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Thursday, March 31, 2016

Poetry Friday--April Is...

April is National Poetry Month! It is also Jazz Appreciation Month! So let's celebrate both with this poem by Langston Hughes:

Oh, silver tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

In a Harlem cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.
A dancing girl whose eyes are bold
Lifts high a dress of silken gold.

Oh, singing tree!
Oh, shining rivers of the soul!

Were Eve's eyes
In the first garden
Just a bit too bold?
Was Cleopatra gorgeous
In a gown of gold?

Oh, shining tree!
Oh, silver rivers of the soul!

In a whirling cabaret
Six long-headed jazzers play.

Found in The Collected Poems of Langston Hughes [811 HUG].

Amy at The Poem Farm will be hosting this first Round-Up for Poetry Month 2016.

"The Jazz Singer" by Charles Demuth (1916), courtesy The Athenaeum.


Opossums don't generally spring to mind when I think of New Hampshire wildlife. The only time I've ever seen one is squished in the street. NH Fish and Game doesn't have a fact sheet on opossums, but several other organizations do. Here's one from National Geographic.

So why am I posting today about opossums? For one reason--ticks! Ticks, and the costs of Lyme disease, should be on everyone's mind. The tick population has exploded and even a walk in your front yard can result in a tick bite. Opossums play a role in keeping tick populations down as is explained in this article called, "Opossums are the saviors of humans against lyme disease--don’t make them roadkill."

Preserving those ghostly white, wickedly toothy possum grins is a worthy goal! Reading about possums is too!

We have a large number of children's picture books and easy readers that feature opossums as characters, there is even a series called "Cork & Fuzz" by Dori Chaconas [E CHA]. Fuzz is the possum character and Cork is his muskrat friend. We own eight titles in the series!

Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Cat Art

I have never been to Los Angeles, but I now have a reason to travel there--Cat Art Show LA! This is the second LA Cat Art Show, the first was back in 2014. The 2016 edition, which opened last Friday, "will once again focus on the cat--our domesticated companion and internet meme--as muse."

The artwork exhibited is for sale with a portion of the proceeds going to Kitten Rescue, so if any of the art interests you, you're able to purchase it.

As a cat person, I would love to see the show, but other than the cat art, I have no burning desire to travel to Los Angeles. I work in a library, so a quick walk to the children's room will provide me with all the cat art I need! These books have some great cat illustrations:

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

At 12,400 Years Old, Can You Really Call Him "Puppy"?

The past few days have seen a flurry of news about a ice-age puppy that was caught in a mudslide more than 12,000 years ago. Its body became mummified and has been preserved by permafrost in Russia’s northern region of Yakutia. Here's one account that I heard on the BBC and an official press report can be read here.

This discovery will perhaps lead to a definitive answer as to when canines first became domesticated. Here are some materials that discuss earlier theories:

Coren, Stanley. The pawprints of history : dogs and the course of human events. [636.7 COR]

Dogs, Man's Best Friend. [DVD 636.7 DOG] 4-disk PBS documentary set.

The domestic dog : its evolution, behaviour, and interactions with people. [599.74 DOM]

Méry, Fernand. The life, history, and magic of the dog. [636.7 MER]

Monday, March 28, 2016


Manga, for those who don't know, is Japanese comic books and graphic novels. A related term is anime, which is generally the Japanese term for animated films.

Manga, comics, or cartoons, are humorous drawings. They have been around for hundreds of years in Japan. Recently, very old Japanese manga was animated in a simple video.

Read about the project here.

To find more contemporary manga, come to the library! Look in our online catalog using "manga" in a keyword search and you'll find over 300 to choose from!

Friday, March 25, 2016

Poetry Friday--Happy Birthday, Gutzon Borglum!

Who? Gutzon Borglum! He would have been 149 years old today! The name may not be familiar, but I bet you could name his greatest achievement if I said to you, "What comes to mind when I say 'four presidents in stone?'" You'd probably say, "Mt. Rushmore." Borglum carved the four granite faces!

Photo courtesy Library of Congress.

Borglum began carving Mt. Rushmore in 1927 and his work on the project ended with his death in 1941. Borglum's son, Lincoln, saw to the completion of the project that year. The monument was never finished in the form Borglum had originally envisioned--all four presidents portrayed in period dress from head to waist.

Not surprisingly, I found a poem about Mt. Rushmore--poets do write about everything, after all. The poet is William Ford and the poem is titled, "At Mt. Rushmore."

About this official American monument
Many would agree with the sculptor's wife,
Who found in her husband's great labor
"The emotional value of sheer volume."

Be sure to read the rest here. I found it to be unexpectedly powerful.

To learn more about Mt. Rushmore, look for the DVD, Modern Marvels: Architectural Wonders [DVD 720 ARC]. One of the eight disks is devoted to Rushmore.

Heidi is hosting the spring's first Round-Up at My Juicy Little Universe.

Thursday, March 24, 2016

Moby Dick Out Loud!

Do you like listening to audio versions of books? I do. I always have two books going at once. One, a regular print copy is on my nightstand, and the second is an audio in the car. You'd be surprised how many additional books I read in this way!

"Dutch Whalers near Spitsbergen" by Abraham Storck (1690), courtesy The Athenaeum.

If I were still in school and assigned to read Moby Dick by Herman Melville [F MEL], I know I could get through it on audio like the one we own here at the library [AB/CD MEL]. In high school, reading the print version was an arduous task. I probably would enjoy it today because the audio version gives a feel for the language of the time. Plus, I have a more extensive knowledge of the historical era than I had as a teen.

If you enjoy listening to audio books, you may enjoy a new recorded version of Moby Dick that is available for free online. The best part of it is there are multiple readers. The readers include Benedict Cumberbatch, Tilda Swinton, Stephen Fry, Sir David Attenborough, and more! To listen, click here.


Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Good News for a Change!

Earlier this month I read that Monarch butterfly populations appear to be making a comeback, or at least are not further diminishing. To read this good news, click here.

Tracking Monarchs would require a teeny-tiny monitor, and where would you put one on a butterfly? Here's the answer!

We have had milkweed growing in the median strips in the Library's parking lot. Unfortunately, they tend to be mowed along with the grass. Maybe this year we can rope them off as a preventive measure. Planting and maintaining milkweed plants is one way ordinary citizens can help to save the Monarch butterflies.

If you'd like to do your part, head to the website for Parker River National Wildlife Refuge in Newburyport, MA. You'll find links to ongoing efforts here.

Monarchs' decreasing numbers had been an issue for a number of years, and I'd like to think that novelist, Barbara Kingsolver, may have helped to raise awareness through her 2012 book, Flight Behavior [F KIN, AB/CD KIN, also eBook]. I recommend it, and, if your book group is looking for a discussable title, Flight Behavior will fit the bill.

With the help of concerned individuals, next year's Monarch population news will be even better!

Tuesday, March 22, 2016


What did you think of that snow yesterday? Fortunately, it's almost all melted away. It's definitely brighter today and people are thinking more about spring activities than skiing!

Here's what we have to look forward to in the next month or so: Baseball!

The Red Sox are completing their spring training and will be heading north soon.

Opening day in Boston will be Monday, April 11, at 2:05 pm against the Orioles. Until then, something to keep you psyched: The 50 Greatest Players in Boston Red Sox History by Robert W. Cohen [796.357 COH]. Will 2016 be a historic year? Stay tuned!

Monday, March 21, 2016

Tap-- Alive and Well?

In the era of Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers (1930s), to be able to tap dance was every child's dream. After the 1950s, tap dancing fell out of fashion. Is it making a come-back? If tap dancing penguins (Happy Feet [J DVD HAP]), and this video filmed last week, are any indication, then I believe the answer is "yes." 21st. century tap may look a little different, but it is still DANCING!

Not surprisingly, we have a number of materials in our children's section that deal with tap dancing--both nonfiction and fiction titles!

Dillon, Leo. Rap a Tap Tap: Here's Bojangles--Think of That! [JP DIL]

Dora the Explorer: Dance to the Rescue. [J DVD DOR]

Federle, Tim. Tommy Can't Stop! [JP FED]

Glover, Savion. Savion!: My Life in Tap. [J B GLO]

Graves, Karen Marie. Tap Dancing. [J 792.78 GRA]

Krulik, Nancy E. Tip-Top Tappin' Mom. [J KRU]

Friday, March 18, 2016

Poetry Friday--World Poetry Day Is Coming!

Monday, March 21, has been declared World Poetry Day by the United Nations. What a great idea! We have a small, but growing, collection of poetry from around the world. Today, let's combine World Poetry Day with Women's History Month and take a look at a book of women's poetry from around the world.

Voices of Light: Spiritual and Visionary Poems by Women around the World from Ancient Sumaria to Now, edited by Aliki Barnstone [808.81 VOI]. Since the book was published in 1999, "now" is no longer now, but that's a minor point. There are more than 100 poets arranged chronologically beginning with Enheduanna (ca. 2300 BCE). Enheduanna, according to Wikipedia,
was the daughter of king Sargon of Akkad and High Priestess of the moon god Nanna (Sin) in the Sumerian city-state of Ur. She was the first known holder of the title "En Priestess", a role of great political importance that was often held by royal daughters.

Poets represented come from Canada, China, England, India, Japan, Kashmir, the U. S. and many more locations. Here is a Spanish song by "Anonymous" from the 15th-16th centuries. I think it may surprise you!
Since I'm a Girl

Since I'm a girl
I want fun.
It won't help God
for me to be a nun.
Since I'm a girl
with long hair,
they want to dump me
in a convent.
It won't help God
for me to be a nun.
Since I'm a girl,
I want fun.
It won't help God
for me to be a nun.

translated by Willis Barnstone

And following that, there's nowhere to go but here:

And from Cyndi Lauper you should head over to see Robyn at Life on the Deckle Edge for the Poetry Friday Round-Up.

Thursday, March 17, 2016

There Is Another World

There is another world, but it is in this one. ~ William Butler Yeats

Today is St. Patrick's Day and thoughts turn to shamrocks and fairy folk. In Ireland, fairy folk and other creatures come in many varieties and seem to be everywhere. Dictionary.com has been featuring a slideshow this week titled, "Beyond Leprechauns: 7 Creatures of Irish Folklore". Leprechauns, however, remain the most popular due to their legendary pots of gold!

Here's a sampling of items about leprechauns for St. Patrick's Day:

Bunting, Eve. That's What Leprechauns Do. [JP BUN]

Darby O'Gill and the Little People. [DVD DAR]

Finian's Rainbow. [DVD FIN]

Edwards, Pamela Duncan. The Leprechaun's Gold. [JP EDW]

Krensky, Stephen. Too Many Leprechauns, Or, How That Pot o' Gold Got to the End of the Rainbow. [JP KRE]

The Magical Legend of the Leprechauns. [DVD MAG]

Osborne, Mary Pope. Leprechaun in Late Winter (Magic Tree House #43). [J OSB, J AB/CD OSB]

Osborne, Mary Pope. Leprechauns and Irish Folklore: A Nonfiction Companion to Magic Tree House #43. [eBook]

Shute, Linda. Clever Tom and the Leprechaun: An Old Irish Story. [JP SHU]

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

A Week When Everyone is Irish

St. Patrick's Day is coming up tomorrow, and the holiday almost seems to be more American than Irish. The reason could be explained thusly,
According to the Census, there are 34.5 million Americans who list their heritage as either primarily or partially Irish. That number is, incidentally, seven times larger than the population of Ireland itself (4.68 million).

Reported in The Washington Post.

The story of Irish immigrants in America has been told over and over again in the work of novels such as these:

Barry, Sebastian. On Canaan's Side. [F BAR, AB/CD BAR]

Kerrigan, Kate. Ellis Island. [eBook

Toibin, Colm. Brooklyn. [F TOI, AB/CD TOI, eBook]

Troy, Peter. May the Road Rise Up to Meet You. [F TRO, AB/CD TRO]

Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Not So Wild and Crazy

A new exhibition recently opened at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston: "The Art of North: The Paintings of Lawren Harris."

Here's a short video from the Vancouver Art Gallery about Harris and his work:

Harris is not exactly well-known, so, in order to raise interest in the artist and his work, the MFA invited Steve Martin to curate the exhibit!

WBUR in Boston ran a segment in which Martin was interviewed about his job as a curator of art. It began,
Steve Martin is probably best known for his comedy, but he’s worn many different artistic hats during his career, including actor, banjo aficionado, playwright and screenwriter.

They neglected to mention that Martin is also a novelist! We have several of his books on our shelves including An Object of Beauty [F MAR, AB/CD MAR, also eAudio].

And, if you can't get Steve Martin as the "wild and crazy guy," that's okay, too, because we have Saturday Night Live. The Best of Steve Martin in our DVD collection [DVD 791.45 SAT].

If you would like to visit the Harris exhibit, remember the Library has a museum pass donated by FLOW. To reserve it, click here.

Monday, March 14, 2016

Animals and More Animals

Kids' movies get heavy use, and we're constantly having to replace them, as well as purchasing titles new to us. We recently replaced a damaged Kratts' Creatures DVD, and while doing so, we found several titles we had never owned or otherwise lost. Here are the nine Kratts' DVDs, under the series heading, "Wild Kratts," and labeled J DVD WIL, which are now in our children's collection:

Creature Adventures.

Bugging Out.

Jungle Animals.

Lost at Sea.

Predator Power.

Rainforest Rescue.


Super Sprinters.

Tiny Trouble.

Friday, March 11, 2016

Poetry Friday--A Sad Anniversary

Woodcut print by Hokusai, courtesy Library of Congress.

Today marks the 5th anniversary of the disastrous earthquake and tsunami that took place in Japan. I'm sure we all remember viewing horrific video clips of the incoming waters (there's one on this post from March 14, 2011.)

It's not a anniversary to be celebrated, as more than 24,000 were counted as dead or missing, but, it must be remembered. What better way to share thoughts and memories than through art?

Artists from all over the world responded to the event in the days and years that have followed. The result was music such as "JAPAN: March 11th, 2011 Symphonic Poem," composed and conducted by Claudio Almeida,

Photographs such as those displayed at the MFA last year. Click here.

Poetry like that written by Gretel Ehrlich, who was interviewed in 2013 by PBS News Hour. Click here for the transcript and video.

Poetry lends itself to various interpretations, and this haiku by the Japanese master, Bashō (1644-1694), could very well have been written in the spring of 2011.
Spring going--
birds weeping, tears
in the eyes of fish.

Found in The Essential Haiku: Version of Bashō, Buson, and Issa, edited and with verse translations by Robert Hass [895.6 ESS]

The tears are still being shed. Our thoughts are with the people of Japan today.

Irene at Live Your Poem will be hosting the Poetry Friday Round-Up for today.

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Remembering Sir George Martin

On Tuesday, Sir George Martin, legendary producer of the Beatles' records, passed away at the age of 90. (Read an extensive biography here.)

I heard the news through Facebook, where Paul McCartney posted a short tribute that included this:
I am proud to have known such a fine gentleman with such a keen sense of humour, who had the ability to poke fun at himself. Even when he was Knighted by the Queen there was never the slightest trace of snobbery about him.

Of his work with the Beatles the William Morris Agency stated, "Records produced by Martin have achieved 30 number one singles and 16 number one albums in the UK--plus 23 number one singles and 19 number one albums in North America." Revisit Sir George's work through our Beatles CDs found under CD ROCK BEA. Here's one of my favorites:

Wednesday, March 09, 2016

2016 Solar Eclipse

Yesterday, but March 9 in Southeast Asia, there was a solar eclipse that many in that part of the world were able to see (with protective eye gear, of course). We weren't as fortunate. This is what we missed:

To learn even more, look for David Levy's Guide to Eclipses, Transits, and Occultations [523.78 LEV].

Tuesday, March 08, 2016

Making a Connection

Over the past week I've seen several articles such as this one titled, "Science students get better grades when they know Einstein and Marie Curie also struggled."

When we think of successful scientists, artists, musicians, or athletes, we tend to think these people have an innate talent. It's only when we dig deeper do we find, everyone has devoted hours to study, experimentation, practice, etc., and most everyone had obstacles to overcome. This realization helps to make a connection--I have problems, too, but maybe I can work hard just like [fill-in-the-name here] did!

Here are books for kids about the two people who were mentioned in the headline: Marie Curie: Physics and Chemistry Pioneer by Katherine Krieg [J B CUR] and Albert Einstein by Milton Meltzer [J B EIN]. Visit our biography section in the children's room where you'll find many more stories that will help your kids make a connection.

Monday, March 07, 2016

Good News!

If you're a chocolate lover, you're going to love this news about a psychologist, Merrill Elias, who studies brain performance:
"We found that people who eat chocolate at least once a week tend to perform better cognitively," said Elias. "It's significant--it touches a number of cognitive domains."
It was reported by the Washington Post on Friday in an article titled, "The Magical Thing Eating Chocolate Does to Your Brain." Click here to read this fascinating article that ends with this: "I'd really like to see what happens when people eat tons of chocolate." I'll bet Elias has a line of volunteers a mile long!

This might be a good time to re-read Chocolat by Joanne Harris [F HAR], which is fantastical story about a woman who opens a chocolate shop. The film of the same name [DVD CHO] stars Juliette Binoche and Johnny Depp. Harris has written a follow up about the magical powers of chocolate in Peaches for Father Francis [F HAR].

Friday, March 04, 2016

Poetry Friday--"Beat! Beat! Drums!"

I used to have a friend who was fond of saying whenever March rolled around, "March 4th, it's the only day that's a command!" And so, in honor of this day, and a long-ago friendship, I'll share a commanding poem by Walt Whitman:

Beat! Beat! Drums!


Beat! beat! drums!--blow! bugles! blow!
Through the windows--through doors--burst like a ruthless force,
Into the solemn church, and scatter the congregation,
Into the school where the scholar is studying,
Leave not the bridegroom quiet--no happiness must he have now with his bride,
Nor the peaceful farmer any peace, ploughing his field or gathering his grain,
So fierce you whirr and pound you drums--so shrill you bugles blow.


Beat! beat! drums!--blow! bugles! blow!
Over the traffic of cities--over the rumble of wheels in the streets;
Are beds prepared for sleepers at night in the houses? no sleepers must sleep in those beds,
No bargainers’ bargains by day--no brokers or speculators--would they continue?
Would the talkers be talking? would the singer attempt to sing?
Would the lawyer rise in the court to state his case before the judge?
Then rattle quicker, heavier drums--you bugles wilder blow.


Beat! beat! drums!--blow! bugles! blow!
Make no parley--stop for no expostulation,
Mind not the timid--mind not the weeper or prayer,
Mind not the old man beseeching the young man,
Let not the child’s voice be heard, nor the mother’s entreaties,
Make even the trestles to shake the dead where they lie awaiting the hearses,
So strong you thump O terrible drums--so loud you bugles blow.

Found in The Poems of Walt Whitman [811 WHI].

Whitman's use of dashes and short phrases adds to the power of the poem in its echo of drum beats and the snappiness of a command. And, in its ending, Whitman gives us a not-so-subtle intimation of future drums beating out a funeral march.

Linda at Teacher Dance is our host for today's Poetry Friday Round-Up.

"Follow the Drum" by Frank Dadd, courtesy The Athenaeum.

Thursday, March 03, 2016

Television Science

Mr. Wizard, an early children's television pioneer, made his debut way back in 1951. In Watch Mr. Wizard, Don Herbert showed kids the wonders of science and experimentation. The program lasted more than a dozen years on NBC and the Mr. Wizard persona was reintroduced in the 1980s on Nickelodeon. This episode appeared in 1954:

Over the years, children's television has become more sophisticated, as has its hosts, and the topics explored. Science always remains a fascinating subject to kids. Bill Nye the Science Guy, ran for 100 episodes on PBS in the 1990s. Today, Bill Nye is attempting to educate adults in the transformative power of science. Look for Unstoppable: Harnessing Science to Change the World [AB/CD 363.73874 NYE, also ebook].

PBS programs continue to cover science topics. Dragonfly TV came along in the 2000s, and was followed up by SciGirls.

Wednesday, March 02, 2016

Today Is Read Across America Day!

Read Across America Day is held on the birth anniversary of one of the most famous children's writers of all times--Dr. Seuss. Seuss, whose real name was Theodor Seuss Geisel, died in 1991. He would have been 112 years old!

Parents and teachers how want to keep children reading all year long, should check out the Read Across America calendar, click here.

As mentioned above, Seuss died in 1991, but a previously unpublished book was discovered and published last year: What Pet Should I Get? [JP SEU, also J AB/CD SEU]. The book has a guide that was created for teachers in which they can
find ideas for classroom-based activities and school-wide events that take advantage of students’ affinity for animals and Dr. Seuss’s talent for creating fantastic creatures.

A Dr. Seuss Museum, in Springfield, MA where Seuss was born, will be opening later this year. The Dr. Seuss National Memorial Sculpture Garden is already open at the Springfield Museums. Is there road trip in your future?

Tuesday, March 01, 2016

March is the Month for Crafting

Throughout the summer, the Library holds a weekly drop-in crafts afternoon for kids. Adults, who have been feeling a little left out should be happy to know that each month we have an adult Craft Club. Over the past year crafters have woven hearts, made wreaths of paper roses, decorated pumpkins, worked outside to create sunprint scarves, planted tiny terrariums with succulents, and more. If you have an interest in Craft Club activities, check our online calendar for the monthly listing, or call 432-7154 and ask to speak with Sarah Williams. All levels of crafters are welcomed to attend, but please be sure to sign up ahead of time so that we will have enough supplies on hand.

Perhaps you have an interest in crafting, but aren't ready for the group experience. If so, please visit the Library where you will find shelves upon shelves of materials to entice and instruct you. We also have several magazines that cover crafting. Here's a small sample of what you'll find here:

Averinos, Melissa. DIY Mason Jars: Thirty-Five Creative Crafts and Projects for the Classic Container. [745.5 AVE]

The Big Book of Mod Podge: Decoupage Made Easy. [745.546 BIG]

The Complete Book of Home Crafts: Projects for Adventurous Beginners. [745.5 COM]

Craft Ideas. [MAG CRA]

Crafty Birds: Bird Art and Crafts for Mixed Media Artists. [745.5 CRA ]

MacCarthy, Mary. The Crafter's Pattern Sourcebook: 1,001 Classic Motifs From around the World and through the Ages. [745.5 MAC]

The Michaels Book of Paper Crafts. [745.54 MIC]

Rae, Ruth. Layered, Tattered, & Stitched: A Fabric Art Workshop. [746 RAE]

Rudell, Jeffery. Paper Blooms: 25 Extraordinary Flowers to Make for Weddings, Celebrations, & More. [745.5943 RUD]

Step by Step Wire Jewelry. [MAG STE]

The Craft and Hobby Association has designated March as National Craft Month. Look for special events or "deals" at local craft supply stores.

And don't forget Pinterest. If you're looking for inspiration it's the place to go! Simply type in a craft term such as "origami" or "shell crafts" or whatever your crafting interest may be, and you're sure to end up with 100s, if not 1,000s of craft ideas.