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Top Books by State Series: South Dakota

By Adrienne Rivera. May 26, 2024. 9:08 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Awarded Books, Newbery Award

South Dakota is a midwestern state also located on the Great Plains. While a large state, it is one of the least populous in the country. The agricultural state is home to nine reservations of the Lakota and Dakota Sioux tribes, for which the state is named. The landscape of South Dakota contains plains, buttes, and the Black Hills mountain range. Join us today as we continue our literary road trip by taking a closer look at two books that display some of the rural and agricultural places in South Dakota, both historically and in present day, in our Top Books by State Series:

     
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Best Quotes from Ursula K. Le Guin

By Adrienne Rivera. Apr 14, 2024. 6:15 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, American Literature, Science Fiction

Legendary speculative fiction writer Ursula K. Le Guin's career spanned sixty decades, twenty novels, hundreds of short stories, and poems, literary criticism, and translations. She won eight Hugo Awards and six Nebula awards and was nominated numerous times for each. She won five Locus Awards and the National Book Award. Her astounding legacy has inspired both readers and writers for generations. She is widely considered one of the most essential science fiction writers ever.

     
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Speculative Fiction Writer Octavia Butler: A Reading Guide

By Adrienne Rivera. Jan 7, 2024. 5:51 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books, American Literature

Octavia Butler was born in 1947 in Pasadena, California. From a young age, her mother encouraged her love of stories and writing, from buying her a typewriter in her childhood to using money for surgery to support her writing. Inspired by racial segregation and the prevalence of the white male protagonist in science fiction, Butler turned her attention to speculative fiction. She studied writing at UCLA and the Clarion Science Fiction Workshop. She sold short stories to anthologies and eventually released a novel that would become the first in her legendary Patternmaster series. Butler published throughout the entirety of her life, even throughout a battle with depression and writer's block. Her impressive body of work earned her both the Hugo and Nebula awards. She is also the first speculative fiction writer to receive a MacArthur Fellowship. She passed away in 2006 at the age of fifty-eight. Her work continues to impress and inspire. Join us today as we look at some of her most important works.

     
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Best Books Set in Magic Schools

By Adrienne Rivera. Dec 3, 2023. 7:29 AM.

Topics: Legendary Authors, Children's Books, Awarded Books

For fans of the fantasy genre, the magic school has long been a beloved trope. The concept of the magic school allows the reader to enter into the world of magic and fully immerse themselves in the way the fantasy world works. From the guiding principles of culture and government to how characters live their everyday lives, magic schools are a gateway into a fantasy novel that allows readers to feel they are also learning along with the characters. From Harry Potter’s Hogwarts to The University in Patrick Rothfuss's The Name of the Wind, the magic school continues to captivate readers. Join us today as we look at some of the best fantasy novels set at magic schools:

     
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Collectible Halloween Books for the Whole Family

By Adrienne Rivera. Oct 1, 2023. 6:15 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Awarded Books, Newbery Award

Fall is here, and that means Halloween is on its way. Whether or not you plan to dress up and party or stay home and pass out candy, we've gathered various middle-grade and young-adult books that are perfect for sharing with your family or with children in your life. These books will help you enter the Halloween spirit as we enter the spooky season. Join us as we take a look at some of these creepy books that are great for children and adult collectors alike:

     
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Best Quotes from the Dragon Riders of Pern series by Anne McCaffrey

By Adrienne Rivera. Sep 17, 2023. 5:15 AM.

Topics: Awarded Books

Acclaimed science fiction writer Anne McCaffrey was born in 1926 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. McCaffrey published her first short stories in the 1950s, both to great success. While one earned a $100 prize, another was published and later anthologized in The Year's Best Science Fiction. She attended her first Milford Writer's Workshop in 1959. It was at a later workshop that she began work on her first novel Restoree, which was inspired by the desire to see a powerful woman in a science fiction story instead of one needing to be rescued. She began publishing her first dragon stories in the late sixties, earning both the Hugo and Nebula awards for her short fiction. She was secretary-treasurer for Science Fiction Writers of America from 1968 through 1970. In 1970, emigrated to Ireland, where she lived for the rest of her life. McCaffrey was one of the science fiction writers to make it to the New York Times Best Sellers list. She was named a Grand Master by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. Indicted into the Science Fiction Hall of Fame and received the prestigious Robert Heinlein Award. She passed away in 2011 at the age of eighty-five.

     
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Fantasy Author Patricia McKillip: A Reading Guide

By Adrienne Rivera. Sep 2, 2023. 4:25 PM.

Topics: Awarded Books, American Literature

Novelist Patricia A. McKillip was born in 1948 in Salem, Oregon. She attended the College of Notre Dame and San Jose State University. She began her career publishing books for young children. Her first novel, her third published work, The Forgotten Beasts of Eld, won the World Fantasy Award in 1976, cementing her as one of the best fantasy authors of her time. Known for her stunning and lyrical prose, McKillip's stories often feature feminist takes on folk and fairy tales. Often awarded throughout her career, McKillip was given the World Fantasy Award for Lifetime Achievement in 2008. She passed away at her home in 2022 at the age of seventy-four. Join us today as we take a closer look at some of her most beautiful and enduring stories:

 

     
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Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series: Beth Krommes

By Adrienne Rivera. Aug 19, 2023. 8:32 PM.

Topics: Caldecott Medal, Children's Books, Awarded Books

Sometimes the Caldecott Medal is awarded to illustrators doing the latest thing, and other times it's given to an artist who takes an older, more traditional style and puts a unique spin on it. That's the case for the 2009 recipient, Beth Krommes. Krommes' work is inspired by the timeless art of wood engraving. Her folk art-inspired scratchboard illustrations showcase this traditional style, while her mixed media approach of adding watercolors to beautiful effect lends an air of surprise and depth. Let's take a closer look at Beth Krommes, the 2009 Caldecott medal recipient in this edition of our Caldecott Winning Illustrators Series:

     
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Best Children's Books with Animal Protagonists

By Adrienne Rivera. Aug 11, 2023. 9:19 AM.

Topics: Children's Books, Awarded Books, Newbery Award

As so often, trends come and go in the world of children's literature. These trends are often reflected in awards such as the Caldecott, Newbury, and Carnegie medals. Recent trends in middle-grade fiction include stories of protagonists with magical powers and protagonists facing down against spooky creatures and ghosts. What we don’t see as much anymore is animal protagonists.

While stories from the 2000s like the Warriors series about cats and the Guardians of Ga’Hool featuring owls, these stories are still popular, readers who enjoy this trope don’t see nearly as many hitting bookstores nowadays. Lucky for those readers (and for those looking to acquire some timeless children’s books for their collections), we’ve compiled a list of some of the best novels featuring animal protagonists. Perfect for both the children and collectors in your life, these books are definitely worth investigating:

     
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Best Quotes from Philip Roth

Philip Roth was born in New Jersey in 1933 to second-generation Jewish parents from Austria and Ukraine. He graduated from Weequahic High School in 1950, and his time there inspired much of his fiction, including his popular and critically acclaimed Portnoy’s Complaint. He earned a BA from Bucknell College and an MA from the University of Chicago. He began studying for his PhD but dropped out. He taught writing at numerous institutions before retiring from teaching in the early 90’s. His publishing career began in the 50’s with short stories and novellas. His first collected work, Goodbye, Columbus, won the National Book Award in 1960, securing his place as one of the best American writers of his generation. He won a second National Book Award for Sabbath’s Theater and a Pulitzer Prize for American Pastoral. He also won three PEN/Faulkner Awards throughout his career. He passed away in 2018 at the age of eighty-five. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best passages from Roth’s impressive body of work:

 

     
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