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What is One Book New Jersey?

Events Scheduled at the Ocean County Library | What is One Book NJ? | This Year's Selections
Other Recommendations: Adult | Young Adult | Middle Grade | Read to Me

What if everyone in New Jersey read and talked about the same book at the same time?

For the fourth consecutive year One Book New Jersey, sponsored by the New Jersey Library Association and the New Jersey State Library, encourages people of all ages in the Garden State to get together and discuss great books.

The selected books this year are:

  • Adult: The Plot Against America by Philip Roth
  • Young Adult: Dr. Franklin's Island by Ann Halam
  • Middle Grade: The Sisters Grimm: Fairy-Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley
  • Read to Me: Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Janet Stevens

Read all about this year's titles at the OBNJ website: http://www.onebooknewjersey.org


Ocean County residents can participate in One Book New Jersey at the Ocean County Library through a variety of activities including book discussions, author visits, displays, and children’s programming.  All of these programs are free and open to the public.  To register for any programs, visit or call your local branch, or go online to http://www.theoceancountylibrary.org


The following events are scheduled:

Book Discussion for "The Plot Against America" by Philip Roth
Manchester Branch
Friday, April 4, 2-3:30 pm
Led by Dr. Ali (Alice) Botein-Furrevig, professor of English at Ocean County College.
Register for event
Film Discussion for "Lindbergh", a documentary from The American Experience Series
Barnegat Branch
Thursday, April 10, 6:30 pm
Lindbergh is a candid biography of an American hero whose life teemed with contradictions. He was a public man who struggled all his life to protect himself from a hero-worshipping society and a voracious media. He hated the press, yet spent most of his life attracting publicity. He avoided power, yet used his fame to influence world events. He valued accuracy and a sense of perspective, yet his own vision was often flawed and frightening.
Register for event
Book Discussion for "The Plot Against America" by Philip Roth
Brick Branch
Friday, April 11, 2-4 pm
Led by Eleanor Clarke
Register for event
"The Plot Against America.  The Reality Behind the Alternate History"
Warren Grover, author of the book "Nazis in Newark"
Toms River Branch
Saturday, April 26, 2:00 pm
Warren Grover, a founder of the Newark Historical Society, discusses his book "The Nazis in Newark".
For more information about him, go to:
Register for event

For more information about children’s programs and displays, contact your local branch.


What is One Book New Jersey?

One Book New Jersey is an exciting program that libraries and their partners will promote across the state. The goal is to bring people together through literature by encouraging them to read the same book and participate in discussions and other events centered on that book. Ocean County Library will host several programs and book discussions in connection with OBNJ.

OBNJ is presented by the New Jersey Library Association’s Public Relations Committee and Children’s Services and Young Adult Sections, in collaboration with the New Jersey State Library and the Secretary of State.

Although this program is modeled on other "One Book" programs throughout the country, New Jersey's program is rather unique. We involve not just one community, but the whole state. We also felt it was important to reach people of all ages, so although we still call our program "One Book" it is in fact four books: an adult selection, a young adult selection, a book for older children and a read-to-me selection.

The selected books for One Book New Jersey 2008 are:

The Plot Against AmericaAdult:  The Plot Against America by Philip Roth

Philip Roth, considered by many to be one of America's greatest contemporary novelists, creates this disturbing tale of "what if?" What if Charles Lindberg, national hero, described as a "rabid isolationist, Nazi sympathizer and crypto-fascist" was elected president in the 1940 election instead of FDR? This alternative history novel is told from the semi-autobiographical perspective of seven-year-old Philip, growing up with his family in the predominantly Jewish Weequahic section of Newark.





Dr. Franklin's IslandYoung Adult: Dr. Franklin’s Island by Ann Halam

Teen conservationists Semi, Miranda, and Arnie board a plane bound for the Ecuadorian rainforest. As part of a prize-winning team gathered by the TV show Planet Savers, they begin an amazing hands-on ecology experience. But their trip-of-a-lifetime quickly becomes a fight for survival as they find themselves on a remote island, the only survivors of a devastating plane crash. And this is no ordinary island - it is the home of a mad scientist, anxious for subjects for his ghastly experiments. Unfortunately for Semi, Miranda, and Arnie, the three teens are the perfect candidates for his interspecies tests.





The Sisters Grimm : Fairy-Tale Detective
Middle Grade: The Sisters Grimm: Fairy Tale Detectives by Michael Buckley


Orphans Sabrina and Daphne Grimm have gone from one bad foster home to another, and have become adept at running away. Now they have arrived at Ferryport Landing to live with Granny Relda. Sabrina is suspicious; she never knew she had a grandmother. But Sabrina and Daphne are soon caught up in the legacy of the Grimm family. As descendents of Wilhelm, they must keep the fairy tale characters, the "Everafters," contained. When Relda goes missing, it is up to the girls to solve the mystery - which involves giants, pixies, fairies and witches. This is a mystery-adventure with lots of fantasy and just as much humor. Prince Charming is the town mayor, Snow White is a school teacher, and the Big Bad Wolf is a friend, trying hard to reform. Once you get started, it's hard to put down.


Anansi and the Moss-Covered RockRead to Me: Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock by Eric A. Kimmel, illustrated by Janet Stevens

When Anansi discovers a magical rock that puts animals to sleep, he decides to use the stone's magic to trick the other animals out of their food supplies. Each animal - the hippo, the lion, the zebra, and more - are taken one at a time to the magic rock. Each is tricked into saying the magic words, and each animal sleeps while Anansi the trickster takes their food. But the shy little Bush Deer is watching, and she comes up with a plan to trick the trickster. Anansi is a well-known West African and Caribbean folk character, who sometimes appears as a man, sometimes as a spider. Janet Stevens' illustrations have depicted Anansi as a spider, which fits right in with this animal story. The repetition of the magic words and the sound effects as the animals fall into their magical sleep make this story a delight to read aloud.

Learn More

Other Books by the author
  • American Pastoral
  • Everyman
  • Exit Ghost
  • Goodbye, Columbus and Five Short Stories
  • The Great American Novel
  • The Human Stain
  • I Married a Communist
  • Operation Shylock : a Confession
  • Reading Myself and Others.
  • Shop Talk : a Writer and His Colleagues and Their Work.


  • The Lambs of London by Peter Ackroyd
  • The Yiddish Policemen's Union by Michael Chabon
  • Fatherland by Robert Harris
  • The Resurrections : a novel by Simon Louvish
  • The Domination by S. M. Stirling
  • In the Presence of Mine Enemies by Harry Turtledove
  • Crossen, Cynthia. "What if's Don't Thrill Historians, but They Raise Intriguing Issues." Wall Street Journal. 2 February 2005: B1.
  • Ferguson, Niall. Virtual History : Alternatives and Counterfactuals. New York: Basic Books, 2000.
  • Hawthorn, Geoffrey. Plausible Worlds : Possibility and Understanding in History and the Social Sciences. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1993.

Related films

  • Crime of the Century (1996)
  • Goodbye, Columbus (1969)
  • The Longest Hatred: the History of Anti-Semitism (1993)
  • The Pawnbroker (1964)
  • The Spirit of St. Louis (1957)

Young Adult

Other YA books by the author include:

  • Siberia
  • Taylor Five
  • The Daymaker
  • Transformers

Fiction read-alikes

  • Ender's Game by Orson Scott Card
  • Blade Runner : (Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep) by Philip K. Dick
  • The Ear, the Eye, and the Arm by Nancy Farmer
  • The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer
  • Double Identity by Margaret Peterson Haddix
  • Double Star by Robert A. Heinlein
  • Point Blank by Anthony Horowitz (part of the Alex Rider adventure series)
  • Invitation to the Game by Monica Hughes
  • Maximum Ride: the Angel Experiment by James Patterson (series includes: School's Out - Forever and Saving the World and Other Extreme Sports)
  • Fourth World by Kate Thompson (sequel: Only Human)
  • The Island of Doctor Moreau by H. G. Wells
  • The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells
  • Double Helix by Nancy Werlin
  • Peeps by Scott Westerfeld (sequel: The Last Days)
  • Uglies by Scott Westerfeld (series includes: Pretties, Specials, and Extras)

Nonfiction read-alikes

  • Bioethics : Who Lives, Who Dies, and Who Decides? by Linda Jacobs Altman
  • Brand New Bird : How Two Amateur Scientists Created the First Genetically Engineered Animal by Tim Birdhead
  • Mendel in the Kitchen : a Scientist's View of Genetically Modified Foods by Nina Fedoroff
  • Medicine's Brave New World : Bioengineering and the New Genetics by Margaret O. Hyde
  • Stem Cell Research : Medical Applications and Ethical Controversy by Joseph Panno
  • DNA & Genetic Engineering by Robert Snedden
  • Genetic Engineering by James D. Torr (Current Controversies)
  • Biomedical Ethics by Viqi Wagner
  • High-Tech Babies : the Debate over Assisted Reproductive Technology by Kathleen Winkler

Related films

  • The Fly (1958)
  • The House of Frankenstein (1944)
  • Island of Lost Souls (1933)
  • The Island of Dr. Moreau (1977)
  • Jurassic Park (1993)
  • Lord of the Flies (1963)
  • Planet of the Apes (1968)
  • Mysterious Island (1961)
  • Metropolis (1927, silent) (2001, anime)
  • The Nutty Professor (1996)
  • Young Frankenstein (1974)

Middle Grade


  • Ten in a Bed by Allan Ahlberg
    When Dinah finds various fairy tale and nursery rhyme creatures in her bed, she discovers that the only way to get rid of them is to tell versions of their own stories.
  • Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry
    Soon after Peter, an orphan, sets sail from England on the ship Never Land, he befriends and assists Molly, a young Starcatcher, whose mission is to guard a trunk of magical stardust from a greedy pirate and the native inhabitants of a remote island. This prequel to the story of Peter Pan introduces Hook, the crocodile and the birth of Tinkerbell. Also: Peter and the Shadow Thieves; Peter and the Secret of Rundoon.
  • Magic by the Book by Nina Bernstein
    After returning from a trip to the library, eleven-year-old Anne and her younger brother and sister discover a magic book which sends them on adventures in which they meet Robin Hood, giant bugs, and a dark, sinister man with a wolfish face.
  • Into the Wild by Sarah Durst
    Having escaped from the Wild and the preordained fairy tale plots it imposes, Rapunzel, along with her daughter Julie Marchen, tries to live a fairly normal life, but when the Wild breaks free and takes over their town, it is Julie who has to prevent everyone from being trapped in the events of a story.
  • Inkheart by Cornelia Funke
    Twelve-year-old Meggie learns that her father Mo, a bookbinder, can "read" fictional characters to life when an evil ruler named Capricorn, freed from the novel "Inkheart" years earlier, tries to force Mo to release an immortal monster from the story. Sequel: Inkspell.
  • Into the Woods by Lyn Gardner
    Pursued by the sinister Dr.DeWilde and his ravenous wolves, three sisters, Storm, the inheritor of a special musical pipe, the elder Aurora, and the baby Any, flee into the woods and begin a treacherous journey filled with many dangers as they try to find a way to defeat their pursuer and keep him from taking the pipe and control of the entire land.
  • The Pagemaster by David Kirschner
    Books didn't really interest 10 year old Richard until he meets the Pagemaster, keeper of the books and guardian of the written word, and is plunged into a land where the stories become reality.
  • Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine
    Ella is cursed to do whatever she is commanded in this version of the Cinderella story. Also by the same author, Fairest, which has it's origins in the Snow White tale and The Princess Test; For Biddle's Sake; The Fairy's Mistake; Princess Sonora and the Long Sleep; Cinderellis and the Glass Hill; The Fairy's Return.
  • Crazy Jack by Donna Jo Napoli
    In this version of the traditional tale of the boy who climbed the beanstalk, Jack goes in search of his father, falls in love with Flora and learns the real value of treasure.
  • The Prince of the Pond: Otherwise Known as De Fawg Pin by Donna Jo Napoli
    Having been turned into a frog by a hag, a frog-prince makes the best of his new life as he mates, raises a family, and instills a new kind of thinking into his frog family. Sequels: Jimmy, the Pickpocket of the Palace; Gracie the Pixie of the Puddle.
  • The Great Good Thing by Roderick Townley
    Nothing ever changes inside the storybook kingdom inhabited by twelve-year-old Princess Sylvie, her parents, and many other characters until Sylvie discovers that by allying herself with the Reader she can experience new adventures beyond the confines of the book. Sequels: Into the Labyrinth and The Constellation of Sylvie.
  • Summer Reading is Killing Me! by Jon Scieszka
    At the beginning of summer vacation Joe, Sam, and Fred find themselves trapped inside their summer reading list, involved in a battle between good and evil characters from well-known children's books, including Long John Silver, Winnie the Pooh and Pippi Longstocking.
  • Boots and the Seven Leaguers: a Rock and Troll Novel by Jane Yolen
    Teen troll Gog and his best friend Pook work as roadies for a troll rock and roll band until Gog's younger brother gets kidnapped. Jane Yolen has also written Troll Bridge and Pay the Piper, for slightly older readers.

Read to Me

Anansi Stories & Videos

Picture Books

  • Aardema, Verna. Anansi Does the Impossible : an Ashanti Tale.
    Anansi and his wife outsmart the Sky God and win back the beloved folktales of their people.
  • Aardema, Verna. Anansi Finds a Fool : an Ashanti Tale.
    Lazy Anansi seeks to trick someone into doing the heavy work of laying his fish trap, but instead he is fooled into doing the job himself.
  • Aardema, Verna. Oh, Kojo! How Could You?
    Retelling of a humorous Ashanti folktale relating how a young man named Kojo finally gets the better of the tricky Anansi.
  • Berry, James.Don't Leave an Elephant to Go and Chase a Bird.
    Anancy Spiderman trades various items with the people he encounters, until he himself is distracted by a bird and ends up empty-handed.
  • Berry, James. First Palm Trees : an Anancy Spiderman Story.
    The West Indian trickster Anancy Spiderman tries to persuade Sun-Spirit, Water-Spirit, Earth-Spirit, and Air-Spirit to create the world's first palm trees so that he can collect a reward from the king.
  • Bryan, Ashley. The Dancing Granny.
    Spider Ananse gets Granny started dancing so he can raid her garden - but his own trick "does him in."
  • Chocolate, Deborah. Spider and the Sky God.
    Ananse the Spider uses trickery to capture the four prizes demanded by the Sky God in payment for his stories.
  • Cummings, Pat. Ananse and the Lizard : a West African Tale.
    Ananse the spider thinks he will marry the daughter of the village chief, but instead he is outsmarted by Lizard.
  • DeSauza, James. Brother Anansi and the Cattle Ranch.
    A bilingual folk tale in which Brother Anansi persuades Brother Tiger to go into the cattle-raising business.
  • French, Fiona. Anancy and Mr. Dry-Bone.
    Anancy and Mr. Dry-Bone attempt to win the hand of the beautiful Miss Louise by making her laugh.
  • Kimmel, Eric. Anansi and the Magic Stick.
    Anansi the Spider steals Hyena's magic stick so he won't have to do the chores, but when the stick's magic won't stop, he gets more than he bargained for.
  • Kimmel, Eric. Anansi and the Talking Melon.
    A clever spider tricks Elephant and some other animals into thinking the melon in which he is hiding can talk.
  • Kimmel, Eric. Anansi Goes Fishing.
    Anansi the spider plans to trick Turtle into catching a fish for his dinner, but Turtle proves to be smarter and ends up with a free meal. This story explains the origin of spider webs.
  • Krensky, Stephen. Anansi and the Box of Stories.
    Long ago in Africa, the sky god Nyame keeps all of the stories to himself, but when Anansi the spider asks their price, Nyame agrees to trade his stories if Anansi can perform four seemingly impossible tasks.
  • Lake, Mary. The Royal Drum : an Ashanti Tale.
    All the animals, except the lazy Monkey, work to make a drum for the King of the Jungle, but Anansi makes certain that Monkey ends up with the hardest job of all.
  • McDermott, Gerald. Anansi the Spider.
    In trying to determine which of his six sons to reward for saving his life, Anansi the Spider is responsible for placing the moon in the sky.
  • Mollel, Tololwa. Ananse's Feast : an Ashanti Tale.
    Unwilling to share his feast, Ananse the spider tricks Akye the turtle so that he can eat all the food himself, but Akye finds a way to get even.
  • Temple, Frances. Tiger Soup : an Anansi Story from Jamaica.
    A clever spider tricks Elephant and some other animals into thinking the melon in which he is hiding can talk.
  • Live Oak Media. The Anansi Collection; retold by Eric Kimmel.
    Contains Anansi and the Moss-Covered Rock; Anansi and the Talking Melon; Anansi Goes Fishing and Anansi and the Magic Stick. (47 minutes)
  • Rabbit Ears Productions. Anansi, performed by Denzel Washington.
    Washington tells two stories of Anansi the Spider who wins possessions of all the stories in the jungle by outsmarting the prideful snake. (30 minutes)

Trickster Stories

Picture Books

  • Goble, Paul. Iktomi and the Boulder: A Plains Indian Story.
    Iktomi, a Plains Indian trickster, attempts to defeat a boulder with the assistance of some bats, explaining why the Great Plains are covered with small stones. Also available: Iktomi and the Ducks; Iktomi and the Buffalo Skull.
  • Knutson, Barbara. Love and Roast Chicken : A Trickster Tale from the Andes.
    A clever guinea pig repeatedly outsmarts the fox that wants to eat him for dinner.
  • McDermott, Gerald. Coyote : A Trickster Tale from the American Southwest.
    Coyote, who has a nose for trouble, insists that the blackbirds teach him how to fly, but the experience ends in disaster for him.
  • McDermott, Gerald. Jabuti the Tortoise : A Trickster Tale from the Amazon.
    All the birds enjoy the song-like flute music of Jabuti, the tortoise, except Vulture who, jealous because he cannot sing, tricks Jabuti into riding his back toward a festival planned by the King of Heaven.
  • McDermott, Gerald. Raven, A Trickster Tale from the Pacific Northwest.
    Raven, the trickster, wants to give people the gift of light. But can he find out where Sky Chief keeps it? And if he does, will he be able to escape without being discovered? His dream seems impossible, but if anyone can find a way to bring light to the world, wise and clever Raven can!
  • McDermott, Gerald. Zomo the Rabbit : A Trickster Tale from West Africa.
    Before the Sky God will give him wisdom, the irresponsible black rabbit must complete three impossible tasks: he must get the scales of Big Fish, the milk of Wild Cow, and the tooth of Leopard.

African Folktales

Picture Books

  • Aardema, Verna. Bringing the Rain to Kapiti Plain.
    A cumulative rhyme relating how Ki-pat brought rain to the drought-stricken Kapiti Plain. (Nandi)
  • Aardema, Verna. Rabbit Makes a Monkey of Lion.
    With the help of his friends Bush-rat and Turtle, smart and nimble Rabbit makes a fool of the mighty but slow-witted king of the forest. (Swahili)
  • Aardema, Verna. Who's in Rabbit's House?
    A Masai tale, presented in the form of a play, in which the frog gets the job of getting a monster out of the rabbit's house after the leopard, elephant, and rhino bungle the job.
  • Aardema, Verna. Why Mosquitoes Buzz in People's Ears.
    A Caldecott Medal winner, this retelling of a traditional West African tale reveals how the mosquito developed its annoying habit.
  • Dayrell, Elphinstone. Why the Sun and the Moon Live in the Sky.
    An African folktale tells how the sun and water once lived on earth as friends, but because the sun failed to build his house large enough, he and his wife, the moon, were driven into the sky when the water came to visit them.
  • Haley, Gail. E. A Story, a Story.
    This Caldecott award winner tells how most African folk tales came to be called "spider stories."
  • MacDonald, Margaret. Mabela the Clever.
    Tricked by a cat into thinking they're being initiated into his secret society, a village full of mice is led into danger, but Mabela manages to save her friends and leave the treacherous cat tangled in thorns. (Limba culture)
  • Medearis, Angela. Too Much Talk.
    A talking yam! Whoever heard of such a thing? Certainly not the farmer in this African folktale, whose yam yaks. And not the fisherman, whose fish declares that yams can speak. And what will the king say when he hears of all this foolish talk? (Ghana)
  • Paye, Won-Ldy. The Talking Vegetables.
    The villagers are planting a garden, but Spider refuses to help. He has plenty of rice to eat, so why should he do all that hard work? Then one day Spider gets tired of plain rice and decides to pick some of the delicious produce. Imagine his surprise when the vegetables start talking! (Liberia)
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