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Friday, September 27, 2013

Who doesn't love a good scare!

I will read just about anything, but I especially love reading books that are scary! As a little girl, I would sit in my mother's walk in closet with a flashlight and read ghost stories. I don't sit in a closet anymore, but I still cannot resist a book that will send shivers down my spine.

With October nearly here and stores already selling Halloween decorations I thought that I would share my recent forays into horror.

Vampires have been a hot subject in literature since Bram Stoker's Dracula was published in 1987. In recent years, though, vampires have become less monster and more genteel and sparkly hunk.  Nothing against Twilight fans, but I prefer my vampires to have a little more bite (I'm sorry I cannot resist bad puns).

The Strain Trilogy by Guillermo del Toro and Chuck Hogan definitely delivers the chills, thrills, and screams. Nelson Demille says that the books are "Bram Stoker meets Stephen King meets Michael Crichton" and that is the best way to describe del Toros's writing.  In the first book we meet Dr. Ephraim Goodweather, a doctor with the CDC, who is called in to investigate a plane that has landed in New York with all but three passengers dead.  So begins an epidemic that  that Dr. Goodweather and his small group of compatriots struggle to stop, understand, and eventually destroy.  I have read a good number of vampire novels and these were exciting, terrifying, and exceptionally fun to read!  Dark Horse has actually released these in graphic novel format and supposedly FX is in the process of making them into a series. I am book junkie, though, so I recommend the original format.

On the subject of scary books we just got in Stephen King's latest book, Dr. Sleep, and I had to snag it first. I am only about a hundred pages in, but I am so excited about this book. The main character is none other than Daniel Torrence, the "redrum" boy from The Shining. What happens to him now that he is grown, does he still shine, is he still haunted by what happened at the Overlook, does Tony still talk to him? I cannot wait to find out!

Enter this imaginary world . . .

I realize that I have odd taste in books, but that's not going to stop me from nattering on about books that I love.  Memoirs of an Imaginary Friend by Matthew Dicks is one such book.  I've heard it compared to Room by Emma Donoghue, which is understandable when you realize that there's a non-conventional narrator and a kidnapping.  However, I think it's unfair to make too many comparisons, as this book is wholly creative and unique.  It's the story of Max, an autistic boy, as told by his imaginary friend, Budo.  The world that Dicks builds for these imaginary friends is rich and satisfying.  The book is suspenseful and moving, and made me cry like a fool at the end.  I highly recommend it!

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

The Grease party for Teens was a success. I only had 6 people but they had so much fun!! We played a Grease Just Dance game, bobbed for apples, a dart game, knock the cups over, and ring toss. We also ate pizza and ice cream! The teens favorite part was singing along with the dance game and the movie.

Friday, September 13, 2013

It's Roald Dahl Day!!!!

You may have thought that the only thing special about today is that it is Friday the 13th. Well, you are wrong, because September 13th is officially Roald Dahl Day!!

 If you are scratching your head and wondering "Who is Roald Dahl?" let me help. Willy Wonka, Charlie Bucket, Matilda, the BFG, The Enormous Crocodile, The Fantastic Mr. Fox, Oompa Loompas... Do any of these ring a bell. If not then I am truly sorry for the terrible injustice that has been done to you.

Lucky for you it is never too late and you are never too old to revel in Roald Dahl's magical genius. In my humble opinion, Dahl is the greatest children's author to have ever existed. His wit, talent, creativity, and humor are incomparable. Just in case I was being too subtle in my praise, I absolutely adore every word Dahl has written and I have read and reread his books more times than I can count.

What makes Dahl so amazing? In a letter Dahl wrote to The Writer magazine in 1975 he tells us in his own words:

What makes a good children’s writer? The writer must have a genuine and powerful wish not only to entertain children, but to teach them the habit of reading…[He or she] must be a jokey sort of fellow…[and] must like simple tricks and jokes and riddles and other childish things. He must be unconventional and inventive. He must have a really first-class plot. He must know what enthralls children and what bores them. They love being spooked. They love ghosts. They love the finding of treasure. The love chocolates and toys and money. They love magic. They love being made to giggle. They love seeing the villain meet a grisly death. They love a hero and they love the hero to be a winner. But they hate descriptive passages and flowery prose. They hate long descriptions of any sort. Many of them are sensitive to good writing and can spot a clumsy sentence. They like stories that contain a threat. “D’you know what I feel like?” said the big crocodile to the smaller one. “I feel like having a nice plump juicy child for my lunch.” They love that sort of thing. What else do they love? New inventions. Unorthodox methods. Eccentricity. Secret information. The list is long. But above all, when you write a story for them, bear in mind that they do not possess the same power of concentration as an adult, and they become very easily bored or diverted. Your story, therefore, must tantalize and titillate them on every page and all the time that you are writing you must be saying to yourself, “Is this too slow? Is it too dull? Will they stop reading?” To those questions, you must answer yes more often than you answer no. [If not] you must cross it out and start again.

I know that I have gushed extensively so I will stop now, but if you have never read a book by Roald Dahl please, please do so. Better yet, if you have a child or a grandchild read a Dahl book aloud to them. I promise that you will not be disappointed. If you are interested in learning more about Dahl, his life and his books you can check out the official Roald Dahl website here.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

Once Again About Comics!

National Comic Book Day is September 25th! In recognition of this, I've taken over the display in our library this month to showcase some of the best and my favorite graphic novels I have on hand. I've been in charge of our graphic novel collection for just over a year now and I believe I've made great strides to open up new pathways and show a lot of new content to all age-groups and both genders in our library (read: everyone, no graphic novels are specific to one gender only.) 

So please look at our display shelf (located in the upstairs apse, far left shelf behind the computers) for what I will be labeling as my favorites and WHY they make a good story. There's a great deal of Image comics lately as I went on a binge after seeing some of the quality work they've been putting out at their both at ALA. Not all of it...some of it. Other than that expect a good amount of the Big Two, some great independent stuff, biographies, and the best of some smaller-time publishers. Off the top of my head, look for Swamp Thing and Animal Man, some of the best to come from the DC New 52, along with Batman: Court of Owls and, surprisingly, Aquaman. Marvel's series you wont find a lot of the Big Leaguers, but that might be for the better. Instead look for Deadpool, now being written by comedian Brian Posehn. There's also Avengers Academy and Runaways, two series about super-powered teens dealing with deceit, teamwork, and coming together in times of crisis through the lens of Marvel's biggest heroes. 

Note: this is more of an "adult" novel.
There's a great deal of Image titles to choose from as well, including the new up-and-comer Saga, the story of a Romeo and Juliet who got far enough to conceive and birth a child while on the run from their respective species in an intergalactic civil war. There's Chew, the exploits of a VICE cop who gets psychic readings from anything he
eats. ANYTHING. Except beets. Peter Panzerfaust, a parallel of J.M Barrie's famous work. Peter is an American boy traveling through war-torn, nazi-occupied Europe at the height of WWII. Contains all the fixings of the original story in a historical setting matching the tone and narrative of the original. Revival is the story of a sleepy Wisconsin town affected by a strange phenomenon; the dead have risen, not as zombies but as who they were before, as fresh as the last day they lived.

As far as independents go, there's the story of H.P. Lovecraft and the events that set him from pulp-writer to horror master craftsman. I Kill Giants follows an anti-social girl, who believes she fights and slays giants, but what are the giants really? Koko Be Good follows a girl with some time on her hands to think about the choices she's made after meeting a man who walks the opposing path she has, but doesn't seem to be benefiting from it, but also doesn't really mind. Can she learn to be good and feel good for doing so? Persepolis is a biographical memoir of Marjane Satrapi growing up through the struggles of the Islamic Revolution in Iran. Maus, in a similar light, follows the accounts of the Author's father through the Holocaust, straight from his father's mouth. Written in a symbolic style; Jews are mice, Nazis are cats, French, Frogs, etc., it allows for easy following for any age and proves a great historical and moral lesson. Finally, Americus parallels the plight of magic in children's novels, most prominently seen in Harry Potter by Christian Activist in the early 2000's.

TL:DNR, Graphic novels have alot to talk about, a lot to be said, and a lot to teach that should be available to the reading public. 

That's my goal here with the orders I place every month. While what I order for the most part is what I would read, I readily open to suggestions from the public. I have left suggestion sticky-notes at my display here in the library and would hope that anyone would be willing to lend me their opinion.

Out With Summer, In With Fall

September always seems to hit me like a tsunami. No more days at the beach or staying up late with my kids to catch fireflies. It is time to crack the whip and reestablish the "school" routine. Suddenly there are lunches to pack, buses to catch, homework to be done, and kids to pick up from sports' practices, youth groups, and club meetings.

With all of the things that have to be done I seem to always be telling my kids what they need to be doing (and do it now, not when you are finished building a lego dojo for your ninjago figures!).

Sometimes I have to remind myself just to relax and do something fun with the kids.   Since I have three kids I am big fan of really cheap or free when it comes to family entertainment.  The lansing Mall Cinema just began their free fall movies on Saturday and Sunday mornings (you can check out the schedule here).

This is the library's blog, though, so I have to plug all of the amazing (and free) kids' events that are scheduled for this fall. The post prior to this one tells all about the teen Grease party on the 17th. Boys, don't forget to slick back your pompadour and, girls, break out those poodle skirts for a peachy-keen time.

For the younger kids we are having a YoHoHo Pirate Bash on Saturday, September 21st at 10am. There will be swashbuckling treats, crafts, games, and TREASURE!

Calling all jedi, sith, droids, and bounty hunters October 5th is the second annual Star Wars Reads Day!  This is a national event and parties will be held in bookstores and libraries around the country. Our party last year was a huge success and we hope that this year is even better. Dress up like your favorite Star Wars character and come to the library at 10am. There will be Star Wars games and crafts and lots of Jeditastic prizes. After the party there will be a Star Wars movie with free popcorn.

For all of you with toddlers and preschoolers, Story Time will continue to be on Fridays at 10:30 am. Instead of a weekly evening story time, though, we will be be be having special Story Time events for kids of all ages. The first of these will be our BOOdacious Halloween Party on the Tuesday before Halloween at 6pm. There will be tricks, treats, stories, and a costume contest.

Speaking of Halloween the library will be showing spooky movies every Monday night at 6pm throughout the month of October. If you have older kids in sports this is a great way to entertain younger siblings.

There are so many other spectacular parties and programs at the library from Lego Club and Tween craft time to a Plants vs. Zombies party. Stop in and pick up one of our event calendars so you will not miss out on any of the fun!

Monday, September 9, 2013

We all know the great musical Grease. At the Portland Library, teens are invited to come to a Grease themed party! It is Sept. 17 at 5p. Everyone should come dressed up. We will be watching the movie with popcorn and playing pin the cherry on the sundae, 3D tic-tac-toe, bean bag toss, bobbing for apples, a dart game, and an ICE CREAM bar!