Saturday, May 25, 2013

Teens Only | One Name, Two People

Maybe you've heard of this book -- The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates. It's about two guys -- both named Wes Moore and born blocks apart in Baltimore, Maryland -- and the very different paths their lives take.

In the review from Publishers Weekly, the reviewer says this: "Two hauntingly similar boys take starkly different paths in this searing tale of the ghetto...Moore writes with subtlety and insight about the plight of ghetto youth, viewing it from inside and out; he probes beneath the pathologies to reveal the pressures -- poverty, a lack of prospects, the need to respond to violence with greater violence -- that propelled the other Wes to his doom. The result is a moving exploration of roads not taken."

This is such a powerful book with an incredible message. The library has several copies of this book, and if you need further encouragement to pick up this book and give it a read, I've got some really great news.

The Other Wes Moore is THE featured book at a special book club for tweens and teens this summer: #ReinventStockton Summer Book Club with Councilman Michael Tubbs. The #ReinventStockton Book Club will meet Wednesdays from 3-5 pm at the Maya Angelou Branch Library. The book club will run from June 12 through July 31, 2013. Registration is not required, but check out a copy of the book soon and be a part of this transformative discussion!

The Maya Angelou Branch Library is located at 2324 Pock Lane in Stockton. To learn more about the Angelou Library, click here.

This is an opportunity to be a part of something really special. Join us at the #ReinventStockton Summer Book Club.

See you there! 

Friday, May 24, 2013

Short Attention Span Challenge | "Uncle!"

A month and half!  It has been a month and half since I have done a challenge.  If you remember, the last challenge was "Graphology" and I was still delusional enough to think that I was going to squeeze in some extra blog posts, between raising my kids, working full time, trying to get into grad school, and so on and so on.  Well, here's the deal, I am going to go ahead and say it right now; this is the "I bit off more than I can chew skill" (as one of my friends told me to call this week's blog post).  52 Challenges in 52 Weeks!  I don't know what I was thinking.  As much as I hate to do this, the time limit is over on this blog.  I am still going to do 52 challenges, but for the sake of my own sanity, it's not going to happen in 52 weeks.
Let's be real (yes, I am going to do this)...admitting your beat is sort of skill in itself.  Admitting your beat, but also saying "No".  Deciding what the priorities in your life are, getting them in order, and getting rid of some self- added pressure can be the moment where scrambling around trying to get EVERYTHING done turns into the moment where the weight is lifted from your shoulders, you can breath, and you start concentrating on what's most important!  Maybe even yourself!  What a wonderful feeling!
Until next Friday (or not!)...

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Book Bucket List | INFERNO

Tuesday May 14 was a big day for fans of The Da Vinci Code and Angels and Demons.  Dan Brown released his lasted book, Inferno! (Cue dramatic music)  It has been four years since a new Langdon book, and 4 million copies have been printed in anticipation of the big release.

Harvard Symbolist Robert Langdon is back again, but this time he wakes up in Italy with no memory of how he got there, and with a very dangerous object in his possession.  Soon he is on the run, again, searching for clues from Dante's "Divine Comedy" to solve the latest mystery.

If you are super motivated and want to try to solve the mystery before Langdon, check out the original (and very real) The Divine Comedy by Dante.  This epic poem follows Dante's journey through hell, purgatory, and heaven.  It's considered one of the preeminent works in medieval and Italian literature.  Dante finished writing it in 1308 and took him thirteen years to finish.

The Divine Comedy is the perfect basis for Brown's new book, as it has numerous hidden meanings, numerical patterns, and about a million other mysterious literary elements that are still widely debated and studied today.

So if you're a history buff or a fan of Browns other mysteries, check these books out!

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Learning | Maker Faire 2013, Part 2

The 2013 Bay Area Maker Faire is now history. Here are a few impressions I took away from the Saturday I went there:

Hands-on opportunities:

This is one of the best things about Maker Faire. There are so many things to do, for people of all ages.

I saw some LED lamps that were encased in a slimy, squishy gel material. Of course, I had to squeeze and poke them, to see what they were like.

The developer of the Open Clock Project let me touch the screen of the clock to set the alarm and view different features.

One booth gave instructions for modifying your Roomba, so that you can control it when you are away from home, either on the internet, or via smartphone.  They touted a Roomba Chat Room.  Now, I know this was intended as a forum for Roomba hackers to share ideas and troubleshoot, but my son and I couldn't help smiling, thinking about Roombas all over the world communicating. It's not hard to imagine them making posts like, "Look at this mess. How am I expected to clean up juice?" or "The cat has been sitting on me ALL DAY. #justpulloutmybatteriesnow"


Sharing resources!

3D printers were everywhere, just like last year, but visitors did not hang around to watch the printing process nearly so much.  They were more interested in the materials offered for printing, and services from companies that will take your file and print 3D objects for a fee.

Likewise, more hackerspaces are offering memberships.  One company is trying to coordinate sharing of tools between hackerspaces.  Hackerspaces, also known as hack labs or maker spaces, are places where people gather to share tools, space and other resources, to make things. 

Kickstarter was a buzzword this year.  Entrepreneurs hope their displays at the Maker Faire will generate enough interest for people to invest in their companies.  Business cards, more often than not, have a ID on them, as well as a url for the company's own website.

I noticed more companies using smartphones and tablets to operate their automated creations. Although most gadgets seemed to incorporate Arduino microcontrollers, the new Raspberry Pi single-board computer from the United Kingdom made a strong debut.

Cool things to watch:

A show with Mentos and hundreds of Coke Zero bottles, timed to go off with music, mimicking the Bellagio Fountain in Las Vegas. These guys explain the scientific principles  and chemical reactions that produce great amounts of fizz, before they dazzle you with the actual performance.

A life-size mousetrap game, and many other Rube Goldberg-like machines.

People dancing on stilts--with people in robot costumes.

A concert powered by people riding stationary bicycles. There seemed to be no end to the number of people who wanted to sit down and pedal to keep it going.

Flaming sculptures.

The tesla coil concert. This was in a darkened hall; the music was mostly heavy metal. I particularly enjoyed the rendition of the Doctor Who theme.

A car covered with dancing plastic fish and lobsters, programmed to move in time to music. 

All Bay Area Maker Faire 2013 pictures courtesy of Windell Oskay's Photostream on Flickr. Some rights reserved.


Whenever I visit the Maker Faire, I think of people like Simon Rodia, who spent the better part of his life building the structures that came to be known as the Watts Towers.  You can read about him in two colorful non-fiction children's books:

Patricia Zelver's The Wonderful Towers of Watts. This particular book was a bedtime favorite for one of my sons.

I also think of the late author E. L. Konigsberg's  novel, The Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place. This is a coming-of-age story about Margaret Rose Kane. She returns from a dismal time at summer camp to find that the amazing, Watts Tower-like structures in her uncles' backyard are in danger of being torn down. 

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

4 Kids | And the Winners Are

....Well, you've probably already seen the names of the winners of the Children's Book Week Writing Contest. Before I list them here, let me say one thing:

You 4th, 5th and 6th graders rock!!! I read over 600 stories and they were all so very, very good. Some of them left me hanging (in a really good way). Some made me laugh. But they ALL made me want to stand up and raise some serious jazz hands.

It was tough to pick 3 winners because they were all so good, but we had to pick 3 winners, and we think we picked 3 really good ones.

Read the winning stories right here. Congratulations Sienna Smith (4th grade winner), Stephanie Mendez (5th grade winner) and Jacob Esplin (6th grade winner). Keep writing. Please!!!
And I can't thank our distinguished authors enough: Deborah Underwood, Bruce Hale, and Gennifer Choldenko. Boy let me tell won't meet three cooler people anywhere. I was lucky enough to get to hear all three of them speak. Talk about some serious inspiration. And if you want to be inspired by the creative genius of these three authors, check out the library's catalog and type in one of their names. You won't be disappointed.
So now I must apologize that I haven't read any children's books this week because I was a little busy. But I'll be back to it soon and have some great reading recommendations for you next Tuesday.
Until then, happy reading!