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Thursday, November 30, 2017

The Man Who Invented Christmas

A new film, The Man Who Invented Christmas, stars Dan Stevens (you may recognize him as "Matthew Crawley" from Downton Abbey). It opened last Wednesday in local theaters. The reviews are mixed, however, I'm sure anything starring Dan Stevens will be a hit with Downton fans.

The film is based on a book of the same name, by Les Standiford, which was published in 2008. Nesmith doesn't own a copy, but there are 6 copies available in the GMILCS consortium that you may borrow.

The film, based on an episode in the life of Charles Dickens, revolves around his holiday novella, A Christmas Carol. We own copies of A Christmas Carol in many formats: book [F DIC], children's book [J DIC], children's picture book [JP DIC], audiobook [AB/CD DIC, also J AB/CD DIC], an old radio dramatization broadcast in 1939 [AB/CD 791.447 DIC], and many filmed versions including Scrooge [DVD SCR] and The Muppet Christmas Carol [J DVD MUP].

And if you want even more, head to Manchester for the Palace Theatre production which begins on Friday and runs through December 23.

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Christmas Cookie Swaps!

If you've never heard of a cookie swap, it is simply a gathering where people exchange cookies. Let's say there are 6 people attending. Each person bakes 6 dozen cookies of ONE type. At the swap every person receives a dozen from each attendee. In the best case situation, everyone brings a different type of cookie and the attendees have a nice variety to take home. In the worst case situation, everyone bakes chocolate chip cookies and the exchange is a complete flop. This last scenario can be avoided by having each attendee tell the host ahead of time what type of cookie he/she will bring to exchange. The host can keep track, thus ensuring a successful exchange.

Sounds simple, but there's always ways to improve or add variety to the gathering. It's not surprising, then, that cookie swaps are featured in home and lifestyle magazines. If you'd like to compare presentations, here are five to peruse:

Better Homes and Gardens
: Host a Christmas Cookie Exchange Party.

Bon Appetit: How To Throw A Holiday Cookie Swap Party.

Cooking Light: How to Throw a Cookie Swap Party in 4 Easy Steps.

Good Housekeeping: Christmas Cookie Exchange Party--Ideas for Cookie Party Swap.

Real Simple: Holiday Cookie Exchange Checklist.

All of the magazine titles above are ones we have in our collection. The latest issue is on display and issues going back a year or two are available to borrow.

If magazines don't include enough recipes for you to choose from, borrow The Wellesley Cookie Exchange Cookbook by Susan Mahnke Peery [641.8654 PEE] or Cookie Swap: Creative Treats to Share throughout the Year by Julia M. Usher [641.8654 USH].

Tuesday, November 28, 2017

Cat and Dog

Cats and dogs, long portrayed as natural enemies, not only tolerate, but also develop genuine affection for each other. The online site, Bored Panda, recently featured a dog and cat duo that hike and camp together, and even share a sleeping bag! You really shouldn't miss reading about them here.

Share the article with your kids and they'll probably want to learn more about animal friendships. As you'd expect, animal friendships are "big" in children's books.

Aruego, Jose. Weird Friends: Unlikely Allies in the Animal Kingdom. [J 577.8 ARU]

Shields, Amy. Best Friends Forever!: And More True Stories of Animal Friendships. [J 591.5 SHI, J AB/CD 591.5 SHI, eBook]

Tym, Kate. Puppy Love: True Life Stories of Animal Friends. [J TYM]

If you want to read of some fantastical animal friendships, a great place to start would be with the classics A. A. Milne's The Complete Tales of Winnie-the-Pooh [J Mil] or Kenneth Grahame's The Wind in the Willows [J MIL].

Monday, November 27, 2017


You can't get away from it, each day women are coming forward to tell their experiences of unwanted sexual contact. It is as if a giant weight has been lifted from the shoulders of Americans and they are free to speak of what happened to them. If you are a follower of social media, you'll remember the proliferation of #MeToo posts which began in mid-October. You may have been surprised at the number of your family and friends who posted. The problem has been hidden for too long. It should also be noted that victims can be of any sexual orientation.

There needs to be a change in society and the "it's no big deal," or "I was only having a little fun" attitudes should be the first thing to go. The "blame the victim" mentality: "she shouldn't have worn that short skirt," etc., and self-blaming by the victim, should also be totally eliminated.

Quite often teens and especially teen girls are victims. Respect: A Girl's Guide to Getting Respect and Dealing When Your Line is Crossed by Courtney Macavinta [YA 158.1 MAC], How Long Does It Hurt?: A Guide to Recovering from Incest and Sexual Abuse for Teenagers, Their Friends, and Their Families by Cynthia L. Mather [YA 362.768 MAT], It Happened to Me: A Teen's Guide to Overcoming Sexual Abuse by William Lee Carter [YA 362.768 CAR] were all written with young adults in mind.

For those who have been victimized, recovery may be a long time in coming. The Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder Sourcebook: A Guide to Healing, Recovery, and Growth by Glenn R. Schiraldi [616.8521 SCH] may be of help.

Of course, the incidents shouldn't have happened in the first place, so it is incumbent upon us to educate the public as to what constitutes sexual harassment, assault, and abuse.

We will continue to hear #MeToo stories for the foreseeable future, but as Alyssa Rosenberg wrote in The Washington Post, "All this pain needs to turn into concrete action, or we’ll be back here again in 20 or 30 years--and the stories we tell then may be even worse."

Wednesday, November 22, 2017

The Holidays Have Begun

Even though the stores have been promoting the holidays since September, you may have put off thinking about gifts until now. There is time, albeit not a lot, to make something instead of buying a gift. A handmade present is always welcomed, but, rather than knitting a scarf, try one of these more unusual gift ideas:

You've all heard the wonders of coconut oil being touted over the past few years. Use coconut oil to make beauty products for gift giving. Look for Natural Beauty with Coconut Oil: 50 Homemade Beauty Recipes Using Nature's Perfect Ingredient by Lucy Bee [646.72 BEE]. You control what goes in, so there's no worry about unnatural ingredients.

Ever see fancy bottles of vinegar in specialty stores? You may not have time to ferment your own vinegar, but there's time to put herbs into a pretty bottle, pour some store-bought vinegar over them, cap and tie up with a ribbon. It'll cost a whole lot less! Look for Making & Using Vinegar: Recipes that Celebrate Vinegar's Versatility by Bill Collins [641.62 COL].

If you've got old photos in a box, or thousands of new ones on your phone, spend the long weekend sorting through them. Then, use your favorites in a variety of ways. Borrow Fun with Family Photos: Crafts, Keepsakes, Gifts by Jennifer Barry [745.593 BAR].

If you want to get your kids involved in making gifts, there's Earth-Friendly Clay Crafts in 5 Easy Steps by Anna Llimós Plomer [J 731.42 LLI]. You can start off by making a vegan clay! Again, you'll know what's in your materials, so there's no fear of the young crafter ingesting something harmful. And, a small child-crafted object always finds an honored place on a grandma's display shelf!

Make or bake a pie! Borrow Ken Haedrich's Pie: 300 Tried-and-True Recipes for Delicious Homemade Pie [641.8652 HAE] or Kate McDermott's Art of the Pie: A Practical Guide to Homemade Crusts, Fillings, and Life [eBook}. Spend a little time browsing the recipes for something too good not to make, then do a test run. With a month to go, there's plenty of time to try out different recipes! There are probably family members who wouldn't mind playing guinea pig! Then, when you've found the perfect pie, bake several to give away!

Enjoy Thanksgiving tomorrow! Remember the Library is also closed on Friday, but we're open again on Saturday so you can browse our shelves for even more holiday gift ideas.

Tuesday, November 21, 2017


Not edible peanuts, but the characters created by Charles Schulz. Yesterday I mentioned A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving [J DVD CHA] for holiday viewing, but we have a gazillion more Peanuts characters DVDs to keep your kids entertained while you cook Thanksgiving dinner or drive to celebrate at a distant relative's home. Here's just a few:

A Boy Named Charlie Brown. [J DVD BOY]

Happiness Is--Peanuts: Snoopy's Adventures. [J DVD HAP]

I Want a Dog for Christmas, Charlie Brown
. [J DVD I]

The Peanuts Movie

Race For Your Life, Charlie Brown. [J DVD RAC]

If your kids (or you) have had your fill of DVDs, then jump on the computer and design your own Peanuts character. Click here to begin. (Don't be fooled, there isn't a new Peanuts film coming out in December 2017, the film, for which this design program was developed, came out two years ago. It's a good thing Peanuts characters don't age!)

Monday, November 20, 2017

Thanksgiving Viewing

Thanksgiving is on Thursday, but if you're not traveling or baking up a storm, then you may want to sit back and watch a Thanksgiving movie or two before then.

There are Christmas movies galore, but not many Thanksgiving ones, a fact that is the subject of a New York Times article by Glenn Kenny, "It’s Time to Talk Turkey About Thanksgiving Films." Kenny reverts back to his childhood, and his annual viewing of the classic, King Kong [DVD KIN].

Here are some titles from our collection to watch by yourself, or with your family.

Capturing the Friedmans. [DVD CAP]

A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving. [J DVD CHA]

Garfield: Holiday Celebrations. [J DVD GAR]

Home for the Holidays. [DVD HOM]

Planes, Trains and Automobiles. [DVD PLA]

A Danish film, Babette's Feast [DVD BAB] although not about our American holiday, is one of the best films ever about people gathering together for a feast. [Note: if you don't do subtitles, this movie is not for you.]

And here's the clip of the dinner toast from Funny People, which Glenn Kenny mentioned in his article:

Friday, November 17, 2017

Poetry Friday--"Thanksgiving Magic"

Here's to the cooks who will be preparing family feasts next Thursday. Rather than cooks, let's call them "magicians."

To celebrate these culinary magicians, Rowena Bastin Bennett has written a little ditty. It is found in both Merrily Comes our Harvest In: Poems for Thanksgiving (selected by Lee Bennett Hopkins) [J 811 MER] and The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (selected by Jack Prelutsky) [J 811.008 RAN].

Thanksgiving Magic

Thanksgiving Day I like to see
Our cook perform her witchery.
She turns a pumpkin into pie
As easily as you or I
Can wave a hand or wink an eye.
She takes leftover bread and muffin
And changes them to turkey stuffin’.
She changes cranberries to sauce
And meats to stews and stews to broths;
And when she mixes gingerbread
It turns into a man instead
With frosting collar ’round his throat
And raisin buttons down his coat.
Oh, some like magic made by wands,
            And some read magic out of books,
And some like fairy spells and charms
            But I like magic made by cooks!

The Poetry Friday Round-Up for this week is hosted by our Canadian neighbor, Raincity Librarian.

Thursday, November 16, 2017

Happy Birthday, Diana Krall

Canadian jazz vocalist, Diana Krall, was born on this day in 1964. With her mellow voice, she has become a Great American Songbook star keeping old jazz and big band standards alive. Her latest CD, Turn Up the Quiet [CD JAZZ KRA] is a prime example with her renditions of Cole Porter's "Night and Day," and Rodgers and Hart's "Isn't It Romantic," among others.

She tackles popular songs from a more recent period in Wallflower [CD JAZZ KRA], where she sings a fabulous medley of "California Dreamin'," "Desperado," "Superstar," and "Alone Again (Naturally)," with Michael Bublé.

We have quite a number of Krall's CDs in our collection, as well as individual songs by Krall on many "duet" albums such as Tony Bennett's Playin' with My Friends: Bennett Sings the Blues [CD MALE VOCALIST BEN].

It is nearing the season for Christmas music, so get ready to sing along with Krall's Christmas Songs [CD HOLIDAY CHR].

Here's wishing Diana Krall a great birthday and many more years of songs!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017

A Season of Eating

We're fortunate to come from an area where food is abundant and readily available. This fact is, sometimes we tend to forget that others may not be able to avail themselves of the abundance. The New Hampshire Food Bank, based in Manchester, has compiled some statistics that may surprise you. Here's one:
Approximately 10% of all men, women and children in the Granite State are food insecure, meaning they do not know where their next meal will come from.
That's one in ten NH citizens. And yes, there are food insecure people living in Windham!

If you want to do something, contact the Shepherd's Pantry on 1 Church Road in Windham to volunteer your time, or, better yet, make a monetary donation.

Rather than prepare more food than you can possibly eat over Thanksgiving weekend, make a bit less and donate the money you would have paid for another two side dishes, or two extra plates of cookies, or whatever your family and friends don't really need.

Make this coming season of eating food, a season of giving food. A donation to a food bank would be a fine gift for someone who doesn't need another coffee mug or a tie or a "favorite teacher" ornament. The NH Food Bank has special holiday cards for your giftees.

To learn more about food insecurity, look for Food: The New Gold by Kathlyn Gay [YA 338.19 GAY] or watch the DVD A Place at the Table [DVD 338.19 PLA].

Tuesday, November 14, 2017

Thanksgiving's Coming!

This romanticized version of "The First Thanksgiving, 1621" was painted by Jean-Leon Gerome Ferris around 1915.

If you haven't planned your Thanksgiving meal, you're running out of time!

For inspiration, borrow one of our many cooking and entertaining books:

Drummond, Ree. The Pioneer Woman Cooks: A Year of Holidays: 140 Step-by-Step Recipes for Simple, Scrumptious Celebrations. [641.568 DRU]

Garten, Ina. Make It Ahead: A Barefoot Contessa Cookbook. [641.555 GAR]

Let's Talk Turkey...And All the Trimmings 100 Delicious Holiday Recipes, Tips, and Ideas from America's Top Magazines. [eBook]

Rodgers, Rick. Thanksgiving 101. [eBook]

Sanna, Ellyn. Thanksgiving. [641.568 SAN]

Stewart, Martha. Holidays: Recipes, Gifts, and Decorations, Thanksgiving & Christmas. [641.568 STE]

If you want to get your kids involved, look for The Berenstain Bears' Holiday Cookbook: Cub-Friendly Cooking with an Adult [J 641.568 BER] or My Very Own Thanksgiving: A Book of Cooking and Crafts by Robin West [J 641.568 WES].

Monday, November 13, 2017

Read It before the Movie Comes Out

You have a long time before The Other Typist by Suzanne Rindell [F RIN, LP RIN] comes out in theaters, but if you borrow it now you'll be ahead of the curve.

The screenplay is currently being rewritten for the film that will star Keira Knightley. Knightley signed onto the project back in 2013!

From the book's synopsis, though, it sounds like it'll make a great movie:
Confessions are Rose Baker’s job. A typist for the New York City Police Department, she sits in judgment like a high priestess. Criminals come before her to admit their transgressions, and, with a few strokes of the keys before her, she seals their fate. But while she may hear about shootings, knifings, and crimes of passion, as soon as she leaves the room, she reverts to a dignified and proper lady. Until Odalie joins the typing pool.

As Rose quickly falls under the stylish, coquettish Odalie’s spell, she is lured into a sparkling underworld of speakeasies and jazz. And what starts as simple fascination turns into an obsession from which she may never recover.

Let's hope it's worth the wait!

Friday, November 10, 2017

Poetry Friday--Veterans Day

The Library is closed today and tomorrow for the Veterans Day holiday. Not all veterans engaged in a war, however, for those who did the memories linger for a lifetime. I wish all our veterans peace in their lives and memories.

For today I'm sharing a poem by Randall Jarrell from 1944, ironically titled, "A Lullaby":
A Lullaby

For wars his life and half a world away
The soldier sells his family and days.
He learns to fight for freedom and the State;
He sleeps with seven men within six feet.

He picks up matches and he cleans out plates;
Is lied to like a child, cursed like a beast.
They crop his head, his dog tags ring like sheep
As his stiff limbs shift wearily to sleep.

Recalled in dreams or letters, else forgot,
His life is smothered like a grave, with dirt;
And his dull torment mottles like a fly’s
The lying amber of the histories.

Poetry Friday is being hosted this week at Jama's Alphabet Soup.

Thursday, November 09, 2017

Sensory Issues

You may have come across the term "sensory issues" or "sensory integration issues" with regard to children. These issues are recognized as sensory processing disorder or SPD. So what is SPD? WebMD provides this definition:
Sensory processing disorder is a condition in which the brain has trouble receiving and responding to information that comes in through the senses.

Formerly referred to as sensory integration dysfunction, it is not currently recognized a a distinct medical diagnosis.

Some people with sensory processing disorder are oversensitive to things in their environment. Common sounds may be painful or overwhelming. The light touch of a shirt may chafe the skin.

Others with sensory processing disorder may:
  • Be uncoordinated
  • Bump into things
  • Be unable to tell where their limbs are in space
  • Be hard to engage in conversation or play

Sensory processing problems are usually identified in children. But they can also affect adults. Sensory processing problems are commonly seen in developmental conditions like autism spectrum disorder.

Now imagine a parent who would like to offer a sensitive child the opportunity to take part in a typical pre-holiday activity--visiting with Santa. A trip to the mall, with its lights, sounds, crowds, just won't work.

FLOW has joined with the Nesmith Library in trying to make the Santa experience possible. On December 10 we will be having Santa and Mrs. Claus visit the Library before the facility is open to the general public. A parent may reserve a time for a quiet visit with the "Jolly Old Elf." This event is exclusively for children with SPD or other developmental disabilities. Reservations will be taken beginning Tuesday, November 14. Non-Windham residents may sign up, but will be put on a waiting list.

Wednesday, November 08, 2017

Adult Coloring

About two years ago, adult coloring was all the rage with adult coloring books topping many bestsellers list. Interest has waned somewhat, but the opportunities for finding unique free coloring pages have multiplied.

Earlier in 2017, many libraries and museums banded together to make their public domain (copyright expired) collections accessible to those interested in coloring. Click here for a list of free coloring pages.

I'm going to post a few pages to give you an idea of the variety available:

Michigan State University Libraries.

Newberry Library.

Kansas State University Libraries.

Don't ever feel guilty about coloring! It's a way to relax, and, it is a marketable skill! Look at this catalog entry for a kid's graphic novel--the writer, the illustrator, and the colorist are all given credit. Maybe a new career awaits you!

Tuesday, November 07, 2017

Dutch Art

The Boston Globe alerted me to the fact that Harvard University's Fogg Art Museum has been given an outstanding collection of Dutch drawings that date from 1590-1630. With other collections of Dutch art in the area, it seems that Boston is now a mecca for those who have an interest in the golden age of Dutch art. Selections from the Harvard collection, donated by George S. Abrams, is now on exhibit at the Fogg Museum in Cambridge. Read more here.

Dutch art and artists of the golden age period, have, not surprisingly, proven to be great subjects for writers of fiction. Here are three:

Chevalier, Tracy. Girl With a Pearl Earring. [F CHE, AB/CD CHE, DVD GIR]

Smith, Dominic. The Last Painting of Sara de Vos. {F SMI, eBook, eAudio]

Vreeland, Susan. Girl in Hyacinth Blue. [F VRE, eBook]

Monday, November 06, 2017

November 6

On this day in 1860, Abraham Lincoln was elected to his first term as President of the United States. November 6 was also the date a President was elected in:

1888 Benjamin Harrison, his only term.

1900 Theodore Roosevelt, his first term.

1928 Herbert Hoover, his only term.

1956 Dwight D. Eisenhower, his second term.

1984 Ronald Reagan, his second term.

2012 Barack Obama, his second term.

Lots of information on U.S. presidents can be found in this recently published book, Our Country's Presidents: A Complete Encyclopedia of the U.S. Presidency by Ann Bausum [J 973.09 BAU].

What else has happened on this day in history?

1528 Cabeza de Vaca "discovered" Texas (although native peoples would dispute that claim).

1854 John Philip Sousa, known as the "March King," was born.

1917 The Bolsheviks revolted in Russia.

1970 Aerosmith performed their first gig at Nipmuc Regional High School in Mendon, Massachusetts. They are reported to have sold 150 million records since that time.

2006 The first post at Kurious Kitty's Kurio Kabinet! Happy 11th anniversary!

Thursday, November 02, 2017

Poetry Friday--It's National Sandwich Day!

Yes! Time to celebrate the mighty sandwich--once a purely lunchtime staple, but now, something to be enjoyed at every meal. Who doesn't love a bacon, egg, and cheese sandwich for breakfast? Or, for dinner, a Reuben sandwich loaded with corned beef, sauerkraut, Swiss cheese, and dripping with Russian or Thousand Island dressing, served on rye (preferably grilled)? One day a year is not enough time for National Sandwich Day!

Of course there are poems about sandwiches! Here's a delicious little one from Pocket Poems selected by Bobbi Katz and illustrated by Marylin Hafner [J 811 POC]:
by Valerie Worth

They always
End up

The soft

The round

Linda at Teacher Dance is playing hostess for this week's Round-Up.

Mousekin's Golden House

Sometimes readers like to revisit some of the books that remain in their childhood memories. One such book is Mousekin's Golden House by Edna Miller [JP MIL]. The book was first published back in 1964! It is long out of print, but we still have a paperback copy on our shelf.

Why is it so memorable? Because it is a sweet story of a field mouse who could be found anywhere in New England. Mousekin comes across a jack-o-lantern that could make a perfect home.

Being as it's November, and jack-o-lanterns have completed their lives as Halloween decorations, it is fun to imagine Mousekin's little adventure taking place in your backyard today. Here are three of the scenes, which were illustrated by the author:

What are some of the favorite books from your childhood?

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

November is Movember!

Think back to November of last year. Did you notice a number of normally clean-shaven men suddenly start sprouting mustaches? They were probably "Mo Bros," that is, men who grew mustaches as part of the Movember movement. Movember was created to make people aware of, and to raise funds for, men's health issues. The movement is not exclusively for men as women are encouraged to raise money through participation in "Move."
Set a distance goal at the start of the month, and walk, run, cycle, swim or row your way to achieving it. You can raise much needed funds for men’s health while you’re at it.

To learn more, check out the Movember website https://us.movember.com/. The Movember Foundation also has a presence on social media.

Have fun with your kids this Movember by making fake mustaches out of paper! Watch the classic I Love Lucy episode, "The Moustache" found on I love Lucy: The Complete Series [DVD TV SERIES I]. You can also borrow one of these from the Library:

Heos, Bridget. Mustache Baby. [JP HEO]

Palatini, Margie. Moosetache. [JP PAL] (Also look for Mooseltoe by the same author.)

Van Draanen, Wendelin. Sammy Keyes and the Curse of Moustache Mary. [J MYS VAN, eBook, eAudio]