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Friday, December 28, 2007

Poetry Friday--Helen Hunt Jackson

Always a night from old to new!
Night and the healing balm of sleep!
Each morn is New Year's morn come true,
Morn of a festival to keep.
All nights are sacred nights to make
Confession and resolve and prayer;
All days are sacred days to wake
New gladness in the sunny air.
Only a night from old to new;
Only a sleep from night to morn.
The new is but the old come true;
Each sunrise sees a new year born.

from "New Year's Morning" by Helen Hunt Jackson, 1830-1885 (This poem, and many others, can be found at www.theotherpages.org).

I love this! The worries of the prior day can be erased by a good night's sleep, and every morning is a fresh start!

I had never heard of Helen Hunt Jackson prior to finding this one poem, but, it seems that she was quite a prolific writer! Jackson's novel, Ramona [F JAC], was first published in 1884 and is still in print!

I mentioned Helen Hunt Jackson to my friend, Muriel, here's what she had to say, "I remember learning "October's Bright Blue Weather" in third grade. Of course, now all I can remember is standing at the front of the class and reciting that title and 'by Helen Hunt Jackson.' None of the poem remained in my brain. It did sound familiar once I looked it up, though!"

It seems to me that Helen Hunt Jackson will be a future research project--the little bit I've read about her is fascinating!

Thursday, December 27, 2007

New Year's Traditions

Most cultures have special traditions for celebrating the new year. I suppose the American tradition is to sit around the day after New Year's eve parties and recuperate!

Shante Keys and the New Year's Peas by Gail Piernas-Davenport, illustrated by Marion Eldridge [JP PIE], is a new picture book that introduces children to the various traditions celebrated in a multi-ethnic neighborhood on the New Year's holiday. The reader is introduced to the African-American dish, hoppin' John, by a little girl who scours the neighborhood for a supply of black-eyed peas. The book concludes with a recipe for those who wish to try the lucky new year's dish!

The illustrator, Marion Eldridge, lives just over the border in MA, and is also the illustrator of The Sparrow's Easter Song by Michelle Medlock Adams [JP ADA]. Be sure to visit Marion's website to view her delightful illustrations!

For more on New Year's traditions, visit this site.

Happy New Year's everyone!

Wednesday, December 26, 2007

There's Something Not Right About Kissing Under a Poisonous Plant!

How many times did you hear Burl Ives sing
Ho ho the mistletoe
Hung where you can see
Somebody waits for you
Kiss her once for me.
in the lead-up to Christmas? Everyone associates mistletoe with holiday kisses, but did you know that the mistletoe is a parasite that can kill its host, and that it contains viscotoxins that are poisonous? Watch out, now that the holiday is over, during your de-decorating activities, especially if there are children in the house!

Besides keeping your children safe, you also want to think about your pets. The ASPCA issues a warning every year about the dangers of holiday decorations. Be extra careful in taking your decorations down--mistletoe berries may fall off during removal and roll where a pet can find and ingest them.

More than you ever wanted to know about mistletoe can be found at a British site called The Mistletoe Pages. I especially enjoyed viewing the mistletoe traditions page that is illustrated with pictures of old postcards.

If you want to keep your home safe and free of plant toxins throughout the year, you may want to consult Baby-Safe Houseplants & Cut Flowers: A Guide to Keeping Children and Plants Safely under the Same Roof by John I. Alber [615.952 ALB].

Friday, December 21, 2007

Poetry Friday--Masks

I first came across a poem by Cortney Davis called "Four Masks," in a book from our YA section, Truth & Lies: An Anthology of Poems edited by Patrice Vecchione [YA 808.81 TRU]. This is from a section of the poem entitled, "The Mask I See in the Mirror":

A woman who has come to love silence,
who sees life through prisms, hexagonal
planes like the vision
of flying insects, so much color

This presents an interesting question for the reader, Why does the author see herself in a mask? Does she practice adjusting her mask so that she can be ready to face different people? Does the mask allow for silence whereas her "true" self would be loquacious?

If you'd like to read the complete poem, or listen to Davis read it aloud, click here.

Thursday, December 20, 2007


Here in NH we're in the middle of our fourth snowstorm in 10 days! It's hard to believe that winter only officially arrives on Saturday! From then on, the days will start to get longer again. Hallelujah!

If you've forgotten your elementary school science, here's an explanation of the sun's position, and even more here about the cultural aspects of the solstice.

The Winter Solstice by Ellen Jackson [J 394.261 JAC] is a brief overview that was written for children, but it provides enough information for a clueless adult, like me!

In Salem, at America's Stonehenge, formerly known as "Mystery Hill," there will be a winter solstice celebration. It starts at 7:30 in the morning, so I'm not going to be there! America's Stonehenge would be a fabulous place to snowshoe, and I see that they have rentals available, so file that bit of information away for some day when you're bored with staying inside!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

On This Day...

in 1843, Charles Dickens' A Christmas Carol was first published. The first edition of six thousand copies sold out on the first day!

There are many versions of A Christmas Carol at the Nesmith Library--the standard version in the fiction section in both the adult and juvenile collections [DIC or J DIC], an audio [AB/CD 791.447 DIC], or the filmed versions.

We have several film adaptations. Many people prefer George C. Scott's version (a made for tv film from 1984) for its faithfulness to the original text, but I like the 1951 version with Alastair Sim [VIDEO CHR], probably because I saw it so often over the years.

I use the term "adaptation" loosely when I include The Muppet Christmas Carol [J VIDEO or J DVD MUP]. I can't say enough about the Muppets version--hysterical, and yet, strangely poignant! We also have Carolyn's favorite, Mr. Magoo's Christmas Carol [J DVD MRM]!

One of my personal favorite "adaptations" is Blackadder's Christmas Carol, a tv special episode first aired in 1988. If you're not familiar with Blackadder, he is a character played by Rowan Atkinson, a.k.a. Mr. Bean. We don't have a copy in our collection, but if you go to YouTube and type in "Blackadder's Christmas Carol," you can view it piecemeal.

If you've got nothing to do between now and Christmas, you may want to prepare a Dickens style dinner--goose and all. I have no idea where you can purchase a goose, but I'm sure a little internet searching will turn up something. Visit this site for preparation instructions.
God bless us, every one!

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

The Hamster's Wheel

I'm not exactly what you would call a fashionista, but, I do admire people who know how to dress well--especially on a budget. Kathryn Finney,The Budget Fashionista,has a blog on which she provides her readers with advice and direction. Finney, explains the rationale behind her starting the blog:
I'm not a size-two. I'm not a millionaire or even a thousandaire, for that matter. I'm a very normal person with a love of fashion and a lack of cash. If you want to look and live great on a budget, then welcome my friend, this is the blog for you...

You can follow Finney's advice, or you can visit the library for these:

Kelly, Clinton, and Stacy London. Dress Your Best: The Complete Guide to Finding the Style That's Right for Your Body. [391 KEL]

Leive, Cindi. Glamour's Big Book of Dos and Don'ts. [646.3 LEI]

If you march to the beat of a different fashion drummer, take heart, you are not alone. Simon Doonan, in his book, Wacky Chicks: Life Lessons from Fearlessly Inappropriate and Fabulously Eccentric Women [305.4 DOO], explains how fashion, "is no place for sissies." He offers this advice:
So go for it, and remember, there's nobody keeping score. The hamster's wheel of trends is spinning so fast that the taste Nazis could not possibly keep track of your successes and failures. They are all too busy working on their own looks.

Monday, December 17, 2007

Writing for Children and More

I've covered writing for children before, but I found a short, succinct, lesson in writing a picture book, at a blog called Revision Notes that I just have to share. The lesson is based upon the holiday song, "Frosty the Snowman," and is called, Frosty’s Top 6 Writing Tips. Take a look! It's quite clever, and makes some valid points!

For more about writing for children, Nancy Lamb's, The Writers Guide to Crafting Stories for Children [808.068 LAM] is full of good advice.

Being it's the holiday time of year, I want to mention my all-time favorite book, Star Mother's Youngest Child by Louise Moeri, and illustrated by the late Trina Schart Hyman [JP MOE GREEN DOT]. This little book never fails to warm my heart. And, although I've read many books over the years, this children's book, remains my favorite.

I can't say that any book has changed my life, but, for some, a book can have a profound effect on life. The Book that Changed My Life: 71 Remarkable Writers Celebrate the Books that Matter Most to Them [028.8 BOO] provides an insight into the effect reading can have on people.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Poetry Friday--Simple Gifts

It is nice to see that people care. Caring was definitely evident this morning when "Windham Helping Hands" volunteers came to pick up some of the gifts that were left under the "Giving Tree."

An act of kindness is so simple and yet it is a gift! "Simple Gifts" is an old Shaker hymn that I was reminded of today.
Simple Gifts
'Tis the gift to be simple, 'tis the gift to be free,
'Tis the gift to come down where we ought to be,
And when we find ourselves in the place just right,
'Twill be in the valley of love and delight.
When true simplicity is gain'd,
To bow and to bend we shan't be asham'd,
To turn, turn will be our delight
'Till by turning, turning we come round right.

(Found in Bartlett's Poems for Occasions [808.81 BAR])

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Here Comes the Snow!

This afternoon snow is expected, and on Saturday a nor'easter is coming our way! Winter hasn't even officially arrived yet--it's going to be a long winter, methinks.

But, skiers will rejoice! Kids will dust off their sleds! Winter is just another opportunity for exercise and fun!

So what else can you do in the snow beside skiing and sledding? Plenty! Garry Chapman's Extreme Sports: Snow [J 796.9 CHA] kid's book covers snowboarding and even relatively unknown sports such as snow mountain biking! (I can't even balance a bike on a flat dry surface, I can't imagine doing it in the snow!)

Peter Stark's Winter Adventure: A Complete Guide to Winter Sports [796.9 STA] has a plethora of different activities, from skijoring to winter camping in a snow house. Okay, I know you're curious, so I'll tell you what skijoring is--a human on skis being pulled by a dog (have I mentioned before how dimwitted dogs are?). Go to www.skijornow.com/skijornowhome.html and click on "gallery" to get a view of this sport.

Don't forget to visit our magazine racks for Skiing [MAG SKI], Snowboarder [YA MAG SNO], and Outside [MAG OUT] magazines.

I hope you all have hats, gloves, and boots ready!

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

A Little Bit of This, A Little Bit of That--December Edition

A number of things to briefly cover today:

  • A contest to win a basket of books for your little ones or to donate to some charity during this season of giving, is nearly over at A Readable Feast, a blog that often features children's books and reviews (and recipes, too). Hurry--today's the last day!

  • A library user asked if we had a collection of the promotional materials of the candidates for the upcoming presidential primary. The answer is no, but if you want to learn more about the candidates for president, there are many places to look online. One of the most comprehensive is Vote-Smart. If you've driven around town and seen the signs "Mark Klein for President," and wondered who in the world is Mark Klein?, this site will answer that question! Yesterday, All Things Considered had a segment on politicians in Milford, NH. Give a listen to find out how your fellow New Hampshirites may be voting.

  • I found an impressive new online magazine for lovers of art, Art Knowledge News. It describes itself as "keeping you in touch with the 'world of art.'" You can subscribe for free.

  • A little while back I wrote about Christmas carols and the health benefits of singing. This is the week that has been designated as "Sing for Your Heart Week." Actually, it's a fundraiser, and in the U.K. no less, but any excuse to sing is welcomed as far as I'm concerned! Right now, due to the weather, my favorite seasonal songs are "I've Got My Love to Keep Me Warm" sung by Dean Martin, and "Baby It's Cold Outside," sung delightfully by Zooey Deschanel. Zooey can be found on the Elf soundtrack album [CD SOUNDTRACK ELF] or in the film [DVD ELF].
  • Tuesday, December 11, 2007

    What's With the Dog Books?

    I guess you could say it all started with John Grogan's Marley & Me: Life and Love with the World's Worst Dog, which was published in 2005 [636.752 GRO, also in AB/CD and LP]. Others seemed to love life with the world's worst dog, too. Marley was on the bestseller lists for months. Grogan (probably at the urging of his publisher), managed to take the one book and spin it off to several others--there's the children's book, Marley: A Dog Like No Other [J 636.752 GRO, also in audio], and a picture book for even younger kids, Bad Dog, Marley! [JP GRO]. In all, we have 6 versions/formats of the Marley story on our shelves. Now that's marketing genius!

    But, Marley hasn't been the only bestselling dog book. There's Cesar Millan and his dog training books, Cesar's Way: The Natural, Everyday Guide to Understanding and Correcting Common Dog Problems [636.7 MIL] and Be the Pack Leader: Use Cesar's Way to Transform Your Dog...and Your Life [636.7 MIL also in AB/CD]. This last one seems a little creepy to me, applying dog training principles to your own life? Nah, I'll pass...

    Over the past several weeks, two more dog books have found their way onto the bestseller lists, Good Dog, Stay by Anna Quindlen and Rescuing Sprite by Mark L. Levin. (Both books are on order, check the shelves in a few weeks.)

    There are plenty of picture books to choose from if your kid likes dog books: Fancy Nancy and the Posh Puppy by Jane O'Connor [JP OCO],
    Dog and Bear: Two Friends, Three Stories by Laura Vaccaro Seeger [JP SEE], and the practical, May I Pet Your Dog?: The How-to Guide for Kids Meeting Dogs (and Dogs Meeting Kids), by Stephanie Calmenson [JP CAL].

    I think enough is enough, don't you? You'll never find a cat training book on the bestseller list. You know why? Because cats can't be trained to do anything they don't want to do! Ya gotta love that kitty spirit!

    (Okay, I'll admit it, dogs can be fun, too, even if they are a little dim-witted!)

    Monday, December 10, 2007

    Calamity (Not Jane)

    The Culture of Calamity: Disaster and the Making of Modern America by Kevin Rozario [973 ROZ] was recently added to our collection. This from the jacket flap: "...Kevin Rozario reveals the role that calamity--and our abiding fascination with it--has played in the development of this nation." Some of you will find the history presented in the book fascinating, others, I'm sure, will find it deeply disturbing that disasters can present golden opportunities for big business.

    Speaking of calamity--when did you last review your disaster plans? I came across a blog that deals primarily with genealogy. Planning for a disaster was covered in an effort to preserve what is of primary importance (besides the lives of members) in many families--photos and artifacts. Take a look, it contains a lot of useful information.

    Many of us have heart wrenching memories of the photos and film clips of pets that were separated from their owners in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina. Think about your pets in your disaster planning. The ASPCA has a whole page of resource material.

    Be prepared and stay safe, you never know what can happen!

    Friday, December 07, 2007

    Poetry Friday--Dealing with War

    Today is the anniversary of the bombing of Pearl Harbor December 7, 1941. The attack of its naval fleet precipitated the United States' entry into World War II.

    Poetry has long been a way of dealing with war--from epic works outlining battles fought, to reflections on the necessity of war. Here is a portion of the poem, "The War in the Air," by Howard Nemerov:
    That was the good war, the war we won
    As if there were no death, for goodness' sake,
    With the help of the losers we left out there
    In the air, in the empty air.
    You can read the rest of the poem in Poets of World War II edited by Harvey Shapiro [811.52 POE].

    Thursday, December 06, 2007

    Too Many Ornaments on Our Tree!

    The Library is hosting a "Giving Tree" once again this year. The sponsoring organizations are Windham Helping Hands and F.L.O.W., our friends of the library group. The tree is overflowing with ornaments containing the holiday wishes of some of our neighbors' families. Won't you help? We have more ornaments than space on the tree, and, there's only a week left before the gifts are returned to the library for distribution!

    It breaks my heart to see wishes such as hair elastics for a 12 year-old girl, or a 1,000 piece jigsaw puzzle for a senior citizen, or NH winter essentials such as boots for children of all ages. Won't you help? Surely your child won't miss one less present under the tree.

    You can select an ornament and purchase the requested item, or you can make a donation to Windham Helping Hands. Items and checks are collected here at the library.

    If your heart is overflowing, and your pocketbook can stand it, I can offer a few other suggestions for giving to those who are in need. These are my three favorites:

  • Heifer Project
  • Oxfam
  • Habitat for Humanity

  • With these organizations you can send a gift in honor of a friend or loved one. I'm beyond needing a bunch of gifts each year, I would prefer the money be used to purchase a flock of ducks, or a water purifier, or a pound of nails in my name.

    You may have noticed the link for The Hunger Site on the right hand side of the blog page. If you click on it daily, food will be donated by sponsoring businesses and organizations. It doesn't cost you a penny!

    Wednesday, December 05, 2007

    Don't Believe Everything You Read!

    Several years ago I wrote a book for kids on money--money history, money trivia, explanations of ATM machines, and more. It's called The Everything Kids' Money Book [J 332.4 MAY]. I guess if you write a book, some people think you're an expert. Ha! It ain't so! But, I'm willing to go along with people's delusions!

    I was recently approached by a writer for NBC affiliate websites for advice on teaching kids about money. She sent me a list of questions which I answered as best I could, and she used some of my answers in her article, Money Teaches Kids About Wants, Needs. A lot of what I said was simply common sense. What wasn't common sense was me looking at all the things I did wrong with my kids and speculating about how I would have taught my kids if I had a "do-over."

    Don't neglect your child's money education--it may help them avoid some painful mistakes down the road! Here are some books for you to consult:

    Bodnar, Janet. Raising Money Smart Kids: What They Need to Know About Money--And How to Tell Them. [332.024 BOD]

    Dyer, Wayne W. It's Not What You've Got!: Lessons for Kids on Money and Abundance. [J 332.024 DYE]

    Pearl, Jayne A. Kids and Money: Giving Them the Savvy to Succeed Financially. [332.024 PEA]

    Weltman, Barbara. The Complete Idiot's Guide to Raising Money Smart Kids. [332.024 WEL]

    I'm a strong believer in altruism and in giving back. Why Good Things Happen to Good People: The Exciting New Research That Proves the Link between Doing Good and Living a Longer, Healthier, Happier Life by Stephen Post [177.7 POS], may provide you with even more reasons for doing good and sharing your wealth.

    Tuesday, December 04, 2007

    Snowman Time!

    We had our first snowstorm this winter. It wasn't too bad, just wet and heavy for those of us who have to shovel. Kids should be able to cobble together a snowman with the amount of snow that fell.

    There's a new book that deals exclusively with snowmen--The History of the Snowman: From the Age Ice to the Flea Market by Bob Eckstein [736.94 ECK]. It's full of interesting snowman trivia from the number of snowflakes in a snowman to the number of people who have the last name "Snowman." I took a look at Eckstein's website, Today's Snowman, and found it to be a great supplement to the book. The "personal ads" are a particular favorite!

    For kids we have a fantastic collection of snowman items. Here are a few, and we have many more:

    Briggs, Raymond. The Snowman. [JP BRI, also in the film version J VIDEO BRI]

    Cuyler, Margery. The Biggest, Best Snowman. [JP CUY]

    Frankeny, Frankie. Snowmen: Creatures, Crafts and Other Winter Projects. [J 745.594 FRA]

    Frosty the Snowman. [J DVD FRO, also in a book adaptation of the song by Steve Nelson, JP NEL]

    Schertle, Alice. All You Need for a Snowman. [JP SCH]

    Monday, December 03, 2007

    Stone Walls

    Stone walls have long been a feature of New England landscapes. But, as Robert Frost said, "Something there is that doesn't love a wall." It seems now that it is greed that doesn't love a wall. As reported on NPR this morning, people are stealing the stones on vacant properties and selling them on Craig's List!

    If you have a stone wall on your property, you may wish to repair it so that it doesn't invite pilfering. [Pilfering is defined as stealing in small quantities. I can imagine that anyone who steals stones, can't be doing it in large quantities!] Alan and Gill Bridgewater's Stonework: Building Rock Gardens, Walks, Walls, and Ornaments [693.1 BRI] or the video, Stonemasonry for the Beginner [721 STO] may have helpful hints.

    To read about the history of New England's stone walls, look for these books the next time you visit:

    Allport, Susan. Sermons in Stone: The Stone Walls of New England and New York. [725 ALL]

    Thorson, Robert M. Stone by Stone: The Magnificent History in New England's Stone Walls. [725 THO]

    The following recommendation is only tangentially related to stone walls, Andy Goldsworthy: Rivers and Tides: Working with Time [DVD 730.92 RIV]. Goldsworthy is a artist who works with natural materials in natural settings. The DVD is fascinating and a delight for the eye!

    Friday, November 30, 2007

    Poetry Friday

    If you wander the blogosphere, especially the blogs of children's writers and other literary types, you'll find a preponderance of "Poetry Friday" entries. It seems that poetry is not only accepted, it is being heavily promoted! I don't consider myself a trendy person, but I think this is one movement I'd like to support.

    So...each Friday I'll talk about a poem, poet, book of poetry, or something else that is poetry related. This week I'll start with a children's anthology illustrated by Chris L. Demarest: I Invited a Dragon to Dinner: And Other Poems to Make You Laugh Out Loud [J 811 I]. This collection of short nonsense poems should appeal to the elementary school aged child. Here's a sample by Kathy Duval from her poem, "Cosmic Cafe":
    If the moon is made of cheese,
    Give me one thick moon slice, please.

    (You may be interested to know that Chris Demarest lives in New Hampshire!)

    If "Poetry Friday" appeals to you, explore these sites/blogs:

  • Blue Rose Girls

  • Laura Salas

  • Seven Impossible Things before Breakfast

  • For more "Poetry Friday" places, visit the Poetry Foundation site.

    Thursday, November 29, 2007


    When I had my killer cold last week, the most bothersome part of it was my inability to sleep due to the persistent cough. Boy, did I feel miserable after a few days of not sleeping. This morning I read an article in the British paper, The Independent, on the topic of sleep. The article was interesting, but I did find the writer's personal comments to be mildly disturbing:
    We spend one-third of our lives asleep. Imagine the possibilities if we could do without it. It would be the equivalent of adding 25 or 30 years to the average life-span – an enormous gain, at the expense of nothing more than the loss of slumber.

    As if we don't have enough activity already scheduled into our lives! The article, though, did go on to list a number of accidents that resulted from sleep deprivation, so make sure you get your 7 or 8 hours of sleep each night.

    Sleep is the subject of many nonfiction books, but today I'll simply look at sleep in fiction and film. Madeleine is Sleeping by Sarah Bynum [F BYN] was a finalist for the 2004 National Book Award. Here's part of the Publisher's Weekly review:
    The book culminates in a masterful merge between Madeleine's waking life and her dreams, making it impossible to discern whether reality ever existed in Bynum's imaginative tale. Replete with Kafkaesque metamorphoses, Freudian fantasies, Aesopian justice and religious metaphor, the novel is equal parts fairy tale, fable, romance and bildungsroman. At times, the allegorical allusions grow predictable, and some readers may be put off by the constant shifts and uncertainty between fact and fiction. Others looking for a challenging, unusual read will be thrilled by the imagination and mysterious energy that haunt this remarkable debut.

    The Norwegian film, Insomnia [VIDEO INS] is a psychological police drama in which the main character, a detective, accidentally kills his partner and tries to hide his involvement. Guilt, and the seemingly endless Norwegian summer days, rob him of his sleep and, his common sense. The film was remade with Al Pacino [DVD INS]. You may want to compare the two versions, but don't stay up too late doing it!

    Wednesday, November 28, 2007

    Modern Life

    I heard on the radio that Henry Mancini's "Pink Panther" has been on the "Top 40 Ringtones" list for the past two years! Funny, but I don't recall ever hearing it emanating from any of the millions of phones I hear ringing every week.

    I decided to check out the list and found that "Pink Panther" has been on the Billboard list for longer than two years. It's now up to three years (160 weeks to be exact). I also found that the list is officially called "Hot Ringtones." There is another ringtone that has been on the list for a longer period of time, Koji Kondo's "Super Mario Brothers Theme." It has been on the list for 162 weeks!

    So what do you have on your phone? My choices have been customized to fit the caller, and my daughter has done the same. I have The Cure's "Close to Me" for her calls, and she has The B-52's "Rock Lobster" for my calls. I had a grand time picking out and uploading tones until someone told me that it cost money! Any new friends I make will have to be rung in with whatever tones came standard on the phone. (Yes, I'm cheap.)

    (If you now have The B-52's, The Cure, and Henry Mancini songs running through your head, you can borrow these: The B-52's [CD ROCK BFI], The Cure Greatest Hits [CD ROCK CUR], Ultimate Mancini [CD MISCELLANEOUS MAN].)

    Speaking of phones, you may want to fashion together a little cell phone doodad for your own phone or for a holiday stocking stuffer. Sherri Haab will show you how to make cell phone trinkets in Dangles and Bangles: 25 Funky Accessories to Make and Wear [YA 745.5 HAA]. All you need is wire and beads. Haab, in The Hip Handbag Book: 25 Easy-to-Make Totes, Purses, and Bags [YA 746.48 HAA] also explains how to make a simple embroidered cell phone bag that is quite attractive.

    If knitting is your forte, Debbie Stoller's books, Stitch 'n Bitch: The Knitter's Handbook and Stitch 'n Bitch Nation [both 746.432 STO], have some cute knitted cell phone cozies. "Mobile Monsters" are phone covers with snouts and ears!

    Fifteen years ago mobile phones were the size of shoes! Modern life moves at lightning speed and we now have "hot ringtones" and phone cozies. I can't wait to see what's next!

    This is awesome, an origami Pink Panther!

    Tuesday, November 27, 2007

    Sing! It's Good for Your Health!

    Probably my favorite part of the holiday season is the music. I love singing carols. I came across a site that promotes the health aspects of singing and is sponsoring a week of singing (12/8-12/15) as a fundraiser for heart research. Here's some information from the site, if you doubt the health claims:
    Singing even helps you live longer according to the findings of a joint Harvard and Yale study which showed that choral singing increased the life expectancy of the population of New Haven, Connecticut. The report concluded that this was because singing promoted both a healthy heart and an enhanced mental state. Another study at the University of California has reported higher levels of immune system proteins in the saliva of choristers after performing a complex Beethoven masterwork.

    It's too bad that the fundraiser is taking place in the U.K., but that doesn't mean that you can't lift your voice in song that week--just expect a funny look or two.

    Borrow one of our holiday music CDs to put you in the mood. Here are some of our newer titles:

    Celtic Woman. A Christmas Celebration. [CD HOLIDAY CEL]

    Groban, Josh. Noel. [CD HOLIDAY GRO]

    Klezmatics. Woody Gurthrie's Happy Joyous Hanuka. [CD HOLIDAY KLE]

    McLachlan, Sarah. Wintersong. [CD HOLIDAY MCL]

    Taylor, James. James Taylor at Christmas. [CD HOLIDAY TAY]

    Monday, November 26, 2007

    I'm Back!

    Although it seemed like I might not return from the depths of chest congestion Hell, I have made it out alive! I hope everyone had a lovely Thanksgiving holiday.

    Now it's on to the next round of winter holiday festivities!

    I'd like to alert you to an opportunity that you may not have heard of. It's the Robert's Snow Snowflake auction. Last week was the first round of auctions. This week, a whole new set of snowflakes is going up to bid. The lucky winners will not only possess a unique work of art, but they will also supporting cancer research projects through The Jimmy Fund at the Dana Farber Cancer Institute.

    Robert's Snow is a picture book that was written and illustrated by Grace Lin [JP LIN] for her husband Robert Mercier while he was undergoing cancer treatment. Sadly, Robert lost his battle with cancer in August. This year's snowflake auction will be a blockbuster event that will honor Robert's life.

    There are at least two NH illustrators whose snowflakes are up for bid this week--Denise Ortakales and Tim Coffey, check them out.

    The variety of art is astounding, and, I'd suggest looking at next week's auction items where the variety is most apparent. Some of the snowflakes have been transformed into 3 dimensional works.

    Bid early and bid often, and bring your winning item to the library for us to "oooh and aahh" over! Good luck!

    Monday, November 19, 2007

    Home Sick

    ...so nothing much today. I started coughing at work on Friday and Elaine showed me an email she had received that mentioned using Vicks VapoRub for a nighttime cough. You need to slather the Vicks on the soles of your feet, put on a pair of socks, and go to bed. The promise was, no cough. I tried it. Slathered my feet and put on my socks. I still coughed, but now I have the softest feet in the world! If you're curious about some other uses for Vicks, there are several sites on the internet, here's one. I'm not advocating that you try any of them, but if you do, a word of advice, use common sense!

    See you tomorrow!

    Friday, November 16, 2007

    Poetry Tool

    I stumbled across a fabulous web page for those interested in poetry, or who teach using poetry. It's called Poetry Tool and it enables you to find a poem for almost any occasion, or on any topic. It also allows you to select a specific poet.

    Since Thanksgiving is less than a week away, I clicked on "Occasion" and then "Thanksgiving," and was directed to nine different poems. Here's part of one by Paul Laurence Dunbar called "Signs of the Time."
    Air a-gittin' cool an' coolah,
    Frost a-comin' in de night,
    Hicka' nuts an' wa'nuts fallin',
    Possum keepin' out o' sight.
    Tu'key struttin' in de ba'nya'd,
    Nary a step so proud ez his;
    Keep on struttin', Mistah Tu'key,
    Yo' do' know whut time it is.

    To read the whole poem, click here, or, better yet, borrow our copy of American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, volume two [811 AME v. 2]. You'll find more poems by Dunbar, and his work sits alongside works by other poets of the time period.

    Thursday, November 15, 2007

    The National Book Award

    The National Book Awards were announced last night in New York. I'm happy to say that we already own three out of the four winners!

    For Fiction: Tree of Smoke by Dennis Johnson [F JOH].

    For Nonfiction: Legacy of Ashes: The History of the CIA by Tim Weiner [327.1273 WEI].

    For Poetry: Time and Materials by Robert Hass [on order].

    For Young People's Literature: The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie [YA ALE].

    Just a few random thoughts:

    Three of the four winners have been released within the last three months, the fourth was released in June. It makes me wonder if a book has a better chance of winning the award if it is fresh in the minds of the judges?

    In three of the four winners, the cover art is quite catching. Might cover art have any influence? I'm sure it does for sales!

    I was browsing the list of past winners for Young People's Literature and I don't believe any of the winners are picture books. As a writer of picture books, I find this to be distressing. Picture books texts are distilled writing, and as anyone who writes knows, it is often more difficult to write something short than it is to write long. To write an outstanding picture book is definitely an accomplishment! Picture book writers are generally ignored--the Caldecott Medal is given "to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children." The New York Times releases a list of Best Illustrated Books. C'mon guys--it's not fair!

    Wednesday, November 14, 2007


    We recently purchased a new book about penguins--Smithsonian Q & A: The Ultimate Question and Answer Book: Penguins by Lloyd Spencer Davis [598.47 DAV]. Everything you could possibly want to know about the flightless birds who live way down under, at least I thought the book covered everything until I looked up penguin sweaters. I had read several years back about a rescue effort involving sweaters for penguins. You can read about it here or here.

    Seeing the little critters all decked out is sure to elicit a great big "Aahhh...how cute!"

    Have you seen March of the Penguins [DVD 598.47 MAR]? The penguins are cute, but after viewing the film, you'll have a greater respect for the creatures and the phenomenal odds they face.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2007

    Aren't You Glad We Don't Have a King?

    This morning on BBC radio I heard a story about two political cartoonists who were fined heavily for "damaging the prestige of the crown." In a weekly satirical magazine, the cartoonists poked fun at the royal family. I guess portraying them having sexual relations was offensive. While I may not agree with how the satire was portrayed, I am dismayed that censorship has been the result.

    We have several books dealing with the issue of censorship, here are two:

    Heins, Marjorie. Not in Front of the Children: "Indecency," Censorship and the Innocence of Youth. [303.3 HEI]

    Karolides, Nicholas J. 100 Banned Books: Censorship Histories of World Literature. [363.3 KAR]

    I am in awe of our Constitution and the Bill of Rights which guarantee freedom of speech. It's a strange time we live in, and a refresher course in the documents that govern us may be in order! At the very least, we should read them every once in a while! Browse our shelves in the 342.73 section.

    Monday, November 12, 2007

    On Veterans Day

    A poem by Isaac Rosenberg (1890-1918):

    Returning, We Hear The Larks

    Sombre the night is.
    And though we have our lives, we know
    What sinister threat lurks there.

    Dragging these anguished limbs, we only know
    This poison- blasted track opens on our camp –
    On a little safe sleep.

    But hark! joy – joy – strange joy.
    Lo! heights of night ringing with unseen larks.
    Music showering our upturned list'ning faces.

    Death could drop from the dark
    As easily as song –
    But song only dropped,
    Like a blind man's dreams on the sand
    By dangerous tides,
    Like a girl's dark hair for she dreams no ruin lies there,
    Or her kisses where a serpent hides.

    Friday, November 09, 2007

    Rachael Ray

    Some people love Rachael Ray, while others can't take the overdose of perky. Obviously there are plenty of people who love her since she is now seen everywhere! It seems like every six months she comes out with a new cookbook. Her latest, Just in Time: All-New 30-Minutes Meals, Plus Super-Fast 15-Minute Meals and Slow It Down 60-Minute Meals was released on Tuesday and already it is Barnes & Noble's #10 bestseller! (We have it on order, so check the library shelves in a few weeks.)

    We currently have five of Ray's cookbooks in the adult section (most with the call number 641.555 RAY) and one in children's--Cooking Rocks!: Rachael Ray 30-Minute Meals for Kids [J 641.5 RAY]. We also have Every Day with Rachael Ray [MAG EVE], a magazine that comes out 10 times a year.

    For real Rachael Ray addicts, you can have a daily newsletter delivered to your inbox! How good is THAT?

    Thursday, November 08, 2007

    The Debate about "The Future of the Book"

    I remember doing some research a while back and coming across an article from the early 1900s about the coming "End of the Book." At that time it was the invention of the phonograph machine that was going to do the book in. Now it's the e-book.

    I read an article from the Christian Science Monitor not too long ago, which covered this current threat to the book. Our staff member, Terrie, sent me this article from the Chicago Tribune, which provides a picture of a happy e-book user. The debate, I'm sure, will continue until the next new threat comes along!

    So, is the printed book soon to be obsolete? That question remains to be answered, but if you'd like to read a printed BOOK about the role of books in our society, then look for A Splendor of Letters: The Permanence of Books in an Impermanent World by Nicholas A. Basbanes [302.2244 BAS]. And, I suggest you hurry before it's too late!

    Wednesday, November 07, 2007

    Happy Anniversary!

    This is the first anniversary of Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet (actually the first posting was on 11/6/06, but it was just an announcement and not a real post)! I've covered a lot of topics. I've also mentioned a lot of library materials, but, with a collection of 79,000 items, I don't think I'll run out of library tie-ins any time soon!

    So, in honor of this milestone, I'm taking the day off! Actually, I'm taking a vacation day to do a elementary school visit. I'll be doing an "author presentation" for each of five grades, so, it's not really a vacation!

    Okay, I won't go without first mentioning something from the library's collection--Chase's Annual Events [R 394.26 CHA]. This book is published annually and contains a listing of thousands of events, anniversaries, holidays, etc. in date order. We already have the 2008 edition, so I guess KK's blog anniversary won't be included until at least 2009! (Dream on, KK!)

    Tuesday, November 06, 2007

    Crochet--It's Not Just Doilies Anymore

    Think back to the times when you were little and you visited the home of an older person. Do you remember the doilies and the antimacassars found on all the furniture? Chances are, these items were crocheted.

    Then, back in the the late 60s or early 70s there were those granny square vests--remember those? And ponchos! Those were crocheted, too.

    Well, crochet has been revamped, and like knitting, it's now hip to crochet! We have books for everyone, for kids through adults, that will teach you how to crochet, and then to go on an create some "hot" items.

    Britten, Sophie. Fun & Funky Crochet: 30 Exciting Projects for a Stylish New Look. [746.434 BRI]

    Davis, Jane. Crochet: Fantastic Jewelry, Hats, Purses, Pillows and More. [J 746.43 DAV]

    Kooler, Donna. Donna Kooler's Encyclopedia of Crochet. [746.43 KOO]

    Meldrum, Carol. Easy Crocheted Accessories: 30+ Fun and Fashionable Projects. [746.434 MEL]

    Here's a fun idea--take an old sweater and re-do it. You can add some interesting touches with crochet. Find out more in Anna-Stina Linden Ivarsson's Second-Time Cool: The Art of Chopping Up a Sweater [YA 646.408 LIN].

    There are plenty of online sites to help you, too. Lion Brand Yarn, a commercial site, has crochet how-to pages. If you really get hooked on crochet, then you may want to consider joining the Crochet Guild of America.

    I'd suggest starting now--you could have several projects finished in time for the holidays!

    Monday, November 05, 2007

    Memories of the Midway

    Way back on September 27, I promised I'd post my shots of the midway at the "Big E" at a later date. I didn't expect it to take me more than a month. But it's perhaps a fitting time to do it since winter is definitely on its way now and its nice to look back on the warmer times gone by!

    I think I'll slip in the Library tie-in here--a novel by Lee Durkee--Rides of the Midway [F DUR]. The publisher describes it this way:
    Funny and dark, Rides of the Midway is a brilliantly told story about a boy whose life spins completely out of control.

    Now back to the Big E...

    Start counting the days, the next Big E will take place September 12-28, 2008--a mere 312 days away!

    Friday, November 02, 2007

    Check Your Attics People!

    Last week a painting, not thought to be an original, sold at auction for more than 2 million pounds! The bidders and buyer suspected it might be a real Rembrandt and bid accordingly.

    The Library recently purchased The Rembrandt Book by Gary Schwartz [759.9492 SCH]. It is an absolutely gorgeous book full of color plates. Look for it on our "New Books" shelf--it has a Rembrandt self-portrait on the cover so you can compare it to the recently auctioned portrait and see what you think!

    For information on Rembrandt visit REMBRANDT: life, paintings, etchings, drawings & self portraits by JONATHAN JANSON, an attractively designed site with a whole section devoted to Rembrandt self-portraits. Rembrandt did more than 90 over his lifetime. I wonder...was it vanity or simply filling time between commissions?

    Thursday, November 01, 2007


    Yesterday, on All Things Considered, I heard a story about how Philadelphia and Baltimore are fighting over the remains of Edgar Allen Poe. It was mentioned that Poe is considered to be the father of the detective story. Although Poe wrote about cats, and ravens, and what have you, I don't think he ever thought about using an animal detective in a story.

    In recent years, there have been a number of writers who have written series that have animals solving, or helping to solve, a mystery. And these are not books written for children! Authors who use cats in detective role are Shirley Rousseau Murphy who has written the Joe Grey series. Joe Grey is a cat who speaks human. Joe appears in Cat Fear No Evil [MYS MUR], Cat to the Dogs [LP MYS MUR], and Cat Laughing Last [MYS MUR], to name just three. And for those who like a little romance with their mystery, you'll be happy to know that Joe has a girlfriend--Dulcie.

    Lilian Jackson Braun has written more than two dozen books featuring her human character, Jim Qwilleran, also known as Qwill, and his two cats, Koko and Yum Yum. We have quite a number of books in the "Cat Who..." series, such as The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell. We have this particular title in three formats--regular print [MYS BRA], large print [LP MYS BRA], and audio [AB/CD MYS BRA].

    Writer Rita Mae Brown claims to have co-authored with her cat, Sneaky Pie Brown, a series with a tiger cat, Mrs. Murphy, playing sleuth. Catch as Cat Can [MYS BRO] is one title.

    Two other cat series to look for are the "Midnight Louie" books by Carole Nelson Douglas, and the "Big Mike" series by Garrison Allen.

    Wednesday, October 31, 2007

    Happy Halloween!

    While you're at home passing out candy, spend the time between trick-or-treaters watching a ghost movie (spooky or otherwise):

    Ghost [VIDEO GHO] staring Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore. Whoopi Goldberg won a "Best Supporting Actress" Oscar for her role as the medium.

    The Ghost and Mrs. Muir [DVD GHO]. An oldie but goodie (1947) in which Rex Harrison plays a ghost, and Gene Tierney is the woman he attempts to spook.

    Ghostbusters [VIDEO GHO]--"Who ya gonna call?"

    Hamlet [DVD 822.33 SHA]. This is the BBC version of Shakespeare's classic play.
    Volver [DVD VOL], a 2007 Academy Award nominee for "Best Foreign Film," starring Penelope Cruz, is a strangely amusing film involving a murder, a family of women, and a ghost.

    Tuesday, October 30, 2007

    The Last Year

    This is the last year for the Searles Castle Christmas Floral Showcase. The showcase has been a Windham tradition for 15 years. If you've missed it for the past 14, there are two more weekends (11/3-5 and 11/9-11) to catch it!

    Imagine this beautiful room full of holiday lights and decorations!

    Searles Castle was built over a period of ten years--1905-1915. At the time it was estimated to have cost $1,250,000. Take that figure and multiply it by 20.70 and you'll get the cost in 2006 dollars (based on the Consumer Price Index)! Visit this site to do your own cost calculations.

    To learn more about Searles Castle and the man who had it built, read Edward Francis Searles and His Castle in Windham by Mary Lee Underhill [974.2 WIN]. It's fascinating story, and, it took place in our own backyard!

    Monday, October 29, 2007

    Thank You, Red Sox...

    for a fabulous season! Congratulations on winning the 2007 World Series!

    I'm thankful the Sox swept the Rockies--I don't think I could have stayed up after midnight one more night!

    So, this will be the last baseball blog of the season. I promise not to write anything about baseball until at least March. The funny thing is, I'm not really a baseball fan, it's just that baseball is such a part of our national identity, I can't possibly ignore it!

    One thing I noticed about the playoffs, or perhaps it was just the camera work of the Fox network focusing on the faces of the players, there's a whole lotta of spitting goin' on! And gum chewing!
    More so than in the population in general. I remember taking the New York subway in my youth and seeing the signs that said, "no spitting." Gross! I'd think. I still think it's gross, but obviously it's acceptable in the world of baseball. No spitting ordinances were an outgrowth of prevalence of tuberculosis in the last century. With drug resistent TB on the rise in the U.S., it might be wise to encourage our model baseball players to restrain from spitting. (Don't know much about TB? Look for this book the next time you visit the library: Tuberculosis by Kim R. Finer [J 616.995 FIN].)

    Sorry, guys, I didn't mean to rain on your parade! I did enjoy the bubble gum prank played on Dice-K by Ortiz and Crisp. Did you see it? Someone placed a blown bubble on Dice-K's hat. He didn't notice and was quite surprised when it popped! Dice-K realized he'd been pranked and he loved it! What a fun bunch of guys. I hope the Sox enjoy their break. Come back in March--especially you, Mike Lowell!

    Friday, October 26, 2007

    A Whole Lotta Politics Goin' On!

    The presidential election is a little more than one year away. If you don't like politics, and all it involves, I'd suggest moving out of New Hampshire for the next 12 months!

    NH's Secretary of State, William M. Gardner has yet to announce the date of NH's presidential primary. He's waiting until the rest of the states finish with their "jockeying" for a influential position. It looks NH's date may be 1/9, but we'll have to wait for the official announcement before marking our calendars.

    For a look at NH's primary history, visit the NH Political Library housed at the NH State Library in Concord.

    So what are you looking for in a president? Here's some information on helping you in judging a candidate.

    For a fun children's book that takes a look at presidents of the past, pick up Lives of the Presidents: Fame, Shame, and What the Neighbors Thought by Kathleen Krull [J 920 KRU].

    Thursday, October 25, 2007

    Hot Stuff

    I was listening to a program on chocolate and one of the bars being sampled was made with chili peppers!

    I've grown to like moderately hot dishes over the years. And, if I weren't so lazy, I'd probably experiment with cooking with chilis, but I prefer to have someone else prepare the hot stuff for me.

    It can actually be dangerous preparing a meal with fresh chili peppers due to a substance called capsaicin that is concentrated in the membranes. Wear rubber gloves when you work with them, and NEVER EVER rub your eyes while working with peppers!

    If you're intrigued by chili peppers, this book can't be beat: The Chile Pepper encyclopedia: Everything You'll Ever Need to Know About Hot Peppers with More Than 100 Recipes by Dave DeWitt [641.6384 DEW].

    Hot peppers have developed their own mystique and lore, which you can explore in Rooted in America: Foodlore of Popular Fruits and Vegetables [398 ROO].

    And who doesn't love a big bowl of hot chili on a cold winter's day? Browse our cookbooks for a variety of recipes. While you're cooking up a batch, listen to the Red Hot Chili Peppers. We have Stadium Arcadium [CD ROCK RED] in our collection. Then, treat your kids to a bedtime story: Armadilly Chili by Helen Ketteman [JP KEL].