The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge by M. T. Anderson

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From the publisher: “Uptight elfin historian Brangwain Spurge is on a mission: survive being catapulted across the mountains into goblin territory, deliver a priceless peace offering to their mysterious dark lord, and spy on the goblin kingdom — from which no elf has returned alive in more than a hundred years. Spurge’s host, the goblin archivist Werfel, is delighted to show Brangwain around. They should be the best of friends, but a series of extraordinary double crosses, blunders, and cultural misunderstandings throws these two bumbling scholars into the middle of an international crisis that may spell death for them — and war for their nations. Witty mixed media illustrations show Brangwain’s furtive missives back to the elf kingdom, while Werfel’s determinedly unbiased narrative tells an entirely different story.”


I’ve been in something of a reading slump lately. Nothing sounds interesting and everything I’ve been reading just doesn’t grab me. Fortunately I’ve heard a lot of buzz about The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge and since fantasy is smack dab in the middle of my reading comfort zone, I decided to check it out. And I’m glad I did since it kicked me right out of my book slump! This fantasy adventure/odd couple buddy comedy/spy thriller is witty, exciting, and an excellent look at the effects of propaganda without resorting to a boring lecture about morality. Similar to some of Brian Selznick’s popular books, The Assassination of Brangwain Spurge is an illustrated novel, with the art (excellently done by Anton Yelchin) showing Spurge’s magical reports of his experiences in the goblin kingdom sent back to his fellow elves. However these reports are influenced by his cultural misunderstandings and prejudice against the goblins and so frequently contradict the text, which is from the kind and brave goblin Werfel’s point of view. It did take awhile for me to get the hang of understanding the illustrations, but for the kids willing to work through the initial confusion it’s well worth the effort. Kirkus Reviews described it as “Monty Python teams up with Maxwell Smart for a wrestling match with Tolkien,” which is a spot on analogy (that will likely go over its target audience’s heads, unfortunately). Recommended for ages 10-14.

Check it out on the catalog here!


Children’s Books to Celebrate Hanukkah

Hanukkah Sameach! Hanukkah is an eight-day Jewish celebration which takes place this year from December 2 – 10. Here are 8 books to curl up with during the Festival of Lights.



All-of-a-Kind Family Hanukkah by Emily Jenkins

Hanukkah Moon by Deborah de Costa

Hanukkah by Rachel Grack

The Story of Hanukkah by David Adler

Hershel and the Hanukkah Goblins by Eric Kimmel

Daddy Christmas and Hanukkah Mama by Selina Alko

Hanukkah by Rebecca Pettiford

The Best Hanukkah Ever by Barbara Diamond Goldin

Miss Jessica

The Wall in the Middle of the Book by Jon Agee

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As you can probably guess from the title, there is a wall in the middle of this book. The knight repairing the wall tells the reader it protects his side of the book from the scary and dangerous things on the other side. However, as his side of the book fills up with water and a crocodile appears, he discovers the other side of the wall is not exactly what he thought.


Agee uses the page in a really interesting way, with the wall in the gutter (inside margin) of the book and two stories happening simultaneously on each side of the wall/page. The knight thinks his side of the wall is safe and the wall protects him from the scary ogre that would eat him up. But while he’s focused on building up the wall, he fails to notice the rising waters behind him. When he realizes his side of the wall has flooded and cries out for help, it is the ogre from the other side who saves him and the knight discovers the creatures on the other side of the wall are not the terrifying monsters he imagined. The art is simple with muted colors without being boring. Similar to Agee’s Life on Mars, paying attention to what’s happening in the pictures is essential to understanding the story. Learning to interpret pictures into a narrative is an excellent pre-reading and early reading skill! Agee is excellent at pacing and humor for the younger set, though adults are likely to enjoy this gentle story about preconceived notions across boundaries and how wrong they can be as well. Highly recommended.

Find it in the catalog here!


Miss Jessica


Happy Dinovember! Starting in 2013, Refe and Susan Tuma would spend the month of November convincing their children that their plastic dinosaur figures came to life at night while they slept, which they turned into their picture book What the Dinosaurs Did Last Night. Thus Dinovember was born! You can read about the mischief the dinosaurs got into here. To celebrate, here are 10 picture books and 5 nonfiction books for your own dino lover.

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How Do Dinosaurs Say Good Night?  by Jane Yolen

When Dinosaurs Came With Everything by Elise Broach

Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs by Mo Willems

Edwina, the Dinosaur who Didn’t Know She was Extinct by Mo Willems

Dino-Baseball by Lisa Wheeler

We Don’t Eat Our Classmates by Ryan T. Higgins

Dinosaur Kisses by David Ezra Stein

Dinosaur vs. the Library by Bob Shea

Don’t Forget Dexter! by Lindsay Ward

Gigantosaurus by Jonny Duddle


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Fly Guy Presents: Dinosaurs  by Tedd Arnold

Eyewitness: Dinosaur by David Lambert

Questions and Answers about Dinosaurs by Katie Daynes

Dinosaurs A to Z by Dustin Growick

The Usborne Big Book of Big Dinosaurs by Alex Frith


Miss Jessica