Tuesday, December 29, 2009
Laurie King's "Fifteen Weeks of Bees" is over, but her Team LRK website is still up and accepting donations. "Fifteen Weeks of Bees" was a promotion for her new book combined with a an anniversary celebration of her first book and a fundraiser for Heifer.
Patrick Rothfuss' Worldbuilders donation page is accepting donations until January 15, 2010. Worldbuilders will match 50% of all donations made on his page until then. Also, whenever you donate $10 or more, you'll be entered in a lottery to win prizes--books, signed books, cool music. For more information about Patrick Rothfuss and Worldbuilders, check out the author's website.
Saturday, December 26, 2009
For more readalikes, check out this list by Bettendorf Public Library.
Monday, December 21, 2009
He was asked to invent a new game for the paper and based on a game he played as a child called "Magic Squares" he came up with the "Word-Cross". The first crossword puzzles were diamond-shaped with no black squares! Eventually they were called a Cross-Word puzzle and then became known as crossword which we all know and love today. There are even different variants of the crossword puzzle in other countries. Britain uses a lattice-like structure with more shaded squares, the Japanese style grid has two additional rules which the shaded cells may not share a side and the corner squares must be white and the Swedish grid would be a high challenge for a lot of American users as they don't use grid numbers. The clues are put into the actual puzzle itself and arrows are used to indicate which direction to put the answer.
There are a couple of mystery writers who have even tied the crossword puzzle into their novels. There is a Clue for the Puzzle Lady and Dead Man's Puzzle by Parnell Hall. Nero Blanc has several titles such as Death on the Diagonal, Anatomy of a Crossword and Wrapped up in Crosswords. If you are new to crossword puzzles or cannot remember that three-letter word for a Yale student, (it's "eli"), you could try a crossword puzzle dictionary. The two best ones in the library are The Crossword Puzzle Dictionary by Andrew Swanfeldt or The New York Times Crossworld Puzzle Dictionary by Tom Pulliam and Clare Grundman. The New York Times Dictionary is an older edition, but sufficient for someone starting out solving crosswords. There is a great documentary in the catalog called WordPlay which showcases New York Times puzzle enthusiasts and participants in the 28th Annual American Crossword Tournament.
Now, if you are so inclined to make your own crossword puzzle you could check out The Complete Cruciverbalist: How to Solve and Compose Crossword Puzzles for Fun and Profit by Stan Kurzban and Mel Rosen or read about one man's journey with crossword puzzles called
Crossworld: One Man's Journey into America's Crossword Obsession by Marc Romano.
If you also like the crossword game "Scrabble" there is a great digital video in our collection called Word Wars: Tiles and Tribulations on the Scrabble Game Circuit or you could read Stefan Fatsis' book Word Freak: Heartbreak, Triumph, Genius and Obssession in the World of Competitive Scrabble. We also have the Official Scrabble Players Dictionary or the Everything Scrabble if you are so inclined to look up and possibly memorize certain words to be ready for your next Scrabble game, but we all know you don't really need to do that, because after all you are a whiz at getting those triple letter and triple word scores, right?
Wednesday, December 16, 2009
We're looking for you, our beloved readers, to suggest more titles for us to read starting in January. In the comments section of this post, please let us know any books you'd be interested in reading with us.
Alternatively, we could try a different format, & instead of having an online book group we could feature online reviews. If you would prefer to read reviews, please drop us a line in the comments section.
We crave your input & thanks for 'checking in' (ah, the library puns) with abcreads!
Monday, December 7, 2009
Since we haven't heard from any of you yet (& your comments are always welcome & appreciated!), let's discuss "Beginnings". The first chapter, "The Letter", introduces both main characters. What did you think of Vida Winter from her letter?
The second chapter is "Margaret's Story", which really sets the tone of the narration, brings up themes that will reoccur & resonate later. Margaret says 'I am not a proper biographer'. Do you think that statement applies to her own story, or just to the biographical studies she writes?
After that comes "Thirteen Tales", which is about Vida Winter's writing. Do you find Margaret's descriptions of the books interesting? Do the titles of Vida Winter's books & stories sound intriguing or dull? What do you think of Margaret's assertion 'I read old novels. The reason is simple: I prefer proper endings'--do you agree or disagree?
"Arrival" is a short chapter that introduces Judith, Vida Winter's housekeeper, & takes us to Vida Winter's house. Following that is "Meeting Miss Winter", "And So We Began...", "Gardens", "Merrily and the Perambulator", "Dr. and Mrs. Maudsley", and "Dickens's Study", the bulk of which is taken up with Vida Winter's story. What do you make of the Angelfield household? What do you think of Vida Winter as a storyteller? Do you see some of the traditional Gothic themes represented in her story: the supernatural; death; decay; madness; secrets; & hereditary curses?
These are just some of the things I thought about while reading the book. What's your take? Let us know what you think!
Sunday, December 6, 2009
Saturday, December 5, 2009
Of course, nothing of the sort happened. It turns out that three-year-olds and their parents are a pretty easygoing audience, and forgiving of occasional word-flubs in songs.
Now, storytime is my favorite part of the week. I love to play with it, and come up with crafts, and think of new things to do.
So, for the uninitiated, what is storytime? Isn't it just a librarian sitting there reading a book?
Well, I suppose in theory that it could be. Storytime will tend to be whatever the librarian in question decides on. At Cherry Hills, we have two storytime models, and beginning in January, there will be a third.
The first, Preschool Passport, is Wednesday and Thursday at 10:15--except during our break months in December and August--and is aimed at children three to five years old. This one is mine. I usually read three or four books, and we sing five songs, usually "The World is Big," "Old MacDonald," "Frere Jacques," "Bingo," and "If You're Happy and You Know It." Once a month, we have a storytime dedicated to a different part of the world (so far, we've done New Mexico, Spain, and China... Scandinavia is coming in January!). Because I like to let kids have some control, I let them choose what animals Old MacDonald has on his farm--we've had the standard cows and horses, but we've also had tigers (who say "grr-grr"), dinosaurs ("clomp-clomp"), dragons ("rahr-rahr"), camels ("spit-spit"), crocodiles ("snap-snap"), and even a shark ("chomp-chomp"). Thinking of noises is always great fun, and keeps me on my toes! For Frere Jacques, which is often already known in a non-English language (generally French), it seemed like a good time to take advantage of the natural preschool affinity for language. The children choose a language at random from my collection of sixteen (so far), and sing the song as well as learning a couple of fun facts about the country or countries where the language is spoken. Always amusing to me is how much better kids are at mimicking the sounds than we adults are. I have to practice for a long time to be able to say "Hoor de klokken luiden" (Flemish), but the kids just rattle it right off when they hear it! I'm currently on the hunt for new fun facts to let them in on. (And if you happen to know Frere Jacques in a non-English language, I'd love to hear it!)
Our second storytime is the popular Toddler Time lapsit, run by Miss Mercedes. There are three books, all on simple themes and with easy, rhythmic language and bright pictures. Between them, energetic toddlers get a chance to bounce, dance, sing, rhyme, and cuddle with Mommy or Daddy (or Grandma, babysitter, and so on). It's always fun to watch them coming in, greeting our huge teddy bear, Dewey, then waiting for Miss Mercedes to get them going with "Open them, close them," which lets them know it's time to start things up. About halfway through, they get to jump and wiggle to their hearts' delight when the toddler-time signature song, "Shake Your Sillies Out," comes up. There are also rhymes and fingerplays, like "Five Little Ducks," "Hickory Dickory Dock," and "Five Little Monkeys, " that parents can learn and do at home. Toddler Time is meant as an opportunity for parents and children to play together and sing together, and it's designed as much as possible around opportunities to interact--whether in the cuddle-friendly "Five Little Monkeys" or the lifting and motion-heavy "Wheels on the Bus"--and enjoy each other's company.
In January, after other Saturday, we're introducing a new storytime with Miss Simone--Music and Movement, which puts greater stress on dance and rhythm and melody, and will include a chance to play with blocks and drums and maracas, as well as dancing with streaming ribbons. The similar Music and Movement program at Juan Tabo has been popular among children and parents. The themed sessions will include things like "Manners" and "Bunnies," with songs and rhymes and stories and even dances inspired by that week's theme. Miss Simone has been working very hard to find fabulous music to share, and we're looking forward to the kickoff!
Storytime is a terrific way to spend time with kids, and I'll let you in on a secret... it's really fun for us big people, too.
Wednesday, December 2, 2009
An Itch to Stitch is an eclectic group, including crocheters, knitters, cross-stitchers, embroiderers & quilters. Our intrepid needlers meet to craft together, talk together, laugh together. This past week, they celebrated the kickoff of the holiday season with a party--finger foods & fun! They have also been choosing a book to read monthly and discuss. The current book is Ghost at the Table by Suzanne Berne.
All are welcome to attend any of the library stitching groups. So drop in & meet with like-minded crafters, whether you need advice on a project or just want to chat. Also check out our Stone Soup Crafts program this Saturday, December 5th @ 3:30 PM. It's a chance for you to share your leftover craft supplies--fabric, wood, yarn, what have you--with other folks. So stop by with your leftovers & sift through other people's & out of the Stone Soup cauldron of crafts we'll brew up something new!
Tuesday, December 1, 2009
How is your reading coming along? Are you enjoying it? The book has impressed me so far as exhibiting "a pleasing sort of terror", straddling the genres of horror & mystery. I've been at the edge of my seat reading, that's for sure.
Sunday, November 29, 2009
Hurrah for NaNoWriMo!
Monday, November 23, 2009
So, our idea is, let's continue with our reading of The Thirteenth Tale into December, which will give us a chance to catch up & not give us, or any of you, another reading assignment during the busy holiday season. We'll start afresh with a new book in January, so if you have suggestions, don't hesitate to start letting us know!
For those of you who have been diligently reading & looking forward to discussion, I consulted with Thirteenth Tale fan Elisabeth for some commentary:
Elisabeth doesn't like mysteries, but she liked this book--she found it to be a great psychological story, like Rebecca, dark & slightly creepy. Elisabeth thought Margaret was a bit of a cold fish and Vida was sometimes annoying but feisty & more likeable. She also liked the characters of the housekeeper & the gardener. The most interesting thing about Elisabeth's experience with The Thirteenth Tale is that she first listened to it on audiobook, but disliked the reader & was not very interested in the book. However, when her book group opted to read the book, Elisabeth tried reading it in book form & loved it.
Do you agree? Disagree? Inquiring minds want to know, we want to know!
Joy recommends the Faith Fairchild series for those who like a good cozy mystery--with recipes, to boot! Over the years, Faith has come to seem like an old friend of Joy's & Joy hopes you'll feel the same.
Tuesday, November 17, 2009
Much of the novel takes place in two grand estates --- Angelfield and then Miss Winter’s. How are the houses reflections of their inhabitants?
As the story unfolds, we learn that Margaret and Miss Winter are both twins. What else do they have in common?
I've seen The Thirteenth Tale listed as 'having all the mystery of a modern day blockbuster' and as gothic fiction, in the tradition of the Brontë sisters. Do you agree with these classifications?
Ms. Atwood spoke first, primarily about her new novel The Year of the Flood, which is, she explained, not a sequel or a prequel to Oryx & Crake but occurs simultaneously--in a Victorian novel, The Year of the Flood would be the "Meanwhile..." chapter, discussing events happening to characters in the book which seem to have nothing to do with the primary story until, later, the stories converge. Ms. Atwood read excerpts from her new book in the voices of each of her three narrators, Toby, Ren, & Adam One. She also played recordings that had been made of the some of the hymns from the book which had been set to music, including Oh Sing We Now the Holy Weeds.
Ms. Atwood also spoke about creating the character Jimmy in Oryx & Crake as a response to people who said she only wrote about female characters & explained that she did research to create Jimmy by having young men of the same age read the manuscript & comment.
Mr. Gibson then read from his new book, The Bedside Book of Beasts: A Wildlife Miscellany, with an accompanying slideshow. A review says of his book, "A fascinating exploration of the chain of life, of survival and mortality. In The Bedside Book of Beasts, Graeme Gibson gathers breathtaking works of art and literature that capture the power, grace, and inventiveness of both predators and their natural prey. The Bedside Book of Beasts evokes a profound sense of the eternal connection between humans and the creatures they endeavor to tame."
After the readings, Ms. Atwood & Mr. Gibson took a number of questions, including suggestions for those suffering from writer's block--Ms. Atwood has had to throw away 2 books due to writer's block, & Mr. Gibson 3, but generally Ms. Atwood suggested trying to change the person (e.g. first person narration to omniscient narrator) or change the tense (e.g. past to present) before throwing away your work. One questioner asked how Ms. Atwood felt to be a 'focal point for students', citing a paper the questioner had written in high school, to which Ms. Atwood had a spirited reply, reminding us that when we read her works, she's not there.
Ms. Atwood & Mr. Gibson, who are a long-standing couple, also fielded numerous questions about their relationship's longevity & possible collaborations. Both were easygoing & very humorous on these rather intimate topics. They don't collaborate, but Ms. Atwood sees Mr. Gibson's work in manuscript form, she joked, because she is the only one who knows how to use punctuation. Ms. Atwood's relationship advice included having a sense of humor & tolerance, which, Mr. Gibson quipped, he had.
Margaret Atwood books
Graeme Gibson books
Hear interviews with Ms. Atwood & Mr. Gibson!
Sunday, November 15, 2009
Wednesday, November 11, 2009
- Military Appreciation Monday@ Golden Corral: Free "Thank You" DinnerMonday, Nov. 16, 2009,5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Monday, November 9, 2009
Saturday, November 7, 2009
First, let me explain how I came to be re-reading the book. My reading often takes me on tangents. I was reading a book of essays by Judith Thurman called Cleopatra's Nose: 39 Varieties of Desire, which contains a great essay about Charlotte Brontë. This essay recommended a couple of biographies, including Unquiet Soul : A Biography of Charlotte Brontë, which I then read (& if you're interested in the Brontës, it's a very good biography). Reading a biography of one Brontë sister inevitably leads to you to others, and Unquiet Soul waxed eloquently about the mysticism of Emily and Wuthering Heights, so I decided to give it another try.
I mean, it's an interesting read, but I feel like I'm not getting what everyone else is getting. I have even picked up Wuthering Heights, Revised; An Authoritative Text, with Essays in Criticism. In between readings on the Gondal cycle of stories and Emily's poetry, I did find one excellent essay: "A Fresh Approach to Wuthering Heights," by Q.D. Leavis. (Please note that this approach was fresh in 1969.)
Q.D. (Queenie Dorothy) Leavis suggests that Emily "had some trouble getting free of a false start-a start which suggests that we are going to a have a regional version of the sub-plot of Lear." Leavis also posits that there "are various signs thatthe novelist intended to stress the aspect of her theme represented by the corruption of the child's native goodness by Society...", and, while this a "commonplace subject" of the Romantic period, it becomes "neither superficial nor theoretic because the interests of the responsible novelist gave it...a new insight..."
Leavis talks about the "genius devoted to creating Nelly Dean, Joseph, Zillah, Frances, Lockwood, the the two Catherines, and to setting them into significant action". Catherine is the real "moral centre" of the book, and Heathcliff and Hareton are giving only "very perfunctory attention..." (She also makes a lot of comparisons, based on the Catherine-Heathcliff-Edgar Linton triangle, with the movie Jules et Jim, which, given my case history, probably means I'll have to check that out in the not-too-distant future.)
I don't want to quote the essay here in its totality, but I have found reading it very useful & I'm considering tackling Wuthering Heights in all its confoundedness again. Leavis herself says, "Why does one feel that in spite of its intensely painful scenes-painful in a great variety of ways-Wuthering Heights always repays rereading?"
What do you think of Wuthering Heights?
"Latin American Artists of the Twentieth Century" from 1993. The catalogue also has DVD's on modern art such as: "The Impressionists" by A&E Television and "The Life and Times of Frida Kahlo" narrated by Rita Moreno. It is a true testament of art lovers around the country that MOMA survived the depression of the 1930's and is today one of the premier art museums in the world.
The Thirteenth Tale is also available in large print and audiobook. There is no need to sign up for Book on the Side! Feel free to leave your comments and reviews for The Thirteenth Tale any time during the month of November. Leave your comments and reviews in the comment form of the blog. Don't forget to check back often to see what other readers are saying about the book!
Thank you for visiting abcreads! We look forward to discussing The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield with you.
Articles about Diane Setterfield & The Thirteenth Tale:
British Teacher Becomes a Literary Sensation in the U.S.
Debut Writer's Million-Pound Success Story
The Girl from Theale
Monday, November 2, 2009
What is it? It's NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month--"a fun, seat-of-your-pants approach to novel writing. Participants begin writing November 1. The goal is to write a 175-page (50,000-word) novel by midnight, November 30," explains the website. This crazy endeavor started out with 21 participants in 1999, and in 2008 there were over 120,000 participants. If you are interested in taking part, you can still sign up! The rewards you'll reap are mainly personal fulfillment; if you finish your novel, NaNoWriMo just puts your name up on their Winner’s Page and sends you a winner’s certificate and web badge.
The NaNoWriMo website has lots of starting tips, a "Procrastination Station" forum, & if, you sign up for it, you can receive pep talks in your email from established writers such as Philip Pullman & Sara Gruen. Also, if you are 17 years old or younger, you can still do NaNoWriMo as part of the Young Writers Program.
This is my second year participating but last year I didn't finish, so cross your fingers & wish me luck!
Sunday, November 1, 2009
So, are you all finished reading Dreamers of the Day? Did you like it? Dislike it? How did you feel about the characters? The plot? Do you like historical fiction that includes real people as characters? (I was at a book group recently where they were not fans of figures from history as fictionalized characters.)
Once again, here's a link to some discussion questions. Let us know what you think of the book or your Book on the Side experience! Don't forget to vote for November's Book on the Side!
Thursday, October 29, 2009
Wednesday, October 28, 2009
These are the chandeliers hanging in a giant foyer.
Just for pretty, this is another chandelier they have in a different part of the building.
If you are in L.A. & have a little extra time, I would highly recommend dropping by the library. In addition to a beautiful building, they have many interesting program & exhibits--& quite a lot of books, too!
Saturday, October 24, 2009
Unlike Mumma and her devout sister Lillie, Agnes struggles with her faith. Why are some people so at home in the religion they were born to, while others chafe at it? Does her trip to the Holy Land change Agnes's philosophical framework, or is she left without a moral compass? Where is Agnes at the end of the novel? Is she a “soul who cannot find her way?”
Russell paints a vivid picture of America in the Roaring Twenties, and identifies a strong correlation between identity and consumption (with Freud and postwar advertising to thank). How has advertising changed since the 1920s? Do you recognize modern America in the descriptions?
T. E. Lawrence, Karl Weilbacher, Gertrude Bell, Lord Cox, and Winston Churchill all have theories on imperial rule and how to best resolve the growing conflicts in the Middle East. What are their ideas and how do they hold up to hindsight and a modern historical perspective?
Mary Doria Russell discusses writing Dreamers of the Day (another interview with the author)
Friday, October 23, 2009
I have tried the video download, choosing a PBS Nature program and in about fifteen minutes, I was watching a documentary on birds.
If you have the Overdrive Media Console software already installed, the video will download in about ten minutes or so with a high-speed internet connection. I am not sure how it works with most computers, but for mine it opened up in a small window and then I clicked the small Windows Media Player icon on the bottom and the video then displayed in a larger picture through Windows Media Player. If you are not sure if you are able to watch videos on your computer or device, be sure and go to the "Help" section for answers and troubleshooting if you are having problems.
From our website, you can download audiobooks, eBooks, even videos. Just recently, the iPod-compatible format was added to this feature! Now you can search our Digital Library for iPod compatible audiobooks. Downloading is easy with the help of our handy FAQs. Or stop by your local branch & check at the Information Desk--we have helpful handouts for you!
Wednesday, October 21, 2009
Ursula LeGuin (born October 21, 1929) is a renowned American science fiction and fantasy author. She has won 5 Hugo Awards and 6 Nebula Awards for her work. In 2003 she was awarded the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America Grand Master Award. Her books The Lathe of Heaven and the Earthsea trilogy have been adapted for television.
Ursula LeGuin writes for adults, young adults, and children--her Hainish Cycle, beginning with Rocannon's World, is for adults, and the award-winning Annals of the Western Shore series, which starts with 2004's Gifts, is for young adults.
Interview: Ursula LeGuin on The Left Hand of Darkness (celebrating its 40th anniversary this year)
Tuesday, October 20, 2009
This year's theme is "Read Beyond Reality," so I figured I'd open up the discussion for everyone's favorite science fiction/fantasy/horror books. Here are my top ten--what are yours?
10. Foundation - Isaac Asimov
Using psychology as a base science, Isaac Asimov's Hari Seldon sets out a plan to save the galaxy from itself. Not the most engaging characters in the genre, but an undisputed classic, and definitely worth a read on the pure idea front.
9. The Talisman - Stephen King and Peter Straub
Jack Sawyer is the modern American version of a prince--the son of a movie star. Unfortunately, she's dying, and when she flees to the east coast in an attempt to avoid the duplicitous Morgan Sloat, a frightened and depressed Jack stumbles onto the magical world of the Territories--both wondrous and terrifying, and populated by "Twinners" of people in his world. He makes a daring trek across the Territories--and the United States--in search of the magical Talisman, which will save his mother, and both worlds in which she is queen. Excellent character work.
8. Animal Farm - George Orwell
Orwell's short allegory of the Russian Revolution features pigs who decide that they've had enough of being ruled over by humans--four legs good, two legs bad!--and lead the animals of Manor Farm in a successful revolt. But as the revolution grows darker and the pigs become more like the humans, even the basic tenets of Animalism come into question. A great, quick read that will make you think... but which is also an entertaining story in its own right.
7. The Hobbit - JRR Tolkien
While The Hobbit's famous sequel, Lord of the Rings, rightly holds pride of place, The Hobbit itself is worth reading on its own merits. Initially meant to entertain children, it is the story of a comfortable hobbit who--much like Tolkien himself--loves tea parties, stories, and a good smoke in the garden. When adventure overtakes him, he goes along unwillingly as a burglar for a troop of dwarves trying to reclaim their treasure from a dragon. But Bilbo the hobbit has greater reserves of strength than he suspects, and his kindness and fairness ultimately save more than his own skin. As he travels, he never loses his love of his home, but can he ever be truly comfortable there again?
6. The Chronicles of Narnia - C.S. Lewis
Some books in this series are better than others (I can live without The Last Battle), but the power of Lewis's story is unshakeable. Four children, at the height of the Blitz, are taken to the country. There, they find a wardrobe that leads to the magical world of Narnia, and its mystical creator, Aslan--who is not, after all, a tame lion. As the books progress, others join the Pevensies, even replacing them in later books, as they fight through battles both physical and moral. A note on the numbering: At some point, the publishers decided to re-number the books in chronological order of their events. This makes very little sense, as in the original order--which began with The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, the reader discovers Narnia along with the characers, while in the chronological order, the prequel, The Magician's Nephew comes first, and there are many things in it that refer to books that are technically later in the series. In my opinion, it's better to read these books in the original order.
5. Lord of the Flies - William Golding
Not quite as visibly SF/F as some of the others (but very much in the horror tradition), Lord of the Flies is still speculative fiction. A plane carrying schoolboys away from a war crashes on a paradisical island, leaving the boys on their own. Set up as a contrast to boys' adventure stories where everything works out, in Golding's view, everything goes wrong. The boys carry a seed of their own destruction with them, and when, at the end, the adult world comes to rescue them, the reader is left wondering if they're any better off.
4. The Stand - Stephen King
Very few plot ideas are simpler to explain than The Stand: Virus wipes out 99% of humanity, and the survivors regroup. How does that go on for 1100 pages? Because King delves into how it would feel to the survivors to go through the now barren landscape, in which magic is starting to reassert itself. Not for the fainthearted, the extended version of The Stand contains some occasionally questionable segments, but the powerful vision at the core--the haunting idea of the empty world and the resurgence of wild magic--carries this through as a classic of speculative fiction.
3. Ender's Game - Orson Scott Card
Ender Wiggin is a genius born among geniuses. A third child in a world of two-child limit laws, Ender was requested by the government in order to save the world from a race of invading aliens. Sent to the elite battle school, he finds himself twisted into increasing complex "games" meant to train him for the war, and losing means more than dropping a point or two in the statistics. In the life and death world of battle school, Ender is forged into a soldier in this story where questions of what we ask of our children take the forefront.
2. Harry Potter series - JK Rowling
(Link to first book in the series.)
Oh, the horrors! It's a children's series! Let's create a whole new bestseller list so it doesn't crowd out "real" books!
When JK Rowling set out with her bespectacled boy wizard to tell a modest story about saving the world while drinking pumpkin juice and flying Firebolt brooms in Quidditch games, she probably had no idea what she was getting into. A worldwide phenomenon that got kids and adults reading together--and reading long and fairly challenging books, at that--Harry Potter has earned its place as a fantasy classic. Beginning with eleven year old Harry having a fun adventure involving a three-headed dog named Fluffy and a dragon named Norbert, the series grows up with Harry, evolving into a story about the sins of the past, the power of love, and the mystery of death. If you've discounted Harry Potter as a kiddie phenomenon, give it a try--you'll be surprised.
1. Lord of the Rings - JRR Tolkien
(Link to first volume.)
In the end, as they say in The Highlander, there can be only one, and in the world of fantasy that "one" is Lord of the Rings. It's the taproot of modern fantasy.
Picking up a few decades after The Hobbit left off, Bilbo's nephew, Frodo Baggins, inherits the ring of invisibility Bilbo found... which belongs to Sauron, the dark wizard who once enslaved all of Middle Earth, and who now wants it back, to call all of his minions to him and send his shadow armies marching across the face of the world. While Aragorn, the king-in-exile, leads great battles to reclaim his throne, Frodo and his companion, Samwise Gamgee, take a long, thankless trek across the dark realm of Mordor, to destroy the Ring in the fires where it was forged. As they go, the power of the Ring acts on everyone who comes into contact with it, no one more devastatingly than Frodo.
But even as they fight their large battles, there is another one waiting at home. Will the hobbits find the strength to defend their own beloved Shire, or will all be lost in the end?
I don't know about you, but I'm a bit of an author groupie. In addition to Sarah, I've checked out bookish events featuring Sandra Cisneros, Bruce Campbell, Anne Rice, David Sedaris, & most recently Elizabeth Gilbert. It's hard to top David Sedaris live, but Sarah Vowell did not disappoint.
For those of you unfamiliar with Sarah's work, she writes about historical events from a personal (& often snarky) perspective. The first book I read of hers, Assassination Vacation, is about her tour of the U.S. seeking out places & facts about the first 3 presidential assassinations. In the book she was reading & signing last night, The Wordy Shipmates, she's writing about the Massachusetts Bay Colony, specifically her two main 'characters', John Winthrop (of the 'city on a hill' sermon) & Roger Williams. Don't call it her book about the pilgrims! She is specific that the Pilgrims were a different bunch of folks. She is writing about the Massachusetts Bay Colony, after the pilgrims' landing & before the Salem Witch Trials.
Sarah is careful to call herself a reporter rather than a historian. Don't expect to find a lengthy bibliography in her works. She reads first-person accounts & interprets for herself. You are more likely to find interviews with park rangers & asides about friends & family (particularly her nephew Owen) she has brought with her to collect information than more dense scholarly sources.
Last night, Sarah read from her book & fielded a lot of questions. She's a very entertaining speaker, her wit as dry in person as in her books. Anyone who can make folks want to read about assassination & Puritanism has got to be something special! Look for her next book, which apparently will be about Hawaii & missionaries. Owen has discovered video games now, but he's still traveling around with his aunt & knows more about King Kamehameha than most ten-year-olds.
Monday, October 19, 2009
Sunday, October 18, 2009
Ntozake Shange is an African-American poet, playwright & author, most famous for her choreopoem For Colored Girls Who Have Considered Suicide When the Rainbow is Enuf. I also recommend her children's book about jazz, Ellington was Not a Street, and her adult novel Sassafrass, Cypress and Indigo, about 3 artistic sisters from North Carolina. Ms. Shange is also a Poet Hero! Among her many awards are an Obie, a Los Angeles Time Book Prize for Poetry, and a Pushcart Prize.
The newest titles the library has to offer is "Fifty Miles from Tomorrow: A Memoir of Alaska and the Real People" by William L. Iggiagruk Hensley, or the DVD about the Iditarod "Toughest Race on Earth" and the new Kate Shugak novel by Dana Stabenow called "Whisper to the Blood". Also if you click on the "Download Digital Media" link on the main page and use "Alaska" in the search box you will find six downloadable movies and two audiobooks. If you are interested in learning more about Alaska point your mouse to the library catalog and search the huge array of books that will feed your curiosity.
Saturday, October 17, 2009
Agnes begins to break the mold when she buys new clothes and gets her hair bobbed. Makeover shows are popular on television today, and people often say that “this has changed my life.” Do you believe them? Are appearances really that powerful?
Clothing is mentioned a great deal in the novel. In what ways are the characters in Dreamers of the Day defined and/or influenced by their clothes? How do Agnes, Mumma, Gertrude Bell, and T. E. Lawrence use their fashion choices as indicators of their attitudes? Is your clothing a tool or a disguise or just something to cover your nakedness?
What does Rosie embody for Agnes? Is her attachment to her little dog “pathetic,” as she suggests? How does Rosie's existence color the novel and influence its chain of events?
Interview with Mary Doria Russell about Dreamers of the Day
Thursday, October 15, 2009
--P. G. Wodehouse
Sir Pelham Grenville Wodehouse (15 October 1881 – 14 February 1975) is the author of several series of comic novels. I've been reading his Jeeves & Wooster series since my teenage years--great light comedy for when you need a break! Now you can also watch episodes from this series on DVD, starring the inimitable Stephen Fry and Hugh Laurie.
Tuesday, October 13, 2009
Monday, October 12, 2009
I just read an article in Entertainment Weekly celebrating 1939 as 'film's finest year'. Here are a list of the films they list to lend credence to this claim. Have you seen them all? Do you agree with EW? Check them out and see!
Saturday, October 10, 2009
Thursday, October 8, 2009
They forget to mention to Youth Services types that you must also have an intimate acquaintance with gluesticks, foam-board, construction paper, and of course, ninja ducks.
This month at Cherry Hills, we're holding 3rd Degree Thursdays, a creative problem-solving game based on Odyssey of the Mind. (Why? I miss OM. ;p) Today, the problem was to make a monument to something that didn't deserve a monument, using two paper bowls, some string, a bit of modeling clay, some toothpicks, cotton balls, and a couple of small leftover summer reading prizes. Participants had no idea what the question was going to be before they arrived.
May I introduce you to Fuzzyland?
Created on the fly from random materials, by a five year old (the program is kids eight to eighteen, but she came with her sisters), Fuzzyland has a whole social system, and networks of relationships among its inhabitants... which are made out of cotton balls and pom-pom critters, as well as one of our favorite ninja ducks (the unofficial mascots of the Teen Advisory Board).
Maybe you'd like a more traditional monument. Meet Ninja Duck I:
Or The Statue of Cotton Balls:
And our oldest, unsure what to create to monumentalize, went with an abstract sculpture, sure to be a hit on the modern art circuit:
All of this is part of what the library does for kids--we like to offer them oppurtunities to be creative and solve problems on their own, and to give them the materials they need to keep their minds ticking along.
In preschool, we make flags monthly for the countries we "visit" via storytime, and all summer, we have programmers for all ages.
This is one of the best parts of my job as a children's librarian. You can keep track of all of our upcoming programs--for kids and adults--at the website.
Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Interested in Route 66? Check out the library's Armchair Adventures blog as they virtually travel the Mother Road.
Extra credit: Who coined the term Mother Road in the first place?
Tuesday, October 6, 2009
The process for choosing a winner is thus: first, a longlist is announced, chosen by the year's judging panel (7/28/09). That's whittled down to a shortlist (9/8/09). Then, finally, a winner is chosen.
AS Byatt – The Children’s Book
JM Coetzee – Summertime
Adam Foulds – The Quickening Maze
Sarah Hall – How to Paint a Dead Man
Samantha Harvey – The Wilderness
James Lever – Me Cheeta
Hilary Mantel – Wolf Hall
Simon Mawer – The Glass Room
Ed O’Loughlin – Not Untrue & Not Unkind
James Scudamore – Heliopolis
Colm Toibin – Brooklyn
William Trevor – Love and Summer
Sarah Waters – The Little Stranger
A. S. Byatt - The Children's Book
J. M. Coetzee - Summertime
Adam Foulds - The Quickening Maze
Hilary Mantel - Wolf Hall
Simon Mawer - The Glass Room
Sarah Waters - The Little Stranger