We could sit and analyze it for a long time -- we could get really microscopic about it--but let's just admit that little, teeny tiny things are infinitely engrossing, and often adorable. Teeny-tiny cute! Teeny-tiny kittens...awww! Minature houses, miniature cupcakes...perfection! Eensy weensy characters having adventures? Bring it on!

For whatever reason, stories about microscopic worlds have always been appealing to kids. Maybe you were a fan of The Littles back in the day. Or maybe you go back, back to the days of The Borrowers. Would kids today love those stories? Yes, I think they would. If you have a beginning reader you'd like to introduce to the world of all things small, you might start with James to the Rescue, by Elise Broach, the story of a beetle family living in a house.

What does a beetle family like best of all? Going collecting! But collecting is dangerous work in a world that is so much bigger than you. When Uncle Albert gets hurt on a hunting expedition, it's up to Marvin, boy beetle, to enlist his human friend James to come to the rescue. Kids who are just getting started with longer chapter books will enjoy this story of suspense, resourcefulness and friendship.

If your young reader enjoys James to the Rescue, here's a very small door (in the form of a list ) into the world of all things small.

In July the CDC reported high levels of heroin use, up 63% in the last ten years.  Why is that?  Because people who become addicted to prescription pain killers find that heroin does the same job for less money.

Being an illegal drug, many addicts end up in jail.  But some places are trying different approaches.  Seattle is offering the LEAD – Law Enforcement Assisted Diversion – program to offer homeless drug addicts access to treatment, housing, and job training.  Massachusetts distributes Narcan, a nasal spray that stops a heroin overdose, to anyone who thinks they may need it to save a loved one or friend or client.   In Oregon, doctors are looking to turn off the spigot at the source and reduce opiod prescriptions for chronic pain.  Although maybe these more compassionate approaches are coming because heroin addicts tend to be white.

Forget raindrops and whiskers,  holing up with a good read has always been of my favorite things.

As a quiet and curious, kid, reading was my escape. These days I crack a book for a "few chapters" and find myself reluctantly setting it aside after realizing that it's one AM. The brief moment of contentment between the book hitting the nightstand and turning off the light reminds me why I read.

westinggame cover


It also makes me think of the books that kept me awake when I was younger, as well as a some recent reads that my ten year old self would have devoured until bedtime. These stories about adventure, unlikely companions, and some wackiness are great for reading together or curling up alone in a favorite spot.

My all time favorite? The Westing Game . For more, check out this list or ask me for a recommendation!


The Elephant's Journey bookjacketElephants...who doesn't love these magnificent intelligent animals? They have been roaming the planet forever and have often been the center of our attention, for good or for bad.

You can see these peculiar protagonist of the animal kingdom in Africa, Asia, and in national parks,  not to mention in circuses, zoos, palaces, and out working the fields. But to see them from a different viewpoint, here are some books that honor the elephant.

The Elephant's Journey by Jose Saramago presents the enchanting narration of Solomon, an Asian elephant, his keeper, and a cortege of people who in 1551 traveled from Lisbon to Vienna when the King of Portugal gave him as a wedding present to the Archduke Maximilian.

Still Life With Elephants by Judy Reene Singer tells us the hilarious story of a horse trainer who goes to Zimbabwe to rescue injured elephants right after she finds out that her husband's lover is pregnant. This revealing trip to Africa makes her confront a series of life challenges, including having to train an elephant and solving her relationship issues.

Michael Morpugo's children's book An Elephant in the Garden portrays Marlene, an elephant who is saved by her zoo keeper at the end of the Nazi regime 1945, when the Russian army invades Dresden and people have fled the city.

I'm sure these noble and wise animals will continue to inspire us even in times when their existance is so adversly affected.

Check out the list below for some related reading suggestions. 


I’m not going to read Go Set a Watchman. I love To Kill a Mockingbird too much to risk it, and I tend to always believe Fresh Air book reviewer Maureen Corrigan, who says Watchman is a mess. But luckily, all of the recent talk about Harper Lee reminded me that To Kill a Mockingbird would be a good book to share with my son. My son is eleven, and he still likes me to read out loud to him, although I have the bittersweet feeling it could end at any moment.  Mockingbird wound up being a rich, intense experience for my family because we had it with us when we went camping at Lake Olallie in the Cascades. There was enough sun for us to get out for a long hike on Saturday, but it rained a lot. Happily, we’d reserved a cozy little yurt, complete with a propane heater. Rain sounds lovely pattering on the roof of a yurt.

And fortunately for us, there was no Internet service there. What we had instead was Monopoly, Yahtzee, Backgammon and To Kill a Mockingbird. My teenage daughter and my husband wound up listening to the book too. And it was great. I’m assuming you know the story, if not from the book, then from the excellent 1962 Gregory Peck movie, right? But maybe you’ve forgotten what a vivid character Scout is and how funny the dialogue is?

This was an unbeatable family read that opened up ways to talk to my kids about racism, right and wrong and how people behave in groups. If you haven't read To Kill a Mockingbird since high school, think about reading it again, and I'd urge those of you who are parents to look for opportunities to read it with your kids, even if it takes an off-the-grid excursion into the mountains to make it happen. 

LEGOland FloridaLEGOs. You probably played with them when you were little, and maybe, like me, you still have a stash of LEGOs that you pull out when the mood strikes. Or maybe you're a parent who is intimately familiar with the excruciating pain of stepping barefoot on a LEGO, cursing the day that you ever let those tiny instruments of torture into your home. No matter what your opinion is of this classic toy, you have probably clicked a few of those bricks together at some point in your life.
Last November I was lucky enough to visit LEGOland in Tampa, Florida. I was completely in awe of the creativity and skill that went into building everything out of LEGOs. Buildings, bridges and boats, animals, Star Wars scenes and full sized characters, a full sized car, all built with LEGOs. What can be build with those bricks is only limited by your imagination (and access to vast supply of LEGOs). 

A couple of months ago I wrote about how I had just started reading and appreciating manga. Well, my first touch of manga fever has become an acute case of manga-itis that has taken over my reading life. Biweekly trips to the Kinokuniya Bookstore in Beaverton have served only to further my new obsession. Pursuing their manga shelves provides regular inspiration for my “must read” list. Given my love for horror films and graphic novels it should come as no surprise that the manga that I have been most drawn to falls within the horror and supernatural genre. 

Seraph of the End book jacketSeraph of the End is set in a world that is ruled by vampires. After a mysterious virus kills all humans over the age of 13, vampires come out from the shadows to take over. Intent on avenging the deaths of his friends and family, a young, angry and impulsive Yuichiro joins the Japanese Imperial Army. Yuichiro is anxious to earn his demon weapon and start battling vampires, but first he has to take on a most difficult task, make friends with his fellow vampire slayers.

Tokyo Ghoul book jacketToyko Ghoul is a series that was first released in the U.S. this year. I was first drawn in by how beautifully illustrated this manga is but the story has made me want more.The plot centers around Ken Kaneki a shy, book loving college student who enjoys hanging out with his best friend Hide. After a violent encounter, Ken finds himself in the hospital with a new kidney, a kidney that once belonged to a ghoul. Now half-human and half-ghoul, Ken must learn how to straddle the thin line between the human world and the vicious underground world of the ghouls. 

Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service book jacketAdapted and published in English by local darlings Dark Horse Comics, The Kurosagi Corpse Delivery Service is a horror manga that I am in love with but that I recommend with a bit of caution. Some of the stories are quite gruesome. This series follows the adventures of five recent graduates from a Buddhist college who find that their special skills do not translate to employment. So what are a hacker, a dowser, an embalming specialist, a medium and a psychic to do? Carry out the wishes of the dead, of course. 

Kitaro book jacketThe last title that has sparked my manga loving heart is KitaroThe series was first published in the 1960s, but an English translation collection of the Kitaro episodes was published in 2013. The main character, Kitaro, appears to be at first glance a normal young boy, but he is really a 350-year-old yokai (supernatural monster). His hair serves as an antenna directing him towards paranormal activity, he has one eye and his yokai father lives in his other eye socket, he has jet powered sandals and he can seamlessly blend into his surroundings. In each episode Kitaro and his father cleverly battle criminals and malevolent yokai with the purpose of keeping humans safe. Kitaro is a wonderful melding of horror and whimsy where the good guy always wins.


Esther Stutzman, storytellerStorytelling is an ancient art form of connecting cultures, passing down customs, and preserving history. Religious leaders share spiritual stories with their congregation; politicians share historical moments with their constituents; grandparents share traditions with their grandchildren. For historians, it was a way for us to make sense of and explained events of the past.

Stories have been told and retold, passing down from generations to another, as myths, legends, ghost stories, epic adventures, fables, and fairy tales. Oral tradition is part of every culture throughout history and it continues to be a part of our community today.

Tellabation!™ is a night of storytelling celebrated world-wide during the month of November. Throughout the county, you can find storytelling performances and workshops celebrating our oral history.  

Multnomah County Library offers storytelling programs for Native American Heritage Month in November, as well as for other communities all year long. Can’t go to one of our events at the library? You can find other Tellabration events at Portland Storyteller's Guild and City Club of Portland.  

Chances are you’ve thrown up at least once in your life, a biological process called vomiting, regurgitation, and a whole bunch of slang nicknames. But what is it, exactly?

In humans regurgitation happens for a variety of reasons: a case of the stomach “flu” and food poisoning can look a lot alike. Or maybe your brain and your eyes can’t agree and you’re motion sick. Or you might even have a food allergy, or something completely different.


It’s fun to know that a lot of animals besides humans regurgitate and some animals do it as a normal, healthy part of their behavior. Some birds do it to get rid of the things they eat they can’t digest like bones or fur. Some animals called ruminants swallow and regurgitate their food several times to help with digestion. Animals such as wolves partially digest food and then bring it back up to feed babies too small to digest their own food fully. Bees regurgitate from a special stomach used to make honey. But animals can get sick, too, so it’s always good to check with the veterinarian if your pet starts throwing up.


There are some things you can do to limit your possibilities for throwing up. Take this quiz to see if your handwashing game is strong, one of the best ways to prevent stomach viruses.  Find out different causes of food poisoning and play this game or this game to figure out how to beat food poisoning.


And you can always contact a librarian for even more info!

Zardoz dvd coverAh, Zardoz (1974). A film venerated on local heavy rock t-shirts and adult soapbox derby cars alike (I saw one on Mt. Tabor)! There’s even a Zardoz belt buckle on Etsy, if you should feel so inclined. Why yes, that is Sean Connery in the thigh-high boots, orange loincloth, and thick ‘70s stache. He plays Zed, a Brutal Exterminator, whose band of thuggish horsemen terrorize other Brutals and take their grain. They offer it to their god, Zardoz, a giant flying stone head who vomits guns at them in return. But Zed is not your average brute, and one day he hitches a ride in the old stony noggin. He inadvertently kills his God… and discovers who’s really Sean Connery in Zardozpulling the strings. This is what happens when you make a lot of money off Deliverance, and then try too hard to make intelligent SF full of Big Concepts and Existential Themes. If you have somehow missed this up till now, well, it’s time for you to ride with the Brutals.

Next, The Visitor (1979). I’m telling you, this is worth setting up a Hoopla account for. I saw this at the Hollywood theater about a year The Visitor movie posterago and laughed all the way through. It’s about a little girl who’s the spawn of a cosmic power known as Sateen. She has telekinetic powers, a pet hawk, and can shoot lasers out of her eyes. This leads to a priceless ice skating scene where she uses her powers for ill… very ill (move over, Tonya Harding!) An awkward peroxide-blond Christ figure warns us of Sateen’s evil and sends a Visitor to combat the ancient menace and prevent it from fathering more children and taking over the world. Somehow Lance Henriksen, Shelley Winters, John Huston, Sam Peckinpah, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar all got themselves mixed up in this debacle. It’s their loss, and our gain.. oh is it ever.

It’s hard to do justice to the sheer wacked majesty of these films with the written word… instead, feast your eyes upon the trailers (note that both films have some edgy moments):

And if you just can’t get enough, try these.

With Halloween approaching there are lots of skeletons to be seen, but did you know that you have a skeleton hiding inside of you? Human beings have 206 bones to be exact! Your skeletal system is the body system made up of all of your bones, joints and cartilage. Along with your muscular system, it makes it possible for you to walk, run, sit, stand, swim and move around the world.
To learn more about the skeletal system check out this article from or for teens at You can also check out the library's databases, a trusted source for homework help available free with your library card. Kids InfoBits has some great articles for kids in grades K-5 about the skeletal system. Simply log in with your library card then search for “skeletal system,” “bones,” or “skeleton” to find lots of information.  Two great resources for middle schoolers and high schoolers are eLibrary and InfoTrac Student Edition.  Both databases are free to use with a library card and provide access to electronic reference books, journal articles, newspapers and media. 
Check out this video about the Skeletal System from KidsHealth:

If you want to explore this topic more, or if you have more questions about any of this, Ask a Librarian! We’ll be happy to talk more about it.

Book jacket: Peanut Butter and Brains by Joe McGeeI don't know for sure how my son became aware of zombies.  I can only assure you that no, we haven't been letting my first grader watch The Walking Dead. And yet in much the same way that he's fascinated by mummies, he's intrigued by zombies. He's not alone either. Zombie tag is all the rage on my son's elementary school playground. Not all the players know what zombies are exactly (and who does really?), but they do know that zombies are slow and they carry their hands up straight in front of them and moan. All of which makes for a long game of tag, but one that is really amusing to witness.
So what to do when your young elementary school kid is way into zombies?  Well, I suppose you could turn them on to mummies or plenty of other things if you prefer, but if you're willing to go there, there are lots of gentle and really fun reads to satisfy your little one's affinity for the undead.
We recently enjoyed a new picture book: Peanut Butter and Brains by Joe McGee, about an unusual zombie named Reginald. While all the other zombies in Quirkville have brains on the brain, all Reginald wants is a delicious and sticky peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When he finally gets his hands on one, he shares it with his horde, who quickly find that pb&j beats brains hands down.
Now when I make my son lunch I can offer him pb & brains; to which his reply is "no mom, that's just gross."
Check out this list for more kid-friendly zombie books to share with beginning readers.

For a lot of people, the pleasure of reading is enhanced when they can discuss books with friends or family. But children, teens and adults can't always read the same books. If you'd like to amp up the conversation at your dinner table, explore some of these titles grouped by themes and subject.

To begin, if your family enjoys stories about real people, here's one that is available in formats for beginning readers to adults. William Kamkwaba is a Malawian innovator. As a teen living in poverty, he devised a windmill that provided first electricity and then drinking water to his community.

Talking about animal welfare can be a challenge, for both kids and adults. Here are three stories for varying age levels that examine our treatment of animals.

If you're off on a camping trip this summer, what better time to discuss wilderness, courage and the will to survive?

Are you waiting with bated breath for Go Set a Watchman? Read, (or re-read) To Kill a Mockingbird, while younger readers get engrossed in The Lions of Little Rock, and then talk about civil rights and the power of friendship to bring people together.

In the early 1900's, Edward Curtis traveled North America taking photos of Native people, an obsession that almost destroyed his life but left us with an amazing historical record. Here's his story told for both adults and kids.

Looking for some creative inspiration? Syllabus is essentially a college course on connecting to your inner artist; My Pen encourages artists of all ages to draw. Just add blank paper.

Happy reading and discussing!

"Come with me and you'll be in a world of pure imagination." -- W. Wonka

 Multnomah County Library Golden Ticket

First graders of Multnomah County, welcome to the library! 

If you attend a school in the Portland Public, Corbett, Parkrose, Reynolds, David Douglas, Gresham-Barlow or Centennial School Districts, you and your family should receive a Golden Ticket at your school's fall conference, directly from your teacher.

Learning to read is a very exciting time, and Multnomah County Library can help you on your way to becoming a stronger reader. Bring your Golden Ticket to any Multnomah County Library location to choose a free book to keep and learn about all about what the library has just for you! Parents of first graders, fill out the information on the back of the ticket and you will be entered into a drawing for a family smartphone. The library has a lot to offer you too.

If your first  grader goes to a  public school in one of the districts listed above and didn't get a Golden Ticket at fall conferences, be sure to ask your teacher or principal.

Golden Tickets can be redeemed for a free book until January 4, 2016. You can come in any time to experience the magic of Multnomah County Library!

Made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to our library's leadership, innovation and reach through private support.

Did you know that the process of photosynthesis helps us to survive?  Here’s a basic description to get you started understanding how this works.  Watch the video, take the follow-up test, and then try the karaoke song.

If you’d like to be sure you’ve mastered the basic concepts of photosynthesis, this site tests you frequently as you work your way through the information, and won’t allow you to progress until you’ve passed each test.

Let’s move on to more detailed information, including the “recipe” for photosynthesis and a description of the “teeny tiny pigment pancakes”.

With your knowledge of the basics about photosynthesis,  you can understand even more clearly how important plants are to life on earth.  Watch this thought-provoking vimeo and think about the impact of plants on our world.

Bring on the music!  It’s time to celebrate the amazing process of photosynthesis!  You may find that one or two of the following selections will help you to remember the facts about photosynthesis.  This song has a catchy tune, and will have you singing, “Every plant can do this fundamental process, and we can call this photosynthesis.”  Join in on this rap music video, or try this song from "They Might Be Giants".

Want to know more about photosynthesis?  Contact a librarian through your computer or at your local library.

I am enjoying Amanda Brooks latest book Always Pack a Party Dress. It seemed like good advice, so I had to read it. And it is true that when you are traveling you never know when you might need that party outfit. Brooks had a sudden invitation to Madonna’s birthday party. And no party dress! The book covers her fashion highs and lows with thoughtful insights.

Have you had a fashion low? What was your high? My fashion high may have been my red wedding dress. Money played a part of my fashion low. I thought I couldn’t afford nice things. I had forgotten the thrifting days of my childhood. I find the best way to feed my desire for clothes and being able to afford them is a trip to a thrift store or an estate sale, - What about you, are you a thrifter?

When I was younger, I worried about about a good winter coat and shoes. Sometimes the rain doesn’t stop here in Portland. So a backup pair of winter shoes are important to have while the other pair dries out. Now I worry do I have time and money for thrifting? And do I need to clean out my closet?

I used to have a love-hate relationship with the September Vogue issue. It is the biggest issue of the year.  Aspiring fashionistas know to get it or look at it at their local library. Do you love Vogue? I think for us working stiffs it’s an exercise in fantasy or daydreaming. Need a good fashion daydream? I have the list for you.

Need to do a science fair project and want to make sure it's a cool one?  Something dramatic?  Or something really gross?  Or something involving cooking delicious foods?  A chemistry project might the one for you!

Or maybe your class is chemistry focused and you HAVE to do a chemistry project---fear not, this is the right place for you, too.

Get some ideas by checking out Science Buddies: Chemistry Science Fair Project Ideas.  You can select Beginner, Intermediate or Advanced and then start exploring your otpions!  You should be able to find good projects for students in 5th grade and higher.

Another great resource is the library database Today's Science.  If you are outside the library, you will need to log in with your library card number and pin number to make this work.  Once you have logged in click on the Resources drop-down menu to find Science Fair guide.  This information will probably work best for high school students.

Need more help?  Checkout the booklist below for more options.  Or contact a librarian for suggestions!



Nightfall cover image“I can’t tell you for certain. What I do know is that we do these things - and we have remained safe - so we keep doing them.”

As the sun fades away for its fourteen year hiatus, the residents of Bliss are frantic. Preparing their homes before leaving their island is an elaborate process guided by fear and myth. Houses are to be left “without stain”, all locks are removed from doors, and strict decor must be observed. The why behind such frenzy is unknown and not questioned.

  • Marin is a young girl who has only known Bliss as her home. She has many questions, but gets few answers. Her secret puts everyone at risk.
  • Kana is her twin brother. He's blind, but his vision improves as the darkness falls. As permanent night arrives his dreams have turned into horrific night terrors.
  • Line, an orphan, is preoccupied with the care of his young brother. He has a lot on his mind as they prepare, including Marin.

As the boats arrive and night overtakes the island, someone goes missing. The ships are leaving in four hours. The choice between safety from the unknown and friendship has never been more difficult or life changing under the looming threat of what lies in the darkness.

What happens next? Check out Nightfall!

Born in Seattle, Washington, James Marshall Hendrix is regarded as one of the greatest musicians in the history of rock music. According to Rolling Stone Jimi was more than just the best guitarist of all time--he was also a major cultural icon of the 1960s. The guitarist, who was also a singer and songwriter, taught himself how to play as as teenager. He started making a name for himself in the music industry as a pick up guitarist during the early 1960s. Jimi first achieved fame in the U.K., and then in America following his performance at the Montery Pop Festival in 1967. His untimely death in 1970 left a hole in the rock and roll scene, but his legend lives on forever. Since today is his birthday, take a minute to learn more about Jimi Hendrix and his unique music style. 

  jimi hendrix At the official Jimi Hendrix site and at you can read about Jimi, hear his music, and watch video clips.

Jimi was the guitar master, but how does a guitar work? Learn more about the physics of playing guitar in this TED-Ed video:

Ready to rock out some more with Jimi? Just ask a librarian!


Multnomah County Library's Lucky Day service includes books for kids, teens and adults.  Lucky Day copies are available for spontaneous use and are not subject to hold queues.  Nobody can place holds on these items; it's first come, first served.  That means you might not have to wait at all for the most popular new titles!  You never know what you might find at your neighborhood library - it just might be your Lucky Day!