Engaging Methuen Readers

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In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse by James Marshall III

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Light haired, blue-eyed Jimmy McClean doesn’t look like other Lakota boys. Ruthlessly teased for looking too white, and accepted by neither his Native America nor Caucasian peers, Jimmy is miserable at school. Then his grandfather, Nyles High Eagle, tells him about Crazy Horse. He was originally called Light Hair, and not fondly, until he proved himself as a warrior. Their summer road trip to visit the famous battle sites teaches Jimmy a lot about Crazy Horse and a lot about himself.

Ingeniously blending contemporary reservation life with the oral tradition of the Lakota tribe, James Marshall III proves his expertise on both Crazy Horse and Lakota life in a unique format. Tales of Crazy Horse are told amidst Jimmy and his grandfather’s journey, culminating in a moment of truth. With gorgeous jacket design and chapter heading illustrations done by Jim Yellowhawk, this book is a must-read for anyone interested in a compelling historical fiction.

Age Range: 10 – 14 years

Click here to find In the Footsteps of Crazy Horse in our library catalog!


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The Queen of the Night by Alexander Chee

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Were you looking for a light frothy novel for a beach read?  Well, this is not it…However if you want an engrossing, dramatic, over-the-top saga of love, desire, music, history, intrigue, war, fashion,politics and Life with a capital “L”… you have found your summer read!  Set in Paris during the Second Empire, Queen of the Night unwinds the story of Lilliet Berne (one of the many names our heroine adopts in her checkered career), as she moves from mid-west American farm-girl, to circus bareback rider, to Parisian courtesan, to a job as a maid to the Empress Eugenie, and finally to become the toast of the European opera world.   This novel is lush with description, packed with historical characters, and full of plot twists and turns.  The story is not wrapped up in a neat package, it keeps you wondering and guessing, and turning the pages until the very end.

If this is your kind of story you might also like some of these titles, found elsewhere on our shelves:

Cry to Heaven / Feast of All SaintsCry to Heaven by Anne Rice

Before she wrote about vampires, Anne Rice wrote meaty, exciting historical novels.  This one is set in the world of 18th century Venice, among the “castrati” tenors, men who were idolized for their beautiful, haunting voices, but lost their manhood in the bargain.



Image of itemBel Canto by Ann Patchett

Patchett’s rich story is about a group of party-goers taken hostage by terrorists in the Presidential Palace of a small South American country.  Included in the group of hostages is a world-famous opera singer who was there to entertain the guests.  Strange alliances form among the jailers and the captives, as the lines blur and relationships change.



Image of itemAmadeus (a film)  directed by Milos Foreman

The man who murdered Mozart?  This film is based on Peter Schaffer’s award-winning play, and tells the story of Antonio Salieri, a second-rate composer in 18th century  Vienna whose jealousy and hatred of his nemesis, Mozart, knows no bounds…






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What’s Your Four?

whats your four

Children who read just four books over the summer fare better on reading-comprehension tests in the fall than their peers who read one or no books. Because of this, the Massachusetts Board of Library Commissioners and the Nevins Memorial Library are challenging residents to choose 4 books to read over the summer months, and to share their selections on social media through a campaign called “What’s Your Four?”

Summer reading provides free family fun for all of our residents. More importantly, it helps Methuen and surrounding areas’ young students stay ahead academically.

To get us started one of our Amazing Reference Librarians told us a little bit about What Her Four favorite books this summer were:

Dead Wake by Erik Larsen:

An interesting look at the Lusitania and the controversies surrounding the sinking of this great vessel.



The Fever of 1721: The Epidemic That Revolutionized Medicine and American Politics by Stephen Coss – Who knew that the concept of vaccination for small pox started here in Boston by a physician who was almost put out of business and run out-of-town by those in charge who could not believe that something like inoculation could prevent the spread of such a deadly disease. Ben Franklin also makes an appearance and the beginnings of our print media can be traced to this time.


Heroines of Mercy Street: The Real Nurses of the Civil War by Pamela D. Toler, PhD – this is a companion book to the series Mercy Street which ran on PBS this past spring. It follows the fine women who risked their lives and reputations to deliver compassionate care to soldiers on both sides of the conflict in the Civil War. Many of the scenes of the series are directly taken from some of the lives and diaries of the women in this book.


Flight of the Sparrow: A Novel of Early America by Amy Belding Brown — The book follows the difficult path taken by Mary Rowlandson, a frontier minister’s wife who is captured by early Native American Indians and taken on a journey during which her faith is sorely tested but she also learns a great deal of compassion about this race of people she has been taught to hate.  This is a novelized account of real events from the 1600’s which took place in and around Massachusetts.


Have you read 4 great books this summer? (Or 3, 2, or 1?) Share them with us here in the comments. Or on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, or Tumblr using the hashtag #WhatsYourFour.

For more information:

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One of this summer’s hottest reads is Yaa Gyasi’s stunning debut, Homegoing.  Two half sisters, unknown to each other, are born into different villages in eighteenth-century Ghana and experience profoundly different lives and legacies throughout subsequent generations.

If  you are waiting for an available copy at a library, the below titles may help tide you over in the meantime.


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THE TURNER HOUSE by Angela Flournoy

“The Turners have lived on Yarrow Street for over fifty years. Their house has seen thirteen children grown and gone–and some returned; it has seen the arrival of grandchildren, the fall of Detroit’s East Side, and the loss of a father. The house still stands despite abandoned lots, an embattled city, and the inevitable shift outward to the suburbs. But now, as ailing matriarch Viola finds herself forced to leave her home and move in with her eldest son, the family discovers that the house is worth just a tenth of its mortgage. The Turner children are called home to decide its fate and to reckon with how each of their pasts haunts–and shapes–their family’s future.”

ROOTS by Alex Haley

This poignant and powerful narrative tells the dramatic story of Kunta Kinte, snatched from freedom in Africa and brought by ship to America and slavery, and his descendants. Drawing on the oral traditions handed down in his family for generations, the author traces his origins back to the seventeen-year-old Kunta Kinte, who was abducted from his home in Gambia and transported as a slave to colonial America. In this account Haley provides an imaginative rendering of the lives of seven generations of black men and women.

CITIZENS CREEK by Lalita Tademy

Buying his freedom after serving as a translator during the American Indian wars, Cow Tom builds a remarkable life and legacy that is sustained by his courageous granddaughter.


The story of an African American family held together with a mother’s grit and monumental courage.

THE DOOR OF NO RETURN: the history of Cape Coast Castle and the Atlantic slave trade by William St. Clair (Non-Fiction)

This book tells the grim story of Cape Coast Castle in present-day Ghana, the African headquarters of the British slave trade from 1664 to 1807. From this massive building on the Atlantic shore, countless men, women, and children were sold as slaves and carried away on slave ships, often to North America. Here we read about some of the people who lived, worked, or were imprisoned within the Castle, as well as about its construction and upkeep, the arrivals and departures of ships, and the negotiations with local African leaders.

If you didn’t pick up the June edition of the BookPage, featuring Yaa Gyasi, at the library, you can still catch this informative interview with the author online.