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Mar 18

Award-Winning, Diverse Reads for Young & Old

Posted on March 18, 2015 at 2:13 PM by Craig Jacobson

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YMA.pngThe award and honor books announced in February by the American Library Association provide a great selection of diverse titles to read for all ages. Each year, the ALA Youth Media Awards honor both illustrators and authors for their work in literature for children and teens.  Over a dozen awards for picture books, middle grade, young adult, non-fiction, debut novel, and more are distributed. Below are highlighted selections and recommended reading from three major awards: the Randolph Caldecott Medal, the John Newberry Medal, and the Michael L. Printz Award. 

beekle.jpgThe Caldecott Medal is awarded each year to the most distinguished American picture book for children. The winner in 2015 is The Adventures of Beekle: The Unimaginary Friend written and illustrated by Dan Santat. Told from the perspective of an imaginary friend searching for his human, this is a delightful story that will capture your attention and imagination. Past favorites include:

  • This Is Not My Hat by Jon Klassen
  • Flotsam by David Wiesner
  • The Man Who Walked Between the Towers by Mordicai Gerstein
  • The Polar Express by Chris Van Allsburg

A full list of Randolph Caldecott Medal and Honor books can be found here.

crossover.jpgThe Newberry Medal honors American literature for children each year by selecting a medal winner and a number of honor books.  The Crossover by Kwame Alexander is a unique story in which the reader feels like they are rocking and moving right along with the characters and the 2015 award winner.  Told in a distinct poetic rhythm, The Crossover will grab your attention and never let go.  Other memorable titles include:

  • When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead
  • Holes by Louis Sachar
  • Out of the Dust by Karen Hesse
  • The Witch of Blackbird Pond by Elizabeth George Speare

A full list of John Newberry Medal and Honor books can be found here.

sun.jpgWith the increasing popularity of young adult titles like Divergent by Veronica Roth and The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, young adult literature is not just for teens anymore. The stories told through the eyes of teens are wide ranging in genre and style. The Michael L. Printz Award seeks to distinguish the best of the best each year. I’ll Give You the Sun by Jandy Nelson is the 2015 award selection. The story focuses on the strained relationship between twins Jude and Noah and unfolds in poetic language as each twin reveals their side of the story. Past award winners include:

  • Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley
  • American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang
  • Looking for Alaska by John Green
  • Monster by Walter Dean Myers

A full list of Michael L. Printz Award Medal and Honor books can be found here.

Mar 03

When Life Gives You Scraps, Make a Quilt…

Posted on March 3, 2015 at 3:04 PM by Craig Jacobson

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j.chiaverini.jpgQuilters and non-quilters alike have enjoyed the Elm Creek Quilts series written by Jennifer Chiaverini.  In these books you see women from quilters.jpgall ages and backgrounds coming together at Elm Creek Manor because of their love of quilting and wanting to learn even more about their passion.  Quite often the lessons they learn are more than just about quilting.  Some of you may have wondered about the quilt patterns that are mentioned in these books.  Ms. Chiaverini also quilts and has written several books about these patterns, how to sew them and in some cases, the history surrounding the patterns. If you would like to learn more about the actual patterns or even create one, then take a look at, Loyal Union Sampler from Elm Creek Quilts, An Elm Creek Quilts Companion, Traditions from Elm Creek Quilts, Return to Elm Creek, More Elm Creek Quilts and Elm Creek Quilts.

spymistress.jpgMore recently, Ms. Chiaverini is writing historical fiction about women who lived during the American Civil War era.  Elizabeth Van Lew in The Spymistress, never waivers in her loyalty to the Union when her state of Virginia secedes to the Confederates in 1861.  Even though her life was threatened, she managed to gather enough intelligence to help construct the Richmond Underground and help inmates escape from the Confederate Libby Prison.

dressmaker.jpgMrs. Lincoln’s Dressmaker and Mrs. Lincoln’s Rival both focus on women that were an integral part of Mary Lincoln’s life during her years in the White House.  There is so much known about the powerful men of these times and very little about the women like Mary Lincoln, Elizabeth Keckley and Kate Chase Sprague.  These books help to give us insight as to what it was like to live back then in some very difficult times.

madamejule.jpgOn March 3rd, Jennifer Chiaverini will release her newest book, Mrs. Grant and Madame Jule.  Once again we are drawn into the Civil War world of two women- Julia Grant and her slave Jule.  Julia grew up in Missouri.  She met and fell in love Lieutenant Ulysses S. Grant.  It was four years before Julia’s father allowed them to get married.  Grant’s abolitionist family refused to come to the wedding.  Against her husband’s wishes, Julia kept her slave.  Jule was more than a slave to Julia.  Julia was vision-impaired and once she taught Jule how to read, Jule became her eyes to the world.  One can only imagine how this relationship changed, as the world they knew, changed around them.

You will have an opportunity to hear Jennifer Chiaverini talk about her latest book when she joins us at the Frank L. Weyenberg Library on March 12th at 6:30PM as part of her national book tour.  We hope to see you then.  Happy reading!

Books covers courtesy of Easicat.
Jennifer Chiaverini’s picture is courtesy of her website.

Feb 17

7 Things You Probably Didn’t Know About Calendars

Posted on February 17, 2015 at 11:10 AM by Craig Jacobson

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  1. There are over 40 different calendars in modern use.
    Calendar - David Ewing Duncan.jpgMany of these are religious calendars (e.g., the Julian, Erisian, and Hindu calendars), while others, like the Hebrew, Chinese, and Persian calendars, serve socio-political functions. Other notable calendars include fiscal calendars, ISO week calendars, and the astronomical calendar. Some countries and places still refer to local calendars, which are usually used in conjunction with a wider international standard.

  2. The oldest known calendar is 10,000 years old.
    A series of pits in Scotland appear to form a primitive lunisolar calendar, with 12 pits to track the lunar months and an additional alignment for the midwinter sun, so that the years would stay on track. The oldest undisputed calendrical monuments known are from Mesopotamia. The Mesopotamians are also responsible for dividing our time system up into blocks that are divisible by 12 – 24 hours in a day, split 12 & 12 between night and day, 60 minutes, and so on.

  3. The first solar calendar was devised by the Egyptians.
    Red Pyramid.jpgThey divided the year into 12 months of 30 days, and then added 5 intercalary days between years, creating the first 365 day calendar. Prior to the Egyptians, ancient cultures used either lunar or lunisolar calendars to track the turn of the year, which resulted in either a too-short year (usually 354 days) or a very complicated, mathematically-involved calendar system.

  4. 10 days of October didn't exist in 1582.
    Tibaldo and the Hole.jpgWhen Pope Gregory announced the switch from the Julian calendar in 1582, the change required jumping ahead in the calendar to make things line up. Each country that made the switch had to account for the difference somehow, and October 5-14th were selected as the lucky dates. Of course, not all countries made the switch immediately. Great Britain put off the change until 1752, and the extra centuries required 11 days (instead of 10) to make up the difference, while the Eastern Orthodox church still uses the Julian calendar to calculate religious dates.

    Hobbit.jpgStar Trek.jpgWee Free Men.jpg
  5. J.R.R. Tolkein developed at least 3 calendars for Middle Earth's different cultures.
    Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves, and Men each marked time slightly differently. Other writers, including Gene Roddenberry and Terry Pratchett, have devised unique calendars for their fictional worlds as well.

  6. Ancient Athenians used at least 2 – and probably 3 – calendars at the same time, all the time.
    Apollos Fire.jpgOne was for religious festivals, one was for state functions, and the third helped guide agricultural decisions. This system was called the "Attic calendar," and has long since fallen out of use. Other historical calendars include the now-defunct French Revolutionary calendar (which started the new year in September), the Florentine calendar (which started each day at sundown), and the Pentecontad calendar (which had 7 sets of 50 days).

  7. In the US, a younger twin can be born before their older sibling on the first Sunday in November.
    Now and Ben.jpgWhy? This is when clocks "fall back" for Daylight Savings Time – meaning that one hour repeats itself. In November 2007, according to WebExhibits, "Laura Cirioli of North Carolina gave birth to Peter at 1:32 a.m. and, 34 minutes later, to Allison. However, because Daylight Saving Time reverted to Standard Time at 2:00 a.m., Allison was born at 1:06 a.m." Conversely, no babies are born between 2-3 a.m. on the second Sunday in March in (most of) America – that's when we "spring forward," so the 2 o'clock hour does not exist.

    Written by Carol M.
    All images courtesy of Easicat.