Perhaps your idea of a vibrant start to the day is the ”Sunrise” movement from Grofé’s Grand Canyon Suite. If you are rather pensive or just confused, perhaps you think there’s no better accompaniment to your brown study than Elgar’s Enigma Variations. But you need not despair! After the profusion of postmodern work and worry, there’s always Eine Kleine Nachtmusik to round out your day and return equilibrium to your soul.
Sure, classical music isn’t all about tranquility, but the library provides resources for the afficionado in whatever mood they might be in. And if you happen to be both an aficionado and a couch potato, the library offers a new collection of classical music performances on dvd!
Philip Koro, the adult reference librarian at Union Township and I, your humble author, will be reviewing some of our favorite classical works from our collection. Since Philip is the more sedentary of us two, he chose these following gems:
Mozart and the Dolomites- A “beautifully rendered” version of Mozart’s Requiem that uses time-lapse film to match the mood of Philip’s favorite vocal work.
Homage to Claude Debussy- Aldo Ciccolini’s performance for Italian Television, although obviously dated, has both a great interpreter and excellent sound quality. Includes such well known works as Sarabande, Claire de Lune and selections from Children’s Corner.
Ode to Freedom- A historic performance of Beethoven’s Ninth Symphony in Berlin after the fall of the Wall. Most notable is the replacement of the word ”freude” (“joy”) with “freiheit” (“freedom”) in the final movement.
Join us soon as we take a look at some of your humble author’s picks. Until then, we hope you’ll find the time for a fugue, but not of the sort where you lose your memory.
You’ve read The Road and devoured The Passage? Take a ride on The White Horse! Working at an animal testing laboratory to pay her way through college, Zoe discovers that she is pregnant at the same time the world is shattered by an apocalyptic viral outbreak that wipes out everyone she loves and genetically mutates humanity’s survivors. The story has several plot twists and Zoe is constantly forced to decide who she can trust. Sometimes she even wonders if she can trust her own perceptions.
This is not a zombie book – just an intriguing reflection on what can happen when mankind opens up a modern-day version of Pandora’s box.
What ever happened to “chick” lit? It seems to have gone out of favor lately, but I would like to recommend three recent titles that are just right for a light summer read with a dash of romance and a serving of self-discovery for the main female characters:
Wallflower in Bloom – The story of a woman who emerges from the shadow of her overbearing family and finds herself voted on as a last-minute replacement on “Dancing with the Stars.”
Wife 22 – Baring her soul in an anonymous survey for a marital happiness study, Alice catalogs her stale marriage, unsatisfying job, and unfavorable prospects and begins to question virtually every aspect of her life.
The Next Best Thing – Believing she is realizing her dreams when her sitcom is bought, television writer Ruth Saunders finds her happiness threatened by demanding actors and executives as well as an unrequited crush on her boss and her septuagenarian grandmother’s upcoming wedding.
The main female characters are likeable, but far from perfect and you will enjoy learning what happens behind the scenes on DWTS, the launch of a new TV series and supposedly anonymous internet surveys. Quick reads for a summer that is already passing by too fast!
Tallulah is back dancing again in the new book Tallulah’s Solo! Tallulah is an excellent dancer and she knows it. She loves everything about ballet and can’t wait until the big recital. She just knows she is going to get a big part and be the star of the show. Tallulah’s brother Beckett is not an excellent dancer. In fact, he is not that interested in ballet. But when the big recital comes, it is Beckett who gets the big part and Tallulah is left in the back. Will Tallulah let her jealousy ruin her relationship with her brother or will she be a good big sister and help him learn his part?
This is a very good book for big sisters, big sister-to-be or just kids who like to dance. It teaches an excellent lesson about sharing the limelight and the importance of every member in a show. It also has some good tips for brothers and sisters participating in the same activities. The illustrations are very and tell the story just as well as the words. The is a great book.
What’s a definitive sign of a great book on CD? Sitting in your car to listen to just a little bit more even after you have arrived at your destination.
An admitted history buff, I was a little hesitant to try Bill O’Reilly’s Killing Lincoln: the Shocking Assassination that Changed America Forever. What more could O’Reilly and his co-author Martin Dugard add to the immense body of existing works on Lincoln? It’s not so much what they tell – it’s how they tell it. They talk in detail of the last few battles of the Civil War and of how General Robert E. Lee nearly escaped with his ragtag army. They show how John Wilkes Booth and his co-conspirators had several opportunities to kill President Lincoln and that the Vice President and several Cabinet members were to be eliminated as well.
There is a great sense of foreboding as events lead up to the assassination itself. President Lincoln seemed almost resigned to the fact that he would probably be assassinated – the authors seem to dwell on the fact that the President was a great admirer of Shakespeare’s Julius Caesar.
Fans of local hero Ulysses Grant will be pleased by the manner in which the general is portrayed in the book as well. Many will be surprised to learn that Grant and his wife were originally planning on attending the theatre with the Lincolns on the night of the assassination.
O’Reilly’s narration is rapid fire and well-paced and there is nary a slow moment in the entire eight-hour work. Consider checking this one out if you are planning a vacation drive – you won’t regret it.
Are you ready for a scare? Don’t read this book alone because you never know what’s lurking on the next page. Things That Go Bump In the Night is a collection of stories by Patrick Carman which can each be read in 15 minutes or less and each has terrifying video conclusions that you can watch online. You’ll meet characters like Dylan Smith, whose snowboarding skills are to die for, Troy, a talkative kid with a science teacher who has an enthralling skill, Emma, who’s got a gargoyle of a problem and many more. But here’s the thing, the book tells you itself, don’t get too attached to any of them.
This is a great book for grades 4-6, especially reluctant readers who like a good spooky story. I was scared. A lot.
Over the last half-year or so, I’ve been on something of a folklore kick. I’m not certain why folk tales appeal to me–perhaps it has been spurred by memories of my British grandmother telling me off-color stories that she remembered from her childhood (none of which I will repeat here).
To continue, some of the appeal would also have to be that they can be quickly read. Believe it or not, us library types are just as often pressed for time and don’t feel like reading a tome. But this is not to say that folk tales lack any depth, despite their being relegated to the realm of children’s stories (at least in our modern culture). But let’s leave any further analysis for the obnoxious literary theorist inside of me that I’ve been trying to suppress since finishing my masters. Folk tales are just entertaining and a great way of understanding people from around the world.
My current read (among others) is: Russian Folk-Tales retold by James Riordan. I’m reading the tale of Vassilisa, who is sent by her evil stepsisters to fetch firewood from Baba Yaga. Sounds like an easy task, right? One major problem– Baba Yaga is an old hag who flies around in a mortar and whose house is fenced by row upon row of the skulls of her victims (Warning: not every folk tale is safe for the children). The good news, though, is that evil is never victorious–well, most of the time.
Here are a few other books that I’ve read:
Latin American Folktales: Stories from the Hispanic and Indian Traditions- Particularly interesting are the Inca legends about their kings.
Russian Gypsy Tales- Amongst other things, explains why you shouldn’t try to summon the Queen of Spades at midnight.
Folk-Tales of the British Isles- Includes the tale of ”Tom Tit Tot,” an inspiration for Rumpelstiltskin.
The Complete Grimm’s Fairy Tales- As opposed to the Disney version of Cinderella, the evil stepsisters get their eyes plucked out by birds as punishment. They don’t call it Grimm for nothin’.
Justine’s journey to travel across country to see her terminally ill father before he dies, takes a horrible turn when her beloved Sheltie, Mack, is accidentally taken from her by the truck driver who was giving her a ride. Afraid of the consequences of being accused of stealing the dog, the driver dumps Mack along the highway. Justine, frantic to get her beloved pet back, starts a search to find Mack while dealing with an imminent death in the family. As the story progresses, you learn that Justine’s life has been a mess for years, with the trip to see her dying Father revealing painful family issues that are slowly coming to the surface.
Ed and Alice have spent the last seven years mourning the loss of their teenage daughter. Blame and heartbreak have caused them to withdraw from each other to the point of living almost as strangers in the same house. When they find a little black and gray dog by the side of the road they start to open up to each other as the Sheltie becomes a part of their family.
I admit the Sheltie on the cover of “The Dog Who Danced” by Susan Wilson was what first drew me to pick up the book and start reading. Shetland Sheepdogs hold a special place in my heart since our family has the joy of sharing our home with these smart, sensitive and very loveable dogs. More than just a really good story about a dog, “The Dog Who Danced’, is about people and how even the most messed up life can be redeemed.
In the new book, Pirates Next Door, the Jolley-Rogers have moved in next door while they repair their pirate ship and the whole town is in a tizzy about it. They don’t take care of their lawn, their ship is too big and blocks their neighbor’s views, their children play with “dangerous” toys (cannons!) and they jut don’t fit in. The neighborhood signs a petition to GET THEM and their pirate ship OUT. But before they go, the Jolley-Rogers leave a little present (marked with an X) for all of their neighbors in the hope of changing their minds about pirates.
This is a great children’s book to emphasize that different isn’t always bad and that you should never judge people based on appearances. It is a fun book to read that teaches a great lesson. The illustrations are amazing and I highly recommend it to all me mateys.
Ellen Potter has crated yet another masterpiece that grabs you from the beginning and does not let go with her newest book, The Humming Room. Roo Fanshaw is not your average 12 year old. Roo prefers to hide in small spaces rather than join the world around her. When her parents are murdered, Roo is sent to the ominous Cough Rock Island to live with her eccentric uncle in an old tuberculosis clinic. As she explores the mansion, Roo discovers ghosts everywhere she turns, an odd humming coming from a room in the forbidden East Wing and a garden with tragic secrets. Roo becomes determined to discover the truth about her uncle’s past and find the source of the horrible crying that pervades the mansion in the wee hours of the night.
Ellen Potter’s spin on the classic “Secret Garden” is as creepy as it is tantalizing. This is an absolutely excellent book for both boys and girls in grades 4-6. It’s a great story about a girl who feels as though she does not fit into the world and her journey to discover that she actually does. I could not put this book down. It was wonderful.