Showing posts from October, 2014

Scary Stories for Kids

I remember having a sleepover with a few of my cousins when I was around 10 years old. We sat around in a circle with a flashlight and read Scary Stories to Tell in the Dark by Alvin Schwartz, giving ourselves chills over both the stories and the haunting black-and-white illustrations by Stephen Gammell. We were both afraid and elated. As a parent, it is easy to be reluctant to read a scary story to your child, or let them read one to themselves. Is it okay to do so? I think it depends on the child. Each child is different and age is not always a great predictor. One preschooler might love to feel frightened by a story, while another 12-year-old will not want to hear anything scary. Your best bet, as a parent, is to listen to your child. If they want to try reading something scary – with you or alone – let them. In my years as a librarian, I have learned that most kids will self-censor. If something is too sad, frightening or graphic for them, they will simply stop reading

Uber or No Uber

Disclaimer: The following post is about an app that has been deemed illegal in some areas.  In New Jersey, the Department of Banking & Insurance has issued a warning regarding the use of Uber, Lyft, Sidecar and related rideshare services.  Readers are strongly advised to research the legality of using such apps and the consequences of their use. It wasn’t until the first week of October of 2014 that I first used an app service, activated with my aging smart phone, called Uber, to get rides from private drivers. Strange as it might sound, I was picked up on multiple occasions by a complete stranger, in their car, whereby Uber got a percentage of the fair paid by me, electronically, to the driver. The circumstances were thus: a very close friend (I'll preserve his anonymity and refer to him as “Roy ” in this post) was getting married in San Francisco and I was staying alone in his apartment (in Concord, CA) while he stayed in the city with his fiancĂ©. From their apartment, I

Bloodcurdling Tales of Horror and the Macabre!

As the leaves change color, the nights get longer, the air gets chilly, and All Hallows' Eve - Halloween - draws near, I am naturally inclined to dwell upon the genre of horror fiction. The first horror novel was written by Horace Walpole entitled The Castle of Otranto , published in 1764. Tame by today's standards, this classic Gothic tale contains every recognizable element of a Gothic horror novel: the horrible weather which sets the mood, the ominous setting in a Gothic castle with its secret passages and hidden doors, a creepy forest where ghosts roam and a family that is doomed by a prophecy. Since then, horror stories have evolved and become much more complex. We have had many notable writers in the horror genre. Even if we are not fans of horror, we have heard the names of Mary Shelley, Edgar Allan Poe, Bram Stoker, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen King, and Anne Rice. The title of this blog post is the title of the book by H.P. Lovecraft [ The Best of H.P. Lovecraft: Bloodc

Time To Drop The Puck!

Fall is perhaps the most crowded time on the sports calendar, with baseball winding down to the World Series, NASCAR wrapping up its season, and two varieties of football (college and NFL) in the midst of their seasons.  It is also time for the start of the various hockey leagues, from college to the pros. I personally look forward to fall since I have been officiating hockey games for over 20 years and the start of the season is always the most exciting time of the year, except for the playoffs since, in my biased opinion, nothing beats playoff hockey for sports excitement. Hockey often gets a bad rap for being difficult to follow and having strange rules to understand.  I mean, why would it be bad to do something called icing in a sport played on ice?  Fortunately, there are some good rules resources available to the casual or new fan.  One of the best websites covering the basic rules, official signals, how to read a score sheet and lingo is run by the Charlotte Checkers , a minor

Ebola Information

One of the most discussed news topics today is Ebola – Ebola Virus Disease.  With information changing rapidly, it is difficult to keep abreast of what is happening in the world. First, learn exactly where the West Africa outbreak is taking place and find out more about the countries involved.  The CIA World Factbook gives a map and in-depth information on every country. PBS has a   slide show illustrating how the disease has spread.   This is not the first time there has been an Ebola outbreak – the CDC provides a chronological history .  This is not even the first time an Ebola virus has been in the United States – USA Today gives an overview of Ebola-Reston .  The book mentioned in the article, The Hot Zone by Richard Preston, is available through the Library System. For a comprehensive and authoritative definition and explanation of the disease, visit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention – Ebola Virus Disease World Health Organization – Ebola Virus Disease Fact

Books to Get You Thinking

This month’s selection of books explores man’s unending quest for knowledge, stretching the boundaries in search for the unknown. Science as we know it today, in fields ranging from astronomy to medicine, is the result of thousands of years of research and exploration. This month’s picks focus on different facets of science as well as the inventors behind some landmark discoveries. Each of these compelling reads is available for you at the Mercer County Library. In the Kingdom of Ice: The Grand and Terrible Polar Voyage of the USS Jeanette by Hampton Sides A riveting, fascinating journey back in time to 1879, when a team of thirty-three officers led by veteran Arctic explorer George Washington DeLong ventured forth to sail into the distant icy waters of the North Pole in a quest to discover what lay on the northern tip of the universe. In the nineteenth century, the North Pole was an area that remained shrouded in mystery and the theory of the Open Polar Sea was prevalent –

Future Science!

Science is boring. Everybody learned in school that it is not possible to make learning about atoms or molecules or cells exciting, much less rockets or thunderstorms or volcanoes or explosions… OK, maybe science is not that boring. But on the other hand, there is plenty of information out there about what we already know. Chemistry, physics, biology, health – it is all well-represented and you have probably read several books about most of them. But what about what we do not know or theories that we are testing today? Future science, as I call it, is the science behind what may happen and may be possible tomorrow, but certainly is not today. Whether we are talking about teleporters or a Dyson Sphere , it is half nonfiction and half sci-fi and maybe utterly inconceivable. But it is a lot of fun! One of my favorite books in the “future science” genre is I’m Working on That by William Shatner.  This excellent book discusses the relationship between modern-day science and the show S

Meet the Artists

The Mercer County Library often receives donations of books and films from our generous patrons. Lately, we have been very fortunate in that a local resident with an extensive, varied, and beautiful collection of art books – collected from many museum exhibitions over more than 30 years – has been giving a large number of these to our collection. Just to help you to explore these, I would like to highlight just a few of the monographs and exhibition catalogs. They cover a wide range of art movements, artists, and countries. If you want to find more, check out our catalog and talk to the reference librarians at the Lawrence Branch where these new gifts are on the shelves. Jean Fouquet and the Invention of France : Art and Nation After The Hundred Years War by Erik Inglis This late 15th century French painter Jean Fouquet created beautiful manuscript art and miniature portraits for the courts of Charles VII and Louis XI. Considered the most important and influential French art

Pumpkin Tales

October brings to mind bats, ghosts, Halloween, and ... pumpkins! It is so much fun to take a hayride and choose your very own pumpkin. This Fall you can also try making a delicious pumpkin-shaped snack. You will need: 3 cups of mini marshmallows 5 cups of Apple Cinnamon CheeriOs® ¼ cup of butter or margarine Green Gumdrops  Yellow and red food coloring Cooking spray Wax paper    In a microwave-safe bowl, heat butter and marshmallows on HIGH for about 2 minutes. To turn the marshmallow mixture orange, stir in 1 drop of red food coloring and 2 drops of yellow food coloring. You may need to add more food coloring if you want a darker shade of orange. Gradually fold in 5 cups of Apple Cinnamon CheeriOs®. Allow the mixture to cool slightly. Spray each child’s hand with cooking spray. Give each child ½ a cup of the mixture to shape into pumpkin. Press a green gumdrop on top of the “pumpkin” to act as the stem. Set the snacks on wax paper until they are fir