Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Pig Fever, Yes! Swine Flu, No!

Be Creative @ Your Library, Bernardsville Public Library's summer reading program, has attracted a huge number of young readers, but it has also caused "Pig Fever" to break out among our patrons.

Anyone who enters the library is sure to experience symptoms that include gasps of amazement, feverish urges to smile, and an overwhelming sense of complete happiness. No one seems to be immune.

This is all due to the performing pigs who highlight the summer reading program theme of creativity...

...and to their creator, Keiko Matsuura, who is one of our very talented library volunteers. Last year Keiko helped with the summer reading program by making the reading bugs that were so popular (see June 24, 2008 posting.)

Michaele Casey, Bernardsville librarian, once again asked Keiko to help her with this year's summer reading display, and Keiko came up with a design concept that incorporated her fondness for pigs. It was decided that pigs doing creative things would be the perfect visual accent to the summer reading theme. Obviously, Keiko was the first one to come down with "Pig Fever" because she worked feverishly for two months to create the piggies out of papier mache and other materials.

Working from her home, Keiko glued multiple layers of brown paper around large balloons to form the pigs' bodies and then attached limbs and other features with more papier mache. This process took days to complete, followed by many layers of paint, trim and accessories to give each pig a unique character. Eyes and some lips were formed from sponges that Keiko cut, and hair and clothing were created with sculpted paper, paint or yarn.

Keiko reports that the rock 'n roll pig was the hardest one to make because he had to be able to stand even without the microphone. Although the pigs "hogged" the sofa in Keiko's house for the past two months, she and her husband were sorry to see them go. But they are delighted that the pigs have made themselves right at home in the library! Come see for yourself, and catch the fever.

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Just For Fun

In keeping with the library's "be creative" summer theme, I thought I'd share this creative senior film project by Bang-yao Liu, a student at Savannah College of Art and Design. He stuck colorful Post-it notes to a facsimile of his dorm wall, over and over, to make a stop-motion film entitled "Deadline." Clever and fun.

To see how he did it, watch the second film clip below, in which over 6,000 Post-its are put to good use over 4 days of shooting.

Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Iranian Authors On Iran

Published in 2008, The Ayatollah Begs To Differ: The Paradox of Modern Iran was written by Hooman Majd who, as coincidence would have it, is the grandson of a noted ayatollah. Born in Tehran but now living in the United States, Majd tries to explain the multi-faceted, conflicting nature of Persian life to westerners. In a review, The Financial Times states, "Hooman Majd offers a more conversational way into the history of Iran in The Ayatollah Begs to Differ, with anecdote, colour and paradox splashed over a contemporary canvas. His is a genial and companionable book." Yet Majd's book jacket also proclaims, "He points to the importance of the Persian view of privacy, arguing that the stability of the current regime owes much to the freedom Iranians have to behave as they wish behind “Persian walls.”
Well, I haven't read the book, but that is an interesting statement in light of the current political situation in post-election Iran.

Censoring An Iranian Love Story: A Novel is fiction from a contemporary Iranian author, Shahriar Mandanipour, born in Shiraz in 1956. He has written numerous articles, short stories and several novels; this is his first book in English translation. Using the premise of a Persian author who edits and crosses out the very love story he is writing, Mandanipour illuminates the repressive forces working against literary expression in Iran. The young lovers in his book are hounded by the Campaign Against Social Corruption, and the writer character believes he must cross out much of what he has written about their love story because he knows that heavy-handed government censorship will ultimately make it impossible for his story to be printed.

Two new memoirs recount their authors' upbringing and family lives in Iran during the downfall of the shah and the rise of the Iranian Revolution. Afschineh Latifi's Even After All This Time: A Story of Love, Revolution and Leaving Iran tells the story of her family's survival after her father, a colonel in the shah's army, was killed following the shah's overthrow. The family apparently had been a happy one, mother and father loved each other, and they all enjoyed a cultured, comfortable lifestyle until things changed so dramatically. Latifi was sent abroad once her mother realized what kind of danger her daughter could face under the repressive dictates of the Islamic Cultural Revolution. The author credits her mother with a remarkable show of courage and strength in saving all her children and reuniting them as a family outside of Iran.

In contrast, Azar Nafisi's memoir, Things I've Been Silent About: Memories, shows the author of Reading Lolita inTehran grappling with unpleasant memories of her mother, her own childhood, and of her parent's unhappy marriage. Like Afschineh Latifi, Azar Nafisi also grew up in a well-to-do, highly educated family in pre-revolutionary Iran, but family life was crippled by detrimental silences she says are too often nurtured in her home country. Her relationship with her difficult mother dominates the story as does her admiration for her father even though he had his failings, too. Collateral damage such as sexual abuse by trusted friends of the family, disillusionment with the revolution, and a dreadful first marriage all add a serious tone to this memoir of her early life in Iran.
Evelyn Fischel

These four books may be found in the collection of Bernardsville Public Library.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

The "Hams" Have Taken Center Stage At Bernardsville Public Library!!




The stage is set at Bernardsville Public Library for Be Creative @ Your Library, a show-stopping summer reading program starting Monday, June 22nd. Children and young adults are invited to participate in a summer-long schedule of creative activities and reading programs. Sign-ups begin June 22nd, but first you'll have to get past those marvelous performing pigs in the lobby!!


Ham Jones? Elvis Piggly?

Cirque du Porc
The Divine Swine

Phantom Pig of the Opera

The Little Piggy Mermaid, Porky Nureyev, Super Pig

and Pigcasso


A huge round of applause goes to Michaele Casey, Bernardsville Public Library's youth services coordinator, and Keiko Matsuura, our limitlessly talented library volunteer!! Under Michaele's meticulous planning, the library has brought the New Jersey Library Association's statewide summer reading program to life in a way that will bring smiles and looks of amazement to all who visit us. Keiko designed and handmade all the pigs, painting and accessorizing each of them with incredible detail. Her visionary staging of this display exceeded our wildest dreams. Keiko's imaginative artistry shows just how exceptional the results can be when you decide to "be creative."

...and Cecil B. DePig, Director, wants credit, too, for overcoming his fear of heights!

Friday, June 19, 2009

When You're Hungry For More Than Just Words

M.F.K. Fisher, Julia Child, and Ruth Reichl are some of the people who come to mind when I think about those who have described their love of food and cooking in noteworthy books.

M.F.K. Fisher is still considered one of the 20th century's standard bearers of elegant prose about food, travel and life. Readers have long savored the detail and precision of her observations in such books as Consider the Oyster and The Art of Eating.
As for The French Chef, Julia Child's posthumous 2006 biography My Life in France, co-authored by Alex Prud'homme, recounts her culinary education in Paris with lively detail. It also seamlessly blends in loving memories of her husband and their time in France.
And Ruth Reichl's Tender at the Bone is a wonderful recollection of how she came to be an ardent epicure despite having a diffident mother who couldn't cook.
Today's rash of cooking memoirs may not demonstrate the same depth of experience and writing wizardry as those of Fisher, Reichl or Child, but they are nonetheless enjoyable to read. Among the newest food memoirs are two books written with wit and loaded with recipes. In both cases, these recipes accompany chapters of the books and tend to signify "chapters" in the authors' lives.
A Homemade Life, by food blogger Molly Wizenberg, mingles family stories and vignettes with a good assortment of recipes. She writes in an engaging manner about life, its little victories, big sorrows, and how her love of food and cooking drew her future husband to her like a moth to the flame. Actually, it was her blog, Orangette, that lured her husband to her, which goes to show the power of blogging. Unfortunately, Orangette is at present in suspension because Wizenberg apparently has too many irons in the fire or too many pots on the stove. In any case, there are plenty of nice recipes included in this book.

Giulia Melucci, author of I loved, I Lost, I Made Spaghetti, certainly believes that the fastest way to the altar is through a man's stomach. This Brooklyn author has been repeatedly disappointed in affairs of the heart and bed. Yet she finds that cooking and laughter have healed her broken heart, enabling her to try all over again! Her book is full of recipes reflecting her Italian-American heritage, and she shares how these recipes may have attracted a suitor or made up for a failed love affair afterwards. ~ Evelyn Fischel

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Set Your Sights On Bernardsville Public Library's Low Vision Station

Bernardsville Public Library has installed a new "Low Vision Station" among the public computers. This Low Vision computer is specifically dedicated for use by people with low vision or no vision.

The station includes an extra-wide monitor and Zoom Text software capable of magnifying screen images up to 36X. For those with no vision, there is an audio feature which reads the computer pages out loud, and headphones are provided for privacy. Users may even select from a female or male voice (even one with a British accent!) to read aloud Web sites, email or Word files.

The Low Vision Station may be customized to the user's preference in terms of color background, cursor and pointer styles, and focus tools. The default setting is 2X magnification, but the photos above show a few different magnifications. Please let friends or family members with low vision or no vision know about this new library feature.

Tuesday, June 16, 2009

It's A Great Idea From Every Angle

photo source: Bernardsville Public Library

photo source: Bernardsville Public Library

photo source: Bernardsville Public Library

Is it your turn to come up with a book suggestion for your book group?

Save yourself a lot of work; we've already done it for you at Bernardsville Public Library where you will find a large assortment of book group bags stocked with popular titles just waiting for you. These sturdy canvas zip-up bags contain ten paperback copies each of a title selected from a list of both fiction and nonfiction books. Also included in each bag is a folder with background information about the author, the book, and suggested discussion questions. These bags may be checked out for a six-week period.

Current titles in this assortment include Infidel, Loving Frank, March, Nineteen Minutes, Q & A, Shadow Divers, The Book Thief, Devil in the White City, The Road from Coorain, The Year of Magical Thinking, Three Cups of Tea, and Water for Elephants. New titles will be added in the near future. Visit our lobby display to see these great resources for your next book group meeting.

Thursday, June 11, 2009

We Felt Like It

Felting has become an extremely popular craft in recent years, and Bernardsville Public Library would like you to check it out for yourself...along with a few new books on the subject. You'll find these in the New Books section of the library.

While you're at it, try needle felting to make adorable 3-dimensional figures likes these sweet, little darlings below:

In addition to these new books, we have an interesting variety of felting books within the regular knitting section. Some of them are illustrated below. You'll even learn how to salvage a sweater that you shrank accidentally (that's felting, for you!) and turn it into a new creation.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Polka Dots To Live or Die?

Is there a doctor in the house? Our polka dot Blogger template, which once shimmered with subtle shades of gray and celadon as seen above, has now started to look anemic and thoroughly washed out on certain monitors, but not on others. What's with that? I was rather fond of those little happy dots; they reminded me of button candy, but now they look like this:

Sad. I took these pictures from the same monitor so that you can see the change. In the end I may have to pull the plug on this template and go with something else. Anyone have a diagnosis? Are you getting the sickly yellow version or the happy, shimmery dot version?

Friday, June 5, 2009

Don't Blink Or You'll Miss It...It Happens Tomorrow

Saturday Samplers book group will meet tomorrow afternoon, 3:30 p.m., at Bernardsville Public Library to discuss Malcolm Gladwell's book, Blink. Author of The Tipping Point and Outliers, Malcolm Gladwell has made decision making the focus of Blink. He specifically investigates whether instantaneous judgments might be more reliable than well-reasoned decisions in some cases, but not in others.

Why is it that some people can instantly read a situation accurately while others are taken in by extraneous details which divert them from the truth? Why would a major museum rely on a scientific study of an ancient statue it was about to acquire rather than count on the discerning eye of art experts to determine whether the statue was authentic? What preconceived notions do we bring to decision making which then block our ability to make good ones?

There are many interesting anecdotes and studies referred to by the author in this engaging book. Attendance at the book discussion is open, and no sign-up is required. Please refer to the Saturday Samplers blog for several postings on the author and the book, Blink.

Monday, June 1, 2009

June Birthday Books On Display

Do you plan to give a birthday gift to a friend or family member this June? Make it easy on yourself - shop at the library!

Visit the lobby display at Bernardsville Public Library where you will find a wide assortment of new library books from which to select your "gift." By funding the cost of this library book, you will benefit Bernardsville Public Library as well honor your birthday celebrant. Pick up one of the special display books, bring it to the circulation desk, pay the designated price, and get a bookplate for the birthday celebrant. After the birthday book display ends, the honoree will be allowed to check out his or her new library book. Everyone who borrows the book afterwards will know that your friend or family member was the recipient of a very special honor. Several of these new books are shown below.