Get your facts on with some new nonfiction reviewed by librarian Kathy Perschmann.

“Dark Matter and the Dinosaurs: The Astounding Interconnectedness of the Universe” by Lisa Randall. Over 60 million years ago, an object the size of a small city slammed into the earth, killing off the dinosaurs and almost three quarters of the other species on the planet. What was the origin of this meteor? Lisa Randall thinks it was a comet dislodged from its usual orbit as our solar system passed through dark matter embedded in the Milky Way.

What is dark matter? It is composed of particles that do not absorb, reflect, or emit light, so they cannot be detected by observing electromagnetic radiation. It cannot be seen directly, but we know that it exists because of the effect it has on objects that we can observe directly. In explaining this theory, Randall shares with us the latest findings regarding the nature and role of dark matter and the origin of the universe, our galaxy, our solar system, and life, demonstrating the process by which scientists explore new concepts. 

“Voyage Long and Strange: Rediscovering the New World” by Tony Horwitz. Horwitz focuses on the 100 some years between when Columbus “discovered” the new world, and when Jamestown was founded. He follows the footsteps of the many Europeans who preceded the pilgrims to North America.

Vikings, conquistadors, French voyageurs, and others roamed the continent in search of gold, grapes and converts. Most of the explorers failed, but they left an enduring mark on the people encountered by the late-arriving English settlers. The library also owns a book club in a bag kit for this title.

“Lakota America: A New History of Indigenous Power” by Pekka Hamalainen. This offers the first comprehensive history of the Lakota and their role in shaping America's history. This account of the Lakota Indians traces their rich and often surprising history from the early 16th to the early 21st century. This book explores the Lakotas' roots as marginal hunter-gatherers and reveals how they reinvented themselves twice: first as a river people who dominated the Missouri Valley, America's great commercial artery, and then as a horse people who ruled supreme on the vast high plains.

The Lakotas are imprinted in American historical memory. Red Cloud, Crazy Horse, and Sitting Bull are iconic figures in the American imagination, but in this groundbreaking book they emerge as something different: the architects of Lakota America, an expansive and enduring indigenous regime that commanded human fates in the North American interior for generations. This book’s deeply researched and engagingly written history places the Lakotas at the center of American history, and the results are revelatory.


Writers Group: 10 a.m. to noon, Saturday, Jan. 18. Want to express yourself in writing better? Join other aspiring writers for topics of interest, support and advice.

ECFE on Wheels: 11:30 to 12:15, Tuesday, Jan. 21. For ages birth to 5. Registration for each child is required. Parent/guardian needs to stay with children. Parent education staff provides a free ECFE experience for families, caregivers and children ages birth to 5 to share together. There will be circle time, songs, an art activity and literacy take-home project. Please register each child who will be participating.

Stories Sing! with the Minnesota Opera: 10:30 to 11 a.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22. For ages toddler and up. A professional opera singer gives a new perspective on reading by using tools from the stage to inspire and help children engage with books. Children will make a craft and use them to perform pieces taught in the story. This project was funded (in part or in whole) with money from Minnesota’s Art and Cultural Heritage Fund.

Urban Observin': How to Stargaze in the Cities: 6 to 8 p.m., Thursday, Jan. 23. A primer on how to do astronomy in the metro area with Ron Schmit, solar system ambassador at Jet Propulsion Laboratory/NASA Solar System Ambassador Program.


Pinterest for Business 101: 6 to 8 p.m., Tuesday, Jan. 21. Pinterest is one of the top visual platforms for discovering and cataloging ideas and inspiration from around the web. We'll help you decide if this is a good platform for your business or organization, show you the various features it has for engaging your audience and tackle ways for you to get started with marketing your products or services. Come with your laptop, tablet and/or smartphone or arrange to borrow a device from the library. Presented by Twin Cities Media Alliance and funded by MELSA.


Tails for Reading: 1 to 2:30 p.m., Saturday, Jan. 18. Preschool and elementary school age children are welcome to read books aloud to registered therapy dogs to encourage confidence in reading. Presented by North Star Therapy Animals. Children read for a 15-minute session on a first-come, first-served basis. No registration required.

ECFE on Wheels: 11:30 a.m. to 12:15 p.m., Wednesday, Jan. 22. For ages birth to 5. Registration for each child per event session is required. Parent/guardian needs to stay with children. Parent education staff provides a free ECFE experience for families, caregivers and children ages birth to 5 to share together. There will be circle time, songs, an art activity and literacy take-home project.


Lapsit Storytime: 10:30 a.m. Thursday, Chanhassen. For ages birth to 18 months. Babies and their caregivers share quality time in a 20-minute session designed to encourage language development through board books and movement activities, followed by time for visiting and play.

Family Storytimes: 10:30 a.m. Tuesday and Wednesday, and 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Chanhassen; 6:30 p.m. Monday and 10:30 a.m. Tuesday, Chaska; 10:30 a.m. Monday, Victoria. For all ages, with a focus on children age 2 and up. Children, parents and their caregivers are invited to share 30 minutes of singing, playing, reading, writing, and talking that encourages the development of early literacy skills.

Toddler Storytimes: 10:30 a.m., Monday, Chanhassen; 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Chaska; 10:30 a.m. Wednesday, Victoria. Toddlers and their caregivers are welcome to join us for 20 minutes of action-packed fun with stories, rhymes, fingerplays, and musical movement for this age group. Come shake your sillies out with us. For ages 18-36 months.

Patrick Jones is branch manager for the Chanhassen and Victoria libraries. He can be reached at


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