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Vegetables, beautiful vegetables

by Maeve Clark on March 9th, 2016
Vegetables, beautiful vegetables Cover Image

David Cavagnaro,  world renown horticultural photographer, gardener and author, is the featured speaker this Sunday, March 13, at the Project Green 2nd Sunday Garden Forum.  Project Green 2nd Sunday Garden forums are always wonderful programs with excellent speakers  who make you want to get out in the garden or yard asap.

I was fortunate enough to hear  recent Iowa Public Radio Talk of Iowa program with Charity Nebbe when David Cavagnaro was her guest. David Cavagnaro, born and raised in California, began taking pictures of insects and plants in his early teens when he become fascinated with what he calls “the land of Cavagnaro_0the small.”  Throughout his life, he has used this love of plants to push hard to save our agricultural diversity. Cavagnaro is a former long-time Manager for Seed Savers Preservation Gardens in Decorah and is currently president of the Pepperwood Project.  The Pepperwood Project, a founded in 2008, is 55 acres in rural Decorah where people can experience good food and how to grow it.

I hope to see you this Sunday at 2 pm in Meeting Room A to learn more about David Cavagnaro’s work in preserving our plant and seed diversity.

Pugs of the Frozen North

by Shawna Riggins on March 9th, 2016

pugs of the frozen northThe temperature may be warming up outside but Pugs of the Frozen North written by Philip Reeve and illustrated by Sarah McIntyre will transport you to the magical cold of True Winter and the Great Northern Race. After an unusual weather phenomenon leaves young ship-hand, Shen, alone in freezing temperatures with 66 cold and hungry pugs, he finds friendship, support, and a once-in-a-lifetime adventure in a nearby city.  Throughout Shen & his new friend Sika’s journey as participants in the Great Northern Race, they work with each other, their goofy yet gallant pugs, and even (most of) their competitors. If after reading this book your thoughts are not lingering on the excitement of the race and the antics of the adorably odd pugs, you might be mulling over the message that people (and dogs) can overcome expectations and reach their dreams.

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Though certainly enjoyable for readers of all ages (especially for pug-lovers like myself), the exciting illustrations paired with text makes this a great book for children transitioning to chapter books. If you or your child liked the illustrations in Pugs of the Frozen North, try out McIntyre’s tutorial to draw your own puggy pups!

If this wacky adventure sounds right for you or a reader you know, check out other books from Reeve and McIntyre’s series of Not-So-Impossible Tales.

My pug Fifi wasn't so keen on the idea of pulling a sleigh.

My pug Fifi wasn’t so keen on the idea of pulling a sleigh.

Book Madness Update: Your Round 2 Titles

by Meredith Hines-Dochterman on March 7th, 2016

BookMadnessMonday mornings aren’t fun, but today’s flew by because we had to update the Book Madness brackets!

Thank you to everyone who took the time to vote for their favorite titles in our first round of competition. Below are the titles in our Second Round. You have until the Library closes on Sunday to vote for the titles you want to see advance to the Sweet Sixteen. We will reveal the updated bracket next Monday.

If you would like a list of every title in this year’s Book Madness competition, click here.

Round 2 of the 2016 BOOK MADNESS – CHILDREN’S BRACKET

PICTURE BOOKS

Sparky! by Jenny Offill vs Eloise by Kay Thompson

Owl Moon by Jane Yolen vs The Day the Crayons Quit by Drew Daywalt

Green Eggs and Ham by Dr. Seuss vs Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak

Dogzilla by Dav Pilkey vs Knuffle Bunny by Mo Willems

ALL AGES FAVORITES

The Black Stallion by Walter Farley vs Mr. Popper’s Penguins by Florence & Richard Atwater

A Little Princess by Frances Hodgson Burnett vs Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh

Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White vs Ramona and Her Mother by Beverly Cleary

Wonder by R. J. Palacio vs Ella Enchanted by Gail Carson Levine

GREAT SERIES

Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish vs Warriors by Erin Hunter

Who Was … by Various vs Nancy Drew and the Clue Crew by Carolyn Keene

The Golden Compass by Philip Pullman vs Magic Tree House by Mary Pope Osborne

Artemis Fowl by Eoin Colfer vs The Magic Thief by Sarah Prineas

MUST READS

Inside Out & Back Again by Thanhha Lai vs My Father’s Dragon by Ruth Stiles Gannett

The Haunted Library by Dori Hillestad Butler vs Redwall by Brian Jacques

Absolutely Almost by Lisa Graff vs Circus Mirandus by Cassie Beasley

Brown Girl Dreaming by Jacqueline Woodson vs Crenshaw by Katherine Applegate

Round 2 of the 2016 BOOK MADNESS – TEENS AND ADULTS BRACKET

REQUIRED READING

Lord of the Flies by William Golding vs 1984 by George Orwell

Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen vs Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy

Uncle Tom’s Cabin by Harriet Beecher Stowe vs The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald

Slaughterhouse-Five by Kurt Vonnegut vs Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury

BUZZ-WORTHY BOOKS

Naked by David Sedaris vs All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Still Alice by Lisa Genova vs Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn

The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins vs Ready Player One by Ernest Cline

Dead Wake by Erik Larson vs Career of Evil by Robert Galbraith

YOUNG ADULT

Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell vs Looking for Alaska by John Green

Counting by 7s by Holly Goldberg Sloan vs The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir vs Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins

Grasshopper Jungle by Andrew Smith vs I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson

ADD TO YOUR READING LIST

Men at Arms by Terry Pratchett vs Shoeless Joe by W. P. Kinsella

The Shining Girls by Lauren Beukes vs Half of a Yellow Sun by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

City of Thieves by David Benioff vs Pulphead by John Jeremiah Sullivan

A Good American by Alex George vs The Martian by Andy Weir

Crybaby by Karen Beaumont

by Katherine Habley on February 29th, 2016
Crybaby by Karen Beaumont Cover Image

Karen Beaumont’s newest picture book is a sure-fire hit!  The simple plot in this story is about a baby who wakes up in her crib and does not want to go back to sleep. The family, relatives, and even neighbors try to quiet her down by changing her diaper, tickling baby’s tummy, giving her a bottle, burping her, etc.  But the more they tried, the more she cried.  The old retriever named Roy knows that the baby wants her toy sheep to help her get back to sleep.  However, nobody else is paying any attention to the dog except a tiny mouse seen in most of the humorous illustrations by Eugene Yelchin.  The dog is being chastised when he barks….”No, Roy!  Down, boy!  Baby doesn’t want that toy.” Of course, that is exactly what baby wants and when Roy brings baby’s white and woolly little sheep to her, she grasps it and snuggles down to sleep in her crib immediately.  There is so much more going on in the picture book, Crybaby, than the text alone would indicate. The reader will enjoy discovering funny details through the delightful watercolor illustrations that extend the story.  We see the clock ticking away the time beginning around 1:00 in the morning until 6:00 a.m. as the story progresses.  The repetition of various sounds as the people try to get baby back to sleep is cumulative and makes for a great read-aloud.  But the best part of this fun book are the expressions on the dog’s face throughout the story.  Crybaby will invoke laughter and giggles as you and your little one pour over the pages.  The next time I do storytime about babies I will definitely reach for this title as it begs to be read aloud!

A Bear’s Year by Kathy Duval

by Katherine Habley on February 29th, 2016
A Bear’s Year by Kathy Duval Cover Image

While putting together a winter storytime for preschoolers about hibernation I came across a new book I think is a winner: A Bear’s Year by Kathy Duval and illustrated by Gerry Turley.  This picture book was on the New Book Shelf in the Children’s Room and it is a simple story done in rhyming couplets that explores all four seasons with Mama and her two bear cubs.  Beginning with winter, “Winter Bear drifts into sleep,/ Earth’s snowflake blanket soft and deep.” We see how bears experience each season of the year.  In the spring, “Springtime Bear wakes at last;/ her springtime cubs are growing fast.” Then the Summer Bear “Cubs catch fish, find bees that swarm,/ and dig for roots when days are warm.”  Finally in the autumn, “Coats grow thick, bodies strong./ Soon bears will doze all winter long.”  The artwork is appealing and the book format is large enough for group sharing.  Geared for children 3-6 years old, this title provides accurate information about the lives of bears in the wild, but also helps young children learn about the four seasons of the year.  Turley’s simple but effective illustrations were rendered using drawing and screen printing, which were then pieced together digitally. Duval’s new book would make a lovely gift and children would enjoy cuddling up with Mommy to listen to this story in rhyme.

 

The Goblin’s Puzzle by Andrew S. Chilton

by Morgan Reeves on February 29th, 2016
The Goblin’s Puzzle by Andrew S. Chilton Cover Image

Diversity in middle grade fantasy is hard to come by, particularly high fantasy featuring dragons, goblins, princesses, and kings. The Goblin’s Puzzle by Andrew S. Chilton provides all of these, as well as a good dose of humor and plenty of logic puzzles.

A dark-skinned slave boy with no name finds himself suddenly free, and for the first time in his life able to choose how to live his life. His choice to free a similarly enslaved goblin may provide him with more adventure than he bargained for, as goblins are notoriously tricky creatures. When the goblin tells him that it was not the boy’s fate to be a slave, he sets off to find his true destiny. With the goblin in tow, he learns many things along they way, including how to catch bats with a sling.

At the same time, a dragon has kidnapped Plain Alice, a case of mistaken identity, as he meant to capture Princess Alice. As the dragon goes off to rectify his mistake, Plain Alice begins doing what she does best, thinking. The soon-to-be-captured Princess Alice is at the center of a royal mess, as her father is trying to make her his heir to skip over the obviously evil Duke Geoffrey. To pay for the costly process, Princess Alice is to be married to a suitably wealthy person, to be decided upon by everyone but Princess Alice. All of these plans go literally out the window when Princess Alice is captured by the dragon. If ever there was a need for a nameless hero in search of his destiny, it is here in the Kingdom of West Stanhope.

The boy volunteers to rescue both Alices, though finds he needs their help just as often as they need his. The multiple threads of the story are finally and carefully woven together in a rooftop duel, a royal declaration, and one last trick from the goblin. In another rarity in recent middle grade fantasy, the story ends without a cliff-hanger to lead us to a sequel. Final word: A fantastic, thought-provoking, stand-alone fantasy adventure.

B.Y.O.Book: Spring dates set, books picked–we just need you!

by Candice Smith on February 26th, 2016
B.Y.O.Book: Spring dates set, books picked–we just need you! Cover Image

B.Y.O.Book, the Library’s books-in-bars group, is ready to welcome the spring–it’s time for a few good books, some good food and drink, and a lot of great conversation! In recognition of the 100th anniversary of the Pulitzer Prize awards, we’ve picked three past winners. We hope you can join us to read and discuss one, or all, of them.

March 22, 6-7 p.m., is our first meet-up; join us at Share Wine Lounge & Small Plate Bistro, in the Sheraton to discuss The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, by Junot Díaz. Winner of the Pulitzer for Fiction in 2008, the book follows Oscar — a Dominican American, an overweight, geeky teenage nerd–as he tries to navigate his everyday life, fulfill his dream of becoming a writer and, more important, finding love — all in the face of a family curse that has haunted the Wao’s for generations.. I think Michiko Kakutani said it best, in a review for The New York Times: “…a wondrous, not-so-brief first novel that is so original it can only be described as Mario Vargas Llosa meets “Star Trek” meets David Foster Wallace meets Kanye West.” Readers, how can you resist?

You can register for the event, and check our catalog for a copy of the book–we’ve got print copies as well as CD, ebook and eaudio. We will also have a bookclub kit at the Info Desk soon, so give us a call to see if there are any available copies.

Future dates and titles are April 26 (Angle of Repose by Wallace Stegner, at Northside Bistro) and May 24 (The Black Count: Glory, Revolution, Betrayal, and the Real Count of Monte Cristo by Tom Reiss, at the Mill). We hope to see you there!

 

 

The Millionaire and the Bard

by Heidi Lauritzen on February 23rd, 2016
The Millionaire and the Bard Cover Image

I always wondered why the Folger Shakespeare Library is in Washington DC, and not in England; now I know. The Millionaire and the Bard is a fascinating read about Henry and Emily Folger, a husband-and-wife team who spent their married life researching and acquiring Shakespeare’s works, and then built a library to house them.

There’s something for everyone: the history of the publication of Shakespeare’s works; the cut-throat competition in the acquisitions race for the limited number of copies of the plays; the philosophical question of where Shakespeare’s works should reside—in their home country or abroad; how the Folgers decided what the building that housed their collection should look like.

Henry Clay Folger worked his way up in the Standard Oil companies, and eventually became chairman of the board of Standard Oil of New York. He and his wife lived humbly, though, and funneled all of their financial resources into collecting printed editions of Shakespeare’s works. They were largely self-taught book collectors, and nurtured alliances with antiquarian booksellers and collectors. Emily Folger kept detailed records of their acquisitions, and when the collection outgrew their home, they began storing the documents in warehouses.

The Folgers were especially interested in the First Folio, the first collection of Shakespeare’s plays which was published seven years after his death. Today it is believed that 233 copies exist of the approximately 700 copies that were printed in early 1600s. The Folgers acquired 82 First Folios, along with thousands of other manuscripts, books and art about Shakespeare and ephemera such as playbills and prompt books.

The Millionaire and the Bard is great background reading in advance of our opportunity to see a First Folio edition for ourselves. The University of Iowa Libraries will be the Iowa stop this fall on a nationwide tour of a First Folio from the Folger Shakespeare Library.

 

Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story

by Anne Mangano on February 23rd, 2016
Once in a Great City: A Detroit Story Cover Image

There are so many books about Detroit. There are the books about its hardships (Charlie LeDuff’s Detroit: an American autopsy). There are those about the people trying to change it for the better (Mark Binelli’s Detroit City is the Place to Be). And of course, there is the “ruin porn,” an unfortunate term, but the photographs are interesting nonetheless (Yves Marchand and Romain Meffre’s The Ruins of Detroit). But David Maraniss’ most recent book, Once in a Great City: a Detroit Story, goes back—way back—to when Detroit was an influential economic and cultural powerhouse—the year 1963.

So what was going on in 1963? The Big Three car companies are selling more cars than ever and Ford is just about to release the Mustang. Martin Luther King Jr. participates in the Walk to Freedom drawing over 100,000 marchers demanding equal wages, employment opportunities, and access to housing. He caps the event with the first version of the “I Have a Dream” speech a few months before the March on Washington. Motown is sweeping the charts with Marvin Gaye’s “Can I Get a Witness” and Martha and the Vandellas’ “Heatwave.” And Detroit is a major contender to host the 1968 Summer Games.

But there are small wounds beginning to fester. 1960 is the first census year that Detroit sees a decrease in population. Urban renewal is tearing down neighborhoods (mostly African American communities) in exchange for highways. 1964 sees strikes at Ford, GM, and American Motors by the United Auto Workers. And the Walk to Freedom is protesting severe discrimination in Detroit. Maraniss weaves all of these things together in his narrative, providing a great sense of the city in the early 1960’s. He also picks a pivotal moment for the city. Like many northern cities in the era, this is a decade when politicians, business leaders, and residents make decisions that lead their city to sink or swim.

Houseplants make it feel like spring

by Beth Fisher on February 20th, 2016
Houseplants make it feel like spring Cover Image

Winters are long in Iowa.  By the time the middle of February comes around, Mother Nature begins to tease us with bright sunny days.  But look at a calendar and you’ll see that we are still more than a month away from Spring.

If you’re itching to get your hands in the garden there is something you can do now that might make it feel like spring – get a new houseplant!  Tovah Martin’s new book “The Indestructible Houseplant – 200 beautiful plants that everyone can grow is “for all the windowsill-gardener wannabes… For all the folks who hankered for houseplants but didn’t know where to start, and for all the people who picked up the wrong houseplant and thought its hasty demise was their fault, this book is for you.”

The Idestructible Houseplant is both a good reference book and a fun read. (Yes, books can be both.) If you’re looking for a book on houseplants and you want to look up just one plant, hit the index in the back and it will tell you where to turn. Or hit the table of contents for her list of 200 plants and go from there.

But if you’re looking for a fun read, start at the very beginning.  Tovah Martin is an entertaining writer. Her snappy style and entertaining storytelling will get you hooked. She’ll tell you the story of how she got hooked on houseplants, how the idea for this book came to be, what her home is like and how she tested plants to come up with her 200 surviving “indestructibles.”

The 200+ page “Gallery of Indestructibles” lists her choices in alphabetical order.  Each new plant begins with an entertaining page or more describing the plant, a beautiful color photograph, and half-page table listing the plants features: it’s common name(s), Latin name, a rating (easy or easiest), size range, foliage description, other attributes, desired light exposure, water requirements, optimum night time temperature, rate or growth, soil type, fertilizing, issues and ideal companions.

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The last 40 pages take you through what she calls “The Details” –  choosing a plant; general cautions about plant toxicity; light, humidity and temperature considerations; choosing and preparing a container.  The list of sources are mainly in Connecticut, but all have websites.

There is one thing I was surprised by.  The groupings called “Ferns” and “Ivy”  are examples of when the author groups plants into a family.  The information is general rather than specific to any of the individual types found in the index.  Not that the information isn’t good, but it might not be appropriate to ALL the different plants in either family.

This is a great gardening book, and I’m definitely adding it to my wish-list.




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