Friday, April 24, 2009

Upcoming Events in the Children's Room

We have some great programs coming up in the Children’s Room over the next couple of weeks. Our annual summer reading campaign kicks off in early May and will run throughout the summer. Please talk to Miss Lindsay or Miss Rachel to find out how to sign up and start earning prizes. Don’t forget your library card so you can borrow some of our wonderful new children’s books. We have some great titles coming in.

Program: Saturday Crafternoon
Date: April 25th
Time: 2 p.m.
Ages: 4+ with an adult
Description: Join us in making a simple story-inspired or seasonal craft.

Program: Preschool Story Time
Date: April 29th
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Ages: for 3-5 year olds
Description: Join us for stories, songs, rhymes and more!

Program: Summer Reading Kickoff – After School Crafts
Date: May 5th
Time: 3:30-5:30 p.m.
Ages: 8+
Description: Our summer reading theme this year is “Be Creative @ Your Library” and we need to make our summer reading bulletin board display. Stop by the children’s room after school to help me make decorations for the display board. The art you create will be on display all summer. Come in after school and show off your creative side!

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

The Big Read DC: The Heart is a Lonely Hunter

The Big Read, an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts, runs from April 23 - May 23, 2009. The book for DC this year is The Heart is a Lonely Hunter by Carson McCullers.

The Author:
Carson McCullers was only 19 years old when she began writing The Heart is A Lonely Hunter, which she had published in 1940 at the age of 23.

The Setting:
A small Georgia mill town in the late 1930s

The Characters:
Biff Brannon, the lonely owner of the local cafe
Mick Kelly, a young teenage tomboy with big dreams and a passion for music
Benedict Copeland, the well-spoken negro doctor who tries to lift up his race
Jake Blount, an argumentative alcoholic hoping for social revolution
John Singer, the deaf-mute man in whom the other four characters confide

Heather's Review:
The first sentence of the book is: "In the town there were two mutes, and they were always together." I admit this struck me as a rather strange beginning. What small town has more than one mute in it? Yet I kept reading, and soon the five main characters each unfolded their story. All of them are outcasts burdened by worry for themselves and for each other: for the African American race, for the human race, for the working class, the lonely, the disabled, and for those too poor to live out their dreams. This is not chic lit. This is not what you want to read on a seaside vacation, unless you are going there to brood. But, like any Great American Novel, The Heart is a Lonely Hunter is worth your time and effort. Read slowly, because there is so much in the book, you will need to take breaks to digest it all. The prose is straight-forward and the themes relentless.
Other Works by McCullers:
Reflections in a Golden Eye
The Ballad of the Sad Cafe
The Member of the Wedding
Clock Without Hands.
Big Read Programs at DCPL:
Stop by any branch to pick up a program guide for book discussions, exhibits, films, and more. Check back with Takoma Park soon regarding a book discussion in May.

Saturday, April 11, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are: Book to Film Discussion

One of the most imaginative and cherished children's stories ever told is Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak. The book was a triumph when it was first published in 1963 and it won the Caldecott Medal in 1964 for Sendak's artful and original illustrations. The book was a favorite of mine as a child, in fact the tattered copy that belonged to my older brother and I has made it through nearly 30 years of use and appreciation since my family first purchased a copy in the late 1970's. As such, it has a permanent place on my personal bookshelf.

One of the great things about this story is that you can re-read it many times and see it from a different perspective or appreciate it on a new level each time. This is true for young and old alike. The story itself has the power to awaken a whole plethora of emotions: freedom, love, fear, determination, pride, anger, etc. When I read this book, I am Max. I am Wild Thing. We all are. Beyond the text alone, the dynamic relationship between the text and the ebb and flow of the illustrations takes on significant meaning. What readers are able to take away from Where the Wild Things Are, from front cover to back cover, is a very personal journey. Yet there are reactions and feelings that take place among readers of this story that are universal, or at least that can be universally understood and reflected upon. In essence, that is what makes a story a classic.

With that, I wonder what happens to such a classic story when it is taken from its original format and put into a different kind of media. On October 16, 2009, the film version of Where the Wild Things Are will have its major theatrical release. When a short, picture book story is adapted to fill the space of a feature length film, it is clear the screenwriters have to add elements to elongate the storyline. This often means taking liberties to fill in that which is not said on the page in a book to explain how we get from beginning to end.

While I appreciate film as a form of artistic expression, I personally find it rare when a film that has been adapted from a book lives up to or surpasses the quality of the originally printed story. When the film being created is based on such a glorious and beloved book, I am all the more skeptical. Don't get me wrong, the trailer is amazing and I am hopeful the film will live up to expectations, but that is yet to be seen.

Here are some starting points for discussion. Take the time to leave a comment and join the discussion!

What are your thoughts on this?
Have you read Where the Wild Things Are? Did you know about the upcoming film?
Does it take away or enhance your appreciation for a great piece of literature, children's or adult, when you see that story adapted for the big screen?
What do you like/dislike about each respective medium?
What are the advantages/disadvantages of a picture book vs. a feature length film?
Can a film ever truly live up to or surpass the quality of the book which it is based upon? Do you have an example?

Friday, April 10, 2009

The Composer Is Dead and Other New Picture Books

From the author of the amazingly popular and decidedly horrid and very unpleasant A Series of Unfortunate Events, a book series of 13 novels for children, comes a new picture book.

Daniel Handler, writing under the pseudonym Lemony Snicket, has created a picture book of intrigue and suspicion with The Composer is Dead. The book, illustrated by Carson Ellis with a CD insert by Nathaniel Stookey, is a murder mystery taking place in an orchestra. Somebody or something has killed the composer and it is up to the inspector to track down the culprit. The investigation introduces children to the various musical instruments. The vivid descriptions of the role each instrument plays touches the reader on many levels. The unexpected ending is delightful and realistic. The accompanying illustrations lend themselves perfectly to the flow of the story and help accentuate the quirky storyline.

As this book is a bit text heavy for a picture book, it is best read with older children who can fully engage in the colorful descriptions and the "whodunnit" theme. The publishing house Harper Collins is offering a sweepstakes for people to win a free copy of Snicket's new picture book. If you are interested to enter, please click here.

The Composer Is Dead was originally an orchestral creation by Stookey with narration by Snicket.

Other New Picture Books in the Children's Room Include:

10,000 Dresses - By Marcus Ewert
Give a Goat - By Jan West Schrock
Most Loved in All the World - By Tonya Cherie Hegamin
Ron's Big Mission - By Rose Blue and Corinne J. Naden
Tsunami! - By Kimiko Kajikawa
When Louis Armstrong Taught Me Scat - By Muriel Harris Weinstein

(Note: Illustration From this San Francisco Chronicle article.)

YA and Adult Events in April

Resume and Job Searching Workshop
Wednesday, April 15
10:00 - 11:30 am
given by Adult Librarian Jeanne Lauber
please call to register @ 576-7252

Teen Poetry Slam
Thursday, April 23
7:00 pm
given by YA Librarian Heather Petsche
April is National Poetry Month! Celebrate by performing your poetry (or someone else's, if you must.) Time limit is 3 minutes per poem. We'll have judging, prizes, and light snacks.

Thursday, April 9, 2009

April Events in the Children's Room

Our major Spring program, Eggstravaganza, took place on April 4th and it was a huge success. Nearly a hundred people showed up to hunt for eggs and candy on the front lawn of the library. Children's librarians Rachel Meit and I carefully hid over 300 hundred candy filled eggs. What took us an hour to hide, the children found in just a few minutes flat!

Besides the egg hunt, we also offered crafts, coloring, a bean bag toss, a jelly bean guessing jar, and of course, refreshments. If you missed Eggstravaganza, don't fret! We still have lots of great programs coming up this April.

Program: Preschool Story Time
Date: Every Wednesday in April
Time: 10:30 a.m.
Ages: for 3-5 year olds
Description: Join us for stories, songs, rhymes and more!

Program: Pajama Story Time
Date: Tuesday April 14th
Time: 7:00 p.m.
Ages: 0-6 with an adult
Description: Snuggle up with stories, songs, and snacks. Feel free to wear your pjs and slippers and bring your stuffed animal or lovey!

Program: Saturday Crafternoon
Date: April 25th
Time: 2 p.m.
Ages: 4+ with an adult
Description: Join us in making a simple story-inspired or seasonal craft.

For more information on children's programs and events or to schedule a class visit please contact one of the children's librarians: Ms. Rachel Meit or Ms. Lindsay Halkola.

New Beginnings at the Takoma Library

Early last month, the renovation of the Takoma Park Neighborhood Library was completed. The branch closed in October of 2008 for a six month, 1.95 million dollar renovation. The renovation included the development of a vestibule entry which reflects the original style as well as a full restoration of the woodwork, improved lighting, a new layout and floor plan, replications of original furniture, and external work on the masonry and metal. The renovation is a wonderful example of retaining historical authenticity while at the same time offering modern conveniences, such as more computers, a cutting edge collection, enhanced media offerings, and furniture and wiring conducive to laptop usage.

One of the city's four Carnegie-funded library buildings, the Takoma Park Neighborhood Library is a Renaissance Revival style brick building. It has served Ward 4 residents since 1911. It is the oldest public neighborhood library in DC.

Staff and customers alike are happy to be back in the building. While the bookmobile offered limited services to customers while the renovation was taking place, nothing compares to the services offered in our lovely new library. If you haven't been by to check it out, please do stop by. The new building will take your breath away!