June 2011

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Hostess with the Mostest!

Book cover of The Twinkies CookbookThrowing a big fancy 'do, but in a pickle as to what to create for dessert? Never fear! Twinkies to the rescue! Here you have The Twinkies Cookbook: An Inventive and Unexpected Recipe Collection. Tired of the same old bean and cheese burrito? Have a Twinkie burrito instead! Maybe you like a crispy-crunchy sensation? Mmmm, let's go for Deep-Fried Twinkies with Raspberry Syrup! Have trouble getting your kids to eat a filling, nutritious breakfast? Twinkie Pancakes are sure to please! Mama-mia, what about my pasta? Hey, give Twinkie Lasagna a go! You've heard of Pigs in a Blanket? Try Pigs in a Twinkie instead! Julia Child has had her fifteen minutes of fame; now give in to your inner Roseanne Barr! Yay, Twinkies!

Did We Overlook Something?

We try to anticipate the sorts of books, movies, and other materials you would like us to provide, but if we haven’t bought something you think we should have, you can let us know. From the library’s homepage you can click on “contact us” (on the upper right), then select the “tell us what to buy” link (second from the last choice). Or from the catalog search screen you can click on the “suggest a purchase” link (one of the gray choices at the bottom), then tell us whether you are a public library user or a university library user by choosing one of the "select a title for" options. Either way, once you’re at the light green “tell us what we should buy” screen, only a few info boxes are required (those with red stars), but the more information you can give us the easier it will be for us to find the item you want. We can’t promise that we will buy everything you suggest, but a librarian will consider your request, and most of the purchase requests we receive are granted. We are your library, so tell us how we can serve you!

Knit and Crochet Club at the Edenvale Branch Library

Cover of The Knitting and Crocheting BibleDo you like to knit and/or crochet? Do you want to learn? You are welcome to attend the Knit and Crochet Club that meets Thursdays from 4:00 - 5:00 PM in Meeting Room B at the Edenvale Branch Library. Learn, mentor, or just come to work on your own projects in good company. Adults, teens and children are welcome.

The San José Public Library carries a lot of books about knitting and crocheting. Here are a few you may enjoy:


Cover of The Essential Stitch Collection


Check out other blog posts about knitting and crocheting

Posted by Dawn Imada on Jun 29, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

He Said, She Said

Cover of UpstateCover of Dash and Lily's Book of DaresHave you ever read a book and wondered, "There has to be another side to this story." Many authors solve that mystery for you by giving you two, three, and even more voices and narrators in one novel in order to give you multiple perspectives of the same situation. In Dash and Lily's Book of Dares, Rachel Cohn and David Levithan co-write the story of two teens on a holiday scavenger hunt in New York City. A sweet romance blossoms with Dash and Lily through the clues in a red notebook passed between each other. The alternating chapters of each character creates the real feeling of how paths cross and misunderstandings occur in a relationship.


Told through letters between a couple over the course of ten years, Upstate by Kalisha Buckhanon is a story of raw emotion about Antonio, in jail as a sixteen year old for a horrendous crime, and Natasha, his girlfriend still in the outside world, and trying to sustain this strained relationship.


Check out some other books that use multiple narrators:

"You Are Here" Reading List: East Coast

You Are Here sloganWe hit the road in last week's installment of our "You Are Here" summer reading lists. It was a long drive, but we've finally arrived at the Atlantic. These books below take place along the East Coast. Get your passport ready, because next week we're crossing the pond.


Also, don't forget to enter your five book reviews online to score your free book and to get entered into our gift card raffles. If you create a video review, you'll also be entered to win a Nook Color. Keep up the great reading!


You Are Here: East Coast


The Daughters by Joanna Philbin

In New York City, three fourteen-year-old best friends who are all daughters of celebrities watch out for each other as they try to strike a balance between ordinary high school events, such as finding a date for the homecoming dance, and family functions like walking the red carpet with their famous parents.


Delirium coverDelirium by Lauren Oliver

In this dystopian sci-fi tale, Lena looks forward to receiving the government-mandated cure that prevents the delirium of love and leads to a safe, predictable, and happy life in her hometown of Portland, Maine, until ninety-five days before her eighteenth birthday and her treatment, when she falls in love.


Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

It's the night of Nick, Norah and NYC. Their chance meeting turns into a crusade to find a legendary rock band's secret show, which somehow ends up as a first date, and ultimately becomes a night that will change their lives forever.


Summer of the Geek by Piper Banks

Fifteen-year-old Miranda's summer job in Florida as au pair to a ten-year-old piano prodigy proves to be as challenging as keeping out of her stepmother's way, passing her driving test, and holding her boyfriend's interest when his former girlfriend returns.


Surface Tension coverSurface Tension: A Novel in Four Summers by Brent Runyon

During the summer vacations of his thirteenth through his sixteenth year at the family's lake cottage in upstate New York, Luke realizes that although some things stay the same over the years that many more change.


Tell Us We're Home by Marina Budhos

Three immigrant girls from different parts of the world meet and become close friends in a small New Jersey town where their mothers have found domestic work, but their relationships are tested when one girl's mother is accused of stealing a precious heirloom.


Vampire High by Douglas Rees

When his family moves from California to New Sodom, Massachusetts, and Cody enters Vlad Dracul Magnet School, many things seem strange, from the dark-haired, pale-skinned, supernaturally strong students to Charon, the wolf who guides him around campus onthe first day.

Business Plans

If you are thinking about starting a business or have a business idea, the first thing people will tell you is to write a business plan. Some things you might be thinking are: Do I really need to do this?  I know what I am doing. I don't have time to write this thing that I will never use.

It does take time to get your business plan together but it is usually necessary if you want to get financing or looking for partners/ investors.  Plus, the business plan is not only to sell your business idea to others but it really is a roadmap and guide for yourself.  It helps keep you on track with spending, profit goals, and so you don't lose sight of the "big picture".  To get you started on your business plan the library has a few resources:

Cover image How to Write a Business PlanHow to Write a Business Plan by Mike McKeever

Anatomy of a Business Plan by Linda Pinson





And if you can't get to the library, we have resources available online:




Cover image Business Plans for DummiesBusiness Plans for Dummies by Paul Tiffany

Logo Small Business Reference CenterSmall Business Reference Center: Full-text of the Nolo title How to Write a Business Plan and business plan samples.


In addition SCORE has great business plan templates available online.

Okay for Now

Book cover of Okay for NowOkay for Now, by Gary Schmidt.  It's 1968 and fourteen year old Doug Swieteck and his family have just moved to “stupid Marysville,” a small town in New York where he doesn’t think anything interesting or good will ever happen for him. Some things, though, are still the same: his brother’s “twisted criminal mind,” his father’s cruelty, and his mother’s beautiful smile. Doug tells the story of his family and of his gradual discovery that life in a small town, even one so far from Yankee stadium, can be pretty wonderful. He becomes good friends with feisty Lillian Spicer. A caring librarian, Mr. Powell, teaches Doug about drawing and painting. A couple teachers at his school take an interest in Doug and help him to see possibilities for himself. Sometimes funny, sometimes heartbreaking, this book makes you care deeply for Doug and wonder how it’s going to turn out for him. 


This book is also available as a book on cd and as a downloadable electronic audio book, wonderfully narrated by Lincoln Hoppe. For those of you who like to read on your computer or other eReading device, we also have an EPUB format of this book.


The Wednesday Wars, Schmidt's Newberry Honor winning book is a companion book to Okay for Now and also features Doug and his friends. 

Online Dating at Your Library

No, no, no. You can't come to the library looking for a date. Well, actually, I suppose you can. After all, they do say "Check out a librarian!" But what I mean is that in this modern world where most of us are sitting at computers for most of the day, you can turn that screen time to productive use in finding that special someone. Oh, there are lots of online dating sites out there. And you may even have been brave enough to try out one (or two...). But here is how hip your library is: You can find materials on how to (and how NOT to) do it at the library! 


Book cover: The Rules for Online DatingBook cover: Romancing the NetBook cover: Cyberspace RomanceBook cover: I Love You, Let's Meet

Posted by Tina Drew on Jun 27, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Meet Squish!

Book cover of Babymouse:  Mad ScientistSquish is an amoeba who first appears in Babymouse: Mad Scientist, written by sister and brother team Jennifer L. Holm & Matthew Holm. Squish also appears in his own series, starting with volume one, Squish, Super Amoeba. These kid friendly graphic novels are great for readers of all ages, especially elementary school students.



Book cover of Squish:  Super AmoebaDo you want to learn more? Please visit the following websites:




Jennifer Holm

Matthew Holm


In addition to reading graphic novels, do you like to create your own graphic novels? If so, please check out our Graphic Novel Making Contest. Happy reading, writing and drawing!

A 'Must-have' for VW Restorations!

Book cover of the 1949-1959 VW BeetleThe 1949-1959 VW Beetle by Bob Wilson is the authority source for anyone looking to restore a Type 1 (Beetle) Volkswagen. The author documents, through both text and photo-illustrations, annual changes/modifications to the car. Since many of these changes were subtle, his research is invaluable and very difficult to locate in other sources. As my son & I restored our 1958 Beetle, we looked to this book many times as a guide in choosing a color, part, or material.

Free eBooks from the National Academies Press

All PDF versions of books published by the National Academies Press are now free to download. This includes more than 4000 titles, and various future reports. Visit http://www.nap.edu to access these free eBooks.

Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan

Book cover of Wanting MorFrom the beginning of this book, readers are quickly drawn into the world of post-Taliban Afghanistan as they follow the life of a young girl named Jameela. Mor, which means Mother in Pushto, taught Jameela how to care for a house and to observe Muslim traditions. She wears her porani, a shawl type head covering, and always performs her prayers. When Mor dies Jameela is left in the care of her father. Unfortunately he is not the typical caring father; he doesn’t have a job and has other bad habits.


Jameela and her father, whom she calls Baba, travel to Kabul from their very small village; there he hopes to find a job. Rather than a job, Baba finds another family. Jameela tries her best to be helpful to her new stepmother, but nothing she does satisfies her. Jameela hears her father and stepmother arguing about her.  What happens next between Jameela and her father is almost unbelievable, but since this story is based on real life it reminds us that things like this happen.


It was difficult for me to put this book down; I was anxious to find out what happened to Jameela. As I followed her through all her ups and downs I was cheering her on, wishing I could help her as she adjusts to her new life. I enthusiastically recommend Wanting Mor by Rukhsana Khan.


This book is based on real events which took place after the 2001 American invasion of Afghanistan. 

"You Are Here" Reading List: American Road Trips

You Are Here sloganYesterday was the first official day of summer, (as if you couldn't tell by the heat, right?) . I hope you all have signed up for the Summer Reading Celebration by now! As I promised last week in my first installment of my "You Are Here" reading lists for the summer, I'm back for another adventure. This week we are hitting the open road before we arrive at our next destination. This list is all about road trips across these great fifty states of ours. Some of them are wild, some are fun, and some are a bit sad, depending on your mood. So grab your convenience store snacks, put together an awesome playlist, round up your friends, and let's go!


You Are Here: American Road Trips


Amy & Roger's Epic Detour by Morgan Matson

After the death of her father, Amy sets out with Roger on a carefully planned road trip from California to Connecticut, but they wind up taking many detours, forcing Amy to face her worst fears and come to terms with her grief and guilt. Like a scrapbook, there are photos, receipts, drawings, and playlists throughout the novel, which enhance the story.


An Abundance of Katherines by John Green

Colin Singleton always falls for girls named Katherine--and he's been dumped by a Katherine 19 times, to be exact. Letting expectations go and allowing love are at the heart of his hilarious quest to find his missing piece and avenge dumpees everywhere.


As Easy as Falling Off the Face of the Earth by Lynne Rae Perkins

A teenaged boy encounters one comedic calamity after another when his train strands him in the middle of nowhere. Meanwhile, his parents, grandfather, and even the family dogs encounter adventures of their own as they all try to make their way back home.


Hit the Road by Caroline Cooney

Brit has had her driver's license only 11 days when her parents drop her off to stay at her grandmother's house for two weeks while they go on vacation. Little do they know Brit is headed for a three-state road trip with Nannie to pick up her college roommates and bring them to their alma mater for their 65th--and most likely final--reunion.


Night Road by A.M. Jenkins

Turns out vampires can take road trips, too. Battling his own memories and fears, Cole, an extraordinarily conscientious vampire, and his friend, impulsive Sandor, spend a few months on the road, trying to train a young man who recently joined their ranks.


Rules of the Road by Joan Bauer

Hired by Madeline Gladstone, the president of a shoe company, to help her prevent a corporate takeover, 16-year-old Jenna Boller embarks on an eye-opening adventure that teaches both of them the rules of the road--and the rules of life.

Fun Things To Do in July

Corduroy Goes to the Library book coverLike most parents, I have already signed up my children for the summer reading program.  My soon to be second grader wants to know "what else is going on at the library where you work, Mom."  While I jot down a list of fun things for her and her little sister to do at the Tully Library, I thought I'd share it with the rest of the parents in this community.


At the top of my list is the For Goodness Snakes program.  I hosted this program last year and everyone was absolutely fascinated with these amazing creatures.  It was wonderful to see both children and adults interacting with these fearsome looking, but quite gentle animals.  This is one program that Natalie will not miss this year!


There are four more items on that list of mine.  For my youngest daugher, I have the Music & Movement program to keep her entertained.  I also include Monsters of the World just in case Natalie likes to be scared a little.  For the family, the Kids in the Kitchen and the Spectacular Smoothie programs will be fun and educational at the same time.  Hopefully, everyone will learn to make healthier snacks after these workshops.


If you haven't signed up for tons of activities for your children already this summer, please check out these fun and free programs at your local library.

The Man Who Mapped the Planet

Cover of Mercator:   the Man Who Mapped the PlanetI love maps.  In school we always had maps to look at.  At home we always had an atlas in the cupborar and a road atlas in the car, in addition to several sets of road maps carefully folded for use when we were planning trips.  Maps are every where, we use them in many aspects of our lives.  When giving someone directions, or describing how some place is situated, how often do we make a small map to aid in our descriptions.  Humans have been making maps for centuries and those maps usually give us an insight into how we understood the physical nature of the world.   In the 16th century, when the European expansion started, along with the reniassance learning in Europe,  sailors had a problem--how do you correctly represent your current position and chart your course on a two-dimensional, flat map when you are actually positioned on a sphere ?  How could the three dimensional globe be translated into a two dimensional map and allow the navigators to maintain true compass bearings?  Enter Gerhard Mercator, who developed the cartographical idea of projection.  This innovation, used mainly by mariners, allowed for ship's navigators to plot their courses and show their location on a map more accurately.   But this technique is something we have all seen.  Many of those maps our teachers used in school, or, those maps we have on the wall may be using Mercator's projection. We still use Mercator's projection on maps frequently.  This innovation, combined with the means to accurately calculate longitude (see Dava Sobel's book "Longitude" about John Harrison, who won the greatest of the  Longitude Prizes for his invention of a timepiece that kept consistent accurate time and thereby  made it possible to calculate latitude and longitude more accurately) made transoceanic travel far safer in suceeding centuries.   If you want to know more about Gerhard Mercator, and the many developments and advances in geospatial sciences, come to the library.  We will be happy to direct you to materials on geography, cartography, as well as many other subjects. 



Book cover of Watery Part of the WorldThe Watery Part of the World by Michael Parker – This beautifully-written story takes place in two separate time periods which sometimes, like water, seem to blend together--the early 1800’s and the 1970’s--on storm-beaten Yaupon Island off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. The historical portion of the novel deals with the mystery of the missing daughter of disgraced Vice-President Aaron Burr, Theodosia, who disappeared at sea in 1813. For purposes of this story, she was saved from death by pirates by feigning insanity and survived, barely, on Yaupon, forever cut off from the mainland and her former life. She is the ancestress of two older sisters, Maggie and Whaley, who struggle to remain on the island of their births, now down to a population of three, in the 70’s. Woodrow Thornton, the only other modern inhabitant and himself a descendant of a freed slave who worked for Theodosia, is the sisters’ only support system; together they cling to their intermingled yet solitary island lives.


Book cover of The Silent LandThe Silent Land by Graham Joyce – I really had a hard time putting this book down! I found myself wanting to finish it quickly without detouring to read other books as I often do. Essentially it is a love story about a married couple on a ski holiday who get caught in an avalanche but manage to rescue themselves, only to find themselves in an evacuated mountain village still being threatened. An impending sense of doom permeates, while at the same time the story is moving and uplifting. The novel can only be described as compelling because although the reader suspects where the story is going, it is necessary to find out the meaning of the trip!


Book cover of Miss Timmins' School for GirlsMiss Timmin’s School for Girls by Nayana Currimbhoy – This atmospheric fiction debut is set in a girl’s boarding school in 1974 India where world societal changes that started in the sixties have filtered into even this closed society. In a bit of a switch, scandals are brought by the adults in charge rather than the students themselves.  Stories and rumors swirl around the proper headmistress and her teachers, including Charu Apte, the new teacher from a respectable family with secrets of its own, and the wild English woman teacher, Moira Prince, who sets her sights on Charu. Moira seduces sheltered 21-year-old Charu and introduces her to characters in the community offering the glamor of casual drugs and vice; then one night during the monsoon season the conflicted Charu quarrels with Moira who then falls - or is pushed - to her death in a mountainous area known as “table-land.” These plot lines are woven together as part cultural lesson and part 70’s history lesson, with portrayals of terrific student characters who turn into sleuths to attempt to solve all the mysteries.


Book cover of SisterSister by Rosamund Lupton – This is another compelling read which is a psychological thriller/mystery but is also a moving family story about an older sister’s love for her younger sister. Beatrice rushes to London from her home in New York when she learns her free-spirited younger sister Tess is missing; when Tess is found dead and Beatrice learns that she died shortly after giving birth to a stillborn child, she refuses to believe that Tess took her own life. Soon she is virtually inhabiting her sister’s life, living where she lived, working where she worked, in an effort to solve the mystery of her untimely death. The story is written in the form of letter to her sister; the reader knows that somehow Beatrice has proved her theory and that Tess was actually murdered, but the search for the killer continues until the final twist ending. There is a lot of buzz about this book!

"You Are Here" Reading List: Bay Area

"You Are Here" teen summer reading sloganThe Summer Reading Celebration begins tomorrow, June 18th, and in honor of this year’s theme for teens, I’ve put together some fun reading lists of recommended reads for teens that will take you around the world. I will be sharing these lists with you throughout the summer, with each list containing a set of books featuring a new location. Since all of travels start at home, I’m kicking it off with a set of books that take place right here in the Bay Area. Read and enjoy, and don’t forget to sign up for the Summer Reading Celebration!


You Are Here: Bay Area, California


The Alchemyst by Michael Scott

While working at summer jobs in San Francisco, twins Sophie and Josh find themselves caught up in the deadly, centuries-old struggle between rival alchemists.


American Born Chinese by Gene Luen Yang

This graphic novel features three intertwining stories about Chinese Americans, including Jin Wang, a boy raised in San Francisco's Chinatown who moves with his family to the suburbs.


Estrella’s Quinceañera by Malín Alegría

San Jose teen Estrella is turning 15, and her mother and aunt are planning a gaudy, traditional quinceañera for her, even though it is the last thing she wants.


Little Brother by Cory Doctorow

After being wrongly imprisoned by the Department of Homeland Security in the aftermath of a major terrorist attack on San Francisco, seventeen-year-old Marcus must use his computer hacking skills to set things right in this action-packed techno-thriller.


The Wild Girls by Pat Murphy

 When thirteen-year-old Joan moves to the Bay Area in 1972, she becomes friends with Sarah, who shares her passion for creative writing, and after winning a writing contest together, they are recruited for an exclusive summer writing class that gives them new insights into themselves and others.


Wish: A Novel by Alexandra Bullen

After her vivacious twin sister dies, a shy teenage girl moves with her parents to San Francisco, where she meets a magical seamstress who grants her one wish.

Science Verse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith


Book cover for Science Verse by Jon Scieszka


Want a fun way to introduce important scientific concepts such as the elements, evolution and astronomy to your young child? Do you and your child enjoy poetry? If your answer to these questions is “YES” then you should read Science Verse by Jon Scieszka. Our hero falls asleep in science class and dreams that his teacher has zapped him with a curse of Science Verse. Every concept is explained in poetic verse that will remind the reader of famous poems. There is even a poem about dinosaurs titled “Dino-Sore” that will remind you of “The Raven” by Edgar Allen Poe! The illustrations by Lane Smith are top notch and add to the reading and learning fun.


If your child loves Science Verse check out Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith.

More eBooks for Kids!

BookFlix is a new digital collection of animated books and games for kids grades K through 3. You can watch animated storybooks, read books online, and play fun educational games. Both classic fictional video storybooks from Weston Woods and non-fiction eBooks are available. Try it out and let us know what you think in a comment!

Posted by Mana Tominaga on Jun 16, 2011 | Comments: 3 |

Cooking for Geeks

I don't know about you, but I like too cook.  I, like many people, have a standard battery of receipes that I know basically from memory that I can throw together without too much effort and make/prepare quickly.  Some of my culinary arsenal are:  chicken in tarragon-mustard sauce; Hungarian goulash; chicken a l'orange; grilled asparagus with truffle oil and chopped pistachios, braised pork chops or pork loin in apple cider, roast beef with carrots and potatoes.  However I struggle with some dishes that don't always turn out right.  One of my challenges is to make the perfect creme brulee that doesn't curdle and has the creamiest texture.  Cooking for geeks  

Posted by Todd Charles on Jun 16, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Let's Play Parenting Bingo!

Book cover of The Big Book Parenting SolutionsWhat's that and how do you play?  At least once or twice a year, the Family Learning Center at Tully Library offers these fun opportunities for parents to fine-tune their parenting skills and enjoy the whole experience while they are doing it.  This year, the program will take place on Thursday, June 23 from 11:00 AM to 12:00 PM.  How often do you have the opportunity to share your woes with total strangers and have the support and advice from people who may have the same experiences as you? 


So, don't miss out on this opportunity!  Come and join in the fun!  We have prizes waiting to be won, courtesy of the Friends of the Tully Library.


Chơi Bingo Để Biết Thêm về Cách Giáo Dục Con Cái.  Chúng ta vừa học hỏi, vừa chơi và vừa có thể thắng được quà!


¡Ven a aprender abilidades de crianza mientras que usted juega! Los premios serán proporcionados por los Amigos de la Biblioteca.

Yes, San Jose's library cards are still free!

I know there has been quite a bit of confusion lately about whether library cards are still free.

The Santa Clara County Library District recently decided to begin charging non-District residents an annual fee of $80 for a library card. Residents of the Library District will receive cards at no charge.

The Library District includes the cities of Gilroy, Morgan Hill, Milpitas, Campbell, Saratoga, Monte Sereno, Cupertino, Los Altos and Los Altos Hills, as well as unincorporated areas. The other cities in the County, including San Jose, operate municipal libraries.

The District Library has experienced such a high amount of use by non-residents that its ability to meet the needs of its own residents was compromised.

As San Jose reduced its hours and services in recent years, many San Jose residents began to use nearby District Libraries and also the Santa Clara City Library as their primary library.

The District Library is the only one that is charging for a non-resident card. All the municipal libraries in the County (Santa Clara, Los Gatos, Sunnyvale, Mountain View, Palo Alto and San Jose) continue at this time to issue a library card to non-residents.

QR Codes

QR code for 408-808-2397QR codes are 2D barcodes that are used to contain information on URLs, addresses, text messages etc. They can be read (scanned) using QR code reader software, if it is downloaded to your mobile device or computer. Recently they are used by the libraries to direct patrons with mobile devices to certain URLs with information on virtual tours, catalog pages, to text messages on policies or interlibrary loan information.


You can generate your own QR code by going to QR code generators pages (just type in "QR code generator" using Google). Easy to use sites that generate QR codes for you: qrcode.kaywa.com and delivr.com/qr-code-generator.


The QR Codes site describes very well the usage of QR coding in the libraries.

Late Nights on Air by Elizabeth Hay

Cover: Late Nights on AirThe setting: A radio station in Yellowknife, Northwest Territories, 1975. In Late Nights on Air, Elizabeth Hay depicts the frozen Canadian north on the verge of major changes: the arrival of television, oil and gas exploration, and heightened tensions between natives and outsiders.

For anyone who has a romantic yearning to go to or return to the northern wilderness, this book evokes all the lonely beauty of the land (and sky). And the author is absolutely on target in her portrayal of the misfits, dreamers, emotional refugees and native peoples who create lives for themselves on the edge of the tundra- just the way you would find them if you traveled to a remote, icy frontier. The plot leads in a meandering way to unexpected twists of fortune, romantic pairings, and tragedy; my interest in these (for the most part) sympathetic, complex characters kept me hooked throughout.

Run by Ann Patchett

Book cover: Run by Ann PatchettI loved Ann Patchett's Bel Canto and Run is just as good. Race relations, politics, faith, family loyalty and death are just some of the major themes. Every character is so well drawn - from the emotionally spent former mayor of Boston to the young girl who stalks the mayor and his two adopted sons. A couple of passages are so memorable and full of meaning, that I've read them over and over: the inner thoughts of the old priest in the retirement home ("It would be possible to overlook just about anything if you were trained to constantly strain forward to see the power and the glory that way waiting up ahead. What a shame it would have been to miss God while waiting for Him."), and of the poor young black girl sprinting around the track at Harvard ("She no longer felt like touching all the dirt and the muck she had so patiently submitted herself to so that people would think she was a very nice girl. She was not such a very nice girl. Nobody who was very, very nice would ever work this hard to take something they wanted only for themselves.").

Kezia? Mackenzie? Kezie? or Keziah? Give the Baby That Unusual Name

Book cover of Bring Back Beatrice!Naming a baby is sometimes quite a dilemma for parents. Bring Back Beatrice! (by Jennifer Griffin) is a handy tool for you to pick that beautiful but sometimes unpopular name for your newborn. With a subtitle that reads, "1,108 Baby Names with Meaning, Character, and A Little bit of Attitude," this book brings back names that went out of fashion or have been forgotten such as Ursula, Miriam, Leah, Kendrick, Everett, Philippa, and many more. Each entry has a short historical note, variations, nicknames, and alternatives. In booklet format Bring Back Beatrice! will help you browse and pick with ease that special name that makes your child stand out from the crowd, and hopefully be inspired for future greatness.

Cooking for Geeks

book cover: Cooking for GeeksSeveral weeks ago I went to the Bay Area Maker Faire, an annual event for inventors and do-it-yourself enthusiasts. A combination county fair with side shows of steam punk vehicle rides, the Maker Faire has been described as a playground for geeks. In the building featuring O’Reilly Publications (a sponsor), I found Cooking for Geeks: Real Science, Great Hacks and Good Food. This is a cookbook for those wanting to know how food works: there are sections on the chemical reactions that occur when heating and cooling food, the role of air in baking, food additives (make your own liquid smoke), and kitchen hardware as well as ways to organize your equipment and ingredients. Interspersed are recipes and interviews with innovative cooks, scientists and foodies. Writer Jeff Potter has his own blog and you can sign up for email, Facebook and Twitter updates.


By the way, another Maker Faire sponsor TechShop will open up a site this month in downtown San Jose a few blocks from King Library.

SJPL eBooks on a NOOK

Photo of Nook Simple Touch ReaderAfter months of debating which eReader to buy, I finally decided to go with the new Simple Touch Reader Nook from Barnes & Noble. The reviews so far have been overwhelmingly positive, with sites like CNET & PC Magazine naming it a top pick. It features a featherweight ergonomic design, amazing battery life, and e-ink technology. I personally prefer it to the Nook Color because I find the Nook Color’s LCD screen a bit harder on the eyes for extended reading. The new Simple Touch Nook doesn’t have the bells and whistles of an iPad or other tablet computer, but if you’re looking for something simple, fairly affordable, and hassle-free to use just for reading books, then this Nook might be for you.


Check out some great Nook-specific instructions on how to get started with SJPL’s OverDrive eBook collection, or visit OverDrive's help page. I’m having a great time so far with the many titles available for download. It’s exciting to be able to continue to use the many great (and free!) resources that the library has to offer, but in a brand new way.  

Tully Community Branch Library Virtual Tour

Ever wonder what other libraries are like? Now you can explore the San José Public Library's Tully Community Branch from home by taking a virtual tour, discovering why customers visit the library and what services are provided with these informative and fun videos. Then, once you've completed your virtual visit, be sure to stop by for a real visit!  


Tully Community Branch Library Virtual Tour - Explore the Tully Community Branch Library from the comfort of your own home with this narated tour.


Why Do You Come to the Library? - Find out different reasons why customers just like you come to the library.


A Day in the Life of Tully Community Branch Library - Follow a typical day in the life of the Tully Community Branch Library, including a glimps of what goes on "behind the scenes."


It's All at Your Local Library! - Check out this quick video showing off what the library has to offer. 

Posted by Mark Lorensen on Jun 11, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

The GoodLife

Book cover of The GoodLifeNovels don't get any better than this. The GoodLife is expertly written by former Stanford creative writing instructor Keith Scribner. A married couple decides to kidnap a local executive and demand ransom money to fix their outsized money problems for good. Delusional amateur criminals, they think their plan is foolproof. Only a novel based on a real event could have the ring of veracity this story conveys. Read this book and have access to the writing chops of a master author. Additional copies are available through Link+ by using your San José Public Library card.

Barrio Bushido

Barrio Bushido is destined to become a local classic in the mold of East Side Dreams. No less a literary luminary than Earl Shorris describes author Benjamin Bac Sierra as a “Latino Elmore Leonard” so don’t expect flowery prose in this gritty urban novel. The author is a native San Franciscan, former homeboy (not homebody) and U.S. Marine. Along the way he earned a law degree and a master’s degree in creative writing. He currently teaches at City College of San Francisco. His worldview is informed by the streets of the Mission District. Check out his blog, but mostly check out his novel. It is already on the reading lists for many college students.

Posted by janeeseg on Jun 11, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Weekend Project? How About Beading?

Photo of four beaded braceletsBook cover of Beading: 20 Great Weekend ProjectsI like beautiful beads and crystals. But how do I string those freshwater pearls and Swarovski crystal beads together to make wearable jewelry? I found a lot of beading books and instructional DVDs in the library and I made some bracelets (yes, I made those in the right photo) for myself. Other than jewelry, there are books showing that beads can be wonderful decoration in the house, such as this book: Beading: 20 Great Weekend Projects. You will be so proud of yourself wearing your handmade necklace or giving a gift to a friend. Happy beading!

The Buddy Files by Dori Hillestad Butler

In the first book of this series we were introduced to King. He’s a dog, and a detective, who solved mysteries with his human, Kayla. When his family didn’t return as planned from a trip to Springtown to visit Grandma, King ended up in the P-O-U-N-D. By being friendly, King, now known as Buddy, was adopted.


Book cover of The Case of the Mixed-Up MuttsIn the second book, The Case of the Mixed-Up Mutts, Buddy is adjusting to living with his new family, a boy named Connor and his mother. They live in his old neighborhood. As the book begins, Buddy is once again thinking about looking for his first family. But before he can begin his search, he becomes involved in a new mystery, two dogs have been switched! Can Buddy help them both get back to their real owners? While Buddy is helping these two dogs find their homes, he uses the (dog) Network to help the dogs who were switched. Buddy’s plan to help the two dogs also helps him. He learns more about Springtown, where Kayla and her Dad went. Maybe something really did happen to them while they were there.


Book cover of The Case of the Missing FamilyIn the third book, The Case of the Missing Family, Buddy notices people moving furniture out of the house where he lived with Kayla and her family. He decides he must investigate and try to find out what happened to Kayla and her family. By now, thanks to the Network, Buddy has learned that there was a tornado in Springtown. Who are the people taking furniture from Kayla’s house and where are they taking the furniture – to Kayla and her family?  Is Kayla’s Mom still away with the National Guard? Are they all OK?


When Buddy realizes he knows the people who are taking things away from his old house he decides to take action. He will stowaway in the van and see if it takes him to Kayla. Read book three to find out if Buddy finds Kayla and finally solves his most difficult mystery. A fun to read series about dogs and their people by Dori Hillestad Butler.


Updated April 2012

There are two additional books available in our collection as part of The Buddy Files series:  The Case of the Fire Alarm and The Case of the Library Monster.

The Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives

Book cover of The Secret Lives of Bab Segi's WivesThe Secret Lives of Baba Segi's Wives by Nigerian writer Lola Shoneyin, was an impulse title, one of those books that caught my eye demanding to be read. Not all is well in the household of the Alao family consisting of businessman Baba Segi, his four wives and seven children. After two years of marriage, Baba Segi’s newest wife, Bolanle has not conceived and Baba Segi takes her to the hospital to find out why. The other wives, Iya Segi, Iya Tope and Iya Femi, all mothers of children, are jealous of Bolanle’s college education and plot to make her leave. As Baba Segi and his wives take turns telling what happens in subsequent weeks, we learn more of the dynamics of this polygamist household, how Baba Segi acquired his wives and how the women have adapted and why they continue to remain in this plural marriage.



To find novels and short stories set in Nigeria, by Nigerian authors and other writers, do a keyword search in the library catalog using the words Nigeria fiction.

The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse

Book cover of The Chameleon Wore ChartreuseIn The Chameleon Wore Chartreuse by Bruce Hale it all started like this: “It was a hot day in September. The kind of day when kindergarteners wake up cranky from their naps. The kind of day when teachers pull their hair and dream of moving to Antarctica. In other words, a normal school day.“ Chet Gecko, 4th grade lizard and private eye, is on the case again. This time, looking into Billy Chameleon’s disappearance and as Chet sets about unraveling the mystery of Billy’s whereabouts, he encounters a very large, very angry football player - Gila Monster, grouchy teachers, and the treacherous Rat Sisters.


Even though things get a little dicey for Chet, he figures it’s worth it. He’s been promised a pie from Billy’s sister, Shirley if he can locate her missing brother. But not just any pie – stinkbug pie! Mmmmm. This scaly tale is full of fun and interesting characters, wacky humor and even some fascinating reptile facts.


If you want to follow Chet on his further adventures, he has a whole series of cases. Chet also has his own website where you can learn more about him and even learn how to draw him.

Al Capone Does My Shirts

Book cover of Al Capone Does My ShirtsIt’s 1935 and 12-year-old Moose Flanagan has moved with his family to Alcatraz Island – home to such notorious criminals as Machine Gun Kelly and Al Capone. Moose’s father has taken a job on the island as an electrician and prison guard while his mother focuses on getting his sister Natalie, who isn’t like other kids, into a special school in San Francisco. Al Capone Does My Shirts is alternately funny and poignant as Moose tries to fit in at his new school, protect his sister, and stay out of trouble created by the warden’s scheming daughter. Author Gennifer Choldenko researched civilian life on Alcatraz in the 1930s and has produced a believable tale that, besides being a fun read, makes a good choice for a historical fiction assignment for students in grades 5-8. Choldenko also draws upon her own experience as a family member of someone with special needs; children who have a sibling with autism or another developmental disability will especially relate to the story. For more of Moose’s adventures on Alcatraz, check out the sequel, Al Capone Shines My Shoes.

Choose Your Own Adventures This Summer

Book cover of The 100 Best Affordable Vacations* Kayak with dolphins

* Hike in a rain forest, swim in a bioluminescent bay

* Collect waterfalls

* Follow the mission trail

* Pitch a tent by the sea


These are some of 100s of activities you could do this summer - listed in The 100 Best Affordable Vacations by Jane Woolridge and Larry Bleiberg (published by National Geographic Society, 2011.)  Unique among travel books, 100 Best is arranged by activities rather than locations, with a focus on North America.  Under each activity, ideal places, geographical and historical details are listed.  While most activities have their own localities, some are marked as nationwide with place recommendations, such as Celebrate American Folk Arts, Check Out "Unknown" Parks, Ride Historic Rails, etc.  Each entry ends with "How To Get In Touch" section for more information gathering by address, phone, or email/Web.  100 Best is one of the few travel books that you could read without being overwhelmed by maps and other information.  With 100 Best you will discover a world of adventures this summer without emptying your bank account.

Lost Children

Book cover of Iris and Walter and the Field TripBook cover of Around TownIris and Walter and the Field Trip by Elissa Guest is a story about friendship and lost children. When the teacher, Miss Cherry decided to take her class on a field trip to the aquarium, her students got very excited. One of the rules was students have to hang onto their partner. If one gets lost, one has to stay where he/she is and the teacher will find him/her. When Iris was observing the penguins, she discovered that she lost Walter, her partner. She panicked and reported it to her teacher immediately. Together, they went to search for Walter and finally found him in front of the coral reef. This is a story with happy ending because Walter didn't run around; he just stayed where he was.


Another book about lost children is Around Town by Claire Llewellyn. This book teaches children ways to keep safe in stores, on the street, or in the park.

Rafi and Rosi

Book cover of Rafi and RosiRafi and Rosi: Carnival! by Lulu Delacre is a touching story about brothers and sisters. Rafi the frog is willing to work exceptionally hard to make his younger sister Rosi happy. After he made a mask to prepare for the Carnival in Ponce, he also made her a wagon-turned-float to take her up and down their street in her own parade. I love this book because of the surprises at the end:  A bit of history of the Carnival in Ponce, Puerto Rico, instructions on how to make a wagon float, how to make a periscope, and how to make a vejigante mask.


Another cute book about brothers and sisters worth checking out is by Laura Numeroff, What Sisters Do Best; What Brothers Do Best.

Featured Local Business Resource: AnewAmerica

Logo image for AnewAmerica


AnewAmerica assists low income "new Americans" become entrepreneurs by providing business training, coaching, support, and access to credit. They offer a unique 3 year comprehensive business program and offer programs in Spanish or Vietnamese.  Another great local resource for those looking to start a business. San José really does offer a wealth of support for new business owners.

Biblioburro by Jeanette Winter

Book cover of BiblioburroBiblioburro by Jeanette Winter is a true story about a young teacher, Luis Soriano, who has a passion for reading. He travels into the remote villages of rural Colombia with his biblioburro to bring books to children and spread knowledge. Luis Soriano is a true inspiration to all librarians and teachers.

Posted by Lori Chan on Jun 4, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Bad Neighbor Policy

Book cover of Eagles and EmpireLike most Americans, I knew little about the Mexican-American War (1846 -1848), and so I sought Eagles and Empire to learn more about this important but frequently overlooked chapter of American history. If proof of impartiality is that you offend everyone equally, David A. Clary must be one of the most impartial historians around. From the duplicitous American government to the Mexican government’s callousness towards its own citizens, from comic-opera figure Santa Ana to the American volunteer army’s refusal to be disciplined, this is a tale in which everybody comes out looking deplorable. And no one receives a less flattering portrayal than the Texas Rangers, who, if even half of Clary’s indictments are true, did not start out as honorable lawmen, and who might well prefer that this chapter of history should remain obscure. The one faction that does come out of Clary’s account with their reputation largely intact is the American officer corps, many of whom went on to become household names in the Civil War. Clary’s Eagles and Empire is an important read, but not always a pleasant one.

Lock & Key by Sarah Dessen

I try to mix up my recreational reading and challenge myself with a variety of genres and themes, but I have to admit that every now and then, it feels good to curl up with a nice piece of well-written chick lit. After having read a few of her books now, I must agree with the masses that YA author Sarah Dessen has truly mastered this art: real characters, a good story with all the right amounts of drama and romance, and a slightly surprising yet happy ending.


Lock and Key coverI just finished listening to the audiobook Lock and Key via the Overdrive app on my mobile phone. While it's not my favorite Dessen novel thus far, (that award goes to This Lullaby), it's a great story of redemption and second chances. 17-year-old Ruby is reunited with her estranged older sister Cora after her neglectful mother finally takes off for good. Cora and her husband Jamie (founder of a successful Facebook-esque social networking site) are able to offer Ruby all of the things she never dreamed she would have: a beautiful house, new clothes, a good high school, hopes for college, and above all, a real family. Nate, the charming boy-next-door that reaches out to her, is also too good to be true. But despite this amazing new life, Ruby still can't seem to take off the old key around her neck that belongs to the crumbling house where her mom left her. As the story progresses, we begin to see Ruby's transformation, as well as the characters around her. Things aren't always what they seem, family can be a flexible term, and it's never too late to give up hope. Eventually we'll find the right keys to the doors we're looking for.


Sarah Dessen's latest novel, What Happened to Goodbye, is another story about reclaiming identity and coming to terms with not-so-perfect family. Be one of the first to read it, and let us know what you think!

In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson by Bette Bao Lord

Book cover of In the Year of the Baor and Jackie RobinsonSixth Cousin, also known as Bandit, of the House of Wong, lived halfway around the world from New York City. Her father has been travelling for a very long time, while Bandit and her mother remained in China with her father’s family. One day a letter arrives. While this letter makes her mother very happy, it makes her grandmother cry and her grandfather angry. No one tells Bandit anything.  What is going on?


Finally, Bandit is told that she and her mother are going to America to join her father. Bandit selects her American name, Shirley Temple Wong, and so begins their journey. It is a difficult transition from China to America; at times Shirley feels happy and other times sad. But after she makes her first new school friend, and discovers baseball, her transition into everyday American life truly begins.


In the Year of the Boar and Jackie Robinson is not a new book, but with many children in our local community who recently arrived from other countries, there is a perfect audience for this thoughtful and relevant book. New arrivals will identify with Shirley’s struggles, and successes, as she learns to adapt to her new life. Anyone who has felt different or lonely can identify and sympathize with Shirley when she finds herself the only Chinese speaking student in her school. The language used and emotions discussed by Bette Bao Lord are suitable for ages 8 and up. 

Take a Santa Teresa Library Tour

Did you know that the Friends of Santa Teresa Branch Library have an ongoing, year-round book sale? Want to see the Library's Community Room or Tech Center facilities? Did you know that we have a quiet study area and reservable study rooms? Or perhaps you haven't visited the Library since it reopened in 2010?


Follow along this Library tour, brought to you by Santa Teresa Branch Library teensReach volunteers Ajay, Andrew, David, Hector and Joth, as they walk you through the building highlighting the special areas and services available at the Santa Teresa Branch Library.

RSS Feeds for "My Account" Now Available

We’ve just launched a new feature in the library catalog – RSS feeds for "My Account" activity.  Subscribe to the feed with an RSS feed reader and keep up to date with your library account without having to go to our website and login. Not familiar with RSS feeds? - Watch a quick video that explains them.


RSS icon To get the address for the feed: Login to your account and click on the little RSS icon by "Account Activity".


The feed will generate alert messages for the following activity:

  • Requested library item(s) are ready for pickup
  • Link+ item(s) are ready for pickup
  • Item(s) are due soon 
  • Item(s) are due today
  • Item(s) are overdue
  • New fine(s) or fee(s)

For privacy, the feed just mentions this generic activity; it doesn’t say specifically which titles are due, on the hold shelf, etc.  You can click on one of the messages and then login to your account to see the exact details.  A date appears at the beginning of each message so you can tell which activity is current. Enjoy!

Hooray for Amanda and her Alligator

Book cover of Hooray for Amanda and Her AlligatorMo Willems is one of my favorite authors of children's books. He has authored the Pigeon, Knuffle Bunny, Elephant and Piggie, and Cat the Cat series, to name just a few. (People may not realize that he also created the series Sheep in the Big City for the Cartoon Network, and The Off-Beats for Nickelodeon's Kablam channel. He also spent four years as the head writer for the children's animated series  Codename: Kids next Door.)  Willems has just published another charming book Hooray for Amanda & Her Alligator about a little girl named Amanda, Alligator, one of her stuffed toys, their relationship and their ability to make new friends. This book also includes a touching "chapter" about the real value of friendship. I think this will be another popular addition to Willems' wonderful repertoire. This book has already become a favorite among staff at the Santa Teresa branch. With the Summer Reading Celebration starting soon, why not come visit us and check out all of Mo Willems' books! 

Posted by Todd Charles on Jun 2, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Return to Sweet Valley

Book cover of Sweet Valley ConfidentialBefore Gossip Girl, before Twilight, there was Sweet Valley High. Never great literature, the prolific teen series by Francine Pascal and a team of ghostwriters featured identical twins Elizabeth and Jessica Wakefield who were as different as night and day. Their adventures and those of their friends and family members were recounted in several spin off series as well, each depicting the same characters at different ages. Sweet Valley Twins, Sweet Valley Kids and Sweet Valley Junior High featured younger versions of the same characters. Eventually everyone graduated and moved on to SVU (Sweet Valley University). As a librarian in the late 1980s and early 1990s I sometimes joked that readers never had to leave Sweet Valley. The characters would just age with them until everyone ended up at Sweet Valley Convalescent Hospital.


Now Pascal has caught up with her characters ten years after the original series ended. As usual, couples are getting together, breaking up, and revealing secrets. Who’s out of the closet? Will Todd Wilkins end up with Jessica or long-time love Elizabeth? Like watching a reunion movie from a familiar TV series, Sweet Valley Confidential is a quick opportunity to reconnect with the characters you once knew well. But don’t be surprised to find out that while you’ve grown and changed, Sweet Valley remains the same.  

Geronimo Stilton Goes Graphic

Book cover of Geronimo Stilton: The Secret of the SphinxCalling all Geronimo Stilton fans! Great news! Geronimo Stilton has gone graphic. What does this mean? It means that a new series of Geronimo Stilton books are now available as graphic novels: all illustration, just like comic books. Check out these new Geronimo Stilton titles. Not only will you have fun reading these colorful books, you will also learn a lot of history as you follow Geronimo‘s adventures during the time of the dinosaurs and during the Ice Age. Travel to Ancient Rome and Ancient Egypt with Geronimo or join him as he  explores with Marco Polo. Then move on to Renaissance times in Italy where Geronimo is determined to stop those nasty pirate cats from stealing the famous painting Mona Lisa. Looking for fun Summer Reading? Try the All-New, Full-Color Geronimo Stilton Graphic Novels.

Physics of the Impossible

Book cover of Physics of the ImpossibleEver want to visit the future? What about encountering the futuristic world of “Star Trek,” with Phasers, being able to beam down to a strange planet, or lift your shields to prevent a Klingon attack? In Physics of the Impossible, Michio Kaku addresses what might be possible in the next century…or beyond. The 23rd century is not as far away as it seems. The author divides these ideas, not yet developed, into three distinct categories, 1, 2 and 3 “impossibilities”. This means that these ideas are not currently possible, but may become possible in the future. Class one impossibilities are ones that will probably take place within the next hundred years. These are ideas that are within our comprehension based on what we currently know of the laws of physics. Class two impossibilities are a bit more far-fetched based on our current technology, and may take a few centuries longer to bring to fruition. They are much more difficult to achieve, but do not violate physical laws. Class three impossibilities directly violate the laws of physics as we know them, and will never happen.


I particularly liked two things about this book. The first was the clear way in which the author addressed the physics behind the idea in layman’s terms, and explained why this might be soon within reach of modern technology. Teleportation is a class one impossibility if you are talking about elements or simple compounds—but you’re going to have to wait at least until the “Star Trek” universe takes place before saying “Beam Me Up, Scotty”. Teleporting a human being is apparently significantly more complex. The second thing that I enjoyed is that he addresses each segment with the earliest mentions of each idea in stories and novels. Clearly a Star Trek fan as well as a voracious reader of popular Science Fiction, he was able to draw on our common modern mythology to elaborate how we came to imagine these wondrous machines that might someday become reality. I also liked the quotes at the beginning of each chapter, emphasizing that dreaming the absurd and the impossible is mandatory if we are to explore the universe and be capable of doing more tomorrow than we did today.


I was surprised at how much is possible today of which I was unaware. The impossible is being invented as we speak, and will continue to be, well, for some time to come. There will always be people willing to invent the future, and what seems impossible today will be enjoyed at birthday parties by our children’s children. The future is rapidly approaching. I’m just glad that we have someone like Michio Kaku who is willing to draw a blueprint for us of where we’re going to go. After all, we don’t want to get lost.

Posted by Bill Bowman on Jun 1, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Kids in the Kitchen

Tully Community Branch librarian Candice Tran shows parents and kids how to make fruit cabobs, a healthy alternative to snacks. During this program, she explains other aspects of healthy eating and living and encourages parents to bring their kids into the kitchen and prepare healthy snacks together with them. By engaging them in what they eat they are more receptive to healthy alternatives because they helped prepare it.

Posted by Mark Lorensen on Jun 1, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

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