Perfect Reads for Older Americans Month

Thankfully, literature is not just the realm of young starlets.

Dakota County Library staff have put together these reviews for May to celebrate Older Americans Month. The library also celebrates this month with a series of Senior Teas at the various branches. They are a great opportunity for all ages to come to the library for some great entertainment and a spot of tea.


Cold Sassy Tree by Olive Ann Burns

This 1984 novel is sometimes put in line with "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee or works by Alice Walker. Young Will Tweedy is 14 at the turn of the century and is living in the town of Cold Sassy, Georgia. His grandfather causes uproar in this sleepy little town by eloping with the beautiful young employee in his store. That is bad enough, but what really scandalizes the rural community is that the nuptials occur only three weeks after his wife of thirty-six years passed away. The events that follow change Will's outlook on life forever. Burns paints a wonderful picture of life in a small and changing southern town in the early 20th century. It is funny, poignant, sad, witty, a historical snapshot, and very southern. Reviewed by Nataliya Bakunina


“Lost and Found: Unexpected Revelations about Food and Money” by Geneen Roth

This book is a portrait of one woman’s devastating loss and subsequent rise from the ashes of the Bernie Madoff scandal. Roth relates her extensive experience as a self-help food guru to money with such ease that even the fiscal novice will understand just how uncomplicated the world of money can be—and how important it is to understand it. The author identified her own unconscious choices: binge shopping followed by periods of budgetary self-deprivation, "treating" herself in ways that ultimately failed to sustain, and using money as a substitute for love, among others. It is a funny, brilliant, irresistible book about money that you can't put down. Reviewed by Nataliya Bakunina


“The Lost Years” by Mary Higgins Clark

Prolific author Mary Higgins Clark is back, this time with a new mystery that will no doubt garner comparisons to Dan Brown’s “The Da Vinci Code.”  Retired biblical scholar Jonathan Lyons has been found dead in his home. His wife Kathleen, suffering from Alzheimer’s, was found in a closet, clutching the supposed murder weapon. She is unable to provide a coherent description of what she witnessed that evening, leading the police to consider her as the prime suspect. Dr. Lyons had been involved in an affair with a much younger colleague, Professor Lillian Stewart. The police initially view the murder as a case of a wife scorned. However, Mariah Lyons, Jonathan and Kathleen’s daughter, discovers that her father may have been in possession of a lost archeological treasure. Before his death, Jonathan thought he might have discovered a letter that had been stolen from the Vatican archives in the 1500s. The letter was presumed to have been written by Jesus to Joseph of Arimathea. Mariah believes this prized document is the real reason her father was murdered, and sets out to prove her mother’s innocence. Also, as an added bonus, Clark’s recurring fan favorite characters, Alvirah and Willy Meehan, the retired lottery winners, emerge once again to help solve the mystery. Fans of Mary Higgins Clark and mysteries in general will enjoy this fast paced story. Reviewed by Erin Holl


“The New Woman: A Staggerford Novel” by Jon Hassler

Beloved late Minnesota author Jon Hassler’s last published novel revisits the town of Staggerford. Here the reader will be happy to catch up on the life of Agatha McGee. In this novel, the prim yet spunky retired school teacher is 88-years-old, and is reluctantly considering moving into the Sunset Senior Apartments. She has many concerns about giving up her independence upon moving out of her longtime home. However, in her new apartment, she finds that life continues to go on. Agatha gets involved in a mystery concerning a missing lottery ticket, offers assistance to a kidnapped child, and serves as a sounding board for many members of the community. Agatha continues to have a variety of adventures, and discovers that the bonds of friendship and family are timeless, and are not dependent on one’s age or address. Hassler’s novel is full of warmth, humor, and very keen observations on the human condition.  Fans of good fiction with a Minnesota setting will enjoy this novel. Reviewed by Erin Holl


“The Grandma Book" and "The Grandpa Book” by Todd Parr (Ages 2-6)

These brightly illustrated picture books celebrate the special bond between grandparents and their grandchildren. Author Todd Parr uses his trademark colorful artwork with simply worded text—perfect for reading time! Meet Grandmas who hula-hoop, make soup, and give lots of kisses; Grandpas who like to tell stories, make kids laugh, and give lots of hugs. It doesn’t matter what you call Grandma (maybe Nana or Memaw) or Grandpa (maybe Granpa or Pop)—their love is applauded in these delightful books. Reviewed by Sarah Iverson


“What! Cried Granny: an Almost Bedtime Story” by Kate Lum (Ages 3-7)

A favorite among many Dakota County Children’s librarians, this is a hilarious and colorful story of Patrick and his first sleepover at Grandma’s house. As Patrick’s bedtime approaches, his Grandma discovers that he is in need of important items for bedtime. How can he sleep if he doesn’t have a bed, a blanket, or a teddy bear? A very creative and resourceful grandmother is ready to solve these problems. This is a wonderful read-aloud that invites listeners to shout out—WHAT?! throughout the story.   Just a quick note of caution—this is not the quietest bedtime story (note the ‘almost’ in the title). Reviewed by Sarah Iverson

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Danielle Cabot (Editor) June 14, 2012 at 06:09 PM
I read "Water for Elephants" last month and really enjoyed it. The storyteller is a 93-year-old man reminiscing about an adventure he had in his 20s. I thought I knew how the story would conclude ... but I was wrong :)


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