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“Ahora soy: Sólo hoy tenemos y creamos.
Now I am: Only today do we have and create.”
These are the words of Nancy Morejón, one of the most distinguished poets of Cuba after the Revolution. They come from her poem “Mujer Negra,” or “Black Woman.” Born in 1944, Nancy Morejón grew up and developed her talent as a writer during the tumultuous Cold War era. Her work draws from her African heritage and her life in modern Cuba.
The Columbia Public Library has the great honor of welcoming Nancy Morejón on Tuesday, April 19 at 7 p.m. She will read from some of her most well-known poems and talk about the cultural milieu of her homeland. If you would like to explore more of her work, the library has two bilingual anthologies for you to check out: “Black Woman and Other Poems” and “Looking Within.”
We will also be displaying a selection of handcrafted books by artisanal Cuban publisher Ediciones Vigía. You’ll find them in the library’s lobby from April 18-29. Among those exhibited will be Nancy Morejón’s poem “Ana Mendieta.” During her April 19 program, there will be a short documentary about the making of one of her poems into a stunning, one-of-a-kind piece of visual art.
Nancy Morejón’s presentation is part of a much larger conference, “Afro-Cuban Artists: A Renaissance,” being hosted by the MU Afro-Romance Institute and the MU Department of Romance Languages and Literature. Be sure to review the complete listing of free community events available online. There are art exhibits, screenings, children’s workshops and more!
The post Columbia Public Library Welcomes Poet Nancy Morejón appeared first on DBRL Next.
After two months of nail-biting competition, central Missouri teens have selected their March Madness Teen Book Tournament Champion! We began with a list of 32 finalists which included bestsellers such as “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green, “City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare, “Cinder” by Marissa Meyer and several Gateway and Truman Award nominees. Many thanks to the teachers and school librarians who have supported this program, and to all the teens who have participated! And now, our 2016 champion is….“Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins
Stay tuned to teens.dbrl.org for our sneak peek at this year’s teen summer reading program, “On Your Mark, Get Set, Read.” Through this program, the library challenges young adults to read for 20 hours, share three book reviews, and do seven of our suggested activities. Complete the challenge, and you will be eligible to win some pretty awesome prizes like a Amazon Kindle Fire. Stay informed by subscribing to our email updates!
Originally published at 2016 Teen Book Champion Is Chosen!.
April is National Poetry Month, and I love that this celebration of language comes when spring is doing its raucous thing, sunny daffodils lifting their faces to the sky and flowering trees bursting into bloom. The earth is creating and nature expresses itself, and we, too, celebrate our expression. For what is poetry but the attempt to describe our human condition, to wrap an experience in words so precise, or a metaphor so fitting, that we slip the reader into our shoes?
For poems celebrating nature, Mary Oliver is my favorite. Her exuberant observations of the ordinary never fail to inspire me. She even has an entire volume dedicated to her four-legged friends: “Dog Songs.” Other noteworthy books of poems that meditate on the natural world include Oliver’s “A Thousand Mornings,” “Field Folly Snow” by Cecily Parks and “Terrapin and Other Poems” by Wendell Berry.
Additional ways to celebrate this month include getting familiar with some of the work by poets appearing at the Unbound Book Festival on April 23. (See our reading list for links to these books in our catalog.)
The Academy of American Poets has 30 suggestions for observing National Poetry Month, but I suggest you begin by reading this:
“So come to the pond,
or the river of your imagination,
or the harbor of your longing,
and put your lips to the world.
– Mary Oliver (from “Mornings at Blackwater”)
April is National Poetry Month. The Callaway County Public Library and the Auxvasse Creative Arts Program invite all Callaway County kids and teens to submit an original poem! Prizes will be awarded to first, second and third place winners in each age group. A brief awards ceremony will be held on Tuesday, May 24 at the Callaway County Public Library in Fulton.
Callaway County Public Library, ATTN: Youth Poetry Contest
710 Court St.
Fulton, MO 65251.
Mail entries must be postmarked by April 30.
Originally published at Callaway County Youth Poetry Contest.
I like reading about real people — what happens to them and how they feel about their experiences. But I don’t want to read harrowing tales of survival. I want something lighter. I’ve read a number of these types of books recently that I recommend.
- In “Hammer Head: the Making of a Carpenter,” journalist Nina MacLaughlen decides she needs a change and answers an advertisement for a carpenter’s apprentice. She discovers she enjoys working with tools like a hammer, a saw and a level.
- “Popular: Vintage Wisdom for a Modern Geek” by Maya Van Wagenen was written for teens, but I think adults could learn from it. A middle school girl makes changes to the way she approaches people and how she presents herself to the world.
- “My Kitchen Year” by Ruth Reichl describes how the writer coped during the year following the loss of her job due to the closing of Gourmet magazine. Reichl includes recipes of the foods she cooked during this time.
- “Pardon My French: How a Grumpy American Fell in Love With France” by Allen Johnson chronicles his year living in France, making friends and struggling with the language (which he had studied) and the cultural differences. I enjoyed his sense of humor.
- “Education of a Traitor: A Memoir of Growing Up in Cold War Russia” by Svetlana Grobman tells about coming of age in a place very different from where she lives now. I found it interesting to read about someone growing up during the same time I did but in a very different environment.
- In “Wildflower,” Drew Barrymore tells about her life after she met the mentors and role models who helped her become a responsible adult.
- In “Melissa Explains It All,” Melissa Joan Hart tells about growing up working in the acting business. She knows a lot of other celebrities and reveals some behind-the-scenes moments from “Clarissa Explains it All” and “Sabrina the Teenage Witch.”
- In “You’re Never Weird on the Internet,” Felicia Day tells about being homeschooled and having little interaction with her peers. The Internet was one way she could connect with people. Unfortunately, the anonymity of the Internet also led to problems once she got older.
- In “Bossypants” by Tina Fey and “Yes, Please” by Amy Pohler, both comedy writers use humor to relate some of their experiences.
Do you have a favorite celebrity? Maybe they’ve written a book. Need inspiration to make a change in your life? Read about other people who tried something different. And yes, we even have memoirs about surviving horrible circumstances if that’s your thing. The library has something for everyone.
A hip-hop-inspired Broadway musical about founding father Alexander Hamilton seems as unlikely as Hamilton’s own historic rise. Born out of wedlock and orphaned as a young child, he struggled out of poverty and became one of our nation’s most powerful political leaders. “Hey yo, I’m just like my country, I’m young, scrappy and hungry,” Hamilton sings in “Hamilton: An American Musical,” created by Lin-Manuel Miranda (composer, writer, lyricist, actor and all-around genius). This show is a smash hit, with even terrible seats going for hundreds of dollars. And just a couple of weeks ago President Obama hosted local students and the cast of “Hamilton” for a daylong celebration of the arts in America.
I came a little late to the “Hamilton” party, but once I heard the soundtrack this spring, I couldn’t stop listening. Or singing. Or rapping. I randomly shout “Lafayette!” or “I am not throwing away my shot!” at my kids, and they grin and dance around because, of course, they’ve heard the soundtrack multiple times by now. Mama cannot get enough. If you haven’t listened to “Hamilton” yet, and you live in Boone or Callaway County and have a library card, you can stream or download the whole thing through Hoopla. Right now! So, go ahead and take a listen. I’ll wait.
You back? Amazing, right? If you want to read the book that inspired this phenomenon, check out the biography “Hamilton” by Ron Chernow, which is as much a story of the birth of our nation as it is an in-depth look at George Washington’s right-hand man, author of the majority of The Federalist Papers and the first Treasury Secretary of the United States.
If an 800-page book is a little more than you want to commit to, how about learning more about Hamilton’s friend and Revolutionary War hero Marquis de Lafayette? Miranda has Lafayette rapping at about 100 miles an hour – in a French accent – in his musical, but Sarah Vowell makes him just as entertaining in “Lafayette in the Somewhat United States.” With her signature voice and wit, Vowell discusses Lafayette’s nonpartisan influence on a fledgling United States, his relationships with the Founding Fathers and his contributions during the contentious 1824 presidential election.
If your Hamilton fever has given you the history bug, Pulitzer Prize-winner Joseph J. Ellis has authored a number of lyrically written books that explore the birth of America. “Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation” analyzes the intertwined careers of the founders of the American republic and documents the lives of John Adams, Aaron Burr, Benjamin Franklin, Alexander Hamilton, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison and George Washington. The text doesn’t rhyme, though. Sorry. “American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic,” and “His Excellency: George Washington” (“Here Comes the General!”) are other works by Ellis worth exploring.
If all of this revolutionary reading only has you more excited about the musical, starting in September a travelling company will perform the show in Chicago. Road trip?
Through our partnership with Driving-Tests.org, the Daniel Boone Regional Library is now able to better assist teens looking to get their Missouri driver’s license. With this new service, all library cardholders now have online access to the Missouri driver’s manual and practice written driver exams.
Simply visit dbrl.driving-tests.org/missouri to get started. You will need to log in using your DBRL library card number. Your PIN is your birthdate (MMDDYYYY). If you have questions or encounter difficulties logging in, please call (573) 443-3161 or 1-800-324-4806. You can also try the library’s chat reference service to visit with a librarian who can help in real time from your computer. Learn more.
Originally published at The Library Can Help You Get Your Driver’s License.
The Columbia Public Library will be hosting a 2016 Quilt Exhibit featuring art quilts April 2-16. So I wondered, “How is an art quilt different from the quilts I’ve been making for the last five years?” I checked out a number of books to find out.
The quilts I’ve made are for babies to lie on or to keep someone warm. An art quilt is not made to serve these purposes. It is made primarily as a creative expression of an artist and meant to be displayed. These works are called quilts because they are layered, usually made of fabric, and they are held together by stitches, knots or other means. Artists sometimes transform the cloth through dyeing, printing or painting. The library owns a number of books with wonderful photos of art quilts.
“500 Art Quilts: An Inspiring Collection of Contemporary Work,” published by Lark Books, includes examples of abstract as well as representational art.
“Art Quilts of the Midwest” by Linzee Kull McCray includes quilts by two artists from St. Louis, Missouri and one from Kansas City, Missouri.
“Cutting-Edge Art Quilts” by Mary W. Kerr presents the art of 51 quilters who offer design and technique tips to those interested in textile art.
“Fusing Fun! Fast Fearless Art Quilts” by Laura Wasilowski explains how to make your own art quilt using fusible web.
“Brave New Quilts: 12 Projects Inspired by 20th-Century Art from Art Nouveau to Punk & Pop” by Kathreen Ricketson takes you through the process of designing an art quilt and encourages you to create your own work of art.
Looking through these books was awe-inspiring, but nothing beats experiencing works of art in person. I am looking forward to seeing the exhibit. I hope you can find time to drop by the library to enjoy it, too, and maybe even attend one of the related programs. If you are a quilter of functional quilts, join us at the Callaway County Public Library in Fulton for Quilting Learning Circle on Wednesday, April 6, 2-3:30 p.m.
No, don’t leave!
I promise this is not a blog post about old men in stiff collars doing boring recitations!
Yes, Shakespeare’s works are over 400 years old. And some of them have aged better than others. There is archaic language that requires some effort, but when it comes to storytelling and wordplay, Shakespeare is peerless.
He wrote some of the most definitive and universal stories. I don’t care what kind of movies you love; some part of their appeal is owed to Shakespeare. He pretty much created the romantic comedy and the “your mom” joke. He made history accessible and dramatic, filled with heroes and stirring speeches. He worked with smart dialogue, ghosts and prophecies to give us tales of mistaken identities, doomed lovers and power-hungry villains.
Still don’t believe me? Still think it all sounds boring?
Thanks to the timelessness of Shakespeare’s plays, they can be performed in varied and creative stagings.
How about a Brit/punk “Romeo and Juliet” set in the 1980s and performed outside, complete with soundtrack? Where the balcony scene is performed from the actual balcony of a fire escape? Greenhouse Theatre Project, based in Columbia, specializes in reimagined productions in creative spaces. You can see some of their work April 23 at the Unbound Book Festival!
The University of Missouri has a production of “Much Ado About Nothing,” adapted by Cheryl Black and Patricia Downey, coming up in April that is set in the 1950s and features a doo-wop chorus singing songs like “Why Do Fools Fall in Love” and “Bad to the Bone.” You can learn more at the MU Theatre Preview at the Columbia Public Library on April 2.
If you want to give a traditional staging a go, it’s hard to do better than “Macbeth.” The Scottish Play is Shakespeare’s shortest tragedy and has one of the highest body counts. The Maplewood Barn Theatre is putting on this classic April 28-May 1 and May 5-8. It’s basically “Game of Thrones” and promises to be a bloody good time.
All these years later, Shakespeare’s plays still tug at our hearts and raise our ire. I think of one of my favorite lines from “Julius Caesar”:
“How many ages hence
Shall this our lofty scene be acted over
In states unborn and accents yet unknown!”
Yes, Cassius is commenting on how history will remember them and their deeds. But it’s also a lovely meta nod from Shakespeare.
How long will my plays be performed? In what countries and languages?
Shakespeare’s works have been translated into over 80 languages, including Klingon.
And four hundred years and counting is a pretty good run. Here’s to four hundred more.
What It’s About: “Six of Crows” is an intense narrative following a group of teen criminals. Kaz, the master mind. Inej, the stealthy Wraith. Jasper, the sharpshooter. Nina, the Heartrender. Wylan, the runaway. And Matthias, the Druskelle ex-prisoner.
I warn readers, the narrative alternates between characters. Personally, I thought the change in point-of-view was amazingly well-done. Each chapter successfully builds a different character’s history while expanding the story of the giant and clever con they’re trying to pull. This story is one I won’t be forgetting anytime soon.
Imagine “The Italian Job” or “Ocean’s 11” as a young adult fantasy. That’s this book.
What I Didn’t Like About it: That it ended? That it ended and the second book isn’t out yet? I mean really, this was an amazing read. “Shadow and Bone” was enjoyable, but honestly, “Six of Crows” blew it out of the water, into the atmosphere, and somewhere near the moon. That’s how much better “Six of Crows” was.
It seems like Leigh Bardugo built herself an original and interesting world involving Grisha, and also became an even better writer than she was when she wrote “Shadow and Bone.” Trust me, you want to check this one out, put it on hold, do whatever it is you need to do to make sure you read “Six of Crows.”
Alas, “Crooked Kingdom,” the second book in this series, isn’t due to come out until this September. Oh man, waiting that long is going to be so hard.
Originally published at Staff Review: Six of Crows By Leigh Bardugo.
As we celebrate Women’s History Month and the many women trailblazers who changed our country and the world, the name of an Associate Justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, Sonia Sotomayor, stands prominently in my mind. This is not only because she’s the first Hispanic and the third woman to serve on the highest court of the land, but also because to reach such a position, she had to overcome a lot of hardship and prejudice. In 2013, Sotomayor published her memoir “My Beloved World,” which quickly became a New York Times bestseller.
Born in the South Bronx to a poor Puerto Rican family, little Sonya began showing the strength of her character at the age of nine, when she was diagnosed with juvenile diabetes and had to learn to give herself insulin shots. Despite being raised in a family that hardly spoke English, Sotomayor was an excellent student – she was her high school valedictorian, graduated summa cum laude (the highest of three special honors for grades above the average) from Princeton and, while at Yale, was editor of the Yale Law Review. Before becoming a Supreme Court Justice (2009), Sotomayor held a variety of positions: a district attorney in the New York County District Attorney’s Office, a partner in a private law firm, a justice of the U.S. District Court, Southern District of New York and, later, of the Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
A large part of Sotomayor’s memoir is dedicated to her family – her alcoholic father, her somewhat distant mother, her domineering but loving grandmother, her brother, aunts, uncles and cousins – as well as the island of Puerto Rico, which she first visited as a child and later as an adult.
Sotomayor doesn’t shy away from her difficulties either, as she describes her complicated feelings toward her parents and her unsuccessful marriage. The author’s recollections are clear-eyed and honest, and her American dream story is inspiring not just for women and minorities but for everyone in the country.
The Columbia Public Library will host a book discussion of “My Beloved World” on April 7 at noon, so bring a lunch and join us as we discuss the life of Justice Sotomayor.
VOTE NOW through April 5 for the tournament champion!
Thank you to all the students who have shared their favorites with us. So far, we’ve collected over 200 ballots from dozens of area teens. With each round of voting, teens’ names have been entered into a drawing for a chance to win cool prizes like a Barnes & Noble gift card. Prize winners will be announced on Friday, April 8 when we announce our tournament champion.
March Madness Teen Book Tournament Finalists
Originally published at 2016 Teen Book Tournament Finalists Announced.
Not many people get to see the hours of practice and hard work put in by the racers in competitive motor-sports. These docs take a closer look at these drivers, both amateur and legendary, who’ve dedicated themselves to the race track.
“Racing Dreams” (2009)
Chronicles a year in the life of three tweens who dream of becoming NASCAR drivers as they race in the World Karting Association’s National Pavement Series. This film is a humorous and heartbreaking portrait of racing, young love and family struggle.
Spanning his years as a Formula One racing driver from 1984 to his untimely death a decade later, Senna explores the life and work of the triple world champion, his physical and spiritual achievements on the track, his quest for perfection and the mythical status he has since attained.
“Petty Blue” (2010)
This documentary, narrated by Kevin Costner, charts four generations of the Petty family, all of whom became champion NASCAR drivers. The family shares their story of dedication, perseverance and tradition that provides a raw, behind-the-scenes look into NASCAR racing.
The registration deadline for the May 7 SAT exam is Friday, April 8. Sign-up online. If you would like to know more about testing locations, exam costs and fee waivers, please visit our online guide to SAT/ACT preparation.
The library also has a wide selection of printed ACT and SAT test guides for you to borrow. Our most popular resource for test-takers, though, is LearningExpress Library. Through this website, you may take free online practice tests for the ACT or SAT exam. To access LearningExpress Library, you will need to login using your DBRL library card number. Your PIN is your birthdate (MMDDYYYY). If you have questions or encounter difficulties logging in, please call (800) 324-4806.
Finally, don’t forget to subscribe to our blog updates for regular reminders of upcoming test registration deadlines!
Originally published at April 8 Registration Deadline for May SAT Exam.
I remember when the requirements changed regarding Missouri driver licenses. To get mine renewed, I had to find where I’d put my Social Security card for safekeeping and, for the first time in my life, acquire a raised-seal birth certificate. I’d been getting by with a copy of a birth certificate application up until then. Fortunately, the process took only a few dollars and a couple of weeks.
But what if I hadn’t been able to obtain the needed documents? What then? I would have experienced a small taste of the plight of millions of stateless people around the world.
Photojournalist Greg Constantine spent a decade documenting the lives of “non-persons,” human beings who are not recognized as citizens of any country. He shares their photos and stories in his book “Nowhere People.”
Without documentation or citizenship rights, this is a population that exists on the fringes of society, unable to find legal employment, enroll in school, open a bank account or even travel to a different country in search of a better life, since passports are unobtainable without personal identification. Some families have been stateless for generations, parents or grandparents having fled political turmoil and persecution, losing citizenship in the process. In some cases, the family has stayed in one place, but national borders have shifted.
“Nowhere People” is much more than a book. A website about the endeavor describes it this way: “a ten year project from photographer Greg Constantine. The project intends to give a small voice to people who for generations have had none. It aims to show the human toll the denial of citizenship has claimed on people and ethnic groups that find themselves excluded from society by forces beyond their control. More importantly, it hopes to provide tangible documentation of proof that millions of people hidden and forgotten all over the world actually exist.”
Constantine gave a presentation on the topic at a TEDx conference in London, available for viewing here.
Now, he’s bringing his presentation to Columbia. You can hear him in person at the Columbia Public Library on Thursday, March 24 at 7:00 p.m. Books will be available for purchase and signing.
The post Nowhere People: A Visit From Photojournalist Greg Constantine appeared first on DBRL Next.
This month’s LibraryReads list of books publishing in April that librarians across the country recommend includes a nonfiction work that wins the award (an imaginary award bestowed by me) for best title ever: “The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts.” How could scads of librarians NOT recommend this book? We also have works inspired by Jane Austen and Sherlock Holmes, so get ready to be entertained and place some holds on these forthcoming books!
“Eligible: A Modern Retelling of Pride and Prejudice” by Curtis Sittenfeld
“Love, sex, and relationships in contemporary Cincinnati provide an incisive social commentary set in the framework of ‘Pride and Prejudice.’ Sittenfeld’s inclusion of a Bachelor-like reality show is a brilliant parallel to the scrutiny placed on characters in the neighborhood balls of Jane Austen’s novel, and readers will have no question about the crass nature of the younger Bennets, or the pride – and prejudice – of the heroine.” – Leslie DeLooze, Richmond Memorial Library, Batavia, NY
“The Obsession” by Nora Roberts
“Readers who love romantic thrillers will be mesmerized by the latest Roberts offering. The suspense kept me up all night! Naomi Carson, a successful young photographer, has moved across the country and fallen in love. She thinks she has escaped her past but instead finds that the sins of her father have become an obsession. The serial killer premise makes it a tough read for the faint-hearted, but sticking with it leads to a thrilling conclusion.” – Marilyn Sieb, L. D. Fargo Public Library, Lake Mills, WI
“The Murder of Mary Russell” by Laurie R. King
“Worried about Mary Russell? Well, you should be. She’s opened her door to the wrong man and deeply troubling secrets are set to tumble out, rewriting her history and putting herself and the people she loves in a dangerous spot. Once again, King spins a tantalizing tale of deception and misdirection for her readers’ delight and scores a direct hit in her latest Russell-Holmes mystery.” – Deborah Walsh, Geneva Public Library District, Geneva, IL
Here’s the rest of this month’s list with links to the library’s catalog for your holds-placing pleasure!
- “‘Til Death Do Us Part” by Amanda Quick
- “Lilac Girls” by Martha Hall Kelly
- “The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu and Their Race to Save the World’s Most Precious Manuscripts” by Joshua Hammer
- “Every Heart a Doorway” by Seanan McGuire
- “Best of My Love” by Susan Mallery
- “A Murder in Time” by Julie McElwain
- “Tuesday Nights in 1980” by Molly Prentiss
The post Top Ten Books Librarians Love: The April 2016 List appeared first on DBRL Next.
VOTE NOW through March 22
for the final two contending titles!
During the months of February and March, area young adults have eliminated 28 books to determine their top four favorite titles in the March Madness Teen Book Tournament. Below is a list of contenders chosen from these preliminary rounds of voting. If you are just joining us, here’s a recap of how you can participate for a chance to win cool prizes like a Barnes & Noble gift card.How the March Madness Teen Book Tournament Works:
Through a series of votes, we are narrowing the library’s list of the 32 most popular teen books to one grand champion. By supporting your favorite book, you’ll also be entered to win prizes like a gift card to Barnes & Noble! Prize winners will be announced on April 8 when we announce our book tournament champion.
- Round 1: Voting complete for the Sweet 16.
- Round 2: Voting complete for the Elite 8.
- Round 3: Voting complete for the Final 4.
- Round 4: VOTE NOW through March 22 for the final two contending titles.
- Round 5: March 24-April 5 for the book tournament champion.
- April 8: The champion is announced!
All votes must be in by Tuesday, March 22 at 3 p.m. You may vote online or pick up a paper ballot at one of our three branch locations. Limit one ballot per person, per round. Winning titles from this round of competition will be announced next Thursday, March 24.March Madness Teen Book Tournament: Final Four
- “Mockingjay” by Suzanne Collins
- “The Giver” by Lois Lowry
- “The Fault in Our Stars” by John Green
- “City of Bones” by Cassandra Clare
Originally published at 2016 Teen Book Tournament: Final 4 Announced.
Reading while traveling in a car can be difficult. I had a friend who read magazines and books while we drove to bicycle races when I was a teenager. He was the driver. Audiobooks didn’t exist then, but I wish they had because this would have avoided many hours of extreme anxiety for me. My daughter claims that the “barf monster comes” if she reads in the back seat of our subcompact Toyota. My wife can read for about .03 minutes in the car without feeling queasy. The answer is audiobooks, whether you are traveling this spring break as a family or alone with your phone and a backpack. Unless otherwise noted, all audiobooks reviewed below are available on CD and/or downloadable mp3 formats through OverDrive.
I can’t begin to explain my joy in discovering, with my little girls, the Harry Potter series of books by JK Rowling. (I know, I know, it is totally lame that I have not read/listened to them until now). I relish each book. If you are taking a road trip with your kids this spring break, I would highly recommend listening to the series. Narrated by the sublime Jim Dale, the audiobook version will quickly immerse you in the world of Hogwarts and Hagrid while you ply the dreary Kansas plains (or on that long flight to the East Coast). Start with “Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone,” especially with younger readers in the car. Perfect for families.
What better way to pass the time while traveling than listening to a travelogue? Bill Bryson’s new book “Road to Little Dribbling” examines the societal and cultural changes in Great Britain during our relatively young century, throwing in his trademark humor and wit. A must-listen if you are traveling to the British Isles or, indeed, Europe during the upcoming break.
Car (or plane and bus travel) can be stressful, chaotic and tedious. A calm mind and Zen attitude can help. Jack Kornfield’s classic “Meditation for Beginners” is an excellent introduction to basic meditation practices. The audiobook is also filled with relaxing music. Exploring breathing techniques and other basic tenets of the practice, Kornfield’s approach is not to overwhelm the listener with theory but to impart basic tips and techniques to make first attempts at meditation easier.
If you are traveling out West this Spring Break, I would highly recommend what some critics argue is the best book written about the American desert and the Southwest: “Desert Solitaire” by Edward Abbey. The desert comes alive in Abbey’s prose: “Lavender clouds sail like a fleet of ships across the pale green dawn – each cloud, planed flat on the wind, has a base of fiery gold.” Abbey also sends a clarion call out to the nascent environmentalist movement (the book was written in 1968), arguing that the protection of our native species and wild lands are in many ways the most pressing issues of our time.
Further, the audio version of this book also gives me a chance to mention another format that we have available here at DBRL. “Desert Solitaire” is only available through Hoopla, which is another great source for downloadable audiobooks as well as other media here at the library.
In addition to the fourth or perhaps fifth rereading/re-listening of the first three Harry Potter books that is going on in my family, we have also started reading the fabulous Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan. Riordan just put out an excellent companion to his books, called “Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes.” One of the real attributes of this series of books is that, written in Riordan’s entertaining style, they introduce my family to the wondrous world of Greek mythology. I needed a refresher, and my kids are getting a great education without the drudgery that oftentimes accompanies Greek mythology textbooks. “Greek Heroes” is meant to further our education and fills in the gaps that some of the books might have created. Again, highly recommended for family car trips!
What are your listening plans for this spring break?
Monday, March 28, 5:30-8:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library
Gamers unite! Drop in to play tabletop games such as “Gloom,” “Pandemic” and “Ticket to Ride.” Bring a game or your “Magic: The Gathering” cards if you want to challenge other players. Maybe you’ll discover your next favorite game! Ages 10 and older. No registration required.
Project Teen: Get Graphic
Wednesday, March 30, 1-2:30 p.m.
Columbia Public Library
Gear up for “Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice” with projects related to comic books and graphic novels. We’ll eat pizza and talk superheroes. Ages 12-18. Registration begins Tuesday, March 15. To sign up, please call (573) 443-3161.
Originally published at Gaming & Graphic Novels @ Your Library.
It feels like I’ve read millions of stories about smart and awesome children who are bullied by their peers and hated, or at least mistreated, by their parents (or, more likely, their legal guardian(s) or orphan master), but eventually they find the right mentor and/or peers and flourish. But when this template is used by a good writer, it remains satisfying no matter how many times it’s been slipped past my…head windows. And Charlie Jane Anders is, at least in this gentleman’s estimation, a great writer. And “All the Birds in the Sky” is a great novel, a new classic in the genre of “extra-special kid(s) with unfortunate upbringing(s) rise above their station and show the world their greatness.”
In order to judge the novel outside of the shadow of novels with similar conceits, I took the groundbreaking and head-breaking measure of attempting to induce amnesia. I tapped my noggin vigorously with all manner of mallets and took a number of tumbles down staircases, and in one regrettably memorable experience, sent myself plunging down my dumbwaiter, only to find that not only had my butler not been removing the now very rotten food scraps, but also one can earn a nasty infection from moldy silverware, and I don’t have a butler, and my dumbwaiter is just a second story window. Alas, the amnesia did not take. My mind, unfortunately, is still as sharp as…one of those, uh, sharp stabby things, the ones you use to affix pictures of your favorite monarchs to your dormitory walls…wallstabbers? Yes, wallstabbers.
Anyway, with my memory still as simultaneously boundless and confining as a prairie town, I am unable to judge “All the Birds in the Sky” without the knowledge of somewhat similar works coloring my perception. But, after further consideration, in what is a cruel twist given all I went through in order to provide a recommendation that would shatter all notions of what a recommendation could be and also my orbital bones, “All the Birds in the Sky” is a singular work.
For one, there are two protagonists. And the melding of science fiction, fantasy, comedy and action is so smooth, one would be forgiven for forgetting, even without a freshly battered head, to comment on its smoothness. Anders’ delivery and gift for jump-cutting to punchlines induce bountiful mirth. Also, I can’t think of another novel that features a school for witches. The school, Eltisley Maze, is fantastically imagined, and I doubt another author could, even with, like, seven whole volumes, create as fascinating a setting as Anders has here in just a few pages. It’s so cool. Go read the book, which describes the school, which I will not do.
The story begins with a girl saving a bird and learning she can talk to it. Soon she meets a boy who has followed cryptic instructions from the Internet to build a time machine capable of propelling the wearer two seconds into the future. This is a small aid in his quest to avoid bully fists, but using it too much will give the user a tremendous headache, as will wrapping your entire body save for your head in blankets and rolling down the steps of an amphitheater.
Difficulties abound. In order to get witchy again, Patricia must resort to taking unheard of amounts of spice in her food. Laurence’s parents insist he must go outside more. The guidance counselor at their school is actually an assassin (from an ancient order, naturally) plotting the pair’s demise. (To his credit, he’s only doing so because of a vision of apocalyptic catastrophe that featured the two children as adults at its center.) The children drift apart, though Patricia still converses with the artificial intelligence that is devouring Laurence’s closet space.
The novel really hits its highest…springy wheel thing with teeth that attaches to its wheel siblings to produce movement…when it jumps ahead to their early adulthood. Patricia is a witch who spends her time fixing wrongs, from turning a very bad man into a turtle, to making a heroin addict’s skin impervious to needles. Laurence is working as part of a billionaire’s think tank to create a wormhole that will transport a portion of the earth’s population to a fresh planet before this one is irrevocably torched. Also, this portion of the novel is home to the coolest tablet computer anyone has ever imagined, even if it is shaped like a…thing you use to scrape sounds out of a guitar.
With the duo at the height of their powers, and Patricia and her coven keen to save the world, and Laurence and his think tank keen to save some of the people on the world, even if the wormhole ray blows this one up in the process, one sees how the assassin’s apocalyptic vision may come to pass. Read the book and see if it does. Now I’m going to see a…person that puts cold metal on you to check for sickness.