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Thursday, December 31, 2015

Celebrate History!

The old year is practically over, but there's a whole new year ahead. Something you can do as a family in 2016 is explore the multitude of historic offerings we have in our area.

One place to visit is the USS Constitution, also known as "Old Ironsides." The Constitution is over 200 years old, and, is still capable of being sailed! It is docked at the Charlestown Navy Yard, just north of Boston. One of the great things about the Constitution Museum is that it is admission by donation! So those with several children in tow will not have to face bankruptcy to go!

There's been a special exhibit of model ships at the museum that has been extended until March to allow you more of an opportunity to visit "Masters of Miniature."
The USS Constitution Model Shipwright Guild and the USS Constitution Museum present Masters of Miniature: The 37th Annual Model Ship Show. Exquisite ship models will be on display along with marine paintings by members of the American Society of Marine Artists. With over 50 handcrafted models of all sizes, types, and materials, you can explore the intricate art of model making as practiced today.

To read more about the USS Constitution, look for A Personal Tour of Old Ironsides by Robert Young [J 359.3 YOU].

The Library is closing today at noon and will be closed tomorrow, New Year's Day. We will be open regular weekend hours. Have a safe and happy holiday!

Wednesday, December 30, 2015

New Year's Traditions

Many cultures, and families, have New Year's traditions. What's yours? Some are as simple as leaving the front door open to welcome good luck. Others involve preparation of special meals. Still others involve religious observations.

To learn about meals created for New Year's, look in Holidays of the World Cookbook For Students by Lois Sinaiko Webb [641.568 WEB], or The World Religions Cookbook by Arno Schmidt and Paul Fieldhouse [641.59 SCH]. Within these cookbooks you'll find recipes for Osechi-Ryori (New Year's food) from Japan including O-zoni (New Year's soup), Kateh (golden rice cake) from Iran, Hagmanay bun (New Year's bun) from Scotland, and Bigos (Hunter's stew) from Poland.

You'll find plenty more recipes and traditions covered in cookbooks from individual countries. Come browse our shelves then have a Happy New Year!

Photo of Philadelphia's New Year's Mummer's parade by Carol M. Highsmith, Courtesy Library of Congress.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015

Christmas Break--Are You Ready to Break?

You need something to do with the kids before they drive you crazy, right? Here's where the Library comes in. You're familiar with our collections of DVDs and musical CDs, but did you also know we have children's books on CD? Everything from A. A. Milne's When We Were Very Young & Now We Are Six [J AB/CD MIL] to Newbery Award winners such as Walk Two Moons by Sharon Creech [J AB/CD CRE]. We have children's magazines like Ladybug [J MAG CRI] and Sports Illustrated for Kids [J MAG SPO].

And you know about our museum passes, right? If not, click here to get started. We have a pass to the Children's Museum of New Hampshire, the McAuliffe-Shepard Discover Center, and others with kid appeal.

Yes, we also have books. For this how-can-I-keep-them-busy week, you might find our children's crafts and activities titles to be of use. Here are a few:

Monday, December 28, 2015

Trying To Think Like a Cat

Being a cat owner, I'm not sure that it's worth this classical musician's time to try to think like a cat.

Every time you believe you know what's going on in your cat's brain, she'll do the complete opposite. Maybe cats are psychic and are just out to get you?

Or maybe...cats are ALIENS? If you believe those who post videos on YouTube, that's exactly what they are. I typed in "cats are aliens" into the search box and got more than a dozen pages of results!

And, in our collection we have at least two cat vs. aliens books (Mr. Wuffles! by David Wiesner [JP WIE] and Binky the Space Cat by Ashley Spires [J CX SPI], but none on cat aliens. What's up with that?

Friday, December 25, 2015

Poetry Friday--Merry Christmas!

Here are a few illustrations from old editions of Clement C. Moore's classic poem, The Night before Christmas (also known as A Visit from St. Nicholas).

James G. Gregory, publisher, 1862. Illustrations from drawings by F. O. C. Darley.

L. Prang publisher, 1864.

Houghton Mifflin publisher, 1912. Illustrations by Jessie Willcox Smith.

The Atlantic Monthly Press publisher, 1921.

Merry Christmas!

The Poetry Friday Round-Up is being held at Live Your Poem.

The Library will be open again for business Saturday at 9:00 AM.

Old editions of The Night Before Christmas available to view at Open Library and the Project Gutenberg

Thursday, December 24, 2015

Letter from Santa

On NPR Saturday morning, Scott Simon read a letter Mark Twain wrote (as Santa) to his young daughter Susy. It is included here for you to enjoy!

To read more about Twain and his children, look for The Autobiography of Mark Twain (in three volumes, we have one and two [B TWA]. Volume three was recently released and should be arriving soon.

The Library closes today at noon and will reopen on Saturday at 9:00 AM for regular weekend hours. Have a safe and happy Christmas!

Photo of Susy Clemens courtesy the Mark Twain House & Museum, Hartford, CT.

Wednesday, December 23, 2015

Christmas Memories

For those who have now grown up (in other words, everyone reading this), there are always memories from holidays that stick with one long into old age. Some people are lucky enough to be able write them down to share with others. Think Truman Capote's "A Christmas Memory" found in Breakfast at Tiffany's and Three Stories [F CAP, also in DVD CHR], or Jean Shepherd's memories that were turned into the classic movie, A Christmas Story [DVD CHR].

Christmas memories are also recreated specifically for children in stories such as Christmas in the Country by Cynthia Rylant [JP], The Trees of the Dancing Goats by Patricia Polacco [JP POL], and this one, of a memory which took place just down the road in Medford, MA:

I hope your memories of this Christmas inspire you for many years to come!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Seasonal Happenings

Today is the Winter Solstice--the shortest day and the longest night of the year. National Geographic has information and history of the Winter Solstice here.

Christmas Eve will see an asteroid zipping by our planet, and on Christmas Day, we'll be experiencing a full moon. NASA tells us a Christmas full moon will not happen again until 2034!

I'm sure Rudolph's red nose will enjoy the break afforded by the brightness of the moon (and an asteroid)! Come to the Library before Christmas Eve to once again enjoy the story of Rudolph's historic flight "one foggy Christmas Eve"--not that you'd ever have forgotten it! Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is found in many forms at the Library:

Animated version. [J DVD RUD] (Also found in The Original Christmas Classics [J DVD ORI].)

Easy Reader version. Adapted by Kristen L. Depken [E DEP].

Original author version by Robert L. May. We own several illustrated versions, all found under [JP MAY].
There is also, by the same author, Rudolph Shines Again [JP MAY], Rudolph's Second Christmas [JP MAY].

Song version. The most famous is probably by Gene Autry, which is found on The Ultimate Christmas Album [CD HOLIDAY ULT]. The Burl Ives version, from the video is found on Songs from the Christmas Classics: Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer ; Frosty the Snowman ; Santa Claus Is Comin' to Town; The Little Drummer Boy; and, Frosty Returns [CD CHILDREN SON]. There are many more versions found on additional holiday CDs by Bing Crosby, Perry Como, Harry Connick, Jr., Raffi, Phil Spector, etc.

Don't forget that you and your little ones can track Santa's sleigh as it travels across the world, courtesy of NORAD.

Monday, December 21, 2015

Just Enough Time Left

I have a writer friend who works for the MSU extension service in Mississippi. She wrote the script for this video, and, it is rumored that she also plays an elf!

Well, it's the final days for Christmas gift-shopping. Cut down on your shopping by just going to the grocery store. There you can purchase Mason jars, some beans, flour, spices and you've got a bunch of hostess gifts or stocking stuffers.

On your way to the supermarket, stop by the Library and look for one of these to direct you in purchasing correct proportions!

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

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

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

Friday, December 18, 2015

Poetry Friday--Not Here!

Kurious Kitty is taking the day off to host the Poetry Friday Round-Up at Random Noodling. Please stop by!

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Just Because

Some days all you want to do is share animal videos. Today's that day!

Who isn't intrigued by a pink bird? Here's a whole flock of them dancing up a storm!

I'm surprised that there are so many books in our collection about flamingos! Most, however, are fantastical children's books like, Miss Mingo and the First Day of School by Jamie Harper [JP HAR], Sylvie by Jennifer Gorton Sattler [JP SAT], or Flora and the Flamingo by Molly Schaar Idle [JP IDL].

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Songs in a Minor Key

I must say, my knowledge of the mechanics of music is limited at best. When someone says a song in a minor key, I go, "huh?"

A young musician, Chase Holfelder, has taken it upon himself to redo famous songs in minor keys. He records them and they are available on YouTube. It has been noted, by others who understand these things, that the change results in songs that take on a sad or eerie tone. This holiday season, the altered song I've been seeing on Facebook is "All I Want For Christmas Is You," by Mariah Carey. Here is Holfelder's version:

Here is Mariah Carey's "live" and livelier version:

I don't know about you, but I think if the tempo of the minor key version were speeded up somewhat, then the song would lose much of its creepiness. What do you think?

Many people love the original version, and, we have it available in the movie Love Actually [DVD LOV] and on Mariah Carey's Merry Christmas and Merry Christmas II You albums [both CD HOLIDAY CAR]. New this year is a picture book version illustrated by Colleen Madden [JP CAR].

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Keep a Box of Tissues Handy

Last week The Huffington Post published an article titled, "These Are The Best Movies To Watch When You Need An Ugly Cry."

We own most of the titles on the list, if you need an emotional release this holiday season.

A few of my favorite weepers don't appear on The Huffington Post's list, and as a bonus, some of them are Christmas movies:

Enchanted April. [DVD ENC] A movie with strong female characters, a lovely story line, and was filmed in a gorgeous location. What's not to like about a "tub of love"?

The Holiday. [DVD HOL] I know, I know, it stars Jack Black, however, he plays a character one can't help but liking! Please note: our copy has gone missing, so I will be reordering it! Several other GMILCS libraries also own it.

The King of Masks. [DVD KIN] Don't be turned off by the fact that the film is subtitled. It is well worth watching and is poignant, rather than melodramatic.

Love Actually. [DVD LOV] This is my all-time favorite Christmas movie! The opening and ending scenes, which filmed real people at the arrivals terminal at Heathrow, always make me weep.

Room With a View. [DVD ROO] A simple love story that always makes me happy, and a bit weepy. It's based on the book by E. M. Forster, and is the best adaptation of a film that I've come across.

I have plenty more tissue-worthy films to recommend if you're interested.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Please Give

It is sad to note that there are those who are unable to provide gifts for their kids during the holiday season. This is where Windham's Helping Hands comes in.

They place a tree with mittens in the Library each year. Each mitten represents one gift request for a child or teen. This year it seems that there are more requests than ever before. We kept putting out mittens, and more mittens, and even more mittens, remained to be hung on the tree!

Today, all gifts must be returned to the Library, however, since there are mittens remaining, Helping Hands will have to send volunteers out to shop during the upcoming days.

So, if you're feeling bad that you didn't get down to the library in time, please consider writing a check to Windham's Helping Hands so that the shoppers will have sufficient funds to make everyone's wishes come true.

Many thanks to all who have donated gifts, and to all the Windham's Helping Hands volunteers!

If you'd like to read a heart-warming Christmas gift story, look for The 13th Gift: A True Story of a Christmas Miracle by Joanne Huist Smith [394.2663 SMI], or, A Secret Gift: How One Man's Kindness--and a Trove of Letters--Revealed the Hidden History of the Great Depression by Ted Gup [977.162 GUP].

Friday, December 11, 2015

Poetry Friday--Amazing Places

Lee Bennett Hopkins, is a poet with a Guinness World Record. He is the "Most Prolific Anthologist of Poetry for Children."

Mr. Hopkins recently published yet another anthology, this one, Amazing Places [J 811.008 AMA], contains poems of places and the things that made these places particularly notable. For example, there are poems about Niagara Falls, Fenway Park, Chinatown, and the Liberty Bell.

There is a map on the endpapers so that readers can place the locations, and, there are notes at the end of the book that tell us "More about the Amazing Places."

Here is a poem by Mr. Hopkins about the Watkins Museum of History in Lawrence Kansas, and Langston Hughes, who was a resident of Lawrence for a dozen years:

Who would have known
a young lad
door-to-door newspapers
in a small town
would one day
see people the world over
carrying his papers--

his reams of poems--

poems about--
rainy sidewalks,
stormy seas,
crystal stair memories,
but best of all,

         his dusts of dreams.

A Teaching Life is the place to be today for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Thursday, December 10, 2015


As we move into winter, you may need to find something to occupy your kids on snowy days. Have you thought of tangrams? Tangrams are an old puzzle game that came to us by way of the China trade in the early 1800s. It consists of seven flat shapes--two large triangles, one medium triangle, two small triangles, one small square, and one small parallelogram. All seven shapes can be cut from one square. The shapes are called tans, and are put together to form a variety of recognizable other shapes such as people, animals, etc.

You need not spend a lot of money on a tangram puzzle, although there are mahogany sets, magnetic sets, travel sets, etc. You can make your own tangrams out of paper or cardboard, instructions here. Or, if you're feeling adventurous, you can even make a puzzle out of a sandwich! Instructions here.

We have these books for children that include tangram activities:

Mattern, Joanne. Recipe and Craft Guide to China. [J 641.591 MAT]

McCallum, Ann. Eat Your Math Homework: Recipes For Hungry Minds. [J 510 MCC]

Pappas, Theoni. Fractals, Googols, and Other Mathematical Tales. [J 510 PAP]

You can buy books of tangram patterns or do an online search. The Florida Center for Instructional Technology, a free clipart site for teachers and students, has a nice collection of tangram puzzle (and solution) sheets. Here's a seasonal example:

Grandfather Tang's Story by Ann Tompert [JP TOM] is a picture book that incorporates tangram foxes. It would make a good introduction to tangrams for the younger child.

Wednesday, December 09, 2015

Not Your Granny's Crochet

Yes, crocheting is generally associated with grannies. Just think of the granny square afghan, and the various crocheted vests and ponchos those of us who lived in the 70s received from our grannies as homemade gifts. Despite the granny label, crochet can be fun and fashionable.

Crochet something startling for yourself or a friend--maybe even for your grandkids!

Oscar de la Renta crocheted dress photo courtesy Vogue.com.

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Yikes! Vandals!

Not your ordinary spray-paint type--the defacing medium of choice for these vandals is yarn!

Since scarves lend themselves to wrapping around things, if you want to take up yarn bombing, you may want to start with scarves. You'll find some great scarf patterns in Dress-To-Impress: Knitted Scarves by Pam Powers [746.432 POW] or It Girl Crochet: 23 Must-Have Accessories by Sharon Zientara [ebook] or any number of other crocheting books in our collection!

Monday, December 07, 2015

The Excitement Builds...

Less than a month from now is the start of the last season of Downton Abbey. Season 6 begins on January 3. For diehard fans this is a long anticipated event, however, after the season ends in March, most fans will be left bereft. It's true.

Yesterday, at the Red River Theatres in Concord, there was a preview screening of the first episode of season 6. Held in conjunction with NHPTV, there was tea, and the screening.

If you've been living under a rock for the past five years, you can catch up on the first five seasons, which we own [DVD DOW]. We also have a number of other Downton Abbey-related items such as:

Baines, Emily Ansara. The Unofficial Downton Abbey Cookbook: From Lady Mary's Crab Canapés to Mrs. Patmore's Christmas Pudding: More Than 150 Recipes from Upstairs and Downstairs. [641.5 BAI].

Carnarvon, Fiona, Countess of. Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle. [B CAR, AB/CD B CAR, ebook]

Downton Abbey: Rules for Household Staff. [ebook]

Fellowes, Jessica. The World of Downton Abbey. [e-audiobook]

Fellowes, Jessica. A Year in the Life of Downton Abbey: Seasonal Celebrations, Traditions, and Recipes. [ebook]

The Manners of Downton Abbey. [DVD 395 MAN]

Believe it or not, that are even more! Search in our catalog under "Downton Abbey."

Thursday, December 03, 2015

Poetry Friday--Felicity

Reading Mary Oliver's newest book of poetry, Felicity [818.54 OLI] is like opening a bag of potato chips. You can't eat just one and before you know it, you've finished the whole bag. However, there is no guilt involved in reading every poem in this slim volume. Each one is a non-caloric treat that actually provides nourishment for the soul.

Oliver has divided her collection into three chapters and has begun each chapter with quotes from the 13th-century Persian poet, Rumi. Here's one for the chapter titled, "Felicity": "Out beyond ideas of wrongdoing and rightdoing there is a field. I'll meet you there." In today's world, this is particularly resonant.

Oliver tells us about "The World I Live In," in this:

I have refused to live
locked in the orderly house of
    reasons and proofs.
The world I live in and believe in
is wider than that. And anyway,
    what's wrong with Maybe?

You wouldn't believe what once or
twice I have seen. I'll just
    tell you this:
only if there are angels in your head will you
    ever, possibly, see one.

Felicity would make a great holiday gift or a stocking stuffer even for those who may not have read much poetry in the past. Oliver has a talent for saying things succinctly and making ideas accessible to the average reader.

I'll meet you at Buffy's Blog for today's Poetry Friday Round-Up!

New England Christmas

This weekend is really the beginning of the "everything Christmas" festivities that happen each year in New England. Between the small church fairs and the gala Boston Ballet performance of the "Nutcracker," you'll find plenty of mid-range (by that I mean inexpensive) activities to engage in.

Yankee Magazine
[MAG YAN] has assembled a list of New England holiday celebrations for you. Click here. One New Hampshire celebration is the Strawbery Banke Candlelight Stroll, now in its 36th year. I have attended in the past and can strongly recommend it!

The last time I attended the Candlelight Stroll, in 2012, one of the attractions was a display of gingerbread. I won't exactly say they were gingerbread houses, since SpongeBob SquarePants does not live in a house, but let's just call it a display of gingerbread environments.

Shown is a lobster shack. A portion of Bikini Bottom is visible on the right.

Speaking of gingerbread, look for one of these fun gingerbread stories for your kids or grandkids:

Aylesworth, Jim. The Gingerbread Man. [JP AYL]

Bratun, Katy. Gingerbread Mouse. [JP BRA]

Brett, Jan. Gingerbread Baby. [JP BRE, also BB BRE]

Kladstrup, Kristin. The Gingerbread Pirates. [JP KLA]

Page, Nick. Gingerbread Fred. [E PAG]

Squires, Janet. The Gingerbread Cowboy. [JP SQU]

The above titles are only a few of the gingerbread books we own. We also have a several gingerbread house how-to books and an interesting history book, too! The history book is Gingerbread for Liberty!: How a German Baker Helped Win the American Revolution by Mara Rockliff [J 973.3 ROC]. The publisher describes it as "A stirring picture book biography about a forgotten hero of the American Revolution who rose to the occasion and served his country, not with muskets or canons, but with gingerbread!"

Wednesday, December 02, 2015


Last week Adele appeared on Jimmy Fallon's late night show and sang the single from her instantaeous-bestseller CD, 25. The performance was a little out of the ordinary in that the musical accompaniment was on children's instruments such as kazoo, banana shaker, and a tinny xylophone. It was great!

25 is currently on order, but while you wait, you can listen to Adele's earlier CDs, 19 and 21 [CD ROCK ADE].

Tuesday, December 01, 2015

Relax, It's Only December 1

Yesterday, we discussed the possibility of panic starting to set in. I suggested letting go of some of your expectations. Here's an example: this year you wanted to knit a sweater for your best friend. A hand-knit scarf takes a lot less time and your friend still has a handmade gift, knit with love. So why frustrate yourself? Relax, use some of that time you saved by reading a holiday book.

Each year publishers release short, often overly sentimental, Christmas novels by their bestselling writers. These books end up on the December bestsellers lists and we purchase them so that you don't have to!

We have titles in book form, ebook, and audio formats, so there's sure to be one available. Maybe one of these will make you realize that there's more to the holidays than rushing around: