Showing posts from November, 2015

Rebus Books

What are rebus books?
A rebus book, or picture reader, tells its story using a combination of text and small pictures or icons. The pictures represent characters or key elements in the story and are used throughout the book in place of the corresponding word/name. For example, in a story about a duck’s adventures, the word “duck” would always be replaced in sentences with the picture of a duck. Sometimes the word is written under the picture, and other times the picture stands alone, depending on the publisher. Here is an example:
Why use them?
Rebus books are generally made for beginning readers to assist with building reading skills. First, they can help younger children grasp the concept of reading - the squiggles on the page actually correspond to something! Second, they can help hold kids’ attention, since the pictures enable them to follow along with the story and “read” even if they do not yet know sight words. In our increasingly graphic-based society filled with apps, s…

Don't Try This at Home

Don’t Try This at Home: Culinary Catastrophes from the World’s Greatest Chefsedited by Kimberly Witherspoon and Andrew Friedman.

In this entertaining collection of stories, forty preeminent chefs share “their biggest mishaps, missteps, misadventures, and misfortunes”, as editors Kimberly Witherspoon and Andrew Friedman write in their introduction. California chef Hubert Keller tells about a wedding reception he catered at a gorgeous home in Carmel overlooking the Pacific. The bride’s parents had spared no expense in giving their daughter a dream wedding.

Along with a $30,000 wedding cake flown in from New York City, Keller had prepared a five course menu for two hundred and fifty guests. The day of the event, while Keller and his staff were in the kitchen making preparations for the first course, a major water line broke just outside the front gate of the home.

The gated entrance and driveway started at street level and descended down the side of a hill, so the huge amount of water re…

Holiday Gift Ideas for Techies, 2015

As the holiday season closes in, you may be thinking about just what to get the tech-savvy person on your list. This year the usual suspects will be the talk of the electronics aisles, with tablets, health monitoring devices and phones near the top of everyone’s lists. But there are some other items sure to be big this season.
Of course one of the biggest themes this year has been Star Wars. There are the usual amounts of action figures, t-shirts, posters and other tchotchkes springing up everywhere from the toy store to the grocery store. One that will probably be a hit will be the BB-8 App-Enabled Droid by Sphero. Users control the droid with an app on their iOS or Android device. The droid can function as a remote controlled device, set to patrol an area (sort of like a robot vacuum cleaner), and can take and display holographic video messages. The droid also responds to voice commands and can adapt to its environment, so it learns not to take a tumble down the steps.

TV is…

So You Want to Be a Writer?

Have you always wanted to write but felt you did not have the time or the know-how to get started? If you have ever considered writing for pleasure, now is a good time to start. November is National Novel Writing Month, familiarly known as NaNoWriMo, so it is an appropriate month to start jotting down your thoughts.

Writing as a means of self-expression can be very satisfying as you take the ordinary and the mundane and create something beautiful, something that is wholly yours. The act of writing can also be therapeutic if you are able to take your doubts or fears and put them down on paper. If you have ever felt angry, upset or hurt, try writing about it. The very act of shaping your emotional experience into prose can transform that experience and make it cathartic. As Karen Bender writes in her essay, "The Accidental Writer", "Giving shape to a painful experience is powerful because it helps us to see ..., how we got through it; .... The experience doesn't stay …

Autism Resources

According to the CDC, about 1 in 68 children has been identified with autistic spectrum disorder, including autistic disorder, pervasive developmental disorder not otherwise specified (PDD-NOS), and Asperger syndrome. There are many sources of information and support available if you or someone you know has received a diagnosis or sees evidence of autistic spectrum disorder, or if you would just like to learn more.

If you have a young child who you think needs evaluation, the New Jersey Division of Developmental Disabilities can help you. Contact information for child evaluation centers can be found here.

New Jersey residents may also get help from Autism New Jersey, which is the largest statewide network of parents and professionals dedicated to improving lives of individuals with autism spectrum disorders, as well as Autism Family Services of New Jersey. For Mercer County-specific information, contact the Mercer County Office on Disability Services.

Lots of information, including…

Books to Get You Thinking 2015 Holiday Edition I

November brings with it the rich red hues of falling leaves, the cool crisp air of Fall and the delightful anticipation of the Holiday season just around the corner. A time to reconnect with friends and family, it is also a good time to get started on the gift list for all your favorite people. Books make a wonderful, timeless gift – with choices available in a variety of different genres and subjects to delight just about everyone on your list. This month, the nonfiction, biography and memoir categories are highlighted while fiction, cooking and entertaining will be covered in the next edition of Books to Get You Thinking.

Non Fiction

Irrational Exuberance by Robert Shiller
In the new expanded and updated third edition of his classic book, Shiller, professor at Yale and the recipient of the 2013 Nobel Prize in Economics, incorporates the financial events and realities of the past decade while extending his analysis to include the bond market. Shiller explains the forces that define…

Art Journaling for Teens & More!

The Teen section of the library is one of my favorite places to be; it has great fiction, some heartbreaking memoirs, and an informative non-fiction section that all too often gets overlooked. However, starting in August, at the Hopewell Branch there is a new Teen Group gathering to combat that! Art journaling (for ages 12 and up) will be meeting once a month to explore creativity, inspiration and mixed media art!

Some Art Journal pages made at the Hopewell Branch
The practice of Art Journaling has been around almost as long as art itself, and nary has a place seemed more fit to host such a gathering as the library! With large Art, Art History, and Art Tutorial areas in the library branches’ nonfiction stacks to choose from, teens have the opportunity to churn out something expressive!

The materials used can be anything from magazine clippings, paint, charcoal, string, and even makeup! Creations are often highlighted with excerpts from their favorite books, songs, or poems, making …

Fall into Cooking

There are many reasons to be excited about the arrival of autumn. Cooler weather, the new TV season, and pumpkin-flavored everything are some of the things I look forward to every year. But my favorite thing about autumn is cooking hearty, cold-weather meals!

During the summer it is just too hot to turn on the oven, so I mostly stick to lighter meals that I can cook on the stovetop. Unfortunately, this is very limiting – so it is with open arms and a big appetite that I welcome this time of year.

Nothing says autumn like homemade beef stew, roast chicken with root vegetables, or freshly baked bread. It is also a great time to make robust soups. Cream of potato soup topped with bits of crispy bacon, chicken soup with matzo balls made from my mom’s recipe, and pea soup flavored with leeks and garlic are just a few of the recipes that I make every autumn.

If you would like some inspiration for autumn (and winter!) cooking, check out the cookbooks below – and let me know in the comme…