Posted in Fantasy, Graphic Novels & Memoirs, Horror, Science Fiction

Grizzly Graphics

In the last couple of years, I wrote about some of my favorite horror movies. Instead of movies, to keep things fresh, I decided to talk about horror graphic novels. So get cozy in your favorite reading chair and grab one of these terrifying titles! Like my other posts, I’ve included the synopsis from our catalog.

Uzumaki by Junji Ito

“Kurôzu-cho, a small fogbound town on the coast of Japan, is cursed. According to Shuichi Saito, the withdrawn boyfriend of teenager Kirie Goshima, their town is haunted not by a person or being but by a pattern: uzumaki, the spiral, the hypnotic secret shape of the world. It manifests itself in everything from seashells and whirlpools in water to the spiral marks on people’s bodies, the insane obsessions of Shuichi’s father and the voice from the cochlea in our inner ear. As the madness spreads, the inhabitants of Kurôzu-cho are pulled ever deeper into a whirlpool from which there is no return!”

Continue reading “Grizzly Graphics”
Posted in Uncategorized

Bookish Bingo: Read a Biography about an Influential BIPOC Woman in STEM

This week’s Mead Bookish Bingo challenge uses a couple of anagrams in order to fit on the game square, so let’s start there. If you are unfamiliar, BIPOC stands for Black, Indigenous, People of Color, and this week’s challenge is specifically about BIPOC women in STEM—Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics.

Pictured above is Dr. Mae C. Jemison: physician, engineer, scientist, and NASA astronaut. Jemison was also the first black woman to travel into space when she served as a mission specialist aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavour.

STEM fields are male-dominated, and like artists, many women in STEM receive recognition posthumously. One famous example is Ada Lovelace.  Ada Lovelace is now credited with being the first computer programmer because of the algorithm she created to be carried out by a machine, Charles Babbage’s analytical engine—a predecessor of the electronic computer which was invented over one hundred years before the first modern computer was built.

Lovelace was not a woman of color, but she is a notable woman of STEM and is the namesake of the international holiday Ada Lovelace Day (ALD).  ALD is recognized worldwide on the second Tuesday in October to raise the profile of women in STEM and celebrate their achievements.  The intention is to inspire more women and girls to pursue their interests and careers in STEM.  For more information on ALD and events taking place, check out findingada.com.

Women of color are even less represented and acknowledged than white women for their achievements, so I’d like to spotlight a few more STEM superstars that everyone should know.

Among the many women of note in “Born Curious”, Dr. Patricia Era Bath was both a physician and inventor who created the Laserphaco Probe—the machine that uses lasers to remove cataracts from eyes.  Read more about Dr. Bath and her many other accomplishments, including being one of the first black women to be inducted into the National Inventors Hall of Fame!

Dr. Ellen Ochoa is an American engineer, astronaut and was the first Hispanic director of the Johnson Space Center. Ochoa was also the first Hispanic woman to go to space when she served aboard the Space Shuttle Discovery.

The Iraqi-born British architect Zaha Hadid was the first woman and Muslim recipient to win the Pritzker Prize, known as the Nobel for architecture. Hadid was also the first woman to receive the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA) gold medal.

While “Women in Science” is chock-full of amazing female scientists, Chien-Shiung Wu should be particularly noted as a Chinese-American physicist who made significant contributions in the fields of nuclear and particle physics. Wu worked on the Manhattan Project, where she helped develop the process for separating uranium into uranium-235 and uranium-238 isotopes by gaseous diffusion.

In my search to discover the best and most current books on women in STEM to share with you, I have come to the unfortunate conclusion that there are not very many full-length biographies for adults written about women and their successes in STEM fields, particularly BIPOC women. Are you listening writers?

In the meantime, here are a few additional titles that include brief biographies on many influential women in STEM: “Wonder Women” by Sam Maggs, “Women in Space” by Karen Bush Gibson, “Twentieth Century Women Scientists” by Lisa Yount, “Women Who Dared” by Linda Skeers, and “Women of Steel and Stone” by Anna M. Lewis.

And if you haven’t read it or seen the movie, yet, check out “Hidden Figures” by Margot Lee Shetterly. Just do it! It’s amazing.

One last thing. I would be remiss if I did not mention one of my absolute favorite fall events: Mead Public Library’s Tea & Tech: Girls’ STEM Day coming up on October 23. This virtual program is open to girls ages 8-17 and will feature NASA Langley Research Center’s Dr. Julia Cline, Gearbox Lab’s Isabel Mendiola, Spectrum News 1’s Brooke Brighton, and Laser Tech FTC—as well as, hands-on activities and lightning talks by local women in STEM.

And tea. Of course, we will have tea. And swag. We have some amazing swag bag goodies to share with our T&T participants, courtesy of Starbucks, MilliporeSigma, Gearbox Labs, Spectrum News 1, the Wisconsin Science Festival, and Mead Public Library.

Looking for even more STEM activities this month?  Check out the Wisconsin Science Festival.

*Details of the featured women in STEM were courtesy of Wikipedia, NASA, and the National Women’s History Museum.

Posted in Award Winners, Fiction, Kids 0-5, Kids 5-12, Staff Picks, Uncategorized

Code-Switching in Children’s Literature

Code-switching is becoming an increasingly popular practice in writing children’s literature.  Code-switching happens when one moves fluidly between two languages within written or spoken dialogue.  It is often used when a word cannot be directly translated or loses meaning in translation, or as a way of better illustrating themes where another language may describe something better or be more appropriate than English. Spanglish is a common word used when referring to the code-switching between English and Spanish.

Children’s books are an enjoyable way to introduce your child (or yourself) to another language.  If you are looking to incorporate a second language into your daily life or to keep a language alive in the home, books that use two languages are a good place to begin.  They often include a glossary with translations and use repetition to emphasize words that are in the language other than English. These books can be found in a variety of languages, but the most common are English to Spanish.  Below are a selection of favorites from Mead Public Library’s children’s collection (descriptions provided are taken from the book publishers):

La Princesa and the Pea by Susan Middleton Elya

The Princess and the Pea gets a fresh twist in this charming bilingual retelling, winner of the Pura Belpré Medal for Illustration.

El príncipe knows this girl is the one for him, but, as usual, his mother doesn’t agree.

The queen has a secret test in mind to see if this girl is really a princesa, but the prince might just have a sneaky plan, too . . .

Readers will be enchanted by this Latino twist on the classic story, and captivated by the vibrant art inspired by the culture of Peru.

Continue reading “Code-Switching in Children’s Literature”
Posted in Uncategorized

Bookish Bingo: Read a Book with a Connection to a Song Written in 2000

Photo by Andrea Piacquadio on Pexels.com

This morning I awoke with Dua Lipa’s “Love Again” playing in my head, and gawdamn, it’s got me singing the song, again.  Lately, between that and Ed Sheeran’s “Bad Habits”… I know I should swear off pop music, but I won’t.

My brain is forever a jukebox that is often playing songs that I may have heard recently or haven’t heard in years—maybe I dreamed about it?  There isn’t always a rhyme or reason, but there is one constant, a song is playing. Once in a while, a song even gets stuck on repeat.  (After singing “Mack the Knife” in a college jazz concert, I frequently found myself humming and singing, “Oh the shaaark haaas, prrretty teeeth, Deeear, and he shows themmm, PEHHRRRly white…”)

It’s for this reason that I tend to despise earworm songs—even the term creates a disgusting visual for me, and brainworm is enough to induce the heebie-jeebies.  One of my most hated earworms is Kylie Minogue’s “Can’t Get You Out of My Head”, because the only thing worse than an earworm is one that mocks you! (By the way, there is a real term for this condition: Involuntary Musical Imagery or INMI, and Mental Floss offers a cure!)

Earworms aside, I am a music lover.  I enjoy most genres, or at least some songs from each, but alas, as I am recognizing a sign of aging, I feel nostalgic listening to music from the 90’s and early oughts, my teenage and college years.

One of our Mead Bookish Bingo challenges this year is to read a book that has a connection to a song released in the year 2000.  This can mean that the book or title was inspired by a song from that year or that the song from that year was inspired by a book from any time.

This is one of our most challenging challenges, if you will.  I did some deep digging for this one, and here are a few literary options for you.  This list is not exclusive, so if you have additional suggestions, please share them on our Goodreads discussion board.

“Afternoon on a Hill” by Edna St. Vincent Millay
(This is technically a poem, but the poem was made into a children’s book, so it counts.)
Inspired “The Gladdest Thing” by Deb Talan

This whimsical poem expresses the joys of being out in the natural world as “the gladdest thing under the sun.”

House of Leaves by Mark Z. Danielewski
Inspired “Haunted” by Poe

This story focuses on a young family that moves into a small home on Ash Tree Lane where they discover something is terribly wrong: their house is bigger on the inside than it is on the outside.

Wicked: The Life and Times of the Wicked Witch of the West by Gregory Maguire
(This story, which was inspirited by L. Frank Baum’s The Wonderful Wizard of Oz, also inspired an entire musical in 2003.) Inspired seven songs on the Hannah Fury album The Thing That Feels

An astonishingly rich re-creation of the land of Oz, this book retells the story of Elphaba, the Wicked Witch of the West, who wasn’t so wicked after all. Taking readers past the yellow brick road and into a phantasmagoric world rich with imagination and allegory, Gregory Maguire just might change the reputation of one of the most sinister characters in literature.

Animal Farm by George Orwell
Inspired “Animal in Man” by Dead Prez

Mr. Jones of Manor Farm is so lazy and drunken that one day he forgets to feed his livestock. The ensuing rebellion under the leadership of the pigs Napoleon and Snowball leads to the animals taking over the farm. Vowing to eliminate the terrible inequities of the farmyard, the renamed Animal Farm is organized to benefit all who walk on four legs. But as time passes, the ideals of the rebellion are corrupted, then forgotten. And something new and unexpected emerges…

Brave New World by Aldous Huxley
Inspired “Brave New World” by Iron Maiden

Brave New World is Aldous Huxley’s 1932 dystopian novel. Borrowing from The Tempest , Huxley imagines a genetically-engineered future where life is pain-free but meaningless. The book heavily influenced George Orwell’s 1984 and science-fiction in general.

Captain Alatriste by Arturo Pérez-Reverte
Inspired “La Cruz de Santiago” by Mägo de Oz

It is the height of Spain’s celebrated golden century – but beyond the walls of the Royal Palace there is little on the streets of Madrid that glitters. The Invincible Armada has been defeated. The shadow of the Inquisition looms large. And the Thirty Years’ War rages on in Flanders. When a courageous soldier of this war, Captain Diego Alatriste, is forced to retire after being wounded in battle, he returns home to live the comparatively tame – though hardly quiet – life of a swordsman-for-hire. In this dangerous city where a thrust of steel settles all matters, there is no stronger blade than Alatriste’s.” The captain is approached with an offer of work that involves giving a scare to some strangers soon to arrive in Madrid. But on the night of the attack, it becomes clear that these aren’t ordinary travelers – and that someone is out for their blood. What happens next is the first in a series of riveting twists, with implications that will reverberate throughout the courts of Europe

Harry Potter series by J. K. Rowling
Inspired “Ode to Harry” by Switchblade Kittens

Harry Potter is a series of seven fantasy novels written by British author J. K. Rowling. The novels chronicle the lives of a young wizard, Harry Potter, and his friends Hermione Granger and Ron Weasley, all of whom are students at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

During my research, I also discovered that Artists for Literacy began a fundraising campaign in the year 2000 to recruit literary-influenced songs by top artists to inspire new readers and support free tutoring programs.  2000 was indeed a great year for the literature-music connection.


*Book descriptions and images are from Goodreads.com, except for the Harry Potter series description, which is from Wikipedia

Posted in Adult, Kids 5-12, Teen & Young Adult, Uncategorized

Back to School!

Summer continues to simmer as we fall into Autumn. Our students, teachers, parents and caregivers prepare for another new and unusual year of learning, returning to a school schedule into a new grade – all while still navigating the pandemic. This year brings us a mixture of school anxiety and excitement as we build relationships and grow as we learn together. We wanted to share some books from our Monarch system, as well as local and national online resources to assist in making the transition to this new year a little easier with enjoyable, engaging tools sprinkled in. The books listed below are available for request through the Monarch library catalog. (Descriptions provided are taken from the book publishers.) Be sure to take a look at the additional resources we included as well. We hope everyone has a safe and enjoyable school year!

The Day You Begin by Jacqueline Woodson

There will be times when you walk into a room
and no one there is quite like you.

There are many reasons to feel different. Maybe it’s how you look or talk, or where you’re from; maybe it’s what you eat, or something just as random. It’s not easy to take those first steps into a place where nobody really knows you yet, but somehow you do it.

Jacqueline Woodson’s lyrical text and Rafael López’s dazzling art reminds us that we all feel like outsiders sometimes-and how brave it is that we go forth anyway. And that sometimes, when we reach out and begin to share our stories, others will be happy to meet us halfway.

Continue reading “Back to School!”
Posted in Adult, Nonfiction, Science, Teen & Young Adult

Fall Reading Challenge: Conservation!

Starting September 1 and running through September 30, Mead Library is teaming up with the Glacial Lakes Conservancy on their 25th anniversary for a fall Reading Challenge! Watch for it to appear in Beanstack (the same website/app our Summer Reading Program uses). Read books, explore the outdoors, and earn tickets for prize drawings! And mark your calendar, because the challenge will wrap up with an outdoor anniversary celebration from 10am-2pm on Saturday, October 9 at the Willow Creek Preserve.

Below, I’ll share some books pulled together by my coworker, Erica, that would be perfect for this challenge. There are separate sections for adult books and teen books; descriptions have been taken from our catalog or the publisher. If you’re looking for children’s books, check out this previous blog post by Bree, Love Your Mother Earth!

Books For Adults

Wild Wisconsin Notebook by James Buchholz

Featuring 144 short and fascinating nature essays grouped by season, this beautifully illustrated volume serves as a trailside companion year-round. Find out about black bears and blackbirds, walleyes and woodchucks, snow geese and snow fleas, all in your own backyard. Nature lovers of all ages will appreciate Buchholz’s breezy style and wealth of outdoor knowledge.

Continue reading “Fall Reading Challenge: Conservation!”
Posted in Adult, Bingo 2021, Biography & Memoir, Bookish Bingo, Nonfiction

Bookish Bingo: Memoir of a Female Adventurer

Summer is winding down, and now is the perfect time to mark off another square on your Bookish Bingo card! Whether you’re looking for a title to carry to the beach or a page-turner to carry you away while on a staycation, these books are sure to take you on an adventure.  From the Midwest to Mongolia, from caves deep beneath the sea to flights 30,000 feet in the air, these authors have seen it all—and lived to write the tale.

Starting close to home, Melanie Radzicki McManus’s Thousand-Miler: Adventures of Hiking the Ice Age Trail details her experience walking 1,100 miles of ancient trails throughout the state of Wisconsin.  McManus is not on a leisurely stroll; she is endeavoring to set the record for a female thru-hiker on this trail.  With humor and compassion, she shares stories of her fellow thru-hikers, describes communities near the trail, and digs into the history of the trail.  You’ll see our state through a different lens and might be inspired to walk a mile or two on the Ice Age Trail.

Our community was settled largely by immigrants from Germany, so it seems fitting that our next stop is that country.  Schadenfreude, a love story: me, the Germans, and 20 years of attempted transformations, unfortunate miscommunications, and humiliating situations that only they have words for is perhaps the longest book title in our catalogue. Rebecca Shuman is a typical Jewish American teen when she encounters her first love—a teenaged boy with a volume of Franz Kafka in his backpack—which leads to the discovery of her real love: all things German.  For the next twenty years, Schuman visits and lives in Germany, trying in both a literal and metaphorical way to make herself understood and to understand. It’s a bildungsroman told with great wit and humor, a snapshot of a young woman discovering herself in a country that’s piecing itself back together after the end of the Cold War.

There’s a trite but rather true impression that most little girls go through a horse-mania phase.  Mine was mostly expressed by repeated readings of Black Beauty.  Author Lara Prior-Palmer, however, decided to sign up for a 1,000-kilometer (621 mile) horse race. In Mongolia. On a whim. As detailed in Rough Magic: Riding the World’s Loneliest Horse Race, Prior-Palmer is nineteen and all at loose ends when she sees an ad for the Mongolian Derby—a race that recreates Genghis Khan’s horse messenger system. She impulsively decides that riding a series of 25 wild ponies across the steppe is the next logical step in her life-long love of horses and riding.  The teenager is woefully underprepared for this race, bringing along scant equipment and unable to work the GPS.  Her win is a testament to her grit, determination, and competitive spirit.  And yet, because of Prior-Palmer’s frank avowal of her foolhardiness (and her spite towards another competitor), manages to save this memoir from the all-too-familiar narrative of the gritty underdog making good.

If you want to mark two squares with one book for the Bookish Bingo Challenge, Imagine Wanting Only This is the one for you.  Kristen Radtke spins her tale in the form of a graphic memoir, relating scenes and circumstances with a combination of lyrical prose and black-and-white art. Loss of a beloved uncle combined with the unwitting desecration of a photographer’s memorial lead the author into a fascination with ruins. Traveling from Cambodia to Colorado, Radtke’s pursuit of these places reveals an existential restlessness, a fear that settling down and settling in means eventual decay into a ruin herself. If you have never thought of a comic book as an art form capable of moving and challenging its readers, Imagine Wanting Only This will shift your perspective.

Perhaps no other author on my list exemplifies the female adventurer as well as Jill Heinerth.  She led teams that discovered long-submerged ruins of Mayan civilization, and she is the first person in history to dive deep into an Antarctic iceberg.  Her memoir Into The Planet: My Life as a Cave Diver detail her transformation from office drone to renowned cave diver.  Her prose is crisp yet conversational, alternately thrilling with its description of danger and charming with its depictions of underwater marvels.  From the opening sentence to the final paragraph, Heinerth sets the adrenaline rushing and the imagination free.

Other recommendations:

What I Was Doing While You Were Breeding: A Memoir
Kristin Newman

TV comedy writer Kristin Newman spent her 20s and 30s watching her friends get married and start families.  Unwilling to either settle down or become the sad single girl, Newman instead spent months each year travelling around the globe.  She details her adventures with an easy, infectious humor and delves with equal aplomb into self-reflection.  Why is it, exactly, that every obstacle sends her on a transatlantic flight?

Lands Of Lost Borders: A Journey On The Silk Road
Kate Harris

Author Kate Harris dreamed of being an explorer when she was a young girl. Unfortunately, the world had already been discovered and mapped long before she grew up in a small Ontario town. In between studying at Oxford and MIT, Harris and her childhood friend decided to travel the Silk Road by bicycle.  Cycling through miles of remote countryside, Harris begins to wonder about the definition of “explorer.” It is someone who discovers something, or is it someone who lives life outside of boundaries, discovering themselves?

Without You, There Is No Us: My Time With The Sons Of North Korea’s Elite
Suki Kim

It is 2011, and all universities in North Korea have been shut down for an entire year, the students sent to construction fields– except for the 270 students at the all-male Pyongyang University of Science and Technology (PUST), a walled compound where portraits of Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il look on impassively from the walls of every room. Suki Kim offers a moving and incalculably rare glimpse of life in the world’s most unknowable country, and at the privileged young men she calls “soldiers and slaves.”

French Ghosts, Russian Nights, And American Outlaws: Souvenirs Of A Professional Vagabond
Susan Spano

In 1993, the New York Times debuted a new feature, the Frugal Traveler, in its pages. Susan Spano was the first columnist, and she took her readers on fascinating trips around the globe. French Ghosts, Russian Nights, and American Outlaws is a collection of some her most beloved pieces. Join Spano as she journeys from the Artic Circle to Java, from China to the Andes Mountains. Through her tales, Spano lives her philosophy of life and travel: Go forth and find meaning. And return home with a tan, whenever possible.

All The Way To The Tigers: A Memoir
Mary Morris

Mary Morris was supposed to be going on sabbatical. Instead, an accident left her in a wheelchair for three months while she endured two surgeries, extensive rehabilitation, and doubts about her ability to ever walk again. While reading Death In Venice, she was captivated by the lines, “He would go on a journey. Not far. Not all the way to the tigers.”  Morris decided then and there that she would travel all the way to the tigers.  She spent weeks over a three-year period in India, searching for the world’s most elusive predator, learning about and finding a deep connection to the wild cat. Told in over a hundred short chapters, Morris weaves a multi-layered tale of determination, family, travel, and growth.

Book descriptions are courtesy of Monarch Catalog, except Schadenfreude, a love story: me, the Germans, and 20 years of attempted transformations, unfortunate miscommunications, and humiliating situations that only they have words for—provided by Amazon.

Posted in Adult, Bingo 2021, Teen & Young Adult

Read a Book Set in a Country That Has Never Hosted the Olympics

Now that the 2021 (2020?) Tokyo Summer Olympic Games have ended we all have additional time to work on our Mead Bookish Bingo Challenge. Below, I assembled several titles that will let you cross off the square for “Books set in a country that has NEVER hosted the Olympics”.

For instance, did you know that despite having over 50 countries registered with the International Olympic Committee, there has never been a modern Olympic games hosted by any country in the entire continent of Africa? This is largely due to the extreme cost attached to hosting an Olympics. Beijing reportedly spent $40 billion to host the 2008 Summer Olympics. If that big ol’ price tag is a deterrent for wealthy nations, imagine the strain this would have on a developing country. While there is talk of the games coming to Senegal far down the road, we must make due in the meantime. 

Chile
The House of the Spirits (1982) by Isabele Allende

Democratic Republic of Congo
The Poisonwood Bible (1998) by Barbara Kingsolver

Guatemala
Grave Secrets (2002) by Kathy Reichs

India
Djinn Patrol on the Purple Line (2020) by Deepa Anaparra
The God of Small Things (1997) by Arhundhati Roy
Murder in Old Bombay (2020) by Nev March

Nigeria
Akata Witch (2011) by Nnedi Okorafor
My Sister the Serial Killer (2018) by Oyinkan Braithwaite

South Africa
Born a Crime (2016) by Trevor Noah
Cry, the Beloved Country (1948) by Alan Patton

The titles listed above represent the tiniest sliver of literature produced in un-Olympic-ed nations. From travelogues to groovy science fiction, there is a pantheon of literature to choose from to get this bingo square crossed off. 

Do you still need a Mead Bookish Bingo card? It’s not too late to complete a row. Pick up a copy at the first or second floor desk at Mead or print your own out HERE. Would you like a little more community while you work on our bingo card? Consider joining our Goodreads group HERE.

If none of the titles listed appeal, contact us for additional recommendations. Please do not hesitate to reach out for help requesting materials, troubleshooting our ebook platforms, or anything else, really.

Posted in Film

Movie Geek Boxes: Movies PLUS MORE!

So you might not be aware, but not too long ago, Mead added a new thing to our collection: what we call a Movie Geek Box! What is that, you ask? Well, it’s a movie, of course – and then it’s additional related stuff to go along with it, like related movies, the soundtrack, a board game based on the movie, the book the movie is based on… let me give you just a few examples!

I should also add – in addition to looking in the catalog (you can search for “Movie Geek Box” and they should come up), their current location is on the first floor of the library next to the DVDs.

The Princess Bride Geek Box

The Princess Bride is a classic (I’ve had a friend call it the ultimate date movie, give that a shot!), but with this you could throw a whole Princess Bride party! In addition to the movie itself, you also get the soundtrack, a party game called The Princess Bride: Prepare To Die!, the original book by S. Morgenstern, a cookbook called The Princess Dessert Book, and a behind-the-scenes book titled As You Wish: Inconceivable Tales From the Making of The Princess Bride.

Continue reading “Movie Geek Boxes: Movies PLUS MORE!”