Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Novel Ideas: Authors Encourage Fans to Donate to Charity

Authors Patrick Rothfuss (fantasy, The Name of the Wind) and Laurie King (mystery, The Language of Bees) are both big fans of the charity Heifer International, according to Heifer's magazine World Ark. Both authors have set up teams on the Heifer website to encourage their fans to donate to the nonprofit charitable organization based in Little Rock, Arkansas. Heifer International is dedicated to relieving global hunger and poverty by providing gifts of livestock and plants, as well as education in sustainable agriculture, to financially-disadvantaged families around the world.

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

Are you waiting for your copy of the new Sue Grafton?

The library's copies of Sue Grafton's latest Kinsey Millhone mystery, U is for Undertow, have arrived...and there's quite a hold list on copies of the book, the large print book, & the audiobook, so if you haven't put a hold on it yet, now's the time! While you're waiting you could relive Kinsey's past adventures by rereading the first 20 books, from A is for Alibi to T is for Trespass. But if you are looking to wile away your wait with a book not written by Sue Grafton but similar to her mysteries, may we suggest the following titles/series?

The Long Goodbye by Raymond Chandler

Edwin of the Iron Shoes by Marcia Muller

the Anna Pigeon mysteries by Nevada Barr, beginning with Track of the Cat

the Anna Lee mysteries by Liza Cody, beginning with Dupe

the V.I. Warshawski mysteries by Sara Paretsky, beginning with Indemnity Only

For more readalikes, check out this list by Bettendorf Public Library.

Monday, December 21, 2009

For the Love of the Crossword Puzzle

As a fervent lover of crossword puzzles, Scrabble and any kind of word game, I had no idea how the crossword puzzle started until I checked the internet to see what happened on this day in history. The first crossword puzzle was actually called a "Word-Cross" and was invented by an English editor and puzzle constructor named Arthur Wynne. Mr. Wynne moved to the United States and settled in Cedar Grove, New Jersey and went to work for the New York World.
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

Book on the Side: Week 5

So, this is the 5th week of our reading of The Thirteenth Tale. How's it going? Are you enjoying the read? We'd love to hear some feedback! Otherwise, we'll conclude our reading of this book.

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

Book on the Side: Week 4

How is your reading of The Thirteenth Tale going? Are you still in the first section, "Beginnings" (pages 3-143)? Have you reached "Middles" (pages 147-344)? Or have you reached "Endings" (pages 347-406)? What do you think of the way the story is broken up?

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!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

On storytime

When I first moved from teen librarianship in Boston to children's librarianship here, the one thing that terrified me was... gulp... doing storytime. Getting up there in front of little kids and memorizing rhymes and singing? What if I did it wrong? What if the parents thought, "Ugh, what a horrible children's librarian, she doesn't know how to do a storytime!"

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

The American Way of Volunteering

Earlier this year, the Albuquerque/Bernalillo County Library System had a visitor from Germany. Beate Hoerning was traveling across the U.S. by train, interviewing volunteers in American public libraries in a search "to find historical, sociological, mental and economic roots and reasons for the very successful 'American Way of Volunteering.'" She hoped to bring some of the lessons she learned with us back to Europe, where volunteering is not as popular.

Read her story as she travels from New York to Los Angeles in ALA's International Leads publication.

Do You Have an Itch to Stitch?

Many of the libraries have stitching groups these days. Juan Tabo has a Stitch in Time, Taylor Ranch has A Good Yarn, East Mountain has Sandia Stitch 'n Time--days & times vary, so check out the library website for more information. Here at Cherry Hills we have An Itch to Stitch, meeting weekly from 10AM-noon on Tuesdays.

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

Book on the Side: Week 3

As we wend our leisurely way through The Thirteenth Tale, I'm happy to say that I have finally made some progress with the novel. As soon as I started reading, I was immediately sucked into the plot & especially the mystery. I think Diane Setterfield has done a really good job writing a modern Gothic novel. The Thirteenth Tale seems to me to have all the elements of Gothic fiction (as defined by Wikipedia)--a ruined house, madness, secrets, hereditary curses, secrets, darkness, doubles. & while, like many others I've spoken to, I was not exactly smitten with the protagonist, Margaret, I think that she is an important piece of the novel. She is a protagonist in the tradition of Rebecca's unnamed protagonist--"lacking self-confidence and overwhelmed by her new life." (Wikipedia)

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.