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Sunday, May 20
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Check It Out

Courier Article by Pam Locker
Sunday, May 21, 2006

Five Titles Will Help Readers Go Wild With Books

"Go Wild with Books" is the theme of the 2006 Evansville Vanderburgh Public Library Summer Reading Program. The main sponsors are the Public Library Friends and the local Wild Birds Unlimited Nature Shop, and prizes at all age levels are nature-oriented. EVPL cardholders can sign up online for the adult program at Read or listen to any five library books; then record your titles online by July 24th.

Grand prizes include backyard bird feeding stations, solar powered chimes, and bird identifying kits that include binoculars, field guide, and birdsong identifiers. Write a book review and submit it online to be in the drawing for a solar powered terra cotta cascade fountain.

The Kickoff Event today at Central Library will be full of music and fun.

Here are reviews of some of this year's featured books by various Library readers' advisors.

The Big Year: a Tale of Man, Nature, and Fowl Obsession by Mark Obmascik.

In 1820 John James Audubon set out to paint life-size watercolor portraits of every bird in the New World. His landmark work, "The Birds of America," was an international sensation. Thus was born the quirkiest of all contests – the race to spot the most species of birds in North America in a single year. Pulitzer Prize winner Obmascik reports on 1998, the biggest year of extreme birding ever. He follows the travels and trials of the three top contenders as they brave rain, sleet, snowstorms, swamps, deserts, sea sickness, mosquitoes, and garbage dumps in their attempts to outdo each other…It's a wild and funny book that makes you want to grab your guidebook and binoculars and head outdoors. (Barbara, Central).

In the Heart of the Sea: the Tragedy of the Whaleship Essex by Nathaniel Philbrick.

Accomplished maritime writer Philbrick has written a nonfiction version of Hermann Melville's "Moby Dick." A realistic look at life on whaling ship in the 1800s, this recounts how the Essex, sailing from Nantucket in 1819, was attacked and sunk by a vicious sperm whale in the South Pacific. The crew drifted for more than ninety days at sea, and endured agonies well beyond the normal capacities of men. It is not for the "faint of heart." (Michael, North Park).

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan by Lisa See is a touching novel about two women in early 19th-century China who meet when they are six years old and begin a lifelong communication through a secret written language called nu shu, known only to women in their province. Their story is riveting, poignant, and emotionally charged. Even though it is set nearly 200 years ago, this is a novel about female relationships that even the most modern of women can relate to. (Kate, Oaklyn)

A Study in Scarlet by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle.

What better way to meet – or reacquaint yourself with – literature's greatest detective than by reading Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's first Sherlock Holmes mystery? This colorful tale of murder and revenge sets the stage for the sixty subsequent stories of the partnership between Holmes and Dr. John Watson, characters so vivid and compelling that the late 19th century public wouldn't accept the author's attempt to kill them off in order to move on to other writing pursuits. (DeeDee, Central).

Gilead by Marilynne Robinson.

This compelling novel is set in Iowa in the mid-1950s. An aging pastor is dying, leaving a letter to his young son chronicling their family's history. From Civil War Kansas to the intricacies of father/son relationships, Robinson moves us with lyrical ease through Ames' seemingly uneventful life. (Michelle, North Park)

Pam Locker is a librarian with the Evansville-Vanderburgh Public Library. The opinions expressed in this column are personal and do not reflect policies or official recommendations of EVPL.