December 2011

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Homework Club at King Library


Book Cover: Homework Hassles by Abby KleinDo your children need help with homework? Are you experiencing some homework hassles at home? If yes, then sign your children up for the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library's Homework Club. The King Library's Homework Club meets on Mondays from 3:00-5:00PM in the Exploration Room and is for children in Grades 1-8. Our knowledgeable volunteers will be on hand to give students homework assistance in many subjects.

Remember also that our website has a useful Kid's Homework Page as well as a useful Teen Page. Students can also chat with an online tutor by using Live Homework Help.  The T             The

Seize the Year!

 You can do it

I admit it; I am a sucker for NEW:  new experiences, new adventures, new skills.  As a brand spanking New Year approaches, I was inspired to dream of the possibilities by this fun book, You Can Do It!  The Merit Badge Handbook for Grown-Up Girls.  It dares the reader to try something they’ve always wished they could do and then gives them step by step instruction and encouragement from mentors in their areas of expertise.  Want to learn how to skydive?  Knit?  Fix a car?  Be a wine connoisseur?   There are enough exciting challenges here to keep things plenty lively in 2012.  I can’t wait to earn Badge #33- Surfing!!


Looking to expand your world further?  Check out the Dangerous Book for Boys, where you can learn to build a treehouse, play poker, or pilot a go-cart.  This book is also available in Spanish.


In The Daring Book for Girls, you can learn to build a campfire, read palms, or install a tree swing.   Also available in Spanish and as an ebook.

English as a second language conversation clubs

Conversation ClubSan Jose Public Library is committed to promoting life-long learning to all through various services.  One such service is to offer Conversation Clubs to people for whom English is a second language.  For some ESL speakers, self-study is adequate and satisfying.  Others who are learning English prefer to have a native speaker as a conversation coach in an informal, small group setting.   


If you or someone you know would like to improve English language skills, contact your neighborhood branch library for the Conversation Club class times.

Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn't Have)

Cover of Ten Things We Did In Ten Things We Did (and Probably Shouldn’t Have), sixteen-year-old April hatches a plan that will allow her to live with her best friend, Vi, without any parental supervision. April’s father has decided to relocate from Connecticut to Ohio with his new wife. April convinces her father that she should finish up high school with all her friends, and tells him that Vi’s mother has no problem with April staying with them. In truth, Vi’s mother is going to be away the whole school year, leaving April and Vi parent-free. At first, the freedom of independent living for the two girls seems like a dream! They can throw parties, skip school, and have their boyfriends over whenever they want. However, when grown-up issues come into play (money problems, drinking, sex, etc.), April realizes that growing up fast and without any parental guidance or supervision may not be as great as it seems. 


This book was a fun read! The author has a way of writing realistic teen characters that many readers will be able to identify with. Additional titles by Sarah Mlynowski can be found here.


To learn more about Sarah Mlynowski, you can visit her website.

Bookmark Contest Winners

During the month of October Santa Teresa Library asked kids in Grades 1-6 to design a bookmark illustrating their love of books and reading.  We found out that we have many talented artists in our community.  After some thoughtful deliberation we chose a winner from each grade.  The winning bookmarks have been printed on colorful paper and are available in the library.  Please take a look next time you come in.


Winners from left to right: Annabelle Bach--1st Grade; Jennifer Lopez--2nd Grade; Jasmine Nguyen--3rd Grade


photo of Annabelle Bach photo of Jennifer Lopez (the 2nd grade winner) photo of Jasmine Nguyen


Winners from left to right: Michelle Hoang--4th Grade; Andrea Ahsue--5th Grade; Melissa Tracy--6th Grade


photo of Michelle Hoang photo of Andrea Ahsue Photo of Melissa Tracy

The Future of Us by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler

Book cover of The Future of UsLast year, Josh used to come to all my home meets just to wave and cheer me on. It makes me want to be honest and tell him what else I saw on the website, before he came over.


But I can't bring myself to say it.


What I saw would make things even more awkward between us. 


I hate being dishonest with Josh, but I can't tell him what I'm about to do. My future husband didn't come home for three nights! And now he's using my money to buy some gadget. Meanwhile, I can't even afford a therapist, which I most likely need in the future so I can talk about him!


I have to get rid of this guy.


It's 1996 and Facebook does not exist yet. Or does it? When Josh gives Emma an America Online CD-ROM download, Emma enters the world of Facebook, 15 years in the future! While an explanation for the time travel is never given, the effects of tampering with one's future is explored. Emma is desperate to change hers while Josh is perfectly content with his future. Or is he?


The Future of Us is quite a page-turner. As other reviewers have noted, however, the singular works by Jay Asher and Carolyn Mackler are better reads. Time travel is a difficult concept to master without running into inconsistencies. The reader must be aware that they need to suspend some of their disbelief, because this is a good story.


Jay Asher is the author of Thirteen Reasons Why: A Novel and Carolyn Mackler is the author of The Earth, My Butt, and Other Big, Round Things and Tangled.

A Bucket List for 2012

There are some doom-sayers who are claiming that the world is coming to an end on December 21, 2012.  Whether or not they are right, there are some other people who are taking it to heart in a joking way and creating a "bucket list" for 2012.  There's a facebook group if you'd like to join and I thought I'd share my own "bucket list" for 2012.


Cover of Al Capone Does My Shirts1.  Go to Alcatraz.  I've lived in the Bay area for 10 years now and I still haven't done the boat ride and tour of Alcatraz.  And before I go I need to read: Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko.  It is the story of a boy whose family moves to Alcatraz Island when his father gets a job as a guard there in 1935.




Cover of Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom2.  Go to Disneyland.  I went when I was 2 years old and I hear I had a good time, but I frankly don't recall!  I have a lot of friends who still love to go to Disneyland as adults.  And before I go, I need to read: Down and Out in the Magic Kingdom by Cory Doctorow.  This one is a free ebook download so I can use my ereader...




Cover of Bobby Flay's Throwdown3.  Eat Cioppino.  This is apparently the most famous San Francisco Fish Dish.  I don't know what they're talking about because I've never tried it.  Bobby Flay did a Throwdown against Phil DiGirolamo from Phil's in Moss Landing for this dish and includes a recipe in his book: Bobby Flay's Throwdown.  There are a lot of restaurants who carry this dish so I don't think I'll have a problem here!



Cover to the Complete Bike Book4.  Bike the Coyote Creek Trail.  This trail is 18.7 miles in total so I might take it easy and do it in a couple of sessions.  But I'd be able to get a scenic view of a lot of San Jose!  But first, I need to fix my bike up - I think I'll need to check out the Complete Bike Book by Chris Sidwells. 




Cover to Newcomer's Handbook for Moving to and Living in the San Francisco Bay Area5.  Wow!  I'm running out of good ideas for my bucket list!  Time to check out Newcomer's Handbook for Moving to and Living in the San Francisco Bay Area by Scott Van Velsor! 


Maybe you'd like to join me in creating a "bucket list" this year instead of a resolution.  Come up with some fun activities and give yourself a reading list too!  Let me know how it goes and Happy New Year!

It’s Your Bag!

As of January 1, 2012, San José shops and stores are no longer offering plastic bags for your purchases. You may purchase a paper bag if needed, but the point is to reduce using these resources and do something more sustainable and green. Did you know:


  • Plastic bags are made from non-renewable petroleum reserves
  • Only 1-3% of plastic bags end up getting recycled
  • It costs $4000 to process and recycle 1 ton of plastic bags, which can then be sold on the commodities market for $32
  • Many bags collected for recycling never get recycled. Many are shipped off to countries with less stringent environmental laws who then incinerate them, causing more pollution.

This month, many San José Public Library branches are offering workshops to decorate your own cloth tote bag. Brightly colored bags will be provided (one per person) and we will supply fabric paints and markers so you can decorate and personalize your tote bag. If you can’t make it to one of our workshops, you can make your own reusable tote bag at home. Here are a few books you can find at your local branch that will help you make creative and green options to purchasing bags in the stores.


Book cover: Sew What! BagsBook cover: Bags That RockBook cover: Simply Sublime BagsBook cover: The Bag Making BibleBook cover: Amy Butler's Style Stitches


Remember to keep your tote bags with you whenever you go out shopping. Stow them in the trunk of your car or get thin nylon ones that will fold up and fit in your pocket or purse.

Posted by Tina Drew on Dec 27, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Be Smart with Gift Cards

Moneysocks.jpg On holidays, as well as birthdays and other occasions, we often buy or receive gift cards. To protect our interests, don’t forget to check the various features of these cards, e. g., the card replaced after loss or theft, etc. has posted a 2010 survey results of 54 cards of the largest retailers, restaurant chains, and card issuers. Compared in a chart are nine features: No expiration date; no dormancy or maintenance fees; card and/or funds replaced after loss or theft; and so on. Being informed now, you may better plan your trips to redeem your gift cards.


If you never stop at the store that you have received a gift card for, there may be a way out by using such websites that let you exchange cards or trade them in for cash. Consumer Reports published a report comparing four of such websites in terms of how much they’d pay for cards from eight major retailers in 2011. The report provides the conclusions that “Some cards are worth more than others” and “Look at several sites. No one always had the best deals.”  You may search online for more gift card exchange sites than those mentioned in the above report.


Last, but not least, consumers can be thankful for the gift card rules passed in 2010 that provide more consumer protections than before.  Here is another helpful article by Kiplinger’s on the gift card rules. In addition, California law is even more protective than the federal law. Posted on this California law page also are FAQs and “Tips for purchasers of gift certificates or gift cards.” For a “report card” on the California gift card law, please see the ScriptSmart page which, in addition, contains helpful links to the specific topics of the gift card law.


The image above is from13th Street Studio at

Stone Spring by Stephen Baxter

Book cover of Stone SpringIn Stone Spring, author Stephen Baxter imagines what we now call “Europe” as it existed 10,000 years ago, when the land mass that becomes Great Britain was joined to the rest of the continent by a great fertile plain. Mr. Baxter calls this land Northland, and tells us his version of what it would be like to live there in 7300 B.C.


The story focuses mainly on the community and families of Etxelur, located in the far northeast of Northland. Etxelur is a matriarchal community, inhabited by six extended families. They live in the Seven Houses and worship the Mothers, who they believe first created the world. They were known by traders for having the best flint. Flint Island, the source of their wealth, was accessible by walking across a narrow track built barely above sea level.


Other inhabitants of this land mass included the warlike Pretani from Albia, a male-dominated society who have little respect for women, and the snailheads, who call themselves the One People. The One People lived far to the south in the area of the white cliffs, but rising sea levels cause them to move north into Etxelur territory. The land is big and none of these communities wanted to live near one another.


From far away three strangers arrive in Etxelur, Novu, who grew up in Jericho, but was sold by his father into slavery with a trader, and Ice Dreamer, a young woman with a new baby, whose far western homeland had also been flooded. She ans her daughter were possibly the last surviving members of their people.


Changes were also occurring to the land and as a result affecting the sea.

“…ice melted and water flowed. Under this pressure the seabeds suffered their own spasms of compression and release. (pg. 179)…. The undersea landslip would not be a large event, on a planetary scale. Only a volume the size of a small country, a mass of mud, sliding deeper into the abyss. But an equivalent volume of water, pushed aside by the silt, would have to find somewhere to go.” (pg. 223)


This event formed three huge waves. Each wave forced a wall of water onto the beaches of Flint Island and onto the Seven Houses, with tides higher than anyone had ever seen before.  Then before anyone could absorb the extent of the damage, each great wave receded, going out and down further than ever before. Fish and many other sea creatures are left wriggling on the newly exposed seabed, and there was more. The receding water exposes the shell of a wrecked boat, a stand of trees, remains of houses and earthwork ridges in circular arcs. These are the holy middens, sacred places told of in tales recited by the priest; and depicted in the tattoos painted onto the bodies of young Etxelur women when they come of age.


Those who survived the three great waves awoke to a different world. The changes caused by the waves were extensive. The fertile soil had been replaced with salty sand. The fresh water springs were now salty.  A few of the original inhabitants survived, and all the houses were gone. Only questions remained.  Who was going to lead them? Can they rebuild? Do they want to rebuild? Follow the Etxelur community for the next 33 years as they make choices about how to move forward.


Stone Spring is the first book of the Northland Trilogy.

Waiting for the New John Green Book?


Book cover of the Fault in Our StarsThe Fault in Our Stars is finally coming out on January 10th, 2012. But this might not be soon enough for many John Green fans. To get you through the holidays, you can read the first chapter of his new book online - or have John Green himself read it to you!


Can't wait to read the rest? You can already put the book on hold at your library. Just click 'Request' on this webpage and enter your name, library card number and pin.


Now, if it only was January 10th already.....

December Science News

ImageNASA finds planet that is closest yet to Earth's twin. It is called Kepler-22b and it is orbiting a home star that is almost a solar twin, some 600 light years away. Kepler-22b's year is almost the same length as the Earth year: 290 days instead of 365. Read more about it on NASA's home page.


Cornell University and Israel Technion - Institute of Technology are going to build an applied science camp in New York. The 20-million-square-foot, 11-acre Roosevelt Island campus will incorporate green landscaping and will serve as a center for entrepreneurship and technology innovation to rival California's Silicon Valley.


Image of a microscopeCupertino Teen Angela Zhang won national science competition and a $100,000 scholarship. "I created a nanoparticle that's kind of like the Swiss Army knife of cancer treatment in that it can detect cancer cells, eradicate the cancer cells and then monitor the treatment response. So the major aim of the project was to personalize cancer medicine," said Zhang. She conducted her research at Stanford University School of NMedicineSheSheShe conducted her research at Stanford University School of Medicine while studying in high school.

She Made Them Look Good

Book cover of Edith HeadAre you a fan of old movies?  I mean really old—going back as far as the 30’s and 40’s. If you are, you may know the name Edith Head. She was the Oscar winning (8 wins out of 35 nominations) costume designer whose career spanned almost 6 decades and more than 400 films. She worked with many of the biggest names in Hollywood—Carole Lombard, Barbara Stanwyck, Elizabeth Taylor, Audrey Hepburn and Grace Kelly, to name just a few. And now much of her work and a lot of fascinating inside stories of the movie world have been collected in an enormous, lavishly illustrated tome by Jay Jorgensen titled simply, Edith Head


It’s a treat just to browse through the pages and revel in the glamour of old Hollywood for a little while. And if this book piques your interest in Ms Head, you may be interested to know that she herself wrote and co-wrote several books: Dress Doctor, Edith Head’s Hollywood, and How To Dress For Success, all of which may be borrowed from the San José Libraries.

The Storyteller’s Secrets by Tony Mitton

Book cover of The Storyteller's SecretsToby and Tess are twins. One day their mother gave them a picnic lunch and shooed them outside to play. Toby and Tess sat on an old bench under a nearby chestnut tree wondering what they should do today.


Off in the distance they saw a figure; it was a man, a stranger, who looked very old.  He used a staff and carried a bundle on his back. He looked all around, and then began making his way down the hill, coming toward the bench where Toby and Tess sat. They quickly stood up and the old man slumped down onto the bench.


Toby and Tess were about to meet the most remarkable storyteller ever. They shared their lunch with Teller, and in return he told them the tale of the Woodcutter’s Daughter. This was the first of many stories that Teller would share with Tess and Toby on this bench, under the chestnut tree. And at the conclusion of each story he’d give them a small memento from his bundle to help remind them of the stories he told and the lessons learned from each one.


In The Storyteller’s Secrets children and adults will both enjoy Tony Mitton's retelling of five well-known tales. In addition to “The Woodcutter’s Daughter,” there are the stories of “St. Brigid's Cloak,” “The Seal Hunter,” “The Pedlar of Swaffham” and “Tam Lin.” Each story and each visit reveals some special secret to the children and finally Teller shares a magical map. Many black & white illustrations by Peter Bailey further enhance each story.

classic tales for today's tots

My brothers and sister and I all grew up as bookworms. Some of our earliest favorite authors included Crockett Johnson (the original Harold and the Purple Crayon books), Richard Scarry (Mr. Fixit, Richard Scarry's Busy Busy Town, Pig Will and Pig Won't), Marjorie Flack (The Country Bunny and the Little Gold Shoes, The Story about Ping) and Robert McCloskey (Make Way for Ducklings, Blueberries for Sal, and the Homer Price series). One magical year, Grandma Kadie introduced us to the Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis, reading just a bit of  The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe  every morning at breakfast. Of course we had to read the rest of the series. It was she, too, who shared Half-Magic, by Edward Eager. We then haunted the library, borrowing every other book written by Edward Eager. We looked for (but had no luck finding at the time) anything written by the mysterious E. Nesbit, an author Eager recommended. I read the first five books in Frank L. Baum's Oz series, and my sister and I both stayed up late at night enjoying the thrilling adventures of Laura Ingalls Wilder, Nancy Drew, or the Hardy Boys. So many of my fondest childhood memories are tied up with those early books, reading aloud to each other. 


It seemed only natural, then, that when the next generation came along, we wanted to find the same books to share with them.


As we got older, our tastes diverged, and the shared experience of all those wonderful old books faded. Still, when one of my siblings recommends a book even today, it always goes on my "must-read" list.  

Posted by Laura Nacorda on Dec 20, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Featured Resource: Ebooks

Some of you nice folks might be receiving new e-readers such as Kindles and Nooks this holiday season. I just wanted to remind everyone that you can get free ebooks from the library that are compatible with many ereaders such as iPads, Nooks, and Kindles. The best part is that the ebooks are free with a valid SJPL library card and you don't have to worry about late fees! Here is just a sampling of some of the great business titles available:

Doing Business on Facebook by Emily Vander Veer

Creative, Inc. by Meg Llasco

Business Plans That Work by Jeffry Timmons




Hope you all have a lovely holiday and a prosperous new year.

If Jack’s in Love by Stephen Wetta

Book cover of If Jack's in LoveJack Witcher is a twelve year old genius son in the dysfunctional Witcher family. His father is chronically unemployed, his mother is in denial about her life and his older brother, Stan, is the town bully.


All the townspeople, including the local cop, hate the Witchers. Their house is an eyesore, their car is a wreck, and they don’t have family ties to El Dorado Hills.


Myra Joyner is the upper class girl who Jack loves. She finally notices him after he gets advice from the local jeweler, Mr. Gladstein, about how to treat girls. Jack buys a ring for Myra from Mr. Gladstein; it costs fifty cents, but looks like a much more expensive ring. Myra accepts it which for Jack means they are going steady. And now, Jack believes, it’s time for them to share a first kiss.


Written in the first person we spend one fateful summer with Jack. It’s the summer when he is twelve, about to turn thirteen, and though he does share a first kiss with Myra, other events greatly overshadow what should have been a wonderful boyhood memory. After Myra’s brother, Gaylord, goes missing, the past bad blood between him and Stan bring even more unwanted negative attention on Jack’s family.


Stephen Wetta uses the turmoil of the late 1960’s, including the changing American culture and tensions surrounding the ongoing Vietnam War, as the backdrop for this novel about a boy who must grow up too quickly. Though my personal memories of the late 60’s are uneventful compared to those in If Jack’s in Love, I felt that the author successfully conveyed many of the feelings and events I do remember in this realistic story.

Who What Wear by Olivia Bennett

Emma Rose continues her adventures as Allegra Biscotti in Who What Wear (AR 7.0, Level 4.8) by Olivia Bennett. Order this title through Link+.


In an earlier blog, I mentioned the first title in this series, The Allegra Biscotti Collection. Not quite as suspenseful as the first title, Who What Wear examines Emma's fraying relationship with her best friend, Holly. Will Emma's Allegra adventures further push Holly towards Holly's new friends? Will Holly finally find out Emma's secret?


The central problem in this title revolves around Emma trying to provide a dress for a sweet sixteen party for a prominent and popular high-schooler, who is a friend of Holly's sister. The problem? The interfering mother who wants a horrendous dress! Emma is told that she must cater to the mother, who is paying for the dress. The very idea of creating a hideous dress is appalling to Emma, however. How can she resolve her own ethics with the ethics of the fashion industry? Find out in this good sequel!

A King's Ransom by Jude Watson

Book cover of A King's RansomThe 39 Clues have ended, but a new series has started. This is the second book in the Cahills vs. Vespers series. As with the other novels, different authors are tackling different books in this series. Jude Watson has written A King's Ransom (AR 6.0, Level 4.2).


The suspense continues, as Vesper One continues to hold the seven Cahills hostage. Vesper One's identity still remains safely hidden from the Cahill siblings, but for how long? As Greg Korman introduced in the first title, The Medusa Plot, Amy continues to worry about Dan's state of mind. Dan continues on his dark path (are we entering Star Wars territory here?) as he assembles the thing that he thinks will save the others.


Meanwhile, Atticus makes a reappearance with his brother, Jake, who turned over information about the Cahills to Interpol.  Will Atticus help his former friend, Dan? Will the Wyomings continue to impede Dan and Amy's progress? Who is AJT and what is AJT's connection to the Cahills? Read the book and find out!

Esperanza Rising by Pam Munoz Ryan

Book cover of Esperanza RisingPam Munoz Ryan's Esperanza Rising (AR 6.0, Level 5.3) follows a resilient character during the time of the Great Depression. Esperanza, a child of privilege, learns about corruption and class disparity when her father dies in Mexico. Escaping from Mexico to Southern California, Esperanza and her mother must eke by, dependent upon the kindness of their former servants.


Esperanza must learn everything from scratch, much to her embarrassment. She continues to cling to her feelings of superiority, until her mother falls victim to a local illness. Confused and frightened, Esperanza must labor to provide for her sick mother despite a growing movement for labor equality by the Mexican immigrants.


This book is inspiring and thought-provoking. If you have an interest in historical fiction or if you are curious about the Mexican immigrant experience, this book is for you!

Christopher Hitchens: 1949-2011

Cover image of book Arguably by Christopher HitchensIf you have ever read Christopher Hitchens' work you likely couldn't agree with a fair percentage of his observations and opinions, but you also couldn't help but feel utterly convinced by his capacity as a writer. This man wrote with a passion for words and his abilities to frame arguments and essays in such convincing and erudite capacities was legendary. We have a sizable oeuvre of his work to admire, but sadly, his death cut short the life of an author who would have likely always found something at once stimulating and provocative (feel free to add your own appropriate adjectives) to write about.


For starters you might want to take a look at The Trial of Henry Kissinger or his anti-religion work God is Not Great, which, like most of his writing takes on some fairly controversial topics and expresses ideas and observations that could only come from the sharp and unforgiving, albeit brilliant, mind Mr. Hitchens was known to possess. You don't need to support his views or agree with anything he expresses, but you will almost certainly be impressed with his chops as a man of letters. Personally, I have my name on the waiting list for his 2011 collection of essays, Arguably.


Christopher Hitchens died today at the age of 62.

Gingerbread Season

Book cover of Gingerbread for All SeasonsDecember has always meant gingerbread for me. Every December my mother and grandmother would bake wonderful German cookies and cakes filling our home with the sweet and spicy scent of ginger, cloves, cinnamon and nutmeg as the cookies and cakes were baked in preparation for the Christmas holidays. One of my favorite cookies was lebkuchen; a form of gingerbread that is made throughout Germany and is often cut in star shapes and glazed with a thin coating of sugar flavored with lemon. Gingerbread in the English speaking world has a different consistency, but still retains the intoxicating scent and the warm bite of molasses and ginger.


Gingerbread has a long history. An early form of gingerbread can be traced to the ancient Greeks and Egyptians who used it for ceremonial purposes. Gingerbread made an appearance in Europe when 11th-century crusaders brought the ginger spice back from the Middle East. The first gingerbread man is credited to Queen Elizabeth I, who presented visiting dignitaries with a gingerbread man baked in their own likeness. If you are a gingerbread aficionado check out this website : Ultimate Gingerbread to learn more about the history and lore of gingerbread. In addition here are some gingerbread books to explore:


And of course, a discussion of gingerbread is never complete without including all the wonderful versions of the beloved folktale The Gingerbread Man or The Gingerbread Boy.


Book cover of The Gingerbread Boy Book cover of Making Gingerbread Houses and Other Gingerbread TreatsBook cover of Great GingerbreadBook cover of Making Gingerbread Houses

If You Can Read This

Book cover of If You Can Read ThisIf You Can Read This by Jack Bowen, starting with bumper sticker lines followed by commentary using references to biology, neuroscience, and psychology as well as technology, marketing, and pop culture, provides an accessible way to approach philosophy. The short sections and lively style make it a good bedside book. Jack said that his favorite bumper sticker is "Reading is Sexy"; he ends his commentary on it by saying: "Maintaining an active brain has been proven to ward off Alzheimer's disease - in the use it or lose it mentality of a muscle, reading is like a lively little weight room for the brain."

Do You Know What This Is? It’s a BLOG!

While trying to think of something to blog about today, I wondered how people might happen upon these blogs we write.


Some people are not as computer-literate as others. They happen upon these informational articles by accident. They don’t realize they are searching the site when they enter those keywords and hit. Hey, they might not even know what a “keyword” is. If this sounds like you, Congratulations! You have found a blog!


To be thorough, I went to Merriam-Webster to get you a definition of a “blog.” To spare you any overload of techno babble, I’ll paraphrase their definition to simply “an online journal.” If you would like to learn to “blog” yourself, you can find books in the San José Public Library on how to “blog.” But even after limiting the results to “print material” in “English,” you’ll still get several pages of results, so I’ll list a few to start you off:


Book cover: Blogging for DummiesBlogging for Dummies

This book starts you off with blog basics, choosing software, deciding what to blog about, turning it into a business, getting followers. This is for people at a very basic level of computer knowledge. It’s very step-by-step.



Book cover: Create Your Own BlogCreate Your Own Blog

This book is a little more jargon-y than the Dummies book, so if you’re new to all this you might feel a little lost. It provides more practical help on things like naming your blog and other “how to work it” issues. It starts out with a history of blogging and her list of the top ten worst domain names is astonishing.


Book cover: Creative BloggingCreative Blogging

This book is also a little more on the techie side, but it’s arranged in a very simple manner. This book seems to have more on the design and display of your blog, which is surprising since it has the most basic layout and design of the three I’ve listed here.

A Giant Whiteboard for Santa Teresa

Santa Teresa Branch Library was fortunate to receive a giant whiteboard from Freeman W., a generous giver. This two sided, erasable teaching aid enables the Volunteer ESL teacher, Alan K., room to expand on word definitions and concepts. The Librarians can also use the whiteboard to write words to children's songs. Santa Teresa thanks Freeman for his bountiful gift.


ESL Volunteer Leader Alan K. uses the new whiteboard

The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood

Cover image of The Information by James GleickIn his newest book, The Information: A History, a Theory, a Flood, best seller author James Gleick explains the history of information starting from ancient Africa where the drums could transfer the information across generations or across many miles an hour.


Then came Alphabet and scripts, and with the advent of electricity came telegraph, telephone , television and of course computers. He also introduces key figures who contribute in our understanding of information, including Babbage, Ada Byron, Morse, Turing and Claude Shannon who gave new meaning to the ancient word” bit” and who is the creator of the information theory.


Then we enter the information age which sometimes makes people feel like they are drowning in the deluge of technologies and what they carry with them: information. He explains his understanding of this age and the fact that by overcoming the physical boundaries of information transfer technologies as they are now, once again our whole world will change. This is an interesting and informative book, which our library also has the audio version. Check it out and see why libraries are more important than ever in making vital information accessible to all, and in helping you get to exactly what you need in the midst of this information tsunami. 

A Holiday Gift Tag to Accompany Your eReader Present!

eBooks couponGiving an eReader for the holidays? You can include this downloadable coupon for free eBooks at the library so your recipient can start e-reading quickly for free!

Posted by Mana Tominaga on Dec 14, 2011 | Comments: 3 |

In Remembrance of Howard Zinn

Late January marks the first anniversary of the death of noted author and social activist Howard Zinn. He was 87 when he died of a reported heart attack while swimming during some traveling with his daughter.


Dr. Zinn always looked to me to be the impish grandpa each child deserves. As a mentor, he appeared to live a full life, working on social issues important to him through his research, writing and activism.


As we enter yet again another U.S. Presidential election year, let’s take another look at Howard Zinn his legacy, and the revisionist history that he leaves us.


Perhaps the book he is most widely recognized for is A People’s History of the United States, first published in 1980 and now a commonly used text in high school history courses! According to the New York Times, this book had a first printing of just 4,000 copies and was no conventional historical account, concentrating instead on "what he saw as the genocidal depredations of Christopher Columbus, the blood lust of Theodore Roosevelt and the racial failings of Abraham Lincoln."


Book cover of A People's History of the United StatesThis seminal work spawned a sequel: The Twentieth Century: A People’s History as well as versions written for young people: A Young People’s History of the United States, Volume 1 and A Young People’s History of the United States, Volume 2.


Dr. Zinn, a contemporary of left-wing activist and MIT professor Noam Chomsky, “made an amazing contribution to American intellectual and moral culture,” according to Chomsky. “He’s changed the conscience of America in a highly constructive way. I really can’t think of anyone I can compare him to in this respect,” Professor Chomsky said in the Boston Globe online upon Dr. Zinn’s death.


A little bit about Howard Zinn, courtesy of the Boston Globe online: Born in New York City in 1922, he attended New York public schools and was working in the “Brooklyn Navy Yard when he joined the Army Air Corps where he worked as a bombardier in World War II, receiving the Air Medal and attaining the rank of second lieutenant. It was during this time that Zinn courted his soon-to-be wife through the mails before marrying in 1944. After the war, he worked a series of menial jobs before entering New York University on the GIP Bill, working nights in a warehouse loading trucks. He was awarded masters and doctoral degrees in history from Columbia University.


In 1956, Dr. Zinn joined the faculty at Atlanta’s Spelman College, becoming chairman of the history department. During this time he became active in the civil rights movement, serving on the executive committee of the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee and participating in numerous demonstrations.


In 1964, Dr. Zinn joined the staff at Boston University, becoming full professor in 1966 where the focus of his activism became the Vietnam war. He spoke at many rallies and teach-ins, drawing national attention when he and the Rev. Daniel Berrigan went to Hanoi in 1968 to receive three prisoners released by the North Vietnamese.


In 1988, Dr. Zinn took early retirement to concentrate on speaking and writing, including writing for the stage. On his last day at BU, he ended class 30 minutes early so he could join a picket line and urged the 500 students attending the lecture to come along. A hundred did so.


Dr. Zinn’s memoir, You Can’t Be Neutral on a Moving Train is available through your local library in both book and DVD formats.

The Wrong Stuff

Book cover of The Wreck of the River of StarsOne of my favorite varieties of storytelling is when an author takes a familiar format, but then turns the cliché on its head to find a fresh story to tell within the trope. In Michael Flynn’s novel The Wreck of the River of Stars, a kindly starship captain has collected an assortment of rejects and misfits and melded them into a functioning crew, which is a feel-good story we’ve all seen and read dozens of times. And then the kindly captain dies in the first few paragraphs, and the dysfunctional people he has collected are forced to work together to save the ship when disaster strikes. There is an awful majesty to the way Flynn’s story plays out. These are not likeable people, and their personal flaws induce them to keep sabotaging each other’s efforts even when their lives are at stake. But the strength of Flynn’s storytelling is that the reader understands why these flawed characters make the decisions that they do, even while you want to throttle them for doing it. This is not a light or cheerful story, but neither will it be easily forgotten.

Posted by Bryan Mills on Dec 13, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

The Edenvale Gazette interviews Angie Miraflor

 Photo of Angie MiraflorThe first time I saw Angie Miraflor was at one of our all staff in-services at San Jose State. She was behind the mike talking about something that had to do with the library. I just don’t remember what it was. What I do remember was thinking that she was funny, and honestly I don’t think that about a lot of people. She was genuinely funny. And that was all I heard from her till she came to Edenvale to be our Branch Manager. Working with her for over a year I now know that she is much more than that. I had the opportunity to sit down with her and ask some questions about her life and her work here at Edenvale. Angie is currently the Initiatives Manager at the King Library.


CRO:  How old were you when you decided you wanted to be a librarian?

AM:  I was in the first grade, so how old is that, five. I didn’t remember this till I was in library school, but we had to draw a picture when I was in the first grade of what we wanted to be when we grew up and I remember it being a picture of me next to a desk and a big stack of books, ‘cause I loved my school librarian that much.

CRO:  I see that you are an “awesome” librarian, from your FB profile. When did you acquire this awesome status?

AM:  Before I became a librarian, I think. I think it’s the job itself that is awesome. I like helping people and I like finding stuff for people when they didn’t think they could find information, or helping the kid who doesn’t like to read find something that he will read.

CRO:  How do you feel you contribute to Edenvale Library, the staff and the patrons?

AM:  I want people to feel that the library is for everyone, and that everyone is welcome. That this library is their place, and that they are investing their time and energy as well. For staff, I want it to be a fun place to work. The library can be a place with very positive energy, and that definitely starts with your staff. I feel I have a big responsibility in that, ‘cause if I’m positive, I hope my staff will be positive and that energy will go out to the community. I hope that when people are asked about Edenvale they will say “we love it!” based on interaction they have with the staff.

CRO:  How do you see the library changing in the next 10 or 20 years? Do you think with the internet and tablets, books and libraries will be obsolete?

AM:  I think there will be a decrease in print books. I don’t know if they will be completely gone. I see the future of libraries as being less book based, and more like community hubs. I feel that San Jose is already moving in that direction, and that the libraries will be places where people can engage with one another and “idea share.” I feel that librarians really need to step up and start learning about this stuff, and not see the new technology as something that will destroy libraries, but learn to incorporate e-readers and tablets, and internet literacy. We are doing that to a degree, but I feel we need to work more on that. I also think that as we get more electronic technology based with these resources, there will still be a group of people who will fall behind in that area. Like the divide between the people who can barely use a mouse, compared to the people with every e-reader and laptop, will get bigger and bigger. How do we move those people, who need those basic skills, up? How do we push them in the right direction? There are people who are afraid of computers, and with this economy have lost their jobs, and now have to use a computer to apply for a job. How do we help these people?

CRO:  Thank you for talking with me today Angie.

The Tail of Emily Windsnap

Cover of The Tail of Emily Windsnap Cover of Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep Cover of Emily Windsnap and the castle in the Mist Cover of Emily Windsnap and the Siren's Secret


Do you love mermaids?


Emily Windsnap is the half-mermaid, half-human protagonist in this charming series for tween girls. In The Tail of Emily Windsnap, Emily discovers that she is a mermaid during the first day of swim class in Seventh Grade. She also finds her merman father and goes through many adventures along the way. Emily is quirky (she is half-mermaid after all!) and down to earth at the same time. She goes to mermaid school and makes friends while confronting Neptune and other dangers. Tween girls will love the ink drawings by Sarah Gibb.


The author, Liz Kessler, also wrote Emily Windsnap and the Monster from the Deep, where Emily gets in trouble while trying to impress her mermaid friends, Emily Windsnap and the Castle in the Mist, where she finds a diamond ring on the seabed, and Emily Windsnap and the Siren’s Secret, where she is on a mission to assist Neptune in making humans and the merfolk get along.

Partners in Reading Volunteers Complete Tutor Training

Photo: Tutor and Learner Work Together on ReadingOn December 10, eleven new volunteers completed tutor training and have been matched with adults who read or write below the high school level. We hope they enjoy their tutoring experience, because they will be helping adults build literacy skills while becoming more involved in the community. You can become a volunteer tutor as well. Just call Partners in Reading (PAR) at (408) 808-2361 to learn more. The next orientation will be February 1. Many adults are waiting for your help to read the newspaper, register to vote, fill out job applications, and read to a child. You can also visit our website for more information.


For more information about how tutoring can help adults, read this December 15, 2011 San Jose Mercury News article about a learner who is overcoming some difficult obstacles while working on her reading and writing.

Social Networking Beyond Facebook

PinterestThere's something new in social networking and if you are a visual learner or just love browsing the web, this one might be for you. Pinterest is a site which allows you to "pin" an image from a website that you like and sort it into any number of "boards" that you choose. You then share those images with the world, and in particular with friends who have also signed up and decided to follow your "pins."


Picture of Pinterest Icon for "Gothmom"My pinterest name is Gothmom and you are welcome to check out my boards. That photo is my school photo from the first grade and my pinterest icon. You'll see the images of things I'd like to craft, things I'd like to cook and ideas for home and garden that intrigue me. If you see something on my board that you think is cool, you can "repin" it onto your own board and share the neat idea that way.


It does connect to Facebook and Twitter if you like, but I don't link between social networks very much and Pinterest allows me to decide how much I'm sharing.


YelpAnother social networking site that seems to get better and better is Yelp.  The Yelp App is a really great smartphone tool for determining where the closest restaurant or movie theater is to you in real time and then it even can show you a map of where it is so you can get there easily. The other important feature that Yelp is all about is the crowdsourcing.  Because so many people have written reviews of businesses, you can get a fairly reliable idea of what the experience will be like when you walk through the doors of a business you've never been to before.


Image of Social Networking for Career Success by Miriam SalpeterWant to learn more about social networking? Take a look at Social Networking for Career Success by Miriam Salpeter. More and more people are using social networks such as LinkedIn to do business networking and look for jobs.


All a Twitter by Tee Morris is an ebook that goes into detail on the pros and cons of networking on Twitter. Some people love it, but remember the trouble it has gotten Charlie Sheen into! All in 160 characters or less!


Speaking of all this social networking, be sure to "Like" San José Public Library on Facebook and follow us on Twitter too.

1861: The Civil War Awakening by Adam Goodheart

Book cover of 1861: The Civil War AwakeningThis year, 2011, marks the 150th anniversary, or sesquicentennial, of the beginning of the American Civil War. In 1860, Abraham Lincoln had been elected president; his party, the Republicans, had campaigned against the spread of slavery beyond the states where it already existed. With the election over, several Southern states were already threatening to secede. The armed conflict which began in 1861 and lasted until 1865, took the lives of 620,000 soldiers, while leaving countless others wounded. Historians still differ as to whether or not the war could have been prevented, and those of us who are descended from Civil War veterans, take a special interest in this war and its aftermath.


Prior to 1861, the North had made compromise after compromise, to appease the Southerners. Neither side wanted war, and yet when hostilities began on April 12, 1861, with Confederate forces firing on Fort Sumter, a U.S. military installation in South Carolina, a series of events were set in motion which were destined to lead irrevocably to full-scale war. In his engrossing and detailed book, 1861: The Civil War Awakening, Adam Goodheart, describes for us those events which soon galvanized the populace of both North and South. Not long after the Confederate seizing of Fort Sumter, eleven Southern states had quickly seceded from the union, while twenty-five of the Northern states chose to support the federal government. In the North, the murder of a popular and highly regarded young man, by a Confederate sympathizer, for the simple act of removing a Confederate flag from a building, brought about the rush of thousands of young men to enlist. In the South, the conviction that the North would attack their homes and free their slaves, was enough to send young men to enlist. Many had predicted a short war, but, in spite of that perception, war fever soon gripped the nation. Because the Southerners believed themselves to be defending their very way of life, they were willing to continue fighting to the last man, leading to terrible loss of life as the war dragged on. Could this war have been prevented? As you read 1861, you can decide for yourself.


[This book was listed by the New York Times as one of the 100 best books of 2011.]

13 Gifts by Wendy Mass

Book Cover of 13 Gifts13 Gifts (AR 13, Level 4.5. Order through Link+) by Wendy Mass continues the birthday book series. Be forewarned, fans of the birthday books, the author has written a darker-toned story from the other two titles.


The main character of this story, Tara, has been sent to Willow Falls because she committed a prank at school that has resulted in her suspension from school for two weeks. Of course, she soon runs into Angelina, the supernatural character who helps kids to find themselves. In this novel, Angelina has some serious lessons to teach Tara; she makes a dire prediction about Tara's future.


The caveat? She needs to find thirteen items before she turns 13 in two weeks! Luckily, Tara befriends characters from the other two novels: Leo, Amanda, Rory, and David. Does Tara find all of the items in time? Read the book to find out.

Holiday Glitter and Shine D.I.Y.

Are you looking to add a bit of homemade glitter, twinkle and shine to your holiday celebrations? The San José Public Library has over 150 do-it-yourself Christmas decorations titles that will show you how to make festive ornaments, centerpieces, origami and other crafts, keepsakes and holiday dishes.


Here is a brief look at some of the newer additions to this collection:


Cover of Christmas Balls to Knit : Colorful Festive Ornaments, Tree Decorations, Centerpieces, Wreaths, Window DressingsWhile I am familiar with the expression “don’t judge a book by its cover,” 55 Christmas Balls to Knit: Colorful Festive Ornaments, Tree Decorations, Centerpieces, Wreaths, Window Dressings looks like a lot of fun and the men on the cover are wearing the dapperest sweaters. I also like the idea of knitting holiday decorations. Knitting the Christmas balls requires experience with double pointed needles and it is a manageable way to learn or to practice your Fair Isle knitting skills. The patterned charts are knit in a red and white color scheme, but you may substitute in your own color yarn.


Cover of 'Twas the Knits Before ChristmasWhile I’ve included a second knitting book, you don’t have to knit to enjoy 'Twas the Knits before Christmas. This book tells the traditional story “Twas the Night  Before Christmas” and includes images of knitted characters throughout in colorful, full-page illustrations. Patterns are included to knit Saint Nicholas, his reindeer, Christmas dolls and more from the story.



Cover of Debbie Macomber's Christmas CookbookDebbie Macomber is best known for her works of heart-warming fiction featuring small town life, family and friendship. Her recently published, Debbie Macomber's Christmas Cookbook, has also been well-received and includes her favorite recipes, crafts, decorations and gift wrapping for the winter holiday season. Macomber fans will enjoy her personal anecdotes introducing each section of the book in which she shares the origins of her holiday traditions.



Cover of I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas : Gifts, Decorations, and Recipes that use Less and Mean MoreAs it has become increasingly popular to go green and adopt ecologically and financially sustainable practices, Anna Getty’s, I'm Dreaming of a Green Christmas: Gifts, Decorations, and Recipes That Use Less and Mean More, is a welcome addition to our collection of Christmas decoration books. If you are seeking out ideas to green your winter holiday celebrations, Getty’s book contains a variety of sustainable, elegant practices and traditions including how to choose a tree, homemade craft ideas, post-holiday recycling and holiday recipes.


Cover of Christmas Gifts from the KitchenChristmas Gifts from the Kitchen is a handsomely photographed book with a variety of recipes ranging from cookies and cakes to candies, savory treats and preserved delights. Also included are ingenious packaging ideas for personalizing your homemade treats.

The Art - and Practicality - of Sewing

Home sewing is on the upswing, as it usually is during bad economic times. I eagerly learned how to sew in junior high school as neither my mom nor my grandmothers knew how. It turns out that many young folks do not know how to sew nor do they have family members who can easily teach them. Pattern companies, though, are putting out lines to entice the young potential home-sewer to the pleasures of sewing by making crafts, such as cell phone holders. (In my day, it was eyeglass cases!) With practice, and home economics classes, I learned how to put in sleeves, zippers and waistbands to the point I could sew my entire school wardrobe during the summer. I spent hours in the fabric shop up the street; now you would be hard pressed to find such a store – they’re craft and fabric stores. Additionally, sturdy, reliable sewing machines without all the bells and whistles can be purchased for about $100 so the novice can get the basics down.


Book cover of Simple Sewing by Lotta JansdotterNow, with all the enticements out there, just how do you get started? Your local library to the rescue! Here is a listing of sewing titles available through the library in all formats. DVDs can talk you through that sewing step while books allow you to read and reread the instructions accompanying the step-by-step photos. You can even find materials (no pun intended) giving you ideas about different projects, such as aprons, skirts and home decorating. There are books for the beginning sewer as well as for the never-have-sewn.


To get you started right now, here is some sewing vocabulary:

  • staystitching
  • selvedge
  • reverse sewing
  • preparing your fabric
  • view

If you can define or describe these terms, you're set to hit the pattern books!


For the tweens and teens, check out the Monster Making craft project at a branch near you coming in January. This is a great way to introduce your young ones to the art of sewing.

Introducing the Gale Reference Virtual Library!

SJPL now boasts yet another new collection of online eBooks – the Gale Reference Virtual Library, which includes reference books (encyclopedias, history books) as well as travel books.


These reference titles are available for online viewing, for downloading as PDFs, and also downloading as eAudioBook in MP3 format. (You first have to click on a section/chapter to get all the printing, downloading, and listening options – there’s no way to print or download the entire title, unfortunately.)


The great news is that there’s no software required for downloading! Horray! Also, these titles are always available, so there are no waiting lists.


Please visit the collection from the downloads page at; the direct link is


These titles are also included in the catalog.  

Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar Children

Book cover: Miss Peregrine's Home For Peculiar ChildrenMiss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an intriguing book that mixes both fiction and period photographs. The story opens with sixteen-year-old Jacob and his struggle in dealing with the aftermath of the violent death of his beloved grandfather.


As a child, Jacob’s grandfather grew up at Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, an orphanage located on a remote island off the coast of Wales. Jacob’s grandfather shared wild stories and photographs of his childhood friends with Jacob. These stories often included fairytale-like tales of Miss Peregrine, the headmaster, and children with mysterious abilities, such as a girl who had the ability to levitate and sisters who could talk to each other without actually having to speak. After his grandfather’s death, Jacob feels compelled to visit Wales and learn more about the life that his grandfather lived as a child and young adult at the Home. What Jacob discovers at the now abandoned orphanage is beyond what he could have imagined. These children may not just be peculiar, but rather, they may be a danger to others. Additionally, there is a possibility these children are still alive!


Miss Peregrine’s is a fun fantasy story that will entertain both teens and adults. There is a wonderful book trailer you can view here.


The author, Ransom Riggs, is also a screenwriter and blogger. Miss Peregrine’s is his first novel. More information on the author can be found at the author’s website.

Volunteer Profile: Avina Ramnani - Social Workers in the Library

Avina in Children's RoomSocial Workers in the Library (SWITL) is a program initiated at the King Library, in partnership with San José State University's School of Social Work, the National Association of Social Workers - California Chapter, and the SJSU School of Library and Information Services. Social workers volunteer their time to meet with the public at the King Library (1st and 4th Mondays of each month, 6-8 p.m.) and the Biblioteca Branch Library (3rd Monday of the month, 6-8 p.m.) offering information/referral, and advice, based on their knowledge and years of experience, absolutely FREE of charge.


Avina has been volunteering with Social Workers in the Library for nearly a year. The following is an interview with Avina Ramnani, about her work with Social Workers in the Library.


What brought you to the library in search of a volunteer position?

As a San José State University Student, I was in the King Library all the time. It was really my home away from home. I love this library. After completing my work as project coordinator with CommUniversity I was searching for a meaningful volunteer opportunity. As part of my duties at CommUniversity had me reading to young children, I began my quest in the Children's Room at the King Library. There, I met a librarian who spoke with me about volunteer positions currently available at the library. Social Workers in the Library seemed a perfect match, and so I began my stint as a volunteer.


What enticed you about Social Workers in the Library?

I felt as if SWITL was somewhat of an extension of CommUniversity. People come in search of possible solutions or guidance for the situations they are facing, and are welcomed with sensitivity, an open mind and resources they can use.


What does your volunteer job entail?
I assist in setting up the reception area and the room in which the social workers meet with their library customers. I greet both social workers and customers and make sure they are comfortably settled. I offer support to SWITL customers, helping them to complete an initial waiver and following their consultation, a satisfaction survey. I also juggle appointment schedules, as some of our customers show up early and others late. At the conclusion of our program, I pack up all resource and display items, and ensure they are easily accessible for the following session. I also attended an in-service and met with social workers representing community agencies from throughout San José.


Would you recommend this volunteer position to others?

Yes, absolutely. This is a volunteer job that anyone can do. You listen. At times because people share their circumstances with you, you feel sad. But you know they are going to receive help. It makes your day, and is bound to make you feel like you've done something meaningful. I really believe in this program.

The Printmaker's Daughter

Hokusai print of The Great Wave off Kanagawa

Book cover of the Printmaker's DaughterThe Printmaker's Daughter by Katherine Govier is a fictional autobiography of Oei, daughter of the now-famous Japanese printmaker Hokusai especially known for "The Great Wave off Kanagawa," one of a series:Thirty-six Views of Mount Fuji. Artists Hokusai and Oei documented everyday life of the “floating world,” the entertainment and artistic district of Tokyo in the early nineteenth century before Japan was forced to open up trade with the Western World. Canadian author Katherine Govier concludes that Oei, both a dutiful daughter and an unconventional woman of her time, collaborated with her father at the end of his life, and that some of Hokusai’s later works were conceived and rendered by Oei. Govier brings to life the scenes depicted in the fascinating nineteenth century Japanese art.


Intrigued? Visit the book's companion website for more information.

Social Media and Your Business

Social Media Quickstarter logo image

Like it or not, social media is here to stay. Social media in some form is used by millions of people whether posting reviews on Yelp or connecting with friends on Facebook. But what does that mean for your business? Well, it means reaching masses of potential customers and strengthening current customer relationships. Businesses use social media to not only market their business but also as another customer service outlet, answering and responding to customer posts. Perhaps, you have a personal Twitter or Facebook page but not sure how to use it for your business. I found a great social media guide provided by Constant Contact. It is directed toward business users and it really is in-depth but engaging. Check it out and happy posting.


Puddlejumpers book coverErnie Banks is a thirteen-year-old orphan, named after the legendary baseball player, Ernie Banks. Young Ernie, who has lived at the Lakeside Home for Boys in Chicago since the age of three, remembers almost nothing of his life before being found. One day, Ernie get the chance to live on a farm for three weeks. While there, he meets new people, and encounters new beings: the diminuitive puddlejumpers and the nasty trogs. Do you want to find out what happens? Read Puddlejumpers by Mark Jean and Christopher C. Carlson. This is a great read for middle school students, older elementary school students, and anyone who likes fantasy stories with a touch of mystery. This book is available in hardback, paperback and audio cd.

Feel Good Movie: Harvey

DVD cover of HarveyHarvey is a lovely movie about enjoying life for what it is. Starring the great Jimmy Stewart, this timeless tale follows a day in the life of Elwood P. Dowd, who is being set-up for a prolonged stay in an insane asylum by his loving sister, Veta. Everyone around Elwood thinks he is probably just the craziest person ever. Why? Because of his 6 foot invisible friend, Harvey. Crazy? There is evidence that he exists!


The soul of this movie is contained within this famous line, "Years ago, my mother used to say to me, she'd say 'In this world, Elwood, you can be oh so so smart, or oh so pleasant.' Well, for years I was smart... I recommend pleasant. You may quote me." This line reveals exactly what is going on in this movie.


So, if you find yourself with a couple of hours to burn and you have already seen It's a Wonderful Life, watch this classic film and lose yourself to the idea of Harvey.

If You Give a Dog a Donut by Laura Numeroff

Book cover of If You Give a Dog a DonutIf You Give a Dog a Donut (AR 0.5, Level 2.1) by Laura Numeroff is one of the continuing titles from the "If You Give a..." series.I love dogs and my kid loves donuts so this is a perfect match!


This series is especially good for the reading readiness skill, narrative awareness. These books start with someone giving an animal an item and by the end of the story, the animal wants the same item again. The clever illustrations are especially appealing for children. These books are also great for vocabulary building because many new words are introduced.

Warp Speed by Lisa Yee

Book cover of Warp SpeedWarp Speed by Lisa Yee will surely resonate with anyone who was ever a victim, bystander, bully, or "upstander." As a parent volunteer for Project Cornerstone, I found this title especially relevant to upper elementary and middle school kids.


Marley, as you can tell by the title, is a big fan of Star Trek. As any kid will tell you, being a fan of Star Trek, or Star Wars, or comic books, instantly places you in the outskirts of popularity at any school. Marley has saved up all his pennies to make the big annual Star Trek convention in Los Angeles, which is twenty minutes from where he lives. However, a Turkey Trot and Emily (from So Totally Emily Ebers) conspire to change all of his plans.


Marley is now fighting a battle he made by standing up for his friend, Ramen, who Marley says is "not his friend." He battles the Gorn by reaching "warp speed" every day after school, until the day he is caught. In a dress. Meanwhile, he must also kowtow to the immensely unlikeable Digger Ronster, who is another kind of bully. But, does the red-haired roadrunner, Digger, have his secrets, too? You betcha!


You will see some recurring characters from Yee's other Rancho Rosetta (otherwise known as South Pasadena) characters: Stanford Wong, Emily Ebers, and Millicent Min. Check out those titles (Millicent Min, Girl Genius, Stanford Wong Flunks Big-Time, and So Totally Emily Ebers.) as well!

Okay for Now by Gary D. Schmidt

Book cover of Okay for NOwOkay for Now (AR 11.0, Level 4.9) by Gary D. Schmidt follows some of the characters in The Wednesday Wars (AR 12.0, Level 5.9). However, if you have not read it, you will still be able to follow the action! This entertaining book is for anyone who has been judged based upon their appearance or their family. If you look at the tags for this book, you will find that this book certainly has something to offer everyone.


This novel follows the life of Doug Swieteck, who was a bully in the earlier book. Doug is moving to Marysville, New York, because his father lost his temper and his job. Doug hates it in Marysville.  However, everything starts to change when he follows a girl, Lil, into the library and discovers James Audubon's Birds of America. He relates to the pictures and discovers a new-found talent.


Doug learns that a person's looks and associates can affect perceptions. When others first see him, they assume he is a hoodlum. However, Lil's friendship allows him to get a job. Slowly, everyone starts to change their perceptions until a setback occurs. Doug is once again wrongly judged. Find out what happens!


Despite an emotionally, physically abusive father, Doug is a character you will come to respect and love.

Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze! ( A Book About the Windy Autumn Breeze)

Book cover of Sneeze, Big Bear Sneeze by Maureen WrightThe new picture book: Sneeze, Big Bear, Sneeze! by Maureen Wright is a delightful description of the windy weather that comes in Autumn. The story follows Big Bear as he sneezes his way through the pages. Despite the wind trying to tell him that she is the reason for it all, Big Bear is convinced it is his sneezing that is causing the leaves and apples to fall from the trees and the geese to fly south. Finally when she’s had enough of Big Bear’s confusion, the wind lets out a “whirling, twirling mighty shout” over a few particularly blustery pages and manages to convince bear that she is the one causing the tickle that’s making him sneeze… she is the Autumn Breeze!

Together We Read Book Drive for Partners in Reading

Image of a boy and his mom reading together with a huge smile on his face

Would you like to help families read together and break the cycle of low literacy? You can do that by donating a book to the Partners in Reading (PAR) book drive. One of the most important ways to ensure literacy in children is to read aloud to them every day and read together as a family. In order to do that families need books and home libraries. PAR encourages you to donate a book to help families read and learn together. Drop off your new book at the PAR office in the King Library or at your branch library. Mark it PAR book drive and know that you are helping families.


You can also visit Hicklebee's and buy your book there or you can donate online. For further inspiration you can look at the teen's book list and the kids' book lists. Below are some of the titles that have already been donated.


Book Cover Holes by Louis Sachar Book Cover Lulu and the Brontosaurus Book Cover Giraffes Can't Dance


Read this San Jose Mercury News article about PAR's book drive to learn more.

What the Internet is Doing To Our Brains

Book cover of The Shallows: What the Internet is Doing to Our BrainsThe Shallows: What Internet Is Doing to Our Brains

Nicholas Carr provides a thoroughly interesting debate, since the advent of the ‘Net and all its bounty, whether we are sacrificing our ability to read and think deeply. There are rich, thought-provoking quotes sprinkled throughout, but especially interesting is chapter six.  For any reading fanatic like me, Chapter 6, “The Very Image of a Book” explores the research done by publishing houses on how we read and anything from the comfort of the written word to how multi-media plays a part…and doesn’t.  This title was a Pulitzer Prize finalist for 2011 and worth a portion of your precious reading time! Carr is also author of Does IT Matter? And The Big Switch: Rewiring the World, from Edison to Google. The Shallows is available in audio format, too.

Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi

Ship Breaker CoverCheck out Ship Breaker by Paolo Bacigalupi. Nailer works as a ship breaker along the decimated Gulf Coast in a dystopian future devoid of oil. Nailer and his fellow crew of hardened orphans and urchins pick apart old ships in search of bits of copper, brass, and the ultimate scavenge, deposits of oil. His life is dangerous and hard, and his drug-addicted, abusive hustler of a father doesn't make it any easier. When Nailer stumbles upon a pocket of oil in an old tanker, he thinks that life may start to get better. However, when a brutal hurricane washes a luxurious clipper ship ashore, a scavenger's dream, Nailer knows that his luck really is about to change. It's not until he discovers a beautiful and wealthy lone survivor aboard that he begins to question what kind of luck that will be. Can Nita offer him a better life, or will she just lead him to unimaginable danger?


Dystopian science fiction like The Hunger Games continues to stay popular among teen readers, so it's not surprising that the Printz Award, which is given annually to a young adult novel of distinction, was awarded to Ship Breaker for 2011. The gritty setting a post-oil wasteland unfortunately feels somewhat plausible, which makes it more compelling. You can find plenty of news stories about global scavenging, or check out Trash by Andy Mulligan for a fictional account. If you enjoyed the non-stop action of Ship Breaker, stay tuned for The Drowned Cities, with expected publication in May 2012.

Create Beautiful Holiday Crafts!

Have a fun and festive time by creating special holiday themed crafts and art! Great for gifts and decorations. The following titles will help you get started:




Book cover of Christmas Crafts From Around the World


Christmas Crafts From Around the World by Judy Ann Sadler

Feliz Navidad! Frohe Weihnachten! Buon Natale! Learn how other cultures celebrate Christmas by creating holiday crafts from around the world, such as the British Christmas Fairy, the Ukrainian Silver Webs, the Finnish Straw Ornament and much more! 



Book cover of Crafts for Christmas


Crafts for Christmas by Kathy Ross

Have a fun holiday by creating something special! This book will teach you how to make a variety of Christmas crafts, such as a Flying Angel, Ornament Necklace, Egg Carton Christmas Tree and much more!





Book cover of Paper Crafts for Christmas 

Paper Crafts for Christmas by Randel McGee

Get ready to make a variety of colorful, Christmas-themed paper crafts and decorations! This book contains step by step instructions and also a brief introduction of Christmas and its traditions.



Book cover of Holiday Handiwork


Big Fun Christmas Crafts & Activities by Sarah Cole

This book provides instructions on how to make an assortment of holiday themed crafts, such as a Hands-Together garland, jingle-bell wind chimes and pop-up cards.







The library will also be hosting fun holiday events for all ages! For more recommendations, please see a Librarian at your library. Happy Holidays!

December's Friday Fun at the King Library!

Book Cover: Card Making Friday Fun at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library is a program that takes place each Friday of the month at 4:00PM. Activities are for children and include crafts, Japanese Calligraphy, board games, nature programs and others. It's good fun and a great way to start off your weekend. Here's what's happening in December:


December 2 - Go Wild! Nature Program for Kids. Representatives from the Don Edwards San Francisco Bay National Wildlife Refuge will be at the library sharing information about different animals.


December 9 - Card Making for Kids: Do you want to create a unique card to give to friends or family for the holidays? Then this is the program for you. Children will be creating cards using lego blocks and other unusual items to make stamp art!


December 16 - The Art of Japanese Calligraphy: Hikaru, our talented volunteer, will be teaching children how to write different words and sayings using Japanese Calligraphy. The word calligraphy means beautiful writing so come and try your hand at making some. A fun program.


December 23 - Tabletop Holiday Crafts: This will be the last day of our Tabletop Holiday Crafts week. Each day starting on Monday December 19 there will be fun crafts for children to do. The crafts will be available from 11:00 - 5:00PM or until supplies last.


December 30 - Calendar Craft and Bingo! - It's time to make your own unique 2012 Calendar!

Children will decorate calendars with a variety of art supplies, and celebrating the New Year with a fun game of Bingo!

Family Responsibilities


Family Responsibilities written by Debbie Gallagher is about family togetherness, family activities, family heritage, and about looking after each other. Children can learn to do household chores, care for members in the household, teach older members computer skills or a new language, or help parents to feed the babies. Parents can teach children how to earn and save money, teach them important skills, or pass on the family heritage.


Recommended for a third grader or a parent/grandparent, best if shared by the child and the parent/grandparent.

When Parents Text

When Parents Text: So Much Said...So Little Understood is written by two best friends, Lauren Kaelin and Sophia Fraioli. It's a social account of funny text messages exchanged between parents/grandparents and their children/grandchildren. When "old fingers meet tiny keypads," we can expect to see hard-to-understand-and-yet-loving messages and emoticons.


Please check out the authors' website to get some more tastes of these hilarious texts.

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