Archive for September, 2008

How super is your superhero?

Why do you need Superman or Batman or even Spiderman for that matter? You’ve got Traction Man, and when you’ve got him, you don’t need anyone else. Traction man is game for anything. With his jet-powered sneaker, he reaches Planet Quilt, where the Farm Animals are being held captive by the Evil Pillows. Can Traction Man free them? He can and he does. His latex space suit and crash helmet are unscathed. Probably the best thing about Traction Man, other than his immense bravery of course, is his seemingly bottomless wardrobe: Traction Man has an outfit extraordinaire for any rescue operation, secret mission or dangerous descent into the foamy waters of the dreaded Sink. But what happens when Traction Man visits Grandma for Christmas? Surprise, surprise, Traction Man has a present to open, a very special present: An all-in-one knitted green romper suit and matching bonnet! What? This is impossibly embarrassing. And yet it fits perfectly. Traction Man can hardly bear up under the humiliation. What was Grandma thinking?
But in a hilarious twist of fate, it seems that Traction Man must sacrifice his knitted green romper suit for the safety of the Spoons. Perhaps there is justice in the world after all. Mini Grey’s exciting, funny and very imaginative send-up of superheros and derring-dos shows you just how easy it is to save the world when
Traction Man is Here!

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Haunted Ballad series

The Haunted Ballard series by  Deborah Grabien is a series of ghost/mystery stories for those that enjoy intellectual/historical puzzles.  Ms.Grabien takes old English folk ballads and looks for a story behind the story. I’ve read 4 out of 5  books in the series and so far, my favorite book in the series is Matty Groves .

In Matty Groves, Ringan Laine is invited to preform at  a prestigious folk festival. He is a little  cautious, because The Callowen house has a known ghost. Ringan, his band , and his lover  have encounter a number of ghosts before — ghosts that respond to music.  The band decides to stick with a straight forward song: Matty  Groves . This song is a tale of a woman  who cheats on her husband, and her husband that kills her lover.

And… I’m stopping right there.  This is a ghost story that actually scared me.  That  just doesn’t happen to me, at least not when I read a ghost  story .( movies are a whole different  matter)

Things to love about the Haunted Ballad series:

Deborah  Grabien is a consise,yet evocotive writer.With only a few words she gives you clear images and strong  emotions.

Music  that  tells  a story.  Mixes up two  of the best things in the world.

The characters actually go to libraries and historical societies to look up things in dusty, old books.

Here is a bonus, Fairport Convention singing Matty Groves:

Check out the Haunted Ballad Series and other books by Deborah Grabian at the Alameda County Library

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Scaredy Squirrel is back with another harrowing adventure. Before I tell you about it, though, he would like you to wash your hands and brush your teeth. Our hero is not fond of germs…or things that bite, you see.

In Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Mélanie Watt, Scaredy decides to make a friend. This involves a great deal of planning and preparation. It’s not okay to just jump into these things, you know. There are things that can bite you out there, and you need to have a idea of what to do when you find that possible friend. As you might expect, things don’t really end up going according to the plan. Don’t worry. Scaredy doesn’t encounter any suspicious bunnies or *gasp* Godzilla.

The artwork in this sequel is just as cute as it was last time around. Truthfully, I’d love to frame the book and put it on my wall. I love every page. I particularly enjoyed the page called “How to make the Perfect First Impression.” Who knew that lemonade was involved? I would like to thank Dan for telling me that this book was available. I have already read it at two people…and they didn’t scream and run away, so that should tell you something. If you enjoyed Scaredy Squirrel, be sure to get yourself a copy of this one too.

(Place a hold here.)

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Mucky is the largest, stinkiest moose in the forest. He enjoys a wallow in the most smelly mud. Skunks are impressed by his olfactory presence. But the biggest wolf in the forest is extra hungry. What will happen when these two encounter one another? Mucky Moose, written and illustrated by Jonathan Allen, chronicles the three encounters between moose and wolf, and the unexpected outcome of their final meeting.

Mucky Moose is one of the standard picture books that I recommend to people at work. I love Mucky’s high self esteem, and the message that disadvantages may depend upon your point of view. The storyline is very amusing, and appropriate for both kids and adults. How can you go wrong with a stinky moose? The illustrations in this book are cute, but not particularly noteworthy. Except, that is, for the rendering of the animals’ expressions. Just look at Mucky’s grin on the cover. Looks a bit nervous about getting his picture taken, doesn’t he? So, pick up Mucky Moose for a giggle and some silly fun. I always do.

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13 Countries/ 13 Facts

Thursday Thirteen #36

I’m on vacation this week (but don’t fret. I’ll pop by and answer your comments.) so I thought that I’d leave you with some of my usual educational randomness.

13 Countries/13 Facts:
1. Andorra – Andorra does not have income taxation and is only 468 sq km in size.

2. Kiribati – Pronounced “Kiribas,” Kiribati consists of 33 islands, 21 of which are inhabited.

3. Liechtenstein – Officially known as the “Principality of Liechtenstein,” this country is a constitutional monarchy. Its total size is 160 sq km.

4. Luxembourg – The Grand Duchy of Luxembourg is the only Grand Duchy in the world. The official languages in the country are Luxembourgish, German, and French.

5. Iceland – Iceland is the country that I wrote my country report on back in Elementary School. I remember being particularly interested in the kids that rode bikes large on pipes to get to school. Since writing that report, I have wanted to visit the Blue Lagoon. I haven’t yet managed to get there. (Hey! Anyone out there want to hire me to travel there and then write about it?)

6. Monaco – Monaco has been a principality since 1338. It has been ruled by the same family ever since.

7. Tonga – Tonga is the only Monarchy in the Pacific Ocean. It is made up of six islands.

8. Macedonia – Macedonia is slightly larger than Vermont. One of its natural resources is asbestos.

9. Ireland – Ireland is another of those places that I’ve always wanted to visit. Where else are you going to find something like the Giant’s Causeway?

10. Malta – Malta’s official languages are Maltese and English, though Maltese is far more used. The country actually consists of three inhabited islands: Malta, Gozo, and Comino.

11. Nauru – Nauru is the world’s smallest independent republic. This South Pacific island is only 21 sq km in size.

12. Sierra Leone – Sierra Leone is still re-establishing its democracy after the civil war from 1991 to 2002. Its exports include diamonds, cocoa, and coffee.

13. Tuvalu – “In 2000, Tuvalu negotiated a contract leasing its Internet domain name “.tv” for $50 million in royalties over a 12-year period.” (CIA World Factbook)

* CIA – The World Factbook

* Official Kiribati Tourism Site (and other official tourism/governmental sites linked above.)

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Zoe Elias wants to play the piano. Pianos, after all, are dignified instruments, frequently used in concerts at Carnegie Hall. Zoe Elias dreams of playing at Carnegie Hall, dreams of the applause and the glamour of it all. Organs, on the other hand, are not glamorous. No one plays the organ at Carnegie Hall. Zoe’s dad was supposed to get her a piano. He went out shopping (something he rarely ever does) especially to get her a piano. Unfortunaltey for Zoe, her dad saw the organ shop first.

So Zoe Elias, who more than anything wanted to be a piano prodigy, is playing the organ. She takes lessons from Mabelline Person, who sips at gingerale while Zoe plays TV Land theme songs and hits from the seventies. While Zoe isn’t thrilled about the organ, she keeps playing and she gets to be pretty good. Even the kids at school think she’s pretty good. One in particular: a boy named Wheeler, who’s cute in a lopsided kind of way.

It isn’t long before Miss Person thinks she’s good enough to be in a competition, an all-organ competition. But applause is applause; and Zoe expects to get plenty of it. The other minor downside is the competition’s location: the Birch Valley Hotel and Conference Center. Not exactly Carnegie Hall, but it will have to do. So Zoe’s set to go and she’s practicing like mad when her mothe breaks the bad news. She won’t be able to take Zoe to the Birch Valley Hotel and Conference Center after all– there’s trouble at work and for Zoe’s mom work comes first. That means Zoe’s dad is the only one who can get her to the competition.

Trouble is, while her father can drive, he can hardly go more than a few blocks without getting lost. He’d never make it to Birch Valley. But Zoe’s determined to go and with Wheeler’s help, her dad braves the trip. Surprises in spades await Zoe at the organ competition and even more when she gets home. Organs may not be as glamorous and sweet-sounding as pianos, but they have a lopsided magic all their own. Linda Urban’s humorous debut novel reminds us all that sometimes life really is A Crooked Kind of Perfect.

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Say good bye to the exciting Summer Reading Game, and say hello to the fun coming up this fall!  All four libraries in Fremont are ready to lay out their fall programs for kids.  From babies to junior high students, there is something for every age.  To save your time, here is a quick list of the kids’ programs offered in September through December.  More programs may be added later, so for more updated information, please check out Alameda County Library’s Event Calendar page



🙂 Fremont Main Library  2400 Stevenson Blvd.,  510-745-1421   Hours

All programs require pre-registration or a ticket except for “Baby Bounce Storytime” and “Knit One, Purl Two”.

Click on the program name for details.

Ages Program Name Dates
Ages 6-23 months   Baby Bounce Storytime
  Meet once a week,
  several sessions to choose from.
Sept. 2nd – Sept. 30th
Ages 24-35 months   Toddler Time
  Meet once a week,
  several sessions to choose from.
Nov. 7th – Dec. 11th
Ages 3 – 5 years  Preschool Storytime including 1 English/Hindi  and 1 English/Mandarin session
  Meet once a week,
  several sessions to choose from.
Sept. 22nd – Nov. 14th
Ages 0 – 5 years  Music Class
 First Saturdays of the month
Sept. 6th, Nov. 1st,
Dec. 6th
Grades 4 and up  Got Drama? Lift the Page to the Stage!
 Meet every Thursdays.
Sept. 18nd – Nov. 20th
Grades 4 -6  Find it Fast–Webclass Oct. 8th,
Nov. 12th
Ages 10 -13 years  Bracelet Making for Tweens Nov. 25th
Grades 6 – 8  ‘Tween Page Turners Book Club
 Last Tuesdays of the month.
Sept. 23rd, Oct. 28th, Nov. 25th, Dec. 23rd
Grades 7 – 8  Find it Fast–Webclass for Students in Junior  High Dec. 30th
All  Math Science Nueleus Presents–
 The Earthquake that shook Fremont in 1868
Oct. 21st
All  Knit One, Purl Two
 Third Wednesdays of the month
Sept. 17th, Oct. 15th, Nove. 19th, Dec. 17th



🙂 Centerville Library 3801 Nicolet Ave., 510-795-2629   Hours

All programs require pre-registration or a ticket except for Read-To-Me”.

Click on the program name for details.

Ages Program Name Dates
Ages 2 – 6 years  Read-To-Me Drop-in Storytime
 Every Thursdays except Nov. 27th.
Oct. 9th –
Dec. 18th
Ages 3 – 5 years  Preschool Storytime
 Meet every Thursdays.
Sept. 25th –
Nov. 13th
Ages 3 – 6 years  English/Mandarin Storytime
 Meet every Tuesdays,
 no class on Nov. 4th and 11th.
Sept. 23rd –
Nov. 18th
Grades 1 – 6  Read-With-Me Reading Assistance
 Meet every Tuesdays or Thursdays,
 no class on Nov. 25th and 27th.
Oct. 7th-
Dec. 18th
Grades 4 and up  Kids Book Club
 Second Thursdays of the month.
Oct. 9th,
Nov. 13th, Dec. 11th
All  Family Movie Time–Kung Fu Panda Nov. 25th



🙂 Irvington Library 41825 Greenpark Dr., 510-795-2631  Hours

All programs require pre-registration.

Click on the program name for details.

Ages Program Name Dates
Ages 2 – 5 years  Fall Preschool Storytime
 Meet every Wednesdays.
Sept. 17th –
Nov. 19th



🙂 Niles Library 150 I St., 510-795-2626   Hours

All programs require pre-registration.

Click on the program name for details.

Ages Program Name Dates
Ages 2 – 5 years  Fall Story Time
 Meet every Tuesdays.
Sept. 16th –
Nov. 18th

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The Cater Street Hangman is the first in Anne Perry’s Thomas Pitt mystery series. (When it was made into an A&E mystery, they changed a great deal of the story and added on bits. And yet, the story was recognizable and worth watching. So far as I know, they haven’t filmed any more of the series.)

The Cater Street Hangman is filled with the complexities of middle-class Victorian daily life. It’s almost incredible how much information the author manages to convey throughout the course of the story. Also, it makes me very glad that I wasn’t born then. I would not have fit in at all. The first time I read this book, I had no idea who the murderer was until just a little bit before the characters. This may be due to the complex storyline. (Alternatively, I could be a bit dim…) There is just so much romantic intrigue and character development that occurs as the book progresses. Even the characters in this story are well wrought and full of layers. At the very heart of the book lies a love story that I would have liked to read more about. Sadly, the book ends a bit abruptly (and in the second book, the things I wanted to read about have already happened. Oh, well.) All the important loose ends had been tied up, but I still would have liked a bit more. So, I just went back and read the end again.

Just so that you all know, this book isn’t a cozy mystery. It’s more of a period piece that includes a disturbed killer. In any case, I loved Charlotte and Thomas, the best of all the characters, and I expect that you will as well. To sum up: Historical murder mystery with romance. Great book. Not for children. I loved it.

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Here is the September update on the current status of the “books to film” projects that have been mentioned on this blog to this point. I will try to do this once a month in order to follow each film until it reaches DVD. Please remember that release dates are subject to change, and that sometimes “Announced” films never get made.

If you have any news about an upcoming book to film adaptation, please comment and let me know.

The current “books to film” list:

1776: In development with a release date sometime in 2009.

Alice in Wonderland: This Tim Burton film is in pre-production with a US release date on 5 March 2010.

Angels & Demons: Filming and due in US theaters on 15 May 2009.

Atlas Shrugged: Status currently unknown, as the project has lost its director. Still listed with a 2009 release date, though.

The Bell Jar: In pre-production with a theoretical release date sometime in 2008.

The Boggart: In development. US theatrical release sometime in 2009.

Born to Rock: Announced with a release date sometime in 2009.

The Butterfly Tattoo: Completed with a release date sometime in 2008. If any of you know when/where this one will be released, please let me know.

Carter Beats the Devil: Rumored to be coming to AMC in 2009.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian: DVD will be released in U.S. on Dec 2, 2008.

The Chronicles of Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader: In pre-production with a U.S. release date of 7 May 2010.

Cirque du Freak: In post-production, this movie is reported to include the first three books of the series. The U.S. release date is listed as “2009” but the release date for Spain (the only other one listed on the IMDB) is 13 March 2009.

The City of Ember: In post-production. Due in U.S. theaters on 10 October 2008.

Coraline: In post-production. Due in US theaters in February 2009.

The Cry of the Icemark: In development with a theoretical release date sometime in 2008. (I expect that this info will change at some point soon.)

Deal Breaker: Announced with a release date sometime in 2008. (Chances are this date will change.)

Dean Spanley: In Post-Production with a UK release date sometime in 2008.

The Doubtful Guest: In development. U.S. theatrical release expected sometime in 2009.

Dune: (Yes, another version of Dune.) Announced with a theoretical release date in 2010.

The Eye of the World: In development with a release date in 2011.

Fahrenheit 451: Announced with a release date in 2010 sometime.

The Giver: Announced with a 2011 release date.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: In post-production with a US release date of 17 July 2009.

He’s Just Not That Into You: This film now finished with a new US release date of 6 February 2009.

The Hobbit: Announced with a theoretical release date sometime in December 2011.

Inkheart: Due in U.S. theaters on 9 January 2009.

Journey to the Center of the Earth (3D): Currently in theaters. No word yet as to when the DVD will be released.

The Lovely Bones: In post-production. Due in U.S. theaters 9 October 2009.

Magic Kingdom for Sale: Announced with a theoretical release date in 2010 sometime.

Marley & Me: In post-production with a Christmas 2008 release date.

Monster Blood Tattoo: In Development. U.S. theatrical release sometime in 2010.

Neuromancer: In Pre-Production with a release date in 2009 sometime.

New Moon: In development with a release date in 2010.

Nights in Rodanthe: This film is completed and due in US theaters on 26 September 2008.

On the Road: Status currently listed a “Unknown” on the IMDB with a theoretical release date still listed as 2009.

Percy Jackson and The Lightning Thief: In development. U.S. theatrical release sometime in 2009.

Race to Witch Mountain: Filming and due in U.S. theaters on 13 March 2009. (Sounds less like the book all the time.)

The Screwtape Letters: In pre-production with a theoretical release date in 2008.

Shantaram: In pre-production and due in U.S. theaters sometime in 2009.

The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants 2: Currently in U.S. theaters.

A Spell for Chameleon: In development with a theoretical release date of 2008.

Stargirl: Announced with a theoretical release date in 2009.

The Subtle Knife: In development with a theoretical release date sometime in 2009.

The Tale of Despereaux: In post-production. Due in U.S. theaters on 19 December 2008.

Teen Idol: Announced with a theoretical release date sometime in 2008.

Tintin: In Pre-production with a U.S. theatrical release sometime in 2009. (Check out the writing and directing staff on this one.)

Twilight: In post-production and now due in U.S. theaters on 21 November 2008.

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Thursday Thirteen #35

Hello all! This week I offer you thirteen picture books that I love. Yes. I love picture books and I really enjoy discovering new gems of the genre. Do you have any favorites to recommend? Do you agree with my selections? Please let me know.

This is the Picture:
1. Don’t Let The Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems – I love reading this book out loud, even to my Mother. When the Pigeon says, “Your Mother would let me drive the bus” she replied, “No, I wouldn’t.”

2. If You Give A Mouse A Cookie by Laura Joffe Numeroff – Now, if only I could get a mouse to clean my house…

3. Scaredy Squirrel by Mélanie Watts – One wouldn’t generally think of a germophobic squirrel with possible OCD as a great subject for a picture book. This is where one would be wrong.

4. The Twelve Dancing Princesses by Marianna Mayer – Illustrated by K. Y. Craft, this book is luminescent. Yes, the story is good, but read this version for the pictures.

5. The Adventures of Cow by Cow (as told to Lori Korchek and photographed by Marshall Taylor.) – Follow a small squishy cow on the adventure of her lifetime. Children will love to correct Cow’s misconceptions (for example, Cow thinks live cows are frogs…) and adults will groan at the visual puns.

6. Sector 7 by David Wiesner – This Caldecott Honor Book tells its story with only pictures. The few words that do appear are on signs and such. What better way to tell a story of creativity and an unusual friendship.

7. Mucky Moose by Jonathan Allen – This picture book shows what happens when you turn a perceived disadvantage into a strength. Also? The wolf is hilarious.

8. Miss Nelson is Missing by Harry Allard and James Marshall – This book is a bona fide classic. If you have not read it, I suggest that you rectify the situation. Then you can ask yourself…is Miss Nelson really missing?

9. The Moon Singer by Clyde Robert Bulla – This is my favorite picture book of all time. Not merely for the pictures, which I do enjoy, but really for the story. Something in this tale of an abandoned and misunderstood boy who finds freedom in singing reached out and grabbed hold of me when I was very young. It still has not relinquished its hold.

10. Mars Needs Moms! by Berkeley Breathed – What would you do if Martians stole your Mom? You’d follow them, right? This story illustrates the selfless love of parents for their children…and a child’s love for a parent.

11. Art Dog by Thacher Hurd – Mild mannered museum guard by day, mysterious painter by night, can Art Dog save the day when art thieves strike?

12. Frederick by Leo Lionni – Perhaps only a mouse like Frederick can adequately explain how important it is to save up more than just food for the long cold winter. The long days are made that much shorter with stories to pass the time.

13. Tacky the Penguin by Helen Lester – Tacky isn’t like the other penguins. They do everything gracefully…he does not. But sometimes an outspoken Hawaiian shirt-wearing penguin can be just what you need when hunters come around.

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