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Speaking Volumes

Keeping you up-to-date on what's happening at your library. We invite you to join in the conversation!
APRIL 8, 2011
Do you like us?

We hope you do! We've decided to try using facebook to keep in touch with all of our patrons. So, if you haven't already 'liked' us on facebook - go do it now!! Find us at 

Add a comment  (3 comments) posted by Megan Q.


MARCH 25, 2011

Maybe you've noticed that we haven't been 'speaking volumes' lately. We promise we haven't forgotten about our blog or our lovely readers! We are in the process of exploring new/other ways to engage with our patrons. That's all I can reveal for now (ooh how mysterious!). We promise to keep you updated, so stay tuned! 

In the meantime, we want to hear from you. If you have a comment for us about our blog, now is the time to speak up!

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Megan


MARCH 21, 2011
The Good Title
A week or so ago I did a little rant dance about all the books with tiger in the title. I'm still having trouble getting those tigers out of my mind but another title word is strongly vying for my attention. 

Good! Yes, good, I say. A plain and simple four letter word I've been hearing since I wasn't one or what I should be, as a little girl. Good! Just what does this mean when used in a title? Merriam Webster has several meanings. Suitable, fit, agreeable, pleasant, well-behaved, better, best. All these definitions sound good

The good psychologist : a novel / Noam Shpancer.
What good thing or deed did the psychologist do to earn his wings? According to the summary I read, the psychologist takes on a new client, an exotic dancer with anxiety problems that keep her off the stage. As the psychologist treats her, he becomes awfully involved and professional boundaries are crossed. Sounds like the bad psychologist to me! 

Try this one out...The Good Divorce by Raoul Felder, Barbara Victor. I saw this one today and couldn't help but thinking "what is good about divorce"? Maybe if one or the other partner is a creep, the divorce could be good. Or maybe, if the two divorcing people can maintain a friendship after the divorce, that's good. Here's the answer from the horse's mouth, or the publisher blurp in this case "Celebrity divorce lawyer Felder draws from his experience to show readers how to avoid an acrimonious divorce and move on with life. He uses his expert knowledge to suggest how to make divorce more fair, civilized, and painless." Painless, fair, civilized, how good can it get! 

Then there was The Good Son by Michael Gruber. The annotation of this one describes it as a thriller about a group of peace activists who are being held hostage in Pakistan.The reviews leads me to believe that someone's son, in this case a boy named Theo, will be the hero to save the hostages. Well, that sounds good

Joyce Maynard keeps the women in the picture with The Good Daughters. I thought some lucky family was fortunate enough to have double the goodness but this was not to be as the daughters here are not sisters, just born in the same hospital on the same day. Ruth and Dana, the good daughters are not exactly bad but certainly give their parents a run for their money while growing up. Starred reviews from Booklist promise this one to be a good pick! 

Man's best friend gets in the act with Good old dog : expert advice for keeping your aging dog happy, healthy, and comfortable by the faculty of the Cummings School of Veterinary Medicine at Tufts University. I'm not certain here if the dog is good or the advice is good to keep your good ol' dog healthy. Keeping you older dog happy and fit can't be bad so I guess that's good. And the dog on the cover is sure cute. 

Moving right along here's one I wish I could have put under my parent's radar when I was young. The curse of the good girl : raising authentic girls with courage and confidence by Rachel Simmons exposes the myth of the Good Girl once and for all. I don't see a counterpart called The Curse of the Good Boy but everyone knows boys aren't supposed to be good so no need for anyone to hurry to write this. 

Soon to be published more good books will be The Good Nurse: A True Story by Charles Graeber, The Good House by Veronica Soebarto, Good Little Wolf by Nadia Shereen, and this gem of a title, Good Christian Bitches by Kim Gaitlin. 

That's a wrap and brings me full circle. Good! Just what does that mean?


Have you seen any Good titles in your travels that made you scratch your head and wonder?

Add a comment  (3 comments) posted by CarolK


MARCH 14, 2011
Women's History Month March 2011
   For most people March is the month that we think of as "in like a lion, out like a lamb". Connecticutites celebrate "March Madness" and the Irish hail St. Patrick's Day. While all of these are fun and worthy events, I cannot let the month pass without a nod towards National Women's History Month (NWHM). It took awhile for NWHM to become an annual event. According to the National Women's History Project it all began with a move for a weekly celebration in 1979. "In 1979, Molly Murphy MacGregor, a member of our group, was invited to participate in The Women's History Institute at Sarah Lawrence College, which was chaired by noted historian, Gerda Lerner and attended by the national leaders of organizations for women and girls. When the participants learned about the success of the Sonoma County's Women's History Week celebration, they decided to initiate similar celebrations within their own organizations, communities, and school districts. They also agreed to support an effort to secure a "National Women's History Week." By 1986, fourteen states In 1987, Congress proclaimed March as National Women's History Month in perpetuity.

This year's theme is Our History is our Strength. These simple five words can have powerful meaning to our gender. I wonder what image they evoke for you. I hope you'll take the time to think of where we've been and how truly far we've come. Take a moment to visit the National Women's History Project, read their brochure, take a quiz, and read about some famous women.

At Saxton B. we have many excellent books honoring women. This past year we have added many titles to support this theme through a generous donation by our First Selectwoman, Carmen Vance. They include non-fiction, biography, and fiction across all age level. I hope you've noticed the book plates honoring Carmen's donation and that you'll take the time to thank her when you see her. These are just a few of the the titles Carmen's gift has provided to our library:

Curveball: The Remarkable Story of Toni Stone the First Woman to Play Professional Baseball in the Negro League -/ Martha Ackmann

Liz Claiborne: The Legend, the Woman / Art Ortenberg

The Brave Escape of Edith Wharton / Connie Nordhielm Wooldridge

Changing Shoes: Getting Older--Not Old--With Style, Humor, and Grace / Tina Sloan

Jane Addams: Spirit in Action / Louise W. Knight

The Heroine's Bookshelf: Life Lessons from Jane Austen to Laura Ingalls Wilder / Erin Blakemore

Thinking in Pictures: And Other Reports from My Life with Autism
/ Temple Grandin

The discovery of Jeanne Baret : a story of science, the high seas, and the first woman to circumnavigate the globe / Glynis Ridley.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by CarolK


MARCH 11, 2011
Bad news bears...

First and foremost, I would like to apologize to my adoring public (by which I mean my dad) for failing to blog for the past 2 (3?) weeks. Sorry! A lot has been going on here at the library, including a recent 'Teddy Bear Sleepover,' where I was in charge of a whole sleuth of unruly teddy bears while they camped out at the library for the night. Before leaving their bears in my care, the children of Columbia made them nametags and bear-beaded necklaces. We also enjoyed teddy grams (eh - cannibalism?) and some bedtime stories. By the way, there are a ton of great bear/teddy bear/sleeping bear books out there so it was hard to choose, but I ended up reading Ira Sleeps Over, by Bernard Waber, and The Bear Snores On, by Karma Wilson. Two no-fail options for sure:


Anyways, it was after the kids left that all the fun began. To put it simply, the bears were bad. They didn't sleep wink, they were loud, they wanted to play on the computers, they made a huge mess, and they ate a ton. They started off the night tucked into our tent by their loving parents. They look sooo innocent, don’t they?
Yeah, not so much…



Narcissism: Bolt watching 'Bolt,' starring Bolt, & and Panda reading about pandas....



Some serious carnivores in the crowd…

When kids came back the next day for pick-up, each bear had an envelope to give them with a letter and pictures explaining what they were up to all night. This is the best part – one kid laughed so hard I thought he was going to pee his pants. So, even though it is tiring and it means supervising bad bears for a night, I will continue to do the Teddy Bear Sleepover each year just to get those awesome reactions from the kids.
In other recent news, I have read quite a few WONDERFUL books lately which I'll be blogging about, and we had a cutthroat cupcake decorating contest here with 4 lucky ‘Golden Spatula’ winners, which I will also be blogging about in the upcoming weeks... so stay tuned!

Add a comment  (3 comments) posted by Megan Q.


MARCH 6, 2011
Tigers, Tigers, Everywhere

Several blogs this past week commented on the recent abundance of books with TIGER in the title. Not wanting to be outdone here's my two cents on the subject.

Most of the books have nothing to with tigers but use the term as descriptive; to be tough, fierce and aggressive. Wikipedia says "The word "tiger" is taken from the Greek word "tigris", which is possibly derived from a Persian source meaning "arrow", a reference to the animal's speed and also the origin for the name of the Tigris river."

Some of the authors got it right by publishing their books in 2010 - The Chinese Year of the Tiger while others missed the boat by just a few months. 

The most controversial of the new "tiger books" is without a doubt 

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother by Amy Chua which some describe as an absolutely hilarious, honest take on one mom's tough love parenting and others feel borders on the edge of child abuse. Whether you agree with Chua's style or not, Tiger Mother is one hot book. It's been chatted up so much that I actually thought I had purchased it for Saxton B. but it slipped through the cracks. Rectified, so if you're inclined to read this it will be on our shelves soon. 

You can understand why I might have thought we owned Tiger Mother when you consider that I did order the recently published 

Tiger, Tiger by Margaux Fragoso

another memoir about parenting. This one is about the horrible child abuse Ms. Fragoso endured starting at age seven when she met a fifty-one year old man named Peter at a swimming pool. Fragoso's account of the sexual abuse over a fifteen period is heart wrenching. 

Then there's 

The Tiger's Wife, debut fiction by Tea Obreht

Obreht made the recent New Yorkers current 20 under 40 and you'll find her short story in the collection of that name 20 under 40 : stories from The New Yorker / edited by Deborah Treisman. This new title is described as an exploration of the power of myth, story and memory. Natalia Stefanovi, a doctor, is on her way to inoculate a group of orphans in an unnamed village, when she gets news that her beloved grandfather has died. Natalia remembers a story, a bit of a tall tale, that her grandfather entertained her with as a child, about a tiger that escaped from a nearby zoo in 1941 and menaced his village. This story as it blends with the present day villagers own lore, provides a memorizing read. 

Last year's The Tiger: A True Story of Vengeance and Survival by John Vaillant was fascinating. I finally read it while on vacation and commented on it on the reader reviews on our catalog. 

Rock Paper Tiger by Lisa Brackmann was another fiction debut in 2010. A thriller set in the modern China, it is a wild ride in the world of online gaming, international espionage and the world of art. 

If you search the word tiger in our online catalog you'll get 122 hits, add the "s" and you'll have 53 more. Many of these are excellent children's picture books; some are about that other tiger, not a tiger at all, Tiger Woods. 

One more I'd like to mention is the dvd documentary, Living With Tigers, Discovery Channel's exploration of Ron and Julie, two tigers born in captivity. John Varty, brings the two tigers to Africa to introduce them into the wild, something that is unprecedented, controversial, but captivating to view. Be warned, it does contain graphic scenes. 

Stop by Saxton B. and literally, hold that tiger!

Add a comment  (2 comments) posted by CarolK


FEBRUARY 27, 2011
Presidential Stories

I'm still on vacation and no, I'm not bored but decided to comment on a book I'm reading before February is behind us. I've got way too many books and while I've been home I've managed to rearrange some yet again. Browsing my shelves I came across this one from The History Channel: 

The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told: 100 tales from history to astonish, bewilder, and stupefy 

This seemed the perfect book to thumb through during February, as I think of it as the month of presidents with the celebration of the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln. Now I don't know if the stories told here are truly astonishing but they do offer some fun trivia and things about the presidents that I didn't know. Right at the start there's an interesting story about a custody battle that could have had great ramifications on our history. A man named George Gale married a widow, Mildred from Virginia, and they made their home in London. Mildred had three children from her previous marriage but died in childbirth. George was directed to raise his stepchildren. He applied for custody. Mildred's first husband started a custody battle and after years in court it was ruled that the children should return to Virginia and be raised by relatives. Mildred's first husband was Lawrence Washington. Their son Augustine, had three sons, one who he named after his stepfather, George Gale, none other than our first president, George Washington. 

Washington shows up in many other stories in the book. One tells about the fortune he made as a whiskey manufacturer. After two terms as president, he returned to Mount Vernon and was seeking new ways to make his farm profitable. He considered liquor "essential to the health of men" and built a distillery. His chief products were rye and Indian corn, and in 1799, his distillery made eleven thousand gallons of rye whiskey and earned a profit of $7500. Not bad for those days. 

To my surprise, most of the stories about Lincoln I had heard. The one about his body snatching, another about a dream he had before his death. Perhaps this is because I have read a few Lincoln biographies and these were mentioned. 

If I have any gripe with the book, it's that there is no index or table of contents that make it easy to find a story about a favorite president, a real flaw, in my opinion. Other than this complaint, I am enjoying my reading of presidential lore.

And once I finish these, perhaps I should start another one I unearthed on my bookcase:

Presidential Anecdotes - Paul F. Boller, Jr.  I love the caricatures of our presidents on the cover of his one.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by CarolK


FEBRUARY 22, 2011
Gone Fishing!

Well, not really! but I am on vacation, actually a stay-vacation, a bit of time to recoup and hopefully just relax. While away my blogging is on hiatus unless I get totally bored; doubtful as I have all kinds of books to read and little projects to accomplish. As I'm certain I will have some free time, I'd love to hear from you if there's something or somewhere you've recently visited in Connecticut or close proximity (including good restaurants) that I shouldn't miss. Though I can check for and The Chronicle for upcoming events, there's nothing like a personal recommendation. 

Like Arnold Schwarzenegger"s famous line in The Terminator...I'll be back! and look forward to chatting with all of you. In the meantime, Happy Reading!

Add a comment  (3 comments) posted by CarolK


FEBRUARY 18, 2011
Author Visit!

Last night we were lucky to have Leslie Connor, author of Crunch, drop in on our Book Club meeting. This was her second time here (she came when we read Waiting for Normal) and she was just lovely – super nice and very interesting.
Here’s a little background on Crunch, the book we read for this month’s meeting. The blurb is straight from the book jacket:

Dewey Marriss is stuck in the middle of a crunch. He never guessed that the gas pumps would run dry the same week he promised to manage the family's bicycle-repair business. Suddenly everyone needs a bike. And nobody wants to wait. Meanwhile, the crunch has stranded Dewey's parents far up north with an empty fuel tank and no way home. It's up to Dewey and his older sister, Lil, to look after their younger siblings and run the bike shop all on their own.

Each day Dewey and his siblings feel their parents' absence more and more. The Marriss Bike Barn is busier than ever. And just when he is starting to feel crunched himself, Dewey discovers that bike parts are missing from the shop. He's sure he knows who's responsible—or does he? Will exposing the thief only make more trouble for Dewey and his siblings?

The book was a hit with our group. Everyone liked it, and the book club members had lots of questions for Leslie about Crunch, and about becoming a published writer. She told us that living through the gas crisis in the 70’s and the current rising gas prices were partly the inspiration for the story of the Marriss family and how they come together during the crunch. She also talked with the kids about what she is working on now (a memoir from the point of view of her newly adopted dog and a teenage girl), and about her writing process. She encouraged the kids to keep journals to write, doodle, and paint in. She even suggested a writing exercise that a friend of hers uses, called ‘a slice of life,’ to our aspiring authors in the group. ‘Slice of life’ writing just means taking the time to write about one moment of your day in detail, in your journal. Leslie also talked about authors and new technology (like ebooks) and maintaining her own website, which you can see here.
Anyways, I encourage you to stop by the Saxton B. to check out our newly autographed copy of Crunch, or any of the other wonderful books we own by Leslie!

Add a comment  (2 comments) posted by Megan Q.


FEBRUARY 14, 2011
Happy Valentine's Day

While browsing Between the Covers : the Book Babes' guide to a woman's reading pleasures , a book that give suggestions of what to read next, I came across this great side-bar by Margo Hammond, one of the authors. Entitled Books a Aphrodisiacs it ponders what was the first book that was given away as a gift. Margo bets it was a book of poetry, given by a man to his lady love. 

Margo feels books are natural aphrodisiacs and tells us the story of how when she was first married, she gave her husband a book for Valentine's Day. His gift to her...the very same book of Mexican Art. Serendipity, fate, whatever you call it, Margo took it as a sign they were meant for each other. 

Doing some research she discovered that the book swap they performed echoes a yearly exchange between lovers in Catalon, Barcelona. April 23rd, El Diada de Sant Jordi, St. George's Day, men throughout Spain give roses to their sweethearts much like our St. Valentine's Day. In 1923, a bookseller varied this tradition by suggesting that women return their man's favor by giving him a book. The day became known as Dia de la Rosa (Day of the Rose) and el Dia de la Libro (Day of the Book). 

Day of the Book, celebrated April 23, a festival of book selling is held, with booksellers setting up stalls, authors making appearances and reading and more than 400,000 books are purchased. It has even become a popular day for publishers to launch new books. 

As one website states "Last, but not least, there is nothing nicer than lovers exchanging a book and a rose." 

Both Megan and I have book displays with Valentine picture books,  poetry, and love stories to help you enjoy the day. Hope you check one out.

Have you ever given or received a book instead of candy or flowers on Valentine's Day? I still have a book of Haiku love poems given to me by my husband when we were dating and he was far more romantic!

Add a comment  (3 comments) posted by CarolK


FEBRUARY 11, 2011
Happy Valentines Day!
Alright people, you have three days left to get your valentines under control.
I know a lot of people hate V-day, but if you don’t, or even if you do but you love cool projects, check out these ideas:
Last night 20ish kids came by the library to learn how to make duct tape roses. They’re a creative and cheap way to say Happy Valentines Day – all you need is some duct tape and some floral wire. Even though they look complicated they are surprisingly easy to make, check out the directions here.
Here is a picture of a multicolored bouquet that one girl stuck into her backpack last night:

I saw this idea on another blog this morning – Ipod valentines:
“You rock.”


Here are the directions. It would be fun to come up with your own personalized playlist too.

I also stumbled across this cute valentine idea, made from recycled crayon pieces:

Here are the directions to this one.

Will you be giving any valentines this year? Have any other great ideas - please share!

Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by Megan Q.


FEBRUARY 7, 2011
February is...
February has lots of special days that lend themselves well to book displays and reading lists.  

February is:
American Heart Month
Black History Month
Library Lovers’ Month – This one’s right up our alley!
National Bird Feeding Month – don’t forget our fine feathered friends during all our storms in the Northeast.
Special dates like Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, and the Super Bowl XLV (congratulations Packers)  have already gone by and Valentines Day is next Monday. Presidents Day honoring Lincoln (February 12th) and Washington’s (February 22nd) birthdays is February 21st and would you believe The Daytona 500 runs on February 20th (makes me hopeful spring is on the way). For movie fans don’t forget films big night, The Academy Awards are hosted February 27th.
Besides the two presidents mentioned above there are slews of famous people born in February, some living, some departed.  Ronald Reagan would have turned 100 just yesterday (40th president of the US): Feb. 6, 1911
Clark Gable: Feb. 1, 1901
Gertrude Stein: Feb. 3, 1874
Langston Hughes: Feb. 1, 1902
Rosa Parks: Feb. 4, 1913
James Dean: Feb. 8, 1931
Elizabeth Taylor: Feb. 27, 1932
Lisa Marie Presley February 1, 1971
Ashton Kutcher Feb. 7, 1981
Laura Ingalls Wilder Feb. 7, 1867
Babe Ruth: Feb. 6, 1895
Jeniffer Aniston, Feb. 11,  1969
Just to name a few...
So what to talk about today?

Two stories with February connections caught my eye. The first is touching story I heard on NPR, which honored Ronald McNair, who was killed 25 years ago when the space shuttle, The Challenger, exploded. Ron’s story is narrated by his brother Carl, who tells his brother’s story with pride. Ronald McNair was just the second African American to visit space. This in itself is an accomplishment and fits the theme of Black History Month. The true focus of the story though, is one of segregation at none other than his public library. As Carl explains it
The library was public, Carl says — "but not so public for black folks, when you're talking about 1959."
The story continues from there and doesn’t get much better as the police are called and also Ronald’s mother, Pearl.
When all arrive the librarian explains the problem "He wanted to check out the books and, you know, your son shouldn't be down here."  quotes Carl.
"And the police officer said, 'You know, why don't you just give the kid the books?'
"And my mother said, 'He'll take good care of them.'”
Ron gets his books and after graduating from North Carolina A&T State earning a Ph.D. from MIT, in physics, he eventually joins NASA's astronaut program.
Ronald McNair was 35 when he was killed in The Challenger explosion.  On January 28th, the anniversary of his death, The Dr. Ronald E. McNair Life History Center was dedicated. It is housed in the building where Ron’s original public library, The Lake City Library, is located.

Steve Helber/AP

Ronald McNair (third in line) and his fellow Challenger astronauts head to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center to board the space shuttle on Jan. 27, 1986.

Though Ron’s story is a good one for  Black History Month, I herald it as a great one to tell as a real example of  Library Lover’s Month.
Tune in next Monday if you’re interested in the second story that caught my attention. Hint, it has something to do with Valentine’s Day.
Visit our library to find books to celebrate any of the wonderful February holiday, particularly Black History Month and Valentine’s Day.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by CarolK


FEBRUARY 4, 2011
And the nominees are...
The 2012 Nutmeg Nominees have been announced! Waaahoo!

Here are the 10 Intermediate Nominees:

Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn
Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise
Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman
Herbert's Wormhole by Peter Nelson
The Key to Rondo by Emily Rodda
Masterpiece by Elise Broach
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Signal by Cynthia DeFelice
Stolen Children by Peg Kehret

Here are the 10 Teen Nominees:


The Compound by S.A. Bodeen
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray
Pop by Gordon Korman
Princess of the Midnight Sun by Jessica Day George
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
Scat by Carl Hiaasen
Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani

I've read a few on both lists, but I can't wait to read the rest! What do you think of this years lists?

Add a comment  (2 comments) posted by Megan Q.


JANUARY 31, 2011
Snow Daze!
See that snowman sitting on my porch? Looks innocent doesn't he? Don't believe it for a minute. That smile is starting to look down right sinister to me. When my husband took him out of his attic space in mid December it was like a sacrifice to the snow gods. It soon began to snow and hasn't stopped since. 

Then you've got a staff member (you know who you are) who wanted a snow day about a month ago. She did all the things the weather man suggested, did a snow dance, wore her pajamas backwards while chanting snow, snow, snow. She got the snow day and much more. Be careful what you wish for! 

Another friend swears by shaking the snow globe. Too bad the one he owned mysteriously got broken. 

Did I tell you I unfriended Frosty on facebook to no avail? Snow, snow, go away! 

I searched the net to find other ways to ensure a snowy day in hopes I could head them off at the pass. I don't like winter, the cold or the snow. My husband doesn't mind it. He calls it fluffy white stuff and thinks it's kind of pretty. I'm not telling him about this way to make it snow. Seems that flushing ice cubes down the toilet guarantees some snow.. Seeing we've been experimenting with how things flush these past few months, he might actually consider this one. 

How about this one? Putting a spoon under the pillow is a longstanding superstition that dates back to the days of the Pilgrims. It's a superstition that still lingers in the Midwest and Eastern states, and many people follow it religiously each winter season. Personally I'd stick with wedding cake under my pillow to see the man I'm going to marry. 

If all of the above are not enough there's even snow dances for snow worshipers to try. You probably could make up your own and post it to youtube. 

Out for a ride today I saw a cute sign that promised "Hang in there. Only 53 more days to spring!" and counting. Spring can't get here soon enough for me. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow I'm out of here. 

If it snows again on Wednesday, I swear my snowman will be wearing this sign: 




It could be worse I suppose. We might live in California and have to wish for "mud days"

Check out these great snowy books to enjoy on your on snow daze!

The Mitford snowmen a Christmas story / by Jan Karon.


The smiley snowman / M. Christina Butler ; illustrations byTina Macnaughton.



Winter friends / Carl R. Sams II & Jean Stoick.


The snowman / Raymond Briggs



Snowmen at night / Caralyn Buehner ; pictures by Mark Buehner.


Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by CarolK


JANUARY 28, 2011
90 Second Newbery
Ok, we tried, but we can’t seem to embed a youtube video right into the blog. So I beg of you, click on this link to read about author James Kennedy’s video challenge, ‘90 Second Newbery’ Film Festival. Carol sent it to me this morning and the 90 second video summing up A Wrinkle in Time (1963 winner) made me laugh out loud!
The rules are simple:
1. Make a 90 video about any Newbery book (here is a link to the full list).
2. Upload it “wherever.”
3. Email Mr. Kennedy.
4. The winning movies will screen next at The New York Public Library film festival.
I have a couple book groups that would that I know would be totally into this. The big question is - what book to use? After quickly scanning the list I think recent winners like last year’s When you Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead, 2009 winner The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, or 2005 Honor book Al Capone Does my Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko would be fun.
Speaking of which, the 2011 Newbery Winner and Honor books were announced just a few weeks ago. Here is the list in case you missed it:
2011 Medal Winner: Moon over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool

Book Description: The town of Manifest is based on Frontenac, Kan., the home of debut author Clare Vanderpool’s maternal grandparents. Vanderpool was inspired to write about what the idea of “home” might look like to a girl who had grown up riding the rails.
I’m not going to lie – I never heard of the book until the winners were announced, but I did just add it to our collection. The Newbery Award Committee has been criticized in recent years for choosing books are, ‘complicated and inaccessible to most children.’ An October 2008 School Library Journal article called, “Has the Newbery Lost Its Way?" sparked the debate and drew lots of response in blogs and in the media from those who agreed and those who argued back. I can’t help but think that this book might be one of those ‘inaccessible’ choices. I know I am pre-judging something I haven’t read, but how did I miss this one? I mean I read journals, blogs, emails, and reviews daily. Plus I don’t think the cover will attract kids. Anyways, just my opinion… I should probably read it huh?

2011 Honor Books:
Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm
This one had great reviews, but I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t comment.


Heart of a Samurai, by Margi Preus
Again, I’ve read lots of glowing reviews for this one but have yet to read it.

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, by Joyce Sidman
Again, sounds good, haven’t read.


One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia
I’m halfway through this one and so far, so good! I like it a lot, but I do wonder if the target audience will be a little lost with all of the historical references. It takes place in 1968 Oakland, CA, where three sisters find adventure when they are sent to meet their estranged poet-mother Cecile, who prints flyers for the Black Panthers.
Alright I’ll stop babbling. I would love to hear your thoughts on the 90 Second Newbery Challenge, and on the 2011 Newbery Books. Have you read any? What did you think?

Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by Megan Q.


JANUARY 24, 2011
Email Netiquette

An article in US News & World Reports caught my eye this week. Have you ever regretted a hasty click of the reply/reply all or send button. Then18 Common Work E-mail Mistakes might just be the netiquette refresher you need. It must have hit a nerve as there are already 1800 responses. 

It could save you the embarrassment of some blunders like these: 

sending a job offer to the wrong candidate
sending an internal memo about restroom etiquette to a client

sending a nasty comment about your supervisor to the whole company including said boss

 A police officer who sent an email to her colleagues asking: “who stole my yogurt out of the fridge? Unfortunately she accidentally sent the email to the entire state police force and received many a reply including…. “Do you need the FBI? Have you sealed off the area? Has the dog unit been called?”

 A Vice President who accidentally sent details of all his employees’ salary on a company group email. Realizing his error, he set the fire alarm off to clear the office before deleting the email from every inbox.

 A colleague (we’ll call him John) of one of the editors was copied on an email sent to most of the top managers at the editor’s company, including a VP that no one respects (we’ll call him Carl). John intended to simply reply to the sender with the following message, but inadvertently hit Reply To All:

You’d better send this by carrier pigeon to Carl, I doubt he knows how to open his own email. – John

Or this guy who was emailing a customer back and forth. "He was considering buying my product and was also looking at the same product through a dealer (we sell retail and wholesale). Kept explaining that he was looking at exactly the same thing at two different price points. I finally lost patience and emailed my manager and asked him what I should tell this *******. Only problem was I hit the reply button and not the forward button."

You get the picture. These examples are just a few of the email fiasco's I found while searching the net. There are thousands out there. Stephen J. Dubner of the New York Times got 178 comments when he asked "what was the worst email mistake you ever made?".

One last precaution...Don't forget that a final spell check before hitting send can prevent hilarious or sometimes disastrous results. Reading forum messages, one guy says his worst mistake is spelling enhancement as enchantments. Another said he frequently types retards instead of regards. I once sent out a message to a worldwide library list identifying myself as a pubic librarian. 

Take a look at the article and let us know if you have any additional advice of mistakes to avoid, either ones you've seen or any of your own you feel comfortable sharing 

If you're still in need of some emailing tips you can pick up this book from our collection: 

Send : the essential guide to email for office and home / David Shipley and Will Schwalbe.



Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by CarolK


JANUARY 21, 2011
Speaking of censorship…
Just a week or so ago Carol posted about the new ‘altered’ edition of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Well, censorship has been a hot news topic again this week as the Enfield Public Library canceled a screening of Michael Moore’s film ‘Sicko,’ under pressure from Town Council members and the mayor, who threatened to cut the library’s funding if the film was shown. ‘Sicko,’ by the way, is a documentary comparing the for-profit American health care industry to non-profit systems in other nations like Canada, the UK, France, and Cuba.
Censorship in CT…how embarrassing. The only part of this story that brings a smile to my face is how ridiculous the Mayor, Scott R. Kaupin, sounds as he tries to defend the decision/threat. Here is a quote from Kaupin that I pulled from an article in the Journal Inquirer:

“I don’t even know why people make these decisions to go down those paths. It’s stupid. It’s like, it just blows my mind that people try to push the envelope with the public dime. Do nice stuff. Do uncontroversial, or if you want to step in the mode of being controversial, make sure it’s fair on both sides and it becomes a discussion. And it’s not a ‘fun flick,’ he said, referring to the name of the library’s film series (Fun Friday Flicks). A fun flick to me would be ‘Finding Nemo.’”
Really? Adults should come to the library to watch ‘safe’ films like Finding Nemo? Does he think that adults in Enfield can’t make their own decisions on whether to attend or not, or are unable to form their own opinions about the film?
Read the whole Journal Inquirer article here.

The Connecticut Library Association responded with this as part of a press release:

The Connecticut Library Association believes that public libraries should be a pillar of our American democracy and that democracy depends on an informed citizenry. People should be able to go their public library to read or view a wide variety of books and films about controversial topics and then make up their minds. Censoring the choices that people have or silencing the opposition is an insult to our form of government.

Peter Chase, chairman of CLA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee added this:

“The health care debate in America is exactly the kind of controversial issue that people need information on, and this is exactly what the public library should be doing,” Chase said. “Can you imagine what would happen to state libraries if individual town governments could just withdraw the materials they didn’t like?”

Well - can you imagine?

Michel Moore – love him or hate him, but at least enjoy the freedom of being able to decide for yourself. If you’re interested in watching this ‘dangerous’ film, stop by the Saxton B. to check out our copy.

For more information (and opinions) check out this press and blogger round-up on CLA’s website.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Megan Q.


JANUARY 17, 2011
2011 Reading Challenges

What's a book challenge? They're a bit different than New Year's Resolutions in that they are not a way to change behavior but a way to prod an already existing habit of reading and take this pleasure to a new level.

Over on GoodReads one of the groups I follow has started a discussion of reading challenges for 2011. Some have set a goal to read twenty more books this year, others have decided to read one more book a month, signing on to read eleven more books this year, leaving one month free. One person thinks challenge means to read something out of his comfort zone or to improve his mind, not read just for entertainment. Others plan to read new authors, read a whole series, read the books they own, read a classic or try a new genre. All noble ideas.

Though my own 2011 challenge is a simple one, to just read and enjoy whatever strikes my fancy, one person's challenge has really caught my eye and tickled me. This reader has set a challenge to read a children's picture book everyday for all of 2011 and to comment on each and every one of these. She is challenging herself in order to find good books to share with her 6 month old granddaughter who is living out of the country for the next two years. I love this idea and have been thoroughly enjoying her take on all the books she's read so far. Books like  The Mitten by Jan Brett, Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, I Love You Little One by Nancy Tafuri. She is reading books she's found on blogs, journals, ones friends have suggested or just books she finds on the shelves at her local library.


I've shared a couple of our family favorites with her...Jellybeans for Breakfast by Miriam Young, and Feathers for Lunch by Lois Ehlert.

Do you have any titles you'd tell her not to miss? Any reading challenges of your own? We'd love to hear them.

Add a comment  (6 comments) posted by CarolK


JANUARY 14, 2011
Travelers, vagabonds, and dreamers…
Last week my boyfriend and I semi-impulsively bought round trip plane tickets to Amsterdam for this spring. We usually buy the tickets first and plan later, so right now we don’t have a definite itinerary, but I’m thinking we’ll go Amsterdam – Paris – Brussels - back to Amsterdam to fly home. I already bought some of my favorite guidebooks:

Lonely Planet Amsterdam Encounter and Lonely Planet Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, and Ghent Encounter – wow what a mouthful! I used the LP Tokyo Encounter on my trip to Japan and I loved it. They have excellent maps and are so small they can fit into your purse!


I have trusted the Let’s Go! Guidebooks for MANY trips and they haven’t steered me wrong yet. I bought the 2011 Let’s Go! Paris for its off-the-beaten-path recommendations and cheap and reliable lodging suggestions.

Now I am looking for some good book recommendations to read either leading up to, or while on, my trip. One obvious choice for Amsterdam is The Diary of Anne Frank; believe it or not I’ve never read it. I’m also planning on reading Annexed, by Sharon Doger, a new young adult novel written from the viewpoint of Peter van Pels, who was nearly 16 when he and his parents joined the Franks hiding in their Amsterdam attic. It has had excellent reviews, and I am looking forward to reading it.


Here’s where I need your help, I know there has to be a ton of great Paris related reads – any suggestions? What about Belgium?
We do own Book Lust To Go: Recommended reading for travelers, vagabonds, and dreamers, by Nancy Pearl, which will give me some guidance, but some other vagabond (I won’t name any names), has it checked out right now!

OH - movies too! I’d love some good travel related movie recommendations while you’re at it!

Add a comment  (4 comments) posted by Megan Q.


JANUARY 10, 2011
Will the Real Huck Finn Please Rise
lf you know me, you might call me a peace keeper, one of those people who hate controversy and will do anything to avoid an altercation. I absolutely hate to debate subjects about religion, money or race. But the subject a new edition of Huck Finn which cleans up Mark Twain's classic by substituting slave for nigger, and indian for injun has me riled. What were they thinking? Would Mark Twain be rolling over in his grave or would he welcome the conversation?

l'm so mad I shouldn't even credit the new edition's writer or its' publisher but perhaps they deserve their just due. Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books. Justification for this new edition? Gribben states “After a number of talks, I was sought out by local teachers, and to a person they said we would love to teach this novel, and Huckleberry Finn, but we feel we can’t do it anymore. In the new classroom, it’s really not acceptable.” For a single word to form a barrier, it seems such an unnecessary state of affairs,” he said. The "N" word keeps the original Huck Finn out of many middle and high school classrooms.

What happened to teachers who would actually look at this as a teaching opportunity, discussing the history of the term, talking about language and the way it changes? You know, actually "Talk About It"! How can our young people know who we are and how we got here if our history is tidied up or swept under a rug?

Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is fine just the way it is written for me. Many other s agree as supporters came to Twain's defense this past week, including many librarians across the country.

Tom Cooper, director of Webster Groves Public Library seems right on target when he states:

"And this is horrendous because kids who have not otherwise encountered it will now see the censored version, and there will be the tendency to think 'what's all the talk about racism about, it doesn't seem like it's so bad to me . My grandmother was a proud, capable Southern woman, but also a terrible racist, something I often forgot, except it would come rushing back to me whenever she would glibly use the 'n word' to describe her Black neighbors. I shudder even now to remember. Words have power. That's what literature is about. You change the words, you change its essence. Period. "

Hurray for author, Neil Gaiman, who states:

"People asking about [the altered Huck Finn]. It's public domain, so you can make Huck a Klingon if you want, but it's not Mark Twain's book."

Any controversial subject worth its' salt should prompt loads of discussion and almost always, some humorous commentary. I got the biggest kick out of these Naughty Novels as depicted in Nate Beeler's 'Toons published in the Washington Examiner:

You can read an excerpt of the new, and not so improved edition here. Perhaps you disagree with me and have a different point of view about this finagling with Huck Finn. If so, I'd really like to hear it and promise to listen with an open mind.

Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by CarolK


JANUARY 7, 2011
Welcome to the Year of the Rabbit...

What year were you born in the Chinese zodiac calendar?

Rat 1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008
Ox 1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009
Tiger 1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010
Rabbit 1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 2011
Dragon 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 2012
Snake 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013
Horse 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 2014
Sheep 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 2015
Monkey 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 2016
Rooster 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 2017
Dog 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006 2018
Pig 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007 2019

Last night at our Mother-Daughter Book Club meeting we got to talking about the Chinese Zodiac Calendar. We just read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, a Newbury Honor book that follows a young girl, Minli, on her journey to find the Old Man of the Moon to ask him to change her family’s fortune. It’s a GREAT story, and combines fantasy with traditional Chinese folktales – I highly recommend it. Anyways, Grace Lin also wrote The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat, which is what lead us into the discussion about the Chinese Zodiac Calendar. We had fun looking up what our birth years were and reading the descriptions to see if they matched our personalities. Surprisingly enough many were spot on.

So, I’m a pig. Maybe not the most glamorous of the signs, but I’ll take it. The traits fit me pretty well and there was one part of the description that was especially interesting:

“Pig people love to read, are generally thirsty for knowledge, and not readily talkative, but if presented with an opportunity to discuss topics of interest with like-minded individuals Pigs may find themselves talking non-stop for hours!”

Maybe becoming a librarian was my destiny.

If you’re curious about your zodiac sign here is the website I used – see if your sign fits you!

Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by Megan Q.


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