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ALA Best Books for Young Adults
Click to search this book in our catalog Dead End in Norvelt
by Gantos, Jack

Book list Looks like a bummer of a summer for 11-year-old Jack (with a same-name protagonist, it's tempting to assume that at least some of this novel comes from the author's life). After discharging his father's WWII-souvenir Japanese rifle and cutting down his mom's fledgling cornfield, he gets grounded for the rest of his life or the rest of the summer of 1962, whichever comes first. Jack gets brief reprieves to help an old neighbor write obituaries for the falling-like-flies original residents of Norvelt, a dwindling coal-mining town. Jack makes a tremendously entertaining tour guide and foil for the town's eccentric citizens, and his warmhearted but lightly antagonistic relationship with his folks makes for some memorable one-upmanship. Gantos, as always, deliver bushels of food for thought and plenty of outright guffaws, though the story gets stuck in neutral for much of the midsection. When things pick up again near the end of the summer, surprise twists and even a quick-dissolve murder mystery arrive to pay off patient readers. Those with a nose for history will be especially pleased.--Chipman, Ian Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly A bit of autobiography works its way into all of Gantos's work, but he one-ups himself in this wildly entertaining meld of truth and fiction by naming the main character... Jackie Gantos. Like the author, Jackie lives for a time in Norvelt, a real Pennsylvania town created during the Great Depression and based on the socialist idea of community farming. Presumably (hopefully?) the truth mostly ends there, because Jackie's summer of 1962 begins badly: plagued by frequent and explosive nosebleeds, Jackie is assigned to take dictation for the arthritic obituary writer, Miss Volker, and kept alarmingly busy by elderly residents dying in rapid succession. Then the Hells Angels roll in. Gore is a Gantos hallmark but the squeamish are forewarned that Jackie spends much of the book with blood pouring down his face and has a run-in with home cauterization. Gradually, Jackie learns to face death and his fears straight on while absorbing Miss Volker's theories about the importance of knowing history. "The reason you remind yourself of the stupid stuff you've done in the past is so you don't do it again." Memorable in every way. Ages 10-14. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

School Library Journal Gr 5-8-In 1962, Jack accidentally discharges his father's war relic, a Japanese rifle, and is grounded for the summer. When a neighbor's arthritic hands get the best of her, his mother lifts the restriction and volunteers the 12-year-old to be the woman's scribe, writing obituaries for the local newspaper. Business is brisk for Miss Volker, who doubles as town coroner, and Norvelt's elderly females seem to be dropping like flies. Prone to nosebleeds at the least bit of excitement (until Miss Volker cauterizes his nose with old veterinarian equipment), Jack is a hapless and endearing narrator. It is a madcap romp, with the boy at the wheel of Miss Volker's car as they try to figure out if a Hell's Angel motorcyclist has put a curse on the town, or who might have laced Mertie-Jo's Girl Scout cookies with rat poison. The gutsy Miss Volker and her relentless but rebuffed suitor, Mr. Spizz, are comedic characters central to the zany, episodic plot, which contains unsubtle descriptions of mortuary science. Each quirky obituary is infused with a bit of Norvelt's history, providing insightful postwar facts focusing on Eleanor Roosevelt's role in founding the town on principles of sustainable farming and land ownership for the poor. Jack's absorption with history of any kind makes for refreshing asides about John F. Kennedy's rescue of PT-109 during World War II, King Richard II, Francisco Pizarro's conquest of Peru, and more. A fast-paced and witty read.-Vicki Reutter, Cazenovia High School, NY (c) Copyright 2011. 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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ALA Notable Books for Children
Click to search this book in our catalog Dot
by Patricia Intriago

School Library Journal PreS-Gr 1-In this whimsical book about opposites, each dot acts as a visual analogy. Simplicity equals accessibility, but it also denotes depth of thought. Even two- and three-year-olds will make astute observations. Visually announcing the morning, the story begins with a large, shining, cadmium yellow dot on a cyan blue background with the simple text, "Dot." Humor prevails on one spread that contrasts a chewed dot: "This dot is yummy," with a chewed dot and spit-out piece, "This dot tastes bad." Another unique spread is tactile in its rendition of "Hard dot," which does not yield under the pressure of a small photographed finger pressing down, opposite "Soft dot," which does yield like a soft rubber ball. Most of the book is in black and white unless there is a reason for color, as on the "Stop dot" and "Go dot" or on the "Hurt dot" and "Heal dot" pages. Band-Aid and boo-boo stories, and countless others, will pour forth from young audiences. Children will encounter ample ways to interact with this incredibly elegant, clever, and delightful concept book.-Sara Lissa Paulson, American Sign Language and English Lower School PS 347, New York City (c) Copyright 2011. 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.

Book list In the minimalist style of Herve Tullet's Press Here (2011), this debut cleverly squeezes a lot of sly humor from that dullest of shapes: the dot. It begins in color ( Stop dot is red; Go dot is green), but most of the book is, impressively, rendered in black and white, with the smallest of alterations giving the titular object a whole lot of personality. A giant black dot is Heavy dot. Floating, fine-lined circles like bubbles are Light dots. Hungry dot is just a circle, but its partner, Full dot, is a chubby, squarish, page-filling solid black shape just looking at it makes you feel full. This dot is yummy has a dot with a bite taken out of it. This dot tastes bad is the same thing, except with the bitten chunk lying beside it. There is even an out-of-nowhere picture of a Dalmatian ( Got dots ) and a zebra ( Not dots ) to keep things fresh. You get the idea: this is simple, surprising graphic design that will wake up even jaded readers to the creative possibilities inherent in the most basic of shapes.--Kraus, Daniel Copyright 2010 Booklist

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

Publishers Weekly In her debut, graphic designer Intriago explores dots as a graphic designer might, crisply and systematically. The text begins like a P.D. Eastman classic ("Dot. Stop dot. Go dot. Slow dot. Fast dot"). White pages with simple, graphic, black shapes communicate their messages like signs. "Slow dot" hasn't made it all the way onto the left page yet; "[f]ast dot," with lines coming off it, speeds off the other edge. Thoughts about dots grow more complex: "This dot is yummy" shows a large black dot with a bite taken out of it; "This dot tastes bad" shows the same bitten-into dot, this time with the discarded bite lying beside it. Occasionally the protocol is enlivened with photographs, a visual "kaboom" amid the overall air of restraint ("Got dots," says a picture of a Dalmatian; "Not dots" shows a striped zebra), but it's back to black and white as the book bids goodnight: "Dots up in the sky so bright/ twinkle as we say goodnight." And indeed, as might be expected from a book this elemental, there's something restful about it. Ages 3-6. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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New York Times Bestsellers
Click to search this book in our catalog Nypd Red 3
by James Patterson and Marshall Karp


Agatha Awards
Click to search this book in our catalog Girl Sleuth
by Melanie Rehak

Publishers Weekly The intrepid Nancy Drew has given girls a sense of their own power since she was born, Athena-like, from the mind of Edward Stratemeyer in 1929 and raised after his death in 1930 by his daughter Harriet Stratemeyer Adams and Mildred Wirt Benson, a journalist who was the first to write the novels under the pen name Carolyn Keene. Poet and critic Rehak invigorates all the players in the Drew story, and it's truly fun to see behind the scenes of the girl sleuth's creation, her transformation as different writers took on the series, and the publishing phenomenon-the highly productive Stratemeyer Syndicate machine-that made her possible. Rehak's most ambitious choice is to reflect on how Nancy Drew mirrors girls' lives and the ups and downs of the women's movement. This approach is compelling, but not particularly well executed. Rehak's breathless prose doesn't do justice to the complexity of the large social trends she describes, and tangents into Feminism 101 derail the story that really works-the life of a publishing juggernaut. All the same, Stratemeyer himself would undoubtedly say that the story is worth telling. Drew fans are likely to agree. 8 pages of b&w photos not seen by PW. Agent, the Wylie Agency. (Sept.) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Choice In 1975, on the rebound from writing a dissertation on Vladimir Nabokov, Bobbie Ann Mason wrote The Girl Sleuth, in which she provided a feminist discussion of the literary girl sleuth who has fascinated generations of readers. At least a half dozen other books followed Mason's pioneering study (e.g., Nancy Drew and Company, ed. by Sherrie Inness, CH, Dec'97, 35-1995), and an entire academic conference was devoted to Nancy Drew in 1993. Rehak (a poet and freelance critic) focuses on Mildred Augustine and Harriet Stratemeyer, the creators of the Nancy Drew character. Augustine wrote many of the books, following a formula provided by the Stratemeyer Syndicate, a book packager that offered this and other juvenile series. Stratemeyer, as head of the syndicate after the death of her father, guarded Nancy Drew jealously and sometimes conflicted with Augustine. Based on thorough archival research, Rehak's book is fascinating and readable. Particularly valuable are the historical and literary contexts the author builds for each decade of the 20th century; this material serves as background for the story of the two authors, for the issues facing women at that time, and for attitudes toward children's literature. ^BSumming Up: Highly recommended. Lower-division undergraduates through faculty. E. R. Baer Gustavus Adolphus College

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Book list For 75 years, reading Nancy Drew mysteries has been a literary rite of passage for millions of young girls. In this lively offering, poet and critic Rehak tells the tale of the creative trio behind the celebrated pseudonym Carolyn Keene. Children's book mogul Edward Stratemeyer powered the extraordinarily successful Stratemeyer Syndicate (the character of Nancy Drew, the copper-haired teen sleuth who tackled cases with passion and panache, was but one of his creations, which included the Bobbsey Twins and the Hardy Boys). His daughter, Harriet Stratemeyer Adams, was the well-to-do mother of two who took over the business upon his death. ?And enterprising Iowa journalist Mildred Wirt Benson, the original voice of Nancy Drew, devoted decades of her life to ghostwriting titles for the series. Both Harriet and Mildred were talented, driven women who challenged the domestic labels affixed to them. Even at the age of 93, Mildred was described as having "a tangle of white curls and the dismissive air of Robert DeNiro." Packed with revealing anecdotes, Rehak's meticulously researched account of the publishing phenomenon that survived the Depression and WWII (and was even feted by feminists in the 1960s) will delight fans of the beloved gumshoe whose gumption guaranteed that every reprobate got his due. Read this alongside Greenwald's The Secret of the Hardy Boys 0 (2004), about another Stratemeyer ghostwriter, Leslie McFarlane, the voice of the first 16 Hardy Boys novels. --Allison Block Copyright 2005 Booklist

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

Library Journal The story behind everyone's favorite girl sleuth. Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.

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

School Library Journal Adult/High School-As much a social history of the times as a book about the popular series, this is a fun title that will appeal to older teens who remember the series fondly. In 1930, she arrived in her shiny blue roadster and she has remained a part of the children's book scene ever since. While Nancy may have been the brainchild of Edward Stratemeyer, creator of the successful Stratemeyer Syndicate, it was the devotion of Harriet, his daughter, and syndicate writer Mildred Wirt Benson who brought her to life. The series succeeded beyond anyone's wildest dreams but things were not always peaceful in River Heights. Rehak does a good job of explaining the intricacies of the Stratemeyer Syndicate and the sometimes-rocky relationship between these two strong women, each of whom felt a sense of ownership of the girl detective. Those who followed the many adventures of Nancy Drew and her friends will be fascinated with the behind-the-scene stories of just who Carolyn Keene really was.-Peggy Bercher, Fairfax County Public Library, VA Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.

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

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Oprah's Book Club
Click to search this book in our catalog East of Eden
by John Steinbeck


Pulitzer Prize
Click to search this book in our catalog Olive Kitteridge
by Elizabeth Strout.

Library Journal In her third novel, New York Times best-selling author Strout (Abide with Me) tracks Olive Kitteridge's adult life through 13 linked stories. Olive-a wife, mother, and retired teacher-lives in the small coastal town of Crosby, ME. A large, hulking woman with a relentlessly unpleasant personality, Olive intimidates generations of community members with her quick, cruel condemnations of those around her-including her gentle, optimistic, and devoted husband, Henry, and her son, Christopher, who, as an adult, flees the suffocating vortex of his mother's displeasure. Strout offers a fair amount of relief from Olive's mean cloud in her treatment of the lives of the other townsfolk. With the deft, piercing shorthand that is her short story-telling trademark, she takes readers below the surface of deceptive small-town ordinariness to expose the human condition in all its suffering and sadness. Even when Olive is kept in the background of some of the tales, her influence is apparent. Readers will have to decide for themselves whether it's worth the ride to the last few pages to witness Olive's slide into something resembling insight. For larger libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 12/07.]-Beth E. Andersen, Ann Arbor Dist. Lib., MI Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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

Book list *Starred Review* Hell. We're always alone. Born alone. Die alone, says Olive Kitteridge, redoubtable seventh-grade math teacher in Crosby, Maine. Anyone who gets in Olive's way had better watch out, for she crashes unapologetically through life like an emotional storm trooper. She forces her husband, Henry, the town pharmacist, into tactical retreat; and she drives her beloved son, Christopher, across the country and into therapy. But appalling though Olive can be, Strout  manages to make her deeply human and even sympathetic, as are all of the characters in this novel in stories. Covering a period of 30-odd years, most of the stories (several of which were previously published in the New Yorker and other magazines) feature Olive as  their focus, but in some she is bit player or even a footnote while other characters take center stage to sort through their own fears and insecurities. Though loneliness and loss haunt these pages, Strout also supplies gentle humor and a nourishing dose of hope. People are sustained by the rhythms of ordinary life and the natural wonders of coastal Maine, and even Olive is sometimes caught off guard by life's baffling beauty. Strout is also the author of the well-received Amy and Isabelle (1999) and Abide with Me (2006).--Quinn, Mary Ellen Copyright 2008 Booklist

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

Library Journal In 13 linked stories that delineate the life and times of fussy but sympathetic Olive Kitteredge, Strout beautifully captures the sticky little issues of small-town life-and the entire universe of human longing, dis-appointment, and love. (LJ 2/1/08) Copyright 2008 Reed Business Information.

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

Library Journal Olive is her small Maine town's heart and soul-and its interfering tyrant. With an eight-plus-city tour; book club promotion. Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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

Publishers Weekly Thirteen linked tales from Strout (Abide with Me, etc.) present a heart-wrenching, penetrating portrait of ordinary coastal Mainers living lives of quiet grief intermingled with flashes of human connection. The opening "Pharmacy" focuses on terse, dry junior high-school teacher Olive Kitteridge and her gregarious pharmacist husband, Henry, both of whom have survived the loss of a psychologically damaged parent, and both of whom suffer painful attractions to co-workers. Their son, Christopher, takes center stage in "A Little Burst," which describes his wedding in humorous, somewhat disturbing detail, and in "Security," where Olive, in her 70s, visits Christopher and his family in New York. Strout's fiction showcases her ability to reveal through familiar details-the mother-of-the-groom's wedding dress, a grandmother's disapproving observations of how her grandchildren are raised-the seeds of tragedy. Themes of suicide, depression, bad communication, aging and love, run through these stories, none more vivid or touching than "Incoming Tide," where Olive chats with former student Kevin Coulson as they watch waitress Patty Howe by the seashore, all three struggling with their own misgivings about life. Like this story, the collection is easy to read and impossible to forget. Its literary craft and emotional power will surprise readers unfamiliar with Strout. (Apr.) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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 Children Just Like Me: Celebrations
by Anabel Kindersley

School Library Journal Gr 2-6?A rich, multicultural look at holidays around the world. The celebrations are arranged by season and include: Christmas in Germany, Halloween in Canada, Hanukkah in the U.S., Diwali in India, Hina Matsuri in Japan, and Egemenlik Bayrami in Turkey. Each holiday is shown on a two-page spread with a large photograph of a featured child or children and many smaller captioned photographs of the festivities and the culture. A preface by Harry Belafonte in his role as Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF opens the book. It is a superb addition to country/cultural teaching units, and also makes a wonderful lead-in to writing, art, and creative-drama activities used to teach holidays. An enjoyable visual experience.?Stephani Hutchinson, Pioneer Elementary School, Sunnyside, WA

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


National Book Critics Circle
Click to search this book in our catalog Newjack: Guarding Sing-Sing
by Ted Conover

Library Journal Having already documented the lives of illegal aliens (Coyotes) and hoboes (Rolling Nowhere), journalist Conover gives a compelling firsthand account of life as a corrections officer. The site is Sing Sing, once widely known for housing the electric chair that killed 614 inmates but now unremarkable among New York State's prisons. Refused entry as a journalist, Conover actually attended the training academy and became a bona fide officer for a year. Once on the job, he appears to have identified completely with the persona of a prison guard: He feels his head swim as he tries to enforce rules that are routinely ignored to avoid confrontations. He braces himself to walk the galleries amid catcalls and threats of violence and tries to keep on top of the games inmates play. Given the monotony, dehumanization, and imminent dangers, why would anyone choose this profession? A good accompanying volume is Lucien X. Lombardo's Guards Imprisoned (1981. o.p.), which points out that, in areas of high unemployment, these are the most lucrative jobs requiring a minimal amount of education. Furthermore, some officersDnot allDcan wield a kind of power hard to emulate in the outside world. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. [Excerpted in the New Yorker.DEd.]DFrances Sandiford, Green Haven Correctional Facility Lib., Stormville, NY Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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

Book list Journalist Conover wanted to follow the life of a rookie prison guard for a year. Denied access as a reporter, he enrolled in the guard training program to see "America's incarceration crisis" close up. He immersed himself in the dehumanization and mindless bureaucracy of one of the largest, best-known U.S. prisons. There he struggled with the pressure on guards to be loyal to one another, even in the face of the brutal egoism of some and their inherently unequal relations with prisoners. He limns the guile and manipulativeness of prisoners and conjures the constant undercurrent of violence in the prison. He tells of strip searches, cell searches, lockdowns, and the daily tension and frustration of guarding hostile prisoners. He notes the racial imbalance in the larger penal system, with one out of three black men being incarcerated at some time in his life. He makes an engaging report on the prison system and the strategy of responding to get-tough posturing on crime by building more prisons in which fewer training programs are provided. --Vanessa Bush

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

Choice The literature on prisons, including accounts by inmates, is large. Conover, a journalist, observes that most of that writing focuses on the experience of inmates, not on prison guards (or correctional officers); and when prison guards are portrayed in films, they are often stereotyped as brutal. Unable to obtain permission as a journalist for access to the famous old New York prison Sing Sing, Conover applied successfully for a position as a prison guard. This book provides a detailed, unsentimental account of his experiences during the course of a year as a prison guard, beginning with his training at the academy for correctional officers. The world of the prison is complex, dreary, and dangerous, and Conover has the journalistic skills to produce a vivid and nuanced portrayal of this world. In a chapter in the middle of the book Conover includes a brief but informative history of Sing Sing. Altogether, this book makes a worthwhile (and eminently readable) contribution to the literature on prisons. In view of the immense growth of prisons in recent years, readers have good reason to want to understand what they are really like. Selected bibliography. General, undergraduate, and faculty readers. D. O. Friedrichs; University of Scranton

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly In books like Rolling Nowhere (about hoboes) and Coyotes (about illegal aliens), Conover distinguished himself with brave, empathetic reporting. This riveting book goes further. Stymied by both the union and prison brass in his effort to report on correctional officers, Conover instead applied for a job, and spent nearly a year in the system, mostly at Sing Sing, the storied prison in the New York City suburbs. Fascinated and fearful, the author in training grasps some troubling truths: "we rule with the inmates' consent," says one instructor, while another acknowledges that "rehabilitation is not our job." As a Sing Sing "newjack" (or new guard), Conover learns the folly of going by the book; the best officers recognize "the inevitability of a kind of relationship" with inmates. Whether working the gallery, the mess hall or transportation detail, the job is both a personal and moral challenge: at the isolation unit ("the Box"), Conover begins to write up his first "use of force" incident when a fellow officer waves him away. He steps back to offer a history of the prison, the "hopelessly compromised" work of prison staff and the unspoken idealism he senses in fellow guards. Stressed by his double life and the demands of the job, caught between the warring impulses of anthropological inquiry and "the incuriosity that made the job easier," Conover struggles but nevertheless captures scenes of horror and grace. With its nuanced portraits of officers and inmates, the book never preaches, yet it conveys that we ignore our prisons--an explosive (and expensive) microcosm of race and class tensions--at our collective peril. Agent, Kathy Robbins. First serial to the New Yorker. (May) Copyright 2000 Cahners Business Information.

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

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Newbery Medal Winners
Click to search this book in our catalog The Midwife's Apprentice
by Karen Cushman