Save the Date-Mike Perry at the Grand

October 31, 2010

Mike Perry will be at the Grand Event Center January 14, 2011. The festivities will begin at 7:30 pm.

Stork-Midwest Connections

October 30, 2010



A witty YA blend of romance and the supernatural from a debut author!

Wendy Delsol

Candlewick Press

Sixteen-year-old Katla has just moved from Los Angeles to the sticks of Minnesota. As if it weren’t enough that her trendy fashion sense draws stares, she learns to her horror that she’s a member of an ancient order of women who decide to whom certain babies will be born. Add to that Wade, the arrogant football star whom Katla regrettably fooled around with, and Jack, a gorgeous farm boy who initially seems to hate her. Soon Katla is having freaky dreams about a crying infant and learns that, as children, she and Jack shared a near-fatal, possibly mystical experience. Can Katla survive this major life makeover and find a dress for the homecoming dance? Drawing from Icelandic and Norse mythology and inspired by THE SNOW QUEEN by Hans Christian Andersen, debut author Wendy Delsol conceives an irreverent, highly entertaining novel about embracing change and the (baby) bumps along the way.


Wendy Delsol is a freelance writer who has lived in Detroit, Paris, Nice, and Los Angeles. STORK is her first novel, with the sequel, FROST, currently scheduled for release in Fall 2011. She lives in Des Moines, Iowa.

Please visit her website for more information on her upcoming

Moon Over Manifest-Midwest Connections

October 28, 2010


An intricately woven, heartfelt tale of a young girl whose search for the past leads her to her future…

Clare Vanderpool

The year is 1936. Twelve year-old Abilene Tucker is hoping to learn about her father’s childhood when she arrives in Manifest, Kansas. Having heard stories of the town in its 1918 heyday, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s a dried-up Depression town. But her disappointment quickly turns to intrigue when she discovers a hidden box full of old letters, mementos, and mention of a spy known as The Rattler. Even though Abilene and her new friends are warned to “leave well enough alone,” the mysterious words send them on a spy hunt. Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who tells stories from the past. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to uncover what role her father played in the town’s secret history.


Clare Vanderpool grew up reading books in unusual places (and is still a big advocate of doing so): dressing rooms, trees, and church, to name a few. She describes herself as having a “very strong connection to place.” A graduate of Newman University, she now lives in Wichita, Kansas—a mere four blocks from where she grew up—with her husband, four children, and two dogs. This is her first novel.

Elsie’s Bird-Midwest Connections

October 27, 2010

elsie's bird 5

An exquisite picture book captures the wide-open beauty of the prairie.

Jane Yolen
Illustrated by David Small

Philomel Books

When Elsie runs into the blowing grasses of the prairie, calling her canary, your heart will break; when the canary finds her, you will cheer!

Jane Yolen and David Small bring to life the story of young Elsie: a girl who leaves Boston, where she has been extraordinarily happy, to go across the nation with her father to the lonely, wide-open spaces of the prairie.  Her only friend is her pet canary Timmy Tune.  Will she leave the sod house to explore the prairie, to get to know it?  No.  She hunkers down inside with Timmy and that is enough.  Until the day the canary gets out of the cage, flies out the door, and into the prairie, drawing her—in a wonderfully dramatic scene—onto the prairie, too.  When Elsie races into the blowing grasses of the prairie, calling her canary, your heart will break; when the canary finds her, you will cheer.


Jane Yolen is one of America’s most beloved storytellers.  Author of one of the bestselling Caldecott Medal winners ever,Owl Moon, she has written over two hundred books, covering almost every genre: novels, plays, poems.  Perhaps above all, she loves the picture book which combines her love of rhythm with storytelling itself.  She spends part of her year in Scotland, where she has a home, and where she wrote the Philomel Scottish Quartet books, and the rest in Hatfield, Massachusetts.  She has a daughter, Heidi, who is also a novelist, and two sons.

David Small grew up in Detroit, Michigan, and began drawing the borders of his workbooks from the time he was in elementary school.  It was the way he expressed himself.  He attended Case, a special high school for talented young people, and went on to earn an MFA from Yale.  He and his wife Sarah Stewart have written several books together, The Librarian and The Gardener amongDavid Small 2002them, The Librarian winning a Caldecott honor book.  His So You Want to Be President, written by Judith St. George, has been a perpetual favorite.  His NY Times bestselling Stitches is his first adult book.

Possum Trot-Midwest Connections

October 26, 2010


J. Harley McIlrath

Ice Cube Books
Short stories set in Iowa


Possum Trot is as Americana as the National Resonator guitars the title story is based on.” —Joe Price, Iowa Blues Hall of Fame, and Independent Music Award Winner

“Fiction that reads like memoir, each piece capturing the essence of places, people, time, and emotions. Readers will know these people and want more.” —Carol Bodensteiner, author, Growing Up Country: Memories of an Iowa Farm Girl

“These are strong stories that capture the humor, the reward and the darkness of late 20th century midwestern rural life. It’s easy to sense that Harley McIlrath grew up very near the hayfields and small towns of these tales. His realistic but warm fiction brightens for me the dreariness of today’s now endless corn and soybean landscape. These stories are what I’d call moonbeams on a lively little pasture creek.” —Timothy Fay, editor,Wapsipinicon Almanac

“Possum Trot is one of the sweetest, most refreshing glasses of strychnine-laced prose you’re likely to drink all year. At once elegiac and acerbic, it presents an Iowa full of affecting characters presented as they should be, with love and severity. McIlrath’s debut is an entertaining, timeless book that can and should be consumed in one sitting.” —Josh Emmons, author, The Loss of Leon Meed

“J. Harley McIlrath’s short stories and essays remind us of a time when we still did much of our farm work by hand, and we still used tractors and cultivators instead of poison. McIlrath writes with precision and energy. You won’t find any covered bridges or lonely farmwives in Possum Trot, but the reader may want to learn why Danny Weaver and an unnamed girl parked along a dirt road on a hot afternoon. There’s real sweat in this book, and it never smelled so good.” —Patrick Irelan, author, Central Standard

The pieces in this collection form a lament for a way of life mostly gone. “The family farm is dead. Did you know?” says one character within. “E.B. White writes Charlotte’s Web today, it takes place in a hog confinement. Imagine Wilbur living in a concentration camp for pigs.” Still, these pieces are neither nostalgic nor sentimental. Boys bear burdens heavier than is just—they discover truths at too early an age. Woven through-out is the strong, unspoken love between fathers and sons, sons and fathers. But perhaps these pieces, this Possum Trot, form not a lament, but a celebration of life. There is laughter here, the laughter that comes after the funeral, when the family is gathered in the home, the casseroles have been eaten and the boys are playing catch in their church clothes. The men have taken off their jackets and rolled their sleeves, and the women are pouring coffee. “Do you remember when…?” someone says. They do remember, and they laugh. There are tears in their eyes because one of the family is missing. But those tears are mixed with tears of laughter, because look around you. Here we all are. Still here. Alive and kicking.


J. Harley McIlrath was raised on the family farm near Newburg, IA.  He earned a B.A. in English and Philosophy and an M.A. in English from the University of Northern Iowa.  For ten years he ran his own bookstore in Cedar Falls, IA. Currently he is the assistant manager and book buyer for the Grinnell College Bookstore and Pioneer Bookshop in Grinnell, IA.


Penny Loafers & Bobby Pins-Midwest Connections

October 22, 2010

IN THE ’50s AND 60’s
Susan Sanvidge, Diane Sanvidge Seckar,
Jean Sanvidge Wouters, and Julie Sanvidge Florence

Wisconsin Historical Society Press
$18.95 Trade Paperback


“In the fifties, sleek Mixmasters were replacing rusty eggbeaters, and new pressurecookers blew their tops in kitchens all over town. There were kids everywhere, and new ranch-style houses filled vacant lots. . . . Turquoise Studebakers and dusty-rose Chevy BelAirs with flamboyant fins and lots of chrome replaced dark pre-war cars. Cameras took color snapshots instead of black-and-white. We wore red canvas tennis shoes and lemon yellow shorts, and bright blue popsicles melted down our chins.” – from the Introduction

In PENNY LOAFERS & BOBBY PINS, the four Sanvidge sisters, whose birthdates span the Baby Boomer period, present a lively chronicle of growing up in the 1950s and 1960s in a small midwestern town. Each sister writes about the facets of her childhood she remembers best, and their lighthearted stories are illustrated with period photos. Sprinkled with mentions of pedal pushers, home permanents, and “two-tone” cars; early TV shows and the first rock and roll; hula hoops, Tiny Tears, and Mr. Potato Head (played with a real potato); and memories of their grandparents who lived nearby, PENNY LOAFERS & BOBBY PINS also features “how-tos” for re-creating the fads, foods, crafts, and games the Sanvidge sisters recall in their stories.

In their first book, Apple Betty & Sloppy Joe, the Sanvidge sisters gathered food memories and recipes from their midwestern Baby Boomer childhood. In PENNY LOAFERS & BOBBY PINS you’ll find out what they were up to – when they weren’t eating.


Susan Sanvidge is a freelance graphic designer. She lives in Chicago.

Diane Sanvidge Seckar is a journeyman electrician and co-owner of Seckar Electric in Winneconne,Wisconsin. She also designs and makes crocheted hats and purses.

Jean Sanvidge Wouters is a homemaker, seamstress, and volunteer in Winneconne.

Julie Sanvidge Florence is the director of the Lebanon Public Library in Lebanon, Ohio.


Peter Smith Reading at the Northfield Public Library

October 20, 2010

book cover

Book Talk & Signing: Peter Smith, author of A Porch Sofa Almanac

Wednesday, October 27th, 2010
7:30 p.m.

Northfield Public Library
210 Washington St
Northfield, MN 55057


An anthology of Peter Smith’s captivating musings on being Minnesotan

For Peter Smith, the assignment from Minnesota Public Radio was simple: try to say something about Minnesota. So he began exploring the simple, everyday Minnesota things he came across and sharing them with listeners each Tuesday morning. The result is a hilarious, often wry, and always remarkable portrait of everyday life in the Land of 10,000 Lakes that will resonate with Minnesotans from the state’s biggest cities to its smallest towns.

A Porch Sofa Almanac is the first collection of Smith’s essays for MPR—stories that keep close to the ground and reflect on the common experiences of being a Minnesotan: small-town football, stacks of Hudson’s Bay blankets in an antique store, ice fishing, and even those soggy gloves that emerge from melting snowbanks each spring. Following the calendar year, Smith’s reflections are the perfect season-by-season companion for that chair by the fireplace, a bench by the campfire, a seat on the bus or train—or, of course, a porch sofa.

A Porch Sofa Almanac ultimately casts Minnesota in a unique light. As Smith writes: “The entire state comes across as some wonderful, slightly quirky treasure unearthed at a church basement rummage sale.” Much loved—perhaps a little rough around the edges—and absolutely ready to be shared.

“In his wonderful new book Peter Smith has assembled a year’s worth of short pieces that prove the true power of story lies not in the ability to reveal but to conjure. Visceral and poignant, these beautiful tales each catch and release a moment. Suddenly memories begin to flood like the Mississippi River in springtime. As he does on Minnesota Public Radio, whether it’s a crisp autumn day under a Hudson’s Bay blanket, a Little League game, or perhaps the best opening line ever in ‘Meditation on a Lawnmower,’ Peter reminds us that a year—a lifetime—is made of episodes, times with those we love, community, and family. In Peter’s world we are verbs not nouns, always changing, living, experiencing, and yet like the seasons, bound to come around again. These little gems, or at times more like Pop Rocks, burst forth; we belong.”
—Kevin Kling

“I’ve had the pleasure of knowing Peter for a long, long time. A great guy—and it turns out—a great writer. His radio commentaries on life in Minnesota are real jewels.”
—Gary Eichten

“Smith’s prose can have the flavor of Bill Bryson or of that old Minnesota standby Garrison Keillor. Other parts of Almanac are infused with an autumnal quality that’s movingly elegiac. Smith’s little volume is, overall, heartfelt and appealing. ”
—Star Tribune


Peter Smith lives in Hopkins, Minnesota. He writes magazine articles, fiction, poetry, an occasional op-ed piece, and is a weekly contributor to Minnesota Public Radio’s Morning Edition with Cathy Wurzer.



Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 57 other followers