Monday, December 05, 2016

Alan Alda

I'm sure everyone remembers Alan Alda as the star of the long-running tv series, M*A*S*H [DVD MAS], and in films such as The Four Seasons [DVD FOU]. He is a writer of several autobiographies such as Things I Overheard while talking to Myself [B ALD, AB/CD B ALD, also eAudiobook]. Did you also know of Alda's great interest in science and scientific communication?

For 14 years Alda hosted a PBS program titled, Scientific American Frontiers, which brought cutting edge science into the homes of Americans. Alda went on to create the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at Stony Brook University in New York. A yearly science communication competition, known as "The Flame Challenge," is one of the projects of the Alan Alda Center.
The Flame Challenge is an international competition in which scientists answer a technical question in a clear and entertaining way, specifically geared toward an audience of 11-year-olds. Launched in 2012, The Flame Challenge began with Alan Alda’s own childhood query, "What is a flame?"
The challenge for 2017 is to explain the concept of energy. Think you can do it? If you're a teacher, get your students involved in the 2017 "What is Energy?" question, click here.



Friday, December 02, 2016

Poetry Friday--Antarctic Antics

Yesterday was Antarctic Day, so let's keep it going through Poetry Friday with a book of penguin poetry!

Antarctic Antics: A Book of Penguin Poems is a delightful children's book by Judy Sierra and illustrated by Jose Aruego & Ariane Dewey. It would be a great book to pair with a viewing of the animated movie, Happy Feet [J DVD HAP].


How can you resist a book with so many Emperor Penguins frolicking on the cover? I don't think you can! Open it and enjoy!
Mother Penguin's Vacation

Two months out at sea
Is a penguin's great thrill.
Each evening my dinner
Floats right into my bill.
Oh, I might make a meal
Of a slippery eel.
Or a cod, or a squid.
(Gulp! I think I just did--
I feel a long tentacle
Tickling my ventricle.)
Several shrimp swimming south
Are approaching my mouth--
So I'll just open wide
And invite them inside.
Yes, two months' vacation
Is a penguinish wish.
I've got nothing to do
But slurp squadrons of fish.
I'll grow gorgeously fat,
Then swim home in July,
To sing my new baby
A deep-sea lullaby.

Poet, Judy Sierra, explains the "story behind the book" on her website; click here.

For this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up visit Bridget at Wee Words for Wee Ones.




Thursday, December 01, 2016

It's Antarctica Day!

What is Antarctica Day?
After almost fifty-seven years, the Antarctic Treaty continues to shine as a rare beacon of international cooperation. To celebrate this milestone of peace in our civilization with hope and inspiration for future generations--ANTARCTICA DAY is recognized to be December 1st--the day when the Antarctic Treaty was signed in 1959. As an annual event, Antarctica Day encourages participation from around the world. Our aim is to continue expanding Antarctica Day on December 1st as a globally-accessible platform to share, interpret and cherish the values associated with Antarctica for the benefit of present and future generations.

From Our Spaces.

To say we have a gazillion books and DVDs on Antarctica is only a slight exaggeration! Here are five examples of the variety of materials we have on the topic--from science fiction to comic format:

Bledsoe, Lucy Jane. How to Survive in Antarctica. [YA 919.89 BLE]

Kostyal, K. M. Trial by Ice: A Photobiography of Sir Ernest Shackleton. [919.9 KOS]

March of the Penguins. [DVD 598.47 MAR]

Pipe, Jim. The Race to the South Pole. [J CX PIP]

Robinson, Kim Stanley. Antarctica. [SF ROB]

Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Make Way for Ducklings


Many children in the greater Boston area receive a gift of Robert McCloskey's Make Way for Ducklings, because their parents read the book in their childhoods, and maybe their grandparents did, too. The reading of Make Way for Ducklings is a tradition for Boston area families, as is visiting the Swan Boats. Over the past decade, the brass duckling sculpture in the Boston Garden, has become a tourist destination for young and old, too.

The Swan Boats are in dry dock for the winter months (will reopen in April), and it may be too cold to walk through the Public Garden, but you can still enjoy reading about the ducklings in the original picture book [JP MCC], as part of a collection of McCloskey stories in The World of Robert McCloskey or Make Way for McCloskey: A Robert McCloskey Treasury [JP MCC]. You can even read it in a Spanish language edition, Abran Paso a los Patitos [J 468.2 MCC].

Last week, at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, an exhibition opened, "Make Way for Ducklings: The Art of Robert McCloskey."
With art from Make Way for Ducklings at its center, the retrospective presents more than 50 works, including studies for other books written and illustrated by McCloskey: Lentil (1940), Homer Price (1943) and Centerburg Tales (1951), which recall his youth in rural Ohio, and popular Maine tales including Blueberries for Sal (1948) and Time of Wonder (1957). Works are drawn primarily from the rich, but rarely exhibited holdings of the May Massee Collection at Emporia State University in Kansas.

An exhibition highlight is the miniature bronze model for Nancy Schön’s Make Way for Ducklings sculpture, commissioned for the Boston Public Garden in 1985. As well as celebrating McCloskey’s achievements as author-illustrator, the retrospective also includes a selection of his independent work connecting him to prominent American painters such as Thomas Hart Benton and Edward Hopper.
Borrow our museum pass and head down to Boston. The exhibit runs through June 18, 2017, so you have plenty of time! To learn more about the artist, Robert McCloskey, look for Robert McCloskey: A Private Life in Words and Pictures written by his daughter, Jane McCloskey [B MCC].

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

Time for the 2016 "Best of" Lists

Each year as we reach November, various groups and organizations start issuing their best-of-the-year lists--the best movies, or the best new electronic gadgets, and always, the best books. You'll find best book lists published by newspapers, magazines, and literary organizations. Here is "SLJ's Best of 2016," for kids and young adults, as was determined by School Library Journal, a review magazine used by school and public librarians across the country. This year their best list includes 66 titles.



If you don't want to watch the whole video, here's the list of the middle grade (ages 8-12) fiction titles. Often, books from the middle grade lists go on to win the Newbury Award in January.

Anderson, John David. Ms. Bixby's Last Day.

Barnhill, Kelly. The Girl Who Drank the Moon. [J BAR]

Brown, Peter. The Wild Robot. [J BRO]

DiCamillo, Kate. Raymie Nightingale. [J DIC]

Erdrich, Louise. Makoons.

Gidwitz, Adam. The Inquisitor's Tale. [J GID]

Grimes, Nikki. Garvey's Choice. [J GRI]

Kelly, Erin Entrada. The Land of Forgotten Girls.

Lin, Grace. When the Sea Turned to Silver. [J LIN]

Peck, Richard. The Best Man. [J PEC]

Pennypacker, Sara. Pax. [J PEN]

Reynolds, Jason. As Brave As You. [J REY]

Reynolds, Jason. Ghost. [J REY]

Wolf, Lauren. Wolf Hollow. [J WOL]

If you have children or teens on your holiday list, use the SLJ's recommendations as a buying guide.

Monday, November 28, 2016

Tuskegee Airmen

The sole remaining original member of the World War II all black flight squadron, the Tuskegee Airmen, Willie Rogers, passed away ten days ago at the age of 101.

The Tuskegee Airmen, also known as the Red Tails, were brave in the face of the enemy overseas, and in the face of racial discrimination at home. The story of the squadron has been retold in books and movies including these:

Holway, John. Red Tails: An Oral History of the Tuskegee Airmen. [940.5449 HOL]

Red Tails. [DVD RED]

Weatherford, Carole Boston. You Can Fly: The Tuskegee Airmen. [J 811 WEA]


If you're ever down in Alabama, you should take a trip to the Tuskegee Airmen National Historic Site. The National Park Service turned 100 this year, a year younger than Mr. Willie Rogers.

Rest in peace, brave airman.

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Happy Thanksgiving!

The Library closes at noon today and will be closed Thursday and Friday. It will reopen for regular weekend hours at 9:00 AM on Saturday.

Rather than get into heated political arguments over the Thanksgiving meal, take a page from National Public Radio's StoryCorps Project. Begin a discussion with the older members of your family about Thanksgivings in their youth, or what people ate in the 1950s, or the games children played before the advent of smart phones. You need not restrict yourself to using the StoryCorps app (free app for iPhones and Android devices) and recording the interview--just sit and listen.


If you're interested in more on the StoryCorps Project, look for this inspiring book on your next visit:
Listening Is an Act of Love: A Celebration of American Life from the StoryCorps Project [973.92 LIS].

Have a great holiday!