Middle and Upper Grade Books About Kids Doing Good

19 Apr

Are you trying to encourage volunteer work and the idea of paying it forward with your older children and teens? One of the best ways to do this is to offer role models that behave in the manner you would like them to. Sometimes reading a great book about someone else in a similar situation, or with similar interests, doing good things can inspire those that read the book to follow suit. Here are some novels that might inspire some good deeds.

The Adventures of Blue Avenger by Norma Howe (YA)
On his sixteenth birthday, still trying to cope with the unexpected death of his father, David Schumacher decides–or does he–to change his name to Blue Avenger, hoping to find a way to make a difference in his Oakland neighborhood and in the world.

Regarding the Fountain: a Tale, in Letters, of Liars and Leaks by Kate Klise, with illustrations by M. Sarah Klise (J)
When the principal asks a fifth-grader to write a letter regarding the purchase of a new drinking fountain for their school, he finds that all sorts of chaos results.

Coffeehouse Angel by Suzanne Selfors (YA)
Sixteen-year-old Katrina’s kindness to a man she finds sleeping behind her grandmother’s coffeehouse leads to a strange reward as Malcolm, who is actually a teenage guardian angel, insists on rewarding her by granting her deepest wish.

Loser by Jerry Spinelli (J)
Even though his classmates from first grade on have considered him strange and a loser, Daniel Zinkoff’s optimism and exuberance and the support of his loving family do not allow him to feel that way about himself.

Gracie’s Girl by Ellen Wittlinger (J)
As she starts middle school, Bess volunteers to work on the school musical in hopes of fitting in, but when she and a friend get to know an elderly homeless woman, Bess changes her mind about what is really important.

Again, this list barely scratches the surface of great books about older children and teens doing good things and just being great people. Here are a few more from our collection; Stargirl by Jerry Spinelli (YA), Why Did the Underwear Cross the Road? by Gordon Korman (J), Three Good Deeds by Vande Velde, Vivian (J), and Daddy’s Little Angel by Shani Petroff (YA).

Please mention any titles that we missed in the comment section so that others can enjoy them as well!


An Easter Playlist

17 Apr

Every occasion needs a soundtrack. Check out this list of classical and contemporary music appropriate for Easter celebrations. Some of these you might remember from church, but not realize who actually wrote them. Others were written secularly, but adopted later as hymns. Did you know that Elvis Presley started out as a gospel singer?  He attended a Pentacostal church that encouraged modern music.
1) Cantata 147: Jesu, Joy of Man’s Desiring, by Johannes Sebastian Bach
You probably remember this one from church
2) Concerto no. 1 in E (Spring)  by Antonio Vivaldi
You’ve heard this one in the movies and on TV
3) How Great Thou Art by Elvis Presley
One of his most-requested songs
4) The Old Rugged Cross by Johnny Cash
5) The Lord’s Prayer
There are many beautiful instrumental songs on Windham Hill’s Prayer album, perfect for quiet meditation.
6) Amazing Grace  by Anne Murray
7) El Shaddai  by Amy Grant
According to Exodus 6:2, Shaddai is the name by which Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob knew God
8) You’ll Never Walk Alone by Elvis Presley
9) The Passions According to St. John and St. Matthew   by J. S. Bach
10) Ave Maria  by The Priests
11) Hallelujah Chorus from The Messiah   by G. Handel Baroque at its finest
12) Symphony No. 9 in D minor “Choral”   by Ludwig von Beethoven
You probably know this better as the “Ode to Joy,” or Hymn # 8, “Joyful, Joyful”
13) Judas Maccabeus by G. Handel
14) Russian Easter Liturgy A whole service on one disc!




Did April 15 sneak up on you? Tax forms are still available at the library and online!

15 Apr

Panic ButtonDon’t hit the Panic Button just yet, grab your calculator and head to Cheshire Library for the tax forms you need. We have many forms and instruction booklets available in our Reference Department, and lots more are available online to print out.

CT State forms may be downloaded from the Connecticut  Department of Revenue Services.

Federal tax forms may be downloaded from the Internal Revenue Service.

TAXESLast-minute Federal Income Tax tips from valueyourmoney.org:

What documents should be included with my tax form?

Generally, the only forms that need to be attached are your W-2 and certain 1099 forms. If you plan to e-file and have additional documents to include, you’ll need to fill out form 8453.

I found a mistake on one of my 1099 forms and haven’t received a corrected one yet. What should I do?

You have two choices. Either pay the amount of tax that is due and file for an extension or file your return and send an amended return later with an explanation.

Filing an extension
How do I get an extension to file my tax return?

All you need to do is file Form 4868 to obtain an automatic six-month extension. This will eliminate any late-filing penalties, but you will still need to include any taxes you owe. Additionally, it should be noted that an automatic extension does not extend all deadlines associated with your tax return; for example it does not extend the time to make an IRA contribution. If you are making an IRA contribution for the prior tax year (2013 in this case), it must be made on or before April 15, 2014

Paying your tax bill
What if I can’t pay the balance of my taxes by April 15?

If you can show undue hardship, complete and mail Form 1127 on or before April 15 to extend the time of payment for up to six months. Your application must be accompanied by evidence supporting undue hardship, a statement of assets and liabilities, and receipts and disbursements for three months prior to the original due date of the return. If you don’t think you’ll be able to pay off your outstanding tax bill in full within six months, you can file Form 9465 to request an installment agreement. However, you will be charged interest on your outstanding tax balance. As an alternative, you may want to consider getting a loan from a family member, friend, or bank.

Getting your return to the IRS by April 15
My tax return won’t be ready until April 15. What’s the best way to get it to the IRS?

E-file your return, or use the U.S. Postal System. As long as your return is postmarked on April 15, it will be deemed filed on time. If mailing your return it is strongly advised that you mail it certified/return receipt so that you have proof that you mailed it in a timely manner.

Jenn Reads: A Tale of Two Cities

13 Apr

In general, I have a rule when it comes to selecting items for our Cheshire Cats Classics Club to read: it has to be something I have never read before.

There are a couple of reasons for this. First, I like to read something fresh and new along with my clubbers. If I selected something that I’ve read in the past, I likely would not take the time to reread it. Second, the classics I have read are likely those my clubbers have already read, and one of my goals is to introduce

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens

them to titles and authors they may have never read before. It’s a formula that has worked for 3 1/2 years.

For our March pick, I broke that rule.

A Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens is a book I was *supposed* to have read as a senior in high school. Let’s rewind 10 years: It’s April, senior year. I’m in my AP English class and we’ve already read at least 10 books this year. The end of this high school experience is near, and simply say to Charles Dickens: “Nah.” Totally not in my nature as a student to do this, but alas, I had had enough (sorry Mr. M.). So I Sparknoted it.

When I put together the set for the first quarter in 2014 for the Classics Club, I looked back at Tale and thought I should give it another shot. At least this time, I could truly say that I read it and if I didn’t like it, well, then I didn’t like it.

A Tale of Two Cities, written in 1859, was serialized from April to November of that year. Dickens was a master at serialization and was one of the few authors of his time to make money off his books in his lifetime. In general, the story deals with the French Revolution through the eyes of both British and French citizens. Just about everyone, even though who have never read the book before, can quote you the opening line, “It was the worst of times, it was the best of times…” Dickens’ friend and biographer, John Forster, wrote that Tale had the least humor and least remarkable characters of all his novels. Well, at least he was honest.

Writing about the French Revolution during Victorian England was a topic writers used often, and readers were likely sick of it by the time Dickens wrote Tale. Dickens specifically chose the French Revolution for the background of his story because  it fit with the overall message he was trying to convey about social justice in England. His initial inspiration came from (or was stolen from, however you see it) his acting experience in friend and fellow author Wilkie Collin’s play The Frozen Deep, which is about two men, one of whom sacrifices his life so the other can be with the woman they both love. Sound familiar?

There are many parallels to Dickens’ own personal life throughout Tale, including the inspiration for Lucie Manet/Darnay. At the time of writing Tale Dickens had begun an affair with actress Nelly Tiernan, who has a strong resemblance to Lucie. As well, it has been hinted that Charles Darnay and Sidney Carton, who are almost the physically the same person, are Dickens himself.

So what did I think about A Tale of Two Cities? I’m glad I finally slogged through it. In typically Victorian fashion, there is too much time spent on the minutiae, with loooonnnnggg descriptions. In the first half there is little movement or action, and dare I say, no character development. When Lucie and Charles get married, the storyline starts to pick up. However, at that point, we’re almost halfway through the novel.

There was a lot I liked about the book: the end (no spoilers here), the villains (loved to hate them), and the setting. This is a book that takes lots of time to get where it’s going, so it’s something that a reader needs to stay with. Dickens writes with purpose, meaning he is one of those authors who inserts definite themes- he wants you to pick them out.

If you get a chance, check out the new movie which highlights this time in Dickens’ life and his affair with Tiernan called The Invisible Woman.

Rating: 3 stars out of 5 (it’s a hearty 3)

See you in the stacks,

On Our Shelves: New Romance

12 Apr

romance 2New this month – a little historical romance, contemporary romance and western romance.  Enjoy!

The Bride Insists by Jane Ashford - Although Clare Greenough has inherited an unexpected fortune, her money is in the hands of a trustee until she marries.  She makes a deal with impetuous young James Boleigh, seventh baron Trehearth: they will marry, Clare will get control of her money, and Jamie will get the funds he desperately needs to restore his lands.  Jamie agrees, believing Clare will soon become a proper, submissive wife.

Desperately Seeking Suzanna by Elizabeth Michels – Sue Green just wanted one night to be the pretty one. But a few glasses of champagne and one wild disguise later, she’s in some serious trouble. Who knew the devastatingly handsome face of Lord Holden Ellis would get in her way?

Sapphires Are Earl’s Best Friend by Shana Galen – Lily Dawson, dubbed the Countess of Charm by the Prince Regent himself, plays the role of the courtesan flawlessly while her real purpose is spying in the service of the Crown.

Carolina Man by Virginia Kantra – Marine Luke Fletcher is determined to do his duty—first to his country and now to his ten-year-old daughter, the unexpected legacy of a high school girlfriend. But his homecoming to Dare Island in North Carolina’s Outer Banks challenges his plans for the future and forces him to face everything that’s missing in his life.

What A Woman Wants by Judi Fennell – Resort entrepreneur Sean Manley was all set to buy an historic mansion at a great price, making a name for himself while making millions, when the seller and a poker bet change the game. Now he’s in the place as a hunky male maid and there’s one more complication: Livvy Carolla.

Blitzing Emily by Julie Brannagh – Emily Hamilton doesn’t trust men. She’s much more comfortable playing the romantic lead in front of a packed house onstage than in her own life. So when NFL star and alluring ladies’ man Brandon McKenna acts as her personal white knight, she has no illusions that he’ll stick around. However, a misunderstanding with the press throws them together in a fake engagement that yields unexpected (and breathtaking) benefits.

Four Weddings and a Fireman by Jennifer Bernard – Firefighter Derek “Vader” Brown is one of a kind—six feet of solid muscle with the heart of a born hero. It’s that protective streak that has him pursuing a promotion to Captain to pay for his mother’s home care. And it’s why he intends to figure out why his sometime girlfriend Cherie Harper runs hot as hellfire one minute and pushes him away the next.

Come A Little Bit Closer by Bella Andre – Movie star Smith Sullivan can’t afford any distractions. He’s staking his entire reputation on his new film…but he can’t stop thinking about Valentina Landon and the fire he sees smoldering just beneath the surface of her cool exterior.

A Promise At Bluebell Hill by Emma Cane – From the moment Secret Service agent Travis Beaumont strides into the town and through the door of Monica Shaw’s flower shop, she feels a sizzle of attraction. After years of putting everyone else’s needs first, Monica is ready to grab hold of life. If she can just persuade the ultimate protector to let his own walls down for once .

Close Pursuit by Cindy Dees – Providing medical relief in a war-torn region helps Alex Peters forget his past and focus on the job—delivering babies. Less easy to overlook is his blonde comrade-at-arms, who knows nothing of the trouble he’s running from. Katie McCloud makes the assignment bearable, although her perky innocence proves to be an arousing distraction. Then, as combat explodes around them, their only option is flight.

The Chance by Robyn Carr – Thunder Point is the perfect place for FBI agent Laine Carrington to recuperate from a gunshot wound and contemplate her future. The locals embraced Laine as one of their own after she risked her life to save a young girl from a dangerous cult. Knowing her wounds go beyond the physical, Laine hopes she’ll fit in for a while and find her true self in a town that feels safe. She may even learn to open her heart to others, something an undercover agent has little time to indulge.

A Man to Hold On To by Marilyn Pappano – Therese Matheson doesn’t know if she’ll ever get over losing her husband in Afghanistan. Surviving Paul’s death has been hard, but raising his sullen son and his thirteen-going-on-thirty daughter alone has been even harder. All they need is a fresh start, and Tallgrass, Oklahoma, could be the perfect new beginning . . . especially when Therese meets Sergeant Keegan Logan. The sexy combat medic and single dad soon awakens a desire she’d thought long buried.

The Cottage On Juniper Ridge by Sheila Roberts – Can a book change your life? Yes, when it’s Simplicity, Muriel Sterling’s guide to plain living. In fact, it inspires Jen Heath to leave her stressful, overcommitted life in Seattle and move to Icicle Falls, where she rents a lovely little cottage on Juniper Ridge. And where she can enjoy simple pleasures—like joining the local book club—and complicated ones, like falling in love with her sexy landlord, Garrett Armstrong.

Atonement by B.J. Daniels – Protecting the citizens of Beartooth, Montana, is never an easy job. It’s been one year, and Sheriff Dillon Lawson still feels guilty that he couldn’t save his twin brother, Ethan. But the biggest test of his bravery comes when Tessa Winters arrives, claiming to be pregnant…with Ethan’s baby. At first, Dillon can’t decide if this beautiful woman is a con artist or a victim. If Ethan didn’t die in that car crash, then where is he—and why is he hiding?


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