Showing posts from December, 2014

The Retirees' Park Life in Beijing

I like to visit the many parks in Beijing. Many were built by China's past emperors as royal gardens and they often house pagodas, temples, and old residences. These days, the parks are full of different sounds, noises, and activities as they are used as show places for various folk arts and activities. Many people who spend time at parks during the day are middle-aged or the elderly – this is due to China’s retirement policies, which stipulates that the official retirement age is as low as 50 for women and 60 for men. These people are still mentally and physically active, and go to parks to seek out other people in their age range who share similar interests. They are at the parks every day - not only walking and talking with each other, but also performing martial arts, playing badminton, and doing ”backward walking,” (walking backward to improve and balance blood circulation). There are also people practicing more traditional Chinese leisure activities, such as kite flying, and…

Stories to Please Toddlers and Preschoolers

As a children’s librarian, I am constantly on the look-out for books to read at my storytime programs. Over the years I have developed a list of tried and true titles for toddlers and preschoolers. They combine a good story with humor and have outstanding illustrations. I turn to these books over and over when I want a story that will entertain and enlighten. Moreover, these stories have passed the crucial test: they have held the interest of the children in my programs. I hope you will find this list useful.

Alborough, Jez. Where’s My Teddy. 1992
When a small boy named Eddie goes searching for his lost teddy in the dark woods, he comes across a gigantic bear with a similar problem.Bogan, Paulette. Goodnight Lulu. 2003
When her mother tucks her in for the night, Lulu the chicken worries what would happen if a bear or a tiger or an alligator should come in during the night.Brown, Ken. What’s the Time Grandma Wolf? 2001
A group of brave, or foolhardy, little animals creep closer and c…

December 20th Marks the Anniversary of It's a Wonderful Life's movie premiere.

The movie was directed by Frank Capra and starred Jimmy Stewart, Donna Reed, Lionel Barrymore and Henry Travers.

In case you have not seen the movie (which is completely okay - up until a few years ago my mom had never seen it) here is a quick summary:
George Bailey is not having a good day. His life in the sleepy little town of Bedford Falls has been thrown off track, perhaps never to recover. His business has failed, he is wanted by the police, and he has had a fight with his beloved wife Mary. On this disastrous day, his responsibilities and frustrations overwhelm him, leading him to a bridge and serious contemplation of suicide. It is up to an angel named Clarence to convince George that his life has been one of worth and that it is still worth living. After taking a long look at George's life, the angel offers a portrait of what life in Bedford Falls would be like if George had never been born. This classic, sentimental favorite has become a Christmas tradition.
The library …

'Tis the Season to be Merry!

December is a festive time of year, with the stores seasonably festooned and filled with all sorts of goodies, ubiquitous holiday music playing endlessly, houses decorated with twinkling lights, television shows about families celebrating and setting aside their differences, commercials filled with happy families and joyful children receiving their secretly wished-for gifts from the white bearded, rotund and red-suited, ho-ho-hoing figure. I love this time of year. But not everyone is able to get into the holiday spirit, thus giving rise to the term holiday blues.

How could anyone feel blue during the time when holiday cheer abounds? There are many reasons: loneliness, financial hardships, stress, anxiety and depression. People who are alone or cannot be with their families during the holidays can find this time difficult. Financial hardships for people on a tight budget can also add to the difficulty of living up to the often consumer-driven frenzy of holiday gift-giving. Trying t…


Weather. It is that fail-safe topic that we revert to when we have nothing else to discuss at a party or while making small talk with a stranger. But for some of us, tracking it is a hobby. Weather watchers across the country are an enthusiastic group that finds barometric pressure and precipitation totals anything but small talk to pass the time. Tracking habits can range from casually observing a home weather station to keeping detailed notes on daily conditions, much like Thomas Jefferson used to do at Monticello.

Getting started as a weather watcher is not that hard and you do not need to take a class in meteorology to understand the basic concepts behind what drives our weather. The basics are covered nicely on’s weather education page. But if you do want a more in-depth understanding of the science behind the weather, you can pick up a used meteorology textbook from most online book stores or browse the library’s shelves. If you look around 551.5 in the non-fict…

Tops App Suggestions

A co-worker recently asked me for some suggestions of apps to install on her smartphone. Her phone is relatively new and she was getting up-to-speed on it after moving up from a plain cell phone, which seems to be the case with a lot of people who are moving over to smartphones as their old phones die or their contract comes up for renewal. For those of you going through such a transition, here are the suggestions I made in regards to useful apps that every user should consider adding to their smartphone.

News apps. The CNN and NBC News apps are great for quick headlines with little to no commentary. The wide variety of topics makes it easy to check the news in one app, as you can get the latest world news, sports or entertainment. If you prefer international news, BBC is your best bet for staying in the know. For local news, the new CBS Local app lets you pick one of 24 US cities to follow, including New York or Philadelphia. In addition to the local news, you get the local wea…

Books To Get You Thinking Holiday Edition II

Without a doubt, books make the perfect gift for just about everyone on your list! Following up on last month’s selections of nonfiction and biography titles, here are books that would be perfect as gifts for family and friends who love a good work of fiction as well as for those who would appreciate books authored by leading chefs about their newest culinary creations to put on the table! From all of us at the Mercer County Library System, have a wonderful and joyous Holiday Season!


Usby David Nicholls
Following on the heels of his earlier immensely successful novel One Day, David Nicholls weaves another delightful story revolving around the complexities of human emotions and relationships. The novel is based on the lives of Douglas - a biochemist, Connie - his artistic, colorful wife, and their son Ebee who is ready to leave for College and is steadily drifting away from his father. One day Connie informs Douglas that she is ready to walk out of their twenty-one years of marr…

Decorate This Blog

November. Christmas is almost upon us.


It is true, I love the Christmas holidays somewhat less than I did when I was a child many years decades ago. The rising anticipation, culminating in a state of contented satiation on The Day, has become a steadily mounting background hum of anxiety, grim list making (the lists never get shorter; every time I check something as “done” there are two new things to add) and increasingly frantic activity, culminating in pure relief that it is finally OVER and I can go to bed on December 25 worried about… nothing at all. Ahhhh.

I do not dislike Christmas, mind you. It is just that the focus has changed, as it has for all of us former Santa-believers who have grown up and have become the Santas ourselves; and not only the Santas, but the shoppers, the planners, the decorators, the bakers (well, no, not me; I like my friends and family too much to inflict home-made cookies and cakes on them), the social directors, and the chefs that keep the …