Reading Human Rights

You’re invited! Reading Human Rights is a monthly book discussion hosted by the Howard County Office of Human Rights & Equity and Howard County Library System. We read books that promote cultural awareness, diversity, and equity.
Tuesdays at 6:30 pm in person at the Miller Branch

The title appears in large, all caps with fire illustrating the letters. The author's name appears below in cool blue.

May 24: Minor Feelings by Cathy Park Hong
Register at bit.ly/minorfeelingshcls

Poet and essayist Cathy Park Hong fearlessly and provocatively blends memoir, cultural criticism, and history to expose fresh truths about racialized consciousness in America. Part memoir and part cultural criticism, this collection is vulnerable, humorous, and provocative—and its relentless and riveting pursuit of vital questions around family and friendship, art and politics, identity and individuality, will change the way you think about our world.

Available as a book, eBook, and eAudiobook.

A stark cover with a faded map has the title in red shadowed letters and a small gold star.

Jun 23: On Juneteenth by Annette Gordon-Reed
Register at bit.ly/juneteenthdiscuss

The essential, sweeping story of Juneteenth’s integral importance to American history, the book is told by a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian and Texas native. Combining personal anecdotes with poignant facts gleaned from the annals of American history, Gordon-Reed shows how, from the earliest presence of Black people in Texas to the day in Galveston on June 19, 1865, when Major General Gordon Granger announced the end of legalized slavery in the state, African-Americans played an integral role in the Texas story.

Available as a book, eBook, and eAudiobook.

Author Works: Sarah Gailey

Black and white photo of the author, with short hair and one hand tucked inside her jacket, sits next to a cover of The Echo Wife. The cover shows an engagement ring and its reflection in gold with blue highlights, the title appears in blue inside the rings.

Tue, May 17 at 7 pm online
Register at bit.ly/echowife.

by Kristen B.

Author Sarah Gailey discusses their acclaimed novel The Echo Wife (also eBook and eAudiobook) in conversation with Maggie Tokuda-Hall, author of Also an Octopus (reviewed here). Gailey’s most recent novel, The Echo Wife, and first original comic book series with BOOM! Studios, Eat the Rich, are available now. Other shorter works and essays have been published in Mashable, The Boston Globe, Vice, Tor.com, and The Atlantic, and their work has been translated into seven languages and published around the world.

Publisher’s Weekly review of The Echo Wife:

This creepy, exhilarating science fiction outing from Gailey (Magic for Liars) dissects an unconventional affair that violates both a couple’s marriage vows and scientific integrity. Dr. Evelyn Caldwell is startled to discover that her husband, Nathan, has been seeing another woman—and even more shocked to learn that the other woman is a clone of Evelyn herself. Nathan created Martine to be everything Evelyn isn’t: attentive, submissive, and family-oriented. Adding insult to injury, Nathan used Evelyn’s own research to do so. An explosive confrontation among the three ends in Nathan’s murder, leaving Evelyn and Martine forced to work together to cover up the crime. It’s a situation that is not entirely unfamiliar for Evelyn, whose troubled past is teased out bit by bit. The women slowly discover that Nathan was hiding more secrets than either of them knew, forcing Martine and Evelyn to think on their feet in order to save themselves and the odd little family they create along the way. Gailey’s story unspools as a series of dark reveals that leave both the characters and the audience reeling. Readers won’t want to put this one down. (Feb.)

Gailey is a Hugo Award winning and bestselling author of speculative fiction, short stories, and essays. They have been a finalist for the Hugo, Nebula, and Locus awards for multiple years, and their bestselling adult novel debut, Magic for Liars, was published by Tor Books in 2019.

A bright pink cover shows a black hand upside down with its fingers crossed and a mystical eye on the wrist. the title of the book frames it in large yellow layers.

My book club (Books on Tap) read Magic for Liars for our May meeting. As with many other of Gailey’s books, it doesn’t fit neatly into one category. Yes, it’s a murder mystery complete with clues, red herrings, multiple suspects, and gory details. The book also tackles grief, illness, and how families deal with both. These weightier topics rather sneak around the edges of the crime scene. Our protagonist and Private Investigator, Ivy Gamble, is hired to solve the death of a teacher at the school for magical students where her sister teaches. She tells us up-front that she’s a liar, that she resents the living daylights out of her magical sister, and that she’s not proud of how the situation resolved. To say they are estranged doesn’t begin to cover the levels of distrust and bitterness that separate these twin sisters – one magical, one not. Do you trust that sort of narrator? It’s a terrifically entertaining read that nonetheless leaves you thinking about what you might do in a similar situation.

Magic for Liars is available in print, as an eBook and an eAudiobook.

You’re Invited! Evening in the Stacks: Across Africa

Event Logo incorporates a textile pattern in blue, orang, and cream along with the title "Across Africa" in script next to a silhouette of the continent.

Join us on Saturday, May 14 at 7 pm for this year’s gala fundraiser! Taking place at our East Columbia Branch, Evening in the Stacks features authentic cuisine, an African marketplace, an open bar, a DJ and dancing, and so much more. We will celebrate the continent of Africa – from the Mediterranean coast and the Nile in the north to the cities, grasslands, and deserts in Central Africa to the rainforests of the south.

Tickets at a new price are on sale now.

Black tie is optional for all guests and formal African attire is welcomed for those who are part of or identify with an African culture. Evening in the Stacks is a fun party that raises money for Library initiatives. This year, our goal is to raise $150,000 to benefit the creation of welcoming and inviting teen spaces in the Library’s six branches. 

We are also highlighting two spectacular authors, who are participating in a virtual author panel in conversation with Elsa M. on Tuesday, May 10 at 7 pm.

Young Black man dressed in dark blue pants and a grey sweater show seated in a park, leaning against a memorial black. He is bald and wears glasses.
Tope Folarin by Justin Gellerson

“I think the most important message in the novel is about Identity Construction,” says Tope Folarin discussing his debut book A Particular Kind of a Black Man. “All of us have that option in the 21st century. Tunde, the protagonist in my novel is forced to construct a persona because the persona he inherits from his father and society doesn’t match who he actually is.” (Simon & Schuster Books)  

Living in small-town Utah has always been an uneasy fit for Tunde Akinola’s family, especially for his Nigeria-born parents. Though Tunde speaks English with a Midwestern accent, he can’t escape the children who rub his skin and ask why the black won’t come off. He spends the rest of his childhood and young adulthood searching for connection—to the wary stepmother and stepbrothers he gains when his father remarries; to the Utah residents who mock his father’s accent; to evangelical religion; to his Texas middle school’s crowd of African-Americans; to the fraternity brothers of his historically black college. In so doing, he discovers something that sends him on a journey away from everything he has known. 

Winner of the Whiting Award for Fiction, A Particular Kind of Black Man is a beautiful and poignant exploration of the meaning of memory, manhood, home, and identity as seen through the eyes of a first-generation Nigerian-American. 

Based in Washington D.C., Tope Folarin is the Executive Director of the Institute for Policy Studies and the Lannan Visiting Lecturer in Creative Writing at Georgetown University. He also serves as a board member of the Avalon Theater in Washington DC, the Vice President of the Board of the Pen/Faulkner Foundation, and as a member of the President’s Council of Pathfinder. He was educated at Morehouse College and the University of Oxford, where he earned two Masters degrees as a Rhodes Scholar. 

Headshot of author against a grey background, where the author wears a vivid pattern in green and dark pink. She is looking off to the left.
NoViolet Bulawayo by NyeLynTho

Glory was inspired by the unexpected coup, in November 2017, of Robert Mugabe, Zimbabwe’s president who took office in 1980 and never let go the reins of government. The rhythms and pace of the novel are enthralling and extraordinary, narrated by a chorus of animal voices. As the book begins, Old Horse stands in for Mugabe, with an entire host of donkeys, pigs, and other creatures forming the political court around him, each one wanting to maintain their own power at the expense of others. Inevitable echoes of George Orwell’s Animal Farm occur throughout Bulawayo’s novel, but the voice is purely her own. She gives us characters with names such as Marvellous and Destiny, and allows us to (re)discover the delight of breathtaking political satire.

A review in The Guardian explains, “even the stylistic use of the refrain “Tholukuthi”, meaning “only to discover” (as in, “you thought you were getting a novel as good as We Need New Names, tholukuthi Bulawayo’s second is even more dazzling”), nods to a social media moment. Around the time of the Zimbabwe coup, the song Tholukuthi Hey! was released, and once it went viral, the refrain became a meme. “Tholukuthi” serves both as incantation and a form of punctuation in a novel that will appeal across generations.”

NoViolet Bulawayo is the author of two novels, including the most recently published Glory and the PEN/Hemingway (among others) award-winning We Need New Names. Her first book was also shortlisted for the International Literature Award, the Man Booker Prize, and the Guardian First Book Award. NoViolet earned her MFA at Cornell University and has taught fiction writing at Cornell and Stanford Universities. She grew up in Bulawayo, Zimbabwe and is currently writing full-time from the wherevers.

Quick Peek at Silly Summer Stories

A bright yellow cover pictures a dark blue octopus wearing a red stocking cap, holding an upside down rabbit, a girl, a waffle, and a guitar. Lots of bubbles float around.

By Monae R.

Whenever I need something fun, silly, easy to read, mindless, or just cute to read or take my mind off of adulting, I go straight to the children’s department. Here are some silly summer reading favorites that are worthwhile selections at any time of year for adults and children alike.

Also an Octopus is a heartwarming reminder that the simplest things make you amazing. The story explains that every story starts with nothing and that is perfectly fine. Creativity will help you fill the nothingness. Another imagination-stimulating book is Field Trip to the Ocean Deep, which immediately gives me Magic School Bus vibes. It follows the story of a group of students who go to the deep ocean to see the creatures and surroundings, only to have one student left behind. The student makes friends and is able to show the rest of the class some very distinctive photos when he is rescued. This story is unique as it is told without any words. You must create the words and story to accompany the images.  

Some stories are not so goofy, but instead focus on curiosity and learning. Seaside Stroll and What the World Could Make take an innocent view of the world. Seaside Stroll follows a girl and her mother on a walk along a snowy beach. With the story evolving with every word starting with ‘S’, even in the title, a child not only learns the sound the letter makes, but learns some strong vocabulary as well. Nouns, verbs, adjectives, and even some interjections are thrown onto every page of this book. Education and beautiful art collide in these stories. Two friends explore the world and appreciate its beauty and wonder over the seasons in What the World Could Make, a warm and filling story about hope and the gifts of the world. 

The blue paper of the cover is apparently being consumed by a cute purple monster with green spikes and fuzzy eyebrows.

Stories like those above are wonderful, but goofy and silly is not bad either. Stories like Dino-Gro and The Book of Rules can teach a lesson and still be super silly. I have used The Book of Rules in children’s classes multiple times for the genuine laughs it brings out of people, adults and children alike. The story encompasses eleven rules to follow if you don’t want to be eaten by a monster. Children can follow along with the story doing goofy tasks until they reach the last rule for a surprise. Dino-gro, about a tiny new dinosaur toy that grows in water until it no longer fits in the house, feels like it could be a short snippet from a chapter book. I would certainly read this fiction story if it existed. 

These are a just few of my favorite picture books, some of which you will find on this summer’s Kindergarten through First Grade Summer Reading List.

Monae is a Children’s Instructor and Research Specialist at HCLS East Columbia Branch.

The Mountains Sing by Nguyen Phan Que Mai

Deep green mountains fade to brilliant yellow and orange to the top and bottom of the cover. Dark branches cross the orange sections, with leaves traced in gold.

by Kristen B.

A highly lyrical novel, The Mountains Sing talks about the price of war and who pays it. At one point, one of the characters muses that if only everyone could spend more time reading books, maybe we would spend less time fighting wars. It seems like a particularly timely sentiment.

Set in Vietnam, The Mountains Sing is told between a grandmother and her granddaughter, with one timeline taking place during the 1950s and the other in the 1970s. Both decades were particularly turbulent ones, covering the rise of the Viet Minh, the Land Reform movement, and the war between north and south that so fatefully embroiled America.

America has repeatedly told the story of its Vietnam War, particularly in films such as Apocalypse Now and Full Metal Jacket. Nguyen’s book provides another perspective, almost entirely. A noted author and poet in her homeland, this is her first novel in English. On her website, she explains that the second language allowed her to frame a story that she didn’t necessarily know how to tell in her native tongue.

Tran Dieu Lan was born to a well-to-do farming family that owned their land and employed several people in their hometown in the middle region of Vietnam. Politics eventually brought the downfall of the small landowners, forcing Dieu Lan to flee her home with five children in tow, grieving her oldest who escapes separately. She slowly, reluctantly leaves them in relative safety along the long walk north to Hanoi, promising to come back to find them once she’s settled.

Her granddaughter, Huong (or Guava), grows up in Hanoi and goes to school during the worst of the American bombing raids and after as the communist government establishes itself. The two women live together in the old city while all the members of the in-between generation are taken away by the war in one way or another. Huong’s own troubles and those of her extended family illustrate the trials of ordinary Vietnamese people during the turbulent times. She struggles to understand the adults in her life, and how the war changed them.

As the book progresses, Dieu Lan rediscovers her entire family as she originally pledged – both as children when they fled their village and later as the war ends. Grandma’s story is an agonizing portrayal of the hard choices women make to survive.

The title references a small native bird. Huong’s father carves a wooden version for her while he’s gone to war. The name of the bird translates to “the mountains sing” for its constant song, but its survival became endangered after Agent Orange was used on the upland regions. The symbolic heart of the book, the wooden carving comforts Huong and reminds us of the fragile nature of peace and the continued hope that, one day, the mountains will sing again.

The title is also available as an eBook and an audiobook on CD.

Kristen B. is a devoted bookworm lucky enough to work as the graphic designer for HCLS. She likes to read, stitch, dance, and watch baseball (but not all at the same time).

National Library Week: Connect with Our Library!

National Library Week logo: Connect With Your Library. Connect is a white mouse with cord on a blue background. A black and white image of a plug on a deep yellow goes with "with your, and "library" is on red with an illustration of two hands getting ready to clasp.

Those of us who write for Chapter Chats want to connect with you, and want you to connect with the library. Most of the time, we’re going to share with you something new and different to read or watch. We enjoyed those titles so much that we want you to experience them, too. Check out recent popular reviews of the The Thursday Murder Club by Richard Osman or A Song of Wraith and Ruins by Roseanne Brown. If you’re an audiobook listener, we have you covered as well.

But the library has so much more to offer than books, and we want you to know about those things, too. Here’s a brief list of some blog posts that look at the other ways we’d like to connect with you:

Have you had a chance to visit Central Branch and tour the Undesign the Redline exhibit? It’s only here a little bit longer. Christie Lassen talks all about it in this Interview.

Have you been to Glenwood Branch recently? There’s so much that’s new for you! Visit the Makerspace and see the wonderful new play stations.

Our most liked blog post since Chapter Chats began about two years ago lets you know how to use the library’s subscription services to avoid news paywalls.

Do you like to craft? Or maybe bake? The DIY Center at Elkridge Branch may be able to help. The staff there can also help you with tools to get your yard cleaned up after winter and ready for spring fun.

And, now that it’s actually spring and random snow flurries have finally ended, take a drive to Ellicott City to visit the Enchanted Garden at HCLS Miller Branch.

One of our teen volunteers who frequents the Savage Branch (and writes for the blog) recently discovered that we lend toys. She is entirely on board with this idea.

We are even bringing the library to you with our PopUp Library van, which visits neighborhoods and community events.

So, take this as a reminder and an invitation to stop by frequently and see what’s going on in the blog – and at the Library. We love our library and connecting with you in all the ways we can imagine.

National Library Week: Reach Out!

County Executive Dr. Calvin Ball and HCLS President & CEO Tonya Aikens, with other officials, cut the ribbon for the new mobile library van, whichis decorated in bright colors with many photos.

by Katie DiSalvo-Thronson, Community Engagement and Partnership Manager

I believe outreach is for everybody, and it’s a first step towards many good things. Why not do some outreach today, and consider reaching out to the library?  

Wait, what?  

I’m Katie DiSalvo-Thronson, and I’ve got about 20 years of community engagement experience from girl scout cookie sales, to working for a community school in the Dominican Republic, to community organizing. I’ve seen the power of outreach and steps that can follow, again and again.  

Today is also Library Outreach Day. It’s also National Library Week, and this year’s theme is Connect With the Library. In honor of all that, I want to share some inspiration!  

I view “outreach” as simply reaching out. It can be as easy as a hello at the mailbox. It is extending a welcome to someone new and inviting them to start being in a relationship with you.  

Reaching out helps us live in friendlier, more connected communities. Connecting to people outside of our familiar circles helps us gain new understanding of the world. New relationships and new knowledge mean new possibilities.  Reaching out also gives us a chance to share who we are with others. 

It’s a step outside of the familiar and predictable. It’s a small, brave thing to do that makes the world a better place. 

StoryWalk station two dislays the cover and first page of Janey Monarch Seed. The black metal frame stands in lush greenery.

What is library outreach? Library outreach gives us a chance to share about the library  – and we have beautiful spaces, incredible books and other resources, and tremendous free classes and events! Reaching out with that is phenomenal! We are committed to bringing as much as we can to the community. Did you know that we also have a new mobile unit, that provides books, children’s classes, and community engagement all over the county? 

Library outreach also gives us a chance to listen and hear you! Did you know that we’ve recently talked to people at a flea market, a rock climbing event, and Howard Community College? That we connect with local civic, business, and cultural groups every day? Did you know that we’d like to connect to and hear from your community group? (we really would!) 

Three Native American dancers in traditional costume danicng at the Native American Heritage Celebration held at the East Columbia Branch Library in the fall.

But then what? 

After we’ve reached out and gotten to know each other, that’s when the magic can happen. 

  • A Native American Heritage Month event with Ani Begay Auld, a local artist and activist, and the Howard County Office of Human Rights and Equity.
  • Presentations about library resources followed by a craft class with the Howard County Family Child Care Association.
  • Library-based food distributions by the Indian Cultural Association.
  • Presenting related Library books at an education session with Community Advocates of Rainbow Youth about how to support trans/non-binary youth.
  • A collaboration on story walks in the Middle Patuxent Environmental Area with local environmentalists and Howard County Recreation and Parks.
  • The NAACP’s young men’s group meeting in the Library’s new Equity Resource Center.
  • A great author event on the history of Muslim cooking with the Muslim Family Center. 
  • A new project lending chromebooks and providing remote English Language Conversation Classes to parents at Deep Run Elementary School.
  • Local heroes featured on the Library podcast.

These are just a few of the ways we are collaborating with community members.  

Bring your dreams here. Help your Library System provide the educational opportunities, community connections, culture, and joy that matter to you. Reach out to us, and let’s work on it together.  

I mean it. Reach out to us! Talk to your favorite branch staffer or email me at
Katie.disalvo-thronson@hclibrary.org

And try saying hi to someone new today. Odds are it’ll make you smile. 

Raffle Tickets & Flower Baskets

Faded image of Glenwodd Branch's teen area with text overlayed, "2022 Spring Fundraiser! Glorious flower baskets, branch raffles featuring amazing local prizes, chances to win tickets to Evening in the Stacks or a Microsoft tablet, a wine pull - all to benefit Teen Spaces at every HCLS branch!"

by Mickey Gomez, President, Friends & Foundation of HCLS

Spring is here, and that means it’s time for Friends & Foundation of Howard County Library System’s Second Annual Spring Fundraiser!

This year, with HCLS’s much anticipated gala event Evening in the Stacks moving to May, we’ve bundled our fundraising efforts together in a single online location.

Our gorgeous flower baskets are back, and already in high demand! Last year they sold out, so if you’d enjoy welcoming May with a 12” hanging basket of cheerful sun-loving flowers while supporting your favorite library system, you’ll want to act fast! Baskets will be available for pickup May 4th, 5th, and 7th at the Miller Branch.

This year’s raffle includes six unique gift baskets individually curated by each HCLS branch, featuring a remarkable array of local gift cards to restaurants, stores, shops, and markets, tickets to local events, tours, and museums, unique collectables, and more! The baskets range in value from $500 to $1,000, and you’ll definitely want to check them all out before deciding which to try for – or you can try for them all!

We’ll also have drawings for two tickets to Evening in the Stacks: Across Africa along with our Grand Prize: a Microsoft Surface Go 3 tablet.

And for our wine connoisseurs, we’re once again offering a Wine Pull available exclusively at Evening in the Stacks. Your ticket will get you a randomly selected bottle of fabulous wine, each valued at an estimated $20+.

All proceeds this year go to support teen spaces, safe and welcoming locations in each HCLS branch that allow teens to gather without paying for a membership or having to buy something. They’ll have access to interest-driven learning along with resources promoting empowerment, mental wellness, digital and tech fluency, and more!

You can also donate directly to support STEM tools for teens who have expressed an interest in engaging with coding or digital media creation such as 3D modeling, music-making, graphic design, video production, and social and educational gaming – all in a fun, inclusive, and positive environment.

I could not be any more excited about any of this, which is saying a lot considering how much I love our local library system. On behalf of Friends & Foundation of HCLS, we hope you’ll join in the fun while supporting Teen Spaces and HCLS. Thank you!

#FriendsMakeItHappen

New Ways to Play at Glenwood

View of children's area of HCLS Glenwood Branch, featuring bright, colorful tall whirligig and three play stations.

By Alastair S.

Recent visitors Glenwood’s children section may have been surprised to be greeted by a beautiful ten-foot beautiful ‘whirligig’ flower. The moving construction, which children can set spinning by turning a cog at the base is one of series of new spectacular, interactive learning installations designed and delivered by the Burgeon Group. Burgeon specializes in creating child-centred works of art that also function as play experiences. This approach be seen not only in the large-scale whimsy of the new whirligig flower, but in the powerful appeal of the three large interactive large ‘seed-pod’ play centers, which also invite children into the space. Young learners can wander between the attractive panels that make up the seed pods, exploring textures, colors, and sound. They can look through kaleidoscopic insect eyes, make frogs jump, recreate nursery rhymes, turn dials to create a story, play with magnets, thread patterns, and otherwise touch, move, and discover a host of other details.

Young boy wearing a white shirt and a mask climbs through a opening in a bright green play station wall.

HCLS takes seriously the idea that play is crucial to children’s learning. These gorgeous inventions installed at Glenwood welcome customers into an area that is already buzzing with activity. The space not only boasts a range of toys carefully selected to encourage learning across the entire curriculum, but also includes our popular Builders’ Barn. The Builders’ Barn is a space for children of all ages, stuffed with easily accessible resources such as paper, card, tissue, recycled materials, fabric, wool, popsicle sticks, glue, tape all waiting to be used for the creation of whatever you’d like to create!

It’s such a pleasure to walk through the Glenwood children’s place and see customers spending a morning enthralled by books they’ve discovered in the collection, deeply engaged in imaginative play with a toy farm or train track or absorbed in sticking the legs back onto whatever amazing creation is emerging from Builder’s Barn. Now we have wonderful constructions enhancing all of this and adding an audible chorus of “wow!’ as customers come in and see it for the first time. Drop by – we’re having some serious fun over here!

A little girl with a explosion of a pony tail peeks at herself in a convex mirror on a play station wall.
Alastair S. is the Children’s Instruction and Research Supervisor at HCLS Glenwood Branch. Originally from England, Alastair has worked variously as an international kindergarten teacher, political report writer, ghost tour guide, and librarian. He has two children, two cats, and a very patient wife. 

Selkie Tales for Irish Heritage Month

Poster for the animated movie shows a large blond man, his two children, a dog, and a bunch of seals gathered close on a rock with waves splashing all around. A bright blue sky show a lighthouse in the distance.

by Kristen B.

According to President Biden and Governor Hogan, March 2022 is officially proclaimed as Irish American Heritage Month, coinciding with St. Patrick’s Day on March 17. I boast of wee bit of Irish heritage from my mother’s side of the family. We drink tea, eat soda bread, and watch The Quiet Man in March. To be fair, we drink tea year round. There are so many wonderful books and movies that show off the Emerald Isle to its best advantage – from films such as Waking Ned Devine and Dancing at Lughnasa (available via Interlibrary Loan) to authors such as Colm Toibin and Maeve Binchy.

Beyond the mainstream, I have always loved the folktales and mythology of the Celts, and of Ireland in particular. Are the Fair Folk involved? I’m in! One of my favorite traditional tales involves the selkies, the shapeshifting folk who transform into seals in the sea and humans on land. There are countless stories and songs about the Selkie Wife, wherein a fisherman (most usually) or a sailor falls in love with a selkie and hides her sealskin while she is dancing upon the shore. They are usually wonderfully, truly in love, but she is trapped living only half her life. When she finds her skin again, she leaves him and their children to reclaim her life in the waves. As with so many traditional Irish tales, it’s the sense of tragedy that makes it beautiful.

Selkie tales have also made their way into plenty of film and books. Seanan McGuire’s long-running urban fantasy series featuring changeling detective October Daye includes selkies as important characters that you can find in several of the titles. Tanya Huff’s modern fantastical Gale Girl books are a ton of fun, with a family full of odd magics and dangerous aunties. The Gale family boasted a young girl named Dorothy and her Auntie Em, once upon a time. The second book in the trilogy’s plot hinges on a supposed selkie colony off the coast of Maritime Canada being threatened by oil drilling. It’s a quick, fun read full of selkies, traditional music festivals, and the occasional dragon.

As for movies, probably my favorite selkie movie is The Secret of Roan Inish, which tells the story of a young girl, Fiona, and her determination to find and bring home her lost younger brother, Jamie, who is living among the seals. The rhythms of the movie are quintessentially Irish, and it needs very little in the way of special effects or soundtrack to keep me engrossed. Song of the Sea is an animated film that tells a slightly different version of the Selkie Wife. When lighthouse keeper Ben’s wife disappears after giving birth to their second child it leads to all sorts of family and fey drama. The creative team behind this gorgeous, lyrical tale first made The Secret of Kells, concerning the famous illustrated manuscript during the burning of the Irish monasteries by Vikings – and at a time where the old magics may still have been found in the wilderness. These movies have a particularly rich animation style of that borrows from ancient Irish art. While animated, they aren’t necessarily just for children.

I wish you a wonderful St. Patrick’s Day! Enjoy one of these suggestions … or any of the other wonderful poems, stories, music, or movies that celebrate our Irish heritage.

Kristen B. is a devoted bookworm lucky enough to work as the graphic designer for HCLS. She likes to read, stitch, dance, and watch baseball (but not all at the same time).