Friday Reads: American Fire

 

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Topics may be new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

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This month the Narrative Nonfiction Book Club started a new 6-month session with the theme, “Connect the Dots.”  Readers will be asked to identify some small, but interesting likeness between the first book in the session and the second book, and then another connection between the second book and the third, and so on.

To start off our new session I chose American Fire:  love, arson, and life in a vanishing land by Monica Hesse because it has a connection with last month’s book, Oneida:  from free love Utopia to the well-set table by Ellen Wayland-Smith.  In Oneida, there is a lengthy discussion of the mysterious burning of the Oneida Community’s archived historical papers.  Why were the papers burned?  Who did it?  What is the significance of fire?  The dots (fires) were easy to connect with American Fire:  love, arson and life in a vanishing land.  Future connections will be smaller and subtler.

American Fire, published in 2017 to rave reviews and nominated for an Edgar award from the Mystery Writers of America, tells the true story of a rash of fires that consumed a struggling rural county on the Eastern Shore of Virginia a few years ago.  Abandoned buildings that signified a more prosperous past were set ablaze almost nightly for months before the arsonists were discovered.  A troubled but truthful man confessed to setting all 62 fires, at the urging of his girlfriend, whose love he was desperate to keep alive.

Part mystery, part love story, part vignette of this nation’s changing economy, American Fire is a well-researched, compelling narrative that made for a lively book discussion.  Some of us were convinced by the author about the motivation for arson and were sympathetic to the culprits, but others in the group didn’t buy-in to the explanation.  Professional reviewers said, “Hesse is a lovely stylist.” (Jennifer Senior, New York Times), “The book has the brisk diligence of big-city journalism (…) and the languid chattiness of the small town …” (Karl Vick , Time), a “vivid depiction,” (Ilana Masad, NPR.org) and “One of the year’s best and most unusual true-crime books.” (Randy Dotinga, Christian Science Monitor).  Give it a read and post your thoughts on the book here.  We’d love to know your reaction.  Were you convinced?

Edgar Award winners will be announced on April 26, 2018.

 

Friday Reads: Practical Magic

“Friday Reads” is a (nearly) weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Topics may be new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

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Practical Magic: A Beginner’s Guide to Crystals, Horoscopes, Psychics & Spells
by Nikki Van De Car with Illustrations by Katie Vernon

As the author notes in the introduction, this is a book for the occult-curious.  Do you read your daily horoscope in the newspaper? Have you bought an amethyst because it just might bring peace and happiness?  Do you want to learn how to interpret your dreams? “You don’t have to believe in magic to enjoy this book, you just have to want to…” states Van De Car.

Part 1, titled “Healing for Hedge Witches,” explains chakras, crystals and auras.  A chakra is an energy center in the body, generally envisioned as a wheel or swirl found in specific places along the spine (chakra is Sanskrit for “wheel”).  Crystals, as you may know, are thought to have healing qualities. This book describes over twenty crystals and how to clear and activate them.  Turquoise, for example, guards against disease and environmental pollutants.  Auras, visible energy fields around the whole body, have seven layers and several colors, all of which reveal something about the person’s physical and mental states.  “An orange aura generally means that the person is healthy and full of vitality and energy.”

Part 2, titled “Magic for the Weekend Wiccan,” covers healing with herbs, plant-based magic, pagan holidays and white magic.  Here you can learn how to make tinctures, oils and poultices, smudge sticks, a gris-gris (otherwise known as a sachet or charm bag), and of course, spells.  (I purchased this book for the library because a patron requested a book with spells.)  The next pagan holiday will occur on the full moon after this Tuesday’s spring equinox.  Called Ostara (pronounced OH-star-ah), it is a celebration of the balance of night and day at the midpoint of spring and it is sacred to the goddess of fertility, Eostre.  Do either of these italicized words make you think of a Christian holiday around this time?

Part 3, titled “Casual Clairvoyance,” covers tarot, astrology, palmistry and dream interpretation.  In this section you can “learn to interpret messages from within, as well as without.”  With lots of explanations of signs, markings, and symbols in this section you should be able to interpret a variety of messages with greater clarity.  Have you had a dream where you were flying?  You can attribute that to finally making a decision you were putting off or feeling confident that you can achieve your goals.  Good for you.

Practical Magic: a beginner’s guide to crystals, horoscopes, psychics and spells by Nikki Van De Car can be found on the new nonfiction shelf with the call number 133.4 VAN, until it vanishes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Everything I Need to Know …

I often remark that if I want to know about a person, event or place with which I am unfamiliar, there is no better place to look than the Children’s Room. The books have the all the important information in a concise format with easy to understand vocabulary and are often illustrated! My kind of information!
The other day I processed a book by Laura Veirs entitled “Libba.” It’s about Elizabeth Cotten, an apparently well known blues/folk  singer/songwriter. I had never heard of her. For those who share my ignorance, she was born in the late 1800s to a musical family and taught herself to play the guitar and banjo, backwards and upside down because she was left handed! She was writing songs by her teens. Life got in the way of her music, but in her 50s she started working as a housekeeper for the Seeger family. The story goes, one of the family heard her playing her song, “Freight Train” which she composed as a child. She began to perform and “Freight Train” became a hit. Many other well-known musicians including Pete Seeger, Jerry Garcia, and Bob Dylan, recorded it. I thought I must know the song, but when I listened to her rendition and then Pete Seeger’s I didn’t recognize it.
Monday night at dinner we were listening to WMVY radio’s “blues at 8” and a song started playing. I looked at my husband and said, “That is Elizabeth Cotten singing “Freight Train.”
Just goes to show:
Martha Murphy, Children’s Department
Ed: If you’d like to hear Elizabeth Cotten playing and singing “Freight Train,” the song that made her famous, go to Smithsonian Folkways Recordings artist spotlight for Elizabeth Cotten.  At the top of the page there’s a short 30 second recording of her picking the beginning of the song, but if you scroll about halfway down there’s a video recorded in 1957 of her playing the whole song at the Seeger family home.

Friday Reads: How to Cake It

 

“Friday Reads” is (an almost) weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Topics may be new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

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Since I know many people who have a birthday in March, from my soon-to-be 93-year-old father to frequent patrons of the library, the book of choice this week is How to Cake It: a cakebook by Yolanda Gampp.   Recently added to our very large and popular cookbook section, you can easily spot this one on the new nonfiction shelf with its pink binding and hot pink title.

You may have been taught not to judge a book by its cover, but it is pretty safe to do it this time.  Yolanda herself is featured front and center wearing a brightly colored tee that says caké and as you flip through the pages you will see the theme develop as she wears several other bold and bright tees proclaiming her cake love.  In front of her is an elaborate 7-layer chocolate cake, sculpted into a pink and gold crown, festooned with oversized candy jewels, fit for the most demanding princess.  You get the idea: bold, bright, whimsical cakes ‘r us.

“On her You-tube channel, How to Cake It, Yolanda creates mind-blowing cakes in every shape imaginable.  From cakes that look like food, such as a watermelon and a Thanksgiving turkey, to cakes designed as oversized everyday objects, like a giant nail polish bottle and a Rubik’s cube, Yo’s creations are fun and realistic.  Now, Yo brings her friendly, offbeat charm and caking expertise to this colorful cakebook filled with imaginative new cakes to make at home.” (Publisher’s summary from the inner flap.)

I expect my father would not be into the “Fried Chicken and Waffles” cake (vanilla cake and puffed rice) or the pink velvet cake shaped like a purse, but I bet he would love the coconut cake and Italian meringue buttercream frosting recipes.  With Yolanda’s clear and thorough instructions and great tips for making the cake look professional, even a novice can turn out a dazzling and delicious cake.

 

This book is geared for children and the fanciful at heart with all of the design ideas, but if you are in need of great directions on leveling/layering, spreading a crumb coat or working with fondant, as well as a few cake and frosting recipes to create your own designs, then this book will be very helpful for you too.  Okay, so that last statement may negate the idea that you can’t judge a book by its cover.  Bakers who are not into pink and whimsy should not judge by the cover, but by the contents instead.

How to Cake It is currently on the new nonfiction shelf with the call #641.8653 GAM.

28 Children’s Books about #BlackJoy

 

It’s often said Black History Month should be celebrated all year long–and it should! In that spirit, here is a list of 28 books that are good reads all year round! This list also provides titles that feature #BlackJoy: Black characters just living their lives. Books about slavery are important. Books about Jim Crow America are important. Books about the Civil Rights Era are important. Books that feature Black characters experiencing joy are also important. So, here’s to these 28 #BlackJoy picture books!

1) Crown by Derrick Barnes, illustrated by Gordon C. James

2) Hey Black Child by Useni Eugene Perkins, illustrated by Bryan Collier

3) All the Way to Havana by Margarita Engle, illustrated by Mike Curato

4) Hello Goodbye Dog by Maria Gianferrari, illustrated by Patrice Barton

 

5) How to Find a Fox by Nilah Magruder

 

6) Jabari Jumps by Gaia Cornwall

7) In Plain Sight by Richard Jackson, illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

8) I Got a New Friend by Karl Newsom Edwards

8) Mary Had a Little Glam by Tammi Sauer, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

9)  We Love You, Rosie! by Cynthia Rylant, illustrated by Linda Davick

10) Looking for Bongo by Eric Velasquez

11) Sunday Shopping by Sally Derby, illustrated by Shadra Strickland

12) Ada Twist, Scientist by Andrea Beaty, illustrated by David Roberts

13) Twenty Yawns by Jane Smiley, illustrated by Lauren Castillo

14) My Three Best Friends and Me, Zulay by Cari Best, illustrated by Vanessa Brantley-Newton

15) Water Is Water: A Book About the Water Cycle by Miranda Paul, illustrated by Jason Chin

 

16) If I Had a Raptor by George O’Connor

17) Soccer Star by Mina Javaherbin, illustrated by Renato Alarcao

18) One Word from Sophia by Jim Averbeck, illustrated Yasmeen Ismail

19) Last Stop on Market Street by Matt de la Pena, illustrated Christian Robinson

20) Lizard from the Park by Mark Pett

21) Poems in the Attic by Nikki Grimes, illustrated by Elizabeth Zunon

22) The New Small Person by Lauren Child

23) On the Ball by Brian Pinkney

24) My Pen by Christopher Myers

25) Kitchen Dance by Maurie J. Manning

26) I Had A Favorite Dress by Boni Ashburn, illustrated Julia Denos

27) Grandma’s Records by Eric Velasquez

28) Chicken Chasing Queen of Lamar County by Janice N. Harrington, illustrated by Shelley Jackson

Happy Reading!
~Stephanie
Children’s Room

Friday Reads: Unseen: Unpublished Black History

 

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Topics may be new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

 

 

On this final Friday of Black History Month, Friday Reads is highlighting Unseen:  Unpublished Black History from the New York Times Photo Archives by Times photo editor, Darcy Eveleigh, and three colleagues, Dana Canedy, Damien Cave and Rachel L. Swarns.  The book is born from the highly popular New York Times series, “Unpublished Black History,” that ran in February, 2016 both in print and online.  “It garnered millions of views on The Times website and thousands of comments from readers,” the inside flap states.  Eveleigh discovered dozens of unpublished photos of black history in The Times archive and together with Canedy, Cave and Swarns researched the back stories.

Unseen showcases those photographs and digs even deeper into The Times’s archives to include 175 photographs and stories behind them in this extraordinary collection.  Among the entries is a 27-year-old Jesse Jackson leading an anti-discrimination rally in Chicago; Rosa Parks arriving at a Montgomery courthouse in Alabama; a candid shot of Aretha Franklin backstage at the Apollo Theater; Ralph Ellison on the streets of his Manhattan neighborhood; the fire-bombed home of Malcom X; Myrlie Evers and her children at the funeral of her slain husband, Medgar; a wheelchair-bound Roy Campanella at the razing of Ebbets Field; a behind-the-scenes- photo shoot with Arthur A. Mitchell, cofounder of the Dance Theatre of Harlem, and his principal dancers; images of peaceful and organized demonstrators at Resurrection City in 1968 that contrast the photographs of disorder and theft dominating the coverage of the time; and  series by Don Hogan Charles, the first black photographer hired by The Times, capturing life in Harlem in the 1960s.” (Inner flap).

This book can be found on the new nonfiction book shelf with call number 973.0496 UNS

 

Pictured:  cover and pps. 96-97 “Arthur Mitchell, Dancing Through Barriers”

TAXES: IMPORTANT NEWS for PAPER FILERS

To increase the headache for tax filers using paper forms and instructions, this year the IRS has sent out two important notices about changes since materials were printed.  Please take note of the following:

 

Notice 1437 (February, 2018)
In a nutshell, the notice states that the most up-to-date forms are on the government website, irs.gov and that print forms already dispersed may or may not still be current.

 

Correction to the 2017 Instructions for Form 1040
This correction is for one line in “the Worksheet To See if You Should Fill in For 6251–Line 45”. 

 

In addition, our supply of Massachusetts resident booklets is almost gone.  We are limited to requesting only one additional box, which we have done.   The arrival time is unknown.  When the supply runs out, we will not be able to get any more paper copies.  Paper forms and the booklet can be printed out from the state government website, mass.gov/dor or you can file online using MassTax Connect, a secure website, new this year, also located at mass.gov/dor.

If you need to print paper forms or instructions, there is a designated computer in the reference room for patrons to use.  Black and white prints are 20¢ a page and color prints are 40¢ a page.  Print outs are single-sided only.  Payment is in cash only – no checks, debit or credit cards accepted.  You do not need a library card to print.

You may have noticed that for the past several years the federal and state governments have been making it increasing difficult for tax payers to file their taxes using paper forms and instructions.  Their goal is to get everyone to file online.  Filing online is cheaper, faster and more accurate, with faster refunds as a bonus.  First, beginning years ago, they stopped providing forms and instructions to Post Offices.  They were distributed only through tax offices and public libraries.  Then, they reduced the types of materials available to libraries from the thirty or so forms and instructions we used to get, to simply the basics: 1040, 1040A and 1040 EZ forms and instructions.  Now, both the federal and state governments are severally limiting the number of copies we receive.   Be on the lookout for any possible future amendments to tax forms.  If we learn of any, we’ll post another blog.

 

 

Friday Reads: African American Folktales

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Topics may be new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

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In celebration of Black History Month, this week I am highlighting a beautiful new book we recently added to the collection, The Annotated African American Folktales, edited and with a forward, introduction and notes by Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar.  It joins other wonderfully designed annotated books of classic American literature from W. W. Norton and Co., such as The Annotated Alice, The Annotated Huckleberry Finn (which I put on in staff picks collection a few years ago) and The Annotated Uncle Tom’s Cabin, to name only a few.

 

The inner flap states, “Drawing from the great folklorists of the past while expanding African American lore with dozens of tales rarely seen before, The Annotated African American Folktales revolutionizes the canon like no other volume. ( …)  acclaimed scholars, Henry Louis Gates Jr. and Maria Tatar assemble a groundbreaking collection of folktales, myths and legends that revitalizes a vibrant African American past to produce the most comprehensive and ambitious collection of African American folktales ever published in American literary history.  Arguing for the value of these deceptively simple stories as part of a sophisticated, complex, and heterogeneous cultural heritage, Gates and Tatar show how these remarkable stories deserve a place alongside the classic works of African American literature, and American literature more broadly.”

With this book you will make sense of the world with Anansi, figure out dilemmas with a variety of tales, read of enchantment and wisdom in fairy tales and enjoy many stories of flying Africans, magic instruments, witches, hants and spooks, talking skulls and singing tortoises.  The Tar-Baby and Uncle Remus are well represented and one section features folktales collected by Zora Neale Hurston.  This isn’t all, there is a section of tales about John and old master, ballads about heroes, outlaws and monkey business and preacher tales as well.

The essays, annotations and assorted photos, drawings and other illustrations combine to provide illuminating context for these “deceptively simple stories,” making The Annotated African American Folktales a real treasury.  You can find this book on the new nonfiction shelf with the call number 398.208996 ANN.

 

Friday Reads: Ocean Echoes

 

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Topics may be new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

 

This week, I’m highlighting a Staff Pick from a staff member who is also a free-lance writer on the side, so I figure she knows a well-written book when she reads one.  And, with full disclosure in mind, she is married into the MBL-WHOI* community of scientists in Woods Hole.  Our book this week is Ocean Echoes, a novel by Sheila Hurst.

Our staff member writes, “Sheila Hurst, local author and long-time WHOI employee describes the research world of oceanographers – with a fictional setting closely resembling Woods Hole, Ocean Echoes takes you on board a research vessel bound for distant seas.   Interesting plot developments tell the tale of an ocean that we all should be concerned about.”

From the back cover:  “Marine biologist Ellen Upton gives up on love to study jellyfish.  Her ultimate goal is to make a difference through her research, but the ocean would rather mystify than reveal its secrets.  When her funding is threatened, her future will depend on the success or failure of an upcoming research cruise.  During the cruise, she discovers what could be a new species.  Every discovery only leads to more questions.  She is driven to learn the truth behind its existence, even as the truth continues to change.  Either her dreams of recognition are within her grasp or her research is slipping into obsession. – Reverberating with mysteries of life and love, Ocean Echoes is a journey into the unknown.  A percentage from the sale of this book will go toward nonprofit organizations working to protect the world’s oceans for future generations.”

You can find this self-published book on the Staff Picks shelf, near the new self-checkout station.

 

*Marine Biological Laboratory – Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

 

 

 

Friday Reads: Small Pets

 

“Friday Reads” is a weekly blog written by reference librarian Faith Lee about great books, magazines, and the occasional reference work.    Topics may be new titles added to the library, selections from the Staff Picks shelf or about something she recently read.  Admittedly, there is a definite slant toward nonfiction, because, well, she’s a reference librarian and likes to learn new things.  Guest bloggers take a turn sometimes too.  No matter the source, good reads are featured here. 

 

If you have a small pet or are thinking of getting one, you should know about a wonderful little book we recently added to our collection … The Illustrated Practical Guide to Small Pets and Pet Care by David Alderton

The inner flap states:  “This expertly written guide looks at small mammals – including rabbits, guinea pigs, hamsters, gerbils and jirds [Yes, that is correct, a jird is a gerbil-like animal.], chinchillas, rats and mice – as well as birds, herptiles [Yes again, herptiles is a group that inlcudes reptiles and amphibians.], invertebrates, and fish. Each chapter features popular breeds from within each species, based on a availability and suitability for a domestic home-life.  There is detailed advice on how to choose the best pet for your lifestyle and which species are the most suitable for younger children, as well as practical tips for what to look for when buying a pet; suitable housing and exercise; foods for a balanced diet; pet health and how to respond when your pet is sick.”

This book is sure to be popular once word gets out.  You can find it on the new nonfiction shelf with the call # 636.0887 ALD.

Valentine’s day is coming up.  Please be a responsible pet owner and do not surprise someone with a pet for a gift.  Rabbits and love birds may seem like a cute idea, but if the new owner is not emotionally invested and prepared to take care of a surprise pet, it will likely be neglected or even abused.  This book will let you know what you can expect with small pet ownership so you can make an educated decision about which type of pet will be right for you.