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Dan Coleman

Crypt Lit

Where does one store a souvenir Abraham Lincoln beard?  I bought mine years ago on a road trip with my father to see Lincoln historic sites in Springfield, Illinois, but I’ve never known what to do with it. After I was told to stop wearing it to work every day, I tried hanging it up with my ball caps for a while, but it got in the way. Then I tried my underwear drawer, but that was way too weird.

It finally found a home among my much neglected neckties, which makes sense because I inherited most of those from my dad, and I only keep the beard around as a memento of him. On the last day of our trip we visited Lincoln’s tomb, an impressive bastion of granite, marble, and bronze, beneath which the president lies with Mary Todd and three of their four sons: Tad, Edward, and Willie. This place was heaven for us, since my dad also left me his gene for walking battlefields, reading gravestones, and pondering the life of Honest Abe. Read More..

An Interview with Kelly Jones

Chickens with superpowers, a farm full of junk to explore, and a series of mysterious typewritten letters are just a few of the wonders within this year’s Read Across Lawrence for Kids title, Unusual Chickens for the Exceptional Poultry Farmer, by Kelly Jones.  Jones, who recently answered a few of my questions about the book, will be available via Skype at the library on Sunday, February 19th, from 1:30-2:30 p.m. to answer more questions from kids (between bites of free pizza donated by Rudy’s).  Join us for this and the other events we’ve put together this month with the help of KU Libraries and the Friends of the Library to celebrate this unique book. Read More..

Bibliobominable: Winter Reading for Young Yetis

Ah, winter. The trees are bare, a chill is in the air, and I’ve got all the classic picture books of the season stacked beside my kids’ beds. We could read my own childhood favorite, Ezra Jack Keats’ iconic The Snowy Day. Or there’s Jacqueline Briggs Martin’s Snowflake Bentley, in which Mary Azarian renders the wonders of snow in Caldecott Medal-winning woodcuts. And here is Raymond Briggs’ jolly and gentle Snowman, a holiday presence to rival Santa in some homes.  Listen!  Are those the choirboys of St. Paul’s Cathedral I hear on the north wind, intoning the angelic melody of “Walking in the Air,” the song made famous in the 1982 short film adaptation of The Snowman? Read More..

The Best Books from the Worst Year

Let’s be honest, 2016 has been kind of a hot mess. Between so many celebrity deaths (David Bowie, Sharon Jones, Prince, Alan Rickman, Muhammad Ali, Elie Wiesel… holy cow, SO MANY) and some, uh, general upheaval, most people are ready to write this one off as a loss.

But! As much as we’d like to say goodbye and good riddance to the year as a whole, we’d be remiss if we didn’t mention one of the very good things that came from 2016; this year has offered readers a wealth of fabulous new books. Debut authors and big-hitters alike have released incredible works in 2016, and the staff of LPL would like to share a few of our favorites. If you’re looking for great gifts for bibliophiles in your life, try one of these librarian-approved reads: Read More..

Squashing the Back-to-School Jitters

With a preschooler and kindergartener in the house these days, trips to and from school are a big part of my life.

Like most of the experience of parenting, many of my preconceived worries about school have never materialized, but issues I didn’t expect at all have surprised me. For instance, I spent my own first few years of elementary school staring down long hallways as older kids and adults rushed past me in a faceless torrent. Read More..

Dahl in All

You never know what thoughts will pop into your head when you wake up two hours before dawn, creep down to the darkest, quietest corner of the basement, and make a giant paper mache blueberry.  “Why the heck am I doing this?” is one recurring theme. Read More..

Republish or Perish

Back in 3rd grade, my best friend hipped me to the wonders of Bertrand Brinley’s novel The Mad Scientist’s Club, about a group of boys who float a mannequin over their town’s Founder’s Day celebration, construct a remote controlled “monster” in a local lake, and wreak further havoc with various other products of their tinkering.  Read More..

Monkey See, Enkidu

Like many in town, our home has not been immune to an influx of sugar ants in recent weeks, made worse by a wet May.  Unfortunately, word spread among them that, due to its plentiful supply of improperly disposed lollipop and Popsicle sticks, my 5-year old son Ray’s bedroom was a sort of ant Las Vegas.  At bedtime for a week straight, no matter what we did to make his room less interesting, a steady line marched past his bed, the sight of which, combined with a tired brain and body, resulted in as many tears as ants.  Read More..

Cranky Kirkus

“It has come to this: werewolves on The Titanic.”

Favorite first lines of novels make great discussion fodder, but book reviews rarely begin with sentences as memorable as that one, which led off a review of Claudia Gray’s Fateful in the curmudgeon of professional book review journals, Kirkus Reviews.  Kirkus is so notoriously grouchy there is even a Tumblr blog dedicated to its crafty disses, Sick Burns: The Best of Kirkus Review’s Worst. Read More..

Things Are Looking Up, but Hopefully You Weren’t

It’s hard to put a finger on what makes a great title, and like everything else about reading, it’s a matter of taste.  Among the classics are the biblical (East of Eden), the ominous (For Whom the Bell Tolls), the elegant (Beloved), and the just plain weird (Wuthering Heights . . . what does “wuthering” mean, anyway?).  My favorites tend to be titles which make universal pronouncements in complete sentences, like The Heart is a Lonely Hunter, Things Fall Apart, or You Can’t Go Home Again.  So I was pleased to see a new book arrive at the library which has as its title the grandest, truest statement about the human experience I’ve ever heard: Someday a Bird Will Poop on You.   Read More..