Friday, October 30, 2009

National Novel Writing Month Begins Sunday

It's my favorite time of year! Well, after Poetry Month, Earth Day, Pride, Halloween, Christmas, New Year, and Easter.... Okay, it's an awesome time of the year!

November is National Novel Writing Month. Just like last year, we'll be having NaNoWriMo support groups on Saturday afternoons all throughout November to help you crank through your novel.

So swing by, grab a computer, pop in your flash drive full of your awesome book and write write write! Just drop in and we'll do everything we can to help you along. We've got copies of Chris Baty's book No Plot, No Problem and Victoria Schmidt's Book in a Month. Make sure you put one on hold if you want to get one in time.

Here's the schedule:

NaNoWriMo Meetups at Watha T. Daniel Library

11/7: 1:00 p.m.
11/14: 1:00 p.m.
11/21: 1:00 p.m.
11/28: 1:00 p.m.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Pimp My Bookcart: Opposing Viewpoints

Pimp My Bookcart is a national project run by the web comic Unshelved. I've been wanting to do this project for years, and finally, this last Saturday, I had the great opportunity to work with some of the neighborhood kids and Liz from the Capitol Letters Writing Center and together we all designed this awesome bookcart. Each of us came up with a plan and we brought all our ideas together into one sweet design.

As you can see above, One of the side panels is a city scape at night. We did it with a three layer effect of the night sky (with a little bit of sunlight there), a series of high rise buildings in purple, fronted by some lower buildings in blue. All with glowing yellow windows and doors.

The other side was originally just a tree, but since one of us did a flame design we decided to make a kind of Dr. Seussian tree in blue bark with orange and red leaves on a yellow background.

The shelf panels are two different designs, one from each of the students who worked on the design part of the project. Deondre came up with the stars and stripes pattern in green and blue, and James was really into a chain link pattern in black and red. So Deondre got the upright part of the shelf and James got the flat part of the shelf. For the chains we actually draped the chains that we used in our Banned Books Week display to form a pattern on the shelf and we painted directly onto and through the chain. It was a stroke of genius on James's part.

All of the designs (except the chain) were patterned in poster board stencils, and the color is all from indoor/outdoor spray paint. Let me tell you how many kids we had wanting work on the project once we started spray painting the cart! Everyone was rushing up to paint on it.

I don't think we were really looking at all the implications behind the piece as we were putting it together, but I think there are some great metaphors in here about nature vs the city and freedom vs slavery. Hence why I decided to name this bookcart "Opposing Viewpoints." I'm really proud of our kids for coming up with something so awesome.

I'm submitting our bookcart to the contest today!

What do you think?

Monday, October 26, 2009

Screaming Out Loud - Halloween Edition

Cross-posted from Spooky Books for Strange Children.

"The Tell-Tale Heart"
by Edgar Allan Poe
read by Nicholas Hirsch

"The Tell-Tale Heart" was one of the first horror stories I ever read. I was in sixth grade, perusing the shelves of my school's library, and there it was - a thick, dusty book, bound all in black, with a picture of a raven on the cover. Inside the cover was a picture of the man himself, Edgar Allan Poe, right out of a Tim Burton movie! (causality and linear time would come later in my education...) I opened to the table of contents, and started flipping through the book to find myself dazzled and thrilled by the illustrations; it was a dark, morbid affair, full of thunderclouds and autumn leaves whipped around by a cold wind. Someday, I will find the edition that had those illustrations, or I will discover that it was all in my mind...

In any case, the stories gripped me - "The Tell-Tale Heart", "The Pit and the Pendulum", "The Masque of the Red Death". The whole collection spoke to me; whispers of dread delight that appealed to my inner, laughing monster. These were stories to be read under a blanket with a flashlight (or behind your textbooks in class), they spoke a new language, full of brooding, steeple-fingered madmen and bouncing alliteration. They jangled the senses; they carried you into the shadows, just behind the narrator's bloodshot eyes, and pulled your mind into an unfathomable abyss. It was magic. I was in love.

It is with this memory in mind that I present here the first installment of Screaming Out Loud, a series of classic horror tales, read aloud for your enjoyment (and, let's be honest, for mine). To celebrate this, my favorite holiday, my Christmas, New Years and Thanksgiving, all rolled into one, here is my own rendition of that mad old story, "The Tell-Tale Heart", by Edgar Allan Poe:

Download the MP3 here.

Saturday, October 24, 2009

Dem Bones, Dem Bones

Today's storytime included singing Dem Bones. Afterward, we made skeletons for some pre-Halloween fun. This craft is very simple and inexpensive--here's what you'll need:
  • About 18 Q-tips
  • Black cardstock or construction paper
  • White paper (any kind)
  • Black marker
  • Scissors
  • White glue
The only prep you'll need to do is cutting shorter Q-tips for the finger and toe bones. I also recommend squeezing a blob of glue onto a paper plate for dunking the ends of the Q-tips.

1. Glue six whole Q-tips on the bla
ck paper for the skeleton’s ribs.

2. Glue one Q-tip perpendicular over the ribs to act as the backbone. Have the Q-tip lie flush with the last rib, but poke up longer than the top rib, to act as the neck bone.

3. Draw a skull on the white paper with a black marker, and cut it out.

4. Glue the skull on the paper above and touching the neck bone.

5. Glue 4 whole Q-tips for the arm joints and leg joints

6. Cut six whole Q-tips in half, or make them even shorter if you like. These are smaller bones that can be used as the 10 fingers, and two to be the feet. Glue them in place.

Everyone had their own fantastic interpretation (see our skeleton
parade above), no worries about sticking to the directions exactly. Don't forget to hang your masterpiece on your front door for the Trick-or-Treaters!

The skeletons are out tonight,
They march about the street,
With bony bodies, bony heads,
And bony hands and feet.

Bony bony bony bones
with nothing in between,
Up and down and all around
They march on Hallowe'en!

Craft from

Saturday, October 17, 2009

Mad Men at DC Public Library

If you haven't been watching Mad Men on AMC you are missing out on one of the best written, best acted shows on television today. You can get up to speed with Don, Betty, Joan, Peggy, Pete and the crew by checking out seasons 1 and 2 from your local DC Public Library.

But we've got way more than just the videos. Being an avid fan of the show I've compiled a list of books that are mentioned throughout the course of the show that we have here in the collection, along with some other period pieces and contextual works that I'm sure you'll find enjoyable, if not amusing.

Check it out.

Books Mentioned in Mad Men

Lady Chatterly’s Lover by D.H. Lawrence

Exodus by Leon Uris

Atlas Shrugged by Ayn Rand

Meditations in an Emergency by Frank O’Hara
Call Number: 811 O36M

The Sound and the Fury by William Faulkner

History of the Decline and Fall of the Roman Empire by Edward Gibbon
Call Number: 937 G439H

The 1960s

The 1960s: Examining Pop Culture ed. by David M. Haugen and Matthew J. Box
Call Number: 973.923 N714A

The 1960's: American Popular Culture Through History by Edward J. Rielly
Call Number: 973.923 R555

One minute to midnight : Kennedy, Khrushchev, and Castro on the brink of nuclear war by Michael Dobbs. Call Number: 973.922 D632

We Shall Overcome by Herb Boyd, Narrated by Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee.
Call Number: 323.1196 B7896

I Have A Dream: writings and speeches that changed the world. by Martin Luther King, Jr. ed. by James M. Washington
Call Number: 332.092 K53I

On the Road to Freedom: a guided tour of the civil rights trail. by Charles E. Cobb, Jr.
Call Number: 323.1196 C653

Kennedy v. Nixon

The making of a Catholic president : Kennedy vs. Nixon 1960 by Shaun A. Casey.
Call Number: 322.1097 C338

1960 : LBJ vs. JFK vs. Nixon : the epic campaign that forged three presidencies by David Pietrusza.
Call Number: 324.973 P626N


John F. Kennedy: A Biography by Michael O'Brien
Call Number: 92 K348OB

Brothers: the hidden history of the Kennedy years by David Talbot
Call Number: 973.922 T138

The Kennedys : portrait of a family by Richard Avedon ; Shannon Thomas Perich ; foreword by Robert Dallek.
Call Number: 973.922 A961

The secret life of Marilyn Monroe by J. Randy Taraborrelli.
Call Number: 92 M7534T


The Complete Idiot's Guide to Copywriter's Words and Phrases by Kathy Kleidermacher.
Call Number: 659.132 K63

Brand Failures: the truth about the 100 biggest branding mistakes of all time by Matt Haig
Call Number: 658.827 H149

Don't Think Pink: What really makes women buy--and how to increase your share of this crucial market by Lisa Johnson
Call Number: 658.834 J67

Adland: Searching for the meaning of life on a branded planet by James P. Othmer
Call Number: 659.1 O87

Consuming Kids: Protecting our children from the onslaught of marketing and advertising by Susan Linn
Call Number: 658.8342 L758


Mr. Boston official bartender's guide by edited by Anthony Giglio with Jim Meehan ; photography by Ben Fink.
Call Number: 641.874 M679A

The Perfect Buzz: the essential guide to boozing, bars and bad behavior by David Bramwell.
Call Number: 394.13 P438

The appetizers and canap├ęs cookbook by Lillian Langseth-Christensen and Carol Sturm Smith. Illus. by Lillian Langseth-Christensen. (1968)
Call Number: 641.81 L285

Miss Manners' Guide to Excruciatingly Correct Behavior by Judith Martin.
Call Number: 395 M381A

Friday, October 16, 2009

Harlem Renaissance: Recommended Reading

In my recent lecture on the literature of the Harlem Renaissance I presented an outline of the particular aesthetic and style of several representative works of this genre. Doing my research for the talk, I discovered two very interesting books that challenged my view of the scope and meaning of the Harlem Renaissance. These two books showed how the Harlem Renaissance was an American phenomenon that reflected life of African Americans as part of the larger movements of thought in American life at that time.

In his new book, "The Harlem Renaissance in Black and White," George Hutchinson explores the connection between artistic modernism in America and the various racial movements of self-expression that flourished in the new cultural environment of modernism. Hutchinson places the Harlem Renaissance in the context of the larger movements of American intellectual life demonstrating that the Harlem Renaissance was a very American cultural current even as it looked back to Africa. The author traces the intellectual genealogy of the major Harlem Renaissance back to the founders of modern thought in different fields such as the Anthropology of the primitive in the work of Boas, the philosophy of experience in John Dewey, and the social thought of the American Pragmatists. He demonstrates through his argument that the Harlem Renaissance was a reflection on African American identity set within a larger cultural landscape of a diverse America.

Another study that illuminates the Harlem Renaissance is "Voices from the Harlem Renaissance" by Nathan Huggins. This book is an anthology of the best poetry, fiction, essays of the Harlem Renaissance. The best feature of this collection is how the authors and artists of the Renaissance comment on their own purposes and motivations in composing their work. For example, Langston Hughes in his essay “The Negro Artists and the Racial Mountain” examines what role the African- American writer and artists should take with regard to his own history and his obligation to contribute to the life of his people. The topics covered in this book include: “negro racialism”, the “Afro-American past”, “art or propaganda”, and “reflections on the Harlem Renaissance for a new day.” This book gives one the full scope of the work of the writers and artists of the Harlem Renaissance through giving a rapid tour of the different forms of expression.

Friday, October 9, 2009

Naked Lunch at 50

While checking my facebook this morning I ran across this NPR story about the 50th anniversary edition of Naked Lunch being released by Grove Press next month.

I first encountered Naked Lunch and the wild eccentricities of the beat generation while I was in high school. I found some of the kids giggling over a book of poems by Allen Ginsberg (it was the red book of Collected Poems 1947-1980). Later on I found out they were giggling at the sexy poems, but unlike my peers I read through the rest of the book and it made me dizzy with ecstasy. The barrage of images, the flow of the language, the yearning and striving for more, more more... It was breathtaking, and I wanted to read more. My local library back in Ohio had a copy of Big Sur by Jack Kerouac. It too was filled with the awe and wonder of living and the stark beauty of the California coastline. I still wanted more. So I looked into the beats, and the people who were in the movement and I stumbled on Burroughs.

Naked Lunch was completely different from all the rest of them. It was surreal, like looking at the world through a drug induced haze and finding the world around you to be filled with aliens, prostitutes, junk and lies. It was the strangest thing I'd ever read. Around the time that I read the book a film adaptation had come out starring Peter Weller (of RoboCop fame) and Julian Sands (of Warlock infamy). Around 1992 it was on cable and I snuck into the living room and watched it late at night while my parents were sleeping (yeah, I was 16, and it was one of those late night Cinemax movies). Bizarre is not even the beginning of how to describe it.

After that Burroughs was embedded in my brain. I heard him singing "Star Me Kitten" with R.E.M. on the X-Files album. I found all the books he had written at the local library. I kept buying beat books looking for more.

It actually worked in my favor later on in high school as well. I was on the academic team (think quiz bowl) and we got served the following question in the third round and I have never forgotten it.

"What William S. Burroughs novel did the author describe as being about 'drugs and sex and sex and sex'?"

I rang that buzzer and leapt in there, "NAKED LUNCH!"

Everyone around on my team and the team we were playing against looked at me with shock. I don't know if it was the fact that I knew the answer, that I got it so quickly or that I was so full of glee for having heard that question at the quiz. I was literally vibrating with joy. I turned to everyone's looks of stupor and said, "That is my favorite book!"

And it remains one today.

Monday, October 5, 2009

This Week at Watha T. Daniel Library!

Mon. 10/05/09
Adult Lecture: "The Arts and the Harlem Renaissance" 6:00PM

Tue. 10/06/09
Story Time 10:00AM
Book Talk: 4:00PM "Travel Literature"

Wed. 10/07/09
Wii Sports 5:00PM
Movie Series: "The Seventh Sense" (Really? Not quite:)

Thu. 10/08/09
Mother Goose on the Loose - reading "The Angry Caterpillar"

Fri. 10/09/09
Rockalong with Casey 10:00AM
Anime film series 4:00PM

Sat. 10/10/09

Story Time 10:00AM
Kids' Crafts 2:00PM

Saturday, October 3, 2009

Bats at the Library!

At today's story time we read Bats at the Library by Brian Lies. Afterward we made little felt bats to hang around the children's room and to take home.

If you want to make a felt bat of your very own it's super simple to do. All you need is
  • A piece of felt
  • A pipe cleaner
  • A pair of scissors &
  • A piece of string
First cut your felt into a rectangle.

Then clip out the triangles shown in the illustration below.

Then cut four small holes where the straight lines are in the middle of the wings and on each side of the bat body.

Next, take your pipe cleaner and thread it through the holes in and out of the wings and the body of the bat.

Fold the loose ends of the pipe cleaner into the middle of your bat and clip the loose ends onto the center support of the bat body.

Now bend your pipe cleaner to shape the bat wings like your bat is flying.

Finally, put a string onto the pipe cleaner in the middle of the body so your bat can fly.

And there you have it. Bats at the library!