- May 26 & 27 - All libraries CLOSED for Memorial Day
Man the cannon and batten down the hatches! The DAR, traditionally the Daughters of the American Revolution, more recently the Daughters of the American Republic, have announced the theme of this year's essay contest: it's the War of 1812!
If you are a local student ranging from 5th to 8th grade, that's big news. It's likely your class is going to pay more than usual attention to that conflict in its history studies this year. Here at the Library, we were inundated with train-related requests two years ago when the topic was the Transcontinental Railroad. One year ago, we revered Paul Revere when that fine silversmith-turned-horseman rode his way into the hearts and minds of the DAR membership.
The War of 1812, you ask? Who cares? Ah, but echoes and lessons from the War of 1812 reach down to us today. It was a war that was largely a reaction to terrorism, or at least perceived terrorism on the seas. A significant proportion of the populace on both sides was ambivalent about the need to go to war at all. Botched, ill-timed, slow communications contributed to both the start of the war, and the prolonging of it. Sound familiar? Every time we hear the Star-Spangled-Banner, or pay for a transaction with a twenty dollar bill, the denomination with Andrew Jackson's handsome mug, we commemorate the War of 1812. Not to mention that fine old incendiary American tradition of getting mad as blazes at the Capitol, the White House, and Washington D.C. in general!
That's all very nice, but how can San José Public Library help you, the poor struggling student? Well, the SJPL selectors have put in orders for more War of 1812 books. But, you exclaim, all the books have been checked out, there's a line of holds, and I need information now!
Voila! San José Public Library has databases, the procrastinator's best friend, available 24 hours a day, seven days a week! With your library card, you have access to the 748 articles that come up when you plug the search term "War of 1812" into the History Reference Center. You have any number of articles that appear when you plug Dolley Madison, Oliver Hazard Perry, Jean Lafitte, Tecumseh or your favorite War of 1812 participant into Biography Collection Complete. Don't neglect World Book Encyclopedia online for a good overview of the conflict.
Don't give up the ship! ..... We have met the enemy and they are ours. ..... Have fun with your topic. People and events of the past are relevant to us today.
Throwing a big fancy 'do, but in a pickle as to what to create for dessert? Never fear! Twinkies to the rescue! Here you have The Twinkies Cookbook: An Inventive and Unexpected Recipe Collection. Tired of the same old bean and cheese burrito? Have a Twinkie burrito instead! Maybe you like a crispy-crunchy sensation? Mmmm, let's go for Deep-Fried Twinkies with Raspberry Syrup! Have trouble getting your kids to eat a filling, nutritious breakfast? Twinkie Pancakes are sure to please! Mama-mia, what about my pasta? Hey, give Twinkie Lasagna a go! You've heard of Pigs in a Blanket? Try Pigs in a Twinkie instead! Julia Child has had her fifteen minutes of fame; now give in to your inner Roseanne Barr! Yay, Twinkies!
Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime: A Book of Zombie Love Songs is a marvelous laugh-out-loud anthology that brings new life, or rather, undeadness, to old favorites. Besides the title hit, we have such heart-stopping makeovers as You've Lost That Livin' Feeling, I Bit You Babe, My Undead Love, I Can't Stop Chewing You, Do You Think I'm Tasty?, Killing Him Swiftly and You Blight Up My Life. As the author says in the preface, "Now, when you are forced to kill the one you're with, you can share one last memory of "your" song before you send that slobbering, drooling, gray-matter-munching, shuffling pile of human tissue straight to ..... ".
I highly recommended that we add this book to our UnDead Storytime Box. But you needn't wait for that to relish this fine tome. Reanimate! Put down that brain you're chomping, it won't get cold. Place a hold on Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime chop chop!
For several years, Willow Glen Books hosted a poetry group. As a memorial to this group, editor Pushpa MacFarlane assembled 107 of the poems read over the years, and put them together in the book Remembering: Poems Read at Willow Glen Books: An Anthology. The poems run the gamut from funny to sad, from realistic to romantic, mirroring the human experience. Willow Glen Books was a fixture in the community, and it's fitting that a book like this commemorate the well-loved store.
But local poetry lovers in need of camaraderie, weep not! A successor group, Poetry Center San Jose meets at the Willow Glen Library on the third Thursday of the month at 7pm. So if your soul could use a dash of poetry and good fellowship, join in! Who knows, maybe in time to come, there will be a sequel to "Remembering"! How's "Keep on Remembering" for a title? Willow Glen Library staff members, if you have any more information about this or a related topic which you would like to share with the big wide Internet world, please chime in!
For a bit more information, here is a San Jose Mercury News article about the book.
President Barack Obama, author of a couple of autobiographical adult-level books (The Audacity of Hope and Dreams From My Father) turned his hand to a children's book with Of Thee I Sing: A Letter to My Daughters. Mr. Obama gives a brief poetic nod to thirteen Americans ranging in time from George Washington to Maya Lin. The eight men and five women specifically mentioned here are held forth as exemplars of bravery, intelligence, strength and other virtues. In the basic body of the book, the descriptions are so short and poetic, I can imagine even a young child asking a parent, "Is there more?" Fortunately, at the end of the book, there is a one-page long "detail" page, where more solid facts about the person and his/her accomplishments are set forth.
It's Obama whose name "sells" the book, of course. But an equal or, frankly, even more important contributor to the book is Loren Long, the illustrator. His bold, colorful pictures both intrigue and stand out. I especially liked his illustration of Sitting Bull, which is one of those what-do-you-see-first, the-big-picture-or-the-little-details optical illusion sort of paintings.
Of Thee I Sing can be read in about two or three minutes. But the cumulative effect packs a punch, and gets one semi-weepy in a rah, rah, it's good to be an American sort of way. Hurrah!
Kids love dogs and cats, including grown-up kids. That's speaking from experience. Growing up, I was closer to our family's calico cat Patches, and our next-door neighbor's dachshund Gus, than I was to my siblings. (Shh.... don't tell them that.)
Dogs and Cats takes that innate fondness kids have for their pets, and runs with it. While the short book can easily be read at one sitting, and is designed to appeal most to children from about age 6 to about age 10, it is packed full of information, for the most part dished out in one-paragraph nuggets. For example, on one page we learn why dogs chase balls, why dogs roll in manure, why they bark at strangers, and why they are easy to housebreak. On another page, we learn why cats purr, whether they can see in the dark, why they sleep so much, and why they chase their tails.
The book is beautifully laid-out, with attractive pictures on every page. A nifty little trick, too, that makes one go "Wow. How neat!", is that the book can be read from both sides. Namely, open the book, then start reading about dogs. Close the book, flip it over, open it, and now you're reading about cats.
So whether you read this book back to front, or front to back, if you are fond of your pets, you're sure to like this book. Enjoy! And pet your cat or dog while reading it, too!