Hi, MSM, and welcome to Shelf Care!
This is a new weekly blog feature brought to you by your very own librarian, Miss K. I figured that all of us might feel cooped up in these days of “social distancing,” but books can take us beyond the walls of our homes. If you’re looking for a story to distract you in these difficult times, you’ve come to the right place.
The first book I’m going to recommend is my own personal favorite: Castle Waiting by Linda Medley. I realize this is sort of an unusual book to start with because it’s a graphic novel (a.k.a. a comic book), and graphic novels aren’t everyone’s cup of tea. But hear me out: When I first read Castle Waiting six or seven years ago, I didn’t really like graphic novels or know much about them. However, this one’s simple black-and-white artwork and distinctive characters caught my eye. I ended up checking it out of my college library and fell in love. It’s a quiet “slice-of-life” story that takes place in a fairy tale world. There is no plot, no grand quest, no single hero; instead, it tells the story of a woman named Jain who runs away from an unhappy marriage and finds a legendary castle abandoned by its princess and re-purposed as a sanctuary for outcasts and underdogs. There is a talking stork, a bearded nun, an anthropomorphic horse, a half-giant, and so many more unforgettable characters. Volume 1 follows Jain as she gets to know her new companions, and you quickly learn that everyone is a hero in their own way. It’s a book about compassion, friendship, and the importance of a good deed. The MSM student Book Club read this over Christmas break and they described it as the “perfect book to curl up with.” Indeed, I find myself lost in its pages at least twice a year. Every reread feels like a visit to an old friend, and I promise it will make your world seem brighter.
Want something a little more action-packed? Then check out Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older. Storytelling, the fine arts, music, and film all give our lives meaning and excitement, and now that we’re all holed up in our houses, many people who took the arts for granted are finally starting to see their value. Shadowshaper puts a magical spin on this. Sierra Santiago is only trying to mind her own business and enjoy her summer break when she notices the graffiti in her neighborhood start to come to life. Soon she finds herself wrapped up in a magical secret order called the Shadowshapers, who use art to communicate with spirits. But something isn’t right in the magical world. As she tries to solve the mystery, Sierra uncovers secrets she never could have imagined–secrets that involve her own grandfather. Shadowshapers is a fast, fun read, featuring a diverse cast of characters, including a protagonist you can’t help cheering for, and one really cool librarian named Nydia Ochoa who breaks all the annoying stereotypes about the profession. (Okay, sure, maybe I’m a little biased…)
If those descriptions didn’t sell you on these books, maybe their covers can.
Butterscotch gives both books two thumbs up. He’s a big fan.
So there you have it for this week’s Shelf Care. If you decide to pick up one or both of these books, I genuinely hope you enjoy them and I would love to hear your opinions of them–because books are even more fun when they’re shared.
Stay safe and healthy, everyone, and from my bookshelf to yours: happy reading!
Ms. Lee Ann Kostempski, Library Media Specialist