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FEBRUARY 27, 2011
Presidential Stories

I'm still on vacation and no, I'm not bored but decided to comment on a book I'm reading before February is behind us. I've got way too many books and while I've been home I've managed to rearrange some yet again. Browsing my shelves I came across this one from The History Channel: 

The Greatest Presidential Stories Never Told: 100 tales from history to astonish, bewilder, and stupefy 

This seemed the perfect book to thumb through during February, as I think of it as the month of presidents with the celebration of the birthdays of Washington and Lincoln. Now I don't know if the stories told here are truly astonishing but they do offer some fun trivia and things about the presidents that I didn't know. Right at the start there's an interesting story about a custody battle that could have had great ramifications on our history. A man named George Gale married a widow, Mildred from Virginia, and they made their home in London. Mildred had three children from her previous marriage but died in childbirth. George was directed to raise his stepchildren. He applied for custody. Mildred's first husband started a custody battle and after years in court it was ruled that the children should return to Virginia and be raised by relatives. Mildred's first husband was Lawrence Washington. Their son Augustine, had three sons, one who he named after his stepfather, George Gale, none other than our first president, George Washington. 

Washington shows up in many other stories in the book. One tells about the fortune he made as a whiskey manufacturer. After two terms as president, he returned to Mount Vernon and was seeking new ways to make his farm profitable. He considered liquor "essential to the health of men" and built a distillery. His chief products were rye and Indian corn, and in 1799, his distillery made eleven thousand gallons of rye whiskey and earned a profit of $7500. Not bad for those days. 

To my surprise, most of the stories about Lincoln I had heard. The one about his body snatching, another about a dream he had before his death. Perhaps this is because I have read a few Lincoln biographies and these were mentioned. 

If I have any gripe with the book, it's that there is no index or table of contents that make it easy to find a story about a favorite president, a real flaw, in my opinion. Other than this complaint, I am enjoying my reading of presidential lore.

And once I finish these, perhaps I should start another one I unearthed on my bookcase:

Presidential Anecdotes - Paul F. Boller, Jr.  I love the caricatures of our presidents on the cover of his one.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by CarolK


FEBRUARY 22, 2011
Gone Fishing!

Well, not really! but I am on vacation, actually a stay-vacation, a bit of time to recoup and hopefully just relax. While away my blogging is on hiatus unless I get totally bored; doubtful as I have all kinds of books to read and little projects to accomplish. As I'm certain I will have some free time, I'd love to hear from you if there's something or somewhere you've recently visited in Connecticut or close proximity (including good restaurants) that I shouldn't miss. Though I can check for and The Chronicle for upcoming events, there's nothing like a personal recommendation. 

Like Arnold Schwarzenegger"s famous line in The Terminator...I'll be back! and look forward to chatting with all of you. In the meantime, Happy Reading!

Add a comment  (3 comments) posted by CarolK


FEBRUARY 18, 2011
Author Visit!

Last night we were lucky to have Leslie Connor, author of Crunch, drop in on our Book Club meeting. This was her second time here (she came when we read Waiting for Normal) and she was just lovely – super nice and very interesting.
Here’s a little background on Crunch, the book we read for this month’s meeting. The blurb is straight from the book jacket:

Dewey Marriss is stuck in the middle of a crunch. He never guessed that the gas pumps would run dry the same week he promised to manage the family's bicycle-repair business. Suddenly everyone needs a bike. And nobody wants to wait. Meanwhile, the crunch has stranded Dewey's parents far up north with an empty fuel tank and no way home. It's up to Dewey and his older sister, Lil, to look after their younger siblings and run the bike shop all on their own.

Each day Dewey and his siblings feel their parents' absence more and more. The Marriss Bike Barn is busier than ever. And just when he is starting to feel crunched himself, Dewey discovers that bike parts are missing from the shop. He's sure he knows who's responsible—or does he? Will exposing the thief only make more trouble for Dewey and his siblings?

The book was a hit with our group. Everyone liked it, and the book club members had lots of questions for Leslie about Crunch, and about becoming a published writer. She told us that living through the gas crisis in the 70’s and the current rising gas prices were partly the inspiration for the story of the Marriss family and how they come together during the crunch. She also talked with the kids about what she is working on now (a memoir from the point of view of her newly adopted dog and a teenage girl), and about her writing process. She encouraged the kids to keep journals to write, doodle, and paint in. She even suggested a writing exercise that a friend of hers uses, called ‘a slice of life,’ to our aspiring authors in the group. ‘Slice of life’ writing just means taking the time to write about one moment of your day in detail, in your journal. Leslie also talked about authors and new technology (like ebooks) and maintaining her own website, which you can see here.
Anyways, I encourage you to stop by the Saxton B. to check out our newly autographed copy of Crunch, or any of the other wonderful books we own by Leslie!

Add a comment  (2 comments) posted by Megan Q.


FEBRUARY 14, 2011
Happy Valentine's Day

While browsing Between the Covers : the Book Babes' guide to a woman's reading pleasures , a book that give suggestions of what to read next, I came across this great side-bar by Margo Hammond, one of the authors. Entitled Books a Aphrodisiacs it ponders what was the first book that was given away as a gift. Margo bets it was a book of poetry, given by a man to his lady love. 

Margo feels books are natural aphrodisiacs and tells us the story of how when she was first married, she gave her husband a book for Valentine's Day. His gift to her...the very same book of Mexican Art. Serendipity, fate, whatever you call it, Margo took it as a sign they were meant for each other. 

Doing some research she discovered that the book swap they performed echoes a yearly exchange between lovers in Catalon, Barcelona. April 23rd, El Diada de Sant Jordi, St. George's Day, men throughout Spain give roses to their sweethearts much like our St. Valentine's Day. In 1923, a bookseller varied this tradition by suggesting that women return their man's favor by giving him a book. The day became known as Dia de la Rosa (Day of the Rose) and el Dia de la Libro (Day of the Book). 

Day of the Book, celebrated April 23, a festival of book selling is held, with booksellers setting up stalls, authors making appearances and reading and more than 400,000 books are purchased. It has even become a popular day for publishers to launch new books. 

As one website states "Last, but not least, there is nothing nicer than lovers exchanging a book and a rose." 

Both Megan and I have book displays with Valentine picture books,  poetry, and love stories to help you enjoy the day. Hope you check one out.

Have you ever given or received a book instead of candy or flowers on Valentine's Day? I still have a book of Haiku love poems given to me by my husband when we were dating and he was far more romantic!

Add a comment  (3 comments) posted by CarolK


FEBRUARY 11, 2011
Happy Valentines Day!
Alright people, you have three days left to get your valentines under control.
I know a lot of people hate V-day, but if you don’t, or even if you do but you love cool projects, check out these ideas:
Last night 20ish kids came by the library to learn how to make duct tape roses. They’re a creative and cheap way to say Happy Valentines Day – all you need is some duct tape and some floral wire. Even though they look complicated they are surprisingly easy to make, check out the directions here.
Here is a picture of a multicolored bouquet that one girl stuck into her backpack last night:

I saw this idea on another blog this morning – Ipod valentines:
“You rock.”


Here are the directions. It would be fun to come up with your own personalized playlist too.

I also stumbled across this cute valentine idea, made from recycled crayon pieces:

Here are the directions to this one.

Will you be giving any valentines this year? Have any other great ideas - please share!

Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by Megan Q.


FEBRUARY 7, 2011
February is...
February has lots of special days that lend themselves well to book displays and reading lists.  

February is:
American Heart Month
Black History Month
Library Lovers’ Month – This one’s right up our alley!
National Bird Feeding Month – don’t forget our fine feathered friends during all our storms in the Northeast.
Special dates like Groundhog Day, Chinese New Year, and the Super Bowl XLV (congratulations Packers)  have already gone by and Valentines Day is next Monday. Presidents Day honoring Lincoln (February 12th) and Washington’s (February 22nd) birthdays is February 21st and would you believe The Daytona 500 runs on February 20th (makes me hopeful spring is on the way). For movie fans don’t forget films big night, The Academy Awards are hosted February 27th.
Besides the two presidents mentioned above there are slews of famous people born in February, some living, some departed.  Ronald Reagan would have turned 100 just yesterday (40th president of the US): Feb. 6, 1911
Clark Gable: Feb. 1, 1901
Gertrude Stein: Feb. 3, 1874
Langston Hughes: Feb. 1, 1902
Rosa Parks: Feb. 4, 1913
James Dean: Feb. 8, 1931
Elizabeth Taylor: Feb. 27, 1932
Lisa Marie Presley February 1, 1971
Ashton Kutcher Feb. 7, 1981
Laura Ingalls Wilder Feb. 7, 1867
Babe Ruth: Feb. 6, 1895
Jeniffer Aniston, Feb. 11,  1969
Just to name a few...
So what to talk about today?

Two stories with February connections caught my eye. The first is touching story I heard on NPR, which honored Ronald McNair, who was killed 25 years ago when the space shuttle, The Challenger, exploded. Ron’s story is narrated by his brother Carl, who tells his brother’s story with pride. Ronald McNair was just the second African American to visit space. This in itself is an accomplishment and fits the theme of Black History Month. The true focus of the story though, is one of segregation at none other than his public library. As Carl explains it
The library was public, Carl says — "but not so public for black folks, when you're talking about 1959."
The story continues from there and doesn’t get much better as the police are called and also Ronald’s mother, Pearl.
When all arrive the librarian explains the problem "He wanted to check out the books and, you know, your son shouldn't be down here."  quotes Carl.
"And the police officer said, 'You know, why don't you just give the kid the books?'
"And my mother said, 'He'll take good care of them.'”
Ron gets his books and after graduating from North Carolina A&T State earning a Ph.D. from MIT, in physics, he eventually joins NASA's astronaut program.
Ronald McNair was 35 when he was killed in The Challenger explosion.  On January 28th, the anniversary of his death, The Dr. Ronald E. McNair Life History Center was dedicated. It is housed in the building where Ron’s original public library, The Lake City Library, is located.

Steve Helber/AP

Ronald McNair (third in line) and his fellow Challenger astronauts head to the launch pad at Kennedy Space Center to board the space shuttle on Jan. 27, 1986.

Though Ron’s story is a good one for  Black History Month, I herald it as a great one to tell as a real example of  Library Lover’s Month.
Tune in next Monday if you’re interested in the second story that caught my attention. Hint, it has something to do with Valentine’s Day.
Visit our library to find books to celebrate any of the wonderful February holiday, particularly Black History Month and Valentine’s Day.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by CarolK


FEBRUARY 4, 2011
And the nominees are...
The 2012 Nutmeg Nominees have been announced! Waaahoo!

Here are the 10 Intermediate Nominees:

Deep and Dark and Dangerous by Mary Downing Hahn
Dying to Meet You by Kate Klise
Extra Credit by Andrew Clements
The Gollywhopper Games by Jody Feldman
Herbert's Wormhole by Peter Nelson
The Key to Rondo by Emily Rodda
Masterpiece by Elise Broach
Savvy by Ingrid Law
Signal by Cynthia DeFelice
Stolen Children by Peg Kehret

Here are the 10 Teen Nominees:


The Compound by S.A. Bodeen
The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins
I Am a Genius of Unspeakable Evil and I Want to Be Your Class President by Josh Lieb
The Maze Runner by James Dashner
Ostrich Boys by Keith Gray
Pop by Gordon Korman
Princess of the Midnight Sun by Jessica Day George
The Rock and the River by Kekla Magoon
Scat by Carl Hiaasen
Viola in Reel Life by Adriana Trigiani

I've read a few on both lists, but I can't wait to read the rest! What do you think of this years lists?

Add a comment  (2 comments) posted by Megan Q.


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