Friday, April 20, 2012

Road Trip to Hattiesburg

Early April has become my favorite time of year and not just because I can leave winter behind and welcome in springtime, but because I get to take my yearly road trip to USM in Hattiesburg. Why? Because the second week in April is the Fay B Kaigler Children's Book Festival. For forty-five years the festival has been THE place to meet nationally known authors, illustrators, and storytellers.
Each year over 500 teachers and librarians from across the nation come to the University of Southern Mississippi to hear major speakers and participate in concurrent sessions and workshops as authors, illustrators, and experts in the field share their knowledge and experience.
In the past 3 years that I have attended the festival, I met many of my favorite teen authors such as Richard Peck, T A Barron, Maureen Johnson, and Sharon Draper. It is so inspiring to hear their stories of how they became writers and why they love the teen genre. It's also a great opportunity to visit and share books and program ideas with librarians from around the country.
My second favorite thing to do at the book festival is to visit the Lena Y de Grummond Collection which is housed at the university library. The de Grummond Collection is one of the largest literary collections in the country. According to the Dictionary of Literary Biography,

"Lena de Grummond came to the University of Southern Mississippi to teach children's literature in the School of Library Science in 1966, and she envisioned resources that went beyond the classroom textbook. It was her belief that if students could study the creative processes of authors and illustrators by examining the manuscripts and illustrations first hand, she knew they would better appreciate the literature. Before long de Grummond began her search by writing to her favorite creators of children's books and solicited contributions of original manuscripts and typescripts, illustrations, sketchbooks, galleys, dummies, publisher correspondence, and fan mail--any materials related to the publication of a children's book. Today the Collection houses works by more than 1200 authors and illustrators. These original materials are supplemented by a book collection of more than 100,000 volumes of historical and contemporary children's literature dating from 1530. These include fables,fairy tales, folklore, alphabet books, nursery rhymes, textbooks, religious books, moral tales, fantasy, fiction, primers, and children's magazines."
This year the festival highlighted Beatrix Potter who just happens to be one of my personal favorites. I had a wonderful opportunity to see one of the largest collections of Beatrix Potter in the South. Hundreds of pieces of art and literature surronded the showcase life-sized prints of The Arrival and The Departure. Outside I toured Mr. McGregor's Garden which was filled with beautiful day lilies of all sizes and colors while sipping a cool glass of lemonade. I couldn't help but picture Peter Rabbit nibbling away on the vegetation.
All in all it was a great trip. I relaxed with friends, I learned new ways to put good books in the hands of children and teens, and I was reminded of why I love children's books and why I chose to be a young adult librarian.

Friday, April 13, 2012

New Best Sellers for April


Calico Joe by John Grisham. Follows the divergent paths of a rookie hitter for the Chicago Cubs and a hard hitting Mets pitcher.

The Witness by Nora Roberts.  A brand new novel and a stunning new heroine from the #1 New York Times bestselling author.

Unnatural Acts by Stuart Woods. When a hedge fund billionaire hires Stone Barrington to talk some sense into his wayward son, it seems like an easy enough job; no one knows the hidden sins and temptations of the ultra-wealthy better than Stone. But as Stone and his erstwhile protege, Herbie Fisher, probe deeper into the case and an old one comes back to haunt him, he realizes that even he may have underestimated just how far some people will go to cover up their crimes. . . and plan new ones.

Guilty Wives by James Patterson and David Ellis. Four friends in Monte Carlo for a luxurious girls’ vacation find themselves in prison, accused of a crime.

Betrayal by Danielle Steel. A happy and successful Hollywood director discovers that someone is embezzling large sums of her money.

Stay Close by Harlan Coban. A disappearance in Atlantic City brings together three frustrated people whose lives were once connected.

Lone Wolf by Jodi Picoult. The children of a man who studies wolves must make difficult decisions when he is seriously injured in an accident.

Kill Shot by Vince Flynn. A CIA. superagent hunting down perpetrators of the Pan Am Lockerbie bombing, finds himself caught in a dangerous trap.

The Thief by Clive Cussler and Justin Scott. Isaac Bell tries to save scientists from German spies.

Force of Nature by C J Box. A commander from Nate Romanowski’s old black ops military unit attacks Nate by going after his friend Joe Pickett, a Wyoming game warden, and his family.


Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman. The winner of the Nobel in economic science discusses how we make choices in business and personal life and when we can and cannot trust our intuitions. 

Juliette Gordon Low: The Remarkable Founder of the Girl Scouts by Stacy Cordery. In celebration of the Girl Scouts' centennial, this biography is a salute to its maverick founder. Born at the start of the Civil War, Juliette Gordon Low grew up in Georgia, where she struggled to reconcile being a good Southern belle with her desire to run barefoot through the fields. Her search for a greater purpose ended when she met Robert Baden-Powell, war hero, adventurer, and founder of the Boy Scouts. Captivated with his program, She aimed to instill the same useful skills and moral values in young girls, with an emphasis on fun. She imported the Boy Scouts' sister organization, the Girl Guides, to Savannah in 1912.

Being George Washington: The Indispensable Man, as You've Never Seen Him by Glenn Beck. Combines biography and George Washington's writings with the author's own insights and comments to assert that Washington's beliefs and values are especially important to remember as the 2012 election approaches.

The First Lady of Fleet Street: The Life of Rachel Beer, Crusading Heiress and Newspaper Pioneer by Eilat Negev. Documents the rise and fall of the Victorian era newspaper heiress and social crusader, tracing how she assumed the editorship of two Sunday newspapers and promoted revolutionary social causes before family disputes forced her into isolation.


Where Things Come Back by John Corey Whaley. Seventeen year old Cullen's summer in Lily, Arkansas, is marked by his cousin's death by overdose, an alleged spotting of a woodpecker thought to be extinct, failed romances, and his younger brother's sudden disappearance.

Zombies Vs Unicorns by Holly Black. Twelve short stories by a variety of authors seek to answer the question of whether zombies are better than unicorns.

The Scorpio Races by Maggie Stiefvater. Nineteen year old returning champion Sean Kendrick competes against Puck Connolly, the first girl ever to ride in the annual Scorpio Races, both trying to keep hold of their dangerous water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.


Pinkalicious and the Pink Hat Parade by Victoria Kann. Pinkalicious and her brother Peter compete to see who can make the best hat for their town's annual hat parade, but although they both work hard on their hats, Peter's suffers some unforeseen problems.

The Cameo Necklace: A Cecile Mystery by Evelyn Coleman. Eleven year old Cécile Rey searches through many corners of 1854 New Orleans seeking a necklace, borrowed from her Tante Tay, that disappeared as she was exiting a crowded showboat. Includes facts about the 1850s.

Friday, April 6, 2012

We'll Always Have Paris - At Least At Your Library

The 1920's in Paris was a unique time of concentrated creativity which has never been equalled. The presence of the expatriot writers which included Ernest Hemingway, F Scott Fitzgerald, Sherwood Anderson, James Joyce, Ford Madox Ford, Henry Miller, T S Eliot, Anais Nin, Ezra Pound, and Gertrude Stein, created a charged atmosphere of possibilities which fueled the artistic scene as well. Ever since, readers have found the notion of this singular moment in time endlessly fascinating. Just imagine all the above-mentioned writers plus artists such as Picasso, Dali, Matisse, and the surrealist photographer and cinematographer Man Ray.  
In her first novel, The Paris Wife, Paula McClain has struck a responsive chord with readers describing Hemingway's first marriage from the perspective of his wife, Hadley. It has achieved broad popularity and undoubtedly will eventually produce a film. But last year's Woody Allen film, Midnight in Paris, addresses the entire "Lost Generation" scene and indulges the viewer in the greatest daydream of all - to live in the milieu which produced some of the greatest writing and art ever.
At the Armstrong Library, our Brown Bag Book Group is currently reading The Paris Wife and on Thursday, April 26th at 4 pm, we will discuss the book and watch the Oscar-winning film Midnight in Paris.
Please contact the Library to participate in the Book Group, or just come to the showing of the movie on the 26th!