Saturday, July 31, 2010

Abraham and Mary Lincoln: A House Divided. Directed by David Grubin. 3 DVD Set.

This PBS American Experience documentary explores President Abraham and Mary Lincoln’s relationship – their dissimilar backgrounds of farmer’s son and wealthy Southern belle, their political ambition, the family tragedies including the death of two sons and their distinctive personalities. Their love for each other through it all is evident as well.

What is fascinating about the DVDs is that the personal
lives of the Lincolns are framed by the Civil War and the stressful and difficult decisions the president had to make, almost daily, about politics, war strategy, and the lives of all Americans. The battles and generals of the war are covered as are the social issues of the time. There is a sadness that comes from realizing that the president took his first oath of office in March 1861, the Civil war started in April 1861 and that he was assassinated in April 1865 – the same month that the Civil War “ended” with Robert E. Lee’s surrender. He really had no peace from the stress of the conflict – or from personal loss that had a profound effect on both him and Mary. The 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War is in 2011. This title would be a fitting introduction to understanding the Lincolns and the war or, for those who are buffs, a deeper look into our history.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Shark Week on the Discovery Channel

It's almost August, which means it's almost time for Shark Week on the Discovery Channel! This perennially popular event has been running each summer since 1987. This year's programming begins Sunday, August 1 at 9:00 PM. There are six new specials airing, including another installment of "Air Jaws." To see the full schedule, check out the official website, where you can also find news and articles, online games, quizzes, and video clips.
To learn more about sharks, browse the j597.3 section in Youth Services, where you'll find lots of great books.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

What We're Reading: Abby

1,000 Places to See Before You Die & 1,000 Places to See in the USA and Canada Before you Die by Patricia Schultz

If you still haven't decided where to go on your summer vacation this year (or you just like to dream!) here are a couple of books that could help. If you are thinking more of a "staycation" there is a section of the book dealing with USA and Canada on the Midwest that includes Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Ohio and Wisconsin. All locales within easy driving distance. From the historic, to natural beauty as well as places to eat, music festivals and sport venues this book covers an amazing array of places to visit. Some of the selections in Michigan that are detailed include: Isle Royale National Park, The Leelanau Peninsula, Mackinac Island, Saugatuck and the Soo Locks.
Now if we dare to dream a little bigger, the first book is on a global scale. Even if we may never get to any of these places it is wonderful to read about them. From the Hermitage in St. Petersburg, Russia to the Covered Bazaar in Istanbul, Turkey then on to the Peruvian Amazon then to Old Kyoto in Japan. The names, history and imagery are detailed with each entry.
I love the quote the author includes at the beginning of the book:
Life is not measured by the number of breaths we take but by the
places and moments that take our breath away - Anonymous

What We're Reading: Brenda

Cecil's Garden by Holly Keller and Jody's Beans by Malachy Doyle with Illustrations by Judith Allibone

Cecil's Garden is the story of Cecil the rabbit and his brother Jake and sister Posey. They want to plant a garden but there is only room for five rows of vegetables and they have six packets of seeds. Nobody can decide what to do and after spending the morning arguing it is too hot to do anything. Cecil decides to visit some friends and after witnessing their disagreements decides that "all this quarreling seems to me to be a foolish waste of time". He knows what he has to do to solve the garden problem and comes up with a simple solution that will please everyone and get the garden planted! This story has a wonderful message about working together and the power of compromise to get things done. The illustrations are simple but bright and sunny and complement the story nicely.

Jody's Beans tells the story of a little girl named Jody who plants runner beans with her Granda one summer. When Granda comes to visit in the spring he brings a packet of runner beans which he shows Jody how to plant and care for. All season long Granda calls and visits getting reports on how the beans are doing from Jody and giving additional advice and instructions. Whenever Jody asks what they will look like or how big they will get Granda's answer is "Wait and See". This allows Jody to make her own discoveries about the beans and by the end of the story she is telling Granda to "Wait and See"! This is a very sweet story about the cycle of life and a grandfather passing down his love of gardening to his grandchild. The growing process is cleary explained and the book even contains an index of the different steps at the end of the book. This is a wonderful book that will hopefully instill an interest in gardening in young readers and may even get them to eat their beans!

Monday, July 26, 2010

What We're Reading: Rita

The growing season is off to a robust start and Michigan farmers' markets are filled with an incredible selection of fruits and vegetables. If you haven't been to the granddaddy of them all - Detroit's Eastern Market - recently, you're likely to be pleasantly surprised. The market is undergoing a massive renovation; two of the large sheds have been completely redone, and construction is set to begin on the remaining buildings. Check out Eastern Market at . Of course, there are many other markets in our part of the state and a recent Detroit News article included a list arranged by county

But what to do with everything in your market bag once you get home? Emeril Lagasse has created another pretty but practical cookbook, this one focusing on local ingredients. Farm to Fork: Cooking Local, Cooking Fresh contains easy-to-follow recipes for everything you can find at your local market, incuding dairy, eggs, poultry, and meat, as well as fruits and vegetables. Turn your farm fresh ingredients into fabulous dishes like Cheesy Creole Tomato Pie, Sweet Potato Ravioli with Sage Brown Butter, Honey-Brined Pork Chops with Nectarine Chutney, and Watermelon Rind Sweet Pickles, then finish off your meal with Rhubard Strawberry Crisp or Apricot Clafouti.

There are many other cookbooks that can help you find your inner locavore - check out these titles, too.

641.5 J Detroit's Eastern Market: A Farmers Market Shopping & Cooking Guide by Lois Johnson

641.5 P EatingWell in Season: The Farmers' Market Cookbook by Jessie Price

641.5973 B Cooking From the Farmers' Market by Georgeanne Brennan

641.5973 N Local Flavors: Cooking & Eating From America's Farmers' Markets by Deborah Madison

For a live demonstration of cooking with fruits and vegetables, be sure to attend the Whole Plant Food Preparation program at the library on Thursday, July 29, at 7:00.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

What We're Reading: Tracy

Buy, Keep or Sell? The Insider's Guide to Identifying Trash, Treasure, or Tomorrow's Antiques, by Judith Miller.

If you're a garage sale addict, or if you live with one and are consequently thinking of having your own sale to thin out his or her "treasures," this book is for you. Compiled by Judith Miller, co-founder of Miller's Antiques Price Guide, it covers everything from cookie jars to snowglobes. Concise histories preface the practical "buy, keep, or sell" tips, and lots of full-color photographs accompany every entry. Collectors of all sorts are sure to find old favorites as well as new pursuits in the pages of this great guide.

What We're Reading: Edward

Routes of Man: how roads are changing the world and the way we live today

by Ted Conover

The Roman Empire had 53,000 miles of road.
China hopes to have 53,000 miles of highway by 2020.

In 2002 China had 2.6% of the world's automobiles but had 21% of the world's fatal automobile accidents.

Like many agents of change, roads can have both positive and negative consequences. Paved roads allowed the Roman Empire to extend it's power to the ends of the known world. But the roads of the Aztec Empire allowed Cortes to quickly capture their capital. History is filled with mentions of roads: the Cherokee "Trail of Tears", the Oregon Trail, the Ho Chi Minh Trail. Roads can also entertain us: Broadway, the Strip of Las Vegas, Atlantic City's Boardwalk. Conover uses six road trips to explore all that we know about roads. The beginnings of a transcontinental road in South America, allows both ecotourists to visit the rain forest and the illegal cutting of mahogany trees. In Africa, Conover travels with truckers who get goods from the coastal cities to the people of the interior. Did these same truck drivers help to spread AIDS? On the West Bank, he sees how roads are used by both Palestinians and Israelis. Conover travels a frozen river that serves as a road in wintertime Northern India. His road trip with a Chinese car club exposes the frightening cost of road travel in China. Lagos, Nigeria is his last road trip. Conover experiences the tumult of a road system in the developing world's megacities. How will toady's roads help to determine the future of our civilization and the planet?
Good read for the armchair traveller.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

What We're Reading: Laurie

Requiem For A Paper Bag: celebrities & civilians tell stories of the best lost, tossed & found items from around the world by Davy Rothbart.

Davy Rothbart
, founder and creator of Found Magazine, believes one person's trash is another person's treasure. He is a collector of items that may seem meaningless to the naked eye, but once he delves further, he is able to attach stories to the "trash" and imagine what kind of life the previous owner may have lived. Rothbart breathes life into discarded items, whether they be old photographs, a grocery list or a nasty note left on the windshield of a car. He encourages people to open their imaginations to "found" items. This title is an anthology of short stories written about such things. Some hilarious, some sad, all of the stories are treasures which came to life with a sprinkle of creativity and a need to answer questions such as who? what? when? where? and why? Check out the Found Magazine web site at for the find of the day.

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

What We're Reading: Alice

Ice Cold: A Rizzoli & Isles Novel by Tess Gerritsen

While in Wyoming for a pathologists' conference Maura Isles agrees to join some friends on a last minute ski trip. When their vehicle breaks down, they're stranded in the eerily named Kingdom Come, a small community whose residents seem to have vanished. Then Maura vanishes.

Investigating Kingdom Come, homicide detective and Maura's close friend Jane Rizzoli uncovers dark secrets that may explain Maura's disappearance.

This is the eighth novel in the series after Keepsake, Mephisto Club, Vanish, Body Double, Sinner, Apprentice and The Surgeon.

TNT has launched a new TV series premiering in July, Rizzoli & Isles, based on Tess Gerritsen's series of books.

Check it out!

What We're Reading: Edward

Bolt from the Blue: a Leonardo da Vinci Mystery

by Diane Stuckart

The Duke of Milan employs Leonardo da Vinci as his court engineer. With war in the near future, Leonardo is going to manufacture his latest invention, a human-powered flying machine. He has hired a wood craftsman from a neighboring town to build his machine. The craftsman is the father of Leonardo's apprentice, Dino. Readers of this series, know that Dino is really Delfina. Delfina is masquerading as a boy to be able to follow her passion for painting. Dino's father disappears. At the same time the unfinished flying machine is stolen and another apprentice is murdered. Dino and his fellow apprentice follow the trail of the machine. Has friend or foe stolen the machine? Dino leads the apprentices in a rescue of his father and the flying machine. Where is the Master while all this is happening? Will Dino need to be rescued? Will the Master learn his secret? Nice light mystery.

What We're Watching: Tracy

A Hot Dog Program: An All-American Celebration of Some Fabulous and Phenomenally Popular Little Sausages in Their Soft Little Buns, narrated by Rick Sebak.

July is National Hot Dog Month, so it's the perfect time to watch this fun PBS documentary all about hot dogs in America. The 60 minute tour takes viewers coast to coast in pursuit of great dogs, from New York to L.A. You'll see a hot dog shop shaped like a giant sausage in California, reindeer hot dogs in Alaska, red varieties in Georgia, and a deep fried variation in New Jersey. So throw some dogs on the grill, get the mustard out, kick back, and enjoy A Hot Dog Program!

National Recreation and Parks Month

July is National Recreation and Parks Month. If you haven't visited a local park yet this summer, there's still time!

Check out your hometown parks with the city website's handy Sterling Heights Park Guide.

For fun further afield, try the Macomb County Metroparks, which offer a variety of experiences from the lake shore at Metro Beach to the farm at Wolcott Mill.

Even more adventuresome outdoor opportunities can be found at the State of Michigan's Nature and Park listings. Visit a waterfall, sand dunes, even a national forest, and enjoy the beauty of our great state this summer!

Friday, July 16, 2010

What We're Reading: Cathy

A Murderous Procession by Ariana Franklin

King Henry II is sending his 10-year-old daughter to marry King William II of Sicily. Adelia Aguilar and Mansur are told they are to accompany her as a physician. Adelia doesn't want to go - it means being parted from her daughter for a year - but those around her all insist. What she finds out later is that there have been several attempts on her life and her friends hope that she'll be safer out of England. The "accidents" continue as the princess' procession winds its way through France and they are forced to conclude that the would-be murder is one of the party - but who? They must fight through accusations of witchcraft and Catharism as well as the more usual prejudices against women doctors and the dangers of travel in the Middle Ages. The ending is a cliff hanger - the life of one of the party is very uncertain and we'll have to wait for the next book to see if they survive the attack. This is the fourth novel in the series.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

What We're Reading: Laurie

Under The Banner of Heaven : a story of violent faith by Jon Krakauer.

Krakauer researches the story of two brothers who claim they received a direct revelation from God to carry out the murder of their own brother's wife and young child. Krakauer discusses the motivation behind the hideous crime and delves into the history of the Mormon Church and its fundamentalist sects. The author conducted interviews with members of this religion, not all fundamentalists, as well as the murderer, Dan Lafferty, and incorporates historical documents and primary sources to help one gain an understanding of its mystical roots and violent past. Krakauer seems to view Mormonism as a religion which embraces community, but prompts one to question the validity of the fundamentalist sects due to close-mindedness and closed-door policies.

Friday, July 9, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Burying Place
by Brian Freeman
The weather in Grand Rapids, Minnesota around Halloween portends the coming snows of winter. Detective Jonathan Stride is still off the job on sick leave as the result of his falling off a bridge in the third novel in this series, In the Dark. He is called back early to handle a kidnapping. The daughter of a renowned surgeon is missing from a locked house. The surgeon's wife's sister was a partner of Stride's. Neither of the baby's parents is perfect. They both have had affairs. In fact most of the characters in this novel have their own private demons. Stride has to get people to reveal their secrets to trace the kidnapped baby. A baby is found in a shallow grave, but it is a boy. Will the girl be found alive? Meanwhile a serial killer is on the loose in the sparsely populated northern lakes area. A rookie policewoman just happens to interrupt the serial killer. He escapes but now they share a dark secret. He begins to stalk the officer. Stride's lover is working the serial killer case. Will they both become victims of the serial killer? Will the two cases be solved before there are more deaths?
The atmosphere of this book will make you shiver even if you are reading it at the beach!

Museum Happenings

If you've enjoyed visiting local museums courtesy of the library's Museum Pass program, you might be interested in some special exhibits and events happening this summer at neighboring institutions. (Note: these are not participants in our Museum Pass.)

The Toledo Museum of Art is spotlighting the psychedelic designs of the 1960s with a special exhibit: The Psychedelic 60s: Posters from the Rock Era. The immersive experience includes day-glo posters displayed in black light as well as sound and staging effects. The exhibit runs through September 12 and is housed in the museum's Canaday Gallery. For more information, visit the museum's website at:

The Field Museum in Chicago is offering a very special program in celebration of the tenth anniversary of Sue the Tyrannosaur's installation: Dozin' with the Dinos. This family sleepover event includes workshops, tours, hands-on activities, and the chance to camp out overnight in the dinosaur hall. Find more details on the sleepovers at:,
and information on other Sue anniversary doings at

The Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto is hosting a visit from the famed Terracotta Army of China until January 2. In 1974, Chinese farmers unearthed a tomb filled with thousands of statues comprising an entire army. The site remains one of the greatest archaeological finds ever unearthed. This exhibit, The Warrior Emperor and China's Terracotta Army, is the largest display of items from this collection ever displayed in North America, and it offers a rare chance to see many pieces never before loaned outside China. Information on the exhibit is available at:

Thursday, July 8, 2010

What We're Reading: Tracy

The Spongebob Squarepants Survival Guide, by David Lewman.

In these trying times, a survival guide can be a very handy thing. This one won't tell you how to increase your 401K earnings, find a new job, stave off foreclosure, or pay for your health care, but if you find yourself trapped in a giant clam, trying to deflate a puffer fish, or needing to remove barnacles, this has got you covered. Plus, it's funny.

A sample:

"How To Avoid Getting Covered In Algae:

1. Move around. The less rocklike you are, the less likely you are to get covered in algae...
3. Make yourself unattractive to algae. Wear mismatched outfits. Don't wash. Monopolize conversations. Talk about yourself constantly. The unfortunate side effect here is that you'll be unattractive to everyone."

Obviously, getting some exercise and being socially adept is good advice even for those of us who live our lives unthreatened by algae.
There are hidden pearls of wisdom (pun intended) like these scattered throughout the book. Highly recommended for anyone who likes Spongebob, and/or those wishing to increase their chances of survival.

What We're Reading: Edward

How to Cool the Planet: geoengineering and the audacious quest to fix Earth's climate
by Jeff Goodell
If you saw the video, An Inconvenient Truth or heard about "cap and trade", you know that the Kyoto Accords limit our production of gasses that contribute to global warming. Some scientists believe that it may take 100 years to stop climate change by this method. Other scientists believe that geoengineering is needed to quickly stop climate change. Goodell explores the history of geoengineering. Wasn't it the engineers who gave us the power plants, factories and cars that got us into this fix in the first place? Is it hubris for them to think that they can engineer their way out of this global crisis? Cloud brightening, plankton blooms, carbon sinks will any of these plans work? Goodell interviews the scientists who are planning and making these possible solutions. Some of them sound like snake oil salesmen, while others sound like environmental extremists. You need to read this book to make an informed decision on this important topic. You might also want to try reading two books by Henry Petrowski: To Engineer is Human: the role of failure in successful design and Essential Engineer: why science alone will n0t solve our global problems.

What We're Reading: Cathy

Haunt Me Still by Jennifer Lee Carrell

Do you believe in magic? Is there really a curse on Shakespeare's play Macbeth? Was there an earlier version than the one we know today? One that contained an actual conjuring spell? Kate Stanley is asked to direct a production Macbeth by Lady Nairn who lives at Dunsinnan House and who is a descendant of the model for Lady Macbeth. Murders (or are they pagan sacrifices?) start occurring apparently connected with someone's search for the manuscript of the original Macbeth and its spell of power. Lady Nairn's granddaughter is kidnapped and the clock starts ticking for Kate to find the manuscript before someone else does. Modern day witches (Wiccans) help both Kate and her mysterious foe. This is sort of a "Da Vinci Code" for Shakespeare lovers. There's lots of action and deaths and trying to figure out who's on who's side is tricky. Kate's first Shakespeare adventure was "Interred With Their Bones."

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

Requiem by Fire: a novel

by Wayne Caldwell

If you have been to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park, you will have some idea of the beauty of the Cataloochee Valley. The Cataloochee and Little Cataloochee valleys are the setting for Caldwell's books: Cataloochee and Requiem by Fire.The first book contains the story, not a history, of the settlement of the valleys after the Civil War to the beginnings of the national park. The second book continues the story of those trying to live with both their history and the new rules of the national park. Be sure to read them in order. The evocation of place is wonderful. Caldwell tells us not only what people did but why they chose to do it. These two books will make you feel every emotion. Great for the armchair traveller.

Friday, July 2, 2010

What We're Reading: Edward

by S. J. Parris
Giordano Bruno was a real Italian monk, who was excommunicated by the Catholic Church. He was hounded by the Inquisition for his agreement with Galileo that the sun was the center of the solar system. In 1583, he was invited to Oxford to argue the question. But he is really a spy in the service of Queen Elizabeth. Bruno is searching for the people who hope to assassinate the Queen and return England to the Church. While Bruno is in Oxford a murder occurs in a locked garden. Then more murders follow. Bruno is tasked to use his superior logic to solve the murders. Will he instead become the next victim? Are the murders related to the plot on the Queen? Everyone seems to have their secrets. This is one of the best mysteries I have read this year! Don't try to read it at the beach. For you will get so engrossed in the story that you will not notice the time and will end up with a sunburn.
If this is your kind of mystery, follow it up with An instance of the Fingerpost by Iain Pears.

What We're Reading: Edward

Silent sea
(The Oregon Files)
by Clive Cussler
and Jack du Brul
From 1405 to 1433, the Chinese admiral Zheng He sent out seven fleets of ships to extend Chinese trade in the Indian Ocean. The records from the 8th and 9th fleets were destroyed by a reactionary Emperor. Some historians believe that these fleets were sent East out into the Pacific Ocean. Some believe that the fleets could have reached the western shores of North and South America. Juan Cabrillo, Captain of the Oregon, is sent to recover part of an American satellite from the jungles of Argentina. Juan and his crew recover the satellite and a journal that mentions a treasure pit off the coast of Washington state. What links the pirate treasure pit to the destruction of the American satellite? In the treasure pit, Juan discovers a Chinese plaque. Is it a Chinese or pirate treasure that awaits discovery? Meanwhile the Argentineans claim sovereignty over part of Antarctica. They proclaim an exclusionary zone in the Southern Ocean. The Argentineans and the Chinese have hidden from the world their plan to extract oil from under Antarctica. The Oregon is the only ship in the area to stop them. The balance of world power and a possible ecological disaster are on the shoulders of the crew of the Oregon!