Tuesday, July 22, 2014

New Technology at the Library

The Lake Forest Library has officially opened its new study space and Media Lab. You may have known it as the Garden Room or that room that has been under construction for a long time. Now we have four tables for individual or group work that will always be open. The walls are white board walls with dry erase markers available for use!

For thirty hours a week, the glassed off area in the lab will be available to anyone with a Lake Forest Library or Lake Forest College card. This lab has a nice, new Mac Pro with access to lots of computer programs and special equipment. We have entry and professional level software to edit and create graphics, music, and video. There is a VCR to digitize VHS home movies and a high quality scanner for slides and photographs. We also have a keyboard and microphone for recording audio and music.

While the lab is open, we will have lab assistants available to assist lab users. You can make a reservation 24 hours in advance to reserve the space or to have instruction in using all of the new tools and software. You can find more information at the Media Lab's site.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Pack These Picture Books

Great Picture Books to Take on Summer Vacation Trips
Even though you’re trying to keep your packing to “just what we’ll need”  remember to take along some picture books for the younger children.  Vacation trips are made for books rich in detail, or lengthier than usual, as you have time to relax over a book.  You’ll also want to take books that can bear repeated readings: stories and illustrations that reveal new layers of meaning and detail each time they are read.  Match books to destinations, to whet appetites and prepare for what you’re going to experience.  The following books should hold up well.  

 Our Animal Friends at Maple Hill Farm   Details the wide variety of animals, both tame and wild, that occupy tranquil Maple Hill Farm.  We learn about the individual dogs, cats, sheep, geese, horses, cows, and wildlife that surround the tranquil farm.  From Max the Cat to Pearl the Pig, the veritable menagerie of animals’ behavior is detailed in simple language with full pages of detailed illustration bringing to mind Richard Scarry’s Busy World.

 Are any of the World’s Biggest on your trip’s itinerary – Mt. Rushmore, or the Jolly Green Giant?   In The Giant Ball of String, the town of Rumpus Ridge has accumulated the World’s Largest Ball of String.  But then catastrophe strikes - a storm blows it downriver to another town The residents of Rumpus Ridge devise a complicatedly humorous scheme to retrieve their pride and joy.  Geisert draws from a bird’s eye view, illustrations in a world in miniature to pore over as we follow along in this wordless story.

 Chester the Worldly Pig   Like many of us, Chester longs for fame.  He just knows he is meant for more than ending up as somebody’s ham sandwich.  So off he trots to join the circus. The talented pig  becomes famous and has exciting and scary adventures encountering lions, bears, hobos, butchers and carnival owners.  Bill Peet’s books are quite lengthy for picture books, with realistic colored pencil drawings complementing humorous stories that will delight all ages.

Adele & Simon in America   In turn of the century America, Parisian siblings Adele and Simon take a cross country trip,  stopping in various cities of historical interest.  Sharp eyes can also keep a look out for young Simon’s  belongings as he loses them along the way.
 Mossy  A garden of water plants grows on the back of  Mossy,  a beautiful box turtle. She is taken to a nearby nature museum by an admiring scientist and her niece as a very special exhibit .  Sadly, Mossy pines to return to her pond and friends.  The scientist’s niece devises an original way to show Mossy to the museum visitors after she has been released back into her natural habitat.  Brett’s lush pictures with her trademark borders will provide hours of delightful examination as we explore both the nature center and the home Mossy has left behind. 

Munschworks   These treasuries contain 5 or so stories about kids getting in and out of trouble.  Breezy and humorous, the misadventures become even more hilarious with large bold illustrations.  Luckily, the humor never pales, as they will surely be requested over and over.

Camping Trip That Changed America   Taking a car trip out West to visit some of our spectacular National Parks?  Read about how they all began, with this picture book version of Teddy Roosevelt & John Muir’s successful  attempts to save our wilderness.

Monday, June 30, 2014

Playing It Again

How is the experience for adults who return to a long idle musical instrument or take one up for the first time; or join a musical ensemble after many years away from one?  Here are some titles that answer that question and may inspire you to pick up an instrument again, play in a band, or sing in the choir.

by Noah Adams.  NPR correspondent Adam's 
monthly commentary on his buying a piano 
and learning to play at age 52.

The Late Starters Orchestra by Ari L. Goldman.  
If you think you can play,you can is the motto of this orchestra of latecomers, newcomers, and returnees to music, young and old. Former New York Times reporter Goldman returns to his cello after twenty-five years to play in the LSO.

Impossible by Alan Rusbridger.  Rusbridger, amateur pianist and editor of
London's Guardian newspaper, chronicles his attempt to master Chopin's Ballade No. 1 in G minor, one of the hardest pieces in the piano repertory.  In diary form with a separate section that includes the piano score and commentary, Rusbridger chronicles his progress against the backdrop of his very dramatic year at the Guardian, the year of WikiLeaks, phone hacking, and more.

Imperfect Harmony: Finding Happiness Singing with Others by Stacy Horn.  As a 30-year member of the Choral Society of Grace Church in New York, Horn relates its importance to her as well as giving history and background to great choral pieces, conductors, and composers.  She also looks into the history of choral singing and the science and health benefits of singing.

A Devil to Play: One Man's Year-Long Quest to Master the Orchestra's Most Difficult Instrument by Jasper Rees.  British journalist Rees played the french horn from age 10 through 17, and then put it away to go to school.  As his 40th birthday approaches, he picks it up again to play the Hallelujah Chorus as one of the annual British Horn Society's 70-horn choir.  That experience rekindles his desire to play again as an accomplished amateur, and he sets a goal for himself to return to the festival one year later to play a Mozart concerto, solo, and to a large paying audience.  The book tells of his preparation for and realization of his goal as well as colorful history and stories of the horn and its players.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Books Definitely NOT on the Teacher's Required Summer Reading List

 Raucously funny, irreverent, and peopled with anti-heroes kids will laugh at and identify with.  And shhh! don’t tell, but they’ve all gotten very positive reviews and in come cases, accolades.

Adventures of Captain Underpants
 Captain Underpants series by Dav Pilkey. Two mischievous boys, who are the bane of their principal’s existence, turn him into their comic book hero Capt. Underpants with a Hypno-Ring.  Together they fight an equally toilet-humored named villain: Dr. Diaper.  Parts comic book and laff out loud humor, Pilkey’s series ropes in mostly boys like himself : the class clown, or anybody who secretly wants to be.  Pilkey shares his own story as an illustrator and author, giving hope to grade school doodlers.  Many parents are concerned about the preponderance of toilet humor, intentionally misspelled words and the lack of respect given to authority figures.  Butt I think they are perfect for a summer afternoon  lazing around with friends or sleepover with a buddy.

Miss Daisy is Crazy
 Miss Daisy is Crazy by Dan Gutman .  First in the My Weird School series.  A. J., who announces he hates school, proceeds to tell us all about the various students and teachers who inhabit his extremely vertical school.  While teachers may acknowledge that most kids think their school (and teachers) are weird, they certainly don’t want to encourage it!  A silly series of relatively short chapter books for young readers to help them increase their literacy skills and tickle their funny bone.  There is also a subsequent series My Weird School Daze, as A.J graduates to 3rd grade.

Charlie Joe Jackson's
Guide to Not Reading
 Charlie Joe Jackson’s Guide to Not Reading by Tim Greenwald.  You wouldn’t expect a story about how to get out of school work to be picked by educators for inclusion on the Rebecca Caudill 2015 list.  Charlie has gotten by for years having someone else do a lot of his school work and is proud of it.  Unfortunately for him, his cohort stops cooperating and he is forced to come up with more schemes to avoid doing work.  Some might say the schemes are more work!  Eventually Charlie is caught and pays the price.  But his ego and optimistic outlook never suffer as he learns some lessons in personal responsibility.

Glitter Girls & the Great Fake Out
 Glitter Girls and the Great Fake Out  by Meg Cabot.  Teachers try to find books with wide appeal for their students.  But a book about glitter, baton twirling and featuring a bright pink cover probably won’t get much enthusiasm from the boys in the class.  This is 5th in the series Allie Finkle’s Rules for Girls. Allie captures our hearts as a sympathetic, humorous, spot-on character who has to navigate the world of tweens.  She does this with a List of Rules to cover situations as they crop up.  From the 1st  book, where Allie plans on how to stop her family from moving (A different school! A horrible house! What friends?!) to this installment, where she must choose between conflicting commitments, Allie matures in decision-making and coping.  Author Cabot (Princess Diaries) knows how to combine every little girl’s dreams and concerns with a worthwhile read. 

The Teacher's Funeral
 The Teacher’s Funeral :a Comedy in Three Parts. By Richard Peck.  Students complain that too many books have been written where the dog dies (for an excellent take on this, try No More Dead Dogs).  But a story where the teacher dies?(I shudder to mention Peck’s Here Lies the Librarian.)  Who wants to read about their own demise, especially as a comedy?  Russell Culver, 15, can’t wait to escape from the one room school house limping along in turn of the century rural Indiana. When his teacher “turns up her toes” right before the new school year begins in August, he figures that’s a sign.  However, a new teacher is found, right in the bosom of his own family and his time at school is not over. Peck keeps us turning the pages in this humorous story filled with lively escapades and rich in detail, harking back to a time and place uniquely part of our country’s past.