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Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The Berenstain Bears and the Sad Goodbye

Jan Berenstain, part of the Stan and Jan Berenstain duo who built the kiddy lit Berenstain Bears empire, passed away last Friday. She was 88 years old. Her husband, Stan, passed away in 2005.

The Berenstain Bears characters have survived all manner of childhood problems, including "too much television," "mama's new job," "the bad influence," "report card trouble," and a host of others. The Berenstain Bears have been in print since 1962, making the cubs more than middle-aged!

Children have enjoyed the BB books despite their "hit them over the head with a sledge hammer" lessons in their picture books [JP BER]. The more light-hearted stories in easy readers [E BER] have helped children master the skills of reading. It never happens that the complete collection is on our shelves at any one time--a true testament to their continued popularity with kids.

The BB's also appear in a series of animated films found in J DVD BER.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Happy Birthday, Monsieur Renoir!

This past Saturday was the anniversary of the birth of Pierre-Auguste Renoir who was born February 25, 1841 in Limoges, France.

I'm sure you're familiar with his "Luncheon of the Boating Party," and maybe one or two others, but, did you know how great his output really was? More than 1,000 paintings! These can be viewed on the website, Pierre Auguste Renoir: The Complete Works. I can't imagine a nicer way to spend a grey winter's day than to browse through the site, unless it's going down to Boston to see the original Renoir, "Dance At Bougival," at the Museum of Fine Arts. The MFA has more than 50 paintings and other works by Renoir!

To make a reservation to borrow our museum pass, generously donated by the Friends of the Library of Windham, call 432-7154, or click here.

And, until spring arrives, indulge in a imaginary walk through Renoir's Garden by Derek Fell [759.4 FEL].

"Boating Couple," pastel on paper, courtesy Museum of Fine Arts, Boston.

Monday, February 27, 2012

Celebrate Black History Month! Part 4

Forbes magazine recently ran an article titled, "10 African-American Authors Everyone Should Read" by James Marshall Crotty. Crotty writes, "...many inspiring and irreplaceable voices heroically surfaced over the years. They belong in the canon of great American authors not solely because of their race, but because they deftly address the perennial concerns of all humanity."

The ten writers, with one representative title from each, are:

1. Langston Hughes. The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes [811 HUG].

2. Richard Wright. Black Boy [B WRI].

3. Toni Morrison. Beloved [F MOR].

4. Zora Neale Hurston. Their Eyes Were Watching God [F HUR]

5. Frederick Douglass. Life and Times of Frederick Douglass: His Early Life as a Slave, His Escape from Bondage, and His Complete History [B DOU.]

6. Alice Walker. The Color Purple [F WAL].

7. W.E.B. Du Bois. We have a biography of Du Bois, W.E.B. Du Bois: The Fight for Equality and the American Century, 1919-1963, by David L. Lewis [B DUB]

8. Ralph Ellison. Invisible Man [F ELL].

9. August Wilson. The Piano Lesson [812.54 WIL].

10. James Baldwin. Go Tell It On the Mountain, found in Early Novels and Stories [F BAL].

Zora Neale Hurston and Richard Wright photos by Carl Van Vechten. W.E.B. Du Bois photo by Cornelius M. Battey. All photos courtesy Library of Congress.

Friday, February 24, 2012

Poetry Friday--"Hawk's Shadow"

Hawk's Shadow
by Louise Glück

Embracing in the road
for some reason I no longer remember
and then drawing apart, seeing
a shape ahead--how close was it?
We looked up to where the hawk
hovered with its kill; I watched them
veering toward West Hill, casting
their one shadow in the dirt, the all-inclusive
shape of the predator--
Then they disappeared. And I thought,
one shadow. Like the one we made,
you holding me.

from Louise Glück: The First Four Books of Poems [811 GLU]
How do you interpret this? Is she inferring that her lover's affection had a toxic power--that her love was ultimately killed? Or, was their mutual love so strong that as a couple it was hard to distinguish one individual from another--just as the shape of the shadow was "all-inclusive"? Or something else altogether?

Don't ponder it for too long, you'll want to head over to Check It Out where you're sure to find more thought-provoking poetry.

Photo by Wouter de Bruijn.

Thursday, February 23, 2012

Snow Sculpture?

We've had a record-breaking winter thus far--the record for the LEAST amount of snowfall!

Other places in the world, though, still get lots of snow, and enough so that there can be snow festivals and snow sculptures. One such place is Sapporo. Take a look at these fascinating snow creatures from Japan.

If you miss wild New England weather, at least you can read about it in Extreme New England Weather by WMUR meteorologist, Josh Judd [551.55 JUD]. I hate to say this, but there's still a chance we could get some snow. I remember one year we woke to snow on May 6th!

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


Do you know a kid who likes to doodle? If so, there's a little competition going on that invites "students in the United States to use their artistic talents to think big and redesign Google’s homepage logo for millions to see." All the information on participating can be found by clicking here. Here's a brief video with an overview:

We have a gazillion books on drawing in our children's room, including a series of how to draw books in the "Doodle" series by Rob Court. Some of the titles are How to Draw Underwater Animals [J 743.6 COU], How to Draw People [J 743.4 COU], and How to Draw Cars and Trucks [J 743.8 COU].

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Celebrate Black History Month! Part 3

Yesterday was President's Day, and tomorrow is George Washington's birthday, which led me to think about George Washington's role in Black History.

Did you know that George Washington, through his wife Martha, was a slaveholder? One of his female slaves was Ona (Oney) Judge, who escaped from Washington's home and was taken, by ship, to Portsmouth, New Hampshire! So, not only does Washington have a connection to Black History, he has a connection to New Hampshire history, too!

Oney Judge is profiled in Women of Granite: 25 New Hampshire Women You Should Know [J 920 WOM]. Other connections between Washington and New Hampshire may be found in George Washington in New Hampshire by Elwin L. Page [974.2 PAG].

"My Name is Oney Judge" is a Pennsylvania Humanities Council: Humanities on the Road presentation.

If you enjoyed this segment, there are three more available on YouTube, use "Oney Judge" as a search term.

Monday, February 20, 2012

President's Day

The Library is closed today to celebrate President's Day.

We have some rather interesting books about George Washington and the Revolutionary War. One is a children's book with the title George vs. George: The American Revolution As Seen from Both Sides by Rosalyn Schanzer [J 973.3 SCH]. Often we don't take the time to see both sides of a historical event, especially when we're teaching children. George vs. George might be an eye-opener for both children and their parents.

Friday, February 17, 2012

Poetry Friday--Our Thoughts Are With You

News has come that poet Mary Oliver is having major health issues. We want to wish her all the best in her battle with illness!

After a bit of sad news, it is time for a little cheer. I've decided to share this seasonal and joyous poem by Mary Oliver, taken from Winter Hours: Prose, Prose Poems and Poems [811 OLI]
The Storm

Now through the white orchard my little dog
          romps, breaking the new snow
          with wild feet.
Running here running there, excited,
          hardly able to stop, he leaps, he spins
until the white snow is written upon
          in large, exuberant letters,
A long sentence, expressing
          the pleasures of the body in the world.

Oh, I could not have said it better

Join Myra at Gathering Books for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up!

Photo by Bill Hails.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Valentine's Day Flowers

Did you receive a gift of flowers on Valentine's Day? If so, there are some things you can do to keep them fresh for an extended period. Reader's Digest has collected "8 Ways to Make Flowers Last Longer," which has some pretty unusual suggestions!

Once flowers start to fade, you can pull out the good ones and rearrange them simply in the Japanese way known as ikebana. We have Keiko's Ikebana: A Contemporary Approach to the Traditional Japanese Art of Flower Arranging [745.92252 KUB] to show you how.

Or, you can pull out some of the better ones and dry them for use later in dried flower arrangements or wreaths. The are several books on dried flowers in the 745.92 section.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Reading Rainbow Is Back!

Reading Rainbow, the once popular PBS staple for preschool and elementary-age viewers, went off the air several years ago--but now it's making a comeback. RR's affable host, LeVar Burton, has a new website, RRKidz, which will soon be making episodes of Reading Rainbow available for digital devices.

For many years we kept a separate collection of Reading Rainbow books since the demand for them was so high. The books have been integrated back into the collection, and many were literally read to pieces and have been discarded! Still, it might be fun to browse through our shelves and see how many tiny RR stickers you can find on the book spines!

Here's a little something from the original Reading Rainbow programs:

YouTube has many complete RR episodes on its site, so check it out!

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Happy Valentine's Day!

If you haven't bought a gift for your sweetie yet, you're in big trouble! I suppose there's time to put together a compilation of your favorite love songs. There are plenty of lists online, including one that has Donny Osmond's version of "Puppy Love" as #7. I didn't say everything on this list was a good choice, although #10, "Someone Like You" by Van Morrison, is a personal favorite. (If you've ever seen the fun, and ultimately romantic, chick flick, Bridget Jones's Diary [DVD BRI], you understand why.)

We have a nice collection of CDs for you to browse through looking for your favorites. You may want to start with Barry Manilow's The Greatest Love Songs of All Time [CD MALE VOCALIST MAN] or Elvis Presley's Love Songs [CD ROCK PRE]. Just get your butt in gear before it's too late!

Illustration courtesy Open Clip Art Library.

Monday, February 13, 2012

Celebrate Black History Month! Part 2

A wise woman, don't you think? We all should follow in Jordan's footsteps and encourage a love of learning in the younger generation.

Read more about this fabulous woman in Barbara Jordan: Getting Things Done by James Mendelsohn [B JOR]. For kids, Jordan is profiled in Women of the Lone Star State: 25 Texas Women You Should Know [J 920 WOM].

We received sad news this past weekend of the death of Whitney Houston, yet another talented woman:

This song, and many more are on Whitney, the Greatest Hits [CD FEMALE VOCALIST HOU].

Friday, February 10, 2012

Poetry Friday--"The New Heart"

In preparation for Valentine's Day on Tuesday I thought I'd share this little poem found in the City Lights Pocket Poets Anthology, edited by Lawrence Ferlinghetti [808.81 CIT]:
A New Heart
by Semyon Kirsanov, translated by Amselm Hollo

I'm busy!
I am building
     a model, of an entirely

A heart
    for the future: to feel
          and love with. A heart
                to understand men with:

And also, to tell me, whom
      I should freely
          shake by the hand--
and to whom
      I should never
           extend it.
Now head over to Laura Salas's blog to see what she has in store for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Photo courtesy Open Clip Art Library.

Thursday, February 09, 2012

Early Photography

Salon.com recently posted an interview and slideshow, "Postcards from the Dawn of Photography," which is remarkable. It relates to a exhibit now on display at Boston's Museum of Fine Arts, "Silver, Salt, and Sunlight: Early Photography in Britain and France." The exhibit runs through Aug. 19, 2012. The Library has a pass to the Museum of Fine Arts, purchased through the generosity of the Friends of the Library of Windham. You can book passes up to a month in advance, so plan to see this exhibit before it closes.

We have some interesting histories of photography in our collection including The History of Photography: From 1839 to the Present by Beaumont Newhall [770.9 NEW].

Wednesday, February 08, 2012

Happy Belated Birthday, Charles!

Yesterday was the 200th birthday of prolific writer, Charles Dickens. Happy Birthday, Charles! His birthday celebration took place around the world!

Dickens' birthday was celebrated all over the web yesterday, including on the Google icon!

Most people by the time they reach adulthood, will have read at least one Dickens novel, probably it is Great Expectations. High school students either love or hate being assigned Great Expectations. In my case, more than 40 years later, I still remember the effect that the description of Miss Havisham's home had on me! Powerful writing! Look for Dickens' novels in F DIC. Or, you can download copies on your ereader at Project Gutenberg.

Tuesday, February 07, 2012

The Gardner Museum

On January 19th, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum re-opened after an extensive redesign and building project.

The Gardner Museum is a legacy of Boston's legendary socialite and art collector, Isabella Stewart Gardner. Gardner was, to put it mildly, a character! Her life is explored in The Art of Scandal: The Life and Times of Isabella Stewart Gardner by Douglass Shand-Tucci [709 SHA].

The museum was the victim of a major art theft in 1990, as yet unsolved, and has provided the subject matter for Boston novelist, Brian McGrory's, thriller Dead Line [F MCG].

The Gardner should be on your list of places to visit this spring. I mention the spring because the museum is famous for its lush and beautiful gardens and for its hanging nasturtiums which bloom every April. And don't forget the Gardner's extensive art collection, which can be enjoyed all year round.

Photo courtesy the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum.

Monday, February 06, 2012

Celebrate Black History Month!

This is a powerful piece, written by a powerful woman, Sojourner Truth, and recreated by a powerfully talented woman, Alfre Woodard:

Sojourner Truth has been a popular subject for children's biographies. In our collection we have at least six--from heavily illustrated ones like A Picture Book Biography of Sojourner Truth by David A. Adler, to more extensive ones suitable for older children like Sojourner Truth: Ain't I a Woman? by Patricia C. McKissack [all found in J B TRU].

Look for more Black History Month posts each Monday in February.

Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Friday, February 03, 2012

Poetry Friday--Happy Birthday Langston Hughes!

February 1 marked the 110th anniversary of the birth of Langston Hughes. What a perfect excuse to share a Hughes poem (as if one needed an excuse)!
Me and My Song

As the gentle night
As the kind and quiet night
As the deep productive earth
Out of Africa
Strong and black
As iron
First smelted in
Out of Africa
Deep and mellow song
As the black earth
As black iron
As the black night
My Song
From the dark lips
Of Africa
As the rich earth
As the black night
As the first iron
Out of Africa
Me and my

from The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes [811 HUG]
Stop by The Iris Chronicles for this week's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Photo courtesy Yale University.

Thursday, February 02, 2012

Do You Speak Italian?

Here's a quick lesson in speaking Italian:

In Italian, hands place an emphasis on the words that is unmistakable!

Perhaps you'd like to learn to speak Italian using your voice? Rest assured, we can help. On our shelves we have several resources for beginners including the Pimsleur Language Program series titles Basic Italian [458.342 PIM] and Conversational Italian [458.342 PIM], which come with CDs.

In The Best of Dean Martin [CD MALE VOCALIST MAR], Martin sings several songs in English and Italian. But, if listening to Martin and singing along isn't challenging enough, we have several operas sung in Italian, that will surely put your Italian language skills to the test! (Look for the "Black Dog Opera Library" recordings in AB/CD 782.1.)

Wednesday, February 01, 2012

Favorite Books

The website Flavorwire: Cultural News and Critique ran an article on Sunday titled, "Your Favorite Authors’ Favorite Books of All Time."

This question comes up periodically, "What's your all-time favorite book?" It's something I can't answer! Except for a few children's books, not one adult book springs to mind as my all-time favorite! There are many books, however, that I've really liked. So, here's a short list of some very "likeable" works of fiction:

The Homecoming of Samuel Lake by Jenny Wingfield [F WIN]

Housekeeping by Marilynne Robinson [F ROB]

The Last Days of Summer by Steve Kluger [F KLU]

One Hundred Years of Solitude by Gabriel García Márquez [F GAR]

Their Eyes Were Watching God by Zora Neale Hurston [F HUR]

What Is Left the Daughter by Howard A. Norman [F NOR]

Year of Wonders: A Novel of the Plague by Geraldine Brooks [F BRO]