Vet on Call! Visit Herriot Country via Overdrive/Libby, Acorn TV, and DVD

Remember the days when a trip to a petting zoo or small farm was an absolute delight? Perhaps it still is! There’s much to be said for the therapeutic value of low-stress contact with farm animals, whether you’re feeding a pony a carrot, trying your hand at milking a goat, or simply sinking your fingers into a lamb’s soft wool.

While the life of a country vet is far from placid, as Alf Wight (writing as James Herriot) could attest, there are many such moments of grace–and even more humor–to be found in his semi-autobiographical series of books set in the scenic Yorkshire Dales. Beloved the world over for nearly 50 years, four of the five titles (as published in the U.S.) were inspired by a beloved British hymn: All Things Bright and Beautiful, All Creatures Great and Small (also available on hoopla), All Things Wise and Wonderful, and The Lord God Made Them All (the final title is Every Living Thing). As promised (see this previous post), all of these are now available for your listening pleasure on Overdrive/Libby! Relax into the world of Darrowby and its surrounding farms as mellow-voiced Christopher Timothy brings Jim Herriot and the various eccentric village characters to vivid life. It’s hard to imagine tales less in keeping with the current state of affairs, and therein lies their charm. That’s not to say that they’re sentimental or that sad events do not intrude, but the tales do radiate a comforting sense that “there’ll always be an England.”

If you’ve streamed The Yorkshire Vet on Acorn TV (as previously suggested) and have become engrossed in the day-to-day drama and humor of the Herriot/Wight practice as it operates today, then you’ll be pleased to know that there’s a brand-new series 6 available! It just premiered on July 20th and offers 8 all-new episodes, some featuring Alf Wight’s affable protégé, Peter Wright.

And if you’re up for some 1970s-80s TV nostalgia, it’s hard to do better than the renowned BBC television series All Creatures Great and Small (starring no less than Robert Hardy of Harry Potter fame, alongside Christopher Timothy and Peter Davison), which spins its particular brand of charm over seven seasons two Christmas specials. Now that the library is offering Curbside Pickup, you can place holds on the DVDs in the library catalog here, and get them with no rental fees! New to curbside pickup? Have a look at this post for all the details.

Savour a slice of Herriot heaven and let us know what you think in the comments below!


Escape to the Country! Find Bucolic Bliss on hoopla, Overdrive, and Acorn TV

Here in our pretty seaside town, we’re surrounded by an abundance of Atlantic natural beauty. But if you’re feeling a bit of wanderlust as summer begins and would like to seek out pastures new–at least in imagination–let the Abbot Library be your guide! You’ll find the suggestions below on hoopla, Overdrive/Libby, and Acorn TV.

If rural New England takes your fancy, you might just like Sy Montgomery’s The Good, Good Pig: The Extraordinary Life of Christopher Hogwood, read by Audiofile Earphones Award-winning Xe Sands and set on a New Hampshire farmstead. This gentle, true tale of a runt piglet who became a beloved village icon and even did a stint on NPR is sure to charm you. Sy Montgomery is a noted naturalist who is famous for The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness and, more recently, the soulful, philosophical How to Be a Good Creature: A Memoir in Thirteen Animals–neither of which is strictly rural, but both of which will nonetheless envelop the reader in the wonders of the natural world.

If you think the grass might be even greener in England (that famously “green and pleasant land”), then try world-renowned titles by Yorkshire country veterinarian Alf Wight, written under the nom-de-plume “James Herriot.” Many are familiar with the bestselling All Creatures Great and Small, adapted for TV in the late 1970s and 1980s, and starring Robert Hardy (of Harry Potter fame) and Christopher Timothy. If not, or if you’d like to revisit the famed practice in Darrowby, try this Overdrive audio version with the genial-voiced Timothy as narrator. Herriot’s evocation of the lush Yorkshire Dales in funny and poignant true-to-life tales is sure to soothe the soul. Did you know that there are further Herriot books to enjoy? You’ll find many of them here, in both audio and ebook formats. Also, keep an eye out for more audio versions (also voiced by Timothy) coming to our Overdrive collection this July.

Farm life and bucolic landscapes also feature on several high-quality Acorn TV documentaries and series. If you can’t get enough of James Herriot, you’ll love The Yorkshire Vet, which follows the real-life adventures of two vets now working in Alf Wight’s old practice, one of whom trained under Wight. Or tune in to some pleasurably educational reality TV with “The Family Farm,” filmed in the Welsh countryside. You’ll watch three urban families as they challenge themselves to live an agrarian life for three weeks. For an illuminating ramble across the whole of Wales, accompanied by a charming sheepdog and his knowledgeable human, try “Off the Beaten Track,” also on Acorn TV.

Here’s hoping you find your rural bliss!

Cat Stories To Purr-use!

Here are a few books to enjoy with your favorite feline. You can visit NoveList and login with your library card to browse more heartwarming books about cats, or peruse the collections on Overdrive/Libby and hoopla.

James Herriot’s Cat Stories

Revisit these beautifully written classic stories by a beloved vet of the English Yorkshire Dales countryside. Cat lovers will savor each heartwarming story. James Herriot also wrote the classic All Creatures Great and Small, which was made into a BBC television series.

The Cat Who Mysteries by Lillian Jackson Braun

Enjoy this classic mystery series starting with the first book, The Cat Who Could Read Backwards, starring the newspaper reporter Jim Qwilleran and his Siamese cats, Koko and Yum Yum. Set in the fictional town of Pickax City, Moose County, Michigan, Quill becomes embroiled in mysteries, meeting a cast of characters and, of course, has his cats to help him solve the crime. Luckily there are many volumes to enjoy in this extensive series.

Life of Pi by Yann Martel (also in hoopla)

Life of Pi won the Man Booker Prize and, when it was adapted to a movie, four Oscars. It is the story of a boy named Pi who is separated from his family during a shipwreck and survives for 227 days, stranded on a lifeboat in the Pacific Ocean with a hyena, a zebra, an orangutan, and a Bengal Tiger named Richard Parker. Pi is the son of a zoo keeper from India and has grown up being around wild animals. Pi and the tiger’s struggle to survive is a test of courage and hope.

Second Chance Cat Mysteries by Sofie Ryan

Meet Sarah Grayson and her cat, Elvis, in this delightful cozy mystery series. Set in North Harbor, Maine, the book centers around Sarah, the proprietor of a secondhand shop who often has to use her sleuthing skills to solve a mystery. There is a likable cast of friends and characters, including Sarah’s grandmother and a love interest named Mac.

The Travelling Cat Chronicles by Hiro Arikawa

This is a beautiful story of the bond between Nana the cat and his owner, Satoru. Satoru took Nana in when he was a stray cat and injured by a car. Nana is an endearing cat with a crook in his tale and he becomes Satoru’s beloved companion. Then Satoru sets out on a journey to visit three of his friends with Nana and finally Satoro’s aunt who raised him. They travel across Japan, seeing the sights. Told in the voice of Nana and Satoru, it is the story of courage and friendship.