Monthly Archives: October 2012

Calarco’s First-Ever Book Tasting

Yes, I already know what you’re thinking.

No, students did not eat the pie that was found in that one book during the mold removal. Come on people – that’s not even sanitary.

Yesterday, Ms. Davis’ Writing Semester class visited the library to eat brownies, cookies and the words of contemporary titles. They spent the class period exploring the library’s newer fiction and non-fiction books, and jotting down impressions on note cards in order to find books worthy of review.

Yes, review.

Next semester, readers, you will get a break from the dictatorship of book reviews that myself and Librarian Gette have carefully cultivated. We have agreed to loosen our iron fist grip and host the book reviews of Ms. Davis’ students.

Please look forward to future reviews from our very own students, but for now enjoy the impressions and responses of Ms. Davis’ Writing Semester course to our first-ever Book Tasting event.

Angus MacMullen:

My strategy for finding potentially interesting books consisted of reading through the list of recent additions until something catches my attention.  The first that stood out to me was Bicycling Science by David Wilson.  It seemed like such a random, mundane topic upon first glance, which made me instantly curious to see exactly what this book was about.  Unfortunately the book was checked out and overdue.  (apparently someone was so intrigued by the science of bicycles that he could not bring himself to return the book).

The second book that I looked for was Turing’s Cathedral: The Origins of the Digital Universe by George Dyson.  It describes the early history of the computer, both Turing’s and others’ conceptual ideas as well as the early applications of them, a topic that seemed interesting to me.  Unfortunately, this book also caught the eye of another classmate.  Perhaps I’ll have a look at it when he’s done.

The third book I found was Selected Poetry of Ogden Nash.  Apparently it’s not a very picky selection; the book is almost 700 pages.  I picked this book out simply because I knew that it would be funny.  Ogden’s obtuse use/misuse/abuse of the English language is amusing and often intriguing.  His style is unique; who else would invent a “Miss Goringe” simply to make that terrible forced rhyme?  I will enjoy flipping through this book, whether or not I choose it for the book review assignment later this year.

Chris Cahill:

I think the book tasting today definitely let me see a different side of the library. I’m in the library (for what feels like) 24/7 but I usually go for research. I really understood today the sheer volume of fiction and nonfiction books we are lucky to have! Also, thank you for the book reviews, I checked out two books and plan on reading both.

David Baumann:

I really enjoyed the “book tasting” assignment. We don’t usually get a chance to select any book we want to read for class, making it harder to always read something you find interesting. I think this session helped everyone better understand what kind of books they like to read. All the librarians were also extremely accommodating when you asked them for a recommendation.

Haley Gorman:

I had a great time in the library with Ms. Davis’ English class yesterday. I found some great books that I can’t wait to start and I’m glad to have found a John Green fan.

Jessica Larkin-Wells:

Thanks for helping us out in the library yesterday! I thought the book tasting was a good idea. I mostly browsed the cart of new books, and then looked downstairs at the new nonfiction section by the stairs. My biggest problem was choosing only one book to read, so I ended up checking out three. One is a nonfiction book about creativity, and the other two are novels. Usually I try to finish whatever books I start, but I might not finish all three, especially before the term ends. This project will be a good opportunity to read for pleasure during the school year.

Sasha Possick:

Train Dreams, by Denis Johnson was nominated for the 2011 Pulitzer Prize. He is famous for his novel Tree of Smoke. This seems to be a great novel and I am looking forward to reading more of it.

Bennett Amador

The book tasting was beneficial it gives us students a chance to glance at interesting fiction books we wouldn’t otherwise see because were constantly focused on scholarly novels and nonfiction.

Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who is not really signing off because this blog is the product of student work…so those students are signing off)

Shipping Up To Thompson

We’ve been back in our beloved library for a couple weeks now, and it is so good to be home. Surrounded by books, with access to our desks and our files and our workroom, able to catalog books and shush people (there is no shushing Heath), Ms. Barrows and I have been feeling good. Happy. Comfortable.


See, we’d gotten used to the Vagabond Librarian lifestyle: fitting the library on a table, exploring a new space, seeing different people, having the Cafe right there…

And so we decided to go on the road. 67 books and our 12 JSchool Kindles made the trip up with us from Baldwin to Thompson last Thursday (with help from Security. Thank you, thank you, thank you, Earl!) where we would ply our wares to the Junior School during their precious 15 minute break. The plan was to have a ton of books out to choose from, and then download books to the Kindles by request. To highlight some titles, we prepared six book talks to stun and amaze. We’d then be ready to check out so many copies of these wonderful books to an eager and cheering crowd.

The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ men
Gang aft agley

-Robert Burns (Ed: N0 typos, just Scottish)

That didn’t happen. Not because there weren’t eager crowds (the cheering was a little too much to hope for), but because students were SO eager to look at and check out books that we only had time to specifically plug one book. That three students then asked for. Hooray! The rest of the time was spent answering questions and checking out materials.

Thompson South Atrium, Thursday, Oct. 18, 12:15 pm
photo credit: wvs via photopincc

Although it was a little overwhelming, we had a great time, we hope the students did too, and we can’t wait to go back. See you in Thompson before the Thanksgiving Break!

-Signing off, Kit Gette (who can now type in a wifi password at the speed of light)

Book Review: The Perks of Being a Wallflower

(This book review is about 12 years overdue)

Let’s set the record straight: this blog post is a review of the booknot the recently released film. However, a comparison review of the film will be written and published in the extremely near future.

So, let’s get started.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky received mixed reviews when it was first published in 1999 (check out the old Kirkus Review and Publisher’s Weekly reviews to get a feel for the arguments). Some dubbed the main character, Charlie, a Holden Caulfield rip-off, others felt Perks was simplistic but engaging for younger readers, and still others identified Charlie and his friends as memorable characters. Regardless, enough readers rooted for Perks in 1999…and now it is here to stay.

Maybe its because the novel is rife with early 90’s music and cultural references, but I save a soft spot for Perks.

The book is a collection of letters that “Charlie” writes anonymously to an unknown older student at the same high school. In the first letter Charlie reveals that he must enter high school following the suicide of his best (and only) friend. Fortunately, Charlie’s isolation does not last forever: enter best friends (and step-siblings) Patrick and Sam. Patrick is the former “popular” currently “less popular since coming-out” guy, while Sam is the unattainable but damaged object of Charlie’s love. The letters follow Charlie through adventures (sometimes disastrous misadventures) with his new friends, as well as his internal struggles with anxiety, depression and a deeply buried secret.

Why did this book become a phenomenon that has lasted for over 12 years? I don’t think its necessarily the plot or the concept of the story, but the characters and Charlie’s plainly written and absolutely honest narrative.

I disagree with the assumption that Perks is easily liked by teenagers. I think many people dislike this book, and rightfully so. They don’t relate to Charlie or his friends, and they don’t enjoy the unconventional narrative or writing style. Despite this, I remember falling hook, line and sinker for the book the first time I read Perks, and I have since recommended it to countless individuals. Just as I am recommending it to you readers. Give it a try: I’m interested to hear what you think. Even if you disagree with your neighborhood librarian.

-Signing off, Jenny Barrows (who sometimes pauses to read the simpler narratives in life)

Book Review: Wonder, by R. J. Palacio

Have any of you read Voices in the Park, by Anthony Browne? It’s a picture book about a day in the park told four times, each by a different person. The art, font, and story change based on the storyteller. It’s a great example of how different perspectives can color a situation.

Wonder doesn’t go to that extreme, but your sympathies might alter along with the shifts in perspective. The book begins with August “Auggie” Pullman, a 10-year-old who has never been to school – first for medical reasons, and then for, well, his face.

August Pullman does not have a normal face. And the decision to go to school is not easy. And not everyone he meets is….open-minded. But some are. And they make it worth it.

I wasn’t convinced that I actually liked the book at first, but the characters – particularly Auggie’s friends – grew on me.

And it’s fun following the thread of music through the book.

Read if you like: Star Wars, David Bowie, Halloween, books told from multiple perspectives, kindness.

Avoid if you don’t like: Kids learning to be sarcastic, improper capitalization, space oddities, Our Town.

-Signing off, Kit Gette (who can offer no explanation)

New Graphic Novels on the Kindle Fires!

Hello comic fans (and the rest of you, too)!

Today we added ten new titles to the Kindle Fires’ growing graphic novels collection. They are:

Batman: Year One – Frank Miller’s reimagining of Batman’s origin, though I would argue the real draw of the story is the tough-as-nails Jim Gordon. Year One was a definite influence on Christopher Nolan’s films, particularly Batman Begins.

A Contract With God – Will Eisner’s collection of four stories centered on a tenement in 1930’s Bronx. It is one of the earliest graphic novels.

Daytripper – a series of vignettes that move forwards and backwards through the life of an obituary writer, with one thing in common – he always dies at the end. A book about life, mortality, and the choices people make.

And then we have 7 more volumes of Neil Gaiman’s classic series, The Sandman, which follows Dream, one of the Endless, a group of seven beings that are the personifications of abstract powers. The series is full of literary and historical references (as well as pretty art). The new volumes are:

The Sandman: Preludes and Nocturnes – chronicling the Dream Lord’s imprisonment and escape.

The Sandman: The Doll’s House – a tale filled with monsters both inhuman and all too human.

The Sandman: Dream Country – a collection of four stories including A Midsummer Night’s Dream, the only comic to ever win the World Fantasy Award for short fiction.

The Sandman: A Game of You – revisits a character from A Doll’s House as she explores her childhood dream world.

The Sandman: Fables and Reflections – another collection of four stories.

The Sandman: Brief Lives – follows Delirium as she searches for her lost brother with the aid of a reluctant Dream.

The Sandman: World’s End – has strangers swapping stories in an inn where they’ve all taken shelter from an odd storm.

Which means we now have The Sandman, volumes 1-8 on the Kindle Fires. For readers new to the story, I would suggest skipping the first volume (Preludes and Nocturnes). While it is technically the start of the series, I find it rather different from the other volumes, and not the best introduction to the comics. Try Dream Country or Season of Mists.

Happy reading!

Here’s an example and explanation of the Panel View that Dr. Cox raved about. Demonstration starts at 1:08:

-Signing off, Kit Gette (who wants to be Jim Gordon when he grows up)

Every Day is Halloween: Dr. Cox Guest Blog

(Ed: Despite our joy at being back in the library, we must remember that there are others still under siege by the demon mold. Today’s post is courtesy of  one of the Wandering Scientists, Dr. Kellie “The Law” Cox.)

So I’m a nerd. A big ol’ I-like-all-things-techy-geeky-sciencey nerd. And I want to let you know that my final step into total Nerd Immersion was just accomplished, thanks to the ridiculously awesome folk at the library:

I am now a Graphic Novel fan.

And not just the, “yeah, I know of Watchmen” level, but full-blown cracked-out fan.

This is all Mr. Gette’s fault. The library has this amazing supply of Kindle Fires, right? And he was looking for a selection of graphic novels to install. I was especially intrigued by the novel Long Halloween because I love me some Batman…. but I wasn’t ever really into graphic novels. This was always a source of crippling guilt – how could I NOT enjoy graphic novels? Surely my Nerd Card will be revoked. But I could never get into the flow of moving from pane-to-pane, trying to follow dialogue while also maintaining a tenuous visual connection with the artwork; opening up a comic book was like being hit in the face by a painting.

And then Kindle Fire rolls into my life.


The electronic version of a graphic novel is like your own personal movie, bright and mesmerizing, complete with this ridiculous ~whooshing~ motion as you progress from scene to scene. No longer were my neurons confused and distracted by how to progress down the page – now I was able to completely immerse myself in the story and jaw-dropping artwork! The novel Long Halloween was aaaaaamazing and supplemented my Batman mythology well beyond what watching the movies could provide. And boy, it sure was purdy. I don’t know the artists that illustrate these novels (Ed: Batman: The Long Halloween was drawn by Tim Sale), but they rock my world with their ability to convey motion and story within a single, static pane.

Since then, Mr. Gette and Ms. Barrows have worked to fuel my addiction to the world of electronic graphic novels. My total immersion into Nerdom is complete.

And I couldn’t be happier.

(Ed: Thanks Dr. Cox! And we’ll be happy to keep enabling you suggesting new books.)

Vagabond Librarians No More: The Triumphant Return

School Days Closed: 9 (not counting Yom Kippur and Class Trips)

Blog Posts Posted: 10

Laptops Checked Out: Billions

Incorrect Print Jobs: 17 Trees

Textbooks “misplaced”: …we would prefer not getting into that

Science Faculty Sightings: Pleasantly frequent

Hokey Jokes About Books: …we certainly haven’t heard THOSE before

Tears Shed Upon Return: several, and a significant one from Jenny Barrows when she slammed her hand in a laptop cart door

Books Lost to Mold: 0

Books Lost to Pie: 1 (?)

Pie, Pi (Ha, Pun)

photo credit: djwtwo via photopin cc

Let’s elaborate on the last statistic. Yesterday, we returned to the library to find a solitary book cocooned in plastic wrap furtively stashed  in a corner of the upstairs reference desk. We approached with caution – what untold moldy horrors could lurk within? Librarian Prendergast bravely picked up the unknown element, and then a disembodied voice floated up from below,

Beware…BEWARE! That book contains a piece of pie…which actually looked like it was quite delicious at one point. Seriously, who does that – ruins a piece of pie by putting it in a book?! Anyway, beware…BEWARE!

Thanks, Anthony from maintenance. And by the way, great disembodied voice. Really, quite impressive.

As an aside, pie does not make a good bookmark. Pie is intended to be enjoyed by people, not pages. Yes, sometimes you have to eat your words. But please, not ones borrowed from the library.

…Oh, were you looking for actual information? From librarians? Try scheduling an individual appointment here.

-Signing off, Jenny (Apple Pie) Barrows and Kit (Blueberry Pie) Gette (no really, bring us pie)