Tuesday, July 10, 2018

Riverdale (Season 2, Episode 4) "The Town that Dreaded Sundown"

If you are not yet aware of the television series Riverdale (a noir adaptation of The Archies cartoon series) I highly recommend it (currently available on Netflix streaming). Archie, Veronica, Betty, Jughead, Moose and the rest of the gang (with the sad exception of Sabrina, the Teenage Witch) show us the dark underbelly of the town that '70s kids wished they lived in. It isn't all fun and games just hanging out at Pop's Chock'lit Shoppe and making fun of Miss Grundy and Principal Weatherbee, for Riverdale's wholesome facade masks murder, mayhem, and mobsters.

As much as this show attempts to destroy some stereotypes, others just don't seem to die. The uptight librarian who helps Jughead check out some books about serial killers not only looks the part as she stands behind a sign reading "Shhhhh...Quiet please" she actually gets rather judgmental, questioning Jughead's reading choices. Real librarians would never stand for such behavior.

This episode also features Betty returning with Jughead (her lover!) to the same library to check out a book on Nancy Drew ciphers when she receives a coded message from the Black Hood - Riverdale's own "Jack the Ripper". 

Not convinced yet to watch this? Well, let me say this:
Luke Perry as Archie's father
Molly Ringwald as Archie's mother
And just wait until you hear Josie and Veronica sing Schoolhouse Rock's "Sufferin' till Sufferage". Late Baby Boomers, Gen Xers - I'm talking to you.

A Time to Fall - by Jess Vonn

The last time I wrote a post about a romance novel (A Knight to Remember), I prefaced it with this statement "I don't always read romances, but when I do they are about librarians". So now I must make an amendment: I will also read romances authored by those on whose tenure committee I served. And, as Vonn's book also clears my low bar (of mentioning a library at least one time) for inclusion on this blog, it gets a review here, too.

Fleeing from a bad break up,  Winnie Briggs leaves Chicago and moves to Bloomsburo to take a job as editor of the local newspaper The Bloom. After literally running into her landlady's most dapper son, Cal Spencer, Winnie attempts to keep her distance from him so she can focus on herself. Cal, likewise, had no interest in falling for his mother's quirky new tenant. Sexual hijinx ensue.

Winnie is intelligent and dedicated to her work. So much so that on a Sunday night at 11:00, she was writing a tedious story about a county planning and zoning commission meeting even though "her brain hurt and she wanted to curl up in bed and read the latest Julia Quinn novel she just picked up from the library."

For those of us who pay attention to such things as how libraries are presented in works of fiction, this one actually packs some punch. After all, this wasn't just any Sunday night: this was the Sunday just one week after Winnie Briggs arrived in town. So what we learn from this is that Winnie Briggs is not simply "kind and smart and funny and lovable as hell" as well as "sexy...and competent". Winnie Briggs is also a person who knows that one of the first things a person does when they move to a new place is to get a library card. And really, there is nothing hotter than that.

Thursday, July 5, 2018

Julie of the Wolves - by Jean Craighead George

Sometimes you find libraries in the most unexpected places. I had never read this Newberry-award winning book, although I had heard a lot about it, and I remembered my sister reading it back in the '70s. She told me, as the title suggests, that it was about a girl who lived among the wolves in the Arctic Circle. I didn't expect to find any libraries in this book, but what I didn't realize was that Julie (aka Miyax) didn't always live with the wolves. Before running away she had lived with her father, then her aunt, and then was married at age 13. She attended a mission school, and used the mission library in Barrow, Alaska where she read letters from her pen pal (Amy) who lived in San Francisco. After leaving her husband's family Miyax had planned to visit Amy but lost her way. In finding the wolves she discovers herself, and her own strength.

I picked this book as my July read (a book set in a cold climate) for the Baltimore County Public Library #BWellRead challenge. 

Monday, June 25, 2018

Sonia Sotomayor: A Judge Grows in the Bronx=Sonia Sotomayor: la juez que creció en el Bronx - by Jonah Winter

If there is one thing I love more than a "library" book, it's a bilingual library book! Beautifully illustrated by Edel Rodriguez this biography of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor recounts her life growing up in the public housing projects of New York, to her acceptance at Princeton University, and on to becoming a federal judge, and ultimately her nomination and confirmation onto the Nation's highest court. The book is written in parallel English and Spanish text, and of course mentions the importance of libraries (twice!) in Sotomayor's journey to the Supreme Court. The Author's Note on the back cover provides some additional information about Sotomayor, including her birthday - June 25, 1954. Since I happened read this book only a few days before her 64th birthday I decided to publish this post to coincide with it. Happy Birthday Sonia!

Wednesday, June 20, 2018

Idiot America: How Stupidity Became a Virtue in the Land of the Free

If I had a "Bucket List" the Haskell Free Library and Opera House would be on it. The public library in Derby Line, Vermont, USA straddles the border with Stanstead, Quebec, Canada. A line down the middle of the floor of the building marks where one country ends and the other begins. There is no port of entry inside the library. Library users are free to walk back and forth between the countries any time.

Charles Pierce discusses the history of the library in Idiot America and explains that prior to 9/11 residents of Derby Line and Stanstead could freely pass between the countries even without going into the library
For decades, it was a point of civic pride for the people in both towns that they lived right atop one of the friendliest stretches of the friendliest borders in the world. People wandered down the tiny, shady backstreets of the place, passing back and forth between the two countries without ever really noticing.
After September 11, 2001, however
The border authorities in both countries acted quickly to restrict access along the side streets in Stanstead and Derby Line. As part of the plan, it was proposed that anyone parking a car outside the library on the Canadian side might well have to pass through a port of entry before walking up the front steps, which are on the American side.
In the spirit of full disclosure I must mention this bit of odd news about the Haskell Free Library and Opera House involving a case of gun smuggling that took advantage of the library's unique location. Canadian Alexis Vlachos had a friend purchase guns in the United States and leave them in the bathroom of the library to be picked up by Vlachos, who entered from the Canadian side. This story might cause some to get their xenphobic hackles up, however, as quoted by Canadian Don Browning in the article "if we live in fear we have to close up every little potential loophole, that would probably change our way of life a little bit and I don't think it's worth it".

Pierce goes on to point out that it (the 2000s) had "not been an easy decade for libraries" citing closure of the the library run by the Environmental Protection Agency by the Bush (43) Administration, and the passage of Patriot Act which allowed the FBI to look at library records without a warrant.

He further uses libraries as a metaphor describing their orderliness, and contrasts it with the disorderliness of "Idiot America" where the gut, rather than the head rules. Rather than separating Fiction and Non-Fiction (as real libraries do) in Idiot America
Fiction and nonfiction are defined by how well they sell. The best sellers are on one shelf, cheek by jowl, whether what's contained in them is true or not.
The book was published in 2009, Pierce could not have known how prescient his words were.

My husband and I listened to Pierce's book on audio during a long car drive between Massachusetts and Maryland. When I heard the piece about Derby Line I realized I would need to blog about it, and had to then request a hard copy of the book through Interlibrary loan.

Flipped - the movie

This sweet pre-teen rom-com, set in the 1960s and directed by Rob Reiner features Madeline Carroll is Juli, and Callan McAuliffe as Bryce. Growing up across the street from each other means Juli and Bryce know the good and the bad about each other. The film gives the audience insight into how each experienced the same events, "flipping" the narrative back and forth between the two.

Although not library-centric, there is a pivotal scene which takes place in the school library. A conversation between Bryce and his friends, and overheard by Juli (who was actually eavesdropping) precipitates one of their many rifts. No actual librarians in this one - just books and shelves.

Tuesday, June 19, 2018

Love Sugar Magic: A Dash of Trouble - by Anna Meriano

I found out about this brand new book from "A Mighty Girl" on my Facebook feed.When I read that it was about Día de los Muertos (Day of the Dead), and celebrated Mexican, Texan, and American cultures, and had a lesson in the importance of being bilingual I knew I had to read it. What luck that it was sitting on a shelf waiting for me in the Children's Fiction section of the very library where I work.

Leonora Logroño (Leo) is the youngest of five sisters. Her family owns a bakery and as everyone is busy preparing for Leo's favorite holiday, Día de los Muertos, it seems that they are hiding something from her. Maybe she should learn some more Spanish so they wouldn't be able to talk without her understanding. Beyond language abilities, though, Leo is sure that there is something else that everyone in her family knows, and she doesn't. When she discovers that she comes from a family of brujas (witches) Leo decides help her friend Caroline by deciphering a spell using her rudimentary Spanish-language skills and her decidedly untested magic only to find herself getting deeper and deeper into magical trouble as she attempts to undo her botched sorcery.

Of course it wouldn't have a place on my blog if it didn't include at least a mention of those most magical of places - libraries. The first place we find them is with the famous "going to the library" excuse in order to sneak out to do something else. There is also a classroom library, used as a decoy destination so that a note could be passed. Leo and Caroline do like to read though, and Leo wonders, while looking at Caroline's bookshelf, if Caroline might "reopen her lending library" now that she has moved back to Rose Hill.

The novel does also give a bit of a shout out to information literacy when Brent (the unfortunate object of Leo's failed hocus pocus) asks Leo if her "methods" had been "tested and "peer reviewed". Although I had to wonder how many sixth graders would know about the peer review process I had to smile at the passage.

In addition to being an avid reader, my other passion is cooking, so I was especially happy to see that I would be able to make use of this book on my other blog "Una Nueva Receta Cada Semana". I am looking forward to making "Leo's Lucky Pigs" (aka "Piggies", or "Puerquitos"); and "Pan de Muerto Mensajero" (Bread of the Dead) and documenting my experiences later this year.

A book for lovers of Harry Potter, the Spanish language, and baking. Looks like I hit the jackpot!