Winter Bees & Other Poems of the Cold written by Joyce Sidman is a lovely new picture book of poems suitable for grade K to grade 4. Although there are only a dozen poems included, they are very descriptive of animals surviving in the cold long winter. The author sometimes uses unfamiliar words in her poems but there is a brief glossary of 22 definitions in the back of the book that defines words children might not know. Some poems rhyme but most do not. Two of the poems are in a particular poetic form–a pantoun and a triolet–adding to the reader’s knowledge of the poetic structure used. Sidman has certainly done her research on each animal of the frozen North she writes about. She lives in Minnesota and has observed these creatures first hand; but the addition of a paragraph of information about each hardy animal living in the winter is something that will appeal to animal lovers, parents, and teachers who choose to share this book in the classroom. Some of the animals included are the tundra swan, a big brown moose, winter bees, a vole, and wolves. The aspect of this new volume of poetry that I particularly love are the beautiful illustrations by Rick Allen, another Minnesota native. He is a printmaker and has employed his considerable skills in printing from linoleum blocks and then adding color by hand. The prints were then digitally scanned, composed, and layered to create the artwork for the poems. Winter Bees is a book for those who love the natural world. And even though the poems depict winter scenes, the book ends with the coming of Spring. Hallelujah!
Since this is my very first blog ever, I’d like to recommend my most favorite book of all time: The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas. This epic novel is not in our Book Madness bracket, most likely because I forgot to submit it. Because it was originally serialized, each chapter is full of action and the book reads more like modern-day authors David Baldacci and Brad Thor.
Before he became The Count, Edmond Dantes was a naive merchant sailor with a life full of happiness. That changes when he is sent to the foreboding Chateau d’If for reasons unknown to him. After his “release”, he methodically wreaks vengeance on those he deems responsible, but also helps others he believes are worthy.
If you don’t have the time for 117 chapters or are just a bit daunted, we have a 4-part TV mini-series (starring Gerard Depardieu; 1998) and the 2002 theatrical version (starring Jim Caviezel). There are also many revamped versions including:
- A Prisoner of Birth by Jeffrey Archer
- Revenge [UK title = The Stars' Tennis Balls] by Stephen Fry
- Airman by Eoin Colfer
Since I am a fervent fan, I’ve also read The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss. This is a biography of Alexandre Dumas’s father who served as an inspiration for the novel.
Edmond Dantes is a complex character and the plot is quite intricate – with every re-reading I discover something new. The Count of Monte Cristo is a classic because its themes still resonate today.
If it takes 90 days to create a new habit, then by-golly I may have just succeeded at one of my New Year’s Resolutions. This resolution was inspired by that 5 o’clock HANGRY feeling.
You get off work, drained from the day, and you have no energy or patience to deal with making cooking decisions. Eating–a core function of sustaining your existence–takes the backseat to meal prep, or arguing about meal prep, or whining about why you can’t ever eat the salad greens before they turn to slime.
The solution? Big batch cooking on the weekend, or whatever days off you might have. I’m happy to say this has worked for me for 13 weeks in a row. I use recipes from library cookbooks to shake up the flavors, only repeating my favorites. And I’ve started collecting these recipes by scanning the pages with Evernote’s Scannable app (Apple) and saving them to the Evernote Food app (Andoid, Apple).
Here are a few of the books and recipes that have allowed me to conquer the 5 o’clock HANGRY. Read the rest of this entry »
New in the Children’s Room—Sensory Storytime Kits! These kits are now available to check out and are shelved in the Storytime Kit collection. Designed to make storytimes accessible and enjoyable for children with Autism Spectrum Disorder, sensory disorders, or other special needs, these kits include books, props, music cd’s, puppets, flannelboards, fidget toys, and information on presenting Sensory Storytimes. Though created with a specific audience in mind, all children will enjoy the interactive components of these kits. Choose from Good Morning, Good Night; Teeth!; What’s the Weather?; and Pick a Pet. Kids will enjoy getting a monkey all dressed for his day, brushing giant teeth, matching clothes to the weather, voting on which pet to get, playing with puppets, and more. If you’d like to share stories with high audience participation, you’ll want to check out the Sensory Storytime Kits. Many thanks to the Pilot Club of Iowa City, which provided grant funding for this project.
I count myself among the lucky few: I work at Iowa City Public Library. The staff here are truly dedicated to what they do, and their knowledge of books is formidable. Since I’m expecting my first child in a few weeks my coworkers threw me a wonderful baby shower. I was completely overwhelmed with new books.
Because their choices are so considered, I thought others might be curious to know just what books library staff think someone should have for a new baby’s library. Here’s a list of what they chose. Most, if not all of these books are available in our collection or Prairie Lights Bookstore.
Giraffes Can’t Dance by Giles Andreae and Guy Parker-Rees
Madeline by Ludwig Bemelmans
Barnyard Dance by Sandra Boynton
But Not the Hippopotamus by Sandra Boynton
Doggies by Sandra Boynton
Moo Baa La la La by Sandra Boynton
Snuggle Puppy! by Sandra Boynton
The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Five Little Monkeys Jumping on the Bed by Eileen Christelow
Good Dog Carl by Alexandra Day
Planting a Rainbow by Lois Ehlert
Little White Rabbit by Kevin Henkes
Where is Baby’s Belly Button? by Karen Katz
Zoom, Zoom, Baby! by Karen Katz
Baby Loves to Boogie! by Wednesday Kirwan
Chicka Chicka Boom Boom by Bill Martin Jr. and John Archambault
A Book of Sleep by Il Sung Na
The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy Winkle by Beatrix Potter
The Tale of Tom Kitten by Beatrix Potter
Hop on Pop by Dr. Seuss
Circle by Justine Smith
That’s Not My Dinosaur by Fiona Watt
The Napping House by Audrey Wood
Snoozefest by Samantha Berger
The Mitten by Jan Brett
Click, Clack, Moo: Cows That Type by Doreen Cronin
Are You My Mother? by P.D. Eastman
Imogene’s Last Stand by Candace Fleming
The Princess Knight by Cornelia Funke
This Moose Belongs to Me by Oliver Jeffers
Harold and the Purple Crayon by Crockett Johnson
Library Lion by Michelle Knudsen
Put Me in the Zoo by Robert Lopshire
Hey Diddle Diddle and Other Nursery Rhymes (Stories in Stitches) Illustrated by Dawn Mitchell
Just Go to Bed by Mercer Mayer
Make Way for Ducklings by Robert McCloskey
Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak
You Are My Baby: Woodland by Lorena Siminovich
ABC by Dr. Seuss
Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss
Tails by Matthew Van Fleet
Cat by Matthew Van Fleet
One Night, Far From Here by Julia Wauters
I saw an online review for the latest book by Haruki Murakami called The Strange Library. It has been several years since I have finished one of his books. I have started a few but never followed through and read the whole things. I didn’t even read the review, just the title of it, but that was enough. How could I, or anyone for that matter, resist a book involving a cannibalistic librarian?
Murakami’s fiction frequently falls into the genre of Magical Realism. A lot of odd things happen in his books. Most of the time the bizarreness of the situations are not really addressed. We never find out exactly why these supernatural and surreal events are happening. If not having all of the answers bothers you then his books might be frustrating for you. I like the lack of explanation. This is the world where the events take place and there is no need to explain it all.
As I began reading this short story I started feeling a bit of nostalgia for the first books of his I read: Dance, Dance, Dance and A Wild Sheep Chase. I remember very little about the books but I know I enjoyed them at the time. I remember that the main character like to iron clothes, which I can relate to, and I remember there was a character called Sheep Man. I had forgotten about Sheep Man until he reappeared when I read this fairy tale last week.
Don’t worry, we can help you find information about tax collection in the Ottoman Empire and none of our staff have cannibalistic tendencies. At least not that I know of.
The B.Y.O.Book “Books In Bars” book club had our second of three winter meetups at Brix Cheese Shop & Wine Bar last Tuesday to discuss Jon Ronson’s The psychopath test : a journey through the madness industry. Each session ends with us going around the room to announce what we’re currently reading and I thought it would make a great booklist to share with those that couldn’t attend. There’s still time to register for the next meetup where we’ll be discussing Dept. of speculation by Jenny Offill, called one of the 10 Best Books of the Year – 2014 by the New York Times Book Review.
Olive Kitteridge by Elizabeth Strout. 2009 Pulitzer Prize winner. At the edge of the continent, in the small town of Crosby, Maine, lives Olive Kitteridge, a retired schoolteacher who deplores the changes in her town and in the world at large but doesn’t always recognize the changes in those around her.
Juliet, Naked by Nick Hornby. Annie initiates an e-mail correspondence with Tucker Crowe, a reclusive Dylanish singer-songwriter, and a connection is forged between two lonely people who are looking for more out of what they’ve got.
The bastard’s tale: A Dame Frevisse medieval mystery by Margaret Frazer. In fifteenth-century England, Dame Frevisse reluctantly leaves the sanctuary of her nunnery for the intrigues, high politics, and treachery of the royal court as she becomes embroiled in a plot that could threaten the throne of England itself.
The lowland : a novel by Jhumpa Lahiri. Brothers Subhash and Udayan Mitra pursue vastly different lives–Udayan in rebellion-torn Calcutta, Subhash in a quiet corner of America–until a shattering tragedy compels Subhash to return to India, where he endeavors to heal family wounds.
The secret place by Tana French (audiobook version). Investigating a photograph of a boy whose murder was never solved, aspiring Murder Squad member Stephen Moran partners with detective Antoinette Conway to search for answers in the cliques and rivalries at a Dublin boarding school.
Bone in the throat by Anthony Bourdain. When up-and-coming chef Tommy Pagana settles for a less than glamorous stint at his uncle’s restaurant in Manhattan’s Little Italy, he unwittingly finds himself a partner in big-time crime.
A blink of the screen : collected shorter fiction by Terry Pratchett. A collection of short fiction spanning the author’s career includes pieces from his school years, his early writing jobs, and the successful Discworld series.
Longbourn by Jo Baker. A reimagining of Jane Austen’s “Pride and Prejudice” from the perspectives of its below-stairs servants captures the drama of the Bennet household from the sideline viewpoint of Sarah, an orphaned housemaid.
Middlesex by Jeffrey Eugenides. Calliope’s friendship with a classmate and her sense of identity are compromised by the adolescent discovery that she is a hermaphrodite, a situation with roots in her grandparents’ desperate struggle for survival in the 1920s.
A spool of blue thread by Anne Tyler. The changing needs of aging parents impact a family gathering during which Abby Whitshank relates how her husband and she fell in love during the summer of 1959 and shared decades of marriage impacted by children and long-held secrets.
Leaving time : a novel by Jodi Picoult. Abandoned by a grief-stricken father and scientist mother who disappeared under mysterious circumstances, thirteen-year-old Jenna Metcalf approaches a disgraced psychic and a jaded detective in the hopes of finding answers.
Get in trouble : stories by Kelly Link. A collection of short stories features tales of a young girl who plays caretaker to mysterious guests at the cottage behind her house and a former teen idol who becomes involved in a bizarre reality show.
The bone tree by Greg Iles. A follow-up to Natchez Burning finds Southern lawyer Penn Cage desperately struggling to protect his father from false charges and corrupt officers by confronting the puppet master behind the Double Eagles terrorist group.
Stoner by John Williams. William Stoner is born at the end of the nineteenth century into a dirt-poor Missouri farming family. Sent to the state university to study agronomy, he instead falls in love with English literature and embraces a scholar’s life, so different from the hardscrabble existence he has known.
The bone seeker by M. J. McGrath. A former polar bear hunter and Inuit guide in the Canadian arctic investigates after finding one of her summer school students dead near Lake Turngaluk, in the third novel of the mystery series.
The buried giant by Kazuo Ishiguro. As the wars that have ravaged Britain fade into the past, Axl and Beatrice, a couple of elderly Britons, set out on a journey to find the son they have not seen in years, and are joined in their travels by a Saxon warrior, his orphaned charge, and a knight.
All joy and no fun : the paradox of modern parenthood by Jennifer Senior. Drawing on a vast array of sources in history, sociology, economics, psychology, philosophy, and anthropology, a journalist challenges basic beliefs about parenthood, while revealing the profound ways children deepen and add purpose to life.
Not that kind of girl : a young woman tells you what she’s “learned” by Lena Dunham. The creator and star of HBO’s “Girls” documents her coming-of-age in and out of the spotlight, recounting her experiences with everything from dieting and embarrassing sex to dirty old men and performing in less-than-ideal conditions.
Lean in : women, work, and the will to lead by Sheryl Sandberg. The Facebook CEO and “Fortune” top-ranked businesswoman shares provocative, anecdotal advice for women that urges them to take risks and seek new challenges in order to find work that they can love and engage in passionately.
Dead wake : the last crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson. A chronicle of the sinking of the Lusitania discusses the factors that led to the tragedy and the contributions of such figures as Woodrow Wilson, bookseller Charles Lauriat, and architect Theodate Pope Riddle.
Silver screen fiend : learning about life from an addiction to film by Patton Oswalt. Reveals the author’s addiction to film between 1995 and 1999, during which he absorbed classics and new releases three days a week and applied what he learned in these films to acting, writing, comedy, and relationships.
How to be alone : essays by Jonathan Franzen. The author presents his 1996 work, “The Harper’s Essay,” offering additional writings that consider a central theme of the erosion of civic life and private dignity and the increasing persistence of loneliness in postmodern America.
Undeniable : evolution and the science of creation by Bill Nye. Revealing the mechanics of evolutionary theory, the scientist, engineer, and inventor presents a compelling argument for the scientific unviability of creationism and insists that creationism’s place in the science classroom is harmful to the future of the greater world.
Do you ever go through reading slumps during which nothing grabs your attention? You pick up a book, read a few chapters, decide it’s not for you, and move on to the next?
I’d been battling that for almost two months when I decided enough was enough. Rather than check out another book I likely wouldn’t finish, I went to the book store and purchased a book. It sounds odd that a Library employee would do that, but I figured I had a greater chance of finishing the book if I was financially committed to it.
I’m glad I did because this book, like its cover, is adorable.
A Little Something Different is the story of how two college students, Lea and Gabe, fall in love — only they don’t tell the story. Instead, everyone around them tells it, from Lea’s roommate and Gabe’s older brother, to their creative writing instructor and the cynical Starbucks barista. Even a campus squirrel has insights to offer. He may not be able to communicate with Lea and Gabe, but he loves that they share their food with him.
This is not a deep read. This book probably won’t change your life, though it might inspire you to give a squirrel a piece of your bagel. It will, however, make you smile. I finished it in two days and it was exactly what I needed to get over my reading slump.
Oh, and the author is a librarian in New Jersey. How can I not love that?