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Take a break with a good book

By Marissa Creamer
Rowan Public Library
The holiday season is filled to the brim with shopping and baking and wrapping and traveling, and on and on.
In the midst of all this busyness, nothing could be better than to relax for a spell and take respite in a good book. If you are looking for a story the entire family can enjoy, try “The Magician’s Elephant,” the latest title from Newbery Medalist Kate DiCamillo, author of “The Tale of Despereaux.”
This timeless fable is a natural for reading aloud. “The Magician’s Elephant” tells the story of 10-year-old orphan Peter Augustus Duchene, whose encounter with a fortuneteller leads him on a quest to find his sister, who had been presumed dead.
” ‘If she lives, then I must find her, so my question is, how do I make my way there, to where she is?’ He kept his eyes closed; he waited. ‘The elephant,’ said the fortuneteller. ‘You must follow the elephant. She will lead you there.’ Peter’s heart, which had risen up high inside of him, now sank slowly back to its normal resting place. He put his hat on his head. ‘You are having fun with me,’ he said. ‘There are no elephants here.’ ‘Just as you say,’ said the fortuneteller. ‘That is surely the truth, at least for now. But perhaps you have not noticed: the truth is forever changing.’ She winked at him. ‘Wait awhile,’ she said. ‘You will see.’ “That very night, a magician mistakenly conjures up an elephant (“I intended only lilies!”) which crashes through the ceiling of the opera house. The lives of numerous disparate characters intertwine as Peter seeks to understand the mystery of the elephant and its connection to his missing sister. The delicate illustrations by Yoko Tanaka complement the poetic language of the story.
“He’s bold. He’s adventurous. He’s going where no other cat has gone before! (Even though he’s never actually been outside.)” Cat lovers of all ages will enjoy “Binky the Space Cat,” by Ashley Spires.
This graphic novel for children describes the adventures of a pudgy black-and-white cat as he prepares for a mission in outer space (outside the house). As he builds a rocket ship in his litter box, he trains for his galactic adventure.
He uses the G-force replicator (hair dryer). He trains on the flight simulator (ceiling fan). He battles the space aliens (bugs). I have long believed that my own slightly pudgy black-and-white cat has a rich fantasy life, and I thought of him as I read about Binky and his trusty co-pilot Ted (a stuffed purple mouse.)
The soft watercolor illustrations show a very expressive Binky and are filled with humorous details. The first entry in the planned Binky Adventure series, this graphic novel has a balanced mix of sweetness, dry humor and slapstick for wide appeal.
You can find both of these titles at Rowan Public Library. Take a break from the holiday hustle and bustle to relax with a good book.
Children’s holiday programs: Headquarters, Wednesday, 10:30 a.m., Christmas Tea Party. The children’s staff will hold their annual holiday party with stories and crafts.
Displays: Headquarters ó Kwanzaa by Eleanor Qadirah; South ó Christmas village by Tammie Foster. East ó Friends Basket display.
December hours: Dec. 18, all branches open at 1 p.m. (staff development); Dec. 21-23, all branches close at 6 p.m.; Dec. 24-27, all branches closed for holidays; Dec. 31, all branches close at 5 p.m.; Jan. 1, 2010, all branches closed.Literacy: Call the Rowan County Literacy Council at 704-216-8266 for more information on teaching or receiving literacy tutoring for English speakers or for those for whom English is a second language.

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