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When was the last time you discussed a book with someone you had never met before? Or joined your neighbors in a community-wide read-a-thon? Missoula Public Library is excited to announce that you will have that opportunity come October 2012 when we embark on our second annual Big Read event. Missoula Public has been selected as one of 78 libraries from across the country to take part in this competitive grant project sponsored by the National Endowment for the Arts. Our Big Read selection for this year is My Antonia by Willa Cather. We are also doing A Middle Read and a Little Read. For details on those and our action-packed month of exciting exhibits, discussions, and, of course, reading, go to www.readmissoula.org.

Come to the library to learn about beer. Montana seems to have a booming craft beer trade. Ever wonder how that got started? If so, come to the Missoula Public Library on Monday, July 30, when the Missoula Public Library Foundation presents their July Know Montana program focusing on the history of beer in Montana. “Brew Making Under the Big Sky: A History of Beer Making in Montana” will start at 6:30 p.m. in the library’s large meeting room. Join Bob Lukes of Missoula Brewing Company and Montana beer historian Steve Lozar as they discuss the history of breweries and beer making in Montana.

Our summer reading programs continue through the end of August. Stop by and pick up a reading sheet making you eligible for prizes. And check out our August program tying into the adult summer reading program. On Wednesday, Aug. 1, at 7:00 p.m., come “Explore Strange New Worlds: The Search for Habitable Planets Beyond Our Solar System” with University of Montana Astronomy Professor Diane Friend. We know that earth is a very special place. Currently, we know of no other planet that supports life. Over the next few decades, we will explore our own planetary system for habitable environments. But what lies beyond? Are planets common? Do other planetary systems look like ours? Might any of these alien worlds be capable of supporting life? How can we find, let alone characterize, these distant worlds too small and dim to see? For the first time in the history of our species, we now have the capability to look for answers to these questions. This talk will explore the latest discoveries in the search for strange new worlds and how what we’ve found is revolutionizing our ideas about planetary systems- including our own! After this talk, you will be able to look up at a dark Montana sky and see with your own eyes some of the many stars that harbor these strange and distant worlds.

We Have It: Staff Reviews

“The Staircase” by Ann Rinaldi. Harcourt, 2000.

Call Number: YA RINALDI

Award winning writer, Ann Rinaldi, famous for her historical fiction, has authored over forty young adult novels. From her website, annrinaldi.net, she admits that writing historical fiction is a passion for her. When reading her stories, it is obvious that she spends a great deal of time researching the historical periods in which her novels take place to insure the accuracy of the settings. The conflicts, which her protagonists face, reflect concerns common to young adults, past and present.

In The Staircase, Rinaldi spins a sensational tale narrated by a feisty, nineteenth-century teenager. After Lizzy’s mother dies on the trail to Santa Fe, her father leaves her in a girls’ school run by the Sisters of Loretto. Lizzy, raised as a Methodist, becomes a scorned outcast by the other students, especially her devious nemesis, Elinora. Sad and lonely, Lizzy befriends a wandering carpenter named José, who with just three tools, builds a staircase to the choir loft of the new chapel. Rinaldi weaves friendship and historical facts into a story of Lizzy’s discovery of the strength to forgive and to trust.

(To read more about the legend of the Loretto Chapel, visit www.lorettochapel.com/history.html.)

Reviewed by Annie Alger

Hot Happenings

Here’s a sampling of some of the great programs coming up at Missoula Public Library. There’s lots more on our events calendar at www.missoulapubliclibrary.org.

Jim the Science Guy. Kids, join us for our final summer reading program on Tuesday, July 31. It’s Jim the Science Guy at 2:00 in the large meeting room. Explosions and a hovercraft!

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