Fun at Foster's blog

Ukulele Jam Sessions at Foster!

Come join us at
E.P. Foster Library every second and fourth Monday
for our new
Ukulele Jam Sessions!

All skill levels are welcome to come by the Topping Room and strum, sing, and learn more about this amazing instrument. Don’t own a ukulele? Ask about borrowing one from the library!

The first session will be on Monday, March 10, from 7 to 10 p.m. Stay for as little or as much time as you’d like.
We hope to see you there!

The Bionic Woman, Volume 1: Mission Control

I know I’m dating myself, but when I was a young girl I used to watch The Bionic Woman with Lindsay Wagner. I’m not talking reruns, either, I mean when it originally aired. As a kid growing up in the seventies, Jamie Summers was a role model for me and other young girls. She showed us that we could be strong, independent, and more than just a pretty face.

Now, Jamie Summers is back and re-imagined for a new generation of young women, with the new release of The Bionic Woman, Volume 1: Mission Control. Jamie Summers seems tailor-made for this modern era of computers and cell phones. Along with her bionic arm, legs, and hearing, she also has the ability to change her appearance and access the internet without ever using an actual computer. The first half of the story deals with bionic parts being stolen from their living recipients and the black market that sells them to the wealthy. The second half involves female robot clones being used as soldiers and slaves, their blossoming sentience, and their fight for independence.

While there is some similarity to the Jamie Summers I grew up with, this current incarnation is definitely different. Her relationship with Steve Austin (the Six Million Dollar Man, for those who remember) is over; she has no memory of her previous life, and there are so many people trying to steal her technology that she neither has a real home nor a social life. In spite of that, Jamie is tough and determined. She does get roughed up a lot, but she proves to be a tough contender, and kicks some major butt. She still shows that a woman can be just as strong and capable as a man, and is as much of a role model today as she was when I was a little girl.

 

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

New Veterans Resource Center Opening at Foster Library

Next Friday, E.P. Foster Library will be revealing its new Veterans Resource Center! Join us at 4 p.m. on March 7, 2014, for the grand opening ceremony and light refreshments.

Following the ceremony, the Big Read kickoff event will take place at 5:30 p.m. at the Bell Arts Factory.

Stop by Foster to check out this exciting new community resource!

AND THE WINNERS ARE…

The American Library Association (ALA) announced the top books, video, and audio books for children and young adults—including the Caldecott, Newbery, and Printz awards.

2014 John Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children's literature:

Flora & Ulysses: The Illuminated Adventures,” written by Kate DiCamillo

 

Four Newbery Honor Books also were named: 

Doll Bones,” written by Holly Black  

The Year of Billy Miller,” written by Kevin Henkes 

One Came Home,” written by Amy Timberlake 

Paperboy,” written by Vince Vawter 

2014 Randolph Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children:

Locomotive,” written and illustrated by Brian Floca 

 

Three Caldecott Honor Books also were named: 

Journey,” written and illustrated by Aaron Becker 

Flora and the Flamingo,” written and illustrated by Molly Idle 

Mr. Wuffles!” written and illustrated by David Wiesner 

2014 Michael L. Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults:

Midwinterblood,” written by Marcus Sedgwick

 

Four Printz Honor Books also were named:

Eleanor & Park,” written by Rainbow Rowell 

“Kingdom of Little Wounds,” written by Susann Cokal 

Maggot Moon,” written by Sally Gardner, illustrated by Julian Crouch 

Navigating Early,” written by Clare Vanderpool 

This is just a partial list of award winners, for the complete list go to the American Library Association at www.ala.org.

David's Dish: Bread Pudding

Bread pudding—I’ve been itching to make some for ages. If you have the hankering to make bread pudding, there is one cookbook that I must recommend: Lidia’s Commonsense Italian Cooking: 150 Delicious and Simple Recipes Anyone Can Master, by Lidia Matticchio Bastianich. The cookbook is packed with some of the best recipes for Italian dishes. If I could add just one more Italian cookbook to my personal collection, this would be the one.

Once I saw the pear bread pudding recipe my indecisive mind was made up, pear bread pudding was to be created. I had no trouble rustling up the ingredients, except for the stale bread. We love bread in my household, it rarely gets stale. So, with a late afternoon trip to the supermarket, I secured my stale loaf of bread. Yeah! My plan was to serve the bread pudding on Sunday. It was a rare Saturday night when I wasn’t in demand at some exotic locale, so staying home and making bread pudding seemed to be quite reasonable.

After cracking the eggs, whisking the heavy cream and whatnot, I placed the mixture into a baking dish and slid it into my very dodgy oven. With my oven it is guesswork, if 45 minutes of baking time is called for in the recipe it may take an hour, with lots of sneaking-a-peek through the oven window. The aroma of vanilla, one of the pudding’s ingredients, filled the kitchen—it was lovely. The downside of this lovely aroma was that it attracted my two very hungry nieces. Needless to say, that evening we consumed delicious pear bread pudding topped with whipped cream and a few red raspberries to boot. No bread pudding on Sunday…

*****David’s Dish

 

Check out the book at Foster Library, or put it on hold—we will send it to you!

If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library’s collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Faceboook page and I’ll get cooking.

Novelties: "The Goldfinch," by Donna Tartt

 

When a popular book is first released it can be difficult to get your hands on a copy right away. The request lists for new best-sellers start growing early on, and can lead to weeks of waiting even when your local library has multiple copies to lend. Why not spend those weeks with yet another good book? If you know where to look, you can even find something that will whet your appetite for when that best-seller finds its way to you.

“Novelties” will provide reader’s advisory for those of you who are interested in new and popular fiction and non-fiction. The recommendations found here were obtained by using NoveList Plus, an online reader’s advisory resource that you can access through the Ventura County Library. If you have questions about using NoveList Plus or any of the other resources in our eLibrary, feel free to stop by and ask us about them!

This month we will look at The Goldfinch, the most recent work by Donna Tartt. Currently on top of the New York Times Best Seller List, the novel follows Theo Decker in the aftermath of a tragedy that robs him of his mother and leaves him in possession of a painting that he clings to as a reminder of her. From here Theo is thrust into a bleak reality where he is forced to grow up too quickly and take care of himself when no one else will. The book is about Theo’s struggle for survival, for physical and psychological well-being in a dreary, corrupt world, and about the uplifting and transformative power of art. Though it weighs in at over 700 pages, The Goldfinch is compellingly written; many readers have said they weren’t able to put it down!

Among NoveList’s read-alikes for The Goldfinch is Vanessa Diffenbaugh’s The Language of Flowers. Like Tartt’s novel, this is a coming-of-age story, although in this case the main character is a young woman named Victoria. Like Theo, she has had a difficult childhood, having been abandoned by her parents and raised in a succession of foster homes. But while Theo is forced into the world by a traumatizing loss, Victoria is more a victim of neglect and indifference—she simply ages out of the system having no ties to friends or family. The Language of Flowers is about her gradually building a life for herself while learning to connect with others through shared passions and work toward healthy and lasting relationships.

Another of The Goldfinch’s read-alikes is The Double Bind, by Chris Bohjalian. The novel follows Laurel Estabrook, who is suffering from post-traumatic stress resulting from an attack that occurred several years prior. Rather than focusing on just her case, however, Bohjalian has his protagonist delve into the life of another damaged soul—a mentally ill, alcoholic homeless man whose passing leaves Laurel with a box of photographs that point to a life that wasn’t always so harsh. By investigating this man and his mysterious connection to her past, Laurel works through her own trauma. Like the two novels above, The Double Bind deals heavily with the psychology of individuals who have been damaged in some way, and the difficulties they must face to find out what it means for them to be whole again.

The GoldfinchThe Language of Flowers, and The Double Bind are all available to borrow at E.P. Foster Library. You can access NoveList Plus from our eLibrary’s Reading Suggestions section. If the book you are interested in is not currently on the shelf at your branch, you can always request a copy either in-person, over the phone, or online through our catalog.

Prepared and presented by Ronald Martin.

Moon Shots

 

 

Have you ever taken a picture of the moon only to have it turn out as a big white blob? Did you ever wonder why that happens? I used to ask myself the same question until I found out that when you take pictures of the moon, you need to keep in mind that the moon is the brightest object in the sky.

A long exposure doesn’t capture the detail in the moon because it is then over-exposed. You need to meter for the brightness of the moon so that you don’t end up with an overexposed white blob. While you do need a telephoto or a zoom lens (or a camera with a built-in zoom) to capture detail, you don’t need a telescope or super expensive equipment to get a decent image.

The photographs presented here were shot with a digital single-lens reflex camera (DSLR) and a 70-300mm lens at 300mm mounted on a tripod.

If you want to improve your photography, no matter what the subject, Foster Library has many excellent photography books to help you reach your goal.

 

Resident Photographer Aleta A. Rodriguez

Django Unchained, the Graphic Novel

When you go to see a movie, what was originally in the script doesn’t always end up on the screen. To keep a film within a reasonable viewing time, some cuts need to be made. Do you ever wonder about those missing parts of the story? Do you think it would make a difference to the way the story is told?

Well, in the case of Django Unchained, those missing parts are missing no more. Based on Quentin Tarantino’s original, uncut screenplay, this graphic novel tells the story of a slave who seeks to find his wife and bring vengeance upon those who took her. With the help of a German bounty hunter, Django learns to play a dangerous charade that takes him all the way to the doors of a southern plantation known as Candyland, run by a ruthless and twisted “gentleman” named Calvin Candie.

Django Unchained, the graphic novel, is every bit as violent as the movie it’s based on. It takes place two years before the Civil War, when slavery was in full swing, and slaves were ruled by the cruel hands of their masters. While I did enjoy the graphic novel, be warned: it is violent, and the N-word is used profusely. It is a product of that time (and it is Quentin Tarantino’s story, after all), but the language may be uncomfortable for some. What made it worth reading was Django’s determined search to find his wife, as well as his friendship/partnership with the bounty hunter, Dr. King Schultz. At first, Schultz merely needs Django’s assistance in tracking down a bounty, but the two men form a friendship of sorts as Schultz teaches Django the ways of a bounty hunter. More importantly, he treats him as an equal.

If you’re a fan of the Tarantino film, this book will give you an expanded view of the story, one that is worth reading.

 

-Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

Font to Film: "The Positronic Man" / "Bicentennial Man"

Most people with even a passing interest in science fiction will have heard of Isaac Asimov, a writer responsible for hundreds of books and who created a compellingly intricate fictional universe in which he explores complex cultural issues and delves into the mystery of what it means to be human. He accomplishes the latter primarily through his treatment of robots and artificial intelligence, using synthetic life forms as an effective foil for organic ones. An effective example of this dynamic is The Positronic Man, a 1992 novel co-written by Asimov and Robert Silverberg and based on a 1976 novella by Asimov titled The Bicentennial Man. The 1999 film Bicentennial Man, starring Robin Williams, is based on both of these works, and all three deal heavily with the theme of emergent humanity.

The Positronic Man is Andrew Martin, who begins his existence as a standard model of household robot, designed to perform various service tasks for the family to which he is assigned. However, it quickly becomes apparent to Andrew’s owners that he is something more than a robot of the sort that exists in Asimov’s universe. He displays a spark of creativity and potential for distinctly non-robotic thinking, traits which excite some of the humans around him and deeply trouble others. As the novel progresses, Andrew himself gains an understanding of his unique nature—and along with it a motivation to forge his own destiny free of the restrictions, both social and technological, which govern his fellow machines. His adoption of the name Andrew (derived from his serial number, NDR-113) ends up having been the first of many increasingly significant steps he takes along the continuum linking robot and human.

The novel presents Andrew’s situation, with all of its paradoxes and intricacies, in a precise and almost technical manner. As a result, it reads almost like an essay on the definition of humanity, with various characters arguing whether or not a machine can truly be said to be alive. Every stumbling block Andrew encounters, from attempting to gain legal recognition of his freedom to wearing clothes for the first time, addresses a small piece of the puzzle that is sentience. Many readers have felt that this leaves the novel feeling coldly clinical in its approach, lacking an emotional punch that one would think would be central to a work dealing with our shared humanity.

Enter Robin Williams, who plays Andrew in Bicentennial Man. The movie addresses the same issues as the book, but the approach is substantially different. While many of the climactic conflicts in the book take place in courtrooms, those in the movie are at weddings and in deathbed conversations. The emotional elements are pushed to the foreground, arguably at the expense of some of the more complex philosophical issues. The performances of the film’s actors, particularly Sam Neill and Oliver Platt, give a somewhat different answer to the question of what makes us human than was found in the book. Unfortunately, many moviegoers found that the film went too far in this direction; Bicentennial Man had a somewhat cool reception, and is generally regarded as having failed to meet the potential of its source material. Nonetheless, it is a heartwarming story in its own right, and worth viewing if for no other reason than to contrast it with Asimov’s version.

The Positronic Man is available to borrow at E.P. Foster Library, as is Bicentennial Man. Please note that both of the previous links will connect you to our new catalog, which has many exciting new search features that can help you find whatever materials you are looking for. If you would like assistance with navigating the new catalog, feel free to call or stop by the library, and remember that you can still access the classic catalog and use it to search the Ventura County Library’s holdings.

 

Carefully assembled by Ronald Martin.

Know Your Pets, and How to Care for Them

Americans spend over sixty billion dollars annually on their pets. The average household spends about $500 a year on pets that range from cats, dogs, and rabbits to exotic birds and reptiles.

With all the time, money, and love we lavish on our pets, it’s important to know how to care for them. Foster Library has many books on cats, dogs, and pets in general to assist you in choosing the best pets for your family and to help you learn how to care for them after you bring them into your home.

Resident Photographer Aleta A. Rodriguez

Syndicate content