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Thursday, October 30, 2014

Poetry Friday--Remembering Galway Kinnell

Galway Kinnell, a poet from the neighboring state of Vermont, died on Tuesday. The New York Times said that Kinnell wrote
verses that, as he said, could be understood without a graduate degree. He succeeded well enough that all of the volumes of poems he published from 1960 to 2008--evocations of urban streetscapes, pastoral odes, meditations on mortality and frank explorations of sex--are still in print.

He had an admirable goal--to have his work appreciated by the average person. I also know, from having heard him speak at the Dodge Festival a few years ago, that learning poetry by heart was something he did well, and something he thought we all should do. My memorization skills are minimal, but it would be a way to honor his memory if I attempted to memorize one of his poems. Maybe this perfect little one?

On the tidal mud, just before sunset,
dozens of starfishes
were creeping. It was
as though the mud were a sky
and enormous, imperfect stars
moved across it as slowly
as the actual stars cross heaven.
All at once they stopped,
and, as if they had simply
increased their receptivity
to gravity they sank down
into the mud; they faded down
into it and lay still; and by the time
pink of sunset broke across them
they were as invisible
as the true stars at daybreak.

From Galway Kinnell: Selected Poems, Houghton Mifflin, 1982 [811 KIN].

It's also Halloween today, so I imagine there's lots of holiday poetry and fun taking place at TeacherDance where the Poetry Friday Round-Up is happening.

Photo by Eli Duke.

Day of the Dead

Halloween is Friday and the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos , or, Day of the Dead begins on that day extending through Sunday. In Catholic countries around the world, November 1 is "All Saints Day" and November 2 is "All Souls Day." Dia de los Muertos encompasses Halloween and both holy days.

Not at all creepy or depressing, Day of the Day celebrates the connections between the living and those loved ones who are deceased. These items may be of interest this coming weekend:

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

What? You Don't Have a Costume?

What are you waiting for? Halloween is Friday!

Don't panic, some costumes/masks require little more than imagination, paper, and a pair of scissors. If you need some inspiration, visit our 391 section, or, visit Pinterest and use "costumes" or "masks" as a search term. There are enough boards to keep you browsing until next Halloween! Here's one pin that links you to "45 Adorable Toddler Halloween Costumes." And another that has animal masks made from brown paper (remember those brown paper grocery bags from pre-plastic days?)

While you're cutting, listen to the "Masquerade Suite" by Aram Khachaturian.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

'Tis the Season

For spooky, creepy, and HAUNTED! There are "haunted" happenings going on in quite a few local places this year, including Screeemfest at Canobie Lake Park, Haunted Acres in Candia and Nightmare New England in Litchfield. Since Halloween is Friday, most of the haunted attractions will be closing shortly, so plan your visit for this week!

Salem, MA has spooky attractions and tours year-round. I would strongly suggest waiting until all the Halloween craziness dies down in Salem before trying to go. The whole month of October is a literal nightmare there. Easy parking is nonexistent!

If you prefer your haunted happenings in books, we've got quite a collection for you:

Monday, October 27, 2014

Hot Beverages

Hot beverages have been served long before Sheldon Cooper of The Big Bang Theory [DVD BIG] learned of their social benefits (as taught by his mother).

Even longer before Starbucks or Dunkin' Donuts, there were tea and coffee shops. The University of Cambridge recently posted an article about a archeological find of the remnants of one such 18th century coffeehouse. A cache of 500 related items were discovered, including 78 teapots. I found the article fascinating!

we have several books on hot beverages in the 641 section. Look for one of these on your next visit:

Evans, Sarah Jane. The Book of Tea & Coffee. [641.2 EVA]

O'Connor, Sharon. Afternoon Tea Serenade: Recipes from Famous Tea Rooms, Classical Chamber Music. [641.53 OCO]

Pendergrast, Mark. Uncommon Grounds: The History of Coffee and How It Transformed Our World. [641.3 PEN]

Slavin, Sara. Tea: Essence of the Leaf. [641.3372 SLA]

For readers of mysteries there's a "Coffeehouse Mystery" series by Cleo Coyle with punny titles like French Pressed and Through the Grinder for you to enjoy!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Poetry Friday--Creature Carnival

Creature Carnival by Marilyn Singer [J 811 SIN], is, as you would imagine, a book of poems about animals, but, its subjects are truly creatures of the mythological, legendary, and tall-tale type. And, considering what time of year it is, these creatures are fitting for Halloween! I need to add that the illustrator, Gris Grimly, does himself proud with equally creepy pictures. (A word of warning, his website was not created for a young child audience!)

The book is set up like a carnival sideshow and has a helpful glossary of "Featured Creatures" at the back of the book in case readers are unfamiliar with the creatures on display.

I think this one's my favorite:

Hurry, hurry, kids, gents, ladies!
Step inside the gates of Hades!
There'll be thrills, there'll be chills
        in this land of the dead,
And you'll get to pet Cerberus
        on the head
                                and head.

We can guarantee kicks
        when he shows off his tricks--
Fetching three balls at once
        from the deep River Styx.
Such an excellent pooch,
        but with one fault, alas--
You must toss him a treat
        if you're eager to pass.
For no matter how often
        he tries and he tries,
He's no good with hellos--
        and he's worse with good-byes.

Watch out for the creatures hanging out at the Poetry Friday Round-Up hosted at Merely Day by Day--poetry lovers are a wild and crazy bunch!

Animal Groups

One of the highlights of my morning is the daily Savage Chickens comic that comes into my inbox at home. This one from earlier in the week tickled me!

Courtesy Doug Savage of Savage Chickens.

Did you know, we have a number of books devoted to the listing of group names (also known as collective nouns). From picture books, A Cache of Jewels and Other Collective Nouns by Ruth Heller [JP HEL], to poetry A Bundle of Beasts by Patricia Hooper [J 811 HOO] to books for adults, An Exaltation of Larks: The Ultimate Edition by James Lipton [428.1 LIP]!

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Got Opera?

We sure do! Quite a bit of it, too! Rather than start off by reading about it, it is always good to watch it live. Next best after that is to listen to it! We have a series of audio books that are part of the "Black Dog Opera Series." In each three disk package, disk one is devoted to background information such as an act and scene synopsis, as well as biographical information on the performers. The other two disks contain the complete opera for you to enjoy. One of the titles is Bizet's Carmen [AB/CD 782.1 BIZ].

Tomorrow, the Metropolitan Opera in New York, a.k.a. the Met, is live-streaming Carmen starting at 7:25, five minutes before the curtain rises. Click here for the schedule of upcoming operas, and, to access the live stream.

If the opera's not for you, you still can enjoy an adaptation of Carmen in the film, Carmen Jones [DVD CAR]. Or, pick out snippets of Carmen from Looney Tunes cartoons. Or, watch Carmen: A Hip-Hopera starring Beyonce [on order]. Here's a song from the film:

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

What the Lion Ate

Actually, the lion didn't eat anything. The lion is the gold statue, which, along with the silver unicorn, were removed from the Old State House in Boston for cleaning and repair. When the two statues came down in September, it was rumored that there was a time capsule inside the lion.

Last week the capsule was opened, and its contents, placed inside in 1901, were revealed. Read about what was found, here.

If you're interested in the period during which the time capsule was filled, early 1900s Boston, let me suggest a few of the "Images of America" series books of old photographs:

Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell. Boston: A Century of Progress. [3M ebook]

Sammarco, Anthony Mitchell. Boston: A Historic Walking Tour. [on order, but a copy is available through GMILCS]

Photo by Mikkashar.

Monday, October 20, 2014


There has always been a need for dolls in children's lives--something for comfort, something to substitute for an absent parent, etc.

Over the past 50 years there has been an effort to move away from gender stereotypes regarding dolls. Books were written for children with the subtle, or not so subtle, message that it is okay for a boy to want a doll. One example is William's Doll by Charlotte Zolotow [JP ZOL], published back in 1972.

The Barbie doll made a big splash when it came out in 1959--dolls became more than baby dolls. The Barbie appealed to a slightly older audience, and strictly a female one. Barbie's manufacturer even made an effort, by example, to show girls that women can compete in a man's world.

Fifty-five years later, Barbie is still going strong, and her continued popularity is reflected in our collection of nearly 100 Barbie books and DVDs! (Do a search of our catalog using the term "Barbie.")

Barbie and others of her ilk, have moved into a whole new realm as you can see if you spend a little time on Pinterest, or a site such as My Froggy Princess.

Despite last week's article from the Business Insider, "Barbie Dolls Are Quickly Becoming Obsolete," I don't think Barbie is going to disappear from American culture! Nor, do I think that dolls will fall out of favor as items of comfort for kids.

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Poetry Friday--Richard Eberhart

New Hampshire poet, Richard Eberhart, had lived over 100 years when he died in 2005. In that time I'm sure he had many days when he wished for the time "when everything is as it was in my childhood." Don't we all wish that on occasion?

If I could only live at the pitch that is near madness
When everything is as it was in my childhood
Violent, vivid, and of infinite possibility:
That the sun and the moon broke over my head.

Then I cast time out of the trees and fields,
Then I stood immaculate in the Ego;
Then I eyed the world with all delight,
Reality was the perfection of my sight.

And time has big handles on the hands,
Fields and trees a way of being themselves.
I saw battalions of the race of mankind
Standing stolid, demanding a moral answer.

I gave the moral answer and I died
And into a realm of complexity came
Where nothing is possible but necessity
And the truth waiting there like a red babe.

Published in Poetry magazine, January 1938.

Eberhart was United States Poet Laureate 1959-1961. You can read a sampling of his work in The Poets Laureate Anthology [811.5 POE].

Michelle at Today's Little Ditty is hosting this week's Poetry Round-Up. Stop by!

Cover courtesy Poetry Foundation.

Happy Dictionary Day!

Today is Dictionary Day, and also the anniversary of the birth (1758) of Noah Webster, the man for whom Webster's Dictionary is named.

Believe it or not, we have a children's picture book biography of Noah Webster! It's titled Noah Webster and His Words, and was written by Jeri Chase Ferris [J B WEB].

Writer Jeri Ferris has developed lesson plans for teachers to use with the book, and she also has a short trailer on her website.

It's great that writers are bringing history alive for kids! When I was growing up, there were few picture books, let alone nonfiction picture books for children!

Wednesday, October 15, 2014


Mushrooms and other fungi seem to pop up after a period of rain, but this film clip makes it look instantaneous:

I found the film on the website, Fantastic Fungi: The Official Site for Everything Fungi. I guess in the 21st century you can expect fungi to have their own website, and blog, and Facebook page!

If you look at nothing else on the Fantastic Fungi website, make sure you look at the gallery of fungi photos. They are amazing!

I know that most people are hesitant about picking wild mushrooms, but there some in our area that are okay to eat. One is the Giant Puffball. I've seen a puffball the size of a basketball that was found in the woods in Windham. It smelled heavenly!

Backyard Foraging: 65 Familiar Plants You Didn't Know You Could Eat by Ellen Zachos [641.303 ZAC] has a chapter titled, "Friendly fungi: five easy mushrooms."

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Bill Murray

Later this month a new film, St. Vincent, starring Bill Murray will be opening in theaters (see trailer here).

Those of us who have been around for a while, will never forget Murray's stint as a comic on Saturday Night Live. But, Murray's versatility as an actor came to the forefront when he want on to make movies.

If you haven't seen all of these, then what are you waiting for?

There are still others that aren't listed here. So you have plenty of time to catch up on Murray before St. Vincent opens on the 24th.

Monday, October 13, 2014

The Library is Closed Today

The Library is closed today for the federally designated holiday, Columbus Day. Do something typically "American" today to celebrate, like visit the Topsfield Fair, travel north to view the foliage, or pick some apples and bake a pie!

Enjoy the day and we'll see you back at the Library tomorrow!

Photo by Scott Law.

Thursday, October 09, 2014

Poetry Friday--Billy Collins

Last Friday The Washington Post published an interview, "Billy Collins on Life, Death, and Poetry." I particularly like this,
Poetry can do a lot of things to people. I mean it can improve your imagination. It can take you to new places. It can give you this incredible form of verbal pleasure. But leadership to me suggests that there’s a place to lead the person to, that there’s a mission or a goal involved. I don’t think poets are that purpose driven. A poem actually can have either no point or a very nuanced point.

Sometimes the point of a poem is just to make someone smile!

Here's a poem from Collins that makes me smile:

The name of the author is the first to go
followed obediently by the title, the plot,
the heartbreaking conclusion, the entire novel
which suddenly becomes one you have never read, never even heard of,

as if, one by one, the memories you used to harbor
decided to retire to the southern hemisphere of the brain,
to a little fishing village where there are no phones.

Long ago you kissed the names of the nine muses goodbye
and watched the quadratic equation pack its bag,
and even now as you memorize the order of the planets,

something else is slipping away, a state flower perhaps,
the address of an uncle, the capital of Paraguay.

Whatever it is you are struggling to remember,
it is not poised on the tip of your tongue
or even lurking in some obscure corner of your spleen.

It has floated away down a dark mythological river
whose name begins with an L as far as you can recall

well on your own way to oblivion where you will join those
who have even forgotten how to swim and how to ride a bicycle.

No wonder you rise in the middle of the night
to look up the date of a famous battle in a book on war.
No wonder the moon in the window seems to have drifted
out of a love poem that you used to know by heart.

From Sailing Alone around the Room: New and Selected Poems [811.54 COL].

Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect is stepping into the Round-Up host slot for today. Be sure to stop by!

Happy! Part 2

So, Monday's post on movies that make me happy engendered a lot of discussion among the staff. They asked to have their happy movies included, too. I'm always HAPPY to oblige (this list does not include everyone--it's mighty hard to poll a group):

Carl: Cars [J DVD CAR] and Mud [DVD MUD].

Carolyn: Chariots of Fire [DVD CHA] and The Birdcage [DVD BIR].

Cathy: The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel [DVD BES].

Elaine: The Money Pit [DVD MON].

Maureen: It's Complicated [DVD ITS].

Terrie: Bridget Jones's Diary [DVD BRI] and Midnight in Paris [DVD MID].

There were several films mentioned by multiple staff people:

Big [DVD BIG].

Elf [DVD ELF].

Love, Actually [DVD LOV].

Moonstruck [DVD MOO].

Young Frankenstein [DVD YOU].

And the happiest song from a movie:

Wednesday, October 08, 2014

Edgar Allan Poe Back In Boston!

A new statue of Edgar Allan Poe was unveiled this week in Boston. Poe spent a brief period in Boston--the first two years of his life, but that's enough for us to stake a claim on him as a New Englander!

Poe wasn't fond of Boston, the reasons why are discussed in an article on the unveiling, which was published in The Boston Globe on Sunday.

The statue is the work of Stefanie Rocknak, and shows Poe as a confident and determined individual striding through Boston. It also has the obligatory raven!

Since Halloween is nearly upon us, it's probably time you dip into a little Poe to put yourself in the mood for the macabre! Look for the Complete Stories and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe [F POE] or The Annotated Tales of Edgar Allan Poe [818 POE].

Model of the statue courtesy the Edgar Allan Poe Foundation.

Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Blood Moon

Blood moon-it sounds like the name of some creepy speculative fiction novel, but, this week, blood moon refers to the lunar eclipse that will be occurring tomorrow beginning at 6:25 AM.

If you just need a refresher on lunar eclipses, NASA also has this short explanatory film, "Understanding Lunar Eclipses":

You'll find books about the moon in 523.3, and in our children's room J 523.3.

Monday, October 06, 2014


Kurious Kitty is back from a brief hiatus and ready to get back to blogging. While I was away, I read somewhere that people who self-identify as being happy for at least a few minutes each day, live longer.

Of course, now I can't find where I read it, but, there are plenty of articles discussing research that supports the idea that happy people are better off health-wise. Here's something from the Harvard School of Public Health:
Keys to a happier, healthier life

Research suggests that certain personal attributes—whether inborn or shaped by positive life circumstances—help some people avoid or healthfully manage diseases such as heart attacks, strokes, diabetes, and depression. These include:

            Emotional vitality: a sense of enthusiasm, hopefulness, engagement

            Optimism: the perspective that good things will happen, and that one’s actions account for the good things that occur in life

            Supportive networks of family and friends

            Being good at "self-regulation," i.e. bouncing back from stressful challenges and knowing that things will eventually look up again; choosing healthy behaviors such as physical activity and eating well; and avoiding risky behaviors such as unsafe sex, drinking alcohol to excess, and regular overeating

One of the easiest ways to put me in a happy state, is for me to watch a film. I'm not talking about a inane slapstick movie (although that may work for you), but rather a movie that is light-hearted, but not necessarily sappy. Here are just a few of the films that make me happy:

American Women. [DVD AME]

The Commitments. [DVD COM]

Happy Texas. [DVD HAP]

An Ideal Husband. [DVD IDE]

Waking Ned Devine. [DVD WAK]

What movies make you happy?