Kings of B’more by R. Eric Thomas 

Against a summery orange background, that shows a ferris wheel and light-rail train, two young Black boys smile

by Eliana H.

R. Eric Thomas is a Baltimore-based television writer, playwright, and the bestselling author of Here for It: Or, How to Save Your Soul in America and Reclaiming Her Time: The Power of Maxine Waters. He is also the (temporary) Prudie, answering questions for the Dear Prudence column in Slate magazine through mid-summer. He is visiting in-person at the Elkridge Branch + DIY Center on Wednesday, June 15 at 6:30 pm. He will be discussing his debut young adult novel, Kings of B’more. I had the wonderful opportunity to read an advance copy, and I am so excited to share it with you.

Have you ever seen Ferris Bueller’s Day Off? In the popular movie from the 1980s, the title character, a high school student, skips school to take his best friend and girlfriend on a whirlwind adventure all over Chicago. When the main character of Kings of B’more, Harrison, learns that his best friend, Linus, will be moving to South Carolina in just a few days, he is inspired by the movie – which his dad has just made him watch – to plan an adventure all around Baltimore for the two of them. Despite his grand ideas and the help Harrison enlists, things (of course) don’t quite go as planned. The boys manage to have an epic day nonetheless.

Throughout the book, I was struck by the beauty of the friendship between Harrison and Linus. Author R. Eric Thomas captures a fresh, unique voice and perspective for each of them while highlighting the ways in which they complement one another. They can have entire conversations with their eyes, they see and value the truth of each other, and they show their affection in ways large and small. As two Black queer young men, they certainly face some challenges. But Harrison and Linus support one another as each discovers his own way to take on the world. I thoroughly enjoyed the language that Thomas uses, with vividly descriptive passages that bring the surroundings to life. Baltimore really becomes another character in this story, not just the setting. 

With ups and downs and so many adventures, Thomas has packed an entire coming-of-age tale into a story taking place over a single weekend. The growth each character experiences occurs in a way that is completely natural in terms of what they are going through. Harrison and Linus feel authentic and well-developed, and I was so glad to get to know them as I read. Despite a very satisfying ending, I would love to know what happens next. And I am definitely planning my next foray into Baltimore as soon as possible! 

I hope you will join us at the upcoming author event to hear more from R. Eric Thomas, ask questions, and consider purchasing a book for signing (if you want).

Eliana is a Children’s Research Specialist and Instructor at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).

Loving Stories in Picture Books

By Eliana H. 

During this time of year, we are bombarded by messages trying to convince us to buy things for “that special someone.” Flowers, chocolate, jewelry, and more. Not everyone celebrates Valentine’s Day, but I hope we all have people we love. Research shows that a loving bond with a caregiver helps young children thrive. Share these picture books about love with your little one, or any other stories you like, to help develop that bond. For more tips from The Basics about maximizing love and managing stress, visit https://thebasics.org/brain-boosts/maximize-love-manage-stress/

I Am Love: A Book of Compassion by Susan Verde, illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds (ages 5-11) 

The cover depicts a barefoot child in a blue top and pants with a pink jacket, and blue and pink hair, with arms outstretched in front of a heart that is comprised of gold stars.

With simple words and watercolor illustrations, this book gently invites readers to think about how they can show love. The author and illustrator work seamlessly together to show how we can support ourselves and each other with specific, concrete loving actions. Heart-opening yoga poses and a heart meditation accompany the author’s note at the end of this title.  

I Love Us!: A Book About Family by Theodore Henry, illustrated by Luisa Uribe (ages 0-3) 

The cover shows a variety of different multicultural families interacting while doing various activities - running through the rain under an umbrella, playing with a dog, drawing, making music, and eating.

A wonderful read to share with your youngest loved ones, I Love Us! shows various families participating in loving activities together. After you read, talk about the things you love about your family and what it does. A mirror at the end lets you and your little one imagine yourselves in the story! But if you want to complete the family tree activity on the final page, please do it on a separate page and not in a library copy of the book. 

Love the World by Todd Parr (ages 2-6) 

The book cover, in bright pink with yellow, blue, and green lettering, depicts the Earth with a heart superimposed for the "O" in "World," and anothe heart in the center of the "O" in "Love." Two children in brightly colored outfits are shown leaning into the frame from either side of the title with their hands outstretched, and a brown and white dog with a red collar pops up at the bottom. Small red and yellow hearts are scattered across the cover.

If you’ve ever read a Todd Parr book before, you will immediately recognize his unique style. With brightly colored illustrations and simple, rhyming text, Parr invites readers to love activities that support the community and specific parts of themselves. Throughout the book, in full-page spreads, we are reminded to “Love yourself. Love the world!” Invite your little one to talk about all the things they love after reading this volume. 

Me & Mama by Cozbi A. Cabrera (ages 4-8) 

The cover shows a girl and her mama playing peek-a-boo, both wearing shades of pink. The little girl is "peeking" out from behind her hands with a little grin on her face, but the mama's eyes are completely covered although she, too, is smiling.

This quiet, beautiful book celebrates the special bond between a little girl and her mama. As she says on the first page, the little girl wants, “to be everywhere Mama is.” She shows readers things that are hers and her mama’s before bringing us along on a walk in the rain. As day ends and she falls asleep, the little girl remembers parts of the day, especially “me and Mama.” 

When a Grandpa Says “I Love You” by Douglas Wood, illustrated by Jennifer A. Bell (ages 3-7) 

The cover depicts two anthropomorphized bears; the grandpa bear wears blue checked pajamas and square glasses, and the baby bear is in pale red pajamas, holding a flashlight. The two look as though they are in a tent and the grandpa is making shadow puppets. There is a wooden chair to the right of the frame, holding up the tent.

Many grandfathers don’t say “I love you” in words, although some certainly do. Even those that aren’t saying it out loud display their love for grandchildren through their actions. A wide range of animal pairs show grandfather-grandchild relationships in the illustrations of this book, all participating in a variety of activities that demonstrate loving feelings they share. Follow a reading with a discussion of the ways that we can show love to a special person. 

When Aidan Became a Brother by Kyle Lukoff, illustrated by Kaylani Juanita (ages 4-7) 

The cover depicts Aidan in a rainbow-colored coat and yellow pants, on the shoulders of his Dad and being kissed by his pregnant mom, who is wearing a white dress. A white cat looks up at them from next to Aidan's mom, and there are flower blossoms and petals floating across the cover.

When Aidan was born, everyone thought he was a girl. It took some time, but Aidan’s family all adjusted to make sure his life fit who he is. Now Aidan’s mom is expecting a baby, and Aidan knows that being a big brother is an important job. He helps his parents get things ready for his new sibling, but he also worries that he won’t be a good big brother. Thankfully, Aidan’s parents remind him that loving someone is the most important part of that job. 

Eliana is a Children’s Research Specialist and Instructor at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).

Wintry & Wonderful Picture Books

A simple illustration of a snowy hill with a bare tree, at the bottom a child and parent walk

by Eliana H.

I hope you have enjoyed our recent snow days and have stayed safe and warm. If there wasn’t enough snow for you, perhaps these titles will fill the gap. If you’d rather stay away from winter weather, curling up inside with a book is a great option for staying warm. Enjoy a sampling of some wintry and wonderful picture books to share with your family this season. If you’re looking for more options or hoping to find some cozy titles for more mature audiences, visit or call any of our branches and speak to a staff member. We will be happy to help you find the right title for you! 

Making a Friend by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Alison Friend (ages 3-6) 

Despite his best efforts, Beaver has a hard time making friends. When the snow falls, it presents him with an opportunity to make a different kind of friend. Will Beaver be able to keep his friend when the snow melts? Use this story as a conversation starter with little ones about how to interact with peers and build friendships. 

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen, illustrated by John Schoenherr (ages 2-7) 

“When you go owling, you don’t need words.” In this strikingly illustrated, Caldecott-winning classic tale, a little girl goes out into a quiet, snowy night with her father to search for owls. The poetic story shows the bond between parent and child, and the special experiences that can strengthen it. It also demonstrates a connection to nature that deserves to be maintained.  

Rabbit’s Snow Dance by James & Joseph Bruchac, illustrated by Jeff Newman (ages 3-7) 

Expert storytelling father and son team James and Joseph Bruchac composed this retelling of a traditional Iroquois story, where readers meet a rabbit who looks different than what we are used to today. Young readers may be able to relate to Rabbit’s impatience, as he chants “I want it, I want it, I want it right now!” Although Rabbit gets what he wants, regardless of the needs of the other animals, the consequences help him learn to be more patient, and perhaps some readers will take the lesson to heart as well.  

Snow Much Fun!  by Nancy Siscoe, illustrated by Sabina Gibson (ages 4-7) 

Three friends are excited to enjoy a snow day! They each enjoy different activities, but they are willing to try something outside their comfort zone for their friends. The friends support each other in any struggles, and they find new joys as they explore. Photos of intricate textile and paper creations bring a whimsical, unique feel to this simple, rhyming tale. 

Thankful by Elaine Vickers, illustrated by Samantha Cotterill (ages 4-8) 

What are YOU thankful for? In this endearing book, a young child shares her family’s practice of making paper chains out of things they are thankful for. The narrator shares many things she is thankful for, throughout the year and in all different situations. As you enjoy the fun, detailed pictures of paper creations in the book, perhaps your family will be inspired to talk about where you find gratitude.  

You’re Snug with Me by Chitra Soundar, illustrated by Poonam Mistry (ages 4-7) 

This book pairs ornately patterned illustrations with a mother polar bear’s reassurances to her two new cubs as they are born and begin to learn about the world around them. In the text, the author uses the mama bear to teach readers about the beauty and wonder of our polar lands. When her new cubs worry, she assures them each time, “You’re snug with me,” all the while gently encouraging readers to be good stewards of the earth. 

In shades of gold, blue and grey, snowflakes and bears composed of complicated patterns frame the title.

Eliana is a Children’s Research Specialist and Instructor at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).

Book Discussion: Night by Elie Wiesel

The cover of the book shows a hazy, abstract blue-grey background, with the author's name and "Winner of the Nobel Peace Prize" on a beige field in the middle, with a strand of barbed wire running between.

by Rabbi Fuller

Elie Wiesel was a Holocaust survivor in addition to a prolific author and Nobel laureate. Reading Night for the second time (I first read it many moons ago when I was in college) reminded me both of the horrific things he and his fellow prisoners suffered at the hands of the Nazis during World War II, and of that lesson from The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe. How much of Wiesel’s memoir could I trust? I learned from reading The Skeptics’ Guide to the Universe that everyone’s memory of events is imperfect. How does that help or hinder us from learning about a Nobel Prize winner and human rights advocate’s experience when we read his first book, Night

As we just recently passed the 80th anniversary of America’s entrance into that war on December 7, 1941, we are closer and closer to the time when no eyewitnesses to the Holocaust will be alive anymore. Thankfully, there is now an entire genre of books detailing and remembering the experiences of many survivors of the Holocaust. Though the stories are all different, the one theme that comes through almost all of them is the incomprehensible brutality and inhumanity the Germans perpetrated on 6 million Jews simply because they were Jewish, and countless others for being gay, Roma, communists, or anything else the Nazis didn’t like. 

Night is a symbol of all the darkness that the victims of the Holocaust felt. The fear, the hunger, the horrid conditions, the not knowing what any minute or hour or day might bring. The lack of hope, and the lack of trust even in your fellow prisoners. In some ways, it’s amazing that any of them survived. 

But in Wiesel’s life, I think that Night represents something else as well – his doubt of his faith. Wiesel makes it clear that he grew up as a religious Jew in Sighet, Romania, and that family and religion were two of the most important things to him. Yet as he witnessed the Holocaust, his faith began to leave him. Those who are avid fans of his writings will find these struggles throughout many of his books, and how he resolves it as well. But in Night, he makes clear how his faith is failing in a particularly gruesome scene. The Nazis have just hanged three victims, one of them just a boy (for those of you who wonder why, does it matter? That’s the kind of “night” all the prisoners had to deal with). The two older men die quickly from asphyxiation, but the boy, who doesn’t weigh much, dangles from his noose for a while before finally succumbing. Wiesel reports, “Behind me, I heard the same man asking “For God’s sake, where is God?” And from within me, I heard a voice answer: “Where is He? This is where – hanging here from this gallows…” 

After working through his theological crisis, Wiesel went on to become a professor, a father, and a strong voice and advocate for human rights everywhere. That’s what earned him the Nobel Peace Prize in 1986, “for being a messenger to mankind: his message is one of peace, atonement and dignity.” The lesson we should all take from this is that no matter the hardships we may face, or how palpable the darkness we feel may seem, we can overcome and do great things with our lives. 

Holocaust Remembrance Day Book Group is discussing Night by Elie Wiesel, with the conversation led by Rabbi Fuller. Join us online January 27 at 6:30 pm. Register.

Rabbi Gordon Fuller is an independently ordained rabbi who grew up in Detroit but has lived in many other places. He moved to Columbia, MD in 2015 to be near children and grandchildren.

Rabbi Gordy worked in Jewish education for 20+ years before being ordained and has co-authored two books. He is as passionate about pluralism and the environment as he is about his family and the Jewish peoplehood.

Becky Chambers: Hope for Humanity

On a busy cover, you see a branching curvy path through plants and flowers. At bottom sits a young man on a cart, holding a cup of tea. At the top stands a grey robot with butterflies floating above his hand.

by Eliana H.

What’s your favorite book? If you can decide, feel free to leave it in the comments. I always have a terrible time answering this question. It depends so much on what I’m in the mood for, but I recently finished A Psalm for the Wild-Built by Becky Chambers, and it reminded me yet again why I love this author’s work. She has won the Hugo Award and been nominated for the Arthur C. Clarke Award, the Locus Award, and the Women’s Prize for Fiction, among others. In case you are less familiar with those particular awards, Becky Chambers writes science fiction. 

The first Becky Chambers book I read was The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, her debut novel and the first book in the Wayfarers series. I actually read it for a meeting of In Other Worlds, one of the many fantastic book clubs that the library offers. I remember during our discussion that other participants agreed with me that it was such a lovely, comforting read. One friend described it as comfort food in book form. You can see a little more about this title in one of our previous blog posts

As I read more books by Becky Chambers, I continue to be struck not only by her storytelling, but also by the appeal of the worlds she creates. Each book is like a warm hug, easing me out of the everyday struggles and worries we all experience and into this universe in which everything is different. But although everything is different, there is so much that is familiar. I can relate to the characters and their feelings about what is happening around them, even when they are a completely dissimilar species to myself. 

One of the most refreshing parts of diving into the universe that Chambers shows us in the Wayfarers series is that humans are nowhere near the top of the food chain. Far from being the species in power, humans were some of the last to join the Galactic Commons and are not very technologically advanced. But beyond the change in perspective offered by that dynamic, my favorite aspect of Becky Chambers’s books is the hope they provide. Each is filled with people (mostly non-human, but still people) treating each other respectfully and considerately. Although they may not understand the traditions and habits of those so different from themselves, people originating from an enormously diverse array of cultures find common ground and consistently demonstrate their regard for every individual’s inherent value and rights. It is a profoundly inspiring universe. 

I hope that you will find as much joy and satisfaction from any of the Becky Chambers books you choose to explore. While titles in the Wayfarers series do have a numerical order, they can generally be read as stand-alone novels as well. You can find the following books written by Becky Chambers available now. 

Eliana is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).

Spooky & Seasonal Picture Books

The photograph depicts a variety of pumpkin - white and green, yellow. and shades of orange - surrounding one large orange pumpkin decorated like a jack-o-lantern, with red cheeks, three white teeth, eyes with red and yellow irises, and a pointy witch's hat in red and orange, decorated with black cats and orange moons. All are resting on a tablecloth in black and white with a motif of bats, jack-o-lanterns, and the word "Halloween" repeating.
Photo by Bee Felten-Leidel on Unsplash.

By Eliana H. 

As the weather turns crisp and we start preparing for fall holidays, you might be looking for books to get little ones into a spooky mood. Our staff have selected some picture books to share with the family this season. Whether you are looking for thrilling tales, heartwarming narratives, or sillier stories, there is something for you. 

The cover of "Creepy Carrots!" shows a startled rabbit in the foreground, dressed in a collared shirt and striped pants. In the background are three carrots, two with angry expressions, one of them literally "blowing his top" as his head and eyes have separated from his body; the third carrot has a surprised expression. All are against a background of clouds, standing on a hill with grass and small plants growing. The illustration is in shades of white, brown, and orange.

Creepy Carrots by Aaron Reynolds (ages 4-8) 

Jasper Rabbit loves carrots, especially the ones from Crackenhopper Field. His love turns to fear once he swears he starts to see the carrots following him everywhere! Are the carrots really following him, or is Jasper just imagining it? Read this clever tale to find out. 

The cover of "What's in the Witch's Kitchen?" shows the title in yellow, rose, gree, and red lettering against the backdrop of a spooky house in black silhouette, with a witch on a broom silhouetted against the moon above, bats flying around the chimney, and a spider dangling off the rain gutters. A lizard in silhouette is climbing up the side of the house, and a black cat peers out from the window beneath a hanging lamp. The subtitle, "A book with MAGIC changing pictures!," is written on the purple door in beige and white print.

What’s in the Witch’s Kitchen by Nick Sharratt (ages 3-7) 

Find out what this witch has brewing in her kitchen in this fun, interactive tale. Choose to flip the flap left or right and see what you find! Will it be a nasty trick, or a delicious treat?

The cover of "Fright Club" shows various classic monsters, including Frankenstein, Dracula, a ghost, a mummy, and a werewolf, peering out from a hinged wooden window that is propped open. A spider dangles from the title and peers down at the group.

 Fright Club by Ethan Long (ages 3-6) 

Each year, on the eve of Halloween, Fright Club meets to go over their plans for scaring kids on the biggest day of the year for scares. Only the scariest monsters are allowed in Fright Club, but this year, a group of adorable critters want to join. Vladimir, the leader of the club, refuses to let them join, but these cute little critters can be scarier than they look. 

The cover of "El Cucuy is Scared, Too!" depicts the title character, El Cucuy, hiding in a yellow pot with a green cactus growing from it. The other main character, Ramón, is patting El Cucuy on the back in a comforting manner. Both are on a colorful woven rug with stripes in shades of red, yellow, and light blue. The title is in the same colors and is surrounded by foliage and flowers in shades of green, red, orange, and pink.

El Cucuy Is Scared Too by Donna Barba Higuera (ages 4-8) 

Ramón and his family recently moved, and he is scared about his first day at his new school. When he talks to El Cucuy, the Mexican Boogeyman used to scare children into good behavior, El Cucuy shares his own fears and worries. With Spanish interspersed through this heartfelt picture book, Ramón and El Cucuy build each other up and remind each other of how strong and brave each of them is.

The cover of The Dark shows a small child dressed in blue, looking through an open door down a set of brown wooden stairs into a basement. The child looks apprehensive and only the first three stairs and part of the stair railing are illuminated; the rest of the basement is in the dark.

 The Dark by Lemony Snicket (ages 4-8) 

One night, Laszlo’s night light – which has always kept the dark at bay – goes out. Laszlo is afraid of the dark, which lives mostly in the basement, and tonight it invites Laszlo down the stairs. The tension builds in this beautifully-illustrated book, but in the end, the dark only wants to help. 

The cover of "Sir Simon: Super Scarer" shows a cute ghost seated at a desk, with a green printer's visor on his head and a typewriter, pile of papers, coffee cup, and pizza and a cookie on the desk. The setup resembles a journalist's desk although the desk itself is a brown trunk that latches. The figure holds up a sheet of paper from the typewriter that says "Super Scarer."

Sir Simon: Super Scarer by Cale Atkinson (ages 4-8) – also available as an ebook from Libby/OverDrive

After haunting other things, including a forest, a bus stop, and a potato, Sir Simon is finally being transferred to his first haunted house! Expecting only old people, Simon is surprised to discover a kid has moved in with his grandma. As Simon and Chester try to help each other with their chores, they discover they’re better at being friends together than trying to take the place of the other. Plenty of fun details will have adults laughing along with the story as well. 

Eliana is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).

The Switch

The book cover, in pastel shades of green, yellow, lavender, and pink, shows an older woman in a black cloche hat and yellow top in the upper right-hand corner, standing in front of an apartment building, and a younger woman in jeans and a flowing white top with a bag over her shoulder, walking a dog on a farm in the lower left-hand corner.

By Eliana H.

This is the third year I’ve participated in The Ridiculous Reading Challenge, an activity co-organized by some good friends of mine in which they combine the annual reading challenges set by several publications into one spreadsheet full of categories to inspire participants to stretch our reading habits. For 2021, there are 117 different categories. Wish me luck in managing a unique book for each of them!

When one of the friends who runs the Ridiculous Reading Challenge mentioned enjoying The Switch, by Beth O’Leary, I was excited to note that it took place at least partly in Yorkshire. With family and friends living there, as well as it being a beautiful place, I knew it would be a perfect fit for the category of “a book set somewhere you’d like to visit in 2021.” Yorkshire is definitely the top of my list for where I want to visit when it’s safe for my family to do so. What I didn’t know when my friend shared the book was how much I would love the story.

The Switch tells the tale of two Eileen Cottons – a grandmother and her granddaughter, who goes by Leena – both feeling a bit stuck in their lives. They’ve struggled since the loss of Carla, Leena’s sister and Eileen’s other granddaughter. After a panic attack at work, Leena is given a mandatory two-month vacation from her job as a business consultant. At loose ends about what to do with that time when she should be finding her way back to herself, she ends up suggesting that she and her grandmother swap lives for two months. Eileen makes her way down to London for the adventure she didn’t get the chance to have in her youth, and Leena heads north to Yorkshire to slow down and take over the responsibilities Eileen has in her small village. Neither woman has quite the experience she expected, but both learn quite a lot about themselves and the people around them during their sojourns. With a cast of lively supporting characters, it is a joy to follow Eileen and Leena on their journeys. The book made me chuckle and choke up in turn, and I’m so glad to have read it. I hope you will be too.

The Switch is also available from HCLS as an eBook from Libby/OverDrive. Beth O’Leary is also the author of The Flatshare and The Road Trip (available from Libby/OverDrive as an eBook and eAudiobook).

Eliana is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS Elkridge Branch. She loves reading, even if she’s slow at it, and especially enjoys helping people find books that make them light up. She also loves being outside and spending time with friends and family (when it’s safe).

Make Something Great with August #ELKReads

By HCLS Elkridge Branch staff

Have you ever visited the Howard County Library System Elkridge Branch? If you haven’t been in a while – or at all – you might not realize that it’s now the Elkridge Branch + DIY Education Center! DIY, which stands for Do It Yourself, is an area that we know a little something about at Elkridge. You can check out tools for building, gardening, crafting, baking, and exploring from our DIY collection. We have everything from cake pans to knitting needles to reciprocating saws. Visit HCLS Elkridge Branch and get ready to tackle your next home or garden project! In the meantime, take a look at the selected titles below for inspiration and ideas about crafting and creating of all kinds. Keep an eye on our social media to see even more related books to explore. 

Grace and Box by Kim Howard, illustrated by Megan Lötter, shows a little girl and a dog in front of a cardboard box with a rainbow coming out of the top and a smiley face on the side, against a blue background with stars. Play with Paint! by Jenny Pinkerton shows a colorful painted flower dripping with paint, and the lettering of the title in the same set of colors (blue, green, purple, pink, red, orange, yellow). The Fun Fort by Kirsten MacDonald, illustrated by Fátima Anaya, depicts a boy popping out of the top of a cardboard fort, underneath a tree. Crafty Chloe by Kelly DiPucchio, illustrated by Heather Ross, shows the title character with her hands triumphantly in the air, next to a ladder and underneath a banner with her name on it. She is surrounded by paper and crafting supplies on the floor, with her dog wearing a paper star-shaped hat and looking comically disgruntled. Crafty Llama by Mike Kerr, illustrated by Renata Liwska, shows a llama, a beaver, and birds, working with thread and yarn and knitting, with the title in knitted multicolored letters. What Will These Hands Make? by Nikki McClure shows a woman holding up a tattered red sweater, looking as if she is pondering how to repair it.

For Little Kids: 

Crafty Llama by Mike Kerr, illustrated by Renata Liwska, also available as an ebook on OverDrive/Libby

Llama loves to knit, and she decides to create something special and lovely but isn’t quite sure what it will be. As different animal friends join her, they are each inspired to make their own special projects. When Beaver declares that he likes to make things that are useful, Llama and her friends get creative deciding how their projects will be used.

Grace and Box by Kim Howard, illustrated by Megan Lötter

Grace loves playing with her pretend buddy Box, and she’s not about to let some wear and tear change that. This fun rhyming books makes a great read-aloud about imagination, crafty repairs, and all the joys of creative open-ended play time. 

What Will These Hands Make? by Nikki McClure, also available as an ebook on OverDrive/Libby 

Hands can do so many things! In this charming picture book, author and cut-paper artist Nikki McClure follows a family as they notice a wide variety of activities that a pair of hands might do. From a play to a house to a safer neighborhood, readers are reminded of the many important parts of a community that hands can make. 

Wood Shop: Handy Skills and Creative Building Projects for Kids by Margaret Larson shows a variety of kids doing woodworking projects, including stilts, a birdhouse, and a clock. Create a Costume! by Sarah Myer depicts a cartoon of two kids and a flying hamster in superhero costumes.  Make It! by Jane Bull depicts a picture frame, a puppet, beadwork, a paper mache frog, and other crafts along with two young people. The Stick Book: Loads of Things You Can Make or Do with a Stick by Jo Schofield and Fiona Danks depicts a reindeer, a tree trunk, a slingshot, and a tepee.  The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio shows the title character, Lou, with two friends, building a tiny house with a ladder, lumber, and tools. Roll with It by Jamie Sumner shows a girl wearing a yellow coat and jeans in a wheelchair, popping a wheelie with one hand and spinning a top with the other.

For Big Kids: 

The House That Lou Built by Mae Respicio 

Lou is a resourceful tween who dreams of creating a space of her own, away from the hubbub of her loving, extended family home. A talented woodworker, she sets out to build a tiny house, but finds it’s more difficult than expected. In this heartwarming story of community, Filipino culture, and perseverance, Lou learns about how to make a house a home. 

Make It! by Jane Bull 

In this complete guide to making crafts from materials already found around the house, kids can find inspiration to give new life to old objects and entertain themselves (without a screen). Projects are divided up by materials used, including paper, plastic, metal, and fabric, with clear instructions and illustrations as well as suggestions for alternative materials if the primary one isn’t available. Find fun ways to clear up clutter with the ideas in Make It!.

Maker Comics: Create a Costume! by Sarah Myer 

Bea and Parker are just a few short weeks away from the comic convention and without costumes! Learn along with Bea and Parker how to make a budget friendly cosplay with an easy-to-find mix of materials, tools, and a lot of imagination. Then, check out other titles in the Maker Comics series.

Boys Don't Knit: (in public) by Tom Easton shows the title and three balls of yarn with knitting needles against a dark blue background; the word "knit" appears to have been knitted from the tan ball of yarn. The Maker's Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse: Defend Your Base with Simple Circuits, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi by Simon Monk shows two buildings against a yellow background underneath the title, which is in teal and brown. Marvelous Makeable Monsters: 21 STEAM Projects That Light Up, Buzz, Launch, and Occasionally Chomp by Sam Haynor shows several adorable monsters on sticks with a rocket ship dangling from above; the rocks and ground surrounding them suggest a moonscape. Drawing Is Magic: Discovering Yourself in a Sketchbook by John Hendrix shows many little creative sketches in black and red, including but not limited to books, pens and an ink bottle, a dragon, playground equipment, a jack-in-the-box, a person reclined and reading, and a bomb with a lit fuse. The Baking Cookbook for Teens: 75 Delicious Recipes for Sweet & Savory Treats by Robin Donovan shows a slice of chocolate cake with a white cream filling, chocolate icing, and rainbow sprinkles; the sprinkles are also scattered across the cover's blue background, with the title in hot pink. Primer: A Superhero Graphic Novel by Jennifer Muro shows a girl with long red hair and glasses on her forehead, in a white tank top and gray-green shorts with a black belt and gold buckle, and black combat boots.  She holds a spray paint can and there are five more cans on the floor surrounding her. The walls behind her are sprayed in overlapping patches of green, blue, purple, yellow, and pink, and some of the patches are dripping down the white walls.  The title sits boldly in white against the colorful spray paint background.

For Teens: 

Boys Don’t Knit by T.S. Easton 

Ben Fletcher has gotten himself into a bit of trouble, and he ends up deciding on a knitting class as the best option to perform the required community service. Even though it turns out not to be taught by the expected (good-looking) instructor, Ben discovers that he’s actually good at knitting, and it helps his anxiety. Will his family and friends – not to mention his enemies – judge Ben harshly for his new pursuit?

The Maker’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse by Simon Monk 

Even if you’re not too worried about zombies threatening anytime soon, this book will give you some great ideas and step-by-step instructions for projects to communicate, defend, and generate power. Use circuits, Arduino, and Raspberry Pi systems to prepare for a time when you might not have access to all your usual electronics. Maybe until the zombies come, you can hone your skills as you practice defending your room against pestering pets or bothersome siblings.

Primer: A Superhero Graphic Novel by Jennifer Muro 

Thirteen-year-old Ashley Rayburn has bounced from one foster home to another, always finding herself in trouble along the way. When she stumbles upon a set of body paints that grant the wearer a multitude of superpowers, the government agency that created them comes after her to get them back. To protect her new family, Ashley has to make some hard choices while facing the shadows of the past.  

Green from the Ground Up: Sustainable, Healthy, and Energy-Efficient Home Construction by David Johnston shows a partial silhouette of a home building in progress, with the title in white against a green background. Gardenista: The Definitive Guide to Stylish Outdoor Spaces by Michelle Slatalla shows an English-style garden with trees, manicured shrubs, flowers, and greenery. Chesapeake Gardening & Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide by Barbara W. Ellis shows several photographs depicting a river garden scene with a fence gate, a bush, and a flowering shrub; hydrangea; cattails and greenery in a marshy area; a monarch butterfly; and purple bee balm. Fix Her Up by Tessa Bailey shows a couple kissing at the top of a yellow ladder; the woman is in a pink dress with white shoes, and the man is wearing grey shoes, blue pants, a grey shirt, and a grey backwards baseball cap. A Patchwork of Clues by Sally Goldenbaum shows a colorful patchwork quilt in the foreground, and then a view through two window panels of shops along a street, with a green plant in a white pot on the windowsill. Down to Earth: Laid-Back Interiors for Modern Living by Lauren Liess shows a cozy living room in shades of brown, grey, and white, with an elegant yellow-flowering plant on a low table, a fire in the fireplace in the background. exposed wooden ceiling beams, and a brown sofa and settee with a window in the back.

For Adults: 

Chesapeake Gardening and Landscaping: The Essential Green Guide by Barbara W. Ellis 

This volume provides the reader with instructions to develop a natural landscape in the Chesapeake watershed region. A few of the principles the authors enumerate are to “reduce lawn, grow native plants, and welcome wildlife,” all laudable goals. This book may have more prose than some of our other gardening selections, but it still contains beautiful photos. 

Down to Earth: Laid-back Interiors for Modern Living by Lauren Liess 

If you enjoy what could be described as “modernish eclectic,” a style that is very “in” now, then you will like this book. Think lots of wood, and lots of black and white, or a monochromatic color scheme. And of course, gorgeous photos! 

A Patchwork of Clues by Sally Goldenbaum 

This first in a series of mysteries introduces the Queen Bee Quilt Shop in Crestwood, Kansas, where a group of women have been gathering to make a quilt in honor of the shop owner’s anniversary. While out on her morning run, Po, the unofficial leader of the group, discovers a dead body right on the quilt shop’s doorstep. She and her friends are great at working together to make beautiful quilts, but can they combine their unique strengths and knowledge to find a killer? With a charming small-town setting, cast of quirky characters, and compelling who-done-it, A Patchwork of Clues not only has everything you could ask for in a cozy mystery, it also celebrates crafting, particularly the art of quilting, as a way of connecting with friends and building community. 

Summer Fun with #ELKReads

by HCLS Elkridge Branch Staff

The past year (plus) has been hard for everyone. As we start to move toward something approaching our previous normal, many families are looking for special ways to enjoy the summer. The Elkridge staff has selected a wide range of titles for all ages to inspire and entertain, no matter your plans for the summer. Read fun stories together, learn about activities that you might try out, or plan a trip to take. If you’re not ready to travel for real, armchair traveling along with authors and photographers is the next best thing. Let the library help you make memories all summer long with these fun reads and many more! Join Summer Reading and check out our calendar to find classes and events for even more summer fun. 

Summer by Ailie Busby Our Celebración! by Susan Middleton Elya Cannonball by Sacha Cotter Where Is Baby's Beach Ball? by Karen Katz One Hot Summer Day by Nina Crews Where's Rodney? by Carmen Bogan

For Little Kids 

Cannonball by Sacha Cotter and illustrated by Josh Morgan 

How would you perform the most perfect cannonball into the pool? Would you wiggle your arms and do a little twirl? That is just what the main character of our story is trying to figure out. Join your little one this summer and learn about overcoming fears, being true to yourself, and nailing your perfect cannonball!

One Hot Summer Day by Nina Crews 

What can you do outside when it feels too hot to do anything? Can you shade yourself from the sun or chase your shadow? Explore all the fun things in this book you can do on a hot summer day or even during a sudden summer thunderstorm!

Our Celebración! By Susan Middleton Elya and illustrated by Ana Aranda 

This rhyming, bilingual story invites readers to join a small town’s summer celebration, which even a rain storm can’t diminish. The illustrations give a glimpse into the full range of festivities, including foods, parade floats, animals, and even a firework celebration to end the night. A glossary at the end helps readers learn new words found in the text.

The cover of The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit depicts a boy and girl jumping from a high cliff into blue water, with orange butterflies in the background. The cover of The Season of Styx Malone by Kekla Magoon depicts a boy in a backwards baseball cap and jean shorts diving into a pool over the heads of two friends who are seated by a small waterfall watching him. 
 The cover of Aquicorn Cove by Katie O'Neill shows a redheaded girl in blue shorts and a beige top riding a peach-colored "aquicorn," or aquatic unicorn, over the waves with mountains and clouds in the background.  The cover of Backyard Adventure: Get Messy, Get Wet, Build Cool Things, and Have Tons of Fun! 51 Free-Play Activities by Amanda Thomsen is a collage of photos showing children doing fun outdoor activities including science experiments, a tire swing, performing on an outdoor stage, banging on a wall of noise, and making exploding sidewalk chalk. 
 The cover of Ranger Rick Kids' Guide to Hiking: All You Need to Know About Having Fun While Hiking by Helen Olsson shows two hikers in silhouette with trekking poles and backpacks, one looking through a monocular and one pointing at the other, with mountains and pine trees in the background against a yellow-orange sky.  The cover of The Parker Inheritance by Varian Johnson depicts two children biking on the sidewalk of a small-town street, one wearing a backpack, with an antique store and other local businesses in the background.

For Big Kids 

Aquicorn Cove by Katie O’Neill 

When Lana and her father return to their seaside hometown to help clean up after a terrible storm, she begins to remember how much she missed the sea, as well as her aunt. As Lana explores the beach, she discovers something wonderful: a colony of aquicorns. She rescues an injured aquicorn and cares for it with the help of her aunt, who seems to know far more about these incredible creatures than she’s letting on.

The Nebula Secret (Explorer Academy Series Book 1 of 5) by Trudi Trueit (also available as an eaudiobook on Libby/OverDrive)

If you loved the questing and mysteries of Harry Potter, the puzzles of The Mysterious Benedict Society, or the thrilling history of I Survived books, The Nebula Secret by Trudi Trueit will keep you on the edge of your seat. This book is the first in a fantastic adventure series by National Geographic that’s full of action, cutting-edge tech, and plenty of surprises. Join a diverse and relatable cast of tweens as they train to become elite explorers. Cool maps and real photos take this captivating story to the next level.

Ranger Rick Kids’ Guide to Hiking: All You Need to Know About Having Fun While Hiking by Helen Olsson 

Hiking is a fun summer activity for children to explore! This great book introduces hiking and hiking safety to children, including topics such as trail etiquette, staying safe, and what to wear. Check it out to prepare for family fun on trails in and around Howard County.

The cover of When Dimple Met Rishi by Sandhya Menon shows a girl with a bright smile and an orange shirt drinking a cup of iced coffee through a plastic straw.  The cover of Camp So-and-So by Mary McCoy depicts a black raven on top of the sign for the camp, which is attached to a tree stump in a ghostly wood.  The cover for  Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen shows line drawings of various summer objects and activities such as lawn chairs, flashlights, guitars, microphones, cameras, and pizza, among many others.  Anna K: A Love Story by Jenny Lee shows the title character in a tan jacket and blue-lensed glasses, looking up into a bright blue sky.  The cover of Witch Hat Atelier by Kamome Shirahama depicts a girl in white robe, blue coat and pointed blue and white hat, gesturing with an arm out as if casting a spell.  The cover of A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy shows two women facing each other, one in a silver collar and brown robe with tattoos on her outstretched arm holding a dagger, the other also in a silver collar with a teal dress, holding a glowing orb.

For Teens 

Camp So-and-So by Mary McCoy (also available as an ebook on Libby/OverDrive)

Twenty-five campers who were invited to Camp So-and-So back in February arrive in the summer to discover that this is a wholly different kind of camp. Rather than arts and crafts, activities on the lake, or friendly games, the girls at Camp So-and-So have been divided into five cabins that each have to navigate unexpected and sometimes quite frightening challenges. Trapped in this remote camp with no adult supervision to be found, the campers are forced to find their own way in this creative, unusual story.

A River of Royal Blood by Amanda Joy (also available as an ebook on Libby/OverDrive)

In the land of Myre, Eva is princess born with a dark and terrible magick inside her, one that has not been seen for generations. Eva must learn to harness this power to defeat her sister, Isa, in a battle to the death to ascend to the throne.

Unbored: The Essential Field Guide to Serious Fun by Joshua Glenn and Elizabeth Foy Larsen 

Readers will find plentiful inspiration in this volume with a wide range of activities for young people, keeping them entertained all summer long. Some old favorites are sprinkled among creative new adventures for kids and teens, with detailed instructions and safety guidelines as needed. Vibrant illustrations and extras such as timelines, trivia, and interviews, bring this book to a level beyond your traditional how-to.

The cover of Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World's Most Amazing Places (National Geographic, author not listed) is a photograph of a wooden house set into the side of a tall cliff, with a blue cloudy sky and mountains in the background.  The cover of Great Hiking Trails of the World: 80 Trails, 75,000 Miles, 38 Countries, 6 Continents by Karen Berger is a photograph of Mt. Ngauruhoe,  along the Tongariro Crossing on North Island, New Zealand. The cover of Secret Journeys of a Lifetime: 500 of the World's Best Hidden Travel Gems (also National Geographic, author not listed) is a photograph of rows of lavender plants in a sunny field. The cover of My Mamma Mia Summer by Annie Robertson depicts a straw beach bag with overhanging towel and sunglasses, flip flops, and a beach hat on the sand overlooking the Mediterranean.  The cover of The Jersey Shore Cookbook: Fresh Summer Flavors from the Boardwalk and Beyond by Deborah Smith shows a lifeguard stand and beachgoers by the shore with a roller coaster and ferris wheel on a pier in the background.  The cover of Motor Crush by Brenden Fletcher depicts the main character, Domino Swift, dressed in bikers' gear and perched on a motorcycle, looking back over her shoulder with a board with nails sticking out over her other shoulder.

For Adults

Destinations of a Lifetime: 225 of the World’s Most Amazing Places 

If you are planning an epic journey for this summer, next year, or sometime in the next ten years, you will want to check out this book on awesome places to visit. In fact, even if you are not planning to leave your zip code at all, the dramatic and colorful pictures captured in Destinations of a Lifetime will brighten your thoughts and your coffee table. The travel section at your local library is the perfect place to go to plan vacations, staycations, and to feed your imaginations.

Motor Crush by Brenden Fletcher, Cameron Stewart, and Babs Tarr

In the stylish, futuristic city of Nova Honda, Domino Swift is a champion motorcycle racer. By day, she competes in the World Grand Prix, earning fame and fortune, and by night, she races on the streets, pulling off dangerous maneuvers and making risky bets to score Crush, the illegal engine stimulant her body needs to survive.  Filled with hot locales and cool characters, this graphic novel has all the fast-paced action and fun of a favorite summer blockbuster.

My Mamma Mia Summer by Annie Robertson 

Pick up this charming summer read to join Laurel as she takes her recently deceased grandmother’s words to heart and jets off to Greece to follow her dreams. As she lives out her own version of her favorite movie, Mamma Mia!, Laurel finds herself feeling more at home than she expected on her vacation. With romance blooming, will Laurel decide that Skopelos is where she’s truly meant to be?

Celebrate LGBTQ+ Pride Month with #ELKReads

By Elkridge Branch Staff

For the past 50 years, June has been celebrated as LGBTQ+ Pride Month. The celebrations began with the first Pride march in New York City, on June 28, 1970. That date celebrated the one-year anniversary of the Stonewall Uprising, a six-day period of unrest, sparked by a police raid of a gay bar. Though not an uncommon occurrence, this particular raid did not go as planned and led the queer community to fight back against the targeting and tactics being used against them. As queer communities around the world continue to seek recognition, respect, and equal rights, we invite you to explore the books suggested below – and on our social media – for all ages. You can also learn more about the history of Pride Month on the Library of Congress website.

For Little Kids:

The image says "Pride! Picks for Little Kids" and has a collage of six book covers. The cover of And Tango Makes Three shows two penguin parents huddling with their chick. The cover of Pride Colors shows a toddler in striped shirt, jeans, and fisherman's sandals, standing next to a table with rainbow-colored legs. The cover of Love Makes a Family shows a variety of families of different genders, races, and ages, with rainbows, hearts, doves, and arrows among the symbols in the turquoise background. The cover of They, She, He, Me: Free to Be! has the title lettered in stylized fonts with geometric patterns in shades of turquoise, green, and yellow. The cover or Prince & Knight shows the prince surrounded by young maidens all giving him attention, while he gazes with head turned toward the knight, who leans against his horse and waves at the prince. The cover of My Rainbow shows a transgender girl wearing a rainbow-colored wig of leaves and flowers against a yellow background.

Love Makes a Family by Sophie Beer

This book celebrates the thing that all families have in common, which is love. All types of families are represented in this book. Families are shown engaging in happy activities together.

Prince & Knight by Daniel Haack

In this beautifully illustrated modern LGBTQ+ fairy tale, a Prince Charming and a Knight in Shining Armor find true love in each other. The young men are celebrated as heroes for saving the kingdom from a dragon together, and their love is affirmed and embraced with a royal wedding in a delightful happily-ever-after. Be sure to also check out Daniel Haack’s Maiden & Princess

Pride Colors by Robin Stevenson

Celebrate Pride Month with your little one by enjoying this photographic concept book filled with the colors of the Pride flag. Artist & activist Gilbert Baker created the original Pride flag and each color in the flag has a special meaning, so be sure to turn to the end of the book to find out what each one represents!

For Big Kids:

The image says "Pride! Picks for Big Kids" and has a collage of six book covers. Better Nate than Ever shows the title character leaping into the air in front of a stylized New York City skyline which includes the Statue of Liberty, with the name "Nate" lit up with light bulbs resembling a theatre marquee. Be Amazing shows a character in drag, posing with hand on hip and one arm in the air as if on a catwalk, wearing a dress and hat in gold, orange, and black, with a blurry rainbow-colored background resembling butterfly wings. The cover of Witch Boy shows the purple silhouette of a dragon looking over the title character, who is reading by candlelight against a pink background. The cover of Queer Heroes depicts famous queer celebrities and artists, including Freddie Mercury, Frida Kahlo, Josephine Baker, and Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi. The cover of Ivy Aberdeen's Letter to the World shows the backs of two girls as they face a whirlwind rising up to the sky with words in cursive, presumably the contents of Ivy's letter, swirling within. The cover of Rick shows the title character with his back to the reader, wearing a grey shirt and a lavender backpack covered in stickers, including an alien, a spaceship, a smiley face, and a rainbow. The title is in rainbow letters against a white background.

Better Nate Than Ever by Tim Federle (also available as an audiobook on CD,  an ebook and eaudiobook on Libby/OverDrive, and an eaudiobook on CloudLibrary)

Nate Foster has always dreamed of starring in a Broadway show, but he worries about how he’ll ever reach his dream while living in a small town in Pennsylvania. With the help of his best friend, Libby, Nate plans a daring escape to New York City when he hears of an open casting call for E.T.: The Musical. Nate knows this could be his big break, and he won’t let this chance at stardom slip away.

The Witch Boy by Molly Ostertag

Aster’s family is magic: boys grow up to be shapeshifters, and girls grow up to be witches. But at age 13, Aster still hasn’t shifted, and he is captivated by the witchery that his family members who are girls get to learn. This beautiful graphic novel follows Aster as he makes a new friend, works to protect his family from a mysterious threat, and finds the courage to be true to himself.

Queer Heroes: Meet 52 LGBTQ+ Heroes from Past & Present! by Arabelle Sicardi 

From the heartfelt introduction by the author to the inclusive glossary at the end, this diverse collection of biographical snapshots is a great starting place to learn about real-life LGBTQ+ heroes from around the world. Vibrantly colorful portraits illustrate the incredible life stories and contributions of LGBTQ+ artists, athletes, inventors, activists, and more.

For Teens:

The image says "Pride! Picks for Teens" and has a collage of six book covers. The cover of When the Moon Was Ours shows the two main characters, Sam and Miel, silhouetted against the dark backdrop of a starlit water tower, with arms outstretched towards one another, and one climbing a ladder as if on a stage. The cover of The Best at It shows the main character in glasses and sports gear, with arm outstretched, against a teal background with scattered books, calculator, camera, football, pencil, triangle, photographs, and other school-related items scattered about. The cover of Cemetery Boys shows two boys back-to-back, one wearing a collared shirt and one wearing a hoodie, in front of a ghostly skeleton figure in red robes and a flowered crown silhouetted by the full moon. The cover of Queer: The Ultimate LGBT Guide for Teens shows the title extending from the top to the bottom of the book, in rainbow letters, with the subtitle in smaller white letters across the middle from left to right, all against a black background. The cover of The Great American Whatever has the title and author's name in black and red letters against a white theatre marquee background, The last "a" in "American" is missing and the first "E" in "Whatever" is crooked, as is the "D" in the author's last name (Federle). The final "E" in his name is substituted with the mathematical epsilon symbol. The cover of I'll Give You the Sun has the title in dark teal lettering with dashes radiating out from the center in rainbow colors.

Queer: The Ultimate LGBTQ Guide for Teens by Kathy Belge and Marke Bieschke

This comprehensive guide supports teens who are – or think they might be – queer, as they navigate everything from coming out to standing up for their rights. Background about queer figures throughout history and personal stories from the authors’ lives are interspersed with guidance throughout. While the information included is general enough to cover a broad range of topics within the single volume, a list of resources can direct readers to more details about specific areas of interest.

When the Moon Was Ours by Anna-Marie McLemore

Miel and Sam live in a small town where magic isn’t so out of the ordinary. But when the Bonner Girls decide they want the roses that grow from Miel’s wrist, and they threaten to tell the secret they know about Sam to get her to cooperate, Miel has to face her past and try to find the path forward. The lush, evocative language in this novel brings a lyrical beauty to this story of friendship, family, love, magic, and finding your true self.

The Best at It by Maulik Pancholy (also available in ebook and eaudiobook format on Libby/OverDrive)

Rahul Kapoor is an Indian American boy just entering seventh grade in a small town in Indiana. To help soothe his worries, his grandfather gives Rahul the advice to find one thing he does well and become the BEST at it! As Rahul searches for the special thing he can be the best at, he also confronts his anxieties and finds that he can count on his friends and family for the support he needs.

For Adults:

The image says "Pride! Picks for Adults" and has a collage of six book covers. The cover for Lot: Stories shows a silver fire hydrant emitting a rainbow of colored water against a white background, with the title in stark black lettering. The cover of Cantoras shows a setting on the shore, with a blue sky and ocean, and white waves crashing against a rocky beach. The cover for Untamed has the title in white lettering against a background of swirly colors: pink, red, turquoise, blue, and glittery silver and gold. The cover for Written in the Stars shows two women, one blonde and one with long red hair, embracing in front of a silhouetted cityscape and sky in shades of blue, lit up by white stars and constellations. The cover of Good Boy shows a brown retriever with a pink collar, seated against a white background, with the title in rainbow colors beneath his feet. The cover of Fun Home shows a pen and ink drawing of one adult and three children, framed as if in a traditional portrait, with a teal background.

Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic by Alison Bechdel

“Sometimes, when things were going well, I think my father actually enjoyed having a family.” As you might guess, Alison Bechdel had a fraught relationship with her father, a high school English teacher who ran their small town’s funeral home out of their Victorian-era home that he restored himself. During college, when Alison came out as a lesbian, she learned that her own father was a closeted gay man, but his death soon after left her searching for answers that he could not provide. Check out this critically-acclaimed graphic memoir that has also been adapted into a Tony-award-winning musical!

Good Boy: My Life in Seven Dogs by Jennifer Finney Boylan (also available in large print format and as an ebook and eaudiobook from Libby/OverDrive)

In a 2017 New York Times opinion column on rescue animals, Jennifer Finney Boylan wrote: “When you lose a dog, you not only lose the animal that has been your friend, you also lose a connection to the person you have been.” Here Boylan uses the memories of her beloved dogs to reconnect with, or at least fondly remember the many people she has been- a son, a father, a mother, a wife. Good Boy is at once a deeply personal reflection on Boylan’s unique journey as a trans woman and a celebration of the changes in identity we all experience as we grow up and grow older and the animals who we love along the way.

Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington (also available as an ebook from Libby/OverDrive)

Lot: Stories by Bryan Washington affords readers a front row seat to several aspects of life in a Houston, Texas neighborhood. The burdens and exhilarations of family dynamics, race, sexuality, economics, friendships, and societal influence all feature prominently in short stories connected through common characters.

The Elkridge Branch + DIY Education Center opened the doors of its new building in March 2018. Our staff are always happy to help you with your questions about books, tools, technology, and more!