Showing posts from May, 2013

Eat Local

Are you willing to prepare one meal a week for 14 weeks from locally grown foods?  We challenge you to do just that.

The quote that inspired this idea is from Barbara and Camille Kingsolver and Steven Hopp, who wrote Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: “If every U.S. citizen ate just one meal a week (any meal) composed of locally and organically raised meats and produce, we would reduce our country’s oil consumption by over 1.1 million barrels of oil every week.”

This does not mean making your own vinegar. But you can make your own vinaigrette and spend less money, imbibe fewer unknown substances and cut down on packaging.

Pasta and grains will be another challenge. We encourage you to get as close to a local source as you can.

The Lawrence Headquarters Branch’s job this summer, just 14 weeks from Memorial Day to Labor Day, will be to offer interesting recipes for both carnivores and vegetarians, and resources where you can purchase food from local farmers and millers. Or, as our first lady…

Books To Get You Thinking

Each year, April is abuzz with excitement and projections about the likely winners of Columbia University’s prestigious Pulitzer Prizes that are awarded in the field of journalism as well as in Letters, Drama and Music, covering the categories of fiction, nonfiction, drama, history and biography. A committee comprised of top luminaries from the world of writing spends months sifting through hundreds of manuscripts before honing down the finalists and the winners for the Pulitzer. In 2012 the Pulitzer Committee caused quite a stir by not awarding any winner in the fiction category. Needless to say it was with even greater anticipation that the literary world waited to hear about the 2013 Pulitzer for fiction this year. At the Mercer County Library we are excited to present readers with the full line of 2013 Pulitzer Prize winning books:

Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss  
Riveting and enthralling this book, a winner in the Biograph…

Starting a Book Club for grades K-4

I have tried several times to start a book club for school-aged children, and I have had little success.  I would set up a club and children would register for it but, when the day arrived, very few would actually show up.  Parents would tell me they wanted a book club for their children but, when I initiated one, attendance was always low.  I could not figure out what I was doing wrong, but I was determined to find out.  In my book, no pun intended, book clubs and libraries go together like love and marriage.  My search to create a successful book club began!

I asked other librarians if they had ever offered a book club.  One librarian told me that she developed a club
where children ages 4 to 9 could come weekly.  The children did not have to read the book before they came; the librarian read portions of the book to them and they talked about it.  The program ended with a book-related craft.  It worked for a few months, but interest in the club dwindled.  At another club that I star…

Don’t Let Your Children Miss Out on Mo Willems (in 2013)!

Most parents with children under the age of 15 are probably familiar with author Mo Willems. He has a mantle full of Caldecott & Theodor Seuss Geisel Medal awards for his Pigeon, Elephant & Piggie and Knuffle Bunny series, and has even received a handful of Carnegie Medals for Knuffle Bunny and Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus being turned into animated short films.

Willems began his career as a writer/animator for Sesame Street, earning six Emmy Awards before pursuing his writing career – which has created the award-winning Pigeon and Knufflebunny books, as well as the extremely popular Elephant & Piggie early reader series.

In September of 2012, the fractured fairytale Goldilocks and the Three Dinosaurs was released, humoring children and adults alike, and setting the stage for an exciting 2013!

This is what Mr. Willems has in store for the kids (and enthusiastic adults):

That is NOT a Good Idea! (April 2013): Willems fractures yet another fairytale in this short, sweet…

More Big Fat Fantasies: Series to Take You a Year

Here are two additional Big Fat Fantasy series you may enjoy.  For more information about this genre, please see my post of May 21.

Sword of Truth

The Sword of Truth series is pretty simple. It is classic fantasy fare – young farmboy (Richard) turns out to be the son of an evil emperor. The first book focuses on Richard taking control of the empire. The subsequent books focus on Richard defending the Empire from various threats and, later, from a wide variety of magical obstacles that the author, Terry Goodkind, chooses to put in his path.

I do not think the series is all that good. First, it has major pacing problems throughout, with a single simplistic good vs. evil story arc taking 7 books. But more problematic for the fantasy aficionado is that Terry Goodkind is internally inconsistent with his rules and world. The deus ex machina is an important part of the stories and, worst of all, the books are a very depressing read. They have a major air of cynicism throughout and the heroes f…

Big Fat Fantasies: Series to Take You a Year

If there is one thing that the fantasy genre is good at, it is producing long books. The fantasy genre has become infamous for a standard length of some 600+ pages, long-winded descriptions, and authors who just don’t stop writing. The trilogy is the favorite number of volumes in a story, but longer series (whether the author calls them a cycle, epic, saga, or something else) are not rare.

Some people, including myself, like this longer format. It can be nice to drop into a book with familiar characters going to familiar places and doing familiar things. You do not need to relearn the complicated character or place names that come with fantasy, nor do you have to get familiar with a new fantasy world or the trappings that come with it, like the author’s own interpretation of magic.

In today’s post I will cover two series, with two additional series reviewed on May 24, that took me and will reliably take you months to longer than a year to complete.

Where possible, word- or page-count…

James Bond Turns 60!

Casino Royale, the novel by Ian Fleming that introduced James Bond to the world, was published on April 13th, 1953.  The fictional British Secret Service agent, code name 007, has been featured in novels, television and radio shows, comic strips and video games, not to mention the second-highest grossing film franchise to date which began in 1962 with Dr. No, starring Sean Connery as Bond.

To catch you up on the life and adventures of 007, The Mercer County Library System has a comprehensive collection of James Bond books and movies worth checking out.  In addition to Ian Fleming’s novels and the scores of films featuring the world-famous secret agent, be sure to put these on your list:

Bond On Bond : Reflections On 50 Years Of James Bond Movies
By Roger Moore

From the girls to the villains, the cars to the cocktails, and oh-so-many gadgets, Bond on Bond has it all. This sumptuous book is illustrated with over 400 hundred iconic images from all the films - including many previously un…

More Then Megapixels, Part 1

With vacation, graduation and wedding season coming up, I thought it would be a good time to offer some tips to make the most out of your digital camera.  Over the next few posts, we will take a look at some features you may be overlooking on your camera, but that may make your life easier if you are trying to get that perfect shot.

Shooting Made Simple – using auto modes, scenes and figuring out white balance
When digital photography was new, the key feature every manufacturer wanted to improve with new models was the megapixel count.  Now that cameras have evolved to the point where the megapixel counts are over 15 (enough to print a crisp poster size print), the focus has shifted to improving other features that can make that detailed picture better looking or just easier to take.
When you use the automatic modes of a camera (auto and auto no flash), the software on the camera does the thinking for you in terms of what settings to apply.  These settings are the aperture, shutter spe…

Teens, Technology, and Media

Recently, I saw an infographic on teens and the internet.  Frankly it seemed a bit doom and gloom, highlighting the negatives and not really mentioning any positives, so I turned to “pure” research sources – the Pew Research Center and the Kaiser Family Foundation – for some perspective on U.S. digital natives, i.e. teens and tweens.

First, let me explain why these sources should be considered pure research. Essentially, they are nonprofit organizations that have no agenda other than to freely provide data collected about current issues. In their own words:

“Pew Research Center is a nonpartisan fact tank that informs the public about the issues, attitudes and trends shaping America and the world. It conducts public opinion polling, demographic research, media content analysis and other empirical social science research. Pew Research does not take policy positions.” [Retrieved 4/15/13 from ]
“[T]he Kaiser Family Foundation is dedicated to filling the n…