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Showing posts from April, 2018

Serious Graphic Novels

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I cannot begin to number the genres and sub-genres of graphic novels. Some of my favorites among them are memoirs with serious themes that teach me something about life. Three of the most interesting I recently found are Last Things by Marissa Moss, Can’t We Talk about Something More Pleasant? by Roz Chast and Threads From The Refugee Crisis illustrated by Kate Evans. All three chronicle times in various women’s lives. The first two are personal glimpses of ongoing crises in ordinary lives. The third covers a few months in which an artist attempts to bring the comfort of creating art to refugees living in the Calais Jungle; waiting, waiting for reunification with family members, news of the progress of their applications for asylum, and for something to break the boredom of life in the camps. 

Marissa Moss is the author of popular juvenile fiction, including the Amelia's Notebook series which takes the form of a girl’s diary embellished with doodle-like pictures. Last Things, publi…

An American in Fassuta

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       “Our village is built on the ruins of the Crusader castle of Fassove, which was built on the ruins of Mifshata, the Jewish village that had been settled after the destruction of the Second Temple …” from Arabesquesby Anton Shammas

Just a few kilometers south of the Lebanese border, in Israel’s Upper Galilee, is a Christian Arab village called Fassuta. Most of the approximately 3,000 inhabitants are Melkite (Greek) Catholics. Close to the center of the village is the church, dedicated to Mar Elias (St. Elijah).  Mar Elias is the patron saint of many of the villagers, others regard St. George (Mar Jiryis) as their patron saint. There is no rivalry; the church also has a large painting of St. George and the Dragon on one of the walls. The Crusader castle dates from the 10th century. 

Arabesques is the second of its kind, a novel written in Hebrew by an Arab author. Published in Israel in 1986, it became a best seller in Israel. The English translation, published in 1988, was on the…

You Can’t Refuse These Mob Movies

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Every year I get together with my extended family at Easter and other holidays.  This Easter, during the lull between what feels like a 75-course meal and dessert, we all watched A Bronx Tale on television.  Most of us had seen the movie before, some of us had also seen the Broadway play; everyone shared their memories of both.  It also got everyone thinking of other mob movies and which ones we liked best.  Here are some of our favorites:

The Godfather and Godfather Part II(but not the third one – no one mentioned that!).  I am still amazed when I hear someone has not seen these movies.  At my house I would say they have both been watched at least once a year, usually on some cable channel in the middle of a Sunday afternoon.  I even remember way back when I first saw The Godfather.  I was pretty young and could not follow the story very well.  My dad tried to explain who everyone was, why different things were happening and how all the pieces came together.  When I was older, I was a…

A Crocheter in the Making. How About You?

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I have always loved cozy woven sweaters, scarves and hats. I have loved their warmth, their tactile feel, and all the variety of patterns and colors in their weaves. When it comes to clothes, I am an under buyer. However, when it comes to scarves, how difficult it is for me to pass on one of good quality fiber, color or weave! My mother could do it all - sew, knit, crochet, embroider, quilt. You name it and she knew it! It was a wonderful creative outlet for her. As a teen, I may have been a disappointment because I had no interest in such past times. I tried sewing in Home Ec. & made a mess of a simple dress, feeling little patience for the process.
Fast forward: I grew up, had children of my own and started to appreciate the skills of the home. I began to enjoy cooking, gardening, home decorating, and crafting. With library books, I taught myself hand embroidery. I did not know how to use a sewing machine, but I could embroider fabric pictures to hang, and embellish shirt front…

The Amelia Bloomer List: A Selection of the Best Feminist Literature for Young Readers

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You may have heard of the Caldecott, Newbery and Coretta Scott King awards for children’s literature, but you may not have heard of the Amelia Bloomer Project. Named after women’s rights advocate Amelia Bloomer, the Amelia Bloomer List is created every year by a committee of professional librarians who select the best feminist literature for young readers aged 0-18 years.

Being a Committee Member

In February 2018, the committee (made up of ten librarians) met at the American Library Association Midwinter Meeting in Denver to discuss, debate, and ultimately select which books published within the last eighteen months would make the list. As a committee member, I can tell you that this experience is both exhilarating and exhausting. Throughout the year leading up to the Midwinter Meeting, committee members must read and nominate potential titles. This past year, we had a total nomination of 86 titles, of which 56 made it onto the official 2018 list.

How Do We Choose? 

There are several fa…

Legal Marijuana in NJ, Coming Soon to a Dispensary Near You

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Marijuana is a plant in the cannabaceae family which has been used for medicinal, spiritual and recreational purposes for thousands of years. At the turn of the last century it was a common ingredient, along with cocaine and heroin, in many over-the-counter medicines sold in the United States.

Eventually cannabis, its proper name, became associated with poor people, immigrants and people of color in the U.S. who were vying for jobs during the Great Depression. The name marijuana was coined by William Randolph Hearst as a racist slur against Mexicans. This was quickly followed by pulp fiction books and movies, such as the campy cult classic Reefer Madness, that made the most absurd and extreme claims about marijuana; mainly that smoking it would turn one into a crazed, murderous, criminal and sexual libertine. Based on no scientific evidence, cannabis was classified as a schedule one drug (no currently accepted medical use and a high potential for abuse).

Over the past few decades, rep…

What’s New in Our Virtual Branch

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Our Virtual Branch is your 24/7 online destination for eBooks, magazines, audiobooks, music, comics, movies, and television.  Our four main content providers - eLibraryNJ, Freegal, Flipster, and hoopla – are constantly making changes and adding new titles.  Below is a run-down of the latest improvements to make our virtual branch easier to use and enjoy.

eLibraryNJcontinues to add new releases to the eBook and audiobook collection each month and MCLS now offers extra copies of the most popular titles through our Advantage subscription.  Patrons who use the service will have access to our copies first, which will allow you to move up the holds list faster or avoid having to wait at all.  Make sure you log on before browsing to see the extra copies and titles.  Using the service is also easier now that almost all titles are available in the OverDrive Read or OverDrive Listen format, which can be used in any browser without additional software or apps.  If you prefer an app, the new Libby…

Horticulture & Homicide

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If you enjoy watching murder mysteries and are a gardening enthusiast, then Rosemary and Thyme is definitely your cup of tea. Garden restoration coupled with sleuthing makes for a delightful whodunit series that is great fun to watch. And, of course, you can find the DVDs for all three seasons of this show at the Mercer County Library.

After eighteen years as a professor of horticulture, Rosemary Boxer is unceremoniously fired from her job. Laura Thyme, a former police officer, is abandoned by her husband for a younger woman. Encountering each other during this distressing period in their lives, the two women are drawn together by their mutual love of gardening. They form a garden restoration partnership and go wherever there is a garden in need of their care and expertise. But, whether it is to cure disease-ridden lawns, or design memorial gardens, somehow, the two gardeners always encounter murder and mayhem. No matter the location of their assignment, dead bodies appear at random.…