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!

Monday, June 18, 2018

A Tribute to Libraries-In Honor of Father’s Day

 I don’t generally do guest posts. I made a special exception for this essay ”What is Father’s Day Anyway” written by my friend Joe Duley. Libraries shouldn’t have to act in loco parentis, but as Joe points out the Library as a safe haven is one of its most important roles.