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Friday, December 30, 2011

Poetry Friday--"The Pen"

To finish off the year, here's a simple, but lovely poem from Tunisia by Muhammad-al-Ghuzzi (translated by May Jayyusi and John Heath-Stubbs):
The Pen

Take a pen in your uncertain fingers.
Trust, and be assured
That the whole world is a sky-blue butterfly
And words are the net to capture it.

from Voices: Poetry and Art From Around the World [YA 808.81 VOI]
Fly over to The Drift Record/Julie Larios for the final Poetry Friday Round-Up of 2012.

Have a safe and happy New Year!

Photo by najeebkhan2009.

Thursday, December 29, 2011

A New Year's Resolution!

In 2012, vow to climb the highest mountains on all the continents.

Whoa! How hard can it be--a 15 year-old did it, so why can't you?

I suppose the big reason for me is time, followed by money, and then, of course, physical condition!

If you're not up to the challenge yet, try something a little more manageable--like hiking--and, closer to home--like Mount Monadnock or the White Mountains.

Here are a few guidebooks (more may be found in 917.42):

Adamowicz, Joe. The New Hiking the Monadnock Region: 44 Nature Walks and Day-Hikes in the Heart of New England. [917.429 ADA]

The Appalachian Mountain Club's White Mountain Guide: Hiking Trails in the White Mountain National Forest. [917.42 AMC]

Buchsbaum, Robert. AMC's Best Day Hikes in the White Mountains: Four-Season Guide to 50 of the Best Trails in the White Mountain National Forest, Including Snowshoeing. [917.422 BUC]

Densmore, Lisa Feinberg. Hiking the White Mountains: A Guide to 39 of New Hampshire's Best Hiking Adventures. [917.42 DEN]

Wednesday, December 28, 2011


One of the wonders of the internet is the ability to listen to radio stations from cities all over the world. (Remember in the olden days how you could pull in stations from a state or two away only on late Sunday evenings?)

Right now, in New York City, radio station WKCR 89.9 (Columbia University) is holding a BachFest which features the music of Johann Sebastian Bach during the holidays (ending midnight on 12/31).

We have several Bach CDs in CD CLASSICAL BAC, and, we also have a children's CD for the youngest listener, Baby Bach Concert for Little Ears [CD CHILDREN BAB]

Tuesday, December 27, 2011


"Spelunk" has to be one of my favorite ridiculous-sounding words! It has a simple definition: to explore caves.

To be a spelunker, though, requires a bit of work. You must know where the caves are and how to do your exploring in a safe and environmentally responsible way, but, the rewards can be great. Here's an article from the British newspaper, the Daily Mail, on a crystal cave found in Iceland. I think you'll agree, the photos are stunning!

To learn more about caves and the in and outs of spelunking, look for one of these:

Brimner, Larry Dane. Caving: Exploring Limestone Caves. [J 796.52 BRI]

Lindop, Laurie. Cave Sleuths. [YA 551.447 LIN]

Tabor, James M. Blind Descent: The Quest to Discover the Deepest Place on Earth. [796.525 TAB]

Zappa, Marcia. Caves. [J 551.447 ZAP]

Monday, December 26, 2011

Closed Today!

The Library is closed today. We hope you'll visit us tomorrow or the next day.

Tonight you might want to drive around town to view the holiday lights!

There's a slideshow of "Holiday Lights Across the Globe" from the BBC. Click here to enjoy the show!

Closer to home is the Zoolights exhibit held annually at the Stone Zoo in Stoneham, MA.

The Nesmith Library has a Zoo New England pass that was donated by the Friends of the Library of Windham FLOW). Click here for more information about the museums/attractions to which we have library passes.

Photo courtesy Zoo New England.

Friday, December 23, 2011

Poetry Friday--"Noel"

Here's a poem by Linda Pastan to think of when the pressures of the season become a bit too much to bear:

Like a single

the red cardinal
on a pine

the window

is our only

the snow.

from Traveling Light: Poems [811.54 PAS]

This week's Poetry Friday Round-Up will be found at Dori Reads. Have a safe, healthy, and happy holiday!

Photo by peterjr1961.

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Good Grief!

Not much time left for gift-making (or buying--at all costs avoid the mall). Cookies are always a welcomed gift! Bar cookies are the easiest of all--no need to refrigerate, or roll, or press, or drop. Bake in one large pan, cut and go!

Plenty of bar cookie recipes in these:

Cookie Classics: Timeless Family Favorites. [641.8654 COO]

Crocker, Betty. Betty Crocker's Best of Baking: More Than 350 of America's Favorite Recipes. [641.71 CRO]

Hansen, Liv. Christmas Cookies from the Whimsical Bakehouse. [641.8654 HAN]

Rosenberg, Judy. Rosie's Bakery Chocolate-Packed, Jam-Filled, Butter-Rich, No-Holds-Barred Cookie Book. [641.8654 ROS]

While you're busy baking, keep the kids occupied by having them "decorate" plain brown paper lunch bags for you to pack the cookies in. Simple!

See, no need to sweat--you've got everything under control.

Wednesday, December 21, 2011

We're Getting Close!

Santa's gearing up for his big weekend trip. The kids of the world are beside themselves in anticipation. Parents are ready to drop from exhaustion. What to do? Everyone should stop for a few minutes to enjoy a favorite Christmas book. Here are just a few of my favorites:

DePaola, Tomie. The Cat on the Dovrefell: A Christmas Tale. [JP DEP]

Gammell, Stephen. Wake Up Bear, It's Christmas. [J GAM]

Hoffman, Mary. An Angel Just Like Me. [JP HOF]

Moeri, Louise. Star Mother's Youngest Child. [J MOE]

Paulsen, Gary. A Christmas Sonata. [J PAU]

Rosen, Michael J. Elijah's Angel: A Story for Chanukah and Christmas. [J ROS]

Tornqvist, Rita. The Christmas Carp. [J TOR]

And, if you have a few hours to spare, try one of my favorite holiday movies:

A Christmas Memory. [DVD CHR]

Elf. [DVD ELF]

Love Actually. [DVD LOV]

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

A Musical Gift

If you, or someone you know plays a musical instrument, and you don't know where to find sheet music, then have I got a gift for you! It's the International Music Score Library Project. This is from the "portal" page:
We at the IMSLP believe that music should be something that is easily accessible for everyone. For this purpose we have created a music library to provide music scores free of charge to anyone with internet access, with several other projects in planning.

Say someone sends you a YouTube video of a piano solo such as the one below:

If you enjoy the piece and want to attempt to play it, you need the music. Then visit IMSLP and type in the composer's name, Debussy, Claude, then the title of the piece, "Arabesque." You will end up at this page:

A few more clicks and you've got the music ready for you to print off.

Of course, if you can't play the piano, then you might want to learn! We can help you with that, too. Borrow Popular Piano Self-Taught by Win Stormen [786.3 STO]. Once you get the basics down, come back for Easy Piano Tunes by Anthony Marks [J 786.2 MAR]. Before you know it, you'll be browsing IMSLP for even more!

Monday, December 19, 2011

In Memorium--Russell Hoban

Last week the writer, Russell Hoban, passed away in London.

Hoban is the author of The Mouse and His Child, a story about a pair of wind-up toy mice [J HOB, also J AB/CD HOB]. It is a children's book that does not shy away from confronting the realities of life, including death. It is considered a children's classic, although I'd venture to guess that not many people are familiar with it.

Just right for this time of year, another classic, Emmet Otter's Jug-Band Christmas, a Jim Henson film, is based on the book of the same name by Russell Hoban [J DVD EMM].

But of all Hoban's works, my favorite is Bread and Jam for Frances [JP HOB]. Frances is one, very typical little girl, in the guise of a badger. Irresistible and fun!

Friday, December 16, 2011

Poetry Friday--"Every Painting by Chagall"

Here's a poem by former U.S. Poet Laureate, Kay Ryan,
Every Painting by Chagall

Every twined groom and bride,
every air fish, smudged Russian,
red horse, yellow chicken, assumes
its position not actually beside
but in some friendly distribution
with a predictable companion.
Every canvas insists on a
similar looseness, each neck
put to at least two uses. And wings
from some bottomless wing source.
They are pleasure wings of course
since any horse or violinist
may mount the blue
simply for wanting to.
(In freedom, dear things
Repeat without tedium.)

from The Best of It: New and Selected Poems [811.54 RYA]

In case you've forgotten the term for writing about art, it is ekphrasis, I always forget it myself, so I looked it up to save you the bother!

Don't forget to visit Kate, everyone's favorite Book Aunt, for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Thursday, December 15, 2011


I think I'll step up on my soapbox today and rant a little. Have you ever taken a walk in the woods and come across a beautiful little babbling brook that has one or two old tires smack in the middle of it? (Even worse is finding a grocery cart in the middle of a brook in the middle of nowhere, but that's a rant for another time.)

We waste so much in this country it sometimes makes my head spin. It's stunning to think about all we throw away. If we were smart, we'd encourage people to come up with new ideas to reuse materials such as old tires.

Since necessity is the mother of invention, people in third world countries have come up with ingenious ideas for reusing old tires. One of the uses is footwear, such as these from Somalia:

Or a rugged mat like this one from Uganda:

When forward thinking people realize there's a way to make money reusing materials, they soon find a way to do it. If you're thinking, "Who'd want something made from an old tire?" take a look at the products on this page!

We have lots of awesome books to get you started thinking about reusing rather than wasting. Here's just one: 1000 Ideas for Creative Reuse: Remake, Restyle, Recycle, Renew by Garth Johnson [745.5 JOH].

Okay, I'm stepping off my soapbox now...

Sandal photo by mwanasimba. Mat photo by piekaboo. Roof photo courtesy useitagain!

Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Being Driven Ding Dong (Merrily on High)?

Are you tired of the same old holiday music? If I never heard "Silent Night" again, I'd be perfectly happy.

We have holiday music that is a nice switch from what you've been hearing on the Boston stations since Veterans Day! (Be thankful you don't live in Cape May, New Jersey where WEZW-FM has been playing seasonal songs since October 17!)

An American Christmas, 1770-1870. [CD HOLIDAY AME]

Anonymous 4. A Star in the East: Medieval Hungarian Christmas Music. [CD HOLIDAY ANO]

The Chieftains. The Bells of Dublin. [CD HOLIDAY CHI]

A Cowboy Christmas. [CD HOLIDAY COW]

Festival of Light. [CD HOLIDAY FES]

McKennitt, Loreena. To Drive the Cold Winter Away. [CD HOLIDAY MCK]

Wassail! Wassail! [CD HOLIDAY WAS]

Of course, some people find comfort in the tried and true tunes. If you're one of them, and you'd like to sing along with the radio, look for The Best Christmas Songs Ever [781.723 BES], or one of our other books which contain holiday music and lyrics.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

War Horse

A little more than a week ago, the world premiere of a new Steven Spielberg movie, War Horse, took place in New York. The film is based on a children's book of the same name by British author, Michael Morpurgo. We have the book in our children's fiction section, so check it out before the film is released locally on Christmas day.

I think this is going to be a not-to-be-missed film, but you may want to bring along a pocketful of tissues.

Monday, December 12, 2011

When Reindeer Get Hot

The Journal of Experimental Biology recently published an article on the way reindeer cool down. They are so well clad in fur, that they sometimes tend to get overheated, especially when they're making an extended trip round the world!

Not being a scientist, the article sounds reasonable to me, but it does make me wonder if perhaps the reader's leg isn't being pulled when the reporter tells us that the head researcher's name is Arnoldus Blix. Hmmm, that sounds suspiciously close to the name of one of Santa's reindeer, Blitzen, which Wikipedia tells us originally was Blixem, then Blixen. Coincidence?

And then, when Blix explains that the reindeer are trained to run on a treadmill, I'm led to believe that I may have been had!

Who cares? Not me, I love the idea of reindeer! Especially reindeer on a treadmill! And I like these holiday books about reindeer, too:

Brett, Jan. The Wild Christmas Reindeer. [JP BRE]

Foreman, Michael. The Little Reindeer. [JP FOR]

Stainton, Sue. Christmas Magic. [JP STA]

Friday, December 09, 2011

Poetry Friday--Do Rabbits Have Christmas?

If you're not familiar with Aileen Fisher's Do Rabbit's Have Christmas? [J 811.52 FIS], you must look for it. It is a lovely melding of poems by Fisher and illustrations by Sarah Fox-Davies. The book, published in 2007, five years after Fisher's death, has an note by Karla Kuskin. In it Kuskin says, "These poems do what poems should do: They take you someplace wonderful, someplace else."

Kuskin is absolutely right! But, if you don't believe me, maybe this poem will convince you:
Sparkly Snow

Last night the sky was reckless,
a reckless millionaire:
it threw down chips of diamonds
and strewed them everywhere.
And on this bright cold morning
when we go stomping out
footprints full of diamonds
follow us about.
Who hasn't marveled at the sparkle of the sun on newly fallen snow? It is like chips of diamonds!

Head over to see Robyn Hood Black for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Thursday, December 08, 2011


The Paris Wife by Paula McLain [F MCL, also available as an ebook] is an up and coming book group discussion title. If you haven't read it, it's a novel about Ernest Hemingway's first wife, Hadley. I enjoyed the book, but the character of Hemingway was a real turn-off. From all I've read about Hemingway, he wasn't a nice person in real life either.

This Sunday, at the John F. Kennedy Presidential Library and Museum in Boston, there will be a discussion, "Hemingway's Letters: From Childhood to Paris." I hope to get a little more insight into the writer and perhaps learn to understand, if not like, him a bit more.

If you didn't know, the JFK Library has a large collection of Hemingway's personal papers.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Day of Infamy

Seventy years ago today, the United States was attacked at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. It led us into the war that quickly became known as World War II. There is a wealth of material available on this event at the Library in the 940.54 and J 940.54 sections.

For kids we have the recollections of a young girl whose home was riddled by Japanese bullets during the attack: Pearl Harbor Child: A Child's View of Pearl Harbor--From Attack to Peace by Dorinda Makana┼Źnalani Stagner Nicholson [J 940.53 NIC].

The National World War II Museum in New Orleans, has an online exhibit on December 7, 2011. Be sure to check it out.

Tuesday, December 06, 2011

Talking Animals?

Have you seen this porcupine video?

Clearly it seems as though this little guy has a lot to say!

How do animals really communicate? Elementary school-aged kids can find out in How Animals Talk by Susan McGrath [J 591.59 MCG], Prairie Dogs Kiss and Lobsters Wave: How Animals Say Hello by Marilyn Singer [J 591.59 SIN], and Hello, Hello! by Miriam Schlein [JP SCH].

For adults we have this one: Animal Talk: Interspecies Telepathic Communication by Penelope Smith [591.594 SMI].

Monday, December 05, 2011

Gift Math

Rather than purchase a gift for grandparents, or aunts, or neighbors, etc., parents often have their kids make a gift. This year think about making an in-a-jar gift. It's both practical and can act as a learning experience for elementary school-aged children. How so? By reinforcing math concepts such as measurements and fractions!

If you're not familiar with the in-a-jar gift concept, here it is in a nutshell: the ingredients for a recipe are layered in a canning jar, decorated with ribbon, and the instructions for completion of the recipe are included.

Here are three books that will provide you with specific recipes to please most people on your kids' holiday lists:

Gifts in a Jar For kids: Recipes to Make Your Own Gifts. [641.815 GIF]

Gifts in a Jar: Muffins & Breads, Recipes to Make Your Own Gifts. [641.815 GIF]

Parks, Lonnette. The Mason Jar Soup to Nuts Cookbook. [641.5 PAR]

Many more recipes can be found online, including ones for individual pies BAKED in a jar! Simply do a Google search on "gifts in a jar" and you'll find sites like this Australian page, which has some very unusual jar ideas.

Photo by stetted.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Poetry Friday--"Ultimatum: Kid to Kid"

On Monday I heard a report on WBUR about a comedy club group, ImprovBoston, which "wants to nip bullying behaviors in the bud by taking humor-based workshops into Massachusetts schools."

I found it interesting because many states now require an anti-bullying curriculum in the public schools. As an individual long out of school, I wonder if the curriculum is having an effect? (For those who are interested in the subject, we have books such as The Bully, the Bullied, and the Bystander: From Preschool to High School--How Parents and Teachers Can Help Break the Cycle of Violence by Barbara Coloroso [371.782 COL] just waiting for you to borrow.)

While flipping through The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes [811 HUG], looking for a poem that wasn't even related to the subject of bullying, I came across this poem which stopped me cold:
Ultimatum: Kid to Kid

Go home, stupid,
And wash your dirty face.
Go home, stupid,
This is not your place.

Go home, stupid,
You don't belong here.
If you don't go,
I will pull your ear.

I ask you if you'd like to play.
"Huh?" is all you know to say,
Standing 'round here
In the way.

So go home, stupid!
I'll spit in your eye!
Stupid, go home--
Before I cry.

Wouldn't this poem be a good one to start a classroom discussion? Even a second-grader can figure out what's going on in this scene. Who's the bully and who's the bullied?

Chalk this up to serendipity--looking for one thing often leads to finding something else that suits your needs, or your spirit, even better.

Without a doubt you're going to find something unexpected at the Poetry Friday Round-Up, hosted today at Carol's Corner.

Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Thursday, December 01, 2011


The Sound of a Wild Snail Eating by Elisabeth Tova Bailey [594.38 BAI] is small format book with some big ideas--one being we need to slow down and pay attention to the small things. This slim volume has a lot going for it to my way of thinking--it is meaningful, I learn a lot about a subject I had no prior knowledge of, and it is short--fewer than 200 pages. Plus, there are tiny little illustrations!

Before we go any further, I'd like to let you know that this isn't a "natural history of the snail" book, it is first and foremost the story of a woman who is stricken with a mysterious disease and her path through a long and painful recovery.

If your book group is looking for a good book to discuss, you can't do better than this one. Unless, of course, your group has an aversion to slimy gastropods.

Elisabeth Tova Bailey has developed her website to go with the book, where she has discussion questions ready for book groups. Even if you don't read the book, you should check out the website where you can hear an audio of the sound of a wild snail eating! How awesome is that?