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Monday, October 31, 2011

Remembering Florence Parry Heide

Florence Parry Heide passed away last week at the age of 92. She was a prolific writer of books for children and will be remembered fondly by those who grew up up with The Shrinking of Treehorn, a wry book with illustrations by Edward Gorey (sadly, we no longer own a copy).

Perhaps the best way to remember Florence Parry Heide is to come to the library and read her books. Today, Halloween, is the perfect day for the poems in Grim and Ghastly Goings-On [J 811 HEI].

The House of Wisdom [J HEI], with illustrations by Mary Grandpre, is a beautiful book based upon a true story. It is a celebration of a time and place where a library was known as "The House of Wisdom."

The Day of Ahmed's Secret, co-written with her daughter Judith Heide Gilliland [JP HEI], will warm your heart with its big "reveal." Your funny-bone will be tickled by A Promise Is a Promise [JP HEI], and you'll learn that you're not alone in your fears through Some Things Are Scary [JP HEI].

A big thank you to Mrs. Heide for these great books that she has left for us to enjoy for years to come.

Friday, October 28, 2011

Poetry Friday--"Grotesque"

Just in time for Halloween, here's a rather creepy poem about flowers!
by Amy Lowell

Why do the lilies goggle their tongues at me
When I pluck them;
And writhe, and twist,
And strangle themselves against my fingers,
So that I can hardly weave the garland
For your hair?
Why do they shriek your name
And spit at me
When I would cluster them?
Must I kill them
To make them lie still,
And send you a wreath of lolling corpses
To turn putrid and soft
On your forehead
While you dance?

from Amy Lowell: Selected Poems [821 LOW]
The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being hosted by my alter-ego at Random Noodling.

Photo by Auntie P.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

The Debate Rages On

There has been almost endless debate about which is better--a physical book or an e-reader?

For now, you can compare and contrast the two at the library. We have started to lend Kindle e-readers. They come preloaded with a variety of popular fiction titles such as Sixkill by Robert B. Parker and Caleb's Crossing by Geraldine Brooks. The Kindles go out for two weeks, just like a regular book. So, if you're curious about all the fuss, borrow one of our Kindles, give it a test drive, and you, too, can weigh in on the debate!

By the way, a test performed in Germany and reported at Science Daily, showed that although readers perceptions differed, there were "no disadvantages to reading from electronic reading devices compared with reading printed texts." We have yet to hear from you though...

If you already own an e-reader and wish to learn about downloading e-books for free using your Nesmith Library card, please come to the next "Electronic Readers and Electronic Books: e-Readers and the Library" workshop being held on Thursday, November 17, at 6:30.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011


Here's an interesting piece from NPR on what advertising, branding, and clever marketing techniques are doing to us, and more importantly, to our children.

After watching come to the library and borrow:

Consuming Kids the Commercialization of Childhood. [DVD 659.1071 CON]

Linn, Susan E. Consuming Kids: The Hostile Takeover of Childhood. [305.23 LIN]

Schor, Juliet. Born to Buy: The Commercialized Child and the New Consumer Culture. [305.23 SCH]

Warning--it is disturbing!

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Monster a Day!

A very talented illustrator of children's books is Kevan Atteberry (and he's quite stunning in looks*). Two of Kevan's books are particularly appropriate for this time of year. Frankie Stein and Frankie Stein Starts School, both written by Lola M. Schaefer, are found in our picture book section [JP SCH].

In recognition of this rather monstrous month, Kevan has started posting "October's Monster A Day" on his Facebook page. Click here to check out the month's offerings thus far.

*Here's Kevan's photo. Was I right? Quite stunning...

Monday, October 24, 2011


PBS Food is a new page on the the PBS website that deals with all things food including recipes, blogs, contests, etc. The site is colorful and appealing, in more ways than one--check out this photo of the black bean chili!

Hey, no drooling on the keyboard!

PBS was around way before the food channels on cable and set the standard for cooking shows with the late Julia Child and Joyce Chen. Over the years, those innovators were followed by many other food stars such as Jacques Pepin, Mary Ann Esposito, Paul Prudhomme, and Martin Yan.

We have some of Julia Child's shows on DVD, The French Chef with Julia Child and The French Chef 2 with Julia Child [both DVD 641.5944 FRE], as well as her cookbooks and memoirs. You'll also find books by some of the other cooks seen on PBS, including Lidia Bastianich's Lidia Cooks from the Heart of Italy [641.5945 BAS] and Steven Raichlen's Raichlen on Ribs, Ribs, Outrageous Ribs: 99 Top-Notch, Tasty, Truly Tempting Recipes Plus Slaws, Sauces, Baked Beans, and More [641.66 RAI].

Friday, October 21, 2011

Poetry Friday--Where Home Begins

Wherever Home Begins: 100 Contemporary Poems [YA 811.54 WHE], selected by Paul Janeczko, is sadly out of print, but luckily for us, it still occupies a place on our shelves.

The jacket copy states, "The book is its most powerful if read as a sequence, a progression of interconnected views, many voices that swell into a chorus." That idea doesn't stop me, though, from separating out one title to share with you. No chorus today, just a strong, clear, solo voice.
On the Back Porch
by Dorianne Laux

The cat calls for her dinner.
On the porch I bend and pour
brown soy stars into her bowl,
stroke her dark fur.
It's not quite night.
Pinpricks of light in the eastern sky.
Above me my neighbor's roof, a transparent
moon, a pink rag of cloud.
Inside my house are those who love me.
My daughter dusts biscuit dough.
And there's a man who will life my hair
in his hands, brush it
until it throws sparks.
Everything is just as I've left it.
Dinner simmers on the stove.
Glass bowls wait to be filled
with gold broth. Sprigs of parsley
on the cutting board.
I want to smell this rich soup, the air
around me going dark, as stars press
their simple shapes into the sky.
I want to stay on the back porch
while the world tilts
toward sleep, until what I love
misses me, and calls me in.
Isn't that lovely? There are others in this collection that present images not quite as happy, yet still satisfying. I'll leave them for you to discover on your own.

Head over to Jama Rattigan's Alphabet Soup for some home cooking and the round-up for today.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Ned Kelly

You may have heard of Ned Kelly--he's the Australian equivalent of our Jesse James legendary character. There's a lot of background information found on Wikipedia. And like Jesse James, books and film have told Kelly's story in many ways, including Peter Carey's novel True History of the Kelly Gang [F CAR].

In August of this year it was reported that the skeletal remains of Ned Kelly had been identified. They were found in a mass grave at Pentridge Prison in Victoria. The skeleton, however, is missing its skull! You can listen to an All Things Considered story on NPR.

Engraving courtesy State Library of Victoria.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Peanut Allergies

Schools across America have declared their buildings "peanut-free" zones, or have separated those with known peanut allergies from their classmates during lunchtimes. Parents who took a peanut butter and jelly sandwich to school for their elementary years have trouble understanding the need for peanut-free alternatives for their kids.

A peanut allergy is not just an inconvenience, however, for those who who suffer from it. And it's no fun for a child to witness another child's anaphylaxis episode and a stabbing with an Epi-pen.

Hopeful news now comes from Northwestern University. But until the researchers replicate the results in human subjects, parents will have to deal with peanut-free restrictions.

Here are some materials to help. For kids there's Gloria Koster's The Peanut-Free Café. [JP KOS]

A new classmate with a peanut allergy has Simon reconsidering his love for peanut butter.
And for adults there's Michael C. Young's The Peanut Allergy Answer Book [616.97 YOU].

We also have a number of cookbooks that contain food allergen-free recipes in our 641.5631 section.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011


Parody has a long history in the United States, and can be defined:

par·o·dy [par-uh-dee]
a humorous or satirical imitation of a serious piece of literature or writing: his hilarious parody of Hamlet's soliloquy.
the genre of literary composition represented by such imitations.

Parodies of children's books are not as common as parodies of adult books, music, films, etc., but Dr. Seuss's Green Eggs and Ham [E SEU] has been the basis for many parodies.

Margaret Wise Brown's classic picture book, Goodnight Moon [JP BRO], is probably a close second. A new parody, Goodnight iPad by Ann Droyd (a.k.a. David Milgrim, author of the popular easy reader "Otto" series [E MIL]) is soon to be released. Here's the trailer:

Monday, October 17, 2011

National Book Award Finalists

The the National Book Awards finalists were announced last week. Of the five fiction finalists, I have read two of the titles, The Tiger's Wife by Téa Obreht [F OBR] and The Buddha in the Attic by Julie Otsuka. Of the two, I liked The Buddha in the Attic better, but, I will have to say, it is the only novel I've ever read that has no plot and no main character! I'll try to read The Sojourn by Andrew Krivak before the winners are announced on November 16.

The other two fiction finalists are Edith Pearlman's Binocular Vision and Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward. I will try to order them and have them arrive before the winners are announced. If one of those two win, and I wait until after the announcement to order it, then it might take months before it arrives!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Poetry Friday--Weird? (Me, Too!) Let's Be Friends

As a child did you feel a little weird--perhaps a bit out of sync with the rest of the kids in your world? Performance poet, Sara Holbrook, must have felt that way, too, because she wrote Weird? (Me, Too!) Let's Be Friends [J 811.54 HOL], a book of poems for kids.

In the "Introduction" she says,
When I read a poem about hopping popcorn or a lonely flagpole and think--Yeah...I can see that. I can identify--that is a good poem to me.
I hope that kids can identify, too--I know I can, especially with a poem like,
Walking on the Boundaries of Change

Day by day
a tightrope,
walking on the boundaries
of change.
One step--
firm, familiar.
The next step--
shaky, strange.

Some friends will dare danger,
mock or push each step.
Some friends
knock your confidence.

Real friends
form a net.

The poems are accompanied by commentary and poetry prompts encouraging kids to write their own--a nice idea.

From here head over to Fomograms for the Round-Up on this Poetry Friday.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

The Boston Book Festival

This Saturday is the 3rd. annual Boston Book Festival, which takes place around Copley Square. There is a outstanding lineup of authors and panels scheduled to appear. The BBF is free of charge for most events. How great is that?

Here's a list of only a few of the presenters and a representative title from our collection:

Julia Alvarez. Saving the World. [F ALV]

Alison Bechdel. Fun Home: A Family Tragicomic. [B BEC]

Holly Black. Ironside: A Modern Faery's Tale. [YA BLA]

Kenneth C. Davis. Don't Know Much About Mythology: Everything You Need to Know About the Greatest Stories In Human History But Never Learned. [201.3 DAV]

Vanessa Diffenbaugh. The Language of Flowers. [F DIF, also AB/CD DIF]

Andre Dubus III. Townie: A Memoir. [B DUB]

Ha Jin. Waiting. [F JIN]

Gregory Maguire. Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West. [F MAG]

Karen Russell. Swamplandia. [F RUS]

Mo Willems. Knuffle Bunny. [JP WIL]

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Let's Dance!

Carl and Ginger will be green with envy after watching this!

Never fear, Carl, we have this DVD: Ballroom Dancing for Beginners [DVD 793.33 BAL] and lots of CDs with dance music, including Putumayo Presents: Latino! Latino! [CD INTERNATIONAL PUT]. As for the doggy costume, you're on your own!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Come Out!

Today is "National Coming Out Day"! If you, or someone you know, needs guidance in coming out, there is a resources page at Human Rights Campaign.

If you, or someone you know, has been experiencing bullying, or other expressions of hatred, then go to the It Gets Better Project webpage and see how others have been in similar situations and have found that life does get better. More than 400,000 people have pledged to support your right to be who you are. There are celebrities, Major League Baseball teams, and just plain folks who are out there to support you.

If you, or someone you know, thinks that it would be easier to cease living than to continue a life of adversity, please visit The Trevor Project site to make contact with people who care.

If you are a GLBT teen and would like to see your life reflected in the books you read, then check out I'm Here. I'm Queer. What the Hell Do I Read? from Lee Wind for lists of recommended books.

We have many books on sexual identity and coming out, in our collection at the library. When I Knew, edited by Robert Trachtenberg [306.766 WHE], is just one.
A collection of anecdotes and short essays from more than eighty men and women on the precise moment they realized they were gay, illustrated with original art, pop culture images, and personal photos from contributors.
Have a fabulous day!

Monday, October 10, 2011

Columbus Day

The Library is closed today for the Columbus Day holiday.

Columbus and his effect on the world continues to be discussed more than 500 years after he landed in the Americas. 1493: Uncovering the New World Columbus Created by Charles C. Mann [909.4 MAN] was recently published and now resides on our shelves. Ian Morris's New York Times review in August tells us
"1493" picks up where Mann’s best seller, "1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus," left off. In 1491, the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans were almost impassable barriers. America might as well have been on another planet from Europe and Asia. But Columbus’s arrival in the Caribbean the following year changed everything. Plants, animals, microbes and cultures began washing around the world, taking tomatoes to Massachusetts, corn to the Philippines and slaves, markets and malaria almost everywhere. It was one world, ready or not.
1491: New Revelations of the Americas Before Columbus [970.011 MAN], which came out in 2006, is also in our collection.

Friday, October 07, 2011

Poetry Friday--A Little Bitty Man

A brand spankin' new book in our collection is A Little Bitty Man: And Other Poems for the Very Young by Haldan Rasmussen, translated from the Danish by Marilyn Nelson and Pamela Espeland, and illustrated by Kevin Hawkes [J 831 RAS]. It's a delightful collection of short, mostly humorous poems, but I wouldn't exactly say the poems are for the "very young." I interpret "very young" as toddlers to preschoolers. The poems in this collection, although simple, would probably be better appreciated by a slightly older audience, say kindergarten to second grade. (Your mileage opinion may vary.)

The poems, combined with the whimsical illustrations of Kevin Hawkes, make this book a treat!

Here's one of my favorites:
Those Fierce Grown-up Soldiers

Those fierce grown-up soldiers
who shoot guns and fight
should learn from us children
to fight a war right.
First, fight with toy guns.
Then, if your war won't end,
you tickle your enemy
into a friend.
The Poetry Friday Round-Up is taking place today at Great Kid Books.

Thursday, October 06, 2011

Road Trip!

It's that time of year when leaf-peeping abounds! Why not do something a little different this year--combine your foliage seeking with a hunt for New Hampshire's historical highway markers? The NH Division of Historical Resources has updated its page of markers here.

NHDHR, explains the program thusly:
New Hampshire’s historical highway markers illustrate the depth and complexity of our history and the people who made it, from the last Revolutionary War soldier to contemporary sports figures to poets and painters who used New Hampshire for inspiration; from 18th-century meeting houses to stone arch bridges to long-lost villages; from factories and cemeteries to sites where international history was made.
There is a map on the site, which also provides photos and GPS coordinates of each marker.

Say, you're heading up to the Lakes Region for some foliage. You can look at the list of markers arranged by town for Ossipee, or Tamworth, or whatever town you're headed to. Before you go, or after you return, check out our New Hampshire history section in 974.2 for more history than can be placed on a roadside marker! In our reference section we have many town histories, so if you're interested in Ossipee, you can find Ossipee, New Hampshire, 1785-1985: A History [R 974.2 OSS].

Enjoy a little NH beauty, learn a little history, and have a great roadtrip!

Photo by Gretchen Mayr.

Wednesday, October 05, 2011

150 Years--Part 3

Like all the northern states, New Hampshire played a part in the Civil War (known 150 years ago as the War of the Rebellion). If the many regimental history volumes in our reference collection [R 973.7] are any indication, NH played a big role!

We have several books in our circulating collection that will give you an introduction to the participation of NH in the war including:

Cleveland, Mather. New Hampshire Fights the Civil War. [973.74 CLE]

Closs, Steven Robert. Willing Sacrifice: Granite State Valor during the American Civil War 1861-1865. [973.7442 CLO]

Heald, Bruce D. New Hampshire in the Civil War. [974.2 HEA]

Shaffer, Duane E. Men of Granite: New Hampshire's Soldiers in the Civil War. [973.7442 SHA]

If you'd like to do some intensive research into NH and the Civil War, schedule a trip to the NH State Archives, the NH Historical Society, or the NH State Library, all in Concord.

Tuesday, October 04, 2011

150 Years--Part 2

Not to put too fine a point on it, but a lot of people died during the Civil War. The National Park Service has set up a website to honor those who died during the conflict, "Civil War Era National Cemeteries: Honoring Those Who Served." Its contain maps, photos, history, and essays on cemeteries dedicated to the Civil War dead.

There isn't a Civil War cemetery in New Hampshire, but there are several in Vermont and Maine, information about which can be found here.

1865 photo of the entrance to the Gettysburg National Cemetery courtesy Library of Congress.

Of course, the most famous of the Civil War cemeteries is in Gettysburg, PA. The dedication of the site was the occasion of Abraham Lincoln's "Gettysburg Address." Look for The Gettysburg Address [J 973.7 LIN] beautifully rendered in black and white scratchboard illustrations by Michael McCurdy.

Linda Oatman High's The Cemetery Keepers of Gettysburg [J 973.7 HIG] is the moving story of a young boy, Fred Thorn, a witness to the battle of Gettysburg.

Monday, October 03, 2011

150 Years

This year is the 150th anniversary of America's Civil War.

The Civil War has long been a topic of great interest as can be seen by the extensive number of books, old and new, in our 973.7 section.

The Civil War film series by Ken Burns had viewers glued to their seats when it was first shown on PBS back in 1989, and today it still continues to be viewed in DVD format [DVD 973.7 BUR]. And, need I mention the almost unabated love for the Hollywood film, Gone With the Wind [DVD GON], which was originally released back in 1939.

A new book on our shelves was written specifically for the 150th anniversary. It's called The Civil War 150: An Essential To-Do List for the 150th Anniversary [917.304 CIV]. From the Foreward:
There is something about the human condition that makes us seek out the places we have read about, to touch the artifacts or enter the buildings associated with the history.

This book is about feeding that insatiable craving so many of us have to experience the Civil War. In these pages, we describe 150 things the reader can see or do to learn more about the war that pitted brother against brother and family against family. We recommend the reader visit such famous battlefields as Gettysburg and Vicksburg, hold a Civil War Minie ball, attend a reenactment, maybe even take a bite of Civil War hardtack.
The book is a product of the Civil War Trust, a organization "devoted to the preservation of our nation's endangered Civil War battlefields."