February 2023 Staff Picks

Hello readers! The weather can be so gloomy this time of year, but a good book waiting at home is such a bright spot in our days. Check out what our librarians are reading and recommending this month.

Recommended by Nancy Bell, Readers' Advisory Librarian

The Warmth of Other Suns by Isabel Wilkinson

As the first African American woman to win the Pulitzer Prize for journalism, Isabel Wilkerson began reflecting on the people who led the way. This reflection became three years of interviewing migrants and their descendants to tell this story about the millions of African Americans who left the south for northern cities between 1919 and 1970, a time period now often referred to as the “Great Migration.” Focusing on three people who migrated to New York, Chicago, and Los Angeles in search of the American Dream, Wilkinson details 50 years of often-glossed-over history with empathy and compassion and a more anecdotal or narrative storytelling than facts and figures than you might expect from an in-depth historical nonfiction.

The Five Dysfunctions of a Team by Patrick Lencioni

I have recently been obsessed with reading Lencioni’s books on teamwork and leadership. This book tells the story of a fictional company with a new CEO who has been brought in to turn an underperforming company around. I loved how this was actually a story with the characters of the CEO and executive team working to fix the company that they truly believe in with the five problems being revealed and analyzed through their meetings. A quick read at 227 pages, I highly recommend it!

The Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels by India Holton

A very different kind of historical romance! Cecilia Bassingthwaite is the perfect Victorian lady, and also an up-and-comer of the Wisteria Society of Lady Scoundrels, a.k.a. pirates, who commandeer flying houses with magic, blackmail fellow members, and acquire treasure by any and all manner of interesting means. While Cecilia is trying to become a senior member of the Wisteria Society and overcome the infamous family history of her mother’s murder by her father, Ned Lightbourne has been dispatched to murder her, or protect her, but definitely not fall in love with her. To save England from a malicious plot, the lady pirate and would-be assassin are forced to team up and in such close quarters, fight against the urge to fall in love. An absolutely bonkers story combining espionage, fantasy, action, and a regency romance, written with wit and a feminist agenda.

Recommended by Maggie Mueller, Teen Services Librarian

I Can Make This Promise by Christine Day

When twelve-year-old Edie finds letters and photographs in her attic that change everything she thought she knew about her Native American mother's adoption, she realizes she has a lot to learn about her family's history and her own identity. This book is an excellent middle-grade read about identity, culture, family and friendships, packed full of Native American history without coming across as didactic.  

Beyond the Wand by Tom Felton

A must-read for teen and adult fans of the Harry Potter films, especially if you adore Draco Malfoy and/or Tom Felton. This memoir is filled with funny behind-the-scenes antics, but doesn't shy away from the hard times either. If you enjoy audiobooks or want to give one a try, this is a good one. Felton narrates his own book and puts on an enjoyable performance. 

Splintered by A.G. Howard

If you read Young Adult novels and enjoy dark fantasies, twisted adaptations, or Alice in Wonderland, you should start this trilogy. Sixteen-year-old Alyssa is a descendant of the inspiration for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland. Alyssa also fears she is mentally ill like her mother, until she finds that Wonderland is real and, if she passes a series of tests to fix Alice's mistakes, she may save her family from their curse. 


Chapter Books

Born Behind Bars by Padma Venkatraman
This novel is a surprisingly fast-paced read despite its many weighty themes. The protagonist is a young boy named Kabir who must learn how to survive on the streets of caste-driven India after he is kicked out of the prison he has lived in with his mother for his entire life.

The Last Mapmaker by Christina Soontornvat

The main character in this fantasy novel is a girl named Sai who is trying to hide her less than illustrious ancestry, which is considered all important in her society, while sailing to explore a distant and mysterious land. This books takes the reader on an fun adventure while also introducing complex characters.

Apocalypse Taco by Nathan Hale
Read on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library
Read on Hoopla
Twins Axl and Ivan must face a number of zany obstacles in the post-apocalyptic world they find themselves in when trying to get some fast food for their middle school theater crew one evening. This graphic novel is a creative mix of comedy and horror/sci-fi, and I found myself thoroughly wrapped up in its pages.

Picture Books
Recommended by Marie Boleman, Head of Children's & Families Outreach Services

I’ll Take Care of You by Maria Loretta Giraldo
Read on Libby/Wisconsins' Digital Library
Beginning and ending with an apple seed, this book tells the story of the circle of life and how all things big and small are part of this wonderous cycle. Colorful, lyrical illustrations beautifully pair with the story. 

We Wait for the Sun by Dovey Johnson Roundtree and Katie McCabe
Read on Libby/Wisconsin's Digital Library
This Coretta Scott-King award winner conveys a big idea with a simple, gentle tale. Dovey Roundtree tells how her grandmother Rachel taught her the practice of collecting blueberries before dawn with other women in their church and watching the sun rise. Dovey believes that time is one of the greatest gifts we have to offer. 

The Seagull and the Sea Captain
Based on a true story, this is a tale of an unlikely friendship between a sea captain and a seagull. For many years, Polly the seagull returns to visit the captain each spring on his touring boat . Find out how he knows it is the same bird!