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

May 2012

May 30 2012

The Music of our Youth

by Amanda L

I recently was hanging out with some teens who were reminiscing about the TV of their youth (Spongebob Square Pants.) I turned on The Voice later that day and began reminiscing about the music of my youth.

The first album I remember hearing was Elton John’s Yellow Brick Road.  My cousins owned the album and played it the entire time we were at their house up in New York.

The first album I owned was Fleetwood Mac’s Rumors. I remember watching General Hospital and Scotty Baldwin playing the album, which of course made me want to own it! The music from that album is classic and can be played over and over in my opinion.

During my high school years, I think I was more into songs instead of full albums. Every time I hear Billy Joel’s My Life, I become that rebellious teenager that kept playing that song over and over claiming my independence. You can hear that song and many more of Billy Joel’s hits on his album The essential Billy Joel.

What better way to relive the music of your youth than by checking out the Library’s music collection. I know I have been surprised at the number of albums I could find to reminisce about the good old times. What are some of the songs and albums of your youth that take you back into time?


May 25 2012

…and the livin’ is easy.

by Veronica W

“I don’t need no stinkin’ grill!” he stated emphatically, with an impish grin. He then proceeded to dig a hole in the backyard, fill it with charcoal and other combustible stuff and top it with a purloined, foil wrapped rack from the oven.  This was his ritual for the first barbecue of the summer.  It was something his dad did when he was growing up and that, along with buying the first watermelon of the season, signaled the beginning of summer for him.  Of course after that, the “stinkin’ grill” was pulled out and used with frequency until Labor Day.

Memorial Day is the official beginning of summer and the parks and pools fill with people who have waited for this starter gun.  Yet there are many folk who don’t feel that summer has arrived until they until they have, do or experience something.  As a child , I knew it was summer when I heard the ice cream truck coming down the street.  Part of the fun was scrambling for change and then racing after the truck, yelling “Wait! Wait!” as it started to pull away.  Nothing tastes so good as a creamsicle (orange sherbert and vanilla ice cream) that you’ve had to work for.

As an adult, I’m not so easily pleased (if  lack of dignity and good knees would allow me to race after an ice cream truck).  However summer has arrived for me when I am not awakened by the rumbling of school buses. I also have one very sheer, “floozy” skirt that I wear only when it’s very hot. I’ve had it for years and fortunately it has an elastic waistband.

If you need some help slipping into the season, listen to any rendition of Gershwin’s Summertime and check out these books to get you in the spirit:

Al Roker’s Big Bad Book of Barbecue –  100 recipes for backyard cooking

The Ultimate Ice Cream Book – wonderful recipes for ice creams, sorbets and more

10 Best of Everything National Parks –  top selections of parks

Perhaps, however,  there’s something else that helps signal summer for you. If it’s not digging a hole in the backyard, we’d like to hear what it is.


May 23 2012

Dream Big—READ!

by Nancy M

I know I am not alone when I say I cannot believe this school year is over already! But what a year it was and another summer is upon us—so gather up your kids and let’s make it a great one! This could be the summer your child meets renowned author Carmen Deedy, or is inspired by the storytelling skills of Barry Stewart Mann. This could be the summer you encourage your child’s love of snakes, while your own reptilian fears manifest in new and disturbing ways. Or maybe, just maybe, this is the summer where your child wins the Path2College sweepstakes, over $5,000 that goes towards his or her future college education.  One thing is for sure, we have worked hard to make this the best summer yet and with so many fun, free and educational programs being offered, DeKalb County Public Library is the place to be!

This summer’s Vacation Reading Program, Dream Big—READ! begins on Saturday, May 26 and continues through July 31. This reading incentive program is a great way to keep kids reading through the summer. Sign up online or at any DeKalb County Public Library branch. The teen program, Own the Night, is for teens ages 13-17 years old. Visit the teen page for more information. And who says kids have all the fun? DCPL is offering an adult reading program, Between the Covers, from May 29-September 4. You can pick up the guidelines at any of our branches, or sign up online.

We will be kicking off the summer at the Tucker, Stonecrest and Decatur branches with a magic show by Ken Scott as well as crafts and other activities fun for the whole family. A list of dates and times can be found here.


I’m a music lover and, as a result, I’ve got an internal jukebox in my brain (or, for DCPLive’s Generation Y readers, an internal iPod Shuffle). Sometimes random phrases, words and nouns trigger memories of a forgotten song or musical artist. Usually it’s something innocuous like the Tropicana billboard in a MARTA station (“Southern Hospitality Doesn’t Apply During Rush Hour Traffic,” screams the sign) that will cause me to think about the song “Southern Hospitality” by Ludacris. I’m silently rapping lyrics like “When I get on the floor/throw them bows” before I even realize why. That’s bizarre, right?

Just yesterday, my internal jukebox flips over to “Dim All The Lights” before I realize that it’s because I’m looking at a picture of Donna Summer—and that the reason I’m seeing this picture is because the R&B/Disco icon has just succumbed to cancer. My delight at remembering a song I haven’t thought about in years instantly turns to disappointment upon learning of her death.  Shortly afterward “Dim All The Lights” gave way to Joni Mitchell‘s “Big Yellow Taxi”. Before I was fully conscious of why I was thinking of this song, I’d just read a Donna Summer fan’s distraught posting in the comments section of the web article I was reading: “Dont kno whatchu got til its gone. R.I.P Donna Summer.”

That really started me to thinking of other musical artists I’d taken a break from appreciating until they were no longer with us. 2012 is still young—it’s not exactly halfway gone yet—but it has already seen the loss of artists I’ve always loved,  like the aforementioned Donna Summer,  Whitney Houston, Adam Yauch (a.k.a MCA) of the Beastie Boys and, as I’ve just read as I’m writing this blog post, Robin Gibb of The Bee Gees. My Internal Jukebox has just set itself to “How Deep Is Your Love”.

Lest this become the Somber Post About People Who Are No Longer With Us,  I’d like to invite you guys to take a break from what you’re doing—even if it’s just reading this entry—and remember something, some place or someone that’s been off of your radar for a while. Let’s not wait til they’ve passed away. Who’s your internal jukebox, photo album or movie reel turned on to?


May 18 2012

Are You Well Re-read?

by Jimmy L

Some people re-read their favorite books every few years. I, however, am not one of those people.  I almost never re-read books because there are so many books out there I still haven’t read yet that I get a little panicked thinking about spending time with a book I’ve already read.

Still, there are definite benefits to re-reading, and many smart people have disagreed with me by making a case for re-reading. Vladimir Nabokov, for instance, famously said “One cannot read a book: one can only reread it,” implying that the first time through is only a preparation for the true pleasures of re-reading. Hilary Mantel, author of Wolf Hall, says a “good book is never the same twice. Rereading is a pleasure and duty of middle age, and illuminating, even if it only sheds light on how you yourself have changed.”

The Prime of Miss Jean BrodieIn this Guardian article, she tells us that she recently re-read Evelyn Waugh‘s Sword of Honour trilogy. The article also has thoughts from many other authors. For example, Ian Rankin likes to re-read Bleak House and The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie. John Banville says “each time we revisit [a favorite classic,] we see more clearly the cogs and flywheels of the writer’s technique behind what at first had been its opaque and burnished surface.” As an example, he cites The Great Gatsby. The article contains opinions about re-reading from many other authors, but if that’s not enough for you, The Millions has published a follow up article with still more opinions.

Do you like to re-read books? What are the pleasures of re-reading? Which books do you return to again and again and why?


May 16 2012

Squirrel Wars!!!

by Dea Anne M

I posted here last month about my adventures this year in raised bed gardening. I can report a lot of satisfaction with the way the garden is progressing. Here’s a picture:

Well you can imagine my dismay when I looked out my kitchen window a week or so ago and saw two squirrels whooping it up in the beds. Their tails were going like propellers and they were leaping about with the sort of lusty glee appropriate to a couple of forty-niners finally hitting gold or a pair of Visigoths deep into the Sack of Rome. A few angry shouts sent them fleeing, but when I went down to the beds to check out the damage my suspicions were confirmed. Every one of the baby lettuces that I had recently planted  from seed were gone.

image from thejacksack.com

When I was a kid, I loved the story of Beatrix Potter’s Squirrel Nutkin. I mean, I thought squirrels were the cutest thing going. These days…not so much. The sorts of furry herbivores that I once considered a delight to witness: squirrels, deer, rabbits look like destruction on four legs now. There’s a real danger when you become a dedicated gardener of developing an us against them view of the animal kingdom and that’s not really where I want my mind to go. After all, squirrels have to eat. On the other hand, I’m not in this gardening thing as a way of providing backyard denizens with a 24/7 salad bar. Measures have to be taken, though I strongly favor those methods that do the least harm. Cayenne pepper tea, made by steeping the chopped peppers in boiling water then straining, has so far been very effective. The trouble with this method is that you have reapply the spray after each rain. Then again, gardening isn’t meant to be without effort. My friend Ray, recommends putting cat hair on the beds as a squirrel deterrent and I have heard this from other folks as well. As my own cats shed hair in quantities that rival the amount of pollen coating the surface of my car on any given day this spring, I’m guessing that I will be experimenting with this method  too.

If you too need to figure out how to deal with unwanted garden incursions and raids, then DCPL has resources to help.

Dead Snails Leave No Trails: natural pest control for home and garden by Loren Nancarrow and Janet Hogan Taylor emphasizes an organic, humane approach to controlling all sorts of garden pests without poisoning the garden in the process. This compendium of useful information includes tips on identifying garden-helpful insects that you might otherwise think to repel.

Bugs, Slugs & Other Thugs: controlling garden pests organically by Rhonda Massingham Hart includes a lot of great information on how to attract “beneficials” (i.e. birds and insects that naturally help control garden pests). Special features include tips on gently repelling pesky garden intruders when they have started helping themselves to more than their fair share. For example: “Clippings of cat or dog hair might be enough to ward off rodents and other pests.” Homespun wisdom is the best!

Outwitting Critters: a surefire manual for confronting devious animals and winning by Bill Adler, Jr. extends its reach beyond the garden to include other areas of animal driven trouble. Here you’ll find information on how to safely and humanely deal with everything from the ant parade in your kitchen, to the coyotes roaming your property, to that annoying alligator who has chosen your front lawn as her favorite sunbathing spot.

Finally there’s Squirrel Wars: backyard wildlife battles and how to win them by George H. Harrison from which I, quite shamelessly I confess, stole the title of this blog post. Harrison approaches critter problems with a sense of humor and documents actual, often off-beat, methods that real homeowners have used to cope. In the interest of understanding the “enemy” Harrison spends a significant portion of the book providing a natural history of squirrels, rabbits, wasps and other potentially problematic fauna.

How do you keep critters at bay?


May 14 2012

Mock Caldecott

by Nancy M

This year, DeKalb County Public Library Youth Services staff will be participating in our very own Mock Caldecott election. The Caldecott medal, awarded by the Association for Library Service to Children, a division of the American Library Association, is given each January to the artist with the most distinguished American picture book for children. While it would be great if we predicted next year’s winner, our primary goal is to seek out great picture books that are being published in a given year, so we can better serve our patrons with outstanding book recommendations.

We will have several rounds of elections before we choose a winner in January. In the meantime I will be posting lists of exceptional 2012 picture books that DCPL has in its collection. If you have any recommendations, please share!

Extra Yarn

Written by Mac Barnett; illustrated by Jon Klassen

Just Ducks!

Written by Nicola Davies; illustrated by Salvatore Rubbino.

Boy + Bot

Written by Ame Dyckman; illustrated by Dan Yaccarino

And Then It’s Spring

Written by Julie Fogliano; illustrated by Erin Stead.


Written and illustrated by Holly Hobbie

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May 11 2012

How Do I Love Me? Let Me Count the Grays

by Veronica W

"I'm going to need a hug, Maurice--it's from the A.A.R.P."

I remember it so well. We were “out on the town,” enjoying dinner and a movie. We had just left a restaurant and were standing in line to get our tickets for the movie Taken. When our turn came, my husband stepped up and said “Two seniors for Taken.” The  lovely young cashier looked at me and said  “Two? Really?”  Bless her heart. I smiled at her, while thinking “Senior? Me? Am I really there already?”

What we truly are often differs from how we see ourselves—just ask the author of  How Did I Get to Be 70 When I’m 35 Inside. Inside I am a great singer and when I hear music, songs just well up and burst forth. Unfortunately what comes out is not as wonderful as what I hear in my own head. Not only am I a great singer, but I am lots of great things—and I am forever 30.

There are two schools of thought about becoming a senior. (By the way, when is that exactly? I’ve heard 50, 55, 60, and 65.) The School of Blatant Denial says I don’t look it, I don’t act it and I have all my original teeth. These are the folk whose grandchildren call them clever names that give nothing away. MeeMaw? However people enrolled in The School of Hurray for Senior Discounts can’t wait to get their A.A.R.P. cards and they proudly wear t-shirts proclaiming “50 and loving it!”

Whatever school you attend, everyone reaches a decade marker at some point;  it could be 20, 30, 40 and beyond. Editor Ronnie Sellers has written a book for those who reach the 50s marker and are not sure what to do now that they’re there. The title is 50 Things to Do When You Turn 50.  Judith Viorst wants to know How Did I Get to be Forty…And Other Atrocities. Perhaps it’s turning 30 that has you depressed. (20 is no problem because I have yet to find one 19-year-old who doesn’t want to turn 21.)  For you, there is Ready or Not, Here Life Comes or Time Happens.

Did you meet your most recent decade  by dancing ’til dawn with friends or cowering under the covers, moaning? (The ladies don’t have to tell which birthday if,  like Mae West, they believe “A woman who will tell her age will tell anything.”)  Perhaps, like 101-year-old Virgil Coffman, you decided you only go around once and bought the one thing of which you’ve always dreamed.  Mr. Coffman purchased a bright, “screaming yellow”  Transformers’ special edition 426 hp Camaro. He said, “Once in a while I like to kick it up.”

I know the feeling.  Just about the time I turned 40, my son moved to NY and I appropriated his 5.0 Mustang GT. It was maroon, shiny and very fast, with a spoiler, oversized tires, a black stripe and a varoooom that told everyone I was coming. Bonus—it was a standard!  As I raced teenagers and Andretti wannabes up and down 285, it didn’t matter that I had reached middle age or that my knee ached a bit when I had to work the clutch. Life was good and 40 was just a number.

May is Older Americans Month and the library has a wealth of entertaining and informational activities going on. If the story of Mr. Coffman has struck a cord in you, you also may want to visit a car dealership to see what catches your fancy. Whatever decade you’ve reached, however, it’s worth a celebration.


May 9 2012

Three Minute Fiction

by Jesse M

All Things Considered, the award winning news program on National Public Radio, is currently in the midst of judging a fiction writing contest. The contest has a simple premise: Listeners send in original short stories that can be read in three minutes or less. The contest has been ongoing through multiple rounds since 2009, with each round featuring a different prompt or requirement.

For Round 8, judge Luis Alberto Urrea asked participants to send in original fiction that begins with this sentence: “She closed the book, placed it on the table, and finally decided to walk through the door.”

Over 6,000 entries were received this round and the judges are still sifting through them all, with standouts being highlighted weekly.

To read through the stories yourself, visit npr.org/threeminutefiction. And if you’re curious as to what a winning submission looks like, check out round seven’s winner, Little Hossein, and the runner-up, Sleep Lessons.


May 7 2012

Hip Hop Decoded

by Jnai W

Over the years I’ve become a late-blooming  hip hop head. There are some folks who can give you the time, the place and the name of the sandwich they were eating when the very first rap recording in history ever came out (for the record, I’m not 100% sure where to find the answer to that query). Either way I’ve really come to develop a great love, respect and admiration for the artform…and I’ve got my public library to thank for that.

What? There’s no rapping in libraries! Wouldn’t you get kicked out if you tried to break dance on a table? That’s not exactly what I meant, but nonetheless I’ve been able to explore the music of a wide variety of artists here at DCPL (Spoil-Sport Alert: most if not all of the library’s collection of rap albums are edited…so if you listen to rap just for profanity you may be a bit let down). In addition to the Library’s quite impressive collection of hip hop music, there are also incredible books here about the history and origins of hip-hop culture, the artform of rap music, and its impact on the world at large.

Jay-Z's DecodedOne incredible glimpse into the world of hip hop music is the book Decoded by Jay-Z, one of hip-hop’s most prolific, critically-acclaimed and widely recognized artists. His book is more than a biography of his life and times but it is also a compelling and insightful tribute to a genre of music that continues to expand and evolve. Reading Decoded has inspired me to give Jay-Z’s music a second listen (and to reach into his back catalog for some of his earliest music). It’s worth noting that this is the first book that I’ve ever read in digital format—I read it on my iPhone using the Kindle app and checked it out in eBook format through the Library’s digital downloads page. It was an appropriate way to read this book—all the better to listen to Jay-Z’s music while reading about the experiences and the culture that inspired his lyrics. Reading his book has given me a greater appreciation for his talents as a lyricist and an artist. Also I’ve been inspired to check out the other great hip-hop artists name-checked by Jay in this book—as icons, contemporaries or, in some cases, as rivals.

In addition to Decoded, the Library has an extensive collection of books exploring the artform of rap music and hip hop culture. To list all that the Library has to offer would take more time and space than I’ve got here but there are a few that I’d like to mention here:

Know What I Mean? Reflections on Hip Hop by Michael Eric Dyson: I truly enjoyed the great critical analysis and earnest insight on hip hop music and culture that Dyson offers in his book.

Beats, Rhymes and Life: What We Love And Hate About Hip Hop edited by Kenji Jasper and Ytasha Womack: This is a really good compilation of essays by hip hop journalists and notable writers. Like the aforementioned Dyson, the editors of Beats, Rhymes and Life are hip hop fans, writing passionately and openly about an artform that they cherish.

Other People’s Property: A Shadow History Of Hip Hop In White America by Jason Tanz: Author Jason Tanz explores the opportunities and implications of hip hop music’s journey from the inner city to Middle America in this fascinating book.