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Friday, October 31, 2008

Poetry Friday--Sandburg as Pumpkin

Carl Sandburg takes on the the persona of a pumpkin in his poem "Theme in Yellow."
Theme in Yellow

I SPOT the hills
With yellow balls in autumn.
I light the prairie cornfields
Orange and tawny gold clusters
And I am called pumpkins.
On the last of October
When dusk is fallen
Children join hands
And circle round me
Singing ghost songs
And love to the harvest moon;
I am a jack-o'-lantern
With terrible teeth
And the children know
I am fooling.

To my mind this is the perfect Halloween poem for kids. It paints a colorful picture of the autumn landscape, and although it describes prairie cornfields, it could be describing fields anywhere in the United States (well, maybe not Hawaii).

I am pleased by the way the writer ends the poem with "And the children know/I am fooling." It is a gentle reminder to kids that Halloween is all about show, and that there is really nothing to be afraid of. Very comforting.

For more of Sandburg's poetry, we have Sandburg's Complete Poems [811.5 SAN]. Looking for even more poetry today? Check out the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Poetry for Children where you'll find a little bit of this and a little bit of that! Happy Halloween!

Thursday, October 30, 2008

Environmental Film Festival

The library will be hosting the Windham Environmental Film Festival 2008 starting this Saturday at 4:00 pm. The festival will be held three Saturdays in November--11/1, 11/8, 11/22, and is sponsored by Go Green Windham.

Go Green Windham "is a grassroots movement dedicated to promoting green initiatives in the community and advocate for changes to protect our environment from the devastation of global warming caused by carbon pollution. The goal is to raise awareness and effect broad based community action that causes positive long term environmental change in Windham."

The films to be shown cover a variety of topics from alternative fuel powered cars to the history, and environmental impact, of suburbia (where we happen to be located).

Most of the films being shown are from our collection of documentary films. Here's a nearly complete list of the films we currently own that are related, in one way or another, to the environment:

Car of the Future: Engineering for the Environment. [DVD 629.222 CAR]

A Crude Awakening: The Oil Crash. [DVD 333.823 CRU]

Dimming the Sun. [DVD 551.6 DIM]

The Eleventh Hour. [DVD 304.2 ELE]

The End of Suburbia: Oil Depletion and the Collapse of the American Dream. [DVD 338.2 END]

Everything’s Cool: A Toxic Comedy about Global Warming. [DVD 363.738 EVE]

Go Further. [DVD 363.7 GO]

An Inconvenient Truth: A Global Warning. [DVD 363.73874 GOR]

Powershift: Energy + Sustainability. [DVD 333.794 POW]

Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring. [DVD 363.738 RAC]

Solar Energy: Saved by the Sun. [DVD 333.7923 SAV]

Who Killed the Electric Car? [DVD 629.2293 WHO]

I've put together a resource list for the festival attendees. It's main focus is books about "going green," with a few books with a broader view of the impact of humans on the environment. If you can't make the festival, ask at the front desk for a copy of the list.

The resource list is not anywhere near a complete list, but I attempted to keep it to two sides of one piece of paper. It forced me to leave out one of two interesting sounding "green" books such as Simply Green Parties: Simple and Resourceful Ideas for Throwing the Perfect Celebration, Event, or Get-Together by Danny Seo [642.4 SEO]!

You would think that a party is the last place you could be green, but, Seo's book introduces you to what should have been fairly obvious practices. For example, using biodegradable paper products, outdoor solar lanterns, giving a outdoor tree seedling as a gift or a thank you! Some not so obvious ideas are decorating cakes or cupcakes with real leaves instead of ones made of frosting. Or, using a Twizzler in a drink instead of a plastic straw/stirrer. Some fun projects are included, too, such as recovering dining chairs with old sweaters!

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

And Speaking of Cats...

When we brought Skippy, our new cat, home, our older cat, Smudge (in photo), was quite unreceptive. As a matter of fact, she was downright hostile. For two days the noises coming from her were demonic--a low growl that seemed to rise from her very core. It sort of reminded me of the movie, The Exorcist! We don't have the film in our collection, so I'll put it on my list to be ordered in the new year. We do, however, have the book by William Peter Blatty [F BLA].

Going from cats to films, I'm going to slide very nicely to films about cats. Here are a few titles to please the legions of cat lovers in Windham:

The Adventures of Milo and Otis. [J DVD MIL]
A curious kitten named Milo and his inseparable friend, a pug-nosed puppy named Otis, wander away from their farm home and enjoy a series of adventures as they make their way back.

Aristocats. [J VIDEO ARI]
A kind millionairess in Paris wills her entire estate to her family, a family of adorable high-society cats. The greedy, bumbling butler Edgar catnaps Duchess, the elegant mother, and her three kittens, and abandons them in the French countryside. The charming Thomas O'Malley, a rough-and-tumble alley cat, saunters by and offers to escort them home.

The Cat from Outer Space. [J VIDEO CAT]
An extraterrestrial cat named Jake is forced to crash-land his spaceship on Earth. Jake then proceeds to lead a physicist, his girlfriend, the Army, and a team of baffled scientists on endless escapades during his visit.

Cats and Dogs. [DVD CAT]
A secret war between cats and dogs escalates when a human scientist develops a serum to eliminate all human allergies to dogs.

Harry and Tonto. [VIDEO HAR]
Art Carney plays Harry, an aging widower who is forced from his New York apartment. After trying to live with his son in the suburbs and his single daughter in Chicago, he and his cat Tonto set out across the country in a second-hand car.

That Darn Cat! [DVD THA]
A cat leads a federal agent onto the trail of a band of thieves who kidnapped a bank teller. The search begins when the slinky Siamese is found with the kidnap victim's wristwatch around its neck.

The Three Lives of Thomasina. [J DVD THR]
Thomasina the cat brings a family together, through her mysterious death and reappearance.

Tuesday, October 28, 2008

Devil in the Grey-Striped Coat

Two weeks ago, we bought a new cat into our home. Skippy's a 4-month-old kitten to be exact. She's adorable, as you can see from this shot:

But, she has her evil side, too!

Why does she have to use me as her teething ring AND scratching post? I've borrowed our copy of Psycho Kitty? by Pam Johnson-Bennett [636.8 JOH], to try to understand her behavior.

Here's what the author has to say, "Aggression requires you to put aside your subjectivity and look at the situation through your cat's eyes. Is your cat truly aggressive across the board? Or, is he acting aggressively under certain conditions?"

Okay, I'll admit, it's only when she's hyped up and wants to play. She just plays a wee bit harder than I do! Plus, she is a kitten, so maybe she's teething?

I happened upon a chapter called, "Behaviors They Never Warned You About." One of the behaviors mentioned was "Fascinating Faucets," which has to do with some cats' obsession with water. Uh, oh, Skippy has been sitting on the toilet watching the water twirl round, and when it stops, she climbs half-way down the bowl to splash in it! This morning, as I pulled the shower curtain open to step out, there was a little grey-striped devil prone on the bathmat!

Stay tuned...

Monday, October 27, 2008

Toddler Halloween

Today our toddler storytime participants came costumed for a little Halloween celebration. They paraded around the library, stopped at treat-handing-out stations, and then gathered back in the multi-purpose room for some controlled chaos!

If you didn't realize it, Halloween is this coming Friday! For some last-minute pumpkin carving ideas, check out these titles:

Genduson, Sam. Carving Jack-O'-Lanterns. [745.5941.GEN]

Palmer, Edward. Pumpkin Carving. [745.5941 PAL]

Widmann, Emily. Pumpkin Cut-Ups: Super Patterns for Carving Perfect Pumpkins. [745.5941 WID]

Keene held its annual pumpkin fest this past weekend. To read about it, click here.

Friday, October 24, 2008

Poetry Friday--And Speaking of Dollhouses...

Yesterday's entry was about dollhouses, and come to find out, we have a book of children's poetry in our collection called, Secrets from the Dollhouse [J 811 TUR]. It's by Ann Turner, a writer whose works include poetry, picture books, novels, and nonfiction for children.

Secrets from the Dollhouse starts with a prose introduction of the main character, a wooden doll, Emma, who says, "I would like to have an adventure, though I'm not quite sure what that is."

The book consists of fifteen poems dealing with the inhabitants of the dollhouse, a few out-of-dollhouse experiences, and the drama that exists within the dollhouse.

This is from the poem called, "Cat Comes":
then Cat poked his paw
through the dollhouse door.
When he breathed,
it felt like fire on my hand.

Secrets from the Dollhouse, with it's sepia-toned scratchboard illustrations, is perfect for the young reader, and, for his or her parent, too!

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Little Houses

The Museum of Fine Arts has some rather unusual exhibits at times. On display through January 25, 2009 is Place (Village), the work of Rachel Whiteread:
This exhibition features the US premiere of her most recent work, Place (Village) (2006-08) and traces the position of domestic objects through sculptures and drawings. Over several years, Whiteread has collected handmade English dollhouses and configured them into a sprawling "community" filled with haunting memories and melancholy. Place (Village), encompassing the left side of the Foster Gallery, appears as if it was discovered at night. In contrast to this installation are individual sculptures from an early floor piece cast in rubber as well as more recent "stacks" cast from the interior of tattered boxes.

Dollhouses can be works of art as well as playthings for kids! Some of our dollhouse books are rather dated, so I will be looking for something newer soon, but, that doesn't mean that the ones we currently own have no value! A World of Doll Houses by Flora Gill Jacobs [745.592 JAC] was published in 1965. It provides an historical background on dollhouses in a friendly, conversational way,
There's a little folding bed at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York that is several thousand years old. It is Egyptian. Greek and Roman toy furnishings a thousand years or so younger than that have been exhibited at the British Museum in England. If dolls had furniture, then they probably had houses, too.
A newer book on our shelves is Making Doll's House Miniatures with Polymer Clay by Sue Heaser [745.592 HEA]. Polymer clay is a marvelous substance that can be molded, baked in a home oven, and painted. Almost anyone can create simple dollhouse furnishings using the book as a guide.

If you'd like to see the MFA display Place (Village), you need only reserve our MFA pass and make the short trip into Boston.

Shelburne Museum: Maker Unknown – Detail, Ramshackle Inn Doll's House, About 1900

If your interest leads you farther afield, then a trip to the Shelburne Museum in Vermont is in order! The museum's collection of dolls and dollhouses is worth the drive! As a matter of fact, you could spend several days at the Shelburne Museum and not see all of its vast collection!

Wednesday, October 22, 2008

Books to Movies

There are quite a few books that have been released as films recently. The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd [F KID] spent months on the bestseller lists several years ago and opened last week to mixed reviews from critics, but positive ones from viewers.

The film version of Nicholas Sparks's Nights in Rodanthe [F SPA] came out a month ago, as did Miracle at Santa Anna by James McBride [F MCB]. Miracle... was roundly panned, so I doubt if we'll purchase the film when it comes out on DVD, but we'll almost definitely purchase Nights in Rodanthe due to the popularity of Mr. Sparks.

Many more book-based films are scheduled for the next few months. The Boy in the Striped Pajamas, based on the children's novel by John Boyne [J BOY], will be released the first week in November. Take a look at the trailer, and tell me it doesn't look interesting and thought provoking! I know the book has made the rounds of many adult book discussion groups, and a discussion group resource website, ReadingGroupGuides.com, lists it as one of its 2006 favorites.

Right before Thanksgiving, teens will finally be able to see one of their favorite books, Twilight by Stephanie Meyer [YA MEY], on the big screen. Meyer's books are hot items here at the library, and Twilight, being the first title in a series, will probably be followed up by more films. View the trailer here.

You probably don't want to know about a film that won't be out for another year and a half, but I'm going to tell about it anyway! It's Alice in Wonderland [J CAR], directed by Tim Burton and starring Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter. Burton, according to the writer of a Los Angeles Times article, sees as his mission:
to reclaim a children's classic, resharpen its edges and remind everyone that sapping the weirdness out of a tale often renders it flat and forgettable.

I can't wait!

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Official State Books

There's been a bit of controversy over the recent Massachusetts legislature declaring Moby Dick by Herman Melville [F MEL] to be the official state "epic novel." I guess the title "epic novel" leaves the door open for other official state books. Official state "mystery" might be Dennis Lehane's Mystic River [F LEH], official "romance" might be Claire Cook's Must Love Dogs [F COO], "historical novel" might be The Heretic's Daughter by Kathleen Kent [F KEN], etc. The legislature could be tied up for years determining official books!

What would be your pick for New Hampshire official novel--epic or otherwise? Here are some writers who live in, or write about, New Hampshire for you to consider: Anita Shreve, Jodi Picoult, Brendan DuBois, Joseph Monninger, Ernest Hebert, John Irving, Grace Metalious, John Knowles. Why don't you visit the library and read one or two of these talented writers then send along a comment with your choice for official NH book.

For a NH literary experience, head to Portsmouth this weekend for the Portsmouth Literary Festival. The festival is organized by the New Hampshire Writers Project.
The New Hampshire Writers’ Project provides teaching and learning opportunities for writers at all levels of experience. It offers a mentoring community that both understands the challenges of the writing life and celebrates the successes. It gives writers and readers opportunities to meet, enjoy, and learn from established authors.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Dogs in Costumes

Last year at this time, my daughter and I went to Griffin Park for a walk around the track on a lovely autumn day. When we got there we found the place was crawling with dogs, large and small, dressed up for Halloween. We made a point of looking out for the event again this year.

The doggy halloween costume parade was held this past Saturday, and I was there with my camera to record the participants!

Now that the doggy parade is over, you may want to concentrate on costuming your kids--afterall, Halloween is less than 2 weeks away.

Albala, Leila. Easy Halloween Costumes for Children [745.5941 ALB]. Don't be put off by this older book from our collection. It is full of ideas!

Halloween Fun: 101 Ideas to Get in the Spirit [394.2646 HAL]. Look for the awesome magical tree costume!

Harding, Deborah. Tricks and Treats: The Ultimate Halloween Book [745.5941 HAR]. The "top dog" in this book can easily be replicated without much fuss.

Lipson, Michelle. Sew a Dinosaur: 21 Playful Prehistoric Beasts to Follow You Home [745.592 LIP]. This book is primarily about making stuffed animals, but, it has directions for a tyrannosaurus rex costume that any preschooler would love.

Have fun getting ready, and stop by the library on Halloween to show off your little ones' costumes!

Friday, October 17, 2008

Poetry Friday--New Children's Poet Laureate Named

The first Children's Poet Laureate, Jack Prelutsky, has reached the end of his tenure. The new Children's Poet Laureate is Mary Ann Hoberman.

Hoberman has spent many years in the business of children's poetry, so it is natural that she be named the poet laureate--a goodwill ambassador for children's poetry and poets.

My first exposure to Hoberman came through her picture book, A House is a House for Me [JP HOB]. The book, originally published in 1978, has long been a favorite of preschoolers. It is especially prized by teachers for its rhythm and for the way it gets kid to think in new ways.

The book begins
A hill is a house for an ant, an ant.
A hive is a house for a bee.
A hole is a house for a mole or a mouse
And a house is a house for me!
This is a fairly straight forward start, but a little further on, the "houses" become less obvious
A glove is a house for a hand, a hand.
A stocking's a house for a knee.
A shoe or a boot is a house for a foot
And a house is a house for me!
Hoberman continues
And if you get started in thinking,
I think you will find it is true
That the more that you think about houses for thing,
The more things are houses to you.

It's a joyous, busily illustrated, poem that's fun to read!

Hoberman has many books to her credit, and we have more than a dozen on our shelves!

Thursday, October 16, 2008

19 Days to Go...

But who's counting!

The debate last night was some interesting television viewing, but you may want to winnow out the truths from the untruths. I recommend that you visit FactCheck.org for a summary of the factchecking that was done immediately following the debate.

So what is FactCheck.org? It is a highly respected source of information, defined through its mission statement:
We are a nonpartisan, nonprofit "consumer advocate" for voters that aims to reduce the level of deception and confusion in U.S. politics. We monitor the factual accuracy of what is said by major U.S. political players in the form of TV ads, debates, speeches, interviews and news releases. Our goal is to apply the best practices of both journalism and scholarship, and to increase public knowledge and understanding.

The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg in 1994 to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state and federal levels.

The APPC accepts NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals. It is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation.

The League of Women Voters, another nonpartisan group, has put together a guide for voters for this year's election entitled Choosing the President 2008: A Citizen's Guide to the Electoral Process [324.6 CHO]. The League's website is also full of information including a downloadable Presidential Voters' Guide.

PBS's Frontline put together a segment called "The Choice 2008." If you missed it on television, you can watch it on-line here. After watching, you may want to explore emotion vs. intellect in the election process.

Drew Westen's book, The Political Brain: The Role of Emotion in Deciding the Fate of the Nation [324.973 WES] could help you analyze how and why you connect with a particular candidate. David Brooks reviewed the book for the New York Times. His conclusion sums up the whole process of picking a president for me,
In other words, emotions partner with rationality. It’s not necessary to dumb things down to appeal to emotions. It’s not necessary to understand some secret language that will key certain neuro-emotional firings. The best way to win votes—-and this will be a shocker--is to offer people an accurate view of the world and a set of policies that seem likely to produce good results.

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Apropos of Nothing

I thought I'd share this awesome idea called canstruction. It's a competition in which a team designs and constructs structures out of canned foods that, after the competition is completed, is deconstructed and donated to food pantries.

For the competitors there's the thrill of teamwork, creativity, and a finished project. For the recipients of the food it is sustenance. And, for the viewers of the canstructions, it is WOW!

We are lucky in that we are a mere 40 minutes away from a competition exhibit that starts next Monday, 10/20. It's being held at Bunker Hill Community College in Charlestown and will run through 11/7.

Here's a video of a competition held earlier in the year in Vancouver:

So, how do I tie canstruction into the library? Simple! By promoting our materials on creative thinking.

Csikszentmihalyi, Mihaly. Creativity: Flow and the Psychology of Discovery and Invention [153.3 CSI]

de Bono, Edward. Edward de Bono's Mind Power [153.4 DEB]

Gelb, Michael. How to Think Like Leonardo Da Vinci [AB/CD 153.35 GEL]

Tharp, Twyler. The Creative Habit: Learn It and Use It for Life: A Practical Guide [153.35 THA]

Tuesday, October 14, 2008


A ginormous pumpkin of 1,568 pounds was disqualified from the Southern New England Giant Pumpkin Grower's Annual Weigh-Off this weekend because it had sprung a leak!

The winning pumpkin turned out to be a paltry 1,507 pounds! More than 4,000 spectators attended the weighing in down in Warren, RI.

With all the rain we had this year, you would have thought that the winner of last year's competition, a 1,689 pound Cucurbita, would have been bumped from the record books. It was not to be, as an interview on NPR revealed. This year the rains were too much, and pumpkins actually exploded!

Look for one of our pumpkin books the next time you visit. We have plenty in our children's picture book collection, but, if you're an adult, you may want something a little more complex. Let me recommend Pumpkins and Squashes by Caroline Boisset [641.6562 BOI].

Monday, October 13, 2008

Libraries in the News--Real and Otherwise

There has been an upswing in library usage now that the economy is tanking. Why not take advantage of a great resource? After all, you pay for it with your local taxes!

The Associated Press reported that in the period April 2007 through April 2008, nationwide, libraries recorded 1.3 billion visits with more than 2 billion items.

Here's another library "report":

You'll excuse a little day-off levity, I hope!

Friday, October 10, 2008

Poetry Friday--Poetry in Our Own Backyard!

I hope you've heard about the Massachusetts Poetry Festival. It starts today and runs through Sunday in nearby Lowell. Why pick Lowell for a poetry festival site? Here's the answer from the site:
Why Lowell and the Merrimack Valley?

"Why has no one thought of doing this in Massachusetts before?... The closest thing to it that I can think of is the Geraldine R. Dodge Poetry Festival..." -- David Mehegan, Boston Globe

For the past 30 years, Lowell has been in the forefront of the "creative economy" movement in Massachusetts. The city’s cultural heritage and contemporary cultural resources are the foundation of a distinctive urban redevelopment strategy whose success is recognized worldwide. The Greater Merrimack Valley gave our country profoundly influential poets, including Anne Bradstreet, Ralph Waldo Emerson, John Greenleaf Whittier, Robert Frost, and Jack Kerouac. The City of Lowell welcomes you, and is proud to host an event that will bring regional, national, and international attention to the poetry community in the Commonwealth.

I'm very pleased to see that the Lowell Public Library is taking an active role in the festival by hosting several of the activities. You can find a schedule of events here.

Here's a short poem by Lowell's own beat poet, Jack Kerouac:


A woman is beautiful
you have to swing
and swing and swing
and swing like
a handkerchief in the

(I apologize for not getting the spacing correct, but, you can see it in its proper format in The Portable Jack Kerouac [F KER].)

Have a great poetry-filled weekend!

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Libraries As Objects

Library of Congress photo from 1902.

Libraries can be wonderful places, not only because they hold the record of civilization, but also because they are gorgeous to look at. This idea was the topic of a blog entry called "Red-Hot and Filthy Library Smut," posted at the now defunct blog thenonist.com. I'll leave to read the blog on your own to find out the reason for the provocative title!

A real library fan should enjoy this book from our collection: Library: The Drama Within, with photos by Diane Asseo Griliches [027 GRI]. The photos are accompanied by quotes from familiar and not-so-familiar people. Here's one from Bill Harley, "In the library I discovered that you could learn by following your nose. And I learned that a book was as close to a living thing as you could get without being one."

Wednesday, October 08, 2008

D.C. Pics--Part 3

On Saturday night of our D.C. visit, we went to several of the monuments. These impressive, well-lit sites are busy even as late as 11:00 pm. The surrounding darkness gives one the feeling of being alone and allows for contemplation of the events or people being memorialized.

One of the sites we stopped at was the Lincoln Memorial:

I didn't realize there was a museum in the basement part of the monument! I had found it on a previous visit while looking for a bathroom!

We also stopped at the World War II memorial, which, since several of us had parents who were in the service, or were part of the homefront, was very moving.

If I hadn't visited the monument previously, I wouldn't have known where to look for this icon of WW II (I hope you can see him on the back wall):

It's Kilroy of "Kilroy was here" fame. Click here to learn the origins of the ever-present character.

One disadvantage to a night-time tour of D.C. is that the streets and signs aren't always recognizable at night:

Before you take a trip to D.C., you may want to borrow our Eyewitness Travel: Washington, D.C. guide [917.53 BUR]. Silly me--in a rush to pack, I completely forgot my map and guidebooks!

Tuesday, October 07, 2008

D.C. Pics--Part 2

You really should visit the newly opened National Museum of the American Indian. The building is gorgeous from the outside...

and on the inside.

Looking up!

Here are some objects from the vast collection on display:

What lucky people we are to have the marvelous museums of the Smithsonian available to us. And do you want to know the best part? Admission is free!

For more information about the Smithsonian museums look for the Official Guide to the Smithsonian [069 SMI] the next time you visit. Or, if you're not going to D.C. anytime soon, look for The Smithsonian: 150 Years of Adventure, Discovery, and Wonder by James Conaway [069 CON]. This book is full of background history and is almost as good as a visit!

Coincidentally, Morning Edition on NPR today had a segment about the Smithsonian and its director!

Monday, October 06, 2008

D.C. Pics

I almost forgot to post the photos for my D.C. trip. So I'm going to do that today. Here are some photos from the National Museum of Natural History.

When I was a kid, back in the days of the dinosaur, I took a trip to the American Museum of Natural History in N.Y.C. I can remember the musty-fusty smell of the dioramas. That smell has stayed with me all these long years as representative of museums everywhere. I'm happy to report that at the National Museum of Natural History that smell is almost completely gone. The dioramas are exceptional and the displays truly look authentic!

Museums are wonderful places for those with curious minds! If you have a curious child in your life, make it a point to visit one of our local or national museums. Before you go, take a look at The Museum Book: A Guide to Strange and Wonderful Collections by Jan Mark [J 069 MAR].