Bowman Library Chess Club Members Win Big at Tournament

Chess Players display trophies

Matthew Clark, Henry Fowler, and James Fowler display their trophies.

Congratulations to the three members of the Stephens City Chess Club who won trophies at the SilverKnights Spring Breakout K-8 Tournament in Ashland, VA!  Three out of the four semi-finalists for the 4th to 8th grade division were Stephens City Chess Club members. Of those who made it to the semi-finals, Henry Fowler won first place, James Fowler won third place, and Matthew Clark won fourth place.

These young men have honed their skills at the chess meets hosted by Bowman Library and founded by Matthew Clark. The all-ages, all skill-levels club meets every Saturday at 10AM on the Reading Porch.  The chess meets are free and open to all, no registration required.  Check the library’s calendar for more details.  Learn more about the Stephens City Chess Club at their website:



Your Next Lego Challenge!

The Bowman Library has a new addition for the LEGO Club. Recently we added a display case for LEGO creations and cards for a name, age, and description, so we’ll know the artist behind the creation!


As mentioned in a previous blog post, LEGO is a wonderful way to build skills such as fine motor control, creativity, spacial awareness, and problem solving.


Creating a Chinese Dragon

The last month has been full of some great LEGO creativity as our club members helped us celebrate the Chinese New Year, created homes for hibernation, and celebrated the birthday of Laura Ingalls Wilder by creating structures you may have found as a pioneer.

This coming week we’ll have a brand new challenge when we think of ways to stay warm for the winter. Our final February challenge on the 27th will be the world of Doctor Seuss, with zany homes, crooked roads, truffula trees and more.

So, stop by and join our LEGO Club at 4:30 on Monday. LEGO Club is free, designed for children ages 6 to 12, and meets every Monday afternoon at the Bowman Library.

2017 John Newbery Medal Winner Announced!

Barnhill_GirlWhoDrankMoon_FINAL_PRNT.inddThe Girl Who Drank the Moon by Kelly Barnhill.  

Barnhill’s original fairy tale adventure is full of good and bad witches, magic, monsters, and dragons. It has been racking up accolades all year long, including being named: 

A New York Public Library Best Book of 2016
A Chicago Public Library Best Book of 2016
A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2016
A School Library Journal Best Book of 2016
Named to KirkusReviews’ Best Books of 2016
2017 Booklist Youth Editors’ Choice

Now, as a John Newbery Medal winner, it has been awarded the field’s highest honor.  School Library Journal called it “An expertly woven and enchanting offering for readers who love classic fairy tales.”  Read the full review hereSchool Library Journal Review

HRL’s copy is currently on order and will appear in our catalog shortly.  While you’re waiting for it, try out Barnhill’s other works: Author Search: Kelly Barnhill

Newbery Honor Books

  • “Using original slave auction and plantation estate documents, contrasts the monetary value of a slave with the priceless value of life experiences and dreams that a slave owner could never take away”– Provided by publisher.


  • Crossing paths at an inn, thirteenth-century travelers impart the tales of a monastery oblate, a Jewish refugee, and a psychic peasant girl with a loyal greyhound, the three of whom join forces on a chase through France to escape persecution.


Image resultWolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk (HRL copies currently on order, look for them shortly)

  • Annabelle has lived in Wolf Hollow all her life: a quiet place, still scarred by two world wars. But when cruel, manipulative Betty arrives in town, Annabelle’s calm world is shattered, along with everything she’s ever known about right and wrong.

When Betty disappears, suspicion falls on strange, gentle loner Toby. As Wolf Hollow turns against him, and tensions quickly mount, Annabelle must do everything in her power to protect Toby – and to find Betty, before it is too late.

Powerful, poignant and lyrical, Wolf Hollow is an unforgettable story.

The Newbery Medal is a wonderful resource to help find high-quality children’s books.  You can find out more out last year’s winners here: 2016 Newbery Winner Announced! and find all past winners on our booklist here: Newbery Medal Award Winners

Developing Learning Skills Through LEGO

It’s a bird, it’s a plane, a space craft, sports complex, robot, or perhaps an enchanted forest! It’s anything you can dream, and a box of LEGO.

As technology expands its influence over the learning lives of our children there is a growing concern that certain critical learning skills may be neglected or delayed. In fact, in recent studies, it was found that children spend an average of six hours or more in front of screens every day, which is changing the way modern children connect with their environment.

The benefits or detriments of media and children may still be up for further study and debate, but most will agree on the importance of providing opportunities for a wide range of learning, including the type of hands on creative play that building blocks have supplied for generations.

Through the use of Lego, children can build skills such as fine motor control, creativity, spacial awareness, and problem solving.

15283972_10154880057123701_7539071710049022411_nHave you ever tried to pry apart a couple of tiny Lego blocks or get a block in just the right corner of a building? It’s a workout for the hands, building strength and hand-eye coordination.

Looking at a big, messy pile of blocks, can you dream of a playground, a haunted house, or perhaps a candy factory? Imagining and selecting blocks with a theme in mind can build creative IQ as well as visual spacial skills.

15094873_10154815328048701_3870160148369253213_nWhat about working in three dimensions? Blocks are a wonderful way to creatively link space in height, width, and length. If you have a door, how many more blocks do you need to build up a side frame before you can put a roof over the house? How long should the house be? Can you match up a roof with different angles to the blocks?

Suppose you have a couple of Lego tires and axles, but the front tires are larger than the back tires. You need to find just the right size and shape of a block to connect your axles so that your vehicle is balanced. You try one block but it’s not quite high enough. You’ll need to find a thin, flat block to get that extra height. This is a great exercise in problem solving techniques!

Of course, not every child has access to a wide variety of Lego blocks, and even for those who do, joining with other Lego enthusiasts is a wonderful way to include social and communication skills to the many benefits of Lego play.

Monday afternoons from 4:30 to 5:30, children ages 6 to 12 are welcome to join the Bowman Library for their weekly Lego Club. Each week a theme will be introduced and the kids will brainstorm ways they can create something with that theme in mind.


After they have completed their masterpiece, the children will have an opportunity to display their work through the week in the Bowman children’s department. At the end of the week, the blocks will magically disassemble and be ready for a brand new challenge.

Lego Club will start up again on January 9th and themes for the month will include:

  • Snow and ice sports, toys, or machines
  • Penguins and their habitats
  • Chinese New Year celebration
  • Places where animals hibernate

Even more great challenges are planned for February. Lego Club is a free program, so stop by and join us!

15th Anniversary of Spirited Away

We have a guest blog post today from a young library patron and volunteer. In honor of the 15th Anniversary of the release of Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”, 11-year-old Mary shares her thoughts on the epic movie.

Be sure to check theaters on December 4th and 5th to see if Spirited Away is playing in a theater near you, or reserve a copy of the movie or manga at the Handley Regional Libraryspiritedaway!

Hayao Miyazaki, a Japanese film director and artist, made Spirited Away In 2001. It is being re-released for its 15th anniversary on December 4th and 5th in theaters!

In the story, a ten-year-old girl named Chihiro Ogino was moving into a new house but she and her family got lost and they found themselves in the realm of spirits. She tried to get back but saw that the way they came had become a sea. Chihiro met a boy in his early teens named Haku.  To make it so the spirits wouldn’t kill her, he helped her get a job at a bath house owned by a witch called Yubaba.

The Manga books  for Spirited Away are pretty much the same except the fact you can easily stop and look back. In fact, they used pictures from the movie and added text to them. There are five Mangas (in color). They just let you pause and look closer at what just happened. The Movie and Mangas weren’t really that different. I just watched the movie and read the Mangas.

Though some people think the movie is a little weird, I think it is awesome! The fact that it is weird is what makes it so fun. And has a lot of fun magic to it.

Hayao Miyazaki is coming out of retirement and looking to direct another film and that makes it all the more exciting.

~Mary Costello, 11 years old

Great Audiobooks for the Trip to Grandma’s House

favorite-audiobooks-for-family-road-tripAre you looking forward to vising your family for the holidays?  But not looking forward to spending hours listening to “Are we there yet?  Are we there yet?  I’m booooored”?

Don’t worry!  Handley Regional Library has something better you can listen to!

Here are 6 great audiobooks for a family road trip that kids and adults will love to listen to.

Book Jacket for: Bud, not Buddy [sound recording]

  • Bud, not Buddy by Christopher Paul Curtis.
  • Ten-year-old Bud, a motherless boy living in Flint, Michigan, during the Great Depression, escapes a bad foster home and sets out in search of the man he believes to be his father–the renowned bandleader, H.E. Calloway of Grand Rapids.  The audiobook enhances the experience of listening to this Newberry award-winner with a “zippy reading” and classic jazz songs.  Read the full review from Audiofile.

Book Jacket for: Peter and the Starcatchers [sound recording]

  • Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry, Ridley Pearson

If you’ve listened to the Harry Potter series on audio, you probably already fell in love with Jim Dale’s readings.  This adventure story, a tale of orphans, magic, and pirates, has a no-less fantastic performance from Dale.  Audiofile calls it “truly astonishing. He creates distinct voices for all the characters–pirates, women, British soldiers, and native tribesmen. Adults and children alike will enjoy this rollicking tale of pirates, talking porpoises, flying children, and a giant crocodile.” Read the full review here: Review of Peter and the Starcatchers.

Book Jacket for: Winnie-the-Pooh [sound recording]

  • Winnie-The-Pooh by A. A. Milne

If you’re only familiar with the Disney TV series version of Winnie-the-Pooh, you’re missing out on the depth of humor in the originals.  This version is read by a full cast of familiar British voices, including Dame Judi Dench, and comedian Stephen Fry. Audiofile calls it “a listening pleasure” and “a rich experience.”  Read the full review here: Review of Winnie-the-Pooh


Image result for the cookie moon hank the cowdog

  • The cookie moon written and read by John R. Erickson.

Hank the Cowdog read by his originator John Erickson is incomparable.  Erickson’s unique voices for his characters add to the already humorous story.  Toddlers on up can enjoy these supremely silly stories.




Book Jacket for: The graveyard book [sound recording]

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman

Neila Gaiman’s reading of his 2009 Newberry Winning novel is an enthralling listen.  It tells the story of Nobody Owens who, after being orphaned by the murder of his entire family, is raised by ghosts. Don’t be scared away by the dark themes inherent in the premise; these themes are handled delicately and not sensationally.  Commonsense media’s review calls it “a lovely book. Suspenseful, yes, and a bit creepy, but lovely nonetheless” and recommends it for ages 9 and up.


Book Jacket for: Fortunately, the milk [sound recording] Fortunately, the Milk by Neil Gaiman

Expressively narrated by the author, this title by Gaiman is perfect for those not ready for the slightly spooky tone of The Graveyard Book. Gaiman takes a dive into absurdist humor with this outlandish tale of a father abducted by aliens on his way to buy milk. Audiofile says, “giggles guaranteed for all ages.”

We’ve collected a list of other highly rated titles available from Handley Regional Library here: Great Audiobooks for Family Road Trips

Can’t make it to the library in time to check out these books?  Check out our downloadable audiobooks from your own living room, or on the go: ebooks and more

Lego Club Challenges In November

lego3Do you have a child who lives for Lego? Children ages 6-12 explore, create, and dream through Lego creations every Monday from 4:30-5:30 at the Bowman Library.

November 7th – Create a scene from your favorite book!

November 14th – We’ll monkey around by imagining the perfect play place for a monkey.

November 21st – Give thanks! Create something for which you are thankful.

November 27th – Dinosaurs! Real, imagined, or just plain silly. Make a dinosaur from Lego!

Join us every Monday to meet fellow Lego enthusiasts and explore new ideas to build.

Books for Tweens to Young Teens!

img_0199Too old for picture books, but not quite ready for the more mature Young Adult novels? The Bowman Library has created a display of great books, perfect for children in later elementary through middle school.

This month we will feature great reads for Native American Heritage Month. Older children can stop by to find both fiction by Native American authors, as well as non-fiction books describing the heritage and diversity of the first Americans.

Head around the corner of the display for additional selections from favorite classic authors, as well as some wonderful options from modern lists.