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October is Here

by on October 3rd, 2015

This October is shaping up to be an exciting month for books. Not only are we currently celebrating the Iowa City Book Festival this weekend, but the list of authors who have new books this month is impressive. Want proof? Here is a selection of what’s coming out this month:

October 6

mtrain Carry On by Rainbow Rowell

The Clasp by Sloane Crosley

M Train by Patti Smith

The Secret Chord by Geraldine Brooks Read the rest of this entry »

IC Farmer’s Market Harvest Storytime Recap

by on October 3rd, 2015

With a chill in the air, it was time for the last Farmer’s Market Storytime. I found a sunny spot on the Chauncey Swan Park lawn to spread my blankets for a cozy place to read. A small but dedicated group joined me as the band started playing in the opposite corner of the park. Some of us were still finishing breakfast buys from the market, so I took a moment to talk about the fall harvest and what it brings to the farmer’s market.

Then we read our first book, All for a Dime by Will Hillenbrand. This story follows three friends as they get ready to sell their wares at Market Day and shows what they get for just a dime.

After the story, we found out you used to be able to buy lots of things for just a dime or a penny. We took advantage of a pause in the music to sing “Hot Cross Buns”

Hot cross buns,
Hot cross buns,
One a penny,
Two a penny.
Hot cross buns.

Then I talked about how a lot of the food we find at the Farmer’s Market is grown on farms or in gardens. To illustrate this how plants go from seed to table, we read Plant a Little Seed by Bonnie Christensen.

One of the families present mentioned they had apple pie for breakfast, so it was a great coincidence that I had brought an Apple Tree action rhyme with me.

This is the tree with leaves so green (wiggle fingers above head)
Here are the apples that hang in between (make fists)
When the wind blows (wave arms)
The apples will fall (arms move down)
Here is the basket to gather them all (make a circle with arms)

To introduce our last story, Raccoons and Ripe Corn by Jim Arnosky I talked about how raccoons can sometimes cause trouble when looking for their next meal. But in this harvest time story, they also help some too.

Since we had such a small group we went around at the end of storytime and sang a quick goodbye song for each child.

Bye bye Morgan
Bye bye Morgan
Bye bye Morgan
It’s been lots of fun!

Reading another person’s letters …

by on October 1st, 2015

An upcoming episode of On Air: The ICPL podcast will feature a Favorite Book segment.

Not books.


It isn’t easy choosing a favorite book. I have tons of favorites from various stages in life, but there is one title that remains my hands-down favorite: 84, Charing Cross Road by Helene Hanff.

84, Charing Cross Road details the 20-year friendship between Hanff, a writer living in New York City, and Frank Doel, chief buyer of Marks & Co., antiquarian booksellers in London. This lovely non-fiction book is an epistolary book, written entirely in the pair’s letters. (It was later turned into a stage play, TV play and a movie, starring Anne Bancroft and Anthony Hopkins.)

I love epistolary novels – books written as a series of documents, such as letters and journal entries. There’s realness with this genre, even in fiction works. Reading something private instantly makes the reader part of the character’s personal life.

Some of my favorite epistolary titles include Stephen Chboksky’s The Perks of Being a Wallflower (bonus: it’s also a banned 0504_i-will-always-write-backbook; perfect for Banned Books Week reading); Attachments: A Novel by Rainbow Rowell; and Where Rainbows End (previously published as Rosie Dunne) by Cecelia Ahern. Now, I have a new title to add to the list: I Will Always Write Back by Martin Ganda and Caitlin Alifirenka.

I Will Always Write Back is the true story of two lives changed by a letter. Caitlin wrote to Martin as part of an English assignment, choosing Zimbabwe because she liked the name of the country. Her letter arrived with nine others, at a poor school with 50 students. Martin was lucky enough to receive one because he was the top student.

Caitlin and Martin had very little in common, but somehow they struck up a friendship that transcended their differences, eventually changing both of their lives. I Will Always Write Back is a great story of generosity, inner strength, and friendship. I could not put it down, finishing it in one afternoon.

I Will Always Write Back is cataloged as for ages 12 and up, but I see it as one of those books everyone should read, no matter if you are 15 or 50. It will make you smile, make you cry, and make you better for having experienced how truly amazing people can be.

Traffic Cam

by on October 1st, 2015

camWe have had several posts about cameras lately (see scene from above and caterpillar cam) and I thought I’d chip in with something I found out recently.  Recently a patron was asking me about the traffic cams at busy intersections in the city (OK it was my Dad).   I know I’ve heard various things about these cams so I asked my inside source at the city.  He told me that the cameras are just for traffic flow and not for citations.  They can detect when a car is sitting at a light and can even detect how many cars are waiting in order to time the signal properly.  These cameras are replacing the old sensors that are buried in the street.  The cameras have the logic built into them instead of being controlled by a central computer.  I asked if they could be used  in case there was a dispute about a traffic accident.  He said nothing is recorded and the cameras aren’t designed to give good coverage of the whole intersection anyway.  There are also a few other cameras that are strategically positioned around the city to provide information about road conditions.  These are also not recorded.  So my Dad was right.  I hate it when that happens.

Craft from home with ICPL! (Part 2)

by on September 30th, 2015

Part 2: e-magazines on Zinio

Yarn bombing a car

A yarn-bombed car in Alicante, Spain. Source: Wikipedia.

Today I wanted to focus exclusively on the craft magazines we have on our digital magazine portal Zinio. Like yesterday’s post about crafty e-books on Digital Johnson County, you can find what e-magazines we have through our catalog, as well. You follow the same steps as finding only the e-books as you do for e-magazines. But instead of selecting “Adult EBOOK” under Format, you choose “EMAGAZINE.”

Read our Zinio Digital Magazines introduction and connect to the service with your library card number and password. You might also consider reading my how-to blog post introducing the new Zinio app in April 2015.

What crafting magazines do we offer? Here is the current list: Read the rest of this entry »

Storytime Recap: Banned Books

by on September 30th, 2015

Today we visited a topic near and dear to every librarian’s heart: intellectual freedom. It’s banned books week so of course we had to read some banned and challenged books. We started storytime off as usual with our welcome song, “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.” I explained that challenging a book is an attempt by a person or group of people to have materials restricted or removed, while banning is actually removing those items from the collection. One boy summarized the concept as, “they don’t like those books.” I also talked briefly about how it is often parents or other adults challenging books in an attempt to protect children from difficult ideas and information, but that the library believes in intellectual freedom. We believe that only parents have the right and responsibility to restrict access to ideas to only their children and no one else. A bit of serious talk for storytime, but an important subject. I told everyone I would be reading some banned and challenged books and that they could guess the reasons for the challenge or ban after each story.

Then to get us in the mood for some stories, I led the room in a nursery rhyme.

Old Mother Hubbard
Went to the cupboard,
To give the poor dog a bone;
When she came there,
The cupboard was bare,
And so the poor dog had none.

Poor puppy! After another repetition for those new to the rhyme, we moved on to our first story, Walter the Farting Dog by William Kotzwinkle and Glenn Murray.

A lot of voices shouted out “because he farts” as the reason behind this challenge, which was pretty on target. This story in which a family learns to appreciate and love their especially flatulent dog was challenged for its use of the words “fart” and “farting” 24 times.

We aired out our voices by doing a quick counting finger play.
This little cow eats grass, (hold up one finger)
This little cow eats hay, (hold up two fingers)
This little cow drinks water, (hold up three fingers)
This little cow runs away. (hold up four fingers)
And this little cow does nothing at all, (hold up five fingers)
But lie in the fields all day.
So we’ll chase her, (makes running motions with fingers)
And chase her,
And chase her away!

The next story was one of my favorites growing up, The Story of Ferdinand by Munro Leaf.

This was a tricky one, since it was banned in another country, and no one today could figure out why it had been banned. This story about a little bull who doesn’t want to fight, but enjoys sitting and smelling flowers all day, was banned in Spain during the Spanish Civil War for promoting pacifism.

Sometimes out-dated ideas stick around in the form of nursery rhymes, which we change to suit present day sensibilities.

There was an old woman who lived in a shoe.
She had so many children, she didn’t know what to do;
She gave them some broth without any bread;
Then kissed them all soundly and put them to bed

That last line was originally “Then whipped them all soundly and put them to bed.” The kinder version is an example of subtle censorship.

For our last book, I read The Family Book by Todd Parr.

This story about celebrating and accepting all different kinds of families was banned in an Illinois school because it “discussed different types of family structures” and “those are issues that shouldn’t be taught at the elementary school level.” Only one girl guessed this reason correctly.

Then it was time to say goodbye, so I had everyone repeat after me in saying our goodbye chant that I am trying to incorporate after each storytime.



Our finale was an animated movie of the The Three Little Pigs by James Marshall. The book was challenged on the basis of violence and possible offense to Muslims for the eating of pork.

Enjoy your freedom to read!


Little Free Library Tour Ends at Iowa City Book Festival

by on September 30th, 2015

On a Sunday afternoon in June of 2013, I watched as my daughter’s Girl Scouts troop filled two Little Free Libraries with books from their bookshelves. It was the last step in their year-long Silver Award project and a way to leave a legacy at their North Liberty elementary schools as they made the transition to junior high.Little Free Library

Those girls are in high school now, but the Little Free Libraries they installed at Garner and Van Allen elementary schools remain, both an ever-revolving selection of books for the students who walk by them every day.

The Take a Book, Leave a Book movement got its start in Hudson, Wisc., in 2009 when Todd Bol built a model of a one room schoolhouse as a tribute to his mother, a former school teacher who loved reading. He filled it with books and put it on a post in his front yard.

Today, there are more than 32,000 registered Little Free Libraries in all 50 states and 70+ countries.

Bol, executive director of the Little Free Library movement,  and Margret Aldrich, author of The Little Free Library Book, are two of this weekend’s Iowa City Book Festival featured speakers. Their presentation will begin at 1 p.m. Saturday in Meeting Room A.

This appearance is Bol’s last on his Iowa leg of his Little Free Library Across America Tour. Rachael Carlson, director of operations for the Iowa City UNESCO City of Literature, says Bol will build a Little Free Library is the Pedestrian Mall before and after his talk. For anyone who has considered building their own Little Free Library, Saturday’s event is the perfect time to learn more about it.

The Iowa City Book Festival begins Thursday and continues through Sunday. For a complete list of events, including those happening at the Library, visit

Volunteers are still needed for this year’s festival. To sign up, click here.

Craft from home with ICPL! (Part 1)

by on September 29th, 2015
"Mr. Whiskers and his knitting needle" from MonotonousG on DeviantArt.

“Mr. Whiskers and his knitting needle” from MonotonousG on DeviantArt.

Love to knit, sew, or quilt? We have books for you! In addition to the great recommendations from Library Director Susan Craig, I wanted to share my own ways to find crafting books and magazines—ones you can check out from the comfort of your own home.

Part 1: e-books on Digital Johnson County (OverDrive)

If you are used to searching our catalog on a computer, you can always start there. Type in your craft of choice, then go to the left-hand side and select “Adult EBOOK” under the Format heading.

Once you are there, you can click the “Check out with OverDrive” button. If your library account is up to date and you know your password, you can log in and be on your way! If you haven’t updated your address with us in a while or have more than $10 in fines, you may get an error message.

You can also go directly to the Digital Johnson County website to browse around that way. To get all the craft books we have on OverDrive, you’ll want to do an Advanced Search, and change the drop-down menu that says “All Subjects” to “Crafts”. For some reason, you can’t get to the Crafts subject from the red box area where you might be used to looking around. You can type in “crafts” into the general search, too, but not all of the books that show up will be relevant. You’ll have a better time searching for the specific craft (knitting, crochet, etc.) in that simple search box.</p?

And keep the 4th Annual ICPL Arts and Crafts Bazaar in mind while you work on your projects. If you have something special enough to donate, this ICPL fundraiser is on Saturday, December 5, 2015, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and donations will be accepted through Friday, December 4.

Stay tuned for Part 2 tomorrow–Craft magazines on Zinio!

ICPL Announces October Music is the Word Events

by on September 29th, 2015

Join Iowa City Public Library as we celebrate all things musical with Music is the Word.

This special series of programming, to continue through May 2016, welcomes the University of Iowa School of Music building to downtown Iowa City. The Voxman Music Building is scheduled to open in the fall of 2016.

Music is the Word launched last month with a Musical Revue at The Englert Theatre, followed by several events at the Library, including live music in the lobby and a special family concert. Here’s what’s happening in October:

2 to 3 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, in the Storytime Room: A Family Concert featuring Marc Falk. Marc Falk is a choral conducting professor from Coe College. He will also give audience members a micro-conducting lesson.

2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 3, in Meeting Room A: Reading by Stephen Witt, author of “How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy.” Journalist Stephen Witt traces the secret history of digital music piracy, from the German audio engineers who invented the mp3, to a North Carolina compact-disc manufacturing plant where factory worker Dell Glover leaked nearly two thousand albums over the course of a decade, to the high-rises of midtown Manhattan where music executive Doug Morris cornered the global market on rap, and, finally, into the darkest recesses of the Internet. Part of the Iowa City Book Festival (

10:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, in Meeting Room A: Preschool Storytime. We will make and use homemade kazoos and other instruments in our very own Kidcophony.

7 to 9 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 8, in Meeting Room A: Documentary Screening – “From the 50 Yard Line.” This documentary tells the emotional marching band story through two high school bands: one an Ohio championship show band, the other a Los Angeles band reborn after 18 years of silence due to budget cuts. Travel on adventures through band camp, the marching season, and 2006 competitions. See the life-changing effects for these exceptional students and the ramifications when music is lost. (2007) 94 min.

5:45 to 8 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 9, Downtown Iowa City: ICPL Book Cart Drill Team and Kazoo Band. Don’t miss our annual Book Cart Drill Team in the University of Iowa Homecoming Parade, joined this year by a special Kazoo Band.

Noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, in the Lobby: Music on Wednesday @ICPL featuring Pigs and Clover. Take a few minutes during your lunch hour for a live musical performance.

7 to 8 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 14, in Meeting Room A: Iowa Roots Music with David Zollo and Andy Fleming. David Zollo joins Andy Fleming of the Des Moines-based band, Brother Trucker, in a unique conversational music performance.

7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 16, in Meeting Room A: Iowa Literary Heritage Film Screening – “State Fair.” This film version of Phil Stong’s 1932 novel of the same name, directed by Walter Lang and starring Dana Andrews and Jeanne Crane, was the only musical written directly for film by Richard Rodgers and Oscar Hammerstein. A small-town family travels to the State Fair. The father is looking for a blue ribbon for his prize hog, Blue Boy, Mom is looking for glory in her cooking, and the kids are looking for love. (1945) 100 min.

2 to 3 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 18, in Meeting Room A: Family Concert with The Dandelion Stompers. The Dandelion Stompers are a local New Orleans-style jazz combo featuring Chris Clark, Katie Greenstein, Ira Greenstein, Brandi Janssen, Marc Janssen, Katie Roche, Suzanne Smith and Jacob Yarrow.

7 to 8 p.m. Tuesday, Oct. 20, at The Mill. Join us for the fall 2015 series of the B.Y.O.Book “Books In Bars” Book Club meetups! This month we will discuss Sherman Alexie’s “Reservation Blues.” Registration is encouraged due to space limitations. Limited copies of the book will be available for check out from Info Desk staff on the Library’s second floor.

7 to 9 p.m. Friday, Oct. 23, in Meeting Room A: Iowa Literary Heritage Film Screening – “State Fair.” Starring Pat Boone, Bobby Darin, Anne Margaret, and directed by Jose Ferrer, with words and music by Oscar Hammerstein II and Richard Rodgers, this film is a remake of the 1945 movie, with new songs by Richard Rodgers. An Iowa farm family heads to the Iowa State Fair. The parents are focused on winning the competitions for livestock and cooking. However, their restless daughter Margy and her brother Wayne meet attractive new love interests. (1962) 118 min.

10:30 to 11 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 24, in Meeting Room A: Family Concert with Orchestra Iowa. Stop by to learn about the string family and hear wonderful quartet music!

2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 25, in the Storytime Room: “The Nightmare Before Christmas” Sing-Along.

Noon to 1 p.m. Monday, Oct. 26, in Meeting Room A: University of Iowa School of Music Lunch Performance. Join musicians from the UI School of Music as they share their talents with the community.

Noon to 1 p.m. Wednesday, Oct. 28, in the Lobby: Music on Wednesday @ICPL featuring Saul Lubaroff. Take a few minutes during your lunch hour for a live musical performance.

10:30 to 11 a.m. Thursday, Oct. 29, in the Storytime Room: Halloween Dance Party Preschool Storytime. Come in costume today for a Halloween dance party and costume parade around the Library!

A listing of all Music is the Word events can be found at

For more information, contact the Library at 319-356-5200.

Grandma Lives in a Perfume Village

by on September 29th, 2015
Grandma Lives in a Perfume Village Cover Image

This gorgeous new picture book is written by Fang Suzhen of Taiwan and illustrated by Sonja Danowski of Germany.  In the story, a little boy, Xiao Le, and his mother travel by train to visit his maternal grandmother who is sick.  At first the little preschooler is shy when he sees his grandmother in bed looking older than he remembered.  Although he brought his truck to show her, Xiao Le isn’t ready to part with it yet.  The adult reading this book to a child will understand quickly that Grandma is dying and this will be their last visit together.  Little Xiao Le runs to get his mother’s help when Grandma needs some water.  He pets her cat, Shadow, on the bed.  While the mother goes outside to hang clothes in the yard, Grandma gets out of bed to enjoy some sunshine and play a game with the wood sorrel leaves outside with Xiao Le.  The three enjoy tea in the garden and finally his grandmother goes back to bed to sleep and Xiao Le gives her his truck for company.  Back home the little boy and his mother learn from Aunt Zhou that Grandma has “left Perfume Village and moved into heaven.”  The loving comfort depicting the mother’s grief and her son’s concern is tender and realistic.  What makes this book about death so special is the artwork.  Danowski’s exquisite watercolor paintings are reminiscent of the artwork by Paul O. Zelinsky and Gennady Spirin.  The illustrations are warm and gentle, and lovingly detailed.  Capturing the Asian family so beautifully in the artwork gives us a very special book to share with youngsters who may have encountered a death in their own family.  The quality of the book is also obvious in the heavy paper used.  There is further information about the author and the illustrator at the back of the book.  Gorgeous pictures and the touching text make for a wonderful picture book.  Take note of this title; I loved it!