Showing posts from April, 2013

Books to Get You Thinking

On March 19, one of America’s greatest contemporary fiction writers, Philip Roth, turned eighty. To honor him, a birthday celebration attended by friends, scholars and luminaries from the literary world was arranged in Roth’s hometown of Newark, NJ. The celebrations started with the unveiling of the exhibition "Philip Roth: An Exhibit of Photos from a Lifetime" at the Newark Public Library  A memorable part of the evening's celebrations was the author reading from his book Sabbath’s Theater. His writing has spanned several decades and his earlier announcement of retirement from writing was met with disappointment by avid readers who have been following his work since the publication of his first book, Goodbye Columbus, in 1959. Roth, one of America’s most prolific writers, has been the recipient of multiple literary awards including three PEN / Faulkner Awards, two National Book Awards, and the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. In 2011 he was presented with the prestigiou…

2013 Green Earth Book Award Winners

Earth Day officially took place earlier this week on Monday, April 22nd. The spirit and importance to
protect and care for our planet, however, extends beyond just one day. Additionally, it is never too early to take steps toward a child’s environmental education, awareness, and stewardship.  From Picture Books to Young Adult Nonfiction, The Nature Generation (formerly Newton Marasco Foundation) recognizes literature that creatively educates young readers about the importance of preserving our natural surroundings. Titles honored with the Green Earth Book Award can increase environmental awareness, as well as encourage environmental responsibility from our younger generation. This year, The Nature Generation reviewed over 110 books for the 9th annual Green Earth Book Awards. Below are this year's winning titles from each of the five categories -- 1) Picture Book, 2) Children’s Fiction, 3) Children’s Nonfiction, 4) Young Adult Fiction, and 5) Young Adult Nonfiction:

Picture Book

The Women of Biographical Fiction

In March the book club at the Twin Rivers Branch read The Chaperone by Laura Moriarty.  The novel is about the friendship between an adolescent, pre-movie-star Louise Brooks and 36-year-old Cora Carlisle, who in 1922 chaperones her to New York City for a summer. If you are like me, you like to dig into the facts behind the fiction.  I wanted to know if Cora was real and learn more about Louise Brooks.   I found an interview with Laura Moriarty who said she read about a trip Louise took to NYC with a chaperone. Knowing what she knew about Louise, she could only imagine what kind of time the chaperone must have had watching out for her.

This got me thinking about a number of other books that have been popular lately in the subgenre of fiction called biographical fiction.  Below are a few other titles about some “famous” women.

Z: A Novel of Zelda Fitzgerald
Therese Anne Fowler
A tale inspired by the marriage of F. Scott and Zelda Fitzgerald, follows their union in defiance of h…

Children's Poetry

April is National Poetry Month.  This is the perfect time to explore the poetry section at your local branch library.  Poetry is shelved in the non-fiction section.  Whether you are looking in easy, juvenile, young adult or adult, the magic number to remember is 811. That is the call number for poetry books.

One children’s poet you may want to explore is J. Patrick Lewis.  He is the current children’s poet laureate.  This honor is awarded by the Poetry Foundation for a two-year tenure to raise awareness that children have a natural receptivity to poetry and that children are the most appreciative audience, especially when poems are written specifically for them.  J. Patrick Lewis is the author of over 50 books of poetry for children including If You Were a Chocolate Mustache and Please Bury Me in the Library.  Both of these books and many of his others can be found in our library’s catalog.  In addition to his own books of poetry, J. Patrick Lewis also picks a children’s poetry book …

April Fools

Most cultures throughout history have had a place for tricks, jokes, tomfoolery, jesters and a day or time of the year for flaunting the rules and to safely 'stick it' to the monarch. This can range from our own April Fool's Day and Mardi Gras to Carnival in Europe (also called Fasching in Germany).

This blog will give you some background information on these topics as well as where you can find out more, both online and in our library system.

Starting with fools and jesters in general, you can get a good historical and cultural overview in this article for History Today.

Some 'foolish' fare that our library system has which may tickle your funny bone are:

April foolishness (film)

The grandchildren visit their grandparents on the farm. Grandpa knows it's April Fools' Day and won't be taken by the children's antics. Will Grandpa fall for their tricks? Grandma will get the last laugh when she plays some tricks of her own.

The Charley Chase collection (f…

"writing that formulates a concentrated imaginative awareness of experience in language chosen and arranged to create a specific emotional response through meaning, sound, and rhythm" -- Merriam-Webster dictionary
The Academy of American Poets designated April as the National Poetry Month. Every year since 1996, we celebrate poetry in the month of April, the month that T.S. Elliot described as the cruellest month in his poem, "The Wasteland":
APRIL is the cruellest month, breeding   Lilacs out of the dead land, mixing       Memory and desire, stirring                 Dull roots with spring rain.                   
Contrary to such a morbid view, I think it is only fitting that April is the month we celebrate poetry since it is also the month of William Shakespeare's birth.
While Shakespeare is renowned for being one of the greatest writers and dramatists in the English language, I want to focus on his Sonnets, which were published in 1609; the last of his works…

8 Tips for Working With the Newest Version of Windows

One – If all else seems foreign, use the desktop.  At first glance, Windows 8 seems like a strange beast you need to figure out before you can even send a simple e-mail.  If you start feeling panic eek into you at first sight, take a deep breath and click on the tile marked desktop.  This will take you into the very familiar world of Windows 7.

Two – A Tale of Two Screens.  Windows 8 has two distinct views.  In addition to the desktop view, there is the Start Screen.  This is the screen you see when you first log into Windows and is where you will be able to add apps designed for Windows 8 or icons that take you to the traditional programs, like Word or Photoshop, that you have installed on your computer.  Many tiles are “live” and can display information from the internet, so you can see a live stock ticker, news headlines or sports scores.

Three - Where do I Start?  No, Virginia, there really is no Start button on Windows 8.  But, almost everything you used to see on the Start men…

Gardening with Kids

Every parent knows that cooped-up feeling you can get by the end of the winter.  We have spent weeks keeping our kids entertained with indoor activities until now...  Spring is finally here!  It’s time to go out and let your little ones get back in touch with nature.  What better way to do that than to plant a garden?  Some parents might worry that they don’t have a “green thumb” and some might be reluctant to take on the responsibility of a garden, but here are some things to consider:

•Gardens don’t need to be large.  You can start with a small plot and just a few plants.  Remember, what seems small to you might seem a lot bigger to a child!
•If you don’t have a yard or don’t want to dig up a part of your lawn, consider containers.  Collect a few large pots and put them in a sunny spot.  Although you have to be sure to water them regularly, they get fewer weeds, stay contained, look beautiful and can be moved if desired.
•Planting a garden will allow your kids to get fresh air and …

Books to Get You Thinking

Established as a nonprofit organization in 1950, the National Book Foundation selects outstanding books published in the United States each year in the genres of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and young people’s literature. The books are nominated as winners and finalists by a panel of judges who are all prominent writers in each of the genre categories. Over the years the National Book Awards have been associated with several well known authors in America’s literary landscape including Saul Bellow, Philip Roth and William Faulkner.  The latest round of the National Book Awards for books published in 2012 includes books of widely different content – here are some selections of fiction and nonfiction that are truly outstanding literary contributions:


Behind the Beautiful Forevers: Life, Death, and Hope in a Mumbai Undercity by Katherine Boo  
Pulitzer Prize Winning Reporter from the New Yorker, Katherine Boo, has penned this haunting book about life in Annawadi, a slum on the r…