages in the beginning, and then the last quarter of the book is just crammed with information and a quick resolution. It's worth sticking with the book though. There are connections between Marjorie and Wendell that you just don't want to miss. The honesty and tenderness that Thummler uses when discussing grief, depression, and financial insecurity are refreshing to see in a graphic novel format. The true highlight of the book though is not the plot, but the illustrations. Marjorie is drenched in pastels and the expressions on her face convey just how lonely and lost she feels. You get a sense of Wendell's sweet and mischievous personality just by the sheet he wears. If you check out this graphic novel and enjoy it, there's good news! The sequel, called Delicates, was released last month. It's on the top of my TBR pile. 

Mar 31, 2021

Body Positive Books

 
Body Positivity (noun):
          The fact of feeling good about your body and the way it looks.
 

Since the beginning of time, women have been told that their bodies have to look a certain way. I am not minimizing that men have had to endure society’s expectations and standards but for women, it has been emphasized more through media, advertisements, the beauty and skincare industry, and more. But here’s the thing - that ideal is always changing.
 
During the 90s, the “ideal beauty standard” was being tall, fair-skinned, and thin - to the point of bones protruding from your skin. Today, the ideal is for women to be “healthy” skinny which means being curvy and well-endowed but also maintaining a flat stomach. Am I the only one who thinks either of these are impossible to achieve and maintain ?
 
Whether you are short or tall, plus size or midsize, blonde or brunette, you are the best and most beautiful version of yourself! 

To celebrate the body positivity movement, I have compiled a list of titles with characters who struggle with but inevitably radiate with body positivity!



Pudge and Prejudice
A.K. Pittman

It’s 1984 and after moving to Northenfield, Texas, with her family, Elyse Nebbit faces the challenge of finding her place in a new school, one dominated by social status and Friday night football. When Elyse’s effortlessly beautiful older sister Jayne starts dating golden boy Charlie Bingley, Elyse finds herself curious about Charlie’s popular and brooding best friend, Billy Fitz. Elyse’s body insecurities eventually complicate her relationship with Billy, leaving Jayne and Elyse’s exceedingly blunt friend, Lottie, to step in and help Elyse accept herself for who she is, pant size and all.


Fat Chance, Charlie Vega
Crystal Maldonado

Charlie Vega is a lot of things. Smart. Funny. Artistic. Ambitious. Fat.
 
People sometimes have a problem with that last one. Especially her mom. Charlie wants a good relationship with her body, but it's hard, and her mom leaving a billion weight loss shakes on her dresser doesn't help. The world and everyone in it have ideas about what she should look like: thinner, lighter, slimmer-faced, straighter-haired. Be smaller. Be whiter. Be quieter.
 
But there's one person who's always in Charlie's corner: her best friend Amelia. Slim. Popular. Athletic. Totally dope. So when Charlie starts a tentative relationship with cute classmate Brian, the first worthwhile guy to notice her, everything is perfect until she learns one thing--he asked Amelia out first. So is she his second choice or what? Does he even really see her?Because it's time people did.
 
A sensitive, funny, and painful coming-of-age story with a wry voice and tons of chisme, Fat Chance, Charlie Vega tackles our relationships to our parents, our bodies, our cultures, and ourselves.
 


Leah on the Offbeat
Becky Albertalli

When it comes to drumming, Leah Burke is usually on beat - but real life isn’t always so rhythmic.

She’s an anomaly in her friend group: the only child of a young, single mom, and her life is decidedly less privileged. She loves to draw but is too self-conscious to show it. And even though her mom knows she’s bisexual, she hasn’t mustered the courage to tell her friends - not even her openly gay BFF, Simon.

So Leah really doesn’t know what to do when her rock-solid friend group starts to fracture in unexpected ways. With prom and college on the horizon, tensions are running high.
It’s hard for Leah to strike the right note while the people she loves are fighting - especially when she realizes she might love one of them more than she ever intended.


The Upside of Unrequited 
Becky Albertalli

Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness - except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back.

There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him. Right?
 



Dumplin’
Julie Murphy

Self-proclaimed fat girl Willowdean Dickson (dubbed “Dumplin’" by her former beauty queen mom) has always been at home in her own skin. Her thoughts on having the ultimate bikini body? Put a bikini on your body.

With her all-American beauty best friend, Ellen, by her side, things have always worked . . . until Will takes a job at Harpy’s, the local fast-food joint. There she meets Private School Bo, a hot former jock. Will isn’t surprised to find herself attracted to Bo. But she is surprised when he seems to like her back.

Instead of finding new heights of self-assurance in her relationship with Bo, Will starts to doubt herself. So she sets out to take back her confidence by doing the most horrifying thing she can imagine: entering the Miss Clover City beauty pageant - along with several other unlikely candidates—to show the world that she deserves to be up there as much as any girl does.
Along the way, she’ll shock the hell out of Clover City - and maybe herself most of all.


Puddin’
Julie Murphy

Millie Michalchuk has gone to fat camp every year since she was a little girl. Not this year. This year she has new plans to chase her secret dream of being a newscaster - and to kiss the boy she’s crushing on.

Callie Reyes is the pretty girl who is next in line for dance team captain and has the popular boyfriend. But when it comes to other girls, she’s more frenemy than friend.
When circumstances bring the girls together over the course of a semester, they surprise everyone (especially themselves) by realizing that they might have more in common than they ever imagined.

A story about unexpected friendship, romance, and Texas-size girl power, this is another winner from Julie Murphy.


The DUFF
Kody Keplinger

Seventeen-year-old Bianca Piper may not be the prettiest girl in her high school, but she has a loyal group of friends, a biting wit, and a spot-on BS detector. She's also way too smart to fall for the charms of man-slut and slimy school hottie Wesley Rush, who calls Bianca the Duff--the Designated Ugly Fat Friend--of her crew.
 
But things aren't so great at home and Bianca, desperate for a distraction, ends up kissing Wesley. Worse, she likes it. Eager for escape, Bianca throws herself into a closeted enemies-with-benefits relationship with him.
 
Until it all goes horribly awry. It turns out Wesley isn't such a bad listener, and his life is pretty screwed up, too. Suddenly Bianca realizes with absolute horror that she's falling for the guy she thought she hated more than anyone.



The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big Round Things
Carolyn Mackler

Fifteen-year-old Virginia feels like a plus-sized black sheep in her family, especially next to her perfect big brother Byron. Not to mention her best friend has moved, leaving Virginia to navigate an awkward relationship with a boy alone. He might like her now but she has her doubts about how he'll react if he ever looks under all her layers of clothes.

In order to survive, Virginia decides to follow a “Fat Girl Code of Conduct,” which works, until the unthinkable causes her family's fa├žade to crumble. As her world spins out of orbit, she realizes that being true to herself might be the only way back.

Told in a perfect blend of humor and heart, this acclaimed Printz Honor winner resonates as much today as it did when it first published, and now features a new author foreword, text updates, and other bonus content.


I’ll be the One
Lyla Lee

Skye Shin has heard it all. Fat girls shouldn’t dance. Wear bright colors. Shouldn’t call attention to themselves. But Skye dreams of joining the glittering world of K-Pop, and to do that, she’s about to break all the rules that society, the media, and even her own mother, have set for girls like her.

She’ll challenge thousands of other performers in an internationally televised competition looking for the next K-pop star, and she’ll do it better than anyone else.
When Skye nails her audition, she’s immediately swept into a whirlwind of countless practices, shocking performances, and the drama that comes with reality TV. What she doesn’t count on are the highly fat-phobic beauty standards of the Korean pop entertainment industry, her sudden media fame and scrutiny, or the sparks that soon fly with her fellow competitor, Henry Cho.

But Skye has her sights on becoming the world’s first plus-sized K-pop star, and that means winning the competition - without losing herself.


Starfish
Lisa Fipps

Ellie is tired of being fat-shamed and does something about it in this poignant debut novel-in-verse.
 
Ever since Ellie wore a whale swimsuit and made a big splash at her fifth birthday party, she's been bullied about her weight. To cope, she tries to live by the Fat Girl Rules--like "no making waves," "avoid eating in public," and "don't move so fast that your body jiggles." And she's found her safe space--her swimming pool - where she feels weightless in a fat-obsessed world. In the water, she can stretch herself out like a starfish and take up all the room she wants. It's also where she can get away from her pushy mom, who thinks criticizing Ellie's weight will motivate her to diet. Fortunately, Ellie has allies in her dad, her therapist, and her new neighbor, Catalina, who loves Ellie for who she is. With this support buoying her, Ellie might finally be able to cast aside the Fat Girl Rules and starfish in real life - by unapologetically being her own fabulous self.


Faith Taking Flight
Julie Murphy

Faith Herbert is a pretty regular teen. When she’s not hanging out with her two best friends, Matt and Ches, she’s volunteering at the local animal shelter or obsessing over the long-running teen drama The Grove.

So far, her senior year has been spent trying to sort out her feelings for her maybe-crush Johnny and making plans to stay close to Grandma Lou after graduation. Of course, there’s also that small matter of recently discovering she can fly….

When the fictional world of The Grove crashes into Faith’s reality as the show relocates to her town, she can’t believe it when TV heroine Dakota Ash takes a romantic interest in her.
But her fandom-fueled daydreams aren’t enough to distract Faith from the fact that first animals, then people, have begun to vanish from the town. Only Faith seems able to connect the dots to a new designer drug infiltrating her high school.

But when her investigation puts the people she loves in danger, she will have to confront her hidden past and use her newfound gift - risking everything to save her friends and beloved town.


There’s something about Sweetie
Sandhya Menon

Ashish Patel didn’t know love could be so… sucky. After being dumped by his ex-girlfriend, his mojo goes AWOL. Even worse, his parents are annoyingly, smugly confident they could find him a better match. So, in a moment of weakness, Ash challenges them to set him up.
 
The Patels insist that Ashish date an Indian-American girl - under contract. Per sub clause 1(a), he’ll be taking his date on “fun” excursions like visiting the Hindu temple and his eccentric Gita Auntie. Kill him now. How is this ever going to work?
 
Sweetie Nair is many things: a formidable track athlete who can outrun most people in California, a loyal friend, a shower-singing champion. Oh, and she’s also fat. To Sweetie’s traditional parents, this last detail is the kiss of death.
 
Sweetie loves her parents, but she’s so tired of being told she’s lacking because she’s fat. She decides it’s time to kick off the Sassy Sweetie Project, where she’ll show the world (and herself) what she’s really made of.
 
Ashish and Sweetie both have something to prove. But with each date they realize there’s an unexpected magic growing between them. Can they find their true selves without losing each other?


Love is a Revolution
Renee Watson

When Nala Robertson reluctantly agrees to attend an open mic night for her cousin-sister-friend Imani's birthday, she finds herself falling in instant love with Tye Brown, the MC. He's perfect, except... Tye is an activist and is spending the summer putting on events for the community when Nala would rather watch movies and try out the new seasonal flavors at the local creamery. In order to impress Tye, Nala tells a few tiny lies to have enough in common with him. As they spend more time together, sharing more of themselves, some of those lies get harder to keep up. As Nala falls deeper into keeping up her lies and into love, she'll learn all the ways love is hard, and how self-love is revolutionary.
 
In Love Is a Revolution, plus size girls are beautiful and get the attention of the hot guys, the popular girl clique is not shallow but has strong convictions and substance, and the ultimate love story is not only about romance but about how to show radical love to the people in your life, including to yourself.

Mar 16, 2021

Book Spotlight: See You in the Cosmos

Let's say you have the chance to communicate with aliens. Maybe this interaction will be the first time aliens will ever hear a song from planet Earth. What song would you want them to hear? Something by Taylor Swift? The Jonas Brothers? What about Elvis? Eleven-year-old Alex Petroski is going to show aliens what life on Earth is like. He's got a plan: He's going to launch his iPod into space at the Southwest High Altitude Rocket Festival, just like how Carl Sagan launched the Golden Record on the Voyager spacecraft in 1977. But like most things in Alex's life, the iPod launch doesn't go exactly according to plan. Instead, Alex finds himself on a road trip to uncover the secrets of his family with Carl Sagan, his dog - not the scientist, a motivational speaker who has taken a vow of silence, and a few other rocket enthusiasts. I have found this book to be one that engages reluctant readers and young boys. Alex is such a relatable character, and it's pretty hard not to root for him and fall in love with all his quirks. While Alex deals with a lot of big stuff, like mental illness and estranged family members, he does so in a way that is thoughtful and sweet, and full of astronomy jokes. Another appeal for young readers is the format of the book. The book is told entirely through the recordings that Alex makes on his iPod to share with aliens. It's quirky, it's fun, and it's a great book club title or one for the whole family to explore together. Check out See You in the Cosmos by Jack Cheng at your Library.