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.