NCRL News and Events

Author/illustrator Gene Luen Yang to visit

Michelle McNiel - Thursday, October 20, 2016

Award-winning graphic novelist and literary ambassador Gene Luen Yang will spend three days in North Central Washington next month, visiting with students at six high schools and headlining a public event at the Wenatchee Convention Center on Nov. 8.

The author of "American Born Chinese" and writer of DC Comics New Superman series is currently serving as the Library of Congress's National Ambassador for Young People's Literature and was recently awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant.

North Central Regional Library is hosting Yang from Nov. 7-9, bringing him to high schools in Wenatchee, East Wenatchee, Quincy, Moses Lake, Brewster and Omak. NCRL has provided copes of "American Born Chinese" — the first graphic novel to be nominated for a National Book Award — to the schools.

Yang will be the featured speaker at a free public event on Nov. 8 at the Wenatchee Convention Center. He will talk at 6 p.m., with a book signing to follow. The event will also feature a booth faire with NCRL's makerspace program, art installations by Eastmont High School students, A Book For All Seasons, Galaxy Comics, children's book author and illustrator Erik Brooks, Wenatchee Public Library, Wenatchee Mini Maker Faire, and more.

"NCRL is thrilled to welcome world-class author and artist Gene Luen Yang to Central Washington Schools and the Convention Center," said Angela Morris, NCRL's associate director of public services.

"We are committed to encouraging children and young people to love reading, so we are proud that Mr. Yang promotes the concept of 'exploring the world through books' through his work as Ambassador of Young People's Literature," Morris added.

As ambassador, Yang's platform is Reading Without Walls. He is challenging young readers to expand their horizons and read books featuring characters who don't look or live like themselves; books on a topic they know little about; and books in a format they don't normally read, such as graphic novels or books in verse.

Yang, the son of Chinese immigrants, often tackles issues of race in his books. In a recent interview with Comic Riffs, he said, "There are a lot of walls between cultures that reading can help bridge; reading is a way to get to know people on a deeper level."

He began making comics and graphic novels in fifth grade. He spent 17 years a science teacher in Oakland, Calif., as he pursued his work as an illustrator and graphic novel writer. In 2006, "American Born Chinese" was published, winning the American Library Association's Printz Award and an Eisner Award for Best Graphic Album, in addition to being shortlisted for the National Book Award.

Later, his two-novel set, Boxers & Saints, was also nominated for a National Book Award and won the L.A. Times Book Prize.

He has also written a book series on coding and has written and illustrated several Superman comics, including the New Superman series.

In January, the 43-year-old was appointed the National Ambassador for Young People's Literature. He was named a MacArthur Fellow and awarded the MacArthur Genius Grant last month.

Speakers coming to libraries

Michelle McNiel - Thursday, September 22, 2016

North Central Regional Library is bringing several speakers to libraries in October in partnership with Humanities Washington.


First up, scholar Lance Rhoades will present a multi-media program on Mary Shelley's masterpiece Frankenstein at the Entiat, Cashmere, Quincy and Soap Lake branches.

The tale of a scientist driven mad by his obsession to animate the dead has resonated widely in the popular imagination, most notably in theater and cinema. Rhoades will lead a conversation about how the work, more than two centuries after its publication, continues to serve as an allegory in debates about technology, slavery and universal suffrage.

Rhoades regularly lectures on the history of literature and film and serves as a program director for the Mercer Island Library and Arts Council.

Oct. 4 at 5:30, Entiat Public Library

Oct. 5 at 2 p.m., Soap Lake Public Library; 6 p.m. Quincy Public Library

Oct. 7 at 4 p.m., Cashmere Public Library

Washington State Poet Laureate Tod Marshal will give a poetry reading and presentation at the Chelan Public Library on Oct 6 at 7 p.m.

Marshal is the state's poetry spokesperson for 2016-2018. As well as a poet, he is a humanities professor at Gonzaga University. His poems have been published in numerous journals and he has written several books, most recently Bugle (2014), which won the Washington State Book Award.

The Washington State Poet Laureate program works to build awareness and appreciation for poetry through public readings, workshops and presentations.

Author and professor Dr. Cornell Clayton will explore political polarization in a program at Winthrop Public Library on Oct. 6 at 5 p.m.

Clayton is director of the Thomas S. Foley Institute for Public Policy and Public Service at Washington State University. In his program, "Political Incivility and Polarization in America," he will look at the relationship between civility and democratic participation as he's observed and recorded over the last 30 years.


Next up, scholar David Fenner will present "Islam 101: Perceptions, Misconceptions, and Context for the 21st Century" at Twisp Public Library on Oct. 13 at 6 p.m.

Fenner strives to promote a greater understanding of Islam, its history and its place in the modern world. The discussion will address topics such as who is Mohammed, what is the Qur-an, and the use and history of head scarves.

Fenner's interest in Islam dates back to his experience as a young man living in the Sultanate of Oman on the Arabian Peninsula for six years. He retired from the University of Washington in 2007 as the assistant vice provost for International Education after a career that included establishing exchange programs with universities in Egypt, Morocco, Uzbekistan, Turkey and Pakistan.

He and his wife later founded an educational center for Arab and Western students on the Arabian Peninsula.

Finally, radio host and producer Amanda Wilde will talk about the influences of Bing Crosby, Jimi Hendrix and Kurt Cobain on technology, business and the notoriety of Washington state.

Wilde's program will address how Washington was a rich breeding ground for these three distinct and revolutionary musicians to push artistic and technological limits to break new ground in their eras and genres of music.

Wilde was a key figure in the development of the cutting-edge Seattle music station KEXP, hosting its afternoon drive show for 12 years. She currently hosts and produces the music program The Swing Years and Beyond for KUOW. In 2014, she was honored by Seattle Women in Jazz for her contributions to the jazz community.

Oct. 24: Royal City Public Library, 5:30 p.m.

Oct. 25: Ephrata Public Library, 7 p.m.

Oct. 26: Okanogan Public Library, 1:30 p.m.


Summer Reading Success

Michelle McNiel - Thursday, September 15, 2016

North Central Washington readers collectively logged more than 92,000 hours of reading this summer.

Children and adults who participated in North Central Regional Library’s annual summer reading program kept track of their hours of reading to win a range of prizes.

In all, 6,768 children signed up at their local libraries and another 535 teens, children and adults signed up online for the program, designed to keep kids reading during the long summer months out of school. They recorded a total of 92,348 hours (that’s more than 5.5 million minutes) — surpassing last summer’s 75,726 hours.

The summer reading program is a great antidote to the summer slide, when children tend to lose reading skills, said NCRL Executive Director Dan Howard. “Kids that read over the summer perform better when school resumes in the fall.

The books, the amazing prizes like bikes and iPads, and the free programs make our summer reading program a fun and effective way to inspire reading among our children, Howard added.

Prizes donated by businesses around the region also included book collections, Kindle Fires, waterpark passes, movie passes, and toys.

In addition to promoting reading, NCRL's 30 branch libraries in Chelan, Douglas, Grant, Okanogan and Ferry counties offered nearly 900 free programs, including story times in English and Spanish, arts and crafts, puppet shows, science experiments, theatrical productions, children's yoga, and Knights of Veritas demonstrations.

Soap Lake readers fueled the increase in reading hours, logging 2,687 more hours this summer than in 2015. They were followed by Grand Coulee readers, who tallied 2,262 more hours this year.

Also of note, Wenatchee Public Library had the highest number of kids who read at least 10 hours — 495; and every child who signed up for the program at the Republic Library clocked at least 10 hours of reading.

Bookmobile of summer

Michelle McNiel - Tuesday, August 09, 2016

It's 3 p.m. on a recent Monday afternoon and children are lined up outside the Bookmobile parked at Eastmont County Park in East Wenatchee.

As librarian Mark Kapral opens the door and lets them in, they begin peppering him with requests. Do you have any Pokemon books? The second Harry Potter book? Diary of a Wimpy Kid? Cool science experiments? Anything about cats? Kapral begins scanning the shelves that line the interior of the van — filled with a variety of popular children’s books — and quickly finds something for each of them.

They all leave the mobile library with something that has them smiling.

Unlike the many rural schools it visits for nine months of the year, North Central Regional Library’s Bookmobile does not get the summer off. Since school let out in June, Kapral and a team of bookmobile librarians have been visiting summer school programs, day camps, churches, free lunch sites, remote communities without libraries, the Wenatchee Valley Farmers Market, Rocky Reach Dam and other locations to get books into the hands of children.

"I love doing this," Kapral said.

Many of the children come in knowing exactly what they want. Book 2 of this series or the latest release from that series. The Bookmobile is stocked with multiple copies of popular series' like Dork Diaries and Harry Potter, and other favorites like The Lego Book. Others have more general requests, like “a book with cats in it.” One boy looking for books can’t remember the series he’s reading, but knows it starts with an “M”. Kapral asks some key questions and ultimately gets the boy to remember the name.

On this particular Monday, Kapral has visited a church summer program, Grant and Cascade elementary schools in East Wenatchee,a free lunch program at Kenroy Park, the YMCA day camp, and finally the Eastmont Parks and Recreation summer program. By the end of the day, more than 350 books had been checked out.

As kids leave with books clutched tightly in their arms, many are so anxious to get started that they flop into the grass nearby and start reading. 


After parties

Michelle McNiel - Monday, August 08, 2016

With a  little less than a month of summer left, most of North Central Regional Library's branch locations are planning parties to celebrate the end of a successful Summer Reading Program.

Many of the libraries experienced record numbers of kids signing up for summer reading, and children and adults have logged thousands of reading hours, making them eligible for a variety of prizes that include bikes, iPods, tablets and gift cards.

Here's a rundown of parties planned this month at libraries around North Central Washington: 

Wednesday, Aug. 17

Manson Public Library

11 a.m. to noon

Manson Bay Park (across Highway 150 from the library).

Games, crafts, food and prizes, including a Kindle Fire, iPod and Slidewaters passes

Chelan Public Library

3 to 4 p.m.

Popsicles and grand prize drawing.

Thursday, Aug. 18

Cashmere Public Library

1 to 2 p.m.

Olympic games, crafts, parachute play, prizes.

Mattawa Public Library

10 to 11 a.m.

Wenatchee Public Library

2 to 4 p.m.

Memorial Park outside the library

Olympics-style games, snacks, and prizes.

Friday, Aug. 19

Waterville Public Library

3 to 4 p.m.

Library Olympics and final raffle drawing

Wednesday, Aug. 24

Curlew and Republic libraries

11 a.m. to noon

Ferry County Fairgrounds

Carousel rides, crafts and sno-cones.

Entiat Public Library

11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Stories, songs, snacks, prizes and

special guest Hillary Schwirtlich from the Chelan-Douglas Land Trust. 

Ephrata Public Library

10 a.m.

Storytime, crafts and prizes, including two bicycles.

Leavenworth Public Library

2:30 to 3:30 p.m.

Magic tricks by Paul Anderman, crafts and snacks.

Oroville Public Library

11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

Thursday, Aug. 25

Twisp Public Library

2 to 3 p.m.

Crafts, parachute play, hula hoop making, erector set,

ice cream and prizes, including a Kindle and iPod shuffle.

Winthrop Public Library

2 to 3 p.m.

Fabric craft with Susan Gottula, decorating t-shirt,

parachute play, painting river rocks, face painting, snacks and prizes.

Friday, Aug. 26

Grand Coulee Public Library

3 to 4 p.m.

Carnival party.

Saturday, Aug. 27

Soap Lake Public Library

Noon to 1 p.m.

Popsicles and prizes.

Monday, Aug. 29

Tonasket Public Library

3 to 5 p.m.

Crafts, games and prizes.

Pacific Science Center

Michelle McNiel - Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Pacific Science Center's Science on Wheels program will be visiting eight North Central Regional Library branches this month.

The program offers fun, hands-on science activities designed to enhance our Summer Reading Program and will focus on wellness, fitness and sports.

Monday, July 25

10 a.m.: Cashmere Library

6:30 p.m., Wenatchee Public Library

Tuesday, July 26

10 a.m., Quincy Public Library

2 p.m., Wenatchee Public Library

Wednesday, July 27

10 a.m., Soap Lake Library

3 p.m., Ephrata Public Library

Thursday, July 28

3 p.m., Curlew Library

Friday, July 29

10 a.m., Republic Library

3:30 p.m., Pateros Library

All of the libraries except Curlew will be offering the Food Detectives program. Here is how the Pacific Science Center describes the program: Do you have the energy to learn about a calorie? Investigate the nutrients humans need and absorb how the five food groups help the body function. Strap on your safety goggles as you perform experiments to see which foods contain essential nutrients. Curlew will be offering Cells "R" Us. Here's the description of that program: Cells, cells everywhere ... from the tips of your toes to the ends of your hair. Do all cells look alike? This and other questions will be answered as you use microscopes to distinguish between various cells and learn about their specialized functions.

Meet the Puppeteers

Michelle McNiel - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Every summer, North Central Regional Library hires puppeteers to perform at its 30 libraries.

For the past few years, the dynamic duo of Brian Higgins, a Wenatchee High School teacher, and Mark Wavra, a teacher at Eastmont High School, have put on the shows. This summer, Wavra has stepped out and Higgings will only be doing half the summer. So the library district hired new puppeteers — all with acting and musical backgrounds — to take the summer show on the road.

They are:

  • Skylar Gingrich, 27, of Wenatchee, who recently completed a 27-month stint as a Peace Corps volunteer in Thailand. After the summer, she will be moving to Spain to teach English to children.
  • Mira Cassiano, 18, of Wenatchee, a 2015 graduate of Wenatchee High School and Wenatchee Valley College who will be leaving this fall for an 18-month mission in Brazil for her church.
  • Gillian Eggers, 18, of East Wenatchee, who graduated earlier this month from Eastmont High School. She will be attending college this fall to pursue studies in music and art therapy.

The three have adapted stories in a series of skits that include Sheldon the Shark, Little Red Riding Hood, Ms. Know-It-All, and a story based on a folk tale from India. The shows will be intermixed with music (all three puppeteers play the ukulele) and sing-alongs.

The five-county library district has been doing the puppet shows each summer for the past 16 years. The program was started by longtime children's librarian Leslie Marshall at Wenatchee Public Library and later expanded to all the branch libraries.

"They were so popular and I just thought everyone should have puppet shows," Marshall said.

The new puppeteers will start their shows on June 21 and will continue throughout the summer to late August. 

Jack Nisbet

Michelle McNiel - Tuesday, May 10, 2016

Spokane author brings storytelling to seven libraries


The stories that make it into Jack Nisbet's popular books on Northwest history are really just the beginning. They have information he gathers from written documents, personal interviews and exploring interesting places.

But he knows there's much more to learn.

His visits to schools and libraries and other venues around the region, giving talks about the stories he's researched, is where some of the best learning happens, he said.

"There is always someone in the audience who can tell me something new and the story evolves," he said. "You do a book and that's really just the starting point."

The Spokane author and naturalist will bring his storytelling to seven North Central Regional Library branches this spring and summer. He will present different stories from his published collection of essays, "Ancient Places: People and Landscape in the Emerging Northwest."

Here's his schedule:

  • May 24, Moses Lake Library, 6 p.m., the story of 20th century painter and terra cotta sculptor Leno Pristini of Clayton, Wash.
  • June 1, Okanogan Library, 1 p.m., presenting some of the Earth's most spectacular lighting phenomena from two different points of view: fur trader David Thompson around 1800 and an astronaut aboard the International Space Station two centuries later.
  • June 1, Omak Library, 6 p.m., the story of a farmer who found a meteorite on a slope above the Willamette River in 1902 is linked to Northwest mining, museum politics, Ice Age floods, human nature and the history of the universe.
  • June 7, Tonasket Library, 6 p.m., the story of the 1872 earthquake that rattled much of the Northwest as recounted from oral accounts, written descriptions and the latest scientific research.
  • June 9, Twisp Library, 6 p.m., the story of amateur paleobotanist Wes Wehr, who founded Republic's Stonerose Fossil Center, whose busy life also included musical composition, success as a school landscape artist, and an array of famous friends.
  • July 13, Waterville Library, 11 a.m., the farmer who found the meteorite near the Willamette River.
  • July 13, Wenatchee Public Library, 6 p.m., the story of the 1872 earthquake that rattled much of the Northwest.


Nisbet has written several books, most of them about David Thompson and naturalist David Douglas. He said that during his research and travels, he's also heard a number of other stories about Northwest history and geography that sparked his interest. He decided to look into some of them, which resulted in his latest book.

His love of Northwest history started while he worked as a writer for a weekly newspaper in Stevens County in the 1970s. But his storytelling really started from childhood, he said.

"I grew up in a storytelling family in the south that went outside all the time," he said. "It's that simple. I hear about something and I just keep following my curiosity."

"That's one reason I like to take kids out exploring," he added. "They don't overthink things. They just follow their nose and explore."

He said his presentations will be a mix of telling stories and a Powerpoint presentation with photos of places and research materials. His talks are about 40 minutes, followed by another 20 minutes of questions and allowing the audience to talk about their own experiences or knowledge.

Humanities Washington

Kim Neher - Tuesday, April 19, 2016

North Central Washington residents are invited to explore history and cultural diversity through music, dance, and interactive presentations offered by Humanities Washington.

NCRL is bringing four Humanities Washington programs to seven libraries in late April and early May.  


Author and anthropologist Llyn De Danaan will present History in Your Backyard, a program about how she discovered the extraordinary story of a pioneering Native American woman and how everyone can explore the history of their own communities.

De Danaan, who lives in Shelton, has written extensively about the history of Japanese Americans, Native Americans, and European Americans in the 19th and early 20th centuries.


Educator and percussionist Antonio Gómez will present Saffron & Honey: Muslims, Jews, and Christians in Medieval Spain, which tells the story of how collaboration between three world religions in Spain led to advances in science, math, poetry, music, architecture and politics that would ripple throughout Europe and the world.

Gómez, who lives in Puyallup, has developed programming for PBS and the Experience Music Project, and formerly worked as education services manager for KCTS 9 public television.


Eric Davis will present Rap 101: The Message Behind the Music. He is a member of the sociology faculty at Bellevue college and the University of Washington Consulting Alliance. 

Davis, who lives in Tacoma, uses music as a catalyst for discussion about popular culture, diversity, and social justice.


Yesenia Hunter, a Mexican writer and musician who grew up in the Yakima Valley, will present Fandango and the Deliberate Community. She will teach the history, method and context behind fandango in a participatory program that will involve music, dance, and prose. 

Hunter has published several books and lives in Yakima.

Humanities Washington is a nonprofit organization that promotes cultural education and history through presentations, speakers, and exhibits around the state.


April 26 7:00pm Ephrata Public Library
45 Alder N.W., Ephrata

History in Your Backyard
April 27 6:30pm Moses Lake Museum & Cultural Center
401 S. Balsam Street, Moses Lake

History in Your Backyard
April 28 6:30pm Leavenworth Public Library
700 Hwy 2, Leavenworth

History in Your Backyard
May 5 5:30pm Entiat Public Library
14138 Kinzel St, Entiat 

Rap 101
May 10 7:00pm Chelan Public Library
216 N Emerson St, Chelan 

Saffron & Honey
May 11 7:00pm Ephrata Public Library
45 Alder N.W., Ephrata 

Saffron & Honey

May 11 4:00pm Royal City Public Library
136 Camelia, Royal City 

Fandango and the Deliberate Community
 May 12 6:00pm Twisp Public Library
201 N. Methow Valley Hwy, Twisp 
Saffron & Honey

Author Headlines Wildfire Event

Kim Neher - Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Award-winning writer Timothy Egan will be in Wenatchee on Thursday to talk about books, wildfires, and the early days of the U.S. Forest Service and preservation of public lands in America.

Egan will talk at 7p.m. Thursday at the Numerica Performing Arts Center. Starting at 6p.m., several community organizations will have booths presenting information on fire-related topics. They include:

  • The U.S. Forest Service
  • Entiat Hot Shots
  • Cascadia Conservation District
  • John Marshall Photography
  • Columbia Breaks Fire Interpretive Center
  • Chelan County Fire District #1
  • Community Wildfire Planning Assistance Grant
  • American Red Cross
  • Plain Firewise
  • Master Gardeners of Chelan & Douglas Counties
  • State Department of Natural Resources
  • Chelan-Douglas Land Trust

Egan's book, The Big Burn, details the events leading up to the destructive 1910 wildfire that blackened more than 3 million acres in Washington, Idaho, and Montana. In light of the fires that touch so many communities and lives in our region each summer - and in particular the last two summers, North Central Regional Library is encouraging everyone to read the book this spring as part of its Columbia River Reads program.

"Timothy Egan is among Washington State's most celebrated writers," said NCRL Executive Director Dan Howard. "In The Big Burn, he tells a great story about the largest fire in American history. After the devastating fires we faced in recent years, this is a timely read."

Egan won the 2006 National Book Award for his nonfiction account of the Dust Bowl, The Worst Hard Time. He also shared a Pulitzer Prize in 2001 with a team of reporters for a newspaper series on race issues in America. The Northwest native is a columnist and formerly an enterprise reporter for the New York Times.

Here's how he answered some questions we asked about his life and work:

Can you tell us about your connection with the Northwest and with our central region in Washington?
I'm a third generation Northwesterner, born in Seattle, raised in Spokane.

What is your favorite place to visit in North Central Washington?
Spent my summers in the Cascades and Lake Chelan, and still do, so a tough question. To this day we count Chelan County as a sort of second home (though we don't have a second home there), and I set my novel, The Winemaker's Daughter, in a fictional coulee just above the Columbia River. Always loved the area, from the Enchantments to floating down the Wenatchee River. And the view from the top of Mount Stuart is unbeatable.

Why did you decide to write about the 1910 fire?
I always knew something of this fire growing up. Smokejumpers were my heroes as a little kid. The fire had a mythic status. And then, as a writer, when I looked into it, I got fascinated by the back story - Teddy Roosevelt and Gifford Pinchot and the founding of the Forest Service.

What surprised you the most in doing your research for the book?
That these kinds of tragedies still repeat themselves. Not wildfires. They'll always be with us, and with increased frequency with climate change. But the loss of human life. We should learn from past mistakes

This happened more than 100 years ago. How did you hear your main subjects' voices?
Yes, indeed! The Forest Service has done a terrific job of collecting the "early memories of the Forest Service,' as they call it, in oral and written histories. As well, Roosevelt and Pinchot were prodigious diary-keepers and letter writers. All those voices came to life when I wrote this book, and some are with me still

Given the back-to-back, record setting fires we've had the last two summers, what can people take away from the book?
That we can, in fact, learn great lessons from the past. That the past is not dead. That a careful reading of this time a hundred plus years ago can inform our decisions now.

What do you like to read?
I'm finishing the epic Winston Churchill trilogy by William Manchester. Riveting. My tastes range from history to memoir to good fiction. The last novel that I truly loved was All the Light We Cannot See.

Are you currently working on a new novel?
Yes! My story of the Irish-American experience, as told through the life of one extraordinary man, is coming out March 1 -- called Immortal Irishmen. It gave me a chance to connect to my heritage.

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