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.
Do you ever wonder about random stuff? Say, do you ever think that maybe, just maybe, everything you’ve been told about history is a lie, that what you know is just what everyone wants you to believe? Sure, history says that events happened a specific way, but what if that’s only half the story? I don’t know about you, but I’m prone to daydreaming, and more often then not I find my thoughts traveling back in time and imagining A.) what it would be like to be in the past, B.) How things would be different from what I’ve been told and C.) What I could change if I was in the past. Books that play into these musings are my very favorite.
Now that I’m both a grownup AND working in a library I know that daydreaming is actually called speculating, and that these amazing books that tweak what we know of history are called Historical Revisionism. They’re part of a branch of fiction that focuses on what life would be like if just a few things were different, called Speculative Fiction. (Bear with me here, these terms I’m throwing around may sound fancy, but really they’re all just fiction at heart.) Think of some of your favorite books; maybe one where there are vampires living in Louisiana, or one where the South won the Civil War, or even one in which a dorky teenaged wizard battles for the fate of the world using a wooden stick and a scar. Speculative fiction at its best, baby.
I was so excited to see new books by two of my favorite revisionist authors on our New and Forthcoming List for March.
Seth Grahame-Smith is a master at changing how we look at history and the classics of literature. He helped us imagine what the world of Pride and Prejudice would be like if infested with zombies or if Abraham Lincoln really was a kick-butt vampire hunter. His newest book, Unholy Night, reimagines the tale of the Three Wise Men, casting them not as incense toting magicians on camels but as infamous thieves who stumble on that specific manger quite on accident. Shenanigans ensue as the unlikely group fights their way to Egypt, through historical figures and biblical myths alike. I CANNOT wait!
Christopher Moore is the is the sort of funny genius that we all secretly long to be. He takes the most ridiculously boring settings, say the court of King Lear or the missing years of Jesus’ early childhood, and turns them into the laugh-out-loud funny books that cause people to stare at you strangely in the waiting room at your dentist’s office. We just got our copy of his newest masterpiece, Sacre Bleu: A Comedy d’Art. When Vincent van Gogh ‘supposedly’ shoots himself, his friends Lucien Lessard and Henri Toulouse-Latrec set out on a quest to find to the truth through the brothels and bakeries of Paris. It has all of my favorite things; art, cognac, french bread and a very specific shade of blue. I mean bleu. Oh and cancan dancers, can’t forget those, love cancan dancers!
Even when I was a kid, books were a huge part of my life. Favorite books were like comfortable friends that I still remember with fondness. When my kids were young, I would often spend time reading books to them and we would go to the Library every week to pick out new ones.
When Alice Ozma was in the fourth grade, she and her father made a promise to read aloud together every night until the day she entered college. “The Streak,” as they called it, became an important part of their relationship. In the book The Reading Promise, My Father and the Books We Shared, Alice relates stories she remembers from those years. Her Father was a Librarian in a grade school library and he believed reading not only to be a subject to be learned, but an enjoyment to be treasured and shared. He passed on his passion and love of books to his daughter through sharing books together each night.
The Reading Promise is touching and funny and very enjoyable reading, I would recommend it even to readers who don’t usually read nonfiction. The writing style is such that you will finish the book long before you are ready for the journey to end.
The Reading Promise has a list of suggested reading as well as a sample “Promise,” for parents to use as tools to start a reading adventure of their own with their children. The author’s website, makeareadingpromise.com, has a lot of ideas for reading with children.
Did you know that besides carrying the latest bestsellers, the library carries books for us overly contemplative types?
After finishing grad school, I’ve been looking for a new challenge to prevent my brain from turning into treacle. I’m trying to brush up on my understanding of philosophy, regardless of how abstruse it may be. I started last fall with Great Courses’ Introduction to Greek Philosophy. The presenter, a philosophy professor at Carnegie Mellon, makes the whole mess accessible and entertaining. And I could listen to it in my car. It definitely cut down on the road rage, although I’m certain that my driving concentration was probably somewhat compromised.
Certainly, philosophy may be hard to comprehend, but the library has excellent resources for trying to do the mental gymnastics required that would drive others mad. My current reading companion is The Philosophy Book, which puts the salient thoughts of the major thinkers in (mostly) Western philosophy in easy to comprehend language. Plus, it has pictures and brightly colored diagrams and shiny, glossy pages! Another great series of introductions is the Philosophers In 90 Minutes series, which is also written for the non-specialist.
Good luck and don’t become too much of a solipsist!
On days as stunning and rare in their timing as these, the sun acts like a magnet, pulling us out into its magnificent warmth. Although there have been a few warm days already, today feels like the first for an eager spring, violently shoving away our meager winter for an early start.
Unfortunately, the magnet isn’t strong enough to break the bond of employment. I’m stuck inside like most, leaning closer and closer to the single ray of light lounging carelessly across the entry wall, hoping for a drop to maybe stick on my translucent skin-a sweet kiss from the fun aunt, sunshine.
Thankfully, this building, the library, holds a piece of the gorgeous day inside. Books are a wonderful place to find 2D replications of those things you can’t grasp just yet (a European vacation, a butterfly garden, or maybe…that elusive tan?), and for the next 4 hours, what I can’t grasp I’ll find in “The Butterfly Gardener’s Guide” edited by Claire Hagen Dole.
Here’s a list of books to satiate your need for spring if, like me, you’re in for the day, or even if you aren’t. Maybe the more support we show, the quicker she’ll come, poking through the ground with zeal.
“Baby Loves Spring” by Karen Katz
“Ready for Spring” by Marthe Jocelyn
“Spring Colors” by Brian Enslow
“Spring Surprises” by Anna Jane Hays
“Spring Is Here!” by Alison Inches
“I See Spring” by Chrles Ghigna
“And Then It’s Spring” by Julie Fogliano
“How Mama Brought the Spring” by Fran Manushkin
“Snow Rabbit, Spring Rabbit: a book of changing seasons” by II Sung Na
Young Adult Novels:
“Spring Break: a Summer Novel” by Katherine Applegate
“Spring Fling” by Sabrina James
“When Comes the Spring” by Janette Oke
“A Promise for Spring” by Kim Vogel Sawyer
“Winter Turns to Spring” by Catherine Palmer and Gary Chapman
“Cherry Blossoms Say Spring” by National Geographic
“Spring” by Vic Parker
“Everything Spring” by Jill Esbaum
“Explore Spring!: 25 Great Ways to Learn About Spring” by Maxine Anderson
“What Happens in Spring” by Sara L. Latta
“Taylor’s Guide to Bulbs: How to Select and Grow 480 Species of Spring and Summer Bulbs” by Barbara W. Ellis
“Jump Into Spring”
“Here Comes Spring!”
“Martha’s Spring Gardening”
“Rebecca’s Garden: Spring Gardening”
When I was in elementary school I considered myself a pretty good athlete, after all I was the second fastest kid, the second farthest thrower, the second hardest kicker, second most accurate basketball shooter and I was pretty good at football. As far as football goes, I went to every Cincinnati Bengals home game and grew up looking up to those monstrously huge men. Residing in Norwood, at the time, the only guy I knew of that made it to the NFL or any professional sport from my hometown was Brian Pillman, but he never made it past a pro training camp. He did, however, make it as a professional wrestler.
As a six year old, watching those NFL games, I knew I didn’t want to be hit that hard, by anybody, thus, I turned my attentions toward baseball and soccer, after all I wasn’t even the best athlete in my grade, I was second. The best athlete in my grade, the guy that was first in all those categories did make it in the NFL. Not only that, he won the Super Bowl with the New England Patriots. Even as a young kid I knew my friend Marc Edwards would make it in football someday. Not only did he have tools and the talent but he had the drive and determination to rise up out of blue collar Norwood. The book Odyssey : from Blue Collar, Ohio to Super Bowl champion by Aaron M. Smith is about Mr. Edwards and chronicles what it takes to make it to the professional level in athletics and compete. He battled through some of the same adversity we all have. Nothing was handed to him, he knew what he wanted and worked to make his goal.
Even though he had talent, it still takes hard work to make it in any industry and Marc is evidence of that. This story is not about being a professional athlete it is about being the best person you can. Mr. Edwards’ odyssey should give inspiration to us all. Find your talent and work to make your goals.
Read the book.
I really love the old hymns that we sing in worship service. There is something very special about the familiar and comforting phrases and tunes. The Southern Gospel sound is a lot of fun too, but recently I’ve really been enjoying the more contemporary sound of Christian Worship music.
We Cry Out: The Worship Project by Jeremy Camp brought a little bit of the Sunday morning sound to my car and home. Jeremy combines the Message with a modern sound and beat, with songs that will appeal to both an older and younger audience.
Chris Tomlin is a new favorite artist after listening to a few tracks of How Great is our God: The Essential Collection. He is an awesome song writer and his album is now a “must have” in my music collection.
Wow hits 2012 featured several new favorites too. Glorious Day by Casting Crowns was most enjoyable. The group took an old gospel favorite and mixed it up for a wonderful sound that really was terrific. The CD had several artists I had never heard before, and it was a good way to get a feel of what is popular in the genre.
Next time you are feeling a little down, maybe give one of these albums a try. It might be a way to “bring the joy!”
I haven’t been to a real concert in years. It’s not that I don’t want to get out and see live music, it’s just not an option. If you’re like me you might just be lacking in the time and funds it takes to see amazing acts live in concert.
BUT! I’ve discovered the most amazing library material ever! We have DVDs of live concerts. Just imagine No fighting the crowds, no seeing past the guy with the weird hat. No nosebleed seats or getting rained on. Just perfect sound and a perfect view.
We have some amazing new concerts that have shown up in our New and Forthcoming DVD List recently.
Adele Live at the Royal Albert Hall- Filmed on September 22, 2011 at London’s famed Royal Albert Hall, Adele’s bestselling hits from both of her albums, 19 and 21, are featured as well as several behind the scenes features. Since Adele swept the Grammys I expect there to be a high demand on this one, check out now before everyone figures it out!
The Best of Bluegrass Underground- Taped 333 feet below ground within the labyrinth of Tennessee’s Cumberland Caverns, contained is a compilation of the best of the twelve-part ‘musical adventure’ series. Featuring the top established and emerging artists within the booming genres of bluegrass, Neo-Folk, gospel, roots, and Americana genres.
Looking for some other cool concerts to watch? Try these:
Franklin the adorable turtle returns to television in a new series. Franklin and Friends begins on February 13 at 9:30 am on Nickelodeon. Before you see the series, check out these great books about Franklin and his friends from the library’s collection.