Saturday, November 16, 2013

Teens Only | If You Like a Good Puzzle...

This is the blog for you. I'm always reading reviews of teen books to find great things to read... and to of course recommend to you. So I came across a list of books that every teen should read. Gosh I don't like being told what I should read. So how about we call these books every teen should want to read. Better, right?
Back to my penchant for puzzles. I am not going to make this easy for you. I will give you some clues to each title, but I'm not going to tell you the title. You're all super smart, and you'll be able to figure out the titles with just a little keyword searching in the library catalog.
Are you ready?
Our first book features a girl named Cath who is feeling left out when her best friend no longer shares their love for a favorite celebrity. So she finds herself all alone in her first year of college, has to deal with a not-so-nice roommate, and constantly worries about her father.
Ok. Do you know what book I'm talking about? Go ahead. See if you can figure it out. Quick hint: If you use the girl's name in a word/phrase search, and perhaps another word from the description I just gave you, you'll probably find it. And by the way, it sounds great and I'll be reading it very soon.
This next one was first published in 1967 and is about three brothers who struggle to stay together after the deaths of their parents. This book was made into a movie starring Matt Dillon, Rob Lowe, and Tom Cruise. It's a great movie, and the book is even better. Do you know what the title is? Have you read it? If not, are you going to read it?
The last book in today's puzzle is by one of my favorite authors. This book is about a 16-year-old on trial for being an accomplice to murder. What's super cool about this book is that it is written in the form of a film script. It's a quick read that will really make you think. Do you know it?
Three books that are really great. If you're totally stumped, let me know by posting a comment. I'll respond soon.
In the meantime, happy reading!

Thursday, November 14, 2013

The Wanderlust Librarian | I Choo Choo Choose...the Lilly Belle!

All aboard!! 

 The Disneyland Railroad is made up of 5 steam locomotives that take guests on a grand circle tour of Disneyland. There are four stops around the park: Main Street Station, New Orleans Square, Toontown and Tomorrowland. The entire trip around the Park takes about 20 minutes and travels 1.5 miles. 

Fun Fact!! I once took a nap on the train for over an hour! 

When Disneyland celebrated its 50th anniversary in 2005, the park presented many special perks for their guests over the course of the year. One of them was a ride on the Lilly Belle. In all of the books and internet sites I had devoured, all of them said the same thing: The Lilly Belle was brought out for VIP members of Club 33 (a private club in Disneyland) and celebrities. 

This made me want to ride the Lilly Belle even more. 

When I was standing at the New Orleans station, I looked towards the end of the train and saw.... the Lilly Belle! I recognized it from the pictures. I excitedly asked the conductor if a ride on it was possible. He told me "I'll see what I can do" and to approach him again at the Main Street Station. 

The answer turned out to be yes! My inaugural trip was awesome. Conductor Curtis was one of the nicest people and gave us all sorts of trivia about the Lilly Belle and new things being built at the (now) re-imagined Disney California Adventure. 

On my last trip to Disneyland, a few weeks ago, the Lilly Belle was in service again! I tried my courage and asked Conductor Billy if a ride was possible. He told me that they were booked up for the day, but if I were to show up the next day he could see if he could fit us in. 

Good readers, Conductor Billy worked another bit of magic for us that next day. He asked that we come back at 1:00pm and meet him in front of Main Street Station. 

Once again, my daughter, two friends and I got a special tour with an amazing conductor. Could it be possible that Conductor Billy was even BETTER than Conductor Curtis?!?! As a child, I was always felt well informed about the happenings in the park by reading annual guidebooks from the library and a "behind the ears" book called Mouse Tales. The trivia that Conductor Billy shared with us put those books to shame. In fact, I was delighted by the new information! 

During stops, we could walk around. 
The train is lovingly restored from an old observation car with the input of Lillian Disney. Ornate gas lamps shed a warm and comforting glow around the rail car. The other observation cars are no longer in service due to the limited views they offered when the train went through the Grand Canyon Diorama and Primeval World.

Before I leave you to look at the lovely pictures, here are some facts that were shared by Conductor Billy on our tour: 

  • The Grand Canyon Diorama is the largest single strip diorama in the world. It was painted by one man, Delmer Yoakum (Disney artist), with 300 gallons of paint, 12 colors in only one year! 
  • The ticking you hear at the New Orleans Station is Morse code of the first two lines of Walt Disney's opening day speech in 1955. Why Morse code? Because it is a recording of Lillian Disney (who was learning Morse at the time)! 
  • Toontown station is a cartoon replica of the New Orleans station. 

While we wait at Main Street Station,
the light was gorgeous!
These lights are on the ceiling of the Lilly Belle! 
The rail car and its finery
I love the sidelights
Walt and Lillian
Thank you, Conductor Billy!!! 

Book Bucket List | Chicago Trip!

View from the Metra Station
I'm going to take a page out of Rena's book (rather blog) this week and talk about the trip I took on my vacation. This past weekend, I was lucky enough to be able to visit family in Chicagoland.  Sure, I was made fun of for thinking that 30 degrees was cold, but it was fun nonetheless.  My family lives about 45 minutes out of Chicago in the country, but we were only a short train ride away from the city. 

Harold Washington Library
The first day, I checked out the Harold Washington Library.  It was huge! It was 9 stories in a beautiful building with a giant atrium on top. They also had giant owls hanging off the corners of the building like gargoyles. Their children's area is very similar to the Chavez Central Library's and was filled with a ton of class visits from different schools.  It was fun to watch all the kids interact. (And yes, I did hear "Do you have Diary of a Wimpy Kid?"  They also had a new teen center and innovation lab.  In their fiction area, they had a display featuring Devil in the White City by Erik Larson.  It's about all of the drama and actual events of a serial killer and the 1893 World's Fair.

Lions Guarding the Art Institute
That day I also went to The Art Institute of Chicago where we had lunch at their amazing restaurant and spent the afternoon looking at their collection.  It's impossible to go through the entire museum in one trip.  I've been before and barely got through half of it, and it still felt rushed.  My favorites this time were the Georgia O'Keefes and Salvador Dalis

Sue says Hi!
The next day, I visited The Field Museum.  I really love this place.  What's better than walking in a building where there's a giant T-Rex in the middle of the room?  That T-Rex's name is Sue and she is the world's most complete T-Rex skeleton, as the museum has 90% of her bones together.  It's a really impressive sight, and seeing those teeth close up is rather intimidating.  They had this awesome 3D movie about the world Sue lived in and what she would have been like.  So cool!  At our library, we just got in Scaly, Spotted, Feathered, Frilled by Catherine Thimmesh.  It's all about what dinosaurs really looked like when they were roaming the Earth, just like the movie at the museum.

It was a very busy trip between these stops and eating pretty much nonstop.  Chicago was a very fun city to explore!

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Learning | World's Strongest Librarian

A few months ago, a friend recommended a new book called The World's Strongest Librarian by Josh Hanagarne. It sounded interesting, but I was busy reading a few other books, so I mentally put it on my "get around to reading that someday" list. That's a really long list, by the way.

I nearly forgot about it, until the last day of the Internet Librarian conference in Monterey in late October. The closing keynote speaker was none other than Josh Hanagarne. I heard the buzz of excitement as people talked about it the rest of the day, in between those last few sessions. 

I had not remembered Josh's name, but I did remember the title of his book, and that somebody had recommended it. Something about weight training with a guy who has Asperger's syndrome. Had my friend recommended it to me because of my family's experiences with autistic spectrum disorders? I even remembered the picture on the cover, with a strong man bearing the weight of a seemingly infinite stack of books on his back.

The presentations ended, and we all assembled in a big auditorium to hear the final keynote address. Somebody decided to retract the giant screen that was hanging at the bag of the stage; as the noisy motor started, I heard a bark.  A few minutes later, Steven Abrams began introducing the speaker, who clearly had some tics. Indeed, shortly after he took over the podium, he told us he had Tourette's. He also told us about the strangest comment he had from an audience member--in which he was declared more handsome than Nelson Mandela.

He talked about many of the themes you would expect, if you have read his book: his wonderful family; his struggle to cope with Tourette's; and the central importance of books and libraries for his entire life.

He told touching stories of his interactions with library patrons, many of whom have been down on their luck, and what those patrons have taught him.

He talked a little bit about the physical training that helps him battle his tics.

He also revealed his love of words.  He asked the audience what they thought he told his mother he wanted as a graduation gift, when he earned a college degree. Somehow, even before he said it, I knew he wanted the two-volume set of the Oxford English Dictionary. I don't know how I knew that, but I happen to have the same set in my den. Yes, I got it shortly after I graduated from college. I still treasure it.

He talked about what libraries mean to the public: freedom.  He shared something he learned, from looking up the history of words.  At some point in the past, the verbs love and free meant the same thing. To love is to free.

Josh is a wonderful speaker, and he deserved the standing ovation we gave him. 

Right after the speech finished, I got on my tablet and went to SSJCPL's website to reserve his book. It was waiting for me on the hold shelf when I came back to work that Saturday. I finished it in a couple of days. I probably would have finished it in one day, if real life didn't have a way of interfering with my reading time.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

She's Crafty | East Bay Mini Maker Faire Finale

Welcome back to our East Bay Mini Maker Faire Finale!

Malia: Faire Finds

Nothing will part me from my craft faire allowance quicker than handmade accessories and/or the parts to make my own. Finding a one-of-kind piece has become my way of bringing home a memento instead of an event sticker, shirt or poster. So, once I knew we stumbled into merchant-land, search mode kicked on. Geometric jewelry designs are a weakness of mine so I knew the triangles I found at one table were coming home with me.

Speaking of my weaknesses, steampunk is a major one. Although with most finished steampunk jewelry pieces, the cost is high and I'm usually reluctant to spend so much. Instead, I spring for grab-bags of clock parts and metal bits. Lucky for me, there was a sale on Steampunk Maker Kits. Now, I get to figure out what to do with all the fun pieces!

Kaye: More Steampunk!

Speaking of steampunk, there were a number of other areas in the Faire where we saw fascinating, one-of-a-kind, steampunk contraptions and accoutrements. Many of these were not for sale--such as the gear, widget, and metal encrusted vehicle, which was entirely roadworthy according to its owner. Although it looked really cool, I couldn't figure out how he'd wash his car. It's not like I wash my car all that often, but at least my car isn't difficult to wash...I guess you just can't be too practical-minded to get into the steampunk groove. Steampunk is definitely not for minimalists!

Malia: Walking pod

Geodesic domes are already cool enough but imagine one that WALKS! Once I figured out that the raised dome, resting on two rows of triangular appendages actually moved, I stuck around to get some video. It was amazing! And a bit creepy at the same time. I was actually surprised at how level the dome stayed throughout the movements.

Kaye: Geocaching...

Do you have a smartphone, tablet, or other device with global-positioning system (GPS) capability? If so, you can participate in a fun new pastime called geocaching. At this table, we saw folks putting small trinkets and toys into little containers of various sorts, getting them ready to hide somewhere at the Faire. Once hidden, a person would then get the GPS coordinates of the hiding location using whatever GPS technology they had handy and post the coordinates on a board where others could see them and go looking for the cache using their own GPS technology. 

It was interesting to me to see both geocaching and steampunk at the same place. It made me wonder whether the Victorians would have liked geocaching, and how they would have approached that hobby. I like to think they would have loved to go chasing about the world looking for things with pin-point accuracy (well, a 12-foot circle is a pin-point from space!) using future-is-now technology. And then, when they had found a cache, they would have looked at the wonders inside, possibly taken a trinket for a souvenir, and quietly replaced the container for the next person to find, just as geocachers do today. I wonder whether any of the steampunk folk do participate? It seems like such a good fit...

Leave us a comment and tell us what you think. And, as always--stay crafty!

Kaye and Malia

4 Kids | Excuse Me

I apologize ahead of time if I sound a little preachy in today's blog. But gee whiz, I've got something to say.
In the last week, I have been witness to some horrible manners by adults. I won't bore you with the details, but let me say that twice in a week I've seen many, many drivers park over the line in already crowded parking lots in order to take up 2 parking spaces. How terribly inconsiderate, right? One lot was filled to capacity (with 15 cars parked in two spaces), and we missed a special event.
Ok, I've said it and now I feel a little better.
But it really got me thinking. Why do I see better manners from kids than from adults? I'm totally serious. 99.9% of the kids I see at the library display way better manners than adults.
So I applaud you young people. Thank you for saying "thank you." Thanks for waiting your turn. Thanks for saying "please" and "excuse me." It means a lot. Showing good manners is a way of being kind. And we can all use a little kindness, right?
This all reminds me of Laurie Keller's great book Do Unto Otters: A Book About Manners. Mr. Rabbit is worried when otters move in next door because he doesn't know how to treat them. He get some very wise advise: Do unto otters as you would have otters do unto you. (That's the Golden Rule, of course.) Not only do Mr. Rabbit and the otters get along wonderfully, they work together and thereby create a peaceable kingdom. You'll find this wonderful book in the children's section of lots of SSJCPL libraries. I'm wondering if we should put it in the adult collection.
Again, I'm sorry for being preachy. But bad manners make me sad!
So to you wonderful readers who visit the library and always use perfect manners, I say thank you! Keep it up. You're making the world a much nicer place.
Happy Reading!

Monday, November 11, 2013

Just Life | Spider Here, Spider There, Spiders Are Everywhere

Apparently spiders are taking over Stockton.

It is not even noon, and I have encountered four of them.

I have been wary of these creatures since one of my old co-workers got bitten by one. My co-workers' foot turned into a pillow for a couple of weeks and she had to take all sorts of medications for it.

Since I am not an arachnologist, I consider all of them armed and dangerous. 

This morning, I was half asleep, when I encountered my first spider. 

As soon as that spider noticed me, it started doing fast laps around my bathtub. 

That totally freaked me out, I tell you. So I called my husband for help but alas, he was just snoring away.

What a day!

Any way, Let's get familiar with a few of these monsters:

Picture from


This is the Brown Recluse. Its venom can cause serious tissue damage. Look closely. Do you see an upside down violin on its back? All I say is just stay away from it. This spider is about 1/4-3/4 of an inch long.

Picture from

This is the infamous Black Widow. It got its name because the female kills the male after mating. The venom of this black spider attacks the nervous system so, it can be deadly to children and elderly. The female Black Widow has a red dot under her belly. 

Picture from

This spider is called the Huntsman. It's bite is painful but not toxic. It's first two legs are longer than the others and they are hairy. This spider is about a 1/2 inch long. This thing is an Olympic runner so, put on some good running shoes before dealing with this guy.

Here are a few books for all those spider lovers out there:

Spiders and their kin

Black widows : deadly biters 

Insects, spiders, and other terrestrial arthropods 
Signing off until next Monday- The spider killer