Monday, July 31, 2017

Diverse book collections begin with honest assessment

Image credit: The Children’s Chalice. Books showing diversity of language

In Olympia, Wash., a church’s director of religious education took an unflinching look with her students at how diverse the program’s book collection was — discovering that while they had many books showing people with diverse skin colors, there was still “a very tall pile of books” that only had white people in them, without “anywhere near enough books that feature diversity in ability, sexual orientation, or gender.” Honest assessments like this are a great starting place for determining whether every child in a library’s (or a classroom’s) population will find books that speak to their personal experiences and validate their cultural identities. My appreciation to “DRESara” for sharing this process with her readership.

‘Cat Zero’ by Jennifer L. Rohn

Cover image, 'Cat Zero' by Jennifer L. Rohn. Image depicts head of a white and gray-black-spotted cat, with concentric green circles centered on an axis superimposed over the cat's head. The green figures include longitude-latitude coordinate notations
I found Cat Zero by Jennifer L. Rohn (Biting Duck Press, January 2018) to be very suspenseful in its treatment of a virus outbreak, and could emotionally relate to the urgency of keeping the virus contained.

The story was well-done, with characters who seemed like real people, complete with preconceptions and biases that affected the work at-hand. I foresee this book especially appealing to people who like medical thrillers.

The best parts of the story, for me, were when Artie and the other researchers attempted to piece together information and solve the mystery of the virus, and I kept waiting for the moment when someone would connect the lethal virus affecting cats, to the contagion spreading among humans. (That link was depicted in the story’s opening pages, so I don’t think this insight is a spoiler.)

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinion expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

‘The Blue Cat of Castle Town’

Book, 'The Blue Cat of Castle Town' by Catherine Cate Coblentz. Image depicts a dark-blue cat with yellow eyes, against a light-blue background. Gray medallion on cover identifies the book as a Newbery Award Honor Book.
One of the consistent joys of my life is reading fantasy stories involving cats.

The Blue Cat of Castle Town is a delightful story by Catherine Cate Coblentz, illustrated by Janice Holland. Originally published in 1949 by the Countryman Press, it was released by Dover in 2017 as an unabridged reproduction.

Blue cats are born with a rare ability to learn the song of the river — and one such cat is born near a small town in Vermont, during the 19th Century.

The blue cat faces a unique challenge beyond those of ordinary cats. “Not only must the kitten who sings the river’s song find a hearth to fit that song, but he must teach the keeper of that hearth to sing the same song. ... For if the river’s song rise no longer from the hearthside, then it is said, the very days of the land itself are numbered.”

Sunday, July 30, 2017

Trump’s speech to Boy Scouts ‘toxic beyond rhetoric’

Bullying takes on especially-high priority with a U.S. President in office who’s been dubbed “Bully in Chief.” One recent incident concerns interjection of “political rhetoric” by U.S. President Donald Trump into a speech that he delivered during Boy Scouts of America’s 20th National Jamboree. An invitation to the current president to visit has been a long-standing Jamboree tradition according to “ScoutingWire.”

Bullying: How far does parents’ influence extend?

Comic strip in three left-to-right panels. In the first panel, a caption reads,'Remembering ... a play-date that ended badly.' A man points at a little girl and tells her, 'You are NEVER allowed to play at my child's house again!' The second panel is a close-up of the man, with a hostile, sneering expression on his face. The caption reads, 'I don't remember WHY he acted this way toward me ... but I can't help but wonder.' The third panel is a close-up of the girl. The caption reads, 'How far did his influence spread: From his child to other children at my school who rejected me?'
Comic strip created with Pixton online interface

In The No Asshole Rule, a book about workplace bullying (Warner Business Books, 2007), Robert I. Sutton discusses research by Dan Olweus into bullying among children in Norway, which included long-term, follow-up studies of bullies and their victims.

Friday, July 28, 2017

Library resources aid in fight against bullying

Among member libraries, the summer-reading theme this year for the Collaborative Summer Library Program was “Building a Better World.” In Scottsbluff, Neb., the Gering and Lied Scottsbluff Public Libraries wrapped up their summer reading programs with a bullying-prevention presentation by ventriloquist Kevin Horner.

Tuesday, July 25, 2017

Bullying: Young age comes as no surprise

Close-up of Cynthia M. Parkhill, wearing a yellow-crocheted hat with a 'No Bully' pin, the word 'Bully' in black letters on yellow with a red circle and red-line diagonal strike-through
My ‘No Bully’ mugshot
In a piece for the Wall Street Journal (summarized by A Mighty Girl), Laura Barbour observes that children as young as 2 1/2 engage in relational aggression.

That is, they deliberately shun or withhold friendship in order to punish another child.

This revelation came as zero-surprise to me, as I was a school-wide outcast. I remember my first day of kindergarten at Calistoga Elementary; I felt completely awkward and alone, like an absolute alien — a visitor marooned on an unfamiliar planet with no guidelines to relate to its inhabitants.

This feeling of separation continued through my time at Calistoga Junior-Senior High. If friendship was offered to me, I had difficulty recognizing it; I have too-vivid memories of playground taunts, of being shoved in hallways, and of being told by one classmate that she would only be my friend in-secret, when no one else was around.

I could only react with suspicion when classmates showed interest in me — for example, inviting me to talk about a subject I cared about. I was convinced they were only doing it, so they could laugh about it behind my back.

With its summary of Laura Barbour’s article, A Mighty Girl recommends several excellent books about bullying; some (by Tracy Ludwig) were already familiar to me, but I look forward to reading some of the others through my crusade to speak out against bullying.

Sunday, July 23, 2017

Yarn Bombing: ‘Maker Day’ at Bill Library

Artisans, crafters and hobbyists demostrated their skills during a Maker Day event at the Bill Library, Saturday, July 22, in Ledyard, Conn. The library started its maker program about two years ago and holds monthly hands-on classes.

Saturday, July 22, 2017

Sandra Wade, former poet laureate, dies

From 2006: Sandra Wade (center) inaugurated as Lake County Poet Laureate

Sandra Wade, a former Poet Laureate of Lake County, Calif., died Tuesday, July 18. Sandra was a staunch advocate for local culture as Lake County Poet Laureate, so supportive and nurturing of other Lake County writers. I always enjoyed learning about the different places she’d gone to read and represent Lake County to a broader artistic community.

The photo above is from the Summer 2006 ArtNotes, a quarterly newsletter of the Lake County Arts Council. Photographed by Xian Yeagan, the image shows Sandra, center, being inaugurated as Lake County Poet Laureate for 2006-2008. Flanking her are finalists Janet Riehl, left, and Fran Ransley, right.

Sandra’s obituary, published in the Lake County Record-Bee, relates:

“Former poet laureate of Lake County and local radio show host, Sandra Wade, passed away Tuesday, July 18, 2017. Sandra had returned to her native England where she lived in Halisham. She was surrounded by her loving family. She enriched the lives of many with her work as a massage therapist, a yoga teacher and a weaver of words. She is greatly missed.”

‘From Bully to Bull’s Eye’ by Andrew Faas

Book cover, 'From Bully to Bull's Eye: Move Your Organization Out of the Line of Fire' by Andrew Faas. Image depicts a seated man, his head pressed between his knees and his hands grasping the top of his head, with concentric-circle bull's-eye outlines superimposed on top of him
Many people, according to Andrew Faas, relate the word “bullying” to what happens in schools; they don’t associate workplace behaviors with bullying until, Faas says, he describes the dynamics of bullying with words like “abuse,” “coercion,” “exploitation,” “extortion,” “harassment,” and “threats.”

In From Bully to Bull’s Eye (RCJ Press, 2016), Faas argues that workplace bullying extends beyond an incident or conflict between a bully and target at work. According to Faas, “entire workplace cultures in many organizations are built on foundational principles that guarantee a toxic environment for all, not just a few select victims of particularly vitriolic harassment.”

Friday, July 21, 2017

Medford ‘Friends’ giant book-clearance event

Southern Oregon readers, note: Friends of the Medford Library​ is holding a “giant” book-clearance event, its “largest event ever,” noon to 4 p.m. Friday, July 28, and 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, July 29, at the central library in Medford, Jackson County Library Services - Oregon​. The latest “Friends” newsletter features details of this event, as well as other news of interest. During the “sale,” you can take whatever — and however many — books you like, and leave a donation of your choice. Three rooms of books will include large selections of science fiction, fiction and other categories, including record albums and other audio/visual materials.

Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Starfire has shared our home for six years


Six years ago, our precious cat Starfire joined our household. Every day since then, she has been a perpetual delight.

Jonathan brought Starfire home on July 15, 2011. Here she is, peering out from beneath a dresser during her first night at home with us.

Starfire’s name evokes her color, which is nearly all black. She has white “stars” on her chest and belly. On her right hind foot, Starfire has a broken or deformed toe and she limps on hard ground or during cold weather. Her personality is full of zeal for exploration and play.

Starfire joined us shortly after the death of our 13-year-old cat Elizabeth. Starfire had been fending for herself after her former caregiver suffered a severe stroke.

Her arrival in our home was a case of us needing her as badly as she needed us. The place felt lonely without the presence of a cat and Starfire was in need of a caregiver.

Once over the stress of an unfamiliar environment, Starfire brought so much life and energy to our home; she continues to bless us daily.

Interim director at Sonoma County Library

Tracy Gray has been named interim director at Sonoma County Library. Gray, formerly manager of SCL’s Central Library, has been serving as acting director since the departure of Brett Lear in May (via Christi Warren, Press Democrat).

Wednesday, July 5, 2017

‘Bicycling Rules of the Road’

Book cover, 'Bicycling Rules of the Road' by Kelly Pulley. Image depicts boy in helmet on his bicycle, shown from the rear view, paused in a roadway next to a stop sign. The boy's head is turned right, looking down a side street that intersects the road he is on. The road is lined with green landscaping, a single blue house and trees. A dog stands in the road next to the boy, looking ahead.
Devin's mother gives him rules for safely riding his bicycle, but once on his bike, he tries but fails to remember what he should and should not do.

He agrees to give his friend Betsy a ride on his handlebars — with immediate loss of visibility and bicycle maneuverability.

Things go from bad to worse as, one by one, Devin acts counter to another bicycling safety rule and soon an entire basketball team, their goat mascot and a rescued cat are all precariously balanced with him and Betsy on his bicycle.

Kelly Pulley relates an entertaining story that carries a serious message in Bicycling Rules of the Road (Schiffer Publishing, November 2017). Brightly colored illustrations, rhyming text and humorous storyline make this book ideal when reinforcing for children, the importance of safely riding a bicycle.

The rules can all be found in a note to Devin from his mother, making them easy to reference and reinforce with children when reading the story aloud. Nothing is ambiguous; each choice by Devin has a consequence and the text makes cause-and-effect clear.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received a review copy of this book from the publisher. The opinion expressed is my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Also posted to Librarian on a Bicycle