Off the Shelves – November 10

The following items are available at the Hancock County Public Library, 900 W. McKenzie Road. For more information on the library’s collection or to reserve a title, visit


“Vinegar Girl,” by Anne Tyler

Kate Battista is stuck. How did she end up running the household for her eccentric scientist father? Plus, she’s in trouble at work. Her preschool students adore her, but their parents don’t always appreciate her unusual opinions and forthright manner. Kate’s father, Dr. Battista has other problems: he is on the verge of a breakthrough that could help millions, but his brilliant young lab assistant, Pyotr, is about to be deported. Dr. Battista cooks up an outrageous plan that will enable Pyotr to stay in the country, but he’s relying on Kate to help him. Kate is furious. This time he’s really asking too much. But will she be able to resist the two men’s touchingly ludicrous campaign to bring her around?


“Are We Smart Enough to Know How Smart Animals Are?” by Frans de Waal

What separates human mind from animal? Maybe it’s the ability to design tools, a sense of self or an understanding of past and future. But recent studies have eroded or even disproven these claims. Take the way octopi use coconut shells as tools; elephants that classify humans by age, gender, and language; or Ayumu, the young male chimpanzee at Kyoto University whose flash memory puts humans to shame. Based on research involving crows, dolphins, parrots, sheep, wasps, bats, whales, and of course chimpanzees, Frans de Waal explores the scope and the depth of animal intelligence. He offers a firsthand account of how science has stood traditional behaviorism on its head by revealing how smart animals really are, and how we’ve underestimated their abilities for too long.


“The Leaving,” by Tara Altebrando

Eleven years ago, six kindergartners went missing without a trace. After all that time, the people left behind moved on or tried to — until today, when five of those kids returned. Scarlett, one of the missing kids, comes home to find a mom she barely recognizes and doesn’t really recognize the person she’s supposed to be, either. She thinks she remembers Lucas, who went missing with her. Lucas remembers Scarlett, too, except they’re entirely unable to recall where they’ve been or what happened to them. Neither remembers the sixth victim, Max — the only one who hasn’t come back, which leaves Max’s sister, Avery, wanting answers. She wants to find her brother — dead or alive — and isn’t buying this whole memory-loss story. But as details of the disappearance begin to unfold, no one is prepared for the truth.