Thursday, December 8, 2011

Practically Perfect Cupcakes

After our discussion of A Crooked Kind of Perfect at Great Reads, the girls decorated cupcakes.

They were very creative and enjoyed turning the library into a bakery for the evening.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Moving Portrait of Family Strength and Integrity Amongst the Green Hills of Wales

Bookenders Book Group will meet on Wednesday, November 30 at 7 p.m. downstairs in the library. The featured book for the evening is How Green Was My Valley by Richard Llewellyn. The discussion will be led by Etta McQuade.

How Green Was My Valley is Richard Llewellyn's bestselling -- and timeless -- classic and the basis of a beloved film.

The novel is set in South Wales during the reign of Queen Victoria. It tells the story of the Morgans, a poor but respectable mining family of the South Wales Valleys, through the eyes of the youngest son, Huw Morgan.
Huw's academic ability sets him apart from his elder brothers and enables him to consider a future away from this troubled industrial environment. His five brothers and his father are miners.

Drawn simply and lovingly, with a crisp Welsh humor, Llewellyn's characters fight, love, laugh and cry, creating an indelible portrait of a people. The simplicity of the language and its delicately strange flavor give the book added charm.

"A story of exquisite distinction and vibrant interest; clear and strong as the music under the sky." -- The New York Times Book Review

Richard Llewellyn (real name Richard David Vivian Llewellyn Lloyd) was a Welsh novelist.

Llewellyn was born of Welsh parents in Hendon, north London in 1906.
In a writing career spanning 43 years, Llewellyn wrote twenty-four novels. Several of them dealt with a Welsh theme, the best-known being How Green Was My Valley (1939) which won international acclaim. His writing career focused on the village communities of Wales, particularly the mining community. It immortalized the way of life in the South Wales valley coal mining communities, where Llewellyn spent a small amount of time with his grandfather. Three sequels followed.

He loved to travel and did it often. Before World War II, he spent periods working in hotels, wrote a play, worked as a coal miner and produced his best known novel. During World War II, he rose to the rank of Captain in the Welsh Guards. Following the war, he worked as a journalist, covering the Nuremberg Trials, and then as a screenwriter for MGM. Late in his life, he lived in Eilat, Israel.
Llewellyn was married twice. The first marriage to Nona Sonstenby, after sixteen years, ended in divorce. He married his second wife, Susan Heimann, in 1974 and this marriage lasted until his death. He died on November 30, 1983.

"How Green Was My Valley", John Ford's beautiful, heartfelt drama about a close-knit family of Welsh coal miners, based on the novel by Richard Llewellyn, can be found at the library. It is one of the greatest films of Hollywood's golden age--a gentle masterpiece that won Best Picture at the 1941 Academy Awards.

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

A Crooked Kind of Perfect

Great Reads for Girls will be meet on Thursday, November 16 at 7 p.m. downstairs at the library. Plan now to join us for this fun evening.

We will be discussing A Crooked Kind of Perfect by Linda Urban

Ten-year-old Zoe Elias dreams of playing a baby grand piano at Carnegie Hall. But when Dad ventures to the music store and ends up with a wheezy organ instead of a piano, Zoe's dreams hit a sour note. Learning the organ versions of old TV theme songs just isn't the same as mastering Beethoven on the piano. And the organ isn't the only part of Zoe's life that's off-kilter, what with Mom constantly at work, Dad afraid to leave the house, and that odd boy, Wheeler Diggs, following her home from school every day. Yet when Zoe enters the annual Perform-O-Rama organ competition, she finds that life is full of surprises--and that perfection may be even better when it's just a little off center.

Linda Urban
 Linda Urban was born in Detroit, Michigan and grew up in a house in the suburbs that looked like all the other houses on her street.

 She wanted to be different — to shine, to have people see her as special. She tried ballet dancing and singing and playing musical instruments, but she wasn’t very good at any of those things. Writing stories was fun! And often people liked what she wrote.

At Oakbrook Elementary, she wrote lots of poems and stories. Nothing made her feel more special than hearing an audience cheer for a character she had written. So she kept writing. All through elementary school and junior high she wrote short stories and plays and poems.

By college, she had turned her writing toward advertising and marketing, using her creativity to sell the creative work of others. It landed me at Vroman’s Bookstore, a large independent in Southern California, where I served as marketing director for about ten years. What a great job! She was surrounded every day by books and authors and artists and readers. One of her responsibilities was to organize author events. She met thousands of writers.  

Finally, when her daughter turned two and she turned 37, she got the guts to try writing fiction again. Having a child brought her back to reading the kinds of books that she most loved, books for kids. As much as she enjoys reading grown-up books, it is kids’ books that grab her heart.

Reading those books gave her inspiration.

And so, when she sat down to write, the stories that spilled out were the kind she loved best, books for young readers. So far, she has written a picture book titled Mouse Was Mad and two chapter books titled A Crooked Kind of Perfect and Hound Dog True.

She lives with her family in Montpelier, Vermont

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Mystery and History in Manifest, Kansas

Newbery Medal winner Moon Over Manifest by Clare Vanderpool will be featured at Bookenders Book Group on October 26th at 7 p.m. downstairs in the library. Come and join us for an evening of great discussion.

 The movement of the train rocked me like a lullaby. I closed my eyes to the dusty countryside and imagined the sign I’d seen only in Gideon’s stories: Manifest—a town with a rich past and a bright future.

Abilene Tucker feels abandoned. Her father has put her on a train, sending her off to live with an old friend for the summer while he works a railroad job. Armed only with a few possessions and her list of universals, Abilene jumps off the train in Manifest, Kansas, aiming to learn about the boy her father once was.

Having heard stories about Manifest, Abilene is disappointed to find that it’s just a dried-up, worn-out old town. But her disappointment quickly turns to excitement when she discovers a hidden cigar box full of mementos, including some old letters that mention a spy known as the Rattler. These mysterious letters send Abilene and her new friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, on an honest-to-goodness spy hunt, even though they are warned to “Leave Well Enough Alone.”

Abilene throws all caution aside when she heads down the mysterious Path to Perdition to pay a debt to the reclusive Miss Sadie, a diviner who only tells stories from the past. It seems that Manifest’s history is full of colorful and shadowy characters—and long-held secrets. The more Abilene hears, the more determined she is to learn just what role her father played in that history. And as Manifest’s secrets are laid bare one by one, Abilene begins to weave her own story into the fabric of the town.

Powerful in its simplicity and rich in historical detail, Clare Vanderpool’s debut is a gripping story of loss and redemption. It is also the 2011 Newbery Medal winner.

Clare Vanderpool
Clare Vanderpool grew up reading books in unusual places (and is still a big advocate of doing so): dressing rooms, trees, and church, to name a few. She describes herself as having a “very strong connection to place.” A graduate of Newman University, she now lives in Wichita, Kansas—a mere four blocks from where she grew up—with her husband, four children, and two dogs. This is her first novel.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Adventures with Coraline

Our first Book Bash for Boys was a great experience with Carl Sederholm leading the discussion assisted by his son Nathaniel.

As in the novel, the boys went on a scavenger hunt to find the "lost souls." 

After each team found a marble they were rewarded with button shaped peanut 
butter cookies and chocolate cake bite spiders of their own creation.

The next Book Bash for Boys will be on January 11, 2012 and the book we will be discussing is Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. 

Hope to see you there!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Cats, Bats and Rats, Oh My!

Professor Carl Sederholm is coming to spend a spooky night at the library. 

Carl Sederholm

There will be Halloween fun at the library on Wednesday, Oct 12 at 7:00 p.m. Book Bash for Boys is going to have a scary good time as Carl leads their book discussion on Coraline by Neil Gaiman. The night will also include fun activities and treats for all.

Carl is a popular professor in the BYU Humanities Department. He co-authored   Poe, The House of Usher, and the American Gothic with Dennis Perry, researching and developing the affect of gothic horror novels on the humanities. 

Coraline is about a girl who has often wondered what's behind the locked door in the drawing room. It reveals only a brick wall when she finally opens it, but when she tries again later, a passageway mysteriously appears. Coraline is surprised to find a flat decorated exactly like her own, but strangely different. And when she finds her "other" parents in this alternate world, they are much more interesting despite their creepy black button eyes. When they make it clear, however, that they want to make her theirs forever, Coraline begins a nightmarish game to rescue her real parents and three children imprisoned in a mirror. With only a bored-through stone and an aloof cat to help, Coraline confronts this harrowing task of escaping these monstrous creatures. 

Neil Gaiman has delivered a wonderfully chilling novel, subtle yet intense on many levels. The line between pleasant and horrible is often blurred until what's what becomes suddenly clear, and like Coraline, we resist leaving this strange world until we're hooked. Unnerving drawings also cast a dark shadow over the book's eerie atmosphere, which is only heightened by simple, hair-raising text. Coraline is otherworldly storytelling at its best.

Neil Gaiman

 Neil Gaiman was born on November 10, 1960 in Portchester, Hampshire, England. Gaiman was able to read at the age of four. He said, "I was a reader. I loved reading. Reading things gave me pleasure. I was very good at most subjects in school, not because I had any particular aptitude in them, but because normally on the first day of school they'd hand out schoolbooks, and I'd read them--which would mean that I'd know what was coming up, because I'd read it." 

The first book he read was The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien  from his school library, although it only had the first two books in the trilogy. He consistently took them out and read them. He would later win the school English prize and the school reading prize, enabling him to finally acquire the third book in the trilogy. For his seventh birthday he received The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S.Lewis and later he read Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll and they became favorites and led to his desire to write books himself.  He also enjoyed reading Batman comics.

Gaiman was educated at several Church of England schools. He is now a novelist, graphic novelist and screenwriter. He writes Fantasy, Horror, Science Fiction, and Dark Fantasy. He is the first author to win both the Newbery and the Carnegie medals for the same work which is The Graveyard Book.

Gaiman lives in Minneapolis, Minnesota in an "Addams Family house" and has lived there since 1992. He is married to Amanda Palmer and he has three children from a previous marriage.

Craig Russell, a 35-year veteran of comics and frequent collaborator with Gaiman, offers an adaptation of Gaiman’s 2002 novel Coraline (illustrated by Dave McKean), a tale of childhood nightmares. As in the original story, Coraline wanders around her new house and discovers a door leading into a mirror place, where she finds her button-eyed “other mother,” who is determined to secure Coraline’s love one way or another. This version is a virtuoso adaptation, streamlining passages that function best in prose and visually highlighting parts that benefit most from the graphic form. A master of fantastical landscapes, Russell sharpens the realism of his imagery, preserving the humanity of the characters and heightening horror, even as Gaiman’s concise storytelling ratchets up the eeriness. The adaptation loses none of Coraline’s original character; she’s clever, resourceful, intrepid, and highly determined when it comes to doing what must be done. Comics fans will delight in this version, and readers familiar with the previous book will greatly appreciate the opportunity to explore the story in a successful new way. You can find this entertaining graphic novel at the library.

Coraline has also been made into a movie that is especially fun to watch for Halloween. The DVD is available for check out at the library.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The Desire of My Eyes

John Ruskin once said, "The greatest thing a human soul ever does in this world is to see something, and tell what it saw in a plain way. Hundreds of people can talk for one who can think, but thousands can think for one who can see. To see clearly is poetry, prophecy, and religion, --all in one."

John Ruskin

The book featured for discussion this month with R.E.A.D. book group will be The Desire of My Eyes: The Life and Work of John Ruskin by Wolfgang Kemp. It will be reviewed by Jane Robinson. The group will meet in the library on October 6th at 10:00 a.m. Everyone is invited to attend.

The Desire of My Eyes examines the life and work of the prolific, visionary writer, painter and critic. Kemp finds in Ruskin's life, which spanned the same years as Queen Victoria's and thus embodied the Victorian era itself, a faithful mirror of the history and psychological evolution of his age.

Examining the English critic alongside Byron, Carlyle, Karl Kraus and others of his time, and considering views of him given by Shaw and Proust, the author, a German art historian, contends that Ruskin (1819-1900) was a reflection of Victorian history and pathology. Kemp regards him as not only a major reformer, educator and ecologist, but also as a great realistic draftsman whose drawings reveal developing emotional instability. Increasingly, Ruskin's attention moved from art to society as he came to criticize capitalism, religion, technology, the destruction of nature--and himself. First sightseer, then see-er, finally seer and mythmaker, Ruskin in his old age became industry as well as institution: there were Ruskin ceramics and linens, even Ruskin cigars. This distinguished work, gracefully translated, is illustrated with portraits of the critic and drawings by him. 

Wolfgang Kemp

Wolfgang Kemp was born on May 1, 1946 in Frankfurt, Germany. He is a German art historian, author and professor of art history at the University of Hamburg. He is considered to be one of the most internationally renowned representatives of the art-historical research. He also has visiting professorships in schools which  include Harvard, UCLA, Fellow Institute for Advanced Study Berlin and Getty Research Center in Los Angeles.

Friday, September 30, 2011

True American Hero

If it weren't true, we wouldn't believe it! At Bookenders book discussion, we discussed the amazing life of Louis Zamperini, as it was masterfully told by best-selling author, Laura Hillenbrand.

Louis was:
a teen-age troublemaker
Olympic runner
WWII bomber
plane crash survivor
tortured prisoner of Japanese

but more importantly,
he used his ingenuity, his perseverance, his strong will, his resilience,
his forgiveness,
to thrive.

He spent his life helping troubled youth
and inspiring people around the world
with his extraordinary story.

Thursday, September 29, 2011

"Toads, Beetles, Bats . . . "

The kids "knocked it out of the park" with our trivia baseball at our first combined Great Reads for Girls and Book Bash for Boys.

We played Fruit Basket Upset--or Shakespearean Curses Upset.
The kids were put in teams of toads, beetles, bats, pied ninies and scurvy patches. When the person in the middle called their team name they had to find another place to sit. The one left without a chair was "it" and called out the next curse.

We made our own baseball cards.

And we had strawberries and cream puffs for dessert. Yum!

We had a great time.

"On deck" for next month--Wednesday, October 12 at 7 p.m.--is
Book Bash for Boys.

We're reading Coraline by Neil Gaiman.

Hope to see you there!