Sick of spaceships? Toured pseudo-medieval Europe too often? Try these 6 science fiction & fantasy stories from black authors. You’ll find yourself anywhere from a magical version of modern Nigeria to a post-apocalyptic Brazil. With expansive worlds and fresh perspectives, these books can freshen up any sci-fi or fantasy reader’s bookshelf.
If N.K. Jemisin’s deluge of accolades and unprecedented three consecutive Hugos aren’t enough to persuade you to pick up The Fifth Season, perhaps a violent world of regular nigh-apocalyptic cataclysms and a earth-shattering mage on a far-ranging quest of vengeance to save her kidnapped daughter will entice you.
Most years, we’d be approaching E3 season. That may be canceled, but there are a few games that I’m looking forward to that have already been announced. I’m sure as announcements trickle in that there will be more games that I’ll look forward to, but we’ll start with these.
As much as I love a good story, I’m a sucker for an open-world RPG. This one has piqued my interest because it’s not the usual shooter or fantasy RPG. It’s tough to say from the gameplay they’ve shown how much variety there will be for what you can do. So far, it’s eating things and swimming through beautiful aquatic scenery. I suspect that’s why the game is cheaper than most games upon release, but I still want to try it.
People often assume I love books more than anything given my field and profession, and they aren’t wrong! I love books, so, so much. I love books like they’re alive. But my go-to vehicle for escapism has always been the warm embrace of film. If you haven’t sought out Mead’s video-streaming service, Kanopy yet, now is the time. Mead Library card holders get 10 credits a month and access to a staggering array of film across all genres. In addition to that, the “no-credit” viewing list has risen to 60 titles to meet our needs during the most leisurely pandemic ever. Below, I listed four movies to keep you entertained while we ride this stuff out.
A Town Called Panic (2009; 76 minutes; PG) Sometimes I get envious of people when I find out they haven’t consumed my personal favorite movies. They get to have the experience of seeing it for the first time, and I can never feel that feeling again. Please watch this movie, I implore you. Y’all are in for a treat. Not only is it beautiful to look at and very charming, but it is outright hilarious and wildly creative. This is stop-motion animation at its most absurd and watchable. I’m so confident in its appeal that I am not even going to go into any sort of plot summary. It’s a French production, so make sure to watch with original French subtitles. Kids will dig on it, too! With or without subtitles.
Black Christmas (1974; 1h 38m; R) Why yes, this was recently remade and no, you absolutely should not watch the remake. For those of you who do not dig on horror, by all means skip right the heck over this entry. Not only is Black Christmas an early prototypic slasher movie often copied in tone a decade later in the likes of Halloween and Friday the 13th but it is genuinely creepy! Originally released under the title “Silent Night Deadly Night”, we watch as one by one, members of a sorority succumb to the creep living in the attic. You may be surprised to learn that Bob Clark, the film’s director, would go on to direct A Christmas Story so he really had all the Christmas-themed genre films locked down by the early 1980s. This is a great pick for someone who is curious about horror but can’t handle too much gore. Also, it’s a good idea to wait until the wee ones are elsewhere before giving it a look.
The Harder They Come (1972; 2h; R) The plot is convoluted, the acting is terrible, the cinematography is eh, so why bother? This is the king of 1970s exploitation films and warrants a peek. And have I mentioned the soundtrack? Talk about escapism, it’s like sitting by the beach, you just need to stick a tiny umbrella in your drink. The film’s protagonist, played by Jimmy Cliff, is trying his best to get a recording contract while running afoul of drug dealers and corrupt record producers. Naturally, the soundtrack is peppered with the best reggae music and artists of the time. Only one other exploitation film comes close in musical quality and that is the immortal soundtrack to Superfly (also 1972), by Curtis Mayfield. I would not necessarily call The Harder They Come “lighthearted” but it is so far afield in location and time that one will be transported, if only briefly, to a place far from the realities of COVID.
Hitchcock/Truffaut (2015; 80m; PG-13) While the film was released in 2015, it is based on a series of interviews conducted by Truffaut over the course of a week in 1962 at Hitchcock’s studios at Universal. The interview series would go on to be published in 1966 as a book of the same name, and is still considered one of the most important books on film published in the 20th century. Psycho (1960), North by Northwest (1959) and Vertigo (1958) had already reached the big screen at the time of the interviews, and Rebecca won for Best Picture in 1940, but Hitchcock was still not regarded as the important auteur we know him as today. Truffaut, himself a young filmmaker, idolized Hitch’s work and used the interview time to go through all of his more than 50 films to date in chronological order with almost fetishistic zeal. The addition of interjected commentary by contemporary filmmakers fleshes out the scope and gravity of what Truffaut accomplished. WARNING! This documentary will make you want to watch Hitchcock’s entire filmography so be prepared. It might also make one curious about the work of Francois Truffaut. If this is the case, I have good news. My next Kanopy-centric blog post will focus on Criterion Collection titles available, which includes but is not limited to Truffaut’s The 400 Blows. Stay tuned!
I would love to hear which films people have found appealing, and which…not so much. Let me know! Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. I would truly love to hear some opinions and suggestions. We’re happy to help with any Kanopy-related questions, as well. Until next time, happy watching!
Welcome back to Mead’s blog! This week I figured I would talk about Gale courses. Gale courses are online classes that can either give you accreditation for your career or give you new skills for your personal growth. I wanted to share with everyone some of the courses I’m considering enrolling in.
Way back, in the long-ago of my childhood, I wanted to be a comic book artist. I stopped practicing, though, and eventually, that dream was left behind. Recently, I’ve decided I want to work on improving my rusty drawing skills, but I don’t expect DC will be hiring me. The next session start date is April 15th.
“Social Distancing” is an ubiquitous term these days with the spread of COVID-19, coronavirus, because it affects all of us. In simple terms, it means that we should avoid physical contact and close proximity to each other.
Book clubs are gatherings of readers sharing in discussion, and in the case of the Book to Art Club, sharing art supplies. Due to the spread of coronavirus many of us are cancelling in-person meetings for the foreseeable future. This is disappointing to do, but it helps protect you and your club members from getting sick, and that is extremely important. However, cancelling isn’t your only option. Clubs can meet virtually via video chat, like Skype, Zoom, Facebook Messenger, or Microsoft Teams, just to name a few, or through a conference telephone call.
The Mead Library Romance on the Rocks book club met this week over Skype, and it worked well. It was new for many of us, so we struggled slightly with connecting to the group, versus everyone connecting individually with me because they connected through my Skype invitation, but that was easy to fix.
What you need to make this work is to create a group in Skype for your book club. Next, invite your members by email through the group to join. You can also add members to the group manually after they’ve created a Skype account. Then, all you and your participants need to do is click on the camera or phone icon at your designated meeting time. Skype allows participants to connect by video or phone, and covering your camera is always an option, for those who want to join the discussion but not be on camera.
The Moonlight & Murder book club will meet on Skype in April to discuss Alexander McCall Smith’s The Department of Sensitive Crimes, and the Book to Art Club will meet on Skype in April and May. These discussions are open to teens and adults.
The Book to Art Club discusses books while making hands-on projects, so to keep the making element, I have asked participants to work on a project at home during the discussion, and I hope to share pictures of the projects in our group Facebook album. April’s Book to Art Club read will be Etiquette & Espionage by Gail Carriger, which will inspire steampunk projects related to a girls’ dirigible finishing and assassin school, and May’s discussion will be Nevermoor: the Trials of Morrigan Crow by Jessica Townsend, a Harry Potter-like fantasy featuring a curse, a talent competition, umbrella traveling, a giant cat and magical rooms. I’ve included links on the book titles to make it easy to join these discussions, and I hope you will. Digital book copies may be available through digital sources such as Overdrive/Libby and RB Digital.
Due to Mead Library closing for the coronavirus outbreak, I decided my blog post would be a bit different. All of the cookbooks in this post are available through Hoopla and Libby, so you can still check them out with us closed! Though, I will also include a link to our main catalog in case you find this post after the pandemic has died down. All of these books were selected because they were related to either food storage or cooking on a budget. I’ll include the description from Libby or Hoopla about each of the books.
“While studying food policy as a master’s candidate at NYU, Leanne Brown asked a simple yet critical question: How well can a person eat on the $4 a day given by SNAP, the U.S. government’s Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program informally known as food stamps? The answer is surprisingly well: Broiled Tilapia with Lime, Spicy Pulled Pork, Green Chile and Cheddar Quesadillas, Vegetable Jambalaya, Beet and Chickpea Salad—even desserts like Coconut Chocolate Cookies and Peach Coffee Cake. In addition to creating nutritious recipes that maximize every ingredient and use economical cooking methods, Ms. Brown gives tips on shopping; on creating pantry basics; on mastering certain staples—pizza dough, flour tortillas—and saucy extras that make everything taste better, like spice oil and tzatziki; and how to make fundamentally smart, healthful food choices.”
The American Library Association recently announced the winners of the 2020 Youth Media Awards. Materials for children and teens were selected by committees of literature and media specialists under different categories for their excellence. Below is a list of some of the notable award recipients. Be sure to click on the titles of those that interest you to reserve your own copy through our catalog.
John Newbery Medal
The John Newbery Medal is awarded annually by the Association for Library Service to Children (ALSC) to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. This year’s winner is New Kid, written and illustrated by Jerry Craft. This is a graphic novel about a boy of color who begins attending a prestigious school in an upscale neighborhood, with a mostly white student body. He finds himself struggling to belong in his new school, as well as in his own neighborhood with old friends.
Four Newbery Honor Books were also named this year:
The Undefeated, written by Kwame Alexander and illustrated by Kadir Nelson
The Randolph Caldecott Medal is awarded annually by the ALSC to the artist of the most distinguished illustrated American children’s book. This year’s winner is The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander. This is a beautifully illustrated poetic picture book about the trials and tribulations of black Americans.
There were also three Caldecott Honor Books named this year:
Bear Came Along, illustrated by LeUyen Phamand and written by Richard T. Morris
The Michael L. PrintzAward is administered by the Young Adult Library Services Association and sponsored by Booklist. It is awarded annually to a book that exemplifies literary excellence in young adult literature. This year’s winner is Dig, written by A.S. King. This is a surreal story of white privilege and a legacy of hate as experienced by five teenage cousins in a dysfunctional family.
Four Printz Honor Books were also named this year:
Pura Belpré Awards are awarded annually by the ALSC and REFORMA. They are awarded to a Latinx writer and illustrator whose work best portrays, affirms, and celebrates the Latinx cultural experience.
The Pura Belpré Author Award winner this year is Sal and Gabi Break the Universe, written by Carlos Hernandez. This is a story about Sal, a thirteen-year-old magician, who teams up with Gabi, the student council president. Together, they try to uncover the mystery of how Sal breaks the universe.
The Pura Belpré Illustrator Award winner for this year is Dancing Hands: How Teresa Carreño Played the Piano for President Lincoln, illustrated by Rafael López and written by Margarita Engle. This is a delightfully illustrated picture book about the life of the Venezuelen born pianist Teresa Carreño, who by the age of nine, played the piano for President Lincoln at the White House.
Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal
The Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Medal is awarded annually by the ALSC to the author(s) and illustrator(s) of the most distinguished informational book published in the United States in English during the preceding year. The winner is Fry Bread Fry Bread: A Native American Family Story, written by Kevin Noble Maillard and illustrated by Juana Martinez-Neal. This book shares the story of fry bread as a tradition for Native Americans across tribes and time. A recipe is included, along with an author’s note with more information on the history and cultural ties to fry bread.
Coretta Scott King Awards
The Coretta Scott King Awards are awarded annually by the ALA’s Ethnic and Multicultural Information Exchange Round Table. They are awarded to African-American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. The King Author Book winner for this year is New Kid, written by Jerry Craft. The King Illustrator Book winner is The Undefeated, illustrated by Kadir Nelson and written by Kwame Alexander. New Kid also won the Newbery Medal and Undefeated also won the Caldecott Medal this year, scroll up for a summary for each of these.
I spend toomuchtime talking about movies and games, so this month I am doing something different. I go through bouts where I get absorbed into comic series. This month I thought I would share some of my favorites. The items in this blog post will take you to the first volume of the series in Mead’s collection.
The Black Monday Murders is a blend of noir mystery and occult horror. The gist of the series’ story is that bankers are being murdered in horrific, cult-like ways. As Detective Dumas follows the clues, he discovers that there is a world of magic schools hidden behind international banking. The premise tickles my fancy, but what has stuck with me is the use of color and shadow. The art is surreal at times, but somehow the color and shadow ground it. I feel like this one, in particular, is the hidden-ish gem of this blog post, but I have to do my due diligence to mention this series is on hiatus. The artist and co-creator, Tomm Coker, had to step away due to some health concerns, so this series currently stops after volume two.
Create warm memories with the kids in your life while baking a delicious treat together! Baking is a fun and relaxing activity that also provides kids with experiences in measuring, reading/following directions, and developing fine motor skills. Kids will also have opportunities to express their creativity. The following baking books from our collection are great options for kids of all ages. In addition to delicious recipes, they include information on kitchen safety and hygiene, guides to cooking equipment, and cooking skill levels are listed on each recipe. Be sure to read through the entire recipe and organize your supplies and ingredients before getting started. Have fun and enjoy your delicious creation!
This is a really well-illustrated book with photos paired with each step of the recipes. It also includes an illustrated baking vocabulary section and photos to inspire different ways to decorate your baked creations. There are also sidebar tips with the recipes. One of the tips makes the connection between baking and chemistry, and others include creative ways to alter the recipes. Included in this book are recipes for cookies, muffins, cakes, pies, toaster-oven tarts, garlic bread sticks, and brownie pizza.
This baking book includes loads of information and pictures for over 100 recipes. The very detailed instructions make these recipes easy to follow. There are a variety of sweet and savory recipes for a variety of skill levels. There are many recipes for cookies, cakes, muffins, and bars. There are also recipes for empanadas, pizza rolls, Brazilian cheese bread, and soft pretzels.
The beginning of this book provides information on basic ingredients, how to measure accurately, nutrition info, baker’s lingo, and a guide to equivalent measurements. There are recipes for a variety of cookies, bars, brownies, cakes, pies, muffins, and pizzas. There is a statement from Good Housekeeping that gives a “Triple Test Promise”, which means each recipe in this book has been tested at least three times and is determined to be delicious, family-friendly, healthful, and easy to make.
There is something for everyone in this book that is loaded with 150 recipes for cakes, muffins, pies, tarts, cookies, and breads. There are even some delicious no-bake recipes. A photo guide for baking equipment, and step-by-step instructions with photos for baking techniques are also included in this baking book that is designed for a variety of skill levels.