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DECEMBER 30, 2010
Photos of 2010
Last week I went to Yahoo to check my email and Yahoo was running a slideshow of the ‘Most Startling Photos of 2010.’ Some of you may have seen this for yourselves, but for those who didn’t the slideshow consisted of pictures of the largest statue of Jesus (built in Poland this year), a 30 pound goldfish, the Perseid meteor shower, and a killer whale crashing into a yacht, just to name a few:
Well this slideshow on Yahoo was almost perfect timing for me since I took the ‘most startling’ photo at the Saxton B. just last week too. Is it startling? Um, I was startled.. Hilarious? Check. Here it is:
Hahaha! I am laughing just thinking about it. It’s Carol in her ‘michealn man’ suit. An oversized insulated snowsuit. I guess I owe you an explanation. Our heaters were misbehaving last week and we had a few days of frigid cold in the office. So Carol thought she would surprise us by wearing this suit to work on Thursday. So funny!
We have lots of great pictures from the past year of events, programs, books clubs, and summer fun. Unfortunately I don’t have personal permission from people to post many of them here, but I do have few good ones for you too take a look at:
Fake mustaches at a book club meeting and a little promo picture for our adopt-an-author program:
Monster Cookies from our Monster Mash Party, and the cake from our 25th Anniversary celebration:
Mo the therapy dog visits the library and Author Jason Deeble comes to the Saxton B!:
2010 was a great year at the Saxton B. and I am already looking forward to 2011. Happy New Year everyone!
DECEMBER 27, 2010
He Sees You When You're Sleeping!
Alright, if the Barbie with the video camera was not your cup of tea, here's another hot toy to consider. The Elf on the Shelf is selling like hotcakes. It's an elf, it's a book, it's a kit and it sells for $30.
The brainchild of Carol Aebersold who runs the company with her twin daughters, got started from a Christmas tradition she shared for many years with her family. Ms. Aebersold would hide the red bedecked plastic elf, n her home several days before Christmas. The elf kept watch on her kids and knew who was naughty and who was nice. Then the elf would fly off to the North Pole and make his report to Santa. Word of mouth, turned this family tradition into a multi-million dollar business. Now, why didn't I think of that!
Sounds like a fun new holiday tradition to add in our family. My only regret is that I missed out getting one this Christmas but there's plenty of time to pick one up before next December.
DECEMBER 23, 2010
This. Is. Real.
Video Girl Barbie. Here she is, in all her glory:
A Barbie with a video camera in her back, complete with pink USB port to upload half hour long video clips of your Barbie play time. Now, those of you who follow our blog may remember I wrote about Babs a few weeks ago after reading the new book by Tanya Lee Stone, The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie. At that time Su told me about the Growing-Up Skipper Doll who basically went through puberty if you lifted her arms up. Nice one Mattel. Anyways, once again Su was first to tell me about the Video Girl Barbie (Su is an excellent source of weird news!), and how the FBI has issued a warning to law enforcement to keep an eye out for this toy to be somehow used by pedophiles. This crazy Barbie and the upcoming holidays got me thinking about the worst toy ideas of all time. Here is just a small list of toys NOT to buy your favorite kids this Christmas:
Poop Patrol Barbie - Complete with poop that doubles as dog food.
Pole Dance Doll - Self explanatory.
Fun Slides Carpet Skates - You know how fun it is to glide around in socks on your hardwood floors! Now you can slide at full speed anywhere in the house. This is not dangerous.
Girls Only Cleaning Trolley - Sorry boys!
Kaba Kick - Russian Roulette for kids! No, really that's exactly what it is.
Hugo - Man of a Thousand Faces. Apparently this was a popular toy in the 70's, personally I can barely imagine anything more terrifying.
Michael Jackson Doll - more like Barbie than Ken.
Some additional crappy toys I remember being popular in my youth include Skip -it, slap bracelets, and wide variety of baby dolls that went to the bathroom.
And that’s not all folks - there’s much, much more! When I googled ‘worst toys ever’ I got a lot of results that were hilarious/shocking/crazy that I won’t repost here, but I do encourage adults to run the same search if they so desire.
Even though this post is getting insanely long, I have to mention the real life Video Girl Barbie – an NYU professor who got a camera surgically installed in the back of his head. It will be taking a picture every minute for the next year as part of a performance art project. Read the whole story here.
In conclusion, avoid the embarrassment of accidentally purchasing one of the worst toys ever for the children in your life by buying them BOOKS this year!
DECEMBER 21, 2010
The Perfect Gift!
This morning while reading my rss feeds from blogs here and yonder, I read one about The Perfect Gift. Staff of some publishing house recounted the one gift they were given for Christmas that had that wow factor. This started me reminiscing about what gift was a genuine surprise and memory maker.
One Christmas season way back when I was 16 I wanted only one thing. I truly never thought I would get it but craved it just the same. Came Christmas morning and I opened the usual suspects, the pajamas, a book, sweater, socks, etc., but definitely not the top gift on my list. Oh, just one one more package and parents with that "cat ate the canary" look on their faces. Very carefully unwrapping the present, could it be?, hoping against hope, I can still remember the feeling of peeling that paper, and then wonder of wonder, there it was, the gift I coveted! The actual gift seems kind of funny now, it was my very own pink princess phone, one I could have in my bedroom to talk to my friends without nosy brothers listening in. But the love with which it was given has lasted a lifetime.
How about you? Do you have a memory to share? We'd love to hear about your own perfect gift!
DECEMBER 20, 2010
Give the gift of books...
Give the gift of books ….
It's the holiday season and many organizations send out a plea for donations for a plethora of worthy causes. As an avid library user, staff member at our library for many years and voracious book reader my entire life, my heart always turns to books and ways to gift them to young people less fortunate than me. What better gift can there be than inspiring a life long love of reading by providing a young person their very own book.
Give the gift of books:
Books to Dreams
“Is designed to encourage children to read by giving them books of their own choice to keep. Through this process it is hoped that they will believe in themselves, dream of other possibilities, and become lifelong readers.”
Read to Grow, Inc.
“Read to Grow is a Connecticut nonprofit that builds children's literacy beginning at birth. We are the only statewide organization that connects with parents in the hospital setting and prepares them to take an active role in their child's literacy development from day one.”
“is a nonprofit organization that annually provides millions of books to schools and programs serving children from low-income families. It provides new books to children in need addressing one of the most important factors affecting literacy – access to books
Disclaimer: This is a personal view and not necessarily that of my employer.
DECEMBER 15, 2010
You’re a mean one Mr. Grinch
I know. I know. I have heard it all before, but I don’t like the holiday season:
1. Its cold.
2. Whole streets become landing strips.
3. Out and abouts become crowded.
4. Poor innocent trees are murdered.
5. Lots of money is spent on things that most people don’t want.
6. The things that one does want are often too expensive to be given or gotten as gifts.
7. You cannot escape the season: decorations, lights, music.
8. Television specials take over regular programming.
9. Rudolph and It’s a Wonderful Life are not nice stories.
10. The expectation is that you will be happy, even though its wearing
I know I will get complaint about this, but… I find this season of giving, inconsiderate. Everywhere I turn people are asking for something be it a donation in the mail or a ringing bell outside the supermarket. Curtsey goes out the window as cars cut off other in traffic, mothers ignore their screaming children in stores and people jump in front of others in line.
Then there is the age old issue: commercialism versus the religious meaning of the holiday. In fact, I have no problem with the religious meaning and celebration of this holiday. But I do have problems with those that want to make it everyone’s holiday. Even if it is not the other person’s religious belief.
So every year, I trudge through, told I’m a Grinch, told I don’t get it, told lots of things I can’t repeat here. To which I say, Bah Hum burgh to all, and to all a good night.
If you feel like I do, come by and check out some non-holiday books at the library!
DECEMBER 13, 2010
That's the Way the Cookie Crumbles!
Christmas time, Cookie time! Our yearly tradition of cooking baking was in jeopardy of not happening this year as both my daughter Jill and I our having trouble getting into a festive spirit. The loss of my mother/her grandmother, Jean, and my brother/her uncle, Mike has left our hearts sad. Somehow though, we both felt making at least a few cookies, would help us feel better. We decided not to go whole hog, but to make just a few kinds that we love. Chocolate chip, Oatmeal Raisin, and Thumbprints with green and red jelly should do the trick.
This past Saturday we gathered in my kitchen, armed with flour, eggs, butter, and the rest of the ingredient to create out cheer. Nothing seemed to go right, not quite disastrous, but not quite picture perfect either. The chocolate chip mounds spread so much they actually overflowed the cookie sheet and into the oven, the oatmeal raisin took forever to bake, and the thumbprints looked like they had rabies, foaming at the mouth. We blamed one thing after another but the only thing we could come up with for the results was the butter. She had bought some brand at a warehouse food club. That had to be the problem as the cookies were oozing on the sheets, sort of like the fat coming out of them. I wonder if this will make them less caloric.
I was feeling bad for my daughter as she was frustrated by their outcome She is a great cookie baker and these were not up to par.
I quickly pointed out that they were indeed edible (except for the undercooked batch that we fed to the squirrels), and that everyone in our family would enjoy them Christmas Day as they were homemade and that’s what counts. After all, the real purpose of the cookie making is the sharing of the cookie baking, the time spent together, mother and daughter, laughing, talking, in the kitchen; that’s the Christmas spirit!
Picture of the cookies to follow…
If you’d like to try some new cookie recipes take a look at these that you’ll find on our shelves. The Gourmet Cookie Book is making its mark on all the 2010 best cooking books.
The Gourmet Cookie Book the single best recipe since 1941-2009
Cookie swap! : [with 71 fabulous recipes] / by Lauren Chattman.
Cookies to die for! / Bev Shaffer ; food photography and food styling by John R. Shaffer.
Cake mix cookies : more than 175 delectable cookie recipes that begin with a box of cake mix / Camilla V. Saulsbury.
and many, many more yummy books to inspire you can be found in the 641’s!
DECEMBER 8, 2010
Short Story Anthologies
I admit, I am not a fan of the short story format. I have no reason why, and one of my favorite books is Bruce Coville’s Odder than Ever stories (JF). So, I have no excuse. My partner, however, has become quite attached to the format. As such he has been looking for short story anthologies for months. He’s found some neat ones: science fiction collections, a collection about super heroes. He started a recent YA collection Zombies vs Unicorns, but didn’t like it.
Now that we are into the gift giving seasons, I thought, “AH HA!” I knew just what to do and started looking for the obscure anthology. Not the standard Norton’s or American Classic authors, but something with a unique theme.
I have found nothing. Well, I have found nothing that jumps off the shelf or computer screen saying “Here I am! Read me!” So, I offer it to you…
Write me your suggestions!
And if you’d like a suggestion about what to read next, come check things out at the library!
DECEMBER 6, 2010
Steve Berry ~ The Emperor's Tomb
I've got to give Mohegan Sun Casino credit for hosting some of the finest in their winning author series. This past weekend I had the pleasure to hear author Steve Berry talk about his latest Cotton Malone thriller, The Emperor's Tomb. These events are hosted in the cabaret, an intimate setting for author talks.
Berry gave a brief introduction to all his books, describing the Cotton Malone series, now numbering five and his three stand alone novels. Fans will be happy to know there's at least one more Cotton book coming out next year but then the character will be on vacation in 2012 while Berry does a stand alone once again.
Berry hinted at a plot dealing with a clause of our United States Constitution but when questioned as to which particular clause he clammed up saying his publisher would kill him if he revealed anymore. He encouraged us to read the first six clauses skipping the preamble, to see if we could figure out the part that made him day "What!" when he read it himself the first time. There's a challenge if I ever heard one. He certainly has me curious.
Opening the floor to questions from the audience, Berry received many of the usual questions that authors get. He'd answer and then expand giving more insight and had an smooth conversational flow easily keeping our attention. He peppered his dialogue with what only could be considered quotes like
"writing is a discipline. Writing is not an obsession"
He writes January to August and during this period will book only one author talk or writing workshop, all he can handle while in the full swing of writing. Fall is crunch time as he fine tunes the latest book, so all he does is write and edit and November usually finds him on tour promoting the newest novel.
Berry claims to be a recovering lawyer having practiced law for over thirty years, now feeling fortunate to be able to write full time. Being a lawyer and writing legal briefs did not help him one iota in his thriller writing career. He used to read thrillers to escape; now he gets to write them.
When asked if he travels to the locales in his books, he says he does most of the time. Unfortunately he was not able to travel to China, sighting time as a factor, for The Emperor's Tomb. He hopes to get there someday.
When he was writing The Paris Vendetta, together with his wife, Elizabeth, they visited Paris, and like all good tourists took the elevator up the Eiffel Tower. Little did he realize his wife had a fear of heights and when she let him know this he told her to "suck it up". Now before you berate him too much, he went to tell that when they were in the Ukraine doing research he needed to go explore underground tunnels abandoned by the Nazi's. Lo and behold he found out he was terribly claustrophobic and what did his wife say. "Suck it up", of course. Tit for tat.!
Several people in the audience wanted to know where the name Cotton Malone came from. Berry isn't telling just yet. He indicated he may tell the story some day. In his first Cotton book, The Templar Legacy, he had explained where the name came from but took it out. Berry stated Cotton is fashioned a bit after himself and that the character was born in Copenhagen. He had a totally different character in mind, but Cotton just took over and his fans are glad that Malone did.
Berry doesn't read classics and makes no apologies for this. He feels they cannot help him to write commercial fiction and because he is writing in contemporary times, they teach him nothing.
His favorite authors?
He reads what he writes.
My own question concerned the story behind The Amber Room. This stand-alone mesmerized me so much that I went to Russia to see the restored replica at Catherine Palace in Saint Petersburg. Like me, he had never heard of The Amber Room, a complete chamber of floor to ceiling amber panels that were hidden during World War II. One night he was listening to a TV program about The Amber Room while trying to catch a pygmy rattler that had somehow managed to invade his home. Thought the rattler commanded his attention that night, The Amber Room intrigued him and he wanted to know more. . In 1995 there was little information about it in the states so he visited Russia and spent hours with the head of the reconstruction project and learned everything there was to know from him. He paid him $100, a bargain for Berry but a fortune to the project head.
Berry often turns to books for his research, finding that e-books are not part of his tools. Thy are convenient and portable. He sited a wonderful book store near his home in St. Augustine, Florida. He is able to buy the books he needs for research and then sell them back.
In an effort to give back Berry and his wife have set up The History Matters Foundation. Berry has hosted six projects to save a piece of history this past year. He donates all proceeds from the seminars he conducts on writing. The seminars are an intense five hour course and cost $100 with all proceeds going to the chosen project. He says he actually can't "teach you to write but that he can teach you to teach yourself to write" . Recently the foundation donated $10,000 to a rare books library in Virginia, saving ten books. There are plans for six more projects next year.
Berry just returned from a nine day tour with other thriller writers visiting our troops in Iraq which was sponsored by the USO. It was such a successful and fulfilling venture that he hopes to join Operation Thriller once again next year.
There were over fifty people attending this author event. Over half were men which brings home to me two things:
"Reading is alive and well."
"Men do read fiction; they just need stories that engage them."
featuring Cotton Malone
1. The Templar legacy
2. The Alexandria link
3. The Venetian betrayal
4. The Charlemagne pursuit
5. The Paris vendetta
6. The emperor's tomb
The Amber Room
The Romanov Prophecy
The Third Secret
and an e-book exclusive The Balkan Escape
DECEMBER 3, 2010
I’ve already seen a fair share of ‘best of…” lists for 2010. Best movies, best music, best blogs, and yes, best books. I can’t help but create my own list for 2010. Drum roll please…here are just a *few* of my faves:
Chalk, by Bill Thompson
Chalk is a beautiful wordless picture book in which three children find some magical chalk and use it to draw pictures that come to life. Check it out and let your imagination run wild!
How Rocket Learned to Read, by Tad Hill
A little yellow bird teaches Rocket the dog how to read, enticing him by reading stories aloud. Rocket practices his letters all winter as he waits for his teacher to return. This story, and its illustrations, are adorable.
We are in a Book! by Mo Willems
I'm a die hard Mo Willems fan so its no surprise that I loved this latest edition to his Elephant and Piggie series. It's pretty much garunteed to make kids laugh out loud.
Junior Fiction and Young Adult:
The Incorrigible Children of Ashton Place: Book 1: The Mysterious Howling, by Maryrose Wood
I loved this book! School Library Journal described it best as, “Jane Eyre meets Lemony Snicket in this smart, surprising satire of a 19th-century English governess story.” Follow 15 year old governess Penelope as she tries to teach (and tame) the three children who were literally raised by wolves and found on her masters property. This funny mystery is just the first in the series, so be on the look out for the next one, The Hidden Gallery, out in February.
Cosmic, by Frank Cottrell Boyce
12 year old Liam is very tall is already sprouting a beard, so he is often mistaken for an adult. Taking advantage of this, he enters a ‘World’s Best Dad’ contest with his friend and wins them a trip into outer space as the adult chaperone! Before I even read this one I loved the premise - and the book certainly lived up to my expectations. It is very funny and would be a great pick as a holiday gift.
Mockingjay, by Suzanne Collins
Hunger Games fans waited anxiously for this third and final installment in the trilogy. What would happen to Panem? Who would Katniss choose – Peeta or Gale? Our questions were answered in this exciting (and violent!) finale.
DECEMBER 1, 2010
Google has informed me that today is the 55th anniversary of Rosa Parks refusal to give up her seat on the bus in Montgomery, AL. She was 42 at the time. Starting with that event, Ms. Parks has come to be known as “the first lady of civil rights.” Though most people do not know it, she was NOT the first women to refuse to give up her seat in the Montgomery bus system and others across the nation. In fact, 15-year old Claudette Colvin refused to move on the same bus system nine months before Parks. However, in the time period after her arrest for this act, the unmarried woman became pregnant and local activists had concerns that she would not project the right image. As a result, Ms. Parks’ name is famous, as it was her refusal that sparked the Montgomery Bus Boycott.
I feel pretty strongly that both these courageous women should be remembered and remain in our minds. I am reminded that the world can change from the smallest acts and the most unexpected places.
The summer before last I toured the historic spots of the Civil Rights movement in the South. It was a very illustrative and moving trip. There is something different about being in the location then simply reading about or seeing a movie. I will never forget Selma, AL or the long drive between it and Montgomery. Even with signs of modernity, it was a place from the past.
While there is no denying times have changed, in 2009 I still saw and felt that the nation has a long way to go. In some ways, 55 years IS a long time, in others though it is merely a blink of an eye and not even a lifetime.
If you'd like to learn more about Rosa Parks or the Civil Rights movement, stop by the Library and check out a book! We have materials for all ages!