Check It Out: Pause from the bustle and enjoy a book

Jan Johnston is the Collection Development Coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at, we’ve almost made it. With one week left to wrap presents, buy the eggnog, and trim the tree, it’s certainly a crazy busy time of year. My theme this month has been all about taking a moment — or two or three — to pause from your elf duties and relax with a good book. Reading is quite therapeutic and highly recommended by this librarian. Just think about it. Keeping track of who arrives when and who’s bringing what to the family holiday potluck tires out those brain cells. Rolling out cookie dough, knitting that last-minute pair of mittens, and hand-writing Christmas notes means those hands have been going non-stop since the calendar changed to December. So, take my advice. Grab a book, get comfy, and start reading. You deserve a respite from all of the holiday labors because guess what? 2018 is just around the corner, and if it’s anything like 2017, we’re in for a kooky ride.For your quiet reading pleasure, a selection of non-holiday titles (one cat-friendly publication, of course) for young and old alike.• “Baabwaa and Wooliam,” by David Elliott: Baabwaa and Wooliam are sheep, and as sheep go, they’re pretty great. Baabwaa likes to knit, and Wooliam likes to read (a sheep after my own heart). They lead a very contented life, but one day Baabwaa suggests that they have an adventure. So, they go on a journey — three times around their walled pasture — and who do they run into? A wolf in sheep’s clothing. Now, don’t fret. This delightful picture book has a happy ending. As a matter of fact, books and reading save the day. Well, of course they do.• “Everything You Need to Know About Social Media: (Without Having to Call a Kid),” by Greta Van Susteren: Social media doesn’t have to dominate your life; in fact, you can live happily without it. And kudos to you if this is the case. However, if you’re curious about Facebook or Twitter, and as Greta Van Susteren puts it, you don’t want to have to ask your granddaughter or nephew for help because they’re likely to pull you along at the speed of a supercomputer, give this user-friendly social media guide a chance.• “Hank & Jim: The Fifty-Year Friendship of Henry Fonda and James Stewart,” by Scott Eyman: Two of my favorite actors, Henry Fonda and Jimmy Stewart, became friends at the beginning of their careers, and over fifty years the two men remained close through the ups and downs of their personal and professional lives. Read Scott Eyman’s fascinating portrait of two of the most well-known and well-loved actors in film history.• “The Little Red Cat Who Ran Away and Learned His ABC’s (the Hard Way),” by Patrick McDonnell: What happens when a little red cat runs away from home and meets up with an alligator, a bear, a chicken and a dragon? As author and illustrator explains in the title of his newest picture book, he learns his ABCs — yep, the hard way. Check out this charming story to learn if the little red cat finds his way back home and which 26 words accompany him on his fantastic journey.• “The Living Forest: A Visual Journey into the Heart of the Woods,” by Robert J. Llewellyn: I may have lived in the Northwest for over twenty years, but the natural beauty of the region still amazes me. Having grown up in the Southwest, it took a bit of doing (and driving) to find pine trees and running water. Here, I can point myself in just about any direction and quickly spot a stand of fir trees. To gain a better understanding for the forested areas of the Evergreen State, spend some time with Robert J. Llewellyn’s gorgeous book. If you have to go over the river and through the woods to get to grandmother’s house this Christmas, having read this illustrated work will do nothing but enhance the journey.• “Maddie Lounging on Things: A Complex Experiment Involving Canine Sleep Patterns,” by Theron Humphrey: A follow-up to “Maddie on Things: A Super Serious Project about Dogs and Projects,” author and photographer Theron Humphrey’s second Maddie book stays on theme by showing the adorable coonhound resting here and there as the two companions travel around the United States and Mexico. Whether Maddie is flopped across a sofa or caught in the middle of a big, goofy yawn, canine lovers of all ages will find nothing but smiles throughout this silly yet endearing book.• “Soonish: Ten Emerging Technologies That’ll Improve and/or Ruin Everything,” by Kelly Weinersmith and Zach Weinersmith: This new book offers a look into not-so-futuristic science and technology in a more or less (but mostly) positive fashion. Written by Dr. Kelly Weinersmith, on faculty in the BioSciences department at Rice University, and humorously illustrated by her cartoonist husband, Zach Weinersmith, this clever title shines the spotlight on a variety of scientific and technological developments designed to improve the world. With wittily entitled chapters such as “ROBOTIC CONSTRUCTION: Build Me a Rumpus Room Metal Servant!” and “BRAIN-COMPUTER INTERFACES: Because After Four Billion Years of Evolution You Still Can’t Remember Where You Put Your Keys” you’re sure to be entertained and enlightened in one merry bundle.Jan Johnston is the collection development coordinator for the Fort Vancouver Regional Library District. Email her at

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