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by Cooper, Michelle

Book list Cooper's follow-up to A Brief History of Montmaray (2009) has the surviving members (all five of them) of the fictional kingdom of Montmaray taking refuge in England following the Nazi bombing of their tiny island home. In journal entries that span the tumultuous years from 1937 to 1939, Princess Sophie recounts her aunt's attempts to get her and her cousin, the firebrand Veronica, introduced to society and married off to the richest royalty she can find. But the girls are far more preoccupied by the growing threat of fascism and finding a way to present their minute nation's case to the moribund League of Nations than tea parties and debutante balls. Readers looking for frippery and fluff won't find much in Cooper's thorny, rewarding novel, which cleverly injects the Montmaravian kingdom into a rich historical, political, and ideological context. Though it lacks some of the dramatic tension of the first book, this is still top-shelf historical fiction that offers a glimpse of the conflicts that defined the middle part of the twentieth century from within the prism of high society.--Chipman, Ia. Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

School Library Journal Gr 9 Up-At the end of A Brief History of Montmaray (Knopf, 2009), the FitzOsbornes flee their fictional island kingdom after an attack by the Nazis. The young royals are homeless and are taken in by their widowed Aunt Charlotte at her English estate. Although they are relieved to have a roof over their heads and food to fill their stomachs, being "kept" comes with a price. Aunt Charlotte begins training the girls to be proper ladies and find wealthy husbands, while the boys are expected to receive a respectable education and find suitable wives. Aunt Charlotte has her hands full. While Veronica and Sophie comply with being thrust into London Society's Season, they do so reluctantly; Veronica has her eye on getting the word out about the injustices of Nazism, and Sophie's goal is to not look foolish. All of the characters challenge the notions of "proper" behavior while trying to stay under their aunt's scornful radar. They are not always successful, and young Henry's antics are some of the funniest moments in the book. Political activism is a major theme in this story. The author explains, "While Montmaray does not exist, most of the world events described in the novel actually occurred," and she includes a lengthy list of real people who are mentioned in the book. Readers who enjoys good character development and/or historical novels will be drawn in easily.-Wendy Scalfaro, G. Ray Bodley High School, Fulton, NY (c) Copyright 2011. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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by Norton Juster
BookList: PreS-Gr. 2. Two well-known names come together in a book that speaks to the real lives of children and their experiences. The young narrator visits her grandparents, Nanna and Poppy, in their big house. They explore Nanna's garden, and Poppy plays his harmonica. The narrator rides her bike and takes a nap, “and nothing happens till I get up.” Looking out the picture window, the “hello, goodbye window,” she sees the pizza guy, and, more fancifully, a dinosaur. She also spots her parents coming to pick her up. The curly-haired girl is happy to see them, but sad because it means the end of the visit. The window imagery is less important than the title would make it seem. More intrinsic is Juster's honest portrayal of a child's perceptions (a striped cat in the yard is a tiger) and emotions (being happy and sad at the same time “just happens that way sometimes”). Raschka's swirling lines, swaths, and dabs of fruity colors seem especially vibrant, particularly in the double-page spreads, which have ample room to capture both the tender moments between members of the interracial family and the exuberance of spending time in the pulsating outdoors, all flowers, grass, and sky.
IleneCooper. Distributed by Syndetic Solutions Inc. Terms

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by Kate DiCamillo

School Library Journal Gr 3 Up-In this delightful novel, a tiny mouse risks all to save the princess he loves from the clutches of a devious rat and a slow-witted serving girl. With memorable characters, brief chapters, and inventive plot twists, this fast-paced romp is perfect for reading alone or sharing aloud. Winner of the 2004 Newbery Medal. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

School Library Journal Gr 3 Up-A charming story of unlikely heroes whose destinies entwine to bring about a joyful resolution. Foremost is Despereaux, a diminutive mouse who, as depicted in Ering's pencil drawings, is one of the most endearing of his ilk ever to appear in children's books. His mother, who is French, declares him to be "such the disappointment" at his birth and the rest of his family seems to agree that he is very odd: his ears are too big and his eyes open far too soon and they all expect him to die quickly. Of course, he doesn't. Then there is the human Princess Pea, with whom Despereaux falls deeply (one might say desperately) in love. She appreciates him despite her father's prejudice against rodents. Next is Roscuro, a rat with an uncharacteristic love of light and soup. Both these predilections get him into trouble. And finally, there is Miggery Sow, a peasant girl so dim that she believes she can become a princess. With a masterful hand, DiCamillo weaves four story lines together in a witty, suspenseful narrative that begs to be read aloud. In her authorial asides, she hearkens back to literary traditions as old as those used by Henry Fielding. In her observations of the political machinations and follies of rodent and human societies, she reminds adult readers of George Orwell. But the unpredictable twists of plot, the fanciful characterizations, and the sweetness of tone are DiCamillo's own. This expanded fairy tale is entertaining, heartening, and, above all, great fun.-Miriam Lang Budin, Chappaqua Public Library, NY (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly The author of Because of Winn-Dixie and The Tiger Rising here shifts gears, demonstrating her versatility while once again proving her genius for mining the universal themes of childhood. Her third novel calls to mind Henry Fielding's Tom Jones; DiCamillo's omniscient narrator assumes a similarly irreverent yet compassionate tone and also addresses readers directly. Despereaux, the diminutive mouse hero ("The last mouse born to his parents and the only one of his litter to be born alive"), cares not a whit for such mundane matters as scurrying or nibbling, and disappoints his family at every turn. When his sister tries to teach him to devour a book, for example ("This glue, here, is tasty, and the paper edges are crunchy and yummy, like so"), Despereaux discovers instead "a delicious and wonderful phrase: Once upon a time"-a discovery that will change his life. The author introduces all of the elements of the subtitle, masterfully linking them without overlap. A key factor unmentioned in the subtitle is a villainous rat, Chiaroscuro (dwelling in the darkness of the Princess's dungeon, but drawn to the light). Ering (The Story of Frog Belly Rat Bone) brings an understated drama to the black-and-white illustrations that punctuate each chapter. His artwork conveys a respect for the characters even as they emit the wry humor of the narrator's voice. The teller of the tale roots for the hero and thus aligns himself with the audience: "Reader, you must know that an interesting fate (sometimes involving rats, sometimes not) awaits almost everyone, mouse or man, who does not conform." In addition to these life lessons, the narrator also savors a pointer or two about language (after the use of the word "perfidy," the narrator asks, "Reader, do you know what `perfidy' means? I have a feeling you do, based on the little scene that has just unfolded here. But you should look up the word in your dictionary, just to be sure"). Reader, I will let you imagine, for now, how these witticisms of our omniscient narrator come into play; but I must tell you, you are in for a treat. Ages 7-12. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Book list Gr. 3-6. Forgiveness, light, love, and soup. These essential ingredients combine into a tale that is as soul stirring as it is delicious. Despereaux, a tiny mouse with huge ears, is the bane of his family's existence. He has fallen in love with the young princess who lives in the castle where he resides and, having read of knights and their ladies, vows to honor her. But his unmouselike behavior gets him banished to the dungeon, where a swarm of rats kill whoever falls into their clutches. Another story strand revolves around Miggery, traded into service by her father, who got a tablecloth in return. Mig's desire to be a princess, a rat's yen for soup (a food banished from the kingdom after a rat fell in a bowl and killed the queen), and Despereaux's quest to save his princess after she is kidnapped climax in a classic fairy tale, rich and satisfying. Part of the charm comes from DiCamillo's deceptively simple style and short chapters in which the author addresses the reader: Do you think rats do not have hearts? Wrong. All living things have a heart. And as with the best stories, there are important messages tucked in here and there, so subtly that children who are carried away by the words won't realize they have been uplifted until much later. Ering's soft pencil illustrations reflect the story's charm. --Ilene Cooper Copyright 2003 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

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by Ken Follett

Book list Those eagerly awaiting volume three of Follett's ambitious Century Trilogy will not be disappointed. Despite the long wait Winter of the World was published in 2012 both the history propelling the multiple plots and the third generation of the interrelated cast of characters are so familiar, readers should have no trouble picking up the threads of the story line left dangling at the end of the previous installment. Spanning the globe and the latter third of twentieth century, this saga continues to follow the lives and loves of the members of five global families, as they struggle against a backdrop of tumultuous international events. As the years roll by, the Cold War, the Cuban Missile Crisis, the Berlin Wall, the assassination of JFK, the civil rights movement, the Vietnam War, and the crumbling of communism are intimately viewed through the eyes and emotions of a representative array of witnesses to history. Follett does an outstanding job of interweaving and personalizing complicated narratives set on a multicultural stage. HIGH-DEMAND BACKSTORY: Follett needs no hard sell. The previous two installments of the ambitious Century Trilogy were best-sellers; expect no less from this superb concluding chapter.--Flanagan, Margaret Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright American Library Association. Used with permission.

Library Journal The final volume in Follett's latest trilogy (after Fall of Giants and Winter of the World) is worth the wait. The formula is the same as in previous books: the continuing history of five families, now conflated into four-British, American, German, Russian-traced against the background of dramatic public events. The second book ended in 1948 with the Rosenberg spy trial, and now Follett starts in 1961, when Rebecca Hoffman learns an unpleasant truth about her East German husband. George Jakes, the biracial son of a white senator from the previous volume, is hired by the White House as window dressing-the Kennedys mustn't look like bigots-but soon becomes a trusted aide to Bobby Kennedy. Thus he witnesses what goes on in the -Kennedy White House and in the civil rights campaign. German families are separated for decades by the Berlin Wall. Two grandchildren-German and English-form a successful rock band, our entree to the everything-goes 1960s. Follett covers all the bases in this sprawling, energetic novel. Bad things abound, but, the tone is upbeat. The book ends with the televising of Obama's 2008 election speech. Watching with his family, George has tears in his eyes for the fallen martyrs who made the event possible. VERDICT Once again, Follett has written pitch-perfect popular fiction that readers will devour. [See Prepub Alert, 3/24/14.]-David Keymer, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

(c) Copyright Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Publishers Weekly In the ambitious, commanding capstone to his multigenerational Century Trilogy (after Winter of the World), Follett expertly chronicles the pivotal events of the closing decades of the 20th century through the eyes of a vast array of deftly-drawn characters, all suffering the slings and arrows of a world marred by war and global unrest. Among them is Rebecca Hoffman, a good-natured school teacher in Communist Berlin, who discovers in 1961 that her secretive husband, Hans, is a clandestine Stasi agent and has been spying on her for years. When she eventually confronts him, he angrily vows to destroy her family. Elsewhere, mixed-race, civil-rights-minded George Jakes forsakes a lucrative law career to work for Bobby Kennedy and the Justice Department, then battles racial inequality as a congressman. Dmitri "Dimka" Dvorkin, an aide to Nikita Khrushchev, finds himself embroiled in heated U.S.-Soviet nuclear political power plays and his sister, Tanya, thrusts herself into the fray of governmental global turmoil. Cameron Dewar, a senator's grandson, also becomes politically active with espionage on his mind while Rebecca's brother, the musician Walli, must choose between a rising-star career in rock-and-roll and his pregnant lover, Karolin. Sweeping through the Johnson, Nixon, and Reagan administrations, Follett's smooth page-turner concludes in 2008 with an epilogue set on the night of President Obama's electoral victory. This mesmerizing final installment is an exhaustive but rewarding reading experience dense in thematic heft, yet flowing with spicy, expertly paced melodrama, character-rich exploits, familial histrionics, and international intrigue. (Sept.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

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