Tuesday, September 1, 2015

DIY is Elementary!

...the maker movement is inspiring educators to hark back to hands-on learning, tinkering, and puttering. It is recognizing the power of kids learning through their hands, naturally iterating and updating designs until they are just the way that the kids want them to be... In this feature, we suggest books that can help your elementary learners find role models and inspiration as they work toward their own maker mind-sets.
~Kristin Fontichiaro & Mollie Hall, "Maker Minds", BookLinks April 2015

Do you have a junior inventor on your hands?  Someone who likes to know how things tick, taking them apart and putting them back together? Do you know someone who likes to experiment? Is there someone whose creativity you'd like to encourage? Why not help your child or friend get inspired with some children's books that are all about people who got their hands dirty? From the true story a boy who grew up inventing pulleys to feed chickens in the coop and making marionettes to a story about a girl who loves to sew, from a girl who wants to create "the most magnificent thing" to a girl whose ingenuity turns a drab world into a magical kingdom of color, from the brothers who invented fluorescent paint to an unsung creator of hip-hop, we bet you can find something in the library catalog to spark a young mind!

Balloons Over Broadway: The True Story of the Puppeteer of Macy's Parade by Melissa Sweet

The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer

Crafty Chloe by Kelly DiPucchio

The Day-Glo Brothers: The True Story of Bob and Joe Switzer's Bright Ideas and Brand-New Colors by Chris Barton

Extra Yarn by Mac Barnett

Lunch Walks Among Us by Jim Benton

The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires

Mouse and Mole, Fine Feathered Friends by Wong Herbert Yee

Rosie Revere, Engineer by Andrea Beaty

The Scraps Book: Notes From a Colorful Life by Lois Ehlert

Violet the Pilot by Steve Breen

When the Beat Was Born: DJ Kool Herc and the Creation of Hip Hop by Laban Carrick Hill 

Saturday, August 29, 2015

The Movie was Better

Who hasn't heard the phrase "the book was better than the movie"? One of our pages told me today that books are always better than the movies that are based on them.

Frankly, I disagree. I've watched some movies that I thought were far better, or equally as good, as the books they were based on. Today, I'd like to share the movies that I love more than the books (or that I love just as much as I love the books--I'll specify when I talk about each one).

Black Hawk Down

Confession: I don't watch that many movies. I have a hard time focusing on them, because I always feel like I need to be doing something else while I watch movies, and that usually results in me not paying much attention to what I'm supposed to be watching.

Black Hawk Down* is a different story. I've seen it well over 20 times; it's my all-time favorite movie. It was the first war movie I ever really watched, and even though I don't recall when the events happened (I was too young at the time), I connected with the movie in a way I never thought I would have.

Bonus: The soundtrack for the movie is also great. I currently have it on repeat on my iPod.

*The link is for the book, not the movie.

Forrest Gump

After I finished reading Forrest Gump, I was left with the feeling that I have never read a more disappointing book. This isn't actually true--I've read far more disappointing books--but at the time, I couldn't believe how bad this book was. The storyline works great for the movie, which is definitely helped by Tom Hanks, but for the books, it didn't work for me at all. I'm not sure if it was because it felt a little too unrealistic, or if this is the type of story that needs to be told visually. Either way, the book didn't work for me, but I love the movie.

Watch the movie | Read the book


A lot of people dislike this movie because of how it represents sharks. I partially agree with this; sharks don't act the way the shark in Jaws does, and to an extent, this movie did a disservice to sharks because of that misrepresentation. Despite that, Jaws is one of my favorite movies, simply because for me, it did the opposite of what it did for others: It made me love great whites.

The book is very different from the movie, and I was disappointed. Maybe if I had read the book before seeing the movie, I would feel differently, but as it is, I didn't enjoy the book at all.

Watch the movie | Read the book

Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park is a classic. As with Jaws, I saw the movie before I read the book, and I loved it. When I finally read the book as an adult, I was happy to see that it was just as good as the movie. I will probably always like the movie a little bit more than I like the book, partly because the book has more of the science in it than the movie does, and because it's a movie that is just plain awesome.

Watch the movie | Read the book

Strangers on a Train

I wasn't a huge fan of Alfred Hitchcock until I saw Strangers on a Train. I fell in love with the movie; the story is great, the cinematography is awesome, and the acting was brilliant. When I found out the movie was based on a book, I was really excited--until I tried to read it. I couldn't get into the book at all, and I've never been able to finish it. Strangers on a Train will always be a movie that is far better than a book for me.

Watch the movie | Read the book

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Literary Links: Reading Recommendations

Here's our tail-end-of-summer wrap-up of reading recommendations!

Mockingbird and More: The Literary Class of 1960 [The Booklist Reader]

"So, Harper Lee’s having kind of a big week, right? But she only wrote two books. And, they’re probably not on the shelf right now. Why not remind readers of the other works with remarkable staying power that were published or produced that year?"

8 Raw Westerns to Read This Summer [Lit Reactor]

"There has been some talk of a Western revival of sorts, and a number of interesting titles have found their way to presses this year. With the oncoming heat of summer, it’s the perfect time to catch up on some gunslinging between the hours of waiting in beach traffic and nights spent sleepless thanks to the humidity. You can’t hunt down your enemies for a battle at high noon, but you can live vicariously through fictional characters in front of an air conditioner."

Joss Whedon to Write a New Comic Book Series [GalleyCat]

"The director behind the first two Avengers movies will write the story for a new comic book called Twist. The story, set in the Victorian era, stars a young maid who transforms into a hero. At this point in time, no release date has been set for this six-part mini-series."

'Game of Thrones' Author George R. R. Martin Would Like to Recommend Some Books [Wall Street Journal]

"In a post Tuesday on his “Not a Blog,” Martin shared his thoughts about some of the books he has read during his recent travels. It’s not all science fiction and fantasy, either. The list also includes two of the current biggest titles in popular fiction and nonfiction. Here’s a glance at Martin’s recent reads and what he thinks about them."

Must-read inspy romances: 'Wonder of You', 'Love Arrives in Pieces', 'Crazy Little Thing Called Love' [USA Today]

Alexi Wants to Help You Find Your Next Read [The Digital Reader]

"This iPhone app is currently in beta, but when it launches this autumn Alexi will let readers follow well-known literary authors and get their recommendations on books worth reading, and read the ebooks inside the app."

Bonus: Literary travel!

The Ultimate Holiday Reads by Destination [Fly Abu Dhabi]

"From classics like Don Quixote and A Room with a View, to contemporary page-turners such as The Wasp Factory and The Miniaturist, there’s a book for every destination. So, whether you’re looking for a book to keep you entertained on the flight, something to dip into between excursions or an easy beach read, take a look at our Ultimate Holiday Reads infographic for inspiration!"

26 Literary Landmarks in America To Visit Before You Die [Buzzfeed]

"From museums and historic homes to out-of-the-way bookstores and bars, your literary-themed summer roadtrip just got easier to plan."

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

New & Novel: Parenting

The kids are home for the summer, and maybe, to misquote the song, the living isn't so easy with them underfoot. Do you want your kids to learn about money management? Are you worried you're yelling too much? If you are looking for a book with parenting tips, never fear - the library catalog has got your back! Whether you want to explore nature with your child this summer, or feed your toddler superfoods, or help your teenager succeed, we've got some reading recommendations.  Here are some of the latest offerings in the library catalog:

Teenagers 101: What a Top Teacher Wishes You Knew About Helping Your Kid Succeed by Rebecca Deurlein, Ed.D

Will My Kid Grow Out of It?: A Child Psychologist's Guide to Understanding Worrisome Behavior by Bonny J. Forrest, JD, PhD 

When Kids Call the Shots: How to Seize Control From Your Darling Bully - And Enjoy Being a Parent Again by Sean Grover    

For more books about parenting, you can search the catalog under the subject "parenting". 

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Saints Preserve Us

A friend once shared with me that the point of believing in a higher power is not to be spared hardships, but to be divinely helped through them. Saints bracelets have been in style for the past couple of years. At the end of a particularly trying day, I looked at the images wrapped around my wrist. There wasn't a saint of  Absolutely No Hardships Or Suffering Ever. No one was ever sainted happily ever after. The saints I was wearing had been beheaded, died of tuberculosis, given up riches and privilege to find holiness in poverty, were overwrought mystics, or seen their first born publicly executed.

The idea of saints may seem quaint in 2015, but there are three contemporary writers who reignited my childhood interest in saints and made them relevant in the face of disappointments, doubts, and spiritual aridity.

Heather King, author of Shirt of Flame: A Year With St. Thérèse of Lisieux, understands what it means to struggle with unrequited love, alcoholism, and the turbulence of midlife. King's previous books: Parched and Redeemed: Stumbling Toward God, Sanity, and the Peace That Passes All Understanding covers her journey of recovery, conversion, and spiritual growth. King devoted a year of her life to reflecting on St Therese's autobiography. The writings of St. Therese of Lisieux (1873-1897), a cloistered French Carmelite nun taken in a personal context illuminate the bittersweet triumphs and humbling moments people face on a daily basis. 

Dawn Eden, author of My Peace I Give You: Healing Sexual Wounds With the Help of the Saints, and The Thrill of the Chaste: Finding Fulfillment While Keeping Your Clothes On , has eloquently shared her journey from agnostic Judaism to devout Catholicism through her blog and books. Eden shares the lives of various saints and their experiences with loss, trauma, and spiritual seeking to show how we can cope with past abuse and experience profound healing. Her chapters about saints Josephine Bakhita and Dorothy Day are especially relevant in the 21st century, as they respectively deal with human trafficking and social justice issues. My Peace I Give You acknowledges recent Catholic church abuse scandals, but helps individuals seeking solace and perspective focus on the saints as approachable role models to emulate. Eden maintains an uplifting message about personal healing. Readers will gain a sense of validation and inner peace, while eliminating undeserved shame and guilt many survivors internalize into adulthood.

Kathryn Harrison, best known for her searing memoirs The Kiss, and The Mother Knot, as well as her complex non-fiction and captivating fiction, examines the lives of St. Therese of Lisieux and Joan of Arc. Her most recent book Joan of Arc: A Life Transfigured revisits the questions generations have asked about this saint. Harrison's portrayal of Joan of Arc delivers a version of a young woman with extraordinary faith and courage in the face of battle, a degrading inquisition, and being burned at the stake. Harrison masterfully interprets art, folklore, and her predecessors' analysis into viewing Joan of Arc as a unique heroine.

Harrison's book Saint Therese of Lisieux from the Penguin Lives series, helps readers who find themselves initially exasperated with Saint Therese's seemingly sugary expressiveness to find the real fire that galvanized her to enter a Carmelite convent at the age of 15 and devote her life to poverty, chastity, and obedience. In her protective family life, she was a pampered, hypersensitive neurotic, prone to scrupulosity, who through a spiritual transformation, found a new perspective and purpose for her life.

For further encouragement and reading, check out these title from ABC Library.

Making Saints: How the Catholic Church Determines Who Becomes a Saint, Who Doesn't and Why by Kenneth L. Woodward

American Saint : The Life of Elizabeth Seton by Joan Barthel

Voices of the Saints : A Year of Readings by Bert Ghezzi

The Saints' Guide to Happiness by Robert Ellsberg

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Comics for Girls

Sometimes you read articles like "What Taking My Daughter to a Comic Book Store Taught Me", and it really gets to you. Granted, this might not be everyone's take on every comic store, but it's a sad fact that this can happen - you can take a girl to a comic book store, and she might ask for "the real comics", comics where all female characters are not scantily clad superheroes. If you know a girl who's interested in comics and would like to read about other girls they might more readily identify with, we have some comic suggestions for you!

We have tried to use some of Geek Dad's guidelines for finding titles, especially: titles must be female-led and titles should be more than a toy ad. All titles are from the children's section unless otherwise noted.

To Dance: A Ballerina's Graphic Novel by Siena Cherson Siegel

Captain Marvel Vol. 1: Higher, Further, Faster, More by Kelly Sue Deconnick
[School Library Journal rated this appropriate for grade 9 and above]

Lumberjanes: Beware The Kitten Holy by Noelle Stevenson & Grace Ellis

Cleopatra In Space: Book One, Target Practice by Mike Maihack

El Deafo by Cece Bell 

Roller Girl by Victoria Jamieson

Hereville: How Mirka Got Her Sword by Barry Deutsch  

Phoebe and Her Unicorn: A Heavenly Nostrils Chronicle by Dana Simpson 

Sisters by Raina Telgemeier 

Chiggers by Hope Larson

Oddly Normal: Volume 1 written & illustrated by Otis Frampton

Bandette: In Presto! by Paul Tobin with art by Colleen Coover [YA]

This One Summer by Mariko Tamaki, Jillian Tamaki [YA]

Friends With Boys by Faith Erin Hicks [YA] 

Ms. Marvel, Volume 1: No Normal by G. Willow Wilson
[School Library Journal rated this appropriate for grade 9 and above]


12 Comics for a 7-Year-Old Girl: A Response [Geek Dad]

10 Great Comics for Adolescent Girls: Graphic Novels and Collections [Paste]

You Go, Girls! 7 Kick-Butt Comics for 7-Year-Old Girls [Brightly]

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

William Shakespeare's Star Wars

It's practically impossible not to know that Star Wars: The Force Awakens will be in theaters in December 2015. Or are we just nerds? We confess to having downloaded the Star Wars app to our phone (there has been much selfie-taking - all the guys think it's funny to be Princess Leia, and hardly anybody wants to be trapped in carbonite; and the weather in Albuquerque mostly resembles Endor in the early morning and Utapau during the day, but the monsoon season is also bringing up comparisons to Kamino). Also, we were pretty excited about the behind-the-scenes reel from the San Diego Comic-Con and the pictures of Luke, Leia, and Han (um, Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher, and Harrison Ford) reunited.

So, you still have a few months to geek out and immerse yourself in the Star Wars universe. You could watch all the movies. You could refresh yourself with the visual dictionaries. You could amuse yourself with the clever cartoons of Jeffrey Brown. How about Star Wars Lego? Or, if you have literary inclinations, why not try William Shakespeare's Star Wars?

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: Verily, A New Hope by Ian Doescher

A retelling of Star Wars in the style of Shakespeare, in which a wise Jedi knight, an evil Sith lord, a beautiful captive princess, and a young hero coming of age reflect the valor and villainy of the Bard's greatest plays. 
William Shakespeare's The Empire Striketh Back by Ian Doescher ; inspired by the work of George Lucas and William Shakespeare

A follow-up to the best-selling William Shakespeare's Star Wars:Verily, A New Hope returns readers to a galaxy far, far away, where a brooding young hero, a power-mad emperor and their jesting droids match wits, struggle for power and soliloquize in elegant iambic pentameter. 

William Shakespeare's The Jedi Doth Return by Ian Doescher 

Han Solo entombed in carbonite, the princess taken captive, the Rebel Alliance besieged, and Jabba the Hutt engorged. Now Luke Skywalker and his Rebel band must seek fresh allies in their quest to thwart construction of a new Imperial Death Star.  

William Shakespeare's The Phantom Menace: Star Wars Part the First by Ian Doescher

Join us, good gentles, for a merry reimagining of Star Wars: Episode 1 as only Shakespeare could have written it. The entire saga starts here, with a thrilling tale featuring a disguised queen, a young hero, and two fearless knights facing a hidden, vengeful enemy. ’Tis a true Shakespearean drama, filled with sword fights, soliloquies, and doomed romance . . . all in glorious iambic pentameter and coupled with twenty gorgeous Elizabethan illustrations. Hold on to your midi-chlorians: The play’s the thing, wherein you’ll catch the rise of Anakin! 

William Shakespeare's Star Wars: The Clone Army Attacketh by Ian Doescher  

In time so long ago begins our play, In clash-strewn galaxy far, far away. To Shmi or not to Shmi? Torn between duty to the Jedi, attraction to Paďm, and concern for his beloved mother, yeoman Jedi Anakin Skywalker struggles to be master of his fate. The path he chooses will determine not just his own destiny, but that of the entire Republic. And thereby hangs a tale. Alack the day! A noble lady in danger. A knight and squire in battle. And a forbidden love thats written in the stars. Once again, the quill of William Shakespeare meets the galaxy of George Lucas in an insightful reimagining that sets the Star Wars saga on the Elizabethan stage. The characters are familiar, but the masterful meter, insightful soliloquies, and period illustrations will convince you that the Bard himself penned this epic adventure.  

*all book descriptions are taken from the library catalog