Fun at Foster's blog

Holidays in Plasticville

A new holiday tradition appeared in late 1940s post-war America: the traditional cardboard buildings of the nation's earlier train layouts and under-the-holiday-tree displays were gradually replaced by—you guessed it—plastic.

Now Plasticville is called "a small piece of Americana that has become a traditional favorite of collectors world-wide."

What began in 1947 with a simple fence to be used under the tree soon evolved into a collection of small, detailed edifices designed for use with the popular electric trains of the period.

 

Train layout with Lionel train and Plasticville, Harrisburg, PA, circa 1959

 

One key to Plasticville's popularity, aside from its cool retro look, was its "no glue" format and the fact that the various structures were assembled with a "snap-together" construction that also meant they could be taken apart and stored more easily and safely (plus, they were a lot of fun to put together).

In 1952 the Philadelphia-based Bachman Industries patented its "snap" format, and the rest is history. Models ranging from ranch houses to super markets, gas stations, and other 1950s essentials quickly followed. 

Several websites devoted to P-ville collectors and the company's history are available.

I remember that my father's first holiday train layouts used the quaint cardboard buildings that he must have spent many a late night assembling (though I'm sure he also enjoyed that). None of these fragile items have survived, but Plasticville made the trip from Harrisburg, PA, to Ventura and now appears, on a somewhat less grand scale, under a California holiday tree, bringing with it a lot of fond and sometimes poignant memories.

 

Lionel train pile-up in front of the Plasticville service station, Ventura, CA, circa 2008. It's the same train and gas station seen in the previous photo.

 

-RetroRoss

Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow?

With all of our modern conveniences, like smart phones, the internet, and flat screen TVs, it’s easy to forget that there was a time when none of these things even existed. I can remember growing up with typewriters instead of computers, record players instead of CD players, and rotary phones instead of cell phones, but there was a time even beyond that, when such technology wasn’t even yet a dream.

That is the focus of Whatever Happened to the World of Tomorrow? by Brian Fies. It begins in 1939 at the New York World’s Fair, when people believed the future would consist of talking robots, flying cars, and highways leading to great cities of democracy and peace. Seen through the eyes of a father and his young son, it shows the boy’s excitement of a promising future, while showing a father’s trepidation of a future where he may not fit in.

As the book progresses, it marks the scientific progress being made, all the way to the space program and landing on the moon. It also marks the growing reality that the world is not always what was promised, as the world goes from World War II to Vietnam. Father and son are at odds with the world and each other. While the father still clings to old ideas, he seems excited about man’s journey into space. The son, once excited about the future is disappointed with the actual outcome when it doesn’t live up to its potential. They are on divergent paths.

It’s only when they witness the first link-up of an American and Soviet spacecraft, the Apollo-Soyuz, that the boy’s hope is renewed. In the book, he comments on how those spacecraft are like him and his dad, “often arguing, seeing the world in different ways, but sharing a dream…united by bonds deeper and stronger than we knew.” Their opinions about the world may have been vastly different, but in the end their hopes were the same.

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

Ukulele walk

Last weekend E.P. Foster Library brought the music to the streets with our first ever Ukulele walk, the purpose was to promote the availability of ukuleles for check-out from the library and to encourage patrons to take a free monthly ukulele lesson provided by the library.  Anacapa Ukulele provided the talent for the walk.  Brad played bass ukulele, Jason was the lead singer and played the concert ukulele and Cary banged out the drum beats on a wooden box, a dynamite trio indeed, all from Anacapa Ukulele I might add. The trio, aided by a colorfully decorated book cart pushed by yours truly, weaved a serpentine path through Ventura’s historic downtown area.  Super Alan from the library assisted with flyer distribution, and I am now cognizant of the fact that Alan is the king of flyer distribution!

Strumming, singing, and showing off the library’s ukuleles were the tasks of the day and I must say we performed these flawlessly.  I failed to mention the Wine walk was going on at the same time as the Ukulele walk, making for a wonderful blend of uninhibited fun, in a wholesome sort of way of course. Our path took as far as the old Top Hat burger place and when we returned to the library Venus appeared in the southwestern sky, the air got a bit chilly, then the lovely walk came to a close. Next year...

Celebrating traditions

 

 

This time of year we tend to get caught up in holiday parties, programs, shopping, and traffic.  Many of the meanings behind certain traditions have been obscured by time, technology, and, in some cases, commercialism.  At least one thing, though, seems to have crossed centuries and cultures.  Most people celebrate with some form of light.  Christmas lights, menorahs, Yule logs, etc., all serve to remind us of how our ancestors viewed the darkest days of the year.  Druids used to roll a flaming wheel down a hill during the Winter Solstice to remind the sun to return.  Nowadays, we just flip a switch for illumination and keep the dark at bay with electricity.

So, whether you are roasting chestnuts, enjoying a Yule fire, or lighting candles to celebrate the holidays, ponder the possibility that you are carrying on an ancient tradition.

If you would like to learn more, Foster Library has a number of books on various holiday observances.  You can even use some of our databases to find more information about holiday symbols and celebrations.

Resident Photographer Aleta Rodriguez

Book Review tips from Star

A book review is a form of writing use to write about books.  A book report is a made up form of writing, used only in school that teachers ask kids to write. Book reviews can contain just about any type of information related to the book

Tips for writing a book review:
•    Always mention the name of the author and the book title — there's nothing more frustrating than reading a review of a great book but not knowing who wrote it and what the title is!
•    Try to get the main theme of the book, a brief summary, across in the beginning of your review. Your reader should know right away what the book is about.
•    Write one paragraph about the book, maybe the reviewer’s favorite part. Assuming the book was enjoyable to the reviewer, it’s always fun to talk about one’s favorite part and what makes it special.
•    What do you like or dislike about the book. Come right out and say whether you think the book is good or not, or what parts were better than others.
•    Make sure your review has a recommendation about the book and why, not just what the book is about. A good review should express the reviewer's opinion and persuade the reader to share it, to read the book, or to avoid reading it.
•    Do research about the author and incorporate what you learn into the review. Biographical information can help you form your opinion about the book, and gives your review something extra.
Remember, a book is a product of an author's mind. You can use all or some of these hints in writing a book review.

You can also read some books reviews on our home page, vencolibrary.org under staff picks.  Or check out reviews of kid’s books written by kids

Read Go Cart Rush review by Pete C. (age 12).

The E.P. Foster library is offering a Hershey’s candy bar to anyone who reviews a book from our “New Books Shelves.”  The book must be age appropriate (one that your teacher would accept) and only one book a week will be rewarded.  Review sheets can be found in some of the books or at the second floor desk.

See Star Soto or Jane Middleton for more information.

See you at Foster on 12/8!

Two big events on Sunday the 8th at Foster Library!

Sounds of Second Sunday:
The Barrelhouse Wailers from 2-4 p.m.
             Author Talks:
Sue Fries from 5-6 p.m.
                   

Theodosia Burr Shepherd

 

Theodosia Burr Shepherd was born in Keosauqua, Iowa.  She was the daughter of Augustus Hall, a lawyer who later became Chief Justice of Nebraska.  She married W.E. Shepherd on September 9, 1866, and they moved to California for her health in 1873.  In Ventura, Theodosia developed the California flower seed industry, starting in 1874.  She began by swapping seeds through a ladies’ magazine.  After a few years, she expanded her property and began growing flowers for their seeds.   In 1881, she sent a package of seeds to Peter Henderson of New York, one of the nation’s leading nurserymen, who encouraged her to grow seeds and flowers in the Ventura climate. 

She built a business, the Theodosia B. Shepherd Company, which annually issued a retail catalogue and two wholesale lists. She received encouragement and accolades from W. Atlee Burpee, founder of the Burpee seed company, as well as other well know horticulturists.  At one point she was known throughout the United States as the “Flower Wizard of California”.  Theodosia’s hope was that her daughters, and other women, would find an alternative to the drudgery of housework by becoming involved in growing flowers and selling seeds. She wrote and lectured on plant life, her hybridization work, and her success as a pioneering woman in the seed industry.    She was a remarkable woman well ahead of her time.  She died September 6, 1906 in Ventura, California.

Remnants of her gardens can still be seen on the grounds of the E. P. Foster Library, as well as in the parking lot behind the library.  A banana plant and two strawberry trees near the first floor back entrance of the library were once part of Theodosia’s garden.   A Norfolk pine grows between the upper and lower parking lot and there are a few palm trees as well.

 


If you would like to find out more about Ventura’s unique history, Foster Library is a good place to start.

Resident Photographer - Aleta Rodriguez

Wrapping up Foster Con

After months of planning, revising, and more revising, our first ever Foster Con has come to a close. Thanks to the hard work and support of those behind the scenes and in front, our event was, I think, a success. It certainly wasn’t without some hiccups, but it turned out pretty good for a first effort. I’m already thinking of ideas for next year.

Thanks to the Directors Initiative grant, in a matter of months we were able to bring together local vendors, artists, and very special guests to present our own version of a comic con. With donations from the Friends of the Library, Diamond Comic Distributors, and IDW, we handed out over 250 goodie bags to adults and children. The candy sushi was a big hit with the kids and our airbrush tattoo artist, Miss Celeste, treated folks to tattoos resembling our own library card. The photo booth was also popular with kids and parents alike, dressing up in props to have their photos taken.

Our very special guest, Sergio Aragones gave an amazing talk about his work, answering questions, taking photos with guests, and even signing autographs. He gave so generously of his time, and fans young and old listened eagerly as he talked about his many adventures. It was so delightful to see fans meeting him for the first time, just wanting to shake his hand. He spent time with everyone, even the littlest of fans. I’m so very grateful he agreed to take part in our event. I must say, he was a big part of our event’s success.

The art contest didn’t quite go as planned, but the costume contest turned out to be a hit. Thanks to our volunteer, Sami, we got some adults in on the act. They showed up in some great costumes. I really liked Tony Stark and Doctor Who. With the help of our emcee, Amber, and judges, Robert Seaton and Linda Terry, the costume contest was well-received.

Both Ralph’s Comic Corner and Seth’s Games and Anime had vendor tables, selling comics and collectibles. Local comic artist and writer, Andres Salazar, came to promote his graphic novel Pariah, Missouri. He was kind enough to donate a copy to Foster Library, and I plan to review it as soon as it’s ready.

All in all, it was a good first effort. Sure, we may have hit a few snags, but we made it work out. In the end, the kids had a really good time, lots of graphic novels where checked out, and I got to meet a comic legend. Not bad for our first year.

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

Books Awards from the American Library Association

Each January during their winter conference, The American Library Association (ALA) gives out many acknowledgements and awards to books and authors.  Three of those awards are:

The Caldecott Medal:
The Caldecott Medal was named in honor of nineteenth-century English illustrator Randolph Caldecott. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children in the previous year.  The first award was given out in 1938 to Animals of the Bible, a Picture Book illustrated by Dorothy P. Lathrop; text: selected by Helen Dean Fish (Stokes).  The 2013 is This Is Not My Hat, written and illustrated by Jon Klassen (Candlewick Press).

The Newbery Medal:
The Newbery Medal was named for eighteenth-century British bookseller John Newbery. It is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children.

The Newbery Award became the first children's book award in the world. Its terms, as well as its long history, continue to make it the best known and most discussed children's book award in this country. The first award was given out in 1922 to The Story of Mankind by Hendrik Willem van Loon (Liveright) and the 2013 is The One and Only Ivan by Katherine Applegate.

The Michael L. Printz Award:
The Michael L. Printz Award is an award for a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. It is named for a Topeka, Kansas school librarian who was a long-time active member of the Young Adult Library Services Association.  The award is sponsored by Booklist, a publication of the American Library Association.  The award-winning book may be fiction, nonfiction, poetry or an anthology.  The first Printz award was given out in 2000 to Monster, by Walter Dean Myers (Harper-Collins). The 2013 winner is In the Darkness by Nick Lake (Bloomsbury).

E.P. Foster Library will be taking votes from patrons for the 2014 winners.  What books do you feel are worthy to win these awards?  Cast your votes!  Boxes will be available in November and December on the Children’s floor to cast your ballots for these prestigious awards.

Seabirds

As a coastal community, Ventura has an abundance of seabirds.  The most common birds are California Brown Pelicans, ducks, various breeds of seagulls, grebes, and cormorants.  If you spend any time at the beach, though, you may also notice some smaller birds near the shore. 

Sanderlings tend to be the smallest shore bird, are usually found in groups, and generally run back and forth on the beach as the tide ebbs and flows looking for small prey.  You might be entertained by their antics and the “peeps” they make as they skitter back and forth across the sand.  Black Bellied Plovers are a bit larger, a little darker in color, and have a slightly shorter, thicker bill.  In breeding season they have a striking black belly.  The Marbled Godwit is larger still and has a very long bill, suitable for finding food in the wet sand near the waterline.  If you are fascinated by the abundance of waterfowl on our coast, Foster Library can help you identify the different species with a number of books about birds

-Resident Photographer Aleta Rodriguez

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