Friday, January 15, 2021

New Reading Challenges Launched

Two new reading challenges launched today on our Beanstack platform. They are ongoing challenges that you may join at any time.

Read 100 Books Before High School (for grades 5-8) or Read 100 Books Before Graduation (for grades 9-12), log your books as you finish them in Beanstack, earn badges, and then prizes from the Hamilton-Wenham Library. If you read and log at least one book a month, you will be entered into a monthly raffle to win a gift card to a local business. The Library will be doing this raffle for at least six months starting with the first drawing at the end of Feb 2021.

After earning the 50 book badge, you'll receive a small prize. If you complete the challenge, reading 100 books before high school or graduation, you will earn some more fun prizes. To complete either challenge you must earn all the badges for reading & logging 100 books and writing 2 reviews.

Participants can only complete a challenge one time. Each book logged must be unique; rereads cannot be counted as two separate books. For more answers to frequently asked questions please see the Reading Challenges page on our website. Or send me an email at

If this is this your first time using Beanstack just create your account using the Beanstack link below, enter the challenge for your age group, then start earning badges and prizes. Or, if you've registered for a previous challenge, just log into your account and start one of the new challenges!

Get Started

  • Sign in or create your Beanstack reading challenges account at
  • Log your books from home or on the go. Beanstack is browser-based, but has a mobile-friendly app. The Beanstack app is available for iOS and Android.

Wednesday, December 23, 2020

Top Checkouts in 2020

At the end of any year I can, mostly, name the books that went out at the highest rate. It is particularly true this year, as I re-shelved them when they came back. There were no Library Pages to help shelve  (we miss them!) due to COVID.  To get a true count of our top checkouts I ran a report, and Suzanne Collins' prequel to her science fiction series The Hunger Games, topped our 2020 teen fiction chart for most checkouts. This was not a surprise.

The Ballad of Songbirds and Snakes, by Suzanne Collins, 2020.
In a prequel to "The Hunger Games," 18-year-old Coriolanus Snow prepares to mentor the female tribute from District 12 in the tenth Hunger Games, with the fate of his family hanging on the slim chance that he can help her win the Games.

While all the books in the Hunger Games trilogy went out a lot this year due to the new prequel, other series also continued to be popular such as: Rick Riordan's Trials of Apollo series, the Maze Runner series by James Dashner, and Neal Shusterman's Arc of a Scythe series.

Dear Evan Hansen, 1984, Midnight Sun, The Hate U Give, The Ruins of Gorlan, One of Us is Lying, and Rebound were titles that were also very popular this year.

The top 3 nonfiction books in order of number of checkouts, were:

Stamped: Racism, Antiracism, and You, by Ibram X. Kendi and Jason Reynolds, 2020. A history of racist and antiracist ideas in America, from their roots in Europe until today, adapted from the National Book Award winner Stamped from the Beginning. (I highly recommend the audiobook of Stamped, narrated by Jason Reynolds.)

The Complete Baking Book for Young Chefs, by America's Test Kitchen; Editor in Chief: Molly Birnbaum, 2019. 100+ sweet & savory recipes were tested by more than 5,000 kids to get them just right for cooks of all skill levels―including recipes for breakfast, breads, pizzas, cookies, cupcakes, and more.

The Playbook: 52 Rules to Aim, Shoot, and Sscore in this Game Called Life, by Kwame Alexander, 2017. Kwame shares poetry and inspiring lessons about the rules of life, as well as uplifting quotes from Stephen Curry,Venus Williams, Sonia Sotomayor, Michelle Obama, and others in this motivational and inspirational book.

  The top 10 graphic checkouts include two memoirs and one nonfiction title:


Monday, October 26, 2020

Fantastic First Lines - Match UP

Image courtesy of NaNoWriMo.
It's NaNoWriMo time again. What is NaNoWriMo? It's National Novel Writing Month and it happens in November. Every November, people all over the world attempt to write a 50,000-word novel by midnight, November 30. Participants sign up by creating free accounts at, the official site (for ages 13 and up). There you can post your daily word counts, display samples of your writing, and discuss your progress (if you so choose) in forums with other writers. Our Head of Reference, Sarah Lauderdale, hosts write-ins during November, find out more on that here:

If you are age 17 or younger and want to participate in NaNoWriMo for the first time, you may want to start with NaNoWriMo's Young Writer's program. The Young Writers Program allows you to set individualized goals. So instead of the set 50,000 word goal you could choose a goal of 1,000 words,10,000 words, or 100,000 words.

If attempting to write a book in a month is not for you this Fall, maybe instead of a book you could try writing a first line. What story would it begin to tell? What makes a GOOD first line? Below are a bakers dozen of first lines from books in our Young Adult fiction collection. Which one of these books would you like to read based on their first line? Can you match up these first lines with their book covers? Write your guesses on a piece of paper then, click here to see if you are right.

Tuesday, September 22, 2020

Octoberlicious: a Fall Cooking Series

You are invited to join us for six cooking workshops, every Thursday evening starting at 6:30 PM, beginning October 8 and ending November 12. Learn to make a meal or dessert in a mug using a microwave, or learn to bake a holiday pie or make something sweet or savory with chocolate. All workshops will be live and online via Zoom. ​Click on the links below to register. (Space is limited in the mug workshops.)

Curious about creating a meal in a mug? Check out a book! We've just added this one to our extensive cookbook collection: 
Description from our catalog: For anyone who can't cook, won't cook, or doesn't have the time to cook--but still wants a fresh, delicious meal instead of takeout or packaged, processed food when they're eating alone--here is the answer. All you need for real food, really fast, is a large mug, a microwave, a handful of ingredients, and a spoon.
Also see:
Mug Meals: More than 100 no-fuss ways to make a delicious microwave meal in minutes, by Leslie Bilderback.

Pepperoni Pizza in a Mug 
Thursday, October 8, 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM 

Learn how to make a microwave mug pizza with Julie of Simply Focused Coaching. You can add any toppings you'd like and it's faster and better than pizza delivery!  
Recommended for teens and adults, ages 11 and up.

Supplies to have ready for the workshop: 12 ounce coffee mug, all purpose flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, milk, olive oil, marinara sauce, shredded mozzarella, pepperoni, and herbs such as oregano and/or basil.

Workshop seating for 12. Click here to register
Cooking with Chocolate: Sweet and Savory
Thursday, October 15, 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM 
Chocolate is not just dessert; it’s everything you need! Join chef Liz Barbour of The Creative Feast as she explores chocolate as both a sweet and savory ingredient. Learn about the different types of chocolate, how to select a chocolate based on its fat and sugar content, and how to use chocolate as the main ingredient in recipes that are not just for dessert. Enjoy a cooking demonstration of two delicious chocolate recipes-one sweet and one savory.
Recommended for teens and adults, ages 15 and up.
For more information and the link to register, click here.

Peanut Butter Mug Cake
Thursday, October 22, 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM 

Learn how to make the amazing microwave Peanut Butter Mug Cake with Julie of Simply Focused Coaching. This easy peanut butter mug cake is fudge-y, made in the microwave, and ready in under 5 minutes. Add in some chocolate chips or an extra drizzle of peanut butter on top for the most delicious mug cake recipe. 
Recommended for teens and adults, ages 11 and up.
Supplies to have ready for the workshop: 12 ounce coffee mug, sunflower (or similar) oil, peanut butter, sugar, 1 large egg yolk, all purpose flour, baking powder, milk, chocolate chips.
Workshop seating for 12. Click here to register.

Lasagna in a Mug
Thursday, October 29, 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM 

Learn how to make lasagna in a mug with Julie of Simply Focused Coaching. 
Recommended for teens and adults, ages 11 and up.
Supplies to have ready for the workshop: 12 ounce coffee mug, lasagna noodle, ricotta, salt, pepper, olive oil, shredded mozzarella, marinara sauce, oregano.
Workshop seating for 12. Click here to register
Cheesecake in a Cup
Thursday, November 5, 6:30 PM to 7:00 PM
Learn how to make this easy cheesecake with Julie of Simply Focused Coaching. This cheesecake is made in the microwave, and ready in under 5 minutes. 
Recommended for teens and adults, ages 11 and up
Supplies to have ready for the workshop: a small microwaveable ramekin is ideal but a 6 ounce coffee mug will also work, butter, graham crackers, cream cheese (softened), sugar, vanilla extract and some fresh raspberries.
Workshop seating for 12. Click here to register
Holiday Pies: a baking workshop
Thursday, November 12, 6:30 PM to 7:30 PM 

A delicious holiday pie is one pie crust and one filling away. In this class Liz Barbour of The Creative Feast will share her favorite pie dough recipe so students can recreate the perfect, flaky crust every time they bake a pie. Liz will share information about her favorite pie baking tools, ingredients, and preparation methods. She will then teach the class how to prepare a delicious, photo worthy seasonal pie and folded tart. 
Recommended for teens and adults, ages 15 and up. 

Friday, August 21, 2020

Activate Your Vote

Activism and Voting are two sides of the same coin. Activate your vote! Listed below are 25 young adult books published in the past year, since August 2019, on the subjects of voting and activism. Included (and noted) in this mostly nonfiction list are a few fiction books and graphic format books.


Drawing the Vote: The Illustrated Guide to Voting in America, by Tommy Jenkins, 2020.  Looks at the history of voting rights in the United States and how it affects the way we vote today. Author, Tommy Jenkins, identifies events and trends that led to the unprecedented results of the 2016 presidential election that left American political parties more estranged than ever. Nonfiction, Graphic Format.

Election Manipulation: Is America's Voting System Secure?, by John Allen, 2020. Law enforcement and intelligence experts warn that Russia and other foreign countries are likely to try to interfere in America's presidential election in 2020. Federal and state officials must guard against computer hacks, disinformation and fake news on social media, and attempts to disrupt the voting system. This book examines how America's voting system can be made more secure. Nonfiction.

One Person, No Vote: How All Voters are Not Treated Equally (Young Readers' Edition), by Carol Anderson and Tonya Bolden, 2019.  Chronicles the rollbacks to African American participation in the vote since the Supreme Court's 2013 Shelby ruling, which allowed districts to change voting requirements without approval from the Department of Justice, with a foreword by Senator Dick Durbin. Nonfiction.

The State of Us, by Shaun David Hutchinson, 2020. When Dean Arnault’s mother decided to run for president, it wasn’t a surprise to anyone, least of all her son. But still that doesn’t mean Dean wants to be part of the public spectacle that is the race for the White House—at least not until he meets Dre. The only problem is that Dre Rosario's on the opposition; he’s the son of the Democratic nominee. Realistic Fiction

Stolen Justice: The Struggle for African American Voting Rights, by Lawrence Goldstone, 2020. In this portrait of the systematic suppression of the African American vote, Lawrence Goldstone traces the injustices of the post-Reconstruction era through the eyes of incredible individuals, both heroic and barbaric, and examines the legal cases that made the Supreme Court a partner of white supremacists in the rise of Jim Crow. Though this is a story of America's past, Goldstone draws direct links to today's creeping threats to suffrage. Nonfiction.

Vote!: Women's Fight for Access to the Ballot Box, by Coral Celeste Frazer, 2019. In the battle for the right to vote, American women faced arrest, jail time, and ridicule. They organized marches, forged alliances with other social reform movements, and lobbied politicians. They saw the right to vote as a guarantee of freedom and equality. Today, through voter purges, voter ID laws, and other tactics, many states make it hard for citizens--especially young people, poor people, and people of color--to register to vote and to cast ballots. What can we learn from history? And what can you do to protect your access to the ballot box? Nonfiction.

Votes of Confidence: A Young Person's Guide to American Elections, by Jeff Fleischer, 2020. A reference for teen students that provides information about the past, present, and future of American elections. Nonfiction.

The Voting Booth, by Brandy Colbert, 2020.  From Stonewall Award-winning author Brandy Colbert comes an all-in-one-day love story perfect for fans of The Sun is Also A Star. Marva Sheridan was born ready for this day. She's always been driven to make a difference in the world, and what better way than to vote in her first election? Duke Crenshaw is so done with this election. He just wants to get voting over with so he can prepare for his band's first paying gig tonight. Only problem? Realistic Fiction.


Earth Day and the Environmental Movement: Standing Up for Earth, by Christy Peterson, 2020. On April 22, 1970, an estimated twenty million people held a teach-in to show their support for environmental protections. It was the largest nationwide event ever, and lawmakers took notice.
But one day didn't change everything. Fifty years after the first Earth Day, climate change remains a dire concern. The divide between political parties continues to widen, and environmental policy has become an increasingly partisan issue. Nonfiction.

Enough is Enough: How Students Can Join the Fight for Gun Safety, by Michelle Roehm McCann, 2019. Explores the complexities of gun violence in America by explaining the myths, facts, causes, and obstacles surrounding the issue, and provides resources for students to get involved in gun safety activism. Nonfiction.

Flowers in the Gutter: The True Story of the Edelweiss Pirates, Teenagers Who Resisted the Nazis, by K.R. Gaddy, 2020. The Edelweiss Pirates were a loosely organized group of working-class young people in the Rhine Valley of Germany. They faced off with Nazis during the Third Reich and suffered consequences for their resistance during and after World War II. Nonfiction.

In Good Hands: Remarkable Female Politicians From Around the World Who Showed Up, Spoke Out, and Made Change, by Stephanie MacKendrick. Written for young women interested in running for office, with inspiring stories of eighteen women role models along with the all the tools and resources needed to get a campaign off the ground. Nonfiction.

Into the Streets: A Young Person's Visual History of Protest in the United States, by Marke Bieschke, 2020. Photos, artwork, and other visual elements guide readers through a lively and informative exploration of significant protests, sit-ins, and collective acts of resistance throughout U.S. history. Nonfiction.

Jane Against the World: Roe v. Wade and the Fight for Reproductive Rights, by Karen Blumenthal, 2020. A history of the fight for reproductive rights in the United States. Tracing the path to the landmark decision in Roe v. Wade and the continuing battle for women's rights, Blumenthal examines the root causes of the current debate around abortion and repercussions that have affected generations of American women. Includes a glossary of legal and medical terms, timeline, and information about significant Supreme Court cases. Nonfiction.

Kent State, by Deborah Wiles, 2020. Told from different points of view--protesters, students, National Guardsmen, and "townies"--recounts the story of what happened at Kent State in May 1970, when four college students were killed by National Guardsmen, and a student protest was turned into a bloody battlefield. Historical Fiction.

Kent State: Four Dead in Ohio, by Derf Backderf, 2020. On May 4, 1970, the Ohio National Guard gunned down unarmed college students protesting the Vietnam War at Kent State University. In a deadly barrage of 67 shots, 4 students were killed and 9 shot and wounded. It was the day America turned guns on its own children--a shocking event burned into our national memory. A few days prior, 10-year-old Derf Backderf saw those same Guardsmen patrolling his nearby hometown, sent in by the governor to crush a trucker strike. Using the journalism skills he employed on My Friend Dahmer and Trashed, Backderf has conducted extensive interviews and research to explore the lives of these four young people and the events of those four days in May, when the country seemed on the brink of tearing apart. Graphic Format, Nonfiction.

Ms. Gloria Steinem: A Life, by Winifred Conkling, 2020. Gloria Steinem is perhaps the single-most iconic figure associated with women's rights, her name practically synonymous with the word "feminism." Documenting everything from her boundary-pushing journalistic career to the foundation of Ms. magazine to being awarded the 2013 Presidential Medal of Freedom. Biography.

Rainbow Revolutions: Power, Pride, and Protest in the Fight for Queer Rights, by Jamie Lawson, 2020. Around one o'clock in the morning on June 28, 1969, police raided the Stonewall Inn, a gay bar in New York, sparking days of intense rioting. What happened at Stonewall sent shockwaves around the world, and became a defining moment for the LGBTQ+ community. Nonfiction.

Raise Your Voice: 12 Protests That Shaped America, by Jeffrey Kluger, 2020. A recounting of protests throughout American history that have shaped our nation: The Boston Tea Party, 1773 -- The Seneca Falls Convention, 1848 -- The Triangle Shirtwaist factory fire and the fight for workers' rights, 1911 -- The Montgomery bus boycott, 1955-1956 -- The March on Washington, 1963 -- The Democratic Convention, 1968 -- The Stonewall Uprising, 1969 -- Earth Day, 1970 -- The march against nuclear weapons, 1982 -- ACT UP, 1987 -- The Women's March, 2017 -- Dakota Access uprising, 2016-2017.  Nonfiction.

Speak Up!: Speeches by Young People to Empower & Inspire, by Adora Svitak, 2020.  A compilation of inspiring speeches from youth around the world whose voices have helped move the needle of progress. Nonfiction.

Stand Up! Be an Upstander and Make a Difference, by Wendy L. Moss, 2020.  You may doubt that you can make a difference. You can't fly like Wonder Woman or scale walls like Spiderman, but you could be a hero to someone else by speaking up. Small changes can lead to bigger and bigger changes. Chock full of quizzes, examples, practical advice, and small steps you can take in your real life, Stand Up! takes readers through the ways to be an Upstander, including being kind to yourself, having empathy for others, spreading kindness, and dealing with conflicts. Nonfiction.

Take the Mic: Fictional Stories of Everyday Resistance, edited by Bethany C. Morrow, 2019.  Anthology featuring fictional stories--in poems, prose, and art--that reflect a slice of the varied and limitless ways that to resist every day. Take the Mic's collection of stories features work by  Jason Reynolds, Samira Ahmed, Bethany C. Morrow, Darcie Little Badger, Keah Brown, Laura Silverman, L.D. Lewis, Sofia Quintero, Ray Stoeve, Yamile Mendez, and Connie Sun. Short Stories.

Thank You for Coming to my TED Talk: A Teen Guide to Great Public Speaking, by Chris Anderson and Lorin Oberweger, 2020. A teen edition of the New York Times best-selling TED TALKS: The Official TED Guide to Public Speaking, chock-full of tips and techniques to help teens become confident, capable speakers. For today’s teen, being able to communicate clearly in front of an audience is essential. From class presentations to interviews to online videos, an engaging talk can not only inspire and electrify a room, it can change people’s minds, and even change the world. Nonfiction.

True or False: A CIA Analyst's Guide to Spotting Fake News, by Cindy L. Otis, 2020. A former CIA analyst unveils the history of fake news and gives tips on how to avoid falling victim to it. "Fake news" is a term you’ve probably heard a lot in the last few years, but it’s not a new phenomenon. From the ancient Egyptians to the French Revolution to Jack the Ripper and the founding fathers, fake news has been around as long as human civilization. Nonfiction.

You Call This Democracy?: How to Fix Our Government and Deliver Power to the People, by Elizabeth Rusch, 2020. The political landscape has never been so tumultuous: issues with the electoral college, gerrymandering, voter suppression, and a lack of representation in the polls and in our leadership have led to Americans of all ages asking, How did we get here?  Rather than pointing fingers at people and political parties, You Call This Democracy? looks at flaws in the system--and offers a real way out of the mess we are in. Each chapter breaks down a different problem plaguing American democracy, exploring how it's undemocratic, offering possible solutions (with examples of real-life teens who have already started working toward them), and suggesting ways to effect change.  Nonfiction.

Saturday, April 11, 2020

Just Keep Swimming

This time out of time (what day is it?) may be hard, difficult, scary, or boring for you. We can get through this. Or to quote Churchill, "If you are going through hell, keep going.". To help you keep going here are collections of resources I've scooped up for Fun, Inspiration, Study, and Health (FISH).Click the words in the graphic below to access those pages. Be like Dory, just keep swimming!

I'm here. I'd love to hear from you. My email is: There is lots of stuff I can still do virtually to help you while the building is closed, for example, helping you with signing up for a Library Card number, helping you access our digital resources, or creating a list of personalized book recommendations for you -- use our Your Next Great Read service. Register for our summer reading program, it is for all ages -- Beanstack information is found here. You can start anytime to earn badges to win prizes, from June 20 through August 8. See all the prizes here.

FISH resources for Teens at Home by kclaire

Thursday, March 12, 2020

March rrrOars

Animal Nonfiction Books by kclaire