DCPLive is a blog by library staff at the DeKalb County Public Library!

March 2012

Mar 30 2012

Spring is Here!!

by Amanda L

The official beginning of spring started a few weeks ago and spring break is next week. What better way to celebrate but to spend some time in the great outdoors. I have written before about a variety of outdoor places  to visit and  fishing opportunities around the state. A new opportunity for day excursions and fishing is the new Georgia Go Fish Pass. This pass will allow up to six people free admittance to the Go Fish Education Center in Perry, Georgia. You may be required to show identification. The pass can be checked out from your local branch or reserved if all of the passes are in use. The pass is checked out for one week. NOTE: The center is only open Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays.

Looking for hiking opportunities around Atlanta? Of course there are the state parks around the state. Don’t forget that  you may reserve a Georgia Park pass just like you would any other material. You may check it out for seven days. The Georgia Department of Natural Resource’s website lists all of the participating parks and historic sites. Georgia Parks that are located on National Forest land are not included in this park pass.

Closer to home in DeKalb County, the Arabia Mountain Nature Preserve is another opportunity which is free. The local ranger provides interpretive hikes for free for individuals.  For more information, check out their calendar of events.

And when you’re not out in nature, why not come to some of the Library’s spring break programs? We have games, crafts, movies and more for the whole family.

The Library offers several hiking books for the Atlanta area:

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Mar 26 2012

How Much is a Dragon Worth?

by Jesse M

Smaug and his treasureBeginning in 2002, and intermittently since, Forbes magazine has compiled a list of the 15 most wealthy fictional characters. The candidates are taken from a variety of media, including books, television, and film. The makeup of the list changes from year to year as fortunes rise and fall, and one of the most intriguing new additions to the list in 2011 was Smaug. Smaug is a dragon, and fan’s of J.R.R. Tolkien’s classic children’s fantasy novel The Hobbit will be familiar with him as one of the main antagonists in the story. Smaug is described at one point in the book as “unassessably wealthy”, with gold “beyond price and count”, claims that the authors of the Forbes fictional 15 list seem to have taken as a challenge. Forbes writer Michael Noer details his process for assigning a numerical value to Smaug’s fortune in this fun and informative article, which includes calculations of the volume of Smaug’s treasure mound and an enumeration of the diamonds encrusted in his underbelly.

Other notable literary characters appearing on last year’s list include Artemis Fowl (the eponymous protagonist of the Artemis Fowl series) and Carlisle Cullen (a character appearing in the Twilight series).

Want to see how the Forbes fictional 15 stack up against real world billionaires? This article breaks down the differences; to summarize, the real-world rich are considerably more wealthy than their fictional counterparts.

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Mar 23 2012

May I offer you a good book?

by Patricia D

Helping someone find a book to read is a pretty easy task when all the reader is looking for is popular stuff.  It’s not tough to track down Harry Potter, Jack and Annie, Geronimo Stilton, Arthur and Captain Underpants.  You find the book, hand it over and hope they enjoy it.  It’s when all those books have been read and the reader wants, even needs, something else to read that the art of helping choose something else suited to their tastes comes into play.   In library lingo it’s called Reader’s Advisory, and it is still the best part of my job.

Once past the popular book stage I like to focus on titles that aren’t obvious choices but are wonderful anyway.   Maybe the cover is ugly, or  Mom or Dad had never heard of the author, or it’s just old fashioned. Some of my personal favorites for this are The Cricket in Times SquareJennifer Murdley’s Toad (absolute best first line in children’s literature, I kid you not),  Bud, not Buddy and The Book of Three.  They are slim, easy to read and don’t look at all intimidating.  If they’re a little banged up, well . . .a lot can be forgiven an ugly book with a good story between its covers.

A little more old fashioned, and a little harder to sell are books like  Calico Captive, The Great Brain, Dominic and The Twilight of Magic, among others.  I’ve had lots of children who needed convincing come back and ask for something else like one of these.

Then, there are the books that win awards but that don’t just leap off the shelves and into a reader’s hand screaming “I’m fabulous!”  These books take more patience and concentration, a rare commodity in our non-linear reading, Googlized world.  The authors are artists.  Their works are so finely crafted that to remove even one phrase would bring down the entire work.  They not only tell a good story, they immerse the reader in a world of gorgeous language, flawless characterization and precision plotting.  They create entire paragraphs that make an English major dizzy with admiration and jealousy but will  just be a really good story for a younger reader.  If the reader loves that book and wants more, I’ve got myself a base hit.  If that reader pauses to savor a sentence or two, or re-reads the book directly after finishing, then I can count that as a grand slam.  When I’m looking to hook a reader on great literature as well as a great story I pull out:  Natalie Babbitt, E.L. Konigsburg, David Almond and Kim Siegelson.

Tuck Everlasting fans will be delighted there’s a new Babbitt book out,  but an older reader will feel as if they are solidly in western Ohio while reading Herbert RowbargeSkellig, by David Almond will have you looking at birds, and miracles, in a whole new way, and I promise that after reading Honey Bea by Decatur’s own Kim Siegelson, you will want nothing more than to eat honey.  Finally, read everything by Ms. Konigsburg.  She’s dazzling no matter what she’s writing about, but I have a special love for A Proud Taste for Scarlet and Miniver and the Outcasts of 19 Schuyler Place.

You know what?  Read everything by each of these folks.  The reading won’t always be an easy journey, but it will always be well worth the effort.

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Mar 21 2012

Feeding your hunger

by Dea Anne M

Regular readers of this blog probably already know that my posts often involve food and you might assume from the title of this post that this one is more of the same. Well…surprise—it’s not! By “hunger” I’m referring to this coming weekend’s release of the eagerly awaited film version of Suzanne Collins’ The Hunger Games. The book is, of course, the first in Collins’ wonderful dystopian trilogy (which includes Catching Fire and Mockingjay) in which ruling powers demand a yearly “tribute”—a girl and a boy selected by lottery from each of twelve districts. The twenty-four tributes are expected to fight each other to the death in a televised (required viewing, no less) gladiatorial-style contest until only one is left standing. The trilogy’s primary character is Katniss Everdeen – a brave and emotionally complicated young woman who is sometimes infuriating but always (in my opinion) remarkable. I’ve heard some equate the success of the Hunger Games series with that of Stephanie Meyers’  Twilight books. Both series have been hugely popular but they are, I think, really nothing alike. Certainly there’s a strong romantic sub-plot in the books but it definitely takes a back seat to the rest of the action. Needless to say, I’m eager to see the film which features Jennifer  Lawrence (as Katniss), Woody Harrelson, and  Stanley Tucci among many others.

To celebrate the release of the film, the Stonecrest branch of DCPL will be hosting a Hunger Games Release Party on Saturday, March 24 from 1:00 p.m. to 3:00 p.m. The party will feature “training stations” where teens can test their skills in archery, plant identification, and trivia; crafts; refreshments; and a prize drawing. Remember, attendance is limited to the first 25 teens so do keep that in mind if you plan to celebrate with us at Stonecrest. The Decatur branch will also be celebrating the film release with a Hunger Games Trivia event featuring  pizza and prizes this Thursday, March 22, from 4:30-5:30. The event will be held in the Decatur Meeting Room and attendance is limited to the first 25 participants.

Are you going to celebrate the release of the Hunger Games film and, if so, how?

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Mar 14 2012

The Books You’ve Always Meant To Read

by Joseph M

I was browsing through recent entries of a librarian blog I like when I came across a cool Depression-era poster created the Works Progress Administration, a New Deal agency which provided employment on public works projects for millions of Americans from 1935-1943.  According to the folks at Brainpickings.org who originally blogged on this topic, this is just one of many great posters produced by the WPA promoting various literacy projects of the time.

Seeing as we’re in the middle of March, I found this poster particularly suitable for today’s blog, and it got me to thinking about the many books I’ve been meaning to read for years but have never managed to get around to.  Running the gamut from “classics” of literature to more modern books that friends have recommended, my list of books to be read is quite long, and constantly growing.  I may not be able to fit too much in before April, but I’m looking forward to the challenge!

What books have you always meant to read?  Think you’ll find the time this month?

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Mar 12 2012

Hundreds of new fairytales discovered

by Jesse M

In the mid-1800s, German local historian Franz Xaver von Schönwerth spent years wandering the Bavarian region of Oberpfalz, speaking with country folk, laborers, and servants, collecting information about local habits, customs, and history, and recording on paper what had previously been oral tradition. A contemporary of the Brothers Grimm, Von Schönwerth was well regarded by his fellow folklorists. Jacob Grimm went so far as to tell King Maximilian II of Bavaria that the only person who could replace him in his and his brother’s work was Von Schönwerth.

Von Schönwerth compiled his research into a book called Aus der Oberpfalz – Sitten und Sagen, published in three volumes in 1857, 1858 and 1859 (For German readers, there is a free ebook version available for Kindle, or PDFs of all three volumes available through the Bavarian Regional Library’s Digital Archive). The book never gained prominence and faded into obscurity, where it languished for a century and a half until being uncovered in a locked archive in Regensburg, Germany.

For the past several years, Oberpfalz cultural curator Erika Eichenseer has sifted through Von Schönwerth collected works and uncovered hundreds of fairytales, many of them not seen before in other fairytale collections, as well as local versions of more common stories, such as Cinderella and Rumpelstiltskin. Last year Eichenseer published a selection of fairytales from Von Schönwerth’s collection, and English translations are already in the works.

Impatient readers can check out one of the newly discovered fairytales online, The Turnip Princess.
To learn more, follow the link to the Guardian article on the subject.

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Mar 9 2012

Eggs Baked in Cream

by Patricia D

I don’t have cable television so when cable able members of my family started carrying on about Bobby Flay, Guy Fieri and Rachael Ray I had no idea what they were talking about.  In fact, when Paula Deen was a guest of the Georgia Center for the Book, I was able to get a signed copy for my aunt, who likes biographies.  I had no idea what I had done until she got the book and called me, all but squealing in delight.  My aunt, who does not like to cook, is a huge Paula Deen fan, thanks to cable.

All of these folks have made huge places for themselves in the cookbook, cookwear, take a cruise with a chef world.  To me, however, their shows aren’t nearly as much about teaching people to cook as they are pure entertainment.  Don’t take this wrong, because I assure you, when I do have access to cable you cannot pry me away from Iron Chef, and I think Guy Fieri is just darling, plus the show is okay too.  No, for me at least, the true royals in the world of television cookery are Jacques Pepin, Lidia Bastianich,  those crazy kids in America’s Test Kitchen and of course Julia Child.  I have gained so much knowledge from watching their programs over the years and even own a few of the companion cookbooks.  Jacques Pepin in particular, with his interest in healthy cooking (but not at the cost of flavor) and his frugal ways,  is my personal favorite.   His most recent book covers all his favorite recipes from a long and celebrated career, but it is the DVD in the back that was my favorite part.  He demonstrates his sublime skill as a teacher as he takes viewers through the basics of peeling vegetables, cooking eggs, deboning chicken and many other things.  Another of his books that is a personal favorite is Julia and Jacques Cooking At Home, which was the companion book to the PBS program of the same title.  The friendship between these two devotees of French cooking was so obvious it made viewing a delight and having their opinions in the book, side by side for each recipe, gives great direction to any home cook while leaving lots of room for creativity.  As for Julia Child, I have four words for you.  Eggs baked in cream.  Get your hands on a copy of Mastering the Art of French Cooking (which needed no companion PBS program) bake the eggs, wolf them down and then sigh in contentment.  Beat that, Rachael.

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Mar 7 2012

Concocting the Past

by Dea Anne M

Maybe it was inevitable, but our sometimes food-obsessed culture combined with a growing interest in genealogy might be leading to a new-found passion for recreating “lost” family recipes. That, anyway, is the contention of this recent WSJ article.

Mentioned in the article is Ruth Clark’s fun blog The Mid-Century Menu. Clark’s intent is to select what are admittedly bizarre recipes from circa 1950’s and 60’s cookbooks and test them out. The names alone of some of the recipes (Ham Banana Casserole and Jellied Stuffed Eggs are two) are enough to cause shivers while other dishes sound and look surprisingly tasty.  The images of Clark’s husband Tom tasting, and reacting, to these experiments are a special highlight.

Sometimes recipe recreation requires the equipment of years past. Also mentioned in the WSJ article,  Laura’s Last Ditch will help in the search for the tool of your dreams (or memories). From vintage ice-trays (what?) to donut cutters to manual cherry pitters Laura has what you’re looking for.

Do you have a beloved family recipe that you want to recreate? While contemplating the question, you might want to check out these offerings from DCPL. Any one of them might inspire you…or at least allow you to indulge in a little nostalgia.

Some best loved recipes come from community cookbooks. These are local collections of recipes, often bound with a plastic “tooth” spine, offered for sale by garden clubs, women’s clubs, and the like. I especially love these cookbooks when they feature stories about local families and individuals. Southern Foodways Alliance community cookbook by Sara Roahen and John T. Edge and America’s Best Loved Community Recipes from the Editors of Better Homes and Gardens magazine are two collections that provide great stories along with interesting recipes.

Many of us crave the tastes of our childhood and that childhood is often tied to a particular region or ethnic heritage. One of my favorite books that explores taste and memory is The Taste of Country Cooking. Written by the late great Edna Lewis, this book is a  beautifully written memoir that evokes Lewis’s childhood spent in Freetown, Virginia, a small piedmont farming community. Lewis, who has sometimes been called “the South’s answer to Julia Child,” provides a treasure chest of recipes, all tied to the seasons. I loved reading about the special menus her family prepared for such events as Wheat-Threshing Day and Emancipation Day. Highly recommended! Some other memoir/cookbooks that you might enjoy include Easy Family Recipes from a Chinese-American Childhood by Ken Hom, You’re Cookin’ It Country: my favorite recipes and memories by Loretta Lynn, and The Language of Baklava by Diana Abu-Jaber.

Finally, if you want to take a real trip in the time machine, check out Square Meals: a cookbook by Jane and Michael Stern and Fashionable Food: seven decades of food fads by Sylvia Lovegren. Each chapter in the Sterns’ book features a theme like the World War II era (victory garden vegetable plate suppers and spam recipes among others) or the cooking of Suburbia (1950’s). The writing highlights the Sterns’ trademark witty and tongue-in-cheek style as well as their genuine love for Americana in all its kitschy glory. Lovegren’s book is more of a true culinary history spanning the decades from the 1920’s through the 1990’s and concerns itself with food fads more than it does with what actual people were regularly cooking at home and includes such new-to-me things as the Depression era toast supper and the marshmallow craze of the 20’s. Both of these books make fun reading, and you actually might come across a recipe that you want to try. By the way, pictured to the right is a molded gelatin salad which features what seems to be a mixture of peas, corn, and maybe carrots. That’s not my kind of thing, but who knows, maybe someone, in some kitchen somewhere, is recreating it right now as a beloved flavor from the past.

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Mar 2 2012

The Zombies are coming!

by Amanda L

Did you know that there is a 5K obstacle course that is coming to Georgia? Instead of running against time you are running to avoid the zombies.  The Run for your Lives event is this weekend in Union Point, Georgia where the zombies will be chasing the participants. This event has been traveling the United States.

Want to know more about Zombies? Check out a Zombie’s history of the United States: from massacre at Plymoth Rock to the CIA’s secret war on the undead by Worm Miller. You might also be interested in Tracking the man-beasts: Sasquatch, vampires, zombies and more by Joe Nickell. Trying to avoid those zombies? You might try, The Zombie handbook by Robert Curran

Zombies have been hot over the last few years in the fiction arena. Here are a few titles you might want to explore if you like zombies:

Zombie, Ohio: a tale of the undead by Scott Kenemore

No one is safe in a zombie apocalypse… not even a zombie. With society decomposing before his eyes, and violence escalating into daily life, Peter, a rural Ohio college professor, finds his old friends are loath to associate with him. When he finds out that the automobile wreck that killed him wasn’t an accident, Peter resolves to solve his own murder.

The New Dead: a zombie anthology 

RESURRECTION! The hungry dead have risen. They shamble down the street. They hide in back yards, car lots, shopping malls. They devour neighbors, dogs and police officers. And they are here to stay. The real question is, what are you going to do about it? How will you survive? HOW WILL THE WORLD CHANGE WHEN THE DEAD BEGIN TO RISE? Stoker-award-winning author Christopher Golden has assembled an original anthology of never-before-published zombie stories from an eclectic array of today’s hottest writers.

Rot and Ruin by Jonathan Maberry

In a post-apocalyptic world where fences and border patrols guard the few people left from the zombies that have overtaken civilization, fifteen-year-old Benny Imura is finally convinced that he must follow in his older brother’s footsteps and become a bounty hunter.

Raising Stony Mayhall by Daryl Gregory

After a zombie attack, Wanda Mayhall rescues a near-dead infant on the side of a frozen Iowa highway and decides to raise him without telling the authorities, but as the boy gets older he realizes that there are other living dead in the world like him.

This is just a sampling. If you like zombie literature, what would you recommend that you have checked out at the library?

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