A Gift for You: Extra hoopla Borrows for December!

This is a season for giving, and we at the Abbot Public Library have been thinking about how we can express our appreciation to our patrons. You are what makes the library so vital to our community! This year, our gift is a virtual one, and we hope you will love it—go ahead, open it!

Here it is: with the shorter days and longer nights of December upon us, we’re thinking that you just might like a couple more audiobooks, movies, or music albums to brighten the darkness. So we are giving you two extra hoopla borrows during this month! Now you have seven borrows to take you right through the holiday season.

There’s just so much to explore in hoopla’s curated holiday collections. For audiobooks alone, there are three appealing categories: Holiday Mysteries, Holiday Romance, and Christmas for Kids.

Movies? Oh, yes. We’ve got you covered! For an eclectic sampling of what’s on offer, have a look at the 63 titles in Best of Holiday and 34 New Holiday Movies (not previously available on hoopla). Snuggle down with the younger members of your family and browse through the 146 age-appropriate films represented in Christmas for Kids and Hanukkah for Kids.

For a little extra helping of love with your cocoa and cookies, try the Holiday Romance and It’s a Wonderful Lifetime collections. Or just wrap up the cinematic year with the retrospective 100 Most-Borrowed Movies of 2020 and Leaving hoopla in December categories.

Want some fresh music selections to liven up your decorating, baking, and gift-wrapping efforts? You’ll not be disappointed! There are no fewer than 2597 albums available in five categories, some of them brand-new in 2020: Holiday, Holiday Classics, Holiday Jazz, Holiday Movie Soundtracks, and Spiritual Holiday. You’ll be spoilt for choice!

So go ahead and splurge a little on some cheering entertainment, all for free! Hope you like your gift from us!

If you’re new to hoopla, you can get started here. And if you don’t yet have a Marblehead library card, you can register for one here.

Post-Turkey Viewing: Holiday Movies on hoopla – And Don’t Forget Your Bonus Borrows!

With Thanksgiving Day nearly upon us, we here at the Abbot Public Library are beginning to think about our post-prandial plans. Wash the dishes—tick. Take a long walk—tick. Eat pie—tick, tick. And after that? Get cozy with some films that’ll help get us in the mood for the rest of the holiday season—big tick. If you’d like to join us, read on!

Thankfully, hoopla has anticipated our cravings and has curated a collection of 62 “Best of Holiday” titles. There’s a smorgasbord to choose from. Of course, there are the romances: some from Lifetime, and at least one from Harlequin (A Very Country Christmas). Kids’ options abound, with everything from Caillou’s Holiday Movie to the family-friendly, dog-centered Alone for Christmas—which is also a Bonus Borrow title through the end of this month! You can also catch some of the BBC series Christmas specials you may have missed: Call the Midwife: Christmas Special 2018, The Great British Baking Show: Christmas Masterclass, and Murdoch Mysteries: Home for the Holidays.

Indulge in some classics like the 1955 Miracle on 34th Street and The Snowman, or watch the likes of Katherine Hepburn and Henry Winkler in One Christmas, which is based on an autobiographical short story by Truman Capote.

And if, after the tribulations of 2020, you just need a holiday-themed laugh, we have you covered. For ex-con shenanigans, try All Is Bright, starring Paul Rudd, Paul Giamatti, and Sally Hawkins. Or join a New Zealand family as they attempt to return Santa to the North Pole in Kiwi Christmas.

If you’re running low on borrows this month, don’t forget that you can watch, read, or listen to anything in hoopla’s special Bonus Borrows collection through the end of November—without using any of your monthly allotment!

If you’re new to hoopla, you can visit our FAQs page to get started. If you do not have a library card, go here.

Happy holiday watching to you and yours!

Children Can Enjoy the Camping Experience In These Books!

Some families go camping in the summer and some kids go away to summer camp. In the current summer, some of these activities will be different. But there is still fun to be had. Here are some stories that celebrate the silly and the fun aspects of camping outdoors. Some of the great stories below feature campfires, sleeping under the stars, hiking, and maybe even s’mores!

*All book descriptions are from the publisher

Alvin Ho: Allergic to Camping, Hiking, and Other Natural Disasters by Lenore Look

Here’s the second book in the beloved and hilarious Alvin Ho chapter book series, which has been compared to Diary of a Wimpy Kid and is perfect for both beginning and reluctant readers.

Alvin, an Asian American second grader who’s afraid of everything, is back, and his worst fear has come true: he has to go camping. What will he do, exposed in the wilderness with bears and darkness and… pit toilets? Luckily, he’s got his night-vision goggles and water purifying tablets and super-duper heavy-duty flashlight to keep him safe. And he’s got his dad, too.

Fred and Ted go Camping by Peter Eastman

Fred and Ted—beloved canine stars of P. D. Eastman’s Big Dog… Little Dog—are back in an all-new Beginner Book written and illustrated by P. D.’s son, Peter Eastman! In this story, Fred and Ted go camping, and as usual, their uniquely different approaches to doing things (such as packing equipment, setting up camp, and fishing) have humorous—and sometimes surprising—results. A charming introduction to opposites that beginner readers will find ruff to put down!

Be Prepared by Vera Brosgol

In Be Prepared, all Vera wants to do is fit in—but that’s not easy for a Russian girl in the suburbs. Her friends live in fancy houses and their parents can afford to send them to the best summer camps. Vera’s single mother can’t afford that sort of luxury, but there’s one summer camp in her price range—Russian summer camp.

Vera is sure she’s found the one place she can fit in, but camp is far from what she imagined. And nothing could prepare her for all the “cool girl” drama, endless Russian history lessons, and outhouses straight out of nightmares!

Spy Camp, the second in the Spy School series by Stuart Gibbs

In this follow-up to the Edgar-nominated Spy School, top-secret training continues into summer for aspiring spy Ben Ripley—and so does the danger.


Ben Ripley is a middle-schooler whose school is not exactly average—he’s spent the last year training to be a top-level spy and dodging all sorts of associated danger. So now that summer’s finally here, Ben would like to have some fun and relax. But that’s not going to happen during required spy survival training at a rustic wilderness camp, where SPYDER, an enemy spy organization, has infiltrated the spies’ ranks. Can Ben root out the enemy before it takes him out—for good?

A Clatter of Jars by Lisa Graff

In this magical companion to the National Book Award nominee A Tangle of Knots, it’s summertime and everyone is heading off to camp. For Talented kids, the place to be is Camp Atropos, where they can sing songs by the campfire, practice for the Talent show, and take some nice long dips in the lake. But what the kids don’t know is that they’ve been gathered for a reason—one that the camp’s director wants to keep hidden at all costs.

Meanwhile, a Talent jar that has been dropped to the bottom of the lake has sprung a leak, and strange things have begun to happen. Dozens of seemingly empty jars have been washing up on the shoreline, Talents have been swapped, and memories have been ripped from one camper’s head and placed into another. And no one knows why.

With a camp full of kids, a lake full of magic, and a grown-up full of secrets, A Clatter of Jars isa  story of summer, family, and the lengths we go to win back the people we love.

Summer at Meadow Wood by Amy Rebecca Tan

Vic Brown did not want to go to camp this summer.

Even though it’s nice being back with her friends at Meadow Wood, Vic still can’t forget about the secret reason her mom wanted her and her brother out of the house—or how much her family is going to change. When her home life is blowing up, it can be hard to focus on campfires and canoeing.

But there is something about summer and surprises that go together like blueberry pancakes and maple syrup. And soon, Vic starts to feel like—just maybe—a summer at Meadow Wood was exactly what she needed.

Diverse Biographies for Kids

The specifics of people’s lives can give children insight into the fears and hopes of other people with quite different experiences. A way into empathy is through hearing stories and really listening to what the stories based on people’s real lives mean. Enjoy a handful of biographies in picture book form for opening up the diversity and richness of other lives and dreams.

Dreamers, written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales, a memoir picture book for ages 5-9.

A moving and deeply poetic memoir of Yuyi Morales as a young Mexican immigrant to the US with her infant son. Struggling to make sense of their new world, she discovers the children’s section of the public library and learns a new language, new dreams, and hope.

28 Days: Moments in Black History that Changed the World, written by Charles R. Smith, Jr., and illustrated by Shane Evans. The entries of this history/ group biography audiobook are spoken by various narrators. 

From the Revolutionary War to the present, the achievements of African-Americans in a wide range of arts, politics, sports, etc., are described in prose and poetry. The chapters are divided into the 28 days of Black History Month.

Pride: the Story of Harvey Milk and the Rainbow Flag, written by Rob Sanders and illustrated by Steven Salerno, a picture book biography for ages 6-9.

A clear and age-appropriate recounting of the life of gay activist Harvey Milk and the collaboration that created the Rainbow Flag in 1978 that is a symbol of gay pride throughout the world today.

Firebird, written by Misty Copeland and illustrated by Christopher Myers, a picture book memoir for ages 5-8.

An inspiring story of achievement through hard work and the development of confidence in yourself despite obstacles and your own doubts.

Fictional Kid Mastermind Series

Can a twelve-year-old save the world? Maybe not, but it is a lot of fun for kids to imagine. Here are three action fantasies that feature genius kids with hyper skills and inexhaustible resources who can defeat dangerous forces.

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer, a fantasy/adventure for ages 10+ (also in audiobook and graphic novel format)

Artemis Fowl, criminal mastermind, techie millionaire, 12-year-old genius, decides to steal the gold of a secret, a dangerous race of fairies. Lots of trouble ensues. Essentially parentless Artemis teams up with a pixie and a dwarf, and his adult protector named Butler. There are nearly non-stop battles and peril for Artemis and his sidekicks, with the use of clever machinery on both sides. 

Disney has come out with a PG movie based on the book series.

The Mysterious Benedict Society by Trenton Lee Stewart, a fantasy/adventure for ages 9+ (also in audiobook format)

This adventure series features four precocious gifted kids who are recruited and trained by a mysterious millionaire (Mr. Benedict) for a secret mission. They are sent to infiltrate a secret boarding school run by an evil genius who wants to take over the world. Their special skills and their teamwork will be tested in various ways throughout the series. Ethical behavior and pooling talents are portrayed as important as cleverness in this series.

A TV series has been developed based on the books, available on Hulu.

Charlie Thorne and the Last Equation by Stuart Gibbs, a spy thriller/adventure for ages 10+ 

Twelve-year-old math prodigy, thief, code-breaker. and super athlete Charlie Thorne is recruited by CIA agents for a vital mission. She needs to find and solve the final secret equation of Albert Einstein that unlocks the secret of unlimited power that can either save or destroy the world. She must use her ability to see the world in terms of calculations and probabilities to defeat a secret group out to get the equation first.

Pen Pals in Lockdown!

Are you missing your friends? It’s tough not to see your favorite people at school every day! Maybe you’re tired of texting or Zooming with them–it’s just not very fun anymore.

Maybe you feel like the very bored giraffe in this funny chapter book: Sincerely Yours, Giraffe

Or maybe you’re here but want to be there – with your friends – like the characters in this wonderful picture book: From Here to There.

Here’s an idea: write your friends letters instead! REAL letters. On paper. With a pen or pencil. Sound like a plan?

Okay, so maybe this is a new thing for you. It really can be fun! You don’t just have to write words. Think about the pictures in books you like. Could you draw what you want to say to your friend? Maybe a picture of the place where you spend most of your day. Or your favorite lockdown food. Or your pet. Who knows where your crayons will take you?

Oh, and don’t forget the stickers! And maybe just a teeny bit of glitter…

On to the next step: what will you put your letter in to keep it safe? Maybe you don’t have any envelopes at home right now. What to do? Don’t worry–here’s a video that shows you just how to make one yourself! All you need is paper and glue:

What next? Ask a grown-up for a stamp and some help with addressing your letter. That way you can send it through the mail. If you can’t find a stamp, try taking great photos of the envelope and letter and sending those to your friend by text. Maybe they’ll write you back, and you’ll become real pen pals!

What’s a pen pal? Sometimes it’s someone you don’t even know. You can become friends by writing letters. But you can definitely be pen pals with someone who’s your friend already. You might even learn things about them that you didn’t know before! Here’s an audiobook on hoopla –featuring a favorite character–to give you some inspiration: Arthur’s Pen Pal.

Be careful to wash your hands before creating your letter and envelope, as well as before you send it, after touching the mailbox, and after you touch a letter you’ve received. Talk to your parents about whether you should put letters you receive in a safe place for a while before reading them. And be sure not to touch your face when you’re handling letters.

Find Product Reviews With Consumer Reports Online!

Consumer Reports, an independent nonprofit member organization, is available for you to use from home with your library card! Find detailed reviews and ratings for products related to Appliances, Cars, Health, Money, Babies & Kids, Electronics, and Home & Garden. Need a new washing machine? Consumer Reports has rated 132 different machines based on water efficiency, noise, and capacity. Is your lawn mower on the fritz? Find one that “makes the cut” from the 125 rated push, self-propelled, or robotic lawn mowers and tractors. 

Check out the “Latest News” section for informative articles on a variety of topics and products. Want to know how to choose and wear a mask? Do you need to find ways to stay safe from germs when you go to the grocery store? Articles related to these questions and more can be found here. You can also sign up to have news and tips sent right to your email!

Find comprehensive topic guides on current subjects in “Issues that matter to us,” including the coronavirus, car safety & efficiency, data privacy, food safety, and more! You can also easily search for products, or find an A to Z list of products, from air conditioners to yogurt.

Take a peek inside the June 2020 Consumer Reports to read articles from the current issue and find back issues in the Archive.

Need help finding something in the online version of Consumer Reports? Email the Library Reference Staff at mar@noblenet.org!

Minds Behind the Magic: Favorite Children’s Authors in Audio and Film

Chances are, you’ve been spending a good bit more time with the kids recently. Are you struggling just to remember how it feels to be a child, let alone figuring out how it feels to be one in the middle of a global crisis? If so, you might turn to some old friends for inspiration–writers who, Peter Pan-like, never seemed to lose their passports to the realm of childhood, and who have made the lives of their readers all the richer for their magic.

If you’d like to get to know these remarkable personalities better, why not have a listen to the biographies curated in a brand-new hoopla audiobook collection: 2020 APL Minds Behind the Magic Audio? Here, you’ll find portraits of imaginations born out of the crisis of World War I in books like A Hobbit, a Wardrobe, and the Great War by Joseph Loconte or Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle Earth by John Garth. (To enjoy a glimpse of Tolkien’s own parenting approach, you might also take a look at his playful Letters from Father Christmas, a richly-illustrated ebook available on hoopla.)

In a similar vein, Louisa May Alcott’s life and writing were undoubtedly shaped by crisis: childhood privation and the Civil War loom large in her biographies. For a well-rounded study, try Susan Cheever’s Louisa May Alcott: A Personal Biography; to observe the strong mother-daughter bond that shaped Alcott, listen to Marmee & Louisa: The Untold Story of Louisa May Alcott and Her Mother by Eva LaPlant. 

In the memoirs of Christopher Robin Milne, we have a different sort of perspective: the complicated influence of famous children’s author A. A. Milne and his works on his own son. While the two-part autobiography (The Enchanted Places and The Path through the Trees) is not all sunshine, it offers some fascinating windows onto Winnie-the-Pooh’s world and its creator. Even more compelling is The Natural World of Winnie-the-Pooh: A Walk Through the Forest That Inspired the Hundred Acre Wood, a biography-cum-ramble through rural England.

For further insight into the minds behind the magical worlds of classic children’s literature, have a look at a companion film collection in hoopla, available here.

Homeschool with hoopla!

While home during shelter-in-place, it is practical to keep new digital learning resources coming in to help with burnout and boredom. Check out all of the Abbot Public Library’s e-collections and digital resources online. Today we are spotlighting homework help on hoopla.

Parents can borrow any of these picture and chapter ebooks as “Bonus Borrows.” They do not count toward the five borrows a month limit. Use your Bonus Borrows for supplementing nonfiction books for kids. The collection of ebooks covers diverse subjects, from astronomy to zoology, and is geared to grades K-5. Update homework help with fresh, factual materials.

Below are some engaging examples:

Rosie Revere’s Big Project Book for Engineers by Andrea Beaty
Cooking Class: Global Feast! By Deanna Cook
Junk Drawer Algebra by Bobby Mercer
How Plants Grow by Donna H. Rice (also available as a Read Along)
The Solar System by Laura Hamilton Waxman, part of the Early Bird Astronomy series

You can also check out the School Closed? collection on Overdrive or through Overdrive’s Libby app for more books to keep kids learning while at home, as well as other activities for kids that were posted on the blog!

Music, Museums, and More!

If the coronavirus has cancelled that dream concert you’ve been waiting FOREVER to get tickets to, then it’s time to start that family band and get the show on the road (or at least your living room). Check out these great resources to get inspired and groovy at home with music!

Boston Children’s Museum Drum Circle

Make glass xylophones to learn about sound and vibrations, make a guitar using your body and string, or participate in a virtual drum circle with the Boston Children’s Museum.

Listen to professional musicians play from the Museum of Fine Arts’ collection of over 1,300 instruments, including a harpsichord from 1736, a 19th century fiddle from China, and a slide trumpet from 1835.

Learn from the masters with the Boston Symphony Orchestra’s Home School, which includes instrument demonstrations, Youth Concert lesson plans for mini Mozarts and tiny Tchaikovskys, virtual lessons with BSO members, and episodes from WBUR’s Circle Round podcast in partnership with the BSO as part of their Concerts for Very Young People series.

And speaking of Circle Round, check out this excellent, award-winning podcast created for children ages 4 to 10. Each episode adapts a folktale from around the world and turns it into a sound- and music-rich radio play. Listen to Episode 21, ‘What Am I Hearing?’ with composer Eric Shimelonis as he goes through all of the instruments he uses to create music for the podcast.

For further exploration into music and the people that create it, take a look at these great titles for children, available through Libby and hoopla:

On hoopla

Bats in the Band by Brian Lies
Zin! Zin! Zin! A Violin by Lloyd Moss (audiobook)

Plus check out the hundreds of albums, from Raffi to Disney, available on hoopla Kids

On Libby:

Pete the Cat’s World Tour by James Dean
Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln by Margarita Engle
Who Was: Popular Musicians by Various (audiobook)
When the Beat was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill

On hoopla & Libby:

Trombone Shorty by Troy ‘Trombone Shorty’ Andrews 
Check out the ebook or audiobook on Overdrive/Libby and the ebook, movie, or Read Along on hoopla. 

Drum Dream Girl: How One Girl’s Courage Changed Music by Margarita Engle
Check out the ebook on Overdrive/Libby or the audiobook, movie, or Read Along on hoopla.