Friday, September 30, 2016

Poetry Friday--Louisa May Alcott

On this day in 1868, the first volume of Little Women [F ALC] was published, the first edition of 2,000 copies sold out quickly and Louisa May Alcott became a literary sensation. Volume two was released the following year.

If you've read the book, or have seen the filmed versions, you know that Jo March wrote in many genres. In real life, Louisa, too, wrote novels and many other forms including poetry. Supposedly Alcott wrote fairy tales and poems for Ralph Waldo Emerson's daughter Ellen when she, Alcott, was in her teens. "Fairy Song" is dated 1864. Since Alcott was 32 that year, I wonder if the poem was written then, or was it published 16 years after being written for Ellen? (A research question for another time!)

The moonlight fades from flower and rose
And the stars dim one by one;
The tale is told, the song is sung,
And the Fairy feast is done.
The night-wind rocks the sleeping flowers,
And sings to them, soft and low.
The early birds erelong will wake:
'T is time for the Elves to go.

O'er the sleeping earth we silently pass,
Unseen by mortal eye,
And send sweet dreams, as we lightly float
Through the quiet moonlit sky;--
For the stars' soft eyes alone may see,
And the flowers alone may know,
The feasts we hold, the tales we tell;
So't is time for the Elves to go.

From bird, and blossom, and bee,
We learn the lessons they teach;
And seek, by kindly deeds, to win
A loving friend in each.
And though unseen on earth we dwell,
Sweet voices whisper low,
And gentle hearts most joyously greet
The Elves where'er they go.

When next we meet in the Fairy dell,
May the silver moon's soft light
Shine then on faces gay as now,
And Elfin hearts as light.
Now spread each wing, for the eastern sky
With sunlight soon shall glow.
The morning star shall light us home:
Farewell! for the Elves must go.

The photo is of a structure in the Nesmith Pixie Place village. Stop by if you're in the neighborhood. Hurry, because soon the wee folk will be heading South with the birds for winter.

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is taking place at Karen Edmisten.

Thursday, September 29, 2016

The White House Cookbook

Elaine R. told me about a book in our collection that was originally published in 1887, The White House Cookbook, and was expanded and updated by Janet Halliday Ervin [641.5 ERV] in 1964. It is full of recipes and delicious tidbits of 19th century social history and customs.

Here are a few examples:

Under the chapter "Recipes/Cakes"

Poor Man's Cake

Two cupfuls of flour, one cupful each sweet cream and sugar, one egg, one teaspoonful of soda, and two teaspoonfuls dry cream of tartar. Bake carefully and a very nice cake will result.

Under the chapter "Health Suggestions"

Relief from Asthma (Muskrat Poultice)

Suffers from asthma should get a muskrat skin and wear it over their lungs with the fur side next to the body. It will bring certain relief.

Or soak blotting paper in saltpeter water, then dry, burning at night in the patient's bedroom.

Under the chapter "The President's Wives and Hostesses"

Hannah Hoes Van Buren of New York

In the shadows behind Martin Van Buren stands his almost-unknown wife, Hannah, who dies at age thirty-six, nineteen years before he became President, leaving him to bring up their four sons alone. Van Buren never remarried.

Single Presidents never have promised the gay social seasons that the Capitol city craves, and Washington ladies sighed over the lack of a charming hostess for the executive mansion. Matchmaking efforts seemed lost on the President himself...

To bring White House cooking into the 21st century, look for A White House Garden Cookbook: Healthy Ideas from the First Family For Your Family by Clara Silverstein [641.597 SIL], which was published in 2010.

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

'Tis the Season

The season for Halloween, that is! Now's the time to start assembling your Halloween costumes. We have historic costume books in the 391 and J 391 sections, and, we have a number of kids' play and Halloween costume books such as these three:

Brown, Louann Mattes. How to Create Spectacular Halloween Costumes. [J 745.5941 BRO]

Dickinson, Gill. Children's Costumes: A Treasure Trove of Amazingly Original Designs--Simple to Make and Fun to Wear. [J 745.5 DIC]

Hershberger, Priscilla. Make Costumes! For Creative Play. [J 391 HER]

Get to work now and avoid that last minute run to a big-box store on October 30, when all that'll be left will be cheesy costumes in all the wrong sizes.

Tuesday, September 27, 2016

It's Banned Book Week!

This is Banned Books Week--a week to celebrate our right to read. The name of the week is a bit inaccurate, because books are rarely banned, however, they are frequently challenged. Each year the American Library Association compiles a list of the 10 most challenged books of the prior year. Below is an infographic explaining the 2015 list. How many have you read?

Monday, September 26, 2016

History in Small Bites

Many of our books of history and biography are thick and weighty tomes. It's great for those who want to dig deeply into a subject and who have the time to do it. But, what about those who like history in smaller bites? I have come across two online sites that provide history that is certainly interesting, yet comes in manageable portions.

First is HistoryGossip. HistoryGossip is exactly what it sounds like! Here is an example:
The year was 1863. It was a June wedding in Paris. Multi-millionaire Isaac Merritt Singer, 52, was marrying the very young, the very pregnant French model, Isabelle Eugenie Boyer, 22. The baby, born the next month, would be Isaac’s 19th child – or maybe the 21st – or...? But who’s counting?
You get drawn in with the gossip, and then you learn a bit about Isaac Singer of Singer Sewing Machine fame.

The second site, Stuff You Missed in History Class, is history presented in podcast form and accompanied by show notes that expand on the topics you learn about in the audios. Recent shows include, "Mary Alice Nelson, aka Molly Spotted Elk," "The Montgolfier Brothers and Their Balloons," "The London Match Girls Strike of 1888."

The podcasts are about 40 minutes long. Stuff You Missed in History Class also has a Facebook page for you to follow!

Thursday, September 22, 2016

Poetry Friday--Victoria Claflin Woodhull

On this date in 1838, Victoria Claflin Woodhull was born in Homer, OH. The name may not be familiar to you, but, before Hillary Clinton ran as the first woman to be nominated by a major party to run for president, Victoria Woodhull was the first woman of any party to run for president! She ran in 1872 and was jailed for her attempt.

In July The Guardian ran a feature on Woodhull's run. It is full of interesting bits of feminist history and concludes with this statement from Woodhull after she had been thrown in jail:
To the public I would say in conclusion they may succeed in crushing me out, even to the loss of my life: but let me warn them and you that from the ashes of my body a thousand Victorias will spring to avenge my death by seizing the work laid down by me and carrying it forward to victory.

I find it fascinating that a woman who wasn't even able to vote, would place herself up for election! (Women's suffrage came in 1920, seven years before Woodhull died, but decades after she had moved out of the country that had treated her so badly.)

Here is a poem by Emily Dickinson who was writing at about the time Woodhull was running for president:


THE RETICENT volcano keeps
   His never slumbering plan;
Confided are his projects pink
   To no precarious man.

If nature will not tell the tale
   Jehovah told to her,
Can human nature not survive
   Without a listener?

Admonished by her buckled lips
   Let every babbler be.
The only secret people keep
   Is Immortality.

found in Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson [811 DIC]
I don't think anyone could have called Woodhull "reticent," but I wonder if she had regrets about being so outspoken before the country was ready to hear what she had to say? Someone had to lead the way!

Hurry over to Reading to the Core where Catherine is hosting the weekly Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Happy Birthday!

There's something we can depend on happening to us each and every year--our birthday! It's been a long time since I did a round-up of birthday books for kids, so it's time to do it again. Here are 30 birthday titles--there are plenty more:

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Visit Your National Parks For Free This Saturday!

A month ago the National Park Service hosted a weekend of free admission at the National Parks. And now, on Saturday the 24th, they are doing it again!

I took advantage of last month's offer by traveling to Boston for "Rosie the Riveter" weekend at the Charlestown Navy Yard Visitor Center, which is part of the Boston National Historical Park, and is located in the same area as the USS Constitution Museum.

Birdseye view of the Charlestown Naval Yard courtesy NPS.

Boston is a mere 45 minutes away from Windham, the weather is cooling down, so why not head to the National Historic Park and take part in some of the events shown on this calendar.

The Freedom Trail is part of the Boston NHP and if it part of your planning for Saturday, download 50 Great American Places: Essential Historic Sites across the U.S. by Brent D. Glass [eBook] to learn more about it.

Note: even though admission is free on Saturday, be sure to drop a few dollars in the donation box to make sure that the NPS's wonderful educational opportunities will continue to exist for years to come!