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Evvie Drake Starts Over by Linda Holmes

Librarian Seeks BookNeeded quick! Great book to read.  Looking for a well-written story that contains humor, light subject matter, and well-rounded, quirky characters.  Must be able to hold my attention and keep me from binge-watching Grey’s Anatomy and various home improvement shows.  Physical book preferred, but would consider downloading a digital copy if it is the right choice.

That is how I felt several weeks ago when I found myself looking for a book to read; like I needed to write my own personal ad to help me find a good book.    

I kept starting books, but not finishing them.  Probably not so much the books fault as my inability to stay focused.  But I was getting desperate, I needed something that I could finish reading and use for my book review.  Thankfully, I work with some of the most well-read people in Joplin, so I started asking library staff for recommendations.  And, lo and behold, I found a winner, “Evvie Drake Starts Over” by Linda Holmes. 

Evvie Drake is a widow.  Not your typically weepy, I miss my husband-type though.  Evvie has a secret – one she has not told anyone – on the day of her husband’s death she was packing her car, planning to leave him forever.  What are the odds on the day she decided to leave, he would die?  

So now a whole year later, she still has not shared this secret with anyone – not her best friend Andy, not her family, not a soul.  And then Dean comes into her life.

Dean has lost something as well – not a spouse, but something just as important to him – his ability to pitch.  This is devastating for him since he has made a career out of being a baseball pitcher. However, he is now a former major-league pitcher after getting a case of the “yips” and not being able to pitch with any sort of accuracy. 

Coincidentally, Evvie and Dean are both friends with Andy, and in an effort to help both of his floundering friends, he suggests that Dean, who recently left New York City to visit him in Maine, rent the apartment located in the back of Evvie’s large house.  This will help Evvie pay her bills, since she refuses to touch her husband life insurance money, and it will provide Dean with a safe space away from prying eyes.

After Dean moves in, the two quickly make a deal – Dean will not ask about Evvie’s late husband and Evvie will not ask about baseball.

Thanks to Dean’s companionship Evvie is able to start to move forward and Dean finds a new normal, too.  The two do not end up keeping their deal, and in the end that turns out to be the best thing for both of them.  

Linda Holmes has crafted a beautiful piece of fiction, that in it’s soft, subtle way, was just what I needed.  I stayed awake late reading this one to find out what would happen and see how Evvie and Dean ended up. I was not sure I was going to like how she tied up the loose ends, but I could not have been happier.  I am glad to have found my perfect match in Evvie Drake.

 

 

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey (and other graphic novels)

One of my favorite things about being a librarian is that I get to help people find books.  As the library director that part of my job is a bit limited, but that is where my seven-year-old son comes in.  He is learning the joy of reading, so I get to spend a lot of time helping him select books. It is a great thing!  I love that he talks to me about what book he is reading and that he has his own favorites. Right now many of them are children’s graphic novels.  

Dog Man by Dav Pilkey is his ultimate favorite and he cannot wait to read the latest one, Dog Man: For Whom the Ball Rolls (#7).  He does not even know why that title is funny, but I think Dav Pilkey does that for the parents. He knows that we need something more than potty humor to make us appreciate his clever offerings. Other titles include: Brawl of the Wild, Tale of Two Kitties and Lord of the Fleas.

You might be asking yourself, “What is a graphic novel?”  Good question. According to Merriam-Webster, “a graphic novels is a story that is presented in comic-strip format and published as a book.”  Exactly. When I was growing up I used to read Archie comics. I would have loved to have had an Archie comic that was a novel-length story.   

My son LOVES graphic novels. They are his story of choice and since there are only seven Dog Man books in publication he is always looking for something similar.    Due to the popularity of Dog Man, I think others might have a similar need so below is a list of other books that Dog Man fans might want to read.  

Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney – This book was impossible to keep on library shelves after its publication in 2007.  I remember practically every kid who visited the library during the summer of 2007 asking for this title. Author Jeff Kinney uses a journal format that includes comic drawings within the text to tell the story of Gred Heffley’s sixth grade school year.  Not a graphic novel, but has a similar feel and has a lot of humor. My son is making his way through this series now and the comic drawings within the text make him laugh out loud.

Bad Guys by Aaron Blabey –  The typical bad guy characters – Mr. Wolf, Mr. Shark, Mr. Snake and Mr. Pirahan – are trying to turn over a new leaf.  Inspired by Mr. Wolf, who started the Good Guys Club, this unlike cast of characters endeavor to perform good deeds and change their ill-doing reputations.  Rescuing a cat from a tree and freeing dogs from the dog pound are just a sampling of their heroic undertakings. Slapstick humor abounds in this offering. I am laughing now just thinking about how funny it can be to see the characters try to do good.  What is the saying, “No good deed?” If your kids are anything like my son, they will happily devour this short, quick read and beg for the rest of the series.

Lunch Lady and the Cyborg Substitute by Jarrett Krososcka – This was the first graphic novel that my son read.  I brought it home on a whim last year and he loved it! I think the combination of the cleverly drawn comic panels, the cast of characters, the humorous elements and the length of the story all made for a love match.  In this story the school’s lunch lady and her co-worker Betty, with a little help from three students, use kitchen gadgets to fight crime and serve up justice.  

I have so many others to recommend, but since I am running short of space here are a few more, sans descriptions:  

  • Zita the Spacegirl by Ben Hatke
  • 13-Story Treehouse: Monkey Mayhem! by Andy Griffiths
  • The Stone Keeper (Amulet series) by Kazu Kibuishi
  • Yeti Files by Kevin Sherry
  • Comic Squad series by various authors

And one more tidbit – the Joplin Public Library will be hosting a Graphic Novel Club for children in grades three to five starting Friday, September 27th.  The club will meet weekly, for five weeks. Participants will discuss their favorite graphic novels and comics, learn the components of graphic novels and work to make their own graphic novels. Registration is required and can be done by calling 417-623-7953.  

If your child is anything like mine, he or she will be eager to add his or her name to the sign up sheet.  

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