Category Archives: Books & Reading

NCompass Live: Two Mystics, One Book: Neihardt State Historic Site in 2017

Join us for the next NCompass Live, ‘Two Mystics, One Book: Neihardt State Historic Site in 2017’, on Wednesday, May 31, 10:00am – 11:00am CT.

From the renaming of Harney Peak to Black Elk Peak to the installation of larger-than-life size sculptures on the grounds of the Neihardt State Historic Site, the celebration of the life and legacy of Nebraska’s Poet Laureate in Perpetuity also includes reading the incredible story that became Neihardt’s internationally-acclaimed book, Black Elk Speaks as One Book One Nebraska 2017. While partnering with a number of organizations (Nebraska Library Commission, Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska State Historical Society, Humanities Nebraska, Nebraska Game and Parks Commission), the Neihardt Foundation and State Historic Site hosts special programs, events, and visitors – including a visit by legendary television personality Dick Cavett – to promote Nebraska’s literary heritage during the statehood sesquicentennial year.

Presenter: Amy Kucera, Executive Director, John G. Neihardt State Historic Site, Bancroft, NE

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • June 21 – Feelings are Messy: Building Emotional Intelligence in Libraryland
  • June 28 – The New NLA Intellectual Freedom Manual Comes to the Rescue

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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Friday Reads: “The Dinner” by Herman Koch

The Dinner, published in 2009, involves the relationships among two brothers, their wives, and teenage children. The story centers on a dinner at an upscale Amsterdam restaurant. This dark and disturbing book unfolds steadily with unpredictable twists, pivots, and surprises. Paul Lohman, the narrator and one of the two brothers, offers caustic observations throughout the dinner. Here’s a sample:

“So when the bartender at the café put our beers down in front of us, Claire and I smiled at each other in the knowledge that we would soon be spending an entire evening in the company of the Lohmans – in the knowledge that this was the finest moment of that evening, that from here on it would all be downhill.”

The meal and conversation are frequented with disruptions and flashbacks. It is eventually realized that the purpose of the dinner is to discuss the two couples’ teenage boys and their involvement in a brutal and criminal act. The parents’ dilemma is the moral choices that must be made. The tragic incident has special consequences for one of the brothers, a popular and powerful politician with ambitions for higher political office.

Herman Koch, the author, is a Dutch writer and actor. His writing includes short stories, novels, and columns. His most recent book is Dear Mr. M: A Novel.

A movie based on the book was released in May 2017 with starring roles by Richard Gere, Steve Coogan, Rebecca Hall, and Laura Linney.

Koch, Herman (2017). The Dinner. New York: Hogarth.

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This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon to Represent Nebraska at National Book Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                     
May 24, 2017

FOR MORE INFORMATION:                                                              
Mary Jo Ryan
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon to Represent Nebraska at National Book Festival

The Nebraska Center for the Book selected This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon by Nancy Plain (University of Nebraska Press, 2015) to represent Nebraska at the 2017 National Book Festival. The book is the state’s selection for the National Book Festival’s “Discover Great Places through Reading” brochure and map. Each state selects one book about the state, or by an author from the state, that is a good read for children or young adults. The brochure and map will be distributed at the Festival on September 2 and featured in the “Great Reads about Great Places” links on the websites of both the National and Nebraska Centers for the Book.This Strange Wilderness - Book Cover

This book brings together the amazing story of the career of John James Audubon (1785–1851), founder of modern ornithology and one of the world’s greatest bird painters, and the beautiful images that are his legacy. It details his art and writing, transporting the reader back to the frontiers of early nineteenth-century America. Nebraska’s “Great Reads about Great Places” book is chosen from the previous year’s Nebraska Book Award winners and this book was awarded the 2016 Nebraska Book Award in the Children/Young Adult category. Entries for the 2017 Nebraska Book Awards will be accepted until June 30—see http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/awards/nebookawards.html.

The National Book Festival will feature presentations by award-winning authors, poets, and illustrators at the Walter E. Washington Convention Center in Washington, DC. Festival attendees can meet their favorite authors, get books signed, have photos taken with mascots and storybook characters, and participate in a variety of learning activities. States will staff exhibit booths to promote reading, library programs, and literary events. Find out more about the 2017 National Book Festival (including a list of featured authors) at http://www.loc.gov/bookfest.

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission. As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information.
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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.

 

 

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Friday Reads: “The Excellent Lombards” by Jane Hamilton

Every time I think about this book, I have to smile. That must be why I decided to review it for this edition of Friday Reads. It certainly wasn’t because everyone I know that read it loved it. Quite the contrary, most of my book group was indifferent or somewhat negative. But it’s a book that really got a lot of conversation going. And since I’m not the writer of the book, I prefer that to overwhelming acclaim.

The story is told in the voice of Mary Frances Lombard, who at the beginning of the book is twelve years old and growing up on a family apple orchard. As the narrator, her voice rings loud and true for a precocious teen growing up in an increasingly endangered, changing rural area. Since she speaks in the voice of a teenage girl—not an adult looking back on her teenage self—she isn’t always the most pleasant character. But what teenager is? Mary Frances is full of ideas and plans. And for a young person, she is inordinately concerned about her future. Will she be able to stay on the farm? Will her brother be her business partner? Will a host of relatives and interlopers take over and push them out? And in the short term, will she win the Geography Bee and travel to Washington, DC to represent the state and bring glory to her family and her beloved teacher?

Since Mary Frances’ mom is the town librarian, librarian readers of this book will find that some of it is quite familiar. There’s plenty of realistic library customers, circulation desk kibitzing, and even a library book cart drill team drama in the story.

The land is a real character in this book—beautifully drawn and complicated, described as stunning and romantic yet brutally conflicted. In this book, the characters take center stage. I loved watching them grow and change over time. If you want a hard-driving storyline and plot, this might not be the book for you. If you can sit in a foreign film and just watch the visual beauty unfold on the screen, forgetting to read the subtitles, then you might like this book. One thing is certain, the writing is so good that you might just be stopped in the middle of the page to ponder what you just read (e.g., p. 46: “Time, we could see, was beginning to run as if it were leading somewhere, as it had not exactly done when we were very small, time occurring back then only in bursts.”). I highly recommend this book, especially if you want lots of discussion at your book club.

The Excellent Lombards by Jane Hamilton, Grand Central Publishing, 2016

Review by Mary Jo Ryan

#FridayReads

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NCompass Live: Binge Boxes, Boovie Bags, Book box binge, Makerspace Kits and more

Join us for the next NCompass Live, ‘Binge Boxes, Boovie Bags, Book box binge, Makerspace Kits and more’, on Wednesday, May 17, 10:00am – 11:00am CT.

When space is at a premium but you want to be on the cutting edge… boxes, bags and totes can be used to create a whole new world of unique collections that serve our populations. Are we there yet kits, Binge Boxes, Boovie Bags, and much more have connected our programs to our collections and turned on new library patrons to what we offer!

Presenter: Natalie Bazan, Former Director, Hopkins District and Dorr Township Libraries, Hopkins, MI

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • May 24 – Ad Filters -The Case For and Against Installation on Public Computers
  • May 31 – Two Mystics, One Book: Neihardt State Historic Site in 2017

For more information, to register for NCompass Live, or to listen to recordings of past events, go to the NCompass Live webpage.

NCompass Live is broadcast live every Wednesday from 10am – 11am Central Time. Convert to your time zone on the Official U.S. Time website. The show is presented online using the GoToWebinar online meeting service. Before you attend a session, please see the NLC Online Sessions webpage for detailed information about GoToWebinar, including system requirements, firewall permissions, and equipment requirements for computer speakers and microphones.

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Friday Reads: Call if You Need Me

My original intention was to write about a big wave surfing book I recently picked up from my local library. This likely would have been more exciting than Raymond Carver. However, as I trekked successfully through 3/4’s of the big wave surf book (for me, this is an accomplishment), it soured. Maybe another day or another surfer. I’ve been looking for something on Kelly Slater, not only the most dominant surfer to date, but arguably the most dominant athlete ever. For those of you who like infographics, ahem, I mean data visualizations, check this one out – it’s among the best.

I picked up Call if You Need Me, a collection of short stories, essays, and book reviews by Raymond Carver, published posthumously, and finished the bulk of it on a rain suffused weekend, reading mostly while simultaneously standing and hopped up because of a neck injury. I skipped the book reviews within Call if you Need Me. Reading Carver is a lot like watching an episode of Mad Men. On the surface things seem quite normal and ordinary, but in reality that is far from the truth. Having read a few of Carver’s other works in the past, this is familiar territory, and the short stories in Call if You Need Me were interesting and easy to read. If anything, I’d say they were a little less miserable (and slightly less humorous) than Carver’s other works. The short stories are flooded with the imperfect, often despair ridden world we live in; a world many of us have experienced firsthand one way or another. There is a prevalence of alcoholism, divorce, and depression, but also humor, hope, and a sense of contentedness that we often lack. I enjoyed reading about the timeline of Carver’s life — writing short stories late at night out of necessity because he had two kids at a young age, being poor, his literary influences, childhood, and the eventual successful sales of his work. If you haven’t read any Carver, I recommend you give him a try. The fact that these are short stories (as most of Carver’s other works are) means that there is little investment on your part.

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2018 One Book One Nebraska Book Nominations Sought

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
May 5, 2017

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Mary Jo Ryan
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

2018 One Book One Nebraska Book Nominations Sought

What book would you suggest that all Nebraskans read next year? Nebraska readers are invited to make recommendations for the 2018 One Book One Nebraska book selection. The Nebraska Center for the Book will consider books written by a Nebraska author (living or dead/with current or former residence in the state) or books that have a Nebraska theme or setting. Books should have a broad appeal to readers across Nebraska and lend well to group book discussion. Books may be fiction, non-fiction, biography, memoir, or poetry. They must be in print and readily available.

The deadline for nominations is June 15, 2017. Book recommendations can be sent via e-mail at nlc.ask@nebraska.gov or via the U.S. Postal Service to The Nebraska Center for the Book One Book One Nebraska, c/o Nebraska Library Commission Reference Services, 1200 N Street, Suite 120, Lincoln, NE, 68508-2023. Nominations can also be submitted online at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/obon-nomination.asp.

The Nebraska Center for the Book will announce the 2018 One Book One Nebraska choice at the Fall Celebration of Nebraska Books. The Celebration will include a 2017 One Book One Nebraska program, Jane Pope Geske Award and Mildred Bennett Award presentations, and the Nebraska Book Awards Ceremony, with author readings and signings. The Celebration will be preceded by the Nebraska Center for the Book Annual Meeting.

The One Book One Nebraska reading program is enjoying its thirteenth year. Nebraskans across the state are reading and discussing Black Elk Speaks by John G. Neihardt (1881-1973), the story of the Oglala Lakota visionary and healer Nicholas Black Elk (1863–1950) and his people. The Nebraska Center for the Book sponsors One Book One Nebraska to demonstrate how books and reading connect people across time and place. The 2017 One Book One Nebraska program is co-sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book, Humanities Nebraska, University of Nebraska Press, The John G. Neihardt Foundation, and Nebraska Library Commission. For information about One Book One Nebraska, including current and previous book selections, see http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/programs/onebook.html or join us on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/OneBookOneNebraska.

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission. As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information.

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.

 

 

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Friday Reads: The Grapes of Wrath, by John Steinbeck

I recently re-read The Grapes of Wrath, and it felt so appropriate for today’s current events. My more experienced eyes were able to read the novel on more levels, as well. You know the story: Dust Bowl farm family sets off to California for the American Dream, but something has happened to the American Dream. There’s a wide cast of characters with realistic strengths and honest flaws, and we get the perspective of all of them over the course of the book—and they’re so frankly written, their desires so plainly stated, that we can easily identify with them—we’ve all been some part of some of these characters, at some points in our lives.

This time around, I was much more able to appreciate the unusual structure of the novel—the narrative chapters alternating with the more lyrical, prose-poem chapters. (Try reading any of the lyrical chapters aloud—you’ll be stunned by Steinbeck’s mastery of language when you feel yourself convey the words.) Steinbeck’s use of the form reinforces the timelessness of the tale—the narrative goes on in a familiar linear fashion, but it exists in a shifting, multi-dimensional framework outside of time, which is just as authentic as the narrative it contains, or the narrative that contains it.

There is no space between the author and what the author wants to convey to the reader—Steinbeck is not holding back, or affecting disaffection, in an effort to entice you. He does not play it cool for one second in this book. You will never doubt where his head is at. This earnestness could come off as preachy or strident in less capable hands, but I never had that experience with this book.

And Steinbeck’s earnestness, about the Joad family and what they are going through, about their moderate dreams, and about why they can’t achieve them, struck me as very relevant to today. The novel is set at the crossroads of economic, political and technologic times that resonate soundly today. Stuff you thought we’d have figured out almost a hundred years later, you know. The idea that farming and food production had become so successful, so advanced, and that people still didn’t have enough to eat—it was shocking then, and it’s shocking today. Today it’s not mechanized farming that we are trying to absorb and normalize, but other scientific advances—like GMOs, and the question of who owns the machines farmers use in their fields, and who gets to decide what to plant, to name just a few.

The novel also addresses the dynamic nature of populism, and how it can be used for the power of the people, and how it can be used to divide people and keep them down. The parallels between political leadership and religious leadership are easy to see in the character of the doubting preacher. And we read how religion can be used to bring comfort and encourage love and acceptance—and also how it can be used as a tool to control others, or even to our own disadvantage.

You can see why the book won a Pulitzer Prize. (The Pulitzer is celebrating its 100th birthday this year, by the way.) Also by the way: we have this book in our book club kits, so if you’re in Nebraska, your library can check this book out for your book club. You’ll have some good discussions, I promise. Definitely last, but definitely not least in your discussions—what is up with that ending? There are a lot of ways to interpret it. It would be interesting to hear what different people in the group think about it.

I’ll sign off with an audio clip from YouTube of Woody Guthrie singing “Tom Joad,” because why not.

(There are a few other musicians with songs about Tom Joad—the character seems to have really struck a chord with pop culture. It’s a fun search to try and find all the songs.)

Steinbeck, John. The Grapes of Wrath. New York: Penguin, 2002. Print.
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What’s Up Doc? New State Agency Publications at the Nebraska Library Commission

New state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for April 2017.  Included are annual reports from various agencies, the Nebraska Capitol Commission, the Nebraska Investment Council, the Nebraska Public Service Commission, and the Nebraska Information Technology Commission, to name a few.

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Librarians and Teachers to Host Letter Writing Clinics

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                              
May 2, 2017

FOR MORE INFORMATION:  
Mary Jo Ryan
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

Librarians and Teachers to Host Letter Writing Clinics   

What could motivate Nebraska young people to write letters? A great story and the opportunity to tell an author about how a book made a difference in their own life can provide just the right encouragement. Teachers and librarians across Nebraska were recently awarded grants to host pilot Letter Writing Clinics for students in their area. The clinics will introduce students to the Letters About Literature contest and letter writing techniques. Students will get ideas for selecting books and learn how to craft letters that can be submitted to the Letters About Literature contest, a national reading and writing promotion program that engages nearly 50,000 adolescent and young readers nationwide in grades four through twelve. The competition encourages young people to read, be inspired, and write back to the author (living or dead) who had an impact on their lives.

The Letter Writing Clinic grants were sponsored by Humanities Nebraska, Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Cultural Endowment, and Nebraska Library Commission. The winning applicants are:

  • Lisa Guenther, Norfolk Catholic Elementary School Director of Reading, Norfolk
  • Jennifer Van Winkle, Lux Middle School Teacher, Lincoln
  • Lori Springer, Valparaiso Public Library Director, Valparaiso
  • Noelle Thompson, Lied Scottsbluff Public Library Director, Scottsbluff Library Foundation, Scottsbluff
  • Denise Ketchens, Oshkosh Public Library Director, Oshkosh

This annual writing competition is sponsored nationally by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, with funding from Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The Center for the Book was established in 1977 as a public-private partnership to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading. The Nebraska competition is coordinated and sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Library Commission, Houchen Bindery Ltd., and Chapters Bookstore in Seward.

For more information about Letters About Literature, see http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/programs/LAL.html. To learn more about Letter Writing Clinics, see http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/LALwritingclinics.

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book—supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission. As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services—bringing together people and information. Humanities Nebraska inspires and enriches personal and public life by offering opportunities to thoughtfully engage with history and culture. Humanities Nebraska was established as a state-based affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities in 1973.

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.

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Friday Reads: Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal, by Amy Krouse Rosenthal

I first encountered Amy Krouse Rosenthal’s work when I was shopping for a baby book, back in those pre-kid days when I could still leisurely shop. The pale yellow book I chose was quirky and funny, with just enough sarcasm to balance out the preciousness that is the first year of your kid’s life.  (Amy created several guided journals, and she was also a prolific children’s book author; one of her better known titles is Duck! Rabbit!)

Her latest “grown-up” title, Textbook Amy Krouse Rosenthal, came out on August 9th, 2016. On September 6th, 2016, Amy was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.  She passed away just last month on March 13th, 2017.

I’d had this book on my to-read list for a while, and I wish I’d read it sooner. It is a follow up to her 2005 memoir, Encyclopedia Of An Ordinary Life; she comments that it was only appropriate to follow an encyclopedia with a textbook.  It is a short, fast read, with lots of white space. The book was meant to be “interactive”; Amy offers a cell phone number readers can text, so that at certain points in the book you can send her notes and photos and maybe even win a freshly-baked pie. Texts sent while Amy was alive were kept and added to the book’s website.

Amy writes of moments, of everyday occurrences.  She makes the mundane experiences we all have seem both hilarious and absolutely heartbreaking. She talks of how fleeting life is and how, even if she were to live to 80, the number of times she could cut up an apple, or look at her children, wouldn’t be enough. There was no way she could have known, as she was writing those words, how small that number would become. There is no way for any of us to know, and I’m trying to remember that every day and live by her words: “Make the most of your time here.”

If you are already an “AKR” fan, tomorrow (April 29th) would have been her birthday.  There is a Facebook group, #MoreForAKR, that you can check out if you’d like to pay tribute to Amy’s memory this weekend with acts of kindness.

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Friday Reads: Garvey’s Choice by Nikki Grimes

Garvey is not interested in sports at all.  He is interested in reading, science, and jokes, which his father does not value. His dad keeps trying to pique his interest in becoming an athlete and is not able to drop the topic. Garvey knows he is not an athlete but is not certain who he is. He faces bullies at school due to his weight and awkwardness. Finally Garvey’s best and only friend since first grade guides him to Chorus at school, where he finds his place and a second friend. His wonderful voice is valued and his confidence grows.  Now his dad has something in common with him at long last, since many years ago he sang in a band.

This short, small book offers a heartfelt story about finding one’s place and uses a poetry form that may be new to many.  It is told in tanka poetry which involves five lines with a particular number of syllables for each, and is explained at the back of the book.  Spend a little time with Garvey and friends Joe and Manny to relive what it is like to be an adolescent again.  You will leave content.

Grimes, Nikki (2016). Garvey’s Choice. Honesdale, PA: Wordsong.

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Friday Reads: Just a Geek

For Christmas a few years ago, I received two biographies by Wil Wheaton. Yes, THAT Wil Wheaton. Wesley Crusher himself! I also discovered his blog. And then his Twitter…and then Facebook. Makes me look like a stalker, doesn’t it? But no, I’m not. He puts himself right out there, just like the rest of us!

So, I started with Just A Geek: Unflinchingly honest tales of the search for life, love, and fulfillment beyond the Starship Enterprise. Wow, that’s a freakishly long title. We’ll call it Just A Geek from now on. It’s a collection of some of the posts from his blog, but with updated info and commentary by him.

Now, you may only know Wil Wheaton as an actor. But I’ve discovered that Wil is also a great storyteller. I started just reading his blog, jumping around seeing what he has been saying over the years. He is funny and smart and he can definitely make you all teary-eyed when he wants to.

My favorite part of Just A Geek is when Wil looks back on his old blog posts with a new perspective. Time changes things. He looks back and see events very differently. Sometimes he had to wait until years later to understand what was really happening. And other times, you learn that the real story wasn’t really told in the first place. Looking back on his life helps him come to terms with what really happened and share the truth with his readers.

Yes, there are some Star Trek stories in there, which made the Star Trek fan in me squee. And yes, he is quite the geek, another plus from the geek in me.

If you want to continue reading more stories based on his blog, he has continued them in two more books – Dancing Barefoot and The Happiest Days of Our Lives. If non-fiction or autobiography isn’t your thing, he also writes fiction. I recommend starting with The Day After and Other Stories, a collection of his short stores. I can’t wait to see what he comes up with next!

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Friday Reads: Ms. Bixby’s Last Day by John David Anderson

I am a boy-mom.  (Or at least I was until we welcomed a baby girl into our house almost 2 years ago.  2?!? How is she almost 2?  Wait… where was I? Ah, yes, boys.) I am inclined to fall in love with realistic fiction centered on boys, probably because I can see my own son living these adventures and learning those early-life lessons. I felt especially enamored recently with the 3 friends that narrate Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. Topher, Steve, and Brand are 6th graders, finishing out their last year of elementary school.

Ms. Bixby is one of those rare teachers that is a “Good One”. She has a pink streak in her hair and spouts endless inspiring quotes, or “Bixbyisms”.  She sees what’s special in each of her students and helps them to see it too. But Ms. Bixby suddenly takes ill and can’t finish the school year.  When she has to miss her good-bye party at school, our three heroes decide to skip school and take the party to her in the hospital.

Each boy’s perspective colors the nature of their scheme. Topher, the artist and story-teller, is playing out a military-grade mission in his mind.  Brand is determined to do for Ms Bixby what he never could do for his own injured father.  And Steve is just worried about how much trouble he’s going to be in for ditching school.

Their quest is fraught with peril, as good adventures are wont to be, and the boys find themselves, and their friendship, put to the test.  Will they be able to give Ms. Bixby the last day she deserves?  It’s an incredibly moving story, both laugh-out-loud funny at times, and sob-inducing at others.  This boy-mom highly recommends!

Anderson, John David (2016). Ms. Bixby’s Last Day. New York: Walden Pond Press.

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Young Nebraskans Win Writing Competition

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:                                                  
April 5, 2017

FOR MORE INFORMATION:
Mary Jo Ryan
402-471-3434
800-307-2665

Young Nebraskans Win Writing Competition

Do young people still write letters? They do if they want to tell an author about how books can make a difference in a young person’s life. Young Nebraska writers who wrote winning letters in the Letters About Literature competition will receive award certificates from Gov. Pete Ricketts on April 12, 2017 at a proclamation-signing ceremony celebrating National Library Week, April 9-15, 2017. Letters About Literature is a national reading and writing promotion program. Nearly 50,000 adolescent and young readers nationwide, in grades four through twelve, participated in this year’s Letters About Literature program—hundreds of them from Nebraska. The competition encourages young people to read, be inspired, and write back to the author (living or dead) who had an impact on their lives.

This annual contest is sponsored nationally by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, with funding from Dollar General Literacy Foundation. The Center for the Book was established in 1977 as a public-private partnership to use the resources of the Library of Congress to stimulate public interest in books and reading. The Nebraska competition is coordinated and sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Library Commission, Houchen Bindery Ltd., and Chapters Bookstore in Seward.

Young Nebraska writers to be honored are:

Winners
Caleb Hamilton, Falls City, for a letter to John David Anderson
Ethan Morrow, Omaha, for a letter to Andy Weir
Matthew Heaney, Omaha, for a letter to Theodore Gray

Alternate Winners
Lexi Miller, Falls City, for a letter to R. J.  Palacio
Madelyn Stoffel, Omaha, for a letter R. J.  Palacio
Jack Slagle, Omaha, for a letter to John L. Parker Jr.

The students wrote personal letters to authors explaining how his or her work changed their view of themselves or the world. They selected authors from any genre, fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic. Winners were chosen from three competition levels: upper elementary, middle, and secondary school.

The Nebraska winners will be honored at a luncheon and receive cash prizes and gift certificates. Their winning letters will be placed in the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Bennett Martin Public Library in Lincoln. They will advance to the national competition, with a chance to win a trip to Washington, D.C. for themselves and their parents. For more information see http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/programs/LAL.html.

The Nebraska Center for the Book is housed at the Nebraska Library Commission and brings together the state’s readers, writers, booksellers, librarians, publishers, printers, educators, and scholars to build the community of the book, supporting programs to celebrate and stimulate public interest in books, reading, and the written word. The Nebraska Center for the Book is supported by the Nebraska Library Commission. As the state library agency, the Nebraska Library Commission is an advocate for the library and information needs of all Nebraskans. The mission of the Library Commission is statewide promotion, development, and coordination of library and information services, bringing together people and information.

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The most up-to-date news releases from the Nebraska Library Commission are always available on the Library Commission Website, http://nlc.nebraska.gov/publications/newsreleases.

 

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Friday Reads: The Motion of Puppets by Keith Donohue

A newly married couple move to Quebec for the summer where Kay works as an acrobat while Theo translates a French biography on Eadweard Muybridge (famous for his photographs of galloping horses and movement).

As the couple explores the city, they find an old toy shop with a wooden puppet under a glass jar that can be seen from the dusty window. Kay falls in love with the puppet and returns often to look at it, although the shop remains closed.

On her way home late one night, Kay hears footsteps behind her. Looking for shelter, she sees a light on in the toy shop and rushes inside without a thought.

The next morning, when Theo realizes that Kay never made it home, he starts contacting the police and the other members of Kay’s group of performers. Only Egon believes that something terrible has happened and together they search the city for any trace of Kay.

In alternating chapters with Theo’s desperate search, the point of view switches back to Kay. She’s been transformed into a puppet and now resides in the back room of the toy shop which is run by the “giants” who decide which puppets get to leave and perform. Kay and the other puppets, who have all been magically transformed over the years, can only wake between midnight and dawn. With her human memories fading more each day, Kay must learn to adapt to her new surroundings unless she can somehow escape with the one puppet, Noe, who still clearly remembers her past life or be rescued.

Based on the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice, this story is more odd/magical than creepy/horror. Slower paced, but well written and still a fairly short read.

 

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What’s Up Doc? New State Agency Publications at the Nebraska Library Commission

New state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for March 2017.  Included are titles from the Nebraska Department of Agriculture, the Nebraska Auditor of Public Accounts, the Nebraska Legislature, and the Nebraska Public Employees Retirement System, to name a few.

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It’s #bookfacefriday!

Tom Osborne "More Than Winning" BookFaceIf you’re on social media (Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter) and interested in libraries, you may have come across the hashtags #bookface or #bookfacefriday.

According to the New York Times “bookface involves strategically lining up your face or another body part alongside a book cover that features a matching body part so that there appears a melding of life and art.”

Mayor Helen Boosalis BookFaceTo highlight some of the Nebraska 150 books, we’ve been posing Library Commission staff (and sometimes their kids!) for our own Bookface Fridays. It’s trickier than you’d think! Fortunately we have a photographer with a great eye, and some good-natured staff!

You can see past bookface photos on the Center for the Book’s Facebook page, or check in every Friday to see the latest shot!

Has anyone at your library posted a #bookfacefriday?

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Behind the Scenes: Learn about Recording Talking Books

If you have ever wondered how a book becomes a talking book, you can find out in the most recent edition of the NCB News from the Nebraska Center for the Book. The Nebraska Library Commission’s Talking Book and Braille Service creates audio versions of print materials for the use of Nebraskans with a visual or physical condition or a reading disability that limits the use of regular print. The activities of staff and volunteers throughout the process of mapping, narration, review, postproduction, markup, and duplication are described in an article in the Spring 2017 NCB News (page 9 at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/docs/publications/NCBNewsSpring2017.pdf). For more information see http://nlc.nebraska.gov/tbbs/. To volunteer as a narrator, contact Annette Hall, Volunteer Services Coordinator, 402-471-4033, 800-742-7691, email.

 

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Friday Reads: The Great Mistake, by Mary Roberts Rinehart

The Great Mistake

In the mystery series “Death on Demand”, by Carolyn Hart, several women authors of the golden age are mentioned: Agatha Christy, Ngaio Marsh, Dorothy Sayers, Margery Allingham, and our own Mignon Eberhart. But one author I’d never heard of was Mary Roberts Rinehart. So when an e-book edition of The Great Mistake, one of her titles, popped up on BookBub,  I bought it.

And I wasn’t disappointed. Set in a small town called Beverly set near Town, it is large enough to have a hunt club, and Society. After some digging online, I discovered the book was published in 1940, but nothing of World War II, politics, or international tensions shadow this book. I was a third of the way through before I could clearly say, “well, we don’t do that anymore”.  The characters are from all sections of society, and for the most part are treated very fairly. If anyone comes off looking churlish, it’s the homicide officer from Town, and of course, it’s part of his job, as the outsider. The main characters are all definitely rounded. There is a love story, but surprisingly enough for the time, it is low-key.  The foundation of the mystery is built skillfully, adding to the suspense.

The main character, Pat, comes into “the big house on the Hill,” to be a secretary to the widow of the billionaire who built the house for her and her son.  Maude, the widow, is a vibrant, attractive personality, and busy hostess in need of help for her parties and social responsibilities. And Pat is fond of her.  Tony is the son,  who runs the family firm in Town  and at first they merely get on each others nerves.  Pat never sets out to be a detective of any type, unlike many other main characters of mystery fiction, particularly cozy mysteries. She is meant to be more of a way for us to be a part of the mystery. The events of the story tell on her, as her employer falls mysteriously ill. Then a dear friend’s runaway & divorced husbanded returns for nursing for a terminal illness, (he says.)  A mysterious figure is seen peering in a window, and a night watchman is mugged, stripped of trousers (& keys).  The entire mystery is framed by remarks about writing the entire story down for everyone, which serves as a fine way to find out how the dangling threads are tied up. It all flows so well, the language enhances the story and never shouts out the time period. A smoother read in that regard than Christie.

Mary Roberts Rinehart, (August 12, 1876-September 22, 1958) was often called the American Agatha Christie. While she is considered the source of the phrase “the butler did it”, from her novel The Door, 1930, the writer never used that phrase in the book. She is also considered to have invented the “Had-I-But-Known” school of mystery writing in her book The Circular Staircase, 1908. She wrote novels, plays, short stories, travelogues, and was a war correspondent. With her sons she founded the publishing house Farrer & Rinehart, and served as director.

More about Mary Roberts Rinehart and lists of her titles from Wikipedia

 

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