Wednesday, June 30, 2010

What We're Reading: Jan

50 Great Myths of Popular Psychology: Shattering Widespread Misconceptions about Human Behavior by Scott O. Lilienfeld, Steven Jay Lynn, John Ruscio and Barry L. Beyerstein

We’ve all heard the popular axioms: “opposites attract”, “there’s safety in numbers”, and “stress is the primary cause of ulcers” and have accepted them as fact. Surprisingly, these “myths” and many others have been debunked in this critique by four psychology professors using scientific studies and statistics. It turns out that, in general, mates are chosen based on similar values and personalities, groups of people don’t help in emergencies because they feel less responsible in a group than individually, and that stress is primarily caused by a bacterial infection. The authors discuss 50 ideas in depth and more than 200 others briefly and cover areas of psychology relating to law, memory, emotion, personality, mental illness and more. It’s a fascinating read as many of the ideas have been held as truth for years and are refuted - they fall one-by-one by the power of science. As the authors quote in the beginning of the book : “Science must begin with myths and with the criticism of myths.” (Sir Karl Popper , 1957)

Sterling Heights Public Library Star Wars Day, June 19, 2010

Our third annual Star Wars Day on June 19 was a huge success, drawing around 800 happy visitors who posed for photos with characters (members of the 501st and Rebel Legions); shot stormtroopers and Ewok targets at Nerf blaster ranges; and made Star Wars crafts. Displays of costume props and vintage Star Wars toys drew lots of interest as well.

A pair of stormtroopers struck an action pose
for a young visitor.

Big and little Vaders were attended by an Imperial Officer.

R2 had a starstruck fan.

Han Solo seemed to have shrunk in this photo with his friend, Chewbacca.

Big and little guys liked the stormtroopers.

An Admiral Ackbar paper bag puppet shouted, "It's a trap!"

A gallant stormtrooper volunteered for live blaster range duty.

Jedi Padawans posed with their lightsabers.

Vintage Star Wars toys in the display case drew fans of all ages.

A new generation was still captivated by the Star Wars story.

The Youth Services desk had a new librarian for the day,
a Tusken Raider visiting from Tatooine.

Chewbacca found a book he liked with the help
of a friendly children's librarian.

Darth Vader read a helpful library book,
while his Imperial Officer looked on.

Keep watching the library's web page for details on special pictures to appear on the official Star Wars website, and to download digitally altered lightsaber effect group photos!

Friday, June 25, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Altar of Eden
by James Rollins
After a severe storm, Louisiana veterinarian, Lorna Polk, is asked to help identify a strange cargo. A ship washed up by the storm contains a pair of conjoined monkeys, a featherless parrot, a snake with leg stubs, and a jaguar cub with saber-tiger like teeth. How did the animals end up on this ship? Are the animals the result of birth defects or genetic manipulation? To solve this mystery Lorna is forced to work with Border Patrol Agent, Jack Menard. They share a dark secret from the past. Meanwhile back in the swamp a huge saber-tiger and her cub try to feed on a group of local boy scouts. Will Lorna and Jack be able to save them? Then Lorna is kidnapped by the men shipping the animals and taken to the tropical island of Eden. Jack mounts an unsanctioned rescue. On the island they learn the secret of the strange animals. They battle for their own survival and for the fantastic results of the genetic experiments!

What We're Reading: Edward

Atlantis Code

by Charles Brokaw

While you are waiting for the next book by Dan Brown, try this first novel by Brokaw. Thomas Lourds is an expert in ancient languages. Sent to appear on a television program from Africa, his skills are tested by an ancient bell. He is unable to read the writing on the bell. Before he is able to research further; the bell is stolen and several people are killed. The ancient writing on the bell leads him to a Russian colleague, who has another artifact with the same language. More people are killed in Russia. Lourds is now on the trail of four artifacts that may be related to Atlantis. At the same time there is an archaeological dig taking place in Spain. Could this be the location of the lost continent of Atlantis? The dig is being run by a Catholic priest with funding from a secret group inside the Vatican. Was Atlantis the original Garden of Eden? Will Lourds be able to solve this mystery?

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What We're Reading: Brenda

Sylvia Jean, Drama Queen and The Gingerbread Girl by Lisa Campbell Ernst

I really enjoyed both of these titles by Lisa Campbell Ernst. The stories themselves are cute and the main characters are lovable and spunky. The illustrations are done in pastels and are warm and colorful. I will definitely be checking out other titles by this author!

In Sylvia Jean, Drama Queen young Sylvia the pig has a costume for every occasion. When she goes to the dentist she dresses up as a superhero because "they're brave and have sparkly smiles" and when working with her mother in the garden she is a bee. People in town are so used to Sylvia's outfits that when a costume party with a prize for the best costume is announced everyone expects Sylvia to win. Sylvia announces that it will be her "best costume ever ... you'll never recognize me." However, as the day of the party comes closer Sylvia can't come up with an idea - what will she do! The ending of this book is sweet and will be a gentle reminder that the best way to stand out in a crowd is to just be yourself!

The Gingerbread Girl is a modern retelling of the original classic featuring a girl instead of a boy! Although at one point it seems like the Gingerbread Girl will meet the same fate as her brother she is one smart cookie and is able to outsmart the fox who ate her brother. Little girls will like her take-charge attitude and will enjoy having a strong female character to emulate. I enjoyed the clever rhymes used throughout this story and overall loved this book with one exception; toward the end of the book the author uses the words "dumber" and "airhead" in comments the fox is making about the Gingerbread Girl. Neither is necessary and when reading the book to my daughter I skip over these sentences - she doesn't even notice!

Monday, June 21, 2010

What We're Reading: Mary

by Jossie Bloss

This young adult novel delves into many current issues teens are facing.
In it, the main character Tess, is dealing with her parents' separation; a move to a new city and school; along with underlying low self-esteem.
How could she not have low self-esteem, when her perfectionist father could only see every little flaw in her nearly perfect performances? He threatened to make her quit the swim team after getting one "B" on an otherwise all "A"report card.
How natural it then felt, to fall head over heals for a guy in love with another girl, who would never see her as "good enough." He says she's only (good enough to be) a friend to him, which he constantly reinforces by calling her "dude," even while lying on his bed kissing her. His "real" girlfriend, however burdensome, would always come first.
A very interesting twist develops at the end of the story, when Tess has a heart to heart talk with the "real" girlfriend, and hears the other side of the story.
This is an excellent, and compelling read for both male and female teens.

What We're Reading: Rita

Medium Raw: A Bloody Valentine to the World of Food and the People Who Cook by Anthony Bourdain
Touted as the follow-up to Kitchen Confidential, Medium Raw does indeed update readers on what Bourdain has been up to in the ten years since the publication of his mega-bestseller. And he’s been busy - divorce, remarriage, fatherhood, a departure from professional kitchens, and a new career as a writer and television star. Bourdain is still delightfully snarky as he skewers, with his usual profanity, the Food Network, Alice Waters, Sandra Lee, Alain Ducasse, Alan Richman, fast food in general and McDonald’s in particular, and the American beef industry, among others.

But – what’s this? – a delightful essay about the joys and worries of parenting his young daughter. Why, it could almost be described as “sweet”. And – can it be? – he actually has kind words for former targets Emeril Lagasse and Rachael Ray. Bourdain readily admits that the fame he acquired after the publication of Kitchen Confidential changed his life, and acknowledges his good fortune in both his personal and professional life. It hasn’t all been rosy, however, and he’s equally frank about the other side of his celebrity.

If you object to vulgarity and profanity, then this definitely isn’t the book for you. But if you’re a Bourdain fan, you know what to expect, and you’ll enjoy this latest offering.

What We're Reading: Tracy

The Octonauts & the Only Lonely Monster, by Meomi.

The Octonauts have been aptly described by their creators, the design team Meomi, as "Hello Kitty meets Star Trek under the sea." The almost painfully cute characters, tiny anthropomorphized animals, explore the ocean in their fish-shaped submersible from their base, the Octopod. In this, the first of their four published adventures, the Octonauts meet a sea monster who is, as the title states, lonely. Can they help him find some friends? To find out, put on your swim fins and join the Octonauts on their journey.

Thursday, June 17, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Devil's Punchbowl
by Greg Iles
Penn Cage is the mayor of Natchez, Mississippi. He returned to his hometown after being a defense attorney, a prosecuting attorney and a successful novelist. Penn, a widower, returned to Natchez to make it the kind of place to raise his daughter. Penn is contacted by his oldest and best friend. He tells Penn that some disturbing things are happening in Natchez. When Penn is late for a midnight meeting at the local cemetery, his friend is found tortured and murdered. Soon others are missing or found dead. What terrible secrets are being hidden from Penn? His life and the lives of his family are on the line. Will Penn find the courage to stand up and destroy the evil that has invaded his hometown?
Penn Cage Series
2009 Devil's Punchbowl
2005 Turning Angel
1999 Quiet Game

What We're Reading: Edward

by Douglas Preston
What looks like a meteor streaks the East coast and lands off the coast of Maine. Meanwhile on the other side of the Earth, rare yellow diamonds are found. But these diamonds are deadly radioactive. Wyman Ford, ex-CIA agent, is sent to confirm the existence of the yellow diamond mine. Ford nearly loses his life freeing the enslaved local tribes who are working the mine. Ford knows that he has been sent on a wild goose chase, since the mine had to be visible to reconnaissance satellites. Ford follows another lead to the National Jet Propulsion Lab. There he finds a convenient suicide that may have been a murder. A stolen top secret computer hard drive gives Ford more clues. He then visits the site of the meteor crash and gets help from an unlikely source. Now he has the information that he needs to save the Earth from destruction!
Great beach read!

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

What We're Reading: Judy

Super: a novel

by Jim Lehrer

Murder on the Orient Express is a classic movie from 1974 based on the novel of the same name by Agatha Christie. In Super, Lehrer takes the facts of a real train trip and embellishes them into a short novel. The Santa Fe railroad's Super Chief is a luxurious express train that gets its passengers from Chicago to Los Angeles in 39 hours. It was "The Train of the Stars" in the 1930s and 1940s. But in 1956 the train suffers from competition from the airplane and has few passengers. But death can visit the train as it speeds its was West. Is that Clark Gable boarding the train? The Super Chief makes a special stop in Kansas City to pick up former President Truman. In the middle of the night a gun shot is heard? The next morning a passenger is found dead. Was it suicide or a murder? Truman is accosted by a man hiding on the train. Every passenger has their own story and reasons for riding the Super. Just like the Agatha Christie original, you will never believe what can happen on a train!

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

What We're Reading: Tracy

Windows on Nature: the Great Habitat Dioramas of the American Museum of Natural History, by Stephen Christopher Quinn.

The American Museum of Natural History in New York City houses some of the most beautiful animal dioramas ever constructed. This format, which attempts to replicate a scene from nature to give the viewer a sense of "being there", was once the standard in museum displays. It has since fallen out of favor with many new museum professionals, who consider it too static and dated, and it has been replaced in many institutions with flashy new exhibits featuring recorded sounds, animatronic models, and interactive devices like buttons to push.

The loss of these great exhibits, some of which were constructed at a cost that included the lives of the explorers, hunters, and taxidermists who collected the material, is tragic. (Carl Akeley, for whom the African Hall at the AMNH is named, survived severe mauling by a leopard and trampling by an elephant, only to finally perish from a fever on his final expedition.)

This beautiful book by the AMNH's Senior Project Manager, Stephen C. Quinn, preserves these important dioramas, along with the thrilling accounts of their construction and fascinating backstage details. Highly recommended for museum and natural science lovers.

What We're Reading: Tracy

Still Life: Adventures in Taxidermy, by Melissa Milgrom.

Taxidermy tends to make most people think nervously of Norman Bates, the psychotic hobbyist of Alfred Hitchcock's famous film. But the art form has regained much of its historical respectability and popularity of late, as described in Melissa Milgrom's new book.

Milgrom traces taxidermy's history from its faddish Victorian popularity (Mr. Potter's Museum of Curiosities) through its primary role in the creation of America's great natural history museums, which lent it scientific credibility, to its decline in recent times, when it was viewed as the backwoods pastime of "redneck" deer hunters.

In the past few years, taxidermy has become trendy again, thanks in large part to the avant-garde art of Damien Hirst, and antique specimens have become highly sought by celebrity collectors, high-end specialty shops, and select restaurants.

Milgrom's journey into this strange world takes her from the isolated workshop of a Canadian craftsman to the high-tech taxidermy lab of the Smithsonian Institution, with fascinating stops at the studio of Damien Hirst's preparator and the auction of a world-renowned Victorian collection of taxidermy and animal freaks, housed in the famous Jamaica Inn.

Overall, it's an interesting and often humorous exploration of a little-known field, and should appeal to the curious reader of sciences, art, and history. (And it's unillustrated, so no worries there for the squeamish.)

Monday, June 14, 2010

What We're Listening To: Abby

The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks by Rebecca Skloot. Random House Audiobooks, 2010. Unabridged on 10 discs, 12.5 hrs. Audiobook performed by Cassandra Campbell & Bahni Turpin.

HeLa cells were the first cells scientists were able to keep alive in petri dishes in the lab. More importantly they thrived and reproduced at unimaginable rates and became the "first immortal human cells ever grown in a laboratory." HeLa cells have been used to study the polio vaccine, chemotherapy drugs, Aids medicines and spawned what is now a huge multi-billion dollar biomedical industry. But where did they come from? Rebecca Skloot spent many years researching the human story as well as the clinical story of the HeLa cells.

The human story is the story of Henrietta Lacks, a poor black mother of five with a virulent form of cervical cancer who's surgeon removed some of her cancer cells, without her knowledge, shortly before her death in 1951. It is the story of segregated Baltimore in the 1950's and segregated Johns Hopkins Hospital as well. It is a time when patients were told very little about their diseases and left to suffer through what were the accepted treatments for the time but now seem horrific and cruel. It is the story of Henrietta's children and what became of them after their mother's death and how they came to learn that their mother's cells were living and reproducing in labs all around the world. (This information was both exciting and terrifying to them.)

Though many have benefited both professionally and monetarily from the HeLa cells none of that ever trickled down to Henrietta's family. Henrietta is buried in an unmarked grave on the family tobacco farm in Virginia and her daughter Deborah, who never knew her mother, was saddled with the burden of trying to uncover and understand what her mother's cells were being used for.
In most cases scientists never know the person their specimens come from but that is the beauty of this book. This books brings humanity to the story of the miraculous HeLa cells.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

101 Optimal Life Foods

by David Grotto

This book is a follow up to Grotto's 101 Foods That Could Save Your Life. The first book listed the foods alphabetically and gave suggestions for their use. In this book, Grotto has reversed the content by listing medical conditions first and then telling which foods may help the condition. This makes it a lot easier for the reader to find out which foods would be useful for their situation. Sample diets are also given for the user. This revision is easy to use. It is a must read for everyone seeking a natural way to feel and look better.

What We're Reading: Edward

Pirate Latitudes: a novel

by Michael Crichton

Michael Crichton is most widely known for his cutting edge science novels like Jurassic Park (DNA) and Prey (nanotechnology). Pirate Latitudes is a historical novel of Jamaica. It is 1665, Jamaica is an English island surrounded by the Spanish New World. While England and Spain are at peace, the local governor is always willing to line his pockets with Spanish gold. Captain Hunter is a privateer. He has just heard that there is a ship anchored below the Spanish fortress on the island of Mantanceros. Is it a Spanish treasure ship that missed the yearly fleet to Spain? The fortress is impregnable from the sea. A land attack on the fortress means that the pirates will have to climb a mountain. The pirates will be outnumbered but will the element of surprise be enough to capture the ship? Captain Hunter gathers a crew and sets sail for Mantanceros. Will the pirates be able to capture the treasure ship? Will they make it back to Jamaica to spend their booty? Great beach read!

Steven Spielberg has signed on to produce the movie version.

What We're Reading: Edward

Once a Spy
by Keith Thomson
Charlie Clark visits his father every Christmas. Drummond Clark is suffering from the beginning stages of Alzheimer's. But this Christmas is different. Charlie gets a call that his father is at a senior citizens center. He was found wandering the streets dressed in only his pajamas and a robe. While taking his father home, they are involved in a gun fight. Drummond shows some surprising moves that saves them. While they are at the police station to report the gun fight, Charlie sees a fax from the FBI. It states that the pair are wanted for questioning. They escape the police station and go home. Turning up the heat causes an explosion. But Drummond again saves the day. Charlie learns that his father's job at the washing machine company was really a front for the CIA. Is Drummond being watched by the CIA or it's enemies? Charlie and Drummond drive to Virginia to look for Charlie's mother. Charlie believes that she died when he was 10. It turns out that she was also in the CIA and met Drummond while they were together on an assignment. Drummond has lucid periods when he is preventing Charlie's death. After another gun fight, the pair returns to New York to trap their pursuers. But will they fall into a trap set for them? Charlie and his father sure do have a Christmas to remember! This is a great beach read!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

New service available from Youth Services

The Youth Services Department now has pathfinders available on line! A pathfinder is a list of materials available in the Youth Services Department regarding a specific subject. For example, if you are a parent searching for materials to assist with potty training, we have a pathfinder for that. If you are an elementary school student and need to read a historical fiction book take a look at a pathfinder for suggestions. If you are a college student enrolled in a children's literature class, and need to find multicultural picture books, there is a pathfinder to assist you. If you are a teacher and need to find materials to help with a lesson about ecology there is a pathfinder available.
Simply go the children's page of the Sterling Heights Public Library and click on the link to the pathfinders. Once you find the subject you are looking for, open it, click on a title and it will take you directly to the library card catalog to see if the item is checked in. Pathfinders are in PDF format so they may also be printed out. Please feel free to direct any questions regarding pathfinders to a librarian at the Youth Services Information desk. We will be happy to assist you!

Friday, June 4, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Too Many Murders: a Carmine Delmonico Novel

by Colleen McCullough

The small college town of Holloman, Connecticut has twelve residents killed on one day in the spring of 1967. The victims include both: black and white, young and old, rich and poor. Carmine Delmonico, was a Lieutenant in the previous novel, On,Off. Now a Captain, he is put in charge of all the murder investigations. All twelve of the victims were killed in a different manner. Are the murders linked? The timing of the murders points to more than one killer. Is there a criminal mastermind at work? The FBI is in town looking for a Soviet spy at the local defense contractor. Is there a Red spy ring in Holloman? Carmine searches for the murderer but the spy may be the key to the solution of the crime wave. Carmine's family is threatened as he searches for the murderer. Will Carmine and his detectives be able to solve all twelve murders without the benefit of a modern crime lab?

What We're Reading: Edward

Barbary Pirates: an Ethan Gage Adventure

by William Dietrich

Ethan Gage is an American adventurer in the mold of Indiana Jones. In this his fourth adventure, he is on the trail of another ancient relic. Napoleon has another job for him and his fellow scientists/inventors/philosophers colleagues. Barbary pirates are spreading terror in the Mediterranean. They have joined forces with the mysterious Eastern Rite to find the lost "Mirror of Archimedes." The mirror and its death ray will tip the balance of power in the Mediterranean. Both sides are pressuring Ethan to find the prize for them. Ethan gets little support from the American Navy sent to subdue the pirates. Ethan and his colleagues are able to follow the ancient trail to the mirror. But will he be able to prevent its use against the American Navy?

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Checklist Manifesto: how to get things right

by Atul Gawande

The B-17, Flying Fortress, was so complex a plane that experienced pilots kept crashing the plane. Pilots were able to make the B-17 successful by creating a checklist of things that needed to be done to fly the plane properly. Checklists are a tool used to make sure that the right things are done at the right time. Checklists have spread as the world has become more complex. Gawande, a surgeon, shows how checklists have improved surgery and health care in general. They are powerful tools. Have you used a checklist to accomplish a difficult task?

What We're Reading: Cathy

The Black Cat by Martha Grimes

Someone is killing off young women employed by escort services. Shooting them at close range and leaving them lying in their Manolo Blahniks and Yves St. Laurent. The first one happens outside of London at a pub, the others within the city. It turns out that the first victim has been leading a double life - she's actually a librarian! The only witness is the pub's black cat Morris and he's been kidnapped and an impostor put in his place. Why? Superintendent Richard Jury tries to find the link between these 3 murders. He gets help from two other detectives plus, of course, Detective Sergeant Wiggins and his friend Melrose Plant.