Fun at Foster's blog
Sophie and Josh Newman are ordinary fifteen-year-olds (twins), spending their summer vacation working part-time jobs and living with family in San Francisco while their parents go off to oversee an archeological dig. Suddenly their dreams of saving up enough money to buy a car at sixteen are shattered when a strange man named Dr. John D. enters the used book shop where Josh works, owned by a Nick Fleming (Nicholas Flamel). Chaos and magic spills out into the streets, alerting Sophie, who works at a small coffee shop across the way, and also Nicholas’ wife Perry (actually Perenelle). The strange man desperately wants a book, the Codex—or Book of Abraham the Mage—and in the confusion rips it from the hands of Josh, leaving behind two of the last pages in the boy’s hands. Together the teens and Nicholas flee the store, forced to leave behind the powerful sorceress Perenelle to hold back the nefarious John D. Nicholas then reveals his identity to the teens, telling them that he and Perenelle are actually over 500 years old, kept alive by mixing a magical potion of immortality found within the Codex, kept financially comfortable by using the Philosophers Stone formula also found within to transform copper and lead into gold and coal into diamonds.
What follows is an adventure of intrigue and magic, where one exciting turn leads to another. Sophie and Josh manage to stay just ahead of Dr. John D. while Nicholas Flamel attempts to find a way to release their latent powers. Beneath it all, there is a millennia-long war between ancient, powerful, and terrible beings called the Elders and known by humans as the many gods and heroes of myth and lore. Dr. John D. serves a particularly malicious group known as the Dark Elders, who want to use the Codex to return themselves to prominence and dominate the earth once more.
Michael Scott mixes factual characters from history, magic, a variety of ancient myths, and locations on continents around the world into the adventures of his teen heroes. This first book, The Alchemyst, is especially exciting because all of the locations are in California, eventually even leading the characters to Ojai, a location that many Ventura County residents know quite well. I loved this book and any readers familiar with young-adult series like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan, and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson saga will love to discover this exciting series here at E.P. Foster Library, or any of our other library locations in either audio or text format (I especially enjoyed the reading by actor Denis O’Hare).
Alan Martin, Your Friendly Reader
Join us for the conclusion of the film serial about a supervillain and a counter-atomic device, followed directly by a classic film starring Boris Karloff.
This free screening will be held in the Topping Room. The first film begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday; we hope to see you there!
Bunny Drop is a slice-of-life anime based on the manga by Yumi Unita. It’s the story of Daikichi, a single, 30-year-old man who works long hours, drinks, smokes, and lives only for himself. However, his life takes a sudden turn when he attends the funeral of his grandfather.
Unbeknownst to the family, his grandfather has a six-year-old daughter, Rin. Shocked by this discovery, Daikichi’s family ostracizes the girl. When he learns that they plan on putting her in an orphanage, Daikichi, on a whim, decides to raise the child himself.
Bunny Drop follows their first year in this new life as they become a family. He gives up old habits as he learns to live for someone besides himself. He befriends other parents, getting advice and learning how to be a dad. Most of all, he discovers how much he truly loves this little girl, and that he needs her as much as she needs him.
The slice-of-life genre in anime and manga is pretty self-explanatory. There are no car chases, dueling robots, or magical animals. What it does have is a story that many of us can relate to: a father (or, in this case, a father figure) raising a child on his own, stumbling a bit as he goes but nevertheless working hard to care for this little girl that has come into his life. From her first day of school to her first cold, Rin becomes the center of Daikichi’s world, and he doesn’t mind it a bit. He may not have started out as father material, but by the end of the series you won’t see him as anything else.
At only 11 episodes, Bunny Drop can easily be watched in a weekend. There are also four mini-episodes included as bonus features. It’s a family-friendly series than anyone can enjoy, especially parents.
Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess
Local artists will be showing off their work at our monthly installment of make.show.tell. at E.P. Foster Library.
Join in as community members give a demonstration of machine sewing and show off some stuffed toys and modified clothing.
There will also be a demonstration of acrylic painting, including images of completed works and small pieces for display.
This free event will be on Tuesday, August 19, at 7 p.m. We look forward to seeing you there!
When authors write what they know the result can have a certain weight, a sense of authenticity that allows a reader to feel the truth of what’s on the page. Interestingly, though, writers in these situations don’t always produce stories that are in line with what we might expect, such as those writers who find a dark humor in the horrors of war. The thing to remember is that every author is also an individual, and there are often as many points of view on a situation as there are individuals experiencing it. If we are open to it, we may find that each point of view—even those that seem strange to us—has something valuable to offer.
|Kathryn Stockett’s The Help (2009) is set in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s and alternates between three first-person narrators: a young white woman named Eugenia (Skeeter) Phelan and two black maids, Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson. Stockett explores the ways in which black women doing domestic work—hence the novel’s title—were dehumanized and oppressed by their white employers and naturally expands into a commentary on race relations throughout the South. Skeeter provides a window into the experiences of Aibileen and the other maids through her desire to write a book about them. Aibileen and Minny both attempt to impress upon Skeeter the very real danger that telling their stories places them all in, a point reinforced by descriptions of racial violence throughout the novel. For her part, Skeeter contends that the only way the South will change is if people begin talking openly about racism and inequality. In the afterword to The Help Stockett admits that she wrote the novel in part as a way of exorcising some of her own guilt at having been emotionally close to her family’s maid while never truly considering the arrangement from the other woman’s perspective.|
|There has been some criticism of The Help suggesting that it focuses too much on its white characters, an accusation directed even more strongly toward Tate Taylor’s 2011 film adaptation. Starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer, the film in many ways effectively captures the emotional lives of these women as they struggle to make a living in the Jim Crow South, but it does feel like something of a sanitized version of the novel. Many scenes from the book, particularly those featuring Minny, are played for laughs, which feels uncomfortable at times given the context and makes the viewer wonder whose story is ultimately being told. Both black actresses received high praise for their roles, but many commented that this was in spite of their otherwise tangential treatment; the film places heavy focus on Stone’s Skeeter and her interactions with her friends and family. Nonetheless, Taylor’s version proves to be heartwarming—if a bit too much of a “feel good” movie given the subject matter—and can serve as a means for starting a conversation about race even if it neglects to do the heavy lifting itself.|
Kathryn Stockett’s novel is available to borrow from E.P. Foster Library’s adult fiction collection, and can also be found in eBook and eAudiobook format through the Ventura County Library’s OverDrive collection. Tate Taylor’s film version can be requested from a number of other branches in the Ventura County Library system; if the film or novel is not on the shelf at your branch, you can request a copy in person, over the phone, or online through our catalog.
Congratulations to Kate Curtin, winner of the grand prize drawing of our Summer Reading for Adults contest! Her prize was an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite... perfect for borrowing eBooks from the library!
Our staff had a lot of fun running the contest this summer, and we're already looking forward to next year and thinking about how we can go even bigger!
We'd like to thank everyone who entered, and we hope that whether you won a prize or not that you were able to read something great this summer.
This organization offers support for post-9/11 veterans and their loved ones.
Stop by the Topping Room at 6 p.m. to learn more about this organization and what it does for those who have served our country.
We hope to see you there!
E.P. Foster Library will be opening a Homework Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 3 to 5 p.m., starting on August 26. Homework Helpers will be available to help students in grades kindergarten through 12th grade with their homework assignments in Language Arts, Math, Reading, Science, or Social Studies.
Homework Centers are comfortable spaces at the library where students of all ages can drop in and work on their homework independently or with the help of volunteers. The centers are equipped with Wi-Fi, computers with internet access, printers, research books, and school supplies for student use.
Homework Centers help students with homework assignments and provide skills-building on any subject. The Ventura County Library provides Homework Centers at the Meiners Oaks Library, Oak View Library, Ojai Library, Avenue Library, the Albert H. Soliz Library in El Rio, and the Ray D. Prueter Library in Port Hueneme. Check our webpage for days and times.
Homework Centers are available following the school calendar. If you are interested in volunteering for the Homework Center at Foster, contact Star Soto at (805) 648-2716.
Also, returning to the Topping Room at the E.P. Foster Library is Triple P: the Positive Parenting Program. These parenting classes are free to all parents with children 0-18 years of age.
The first class—focusing on children 0-12 years of age—will be on Friday, August 15, from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
For more information and to sign up, contact Aby Fernandez at (805) 248-2179.
While the truth of history is often engaging enough on its own, weaving in a fictional narrative can allow us a chance to revisit our shared past in ways that test our imaginations and celebrate our humanity. This month, Novelties looks at three titles set in World War II, a period which still inspires new material some seven decades later. These stories of struggle, sacrifice, and survival set against the backdrop of a war-torn continent are sure to appeal to fans of historical fiction, especially those with an interest in the German occupation of France during the war.
|Our main title this month is Anthony Doerr’s All the Light We Cannot See. Doerr’s novel follows the lives of two young people—Marie-Laure LeBlanc and Werner Pfennig—growing up as the war brews around them. Marie-Laure is a young blind woman whose father cares for her so much he painstakingly built her tiny models of Paris so she could travel throughout the city by memory. The two are eventually forced to flee together to the walled city of Saint-Malo, which later comes under German occupation. Werner lacks Marie-Laure’s familial support, and would have faced a life of hard labor if not for his intellect and technical aptitude, which lead him to be groomed by a German war machine that warps his character with cruelty and propaganda. The narrative moves forward and back in time to show the ways in which these two lives influence each other before their ultimate intersection in Saint-Malo, where both must face the reality of where fate has inevitably led them. Touching on themes of science and complex morality and of young lives that seem entirely in control of outside forces, All the Light We Cannot See is an intricately-written novel with a pacing that will keep readers engaged up to the very end.|
|Sarah’s Key by Tatiana de Rosnay also deals with a specific real-world event, in this case the rounding up of French Jews in the Vel’ d’Hiv. Sarah is a young girl who is arrested as part of the relocation orchestrated by German authorities and implemented by the French police. She and her family are moved from one location to the next, until she is separated from them and must find a way to survive on her own. We learn of Sarah’s experiences through a parallel story featuring Julia Jarmond, a journalist doing research on the Vel’ d’Hiv Roundup for an American magazine. Julia is struggling in her relationship with her husband, a man with whom she is planning to relocate to Paris, specifically to the apartment that belonged to Sarah and her family. The novel alternates between Julia’s story and Sarah’s, gradually uncovering the grim details of the latter’s persecution and the lengths to which she went to try to protect her younger brother. There is some disagreement on whether the juxtaposition of Julia’s and Sarah’s stories helps or harms the novel, but readers agree that Sarah’s Key is haunting and powerful, and will stay with you for a good long while.|
|Finally, we have Julie Orringer’s The Invisible Bridge, which tells the story of Andras Lévi, a Hungarian Jew who travels to Paris to pursue an education as an architect. The novel details his time there as he finds work in a theater to support himself and develops a complex romantic relationship with another Hungarian immigrant, Klara Hász (currently living under the name Claire Morgenstern). The reader will also hear the stories of Andras’ brothers, Tibor and Matyas, and a host of other close friends and family and see how all of them build their lives and develop into complex characters as war brews around them. Eventually, growing anti-Semitism forces Andras to leave Paris, and Orringer follows him through Budapest and forced-labor camps as he, Klara, and their families struggle to survive amid the chaos. Dark in tone and epic in scope, The Invisible Bridge is a moving love story that pulls no punches when it comes to depicting the horrors faced by those victimized in this terrible conflict and shines a light on a part of the war that isn’t typically in focus.|
All the Light We Cannot See, Sarah’s Key, and The Invisible Bridge are all available to borrow at E.P. Foster Library, with additional copies available at other Ventura County Library branches. If you’re interested in checking out other related titles, head to NoveList Plus through our eLibrary’s Reading Suggestions section. And remember, if the title you want isn’t on the shelf at your local branch, you can always request a copy in person, over the phone, or online through our catalog.
Scribbled by Ronald Martin.
Next week on Tuesday, August 5, Foster Library will be hosting a special storytime featuring guest reader Mayor Cheryl Heitmann!
Mayor Heitmann has always supported Foster Library, and we are excited to have her read with us at this early literacy-based storytime.
The reading begins at 10:30 a.m. on the second floor of the library. We hope to see you there!