Archive for December, 2013

Get Ready for the New Year!

ImageThe hustle and bustle of Christmas has just passed. The presents have all been unwrapped, and a lot of good food has been eaten. Now it’s time to look forward to a new year. A new year brings with it a gift of promise.  Twelve months that are as yet unknown, but like a fruit tree. ready to be picked, and we hope that the fruit is just right, not too hard or too mushy.  If you are so inclined you may want to make resolutions for the upcoming year.  If you are like me you won’t keep most of the them, but sometimes something sticks and we make a change hopefully for the better

I found the following poem online which seems to sum up what a new year means to most of us.  I wish you all only the best that life can offer in the new year.

What can be said in New Year’s rhymes,

That’s not been said a thousand times?
The new years come, the old years go,
We know we dream, we dream we know.
We rise up laughing with the light,
We lie down weeping with the night.
We hug the world until it stings,
We curse it then and sigh for wings.
We live, we love, we woo, we wed,
We wreathe our prides, we sheet our dead.
We laugh, we weep, we hope, we fear,
And that’s the burden of a year.

Ella Wheeler Wilcox

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Volunteers Needed!

Can You

  •  Communicate well in English
  • Lift 20-30 lb. boxes
  • Work on Wednesdays from 9-2 with a lunch break
  • Commit to 1 full weekend day 3 times a year for a book sale?

Would you like to support your community by working with others who are passionate about books?

If so, the Fremont Friends of the Library needs YOU!

Please call Mary Steel  510-494-1103 or Dorothy Conti 510-793-6124

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The year is alImagemost complete – time to be especially grateful for this wonderful and scenic world. It’s time to consider a trip.

Will you walk the Camino de Santiago?

Or, will you marvel at the architecture of Angkor Wat, all 40 square miles?

Or, will you relax at the Ananda Spa, overlooking the Ganges River?

Or, will you visit Machu Picchu at sunrise?

And there’s so much more to consider – China, Africa, or Australia, to name a few more splendid destinations. For ideas, you could check out 1,000 Places to See Before You Die, a guidebook or a DVD available now at the library. Containing one or two page descriptions, this guidebook is a traveler’s life list. As its opening quote says: “Better to see something once that to hear about it a thousand times.” (Asian Proverb)

Where will you go in 2014? I’m planning my trip now.

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Just in Time for Christmas….

Charles Dickens

Charles Dickens

On December 19, 1843, Charles Dickens published A Christmas Carol. If you ever find yourself on the Southern Coast of England during the Christmas season, you might like to stop for a spot of tea or a Christmas meal at Bleak House (located in Broadstairs, Kent), at the former summer holiday home of Charles Dickens. (I wish I could say he wrote A Christmas Carol there, but in fact, he wrote David Copperfield at Bleak House! It was known as Fort House back when he frequented it.) You can even book a special event or wedding now at Bleak House, or check out the Smugglers Museum. For more information: http://www.bleakhousebroadstairs.co.uk.

For a bit more local Dickensian experience, there is the Dickens Fair held at the Cow Palace in Daly City through December 22. For ticket and more information check http://www.dickensfair.com.
Either way, you will have a Dickens of a good time!

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‘Eyes Wide Open’ will help you through the data deluge and show you how to make better and smarter decisions.

By weaving together cutting-edge research with real-world examples from Hollywood to Harry Potter, NASA to World War II spies, Hertz constructs a path to more astute and empowered decision-making in ten clear steps. With razor-sharp insight and an instinct for thought-provoking storytelling, she offers counterintuitive, effective guidance for making better choices—whether you are a businessperson, a professional, a patient, or a parent. Excerpt from Noreena Hertz website

Eyes wide open @ Library

Books on Decision Making @ Library

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The Library: a World History

The Library: a World History, by James W.P. Campbell

The Library: a World History, by James W.P. Campbell

Looking for that special holiday gift? The Library: a World History, written by James W.P. Campbell and photographs by Will Pryce is a lavishly and lovingly-produced coffee table book that will appeal to librarians, book-lovers and architecture fans alike.  Documenting 82 libraries in 20 countries, libraries covered include The Library of Congress, the Seinajoki Library of Finland, and the National Library of China.  Price is $75 ($47.73 on Amazon.)

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jeff kinney

The Horn Book Magazine and The Horn Book Guide are the most distinguished journals in the field of children’s and young adult literature. Talks with Roger is part of Horn Book’s free monthly e-newsletter. Roger Sutton has interviews various well-known authors of Children’s literatures in his “Talks with Roger” column. This time he got the chance to talk to Jeff Kinney, the author of one of the most ever popular “Diary of a Wimpy Kid” series.

RS = Roger Sutton
JK = Jeff Kinney

Greg Heffley is back, in Diary of a Wimpy Kid: Hard Luck, the eighth in Jeff Kinney’s mega-popular novels about the middle-school antihero. The format, in which hand-printed journal entries on lined-paper pages are expertly punctuated by cartoons, has proven irresistible to ten-year-olds everywhere and of every stripe, a meeting place for eager and reluctant readers alike. While kids must hope that they would demonstrate more grace under pressure than does Greg, his problems—what do you do when your best friend gets interested in girls? How do I fit in when my mom makes me wear a sweater vest?—are their own. Jeff has been very busy this month touring in support of Hard Luck, but I finally managed to catch up with him on the Wimpy Kid bus via phone.

RS: Hi Jeff. You’re out on tour?

JK: Yes, I’m on tour, on a bus.

RS: You have a bus?

JK: It’s a giant lime-green Wimpy Kid bus, with something like eight bunks and eleven televisions. It’s pretty fun.

RS: You’re like a country-western star.

JK: I think this bus was actually used by Willie Nelson.

RS: I saw on Twitter that you were at the Charles Schulz Museum, and I was wondering what your Greg would say about Charlie Brown.

JK: They’re kindred spirits, in a way. All cartoonists owe a debt of gratitude to Charles Schulz.

RS: I find myself doing the same thing with Greg as I do with Charlie Brown, which is you’re reading along, and something happens, and you think, “Oh, God, what a loser.” And then five minutes later something else happens, and you think, “Oh, God, that’s me.” So then you think, “Am I a loser?”

JK: Yes. A lot of protagonists in children’s literature are on the heroic side, and I wanted to create a character that was more like I was.

RS: One of the measures of Wimpy Kid’s success—and there are many—is that its enjoyment by kids is matched by its disapproval from adults. I’m not saying universally, but you do get these people who say, “Oh, it’s too nihilistic. It’s too snarky.”

JK: I always thought that anyone who felt that way wasn’t in on the joke. You don’t want to be too heavy-handed when writing for kids, because they pick up on that. If you moralize they’re going to reject it. So I let my readers make up their own minds about Greg Heffley.

RS: Greg’s actions speak for themselves. Sometimes he’ll do something foolish, but more often than not, things seem to work out for him.

JK: Right. There have been moments in my books when Greg does the wrong thing, even when he knew that he was doing the right thing. There’s a reason there’s a frown on his face on every cover. He’s an unhappy kid, just because of his own actions.

RS: Do you think he’s essentially an unhappy kid?

JK: Yeah, I think he feels put-upon. I never like it when somebody describes him as whiny, because that’s not at all how I feel about him.

RS: My mother would have called him fresh.

JK: That’s a good word. He’s a kid who’s in middle school, and a kid who’s in middle school is, generally speaking, not that happy.

RS: Yes, middle school is miserable. I assume you drew upon your own experiences to create Greg’s persona and situation?

JK: I spent about four years trying to remember exactly what it was like to think like a kid, to rationalize like a kid. I really wanted the character to feel authentic. In a way, how a kid behaves is just the way an adult behaves, but an adult has learned to mask it. Greg is sort of the worst version of myself, or the side of myself that I’m not so proud of.

RS: Who do you think of as the typical Wimpy Kid reader? It does seem to be the kind of series that non-readers enjoy as well as readers.

JK: I would say the average fan that comes to a book signing is eleven years old, fifth grader, maybe 60 percent boys, 40 percent girls. It’s exactly who I’d like to be writing for, so I’m happy about that.
RS: What’s the secret to writing for boys? Everyone’s trying to crack that.

JK: I lucked into the secret to writing for boys, which is that I didn’t write for kids to begin with. I wrote the Wimpy Kid books for adults. I wasn’t thinking of kids as an audience at all. It was my publisher who made that decision. So by not having a kid in mind when I was writing, I didn’t try to impart some sort of lesson. I think I would have written quite differently if I were thinking about the audience.

RS: Did anything have to change when the publisher said, No, Jeff, this is really for kids?

JK: Maybe one or two jokes had to change. And even so, they didn’t have to change much. My sensibilities are really G- or PG-rated.

RS: How do you know when to leave a joke to the picture and when to put it in the text? I think you do that brilliantly.

JK: Thank you. The DNA of these books is in comic strips. In comic strips there’s a setup and then a payoff, and I like it when I can pay the joke off in the image.

RS: Which do you think you are more naturally, a writer or a drawer?

JK: I think I’m more naturally a cartoonist. I don’t consider myself to be a good writer or a good illustrator. But I think I’m a pretty good cartoonist.

RS: How far do you think you can take Wimpy Kid? How many volumes can we expect?

JK: I’m not really sure. I was just having this discussion with my editor. We reached number one on all the bestseller charts for this week—thank you very much—and I think that’s the sixth year in a row. It’s very hard to walk away when you feel that there’s an audience, or you feel like you have something to say. I think I’ll know because the interest will start to wane, but for now it feels pretty good.

RS: Does Greg age at all, or is it this perpetual middle-school time?

JK: He doesn’t age. The best cartoon characters don’t ever age. They stay the same. I made that decision with the fifth book, The Ugly Truth. Greg is frustrated that he can’t seem to get older when his classmates are going through puberty. What he doesn’t know is that he’s a cartoon character. He can’t move on.

RS: Sadist. Do you get suggestions from kids about any particular behavior that he might exhibit or situations he should be in?

JK: Kids are always wondering if Greg will get a girlfriend. I’m not so sure that’s where I want to take the books. In fact, I really strive for sameness between books. I want them to be very even. There’s some innocence lost, in a way, when your beloved characters change.

RS: What kind of recreational reading do you like to do?

JK: I listen to a lot of biographies, some autobiographies. You can always learn from somebody else’s life experience.

RS: One thing you can learn from Greg is empathy.

JK: A lot of parents of kids who are autistic reach out to me and say that the Wimpy Kid books are very important for their kids. I think it’s because they learn a lot about emotions by reading the text and seeing what plays out in the images.

RS: I have one last question, from the young woman who transcribes all my interviews. She said: “Ask him if he’s going to open that bookstore.”

JK: We’re planning on opening a bookstore. Hopefully it will all work out. It’s in a small town that can’t really support it on its own, but that’s our plan.

Have you put your name on the waiting list for the Newest and the 8th Diary of A Wimpy Kid yet? If not, you’d better hurry up!! Click here to reserve your copy.

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Decades ago, in another century and in another country, I had to take mango languagesSpanish language classes in school.  Ostensibly this was to enable us, members of younger generations, to appreciate the country’s history and literature.  Critics, however, saw this as a continuing reminder that Spain had ruled the Philippines for 400 years and kept the natives in the dark, maintaining educational institutions solely to benefit the peninsulares and the insulares–Spaniards from the mainland who lived in the new colonies and the full-blooded Spaniards born on the islands.  With typical youthful shortsightedness, I saw my Spanish classes only as requirements to meet in order to graduate high school, then college.   Since then, here as an adult in our diverse community, I have been taking lessons off and on, trying to learn the language.

I do remember some things of my college Spanish classes.  One professor, pronunciatorin particular, required the class to memorize sayings, and for our final exam we had to write down as many of those observations on life that we could remember.  Two adages have stayed with me all these years:

El que se pica, ajos come.   I admit I have used or been reminded of this saying at times, especially on occasions that prompted thoughts of “if the shoe fits…”  as well as “serves you right.”  After all, he who feels the sting most likely bit into the garlic, right?

Hay que darle tiempo al tiempo.  This one appears to be meant for anyone expecting something.  Researchers perhaps?  In this age of instant gratification, one is told to be patient, to wait and to allow things to happen in due time.  Be that as it may, I say now is the time to wish one and all:  Feliz Navidad, prospero año y felicidad!

Explore the Library’s language learning resources.

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From December through mid-February, Monarch Butterflies will migrate.  There are some popular places within the Bay Area to take a look at these amazing creatures.  We have information on lots of butterflies here at the library: http://bit.ly/IfeUNy

In honor of these amazing insects, here are some butterfly related crafts!

Coffee Filter Butterfly
Supplies needed:
Coffee Filter
Clothes Pin
Watercolor Paints OR Markers and a spray bottle of water

  1. Flatten the coffee filter
  2. Have your child paint it all over with watercolors OR color it with marker and then spray with water
  3. Let it dry
  4. Clip it down the middle with the clothes pin

Voila!  A butterfly!

Supplies needed:
Two empty toilet paper rolls
Hole Punch
Yarn or string

  1. Decorate the outside of the toilet paper rolls
  2. Glue them together, long ways (side-by-side) and let dry
  3. Punch a hole on the outside of each roll of toilet paper (mirror image ways)
  4. Tie the yarn or string through the holes
  5. Go searching for butterflies!
English: Photograph of a Monarch Butterfly.

English: Photograph of a Monarch Butterfly. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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