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I Found Spot, Can You?

by Casey Maynard on May 26th, 2016

Henry Cole has written and illustrated over 50 books for children including Big Bug, and Unspoken. His most recent delves into the realm of eye spy. Spot, The Cat is a wonderful wordless romp through a quaint urban setting. Readers follow and find a cat appropriately named Spot as he weaves his way through town. Parents and children will have a delightfully difficult time discovering the errant Spot and his pursuant owner.

 

 

Urban fantasy audiobook series worth a listen

by Melody Dworak on May 24th, 2016
Urban fantasy audiobook series worth a listen Cover Image

I was excited when I checked OverDrive this month and saw new audiobooks in the Iron Druid Chronicles by Kevin Hearne. I have listened to all of the urban fantasy audiobooks we have on OverDrive, so I was thrilled when I saw these books from a series I enjoyed show up when I was browsing the app.

Last week I burned through Shattered, book 7, and I’m currently listening to Staked, book 8. The series follows the adventures and blunders of 2,000-year-old druid Atticus O’Sullivan as he goes on different quests and fights epic battles. It takes place in modern times, and the author often entertains us with the story-within-a-story tactic. O’Sullivan is 2,000 years old, after all. He has tons of stories to tell. Read the rest of this entry »

Cooking [with] the books

by Candice Smith on May 23rd, 2016
Cooking [with] the books Cover Image

cacioI’ve recently gotten into somewhat of a rut with cooking–but it’s a delicious, self-created rut. I am trying out different recipes for an Italian dish called cacio e pepe, which translates into ‘cheese and pepper.’ Simple, right? Yes, and no. Though recipes vary, the ingredients are generally the same: water, pasta, Pecorino Romano cheese, and pepper. You boil the pasta, grate the cheese, grind some pepper, then combine it all into a pan with a little bit of the pasta water. You end up with a well-coated plate of noodles. The not-so-simple part? First, deciding which recipe to use. I found at least five different ones in various cookbooks at the Library, all from well-known and respected chefs, several of them Italian, each one apparently saying that their recipe is the one to use. Some use the basic ingredients listed above, some add oil and/or butter. Some say that you should only use pecorino, while others also use Parmigiano-Reggiano or Cacio de Roma–all seem to use slightly different amounts. Some toss the pasta and cheese with a little oil or butter. Some sauté the pepper in some oil. Others toast the peppercorns in a pan before grinding. There is a lot of slight variation.

No problem, really, right? They’re probably all good, so just pick one and go with it. Then you get to the other tricky part, which is really the only thing you ‘do’ besides prep and boiling–the mixing. When it goes well, you get a nice sauce. When it doesn’t go well–and out of the four times I’ve made this, it hasn’t gone well twice–you get the dreaded clumpy cheese. The recipes also vary quite a bit here, with different ones saying what to mix the ingredients in (warm dish, warm pan, cold dish), when to add cooking water and how much, and how to add the cheese and how to toss the pasta with it. Seems trivial, until you try one way and your cheese turns into small bits of pepper-flaked goop. Luckily, it still tastes very good.

I made cacio e pepe a couple nights ago, and I think it was my best one yet. I used a recipe from Lidia Bastianich. It’s one of the simplest ones I’ve come across, so I wonder if I just got lucky. If you’d like to try your hand at mastering this deceptively simple dish, the Library has a wealth of Italian cookbooks for you to peruse to find a recipe. Let me know if you find a good one. Please.

Buon appetito!

 

Happy Birthday Citizen Kane!

by Anne Mangano on May 21st, 2016
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This month marks the 75th anniversary of the release of Citizen Kane. Well, if you want to get very specific about it, it’s the anniversary of the film’s premiere at the Palace Theatre in New York. It was widely released that September. Citizen Kane tops several “best of” lists, including the American Film Institute’s 100 Greatest American Movies of All Time and the BBC’s 100 Greatest American Films. It was also among the first 25 films selected for the Library of Congress’ National Film Registry.

But there was a chance that we would have never seen this film. The film angered a number of powerful and influential people, including media mogul and inspiration for the film, William Randolph Hearst, and film columnist Louella Parsons. Hearst put pressure on RKO, the production studio, refusing to allow advertising for any RKO films in Hearst papers and threatening to sue. When that didn’t work, he put pressure on other studio heads with negative press in exchange for those studios to put pressure on RKO. They even offered to purchase the film with the understanding that they would destroy the negative and all prints. Certain theaters wouldn’t show the movie. Hearst and Parsons printed any and all stories about Orson Welles. And no one caved. Hip hip hooray! To read more on this story, check out Harlan Lebo’s Citizen Kane: A Filmmaker’s Journey or watch the American Experience documentary, the Battle Over Citizen KaneCitizen_Kane_is_75

Yes, there is a lot of hype around this film and it turns some people off. Is it really as great as everyone says? Well, I love it. There are scenes in Citizen Kane that are works of art. It is almost unbelievable that they were conceived and executed so perfectly. If I was a director at the time, the film would have either made me want to quit or force me to be a better filmmaker. And, Orson Welles knows how to tell a story. So a good story, well-filmed and well-acted–you really can’t ask for anything more from a movie.

So Happy Birthday Citizen Kane! I am so glad we can celebrate, especially knowing that for $805,000 ($13 million today), the other studios would have been happy to take the film off RKO’s hands for it to suffer the same fate as Rosebud.

Orchestra Baobab: Made in Dakar

by Brent Palmer on April 29th, 2016
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If you have any interest in world music and don’t yet know Orchestra Baobab, I encourage you to give this band  a try.  This Senegalese group has a spicy blend of musical styles that include Cuban rhythms, classic West African drumming, mbira-like guitar and a vocal style from the West-African griot storytellers.  It’s really fun to listen to.  Baobab made up of musicians from all around West Africa including Mali, Togo, Guinea and the Casamance region of Senegal.  They sing in many different languages such as Spanish, Portuguese, Wolof.  We currently own only one album but it’s  a really good one.  If you enjoyed Buena Vista Social Club, it will be an easy transatlantic hop into this music.  Request it right now.

Clip of Cabral by Orchestra Baobab

A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals

by Casey Maynard on April 25th, 2016
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Once upon a time there was a hilariously funny picture book that had me laughing so hard I cried, but only a little. I’m sure you can tell by the title that A Hungry Lion or A Dwindling Assortment of Animals is about a lion who is ravenous and some animals who disappear.  Where do they go? You’ll have to read the book to find out even though you probably have a guess already.  I did, and boy was I wrong.

Lucy Ruth Cummins’ debut picture book is side-splitting and surprising. Jon Klassen’s quote on the back cover sums it up nicely, “So smart and so cute and so dark all at the same time. Sheesh.” A must read!

Plug into an audiobook today

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on April 25th, 2016

I purchased a new smartphone recently. It took two days to figure out what I wanted, another to psych myself up to enter the store and less than 24 hours to fall in love with my purchase.

My old phone was nearly four years old. It had 16GB of storage. I spent a lot of time deleting photos in order to take one. I had the bare minimum of apps, too. My new phone has 64 GB. I’ve yet to receive the dreaded Storage Almost Full message. Even better, I finally had enough room download the OverDrive app and listen to my first audiobook ever: Where’d You Go, Bernadette by Maria Semple.bernadette

I’m a little late to the party with this title – and with the Library’s eMedia services in general. I highly recommend both.

The book is about Bernadette Fox, a quirky and elusive woman who was once the darling of the architect world, but left it all behind – but for what? The story tries to uncover the mystery through e-mails (some by Bernadette, others by woman who love to talk about her), news articles and other documents, but not before Bernadette disappears, leaving her 15-year-old daughter, Bee, to make sense of it all. Narrator Kathleen Wilhoite does a great job of distinguishing her voice to help listeners keep the colorful cast of characters sorted out, though there were times I had to remind myself Bee is 15; not 12.

If you haven’t visited the Library’s eMedia page, you should. Your Library Card is the ticket to free digital content for adults and children, with audio and digital books, online magazines – even local music through the Local Music Project. Upgrades to all delivery systems have made the process of downloading the materials even easier.

It used to be that ICPL’s eMedia services were available to patrons who live in Iowa City, Hills, University Heights, Lone Tree, or rural Johnson County, while Coralville residents could use it if that had a valid Coralville Public Library card. However, since July 1, ICPL, Coralville and North Liberty Community Library have offered combined eBook and digital audiobook collections through OverDrive. We call this service Digital Johnson County. As someone who works in Iowa City but lives in North Liberty, this service has been a wonderful addition to my reading options.

Happy Earth Day! Leave it to Beavers

by Maeve Clark on April 22nd, 2016

April 22 is Earth Day and what a better way to celebrate it than in a salute to beavers and their engineering prowess.   I happened upon a Nature program on PBS on Wednesday night called Leave it to Beavers by Dam Builder Productions in association with Thirteen Productions LLC for WNET.  It was wonderful.  Sometime I start to watch a Nature program and I have to stop, the inevitable outcome is that the animals or area being studied is in such a steep decline that there is nothing that can be done to save them.  Not so with the beavers.  This realistic, Beavers_Infographic-Final1but optimistic look at the world of beaver rescue and rehabilitationm gave me hope.  Beavers are amazing aquatic animals.  The dams they create do far more good than not.  Leave it to Beavers, which is available on DVD from the library, highlights how beavers can transform and revitalize landscapes.  They can help keep water where it should be and lower the temperature in the high desert area where they build their dams.

Leave it to Beavers showcases a hairdresser in Denver who rescues beavers and a Canadian wildlife biologist who rehabilitates injured beavers.   The interactions between the beavers and the rescuers and rehabilitators are heartwarming.  But I think the best part of all of Leave it to Beavers was the peek that viewers were afforded when we were able to see how the beaver family lived during the winter.  The camera showed not only a family of beavers, including the new kits, but a pair of muskrats, a family of deer mice, frogs and aquatic insects.  The beaver lodge is a very warm and welcoming abode for a long winters stay.  Here’s a clip from Leave it to Beavers to pique your interest.   And if you want to learn more about Earth Day, the Iowa City Public Library has shelves of materials to make the earth a better place for all of us, people and animals alike.

Patience has Virtues

by Frances Owens on April 22nd, 2016
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I have enjoyed the graphic novels of Daniel Clowes for 10+ years, which isn’t saying much as he was first published in 1989, but for a creator to keep making things I liked as teenager and still enjoy as an adult is quite a feat.  My first introduction to his work came after seeing the 2001 movie Ghost World which he wrote along with  director Terry Zwigoff (who spoke recently at Film Scene as part of the Mission Creek Festival).  The movie, which is fantastic BTW, is based on the graphic novel of the same name and has all of the quirkiness and themes common to Clowes’ oeuvre.

Patience, Clowes’ latest is no different.  Blending storytelling whimsy, colorful artwork, and digging into human thought and emotion this graphic novel is a treat for fans.  It starts off like most other of Clowes’ work in that it just seems like a story of one person’s internal conflicts, but then plot twists!  And genre blending!  What starts off as a seemingly narcissistic not particularly compelling story turns into a time traveling tale of revenge!

However it is not your average time traveling adventure, after all it is still written by Daniel Clowes.  He does a great job with addressing typical time travel problems, think Marty McFly’s disappearing siblings in Back to the Future, but also sticking with tried and true themes of loneliness and the very personal nature of memory.  While I prefer Clowes’ earlier works that are more character studies of outsiders, his recent venture into stronger storytelling is a welcome maturation in my opinion.

Anywho, if you like Daniel Clowes, you’ll like Patience.  If you’re not familiar, or you’ve never tried his stuff, pick it up!

A Sugar Creek Chronicle – Cornelia F. Mutel

by Jason Paulios on April 22nd, 2016
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The latest in the Bur Oak Books series from the University of Iowa Press is Cornelia Mutel’s account on climate change as seen from the mixed oak woodlands in rural Johnson County, Iowa. The book is cleverly structured to follow the four seasons during the year 2012, each season features daily journal entries detailing weather and climate notes. Interspersed are notable updates on various woodland species in the acreage alongside Iowa natural history. Paired with the day-to-day of 2012 country living are complimenting memoir sections detailing growing up in Madison, her mother’s early death, and parenthood in Iowa City.  

Her writing is organized and passionate, her love of the natural world is infectious and I often found myself considering putting down the book to wander a nearby nature trail. Throughout all the meditative trail walking anecdotes filled with chipmunk scurrying and spring ephemeral blooming are sobering climate science facts and how they are impacting all these things we care about. Her research is presented in small digestible amounts and her teaching background is evident in the way in which she breaks down complicated earth science processes. 




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