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Staff Picks: Kara Road Trips

by on May 18th, 2015

Planning a long road trip this summer? Kara introduces a few audio books that are sure to make the time fly by!

Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life

by on May 16th, 2015
Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life Cover Image

Many of you know that I am a huge Beatrix Potter fan and as a children’s librarian, have been charmed by her 23 small books about Peter Rabbit, Jemima Puddle Duck, Squirrel Nutkin, Benjamin Bunny and her other animal friends for many years.  I have collected Beatrix Potter books and related merchandise my entire career and have displayed my collection at the Iowa City Public Library and the Coralville Public Library.  So when I accidentally came across Beatrix Potter’s Gardening Life:  The Plants and Places That Inspired the Classic Children’s Tales, needless to say, I was thrilled.  Oh, and did I tell you that I am a flower gardener?  Author Marta McDowell from the New York Botanical Garden gives an account of the famous children’s writer and illustrator’s life.  Included in the book are old photographs, quotes from Potter’s books, letters, book illustrations, journal entrees, and her beautiful watercolor sketches of flowers and book characters. The second part of the book is a seasonal overview of what is blooming in Potter’s gardens at Hill Top Farm and her other properties in the Lake District of England.  The book culminates in a traveler’s guide with information about visiting Potter’s home and gardens today.  Readers may not have known that Beatrix Potter left her privileged life in London to farm, raise sheep, write, garden, and conserve the beautiful landscapes in the north of England.  Most impressive are all the thousands of acres of land she left to the National Trust upon her death.  I’ve read several biographies about Beatrix Potter so I didn’t learn anything new about her life; however, her passion for gardening and the expert information by the author, a consulting horticulturalist, was most informative and a pleasure to read.  Someday I hope to travel to the Lake District and visit Hill Top Farm and before I do, I’ll re-read this fascinating book.

Smoke & Spice Updated

by on May 16th, 2015
Smoke & Spice Updated Cover Image

We have a new smoker/grill at our house, just in time for summer. Our challenge now is to learn how to use it. Have no fear, the Library is here! We’ve had some delicious meals including Slaw Burgers (a family favorite of smoked pork on a bun with traditional cole slaw), marinated smoked vegetables and some great salmon. Now we’re ready to try some new meals.

A quick search of the Library’s catalog shows there are many books to help learn how to use a smoker. Subject headings of “Barbequing” and “Smoked Foods” were most helpful. I found a new book, Smoke and Spice 3rd Edition, that had some great recipes. Two recipes looked especially good – Peabody-Style Stuffed Onions and Deep-Dish Smoked Mozzarella Pizza. Yummy!

If you are ready to relax and enjoy some great summer food, but need some culinary inspiration, give us a call or stop by. The call numbers 641.5784 and 641.61 are a great place to start.

Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver

by on May 15th, 2015
Murder at the Brightwell by Ashley Weaver Cover Image

Librarian Ashley Weaver’s debut novel is the kind of cozy mystery I really enjoy.  Set in 1930′s England, wealthy Amory and Milo Ames have been married five years and Amory’s charming playboy husband is still acting like he’s a bachelor.  He’s just returned from the French Riviera when her old fiance, Gil Trent, looks Amory up and asks her to join him at a seaside resort to hopefully dissuade his sister, Emmeline, from marrying a cad, Rupert Howe.  On the second day at the posh Brightwell Hotel, Emory finds Howe’s body, apparently pushed over a railing onto a terrace below.  Lots of friends and acquaintances staying for the week are possible suspects, but Gil is the primary target of the investigation.  Then Milo appears on the scene and things get complicated as Amory wants to clear Gil’s name and figure out if her marriage to Milo is worth saving.  Another murder takes place and the group of secondary characters each have their own secrets and reasons not to be trusted. Red herrings abound and Milo’s reluctant assistance in helping Amory find the killer keeps the readers’ interest.  The sarcastic repartee between Amory and Milo is amusing and the the reader will keep wondering who Amory will end up with, Milo or Gil.  The clues start adding up for the detective, but will the mystery be solved before another murder is committed? The romance aspect of the story adds to a fun light read set in a lavish location and time period.  I recommend this engaging mystery to fans of Agatha Christie’s books.  This first novel would make a great series with Amory Ames as the amateur sleuth.

The Testament of Mary, read by Meryl Streep

by on May 15th, 2015
The Testament of Mary, read by Meryl Streep Cover Image

The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin is a fictionalized account of Mary, mother of Jesus, in her old age.  This well-reviewed novella was published in 2012 and shortlisted for the 2013 Man Booker Prize.  I did not read it at the time, but recently checked out the audio version read by Meryl Streep.  It is a fantastic reading, and I recommend it to anyone who enjoys listening to books on disc.

Toibin’s novella has Mary being coaxed by the disciples to share the story of her son’s rise in popularity and power, and then his crucifixion.  The disciples have a larger message they want to impart to the world and facts that do not fit that message are conveniently ignored; Mary’s memories are those of a mother who has no agenda other than to raise and love her son.  The clash between the two purposes creates impatience in the disciples and anger in Mary.

Meryl Streep brilliantly expresses the confusion, anger and grief Mary feels as she watches the sacrifice of her son’s life and the manipulation of the story in the years that followed.  Streep delivers Mary’s short and clipped sentences, and bits of sarcasm directed at the disciples, in a way that is fitting to a woman who has little time left to tell her side of the story to an unsympathetic audience.  Streep captures the weariness of the old Mary, still trying to make sense of what happened.

This story is not the Mary in popularly-known Christian theology.  But if you are open to a different interpretation of her, Meryl Streep brings to life an intelligent, strong, flawed and believable Mary whose grief at the loss of her son is inconsolable.

Storytime Recap: Animals Everywhere

by on May 13th, 2015

This was my first storytime back after attending the Kids First conference last week. I was happy to be able to share some of the early literacy information I had learned. In support of phonological awareness, hearing the sounds that make up words, we always start storytime with our welcome song “Clap Everybody and Say Hello.” Then I asked if anyone could guess what storytime would be about today. With all of the animal books on the display, the kids were able to answer with no problem. I let parents know that focusing on the beginning sounds of words is another way to support phonological awareness in children. Our first story Baby Bear Sees Blue by Ashley Wolff had plenty of Bs to hear as well as colors to name.

Next I told everyone we would follow bear over the mountain to see what we could see. Because we had a wiggly group today I had everyone do full body movements instead of the finger motions that often accompany the song.

The bear went over the mountain, (marching)
The bear went over the mountain, (marching)
The bear went over the mountain, (marching)
To see what he could see. (hand over eyes and look out)

And all that he could see, (hand over eyes and look out)
And all that he could see, (hand over eyes and look out)

Was the other side of the mountain, (bring hands together above head in triangle)
The other side of the mountain, (bring hands together above head in triangle)
The other side of the mountain, (bring hands together above head in triangle)
Was all that he could see. (hand over eyes and look out)

Then I told everyone we would go on a trip to the other side of the mountain and count animals by reading Over in the Jungle by Marianne Berkes. The rhyming words in this book are another great way to contribute to phonological awareness.

I had the parents and children sing “Hey Diddle Diddle” while I set up a felt game of matching animal halves.

Hey diddle diddle,
The cat and the fiddle,
The cow jumped over the moon.
The little dog laughed,
To see such sport,
And the dish ran away with the spoon.

Then I asked for volunteers to put the animals back together. The kids liked coming up and correctly matching the animal halves, but the also thought it was funny when I tried to match up the heads to the wrong tails. Then we did one of my favorite action rhymes.

Jump like a frog.
Stretch like a cat.
Hop like a bunny.
Flap like a bat.
Wiggle like a worm.
Slither like a snake.
Now be a wet dog,
and shake, shake, shake!

Finally we settled down for one final book. I chose an informational picture book, Born in the Wild by Lita Judge to share with the group. We skipped most of the text heavy pages but had some fun questions and answers about how the kids were like the pictured animals.

Then we finished up storytime with the Animal Crackers rhyme.

Oh, once I ate a lion,
Then a tall giraffe,
But when I ate the elephant
He really made me laugh.
Well you may think I’m silly
But I’ll tell you the truth,
They were animals crackers
And you can eat them too!

I told them all of these animals could be seen at the zoo, which was where our movie took place. We watched the animated storybook version of A Sick Day for Amos McGee by Philip C. Stead. Everyone left with an elephant stamp on their hands.

 

ICPL Summer Bus Program Begins June 3

by on May 13th, 2015

An Iowa City Public Library card is your child’s ticket to ride an Iowa City Transit bus free this summer.Summer-Library-Bus

The Library will provide free bus rides to children through 12th grade, and the adult caregivers who are with them, on any Iowa City Transit bus route, between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. every weekday beginning Wednesday, June 3. Eligible bus riders should show their Iowa City Public Library card to the bus driver to gain free access to the bus.

Children can catch a ride home anytime the same day with a Ride & Read bus pass, which is issued by showing a Library Card at any public service desk at the Library.

Parents, if your child doesn’t have an Iowa City Public Library card, visit www.icpl.org/cards/ for information about how to apply for a card. Complete your application online, then stop by the Help Desk within two weeks to pick up your card. You can also apply in person at the Help Desk any time the Library is open. Adults will need to show photo identification (current driver’s license, lease or passport) and proof of resident address (current driver’s license, mail with a current post mark; current lease) in order to obtain a Library Card.

Photo identification is not required for children.

The summer bus program ends the week day before the first day of school.

For more information, please call the Library at (319) 356-5200.

ICPL’S Summer Reading Program Begins June 1

by on May 13th, 2015

Storytimes, crafts, guest lectures and, of course, books are just some of the events scheduled for the Iowa City Public Library’s Summer Reading Program, which will be held June 1 through Aug. 9.

Participants can sign up for one of three reading programs:

Every Hero Has a Story is for babies and children ages birth through sixth-grade.

Participants will receive a game card to track their progress in meeting summer reading goals.

The game card for babies and toddlers promotes early childhood literacy skills, with prizes – a bath squirt toy and a board book — awarded for every 10 activities completed. Completed game cards are turned in to be entered in the drawing for the grand prize: a $50 gift card to Prairie Lights.

The pre-school through sixth-grade game card has three levels of prizes – food and activity coupons, a book and a T-shirt – to keep participants motivated. Every student who turns in their completed game card will be entered in the grand prize drawing for a $150 gift card.

In addition to the game cards, Every Hero Has a Story participants can attend weekly storytimes and special programs at the Library, including Tweens on Tuesday every Tuesday at 2 p.m. (crafts and fun for third- through sixth-grade students beginning June 9); Caped Crusaders every Thursday at 10:30 a.m. (a special program for preschoolers beginning June 11); and Masked Marvels at 2 p.m. every Thursday, beginning June 11, for school-age children.

A complete listing of programs can be found at srp.icpl.org.

Unmasked is the teen program for students in grades seventh through 12th.

Unmasked participants will receive an oversized bookmark to track their progress in meeting summer reading goals. Teens can either read five books, or read three books and attend two Summer Reading Program events. Participants will receive a book when they turn in their completed card, which is then entered into a drawing for one of four $50 gift cards to Marcus Theaters; Prairie Lights; Gamers; or Pancheros.

A trivia contest, book club discussion, movies and games are included in the lineup for teen Summer Reading Program activities, beginning with Making Comic Books with Jonathan Sims at 2 p.m. Thursday, June 4. A complete listing of programs can be found at srp.icpl.org and on the back of each bookmark.

Everyday Heroes is the adult program.

Each participant will receive an oversized bookmark to track their progress in meeting summer reading goals. Adults can either read five books, or read three books and attend two Summer Reading Program events to complete their bookmark. Participants will receive a book when they turn in their completed card, which is entered into a drawing for one of four grand prizes:

  • A one-year membership to FilmScene
  • A $50 Downtown Iowa City gift certificate
  • A $50 gift certificate to A & A Pagliai’s Pizza
  • A pair of 2-hour Paddle Passes at the Terry Trueblood Recreation Area

Movies, book discussions, and hands-on presentations are among the list of adult Summer Reading Program activities, including an evening with Olympic Gold Medalists Dan Gable and Tom Brands. The former and current University of Iowa wrestling coaches will talk about what it takes to be an Olympic competitor at 7 p.m. on Monday, July 13. A complete listing of programs can be found at srp.icpl.org and on the back each bookmark.

Anyone who completes their game card or bookmark early and wants to keep going can pick up a Bonus Game Card. Completing the game card will result in a second entry for the grand prize at their program level except babies and toddlers.

The Summer Reading Program is free for all participants. Registration begins May 18. Patrons can either register in-person at the Library, online at srp.icpl.org or during Children’s Day Saturday, June 6. Children’s Day will be held from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. as part of the Summer of the Arts Festival.

For more information, call the Library at (319) 356-5200.

Help, I found a fawn or bunny or robin! What do I do?

by on May 12th, 2015

Baby-Robins_110422_0563Not only do wild flowers emerge in the spring, but  wild animal young do, too.  We’ve had questions about what to do when someone has found a nest of baby bunnies or a young robin on the ground or even a fawn without a doe nearby.  Our natural inclination to think the young animal has been abandoned, but that may not be the case at all.  Books on animal rescue and rehabilitation as well as websites devoted to wildlife suggest that the first step you take is determining whether the young animal is orphaned, injured or just fine.rescuing wildlife

The Iowa Department of Natural Resources (DNR) posted the article Leave Wildlife Babies in the Wild . “If you find an animal baby that appears to be on its own, don’t worry. Generally, one of its parents is nearby, watching. They’re teaching their offspring to be independent, and in the case of danger, some animal parents will take off in order to create a distraction away from their young,” suggests the DNR.

The Humane Society of the United States cautions that “unless the animal appears injured or in distress, there may be no need to rescue them.” They do suggest you follow up if -a cat or dog presents the wild animal to you; there is evidence of bleeding; there is an apparent or obvious broken limb; there is a featherless or nearly featherless bird on the ground or the baby animal is shivering or there is a dead parent nearby.

The next step, according to the DNR is to contact a certified wildlife rehabilitator.  The DNR maintains a list on its website. If you cannot reach a rehabilitator, you should contact your conservation officer or animal control officer.  If you would like to learn more about what an wildlife rehabilitator does, Talk of Iowa, an Iowa Public Radio program, recently hosted several rehabilitators and they shared their stories of helping return the young back into the wild.

 

 

Breakfast @ the IC Farmer’s Market

by on May 12th, 2015
Breakfast

Breakfast at the Iowa City Farmer’s Market

I love the Iowa City Farmer’s Market. I grew up in Iowa City, so I have happy memories of going to the Market when I was young. My children have also grown up going to the Farmer’s Market and one of their favorite Saturday morning activities is breakfast at the Market.

We typically bring our coffee cups and stop at Cafe del Sol for a refill, and then take in the Market. Once we’ve checked out all the booths we wander over to Washington Street and scope out all the different choices for breakfast food.

Our final decision for what to order is typically based on what looks good and where the shortest lines are. My personal favorite is the breakfast burritos while my kids like the breakfast sandwiches that use pancakes as the outer layer and yummy eggs and other fillings in the middle.

Once we have our food, we typically pull up a seat on the curb and people watch. We always see lots of friends so it turns into a social occasion too.

Kolache

Poppyseed Kolache from the Iowa City Farmer’s Market

A trip to the Market would also not be complete without our beloved kolaches. I grew up with a Czech grandmother who made the best kolaches in the world, so finding a good kolache is a real treat. My favorites are poppy seed while my family prefers apricot, cherry, and peach. We all agree the prune kolaches are to be avoided.

Writing this blog post inspired me to investigate the books about Czech cooking at the Library. I found many awesome selections at the call number 641.59437. One book has recipes for poppy seed and cheese filling as well as the dreaded prune filling.

It’s so exciting to welcome the Iowa City Farmer’s Markets back into our weekly routine. I look forward to the food, fun and meeting friends. See you at the Market!





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