Friday, April 30, 2010

"M" is for the Million Things She Gave Me

Mother's Day : A Great Day for Stories
To celebrate mom in a special way, why not cuddle on the couch together and read some special stories made just for mom and child? Here are a few of our favorites:

I Love You Mommy by Lizi Boyd
Just Me and My Mom by Mercer Mayer
Me & You : A Mother-Daughter Album by Lisa Thiesing
A Special Day for Mommy by Dan Andreasen
Tucking Mommy In by Morag Loh
A Present for Mom by Vivian French
Max and the Dumb Flower Picture by Martha Alexander

If you haven't decided what to give mom on her special day (Sunday May 9th) be sure to check out the following "how to" books and websites to get your creative juices flowing:

Mother's Day Crafts by Jean Eick
Kaboose Crafts
Family Fun Crafts

Or, skip the gift and check out the Hartford Courant's list of where to enjoy family brunch at nearby restaurants. Locally, Angelico's Lakehouse will be offering a Mother's Day buffet; Sadler's (Marlborough) also offers a gourmet breakfast on Saturdays and Sundays. Add to your Mother's Day dining choices menus offered by Governor's Tavern and Rossini's.

Post by Kathleen Sands

Thursday, April 29, 2010

East Side, West Side, All Around the Town

I Spy Weekend Happenings
If you are looking for cool doings this weekend, make plans to stay in town. On Friday, April 30 and Saturday, May 1, give it up for Podium Players' spring production of A Nice Family Gathering, a comedy by Phil Olson. You'll meet the Lundeen family on Thanksgiving Day, at the first gathering after the family's patriarch died. Problem is, Dad's a ghost with unfinished business and Mom brings a date to dinner...

Both performances begin at 7:30 p.m. at the Goff House. Click here for ticket information.

On Sunday, May 2, the Haddam Neck Covenant Church (HNCC) will sponsor Music 'n Java at the Goff. Enjoy an eclectic variety of music (jazz, country, inspirational, new age) in the the lovely atmosphere provided by the Goff House.

This event is free and begins at 4:00 p.m. A free-will offering and a non-perishable food item will be gratefully accepted. 100% of all proceeds will be given to the East Hampton Food Bank. Phone the HNCC at 860-267-2336 for additional information.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Good Samaritan

Tea for Three
Many are reading Greg Mortenson's books about his effort to change the face of Afghanistan by building schools for girls anywhere he can lay down a brick. My bet is fewer current affairs book aficionados are reading Tea with Hezbollah : Sitting at the Enemies' Table, Our Journey through the Middle East by Ted Dekker and Carl Medearis.

Dekker's best known as a Christian fiction author; Medearis is an 'international expert in the field of Arab-American and Muslim-Christian relations'. Together, the authors did something both audacious and dangerous by travelling to the Middle East -- places such as Syria, Jordan and the West Bank -- seeking out leaders of Hamas, Hezbollah, Druze, Al-Qaeda and others for sit-down, face-to-face interviews over tea. The primary purpose? To find out if Christ's parable about the 'Good Samaritan' is still viable.

Doesn't sound like anything unusual until you read the actual interviews; all in the book verbatim and straight from the tape recorder. Questions like "What's your favorite joke?"; "What kind of car do you drive?"; "What's your favorite movie?"; "When was the last time you cried and why?"; and then the big one... "Do you believe in being a Good Samaritan?"

Read the book; compare answers; then sit back and stew about it.

Post by Phil Carr

Sunday, April 25, 2010

Mystery Tails

A 100 Pound Pooch with Attitude
If you love mysteries and dogs, you won't want to miss two delightful books : Dog on It and Thereby Hangs a Tail, the first two in what we hope will be an ongoing Bernie and Chet mystery series by Spencer Quinn.

Bernie is an ex-cop turned detective and Chet is his canine partner who rides shotgun and narrates the stories. Combine all the components of well-plotted mysteries with dog behaviors any pet owner will recognize, and you have a pleasant alternative to more over the top contemporary novels. Both books may also be fun for dog-loving teens looking for a vampire-free whodunit with a fast moving plot.

Surf's Up
Chet the dog, though fictional, has apparently caught the social networking bug. He has his own blog, Facebook page and Twitter account. Doggie smartphones all around!

Posted by Bev Simmons

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Building for Play

'Staycation' Homes for Kids
With the popularity of making home an exciting place has come heightened interest in building or remodeling home recreation centers. For parents interested in building treehouses and play areas, the library offers useful titles with interesting plans and creative ideas.

Robert Miskimon's new book, The Complete Guide to Building Your Own Tree House : for Parents & Adults Who Are Kids at Heart includes designs from the simple to the sublime. Chapters on safety concerns and allowing the kids to help are especially good; the book also comes with a DIY CD-ROM.

Better Homes & Gardens Playsets covers DIY techniques, materials, and project ideas using step-by-step illustrations and instructions. Sunset Backyards for Kids considers a developing kid's interests : sandboxes, swings, structures, games and sports.

Philip Schmidt authors building and woodworking books and here weighs in with Build Your Kid a Treehouse. Title includes photos and detailed plans.

David & Jeanie Stiles add to the mix with Treehouses & Playhouses You Can Build. Emphasis is on basic tools and materials, backed up by photos and line drawings intended to highlight affordable projects.

Post by Bev Simmons

Happy Anniversary Hubble!

A Mirror to the Past
Today marks the 20th anniversary of the Hubble Space Telescope whose operation has granted us a greater view of our own solar system and distant galaxies formed shortly after the birth of the Universe. Hubble has helped prove and advance different theories for astronomy and physics and has outlived its original projected life span, allowing us to glimpse and understand our place in the cosmos and the life and structure of the Universe. If you would like to learn more about this amazing telescope and see some of the images that it has provided, you can do so through books and websites.

Further Reading
The Universe in a Mirror : the Saga of the Hubble Telescope and the Visionaries Who Built It by Robert Zimmerman

A Journey Through Time : Exploring the Universe with the Hubble Space Telescope by Jay Barbree and Martin Caidin ; foreword by John H. Glenn, Jr.

Hubble : the Mirror on the Universe by Robin Kerrod

Close Encounters : Exploring the Universe with the Hubble Space Telescope by Elaine Scott

Surf's Up

NASA's Hubble Site

Post by Ian Dunbar
Photo : Dust Band Around the Nucleus of "Black Eye Galaxy" M64
Credit : NASA and The Hubble Heritage Team (AURA/STScI)

Friday, April 23, 2010

Coming This Spring and Summer : Books-to-Film

Read the Book, See the Movie
Several upcoming films for the big screen are... drum roll... based on books! Maybe we should be posting this news on our Movies & Music Blog but for sure, the books came first.

Ridely Scott directs the latest addition to the Robin Hood canon (hello to Errol and Mel) which hits the big screen on May 14. We can't help but wonder how Scott's film will tie to an arguably most famous version of the Robin Hood legends, Howard Pyle's 1883 classic.

June's big screen wonders include adaptations of Chris Greenhalgh's Coco Chanel and Igor Stravinsky and Jim Thompson's cult classic, The Killer Inside Me.

Sebastian Junger's latest book, War, is due for release on May 11; Junger was an embedded journalist who followed an infantry platoon of the U.S. 2d Battalion in eastern Afghanistan. Restrepo is a feature-length, book-based documentary due for release in early July. Junger's book may soon share a spot on summer reading and book discussion lists, along with Tim O'Brien's The Things They Carried.

More to come about summer season's books-to-film as the release dates unfold.

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Norman Mailer: The Sixth Time Around

The Naked and the Naked
I just finished A Ticket to the Circus by Norris Church Mailer, significant other to author Norman Mailer by marriage: his 6th, her second. The story made me think of a pinball machine with Mrs. Mailer being the bright silver game focus that manages with just one pull of the lever to hit everyone of relative importance in the twentieth century.

Mrs. Mailer starts out as a free, young spirit from Arkansas who became a rebellious art teacher. Her notoriety eventually gets her an invitation to a party that happens to be hosting Norman Mailer. If you read between the lines the rather glaring text actually says she bullied herself through the door...

The rest is a gossipy history of a 27 year long and very complicated marriage to one of the 20th century's most influential writers. Mailer's peccadilloes are a hoot though I still wish he'd lived long enough to finish the second half of Harlot's Ghost. Darn.

Post by Phil Carr

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Hot Picks : April 'Buzz' Continues...

Great Reads
Maybe we've liked the bee theme a little too much this month (bee books for kids and beekeeping for adults) but these books are certainly buzz-worthy. Mix and match, fiction and non-fiction.

The Burning Lamp by Amanda Quick
Quick (a.k.a. Jayne Ann Krentz) delivers a standalone historical fantasy that should please readers of the author's Arcane Society series.

Deliver Us from Evil by David Baldacci
Sequel to 2008's The Whole Truth. Expect a surprise ending.

Oprah : A Biography by Kitty Kelley
Kelley, queen of the dishy celebrity/politico bio, takes on Oprah Winfrey, queen of afternoon TV and influential American icon.

Edge of Apocalypse by Tim LaHaye and Craig Parshall
The latest 'end of days' novel from the creator of the Left Behind series.

A Ticket to the Circus by Norris Church Mailer
Mailer's sixth wife contributes to the legend. Catch library staff member Phil Carr's review.

Lucid Intervals by Stuart Woods
The latest Stone Barrington suspense novel, after 2009's Kisser.

You Are Not a Gadget : a Manifesto by Jaron Lanier
Computer scientist and Internet guru, Lanier, offers his measured view of online culture : the good, the bad, and the ugly. Listen to Tom Ashbrook's conversation with the author on Boston's NPR radio station,

The Big Short by Michael Lewis
Anyone who does (or still doesn't) understand the language of mortgage-backed unsecured securities will walk away from this one informed and uncomfortable. A thriller for sure... kinda' like Fantasy Football.

You Look Fine, Really by Christie Mellor
Mellor has much to say to women who have hit the big 4-0. Nothing earth-shaking here but a fun 'get-real' book about how to enjoy a mid-life ride without being hard on yourself.

Eight Days to Live by Iris Johansen
A sequel to 2009's Blood Game, the book also revives John MacDuff and Jock Gavin, last seen in 2006's Killer Dreams. Plenty 'o hocus pocus for fans of the author's Eve Duncan forensic series.

Ready for Checkout Next Tuesday:
Island Beneath the Sea by Isabel Allende
Return to Sender by Fern Michaels
9th Judgment by James Patterson

April is National Poetry Month

Celebrating Poetry
We here offer third in a series of National Poetry Month posts; 2010 celebration. Thank you for offering many insightful 'over the desk' comments about this series. Good to know reading poetry is still on so many of our local readers' to-do lists.

Annie Finch (1956-) was born in New Rochelle, NY, to a family with poets, artists, intellectuals and political activists on both her mother’s and her father’s side. She herself is a poet, librettist, and translator who currently is Professor of English at the University of Southern Maine, and Director of its Stonecoast MFA Program. She holds six honors and awards for her work as author of three collections of poetry, four titles on poetics, a bilingual translation of the work of Louise LabĂ©, two libretti, and as editor of six anthologies including A Formal Feeling Comes — for which she is probably best known. The poem that follows is her contemporary response to one by the 17th century British statesman and author, Andrew Marvell, “To His Coy Mistress,” and it appears to be addressed to him:

Coy Mistress

Sir, I am not a bird of prey:
a Lady does not seize the day.
I trust that brief Time will unfold
our youth, before he makes us old.
How could we two write lines of rhyme
were we not fond of numbered Time
and grateful to the vast and sweet
trials his days will make us meet:
The Grave's not just the body's curse;
no skeleton can pen a verse!
So while this numbered World we see,
let's sweeten Time with poetry,
and Time, in turn, may sweeten Love
and give us time our love to prove.
You've praised my eyes, forehead, breast:
you've all our lives to praise the rest.

Further Reading:
A Formal Feeling Comes : Poems in Form by Contemporary Women, edited by Annie Finch

Content developed by local resident and poet Leland Jamieson, author of:
21st Century Bread (2007)
In Vitro : New Short Rhyming Poems Post-9/11 (2009)

Photo Credit : Jeffrey Cantrell

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Catch the Buzz...

A Beekeeper's Primer
If you are interested in beekeeping and looking to get started, here are some enjoyable and useful titles.

The Backyard Beekeeper : An Absolute Beginner's Guide to Keeping Bees in Your Yard and Garden by Kim Flottum is a revised and updated guide which includes "greening" suggestions and advice. Detailed color photographs with instructional captions make this title a standout. The book's in-depth coverage is not only about bees but the the uses and value of honey. Anyone looking for recipes using honey will find hundreds of tasty suggestions between the covers.

Further Reading
Honeybee : Lessons from an Accidental Beekeeper by C. Marina Marchese
Beekeeping for Dummies by Howland Blackiston
A Keeper of Bees : Notes on Hives and Honey by Allison Wallace
Robbing the Bees : A Biography : The Sweet Liquid Gold that Seduced the World by Holley Bishop

Post by Bev Simmons

Friday, April 16, 2010

The Worms Crawl In, the Worms Crawl Out...

Home Composting
If you have decided to try your hand at home composting, the library holds a variety of titles on the specific subject as well as more general titles about organic gardening. Remember, by composting and recycling, you can reduce the amount of garbage you generate by up to 80%. The added bonus is the compost you generate will make your garden and lawn healthier, and less dependent on chemicals, fertilizers and watering.

And don't forget our Earth Machine offer, now through May 22!

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Early Literacy Fun for Little People

April: Fingerplay of the Month
Here is a good fingerplay that mimics the sights and sounds of buzz-worthy beings and the environment. In addition to the counting component, which you can use to count up or count down the number of bees coming out of the hive, the fingerplay will help children learn to identify living things in the world around them. The fingerplay also offers a great way to introduce your child to books about insects, flowers, and honey as related topics.

Here Is a Beehive (Follow-along Video Plus Script)

Here is the beehive.
Where are the bees?
They're hidden away where nobody sees!
Watch them come out of their hive..
One, Two, Three, Four, Five!

Further Reading
There is plenty of buzz-buzz-buzz about books for the picture book crowd plus books for curious older readers:
Bee-wigged by Cece Bell
Bee and Me by Elle McGuinness
Harry's Bee by Peter Campbell
Big Bug Surprise by Julia Gran (Easy Reader)
Bees by James Joyce (Non-fiction, Nature's Children Series)

Friday, April 09, 2010

Brothers in Arms : Fiction and Non-fiction

Good Reads About a Horrific Subject
Hugh Ambrose, son of noted historian, the late Stephen Ambrose, serves as a consultant on the 10-part HBO mini-series, The Pacific. The book tells the stories of amphibious landings on Peleliu and Iwo Jima and the campaigns on Guadalcanal and Okinawa. Read the author's companion book as well as other titles on which the miniseries is based.

Matterhorn : a Novel of the Vietnam War by Karl Marlantes has found a place on many a bestseller list, along side rave reviews. The novel is set in Quang-Tri province, site of many of the war's fiercest battles. The author is a highly decorated Vietnam veteran, Yale graduate, and Rhodes scholar.

In Daring Young Men : the Heroism and Triumph of the Berlin Airlift, June 1948-May 1949, author Richard Reeves details the harrowing journey of two men who risked their lives to defy the Soviet blockade intended to drive Western powers out of Berlin.

Alternate history (what-if) novels can sometimes be chancy; this one is particularly good. Robert Conroy's Red Inferno, 1945 speculates on what might have happened after Yalta, if Allied armies had moved to stop Stalin's grab for much of Europe. Very scary take but plausible.

Thursday, April 08, 2010

Hello 4H and Back-to-the-Landers!

Backyard Farms
If you're looking for practical specifics about adding animals to your sustainable living plan, the library can help.

Try general works such as The Joy of Keeping Farm Animals : the Ultimate Guide to Raising Your Own Food by Laura Childs or specific titles (goats, poultry, sheep, etc.) from the folks at Storey Books. Also try the broader work Homesteading : a Backyard Guide to: Growing Your Own Food, Canning, Keeping Chickens, Generating Your Own Energy, Crafting, Herbal Medicine, and More edited by Abigail R. Gehring. This one offers a variety of ideas to the eco-minded, twenty-first-century homeowner.

Post by Bev Simmons

Saturday, April 03, 2010

April is National Poetry Month

Celebrating Poetry
We here offer second in a series of National Poetry Month posts; 2010 celebration.

Phillis Wheatley (1753-1784) was born in Gambia, Senegal. At age 7, a slave on the auction block, she elicited the highest from bid John Wheatley and his wife, of Boston, who sought a domestic. Encouraged to learn to read and write, she became a student of the poetry of Alexander Pope and John Milton. In 1772, in Britain, she published Poems... Religious and Moral, becoming the first published Afro-American woman — to wide acclaim in Britain and the Colonies. It earned her manumission, but not the full rights of a free woman. She married a free black grocer to whom she bore three children (two predeceased her). She lost both her literary patrons and her audience in the Revolutionary War. Her husband landed in debtor’s prison in 1784. She died alone the same year — an impoverished boarding-house domestic in Boston.

An Elegy on Leaving —
FAREWELL! ye friendly bow’rs, ye streams adieu,
I leave with sorrow each sequester’d seat:
The lawns, where oft I swept the morning dew,
The groves, from noon-tide rays a kind retreat.

Yon wood-crown’d hill, whose far projecting shade,
Inverted trembles in the limpid lake:
Where wrapt in thought I pensively have stray’d,
For crowds and noise, reluctant, I forsake.

The solemn pines, that, winding through the vale,
In grateful rows attract the wand’ring eye,
Where the soft ring-dove pours her soothing tale,
No more must veil me from the fervid sky.

Beneath yon aged oak’s protecting arms,
Oft-times beside the pebbl’d brook I lay;
Where, pleas’d with simple Nature’s various charms,
I pass’d in grateful solitude the day.

Rapt with the melody of Cynthio’s strain,
There first my bosom felt poetic flame;
Mute was the bleating language of the plain,
And with his lays the wonton fawns grew tame.

But, ah! Those pleasing hours are ever flown;
Ye scenes of transport from my thoughts retire;
Those rural joys no more the day shall crown,
No more my hand shall wake the warbling lyre.

But come, sweet Hope, from thy divine retreat,
Come to my breast, and chase my cares away,
Bring calm content to gild my gloomy seat,
And cheer my bosom with her heav’nly ray.
Further Reading: The Collected Works of Phillis Wheatley, edited with an essay by John C. Shields.

Content developed by local resident and poet Leland Jamieson, author of:

A Different Kind of 'Listmania'

Inventory: 16 Films Featuring Manic Pixie Dream Girls, 10 Great Songs Nearly Ruined by the Saxophone, and 104 More Obsessively Specific Pop Culture Lists
If you find yourself in the mood to peruse figuratively important lists about American pop culture, give a little attention to the above titled book. Lists included in the book are plentiful and all over the lot; here's a fun few:
  • 20 Not-so Good Movies Based on Good Books
  • 10 American TV Series with Satisfying Endings
  • 100 Killer Songs Clocking in at Two Minutes or Less
  • 15 Movies Where the Crazies Are Right
  • 18-Plus Truly Tough Superhero Adolescents
  • 14 Cover Songs That Outdo the Originals
Just so you know what to expect in the way of humor, Inventory is brought to you by the A.V. Club, the arts and entertainment section of the popular satirical weekly, The Onion. Couple 'o Onion titles also available here.

Friday, April 02, 2010

Hot Picks for Warmer Days

Spring Tune Up
Your favorite mystery authors seem to dominate the list of this coming Tuesday's hot picks; a few are shown above. Not to worry if mystery reads are not your thing...

The Black Cat by Martha Grimes : The 22nd Richard Jury mystery (after Dust) is for fans of Martha and anyone who loves animal mysteries.

Cat the Century by Rita Mae Brown : Hello again to Sneaky Pie, latest after 2008's Santa Clawed.

Changes by Jim Butcher : Wizard detective Harry Dresden returns, after 2009's Turn Coat. If you're a fan of sci-fi, fantasy, or occult fiction; give Butcher a try. He's good at mixing it up.

The Lake Shore Limited by Sue Miller : Four characters, a play within a novel, and a deep look at grief and healing. From the author of 2008's blockbuster, The Senator's Wife.

The Last Time I Saw You by Elizabeth Berg : Dorothy Shauman prepares for her 40th high school reunion...

Laughed 'Til He Died by Carolyn Hart : Annie Darling and her husband Max hunt for a killer in the latest high glory-low gore Death on Demand mystery (after 2009's Dare to Die).

A River in the Sky by Elizabeth Peters : Amelia and Emerson follow an expedition searching for the vanished treasures of the Temple in Jerusalem. Besides suspecting the leader of the expedition of inept excavation practices, they believe him to be secretly working for German intelligence.

The Walk by Richard Paul Evans : First in a new series of inspirational novels by the author of The Christmas Box.

Brain Science

Spice, Nice, Snails, Tails
Neuropsychiatrist Louann Brizendine, author of best-selling book The Female Brain (2006), recently followed up with a companion volume, The Male Brain. Both titles explore how pink and blue brains are mostly alike... but different...

Though Brizendine's breezy contentions are the subject of debate in scientific communities, both books include plenty of "aha!" moments for fans of the Venus-Mars franchise.

Surf's Up
Listen to a 2006 NPR author interview about the girl book and a GMA interview about the boy book.

Thursday, April 01, 2010

April is Cancer Control Month

"The greatest wealth is health." ~ Virgil
Cancer is a terrible disease and the second leading cause of death in our country. Though cancer survival rates are increasing, there is still so much we have to learn about cancer in order to control it. There are also many people working to understand the disease and many publications that help people become more informed. This month become one of those people! In addition to recent titles about specific types of cancer, here's a quick list of recent general works:

Anticancer : a new way of life by David Servan-Schreiber

What to eat during cancer treatment : 100 great tasting great-tasting, family-friendly recipes to help you cope by Jeanne Besser

Alternative Medicine Magazine's definitive guide to cancer by Lise Alschuler

The cancer survivor's guide : foods that help you fight back by Neal D. Barnard

National Organizations Plus
American Cancer Society
National Cancer Institute
Prevent Cancer Foundation
Mayo Clinic

Alternative Theories

Gerson Institute
Weston A. Price Foundation

iCONN, "Connecticut's research engine", features free access to a variety of online databases including MedlinePlus and Health & Wellness Resource Center. Both of these resources focus on consumer and alternative health information. Good deal since all you need to access quality info is... a library card.

Post by Kathleen Sands

Sprite Tracking Prep School

Footprint Friday's @ your library
For those of you in second or third grade who were not with us for Footprint Friday on March 19th, we delved into the land of sprite tracking by making a hand crafted field guide complete with a dress-your-own sprite on the front cover. We saved some pages for leaf rubbings to be completed with the leaves we found on the library property; the leaves looked like they might have been touched by a sprite! The hand crafted book even included a fold out page for you to draw an over-sized map of your house to mark sprite sightings!

Join us once a month for Footprint Friday as we delve into other fun and popular series books! Next program is Friday, April 30. Only a few openings left...