Saturday, November 17, 2012

Teens Only | Top 10 List of Things To Do

In anticipation of the Thanksgiving holiday -- and days off from school -- I thought I would find 10 things to DO. 10 things that are good for you (and the first one is also good for the community!). So here we go!

1. Join runners and walkers and help out the Emergency Food Bank of Stockton by being part of the Run & Walk Against Hunger on Thanksgiving morning, November 22, 2012.  I did it last year (I walked, just to be clear) and will be out again this year. Takes away the guilt from eating 4 pieces of my sister's great pecan pie later in the day!

2. Catch a Stockton Thunder game! Click here for a schedule of games at the awesome Stockton Arena.

3.Visit Stockton's Haggin Museum. There's so much to see there, including the current exhibit Charreria: The Artisanship of Mexican Equestrian Culture

4. Catch a movie! San Joaquin County has some great movie theaters, and there are lots of new movies to choose from. To find a theater near you, click here.

5. If you're not too stuffed after your Thanksgiving dinner, check out Dell'Osso Family Farm Holidays On The Farm. It opens Friday, November 23rd. Fun guaranteed!

6. Listen to a book on CD! This is especially helpful advice if you're going to be in the family car for a long trip over the holidays. Want a suggestion? Ok. How about a wicked mash-up of fairy tale and Terminator, set in a Star Wars kind of world? Listen to Cinder by Marissa Meyer. 

7. Try a little ice skating! Yes, I said ice skating. The Oak Park Ice Arena in Stockton has lots of public sessions...and you can rent skates there too! It's fun AND it's great exercise!

8. Alright, c'mon. I'm a librarian. I've GOT to include some books on this list of things to do. I asked my friend Christine and she suggests Divergent by Veronica Roth. It's the story of 16-year-old Beatrice Prior who lives in a future Chicago where she must choose between five predetermined factions to define her identity for the rest of her life. This decision is only made more difficult when Beatrice discovers she is an anomaly who doesn't fit in to any one group...and that the society she lives in isn't perfect after all! this sounds pretty I'm going to read it. 

9. I can't help it. I have to recommend another book. This time it's a classic: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. My friend Suzanne suggested this one, and I can't agree with her more. Young Scout Finch, the narrator of the story, relates the impact of a trial on her small Alabama town -- a trial of a black man accused of rape who is defended by Scout's father. If you've never read it, read it NOW! It's so good. And it really makes you think. 

10. This one's really easy and it doesn't cost a cent. Just find a quiet moment and think of a few things, or people, that you are truly thankful for. That's what Thanksgiving is all about, after all.

And speaking of which, have a wonderful Thanksgiving!

Books On Film | Holes

In 2003, Walt Disney Pictures adapted Louis Sachar's book Holes into a film starring a young Shia LeBeouf (Transformers, Indiana Jones). The story follows a boy named Stanley Yelnats IV (LeBeouf) who is sent to Camp Green Lake, a correctional camp for youngsters, after being falsely accused of a crime.

At camp, Stanley and his fellow camp mates spend days on end digging holes in the desert at the behest of the camp warden. It's supposedly to "build character," but does the warden have hidden reasons? And what does it have to do with the Legend of "Kissin' Kate Barlow?"

If you like Roald Dahl's books, like Mathilda and James and the Giant Peach, or Lemony Snicket's Series of Unfortunate Events then you may like this book and movie, too. It has a similar theme of following an adolescent character through some harrowing, fantastic adventures

And don't miss out on one of the best things about Holes, it's soundtrack! The title song, "Dig It," is sung by the cast of the movie.

You may also like these two popular children's series by Louis Sachar

[Covers courtesy of Library Thing]
[Bibliography Source:]
[Film Information: - Holes (2003)]

Friday, November 16, 2012

Constant Curiosity | What we wear

"That season we were loaded with pizazz. Earrings of fuchsia and peach. Mind you, peach. And hats. Hats, Hats, Hats, for career girls. How I adored Paris."--Diana Vreeland. 

Although she was no DV, I credit my grandmother in part for my interest in fashion and beauty.  She was always known as "Nana," not Granny or Grandma, had a closet full of evening gowns and treacherous high heels; she was in her 70's when I got married and she wore an ecru lace sheath dress, champagne colored 3/4 gloves, high-heeled mules and a big picture hat.  I wore a home-made empire waist "granny" gown, with a big picture hat.  You can't pay for that kind of irony.

70's Vintage Empire Granny Gown Pattern Bust 34 - Click Image to Close

At any rate, I have always loved clothes, shoes, and adornments of any kind, except possibly those scratchy yellow party dresses my sisters and I had to wear when we visited Nana; our pedal pushers and Keds would just not do.  When we went to town, we always wore our little striped sleeveless dresses. 

I recall even wearing cotton gloves once. 

My mother, who had once wanted to be a fashion designer, was no slouch in the style department.  And my Dad wore Pendleton shirts with silk scarves tucked inside the collar (to keep his neck warm, of course.) 

So of course, I jumped at the chance to see the new film Diana Vreeland:  the eye has to travel all about the legendary fashion editor of Harper's Bazaar, editor-in -chief of Vogue magazine and finally a consultant to the Costume Institute of the Metropolitan Museum of Art.

What makes Mrs. Vreeland so amazing was that she had a natural eye for beauty and style--she was no beauty herself and had no real formal education, yet in her surety and audacity she became the most feared and revered fashion trend-setter of the 20th century.  She is credited with "discovering" Lauren Bacall and promoting Twiggy and famously said "The bikini is the most important thing to happen since the atom bomb."

"The only real elegance is in the mind; if you've got that, the rest really comes from it."  --Diana Vreeland.

Food, Food, Food | Thanksgiving

So the best holiday of the month is almost here.  I love me some Thanksgiving.  I like the football, I like the turkey and I especially like the mashed potatoes.  An excuse to talk about what I am thankful for is good.

I wish I had more to share but my furnace has been out all week and I am too cold to think.  It's being fixed right this minute, thankfully, but my brain is still frozen.  I'll be back after next week with something more interesting to share, I hope!

Thursday, November 15, 2012

The Wanderlust Librarian | Inspired Travel

Getting lost in a good book or movie transports you to a time and place far away from where you are...but what about if what you're reading or watching inspires you to visit that place?  

Every so often, I see something that calls to me. The writing is so vibrant and rich that it not only transports me, but invites me to visit. The visuals posses me long after the movie is over. While you get ready to enjoy a pleasant Thanksgiving with your family, I'd love to share some of my favorite "Inspired Travel" choices with you.

I am a California girl, born and raised. While I've traveled a lot, one of the places that eluded me was The South. I've heard the slow, melodic accent before and was entranced...but nothing called me to the The South faster than reading Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil by John Berendt. In Savannah, Georgia, there are secrets inside the walls of the gorgeous homes and in the dark of the magnolia scented nights. A murder, a cover up and a drag queen add to the whispers. 

While this book took place many decades before I went to Savannah, it left its mark on my traveling heart. I was not disappointed when I finally visited!

Love, Actually is one of my favorite Christmas movies. While it's not particularly new, it shines as the star of my holiday movie watching. It has many of my favorite British actors in it...and is set in London!  There's nothing prettier than an iconic city with snow all around. I don't want to give much away, but Hugh Grant is in it. Who doesn't love Hugh Grant?

It's a lovely reminder of how magical the season is and how great love actually is (See that? See how I worked that in there?). Keep an eye out for Sheriff Rick from the Walking Dead television show. I only watch it between Thanksgiving and December 26. It's a lame rule, but I've been really strict about it!! 

I traveled to Paris before Midnight in Paris came out in theaters. This movie captures the magic and allure of Paris. The music is amazing, the characters are fun and the writing is simply charming. It makes me want to go back again! I wish the movie showed more French bakeries. I love, LOVE French bakeries. 

I read a review that Midnight in Paris was Woody Allen's "love letter to Paris". It shows the city in such a whimsical and classic way! 

Armchair travel can be just as fun as traveling to that special destination. I hope that these items and others that you may read or watch, light your path to an amazing adventure!

Adventure is out there! 


Book Bucket List | For Thanksgiving

I cannot believe that next week is already Thanksgiving.  This year has gone by way too fast!  So in honor of Thanksgiving next week, I want to feature a book that reminds me of what I have to be thankful for.  Next Thursday, while I am waiting for dinner to finish cooking, I will be picking up John Steinbeck's classic The Grapes of Wrath.

After Tom Joad is paroled from prison after serving time for homicide charges, he returns to his family farm in Oklahoma to find that it was abandoned.  After reuniting with his family at another abandoned farm down the road, the decision is made to move to California for the better opportunities available.  The Joad family packed up their pickup and began the trek west, but soon realized that what they thought would be an easy drive was wrought with more problems than they could have possibly realized.  Once the Joads finally reach their destination, they find none of the opportunity they thought would be in the Sunshine State, but thousands of other migrants facing little employment options and little hope for the future.

The Grapes of Wrath has become an American classic. The situations he describes in this book were very real and would be a great book to pick up for a quick read, especially over the Thanksgiving holiday.  It makes me realize how lucky I am and how little I really have to worry about compared to those who lost everything in a disaster like the Dust Bowl.

On a happier note, I cannot wait for Thanksgiving.  If you're looking for awesome things to cook, then check out Holly Garrison's The Thanksgiving Cookbook.  It includes all of the traditional recipes like turkey, stuffing, and gravy, but also new twists on them too.  Our library system also carries the magazine Bon Appetit, which I use all the time for finding new recipes to share with my family.  This year I found candied cranberries with mandarin oranges in Bon Appetit, and can't wait to have that instead of the usual canned cranberry sauce!

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Learning | You Can Lead a Horse to Water....

I really don't remember a time when I did not like reading.  Even today, I still keep a book near my bed, a book in the car, and one in my tote bag -- just in case I have some time to read.  That is not necessarily the case with all of us.  

Teachers require young students to read for a certain amount of time every day.  I recall occasions when it was difficult to get my own children to focus on the task -- they would say the available books were boring, or they just didn't feel like reading.  Gradually, I learned that my sons preferred nonfiction books over stories.  They didn't mind reading facts about trains or animals. They didn't even need to be encouraged to read about video games; I learned that having the strategy guide of the latest role playing game lying around would catch their attention.
The library has numerous books to help you encourage young readers.  Give the Gift! 10 fulfilling Ways to Raise a Lifetime Reader is told in a comic book style.  It's full of helpful suggestions, like showing a teenager an article about his favorite band.


The Ultimate Teen Book Guide has suggestions for more than 700 books for teens to read, everything from classics to science fiction.  The reading requirements for middle school and high school classes are more demanding; if a teacher has given your child a list of approved books, you can check this book for a summary and description, to see which ones you might like better.  (Note: it's always good to come to the library as soon as you know what's on the list, because everyone else in your child's class is going to want those titles, too.)

How to Get Your Child to Love Reading is simply full of ideas (birthday clubs, magic shows and book plates!), observations (Potato Power: the art of using what you've got), activities (including music and poetry!) and, last, but not least, lists of books for young readers. 

Give these books a try, and let me know what you think -- and what your budding readers think.

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

4 Kids | Look Who's In a Book!

Meet Elephant (aka Gerald) and Piggie, the two lovable characters in Mo Willems' easy reader books. There are 17 books (so far) in this great series, but my favorite is We Are in a Book! This is an easy reader, so it's perfect for kids just starting to read on their own. But kids of all ages will laugh at these two friends. In this book, Elephant/Gerald feels someone is watching them. And guess what? He's right! Someone is watching them...a reader!! In his always funny way, author Mo Willems tells us what a character in a book might feel like to be read. How cool is that?

When I was a kid, I used to imagine myself a character in a book. Sometimes I was Clara Barton, a nurse during the Civil War who founded the American Red Cross, because I thought she was really brave. 

Other times I was the donkey in William Steig's Sylvester and the Magic Pebble. I would wonder for hours what I would wish for if I found a magic pebble. 

Many times I'd like to be Annie in the Magic Tree House series because she's smart and she gets to travel back in time. My favorite book in this series (by Mary Pope Osborne) is The Hour of the Olympics. Annie and her brother Jack travel back in time to Ancient Greece -- to the original Olympic games -- but Annie isn't allowed in because girls weren't allowed at the original Olympic games. Will this stop Annie? Well if you know Annie at all, you know the answer! So for a fun trip back in time and a chance to spend a little time with a great character, read this book!

What character in a book would you like to be? Leave your answer in the comments section.
There are a ton of great books (and characters!) at the SSJCPL branch libraries. Visit one soon and meet some great characters!

I'm pretty darn lucky because when I was a kid, my parents brought me to the library every week....and let me check out as many books as I could carry!

So since today is my Mom's birthday, it's only right to say: Thanks, Mom.

Monday, November 12, 2012

Life & Style | I Went To War

Two weeks ago,

I went to war,

Not a real war.

My front yard was the battle field. My daughter armed with her Nerf gun was my enemy number one. 

My weapon of choice was a tiny water gun. 

My husband with his tiny green water gun was an honorary member of The Green Berets.

It was a brutal war.

For 30 minutes straight we chased one another all around the front yard just laughing and giggling while shooting at one another.

This all started when my kid asked me to buy her a Nerf Gun From Target and forced us to play with her in our front yard.
We chased her all around the front yard with our tiny water guns. I kept running to the kitchen sink to reload.

Who said women can't fight in front yard(line)?

Apparently my husband had lots of fun that day since a few days later, he came home with two brand new Nerf guns. He also bought us 1,000,000 rounds of ammo to last us until World War III. 


Last Sunday, after dinner, we went to war again, this time in our living room. 

We had so much fun. We pretended to be soldiers. We hid in the pantry, under the dining room table and behind the kitchen counter trying to avoid the foam bullets. 

I feel ten years younger.

I think, we should all do silly things like this to keep us young.

If you are looking for fun activities to do with your kids, checkout these library books to get some ideas.

The practical guide to weekend parenting : 101 ways to bond with your children while having fun

Get out! : outdoor activities kids can enjoy everywhere (except indoors)

Active start for healthy kids : activities, exercises, and nutritional tips

The complete idiot's guide to backyard adventures

FamilyFun boredom busters

Here are a few links to recreational programs around San Joaquin Area:

Stockton Park and Recreation Department 

Tracy Parks and Community Services

Manteca Parks and Recreation Department 

Ripon Parks and Recreation 

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha