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JANUARY 31, 2011
Snow Daze!
See that snowman sitting on my porch? Looks innocent doesn't he? Don't believe it for a minute. That smile is starting to look down right sinister to me. When my husband took him out of his attic space in mid December it was like a sacrifice to the snow gods. It soon began to snow and hasn't stopped since. 

Then you've got a staff member (you know who you are) who wanted a snow day about a month ago. She did all the things the weather man suggested, did a snow dance, wore her pajamas backwards while chanting snow, snow, snow. She got the snow day and much more. Be careful what you wish for! 

Another friend swears by shaking the snow globe. Too bad the one he owned mysteriously got broken. 

Did I tell you I unfriended Frosty on facebook to no avail? Snow, snow, go away! 

I searched the net to find other ways to ensure a snowy day in hopes I could head them off at the pass. I don't like winter, the cold or the snow. My husband doesn't mind it. He calls it fluffy white stuff and thinks it's kind of pretty. I'm not telling him about this way to make it snow. Seems that flushing ice cubes down the toilet guarantees some snow.. Seeing we've been experimenting with how things flush these past few months, he might actually consider this one. 

How about this one? Putting a spoon under the pillow is a longstanding superstition that dates back to the days of the Pilgrims. It's a superstition that still lingers in the Midwest and Eastern states, and many people follow it religiously each winter season. Personally I'd stick with wedding cake under my pillow to see the man I'm going to marry. 

If all of the above are not enough there's even snow dances for snow worshipers to try. You probably could make up your own and post it to youtube. 

Out for a ride today I saw a cute sign that promised "Hang in there. Only 53 more days to spring!" and counting. Spring can't get here soon enough for me. If Punxsutawney Phil sees his shadow I'm out of here. 

If it snows again on Wednesday, I swear my snowman will be wearing this sign: 




It could be worse I suppose. We might live in California and have to wish for "mud days"

Check out these great snowy books to enjoy on your on snow daze!

The Mitford snowmen a Christmas story / by Jan Karon.


The smiley snowman / M. Christina Butler ; illustrations byTina Macnaughton.



Winter friends / Carl R. Sams II & Jean Stoick.


The snowman / Raymond Briggs



Snowmen at night / Caralyn Buehner ; pictures by Mark Buehner.


Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by CarolK


JANUARY 28, 2011
90 Second Newbery
Ok, we tried, but we can’t seem to embed a youtube video right into the blog. So I beg of you, click on this link to read about author James Kennedy’s video challenge, ‘90 Second Newbery’ Film Festival. Carol sent it to me this morning and the 90 second video summing up A Wrinkle in Time (1963 winner) made me laugh out loud!
The rules are simple:
1. Make a 90 video about any Newbery book (here is a link to the full list).
2. Upload it “wherever.”
3. Email Mr. Kennedy.
4. The winning movies will screen next at The New York Public Library film festival.
I have a couple book groups that would that I know would be totally into this. The big question is - what book to use? After quickly scanning the list I think recent winners like last year’s When you Reach Me, by Rebecca Stead, 2009 winner The Graveyard Book, by Neil Gaiman, or 2005 Honor book Al Capone Does my Shirts, by Gennifer Choldenko would be fun.
Speaking of which, the 2011 Newbery Winner and Honor books were announced just a few weeks ago. Here is the list in case you missed it:
2011 Medal Winner: Moon over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool

Book Description: The town of Manifest is based on Frontenac, Kan., the home of debut author Clare Vanderpool’s maternal grandparents. Vanderpool was inspired to write about what the idea of “home” might look like to a girl who had grown up riding the rails.
I’m not going to lie – I never heard of the book until the winners were announced, but I did just add it to our collection. The Newbery Award Committee has been criticized in recent years for choosing books are, ‘complicated and inaccessible to most children.’ An October 2008 School Library Journal article called, “Has the Newbery Lost Its Way?" sparked the debate and drew lots of response in blogs and in the media from those who agreed and those who argued back. I can’t help but think that this book might be one of those ‘inaccessible’ choices. I know I am pre-judging something I haven’t read, but how did I miss this one? I mean I read journals, blogs, emails, and reviews daily. Plus I don’t think the cover will attract kids. Anyways, just my opinion… I should probably read it huh?

2011 Honor Books:
Turtle in Paradise, by Jennifer L. Holm
This one had great reviews, but I haven’t read it yet, so I can’t comment.


Heart of a Samurai, by Margi Preus
Again, I’ve read lots of glowing reviews for this one but have yet to read it.

Dark Emperor and Other Poems of the Night, by Joyce Sidman
Again, sounds good, haven’t read.


One Crazy Summer, by Rita Williams-Garcia
I’m halfway through this one and so far, so good! I like it a lot, but I do wonder if the target audience will be a little lost with all of the historical references. It takes place in 1968 Oakland, CA, where three sisters find adventure when they are sent to meet their estranged poet-mother Cecile, who prints flyers for the Black Panthers.
Alright I’ll stop babbling. I would love to hear your thoughts on the 90 Second Newbery Challenge, and on the 2011 Newbery Books. Have you read any? What did you think?

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


JANUARY 24, 2011
Email Netiquette

An article in US News & World Reports caught my eye this week. Have you ever regretted a hasty click of the reply/reply all or send button. Then18 Common Work E-mail Mistakes might just be the netiquette refresher you need. It must have hit a nerve as there are already 1800 responses. 

It could save you the embarrassment of some blunders like these: 

sending a job offer to the wrong candidate
sending an internal memo about restroom etiquette to a client

sending a nasty comment about your supervisor to the whole company including said boss

 A police officer who sent an email to her colleagues asking: “who stole my yogurt out of the fridge? Unfortunately she accidentally sent the email to the entire state police force and received many a reply including…. “Do you need the FBI? Have you sealed off the area? Has the dog unit been called?”

 A Vice President who accidentally sent details of all his employees’ salary on a company group email. Realizing his error, he set the fire alarm off to clear the office before deleting the email from every inbox.

 A colleague (we’ll call him John) of one of the editors was copied on an email sent to most of the top managers at the editor’s company, including a VP that no one respects (we’ll call him Carl). John intended to simply reply to the sender with the following message, but inadvertently hit Reply To All:

You’d better send this by carrier pigeon to Carl, I doubt he knows how to open his own email. – John

Or this guy who was emailing a customer back and forth. "He was considering buying my product and was also looking at the same product through a dealer (we sell retail and wholesale). Kept explaining that he was looking at exactly the same thing at two different price points. I finally lost patience and emailed my manager and asked him what I should tell this *******. Only problem was I hit the reply button and not the forward button."

You get the picture. These examples are just a few of the email fiasco's I found while searching the net. There are thousands out there. Stephen J. Dubner of the New York Times got 178 comments when he asked "what was the worst email mistake you ever made?".

One last precaution...Don't forget that a final spell check before hitting send can prevent hilarious or sometimes disastrous results. Reading forum messages, one guy says his worst mistake is spelling enhancement as enchantments. Another said he frequently types retards instead of regards. I once sent out a message to a worldwide library list identifying myself as a pubic librarian. 

Take a look at the article and let us know if you have any additional advice of mistakes to avoid, either ones you've seen or any of your own you feel comfortable sharing 

If you're still in need of some emailing tips you can pick up this book from our collection: 

Send : the essential guide to email for office and home / David Shipley and Will Schwalbe.



Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by CarolK


JANUARY 21, 2011
Speaking of censorship…
Just a week or so ago Carol posted about the new ‘altered’ edition of Mark Twain’s Huckleberry Finn. Well, censorship has been a hot news topic again this week as the Enfield Public Library canceled a screening of Michael Moore’s film ‘Sicko,’ under pressure from Town Council members and the mayor, who threatened to cut the library’s funding if the film was shown. ‘Sicko,’ by the way, is a documentary comparing the for-profit American health care industry to non-profit systems in other nations like Canada, the UK, France, and Cuba.
Censorship in CT…how embarrassing. The only part of this story that brings a smile to my face is how ridiculous the Mayor, Scott R. Kaupin, sounds as he tries to defend the decision/threat. Here is a quote from Kaupin that I pulled from an article in the Journal Inquirer:

“I don’t even know why people make these decisions to go down those paths. It’s stupid. It’s like, it just blows my mind that people try to push the envelope with the public dime. Do nice stuff. Do uncontroversial, or if you want to step in the mode of being controversial, make sure it’s fair on both sides and it becomes a discussion. And it’s not a ‘fun flick,’ he said, referring to the name of the library’s film series (Fun Friday Flicks). A fun flick to me would be ‘Finding Nemo.’”
Really? Adults should come to the library to watch ‘safe’ films like Finding Nemo? Does he think that adults in Enfield can’t make their own decisions on whether to attend or not, or are unable to form their own opinions about the film?
Read the whole Journal Inquirer article here.

The Connecticut Library Association responded with this as part of a press release:

The Connecticut Library Association believes that public libraries should be a pillar of our American democracy and that democracy depends on an informed citizenry. People should be able to go their public library to read or view a wide variety of books and films about controversial topics and then make up their minds. Censoring the choices that people have or silencing the opposition is an insult to our form of government.

Peter Chase, chairman of CLA’s Intellectual Freedom Committee added this:

“The health care debate in America is exactly the kind of controversial issue that people need information on, and this is exactly what the public library should be doing,” Chase said. “Can you imagine what would happen to state libraries if individual town governments could just withdraw the materials they didn’t like?”

Well - can you imagine?

Michel Moore – love him or hate him, but at least enjoy the freedom of being able to decide for yourself. If you’re interested in watching this ‘dangerous’ film, stop by the Saxton B. to check out our copy.

For more information (and opinions) check out this press and blogger round-up on CLA’s website.

Add a comment  (0 comments) posted by Megan Q.


JANUARY 17, 2011
2011 Reading Challenges

What's a book challenge? They're a bit different than New Year's Resolutions in that they are not a way to change behavior but a way to prod an already existing habit of reading and take this pleasure to a new level.

Over on GoodReads one of the groups I follow has started a discussion of reading challenges for 2011. Some have set a goal to read twenty more books this year, others have decided to read one more book a month, signing on to read eleven more books this year, leaving one month free. One person thinks challenge means to read something out of his comfort zone or to improve his mind, not read just for entertainment. Others plan to read new authors, read a whole series, read the books they own, read a classic or try a new genre. All noble ideas.

Though my own 2011 challenge is a simple one, to just read and enjoy whatever strikes my fancy, one person's challenge has really caught my eye and tickled me. This reader has set a challenge to read a children's picture book everyday for all of 2011 and to comment on each and every one of these. She is challenging herself in order to find good books to share with her 6 month old granddaughter who is living out of the country for the next two years. I love this idea and have been thoroughly enjoying her take on all the books she's read so far. Books like  The Mitten by Jan Brett, Everywhere Babies by Susan Meyers, I Love You Little One by Nancy Tafuri. She is reading books she's found on blogs, journals, ones friends have suggested or just books she finds on the shelves at her local library.


I've shared a couple of our family favorites with her...Jellybeans for Breakfast by Miriam Young, and Feathers for Lunch by Lois Ehlert.

Do you have any titles you'd tell her not to miss? Any reading challenges of your own? We'd love to hear them.

Add a comment  (6 comments) posted by CarolK


JANUARY 14, 2011
Travelers, vagabonds, and dreamers…
Last week my boyfriend and I semi-impulsively bought round trip plane tickets to Amsterdam for this spring. We usually buy the tickets first and plan later, so right now we don’t have a definite itinerary, but I’m thinking we’ll go Amsterdam – Paris – Brussels - back to Amsterdam to fly home. I already bought some of my favorite guidebooks:

Lonely Planet Amsterdam Encounter and Lonely Planet Brussels, Bruges, Antwerp, and Ghent Encounter – wow what a mouthful! I used the LP Tokyo Encounter on my trip to Japan and I loved it. They have excellent maps and are so small they can fit into your purse!


I have trusted the Let’s Go! Guidebooks for MANY trips and they haven’t steered me wrong yet. I bought the 2011 Let’s Go! Paris for its off-the-beaten-path recommendations and cheap and reliable lodging suggestions.

Now I am looking for some good book recommendations to read either leading up to, or while on, my trip. One obvious choice for Amsterdam is The Diary of Anne Frank; believe it or not I’ve never read it. I’m also planning on reading Annexed, by Sharon Doger, a new young adult novel written from the viewpoint of Peter van Pels, who was nearly 16 when he and his parents joined the Franks hiding in their Amsterdam attic. It has had excellent reviews, and I am looking forward to reading it.


Here’s where I need your help, I know there has to be a ton of great Paris related reads – any suggestions? What about Belgium?
We do own Book Lust To Go: Recommended reading for travelers, vagabonds, and dreamers, by Nancy Pearl, which will give me some guidance, but some other vagabond (I won’t name any names), has it checked out right now!

OH - movies too! I’d love some good travel related movie recommendations while you’re at it!

Add a comment  (4 comments) posted by Megan Q.


JANUARY 10, 2011
Will the Real Huck Finn Please Rise
lf you know me, you might call me a peace keeper, one of those people who hate controversy and will do anything to avoid an altercation. I absolutely hate to debate subjects about religion, money or race. But the subject a new edition of Huck Finn which cleans up Mark Twain's classic by substituting slave for nigger, and indian for injun has me riled. What were they thinking? Would Mark Twain be rolling over in his grave or would he welcome the conversation?

l'm so mad I shouldn't even credit the new edition's writer or its' publisher but perhaps they deserve their just due. Twain scholar Alan Gribben and NewSouth Books. Justification for this new edition? Gribben states “After a number of talks, I was sought out by local teachers, and to a person they said we would love to teach this novel, and Huckleberry Finn, but we feel we can’t do it anymore. In the new classroom, it’s really not acceptable.” For a single word to form a barrier, it seems such an unnecessary state of affairs,” he said. The "N" word keeps the original Huck Finn out of many middle and high school classrooms.

What happened to teachers who would actually look at this as a teaching opportunity, discussing the history of the term, talking about language and the way it changes? You know, actually "Talk About It"! How can our young people know who we are and how we got here if our history is tidied up or swept under a rug?

Mark Twain's Adventures of Huckleberry Finn is fine just the way it is written for me. Many other s agree as supporters came to Twain's defense this past week, including many librarians across the country.

Tom Cooper, director of Webster Groves Public Library seems right on target when he states:

"And this is horrendous because kids who have not otherwise encountered it will now see the censored version, and there will be the tendency to think 'what's all the talk about racism about, it doesn't seem like it's so bad to me . My grandmother was a proud, capable Southern woman, but also a terrible racist, something I often forgot, except it would come rushing back to me whenever she would glibly use the 'n word' to describe her Black neighbors. I shudder even now to remember. Words have power. That's what literature is about. You change the words, you change its essence. Period. "

Hurray for author, Neil Gaiman, who states:

"People asking about [the altered Huck Finn]. It's public domain, so you can make Huck a Klingon if you want, but it's not Mark Twain's book."

Any controversial subject worth its' salt should prompt loads of discussion and almost always, some humorous commentary. I got the biggest kick out of these Naughty Novels as depicted in Nate Beeler's 'Toons published in the Washington Examiner:

You can read an excerpt of the new, and not so improved edition here. Perhaps you disagree with me and have a different point of view about this finagling with Huck Finn. If so, I'd really like to hear it and promise to listen with an open mind.

Add a comment  (1 comment) posted by CarolK


JANUARY 7, 2011
Welcome to the Year of the Rabbit...

What year were you born in the Chinese zodiac calendar?

Rat 1924 1936 1948 1960 1972 1984 1996 2008
Ox 1925 1937 1949 1961 1973 1985 1997 2009
Tiger 1926 1938 1950 1962 1974 1986 1998 2010
Rabbit 1927 1939 1951 1963 1975 1987 1999 2011
Dragon 1928 1940 1952 1964 1976 1988 2000 2012
Snake 1929 1941 1953 1965 1977 1989 2001 2013
Horse 1930 1942 1954 1966 1978 1990 2002 2014
Sheep 1931 1943 1955 1967 1979 1991 2003 2015
Monkey 1932 1944 1956 1968 1980 1992 2004 2016
Rooster 1933 1945 1957 1969 1981 1993 2005 2017
Dog 1934 1946 1958 1970 1982 1994 2006 2018
Pig 1935 1947 1959 1971 1983 1995 2007 2019

Last night at our Mother-Daughter Book Club meeting we got to talking about the Chinese Zodiac Calendar. We just read Where the Mountain Meets the Moon, by Grace Lin, a Newbury Honor book that follows a young girl, Minli, on her journey to find the Old Man of the Moon to ask him to change her family’s fortune. It’s a GREAT story, and combines fantasy with traditional Chinese folktales – I highly recommend it. Anyways, Grace Lin also wrote The Year of the Dog and The Year of the Rat, which is what lead us into the discussion about the Chinese Zodiac Calendar. We had fun looking up what our birth years were and reading the descriptions to see if they matched our personalities. Surprisingly enough many were spot on.

So, I’m a pig. Maybe not the most glamorous of the signs, but I’ll take it. The traits fit me pretty well and there was one part of the description that was especially interesting:

“Pig people love to read, are generally thirsty for knowledge, and not readily talkative, but if presented with an opportunity to discuss topics of interest with like-minded individuals Pigs may find themselves talking non-stop for hours!”

Maybe becoming a librarian was my destiny.

If you’re curious about your zodiac sign here is the website I used – see if your sign fits you!

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


JANUARY 3, 2011
Happy New Year!

When you start a new book, do you read the description on the flaps? thumb to the dedication? read the acknowledgements? pay attention to quotations and wonder why the author picked that one? or do you jump right to the opening chapter and get on with it?

Myself, I read it all before getting into the nitty gritty of the book.  They often provide insight into the author or the story.

I find dedications quite interesting. When you think of the work that goes into writing a book, choosing a person(s) or thing to express in tribute seems like an act of love and a baring of your soul. On Saxton Reads & Reviews, I post a dedication from a book each Sunday. I try to pick dedications that touch me in some way. Many are to one person, like "to my wife", "to my husband". Others may pledge to the person who started the author reading, or someone who stood beside them through the process of getting the book published. And others are testaments to causes or beliefs.

Quotations also capture my attention. Usually they are the words of someone well known, either living or dead. So many authors use them to preface a story and often pepper them throughout. Do you wonder why the author chose the one and how it relats to theestory they are telling?

Look at this one from What is Left the Daughter by Howard Norman...

I can't swim at all, and it is dangerous to converse with an unaccustomed Element...Erasmus

I just finished this and have no idea why the author picked this particular quote.

How about this one from The Singer's Gun by Emily St. John Mandel

Something about the tanks at London's Heathrow Airport changed my mind. Before they rolled into place, in the innocent days when security just meant men with submachine guns, a travel book could be fluffy, silly, familiar or carefully manufactured, and it hardly mattered. Afterward, every destination acquired a sudden glow of hellfire, every trip an element of thoroughly unwanted suspense. Escape has become a problem in itself. A travel book without danger -- to the body, the soul or the future -- is entirely out of time.
...We stand in need of something stronger now: the travel book you can read while making your way through this new, alarming world.
... Michael Pye The New York Times, June 1, 2003

The above seems to be so much more in context to the story.

The reason I'm even thinking about the partsof a book today have to do with the following quotation I read on several blogs this weekend...

"May your coming year be filled with magic and dreams and good madness. I hope you read some fine books and kiss someone who thinks you're wonderful, and don't forget to make some art -- write or draw or build or sing or live as only you can. And I hope, somewhere in the next year, you surprise yourself. "... Neil Gaiman

The sentiments are lovely, are they not? I wonder if they will preface a book someday or if perhaps, they already have.

If you're a non-fiction reader like me do you read the notes? the footnotes? I know my book group when reading a particularly long book always takes note of the number of pages at the end of the book devoted to author notes. If you're not going to read them all, the book may be much shorter than originally thought.

And lastly acknowledgements! I always read these. Usually they thank the people that helped with the creation of the story, perhaps family, an editor, or a person or department who offered technical expertise on a subject you knew little about,  They may be at the beginning or ending of a book. Some are only one page, while others go on for a whole chapter. I've seen some nice acknowledgement to librarians that always make me proud of my profession.

If you have a favorite quotation or dedication please let us know.

To one and all  I wish you a  Happy and Healthy New Year filled with lots of good reading!

Add a comment  (4 comments) posted by CarolK


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