Font to Film: "The Last Unicorn"

When a book gets made into a movie, reviews are often mixed. You’ll find loyalists who hold tight to their favorite dog-eared copy and theatergoers who swear the film delivered in ways the printed page never could. Regardless of which camp comes out on top, Hollywood continues to look for the next best-seller or hidden gem to bring to the screen.

In these posts we’ll be looking at titles for which the Ventura County Library carries the book, the film, or both. Then we’ll offer a (spoiler free!) look at what people thought of each version when it was released.

The first title we’ll examine is The Last Unicorn, by Peter S. Beagle. Published in 1968, it is sometimes classified as a children’s book due to its subject matter, but many libraries include it in their adult fiction or fantasy collections, where it arguably belongs. The story has a broad appeal, has been widely translated, and is generally held up as an example of great fantasy literature. In it, the titular unicorn leaves the security of her forest to search for others like her when she hears that her kind is all but gone from the world. She gains some companions along the way who both direct the action of the plot and challenge the reader’s idea of what a fantasy novel ought to be. The book has a strong sense of self-awareness to it, and the characters even comment directly on their role in the quest and within the expectations of the genre.

An animated film version of The Last Unicorn was released in 1982, a star-studded affair (Mia Farrow, Alan Arkin, Christopher Lee, Jeff Bridges, and Angela Lansbury are all featured) that presents itself a lot more like a straightforward fantasy story and is often marketed and classified as a children’s movie. The characters make fewer references to the fantasy tropes that surround them, and as a result some of the original story’s meta-commentary is lost. However, despite missing some of what makes the book unique, the movie manages to do a great job of being a compelling—if more conventional—story. It also boasts an impressive soundtrack performed by the folk rock band America!

Both the book and the film are available at E.P. Foster Library, and a graphic novel adaptation that came out in 2011 is also in the Ventura County Library system. If the item you’re after is not available at your local branch, hit the “Request Item” button to have a copy delivered for pickup to the branch of your choosing.

Brought to you by Ronald Martin.

Get fit at Foster!

Please join us for an exciting talk about getting fit in the New Year. This event will be lead by a Wellness Professional who will give practical advice focused on detoxifying your body while increasing your metabolism. The Foundation for Wellness Professionals is a national non-profit that wants to educate the community - no gimmicks here!

The event will take place on January 13th at 6:00 p.m. in the Topping Room at Foster Library.

New Year, New Beginnings



After the New Year’s Eve festivities and the pageantry of New Year’s Day, as we put away the lights of the holiday season, how will we celebrate our new beginning?


Other cultures may open all the doors on New Year’s Eve to let the old year out, have “forget the year” parties, or promise to repay their debts as part of their New Year’s traditions. Many of us may choose to continue long-held family traditions. There is definitely a comfort in hanging on to old rituals as we bring a part of our past with us into the future. Perhaps this is also an opportunity to let our own light shine and to start something new, perhaps trying a new activity or helping those less fortunate.


T. S. Eliot said, “For last year’s words belong to last year’s language and next year’s words await another voice.” What voice will we use for the New Year? Will we repeat the rituals of our past and make resolutions we will never keep, or will we try to become better human beings through small gestures of kindness? What changes will we make to ensure that this year will be better than last year? If you would like to explore different possibilities, Foster Library has resources that will inform, and possibly even inspire, you.


Resident Photographer Aleta Rodriguez

New Year's Eve in Ventura County



So many good things are happening throughout Ventura for the New Year's celebration! We bet the beach will be beautiful New Year's Day, too. The Ventura County Star has a listing of New Year's events throughout the county, titled "A city-by-city guide to New Year's Eve events in Ventura County." This article is available, as are many other newspaper titles, through the Ventura County Library's website! Check out the Ventura County eLibrary to see which newspapers you can view online.

From the eLibrary's main page, simply click on "News."



Then choose one of the listed providers to begin searching. "America's Newspapers" includes full-text articles from the Ventura County Star!



The Ventura County Star's New Year's Eve guide is also available on their website. What are your plans for the holiday? Do you have any special family traditions for New Year's?

Award-winning Photography at Foster



Your Resident Photographer is generally more often seen behind the lens rather than in front of it. There are occasional exceptions and Monday, December 16, was one of those. I had participated in the 2013 City of Ventura Photo Contest and was pleased to be awarded first place in the People’s Choice for the Architecture category. My entry was a photograph of E. P. Foster’s front entrance, i.e., the Matrix, entitled “Cathedral of the Mind.” A version of this photo originally appeared in the March 19, 2013, Fun at Foster blog.



There were a number of wonderful photographs of Ventura by other photographers that were competing for the Judge’s Choice and People’s Choice in six categories, so I felt honored to have my effort rewarded. Winners received certificates presented by Mayor Cheryl Heitman before the City Council meeting on December 16. The winning entries are currently on display in the Bridge Gallery at City Hall.

If you would like to participate in the 2014 contest but aren’t sure if you have the skills to create a winning entry, Foster Library has an excellent collection of photography books available that offer inspiration, techniques, and advice.

Resident Photographer Aleta Rodriguez

Ojai Library Presents: Child Development Classes for Pre-schoolers

Theodora Reyes of Dora's Daycare will conduct two classes at the Ojai Library on Thursdays, January 9 through February 6:

        * 10 to 11am -- Play-based Learning

        * 11 to 12pm -- Preparing for School Through Art

Classes will be conducted in both English and Spanish.

No pre-registration is necessary please drop in to any class.

Ojai Library Presents: Fiction Writing Essentials with Doug Taylor

Doug Taylor, author of Bogota by Bus, hosts an interactive workshop focusing on the elements of a successful novel at Ojai Library on Saturday, January 11, from 2 to 4pm.


Using his own novel as a template, Doug will cover mapping out a novel in advance, character development, creating good dialogue and the differences between action and descriptive narrative.


Computer Help at Foster Library!


Foster library is now offering FREE one-on-one sessions to help answer your computer questions! Sessions last between 15-30 minutes and are tailored to your needs. Fill out the form to set up a time with a staff member. You pick the time and the topic and we show up to assist! Call the library for more information at 648-2716.

Two new online resources with international focus!

We now offer free access to two internationally focused online resources available on our eLibrary page.

==> AtoZ World Travel - a travel resource for travelers with information on more than 200 world cities. AtoZ World Travel includes a language translator, maps, recipes and links to hotels, restaurants, weather and more!

==> World Crunch - global newspapers translated into English and also available in the original language. Experience diverse perspectives on world affairs from North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Africa.

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.



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