Tuesday, March 11, 2014
THURSDAY, MARCH 13
7:00 p.m., Buena Vista branch
If you entered something in the Friends of the Burbank Public Library Photo Contest (or know someone who did), you will want to attend the Photo Reception this Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. at Buena Vista branch. Doors open at 6:30, and it's always a popular event, so get there early! There will be a slide show featuring all the winners.
Then afterwards, see the show in its entirety in the Central Library auditorium. The show will remain up through April 16, and you can view it any time except when the auditorium is in use! (Check the library calendar before you drive, if you want to be sure of access.)
And across town that same night...
7:00 p.m., Central Library
ABBIT THE AVERAGE!
Join us for a hilarious, high-energy entertainment experience with audience participation, packed with non-stop laughs. It's the greatest average magic show you'll ever see!
(Abbit returns for an encore performance at the Buena Vista branch Library on April 3rd at 7:00 p.m.)
SATURDAY, MARCH 15
Central Library, 11:00 a.m.
Open to kids from 2-14 and their families! Specially sized larger blocks will be available for toddlers. Children under the age of nine years must be accompanied by an adult.
Later that afternoon at 2:00 p.m....
Teen Tech Week presents...
CODING WORKSHOP FOR TEENS!
Wanna be a web designer / game designer / app designer?
LEARN HTML AND CSS with Newton Lee, adjunct professor of Media Technology at Woodbury University. For teens in 6th through 12th grades only! Sign up by emailing email@example.com. This event is BYOLT (bring your own laptop or tablet).
Monday, March 10, 2014
Never Built Los Angeles, by Greg Goldin and Sam Lubell, is one of those fun and informative books that you can either read in-depth or skim through and let your eye wander until it catches something of interest.
More than 100 dreams, concepts, and ideas from Los Angeles's past 100 years of architectural possibilities are presented, with a few pages of text covering each proposed project and its fate, coupled with a wonderful array of illustrations showing the plans, drawings and sketches from those who envision what could be.
Five main sections cover "Master Plans," "Buildings," "Follies and Amusements," "Parks and Plazas," and "Transit Plans," so almost any type of building project is included in this book. It's fascinating to see what could have been, would have been, and perhaps should have been!
Burbank readers will be interested to look at page 73, with a mention of a 1919-1925 plan for the University of California, Burbank (yes, you read that right, UC Burbank!), as well as page 264, which details the Walt Disney Company's 1952 plans for Disneyland, Burbank.
Saturday, March 08, 2014
Newly Published Great War (WWI) Book ListsThe year 2014 is the 100th anniversary of the Great War, the conflict that subsequently became more commonly known as World War I after the world fought a second global war 20-some years later. With the passing of the years, the Great War has come to be viewed in retrospect as an event that marked an important change in human history, a time when an old order of society and politics came to an end and our modern world began. As ever, important anniversaries like this are a time of reassessment, revision, and memory.
To commemorate this historic anniversary, Burbank Public Library librarians have reviewed and updated its holdings of important classic titles, in both its fiction and nonfiction collections, and have also added to the library collection many of the new books that have been published during the past year to coincide with the anniversary.
We have just published two printed bibliographies that are available at all our branches. These book lists highlight classic titles and include recent publications. They can also be viewed online on our library website (burbanklibrary.com). The online versions allow us to continuously update the lists. We add to the online lists new titles that come into the collection as they are published, so that those of you who want to see the library’s holdings of new items can track them as they enter the collection and check on their availability.
Occasionally we review in depth some of the newly published books that we have ordered for the collection (these appear here on the library’s blog). For example, there have been reviews of Max Hasting’s Catastrophe 1914 , Margaret MacMillan’s The War that Ended Peace: The Road to 1914, and Wounded: A New History of the Western Front in World War I, by Emily Mayhew. If you would like to read these reviews, they can be found in this blog by entering the subject “Great War” in the search box.
Friday, March 07, 2014
Do you enjoy a good swashbuckling adventure in the vein of Indiana Jones? Well, then, Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant, by Tony Cliff--a terrific graphic novel--is just what you need to read! Delilah Dirk is everything you want in a lead character: smart, funny, headstrong, a great fighter and an adventurer of the first rank. Paired with Selim, the Turkish Lieutenant, who prefers civility, calm, and a good cup of tea, our duo engages in a number of fun, action-filled adventures full of danger and seemingly impossible-to-escape situations.
Tony Cliff has turned the conventions of traditional adventure story expectations on their head by providing us with both great artwork and a fun, strong female lead, as well as a male sidekick who is swept up in events in which he discovers that action and danger go nicely with his tea.
I can't wait for another book in this series, and I give Delilah Dirk and the Turkish Lieutenant a high recommendation. Read, enjoy, and thank me later.
Tuesday, March 04, 2014
Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.
Actress Kres Mersky performs a one-hour play depicting the San Francisco-born dancer and teacher near the end of her life. The play is adapted from Isadora's own writings and provides a multidimensional portrait of a great 20th-century woman whose views on the arts, education, women's rights, marriage, and love continue to provide inspiration today.
Buena Vista Branch, 7:00 p.m.
Meet the author!
HOLLY GOLDBERG SLOAN
Sloan has written eight successful family feature films, including the baseball classic Angels in the Outfield, and the soccer movie, The Big Green, which she also directed. She wrote the screenplay for the Universal Pictures comedy Made in America.
Her amazing, award-winning teen books are I'll Be There, and Counting by 7s.
Books will be available for purchase and signing.
Monday, March 03, 2014
There seems to be a trend in fiction (within the past couple of years) to cast a precocious pre-teen or barely teen girl as the smart, bouncy, feisty heroine who overcomes difficult or sometimes ridiculous (adult) odds to triumph over something, someone, or life in general. Some of these are billed as teen books, but many are written for adults and happen to star a teen protagonist, so some reviewers recommend them as crossover. I have discovered that some are, and some definitely are not.
Titles that come to mind, off the top of my head, would include the recently teen-reviewed for the YA blog book The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake, by Aimee Bender, starring a precocious nine-year-old with a special gift (crossover); Joyce Maynard's 13-year-old Rachel, obsessed with the serial killer her detective father is trying to catch, in After Her (not crossover, in my opinion, though a riveting read); the Alex award-winning Where'd You Go, Bernadette? by Maria Semple (possibly of interest to teens, but since much of it is told from the viewpoint of the mom, I'm not so sure); and the inimitable chemistry-mad young sleuth Flavia de Luce, who is 11 in her first literary outing, The Sweetness at the Bottom of the Pie, by Alan Bradley, and ages appropriately in the four sequels (some teens might like it).
Having read all of these (and having become slightly bored with the premise), I inadvertently added two more to my list of books that fit the trend: Tell the Wolves I'm Home, by Carol Rifka Brunt, and Counting by 7s, by Holly Goldberg Sloan.
I read Tell the Wolves I'm Home because it was an Alex Award-winner (books written for adults but singled out for their uniquely teen appeal) and my co-teen librarian, Anarda, wants us to propose as many of these as possible to our 10-12 Book Club (that's grades 10-12), since their reading level is fairly sophisticated and their taste for "typical" teen books (i.e., fantasy or dystopia with the inevitable insta-love) is waning. I'm not sure I agree with her that all of these Alex books will be hits; while we had great success with last year's Ready Player One, by Ernest Cline, and 2011's The Lock Artist, by Steve Hamilton, the club was distinctly tepid when it came to a book we both loved--Mr. Penumbra's 24-Hour Bookstore, by Robin Sloane--and the 2012 nominee The Language of Flowers, by Vanessa Diffenbaugh, got the widest spread of votes ever (from a 2 to a 9 rating, out of 10) for a book club book. So I'm still thinking it's just luck!
Having read Tell the Wolves I'm Home, I'm uncertain about introducing it to book club. My review:
PLUSES: The images, and the language with which Brunt creates them, are beautiful, and there are some GREAT quotes. I liked the characters, particularly the interactions between them. And it was a well-spun-out story that held my attention.
MINUSES: It's harder to be concrete here, but it just felt a little…precious. This is definitely the "precocious girl" story--the 14-year-old who's way smarter than anyone in some ways but incredibly (almost unbelievably) naive in others, and gets/has to learn a big life lesson. The whole time I was reading this, I was feeling weary of that story angle. Also, some of it was frankly unlikely or even far-fetched, verging on manipulative.
Finally, it's the subject matter--which is both a plus and a minus. The story, set in the 1980s, is about a girl whose favorite uncle is dying of a mysterious disease. After he's gone, she discovers that he had a whole other life about which she knew nothing, and a life partner her parents made her uncle hide from his nieces, or else give up having a relationship with them.
Historically significant or not, even after 30-odd years some material is still, for me, just too painful to poke at. I had many friends who died in the '80s before anyone knew what AIDS was, before AZT, while it was still "the gay disease" that made a whole community into pariahs. If I had known that was a major theme of this book (I dove into it without reading the dust jacket), I might have avoided it. Not because it wasn't well done--Brunt evoked it well and thoroughly, and also quite poignantly--it was just emotionally difficult for me to read. And I wonder, for teens, if it would resonate at all, or if they would react too much from a perspective in which gay people are a fact of life and HIV is treatable, and wonder what the fuss was about? I'm tempted to hand it to one of our more prodigious teen readers as a test case and see what he thinks, because it was a good book....
Willow Chance, 12-year-old genius, is unique, and I never use that word carelessly. Her particular situation (she is adopted at birth and abruptly orphaned at age 12) is tragic, and yet she meets it with aplomb and dignity (and quite a lot of humor). I loved all the other cleverly developed and completely individual quirky characters. The writing was simple and spare yet incredibly dense in detail, and I couldn't put the book down. Seriously good story, and such an elevation above this apparently now-common trope. I want to read it again already!
The book's author, Holly Goldberg Sloan (who also wrote my "best of 2012" nominee for teen book, I'll Be There), will be paying us an author visit at Burbank Public Library on Thursday, March 6, at 7:00 p.m. (at the Buena Vista branch). She will speak, answer questions, and autograph her books, both of which will be for sale at the event. I urge you to attend this program and find out what else Holly has in store, because so far she's two for two!
Saturday, March 01, 2014
Speculative fiction writers picked up this narrative theme early, pitting man against the unforgiving vacuum of space and the alien worlds scattered throughout its dark reaches. Stories like Marooned by Martin Caidin (released a few years later as a film with the same name), Shipwreck by Charles Logan, last year’s The Explorer by James Smythe, and this year’s Oscar-nominated Gravity all tell stories of individuals at odds with the harsh environs of space. The Martian, by Andy Weir, is about a man’s struggle to survive on the desolate surface of Mars.
Shortly after the Ares 3 crew escapes from the Mars surface, Watney regains consciousness. He is injured and his bio-monitor has been destroyed. He makes his way back to the habitat and assesses his situation: he is alive; he has no radio (the communications array was destroyed in the storm); he has shelter and atmosphere to protect him from the Martian environment; and he has the food and water that was planned for six people for the entire mission (actually, he has nearly twice that amount due to NASA preparing for possible problems). It’s a good start, but will it be enough? Mark needs to figure out a way to stay alive long enough to be rescued--and the planned landing for Ares 4 is years away.
Mark Watney is a likeable character just smart enough to be able to solve the problems he is facing. While the premise of the story may seem grim, the novel is anything but, and Watney has a wicked sense of humor (which he must share with Weir) that shines through at the most opportune moments and skewers everything from '70s television and music (specifically disco) to his crew mates and NASA.
While this is a top-notch speculative fiction novel, it can--and will--appeal to a much wider audience.