Rediscovering Fantasy

beautiful-blur-bright-326055I used to enjoy fantasy, and then, I’m not sure what happened. Maybe it was too many textbooks to read in college. Maybe it was getting too practical and thinking I had more important things to do. But, whatever the reason, I left fantasy on the shelf.

This month, I decided to read a Newberry Medal winning book. The Newberry Medal was created in 1922 to honor and promote quality children’s literature. The award is given by the American Library Association, specifically the Association for Library Service to Children, which includes children’s librarians from schools and libraries.

Incidentally, a Newberry Medal winner is a category on our Adult Reaching Challenge. 51Ny5dIMUKL._SX333_BO1,204,203,200_Since the challenge is meant to expand participants’ reading palates, I felt that a young adult fantasy novel would certainly expand mine. The book title that caught my eye was The Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnill─a high fantasy novel.

The book draws you in quickly with an abandoned baby, a benevolent witch, and a whole village lost in fog of sorrow. Each year, a baby must be sacrificed, to save the village. Or so the story goes.

Luna is the helpless baby left in the woods to die for her people. But when Xan, the witch who carries her away, accidentally feeds the baby moonlight, she changes Luna’s destiny─and the destiny of Luna’s village─forever. The struggle escalates between good and evil, truth and deception, sorrow and hope.

I was especially struck with the theme of narratives and who controls them. The people inside the village (where babies are sacrificed) and the people outside this village, each have a distinct understanding of the world. Their respective understandings are informed by the stories that both groups believe and pass on to their children. Ethyne is a villager who fights for freedom and realizes the power of the stories we hear:

“A story can tell the truth, she knew, but a story can also lie. Stories can bend and twist and obfuscate. Controlling stories is power indeed. And who would benefit most from such a power?” (pg. 309)

adult-beautiful-blue-color-281279It’s a timely reflection for our own times. What stories do we retell over and over that we never examine? What do we believe about people or events just because someone told us? I’m not talking about being cynical or questioning everything, but just about being receptive to the truth. For example, the Morning Book Club this month is exploring some of the narratives we rehearse about race by reading Bryan Stevenson’s Just Mercy. Stevenson’s story is no fantasy, but fantasy may give us permission to think about real stories in a new way.

Whether it’s book club, the reading challenge, or listening to an audiobook on your commute, I hope you’ll discover content that challenges your thinking and inspires your imagination.

Happy reading,



Spring Hacks from the Library

flora-flowers-garden-102896The Library is brimming with resources for every season. Spring is in the air, and we have a smattering of Spring-related tips, how-tos and ideas on our shelves just waiting to come to life. Take a moment and smell these book-flowers!

Spring Cleaning

Cleaning by Real Simple will help you put together your supplies and tackle every surface and room in your house. This is a great overview of cleaning guidelines and insights. Find it in Nonfiction 648.5 Sq5.

How to Clean Practically Anything by Consumer Reports. The Spring sunshine is ready to pour into your living room, but, what’s that? The windows are full of grime from a long winter. Gross! But never fear, a quick and nontoxic solution will make those windows sparkle. Consumer Reports recommends a solution of 3 tablespoons of vinegar and 1 quart of water. You can also try half vinegar half water (203). alone-cabinets-chores-1321730Nonfiction 648.5 C76

Green This: Greening Your Cleaning by Deirdre Imus

Nothing says fresh like fresh clean laundry. But maybe someone in your house is allergic to dryer sheets or scented detergents. Deirdre Imus, in her book Green This!, Suggests tossing in half a lemon’s worth of juice into your washing machine as an alternative odor-remover (75).

One thing that really makes a difference in the bathroom are clean drains. Try this drain cleaning hack from Green This!: mix together a little baking soda, salt and lemon juice to form a paste. Cover your drain and surrounding area with the paste and let sit for an hour─or all day if you want! Rinse it off when you’re ready and bingo! Clean drain with no toxic chemicals. The spring air just got a little fresher, my friends (91). Nonfiction 648.5 Im9

allergies-allergy-cold-41284Spring allergies:

Giant Book of Kitchen Counter Cures by Karen Cicero and Colleen Pierre

Allergies are one of the worst parts of Spring. You probably know that what makes allergies so unbearable is a little compound called histamine. Well, it just so happens that something called quercetin encourages our bodies to stop making histamine. Where to get quercetin? Blackberries. Who knew? But this juicy fruit isn’t just a yummy snack anymore. And the included recipe for Blackberry-peach crisp looks berry, berry delicious!! (66-67) Find it in nonfiction 613.2 C48.

The Allergy Bible by Reader’s Digest

You can guess this is a hefty but readable resource about allergies of all kinds. There is a part specifically on hayfever with a list of symptoms and treatment ideas. Find it in nonfiction 661.9 G14

Spring Gardening

Grow It Cook it edited by Deborah Lock

This colorful book shows kids the basics of gardening and cooking! From how to agriculture-close-up-cultivation-1002703plant a seed to how to make chocolate mint mousse, this book is sure to inspire both outdoors and in! Find it on the shelf in the juvenile section 635 L78.

Gardening Lab for Kids by Renata Fossen Brown gives you 52 gardening experiments to try at home. There’s also great gardening tips for the novice adult gardener too! Find it in the juvenile section 635 B81.

Spring Fever:

Poetry Let’s face it, there’s something about trees budding, seeds sprouting, and warm breezes blowing that makes us want to join in the fun. Poetry is a beautiful way to celebrate spring. April is national poetry month. Perhaps you’ll want to soak in some Emily Dickinson, whose nature poems might just bring words to some of your pent-up enthusiasm about Spring:

animal-bird-erithacus-rubecula-46166The robin is the one

That interrupts the morn

With hurried, few, express reports

When March is scarcely on

(Dickinson from “Nature” IV, pg 78. The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson 811.4 D56).

Or you might chuckle at Robert Frost’s “A Girl’s Garden,” which spins the tale of a young girl and her garden. One verse notes:

Her crop was a miscellany

When all was said and done,

A little bit of everything,

A great deal of none (Frost 134 811.5 F92).

Or, why not write a poem of your own? Find a sunny spot and sit down with a notebook and pen. Write whatever comes to mind about what you see.

Library Activities

We have plenty of activities to help you let out your Spring energy right here at theart-art-materials-brush-207666 library. For example, did you know that the children’s room has a bulletin board every month with a different activity? You can do the activity at the Library, or take it home. This month you can make a whimsical cloud mobile.

Maybe you need some chill time as an adult. We’re hosting our second annual “Coffee and Coloring” event On Friday, April 5th. Drop by anytime between 6:00-8:00 p.m. and enjoy some coffee and tasty treats. We’ll also have our regular story times, movie matinees, young adult programs and more! Check out our website for all the details.

Spring is here and we hope you’ll continue to enjoy all the Library has to offer: from house cleaning tips, to inspirational poetry, to coffee and coloring and─of course─books!!

Till next time,


Still on the Hill

Cane Hill cover full painting
Photo credit: Still on the Hill

What does top notch folk music, a historic Arkansas town, and a limberjack puppet all have in common? They’re all elements of a special concert coming March 22 to your Library! This is a stellar opportunity to hear some award-winning musicians, while learning more about the history of our state. All this comes from Kelly and Donna Mulhollan and their band “Still on the Hill.”

Still on the Hill is a folk band that has worked hard to advocate for and protect the traditions and natural resources of Arkansas. They’ve even been awarded the Governors Folklife Award for their achievements. You might know them from one of the many music festivals they have appeared at such as the Philadelphia Folk Festival or The Walnut Valley Bluegrass Festival. You might also know them from December 20th, declared “Still on the Hill Day” by the Mayor of Fayetteville. They’ve also released records in the U.S. and Europe.

Cane Hill College 2
Cane Hill College (Photo credit: Still on the Hill)


Their most recent Ozark offering celebrates the city of Cane Hill. I’ll be honest and say I had no idea Cane Hill was even a city in Arkansas. Turns out, this city is the site of one of the first colleges in the whole state. Not only that, but it was home to the first college to include women, the first public school, first library, and first Sunday School. It’s also home to a historic mill and is a Civil War battle site.

As a part of the effort to preserve and celebrate Cane Hill’s rich history, Still on the Hill was given a grant to present a collection of songs all about Cane Hill. That grant now allows them to bring their songs to us at the Library for free! Join us Friday, March 22 from 7-8:30 p.m. You’ll also have the opportunity to get a free CD while supplies last.

Booth Campbell 5
Photo credit: Still on the Hill

And y’all, this isn’t just about some good folk music (although, there’s that), this is also about getting to see traditional, handmade, ozark instruments. And while you’re getting excited about instruments, get excited about a picture quilt to go with each song. AND, limberjack puppets. You heard me. Limberjack. On top of all this, the show is built for the whole family. So pile the kids in the van for family night out, enjoy the show as an after-dinner-date, or, heck, come all by your onesies and treat yourself!

Till next time!



Thanks to these helpful websites who informed this blog:

Read Across America

Celebrate Read Across America with Pete the Cat and your favorite librarians.

If you come into the Library this week, you might think your library staff seem extra groovy. That’s because we’ll be celebrating Read Across America by dressing up like Pete the Cat books! If you haven’t had a chance to read any of James Dean’s cool cat books, I’ll introduce you in a second. First, you should know that Read Across America comes from the National Education Association, and its purpose is to create hype around reading─kind of like our culture naturally does for the next big movie, the current fashion trends, or an upcoming sporting event. If kids were excited about reading, imagine the results! More kids reading means stronger students today, and more successful adults tomorrow.

So, yeah, we’re gonna rock out in Pete the Cat attire, and we hope you’ll join us!

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Pete the Cat is a character dreamed up by James Dean. Pete is a lovable, quirky and independent cat who gets through life’s bumps with a sense of style, optimism and, above all, an appreciation for everyone in his neighborhood─no matter how different, grumpy, or toothless they might be.

Do you want to dress up with us?? Here’s our wardrobe picks for Read Across America Week:Pete the cat snow daze

Monday, March 4th: Snow Daze

Don your favorite hats, sweaters, scarves and earmuffs! Pete the Cat enjoys a snow day, but when the snow keeps falling, he starts to miss his pals and his teacher at school.

“I love snow days,’ says Pete. ‘But I love school best!”

Pete the cat and the lost toothTuesday, March 5th: Pete the Cat and the Lost Tooth

Dig up those fairy wings from Halloween and get ready to be a tooth fairy with Pete! Generally, glitter, tooth t-shirts, flying capes, etc. are encouraged. Pete the Cat gets an adventure when the Tooth Fairy’s busy night calls for some volunteer help. When Pete encounters a friend with no teeth, he decides to find a way to still include him in the fun. This whimsical story concludes:

Not everyone is the same. But being kind is always cool.

Wednesday, March 6th: Pete the Cat and His Four Groovy Buttonspete the cat and four groovy buttons

You might find us with yellow t-shirts and big, felt buttons. Today is really about any kind of button, though, so be creative! In this tale, Pete sings a song all about his four groovy buttons. One by one, the buttons POP! We learn subtraction, but also an important lesson about material things:

…stuff will come and stuff will go. But do we cry? Goodness NO! We keep on singing.

pete the cat and magic sunglassesThursday, March 7th: Pete the Cat and His Magic Sunglasses

You guessed it! Find the craziest sunglasses you own and wear ‘em proud! Pete the Cat discovers a magic pair of sunglasses that seem to make everyone’s day get better. Wise Old Owl helps him see that the magic is all about perspective:

“Pete, you don’t need magic sunglasses to see things in a new way. Just remember to look for the good in every day.”

Friday, March 8th: Favorite Pete the Cat book of your choice

I haven’t even gotten to tell you about Pete’s new neighbor, Gus (spoiler: he’s a platypus), or why Valentine’s day is cool, or well, I’ll let YOU discover more Pete the Cat for yourself!

This week is all about getting excited to read. Check out Pete the Cat, dress up with us, and most important: check out a book and have fun reading!

Till next time,


Community Book Project

abstract-art-artistic-226589When I come to the Library, I see our town. I see young mothers with adorable toddlers struggling to carry an over-sized book. I see teenagers painting murals for Christmas on our windows, and grandmothers who read more books in a week than I will all year. I see aspiring gardeners and knitters and home-improvers. I see people working hard and people relaxing; laboring over math problems and chuckling over Youtube videos.

Every now and then, I get a snippet of someone’s story. The more snippets I get, the more I realize our town is full of remarkable people with an incredible range of experiences, opinions and ambitions. Together, we make up a community─and a pretty great one at that! Sure, we have our problems, but generally, we like living here (and I’m not just being Pollyanna, you can read for yourself in the 2017 Resident Survey).

If you’re like me though, you miss out on much of our community’s perspectives art-artist-arts-and-crafts-159984because you tend to travel in the same “circuit” around town. For me, it looks something like, work, church, the grocery store and the houses of my friends who generally go to the same church, work, or grocery store as I do. Routines aren’t bad─they’re very helpful. But sometimes I get so absorbed in my rhythm that I miss the voices of people outside of it. It’s kind of like muting the treble and only listening to the baseline of a song: It’s still nice, but it’s missing a lot of the beauty that makes the song a song.

audio-band-black-and-white-9137In the interest of hearing more voices and celebrating community, we’d like to invite everyone to write a book together. We’re calling it: The Community Book Project. You can lend your voice with words or with pictures, in Spanish or in English. Every piece will have something to do with community: what makes it work, why it’s important, how you’ve experienced it personally, etc.

Would you tell us about a friendship that has meant the world to you? Write a poem about what it means to listen to someone different from yourself? Compose a photograph to make us ponder why relationships are worth the risk?

We want to hear your perspective about community. E-mail your masterpiece to us Copy of completionat Complete details for submission are found when you click HERE.

We can’t wait to show you the final copy. The book will be kept at our Library and at the Siloam school libraries. Since the book is all about community, The Friends of the Library Bookstore will also have the book for sale and they will invest all profits back into projects that benefit the community.

Speaking of the Friends of the Library, we’d like to say a big THANK YOU to them and to Generations Bank, for providing funding for this exciting endeavor. And thank YOU in advance for investing your time and talent into the Community Book Project.

Till next time,


Celebrating Black History Month

Let's Celebrate Black HIstory MonthFebruary is Black History Month and the Library has been celebrating. No one is untouched by African American history. If you’re not familiar with this important month, I’d like to introduce you! There’s lots more to learn, but here’s a start.

In 1926, Black History Month was not a month, it was only a week. Author and historian Carter G. Woodson and the ASNLH (Association for the Study of Negro Life and History), started the celebration intending to promote the study of African American history and accomplishments in the U.S.

Although people began celebrating for a whole month as early as 1969, Black History Month became a nationwide observance in 1976. On our country’s 200th birthday, President Gerald Ford encouraged all Americans to celebrate Black History Month. He said that all Americans should “seize the opportunity to honor the too-often neglected accomplishments of black Americans in every area of endeavor throughout our history.”

The Library would like to help you “seize the opportunity” by taking the time to read one of our handpicked books highlighting African Americans in history and in theadult-blond-hair-breakfast-meeting-1432945 present. You won’t have to dig for these! They are easy to access on the display shelf to the right as you walk in the Library (pro tip: we highlight new themes on this shelf every month, and we encourage you take these books home and read them).

Last year for Black History Month, I enjoyed perusing Linda Tarrant-Reid’s Discovering Black America : From the Age of Exploration to the Twenty-First Century. It gives a thorough and engaging overview of major events and people in African American history. I stress the word “overview” as each chapter left me with loads of people, places and events to explore further.

African Americans have influenced our country as soldiers, heroes, inventors, scientists, writers, mothers, fathers, military strategists, abolitionists, government leaders and the list goes on.

achievement-adult-agreement-1308780People like Gordon Parks, Hollywood’s first African American director who also fought racism through photography. Or, Jesse Owens, whose gold medals shone brightly in the darkness of WWII. Or, the first successful heart surgeon: Daniel Hale Williams. These are only a handful of examples.

Every American has the great privilege of celebrating Black History this month. Reading a book is just one way! The internet is full of great ideas to remember, learn about, and celebrate the influence of African Americans.

Happy celebrating!


P.S. Special thanks to the Ford Library Museum Website for their great info on Black History Month.

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten

affection-baby-book-1741231There are few things more endearing than a little child clutching a book with hopeful eyes that say “will you read to me?” But reading to a child is not just cute─it’s critical. That’s why the Library is starting “1,000 Books Before Kindergarten:” to inspire and incentivize reading with the kids under your care.

Maybe you’ve heard reading aloud is a good idea, but when you have competing priorities (which, as a parent is pretty much…always) you need more than “it’s a good idea” to convince you to make room for it.

It helps your child want to read. The 15 Minutes Campaign (a national campaignadult-baby-book-626631 devoted to helping parents read to their littles 15 minutes a day) compares it to a commercial. You’ve seen the effect of commercials: even before a child knows what a Super-Charged-Race-a-Cheetah Go-Cart is, they want one when they see an ecstatic kid sporting one around the driveway on T.V. When you read aloud, you’re telling your child “Reading is AWESOME!” This idea soaks into their brain and helps them choose to read for themselves later on.

It gives your child a running start for school. According to the 15 Minutes Campaign website, “Children who are read aloud to by parents get a head start in language and literacy skills and go to school better prepared” (

baby-beautiful-child-1257105It promotes healthy brain development. Reach Out and Read (a national organization that provides books and encourages reading at doctor’s check-ups for kids), reminds us on their website that a child’s brain develops best when they have a strong relationship with their caregiver. Reading together fortifies that relationship.

1,000 Books Before Kindergarten is a nonprofit foundation and their idea is simple: to read 1,000 books to your child before they go to Kindergarten. They outline their purpose on their website, saying:

Our goal is to provide a simple, innovative yet fun approach to establishing strong early literacy skills. We help young children gain the confidence necessary to become strong readers”

We can’t wait to offer you this exciting program here at the Library. It all begins this adorable-book-boy-1250722Saturday, January 26th at 10:30 a.m. at the Library. Enjoy a snack and get a reading log for your first 100 books. For every 100 books read, your child receives a prize or sticker. Every January, we’ll hold a special graduation for all who have read 1,000 books.

Can’t wait to get started. We’ll be here to cheer you on from book one!


Till next time,


New Books in Our Own Backyard

backyard-bicycle-bike-630770Happy 2019! Of course, I always get a little blue packing up the last Christmas tree ornament and finally acknowledging that the Christmas cookies are too stale to eat anymore. But when the house is clean and the fridge is full of fresh groceries─I remember the excitement of new beginnings.

In the spirit of starting fresh, I decided to find a new book. As Wizard of Oz heroine, Dorothy Gale famously says: “If I ever go looking for my heart’s desire again, I won’t look any further than my own back yard.” I wasn’t looking for my heart’s desire exactly─just a book─but still, I decided not to look any further than my own backyard and read a book published right here in Siloam Springs.

And what a gem I found: Growing Up R.I.C.H.: Raised in Crazy Hollow by Jean Hurt.growing up rich It’s a delightful collection of short stories and poems about her life growing up in Arkansas and Oklahoma during and after the Great Depression. Although a dark time historically in many ways, Hurt’s writing shines with humor. She writes in her dedication: “I have tried to tell about the depression without being depressing.”

The book details one hilarious anecdote after another: how to dislodge a turnip from a cow’s throat, an intricate revenge plot using cow manure, the comedy of a cold, drunk man and some borrowed long johns, and on and on. Woven into the stories is a picture of what life was like for many people in our area of the country decades ago. We follow Jean into Saturday nights with neighbors listening to the radio and eating popcorn, scrubbing laundry on a washboard, and walking in shoes repaired repeatedly by hand.

beautiful-beautiful-girl-book-864938Hurt’s stories refreshed me with their originality, humor and perspective. Maybe you’d like to be refreshed with a new book too? If so, you’ll be excited about our 2019 Reading Challenge. First of all, there are PRIZES! To participate, pick up a list of categories and choose one that intrigues you (for example, “a nonfiction novel based on a true story”) then find a book that fits the category (I know some helpful librarians if you get stuck here). Read your new book, then pick a new category and start again. Oh, and to get in the drawing for a PRIZE write down your reads on an official reading log at the reference desk. Our first PRIZE is coming from Heart of the Home store downtown. Prizes from more fabulous businesses to follow!

You never know when you might find something new─right here in your own backyard.

Till next time,



Merry Christmas from your Library Staff!

Staff pic

There’s nothing quite like waiting for something you want. No matter what this holiday season means to you, chances are, you’re anticipating something (even if it’s just the end of long lines at Walmart!). Sometimes as adults, we lose our sense of anticipation: that excited distraction that hangs out in the back of our minds and adds a buoyancy to the mundane. I think that’s part of why we still smile when we see a kid excited about Santa.

Santa makes his much-anticipated entrance to the Library.

 Those were the faces we saw this month at “Santa at the Library,” a program put on entirely by the Friends of the Library (with help from the Siloam Springs Kiwanis club, Once Upon a Time Books and a whole batch of AMAZING volunteers). Hope you enjoy this (very homemade) video montage of the anticipation and enjoyment that we experienced with Santa at the Library (and don’t miss the exclusive interview with Santa & Mrs. Claus at the end)!



Santa gave us a reminder of the joy of anticipation, and there’s more to anticipate in 2019!

The fun doesn’t end after Christmas at the Library though. You can anticipate more fun programs coming up in the Spring! Stay tuned for…

our Adult 2019 Reading Challenge, designed to incentivize reading in genres you may not have previously explored.

Guest lecture on Arkansas’ involvement with Japanese internment camps from Kim Sanders (the exhibit curator for the Butler Center for Arkansas Studies).

1000 Books Before Kindergarten kicks off on Saturday, January 26th! This program will encourage reading during the vital early stages of child development.


Anticipating great things in 2019,



Meet Jennifer

IMG_20151001_172707021A few months ago I walked into the Library to find Jennifer decked out in Goofy apparel. I don’t mean her clothes were funny-looking, I mean “Goofy” with a capital “G.” Goofy’s stuffed head, smiled, well…goofily, from atop Jennifer’s forehead, and evidence of this comical cartoon icon graced the rest of her outfit to perfection. Jennifer herself was smiling, eager to serve our patrons and have a chuckle at the same time.                                                                                                                                                                                 This picture of Jennifer is especially endearing because it exemplifies her Jennifer-ness in three ways: Her silly side, her enthusiasm for helping people, and her ability to share with others the things that bring her joy.

Although she looks for any excuse to dress like Goofy, her more serious passion is helping people. Jennifer loves people by doing things for them. Whether it’s helping someone find the perfect children’s book, or opening her home, Jennifer is quick and bold to address the needs around her. Just one ongoing example of this at the Library is her weekly Tech Help hour on Wednesdays from 3:00-4:00. Stop by and let Jennifer help you with your latest technological frustration.

Jennifer was born in Louisiana, but grew up in California. Like many transplants in our community, JBU brought her to Siloam Springs, where she has settled and grown a family. The Library was a dream job, and a position opened up just as she was looking to supplement her family’s income.

Interacting with the public energizes her, which is probably one reason she has created many rewarding relationships here. Another reason is her ability to freely share the thoughts, events, stories and relationships that bring her joy. One of those joys is children’s literature. Jennifer appreciates a good story, whether intended for children or adults. She is a go-to person for children’s books.img_20180302_160736056.jpg

On a deeper level, Jennifer shares stories that touched or inspired her at the core. Her enthusiasm in sharing these more profound eureka moments, reveals again her desire to help people, and also her deep receptiveness to real joy.

Speaking of joy, Jennifer wants to share more of it with people who come to the Library. When I asked her what she wishes more people knew about the library, she said,

“I wish people would understand that our library isn’t just books. We have awesome programs and services to help people and to bring people together. Yes, we are a library and yes, we have books, but we also have children programs, family programs, authors that come, entertainers that come, we help with knowing how to use technology and so much more.”

Now, for some fun facts!

IMG_20150721_201335965Favorite Meal: Food. I love seafood and things grilled.

Favorite Quote: “You are braver than you believe, stronger than you seem, and smarter than you think. But the most important thing is, even if we’re apart…I’ll always be with you.”   – A.A. Milne Winnie the Pooh

Favorite color: My favorite colors are Fall colors and the Royal colors.

Ideal Saturday: A cool day with sunshine hiking in the woods and seeing awesome views, waterfalls, creeks, flowers, fungi, and other nature-y things.

Currently Reading:  A Lineage of Grace by                                                                 Francine Rivers


Jennifer loves to help people, share with people and just be silly with people. The initiative she takes to serve others is a gift to our Library and the community. We are thankful for her presence!


Till next time,