Layla Mendoza is a twelve-year old writer who participated in the 2022 Seafarer’s Writing Challenge in which she wrote a 5,000 word original short story this summer. Layla’s nautical adventure tells the swashbuckling tale of Captain Howe and the spell that changes his life.
Read the full story below!
There really was no explanation as to how Captain Howe’s vessel had ended up in the Pacific Ocean. He could have sworn that they were going to stay in the Atlantic waters, but nooooooo, they just had to end up in the Pacific Ocean, and right by the Ring of Fire, too, if he had read his maps correctly.
“WHAT?” Captain Howe shouted, banging one pudgy fist down on the wooden table where he was sitting. Maps and books that had been on the edge of the table fell to the floor, and his Cartographer, the one who had spoken, slumped a bit lower in his seat.
“Uh, um, just that, we- ah- seem to be getting fairly close to some active volcanoes that are part of the Ring of Fire, if I’m right about where we are on the map. We aren’t exactly headed directly towards a volcano, but we might pass by one. But,” he shrugged his shoulders, “If you don’t want to take precautions-”
“No, no,” Captain Howe said gruffly. “Do take precautions. Try to alter our course so that we don’t have the chance of getting blown up by a volcano.”
“Knowledge is power, she had argued. And conversely, the withholding of knowledge is an act of oppression.” ― Adele Myers, The Tobacco Wives
Maddie is an amateur seamstress who just arrived in Bright Leaf, North Carolina—the tobacco capital of the South—where her aunt has a thriving sewing business. Maddie is dazzled by the bustle of her aunt’s clientele: the wives of the powerful tobacco executives.
However, she soon learns that Bright Leaf isn’t quite the carefree paradise that it seems. Tobacco is marketed to women in 1946, especially moms, and many women began to experience substantial health problems. Although Maddie is quick to believe this is a coincidence, she uncovers evidence that suggests otherwise.
Maddie wants to report what she knows, but in a town where everyone depends on Big Tobacco to survive, she doesn’t know who she can trust—and fears that exposing the truth may destroy the lives of the proud women with whom she has forged strong bonds. Shedding light on the hidden history of women’s activism during the post-war period, at its heart, The Tobacco Wives is an emotionally satisfying and dramatic novel about the importance of seeking truth.
It is nearly impossible to imagine the world the way it was before people knew the dangers of smoking. It only seems logical to us now that filling your lungs with smoke, nicotine, and chemicals is not good for you, and it’s terrible for pregnant women and babies. It’s so hard to imagine the doctors actually recommended that women smoke to “calm their nerves”!
This book takes us back to the time when that was totally and completely acceptable. It is also almost shocking the way women were treated; the way men condescended to them and treated them as if they were fragile little beings who could not do much. We have come such a long way. I love the way the book highlighted all of the social differences between that time and the present.
The plot itself was well done. I love a book with an epilogue that tied things up in the end and this book delivered on that.
*FYI, this is the current read for the book club, Bemused Bibliophiles, who meet September 7, 2022 at 1:00 pm!
The Youth Services department is redesigning the early literacy programs to better serve our littlest patrons and their grown-ups! Here are the details…
But first, what exactly is early literacy?
Early literacy programs are not intended to teach children how to read. Instead, these programs are designed to help children develop the skills they will need to learn to read in school. The fancy terms for these skills are vocabulary, print motivation, print awareness, narrative skills, letter knowledge, and phonological awareness. Translated into easier language these skills are knowing all the letters of the ABCs, knowing how books work, recognizing printed words on a page, being able to make individual letter sounds, and knowing how to tell a story or describe an activity. Early literacy at the library is driven by the five practices of sing, talk, read, write, and play.
Wonderful Ones and Tales for Twos is being combined into one program called Toddler Time. The program will replace the Tales for Twos time slot on Fridays at 10 a.m. and 11 a.m. All the same elements will be presented, such as books, fingerplays, flannel stories, and songs. Toddler Time is intended for toddlers age 1-3 and their grown-ups.
Baby and Me is being renamed as Baby Storytime and will be moved up one hour to 10 a.m. on Thursdays. Grown-ups and their babies age 0-12 months can look forward to even more books, bounces, songs, and fingerplays.
Good news! There is no change to Preschool Storytime! The program will continue to be offered Tuesday and Wednesday mornings at 10 a.m. Preschool Storytime is designed for children age 3-5, but younger and older siblings are always welcome.
For more information about all of our Youth Services programs, check out the YS Fall program brochure here.
First line: The tentacles appeared with no warning, wrapping around Obi-Wan Kenobi’s wrist in a deadly barbed grip.
Summary: Obi-Wan Kenobi is a young padawan in the Jedi order. He has spent nearly his whole life learning the ways of the Force. Now he is studying under the tutelage of his master, Qui-Gon Jinn. However, he is finding this part of his training even more difficult than he thought. It involves lots of meditation and waiting for his master to decide what to teach him next. But when he finds a mysterious message in the temple he hopes that he can convince his mentor to travel to an unknown planet to search for the answers and a little adventure. When Qui-Gon does not show, Obi-Wan decides that he is going to seek the answers on his own. No matter the consequences.
My Thoughts: I was very excited to get this book especially after the airing of Obi-Wan on Disney+. In the original trilogy, Ewan McGregor and his portrayal of Obi-Wan was my favorite part. He did a great job bringing the younger version to life on the screen. And I have to say that the narrator of this audio book was excellent at copying the speaking patterns of the character/actor.
I enjoyed seeing the struggle that Obi-Wan dealt with during this time in his life. He always seems to be in control and very mindful of the force in the movies but to see him questioning gave his character a bit of humanness. And we get introduced to a minor character from the movies, which was a fun easter egg to throw into the storyline.
For fans who want a little bit more of this character after the Disney+ show, I would highly recommend giving this audio book a try.
When Lux and her boyfriend are hired to sail two women to a remote island for a large chunk of change, it seems like the opportunity of a lifetime. After a few days at sea, Meroe Island is every bit the paradise they expect, despite a mysterious history of shipwrecks, cannibalism, and even rumors of murder. And when one person goes missing and another turns up dead, Lux begins to wonder if any of them will make it off the island alive.
There is quite a bit of tension and unease throughout this book. What seems to be a light and fun time suddenly becomes a nightmare. Nothing major happens in this book until about a third of the way into it, and then it becomes fast-paced and full of action. It all happens so quickly, so I think the ending could have been a little tidier, but otherwise, this is an interesting island thriller!
The long-awaited season four of Stranger Things came out this summer and… WOW! I watched seasons one through three in a several-day-long binge with my husband in 2019, so we have been patiently waiting for the story to continue for the past few years. Season four came out in two parts, and for each one, we spent the day hunkered down binge-watching! I am so excited about how the plot is progressing in the series. If you have no clue what Stranger Things is about, here is a summary.
“When Will Byers suddenly goes missing, the whole town of Hawkins, Indiana, turns upside down. Many people search for Will, including his mother Joyce, his brother Jonathan, his friends Mike, Dustin, Lucas, Police Chief Jim Hopper, and a few others. But one thing leads to another, creating a supernatural trail. And things get even weirder when a girl, Eleven, comes into the story. She has telekinetic powers and is on the run from the Hawkins Laboratory. The laboratory is researching supernatural phenomena and might have unwittingly unlocked a gateway to another dimension.” (imdb.com)
If you have not watched Stranger Things yet, I recommend hopping on the bandwagon because the next season will be the final season!
Available to stream on Netflix.
Hobby:MadFit for Lifestyle/Health
When the world shut down in 2020, we all had to find ways to live our lives within our own four walls. Working out is something I enjoy, and I go to the gym nearly every day. I like working out in a way that works strength and mobility, but not in a way that makes me feel like I am dying (no offense runners). I discovered the YouTube channel MadFit in my search on how to do at-home workouts without equipment. Maddie Lymburner runs the channel and offers workouts for literally everything. HIIT workouts, dance workouts, stretching, strength, and anything else you can think of. Even now that the gyms are open again, I have her workouts written down in my notes on my phone, so I do them there too.
Recently, she has created an app where you can pay for a subscription to keep you on track with your fitness goals. This app helps track your diet and make workout plans designed for your needs. I just like to use the free YouTube videos, but this is a great option for anyone who might want a little more structure with getting started!
Available to watch here and the MadFit app can be downloaded on the App store or Google Play.
Music: Harry’s House
Oh boy, do I love a good Harry Styles album. Harry’s House is the third solo album from Harry since the band he was in, One Direction, went on a hiatus. Many may not know, but I was an avid Directioner (still am), which is what One Direction fans called themselves back in 2012. While I occasionally listen to the other four member’s solo music, Harry’s has consistently been my favorite. I have even gotten my family to be fans of the music. Harry’s House ranks second on my list of his albums. My absolute favorite is the first album, Harry Styles, and third is Fine Line. All are amazing, and I recommend you give them a listen if you haven’t already. My favorite songs from the new album are Matilda and Daydreaming.
Here is 12-year-old me pumped to get a magazine with One Direction on the cover for my birthday. I guess I am just as big of a fan girl as I was ten years ago!
Stream the album here or any music streaming platform.
“It is fascinating to note how clothing so often played a role in resistance, as life-saving warmth, a heart-warming gift, a hiding place or a disguise.”
― Lucy Adlington, The Dressmakers of Auschwitz: The True Story of the Women Who Sewed to Survive
At the height of the Holocaust, twenty-five young women of the Auschwitz concentration camp were selected to sew fashions for elite Nazi women. It was work that they hoped would spare them from the brutalities of the camp. The Dressmakers of Auschwitz follows the fates of these brave women and their friendships. These bonds helped them endure persecution and encouraged their camp resistance. Lucy Adlington also includes an interview with the last surviving seamstress.
The story starts off with their lives before the war. It details the fashion trends and how they changed with the war times. I found it fascinating that fashion played an important role promoting power and authority to the Nazis. The progression of this book was interesting. It is told from the view of multiple women, and lets you truly imagine what they were going through. Essentially, living minute by minute and never knowing what could happen tomorrow.
The author invested a lot of time researching these stories and ensuring each detail was important for the book. I really enjoyed this, and I had no clue it was non-fiction! It is written in a way that it felt like it could have been Historical Fiction, so that made it even better!
Summary: Elizabeth of York is the oldest child of King Edward IV of England. She has grown up during a time of battles between the houses of Lancaster and York. Her life has been spent in palaces but also in sanctuary. However, after the death of her father she is thrown into an even more treacherous world. Her uncle Richard takes the crown from her younger brother who should be King Edward V. With her brothers’ disappearance and her uncle as king she must live in limbo as the heir to the throne or a pawn that can be used. But has her savior come in the form of the Lancastrian claimant, Henry Tudor? Can she unite the two houses and bring peace to England?
My Thoughts: Elizabeth of York is an interesting woman. She lived through so much and made history but lived for such a short time. She was only 37 when she died. I had the privilege of visiting her grave this spring while at Westminster Abbey. It is a beautiful tomb next to her husband, Henry VII.
Weir does a wonderful job bringing the life and politics of the Wars of the Roses to life. The tension can be felt during the Elizabeth’s time in sanctuary or living through the years of her uncle Richard’s reign. Having to navigate the different factions, choose a side and make sure to stay alive throughout the regime changes must have been hard on everyone at the time.
I did learn a bit more about the lives of Elizabeth’s sisters during this story. They were used to make alliances with English nobles and suffered many losses in their lives. I would love to see more done about their lesser known stories.
The part I found most interesting was Elizabeth and her relationship with her son Arthur. I don’t know if there is any evidence behind Weir’s storyline but it makes me wonder. It is a struggle she has to deal with until her death. Did she love him enough? And why did she feel different towards him than she did to her other children?
Even though I did enjoy this book I found that it was a little long. Some parts seemed to drag on in the middle. I felt like it was a slower version of Philippa Gregory’s novel, The White Princess.
FYI: This is the beginning of a trilogy by Alison Weir. The next book will follow Elizabeth’s son, Henry VIII.