Saturday, May 4, 2013

Teens Only | Rook, Pawn and Queen

What do Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Woody Allen, Ludwig van Beethoven, Bono, Bill Gates and Leo Tolstoy all have in common?
I'm not going to tell you yet.
But what if I did tell you that the "thing" they have in common is believed to raise your IQ, exercise both sides of your brain, and improve memory?
Still don't know?
All 6 of those famous people play the "game of kings" -- chess!
And you can too!
Starting Monday, May 6th, the Cesar Chavez Central Library will host a weekly chess club from 6-8 pm in the Children's Program Room, located at the back of the Children's Section on the 1st floor. The program is for tweens and teens, but chess lovers of all ages are welcome! The chess club is the brainchild of, and will be run by, Carlos Moreno. Carlos got started in chess when he was just a young boy, visiting his local library. He quickly developed a keen knowledge -- and a true love of -- chess!
So join us on Mondays at 6 pm. No registration is required.
And for those of you in Tracy, check out the chess club at the Tracy Branch Library which meets every Saturday at 12 pm.
What have you got to lose? And by the way, the title of this blog post? They're all pieces in the game of chess!
For more information on the chess clubs, or to learn about all of the great programs being offered at SSJCPL branch libraries, check out the events calendar.

Books On Film | Iron Man 3

Are you ready for the new superhero movie?
Marvel's Iron Man 3 came out this past Friday. If you are an Iron Man movie fan, who wants to become an Iron Man comic fan than this is the post for you. With 50 years of Iron Man comics it's confusing for new a new reader to know where to start. Lucky for us comic book fans know their business.

A good place for movie fans to start their journey is The Invincible Iron Man: Extremis. The comic is a great reboot of his origin story and has an Iron Man that will be recognizable to movie fans. If you are interested in Golden Age Iron Man, then track down the Iron Man Omnibus for some of the original Iron Man stories.

The villain of Iron Man 3 is The Mandarin. If you are interested in Golden Age Mandarin, then pick up a copy of Essential Iron Man, Vol. 1. However, the best place to read up on the modern Mandarin is in the comic conveniently called Iron Man: Enter The Mandarin.

If you haven't seen any of the Iron Man movies yet you can have a mini movie marathon by picking them up at the library before you head out too see the latest one.  

See the Iron Man 3 movie trailer below:

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Book Bucket List | Dead Ever After

May 7th is a big day for True Blood fans!  Charlaine Harris is release her latest, and last(!), Sookie Stackhouse book. I would always dread the day that this series would end, and it is almost over!  The series follows the life and loves of Miss Sookie Stackhouse and all of the craziness she goes through in her little town of Bon Temps, Louisiana. 

The last book left everything on a bit of a cliffhanger.  Sookie was fighting for her relationship with Eric, her tall, pale, and handsome vampire boyfriend.  Vampire politics was forcing him into a sort of arranged marriage, and Sookie, for whatever reason, had the power of one wish to change everything.  Turns out, Sookie uses it, in the heat of the moment, for another purpose, and she is left with the consequences.

In this book, Sookie is still dealing with a ticked-off Eric and is actually framed for murder.  Since it is the last in the series, I really, really, really hope that they wrap things up in a way that is satisfying.  Here's my bet for how it ends:

Sookie comes across all of her previous boyfriends and love interests while she is trying to find the person who committed the murder she is accused of committing. (How many murders can one series have??)  In the end however, after finding the murderer and solving everything, Sookie picks Sam, her loyal best friend and former boss.

That's my prediction.  I honestly hope she ends up with Eric, because I like him the best ( =P) but I think Charlaine Harris will leave her with someone stable.  I've heard that she is also going to publish another Bon Temps-verse book that will explain what has happened to all of the other characters in the series.  This would be awesome, and prevent the internet from exploding over if Bill ever found happiness or not, or if Jason could ever stay in a relationship, or if the werewolves or vampires could ever really get along.  I hope this actually happens!

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Learning | Hoglets and Porcupettes

I learned a few new words while I was playing around on a social network recently. Do you know the correct term to use for baby hedgehogs? They are called "hoglets."  And baby porcupines are known as "porcupettes." I think I liked learning those new words as much as I enjoyed the pictures of the hoglets and porcupettes.

Hedgehogs are small creatures from the family Erinaceidae. These small mammals from Europe, Asia and Africa search through undergrowth for insects to eat. While they are foraging, they make a grunting noise that reminds people of the sounds pigs make; this is why they are called hedgehogs. Hedgehogs have a prickly coat of stiff spines; they protect themselves by rolling into a ball.
One of my favorite hedgehogs is the title character in Beatrix Potter's The Tale of Mrs. Tiggy-Winkle. She is not a hoglet herself, but a grown hedgehog, who happens to do washing and ironing. 

Porcupines are large rodents native to North America and Africa. They have sharp quills that give them an appearance similar to a hedgehog, but porcupines eat plants, instead of bugs. The name for these creatures came from words meaning "pig" and "quill." Isn't it  funny that neither hedgehogs nor porcupines are pigs, but their names suggest that they are?

Author Paul Schmid has a new book out about a porcupette with a problem. Perfectly Percy tells about a porcupine who loves balloons. It's too bad he can't get too close to them without popping them.  If only he could prevent his quills from touching the balloons.... 

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

4 Kids | Interview with 2 Readers

A while back I interviewed my 12 year old niece to talk about books and reading. That was quite a bit of fun.

So I thought I'd do it again. 

Photo courtesy of
I just spent an hour with two of my favorite 5th graders -- Quinn and Zoe. We had some frozen yogurt with a variety of toppings. Let me try that again: we had a variety of toppings with a little frozen yogurt. But mostly we talked books. And life. And reading. And books. I only wish I could have been half that cool when I was in 5th grade!

I've known Quinn and Zoe for quite a while. And by the way, they're twins. Even before they started visiting the library on class visits, they would come to the library with their parents and older brother (a family of readers, by the way) on a very frequent basis.

Before our meeting, we decided to read 2 books -- R.J. Palacio's Wonder and Katherine Applegate's The One and Only Ivan -- and chat about them. I've mentioned both of these books in earlier blog posts. Applegate's book won the 2013 Newbery Medal, by the way! And I'm quite proud to say that I wasn't wrong about how great these books are; Quinn and Zoe loved them too!

So here's a little recap of my chat with my 2 new BFFs -- Quinn and Zoe.

Me: What did you learn from the book Wonder?

Quinn: Be nice to kids that are different, even if others question you. (In that book, the story revolves around Auggie who is physically deformed and faces many obstacles as he enters public school for the first time as a 5th grader.)

Me: Why the title "Wonder?" What does that mean?

Zoe: People wondered a lot in that book. For example, Jack wondered who he should be friends with.

Needless to say, these girls had the plot down cold. I was quite impressed. So I jumped ahead in my list of questions.

Me: If you were going to write a book for kids your age, what would it be about?

Quinn AND Zoe: We're writing books right now. (Wow!)

Zoe: Actually, our whole family is. (Wow! Wow!)

Me: Tell me what your books are about!

Quinn: I'm writing one about a girl who is an orphan. She really wants to play the piano. But her adoptive parents won't let her play. In fact, they treat her like a visitor.

At this point, Zoe chimed in with further plot descriptions of Quinn's book. I did mention they're twins, right?

Me: And what's yours about, Zoe?

Zoe: Well, it's about a girl whose Dad is taken by the government. In searching for her Dad, she and her brother enter a forest where they meet blue people. And then (gasp) she gets taken by the government too!

I did tell you these are 5th graders, right? Seriously, they're 5th graders! And although these stories aren't completed yet, I'm already waiting anxiously for these young writers to complete their creative adventures. These girls rock!

And now The One and Only Ivan. Remember, this one is about the animals who lives in a "strip mall zoo" off a busy interstate. And it's about a whole lot of other things -- one of the most important being helping out a friend in need.

Me: So, The One and Only Ivan. What did you learn from it?

Quinn: The way we treat animals affects their whole lives. They know. Animals aren't toys to play with and make fun of.

Zoe: We once saw some kids teasing and throwing stuff at a seal on the shore. We called animal control. Animals have their own minds. (I love it! They're readers AND they care about animals!!)

Me: Who was your favorite character in The One and Only Ivan?

Quinn: Stella because she was truthful, helpful, supportive, and not afraid to show her feelings.

Zoe: Ruby because she showed Ivan and Bob not to be afraid of humans.

I hope my new BFFs don't get mad at what I'm about to reveal, but I think you dear readers deserve to know: all three of us cried after reading this book. 

Great books challenge us. They make us think about things we might not have thought about otherwise. And sometimes they dare us to change our minds. 

A few more questions for Quinn and Zoe. 

Me: What does reading mean to you?

Zoe: When I read I get to explore new worlds and meet new friends. (This will come as no surprise, but Zoe's favorite subject in school is Language Arts.)

Quinn: Reading means exploring new things...and just imagining. (Yes! Yes! Yes!)

Both girls agree that the best part of the library is being able to explore all the different types of books...and being able to check them out and READ them. 

Quinn and Zoe have assigned me some reading. No big surprise they want me to read Divergent and Insurgent by Veronica Roth. These books are a HUGE hit with many of my young reading friends. I promise I'll read them very soon!

And together we are also going to read Madeleine L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time. This is a classic book that I love to recommend to readers. I'll say no more about it now. But stay tuned.

I had such a great time with Quinn and Zoe. And I was reminded of some really important things during our afternoon together: Number 1. Reading is a really cool thing to do. Number 2. You have to stand up for what -- or who -- you believe in. Number 3. Spending an afternoon talking about books and life is a really good thing.

Happy Reading, dear readers. And thank you to Quinn and Zoe (and their wonderful parents) for sharing your time with me.

P.S. Don't forget the Children's Book Week contest. Click here for information!



Monday, April 29, 2013

Just Life | Too Old For Amusement Parks

I am officially too old for amusement parks. I don't have the guts for scary rides anymore.

Last week, my dare devil daughter wanted to try the crazy California Screamin' roller coaster at the Disney California Adventure. 

My response:" No"

Let me explain:

First, from the horrid screams coming from the passengers of that ride, I was sure that my daughter would end up vomiting all over me at the end of that ride and I didn't want to deal with that. Second, she wanted someone to follow her on that ride and I didn't want to end up vomiting all over myself either. So, the answer was "No".

I couldn't ask my husband or my father to go with her either since they were both as green as two California sequoias at that moment.

I think my dad suffered the most that day. Since I wasn't volunteering for any crazy rides, he volunteered himself often to follow his grand-daughter to all sorts of scary and vomit inducing rides. At the end, my poor dad looked really pale and was wondering, how in the world he got duped into coming to this California Adventure with us in the first place. 

My husband wasn't immune to my kid's evil plans either. He was also dragged onto the Goofy's sky school ride. According to him, every time, that car zoomed through a corner, he was sure that he would topple that small car to the ground at any moment and would end up going to prison for killing three innocent children.

That entire day, I kept thinking: " I am getting too old for this." 

The funny thing is that I used to beg my parents to take me & my cousins to amusement parks. We used to spend hours hopping from one ride to the next. Sometimes we threw up at the end of a ride, but we didn't let that fear stop us from trying scary new rides. My friends...those days are long gone.

Last year, during the Asparagus Festival, I took my kid on an innocent Ferris wheel ride and the entire time on that ride, I was praying to God that there wouldn't be any technical difficulty. Since, if we fell from such a height, I'm sure we would have made a really good spaghetti meat sauce after the impact. 

Next Stop, Disney World :)
Fodor's 2013 Walt Disney World  

Birnbaum guides 2013 Walt Disney World 

Signing off until next Monday- Panteha