Tuesday, January 16, 2018

Martin Luther King Day

We had a fantastic program of Martin Luther King Day events here at Governor’s Academy. Darryl Davis spoke to the entire community in the morning about his lifelong quest to understand racism, and then we broke into groups for various trainings and workshops. After lunch and advisory meetings we came together again for an open mic opportunity where many students chose to read poetry. Their courage and incredible voices impressed me, and reminded me of what a potent medium poetry can be. In the past few years I have been especially moved by a number of Young Adult books written in verse by authors of color that I thought I would share for MLK Day.

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson
This book won heaps of awards in 2014 and deserved every one of them. The phrasing and use of language is gorgeous, dynamic and paints a picture that stays with me even years later. It is autobiographical about growing up in 1960’s and 70’s, and her beginnings as a reader and writer. Woodson recently became the National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature.

Solo by Kwame Alexander and Mary Rand Hess
Blade is about to graduate from high school when faced with many typical teen issues--like girlfriend problems--and some not so typical--like dealing with his alcoholic rock star father. When he learns life altering information he travels to Africa to find out the truth. The language is beautiful, the characters are original, and the story is captivating. Alexander is the author of many books written in verse including The Crossover which won the Newbury Medal.

Long Way Down by Jason Reynolds
Reynolds is a poet motivated to “NOT WRITE BORING BOOKS” according to his Amazon bio, and he succeeded with Long Way Down. On his way to possibly avenge his brother’s death, Will endures a fantastical elevator trip that questions his memories and his motivation. Reynolds plays with structure and voice to create something unique while telling a difficult story about loss the cycle of violence. Reynold’s style and the challenging story make this a quick page-turner and good introduction to books in verse for a reader that wants to try something different.

I am also really looking forward to the March release of Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X. This will be Acevedo’s first foray into YA literature, but her award winning slam poetry style and feminist slant seem a sure bet for a great read. We already have it in the cart and I for one can’t wait to get my hands on it.

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

The Moons of January

This week, we will look in on DDC section 523.3, aka the Moon. Just so you know, the whole 520 section (in the big room on the second floor of the library) is about astronomy in general. Math, physics, and paleontology are nearby subjects.

This is kind of an awesome time to look at the Moon, both in books and in real life. So far in the month of January, we had a 3-day long full moon which was also a Supermoon. It was 14% wider and 30% brighter than your normal full moon. Some names for this first full moon in January are the Wolf Moon, the Ice Moon, the Old Moon, and the Long Night Moon.

The next full moon, on January 31, will be another Supermoon. It will also be a Blue Moon. Not to be outdone, there will be a lunar eclipse that will turn the moon reddish. This makes our Blue Moon a Blood Moon as well. So, right at the end of the month, you can see a super blue Blood Moon. Stop by the astronomy section for books that explain the whole thing better than this. If you want to grapple with this whole moon thing in detail, try NASA’s online project to make a moon phase calculator of your own (https://goo.gl/tFfUzq).


Friday, January 05, 2018

Winter Books

January 5, 2018

            It’s no secret that I really hate cold weather and all of the nasty by-products that come along with it. It’s also no secret that I really like to read--a lot. So I take winter as open invitation to cuddle up under multiple layers and read to my heart’s content with no feelings of guilt that I should be doing anything else. As the coldest weekend of the year approaches I am thinking about places and times when people had it much worse than we do. Like watching an episode of Hoarders to feel better about my house, why not read books to make me feel better about the weather? Here is a short list of books that might just fit the bill:

Call of the Wild by Jack London
 Sled dogs have it hard, and Buck certainly survives horrible treatment and conditions in Alaska. Originally serialized in The Saturday Evening Post, Call of the Wild may be too brutal and dated for some readers, but is still thought by many to be a classic.

The Shining by Stephen King
Stuck in a cold, empty, haunted hotel during a brutal winter with a crazy writer? Not for me, but a much beloved scary read.

Snow Falling on Cedars by David Guterson
I read this a long time ago, but the setting of San Piedro Island in the Pacific Northwest always stayed with me. A murder mystery with a large serving of historical fiction that takes place in a cold, wet, rainy climate.

The Snow Child by Eowyn Ivey
A childless couple living in 1920’s Alaska attempt to stave off their sadness by building a child out of snow are surprised when she seems to come to life. Beautiful book about love and family while homesteading in the unforgiving Alaskan wild.

Game of Thrones by George R.R. Martin
Winter is coming…

For these books and more come check out our winter display, and keep warm!

Thursday, December 14, 2017

What a great year of Library Trivia! Thanks to everyone who played--we had a lot of fun and we hope that you did, too. 25 players answered all twelve correctly and 7 answered 11.

The Answers: 

DAY 1: Bill Quigley has a book in Pescosolido Library. (Also acceptable: Jeff Kelley whose thesis is in the stacks.)

DAY 2: William Faulkner supposedly wrote As I Lay Dying in 6 weeks while working the night shift at a Mississippi power plant...he claims that he was drunk most of the time. (Believable.)

DAY 3: Nathanael West’s novel The Day of the Locust features a character named Homer Simpson.

DAY 4: Fitzgerald used the words daiquiri, t-shirt and wicked in his first novel, This Side of Paradise in 1920.  (There were a few Great Gatsby answers...sorry!)

Controversial DAY 5: The answer we were looking for was John Green. He worked for the ALA for six years before publishing his first book. Although not exactly correct we will also accept Daniel Kraus and Michael Cart who are YA authors and work for Booklist.

DAY 6: The oldest working library is in Fez, Morocco.  The al-Qarawiyyin library was founded in 859 CE--by a woman, Fatima El-Fihriya.

DAY 7:  Starbucks took its name from the chief mate in Moby Dick.

DAY 8: From left to right the three people are: Allen Ginsberg, Emily Dickinson, and Gwendolyn Brooks--all poets. (And yes, all American, and all dead.)

DAY 9: Zora Neale Hurston was an author of the Harlem Renaissance who also studied anthropology at Barnard College and Columbia University.

DAY 10: Bibliosmia is the act of smelling a book for pleasure, but all answers that involve smelling books will be accepted.

DAY 11: Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss was written to win a $50 bet that he couldn’t write a book with 50 words or less.

DAY 12: JK Rowling was the first author to make over one billion dollars from her work.

We have prizes at the library for the winners.

(We realize that we are not exactly Price Waterhouse, so if you think that we made a mistake we probably did...come see us.)

Thanks again to anyone who played & Happy Holidays!!

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Folklore and Tradtions

With classes and school responsibilities done for a while, you might want to look at the world in a completely new way for a few weeks. For Winter Break, let’s check out the 300 nonfiction section, which covers the Social Sciences, including (among others) Political Science, Education, and Law. Today, we’re going to look at a few books in the Customs, Manners, and Folklore subsection.

Many cultures have at least one holiday in the winter months. Traditions particular to cold weather are also common. The Folklore of World Holidays pretty much covers the range, as well as warmer months. This book, found in the Reference section, is set up in encyclopedia fashion. That means that it is designed for you to look up individual topics rather than read the whole from start to finish. Very similar books can be found in the regular (non-Reference) stacks upstairs. (398.2 MAC)

If you're interested in looking more closely at a more historical take on "stories, customs, and rites of passage" relating to the United States, The Book of American Traditions might be a good read for you. Each topic, like New Year's Day, contains a number of very short pieces that describe older practices. Did you know that dressing up for Halloween is actually pretty recent? Kids used to just make mischief all night. See 391 JEN for more examples of some very strange habits in American social history.

Although this last book is a little off-topic, I had to include The World of Lore: Monstrous Creatures, by Aaron Mahnke. It is a collection of short pieces from the Lore podcast. Each story examines not just a creepy bit of (international) folklore but also the social context that it comes from. It's a book well worth checking out, even if it is is shelved under Monsters and Zombies (001.944)


Thursday, December 07, 2017

Explorations for Vacations

Have you ever wanted to add a little adventure to your life over Break? Does adventure travel sound appealing, but you just don't have the time to fit it in? Have you ever, faintly lost, wandered the shelves in the library, wondering how the books are arranged? Well, today, we're going to explore the 900s section of the nonfiction collection to see what we find. (Hint: the 900s span includes books about History and Geography, as well as some closely related topics.)

So, what does all that have to do with adventure and exploration? How about we think of exploration as we step over to the Bragdon Room to pick a few books to start your adventure:

First off is a fine winter-weather collection of stories about a really, really cold place, the Arctic and many of the incredibly tough people who tried to explore it. While some have succeeded and now flourish living within the Arctic Circle, others were unsuccessful at best, terminally late at worst. If you're interested in extreme cold-weather tales of endurance, check out the 919s. This is the section for "geography of and travel in Australasia, Pacific Ocean islands, Atlantic Ocean islands, Arctic islands, Antarctica and on extraterrestrial worlds." The Icemen: 919.8 CON

If Arctic extremes of weather doesn't do it for you, how about we go in the opposite direction? We can while away quite a few miles, 24000 in fact, around the Equator in much more balmy circumstances. Warmer, but maybe not safer. Because Western exploration had a distinctly northern bias for so long, many explorers thought they were poking around at the ends of the Earth. Their stories are amazing. If you could try a little travelers' tales, check out the 910s. This section specializes in geographers, travelers, explorers regardless of country of origin. Latitude Zero: 910.92 GUA

If you just want to stay local and not reach quite as far as the Equator, how about checking out some of the absurdities to be found right here in the state of Massachusetts? A trip to the Moon might be too hard to arrange, but how about a trip to a house made entirely of paper (Rockport)? Or to a museum dedicated to bad art (Dedham)? Or to a memorial to a cookie (Whitman)? Day tripping in New England can be weird and wonderfully enlightening. Check out the 917s for more ideas for local adventuring. The geography of and travel in North America section brings you these gems. Massachusetts Curiosities: 917.44 GEL

The last stop on our exploration is 13th Century England. This isn't strictly travel to adventurous geography like the other selections, but it is too strange to miss knowing about. Did you know that King John of England (known as King John the Bad) moved the crown jewels of England from one place to another while he was fighting his subjects? The weird part is that the wagon train with the treasure completely vanished while crossing a marsh. Not one person, ox, or golden treasure piece has ever been found. To this day, no one knows exactly what happened to those carters and John's millions. 942 holds more history of England and Wales in all its flavors. King John: 942.03 MOR


Sunday, December 03, 2017

Freaky Fairy Tales

Has it been a while since you read a fairy tale? If so, you might be surprised at some modern versions of old-time stories. Check out one of these odd little tales for to read over break -- Mother Goose is a long way behind these freaky, slightly fractured stories. Children are definitely optional.

Fractured Fairy Tales by A.J. Jacobs. These short tales were originally shown as cartoons during The Adventures of Rocky and Bullwinkle show. These stories are the original bent, folded, and mutilated fairy tales. Think twisted, punny, and many unexpected endings. (SC JAC)

Tam Lin by Pamela Dean. Tam Lin is a modern retelling of the ancient Scottish song by the same name. In this version, a Scottish forest is a college campus and Tam Lin is a student. The magic, intrigue, and angry Queen of the Fairies are still there. Tam Lin is a cult classic for people who like fantastic fiction and romance. (FIC DEA)

Fables: The Mean Seasons by Bill Willingham etc. Winner of many awards, the Vertigo series author remakes several fairy tales by throwing the characters (Cinderella, a "big, bearded man who lives in the North,"... into present-day New York City. Chaos and catastrophes ensue, as in Colin the Pig’s severed head answering when Snow White asks him if it’s over and if things will ever get better—“Oh dear, oh dear. I wish I could say it did, Snow. I truly wish I could.”  (GN WIL FAB v. 5)