Posted by: montclairlibrary | October 8, 2015

Octopus books

Silly Cephalopods, a book list by the Friends of Montclair Library

Bet you didn’t know that Cephalopod Awareness Days run from October 8-12. Octopi and squid as a group seem to go in for wacky, clueless and amusing behavior in picture books, so to celebrate World Octopus Day (the appropriately chosen Octo-ber 8), here are eight picture books about silly cephalopods:

Cowboy & Octopus by Jon Scieszka (J PICBK SCIESZKA) – Cowboy and Octopus maintain their friendship despite different opinions about things like beans and knock-knock jokes in this laugh-out-loud funny book.

I’m the Biggest Thing in the Ocean by Kevin Sherry (J PICBK SHERRY) – A giant squid brags about being bigger than everything else in the ocean–almost.

Squid and Octopus: Friends for Always by Tao Nyeu (J PICBK NYEU) (not at Montclair) – Four separate stories celebrate the many-legged friendship between Squid and Octopus as they disagree over how to stay warm, encourage each other and fret over the contents of a fortune cookie.

An Octopus Followed Me Home by Dan Yaccarino (J PICBK YACCARINO) (not at Montclair) – When a girl brings home an octopus and wants to keep him as a pet, her daddy reminds her of the crocodile, seals and other inappropriate animals she has already brought into the house to create chaos.

My Octopus Arms by Keith Baker (J PICBK BAKER) (not at Montclair) – Little Crab asks what an octopus can do with his eight arms and gets a surprising, rhyming, reply.

Izzy & Oscar by Allison Estes & Dan Stark (J PICBK ESTES) (not at Montclair) – Octopuses make the best pets! Pretend pirate captain Izzy is looking for a pet when an adventurous little octopus squiggles into town.

Good Thing You’re Not an Octopus! by Julie Markes (J PICBK MARKES) (not at Montclair) – A little boy finds that his life is pretty easy compared to how it might be.

Thank You, Octopus by Darren Farrell (J PICBK FARRELL) (not at Montclair) – Octopus helps his buddy get ready for bed, but in most unusual ways.

Bonus book (not in OPL, but worth requesting through Link+):
Emile by Tomi Ungerer – The story of an octopus who decides to try living on land and how he becomes a hero.

Posted by: montclairlibrary | October 6, 2015

Explore the world

Travel books photo by Vanessa Chettleburgh via Flickr

Did you know your OPL card gives you access to Culturegrams, an online tool which delivers concise, reliable and up-to-date cultural information on the countries of the world?

Culturegrams include facts, photos, videos, flags, graphs, recipes, maps and greetings, as well as information on the country’s clothing, money, weather and famous people. Use the information to write a report, plan a trip or just learn about the world. In addition to country info, they have info on US states and Canadian provinces, and special Kids’ Editions of the country reports.

According to the OPL website, “It goes beyond mere facts and figures to deliver an insider’s perspective on daily life and culture, including the history, customs and lifestyles of the world’s people.”

You can view the Culturegram online or download a detailed PDF of the info.

To access Culturegrams, start on the Online Resources section of the OPL website and scroll down to Country Information, the click on the CultureGrams link. Sign in with your library account info and start exploring the world!

Tip: If you’re in the market for travel and geography info, you’ll find lots more books in the non-fiction 900 section of the library.

Photo: Vanessa Chettleburgh via Flickr / Creative Commons

Posted by: montclairlibrary | October 5, 2015

This week at Montclair Library: October 5-11, 2015

Wednesday, October 7, 2015
Pop Up TeenZone – 1:30-3:00pm
Come visit the Montclair Branch for a Pop Up TeenZone to make crafts, hang out and share suggestions for serving you better!

PAWS to Read with Bark Therapy Dogs – 1:30-2:30pm
New & practicing readers read to Natasha the dog. Reading to dogs can help increase kids’ reading confidence, skill, and enjoyment.

Montclair Book Worms – 4:00pm
Do you like to read books and talk about them?
The Montclair Book Worms meet once a month to talk about a book we’ve read, play book-related games, and eat snacks. We meet the first Wednesday of every month at 4pm. The books we read are recommended for grades 4 and up. October’s book will be Paperboy by Vince Vawter. Pick up a copy at the Montclair branch and read it by October 7!

Thursday, October 8, 2015
Toddler Storytime – 10:15-10:50am
Songs, active rhymes and stories especially for ages 18 months to 3 years, followed by playtime! Make new friends and play with toys.

Baby Bounce – 11:30-11:50am
Play, sing and rhyme one on one with your baby from birth to 18 months, followed by playtime! Make new friends and play with toys.

Posted by: montclairlibrary | October 1, 2015

Alice’s birthday

Alice in Wonderland book photo by Starry Raston via Flickr

This year marks the 150th anniversary of the 1865 publication of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

According to Stephanie Lovett, president of the Lewis Carroll Society of North America, the two Alice novels are “likely the most frequently quoted works of fiction in the English-speaking world, standing alongside only Shakespeare in frequency of citation.” (Quote from this New York Times article.)

Given the rich and multi-layered nature of Carroll’s books, it’s no surprise that they’ve generated many editions, translations (into more than 170 languages, plus an all-emoji translation) and off-shoots.

Even as early as 1895, writers were mining Carroll’s work for sequels and parodies like Anna M. Richards’ “A New Alice in the Old Wonderland” (1895) and “Alice in Blunderland: An Iridescent Dream” (1907), “a parody by American humourist John Kendrick Bangs making fun of big business and big government.” (Wikipedia)

Here are some books from the Montclair collection (and beyond) that illustrate, abridge, build-on or in some cases totally change Carroll’s characters and settings:

For kids:
Alice in Wonderland: A Colors Primer by Jennifer Adams (J BOARD ADAMS) – Even babies can enjoy Alice, as the many peculiar characters in Carroll’s novel, such as the red Queen of Hearts and the time-conscious White Rabbit, lend themselves to a child’s introduction to colors.

Walt Disney’s Alice in Wonderland retold by Jon Scieszka (J PICBK SCIESZKA) – You pretty much can’t go wrong with Jon Scieszka (The Stinky Cheese Man, Time Warp Trio series, etc.) and illustrator Mary Blair (the designer behind the iconic look of many Disney movies and the Small World ride, among other things). This pretty picture book streamlines the story to 64 pages for 3-5-year-olds. (For grades 3-6, try one of these longer books that use Carroll’s words with new illustrations by
Helen Oxenbury or Lisbeth Zwerger.)

Jabberwocky: The Classic Poem from Lewis Carroll’s Through the Looking Glass, and What Alice Found There by Chistopher Myers (J 821.8 CARROLL) (not at Montclair) – “This imaginative interpretation of Carroll’s classic nonsense poem takes it out of the pages of Through the Looking Glass, into a contemporary urban setting, and onto the basketball court.” (Booklist)

Other children’s books, like the Underland Chronicles series by Suzanne Collins and Coraline by Neil Gaiman, owe a lot to Alice.

“Thinking one day about Alice in Wonderland, Suzanne Collins was struck by how pastoral the setting must seem to kids who, like her own kids, lived in urban surroundings. In New York City, you’re much more likely to fall down a manhole into the sewer than a rabbit hole, and if you do, you’re not going to find a tea party. What might you find? The answer to this question can be found in Collin’s first novel…Like Alice, Gregor takes a very long fall beneath his world and finds another strange place.”
— from the About the Author section of Gregor the Overlander

For teens:
Splintered by A.G. Howard (YA FIC HOWARD) (not at Montclair) – A descendant of the inspiration for Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, sixteen-year-old Alyssa Gardner fears she is mentally ill like her mother until she finds that Wonderland is real and, if she passes a series of tests to fix Alice’s mistakes, she may save her family from their curse.

The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor (J FIC BEDDOR) (not at Montclair) – When she is cast out of Wonderland by her evil aunt Redd, young Alyss Heart finds herself living in Victorian Oxford as Alice Liddell and struggles to keep memories of her kingdom intact until she can return and claim her rightful throne.

For adults:
After Alice by Gregory McGuire (of Wicked fame) (just released – copy on order for Montclair) – A tale inspired by Lewis Carroll’s beloved classic follows the experiences of Alice’s friend, Ada, who, upon tumbling down the same rabbit hole, embarks on an odyssey to find and reclaim her friend from a surreal world.

Alice I Have Been by Melanie Benjamin (FIC BENJAMIN) – This novel imagines Alice Liddell in her twilight years, looking back on a remarkable life. From a pampered childhood in Oxford to difficult years as a widowed mother, Alice examines how she became who she is–and how she became immortalized as Alice in Wonderland.

Photo: Starry Raston via Flickr / Creative Commons

Posted by: montclairlibrary | September 28, 2015

This week at Montclair Library: September 28-October 4, 2015

Wednesday, September 30, 2015
PAWS to Read with Bark Therapy Dogs – 1:30-2:30pm
New & practicing readers can read to Natasha the dog. Reading to dogs can help increase kids’ reading confidence, skill and enjoyment.

Thursday, October 1, 2015
Toddler Storytime – 10:15am
Songs, active rhymes and stories especially for ages 18 months to 3 years, followed by playtime! Make new friends and play with toys.

Baby Bounce – 11:30am
Play, sing and rhyme one on one with your baby from birth to 18 months, followed by playtime! Make new friends and play with toys.

Posted by: montclairlibrary | September 26, 2015

Nordic Lit

Swedish winter photo by Peter Kirn via Flickr

All this hot weather has us day-dreaming about cooler climes. Something about Scandinavia, with its long nights, dramatic landscapes and practical furniture, captures the imagination of writers, too.

Of course, when you mention Scandinavian lit the first thing that comes to mind for many people is probably Stieg Larsson’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo series, especially with the new continuation based on Larsson’s characters, The Girl in the Spider’s Web by David Lagercrantz, burning up the hold lists — as of this writing there are 78 holds on 21 copies.

In fact, we could build a whole list just around Scandinavian mysteries, the so-called “Nordic noir” of writers like Jo Nesbø, Camilla Läckberg and Henning Mankell.

But there’s more to Nordic lit than just crime fiction, although much of it does seem to center around brooding melancholy and dark personal secrets. But there’s also love, history and absurdist humor to be found in these selections from the OPL collection:

The Sunlit Night by Rebecca Dinerstein (FIC DINERSTEI) (not at Montclair) – In this new book, a woman fleeing a painful breakup and an eighteen-year-old Russian immigrant carrying out his father’s last wish to be buried “at the top of the world” intersect in Lofoten, a string of Norwegian islands ninety-five miles above the Arctic Circle.

Stockholm Octavo by Karen Engelmann (FIC ENGELMANN) – Life is close to perfect for Emil Larsson, a self-satisfied bureaucrat in the Office of Customs and Excise in 1791 Stockholm, until one evening when a fortune-teller shares her vision with him.

The Tricking of Freya by Christina Sunley (FIC SUNLEY) – As Manhattan photographer Freya Morris becomes increasingly obsessed with unraveling her family’s tangled story, she journeys to Iceland. On this rugged island of vast lava fields and immense glaciers, Freya’s quest comes to its unsettling conclusion.

Burial Rites by Hannah Kent (FIC KENT) – Set against Iceland’s stark landscape, this is the story of Agnes, who, charged with the brutal murder of her former master, is sent to an isolated farm to await execution. But as Agnes’s death looms, the farmer’s wife and their daughters learn there is another side to the sensational story they’ve heard.

101 Reykjavik: by Hallgrímur Helgason (FIC HALLGRIMU) – Against the backdrop of Reykjavik’s storied nightlife and amid the swelling global presence of Icelandic culture, Helgason portrays with brutal honesty and humor a young man who takes uselessness to new extremes, and for whom redemption may not even be an option.

Out Stealing Horses by Per Petterson (FIC PETTERSON) – At age sixty-seven, Trond has settled into a rustic cabin in an isolated part of eastern Norway to live the rest of his life with a quiet deliberation. A meeting with his only neighbor, however, forces him to reflect on a fateful summer from his youth.

The Room by Jonas Karlsson (FIC KARLSSON) (not at Montclair) – Bjorn is a compulsive, meticulous bureaucrat who discovers a secret room at the government office where he works.

Popular Music from Vittula by Mikael Niemi (FIC NIEMI) (not at Montclair) – Looks at life in a small Swedish village during the 1960s and its colorful inhabitants. Or as author Vendela Vida described it in her recommendation, “You might have read nine or 10 funny and tender coming-of-age novels set in a small town in Sweden during the late 60s and early 70s that chronicle a young boy’s discovery of the Beatles, sex, hermit magicians and sauna-endurance contests. Even so, I think this one might be the best.”

And speaking of Vida:
Let the Northern Lights Erase Your Name by Vendela Vida (FIC VIDA) (not at Montclair) – On the day of her father’s funeral, twenty-eight-year-old Clarissa Iverton discovers that he wasn’t her biological father after all. She finds her birth certificate, which leads her from New York to Helsinki, and then north of the Arctic Circle, to mystical Lapland, where she believes she’ll meet her real father.

The Hundred Year Old Man Who Climbed Out the Window and Disappeared by Jonas Jonasson (FIC JONASSON) (not at Montclair) – Confined to a nursing home and about to turn 100, Allan Karlsson, who has a larger-than-life back story as an explosives expert, climbs out of the window in his slippers and embarks on an unforgettable adventure involving thugs, a murderous elephant and a very friendly hot dog stand operator.

Norwegian by Night by Derek B. Miller (FIC MILLER) (not at Montclair) – After witnessing a murder in Oslo, elderly former Marine sniper Sheldon Horrowitz flees to safety with the newly orphaned son of the victim.

Smilla’s Sense of Snow by Peter Hoeg (MYS HOEG) (not at Montclair) – When her six-year-old neighbor falls to his death and no one is willing to suspect foul play, Smilla Qaavigaaq Jasperson finds her own investigation taking her into the files of a Danish company.

Lastly, honorable mention to a book not in OPL, Benny & Shrimp by Katarina Mazetti, a suitably complicated middle-aged love story about a young widowed librarian and an overworked dairy farmer, set in Sweden.

There, now don’t you feel cooler just looking at all those icy blue covers?

12 Books Set in Scandinavia, a list by the Friends of Montclair Library

Top photo: Peter Kirn via Flickr / Creative Commons

Posted by: montclairlibrary | September 21, 2015

This week at Montclair Library: September 21-27, 2015

Wednesday, September 23, 2015
PAWS to Read with Bark Therapy Dogs – 1:30-2:30pm
New & practicing readers can read to Natasha the dog. Reading to dogs can help increase kids’ reading confidence, skill and enjoyment.

Thursday, September 24, 2015
Toddler Storytime – 10:15am
Songs, active rhymes and stories especially for ages 18 months to 3 years, followed by playtime! Make new friends and play with toys.

Baby Bounce – 11:30am
Play, sing and rhyme one on one with your baby from birth to 18 months, followed by playtime! Make new friends and play with toys.

Saturday, September 26, 2015
“Great Courses” Sale – 10am-1pm
If you’ve always wanted to attend a college lecture on a topic in art, history, literature, religion or science, this is your chance to enjoy learning at home at your leisure. We have 76 donated sets of Great Courses books and DVDs for sale, at great prices!

Workshop on using eBooks (& other library apps – including eMagazines, eMusic, & streaming films) – 3-5pm
Oakland Public Library offers a variety of eBooks and audiobooks for various devices, including iPads, iPods, iPhones, other smartphones, Kindles and more. Learn how to download a variety of digital content any time, to a computer or mobile device. Please bring your fully charged device if you can, and your current library card. This will be one-on-one help. 3 attendees maximum per hour, plus 2 on a wait list. (This workshop will be offered monthly.) Advance sign-up is required; please RSVP at 482-7810.

Posted by: montclairlibrary | September 17, 2015

Halloween Costume Swap

Photo by Ryan Scott via Flickr

The Costume Swap is back! The Montclair Library will be having its annual Halloween costume swap on Saturday, October 24. In preparation, the library is now accepting donations of gently used costumes – they can be dropped off at the library anytime during open hours.

This has been a great event both for families looking to de-clutter and those not wanting to buy new costumes every year. All leftovers will be donated to families in need.

Whether you’ve been reading the super-popular The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or just doing a little fall cleaning, this event is a great way to free up some closet or play space, re-use, and get a new (to you!) costume for Halloween.

Photo: Ryan Scott via Flickr / Creative Commons

Posted by: montclairlibrary | September 14, 2015

This week at Montclair Library: September 14-20, 2015

Wednesday, September 16, 2015
PAWS to Read with Bark Therapy Dogs – 1:30-2:30pm
New & practicing readers can read to Natasha the dog. Reading to dogs can help increase kids’ reading confidence, skill and enjoyment.

Thursday, September 17, 2015
Toddler Storytime – 10:15am
Songs, active rhymes and stories especially for ages 18 months to 3 years, followed by playtime! Make new friends and play with toys.

Baby Bounce – 11:30am
Play, sing and rhyme one on one with your baby from birth to 18 months, followed by playtime! Make new friends and play with toys.

Posted by: montclairlibrary | September 13, 2015

College prep

Taking a standardized test - photo by Alberto G. via Flickr

The school year just started, but if you have a high school junior or senior you probably have college applications on the brain.

With the deadline for most college applications looming November 1, now is a great time to look at some of the resources OPL offers to help college-bound kids and their parents, from books of practical advice to novels to distract you to online resources to help with tests, financial aid and more.

Online resources
First off, the teen librarians have put together some great resource guides on the Teen section of the OPL website, consolidating links to information and tools for Test Preparation, Planning for College and Aid & Scholarships.

OPL also provides free access for library card holders to online research and learning resources like LearningExpress Library (access various online practice tests, including the SAT), College Blue Book (a guide to thousands of 2- and 4-year schools in the U.S. and Canada) and Tuition Funding Sources (private website designed to help students find scholarships, college and career information).

Non-fiction books
If you’re looking for help writing a college essay or choosing a college, here are a handful of options – and there are more books on this topic in the 378 section at Montclair and other branches.

College Admission: From Application to Acceptance, Step by Step by Robin Mamlet and Christine VanDeVelde (YA 378.1 MAMLET) – A step-by-step guide from a former dean of admission and a journalist/parent.

College Essays that Made a Difference by the staff of the Princeton Review (YA 378.161 COLLEGE 2012) – 114 real application essays that helped students get admitted. Insider advice from admissions officers at 19 top colleges.

Fiske Real College Essays that Work by Edward B. Fiske & Bruce G. Hammond (YA 378.161 FISKE 2011) – Provides tips on writing a college essay, including ones on such topics as science fiction, hobbies, community service and significant experiences.

Where You Go Is Not Who You’ll Be: An Antidote to the College Admissions Mania by Frank Bruni (378.161 BRUNI) (not at Montclair) – Bruni explains why your future and your worth aren’t determined by which schools say yes and which say no — giving students and their parents a new perspective on this brutal, deeply flawed competition and a path out of the anxiety that it provokes.

The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College by Jacques Steinberg (378.161 STEINBERG) (not at Montclair) – “Steinberg…offers an inside look at the admissions process to one of the nation’s most prestigious colleges, Wesleyan University in Connecticut.” (BookList) Also available as an ebook.

Fiction books
I’ll bet you didn’t know that “SAT (Educational test) — Fiction” is a category in the library catalog. If you want to read about fictionalized college application craziness, check out one of these novels.

Acceptance by Susan Coll (FIC COLL) – “Coll sends up college admissions in an overstuffed social comedy. The novel tracks three juniors-going-on-seniors as they and their families run the gauntlet of SATs, admissions essays, campus tours and rejection letters.” (Publishers Weekly)

Early Decision by Lacy Crawford (FIC CRAWFORD) – Working one-on-one with Tiger-mothered, burned-out kids, Anne “the application whisperer” can make Harvard a reality. Early Decision follows five students over one autumn as Anne helps them craft their college essays, cram for the SATs and perfect the Common Application.

Admission by Jean Hanff Korelitz (FIC KORELITZ) – “Portia Nathan, the overly dedicated 38-year-old Princeton admissions officer…finds purpose in her gatekeeper role. But her career and conscience are challenged after she visits a down-at-the-heels New England town on a scouting trip and meets…a talented but rough-around-the-edges 17-year-old who maybe doesn’t measure up as Princeton material.” (Publishers Weekly) (Also made into a 2013 movie starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.)

The Admissions by Meg Mitchell Moore (FIC MOORE) (not at Montclair) – The seemingly perfect Hawthorne family of Northern California is tested by Ivy League ambitions, overscheduling, impossible expectations by the Bay Area elite and difficult personal secrets.

Jane Austen in Scarsdale, or, Love, Death, and the SATs by Paula Marantz Cohen (FIC COHEN) (not at Montclair) – This send-up of Austen’s Persuasion is “part witty satire on the college application process and part love story.” (Booklist)

Glamorous Disasters: A Novel by Eliot Schrefer (FIC SCHREFER) (not at Montclair) – “A high-priced SAT tutor sinks into the lives of a dysfunctional Fifth Avenue family in this debut novel.” (Kirkus Reviews)

Crunch Time by Mariah Fredericks (YA FIC FREDERICK) (not at Montclair) – Four students, who have formed a study group to prepare for the SAT exam, sustain each other through the emotional highs and lows of their junior year in high school.

Find more suggestions, both fiction and non-fiction, in these articles: “College Admissions Books for Your Summer Reading Pleasure” and “Apps Lit

Photo: Alberto G. via Flickr / Creative Commons

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