April 2011

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Welcome to Mesopotamia

Book cover of Eyewitness MesopotamiaEncountering the term Mesopotamia in the news, social media, or even surfing the Web, is the reality of facing history and searching for the real historical facts. Then, what is Mesopotamia?  Is it a nation, a civilization, a mystery, or is it an art? Realistically speaking, reviewing the history lessons would be the best rationale. Mesopotamia is the term that we have known in the history of the Ancient Civilizations, and it’s an integral part of the Near-Eastern Studies, Oriental Studies, Middle Eastern Studies, or even the Western Civilization. Mesopotamia is the modern nation of today’s Iraq. The country is also called “The Land between the Two Rivers” (Tigress & Euphrates) and it’s the Cradle of Civilization. The valley of Mesopotamia is the home of the great civilizations of Akkadian, Sumerians, Babylonians, and Assyrians empires. This is the land where the alphabet was developed, art was flourished, inventions were created, and the first cities were built. It is the land of Hammurabi that produced the first laws of the land, and it’s the center of a first library in the world which was built here by the Assyrians in Nineveh. In today’s Mesopotamia (Iraq) the existence of the Great Ziggurat of Ur, City of Babylon, the Capital of Nineveh, the treasures Nimrud, and the Iraqi Museum of Baghdad are the witness of this great civilization. Today’s Mesopotamia is the transparency of the great civilizations to humanity and multicultural society with ethnic groups and languages. It is the home of many Arab speaking groups, Kurds, Assyrians Turkmans, Armenians, and others.

Babymouse: Queen of the World!

Cover of BabyMouse: Queen of the WorldLooking to get an emergent reader "hooked" on reading? Check out the BabyMouse series of graphic novels. In her first adventure, BabyMouse: Queen of the World, BabyMouse schemes to get invited to a classmate's slumber party. Seven to nine year old girls will love her wild imagination and love of anything pink. Brother and sister team Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm have created a memorable character and the black, white and pink drawings will entice even the most reluctant readers.

Teen Fiction: The Running Dream

The Running Dream coverIn the opening chapter of The Running Dream by Wendelin Van Draanen, high school junior Jessica wakes up in the hospital to find that the lower half of her leg is gone, damaged beyond repair in a horrible bus accident that also claimed the life of one of her track teammates. Jessica is devastated. Running meant everything to her, and now she can't even get out of bed. However, her will is strong, and with the help of her loving family and friends, she is quickly on the road to recovery and to walking once again with her new prosthetic leg. But will Jessica ever run again?


As someone who also loves to run and gets what that runner's high feeling is all about, I can't even imagine how crushing it would be to have it taken away. Despite the odds and the setbacks along the way though, Jessica is inspiring, positive, and full of hope. While still recovering and confined to a wheelchair, Jessica ends up befriending a girl with cerebral palsy in her math class named Rosa, and as they become good friends, Jessica makes the connection that like Jessica, Rosa wants to be seen as Rosa, not as the girl with a disability. In the end, you can't help but cheer for Jessica like an excited fan along the track.


While losing a limb would surely be an awful tragedy, this story ends up being a feel-good "best case scenario" of what would happen in the aftermath of such a terrible event, thanks to Jessica's determined spirit and her wonderful support network. Parts of the book are certainly sad, but there are plenty of humorous and heart-warming scenes that keep this from being just another tear-jerker. I also found the bits about Jessica's recovery and prosthesis to be really informative. If you're looking for other inspiring stories like this one, try Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham, The Dark Days of Hamburger Halpin by Josh Berk, or Owning It : Stories About Teens with Disabilities.

Cutting for Stone, eAudio Style

Audiobook cover of Cutting for StonePossibly, you’ve already heard about Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese; the epic novel that follows its characters from India and England to Ethiopia to New York.  I had, too, and was anxious to get my hands on it. Daunted by the long waiting list for the print version, I decided to try out the e-audiobook version.  I am so glad I did.  For one thing, the waiting list was a whole lot shorter, but more importantly, the audiobook reader, Sunil Malhotra, tells the story beautifully. He convincingly performs distinctive voices for a large cast of Indian, African, British, and American characters.  I was taken in and totally engrossed by this skillful narration of a magnificent story. Would you like to hear a sample? Visit the e-audiodownload page for Cutting for Stone where you can play an excerpt.


But we don't stop there, Cutting for Stone is also available in EPUB format and of course, in paper print.

Classic Literature with The League!

Cover of The League of Extraordinary GentlemenReaders may recall the popcorn flick lead by Sean Connery, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (2003). The film did atrociously in theaters, receiving an embarrassing 17% 'rotten' rating over at www.rottentomatoes.com. I am here to profess that the original graphic novel by known-eccentric author Alan Moore is actually worth your time! I just recently finished Volume I for a class, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. For those unfamiliar with the graphic novel series, Moore takes a rag-tag group of Victorian era literature's greatest characters (including The Invisible Man and Captain Nemo from 20,000 Leagues Under the Sea) and blends them together to create a group of elite mercenaries for British Intelligence.


The book is decidedly steampunk in aesthetic, which compliments the source material nicely. It's ripe with references to classic literature that the reader is sure to get a kick out of. One of the most engaging aspects of Alan Moore titles (Watchmen, Batman: The Killing Joke) are the morally ambiguous natures of a lot of his characters. Even if the protagonists of the The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen aren't necessarily virtuous, Moore has a knack for keeping the reader interested and invested in the plot and how these characters interact. It's refreshing to read stories where the players straddle the line between moral and immoral.


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen is definitely worth a read, and it's still going! Moore is currently finishing Volume III as I type this!

Water for Elephants

Book cover of Water for ElephantsWater for Elephants is a wonderful story that epitomizes the American spirit in a gripping and beautiful way. Sara Gruen is a talented writer. She captures the authenticity and lore of the traditional circus. There is glitz and glamor in a circus, but Sara also reveals the seedy under belly of abuse and neglect that these performers (animals and humans) have to endure.


The main character Jacob is a veterinarian student who is about to about to graduate from one of the top schools in the country and embark on his exciting career. Jacob was on top of the world, until destiny came and set his fate. Both of his parents were killed and Jacob lost everything including his chance of becoming a veterinarian. He chooses his own path by hitching a ride with a circus train. Set in the depression-era, the story focuses on the difficulties of being successful in the entertainment industry during that time.


When Jacob begins working in the circus, it is soon known that Jacob has veterinarian experience. He is assigned to be the circus’ animal trainer and veterinarian. Jacob finds himself stressed and conflicted with moral dilemmas to ensure the safety and health of the animals (especially the main attraction "Rosie" the elephant). With a tyrannical ring master who is obsessed with ticket sales, many times doing what is best for the animal doesn’t always prevail. Even with all of these elements Jacob and Marlena (the ring master’s wife) begin to comfort each other and they start a forbidden and dangerous affair (this could only mean trouble for Jacob and his future with the circus).


This past weekend I went to see the movie that was made from this story starring two big stars Robert Patterson (Jacob) and Reece Witherspoon(Marlena).  This movie exceeded my expectations; they painted a beautiful back drop to tell this dramatic and hopeful story by making sure they unveiled the story moment by moment instead of giving it away right at the beginning of the movie. This created an effect of having you at the edge of your seat the entire time during the film. Kudos to the director Francis Lawrence who, in my opinion, is known for his dark and dramatic imagery of the characters in his films.


If you are interested in this story, our library has many different types of ways to enjoy it. You can download Water for Elephants as EPUB eBook to read on your computer or other device and as a WMA eAudiobook you can listen to on your iPod, and we also have copies in both Spanish and Chinese and in Audiobook CD form.

Posted by Priscilla Gove on Apr 27, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Freedom by Jonathan Franzen

Book cover of FreedomI recently finished Jonathan Franzen's latest book, Freedom, and couldn't help but want to write about it. The problem is, I know that I cannot do it justice with my less-than-brilliant version of plot description.  After reading such a well-written book I hardly feel qualified to even write this humble little blog at all.  What I can say, as a sporadic reader at best, is that I normally consider the LENGTH of a book when deciding whether or not to tackle it. And in spite of my preference for short reads, I found myself plowing through this 500+ page masterpiece without wanting to take a break.


Freedom is insightful and honest, infusing politics and historical events into a story which tackles some of the most fundamental and universal of human struggles.  It is smart, poignant and witty, and  I recommend it whole-heartedly.

Posted by Stephanie Budros on Apr 27, 2011 | Comments: 1 |

Read Around the U.S. Starting With These....

Book cover of Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close Most readers know that Stephen King's novels usually take place in the state of Maine, where the novel Olive Kitteridge (2008), by Elizabeth Strout also takes place, but King broke out of the mold with the popular Duma Key (2008),which takes place in Florida. Many novels take place in New York, both city and state.


Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close (2005), by Jonathan Safran Foer, a moving 9/11 novel, features a child as the main character. Most of the Agent Pendergrast series of novels by Douglas Preston and Lincoln Child, such as Cemetery Dance (2009), start in New York City as well, while also visiting, among other sites, Prendergast's childhood home in New Orleans, Louisiana. Gone Tomorrow (2009), one of Lee Child's best thrillers, also takes place in New York.


Moving West, Jeannette Walls' novel, Half-Broke Horses (2009), is based on her grandmother's incredible life growing up in Texas and Arizona. Alaska is featured in the mysteries of Dana Stabenow and in a bleak new novel about marriage and relationships, Caribou Island (2011), by David Vann. Finally, the "granddaddy" of all writers of novels about states, James Michener, wrote one of the best ever, Hawaii (1959).

Agatha Raisin - Anti-hero

Agatha Raisin is an amateur detective unlike most you will find in cozy mysteries. She's grumpy, opinionated, and man-crazy. Agatha is in semi-retirement in the English Cotswolds. She thought that was what successful businesswomen were supposed to do when they retired, but she finds it boring and tedious. When puzzles pop up, she begrudgingly sets out to figure out what's going on. She also tries her darnedest to hook up with whichever handsome gentleman lands in her line of sight. Amazingly, she has managed to make a few friends - mostly those who find her ornery temperament a refreshing change. Hilarity happens and she always solves the case - so maybe she's not so unlike all those other cozy mystery heroines, after all. If a cranky, crotchety crone sounds like a character you'd crave, read the Agatha Raisin series by M.C. Beaton.


Book cover - Agatha Raisin and the Love from HellBook cover - Agatha Raisin and the Wellspring of DeathBook cover - Agatha Raisin and the Wizard of Evesham

The Liberation of Gabriel King

Book cover of The Liberation of Gabriel KingFrom the opening page, K.L. Going gives the definition for liberate: to set free and to release from control, and from the first page we are introduced to Gabriel, who, according to his best friend Frita, needs some "liberatin'", because he is afraid of everything, including the 5th grade.  He is terrified of the 5th grade, and he does not want to be promoted.  He says, "I'd rather be alive in the 4th grade than dead in the 5th," for in the 5th grade are Duke and Frankie who pick on him and make his life miserable.  So, the summer after 4th grade, his friend Frita, who ain't afraid of anything, takes the matters into her own hands and decides to "liberate" Gabe.  He is to write a list of all his fears, and they are going to face them one by one.  Leave it to Frita to force him to face spiders and sentipedes, Frita's brother, Terrance, the Evan's trailer, and swinging off a rope swing into a local swimming hole, but little does he know that Frita had her own list and that she might need some "liberatin'".  For children grades 4 and up, The Liberation of Gabriel King is a heartwarming story about two children who conquer their fears. 

Beautiful Poetry for the Young Minds

Bookcover of "Great Poems for Grand Children"Great Poems for Grand Children (edited by Celestine Frost) is a collection of more than 250 beautiful poems by various poets from around the world. On the list you can find: Lewis Carroll, T. S. Eliot, Robert Louis Stevenson, Octavio Paz, William Shakespeare, Maya Angelou, Walt Whitman, and many more. Readers will be surprise with such inclusions as Lincoln's Gettyburg Address and an excerpt from Martin Luther King, Jr.'s I Have A Dream speech. Poems are arranged by subjects, including Nursery Rhymes, Bedtime, Animal Friends, Seasons of the Year, True Love, etc. Intended for reading to children Great Poems will delight grandparents and parents alike with a treasure of magnificent and imaginative verses accompanied by inspiring drawings by Brian Cronin.


Find more Children's Poetry at your local libraries.

Royal Wedding Fever

Cover of William and Kate: A Love StoryIn case you hadn't heard, Prince William is getting married on Friday to Catherine Middleton, who he has been dating for years.   There will be digital coverage, so if you are so inclined, you can log in at around midnight and watch the nuptials via streaming video.  The wedding also has an official website and if you want to send the happy couple your well wishes you can upload a video here.


We've got some biographies of Prince William in the library's collection.  I daresay they are all checked out, but you can request one on the catalog.  We've also got a biography of Kate as well.


Snoop Dogg wrote a song for Prince William's bachelor party.  There's been some controversy about the title.  Well it is a Snoop Dogg song...


Are you planning on staying up late to watch the Royal Wedding?  Anybody have a party planned?   For myself, I'll be dreaming of the wedding, but not watching it live.

Two Great Dog Stories

Here are two books that are perfect reads if you love dogs or animals.  They are also perfect because they are definitely not boring.   You will want to keep reading them until the very end.  They are that good.  They are so good that they both won Newbery Medals.    And they both were made into films.  So, let me tell you a little bit about these two outstanding books.


book cover

Because of Winn-Dixie by Kate DiCamillo is the story of a lonely girl named India Opal (Opal, for short), who finds a big old skinny, scruffy, stray dog in the local Winn-Dixie grocery store.   Opal names the dog Winn-Dixie and takes it home to give it a bath, some food and a new home.   Opal’s Dad is a preacher and it doesn’t take long for him to fall in love with Winn- Dixie, too.  Who can resist a dog  that can smile and seem to understand everything you say?  As soon as Winn-Dixie enters her life, Opal seems to have lots of adventures and make new friends.   Still, Opal is lonely for her mother who ran away when Opal was only three years old.  Why did her mother run away?  Did she love Opal?  What was she like?  Opal is always on the quest to find answers to these questions.    But, because of Winn-Dixie and her love for him, Opal is no longer paralyzed by these questions and is able to turn her life around in a good way.   



book cover


Shiloh, by Phyllis Reynolds Naylor is the story of a boy and a beagle dog.  Eleven-year-old Marty Preston comes across a beagle pup in the woods near Shiloh, not far from his hometown of Friendly, West Virginia.  The beagle pup wins Marty’s heart at first sight, but Marty can’t help but notice that there is something not right with the pup.  The pup is frightened and cringes when Marty approaches him.  Marty soon finds out why.  The pup’s owner is beating him and Marty is determined to save the pup he names Shiloh from further abuse.  Marty has a lot of difficult decisions to make in his effort to rescue Shiloh. He will encounter danger, adventure and emotional moments as his love for Shiloh propels him onward to do the right thing. 

Everyone Deserves a Home


Fleabag by Helen Stephens is the story of a little dog that has no home.  This little dog meets a boy who is sad because he has no one to play with.  They bond a friendship despite the little boy’s parent telling him to stay away from the dirty flea ridden dog.   Unfortunately, their bond is put to a test when the little boy has to move away.  See what happens in this adorable story about a dog who always does the right thing even if no one is watching!

Library Books from Outside the Library

Didn’t find the book you were looking for in the San Jose library? Your San Jose library card still may be able to get the item for you, even if we don’t own a copy. Our two services, Link+ and ILLiad (also called "interlibrary loan"), allow you to request items from cooperating libraries across California, or even farther away. Link+ is especially quick and easy to use, and includes all sorts of unusual and fun subjects. Some things I’ve enjoyed through Link+ include:


Buffy Goes Dark, a collection of scholarly essays about the later two seasons of the influential cult favorite TV show, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. 


Zothique, a rare old collection of eerie short stories by Lovecraft-circle author Clark Ashton Smith.


And The Jennifer Morgue, an installment of Charles Stross’ seriocomic tales about sorcerer/spy/computer technician, Bob Howard.


So if you don’t find what you’re looking for in our catalog, click on the “Search Link+” button, and you may be able to get it from one of our neighbors.

Career Examinations

The day that you are requested to take an exam for your job is coming but all the books on that career are checked out. What can you do? Don't worry! We have this expanded resourceful database  LearningExpress that covers an on careers exams.


You will find practice career exams for the following categories: Air Traffic Controller, Civil Service, Commercial Driver's License, Cosmetology, Culinary Arts, Electrical, Emergency Medical Services, Firefighter, Green Careers, Law Enforcement, Military, Nursing and Allied Health, Legal, Plumbing, Real Estate, Teaching. Please make sure to click on the plus (+) sign to open the sub-categories to explore more advanced exams.


The video below will help you navigate to more career resources in addition to the mentioned database.  


Time to Make a Change?

Book Cover for M.J. Ryan's "This Year I Will...""Could the young but realize how soon they will become mere walking bundles of habits, they would give more heed to their conduct while in the plastic state."

  • William James (American Philosopher/Psychologist)

This Year I Will... How to Finally Change a Habit, Keep a Resolution, or Make a Dream Come True 


M.J. Ryan, life coach and author, shows that (happily!) change is possible at any age in this highly readable and practical book.  Ms. Ryan readily acknowledges that change is not easy -- whether it is in our relationships, finding or changing jobs, getting out of debt, exercising and losing weight -- or for that matter anything else! However, in concise and pithy chapters, with surprising empathy, she uses insights from psychology and neuroscience to give the reader the courage and skills to change amidst life’s many ups and downs.


M.J. Ryan’s blog

College Preparation and Planning

University of California BerkeleyThere are so many resources and services on the internet. But you don't know where to start. You can begin by visiting our Teens College and jobs page, which takes you to explore different colleges, admission and finance information. You can also take a practice test on PSAT, SAT, and ACT in the "college testing", Tutor.com SkillsCenter Resource Library for Student Center, or from the LearningExpress Library Tutorials, Tests, eBooks. If you are in a career transition and looking for a job, you can find a variety of jobs on this page too.

Alex Rider - Teen Spy

Finding engaging books for teenage boys can be tough. When my son wants a book to read, there is a whole list of requirements. The main character MUST be a boy, he MUST be a teenager, and he MUST be cool. The story MUST be exciting, it MUST have explosions, and it MUST be a series. The Alex Rider series by Anthony Horowitz is the perfect option for the tough-to-please-teen. After the death of the uncle who had been his guardian, fourteen-year-old Alex Rider is coerced to continue his uncle's dangerous work for Britain's intelligence agency, MI6. Follow Alex as he overcomes danger, beats the bad guys, and saves the day!


Book cover - Point BlankBook cover - ScorpiaBook cover - Skeleton KeyBook cover - Snakehead

I Ate Your Heart in San Francisco

Book cover of Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime... No, that obvious title isn't part of this collection, but that's the only bone I have to pick. 


Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime: A Book of Zombie Love Songs is a marvelous laugh-out-loud anthology that brings new life, or rather, undeadness, to old favorites. Besides the title hit, we have such heart-stopping makeovers as You've Lost That Livin' Feeling, I Bit You Babe, My Undead Love, I Can't Stop Chewing You, Do You Think I'm Tasty?, Killing Him Swiftly and You Blight Up My Life.  As the author says in the preface, "Now, when you are forced to kill the one you're with, you can share one last memory of "your" song before you send that slobbering, drooling, gray-matter-munching, shuffling pile of human tissue straight to ..... ".  


I highly recommended that we add this book to our UnDead Storytime Box. But you needn't wait for that to relish this fine tome. Reanimate! Put down that brain you're chomping, it won't get cold. Place a hold on Every Zombie Eats Somebody Sometime chop chop! 

Here's What People Are Saying About The Edenvale Branch!

Exterior of Edenvale LibraryLast week was "National Library Week" and customers were asked to participate in a quiz where they would be entered to win a prize.  In addition, customers were asked "What is your favorite thing about your library?"


Here are the responses:


"The fact that I have fun every time I go and it's part in helping the community!!!" -Age: 26


"That I can borrow books and media also the book group that I enjoy, checking e-mails from around the world." -Adult


"Doing homework because the library is a peaceful place to do it." -Age: 10


"My favorite thing about the library is the nice people and books." -Age: 13


"I know a lot of the staff and the library is nice and clean." -Age: 10


"It's cool." -Age: 9

Posted by Ana Fabela on Apr 21, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

How do you move on?

Book cover of Split19 hours after Jace leaves home in Chicago, he ends up at his brother's doorstep in Albuquerque with cuts and bruises to his face, less than $4 in his pocket, and a message from Mom: I'll be there on Thanksgiving. Swati Avasthi's debut novel, Split is a gripping story about abuse, frustration, anger, redefining family, and how the strength of this family can get you through things that may seem completely hopeless. The story completely pulls you in from the first pages, the characters are well thought out and likeable, and Avasthi's subtlety about a sensitive topic is appreciated. Chosen as one of this year's Best Books for Young Adults by YALSA (Young Adult Library Services Association, Split is an excellent read for the older teen reader.

The Invention of Air

Book cover of The Invention of AirFor his biography The Invention of Air Steven Johnson has chosen a fascinating subject in Joseph Priestley. He was amazingly productive, working energetically on the cutting edge of science and publishing extensively. At the same time he explored ideas in politics and religion and was remarkably influential. His contributions range from discovering the role of plants in producing oxygen to being one of the founders of the Unitarian Church in England. He had a robust interaction with Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, and Thomas Jefferson. The breadth and depth of Priestley's involvement in the intellectual life of his time is truly impressive. It is enlightening to see that intellectually active people at that time expected to be aware of developments in science, politics and religion. Priestley in particular saw progress in each area complementing the others. Steven Johnson does an intriguing job of showing Priestley's links to trends large and small, from geological eras to the advent of the coffee house. (The explanation of the geological reference is that the large deposits of coal in England are linked to the industrial revolution that allowed for technological advances and the wealth the helped support Priestley's research.) It is remarkable to note that in the extensive correspondence between John Adams and Thomas Jefferson after their presidencies, Washington, Hamilton, and Franklin together are mentioned less than 10 times, while Joseph Priestley is mentioned 52 times.

Who Was The Real Jackie Kennedy?

Book cover of Reading JackieReading Jackie by William Kuhn explores the Jackie Kennedy Onassis who became a notable editor at Doubleday Publications after the death of her two husbands. Tracing her childhood love of books to the books and authors she nurtured into publication demonstrates a vibrant, multi-faceted, professional. You will meet the woman who is described as:

  • an iron fist in a velvet glove
  • a flying barefoot woman rushing down the halls to finish a deadline
  • butting heads with mega stars like Michael Jackson

A Long Way From Chicago

Book cover of A Long Way From ChicagoA really good children's book can be enjoyed as much by adults as it is by children. A Long Way from Chicago is such a book... in fact, it's one of my favorite children's books of all time. Set in the Depression era, the book is about a brother and sister who take the train from Chicago to a hick town south of the city to visit their grandma every summer from 1929 to 1935. That first summer Joey and Mary Alice are only age 9 and 7, and they soon find out that "what little we knew about grownups didn't seem to cover Grandma." Grandma Dowdel is a no-nonsense, hard-working woman with little tolerance for people who put on airs or stick their nose into others' business. She's not afraid of using unorthodox means to put fools in their place, often with hilarious results. The short chapters, each a story unto itself, coupled with the book's country charm and ever-present humor, make it a fast read and a good pick for a historical fiction assignment for students fifth grade and up. When you've finished with this book, pick up the equally good sequel, the Newbery-Medal winning A Year Down Yonder, in which 15-year-old Mary Alice goes for an extended stay with Grandma. You may also enjoy the many other books for children and young adults written by author Richard Peck.

Poetry in Willow Glen

Cover of Remembering Poems Read at Willow Glen Books, with photo showing the window of Willow Glen BooksFor several years, Willow Glen Books hosted a poetry group. As a memorial to this group, editor Pushpa MacFarlane assembled 107 of the poems read over the years, and put them together in the book Remembering: Poems Read at Willow Glen Books: An Anthology. The poems run the gamut from funny to sad, from realistic to romantic, mirroring the human experience. Willow Glen Books was a fixture in the community, and it's fitting that a book like this commemorate the well-loved store. 


But local poetry lovers in need of camaraderie, weep not!  A successor group, Poetry Center San Jose meets at the Willow Glen Library on the third Thursday of the month at 7pm. So if your soul could use a dash of poetry and good fellowship, join in!  Who knows, maybe in time to come, there will be a sequel to "Remembering"! How's "Keep on Remembering" for a title? Willow Glen Library staff members, if you have any more information about this or a related topic which you would like to share with the big wide Internet world, please chime in!  


For a bit more information, here is a San Jose Mercury News article about the book.

Posted by Timothy Collins on Apr 19, 2011 | Comments: 3 |

Come On and Meet the Elements

Two weeks ago I was watching an episode of "Pushing Daisies" where Kristen Chenowith and Ellen Greene sang a version of a song called "Birdhouse in Your Soul." This song was written and performed 20 years ago by the group They Might Be Giants. Well, I had to look up information about this alternative rock group and found out that not only are they performing music for grownups, but they are also writing and performing music for young ones too. They have produced CDs and DVDs that help young children (and not-so-young children) learn about numbers, the alphabet  and even science. They have also performed music for television (Blue's Clues) and movies (Meet the Robinsons and Coraline).   I think they are a fun group to listen to.  Interested in their music? Come visit us and check out some of the the DVDs and CDs they perform on. View the video below to meet the Elements or watch They Might Be Giants introduce us to the elements.


Featured Resource on the Web: Pew Research Center

Logo of Pew Research CenterYou know that soundbite you hear in the news that "the approval rating for the President has gone up 2 percent." Well, chances are the source of those stats comes from the Pew Research Center. This group-described "fact tank" is non-profit and non-partisan. The Pew Research Center not only does public opinion polling about Presidential approval ratings but other polls and social science research. How can information from Pew Research Center help me? Well, you can find out technology, lifestyle, religious, social, and demographic trends. This is a great resource for new and existing business owners to stay up on the latest trends and what consumers are doing, not to mention data for business plans. Dig around their website, there is a lot of interesting information, especially since the Center has seven different research projects.

Third Grade Baby

Book cover of Third Grade BabyBaby teeth are causing Polly Peterson so many problems. She is the only one in her third grade class who hasn’t lost at least one baby tooth!  Everyone in her class discovers this fact when the teacher prepares a chart showing how many baby teeth each student has lost. The chart doesn’t even have a column for zero baby teeth lost, so the teacher makes one just for Polly.


Then when Polly finally loses a baby tooth, she must decide if she should leave it for the Tooth Fairy.  Do third graders still believe in the Tooth Fairy or is it only for babies? All of her problems are complicated even further when the new boy in third grade, Zachary Brown, begins teasing Polly. Soon the whole class starts calling her “Babyteeth.”


Polly in turn finds ways to tease and embarrass Zachary, but then notices that he never plays with anyone during recess. She at least has her two best friends, Amelia and Oliver, who try to make her feel better. Polly begins to realize that both she and Zachary need to behave differently. Can they find a way to get along?


Read Third Grade Baby by Jenny Meyerhoff to learn what really is most important to Polly. 

The Very Little Princess by Marion Dane Bauer

Book cover of The Very Little PrincessZoey and her Mom live in an apartment in the city, just the two of them. One day Zoey is surprised to learn that they are going to visit her grandmother. As Zoey packs she thinks about this very surprising news, after all she never even knew she had a grandmother and had certainly never visited her before.


While Zoey’s mother and grandmother discuss in loud voices, Zoey decides to explore the house. Her mother has described her former bedroom, all pink and white and gold. In this room Zoey discovers a beautiful doll house and a tiny doll, dressed like a princess. Suddenly this 3 and one-quarter inch tall doll wakes up! I’m not sure who was more surprised the doll or Zoey!


Zoey is startled and runs out of the room and down the stairs! But the doll, well she is delighted to be awake again. She’s been asleep for a long time, and has even forgotten her own name. While she tries to remember her name the doll waits patiently for the return of her four foot tall servant. She’s had girl servants before and they always returned to care for her. And why not? She is as beautiful as a princess!


And so begins an unlikely friendship between Zoey and a three and one-quarter inch tall doll. The Very Little Princess by Marion Dane Bauer is about more than just this very special doll, it also looks at mother-daughter relationships from the perspective of a young girl. 

Biebermania at the Library!!

Book cover of Justin Bieber: First Step 2 Forever: My StoryAre you a Belieber? Do you suffer from a bad case of Bieber Fever? If you can't get enough of Justin (sigh!) you can find him at the library. We have biographies (loaded with photos!), music, ebooks and DVDs all about your favorite pop sensation. Check out Justin Bieber and satisfy your Bieberphile cravings!

Posted by Tina Drew on Apr 16, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Inside Job

Winner of an Academy Award for Best Documentary Feature of 2010 and much other acclaim, Inside Job is an analysis of the global financial crisis of 2008, from which we will continue to feel the repercussions for many years to come. Prepare to be enraged as you learn of the callous and hypocritical behavior of financial insiders, politicians, and academics, and watch them squirm under the incisive interviews. It's two hours long, but worth every minute.

  • Produced, written and directed by Charles Ferguson, narrated by Matt Damon. 
  • Director's quote: "In the case of this crisis, nobody has gone to prison, despite fraud that caused trillions of dollars in losses."

View a trailer of this movie.

Meet Mary Ann Singleton

Cover of Tales of the CityRight now I’m reading Tales of the City by Armistead Maupin in preparation for the upcoming musical at the American Conservatory Theater (ACT) in San Francisco. If you’re not familiar with it, the Tales of the City series is comprised of eight books set in San Francisco and centered on Anna Madrigal’s apartment house at the fictional 28 Barbary Lane. The first book opens with 25-year-old Mary Ann Singleton phoning her mother to say she won’t be returning to Cleveland, as she has fallen in love with San Francisco. The reader understands why she loves the city – Maupin shows us the eclectic quirkiness that endears the city to so many. Mary Ann has contact with a diverse cast of characters, including Anna, her pot-smoking landlady; Mona, a bohemian neighbor; and Michael, Mona’s roommate who’s dating Jon, a gynecologist.


The first five books in the series were originally serialized in San Francisco newspapers, and this style makes the books quick reads as the chapters are short and the plot lines are lively. The first book in the series came out in 1978 and while three decades have passed since then, the characters and stories are still fun and engrossing. Since these first novels came out before HIV/AIDS, the characters still frequent bath houses and have lots of indiscriminate sex. However, later books in the series were some of the first to deal with the AIDS epidemic.


I’m eager to get on to the next book, More Tales of the City and I can’t wait to see what the ACT does with these stories and characters. 

Teen Fiction: If I Stay (& Where She Went)

If I Stay by Gayle Forman is one of those well-executed stories that has stayed with me since reading it a few years ago. It is an achingly-sad yet touching and beautiful story full of music, love, and loss. Be warned...If you read this book, you will likely cry. Even this typically dry-eyed reader had a hard time holding back the tears during the last few pages (which was awkward considering that I was in the break room at work). But if you are up to the emotional challenge, I encourage you to take it. I'll try not to spoil it too much for you:


If I Stay CoverMia is a Portland-area high school senior with a gift for classical cello, dreaming of making it into prestigious Julliard. She has a great relationship with her lovely family, made up of her cool punk rock parents and her little brother. The message that true passion for music transcends genres runs throughout the book, and this is what brings her together with her rocker musician boyfriend Adam, despite their superficial differences.


Unfortunately, it's about to get really, really sad. The book opens with a devastating car accident that leaves the other passengers dead and Mia critically injured in a coma, and the rest of the novel unfolds in out-of-sequence vignettes from Mia's life leading up to the accident. These scenes weave in and out with Mia's out-of-body experience watching her loved ones during the aftermath. Mia has suffered an unimaginable loss, but does she have the strength to stay and endure it? The characters are well-developed and lovable, which makes the emotional connection all the more strong and therefore painful. I absolutely adored her amazing family, and her boyfriend Adam is endearing to astronomical proportions. And yes, the whole post-trauma limbo "Should I stay or should I go?" thing has been done before, but this was done very well.


There's talk that this will be made into a movie, but no info yet about directors or casting now that actress Dakota Fanning has left the project. But guess what? There's a brand new sequel! Again, no spoilers, so I'll just tell you that it's called Where She Went (available now in the catalog), and it's about my dear book-crush Adam.

Master Gardeners to the Rescue!

The Santa Clara County Master Gardeners are an invaluable resource for home gardeners throughout the county. They are a part of the University of California Cooperative Extension program. They can answer any gardening question you may have, simple to complex. The Master Gardeners have always been great supporters of San Jose Public Library, offering free workshops and seminars to our patrons. Find their book, California Master Gardener Handbook, at SJPL and check out their website for even more help.

Neighborhood Watch

Neighborhood Watch is a collaboration of neighbors to keep an eye on suspicious activity in their neighborhoods and help protect each other and their property. They normally work in collaboration with local law enforcement agencies. To set up a Neighborhood Watch in your neighborhood, call the San Jose Police Department's Crime Prevention office at (408)277-4133. Check out their website. You can also find books about neighborhood watch programs in our library.

Posted by Tina Drew on Apr 16, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Olive Kitteridge Lives Amongst Us

Book cover of Olive KitteridgeOlive Kitteridge, as portrayed by Elizabeth Strout in her 2009 Pulitzer Prize winning book, is a woman we could visualize as someone we know. She is a large presence, both in her stature, and in the ways she impacts the lives of the people who live in a small town in Maine. There are 13 short stories that comprise the novel, Olive Kitteridge.  The one common element in all of them, is the relationship between Olive and the characters in each of these stories, about whom you will become terribly concerned, or at least, extremely curious.


So many times I've read a wonderful book, and thought that it would make a great movie. Inevitably, someone will buy the rights and produce it. Whether it is an Oscar contender or not, you'll often hear people say, "Oh the book was so much better!" In the case of Olive Kitteridge, it has been adapted for theater, and I so enjoyed the play. It was presented by Word For Word Theater of San Francisco. The actors were very close to the characters I had visualized, especially Olive who was played by Patricia Silver. This production captured the essence of Olive through only two of the stories and narration.  The complexity of all of the characters and stories was impossible to stage in the play's duration. You'll really want to read the book! Frances McDormand, the brilliant Oscar winning actress in Fargo, is going to be in a HBO television production of Olive Kitteridge.  If you read the book you'll be able to judge whether the production does justice to this marvelous character and extraordinary book.


Your San José Public Library card is your passport to SJPL's databases, which are invaluable for analysis and reviews of this novel, other literature, or research on other topics. Click on this link to Academic Search Complete, and with your library card barcode, and pin, you will be able to search. Using search terms such as Olive Kitteridge and Strout, your results will include reviews and analysis from the New York Times, Library Journal, Publishers' Weekly, Atlantic Monthly, and many more sources.


Enjoy reading Olive Kitteridge and look forward to comparing your reading experience to the variety of media that will be presenting Olive. With SJPL's databases in literature, you can be ready for your book group's discussion of Olive as she teaches and learns life's lessons.

Showdown in Washington Square: The San Jose Settlers War of 1861

One hundred and fifty years ago on Tuesday afternoon April 9,1861, an armed crowd of thousands, on horseback and in buggies, rode into downtown San Jose, accompanied by a band and at least one cannon. Many in the crowd had been present earlier that morning in front of city hall, where Sheriff John Murphy gave a roll call for a posse to enforce a government order evicting squatters who had illegally settled in the Evergreen district on land claimed as a former Mexican land grant.  After dispersing and reassembling at the Evergreen School House, the crowd now returned to the streets of San Jose.  Sheriff Murphy drove his buggy into the center of Washington Square (now the site of San Jose State), and surrounded by all, gave a speech. He said he derived his power from the people, but the people had resisted him. The people had taken his power away, what could he do? If they were right, go ahead, but if they were wrong, he wasn’t responsible. He was cheered, and the crowd dispersed peacefully. So ended the “Settlers War,” three days before the firing at Fort Sumter.
This is based on an eyewitness account from the Journals of Alfred Doten in the California Room. To find more California Room resources on the Settlers War including the Governor’s Message and the Squatters Declaration of Rights, go to the California Room index and type in “Settler’s War. “

Science Summer Camps: Youth Science Institute (YSI)

Youth Science Institute logSummer?  Check!

Sun?  Check!

Outdoors?  Check!

Sunscreen?  Check!

Friendly counselors?  Check!

Fun?  CHECK!


The Youth Science Institute is conveniently located in both the eastern and western edges of San Jose:  Alum Rock Park and Vasona Park. Each park has weekly summer camps throughout the summer that engage different interests:  hiking, bike riding, fishing, exploring, etc.


YSI also provides entertaining school shows and library(!) shows. Last summer, YSI brought over live frogs, snakes, and other reptiles for our library audience to "ooh and ahh" over.


If you are interested in camps that are fun, but also educational, YSI is the perfect camp for you!  (Lunch not included, but flora and fauna are!)  My daughter developed an initial (but ongoing) love of science through YSI!


If you are interested in science, here are some Dewey numbers to keep in mind:


570  Life Sciences

580  Plant Life

590  Zoology/Animals


Happy reading and experimenting!  Don't forget, if you have a super-terrific summer camp you'd like to talk about, add a comment to this post!

Mysteries for the Fainthearted

Do you enjoy mystery novels, but can't handle the blood and gore? Do you love the puzzles, but hate the violence? Do you prefer the light-hearted to the down-and-dirty? Then have I got a series for you! Pick up the Aunt Dimity series by Nancy Atherton, a mystery series where no one is ever murdered! Join Lori Shepherd, a young American woman who inherits a country cottage in the English Cotswolds from a friend of the family whom she thought was just a fictional character from her mother's stories. She uncovers puzzles and mysteries and goes after them with great gusto and merry mishaps. Loads of fun for the fainthearted!


Book cover of Aunt Dimity's Death Book cover of Aunt Dimity Digs In Book cover of Aunt Dimity, Snowbound Book cover of Aunt Dimity and the Next of Kin

History Will Be Made

Cover of The Hockey Book by Sports IllustratedToday playoff season begins for our very own San Jose Sharks. In celebration of what will be their road to Lord Stanley’s Cup, here are some quite interesting facts about hockey, the Sharks, and anything else related. 


  • The Stanley Cup is the only professional sports trophy that is passed from team member to team member of the winning team.
  • The Montreal Canadiens have won the most Stanley Cup titles… 24!  Their nickname, “Habs” comes from “les habitants” a name given to the first settlers of New France during the 17th Century.
  • Sharks” was actually the runner-up name for the team.  The initial name for the team was going to be the Blades. 
  • Coach Todd McLellan tied former NHL coach Mike Keenan with 152 wins in his first three seasons with the Sharks.  McLellan’s former job was as assistant coach with the Detroit Red Wings.
  • The Junior Sharks 12 U girls hockey team won the first national title for the programbeating the New England Jr. Falcons on April 2nd. 

Let's Go Sharks!

History Trivia: April 14

Cover of  Napoleon Bonaparte: England's Prisoner197 years ago on April 14, 1814 Napoleon Bonaparte abdicated his title as Emperor of France and was banished to the island of Elba. Within a year he managed to escape from Elba and reconstitute his forces. However, on June 18, 1815 his troops were again defeated at the Battle of Waterloo in what is today the country of Belgium, and he was finally exiled to the island of Saint Helena where he died. 


Want to know more about Napoleon? Come visit us. We will be happy to help you find materials about the "Little Corporal's" life and legacy.

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's GUINEA DOG!

Book cover of Guinea DogRufus, a fifth grader wants a dog. Now what could be wrong with that; dogs learn tricks, they play games, they hang out with you, sleep at the foot of your bed and protect you and your family from intruders. Dogs are cool! Right! Who wouldn't want a dog? Unfortunately, Rufus' dad; and dad has come up with an endless list of objections such as, they whine, they bark, they lick people's faces, their poop has to be scooped, they eat mice, they can infest the house with blood sucking fleas and on and on and on! Rusfus' mom thinks that Rufus should have a pet, so she goes out and buys a guinea pig, a guinea pig with a spiky white mohawk! Rufus is not too excited about this pet but he doesn't want to hurt his mom's feelings so he decides to give Fido a try; yes he names his guinea pig Fido and Fido starts behaving more and more like a dog! You'll be amazed by what he can do and by the adventures Rufus and Fido have. Read Guinea Dog by Patrick Jennings, a fun read about a boy and the pet he comes to love. By the end of the book you'll have to agree when Rufus says to Fido, the guinea pig "What a dog!"

New Gems from an Old Master

In the 60s and 70s, Larry Niven wrote a succession of Known Space stories which are considered some of the classics of science fiction, combining interesting hard science with fast-paced adventure. Now, like a visit from a dear old friend, he has returned to this fictional universe, in a set of collaborations with Edward Lerner.  The new stories, with familiar characters, include: Fleet of Worlds; Juggler of Worlds; Destroyer of Worlds; and Betrayer of Worlds


Book cover for Fleet of WorldsBook cover for Juggler of WorldsBook cover for Destroyer of WorldsBook cover for Betrayer of Worlds

Power Pitcher

Book Cover

When Jimmie is elected captain of his baseball team, he decides that he will also become the team’s pitcher.   The team is not so sure this is a good decision.  They already have Paul, a very skilled and experienced  pitcher.  Why should Paul be displaced when he has proven to be the best team player for the pitching mound?   But Jimmie is the captain, and the team must follow his lead.  Jimmie has a lot to learn about being a team captain and he soon finds himself  tangled up in a choice he must make between his ego  and the welfare of the team.  Author Matt Christopher writes one of the most popular sports series for young readers.  If you love baseball and fast paced, action stories you will enjoy  Power Pitcher as well as all the Matt Christopher sports fiction. 

Secret Millionaire

Secret Millionaire on ABCThere is a great show on ABC called: Secret Millionaire. The premise of the show is to have a millionaire pose as an everyday citizen  and help with a charity of their choice. The catch is the members of the charitable organization and the people they are helping do not know that there is a millionaire amongst them.  The secret millionaire will usually volunteer for a few different charities and by the end they decide where they will donate a significant amount of money. At the conclusion of the show the secret millionaire reveals their true identity and the generous amount of money they are donating to the charity of their choice.   This was such a great and uplifting show and I was glad I was able to watch this on television on a particular Sunday night.


If you are also interested in serving your community, you can begin your journey of volunteering here at the San José Public Library by learning about our many volunteering opportunities and then volunteering.

A Craft for Mother's Day

Book cover of Mother's DayMother's Day is May 8 and it's almost here! Join us at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library on Saturday, April 23 at 3:00PM when we will be making a gift just for Mom. This craft is part of our monthly STUFF! program where we use recycled materials to make beautiful works of art. Our volunteer Chris and her assistant Mickey will be showing us how to make wonderful jewelry boxes that any mom would love to have. All materials will be supplied and remember that parking is FREE at the 4th Street Garage until 6:00PM on Saturdays.


If you're looking for books about Mother's Day the library has a great selection. Check them out and remember to join us for a fun afternoon on April 23.

What Side Are You On: Points of View Reference Center

Logo for Points of View Reference CenterDo you need to write a position paper on a controversial subject, take part in a debate or just improve your critical thinking skills? With regards to a difficult subject, are you not even sure if you're pro or con?


Points of View Reference Center is designed to help students and researchers understand the broader scope of hundreds of contentious topics like censorship, abortion and factory farming by providing thousands of articles from the world's top political and societal publications.


One of its excellent features is the collection of color graphs and charts that one can use to substantiate one’s arguments in papers and presentations.


If you’re ready to get off the fence, go to:  Points of View Reference Center. You'll need your library card and pin number to access this database from home.

Emma Kate

Book cover of Emma KateEmma Kate by Patricia Polacco is a story about Emma Kate and her best friend. They are inseparable, they do everything together including going to school, riding bikes, going to soccer practice, and they even get their tonsils taken out at the same time! The illustrations are done in beautiful pencil drawings  with only a select few vivid color details on every page. With a surprise twist at the end you may want to reread this book!

Breaking News on Dinosaurs!

Book cover of  The Ultimate DinopediaYoung dinosaur enthusiasts will find The Ultimate Dinopedia (by Don Lessem; illustrated by Franco Tempesta) a valuable reference tool for their research or leisure reading.  Published by National Geographic Society, this book contains the latest information on more than 600 dinosaurs.  Contents are divided into four parts: Discovering Dinosaurs (covering general information such as habitats, family tree, migration, herding, etc.), The Meat Eaters, The Plant Eaters, and Dino Dictionary. Readers of all ages will be mesmerized by this book's beautiful artwork and a wealth of updated information on dinosaurs.


* Find more books by Don Lessem, the "Dino" author!

* Find more books on Dinosaurs

* Find library materials published by National Geographic Society

Sesquicentennial of the War Between the States

Cover of DVD series The Civil War by Ken Burns150 years ago today marked the beginning of the Civil War. On April 12, 1861, Confederate forces fired on Fort Sumter in South Carolina, marking the beginning of four years of military hostilities between the Union states in the north and the Confederate states in the south. More than 20 years ago filmmaker Ken Burns made The Civil War documentary series that aired over 5 nights on PBS. This series has been rebroadcast many times since. It still remains popular with PBS viewers. San José Public Library also owns this collection so you can watch it without having to wait for it to be broadcast over PBS. Check out our many other holdings about this important era in American history, including a companion book to Burns' series, Geoffrey C. Ward's The Civil War: An Illustrated History/Narrative

Featured Local Business Resource: Small Business Development Centers

Logo of ASBDC


Logo for California SBDCSmall Business Development Centers or SBDC's are located throughout the state and nationally. SBDC's can help you start, manage, and grow your business. We are lucky that we have a SBDC right here in San José. The Silicon Valley SBDC offers many free services including help with business and marketing plans and one on one consulting. So if you are a new business owner or an already established owner looking for some guidance, SBDC can help.

Everyone's Family is Different!


Book cover of The Family BookThe Family Book by Todd Parr is a wonderful book that describes the different types of families people can be a part of.  There are many different types of families in this book, but they all have love for each other in common.   Very easy to read, so you can read it again and again and try to remember all the  differences and similarities of families each time you read it! 

A Lengthy But Worthwhile Read

Cover of Freedom by Jonathan FranzenJonathan Franzen's long-awaited novel Freedom lives up to the promise shown in his last novel, The Corrections, which won the National Book Award in 2001. Freedom focuses on the Berglund family of St. Paul, Minnesota. The first 25 pages of the book lay out the family’s story and set up the book’s conflicts. Patty Berglund is a Volvo-driving, home renovating, stay-at-home mom who may focus too much of her attention on her son Joey. Walter Berglund is a bicycle-commuting 3M employee who, we learn in the first paragraph of the book, eventually gets into trouble for working with the coal industry. Joey chafes at his mother’s attention and rebels by taking up with a girl whose mother is Patty’s nemesis while Jessica, the Berglund’s daughter, seems to fade into the background of the story. After all these stories are laid out, Franzen dives into each one, filling in the details of each. I enjoyed each story and though many of the plot twists were out of the realm of believability, it is still a good read.


Freedom has been out for several months and though I had to wait a long time for my hold to come in, there are now copies available at the San José Public Library. You might even be able to check it out and renew it if you need to. And you might need to; this book clocks in at 562 pages.  

Posted by Jean Herriges on Apr 9, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

The Buddy Files

Book cover of The Case of the Lost BoyThe Buddy Files: The Case of the Lost Boy by Dori Hillestad Butler


King is a dog.  He’s also a detective, solving mysteries with his human, Kayla. But right now, there is a serious problem, King’s family is missing, and King, well, he’s in the P-O-U-N-D. It looks like he will need to solve this mystery by himself. First of all, like any good detective, King makes a plan. Kayla writes her plan on paper, but King will keep his in his head. And where should he start? Number 1:  Escape from the P-O-U-N-D.


By using his nose and being friendly, King accomplishes the first step – he leaves the P-O-U-N-D with a boy named Connor and his mother. They are the perfect humans for King to adopt, at least temporarily since they live in King’s old neighborhood. And so, King sets off to find his family.

Events intervene, and King must adapt his plan to his new circumstances. But even as he solves the current mystery, he never forgets his main objective – find his family.


I was sorry to come to the end of this delightful book, but pleased to see we have two more books available in this series.  This book would be a good choice for children transitioning from series titles like Encyclopedia Brown and Katie Kazoo to other juvenile fiction titles. 

Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl

Cover: Garlic and SapphiresAnyone who eats in restaurants should find Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl entertaining, and a bit shocking. The author tells of her years as food critic for the New York Times and her efforts to hide her identity as she visits some of the city's most famous restaurants. With the help of friends and associates, she creates a variety of disguises, and assumes a particular identity with each one, in order to find out how some of these restaurants treat ordinary customers. It's incredible how badly she is treated in some of Manhattan's most well-known and priciest restaurants when she shows up in some of her disguises.


Available at San José Public Library as an audiobook, a downloadable ebook, and in print.

You Can Never Have Too Many Friends!

Book cover of Move Over, Rover!Move Over, Rover! by Karen Beaumont is an excellent book for a dog lover at any age. It’s a story about one rainy day and a tiny doghouse that gets very full with lots of different animals trying to stay out of the rain. All of the animals are more than welcome in Rover’s dog house except for one animal that is known for its awful smell and sends all the other animals running into the rain! This book is great for beginning readers because the text is on one side of the page and is also printed in a large font that is easy to read. Phrases are also repeated so hopefully a pattern is noticed and your young reader can start reading along with you!

Posted by Dana Gienger on Apr 9, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Start Here!

MedlinePlus logoMedlinePlus is a great place to start when you are seeking information on a wide range of subjects in the medical field. For example, under the Health Topics page, you can search; Body Location/Systems, Disorders & Conditions, Diagnosis and Theory, Health & Wellness, or Demographic Groups.


Do you want to know the effects of a certain drug? It's here. Do you have an upcoming surgery? Find out what preparation is needed and choose from a list of surgical video recordings. What about immunization schedules for children you ask?! You guessed it.


Browsers may also choose English or Spanish language text. (I really like the Merriam Webster search component for when I don't know how to spell what I'm trying to find.) This site has a great collection of interactive tutorials and videos. Wow!


MedlinePlus is just one of the many excellent databases offered by the San José Public Library.

150th Civil War Anniversary

April 12, 2011 will mark the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the U.S. Civil War, or The War Between the States. On April 12, 1861 at 4:30 A.M. the first shots of the war were fired by Confederate forces on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. And so began a terrible conflict between the North and South that lasted four years. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the onset of the Civil War, many events and exhibits will be held throughout the United States. Check out these outstanding Civil War documentaries and books that the library has to offer.


  • The Civil War This award winning PBS documentary written and filmed by Ken Burns chronicles the Civil War from beginning to end.
  • The Civil War: An Illustrated History, by Geoffrey C. Ward with Ric Burns and Ken Burns is the companion book based on the Ken Burns PBS film documentary.

Popular historical fiction based on the Civil War include the following novels :



DVD cover of The Civil WarBook cover of The Civil War



Book cover of Cold MountainBook cover of The Killer AngelsBook cover of The Red Badge of CourageBook cover of Gone With The WindBook cover of North and South

Confessions of a Prairie Bitch

Book cover - Confessions of a Prairie BitchAlison Arngrim, the actress who played Nellie Oleson in the TV series Little House on the Prairie, has written a biography. In Confessions of a Prairie Bitch she tells with snide humor about life with her wacky family, her time on the set, and her life afterwards, living with the dubious notoriety of such an iconic character. But she is strong enough and smart enough to survive this onerous responsibility (and much more) and laugh about it in the meantime!

Travel to Taiwan

Cover of The Rough Guide to TaiwanIt is time to plan your summer vacation. If you have old friends and siblings in a foreign country, visiting that country will make it a meaningful trip. A great place to go is Taiwan, which has the most exotic scenery you can experience. To start planning and preparing for your trip there, be sure to visit the San José Public Library and get a few books and DVDs about Taiwan.

Stay Connected Through NeighborwebSJ!

Want to know more about what is going on in your neighborhood?  Is there an interesting story in your community you want to tell everyone about? Have a community event you'd like to promote? Then you need to take a look at NeighborwebSJ.com!


Launched in August 2010, NeighborwebSJ is a convenient way for SJ citizens to connect with City Hall, various other community organizations, as well as with fellow residents.  There are many useful resources available on this one site including a community calendar, information about the Strong Neighborhood Initiatives around the city, and a laundry list of important links. There are also articles about current events where citizens can interact with each other by commenting on these pieces.  It's a great way to become an advocate for your community on your computer! 


Looking for other ways to get involved in your community? Why not try volunteering at the library?  We have plenty of volunteering opportunities for ages 13 and up. 

Hoover Dam History

book cover of ColossusWhen I went to visit friends near Las Vegas, they took me to see Hoover Dam. I was astounded by its size, location, and beauty. I couldn’t imagine who had thought of it, and how it was built. Fortunately, I discovered a great book about those things. Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century is written by Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize winning author. The book is a history of the dam, its impact on the American West, and its impact on the entire country. This is an informative, well-written, and highly recommended book available through your local San José Public Library. Check it out!

Posted by Helen Kahn on Apr 8, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Clementine, Friend of the Week

 Book cover of Clementine, Friend of the WeekLocal Bay Area author, Sara Pennypecker is the creator of the popular Clementine novels, the Stuart books and co-author of the Flat Stanley books, and is back with a new adventure entitled , Clementine Friend of the Week. This is her fourth book about Clementine. The first was Clementine, which is also available as an audio, and was our first introduction to the loveable fruit-named girl who reminded me a lot of another enjoyable literary character, Ramona Quimby. Clementine then appeared in two more books, The Talented Clementine and Clementine’s Letter all which are available at any of the San José Public Libraries. 


In the newest Clementine adventure, Clementine, Friend of the Week, third grader, Clementine has been selected as the Friend of the Week in her school classroom. The honor has many important responsibilities such as leading the Pledge of Allegiance, collecting milk money, being the line leader, and feeding the fish. At the end of the week, the third grader will get a friendship booklet signed by all of her classmates telling her how much they appreciate her. Fourth grader, Margaret, Clementine’s frenemy – on again off again best friend, gives suggestions on how to procure compliments so that everyone will write something nice in her friendship book. The following day Clementine starts giving them to every person she comes in contact with, primarily based on physical observations which doesn’t always work out as she planned. Just as Clementine looks forward to the best week ever, things take a turn for the worse when Moisturizer, her beloved cat goes missing. Heartbroken over her missing pet Clementine totally forgets all about her promises. Will she have any friends and will they write anything nice?


Fans of the Clementine series won’t be disappointed in the latest installment of Clementine’s  life, her relationship with her family , especially when Clementine refers to her brother as a different fruit each time – how does Pennypecker  remember so many names of fruits? Keeping a series fresh is a tribute to an author’s skill and ability to capture the many nuances of childhood life especially being a friend one moment, an enemy the next, and then a friend again all in the same afternoon. Don’t you wish everyone could behave this way?

Unusual Weather We're Having

Cover of Weather: A Visual GuideThis afternoon when I was returning from lunch, it started to rain, then the rain turned to hail.  I have not seen hail since before I moved to California.  I think that weather is a fascinating subject to study and here at the San José Public library, we have many types of materials, for all ages, that one can use to learn about the weather.   We even have books that offer suggestions for activities to do on a rainy day.

Bugs Bugs Bugs!

Book cover of Incredible InsectsIs it a bird? Is it a plane? NO! It's SUPER BUG!

Did you know that some insects have amazing powers?

Come learn who has special UV vision, who has super strength,

and who can leap a tall building (compared to their own size)

in a single bound!


Join us for a fun presentation about the Super Bugs in our every day lives on Saturday, April 9th at 2 pm. at Rose Garden Library. All ages welcome.

Let's Celebrate Dia de los Niños!

Book cover of Book Fiesta!Every year, we try to make "Children's Day" a fun and educational day for the whole family. This year, let us celebrate our children by giving them a "gift of reading" to begin their educational journey. Join us on Saturday, April 30 from 11:00 AM to 1:00 PM at Tully Community Branch Library for great stories, crafts, reading workshops and refreshments!


Hãy đến Thư Viện Tully Ngày Thứ Bảy, 30 Tháng Tư từ 11:00 giờ sáng đến 1:00 giờ trưa để cùng chúng tôi nghe đọc truyện, làm thủ công, trau dồi kiến thức và có một ngày đầy vui tươi cho các em!


Cada año, intentamos reírnos el “día de los niños” y día educativo para la familia entera. Este año, nos dejó celebra a nuestros niños dándoles un “regalo de la lectura” para comenzar su viaje educativo. Ensámblenos encendido Sábado, 30 de abril de 11:00 a 1:00 P.M. en la biblioteca del rama de la comunidad de Tully ¡para las grandes historias, artes, leyendo talleres y los refrigerios!

The Magic Half

Book cover of The Magic HalfIn The Magic Half, eleven-year-old Miri is stuck in the middle between two sets of twins. With older twin brothers and younger twin sisters, she feels left out and anything but special. Miri comes to find out she’s more special than she realized – perhaps even magical – after her family moves to an old house in the country and she discovers a small piece of glass taped to the wall in her attic bedroom. Miri looks through it and is transported to the same room in 1935. There she meets Molly, who is living in the house with her cruel aunt and abusive cousin. Together the girls devise a plan for Miri to return to the future and take Molly with her. Author Annie Barrows, who also wrote the Ivy and Bean series, combines just the right amounts of suspense, mystery and magic in this time-traveling tale for children in the middle grades.

Top Secret... For Cats Only!

Cover of Cat SecretsThree suspicious cats will question your authority to read this delightful new picture book by author Jef Czekaj. As it is clearly explained in Cat Secrets, this book is strictly for cat eyes only!


In order to be allowed access, you will need to pass several cat tests that will have you meowing, purring, stretching, and napping to prove your worth. Along the way, extra observant readers may notice another silent character on the pages who is also trying to get his hands... er, paws on this top secret book. 

Weekly Register of New Accounts

City of San Jose logoWhat is the Weekly Register of New Accounts? Well, it's a list that the City of San José puts together weekly of all the businesses that have registered for a business tax license. The Weekly Register of New Accounts contains the business name, owner(s), business and mailing address, phone number, type of business, and NAICS code. Why would someone want to see this list? Well, folks use it for business/sales leads. For example, perhaps you are a salesperson for copy machines and need to find some new clients. The new businesses on this list would be a good target audience for you to market or sell your product. A new list generally comes out on Mondays. You can view this list at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, 2nd Floor.  If you wanted to buy your own copy of the list; the City charges a fee for a copy but we have a copy available for viewing.

ESL Conversation Clubs at YOUR Library!

Why is practicing English a good idea?


Show your family that learning is for all ages. Learn so that you can help your children learn.


Come to the San José Public Library’s ESL Conversation Clubs.


Come with your friends to this FREE Conversation Club. Tell your family about this club and bring your neighbors. ESL Conversation Clubs are a safe place to talk and learn. Everybody talks!


Try the following websites - see how fun learning can be:




Find a Scholarship!

TFS logoWe just started a subscription to a database, Tuition Funding Sources (TFS). This is a scholarship database (over $41 Billion in awards) that also includes college and career information.

You can get to this database from here: http://sjpl.org/databases#Care


Some highlights:


  • 7.5 million scholarship awards totaling more than $41 billion
  • more than 5,000 new awards are added every month
  • TFS does not collect, use or sell student’s private information to anyone; also, there is no advertising


You have to first choose the state you live in, and create a username (email address) and password to get started. You don’t have to provide an address or phone number – those fields are optional. What do you think about this resource? Please let us know in the comments.

Need Help Writing a Research Paper?

Time to start preparing for that big term paper? Literary Reference Center provides useful guidelines for planning, researching and writing it.


Once you’re on the Literary Reference Center home page, go to the Reference Shelf in the upper right hand corner and click on Research Guide. This guide will provide you concise and thorough advice on writing research papers, including:

-   Choosing your topic

-   Beginning your research

-   Taking notes and writing a draft

-   Evaluating your information, citing your sources and (gasp!) avoiding plagiarism


And there is even help with the dreaded:  my paper is nearly due and I’ve barely started!

What’s nice about this resource is that the recommendations are short and sweet.  When you already have plenty of work to do researching your term paper – the last thing you need is to read another book on writing a successful research paper!

How to Prepare for a Zombie Apocalypse and Other Potential Disasters

Preparing for Disasters Book CoverOn Tuesday, April 5th at 6:30 PM, the Edenvale Branch Library will present a program on disaster preparedness that takes a step back from real disasters by focusing on a "zombie apocalypse."

This is a great way to plan for those more earthly disasters like storms, earthquakes, and power outages with the added fun of pretending it's to keep away the zombies. We'll show families how to keep their kids involved in disaster planning by making it all about zombies.& Children and teens might not feel comfortable putting together a disaster plan while thinking of actual emergency situations. By putting the task in the form of a zombie apocalypse plan, valuable planning can be accomplished that can be used in any emergency situation.

This program will be repeated at other libraries.

Celebrate National Poetry Month - With a Novel??

Book cover of WitnessWitness by Karen Hesse is a chilling, beautifully written novel set in a small Vermont town.  Told from the point of view of 11 different characters and in free verse, this story relates actual events that occurred after the arrival of the Ku Klux Klan in 1924.  At the heart of the story are Leanora, a 12 year-old African American girl and Esther Hirsh, a 6 year-old Jewish girl whose families are victimized by the Klan.  From these two young girls to the town’s adult citizens, the author has created convincing and distinct voices for each of the 11 characters.  It is fascinating to read about the same events as they are told from these very different points of view and to see changes in attitudes slowly taking place.   


If you enjoy the powerful format of the novel told in poems, you’re in luck because there are many other excellent poem-novels out there. Here are just a few of them:


  • All the Broken Pieces by Ann E. Burg. Matt, a Vietnamese boy, is adopted by a loving  American family but experiences a very difficult time in his new home at first. With the cooperation of the school baseball coach and a disabled veteran, Matt begins the process of healing from the pain of his past.
  • Kissing Annabel by Stephen Herrick. Sixteen-year-old Jack is an aspiring poet who falls in love with Annabel. Their intense connection soothes Jack’s grief over the loss of his mother seven years earlier.
  • Make Lemonade by Virginia Euwer Wolff.  LaVaughn, a fourteen-year-old determined to earn enough money to go to college, accepts the job of baby-sitting two small children.  LaVaughn soon discovers that the seventeen-year-old single mother needs as much help and nurturing as her two neglected children.  As they help each other out, they  become something like a family.
  • Stop Pretending:  What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy by Sonya Sones. Based on the author's own experiences, this intense and brutally honest novel tells the story of an older sister’s mental breakdown and hospitalization and a younger sister who is left behind to cope with a family torn apart by grief, and friends who turn their backs on her.
  • Who Killed Mr. Chippendale: A Mystery in Poems by Mel Glenn.  This novel is told from the viewpoint of more than 50 characters, including students, school faculty, police detectives, reporters, drug dealers, neighbors and others.  The poems explore the aftermath of the murder of a high school teacher, Robert Chippendale.


Book cover of All the Broken PiecesBook cover of Kissing AnnabelBook cover of Make LemonadeBook cover of Stop PretendingBook cover of Who Killed Mr. Chippendale


And if you liked these poem-novels, here are even more titles.

Spring Fling Egg Hunts

Now that the rains have come and gone it is finally beginning to feel like Spring! For many, this season is the start of spending lots of time outdoors and making new friends--so why not combine the two? The San José Department of Parks, Recreation and Neighborhood Services (PRNS) is hosting a series of Spring Fling Egg Hunts and Events citywide throughout this month . The events, all of which are open to the public, are designed to promote outdoor activities and healthy exercise. The Spring Fling will have everything from Rabbit Runs to Egg-on-a-Spoon Skate Races. Please visit www.sanjoseca.gov/prns for more information. For questions, contact Mona Favorite-Hill at 408-793-5589 or mona.favoritehill@sanjoseca.gov.

The Little Prince

Book cover of The Little PrinceFirst published in 1943, The Little Prince by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry never fails to move generations of readers with its story of love and survival.  What begins as the strange meeting of two strangers stranded on a desert, later unfolds into a fantastic tale of planetary voyage by a child who called himself "Little Prince."  Now in graphic form with drawings by French comic artist Joann Sfar and translator Sarah Ardizzone, this book will carry reader's imagination to a new horizon and further enhance its messages of human compassion and true meaning of life.  This is a book that you cannot read once.


Read more books by Antoine de Saint-Exupéry and Joann Sfar.

Fact or Fiction?

Book cover of All Facts Considered* The Republic of Maldives is the world's flattest country

* Floccinaucinihilipilification is one of the longest English words

* All New England states can fit inside the state of South Dakota

* Demodex folliculorum and D. brevis are the two parasites that presently live on your face

* Camels once roamed the American southwest


Those are among hundreds of fun facts you can find in All Facts Considered: The Essential Library of Inessential Knowledge by Kee Malesky, an editorial advisor at NPR. Ironically the author claimed (in her Introduction), "this book does not contain all facts." Fact or fiction? Well you can find out by grabbing this book in your next trip to the library. Read one or more of these delightful "factual" stories on your coffee break.

Posted by Daniel Ong on Apr 5, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Images of Asia Series – Oxford University Press

Book cover of Traditional Festivals in ThailandBook cover of The Chinese HouseBook cover of Aceh, Art and CultureBook cover of At the Japanese Table


The Images of Asia series of pocket- sized illustrated books covers interesting and sometimes obscure areas of South East Asian history and culture. Written for the reader who wants a general introduction, each title is 50-100 pages, indexed and contains a bibliography for further reading.  Illustrations, both color and black and white are well selected.


Book cover of Japanese CinemaBook cover of The Forbidden CityBook cover of Dance in CambodiaBook cover  of Old Shanghai

More Than "Just" Books - Discover John Green on The Web

Cover  of Will Grayson Will GraysonThese days it's easy to see what your favorite author is doing - besides hopefully working on the next great book. John Green is a great example:


And while you are waiting for his next book: listen to his latest book Will Grayson, Will Grayson as an audiobook!

Reading is Fundamental (RIF) -week 2

I’ve met with my learner a couple of times so far. We go over the alphabet, short words, and sounds, and I have her read from a booklet that I got from the PAR office. I feel that if you are not interested in what you are reading, you won’t be interested in learning so I’ve tried to get some books from the library that I think she would enjoy. This endeavor is a partnership. It’s Partners in Reading. I have to be there to teach, and my learner has to be there to learn. If one or the other is not fully there to be involved in the task at hand, it makes the tutoring that much more difficult. I can’t prepare my tutee to be ready to learn when we meet. I can only prepare myself to help her, and I have seen that sometimes I’m not as focused as I should be. I know that I need to have a plan prepared before we begin to work. That is my responsibility. It takes a certain personality to be a teacher. I’m sure each of us could remember only one or two teachers in our lives who truly had an impact on us. What about the rest of those teachers? Maybe I just want others to enjoy reading like I enjoy it. To Kill a Mockingbird is another book that I have enjoyed in my life. Reading takes to you different places, where there are different kinds of people. I think the one thing that touches me is that we all have similar feelings. No matter where you live or who you are it’s the feelings inside that connect us. I need to be patient with my learner, and be like the turtle, slow but sure. I really believe in reading, and I guess when you believe in something you want to share it with other people.

SAT Practice Test at King Library

Book cover of Cracking the SATWill you be taking the SAT test? Find out how you would score on the test by taking a full length practice SAT test for FREE proctored by the Princeton Review on Saturday, April 16 at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library starting at 10:00 am. The test will be held in the Exploration Room located above the Children's Room. This is a great opportunity to try your hand at the types of questions you will see on the actual test. Then get a personalized score report by returning to the King Library on Wednesday, April 20 at 6:00 pm. Remember that the San José Public Library has many SAT review books that you can borrow.


Reminder: Parking is free in the 4th Street Garage before 6:00 pm on Saturdays.

Teen Photo Contest

Book cover of Click!If you're 12-18 years old and like to take photos or are just beginning here is a contest just right for you! We're inviting teens to show us why they love the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library by taking a photo showing why this library is special to them! You can print out this entry form and return it to the Children's Room at the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library by April 30. There will be cool prizes so don't miss this chance to be a winner. The library has many books on basic photography to get you started or give you ideas. Be creative and take a chance!

Book Review: Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes by Daniel Everett

Book cover of Don't Sleep, There Are SnakesThe world is a strange and wonderful place, and nowhere is this more graphically illustrated in Daniel Everett's Don't Sleep, There Are Snakes, now available at nine different SJPL branches. As a young man Daniel travels to the Amazon river with his family to learn the language of an obscure tribe of indigenous river dwellers called the Pirahña Indians, and to convert them to Christianity. Their language is not related to any other known language. Parts of it are truly unique: they have no words for numbers, and colors can only be relatively described--green is "the color like grass" or blue is "the color like sky." Time, too, is different--you are unable to describe something from before you are born--the past no longer exists. They have no creation myth, and worship no deities.


They do not have much interest in the world outside of their own area, and to them everything is transitory, even life. They routinely die of diseases that we take for granted in the first world, and their life expectancy is abysmal. Yet, paradoxically, they are considered the happiest people in the world. They live genuinely for the moment and care deeply about one another, sharing communally and having few tribal laws. The book's title comes from how they say good night--they pride themselves on self-sufficiency, and this is expected of everyone in the tribe.


I found myself caring for these people, and learning more about a culture radically different from the one I know. I was also fascinated by Dan's appreciation of what he learned--both from their language and their culture, and how he also changed. In failing to convert them, he finally realized that his beliefs had nothing to offer them--they were already happy just as they were. The author may have lost his family as a result of this unusual revelation, but I think he gained something in the end.


If I have any criticism about this book, it is in the short part at the end on linguistics. I thought that it was too technical for the average reader to appreciate--I certainly got lost by it! After going through the longer sections describing his adventures among the Pirahña Indians, I was hoping to be more engaged by his description of the language.


The best part of this book was learning to see things from a different viewpoint. Oscar Wilde once wrote, "A mind, once expanded by a new idea, never returns to it's former dimensions." This is that type of book. I wish this tiny tribe of 400 well. They may be small, but their unique language and beliefs have much to teach us in a world very far removed from theirs.

Book Review: The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet

Book cover of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de ZoetDavid Mitchell, author of The Thousand Autumns of Jacob de Zoet, put his historical research to good use. The many details of the late eighteenth century in Nagasaki, Japan, the workings of the Dutch East India Company, shipboard life, and so on - they're not put there just to impress the reader with the authenticity of the setting. They illuminate the characters and draw the reader into a world that only someone with a great imagination and a way with words (such as David Mitchell) could pull off. The often dense prose and wildly extravagant vocabulary at first made me think that I might not get through the book. Some of the themes are hard to take: infanticide, slavery, and ritual suicide, for example. But then I started to appreciate the richness of the language and the development of even minor characters.

Support Edenvale Library

Join the Friends of the Edenvale Library and help support your library. The goals of the Friends of the Edenvale Library are to to focus public attention on library services, facilities and needs; and to raise money to support Edenvale Library programs for children, teenagers, and adults. If you wish to support the Edenvale Library and to find out more joining the Friends, please visit the Friends of the Edenvale Library website.

Career Transitions

Career Transitions logoAre you looking for a job? Could you be considering a new direction professionally? Career Transitions is an excellent database available from San José Public Library. You can access it at your local branch or via your own internet service at home. You just need your library card and pin number.


You can discover things you'd like to potentially do by taking the guided Interest Assessment survey. This is easy. All you do is select: Like, Dislike, or I Don't Know to a number of inquiries regarding your interests. (This takes approximately 10 minutes) From your responses you will receive ratings in different career areas. By clicking on one of these categories you can get an idea of what options are available and what level of preparedness is involved. Input states you'd consider for job opportunities and find out what the future forecast is in any given field.


Career Transitions also offers: Resume Preparation, How to Improve My Chances, and the ability to conduct job searches by title and location. Resources are available for the unemployed. This database and other resources are available at your local library branch. Stop in and Check Us Out!

The Mistress of Nothing

Book cover of The Mistress of Nothing The Mistress of Nothing by Kate Pullinger


Advised by her doctors to seek a warmer climate for the sake of her health, Victorian author and translator Lady Lucie Duff Gordon leaves her family and travels to Egypt, accompanied by her devoted maidservant Sally Naldrett. In Cairo, perplexed by their new surroundings, the two women must fend for themselves; their lives change with the hiring of Omar, an Egyptian translator, cook, servant and interpreter. Settling in Luxor, the women adapt dramatically to their surroundings, shedding their English clothing for Egyptian dress. But to Sally’s dismay, a change in clothing does not indicate a change in her mistress’s manners and attitudes.


In these clips, the author, Kate Pullinger discusses and reads from her novel.



Though fiction, the novel is based on a true story. The author acknowledges Katherine Frank's biography A Passage to Egypt: The Life of Lucie Duff Gordon in her credits.

Posted by Lucille Boone on Apr 2, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

The Longest Trip Home


Book cover of The Longest Trip HomeIn his memoir The Longest Trip Home, John Grogan, author of the bestselling Marley & Me, recounts his experiences growing up in a strong Irish-Catholic family outside of Detroit, and the decisions he makes as he grows to adulthood. It’s a testimony to the power of family throughout our lives. The book is divided into three parts.  In part one, Growing Up, Grogan brings to vivid life the adventures and misadventures of his youth as he recounts incidents both hilarious and touching. In part two, Breaking Away, he begins his career, marries, and establishes a family of his own. His life choices and decisions don’t always align with his parents’ faith and values, straining their relationship as they avoid or tip toe around sensitive issues. Finally, as his parents age and their health begins to fail, Coming Home, recounts the author’s reconnection with the love and faith of his parents. It’s a book for adult children who’ve made life choices at odds with those of their parents, but also for the parents whose love for them never wavers. This engaging title is also available as an audiobook, digital audiobook, and downloadable electronic book.

Spring is Here at West Valley Branch Library!

With the recent heavy rains and sunny weather and plant life starting to reappear, spring is finally here! We are celebrating spring at West Valley this April with a variety of interesting and informative events.


Spring book cover

Open Space Authority: Wildflowers & Butterflies. Tuesday, April 12 at 6:30pm

The Open Space Authority returns to West Valley with more stunning visuals and engaging information. This time, spring is the thing, with all things wildflowers and butterflies. You won't want to miss these beautiful images! Check these books out for some pointers on how to take your own lovely pictures of flowers and plants.


Alternatives to Lawn Culture. Saturday, April 16 at 1:00pm

Why stick with a boring, water-hungry, and time-consuming lawn when you can explore beautiful, sustainable, and low-maintenance alternatives using native plants? I can't wait for this workshop. My yard is turning into a bit of a jungle after all this rain, and I'd love to explore some different options. Check these natural landscaping books out for some unique ideas before you put on the gardening gloves.


Master Gardeners: Gardening for a Healthy Diet. Wednesday, April 20 at 6:30pm

The Master Gardeners' excellent monthly events shouldn't be missed, and they're back in April with another great and timely topic: vegetable and fruit gardening! Learn how you can start planting now to enjoy the healthy fruits (and vegetables) of your own labors all year long. Start growing!


Our City Forest: Eating with the Seasons. Saturday, April 30 at 2:00pm

After you've learned from the Masters about how to plant your own garden, why not come back and learn more from Our City Forest about the many health and environmental benefits to eating with the seasons? We are fortunate here in California to be able to enjoy many delicious and unique foods during each of the four seasons, and spring is no exception! Try Clean Food or The Harvest Eating Cookbook for delicious recipe ideas.


I don't blame you if you'd prefer to spend most of your time this spring enjoying the great outdoors, but be sure to stop in and visit us for these great events or to pick up some seasonal reads for your next picnic. Happy spring!

Butterflies in the Glen

Exhibit of St. Christopher School butterflies at Willow Glen LibrarySpring is here at last, and butterflies have come to visit Willow Glen Branch Library! The kids of Room 1B at St Christopher School have created these beautiful watercolor works of art and generously shared them with the Library. They have been fluttering above the picture books in the Family Space since mid-March, brightening the spirits of staff and Library customers alike during the last few weeks of rainy weather. Thanks to the wonderful young artists and to their teachers, Mrs. Lang and Mrs. Zeitler, for all their work. If your class is interested in displaying artwork in the Willow Glen Branch Library, come in and talk to one of the staff members.

Kids: Celebrate National Poetry Month

April is National Poetry Month! Help your child discover poetry by checking out the library’s children poetry collection. Here are some recommended books to get your child excited about poetry:


Poetry Books


Book cover of The New Kid on the Block: PoemsThe New Kid on the Block: Poems by Jack Prelutsky

A collection of funny poems about strange creatures and people such as Baloney Belly Billy and the Gloopy Gloopers.





Book cover of The Random House Book of Poetry for Children

The Random House Book of Poetry for Children (Various Authors)

A varied and complete collection of more than 550 poems by various poets, including Emily Dickinson, Robert Louis Stevenson, Robert Frost, Langston Hughes, Nikki Giovanni, Lewis Carroll, Ogden Nash, and Shel Silverstein.




Book cover of Where the Sidewalk Ends

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein

This is a masterful collection of humorous poems and drawings by Shel Silverstein that will engage readers.





Learn to Write Poems


Book cover of Haiku Activities

Haiku Activities : Asian Arts & Crafts for Creative Kids by Patricia Donegan

Introduces the form of Japanese poetry known as haiku, explores the seven keys to writing haiku, and provides instructions for five haiku projects, including creating haiga, or illustrated haiku.





Book cover of Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry

Pizza, Pigs, and Poetry: How to Write a Poem by Jack Prelutsky

Featuring personal anecdotes and an abundance of information, this is a humorous guide, filled with poetry exercises, ideas, projects, and pointers that teaches readers how to write poetry.





Book cover of Poem-Making

Poem-Making: Ways to Begin Writing Poetry by Myra Cohn Livingston

Introduces the different kinds of poetry and the mechanics of writing poetry, providing an opportunity for the reader to experience the joy of making a poem.





More Ways to Celebrate


Besides reading and writing poems, here are other ways that you and your child can celebrate National Poetry Month, according to Lily Jones and Skila Brown from www.education.com/magazine/article/Celebrate_Poetry:


  • Memorize a poem together.
  • Write poems about various things and occurrences at home.
  • Read a short poem before a family meal, such as breakfast or dinner.
  • Take a notebook and go on a walk. Be ready to write a poem or phrases about various things that you or your child would observe.
  • Have a poetry slam by inviting other kids or adults over to read poems aloud.

And as always, you can ask a Youth Services Librarian to help you find more poetry resources at your local library branch

Ruby Lu, Brave and True!

Cover of the book Ruby Lu, Brave and TrueIt’s hard not to like someone who is quite clear about all of the best things in her life… especially when those things are just about everything! This is the story of Ruby Lu, Brave and True, an exuberant Chinese American girl by author Lenore Look.


The descriptions of Ruby’s life feature her friends, her teachers at school, and her extended family of Dad, Mom, baby brother Oscar, Grandpa or “GungGung”, Grandma or “PohPoh”, and cousin Flying Duck. Some of the adventures Ruby goes through include: Staging magic shows in the backyard for all the kids in the neighborhood, Making new friends at Chinese school, and even learning how to drive! A bonus at the end of the text is ‘Ruby’s Fantastic Glossary & Pronunciation Guide’ – which gives kid friendly descriptions and pronunciations to the Chinese words and cultural items described in the book.


Ultimately you will get a sense of Chinese culture (as seen through the eyes of an almost 8 year old Chinese American girl), family and community. All of it combines to make Ruby a secure, confident, adventurous girl who appreciates the best of everything. 

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