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!

Get Wild at Home with the New England Aquarium and Zoo New England!

We may not be able to visit our favorite furry, feathery, or fishy creatures, but the amazing folks at the New England Aquarium and Zoo New England have found some creative ways to bring a little bit of wild into our homes. 

Bonnethead Shark at New England Aquarium

The Aquarium’s Virtual Visit page features daily presentations starring southern rockhopper penguins, harbor seals, bonnethead sharks, and more! A particular highlight is Reggae the Harbor Seal’s tooth brushing routine. The Aquarium has also curated a list of fun at-home activities and educational resources, from making a 3D turtle shell out of items at home to a tide pool aerobics class.

Zebra at Franklin Park Zoo in Boston

Zoo New England is bringing the #ZooToYou through daily videos and activities on their Facebook pages, letting viewers check in on all of their favorite animals at the Stone Zoo and Franklin Park Zoo. They also have a great kid’s activity and resource page on their website, featuring word searches, coloring pages, instructions on how to make a butterfly garden and compost, printable animal masks, and much more.

Be sure to also explore our digital collections for more resources about these animals and the natural world. hoopla has an extensive selection of National Geographic nature documentaries, running the gamut from wild pandas and tigers to killer whales and emperor penguins. And for our Libby app users, check out Sy Montgomery’s The Soul of an Octopus, a New York Times bestseller and finalist for the National Book Award for Nonfiction featuring the octopi of the New England Aquarium!