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By Dan DeNeve and Maggie Villalobos with the Dana Point Library

Regular readers of the Dana Point Times may have fond memories of “Reading with Wright.” While Chris is enjoying his retirement in New Mexico, we have assumed the mantle and will be continuing his article… with a bit of a spin. Each column will feature books for the younger reader as well as the adult reader.

Maggie Villalobos.
Maggie Villalobos. Children and Teen Librarian.

For the middle school history buff in your life, check out Outrun the Moon by Stacey Lee. Published earlier this year, this story is set in San Francisco in 1906. Lee tells the story of Mercy Wong, a 15-year-old girl who is determined to break from the poverty in Chinatown and earn her education at St. Clare’s School for Girls. Mercy will do anything in her power from trickery to bribery to gain entry. But life isn’t necessarily easier at St. Clare’s School for Girls. Dealing with spoiled heiresses is the least of Mercy’s worry. When disaster happens, Mercy and her new friends must put all their skills and wits to the test in order to survive. While this is a fictional account of the San Francisco earthquake, Lee shows true human interactions. Readers will cheer for Mercy as she rises to each new challenge. The Dana Point Library owns a copy.

Older teens who enjoy historical fiction won’t want to miss Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein. While it was published in 2012, the story is just as gripping and heartbreaking today. On October 11, 1943, a British spy plane crashes in Nazi-occupied France. The pilot and passenger are best friends, but only one girl has a shot at survival. “Verity” tells the Gestapo about her past, her friendship with Maddie, and why she left Maddie in the plane wreckage. But nothing is ever that simple. Be sure to have tissues handy when you check this book out from the Dana Point Library.

Dan De Neve
Dan DeNeve. Adult Librarian.

If you are looking for that perfect gift for the World War II reader this holiday season, look no further than Francis Pike’s, Hirohito’s War: The Pacific War, 1941-1945. Published in 2015, this most current, encyclopedic work of almost 1,100 pages will keep the most avid reader of the subject busy. What makes this work interesting is that Pike brings a British perspective to the subject, which is slightly different from most American authors. For example, Pike gives the Burma theater a considerable amount of focus in this highly detailed book. Burma, generally, is given short-shrift among American historians. Additionally, he argues that Guadalcanal was the turning point for the war effort in the Pacific, and he does not shy away from taking General MacArthur to task. This book does not have to be read in order, but it will keep the reader busy for some time. It is also useful as a reference tool. One drawback is that the bibliography, appendices and all maps are not included in the book; they are online at Pike’s website for the book. While that can be a minor nuisance, if he had added them to the book, the 1,100 pages would have expanded to more than 1,600. Nonetheless, this book makes a great present this season. The Dana Point Library owns a copy.

The Dana Point Library’s informal group, formerly the Tea Time Book Club now the Seaside Book Club, meets every fourth Monday of the month from 10:30-11:30 a.m. All are welcome. We will not meet in December, but will be discussing In the Time of Butterflies by Julia Alvarez. For a list of future featured titles, call the library at 949.496.5517.

For more information about upcoming events across the Orange County Public Libraries system, visit The site also provides access to online research tools, digital magazines, PDF copies of historical sheet music, ebooks, eaudiobooks, jobseeker resources, and more.

Dan DeNeve is Dana Point Library’s new adult librarian and will be covering adult books. Maggie Villalobos is the children and teen librarian and will be making recommendations for older elementary children through high schoolers.

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