Category Archives: Books & Reading

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

Nebraska-150-logoNew state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for September 2016.  Included are titles from the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services, the Nebraska Coordinating Commission for Postsecondary Education, the Nebraska Department of Roads, and the Nebraska Supreme Court, to name a few.

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Nebraska’s Champions of Literature and Literacy to Be Honored

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
October 3, 2016

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

Nebraska’s Champions of Literature and Literacy to Be Honored

The Nebraska Center for the Book will present the 2016 Jane Geske Award to City Impact (Lincoln), Literacy Center for the Midlands (Omaha), and Platte Valley Literacy Association (Columbus) at the October 29 Celebration of Nebraska Books in downtown Lincoln. These organizations exemplify effectiveness and dedication to the cause of literacy in Nebraska. These three organizations are empowering Nebraskans through education, mentorship, and increased access to books and reading.

The Nebraska Center for the Book annually presents the Jane Geske Award to organizations, businesses, libraries, schools, associations, or other groups that have made an exceptional contribution to literacy, books, reading, bookselling, libraries, or Nebraska literature. The Jane Geske Award commemorates Geske’s passion for books, and was established in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of the libraries of Nebraska. Jane Geske was the director of the Nebraska Library Commission, a founding member of the Nebraska Center for the Book, a Lincoln bookseller, and a long-time leader in Nebraska library and literary activities. The award is supported by the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress.

The Nebraska Center for the Book will also present the 2016 Mildred Bennett Award to Nebraska poets Twyla Hansen and Marjorie Saiser at the Celebration. Hansen and Saiser will be honored for their contributions to Nebraska writing and for their service in support of Nebraska’s writers and readers.

The Mildred Bennett Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to fostering the literary tradition in Nebraska, reminding us of the literary and intellectual heritage that enriches our lives and molds our world. The award recognized inspired leadership and service on behalf of Nebraska literature, highlighting how the recipients follow the example of Mildred Bennett, the charismatic founder and long-time President of the Willa Cather Pioneer Memorial and Educational Foundation. The award seeks to heighten awareness and interest in Nebraska’s literary heritage and to enrich the lives of Nebraskans and readers everywhere.

The October 29 Celebration, free and open to the public, will also feature presentation of the 2016 Nebraska Book Awards, and some of the winning authors will read from their work. A list of winners is posted at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/awards.html. The Celebration will open with a program by Karen Gettert Shoemaker, author of The Meaning of Names, the 2016 One Book One Nebraska book selection, and the 2017 One Book One Nebraska selection will be announced. The Celebration of Nebraska Books is scheduled for 2:30 – 6:30 p.m. at the Nebraska History Museum, 131 Centennial Mall North, Lincoln NE, with the Nebraska Center for the Book Annual Meeting to be held prior to the Celebration at 1:30 p.m.

The 2016 Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by the Nebraska Center for the Book, Nebraska Library Commission, and the Nebraska State Historical Society Nebraska History Museum—with support from University of Nebraska Press and Humanities Nebraska. For more information see http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/programs/celebration.html and www.facebook.com/NebraskaCenterfortheBook.

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: “Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life,” by Tom Robbins

In Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life, Tom Robbins assures us that we are not getting his autobiography or his memoir. What we are getting is a delightful collection of stories, vignettes, memories, and strange—but charming—non-sequiturs from a writer that can just flat-out write. If you grew up in the sixties, you know Tom Robbins from the irreverent, witty, wacky, bestselling novels that he wrote and that readers (me included) devoured the week they were released. With Even Cowgirls Get the Blues, Jitterbug Perfume, Skinny Legs and All, Still Life with Woodpecker (to list a few), Robbins showed a whole generation of counterculture youth the power of words when the writer has the skill to mix sharp wit with dramatic tales.

The stories in Tibetan Peach Pie are presented more or less chronologically, starting from accounts of Robbins’ exploits as a little tyke (nicknamed Tommy Rotten by his mom) in rural Appalachia during the Depression, and moving through a series of careers and numerous marriages that took him on a journey from U.S. Air Force recruit to beatnik, to hippie, to world traveler—all the time observing and writing about his observations. Especially entertaining for me was the section on his stint in Omaha while working for Strategic Air Command and discovering the art scene at the Joselyn Museum and the jazz scene at the Red Lion Inn.

If you read his novels, knowing more about his life at the time the books were written is a bonus. If you’ve not read his novels, just enjoy the ride.

#FridayREADS Tibetan Peach Pie: A True Account of an Imaginative Life by Tom Robbins ( Ecco Reprint Edition, 2015)

 

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What’s Sally Reading?

Some Favorite Web Sites Shared at the Youth Services Retreat at Camp Carol Joy Holling.

One of the things participants could bring to the retreat in August, if they chose, was a handout of some web sites they found useful.  I was one of a number of people who shared favorite sites and it seems reasonable to share them again here with all of you.  These have all been mentioned here before so I have included the date of the original posting.

Pronunciation:  I would like to mention the place to go to learn how to pronounce an author’s name.  The website (today) notes it has 2,207 author names included. (from 6/4/10)

New Teen Books Coming Out:  Two individuals, librarian Keri Adams and web designer Stefan Hayden, created a convenient way to keep track of upcoming book releases of young adult novels.  They also decided to share it with everyone!  You can go to their web page and find out what’s coming!  The “Upcoming” page lists titles for the current month.  Click “more” at the bottom to go on to the next month(s).  (from 5/14/10)

Refresher for Series Reading:  The Recaptains website reminds you what happened in a book to get you ready to read the next book in a series. It also contains Goodreads summaries and with a click on “read more” you can access more detailed information.  It also includes an “In Short” paragraph, a “What Went Down” bulleted list of actions that occurred in the book, and “How Did It End.”  In 2015 I read through the information on The Diviners by Libba Bray since I planned to read the sequel Lair of Dreams that weekend.  It did a great job of reminding me who the characters are and what events happened in the first book.  It doesn’t cover everything, I just searched for Terry Pratchett and he is not on their author list, still I’m going to be using this site often.  (from 8/25/15)

Spoilers for Award-Winning Books:    One of the founders of the page noted in an email to YALSA-BK that she learned last fall that just in the YA genre alone, 5,000 books are published each year, and no one can read them all before the next year’s titles begin to pile up.  So here is the solution, visit “Spoilers, Sweetie!” a new blog that spills the beans on award-winning titles for children and teens that you may not have time to read.   (from 8/24/16)

I hope you find some of these sites helpful to you.  And if you attended the Youth Services Retreat, I hope you do not mind that I have given the same information here.

winick002HiLo: The Boy Who Crashed to Earth by Judd Winick is a full-color graphic novel and Book #1 in the HiLo (pronounced High-Low) series.  D.J. Lim believes he is only good at one thing, being friends with his next-door neighbor, Gina.  Then she moved away.  Three years later, (he is now 10) D. J. sees HiLo fall to earth and befriends him.  HiLo has problems with his memory so D.J. helps him with things like he needs to wear more than his silver underwear.  And now, Gina has moved back!  Soon the three of them are fighting monsters from outer space and it turns out HiLo is a robot.  Friendship and saving the world!   Plenty of action, heroism and humor great for grades 2-5.  Oh, and a cliff-hanger ending!

(The Nebraska Library Commission receives free copies of children’s and young adult books for review from a number of publishers.  After review, the books are distributed free, via the Regional Library Systems, to Nebraska school and public libraries.)

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Friday Reads: Ghost by Jason Reynolds

reynolds010Castle Crenshaw, who tells everyone “call me Ghost,” is in 7th grade.  He has been fast ever since he and his mom ran away from his father who was threatening them with a gun. Ghost is often on the edge of trouble, but really doesn’t want any, and doesn’t want to upset his mom. One day he watches a track team practicing, and stands up and races the runner he thinks is too smug. Coach offers him a chance to tryout and be on the team, but he has to keep up his schoolwork and stay out of trouble. He tries, but it is hard for him. Coach knows where Ghost is coming from and has been coaching for years to help kids stay out of trouble.

Ghost is an appealing character and readers will understand why he gets into trouble and how he sometimes reacts the wrong way. Coach is understanding, but also tough and Ghost knows he is serious about his conditions to stay on the team.

This title is Book 1 in a proposed four book series titled “Track” and I am looking forward to the next book.

Reynolds, Jason. Ghost. New York: Atheneum Books for Young Readers, 2016.

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Celebrate with Nebraska’s 2016 Book Award Winners at October 29 Festival

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: NCB logo
September 20, 2016

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

Celebrate with Nebraska’s 2016 Book Award Winners at October 29 Festival

Author readings and an awards presentation ceremony will highlight the Nebraska Center for the Book’s Celebration of Nebraska Books on October 29 at the Nebraska State Historical Society’s Nebraska History Museum at 131 Centennial Mall North, in downtown Lincoln. Winners of the 2016 Nebraska Book Awards will be honored and the celebration will include readings by some of the winning authors, designers and illustrators of books with a Nebraska connection published in 2016. And the winners are:

Anthology: A Sandhills Reader: Thirty Years of Great Writing from the Great Plains by Mark Sanders. Publisher: Stephen F. Austin State University Press

Chapbook: Hard Times by Lin Brummels. Publisher: Finishing Line Press

Children/Young Adult: This Strange Wilderness: The Life and Art of John James Audubon by Nancy Plain. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press

Cover/Design/Illustration: Rodeo Nebraska by Mark Harris. Design by N. Putens. Publisher: Nebraska State Historical Society

Illustration Honor: The Fishes of Nebraska by Robert A. Hrabik, Steven C. Schainost, Richard H. Stasiak, Edward J. Peters. Illustrated by Justin T. Sipiorski. Design by Jim L. Friesen. Publisher: Conservation and Survey Division of University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Creative Nonfiction: The Ordinary Spaceman: from Boyhood Dreams to Astronaut by Clayton C. Anderson. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press

Fiction: The Fishermen: A Novel by Chigozie Obioma. Publisher: Back Bay Books

Fiction Short Story Honor: A Man in Trouble: Stories by Lon Otto. Publisher: Brighthorse Books

Nonfiction Current Biography: Nebrasketball: Coach Tim Miles and a Big Ten Team on the Rise by Scott Winter. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press

Nonfiction Historical Biography: A Sister’s Memories: The Life and Work of Grace Abbott from the Writings of Her Sister, Edith Abbott by Edith Abbott and John Sorensen. Publisher: University of Chicago Press

Nonfiction Nebraska as Place: New Prairie Kitchen: Stories and Seasonal Recipes from Chefs, Farmers, and Artisans of the Great Plains by Summer Miller. Publisher: Midway

Nonfiction Reference: The Fishes of Nebraska by Robert A. Hrabik, Steven C. Schainost, Richard H. Stasiak, Edward J. Peters. Illustrated by Justin T. Sipiorski. Design by Jim L. Friesen. Publisher: Conservation and Survey Division of University of Nebraska-Lincoln

Nonfiction True Crime: In Cold Storage: Sex and Murder on the Plains by James W. Hewitt. Publisher: University of Nebraska Press

Nonfiction Wildlife: A Chorus of Cranes: The Cranes of North America and the World by Paul A. Johnsgard and Thomas D. Mangelsen. Publisher: University Press of Colorado

Nonfiction Wildlife Honor: Hunting for Food: Guide to Harvesting, Field Dressing and Cooking Wild Game by Jenny Nguyen and Rick Wheatley. Publisher: Living Ready

Poetry: Breezes on Their Way to Being Winds by Charles Peek. Publisher: Finishing Line Press.

Poetry Honor: Quiet City by Susan Aizenberg. Publisher: BkMk Press

The celebration, free and open to the public, will also honor winners of the 2016 Jane Geske and Mildred Bennett awards. The Mildred Bennett Award recognizes individuals who have made a significant contribution to fostering the literary tradition in Nebraska, reminding us of the literary and intellectual heritage that enriches our lives and molds our world. The Jane Geske Award is presented to Nebraska organizations for exceptional contribution to literacy, books, reading, libraries, or literature in Nebraska. It commemorates Geske’s passion for books, and was established in recognition of her contributions to the well-being of the libraries of Nebraska.

The 2016 One Book One Nebraska selection, The Meaning of Names (Red Hen Press) by Karen Gettert Shoemaker, will be featured in a presentation by Shoemaker about this Nebraska-set novel with a World War I backdrop, keynoting the Celebration at 2:45 p.m.

The Nebraska Center for the Book Annual Meeting will be held at 1:30 p.m.—just prior to the 2:30-6:30 p.m. Celebration. An awards reception honoring the winning authors, book signings, and the announcement of the 2017 One Book One Nebraska book choice will conclude the festivities.

The Celebration of Nebraska Books is sponsored by Nebraska Center for the Book and Nebraska Library Commission, with support from the Friends of the University of Nebraska Press and Nebraska State Historical Society’s Nebraska History Museum. Humanities Nebraska provides support for One Book One Nebraska. 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 national Center for the Book in the Library of Congress and 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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NCompass Live: One Book For Nebraska Kids & One Book For Nebraska Teens, with ‘Stick Dog’ author Tom Watson!

NCompass live small

Join us for next week’s NCompass Live, “One Book For Nebraska Kids & One Book For Nebraska Teens, with Stick Dog author Tom Watson!”, on Wednesday, Sept. 21, 10:00-11:00 am Central Time.

stickdog-stickdog_1Wouldn’t it be great if kids all over Nebraska were talking about books? The Nebraska Library Commission & the Regional Library Systems have a program where kids can all girlwhowassupposedtodieread and discuss the same book. Join Sally Snyder, the NLC’s Coordinator of Children and Young Adult Library Services, to learn all about the 2016 program: One Book For Nebraska Kids, Stick Dog by Tom Watson, and One Book For Nebraska Teens, The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die by April Henry.

Sally will also be joined by Stick Dog author, Tom Watson!

 

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Sept. 28 – Pokemon GO @ Your Library
  • Oct. 12 – Circulating the Internet: How to Loan WiFi Hotspots
  • Oct. 19 – NO NCOMPASS LIVE THIS WEEK – ENJOY NLA/NSLA!
  • Oct. 26 – Library ComicCon

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: Bloody Jack, Being an Account of the Curious Adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, Ship’s Boy by L.A. Meyer

bloodyjackI made a new friend this summer.  Jacky Faber is many things – fierce pirate, skilled sailor, cunning thief, loyal friend, talented musician, and… a girl.  Mary “Jacky” Faber is left on the streets of London in 1797 after an illness takes her parents and sister.  After watching too many fellow orphans be done in by the mean streets, she cuts her hair, dresses as a boy, and talks her way into a ship’s boy position on a British naval vessel.  For more than 2 years she pulls off her “deception,” despite her maturing body and a blossoming crush on a fellow shipmate, Jaimy.  During this time, she earns her nickname “Bloody Jack” after a skirmish with pirates, as well as a promotion to midshipman, before being discovered as female and packed off to a Boston finishing school. Things don’t always go well for Jacky – there are certainly darker elements to her story, as she must avoid lecherous sailors and the hangman’s noose – but she maintains a positive demeanor and always manages to “bob back up.” Readers will gain much in nautical terminology as well as historical facts.

If you have the option of listening to the audio version, I’d highly recommend that route.  Kathryn Kellgren’s treatment of Jacky Faber has often been compared to Jim Dale’s narration of Harry Potter – she really brings the characters to life.  Her wonderful voice has led me to have more than a few “driveway moments.”

Bloody Jack is the first of a 12 book young adult historical fiction series which follows Jacky around the globe as she tries to make her way in the world and reunite with her beloved Jaimy. I am currently partway through the tenth book and will sorely miss Jacky when the series ends.

Meyer, L.A. Bloody Jack: being an account of the curious adventures of Mary “Jacky” Faber, ship’s boy. San Diego: Harcourt, 2002.

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Young Readers Invited to Write to Favorite Authors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: ne-affiliate
September 12, 2016

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

 

Young Readers Invited to Write to Favorite Authors

Young readers in grades 4-12 are invited to write a personal letter to an author for the Letters about Literature (LAL) contest, a national reading and writing promotion program. The letter can be to any author (living or dead) from any genre—fiction or nonfiction, contemporary or classic—explaining how that author’s work changed the student’s view of the world. The 24th annual writing contest for young readers is made possible by a generous grant from the Dollar General Literacy Foundation, with additional support from gifts to the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress, which promotes the contest through its affiliate Centers for the Book, state libraries and other organizations. This reading and writing promotion is sponsored in Nebraska by the Nebraska Center for the Book and Nebraska Library Commission, and supported by Houchen Bindery Ltd. and Chapters Books in Seward.

Prizes will be awarded on both the state and national levels. The Nebraska Center for the Book’s panel of judges will select the top letter writers in the state, to be honored in a proclamation-signing ceremony at the state capitol during National Library Week in April 2017. Their winning letters will be placed in the Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors at Bennett Martin Public Library in Lincoln. Nebraska winners will receive state prizes, and then advance to the national judging.

A panel of national judges for the Center for the Book in the Library of Congress will select one National Winner per competition level (Level I for grades 4-6, Level II for grades 7-8, and Level III for grades 9-12) to receive a $1,000 cash award, to be announced in May 2017. The judges will also select one National Honor winner on each competition level to receive a $200 cash award.

Teachers, librarians, and parents can download free teaching materials on reader response and reflective writing, along with contest details and entry forms, at www.read.gov/letters. Nebraska-specific information (including lists of Nebraska winners of past competitions) is available at http://centerforthebook.nebraska.gov/programs/LAL.html. Get inspired by listening to Nebraska winners, Ashley Xiques and Sydney Kohl, read and talk about and their winning letters to authors that meant something to them in their own lives, see NET Radio’s All About Books (http://netnebraska.org/basic-page/radio/all-about-books). Submissions from Grades 9-12 must be postmarked by December 2, 2016. Submissions from Grades 4-8 must be postmarked by January 9, 2017. For more information contact Mary Jo Ryan, MaryJo.Ryan@nebraska.com, 402-471-3434 or 800-307-2665.
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

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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.

LAL16-17graphic

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NCompass Live: Nebraska 150 Books: Read Nebraska Authors with your book group!

NCompass live small

Join us for next week’s NCompass Live, “Nebraska 150 Books: Read Nebraska Authors with your book group!”, on Wednesday, Sept. 14, 10:00-11:00 am Central Time.

Celebrate the Nebraska 150 Sesquicentennial by reading a title from the Nebraska 150 Book list with your book group. Several titles from this list are available from the Library Commission for your book group to check out and this session will introduce you to a few of the selections.

Presenters: Erin Willis, Jane Pope Geske Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors and Lisa Kelly, Director of Information Services, Nebraska Library Commission

Upcoming NCompass Live events:

  • Sept. 21 – One Book For Nebraska Kids & One Book For Nebraska Teens
  • Sept. 28 – Pokemon GO and Your Library
  • Oct. 12 – Circulating the Internet: How to Loan WiFi Hotspots
  • Oct. 19 – NO NCOMPASS LIVE THIS WEEK – ENJOY NLA/NSLA!
  • Oct. 26 – Library ComicCon

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: Bellweather Rhapsody

Bellweather RhapsodyMusic, murder, mystery!

Fifteen years after a murder/suicide in room 712, hundreds of talented high school musicians gather for an annual festival at the Bellweather Hotel  (which is described as something between the Overlook and the Grand Budapest Hotel).

Twins, Alice and Rabbit, try to imagine life post-high school, a witness to the 1982 tragedy returns to face her fears, the grumpy conductor is missing a few fingers, and the director is disliked by everyone, including the elderly and deeply loyal concierge. Everything goes as well as competitive musical festivals usually go, until a blizzard threatens to trap them inside and Alice’s roommate goes missing. Alice swears it was murder, others believe it’s the ghosts in room 712, or it could all be just a terrible prank.

 

 

 

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

Nebraska-150-logoNew state agency publications have been received at the Nebraska Library Commission for August 2016.  Included are titles from the Nebraska Department of Economic Development, the Nebraska Public Power District, The Nebraska State Historical Society, and the Nebraska Workers’ Compensation Court, to name a few.

Posted in Books & Reading, Education & Training, General, Information Resources, What's Up Doc / Govdocs | Leave a comment

Friday Reads: The Magicians and Mrs. Quint by Galen Beckett

The Magicians and Mrs. Quint

The Magicians and Mrs. Quint

At first all I could see where the parallels with Jane Austen’s Pride & Prejudice,  in The Magicians and Mrs Quint, by Galen Beckett, but they fell away. While the era it reverberates with to me is definitely the Regency era in England, the story is at the same time familiar, and strange. When the characters discuss something that in our world would be unusual, in  the most normal way one is jarred away from the everyday Regency path. The characters can’t be certain the amount of day or night they will have, except by an almanac. A night may be 30 hours long, and a day less than eight hours of sunlight. And yet this oddity is not ruled by the season or any obvious astronomic explanation.

The story begins with a family just hanging on to gentility, just barely staving off the poorhouse. The father was a magician, until an event working with “magick” cripples his mind. The wife will not have magic spoken of in the house, but the oldest, most sensible sister of three, is fascinated with it, and reads as many books on it as she can in hopes of helping her father. The only thing odd about this is that she’s a woman. Women cannot work magic, of course, or so it is said.

Additionally, two young men who are friends, one attempting to find the financial means to return to College, and the other living a frivolous life, with occasional demands from his father to take on responsibility, go down their paths. While the poor one moves on the edge of conspiracies to make ends meet, the other begins to find magic invading his life.

This is an intriguing book with appealing language and the sparkle of magic. It also has appealing characters, delightful turns of phrase, and plot that never quite moves as you think it will.

Book review of The Magicians & Mrs Quent by Tammy Moore on the SF Site.

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Digitized and Free to Read Online : Archive of 6,000 Historical Children’s Books

Book 1We can learn much about how a historical period viewed the abilities of its children by studying its children’s literature. Occupying a space somewhere between the purely didactic and the nonsensical, most children’s books published in the past few hundred years have attempted to find a line between the two poles, seeking a balance between entertainment and instruction. However, that line seems to move closer to one pole or another depending on the prevailing cultural sentiments of the time. And the very fact that children’s books were hardly published at all before the early 18th century tells us a lot about when and how modern ideas of childhood as a separate category of existence began.

“By the end of the 18th century,” writes Newcastle University professor M.O. Grenby, Book 2“children’s literature was a flourishing, separate and secure part of the publishing industry in Britain.” The trend accelerated rapidly and has never ceased—children’s and young adult books now drive sales in publishing (with 80% of YA books bought by grown-ups for themselves). Grenby notes that “the reasons for this sudden rise of children’s literature” and its rapid expansion into a booming market by the early 1800s “have never been fully explained.” We are free to speculate about the social and pedagogical winds that pushed this historical change.

Book 3Or we might do so, at least, by examining the children’s literature of the Victorian era, perhaps the most innovative and diverse period for children’s literature thus far by the standards of the time. And we can do so most thoroughly by surveying the thousands of mid- to late 19th century titles at the University of Florida’s Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature. Their digitized collection currently holds over 6,000 books free to read online from cover to cover, allowing you to get a sense of what adults in Britain and the U.S. wanted children to know and believe.

 

Several genres flourished at the time: religious instruction, naturally, but also language Book 4and spelling books, fairy tales, codes of conduct, and, especially, adventure stories—pre-Hardy Boys and Nancy Drew examples of what we would call young adult fiction, these published principally for boys. Adventure stories offered a (very colonialist) view of the wide world; in series like the Boston-published Zig Zag and English books like Afloat with Nelson, both from the 1890s, fact mingled with fiction, natural history and science with battle and travel accounts. But there is another distinctive strain in the children’s literature of the time, one which to us—but not necessarily to the Victorians—would seem contrary to the imperialist young adult novel.

Book 5For most Victorian students and readers, poetry was a daily part of life, and it was a central instructional and storytelling form in children’s lit. The A.L.O.E.’s Bible Picture Book from 1871, above, presents “Stories from the Life of Our Lord in Verse,” written “simply for the Lord’s lambs, rhymes more readily than prose attracting the attention of children, and fastening themselves on their memories.” Children and adults regularly memorized poetry, after all. Yet after the explosion in children’s publishing the former readers were often given inferior examples of it. The author of the Bible Picture Book admits as much, begging the indulgence of older readers in the preface for “defects in my work,” given that “the verses were made for the pictures, not the pictures for the verses.”

This is not an author, or perhaps a type of literature, one might suspect, that thinks highly Book 6of children’s aesthetic sensibilities.  We find precisely the opposite to be the case in the wonderful Elfin Rhymes from 1900, written by the mysterious “Norman” with “40 drawings by Carton Moorepark.” Whoever “Norman” may be (or why his one-word name appears in quotation marks), he gives his readers poems that might be mistaken at first glance for unpublished Christina Rossetti verses; and Mr. Moorepark’s illustrations rival those of the finest book illustrators of the time, presaging the high quality of Caldecott Medal-winning books of later decades. Elfin Rhymes seems like a rare oddity, likely published in a small print run; the care and attention of its layout and design shows a very high opinion of its readers’ imaginative capabilities.

Book 7This title is representative of an emerging genre of late Victorian children’s literature, which still tended on the whole, as it does now, to fall into the trite and formulaic. Elfin Rhymes sits astride the fantasy boom at the turn of the century, heralded by hugely popular books like Frank L. Baum’s Wizard of Oz series and J.M. Barrie’s Peter Pan. These, the Harry Potters of their day, made millions of young people passionate readers of modern fairy tales, representing a slide even further away from the once quite narrow, “remorselessly instructional… or deeply pious” categories available in early writing for children, as Grenby points out.

Where the boundaries for kids’ literature had once been Book 8narrowly fixed by Latin grammar books and Pilgrim’s Progress, by the end of the 19th century, the influence of science fiction like Jules Verne’s, and of popular supernatural tales and poems, prepared the ground for comic books, YA dystopias, magician fiction, and dozens of other children’s literature genres we now take for granted, or—in increasingly large numbers—we buy to read for ourselves. Enter the Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature here, where you can browse several categories, search for subjects, authors, titles, etc, see full-screen, zoomable images of book covers, download XML versions, and read all of the over 6,000 books in the collection with comfortable reader views. Find more classics in our collection, 800 Free eBooks for iPad, Kindle & Other Devices.

“Reprinted from Open Culture: The Best Free Cultural & Educational Media on the Web.  Article by Josh Jones, August 30, 2016.”

 

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Friday Reads: The Celestial Railroad

Like Leonard Nimoy and Thin Lizzy, Nathaniel Hawthorne is somewhat unfairly judged on the basis of his one big hit.  I’d wager that lots of you were forced to read The Scarlet Letter at some point in your school days and, like me, did not find it magnificent.  Letter is a great book to teach, as it makes literary mechanics very noticeable.  But it’s not particularly fun to read, especially when you’re a teen.  The prose is dense, words piled high as Hawthorne describes hats and tunics in obsessive detail, and there’s plenty of moralizing.   The book’s merits are buried behind the walls of text.

Celestial Railroad book coverThankfully, Hawthorne covered a lot of the same themes in his short stories.  The excesses that sometimes hampered his novels are excised and what’s left is relatively trim and reader-friendly.  There are many echoes of Letter here.  Sin and conscience are examined in “Roger Malvin’s Burial”.  “The Maypole of Merry Mount” analyzes Puritan society and its distaste for good times.  There’s a much better symbol than an A in “The Minister’s Black Veil”.  And, though the stories fluctuate in quality, the writing throughout is less laborious than anything in his novels.   Hawthorne was a guy writing stories in the 1800s and the stories were mostly about the 1600s and 1700s, so it’s unfair to expect him to read like Janet Evanovich.  But the prose here has some life and sometimes he even dips into very black humor:

“[T]here sat the light-heeled reprobate in the stocks; or if he danced, it was round the whipping post, which might be termed the Puritan Maypole.”

Yikes!  My favorite aspect of these stories is the treatment of the Puritans.  Hawthorne was viewing America’s past from the rapidly-changing nineteenth century.  Transcendentalists like Emerson and Thoreau were popularizing sensitive, romantic spirituality—pretty much the polar opposite of hard, cold Puritanism.  And yet Hawthorne never really depicts Puritans as simply primitives or America’s embarrassing, witch-hating grandparents.   He portrays the past in an even-handed way, not as a bunch of villains and their victims: the “immitigable zealots” of “Merry Mount” are also the anti-despots of “The Gray Champion”.   Both good and bad get their time in the spotlight.  Scarlet Letter and House of Seven Gables covered much of the same ground, but it’s conveyed more effectively in these short stories.

If you have sad memories of Hawthorne, I’d recommend giving a collection like this a try.  It sometimes pays to give the classics a second look.

Hawthorne, N. (2006). The celestial railroad, and other stories. New York: Signet Classics.

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What’s Sally Reading?

Spoilers for Award-Winning Books

One of the founders of the 5 Minute Librarian blog page noted in an email to YALSA-BK that she learned last fall that just in the YA genre alone, 5,000 books are published each year, and no one can read them all before the next year’s titles begin to pile up.  So here is the solution, visit Spoilers, Sweetie!  a new blog that spills the beans on award-winning titles for children and teens that you may not have time to read.

I appreciated that when you click on a category, say YALSA Nonfiction Award 2016, the title and author come up accompanied by a gray box.  To read the spoiler just click on the box.  This way you do not accidently uncover a spoiler you didn’t want to see.  Readers of the blog are also invited to join the team and help provide spoilers for others.

Another portion of this web site has a chronological listing of book awards and when they are announced.  Also handy information.

Stower025Troll and the Oliver by Adam Stower is a picture book for preschool through first grade.  Every day, usually around noon, Troll tried to catch Oliver and eat him!  Every day Oliver was too fast and agile and he always got away.  One day Troll did not jump out to try to catch him.  Oliver was very cautious on the way home.  He decided Troll had given up and began to mix ingredients for cake.  Then Troll jumped out of the cupboard and gulped down Oliver!  He tasted terrible so Troll spit him out again.  Luckily the timer dinged and out came cake!  As it turns out trolls love cake so Oliver & Troll share the cake with each other.  Clever—the world is a better place with trolls full of cake!

(The Nebraska Library Commission receives free copies of children’s and young adult books for review from a number of publishers.  After review, the books are distributed free, via the Regional Library Systems, to Nebraska school and public libraries.)

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Friday Reads: Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil

What do the following have in common?

  • An outrageous, irrepressible drag queenA piano-playing attorney who stays one step ahead of creditors by serially squatting in local mansions
  • An antiques dealer tried for one murder four times over nine years who enlists the help of a local voodoo priestess in his defense
  • The gravesites of song writer Johnny Mercer and poet Conrad Aiken
  • A college bulldog mascot dressed for game day in suit and tie
  • A local debutante whose mother hires Peter Duchin and his orchestra for her party
  • A failed inventor who reportedly possesses a poison powerful enough to spike the water supply and kill everyone in town
  • A pianist/singer who knows 6,000 songs by heart and recognizes no speed limit when driving from gig to gig

All of these characters and situations – and more – appear in the novelized, non-fiction book Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. The author, a magazine writer in New York City for decades, discovered the magic of airline supersaver fares in the early 1980s which offered travel to U.S. cities for less than the nouvelle cuisine restaurant meals he critiqued. Through cheap travel to a sampling of continental U.S. cities, the author finds himself drawn more and more to Savannah, Georgia with its charms and eccentricities, so much so that he finally ends up living more of the year there than in NYC.

This title happens to be the one our Nebraska Library Commission book club will be discussing at its August session (and we have a book club kit in case your local group would like to read it). From shocking, to laugh-out-loud funny, the book manages to draw in the reader into the lives of the characters. Ultimately, Savannah itself becomes a character. Its history is fascinating. One example is that fact that, through southern charm and good manners, the then-mayor managed to talk the union general Sherman out of burning the city to ground in his march across the south.

The city itself, however, is not all charm and hospitality, with its beautiful squares that form the basis of the “old” Savannah. The city has traditionally stiff-armed any attempts to bring in local economic development and any chain stores. Such entities moved on up or down the road to Augusta or Atlanta. But the lack of economic opportunity, the still-present stratification of society along black and white lines certainly contributed to Savannah being named “Murder Capital of the U.S.” at one point.

Give it a try. I think you will be charmed, shocked and tickled with Mr. Berendt’s loving yet dispassionate treatment of Savannah. It certainly has led me to put the city on my list of must-see places sometime in my life.

 

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NCompass Live: Nebraska 150 Books: Celebrating Nebraska’s Sesquicentennial Through Literature

NCompass live small

Join us for next week’s NCompass Live, “Nebraska 150 Books: Celebrating Nebraska’s Sesquicentennial Through Literature”, on Wednesday, August 17, 10:00-11:00 am Central Time.

Nebraska 150 Books is a community reading initiative held in conjunction with the Nebraska 150 Sesquicentennial Celebration. This reading program provides the opportunity for Nebraskans to recognize our shared heritage through books. The power of literature to help us understand culture, community and a shared history is the impetus behind the Nebraska 150 Books project. In this program, you will learn the process for developing a compelling reading list, how to create a successful marketing campaign for a community reading initiative, and how to get readers excited about regional authors and their books!

Presenters: Erin Willis, Curator, Heritage Room of Nebraska Authors, Bennett Martin Public Library and Judy Keetle, Chair, Nebraska 150 Books Selection Committee.

  • August 24 – Making the Most of Maker Camp at Your Library
  • August 31 – Coding Corner @ Your Library
  • Sept. 7 – The Story of Trading Stories, A Native American Film Festival
  • Sept. 14 – Nebraska 150 Books: Read Nebraska Authors with your book group!

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 Little Paris Bookshop

ParisBookshop“Monsieur Perdu calls himself a literary apothecary. From his floating bookstore in a barge on the Seine, he prescribes novels for the hardships of life. Using his intuitive feel for the exact book a reader needs, Perdu mends broken hearts and souls. The only person he can’t seem to heal through literature is himself; he’s still haunted by heartbreak after his great love disappeared. She left him with only a letter, which he has never opened.

After Perdu is finally tempted to read the letter, he hauls anchor and departs on a mission to the south of France, hoping to make peace with his loss and discover the end of the story. Joined by a bestselling but blocked author and a lovelorn Italian chef, Perdu travels along the country’s rivers, dispensing his wisdom and his books, showing that the literary world can take the human soul on a journey to heal itself.

Internationally bestselling and filled with warmth and adventure, The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is a love letter to books,” a masterpiece of character description, and “meant for anyone who believes in the power of stories to shape people’s lives.”

Reprinted from Amazon.

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Get Your Library Ready for the Total Solar Eclipse — August 21, 2017

StarnetAre you ready for the celestial event of the century? In just over a year from now (August 21, 2017), the shadow of the moon will sweep across the United States from the Pacific Ocean to the Atlantic Ocean in a spectacle that hasn’t occurred in 99 years! The National Center for Interactive Learning (NCIL) at the Space Science Institute has recently been awarded a grant for its NASA@ My Library program. Partners include NASA, ALA, The Girl Scouts, SETI, and many other organizations. The STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net) is managed by NCIL. The STAR_Net team wants to work with your library and thousands of others to participate in this national event. Some fortunate libraries will be able to experience a total solar eclipse though every library in the country will observe at least a partial eclipse.

So jump on the eclipse train!

Go to: Eclipse Registration to register your library.

We will, in turn, let you know how to access the following valuable resources:

· Vetted Multimedia for Programming/Promotion (Images, Video, Animations, Artwork)

· Media Template Package (Press Release, PSA, Community Letter, Media Alert)

· Private Eclipse Forum (registered libraries)

· Inclusion in Special Eclipse Promotions (Social Media, Blogs, Newsletters, etc.)

· Enrollment in STAR_Net’s Eclipse Newsletter

When your eclipse event is planned, you can share your press release, flyer, website link, or like material with us to receive 50 free Solar Shades for your patrons to watch along with us! (shades are available on a first come, first serve basis).

The STAR Library Education Network (STAR_Net) is supported by a grant from the National Science Foundation and other funders. STAR stands for Science-Technology Activities and Resources. This ground-breaking program includes a traveling STEM exhibition program, the development of STEM activities for public libraries, a comprehensive training program that includes in-person workshops and webinars, the development of the STAR_Net Online Community, and a research and evaluation program. STAR_Net is led by the Space Science Institute’s National Center for Interactive Learning. Partners include the American Library Association, Lunar and Planetary Institute, and the Afterschool Alliance along with many other organizations.

www.starnetlibraries.org

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