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Thursday, July 31, 2008

Make Your Own Music

Weekend Edition Sunday last week, had a segment on a band by the name of NOMO. The band is described as offering "traces of Motown, futuristic funk, avant-garde jazz and — as the album title boldly states — rock music. It's a sonic maelstrom..." Most importantly to the band, their music inspires movement and dance in its listeners.

Part of the uniqueness of NOMO comes from the instruments they play--homemade instruments. You can see some of them here. There are some very clever people in the world who are able to make music from anything!

You too, can try your hand at instrument-making by checking out Making Musical Instruments by Hand by Jay Havighurst [781.91 HAV]. Do an internet search on "making musical instruments" and you'll find everything from a do-it-yourself mandolin (for those with a basic knowledge of workworking) to making a didjeridoo from a plastic golf club sheath costing less than $1.00!

Probably the easy instrument of all is your own body! Slap your thighs, clap your hands, whistle! Dance! And feel the joy of music!

Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Library Sky at Dusk

Last night as we were leaving at closing time, 8:00, the sky had a magnificent array of color--blue, pink, white, gray, pale yellow. I won't say it left me speechless, because I hardly ever have nothing to say, but it sure did leave me awestruck! Carl said it was a "Maxfield Parrish sky." It surely was! Funny how 3 words can evoke whole images. "Maxfield Parrish sky" brought to mind luminescent color and fantasy-filled images. Here's only one example of a "Maxfield Parrish sky":

Maxfield Parrish was an illustrator from the golden age of illustration, when magazine covers were works of art that stood alone and were not covered by cover story teasers. He illustrated ads, calendars, fairy tales, books of poetry, and more. We have his illustrations in Eugene Field's Poems of Childhood [J 811 FIE]. Sadly, the reproduction is not the best, so the colors are muted and muddy.

Parrish spent a great deal of time in New Hampshire and several years ago, the Currier Museum of Art exhibited his works. They have some of his works in their permanent collection. It is much better to see them in person, in their original sizes (some were humongous), than it is to view them online! I was lucky to have seen them hanging together--fantastic! (I just want to mention once again, that the library has a pass to the Currier!)

In Windsor, VT, the Cornish Colony Museum has an exhibit this summer, "THE POWER OF PLACE: Paintings That Define The American Image," which includes Parrish's work. The Museum also has biographical information about Parrish, click here.

NH resident, Alma Gilbert's, website is devoted to Parrish. She exhibits, and is a broker for the sale of his work.

Our book, Maxfield Parrish 1870-1966 by Sylvia Yount [760 YOU], a well-produced, amply illustrated book, is a look at Parrish's life and career. You'll get a real feel for man through quotes, and of course, his art. Check it out!

Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Busy, Busy, Busy!

Summers are incredibly busy here at the library. What with children's programs and recreational reading, we really keep hopping! With only two days left we're having a record breaking month circulation-wise. As of 6:00 tonight we're at 19,602 items checked out for the month! We're sure to top 20,000 before we close on Thursday! A hearty congratulations to our staff for keeping up!

This is all by way of saying I didn't have time to blog today! So come back tomorrow! I won't leave you, though, without recommending a book. This is a fun one: Not Quite What I Was Planning: Six Word Memoirs by Famous and Obscure Writers edited by Smith Magazine [820.02 NOT]. This book has about 1,000 examples of a six-word memoir. Start reading one and you'll have to finish all 1,000! (Not quite as bad as eating potato chips--there are no calories in memoirs!) Here's a small sample:

Was big boy, now little man. Chris Cooper

Revenge is living well, without you. Joyce Carol Oates

God, grant me patience. Right now. Michael Castleman

If reading the book inspires you, you can contribute your own six word memoir at www.smithmag.net.

A word of advice: if you're planning a visit to the library, the air conditioning is out of commission--dress accordingly. And, beware, our regularly smiling staff members may morph into raving lunatics if the air conditioning isn't fixed by the end of the week!

Monday, July 28, 2008

Happy Birthday Beatrix Potter!

Wanna know how I found it is Beatrix Potter's birthday? I went to do a Google.com search early this morning and found Peter Rabbit being chased by Mr. McGregor through the Google logo. Mousing over it, the alternate text showed, "Beatrix Potter's Birthday." I'm so pleased to see that Google celebrates children's classic books and their authors!

Beatrix Potter was born on this day in 1866. She lived well into the 20th century, and passed away on December 22, 1943. Her publisher, Frederick Warne, has a Potter website for you to browse through. Also included is a special kids' page where children can find coloring pages, crafts ideas, play games, and learn about Beatrix Potter's animal characters.

Make sure you visit the library--we have lots and lots of Potter-related items, from the lovely film, Miss Potter starring Renee Zellweger and Ewan McGregor [DVD MIS] to the tiny books The Tale of Benjamin Bunny, The Story of Miss Moppet, The Tale of Mr. Jeremy Fisher and more [JP GREEN DOT POT]. Many of the tales are included in treasuries including The Complete Tales of Beatrix Potter: The 23 Original Peter Rabbit Books [J POT]. There are adult biographies of Potter [B POT], and ones for children, too, such as The Ultimate Peter Rabbit: A Visual Guide to the World of Beatrix Potter [J B POT]. Delight in the illustrations of Potter by looking through Beatrix Potter's Art: Paintings and Drawings [791.942 POT].

Mystery writer, Susan Wittig Albert has borrowed Beatrix Potter and her world, and written a series of books called "The Cottage Tales of Beatrix Potter." You'll find The Tale of Cuckoo Brow Wood, and several other titles, in our adult fiction section.

Happy Birthday Beatrix!

Friday, July 25, 2008

Poetry Friday--Pictures and Poetry

The poet Amy Lowell once defined art as, "the desire of a man to express himself, to record the reactions of his personality to the world he lives in."

I believe that art can also be a response to other art. Today, I'd like to recommend a book that takes this concept and runs with it. Activities for Creating Pictures and Poetry by Janis Bunchman and Stephanie Briggs [J 759 BUN] is a book designed for students and teachers. It pairs artists and poets in chapters. For example, one chapter deals with architect Frank Lloyd Wright and poet Walt Whitman. In the chapter is a short biography and photo of each, and a sample of their work. There is an activity called "Rural and Urban Landscapes," an explanation of similes, a short student poem, and a section called, "Making the Connection" where the commonalities of the two artists are highlighted.

This is a fantastic resource, and I recommend it highly!

Borrow one of our many books on art movements and individual artists--you're sure to be inspired! (For a basic book of art, look for Sister Wendy's 1000 Masterpieces [759 BEC] by Sister Wendy Beckett.)

Thursday, July 24, 2008

Butterfly-less Butterfly Garden

We've had some nasty weather the past few days, but in between storms this morning I managed to get some pictures of the butterfly garden outside our children's room. Despite a number of bees and other flying bugs, I didn't see one butterfly! Maybe they know better than to fly in weather that changes from minute to minute (right now it is blowing like a hurricane and the rain is beyond cats and dogs stage).

Butterfly and wildlife friendly gardens are popular nowadays as people wake up to the fact that humans are destroying much of native species' habitats. If you want to help preserve wildlife for your kids and grandkids, think about planning a special garden for your yard. Do it today while the weather is lousy and you can't do anything outdoors! We have these titles and more on our shelves:

Butterfly Gardens: Luring Nature's Loveliest Pollinators to Your Yard
. [635.96 BUT]

Dennis, John V. How to Attract Hummingbirds and Butterflies. [635.96 DEN]

Needham, Bobbe. Beastly Abodes: Homes for Birds, Bats, Butterflies and Other Backyard Wildlife. [690.892 NEE]

Stetson, Emily. Kids' Easy-to-Create Wildlife Habitats for Small Spaces in the City, Suburbs and Countryside. [J 639.92 STE]

To learn more about wildlife gardening, and to find out how to certify your garden as a "wildlife habitat," visit the National Wildlife Federation site.

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Going Buggy

Animators have had a field day with bug films. Here are several for you and/or your kids to enjoy:

Antz. [J DVD ANT]
One worker ant tries to win the hand of the beautiful princess while his colony fights a termite attack.

Bee Movie. [DVD BEE]
Barry, a bee who is anxious to see the world outside the hive, is befriended by Vanessa, a human woman, and learns the shocking truth--that people are stealing and selling honey.

A Bug's Life. [J DVD BUG]
An inventive ant named Flik decides to hire a band of warrior bugs to defend his colony from a horde of freeloading grasshoppers, but Flik's cavalry turns out to be a ragtag group of flea circus performers.

The Magic School Bus Bugs, Bugs, Bugs! [J DVD MAG]
Based on "The magic school bus" book series written by Joanna Cole, and illustrated by Bruce Degen; teaches about different types of insects.
Also look for The Magic School Bus In a Beehive.

We have a fine collection of buggy picture books and early readers, too! Take a look for one of these:

Biedrzycki, David. Ace Lacewing, Bug Detective. [JP BIE]

Brown, Margaret Wise. I Like Bugs. [E BRO]

Cannon, Janell. Crickwing. [JP CAN]

Horowitz, Ruth. Breakout at the Bug Lab. [E HOR]

Newgarden, Mark. Bow-Wow Bugs a Bug. [JP NEW]

Shield, Carol D. The Bugliest Bug. [JP SHI]

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

It's Bug Week!

Well, at least at KK's Kurio Kabinet it is! The library is a great place for bugs, and I don't just mean books about bugs! The other day I found a dead, but perfectly preserved bug, a moth I believe, out on the bricks in front of the building. It had a lovely fuzzy, black and white, thorax and abdomen, and a set of delicate white wings. It was quite stunning. I've often been surprised to see moths, wings outspread, on the outside walls. Maybe they're trying to get in?

Insects are creatures of enormous variety, and rather fun to study if you can get over the ick factor. One way to get over your disgust is to read about them. Here are two books that may give you a greater appreciation for bugs:

Hubbell, Sue. Broadsides from the Other Orders: A Book of Bugs. [595.7 HUB] This from the chapter on black flies:
It should also be said that a number of animals don't regard any adult black flies as bad but as dinner. Among these are insectivorous bats and birds, a number of other flies, certain wasps, and dragonflies. A host of tiny parasites--mites, fungi, protozoans, nematodes, and such creatures--simply couldn't do without black flies, to whom they represent opportunity for life. But we are not nematodes or birds, and since we are the ones who label them, black flies are Bad Bugs.
We, as humans, are just so damned self-centered!

Waldbauer, Gilbert. What Good are Bugs? Insects in the Web of Life. [595.717 WAL] Waldbauer, too, gets a reader to think a wee bit differently.
Yet most people are not aware of our dependence upon insects and know little or nothing about them. We tend to fear the unknown. Thus many people are suspicious of almost all insects and, to the great detriment of our collective ecological conscience, look upon them, with only a few exceptions, as our natural enemies.

I hate to preach, but we often treat other humans, those we are unfamiliar with, rather badly at times, and all because of our fear of the unknown. Let's try a little harder to be willing to get to know all the creatures of the earth--both buggy, and human!

Monday, July 21, 2008


Odonata? You know what they are--dragonflies, damselflies, darners (we called them darning needles when I was young).

There's a short article in today's Independent, with a fabulous photo, of a damselfly on the back of a dragonfly. It is suspected that it may be a strange attempt at mating!

We have a large adult book full of photos called A Dazzle of Dragonflies by Forrest L. Mitchell [595.733 MIT]. It contains lots of information about the insects and also includes ideas for building a water garden to attract the creatures. (If you're at all interested in water gardens, we have several books covering the topic from a gardening and aesthetic point of view in the 635.9674 section, Kathleen Fisher's Complete Guide to Water Gardens, Pond and Fountains is just one.]

If A Dazzle of Dragonflies is checked out, go to Digital Dragonflies where you'll find plenty of dragonfly info. Make sure you check out the Photos page! Photos can also be found here.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Poetry Friday--Sharp Teeth Can't Bite If They're Not Bared

Sharp Teeth is a novel in verse by Toby Barlow [F BAR]. The book has been reviewed widely, and Barlow has been interviewed on NPR and elsewhere.

First let's take a look at the description of the story:
An ancient race of lycanthropes has survived to the present day, and its numbers are growing as the initiated convince L.A.'s down-and-out to join their pack. Paying no heed to moons, full or otherwise, they change from human to canine at will--and they're bent on domination at any cost.

Caught in the middle are Anthony, a kind-hearted, besotted dogcatcher, and the girl he loves, a female werewolf who has abandoned her pack. Anthony has no idea that she's more than she seems, and she wants to keep it that way. But her efforts to protect her secret lead to murderous results.

Sounds pretty interesting, huh? It does to me, and I'm not even a horror fan! So, why has this book been borrowed only once from our library since it was purchased in late February? It's been sitting on the "New Books" shelf the whole time!

Two reasons, I would say:
  1. The cover is particularly unappealing to an audience raised on the cover art of Stephen King and Laurell K. Hamilton books.

  2. The book is written in free verse, that is, it's in poetry!

Let's compare some covers. First, Sharp Teeth:

Next, Cujo [F KIN], one of Stephen King's books about dogs:

The Sharp Teeth cover is not visceral enough to attract a supernatural/horror fan. Also, there's no glossy paper cover--only the black dog graphic on a fake clothbound book. To tell the truth, in comparison to the other books on the "New Book" shelf, there's absolutely nothing to draw the reader to it. (A little aside: Barnes and Noble has a book trailer for Sharp Teeth which does a better a better job of selling the book. By better, I mean there's the dripping blood that's so attractive to horror fans!)

Now for the second point--the book is in verse. To some, verse would be a turn-off. But others, like the younger generation who started with novels in verse like Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse [J HES] and moved through the teen years with Crank by Ellen Hopkins [YA HOP], might want to continue to read in the novel in verse genre as they moved up into the adult book world. It's too bad the cover won't grab them!

Too bad too, for the adults who haven't had the pleasure of reading a novel in verse --the marketing department of Harper Collins let you down! Maybe a standard book jacket and sufficient jacket flap copy would have enticed our adult readers.

Just to show you how easy it is to read a novel in verse, here's a short excerpt:
She sits in the car and pulls a bag
from under the passenger seat,
a ziplock bag holding a bloody cell phone
and a bloody wallet.
A universe of information can be held
in two fists.

Now that wasn't so hard, was it? No hidden meanings, no rhymes! Next time you visit us, pick up Sharp Teeth, and don't be put off by its cover!

Thursday, July 17, 2008

A Crude Awakening!

Isn't that a clever name? It's the name of a recently purchased DVD. The full title is A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash [DVD 333.823 CRU] and the cover describes it as
An unforgettable and shocking wake-up call, A Crude Awakening offers the rock-solid argument that the era of cheap oil is in the past. Relentless and clear-eyed, this intensively-researched film drills deep into the uncomfortable realities of a world that is both addicted to fossil fuels and blissfully unaware of the looming "peak oil" crisis.

I won't get into a discussion of whether or not climate change is a real issue, but it does seem to me to be fairly obvious that there is a looming crisis with regard to oil--its availability, its cost, and its future as an energy resource. A little word of advice: we can't function as a society if our collective head is in the sand.

If you want to do a little reading we have a number of books in our collection that deal with the topic of the oil crisis, one example is Out of Gas: The End of the Age of Oil by David L. Goodstein [622.1828 GOO].

So what do we do about our gas-guzzling vehicles? Buying a scooter is not a long-term solution! One idea that has been around since the early years of the 20th century is the electric car--Thomas Edison considered them, and President Woodrow Wilson's wife, Edith, rode in one back in 1904!

Here's a 1919 electric car at a "re-charging station."

The long history is covered in Electric and Hybrid Cars by Curtis D. Anderson [629.2293 AND]. I read an article yesterday about the latest in electric cars. It is informative, and, it has pictures! Make sure you take a peek at what the future may hold...

"Click and Clack, the Tappet Brothers" (their mother knows them as Tom and Ray Magliozzi) of NPR's Car Talk, hosted a NOVA program on public television called Car of the Future: Engineering for the Environment. The library now owns a copy [DVD 629.222 CAR]. You're sure to find it both enlightening and amusing!

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Art for Children

WARNING: Rant ahead!

I've been doing some research on a Boston sculptor, Katherine Lane Weems. Weems is the woman who sculpted the dolphins that you see outside the New England Aquarium. I'm writing a short profile for a book on famous, and not-so-famous women, of Massachusetts.

There is next to nothing available for adults on her life and work, and for kids there is even less. I found one brief reference in a children's book we had here in the library, Animals Observed: A Look at Animals in Art by Dorcas MacClintock [J 704.9 MAC]. So, since I can't find suitable resources for children, I thought that in the "To Learn More About..." section of my project, I would include children's books about sculpture in general. That should be easy...

WRONG! There is next to nothing on sculpture for children. I checked many sources. But, not only that, there is very little being published now on art in general for children! Unbelievable!

Part of it is probably due to the de-emphasis of art in the school curriculum. (Don't even get me started on the reasons for that!) Another, is the cutting back on money for what is considered to be "extras" such as physical education, music, and art.

These cutbacks trickle down to the publishers of children's materials, and thus, the publishing of books on making art slows down to a snail's pace. How sad.

So, I'm glad we've kept up our children's art section over the years. We're going to have to keep some of the older books for a longer period simply because there's going to be nothing to replace them with!

I feel sorry for the kids who have an artistic bent. Let's just hope that kids' creative expressions will find a release--in one form or another!

I have a few suggestions of fun and informative titles to share with your young artists:

Lacey, Sue. Animals ("Start with Art" series). [J 704.9 LAC] Examines different techniques and styles that can be used when drawing animals, including watercolor, sketching, photomontage, printing, and clay modeling, using examples from great artists and suggestions for creating your own works.

Luxbacher, Irene. The Jumbo Book of Art: An Artistic Adventure from the Avenue Road Arts School. [J 701.8 LUX] Pictures and text provide children with instructions for creating art projects involving drawing, painting, sculpture, and mixed media.

Wolffe, Gillian. Look! Zoom In On Art! [J 750 WOL] Written by an acclaimed art educator, this dynamic, beautifully illustrated guide teaches young people how to look at art and "see" a painting from all perspectives.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Ice Cream and Other Cool Things

Everyone's favorite summer treat is undoubtedly ice cream. Ice cream has a long history that stretches back to first century (AD) Rome when the emperor, Nero, sent runners into the mountains to find ice to chill his fruit flavored treats.

Presidents George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, as well as first lady Dolley Madison, served up ice cream long before the days of refrigerators and freezers.

We are lucky nowadays to have supermarkets and ice cream stores! But, if you want to try to make your own, The Ultimate Ice Cream Book: Over 500 Ice Creams, Sorbets, Granitas, Drinks, and More by Bruce Weinstein [641.862 WEI] will tell you how. If you want a fun project to do with your kids, there's an activity in the back of Andy Murphy's book, Out and About at the Dairy Farm [JP MUR], called "Udderly Easy Ice Cream." It involves using zip-lock bags and ice cubes, and since it only makes a small batch, you don't have to be concerned about waste.

For other treats, look for Cool Desserts by Jane Suthering [641.86 SUT]. You'll find recipes for rose petal and strawberry ice cream as well as tangerine, and pistachio flavors. The iced coconut mousse looks heavenly!

Monday, July 14, 2008

I Kid You Not!

Okay, I've got to stop reading my daily news summary from Britain's The Independent. I came across one truly bizarre article about a energy generating sports bra! I kid you not!

Actually, the article deals with the possibility of creating such a bra to power an iPod. It also mentioned that a solar-powered bra had already been invented! I looked into it and found a short article with photos. Whoa! Sorry, there's got to be a better way to power your iPod! Back to the drawingboard!

It does give one hope to think that inventor-types are trying to come up with green solutions to energy (or breast support) problems! It'll just take a bit of time.

U.S. Patent 985735 (1909)

For a history of the bra, look for Uplift: The Bra in America by Jane Farrell-Beck [391.4 FAR]. To get started in inventing, and selling your inventions, browse the shelves in the 608 section, look through The Complete Idiot's Guide to Cashing In on Your Inventions by Richard C. Levy [658.8 LEV], or, ask Santa for a subscription to Inventor's Digest for Christmas! (It's right around the corner!)

Friday, July 11, 2008

Poetry Friday--Think Beyond Europe

We just added a fabulous poetry anthology to our collection, which is worth looking for the next time you visit: Language for a New Century: Contemporary Poetry from the Middle East, Asia, and Beyond [808.81 LAN].

We so often think of poetry as an "English class" thing since the only exposure to poetry we had in school was through English literature class. Poetry is so much more! Poetry is a sharing of the human experience that transcends all ethnicities! Here are a few excerpts:

from "The Age of My Father" by Shukrulla translated from the Uzbek by William M. Dirks
I hate inclement weather.
My veins are constrained by the piercing autumn wind,
Only the crows enjoy such weather,
Chasing each other, unable to share a nut.

from "nothin to waste" by Suheir Hammad
you don't waste nothin you
know the worth of
bread cupcakes carrots gummi bears whatever
falls gets picked up and
kissed up to god

from "North South East West" by Kim Kwang-Kyu translated from the Korean by Brother Anthony of Taize
In spring a flood of tender green goes rising
spreading northward, northward.
Unhindered by barbed wire or military demarkation line
it journeys north.
Rising over mountains
crossing plains,
azaleas and forsythias cross the border north.

from "A Tale" by Goenawan Mohamad translated from the Indonesian by John H. McGlynn
What might time be:
is it a gentle dance
with the softness of a spirit
or a wind to hide
death's curse?

from "Stammer" by K. Satchidanandan translated from the Malayalam by the author
Stammer is no handicap.
It is a mode of speech.

Stammer is the silence that falls
between the word and its meaning,
just as lameness is the
silence that falls between
the word and the deed.

Carolyn Forche, in the Foreward to the anthology, had this to say to the reader,
Read Language for a New Century as you would a field guide to the human condition in our time, a poetic survival manual if you will...

My advice to you, dear reader, is to also enjoy it!

Thursday, July 10, 2008

Mollusk Madness

Did you ever think that I'd write about mollusks three times in a week? Me neither, but I swear, this is the last time. So far we've covered land snails and slugs. Now we'll look at the ones that we here in New England are most familiar with--clams. I was pleased to hear the news that the closed clam beds in the Boston area are now open again. Sadly, NH's areas still remain closed. (Click here for a little information about red tide from the NH Dept. of Environmental Services.)

While you're waiting for the clams to be safe to eat, you can still go to the beach to collect shells. Pick up one of our identification guides before you go, you'll find them in the 594 section. The Smithsonian Handbook, Shells: The Photographic Recognition Guide to the Seashells of the World by S. Peter Dance [594.147 DAN] is a good general guide.

If you take your kids along to the beach, you're bound to come home with a pail full of shells. Stop at the library for Cool Shells: Creating Fun and Fascinating Collections! by Mary Elizabeth Salzmann [J 594.147 SAL] and keep the kids busy sorting through their treasures.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

It's Not Easy Being A Terrestrial Gastropod

A what? You know--a slug!

Tell me how many people you know who love slugs? Not many, I'll bet. So they suffer from a lack of love. Not only that, slug "control" for ridding your garden of the little mollusks, is not exactly humane. Just look at this advice from The Dollar Stretcher:
One of the most effective barriers, however, seems to be copper tape, as it works wet or dry. When slugs and snails make contact with the copper, there is a toxic reaction, similar to an electric shock, which repels them.
The best time to hunt for slugs is 2 hours after sunset so take a flashlight. Finish the slugs off in a bucket of soapy water.

I suppose beer drinkers would consider beer traps to be a more humane control. But wait, know what beer The Dollar Stretcher suggests works best? Budweiser. Yeah, right, a Bud is the humane way of slug control? Me, I'd rather shrivel up and die than drink a Bud!** And speaking of shriveling up and dying, one common treatment for slug control is to sprinkle them with salt. So cruel.

Well, at least here on the East coast, we don't have the problem they do in California--banana slugs!

photo by Jim Whitehead

So, as I did yesterday, I will end with a few delightful picture books about slugs!

Crew, Gary. Tracks. [JP CRE] Joel discovers the origin of the shiny silver tracks that he sees one night on a camping trip and then again later in his own backyard.

Edwards, Pamela Duncan. Some Smug Slug. [JP EDW] A smug slug that will not listen to the animals around it comes to an unexpected end.

Pearson, Susan. Slugs in Love. [JP PEA] Marylou and Herbie, two garden slugs, write love poems in slime to one another but have trouble actually meeting.

**Just a little aside--you may not want to share a better brand of beer with a slug, but, if you want to treat yourself, there are plenty of local breweries in the region! Go to Beertown, the website of the Brewers Association, and click on New Hampshire or Massachusetts. You may be surprised at how many brewpubs are now in the area! Or, look for this book on our shelves: The Good Beer Guide to New England by Andy Crouch [647.9574 CRO].

Snails A.k.a. Escargots

Mon Dieu! The French will be experiencing a shortage of escargots!

I've never had any desire to eat escargots. It could stem from the fact that as a child I had a fish tank and some snails came in on one of the aquatic plants and next thing I knew, I had a snail explosion. Yuck! Of course land snails are completely different I'm sure, but still...

I love this quote about escargots:
The attraction remains a mystery to much of the rest of the planet. The sauce served with the snails – made from garlic, parsley and butter – is delicious, but to the uninitiated, the escargot itself tastes like a tired piece of chewing-gum.

If you want to read up on cooking escargot, borrow Jacque Pepin's Complete Techniques: More Than 1,000 Preparations and Recipes, All Demonstrated in Thousands of Step-by-Step Photographs [641.5 PEP]. The photos are helpful, but this little warning was a bit much! (The emphasis is mine.)
Fresh snails are starved for at least 48 hours, in case they have eaten herbs which may be toxic to people. They are then soaked in a mixture of water, salt, vinegar and flour and allowed to disgorge for one hour.

Eeeeuu! All in all, I find snails a lovely subject for picture books. C'est tout!

Look for these:

Cutler, Jane. Mr. Carey's Garden. [JP CUT] All of his neighbors have suggestions for how to get rid of the snails in his garden, but Mr. Carey isn't interested.

Dorros, Arthur. When the Pigs Took Over. [JP DOR] Don Carlos likes to do everything in a big way, but his idea to serve lots of snails in his restaurant nearly destroys the whole village.

McGuirk, Leslie. Snail Boy. [JP MCG] A snail the size of a pony, afraid that he will wind up in a circus, or worse, sets out to become someone's pet.

Rosoff, Meg. Jumpy Jack & Googily. [JP ROS] Jumpy Jack the snail is terrified that there are monsters around every corner despite the reassurances of his best friend, Googily.

Monday, July 07, 2008

There's A Sucker Born Every Minute

and P.T. Barnum knew how to play them like a violin!

I've long found P.T. Barnum to be a subject of great interest. I've had plans in the back of my mind to travel down to Bridgeport, CT to visit the Barnum Museum. But, as my mother used to say, "the best laid plans of mice and men do oft go awry." This weekend, though, I stumbled upon a virtual museum that will have to do until I get to the real thing.

It's called The Lost Museum, and it is highly interactive, so plan on spending a little time in front of the computer screen!

Gen. Tom Thumb, Miss Lavinia Warren, Commodore Nutt, and The Giant

My interest in Barnum took an unexpected detour once when I was visiting the Manchester Historic Association's museum (before it moved to its new location--that's how long ago it was) and found that one of the little people that Barnum exhibited was Commodore Nutt, and, he was born in Manchester. I spent many an hour researching George Washington Morrison Nutt in the hopes that someday I would do something with the information I had gathered. But as my mother used to say...

Here's a brief obituary of the Commodore from the New York Times dated May 26, 1881.

We don't have a biography of Commodore Nutt in our collection, but we do have several on P.T. Barnum, including one by A.H. Saxon called P.T. Barnum: The Legend and the Man [B BAR].

To get a taste of the attractions that you may have seen in Barnum's museum or circus, look for either one of these titles:

Jay, Ricky. Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women. [791 JAY]

Sloan, Mark. Wild, Weird, and Wonderful: The American Circus 1901-1927 As Seen by F.W. Glasier, Photographer. [791.3 SLO]

Friday, July 04, 2008

Poetry Friday--July 4th, Independence Day

Good Night
by Carl Sandburg (from Smoke and Steel)

Many ways to say good night.

Fireworks at a pier on the Fourth of July
spell it with red wheels and yellow spokes.
They fizz in the air, touch the water and quit.
Rockets make a trajectory of gold-and-blue
and then go out.

Railroad trains at night spell with a smokestack mushrooming a white pillar.

Steamboats turn a curve in the Mississippi crying a baritone that crosses lowland cottonfields to razorback hill.

It is easy to spell good night.
Many ways to spell good night.

You can read this poem and more in Complete Poems by Carl Sandburg [811.5 SAN]. We also have an audio cassette, Carl Sandburg Reads: A Poetry Collection [AB 811 SAN]. I'm not sure if the above poem is in the collection since the notes only say,
Includes: Fog; Prairie Waters by Night; The Windy City; Wilderness and more...

Have a safe and happy holiday!

Thursday, July 03, 2008

Kidnapping and Hostage-Taking

Yesterday came news of the release, in Columbia, of 15 hostages who had been held for more than six years by the rebel group FARC.

Three of the released were Americans. Anyone want to bet that within a year one or more books will be issued chronicling the events of their captivity? Or that within six months, shooting will commence on a made-for-television movie? Probably starring some fabulously buff, up and coming young actors and actresses.

Our shelves are littered with tales of kidnappings and hostage-taking situations. Some real, some fiction. Some in print and some on film. Have you seen any of these?

Air Force One. [VIDEO AIR]

Bowden, Mark. Guests of the Ayatollah: The First Battle in America's War with Militant Islam. [955.0542 BOW]

Brockmann, Suzanne. Breaking Point. [F BRO]

Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. News of a Kidnapping. [364.1 GAR]

Griffin, W.E.B. The Hostage. [F GRI]

Kurzman, Dan. A Special Mission: Hitler's Secret Plot to Seize the Vatican and Kidnap Pope Pius XII. [940.5487 KUR]

Lowell, Elizabeth. The Wrong Hostage. [F LOW]

Ludlum, Robert. The Bancroft Strategy. [F LUD, also AB/CD LUD]

Maryam. [DVD MAR]

Smart, Ed and Lois. Bringing Elizabeth Home: A Journey of Faith and Hope. [164.15 SMA]

The Wind and the Lion

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

The "Old Ball Game"

Baseball, according to historians, has been around since at the 1800s. The game became more standardized in 1845, when Alexander Cartwright invented the baseball bat and developed a set of rules for the game.

Boston has a long history of baseball, which extends back to a time before the Red Sox! (Yes, there was a time before the Red Sox!) One of the earlier Boston teams was the Beaneaters, and, in 1897, they battled it out with the Orioles for the Pennant. The story of the fierce rivalry is chronicled in a book we just added to the collection, A Game of Brawl: The Orioles, the Beaneaters and the Battle for the 1897 Pennant by Bill Felber [796.357 FEL]. The author has a website that has photos of the teams and some of the other characters who made the 1897 season a memorable one.

We also have The Boston Braves 1871-1953 by Harold Kaese [796.357 KAE]. The Braves were originally the Boston Red Stockings, but by 1953 they bailed and headed out to Wisconsin to become the Milwaukee Braves.

For some more early baseball history, borrow the first two episodes ("Inning One: Our Game" and "Inning Two: Something Like a War") of Baseball by Ken Burns [796.357 BUR].

And, for a look at the evolution of baseball rules, we have The Rules of Baseball: An Anecdotal Look at the Rules of Baseball and How They Came to Be by David Nemec [796.357 NEM].

Tuesday, July 01, 2008


I had the opportunity recently to view an aerobatics display at an outdoor festival. (If you've never seen one, click on the short video below for a small taste.)

I found the display hard to watch because I had all those news reports about stunt planes crashing into fairgrounds running through my head, but, at the same time I could NOT stop myself from watching. If nothing else I had to admire the stomach of the pilot who flew the plane. One minute up, the next down. I get queasy just thinking about it!

Watching the aerobatics show reminded me of a book I read last year by Vermont's Howard Frank Mosher, On Kingdom Mountain [F MOS]. I thoroughly enjoyed it, and it has stuck with me for almost a year (my memory for book plots is practically nonexistent).

The main character, Miss Jane Hubbell Kinneson, was a middle-aged spinster who had lived her whole life on Kingdom Mountain. She had been a teacher, but had lately been running a small library/bookstore. Her hobbies included woodcarving at which she was quite proficient. A complex and fiercely independent woman, Miss Jane one day went ice fishing. As it grew later in the afternoon, a storm came up and she saw,
...a bright yellow biplane, racing directly up through the notch between the mountains, attempting to outrun the oncoming blizzard.

Miss Jane could see the aviator plainly now, hands dancing over several levers, desperate to keep his craft aloft. The plane's wings, just a few feet above the ice, tilted wildly back and forth.

Miss Jane pointed to a possible clear spot and the plane made a rough landing. The injured pilot managed to crawl from the battered plane and spoke
"Henry Satterfield at your service, ma'am. With thanks for your navigational assistance. I do believe you saved my machine out there. Not to mention my life."

And thus began a relationship between Miss Jane, Mr. Satterfield, and, eventually, the biplane!

To learn more about exhibition flyers of the era of Miss Jane and Mr. Satterfield (1930), borrow the photo-illustrated book in our children's collection, Barnstormers and Daredevils by K.C. Tessendorf [J 797.5 TES]. Another title, Women Daredevils: Thrills, Chills, and Frills by Julie Cummins [J 920 CUM], includes several women wing-walkers.

One of our adult aviation books, American Aviation: An Illustrated History by Joe Christy [629.13 CHR], has a chapter called "The Barnstorming Era."

Here's that video I promised: