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Hug Machine!

by on February 27th, 2015

51Xr6DU634L._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_I got some big hugging energy this week at my outreach visits. I was greeted with hugs–lots of hugs! Those cute little hug machines! This is a picture book with some big hugging energy. I’d say it’s perfect for any time of the year, and double the fun around Valentine’s Day.
Hug Machine by Scott Campbell is about a little boy who is very good at hugging: “No one can resist my unbelievable hugging. I’m the Hug Machine!” He hugs people to calm them down and cheer them up. His hugs make the biggest feel small and smallest feel big. He even takes on extra special challenges like hugging a spiky porcupine and the too-big whale who says, “Surely I am too big for you to hug,” to which Hug Machine says, “Of course not! Not for the Hug Machine!” After a brief fueling of pizza, the hug machine is at it again and ready for more hugging action.9781442459366_02_interior.480x480-75
By the end of the day the boy is exhausted from all of the hugging, and can hug no more. But, he does have hugs for a special person in his life…Mom. It turns out Hug Machine is always open for business.  2PHugsMachine_int-17
I love the illustrations in this book. They are gentle and sweet. I’ll bet after you read this book before bedtime your little ones will walk around with arms stretched out saying, “I’m the Hug Machine!”

Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty

by on February 27th, 2015
Happy Birthday Madame Chapeau by Andrea Beaty Cover Image

I love hats!  I started wearing hats in my 20′s when I was in college.  I’m not talking about knitted wool hats, I’m talking fancy straw and felt hats that I would wear to complete my outfit.  I still wear hats and am almost ashamed to admit that I have nearly 200 hats that are in boxes carefully organized and labeled so I can find just the one I want to wear to church on Sunday mornings.  I love wearing hats to tea parties and I always take a couple of packable hats when I travel to give me flexibility to dress up an outfit.

As a children’s librarian, one of the best things about my job is doing storytimes for preschoolers, whether in the library or at one of our 40+ day cares and preschools we visit regularly.  I always have a theme and hats has been a favorite storytime subject; kids love the hats I bring for show and tell.

A fairly new picture book that I was happy to discover is right up my alley.  Happy Birthday Madam Chapeau by Andrea Beaty and illustrated by David Roberts is one that I can’t wait to read aloud to 3-6 year-olds.  The rhyming text tells of a milliner who makes all kinds of fabulous hats but is lonely.  Once a year she dresses up and puts on a special hat and treats herself to dinner at the finest Parisian restaurant to celebrate her birthday.  This year, as she’s walking to town to dine, a crow steals her birthday bonnet!  Many onlookers offer her their hat to wear but she declines each one until a little girl offers Madame Chapeau a hat she has knitted.  The illustrations are quite humorous and extend the text very nicely; David Roberts was a former milliner before illustrating children’s books and his knowledge of one-of-a-kind designer hats is evident.  There is plenty for children to discover in the pictures that celebrate the joy of ribbons, baubles, bows, and veils.  Have fun sharing this one!

 

USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map

by on February 27th, 2015

Even though you wouldn’t know it by looking outside Spring really is on the way.  Which means many of us have started thinking and dreaming about our gardens.

As most people know, there are two baisc types of garen plants:  annuals and perennials.  Annuals live fast and die pretty.  They last for only one growing season, and you have to replant them again next year.  Perennials are the mainstays in the garden. They come back year after year.  Many don’t hit their prime for two or three years, making year-round care of the plant important.   One of the most important things to consider before purchasing a perennial for your garden is what its hardiness zone rating is, to know if it will survive the winter in your garden.

The US Dept. of Agriculture Plant Hardiness Zone Map is now the standard device used to label plants in the US. zone map

It represents the average annual minimum temperatures in 11 zones which vary in ten-degree differences.  Each main zone is further divided into two sections, A and B, based on 5-degree differences.   The map is now interactive.   You can enter your zip code or state and it will tell you which zone you are in.  You can also click on a state on the map and a popup map will appear showing the zones as well as county lines, major cities and rivers.    Click here to try it out.

A bit of history:

The earliest versions of national hardiness maps were developed in the 1920′s and 1930′s by a variety of groups, most notably the Arnold Arboretum at Harvard University.  The first USDA Hardiness Zone map was published in 1960 and updated in 1965.  Because it used a different temperature scale for its divisions than the Arnold Arboretum map, it often led to confusion for gardeners rather than clarity.  The USDA map would not be updated again until 1990 when it underwent a huge overhaul, using data collected between 1974 and 1986.  Additional zones were added to include Canada and Northern Mexico as well as Alaska and Hawaii.  Th 1990 map standardized its division s into the well-known 10 and 5 degree division, and became the default hardiness zone map in the US.

There is one big drawback to the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map however, it deals with only the average minimum temperatures.  It does not take into account summer weather at all.  Heat, humidity and rainfall are also just as important to the survival of a garden plant, and all that information is found on plant tags as well.   But where can you find maps that give you this  information?

One of the best sources of this type of information is the PRISM Climate Group at Oregon State University.   In fact, the USDA used much of their winter data in the most recent overhaul of the Hardiness Zone Map.     From their web site:  “The PRISM Climate Group gathers climate observations from a wide range of monitoring networks, applies sophisticated quality control measures, and develops spatial climate datasets to reveal short- and long-term climate patterns.”

“PRISMs homepage can be found here.    From this page you can find lots of neat informational maps.PRISM_ppt_30yr_normal_4kmM2_annual

  • The link to 30 Year Normals takes you to a map that compiles the data from 1981-2010, and you can adjust it to see precipitation or temperature and you adjust by month.
  • The link to Gallery of State Maps takes you to a US map that you can then click on state by state to see the average annual precipitation (1981-2010) by state.

Combining information from The USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map and the PRISM maps, can give you a lot of information about where you live and the types of plants the will probably work best in your area.    Unless you are dealing with a microclimate.  But that’s another topic for another blog post.   Happy Gardening!

State Data Center of Iowa

by on February 26th, 2015

Interested in finding historical population statistics for Iowa? Although the US Census Bureau’s website has a lot of great information, it isn’t the easiest to navigate and its historical data is few and far between, particularly in specifics. If you need a quick fact, you might wish to contact the State Data Center, which is part of the State Library of Iowa. The State Data Center collects information from the US Census, other federal agencies, and Iowa’s state agencies to provide population, housing, business, and government statistics. They have a number of reports on their website, including data profiles for the current year. Can’t find what you are looking for? Contacting them is significantly faster than looking through the Census’s website.

You can contact the State Data Center Monday through Friday 8-4:30:

By phone: 800-24iowa population8-4483

Email: census@lib.state.ia.us

Or chat through their website here.

 

 

Sound of Music Sing-Along at ICPL March 4

by on February 26th, 2015

The halls of the Iowa City Public Library will be filled with the sound of music Wednesday, March 4, during our film screening and sing-along. SoundofMusic

The film version starring Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer celebrates its 50th Anniversary this year. It was originally released on March 2, 1965.

The Sound of Music is about a young woman who leaves an Austrian convent to become a governess to the seven children of a naval officer widower. The movie is an adaptation of the 1959 Broadway musical of the same name. Both the film and the musical are based on the book The Story of the Trapp Family Singers by Maria von Trapp.

The movie begins at 7 p.m. in Meeting Room A on March 4. Singing on key is not required, and we’ll leave the captioning on for the words. Free popcorn will be provided.

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

ICPL announces March Classes for Adults

by on February 26th, 2015

Fight winter’s gloom by getting creative at the Iowa City Public Library!

Our March the computer classes offered introduce adults to free software and free online tools which can make creating a personalized card or editing a video easy and fun. Each of these classes will last two hours giving patrons time to ask questions and create on their own.

To kick off our month of creativity, bring in your digital video and learn to upload and use YouTube to safely edit and share your videos online. Join us from 10 a.m. to noon on Tuesday, March 28, for Editing Digital Video.

On Saturday, March 14 at 10:30 a. m., the Library will offer Beginning Graphic Design. Learn how to use GIMP, a free graphic design and photo editing software, to make invites, cards, or other graphics.

Digital Photos: Organizing, Sharing, and Basic Editing will be held at 10 a.m. on Friday, March 20. Getting all of your digital photography organized and in print worthy condition can be pretty daunting. Bring in your digital photos and learn how to quickly and easily edit and organize your images.

To round out all of this digital creativity, join us from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, March 28, for HTML Coding Basics. Every website you visit relies on an HTML as the skeleton that gives the site’s pages their structure. Learn how to add paragraphs, headings, images, links, and basic formatting to create a webpage.

All classes for adults are held in the Library’s Computer Lab on the second floor. Classes are free, but space is limited to 10 people per program, so patrons should register early. Visit www.icpl.org/classes to register online. You can also register by calling the Library at (319) 356-5200.

Trapped

by on February 26th, 2015
Trapped Cover Image

Here are four new memoirs that will make the able-bodied glad we’re only trapped by crappy winter weather.

Ghost Boy by Martin Pistorius

A bizarre illness rendered Martin Pistorius immobile and incommunicado for 12 years. His family was told the teenager was going to die, but he survived in a vegetative state with no way to communicate. His family didn’t know he was cognizant for more than a decade. How do you cope when you are trapped inside your body? What do you do when the staff at the care center leave Barney reruns on for hours? This memoir shares his intense story. eBook available on OverdriveRead the rest of this entry »

The Iridescence of Birds; a Book About Henri Matisse

by on February 26th, 2015
The Iridescence of Birds; a Book About Henri Matisse Cover Image

A new picture book biography by Patricia MacLachlan is special in every way.  The reviews have been great and it’s no wonder.  The text is spare and suitable for K-3.  I love how the author has made a book about a famous artist accessible for young children. The book begins, “If you were a boy named Henri Matisse who lived in a dreary town in northern France where the skies were gray and the days were cold and you wanted color and light and sun….”  We learn how he added vivid color to his surroundings and noticed with an artist’s eye the lovely things around him.  Encouraged  by his beloved mother, Henri learned to observe color, light, texture, and beauty. He loved the china plates his mother painted, the bright red rugs she hung on the walls, the fruit and flowers his mother brought home for him to arrange on the table, and the beautiful silk clothes the townspeople wore.  Henri especially loved raising pigeons and observing how the sun made their feathers look iridescent in the light creating a shimmering effect.  MacLachlan says it is no surprise that Matisse grew up to be a fine painter. The seed was planted in his youngest years when his mother gave him a set of paints to mix and notice the wonderful colors he could make on paper.  The artwork in The Iridescence of Birds is by Hadley Hooper.  After much research she decided to use relief printing.  Hooper cut the characters and backgrounds out of stiff foam and cardboard, inked them up, made the prints, and then scanned them into Photoshop.  The results are fabulous!

 matisseIn his old age, Matisse turned to paper collage and cutting with scissors became his mode of expression.  Another terrific picture book about his life is entitled, Henri’s Scissors, written and illustrated by Jeanette Winter.  She focuses on the artist’s later years when he was confined to a bed and a wheelchair.  Here Matisse is depicted using colored paper and scissors and employing his vivid imagination to create artwork that his assistants put up on the walls of his seaside cottage.  “A pair of scissors is a wonderful instrument,” says Matisse.  He wonders why he never thought of using the technique of paper cutting for his designs earlier.  In this book the pictures Winter creates are done in acrylics and cut paper.

Both books would pair nicely together and art teachers will find these titles useful in their classrooms.  Parents will enjoy sharing them with their young children to foster their own creativity….and maybe give them a set of paints after reading the books together!  Both books also include author’s notes with further information about Henri Matisse and suggestions for reading.

Volunteer Spotlight: Jeanette Carter

by on February 25th, 2015

Jeanette Carter is one of two library volunteers who will be honored for reaching a 1,500 hour milestone at this year’s Volunteer Recognition Event. We asked Jeanette a few questions for this “Volunteer Spotlight:”

How long have you been volunteering at the Iowa City Public Library?
I have been volunteering since I quit working at the library in 2003.  [Jeanette was a senior librarian in the library's Reference Department.]

What do you do at the Library?Local News Index
I have two volunteer jobs. I work 2 hours a week at the Book End, and for book sales. I also index the Press-Citizen microfilm retroactively, and am now on 1962. Both jobs are enjoyable.

[Go to icpl.org/newspaper and benefit from Jeanette’s work when you use the Local News Index!]

Why did you decide to volunteer at the Library?
When I was working at the library I knew how valuable the many volunteer jobs were. I wanted to contribute to this effort and support the library.

What is your favorite part of the collection?
I enjoy mysteries, biographies and always take recorded books on long car trips.

What else do you like to do?
Cooking and gardening are my favorite hobbies. I also enjoy visiting grandchildren, who live a long ways off, so I don’t get to see them very often.

Thank you, Jeanette, for all of your time and hard work!

If you’re interested in volunteering, go www.icpl.org/volunteer or come in to the Library and fill out a Volunteer Application.

Serendipity in the Stacks

by on February 23rd, 2015

Recently we had a great conversation at the Help Desk about good movies. A patron read my blog post about the 100 Foot Journey and suggested The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. I love when I get suggestions from people I’m helping – it’s a bit of serendipity in my day. There have also been many conversations leading up to the Oscars, and it’s fun to hear what others think about different movies.

One of the more interesting conversations last week was about The Grand Budapest Hotel and the facial hair of the actors. Stories from National Public Radio and Esquire Magazine piqued our interest and had me guessing which mustaches were real and which were not. According to NPR:

“They’re made of real human hair, which you buy in all different textures and colors,” says Hannon. “There’s usually five minimum colors in each mustache.”

The hairs are sewn individually into tiny holes — less than a half-millimeter in diameter — of what Hannon calls “the finest silk lace you can find. … So you can imagine the time that goes into the perfection of each.”

My holds for The Grand Budapest Hotel and The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel came in before the weekend, so we had a great movie fest Friday and Saturday with a hotel theme. Although both movies were very good, they were very different. While I enjoyed the precision and scenery in The Grand Budapest Hotel, I especially enjoyed the heartwarming story and characters in The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel. Another bit of serendipity today … when writing this post I learned the there’s a sequel to look forward to – The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel opens in theatres on March 6th.

Give us a call or stop by if you need help finding a good movie or want to place a hold on the Oscar nominees or winners. You may discover your own serendipity in the stacks :)





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