April 2010


Spurlock

Spurlock to host festival for the first time (2010)

This week is National Library Week!  What better way to celebrate than to live in Champaign-Urbana!  My goodness!  There always are cool library related activities!  Tomorrow, Saturday, April 17 at 7pm is the Storytelling Festival from the Center for Children’s Books.  This year it is being held at a new venue, The Spurlock Museum Auditorium (600 S. Gregory St. in Urbana, IL).

Come listen to some tales!  Not all are appropriate for children, so consider yourself warned, and have fun!

Students pay $5 with a Student ID

General public pay $8

Tickets can be purchased at the door.

For more information, contact the Center for Children’s Books at 244-9331 or ccb@illinois.edu.

Click here for audio from past Storytelling Festivals!

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Dark Night by Dorothee De Monfreid

"Dark Night" by Dorothee De Monfreid

Every week I volunteer at the Center for Children’s Books and the Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.  As such, I see a lot of great books for kids and young adults.  The Center for Children’s Books has a great non-circulating collection, and the Bulletin gets boxes upon boxes of books every week filled with the latest books before they are published.  I am going to try to be better about posting reviews of some of my favorites that come through.  Here are just a few quality picture books that are beautifully illustrated, have fun stories, and teach kids in an entertaining way.  These are of course viewpoints endorsed by Librarians are Weird, but are not to be confused with reviews of The Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books.  For those reviews please consider subscribing!  As of this posting it is only $15 for students!

Pepi Sings a New SongPepi Sings a New Song by Laura Ljungkvist is the story of a parrot who goes on a little adventure to different places around the city to learn new things so he can make up a new song to sing for the little boy that owns him.  He goes to the bakery, the dog park, to an artist, to a musician, etc.  The illustrations are fantastic and I thought the selection of words was a nice mix of the ordinary and less ordinary.

Dark NightDark Night by Dorothee De Monfreid is another really cute one that came in awhile ago, but is out now.  I love the color and the style.  It is about a little boy that goes into the woods and there are all kinds of scary animals, but with a help of a woodland friend he overcomes his fears.  It is a beautifully styled book.  I just love the look of it.  It is a great picture book for kids that are afraid of the dark.

Where in the WildWith a lot of hidden creature books it is easier to find all the creatures.  Where in the Wild? Camouflaged Creatures Concealed Revealed by David M. Schwartz really made me look hard to see them, and it was very cool to learn about these amazing creatures.  The book has poems, shows the picture, and you try to find the creatures.   Then you lift the flap and it highlights just the creature.  Adults will have fun with this one, too.

Moon Rabbit by Natalie RussellMoon Rabbit by Natalie Russell does not feature a rabbit from the moon.  While this could be disappointing, it really wasn’t.  I loved that the little rabbit loves living in the city, but longs for a friend.  She ventures out to find a little brown rabbit that plays guitar. They form a fast friendship, and while the new friend wants her to stay she goes home.  It is a sweet tale of friendship, independence, and of knowing what makes you happy.

The Octonauts & the Great Ghost Reef by Meomi is the first I’ve read in the Octonauts series, but I am absolutely hooked.  Not only are the team of creatures beyond adorable, but they have a mystery to solve!  The team is on the case to find out why a large and bustling reef city has become a ghost town.  Not only is the book engaging as a mystery and kids will learn the names of all kinds of creatures, but kids will learn something when the mystery is solved!  Scooby fans will love The Octonauts, which is good news since The Octonauts will soon be an animated television series.  For more information check out the official website: The Octonauts!

Find these items at a library near you!

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Food Rules by Michael PollanBestselling author Michael Pollan’s latest book, Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual, is a quick read, but is not light on information for anyone that eats.  There are a lot of long and exhaustive books that don’t get to the point, especially when it comes to diet and health.  Pollan however gets right to practical advice and scientific information with this slim book of ideas that span the space of a small page.

He makes interesting points, 64 in fact.  I tend to enjoy reading about health, and honestly, I find that a lot of these kinds of books are not quick and easy, or the advice is simply not good.  Not since I read You on a Diet have I felt so satisfied with a health advice book.

A lot of this was not new to me, but I tend to try to stay up on health news.  Even still, I found a lot to take away myself.  Pollan is an expert on food and the food industry, and informs us without a gimmick of weight loss.  Yes, you will lose weight if you follow his advice, but it is about being informed.  Like his other books and talks, he also discusses what has happened with the food industry and American society to cause our issues with food.

One thing that I loved about this book is that it didn’t focus heavily on meat vs. vegetarianism, but it did comment on it.  It is difficult when a book does not take into account the different perspectives of the potential readers.  It is a wonderful way to dip your toes into understanding food, but even people already knowledgeable will enjoy Pollan’s quick tips.  This book is really a great little read for anyone interested in being more mindful and healthy about what they eat with realistic solutions.

On Wednesday, April 21, the highly talked about Academy Award Nominated documentary film Food Inc. will be shown on POV.  Robert Kenner’s film features Pollan and other experts on food.  They explore the fascinating topic of how our food is making us sick, and what we can do to make it better.  Check your local PBS station listings.  You can even get a one time e-mail reminder from PBS so you don’t forget.

The Omnivore's Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals

Because of this, PBS is featuring an excerpt from Pollan’s book The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  Unlike Food Rules, The Omnivore’s Dilemma is not quick tips, but rather a discussion of how our food industry is run and how we got to this point.  This is not to say it won’t help you make smarter decisions.  Rather, Food Rules is the distilled advice of Pollan, but is hardly exhaustive of his knowledge.

Additional information:

Official website: Michael Pollan

Interview: Michael Pollan on Democracy Now! (VIDEO) — highly recommended

Excerpt (PBS): The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Excerpt (WorldCat/GoogleBooks): The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan

Additional websites:  Food, Inc. trailer on POV and Food, Inc. reminder

Official website: Food, Inc. documentary film

Find these items at a library near you! Don’t forget, this website’s official list of library items can also be found here or in our side bar by clicking on the WorldCat logo.

Food Rules: An Eater’s Manual by Michael Pollan

The Omnivore’s Dilemma by Michael Pollan — There is also a GoogleBooks preview, which you can find on WorldCat by clicking under the image of the book cover.  Or, you can click here to be taken there directly.

Food Inc.

Food, Inc.

Food, Inc. documentary film

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"Stranger than Fiction" is a Funny & Smart Film

Karen Eiffel (Emma Thompson) is writing her latest novel.  She has a case of writer’s block, and doesn’t know how to kill off her main character, lonely IRS agent Harold Crick (Will Ferrell).  Little does she know that Harold Crick is a real person.  He starts hearing a mysterious voice that narrates his life, and one day that voice states that Harold Crick will die.  With the help of Professor Jules Hibert (Dustin Hoffman), Harold tries to find out what story he is in so he can save himself.  Along the way he meets a smart, sassy, and beautiful woman that is being audited (Maggie Gyllenhaal) that he begins to fall for, and develops a friendship with his co-worker Dave (Tony Hale of Arrested Development).  For the first time in his lonely life Harold starts to live his life, all the while with the narrator and the knowledge of his impending death looming over him.

Will Ferrell as Harold Crick

Harold writes down tick marks into columns of what his story is “tragedy” or “comedy.”  We are left to wonder this ourselves.  With drama and laughter, we find a moving film that is quirky and fun, while deep and meaningful all the same.

The life of Harold Crick is not only narrated.  Graphics pop-up to accentuate how he lives his life measured out precisely.  But it is just when his life gains chaos that it starts to really make sense.  This is an intelligent film that speaks to the audience, not above the audience.  It is a sweet and touching and soulful film, with humor and brilliant awkwardness that reminds us “you’re never too old for space camp.”

This film was directed by Marc Forster.

More information:  Official website

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