“The Shortest Day”
by Susan Cooper, illustrated by Carson Ellis
Cooper’s poem is joined with Ellis’ dark, heavy gouache illustrations, perfectly evoking the cold of winter and its shortest day. The story starts at the dawn of time and a mythological explanation of the seasons, slowly leading to our present day celebrations of dark ceding to light and the cyclical nature of life. The text is simple and pleasantly rhythmic, originally written as a theatrical piece used by Cooper to celebrate the Yule season. If you celebrate solstice, Christmas, Hanukkah or another winter holiday, you may find your symbols in the rich paintings. An author’s note further explains solstices, equinoxes and the celebrations humans observe around these phenomena.
“Between Us and Abuela”
by Mitali Perkins, illustrated by Sara Palacios
This sweet book introduces us to Las Posadas, a traditional Mexican holiday celebrating Mary and Joseph’s journey to
Bethlehem. Maria and her family head to the border to visit her grandmother in a modern version of the holiday: Las
Posadas sin Fronteras (literally, “the inn without borders”). When they are unable to slip their gifts through the border fence, Maria devises a solution. The warm hues and cartoonish art bely the seriousness of the story, while also being gentle and kind. Includes author note.
— Josie Hanneman, Deschutes Public Library community librarian
by Sarvenaz Tash
Mariam, a freshman at New York University, is still trying to get over her high school ex, Caleb. She decides to try the virtual world of dating and signs up for HEAVR. After she fills out an unusual questionnaire, she learns Caleb is one of her top three choices.
What is he even doing on HEAVR? Changing her name to Sienna, she selects her ex, and her avatar date is on. But when Mariam’s new friend Jeremy turns out to be a match she turned down, she wonders if she made the right choice. Balancing her past with the present, Mariam discovers her feelings compared to her virtual experiences are tricky to navigate. Tash captures the ups and downs of real-life dating experiences with an exciting side of the virtual world. A wonderful college romance, and the perfect quick-pick read for the holidays.
“The Art of Taxidermy”
by Sharon Kernot
Lottie finds beauty in the outdoors, clouds, sounds and dead animals. As grief from her mother’s death surrounds Lottie, her father and Aunt Hilda try to understand her new obsession. It all started with a gecko, a crow, three brown tree frogs, two skins and a glass house to contain them in. She tries to move forward in school, meeting a new boy and taking long walks. But finding specimens (a word her father suggests instead of dead animals) is her passion. A trip to the museum changes everything, when she discovers dead animals, perfect dead animals, stuffed by a taxidermist. With this discovery, she tries to re-create, draw and learn the “magic of taxidermy.” Written in verse, Kernot’s stunning novel shares the sadness of death, the joy of something new and the pain of not fitting in. With each poem, readers will appreciate the descriptive sentences of birds alive and dead, personal emotions and the beauty of preservation.
— Paige Bentley-Flannery, Deschutes Public Library community librarian
by Candice Carty-Williams
Put Bridget Jones, Fleabag and “Americanah” in a blender and you might end up with Carty-Williams’ brilliant debut novel. Londoner Queenie Jenkins, 25, is on the cusp of becoming a fully functioning adult with a job, an apartment, and a boyfriend. But when Tom puts them on a break everything else starts falling apart. Queenie relies on her friends and her extended Jamaican family for support, but as she spirals out of control she must learn to rely on and support herself. Carty-Williams writes in a fast, engaging style while exploring serious themes of modern womanhood, racism and mental health. Shvorne Marks’ excellent narration brings Queenie’s singular voice to life in the audiobook version.
“The Friend Zone”
by Abby Jimenez
This hilarious contemporary romance offers some hard-hitting commentary on women’s health choices along with great characters and a suspenseful, twisting plot. Kristen has endometriosis, which causes enough pain and disruption in her life that she has chosen to get a hysterectomy — not a popular choice for a young woman. Her longtime, long-distance boyfriend is fine not having kids, but when she meets Josh, sparks fly and she realizes Tyler is not her true love. Josh is honest about wanting a large family and Kristen doesn’t want him to lose that option. Will she settle for good enough or find her own version of happily ever after?
— Jenny Pedersen, Deschutes Public Library community librarian