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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Leverage
by Cohen, Joshua C.


ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog The boy who loved math : the improbable life of Paul Erdos
by by Deborah Heiligman ; pictures by LeUyen Pham.

School Library Journal Gr 3-6-Erdos (1913-1996), the Hungarian-born son of two math teachers, displayed his fascination with numbers early on. Before entering school he could calculate the number of seconds a person had lived just by asking the time and date of their birth. Unable to sit still and follow rules in school, he was homeschooled by his mother. High school was a better fit, and he made friends with students who shared his love of math. His skills became famous, but Erdos didn't know how to do laundry, cook, or even butter his own bread. He "didn't fit into the world in a regular way." So, he created a life that fit him instead. For years he flew around the world, his modest belongings in two suitcases, working with other noted mathematicians. They worked on number and set theory as well as new ideas like combinatorics and the probabilistic method. Some of their efforts led to the better computers and search engines that we use today. The well-researched text and painstakingly accurate illustrations (in terms of setting and mathematics) provide a fascinating introduction to the man. The oversize eyes of the characters give many of them, especially Erdos, a rather maniacal look that is off-putting. The extensive endnotes provide much information and would be useful in a classroom setting. That may be the most likely scenario for exposing children to this picture-book biography. Only the most mathematically devoted would pick it up on their own.-Sara-Jo Lupo Sites, George F. Johnson Memorial Library, Endicott, NY (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Unbroken
by Laura Hillenbrand

Library Journal The author of Seabiscuit now brings us a biography of World War II prisoner of war survivor Louis Zamperini (b. 1917). A track athlete at the 1936 Munich Olympics, Zamperini became a B-24 crewman in the U.S. Army Air Force. When his plane went down in the Pacific in 1943, he spent 47 days in a life raft, then was picked up by a Japanese ship and survived starvation and torture in labor camps. Eventually repatriated, he had a spiritual rebirth and returned to Japan to promote forgiveness and healing. Because of the author's popularity, libraries will want this book both for general readers who like a good story and for World War II history buffs; however, it's not essential reading for those who read Zamperini's autobiography, Devil at My Heels, with David Rensin, in its 2003 edition. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 7/10.] (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly From the 1936 Olympics to WWII Japan's most brutal POW camps, Hillenbrand's heart-wrenching new book is thousands of miles and a world away from the racing circuit of her bestselling Seabiscuit. But it's just as much a page-turner, and its hero, Louie Zamperini, is just as loveable: a disciplined champion racer who ran in the Berlin Olympics, he's a wit, a prankster, and a reformed juvenile delinquent who put his thieving skills to good use in the POW camps, In other words, Louie is a total charmer, a lover of life-whose will to live is cruelly tested when he becomes an Army Air Corps bombardier in 1941. The young Italian-American from Torrance, Calif., was expected to be the first to run a four-minute mile. After an astonishing but losing race at the 1936 Olympics, Louie was hoping for gold in the 1940 games. But war ended those dreams forever. In May 1943 his B-24 crashed into the Pacific. After a record-breaking 47 days adrift on a shark-encircled life raft with his pal and pilot, Russell Allen "Phil" Phillips, they were captured by the Japanese. In the "theater of cruelty" that was the Japanese POW camp network, Louie landed in the cruelest theaters of all: Omori and Naoetsu, under the control of Corp. Mutsuhiro Watanabe, a pathologically brutal sadist (called the Bird by camp inmates) who never killed his victims outright-his pleasure came from their slow, unending torment. After one beating, as Watanabe left Louie's cell, Louie saw on his face a "soft languor.... It was an expression of sexual rapture." And Louie, with his defiant and unbreakable spirit, was Watanabe's victim of choice. By war's end, Louie was near death. When Naoetsu was liberated in mid-August 1945, a depleted Louie's only thought was "I'm free! I'm free! I'm free!" But as Hillenbrand shows, Louie was not yet free. Even as, returning stateside, he impulsively married the beautiful Cynthia Applewhite and tried to build a life, Louie remained in the Bird's clutches, haunted in his dreams, drinking to forget, and obsessed with vengeance. In one of several sections where Hillenbrand steps back for a larger view, she writes movingly of the thousands of postwar Pacific PTSD sufferers. With no help for their as yet unrecognized illness, Hillenbrand says, "there was no one right way to peace; each man had to find his own path...." The book's final section is the story of how, with Cynthia's help, Louie found his path. It is impossible to condense the rich, granular detail of Hillenbrand's narrative of the atrocities committed (one man was exhibited naked in a Tokyo zoo for the Japanese to "gawk at his filthy, sore-encrusted body") against American POWs in Japan, and the courage of Louie and his fellow POWs, who made attempts on Watanabe's life, committed sabotage, and risked their own lives to save others. Hillenbrand's triumph is that in telling Louie's story (he's now in his 90s), she tells the stories of thousands whose suffering has been mostly forgotten. She restores to our collective memory this tale of heroism, cruelty, life, death, joy, suffering, remorselessness, and redemption. (Nov.) -Reviewed by Sarah F. Gold (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list A second book by the author of Seabiscuit (2001) would get noticed, even if it weren't the enthralling and often grim story of Louie Zamperini. An Olympic runner during the 1930s, he flew B-24s during WWII. Taken prisoner by the Japanese, he endured a captivity harsh even by Japanese standards and was a physical and mental wreck at the end of the war. He was saved by the influence of Billy Graham, who inspired him to turn his life around, and afterward devoted himself to evangelical speeches and founding boys' camps. Still alive at 93, Zamperini now works with those Japanese individuals and groups who accept responsibility for Japanese mistreatment of POWs and wish to see Japan and the U.S. reconciled. He submitted to 75 interviews with the author as well as contributing a large mass of personal records. Fortunately, the author's skills are as polished as ever, and like its predecessor, this book has an impossible-to-put-down quality that one commonly associates with good thrillers. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: This departure from the author's previous best-seller will nevertheless be promoted as necessary reading for the many folks who enjoyed the first one or its movie version.--Green, Roland Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog How to write killer historical mysteries : the art and adventure of sleuthing through the past
by Kathy Lynn Emerson.

Book list Emerson, author of the Lady Appleton and Diana Spaulding mystery series, turns her hand to how it's done in this useful guide to writing historical crime fiction. Drawing on her own works and those of her fellow historical-mystery writers (Kerry Greenwood, Alan Gordon, Carola Dunn, and others), she lays out, in commonsense sequence, the stages of planning and writing a historical mystery. Chapters on choosing setting and character, research, crafting a plot, and selling your book offer much of the same information as similar chapters in other how-to books for mystery writers, but the information is nicely tailored for this particular genre. Published writers probably won't find much here that they don't already know, but budding historical novelists will discover a wealth of helpful tips and may want to keep a notebook handy to jot them down. The book finds its niche and fills it well.--Pitt, David Copyright 2008 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

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Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog Middlesex: A Novel
by Jeffrey Eugenides


Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog Guns, Germs and Steel
by Jared Diamond

Publishers Weekly In a boldly ambitious analysis of history's broad patterns, evolutionary biologist Diamond (The Third Chimpanzee) identifies food production as a key to the glaring inequalities of wealth and power in the modern world. Dense, agriculture-based populations, unlike relatively egalitarian hunter-gatherers, bred chiefs, kings and bureaucratic "kleptocracies" that transferred wealth from commoners to upper classes. Such bureaucracies, Diamond maintains, were essential to organizing wars of conquest; moreover, farming societies were able to support full-time craft specialists who developed technical innovations and steel weapons. As a result, European conquerors and their colonizing descendants, bringing guns, cavalry and infectious diseases, overwhelmed the native peoples of North and South America, Africa and Australia. Using molecular biological studies, Diamond, a professor at UCLA Medical School, illuminates why Eurasian germs spreading animal-derived diseases proved so devastating to indigenous societies on other continents. Refuting racist explanations for presumed differences in intelligence or technological capability and eschewing a Eurocentric worldview, he argues persuasively that accidental differences in geography and environment, combined with centuries of conquest, genocide and epidemics, shaped the disparate populations of today's world. His masterful synthesis is a refreshingly unconventional history informed by anthropology, behavioral ecology, linguistics, epidemiology, archeology and technological development. Photos not seen by PW. BOMC, History Book Club, QPB and Newbridge Book Clubs selections. (Mar.)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Choice At the risk of sounding melodramatic, this usually soft spoken academic is willing to assert that Diamond's book is one of very few that could have a real impact on world understanding if it were widely read. Diamond wrestles with the huge question of why some societies became so rich and powerful -- and why others remain relatively poor and powerless. To answer so enormous a question, the author addresses many other fundamental questions. Among these are how and why did food production begin? What differences did this make? How did it spread? Why were some animals domesticated and others not? How did writing evolve, and why does it matter? Diamond poses similar questions with respect to technology, religion, and government. He writes clearly and in an engrossing manner, with a consistent (but not heavy-handed) grounding in evolutionary theory. He is a biologist who neatly interweaves data and insights from many other disciplines, including geography and anthropology, which are too often overlooked. A subsidiary theme of this work is discrediting racist theories of history, which Diamond does deftly and consistently throughout, with no resort to polemic. Several apt but unfamiliar illustrations complement the text, which is thoroughly authoritative despite the absence of footnotes or endnotes. A discursive bibliographic essay on each chapter can be helpful to anyone who wants to pursue a topic in greater depth. All levels. D. B. Heath; Brown University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Library Journal Most of this work deals with non-Europeans, but Diamond's thesis sheds light on why Western civilization became hegemonic: "History followed different courses for different peoples because of differences among peoples' environments, not because of biological differences among peoples themselves." Those who domesticated plants and animals early got a head start on developing writing, government, technology, weapons of war, and immunity to deadly germs. (LJ 2/15/97) Copyright 1999 Cahners Business Information.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal In the course of history, some groups conquered, some were conquered. UCLA physiology professor Diamond investigates why, arguing that it has nothing to do with race.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Library Journal Why is history so dramatically different for peoples around the world? Why did some groups become literate industrial societies with metal tools while others remained nonliterate farming societies, and still others remained hunter-gatherers with stone tools? The resultant inequalities have led historically to the extermination or conquest of some groups by more advanced, literate societies. Biologist Diamond (The Third Chimpanzee, LJ 3/15/92) here combines a study of human history with science, specifically evolutionary biology and geology. His starting point is 11,000 B.C., when large differences began to appear in the rates at which human societies evolved. Diamond examines on a global scale the development of farming, domestication of plants and animals, creation of writing, and advancement of technology. He maintains that it was such environmental benefits as the availability of certain key species and plants, as well as geographical placement, that gave the advantage to Eurasia over the rest of the world, rather than any biological advantages of one race over the others. A provocative book that will appeal to general readers as well as scholars; recommended for most libraries. BOMC, History Book Club, Quality paperback Books, and Newbridge Book Club selections.?Ed.]?Gloria Maxwell, Kansas City P.L., Kan.

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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Scientific America Young Readers Book Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Mud Matters: Stories from a Mud Lover
by Jennifer Owings Dewey

School Library Journal Gr 3-5ÄA unique book on the author's personal experiences with mud. Dewey offers good information on quicksand, primordial ooze, adobes, etc., and describes finding a fossilized bone of a Camalops, a sort of prehistoric, humpless camel. Full-color photographs and black-and-white drawings appear throughout. However, the writing gets so bogged down in dialogue that most youngsters will have a difficult time wading through it to get to the facts. Another problem is accessibility. Students researching the Zuni and their Mudheads, the nest-building techniques of wasps, or the Rio Grande will probably not think to look in this book. An appended list of plants and animals named after mud could prove handy, but the glossary, which includes words such as muddle and muddlehead, seems to be of marginal relevance. Students seeking material on the subject should look to Peter Goodwin's Landslides, Slumps, & Creep (Watts, 1997). Mud Matters will find little use in libraries.ÄAnne Chapman Callaghan, Racine Public Library, WI

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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National Book Critics Circle
Click to search this book in our catalog Lyric Poetry and Modern Politics
by Clare Cavanagh

Choice Extraordinarily rich and sophisticated in its comparative grasp of poetry, this volume may establish a new standard in literary criticism. Cavanagh (Slavic languages and literature, Northwestern Univ.) implicitly affirms both the general view that poets are the unacknowledged legislators of the universe and also Roman Jakobson's dictum that "poetry is language in its aesthetic function." With the objective of providing an "overview of twentieth-century Eastern-European poetry in its Russian and Polish incarnations," Cavanagh offers a "comparative study of modern poetry on both the Eastern and Western side of the great political divide that came to be known mid-century as the 'Iron Curtain.'" Her subjects include a broad range of eminent literary figures: Alekandr Blok, William Butler Yeats, Walt Whitman, Vladimir Mayakovsky, the Russian Acmeists (Anna Akhmatova, Nikolai Gumilev, Osip Mandelstam), Wisawa Szymborska, Adam Zagajewski, and Czesaw Miosz, among many others. Summing Up: Essential. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty. V. D. Barooshian emeritus, Wells College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog A Visit to William Blake's Inn
by Nancy Willard

Publishers Weekly The Newbery Medal-winning, Caldecott Honor book about an imaginary inn belonging to William Blake, where remarkable guests are attended by an even more remarkable staff. Ages 4-8. (September)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly The Newbery Medal-winning, Caldecott Honor book about an imaginary inn belonging to William Blake, where remarkable guests are attended by an even more remarkable staff. Ages 4-8. (September)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.