November 2011

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Hebrew Collection at the King Library

The Journey of Vaan Nguyen is a film in Hebrew and Vietnamese with English subtitles. A Vietnamese family, fleeing the turmoil of their homeland, is found afloat on perilous waters and rescued and given shelter in the land of Israel. There, Vaan Nguyen is born and her journey begins.


Hebrew selection at Library!

The Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library, contains a great selection of DVDs and CDs in Hebrew, along with a few books and a weekly edition of Yedidot Ahronot. These items are located on the 3rd floor of the King Library. From Amharic to Yiddish, you'll find all of the language collections arranged alphabetically. There is also a collection of Hebrew children’s books, DVDs and CDs. These are located in the Children’s Room, on the 1st floor of the King Library. Please drop by and check out this wonderful collection, and by all means tell your friends.

A Definite Must Read

Book cover of Cutting for StoneIf you haven’t read it yet, definitely put Abraham Verghese’s book, Cutting for Stone on your list. This engrossing story takes place across five decades in India, Ethiopia, and America. The emotionally absorbing main characters, Marion and Shiva Stone are scandalously born to a beautiful Indian nun and brilliant, but brash British Surgeon. Not long into the story of their lives, tragedy strikes, they are forced to battle with harsh realities, war breaks out, love interests lead to heartaches, torn families, and torn countries evolve, all of which gives rise to a 688, page turning novel. Verghese’s story is certainly a masterpiece of perfectly linked stories, characters, and events. See if there’s a copy available in the library and grab it. You’ll be glad you did.

Santa Is Coming to the King Library!

Book Cover: Here Comes Santa ClausThe Children's Room of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library is having a special visitor on Saturday, December 3 from 12:00-2:00PM. Yes it's Santa! Santa will be here, and boys and girls of all ages can have their pictures taken with him. Santa will be bringing a few elves along and children will receive a candy cane and a free book while supplies last.


We'll be having our regular Family Storytime at 11:00AM which will feature Santa stories. Also remember that you can find books to borrow from the San José Public Library about Christmas and the other special holidays which happen in December: Hanukkah and Kwanzaa.

The Iron Thorn

The Iron Thorn Book CoverAuthor Caitlin Kittredge created a very interesting world in her novel, The Iron Thorn. 15-year-old Aoife (pronounced "Ee-fah") Grayson is a mathematically gifted student at the prestigious School of Engines of Lovecraft Academy, in the steampunkish city of Lovecraft. One day, Aoife receives a mysterious letter from her brother Conrad. Worried about her brother's safety, Aoife enlists the help of her friend Cal, to try to find Conrad.


Part fantasy, part science fiction, part steampunk, part alternate history, this novel has many twists, turns and surprises. High school students, middle school students and even adults who like science fiction and fantasy are likely to enjoy The Iron Thorn. This book is available in print format and audio cd format.


To find out more about Caitlin Kittredge, please visit her website.

National Novel Writing Month

At the end of November, most people think of Turkeys and Black Friday and the upcoming Christmas season. For me, and nearly 1 million people around the world, I have one idea in my mind: 50,000. No, that’s not the number of turkeys sold in America or the gallons of beer being drunk after dinner, or the number of yards over the football games this weekend. No, I’m talking words. 50,000 of them, written in a horrendous, mad-dash, “how did I get myself into this mess” kind of frenzy.


Thirteen years ago, Oakland native Chris Baty (“No Plot, No Problem”), decided with a handful of friends that there is a reason why most people don’t write novels. It isn’t for lack of a plot, a motivation to write the Great American Novel, or even a desire to express oneself. No, the thing that is needed is a DEADLINE. So he and about ten friends challenged themselves to write 50,000 words in one month, 1667 every day, to write a novel. Funny thing—a few of them actually managed to do so. The following year the number of participants tripled. And the following year it quadrupled. There are now about a million people worldwide that follow National Novel Writing Month—“Nanowrimo” for short. It’s a lot of fun, with write-ins where we take over coffee shops (and drink a lot of coffee—we need it!) have parties, such as the “Halfway There” party and of course, the legendary “TGIO” party in December for those who are brave (or foolish?) enough to claim victory at the end. This stands for “Thank God It’s Over”. November was apparently chosen because of the lousy weather, the excuse not to visit in-laws for Thanksgiving, and the fact that, well, why NOT November?


I’ve participated in Nanowrimo for four years now, and have won every single year. It’s a lot of fun, although I’ve produced absolutely nothing that I would ever want to read to my family, my daughter, or even my cat (poor kitty…) But at least I have a lot of fun doing it. About 60% of us make it and submit our words on their website for their monkeys to count, and come out of it still standing (or at least, gasping for air).


So next year, if you have nothing else to do during the month of November, I would highly encourage you to consider writing a novel. 1667 words a day is all we ask. And who knows? You might just come up with something you might want to send off to a publisher. Or at least feel is good enough to read to your cat. For more information, go to

Posted by Bill Bowman on Nov 26, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

What Do You Do With Leftovers?

I've got a fridge full of leftovers and I'm not going to let them go to waste! Let's take a minute or two to go over our leftover options...


Cover of Nadia G's Bitchin Kitchen: Cooking for TroubleNadia G's Bitchin Kitchen: Cooking for Trouble by Nadia G is the star of a new quirky cooking show and this book brings some of what she shares to the printed page. In this book, she has a recipe for frittata using leftovers.


I regularly use leftover pasta and some fresh vegetables and a couple of eggs to make a frittata for breakfast or brunch. It sounds fancy and tastes great too!



Cover of Great Food All Day Long: eat splendidly, eat smart

Maya Angelou's cookbook, Great Food, All Day Long: Cook Splendidly, Eat Smart is a downloadable ebook that has a section on leftovers.


I know I'm going to be putting the ham into a casserole and drench it with barbque sauce to make barbque ham sandwiches later this week. That is sure to be a hit with my meat and potatoes husband!



Cookbooks Cover of Better Homes and Gardens Make-Ahead Cookingthat focus on cooking once to make many meals are also good places to get inspiration for leftover makeovers... Better Homes and Gardens Make Ahead Cooking does just that!


Another leftover meal I'm planning on is turkey mole which will become the center of a pan of enchiladas! There's an easy turkey mole recipe on the How Stuff Works website.


Now here's your chance to share - What do you do with Your leftovers?

Postcards from the Children of Dublin, Ireland

P1030917Dublin, Ireland is a sister city to San Jose and this Summer the children of Dublin and San Jose exchanged postcards! It was a great way for the children to tell each other about their cities with words and pictures. Reading these postcards is like going on a sight seeing trip of Dublin! Find out about the Luas, a transport system similar to our Light Rail, the Aviva Stadium where soccer is played plus many other interesting sights. We have enjoyed these postcards and we hope that the children of Dublin enjoyed the ones we sent. If you would like to see all the postcards from Dublin, they are on display in the Children's Room of the Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Library.

Dancing Home by Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta

Book cover of Dancing HomeIn alternating chapters, the authors tell the story of two cousins Margarita, known as Margie to her school friends, and Lupe. The two girls are the same age, Lupe was born and raised in Mexico, until Margie’s parents arranged for her to come to live with them and go to school with Margie. Margie’s grandparents were all from Mexico, but she was very proud to have been born in Texas. She considered herself to be a true American.


When Lupe arrives, things change in Margie’s life both at home and in school. She is expected to help translate the teacher’s instructions into Spanish for Lupe, but Margie hasn’t spoken Spanish for several years. She understands most of what her parents say, but can’t carry on a real conversation.


Lupe’s life also changes completely. She leaves behind her beloved grandmother and her twin baby brothers. Her Mother is nice to her, but wrapped up in taking care of her new husband and the twins. Lupe is both happy and scared with this new situation, happy to be living with her aunt and uncle, but scared she won’t find friends or a place for herself in this new school.


Will Margie and Lupe become friends? Can they each learn to adapt to the changes in this shared life? Can they find something in common to bring them closer together? The book’s title, Dancing Home, hints at a shared interest and how both girls find ways to adapt to their new lifestyle. Written by Alma Flor Ada and Gabriel M. Zubizarreta, a mother and son writing team, both living in California.

Super Fun and Super Fast Read: The Akhenaten Adventure

Cover of Children of the LampImagine waking up one morning to discover that the dream you had is being reported in the news and then your sister tells you that the dream you had is replicated in your mirror. That's strange. Moreover, when you visit the dentist, the dentist tells you that you will have to have your wisdom teeth taken out and that you will be his youngest patient ever from whom he has to remove wisdom teeth. As it turns out, John and his twin sister Phillipa, are the descendants of a long line of djinns, and they discover that they have super powers to do things that no one else can do, such as grant wishes, make people disappear, and to travel to exotic locales. The Akhenaten Adventure is the first in the series: Children of the Lamp by P. B Kerr, which includes six titles at this time. This title and some other titles of the series are available in audio. Recommended for children in grades 4 and up, this title and other titles in the series would make a great read for children who like action and a fast-paced story.

Small Business Saturday

Small Business Saturday logo imageWe've all heard of Black Friday, the day after Thanksgiving shop-fest, the day when retailers get their books back in the black but have you heard of Small Business Saturday? Don't spend all your money on Black Friday, save some for Small Business Saturday. Small Business Saturday is a nationwide initiative in it's 2nd year to support small business. The idea is simple and has far reaching benefits. Spending money in your community, adds to city coffers, encourages job growth, and supports local public services like the library. All this just from doing something you love to do!


Shop local, support small business, and in turn support the local economy. You don't have to drive out of San José to get your shopping needs met, the city has lots of great independently owned businesses and you can save money on gas too.

Edenvale Book Club

The Hunt Club Book CoverDo you enjoy reading and discussing what you read? If the answer is yes, the Edenvale Book Club is the club for you! Come to the fireplace area of the Edenvale Branch Library on Wednesday December 7, 2011 at 6:00 pm. This month, the Edenvale Book Club will discuss The Hunt Club by John Lescroart. Everyone is welcome.

This book is available in three formats:

Hardback Fiction

Large Print Fiction

Downloadable Digital Audio Book (via Overdrive Digital Library)

Short Works from a Master of Long Works

Cover art for The Collected Short Fiction of C.J. Cherryh.One of science fiction’s busier and more beloved authors, C. J. Cherryh is best known as a novelist whose books always deliver rich characters, meticulous plotting, and refreshingly impeccable grammar. However, the reader who does not forget that she is also a master of the short story format will be rewarded by The Collected Short Fiction of C. J. Cherryh. This all-in-one volume combines the classic Sunfall collection of cities of the far-future tales, the less-well-known Visible Light collection, and 15 additional, unrelated stories. This recently re-issued edition of the collection serves as a nice sampler of Cherryh’s styles, including science fiction, war, humor, and high fantasy. And the quick reads will help one pass the time while waiting for Cherryh’s next novel.

West Valley Book Club's December Pick: Angle of Repose

Angle of Repose coverOne of the great things about West Valley's book club is the opportunity for members to take turns nominating new books for the group to read and discuss. The group ends up with a diverse range of fiction and non-fiction that they might not have taken the time individually to read.


For December, one of our members selected a book that's been sitting on her "to-read" shelf for some time. It's William Stegner's Pulitzer Prize-winning modern classic, Angle of Repose. This novel spans four generations of family in the American West, which includes our very own local hotbed of history, the New Almaden quicksilver mine in south San Jose. Request your copy today and join us in the West Valley Branch Community Room on Wednesday, December 14 at 6:30pm for lively literary discussion.

Bitter in the Mouth

Book cover of Bitter in the MouthBitter in the Mouth by Monique Truong is a  coming of age in the South novel, with the usual themes --a matriarch, an uncle who, at a graduation appears as "a mix of Colonel Sanders, Tom Wolfe and Pee Wee Herman" (and has a secret life),  mother-daugher conflicts, leaving home for big city -- add the twist forms the center theme of the novel and isn't fully revealed until well into the end and give the protagonist an unusual sensual gift. This riveting story goes back and forth in time. Give it a try and keep reading -- you'll be rewarded.

I'll Be There by Holly Goldberg Sloan

Book cover of I'll Be ThereDon't be deceived by the innocuous looking cover on I'll Be There. The scene depicted is actually a traumatic turning point for the main characters, Sam and Riddle.


Sam is a teen unlike any other teen, especially to Emily Bell. Emily is also unlike many other teens because she is naturally happy and draws others to herself. Sam is drawn to Emily when he hears her terrible rendition of "I'll Be There." They immediately make a connection. However, Sam has very serious problems at home and is the primary caregiver for his younger brother, Riddle. Riddle is suffering from severe asthma and is probably on the autistic spectrum.


Back to that cover. Events come to a head in the wilderness with their mentally dysfunctional father. Both boys go through a period where they must survive in the wild. They meet a bear and try to survive on cattails. Do they make it? Does Sam see Emily again? Read the book and find out!


Holly Goldberg Sloan comes from a movie-making background, so this book is quite a page turner! She has written for the following movies: The Big Green, Angels in the Outfield, and Made in America.

Breaking Stalin's Nose by Eugene Yelchin

Book cover of Breaking Stalin's NoseBecause the former U.S.S.R. was an ally during World War II, it is sometimes difficult to believe that it's leader, Stalin, was an awful despot to his citizens. Paranoia is not a good personality trait in a world leader. He was very much like Hitler, in his own way. Personally, my father-in-law's father was a victim of one of Stalin's night-time purges. My father-in-law never saw his father again. His crime? He was a teacher.


In Breaking Stalin's Nose (AR 2.0, Level 4.6), ten year old Sasha idolizes Stalin. He writes a heart-felt letter to Stalin. He tells Stalin about wanting to be a Pioneer. Sasha truly loves the communistic ideology. Everything starts to change, though, when his father is taken away. During one traumatic school day, Sasha's world view is changed. All because of a broken nose. Read the book to find out how a broken nose can change your life!

I ♥ Street Art

Book cover of Bay Area Graffiti by Steve RotmanThe question before us isn't whether graffiti is artistically valid, because, well, sure it is. One look at the contents of the book Bay Area Graffiti by photographer Steve Rotman should make that abundantly clear and, anyway, as Andy Warhol once quipped "It's art because I say it's art." That Andy was one hell of a quipster, but I digress. Where once Mr. Rotman favored nature and landscape photography, he eventually found himself drawn to the sheer visual appeal of urban graffiti and began documenting his finds in San Francisco and all over the Bay Area at a voracious pace. The result is a book which came out in 2009, but feels as fresh as tomorrow’s coffee. San Francisco, like other notable graffiti cities (NYC, London, Berlin, Sao Paulo) has no shortage of artists working in the shadows of the urban landscape and creating some prodigiously impressive displays of street art. This book showcases a portion of that talent and provides mini “statements” from some of the featured graffiti “bombers” that ultimately serve as confessionals for why they do what they do. A concise summary from one of the artists speaking to the essence of (his) graffiti: “It’s not always ego. It’s that you don’t care about that wall and I do.” Let the debate continue, but you know where I stand and I thank Steve Rotman for cataloging some of the ephemeral beauty of Bay Area graffiti.


PS: check out Mr. Rotman’s photo stream at

Social Workers in the Library




Is there something happening in your life that is difficult to deal with on your own?


Don't Know Where To Turn? 

Social Workers in the Library Are Here to Serve You!


Get FREE 20 minutes of information/referral or advice from a social worker*.


Available at the King Library.

Every 1st and 4th Monday of the month, from 6 to 8 p.m. 

Call 808-2350 to make your appointment now.




Biblioteca Latinoamericana Branch Library

Every 3rd Wednesday of the month, from 6 to 8 p.m.

Call 294-1237 to make your appointment.

(Bilingual Spanish speaking Social Worker available.)


* Provided by members of the National Association of Social Workers - California Chapter


Social Workers in the Library, is a partnership of the San José Public Library, San José State University's School of Social Work,  the National Association Of Social Workers - California Chapter, and the SJSU School of Library and Information Services.

Tom Perrotta

Cover of "The Abstinence Teacher"Tom Perrotta is an American author. He writes contemporary fiction, usually set in the suburbs of the northeastern U.S. In 1998, he gained prominence after the publication of Election, a satirical look at high school politics. The Abstinence Teacher is a thought provoking commentary on the cultural conflict of teaching teenagers about sexuality and, in this book's case, spirituality. Ruth Ramsey is a divorced mother of two soccer playing young teenage girls and also teaches sexuality classes at the local high school. An Evangelical Christian church member gains power in the community and soon Ruth is forced to change her lesson plans, and then her life plans. The book is available in audio format, too.

Company and Job Review Sites

I stumbled across two very interesting sites on the web, Glass Door and Jobitorial. Both sites are company and job review sites; these sites provide insider information on what's it's like to work at certain companies. Glass Door is a little more comprehensive in that reviewers post salaries and interview questions/ experiences whereas Jobitorial is strictly reviews of what it's like to work at a particular company. These sites are a great place to check out before your next job interview or if you are researching a company and want an insider view of employee morale and workplace culture.

Finding Closure 50 Years Later

Book cover of The Boys of the DarkLong criminal histories, alcoholism, nightmares, aggressive behavior, and a constant, tormenting voice in the back of their minds -- this was the end result of many male youth who did time at the Florida School for Boys, a youth prison that housed torture, abuse, and murder, disguised as a reform school with its well manicured landscaping and buildings. The Boys of the Dark by Robin Gaby Fisher tells the story of Michael O'McCarthy and Robert Straley, founders of The White House Boys, an organization committed to finding justice and healing for those who also were victims (The White House was the nickname given to the building on campus where these horrible crimes were committed). 50 years after the abuse, O'McCarthy and Straley find each other through much research and investigation and immediately bond because they were both victims in this prison. During this emotionally and physically draining process, they find some justice through a determined youth advocate and congressman who risks his career to help find closure for these men. A book you won't be able to put down, this is a story filled with sadness, but also shows the strength of human will.

Classic Reads for 5th Grade

Book cover of The BFG The BFG by Roald Dahl -- The BFG is one of those books that seems to harken back to the days where fairy tales had an edge. While the BFG (Big Friendly Giant) is a nice guy who only eats snozzcumbers and gives people dreams and his fellow giants are large man-eaters whose favorite dish is children. The book stars a little orphan girl named Sophie who has the good fortune to run into the BFG. Together they plan to stop the BFG's marauding fellow giants.


Book cover of The Phantom Tollbooth


Phantom Tollbooth by Norton Juster -- Milo is a bored ten-year old boy who swears there is nothing to do. This changes when a tollbooth appears in his room. Curious, Milo dusts off his toy car, pays the toll, and drives through. Milo finds his way into a strange world where he meets several interesting characters and is tasked with returning two princesses to the kingdom of Wisdom. Fans of Alice in Wonderland will love this book!


Book cover of From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler


From the Mixed-up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E. L. Konisburg -- Claudia runs away from home, inviting her brother to come along with her. They end up at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. Once the place closes up for the night, the two siblings come out of hiding to explore. It is then that Claudia encounters an angelic statue that entrances her. She must find out for certain who made it! To this end, she and her brother track down the statue's former owner, Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler.

Book cover of Maniac Magee


Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli -- Maniac is a homeless kid living in the deer pen at the city zoo. He can untie any knot, outrun anyone on two legs or four, he helps out little kids with their problems, and tries to see the good in everyone. In a racially-divided town he doesn't see what the difference between people are.


Written by volunteer Robert D.


Book cover of WrappedAgnes Wilkins has doting parents, two brothers, and lives a life of leisure in 1815 England. Not content to be interested only in dresses and parties, Agnes has studied several languages as well as history and other subjects. One evening, Agnes and her family attend a party, where they meet the dashing Lord Showalter, a fan of all things related to Ancient Egypt.


Will Agnes find her future with Lord Showalter, or will she find her future with Caedmon, a handsome young museum employee. Find out by reading Wrapped, a delightful historical mystery by Jennifer Bradbury. Fans of Red Pyramid by Rick Riordan, as well as fans of Jane Austen are likely to enjoy Wrapped.


To find out more about Jennifer Bradbury, please visit her website

Pie by Sarah Weeks

Book cover of PieBest books reviewer Peggy Sharp ranked Sarah Week's Pie (AR 5.0, Level 5.6) as the number one book that she read in 2011. To find this title, try our wonderful Link+ system!


The cover is captivating for children. I know of a child who selected this book from the Scholastic book order because of the cover. This same child highly recommends this book; she could not put down the title until she finished it.


Don't be fooled by the funny cat cover because this book is definitely a page-turner. Well, I guess I should amend that since some adult mysteries do have funny pictures of animals on the cover! At its core, Pie is a mystery, but a non-traditional mystery. Don't expect spooky-doings!


Alice is heartbroken. Her favorite Aunt Polly is full of love and insight. However, Aunt Polly's untimely death leaves a void in Alice's life. Her Aunt knew that the path to happiness lay in finding one's true talent and sharing that talent with others. Alice's bitter mother has yet to learn this truth. Jealousy eats at Alice's mother, who makes everyone else miserable. Alice's mother is especially angry about the recipient of Aunt Polly's pie crust recipe: Lardo the cat! Alice and her friend Charlie seek to find out what is behind several disappearances through various hilarious misadventures.


Sarah Weeks is best known for her young adult novel, So B It. Personally, I have enjoyed her picture book series about Mrs. McNosh, beginning with Mrs. McNosh Hangs Up Her Wash. I love authors who like to dabble in writing for different age groups. Ms. Weeks is especially gifted at knowing what will entertain different age groups. Read Pie not only for the story, but also for the pie recipes as well!

Press Here

Book cover of Press HereHere is a book that is pure interactive fun. Press Here by Herve Tullet is sure to delight and surprise the little iPad generation. No clicking, no keys to touch, no scrolling, no sound or video, but for some reason Press Here feels like a computer experience. Start the book by pressing the yellow dot on the first page and all of a sudden the book comes alive. Following commands like Press, Shake, Tilt, Tap, and Rub the reader interacts with this engaging book to make things happen. It is a magical journey that you will want to repeat and share with others. Press Here is a totally captivating book experience for every member of the family.

Posted by Karen Habra on Nov 10, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Superheroes @ Your Library

Book cover of The AvengersHave you seen all of the 2011 superhero movies? Are you looking forward to the superhero movies of 2012? While you're waiting, come to the library to catch up on your favorite heroes and villains.


The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes, the Ultimate Character Guide is a beautifully illustrated book in which you can find out a lot of information about the heroes, villains and allies that appear in Marvel Comics' The Avengers.


Academic Search Complete is a great database where you can find some interesting articles about superheroes in movies and in comics.  (Please log in with your library card if you are at home or using a computer outside of the library.) One informative article I found is called "A First Look at the Avengers Dream Team."

Posted by Dawn Imada on Nov 10, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

Your Life In Exactly Six Words

Book cover of Not Quite What I Was PlanningBook cover of "It All Changed in an Instant"Book cover of I Can't Keep My Own Secrets


Do you think you could sum up your life in six words? How about Not Quite What I Was Planning? That’s the title of a collection of six word memoirs by “writers famous and obscure.” The idea was originally put forward in Smith, the online magazine. Readers were invited to contribute on the Smith website and many of their contributions are included in the book. The book itself was so successful that it spawned several others including a sequel, "It All Changed In An Instant", and a volume by “teens famous and obscure” called I Can’t Keep My Own Secrets.


Smith (whose motto is “Everyone has a story. What’s yours?”) is also well worth checking out.& It continues to accept and publish six word memoirs but also solicits longer pieces on various topics. It has a comics section with ongoing comic stories, including one by Harvey Pekar, and there is a separate section for contributions by teens. If you enjoy writing you may want to contribute. If not, it can be fun just browsing other’s work. Or, if you're not quite ready to broadcast to the world how about a smaller audience? SJPL would welcome your six word memoirs; please enter yours below.

The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg

Book cover of The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg“Telling the truth don’t come easy to me, but I will try, even if old Truth ain’t nearly as useful as a fib sometimes.”


Early in their lives after the death of both parents, Homer and Harold, his older brother, are left alone, except for an uncle.  This uncle, Squinton Leach, who is the husband of their mother’s late sister, hated everything and everyone.


When Uncle Squinton illegally sells Harold to the Union Army, conscription as it is known at that time, Homer is left to fend for himself.  He knows he can’t stay with his uncle, so relying on his wits, telling many lies and some truth, Homer leaves the farm to try to locate his brother.


As he searches for Harold, Homer meets quite an assortment of people, both good and bad.  There are the men trying to locate runaways slaves, the good rich Quaker helping the runaway slaves, a naïve minister, and two con artists.   And that’s just the beginning of the story behind The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg by Rodman Philbrick.  

Meet Author Faribia Nawa at the Cambrian Library!

Book cover of Opium NationAuthor and award-winning journalist, Fariba Nawa, will speak at the Cambrian Branch Library on Tuesday, November 15th at 6:30pm-7:30 pm. Her book Opium Nation: Child Brides, Drug Lords, and One Woman’s Journey Through Afghanistan will be released in November, 2011 and will be available for sale by the Friends of the Cambrian Library at the event.


Ms. Nawa lived and reported from Afghanistan from 2002 to 2007, and witnessed the U.S.-led war against the Taliban and al Qaeda. She has also reported from Iraq, Pakistan, Iran, Egypt, and Germany. She has a master’s in Middle Eastern studies and journalism. This event is free and open to the public.

The Fall Festival

Cover of The Fall FestivalJoin Little Critter and his family at the Critterville Fall Festival. There are so many critters at the Festival and so many fun things to do. From apple and pumpkin picking to hayrides and horseshoes, readers follow along as Little Critter and his family make their way through this festive seasonal celebration. The Fall Festival captures all of the excitement, energy and colors of the fall season as the illustrations are full of orange,  yellow and red details.


Mercer Mayer introduced Little Critter in 1975 in his book, Just for You. Since then, Little Critter has appeared in over 200 books. The San Jose Public Library has many of Mayer’s titles.


If you’re already a fan of Little Critter or would like to learn more about him, visit  Little Critter’s Official website.

Get Ready for College

Don't miss the opportunity to get more information about Scholarship, Grant, and Financial Aidid at Tully Community Branch Library. Learn from Kaplan how to not only get into the college of your dreams, but how to pay for it. Understand how to make yourself the most competitive college applicant possible, learn what admissions officers are looking for, and the basics of applying for financial aid, important dates, terminology, and how financial need is determined.


Also, check out SAT and ACT books that our librarian, Peter Nguyen, recommended.


To practice for SAT and ACT exams, don't forget to take advantage of our LearningExpress Library Tutorials, Test, eBooks database. Teachers from the local schools where I presented LearningExpress gave positive feedback and indicated that they will instruct their students to use the database to improve their skills. I showed my teensReach volunteers the LearningExpress database before their SAT or ACT and they loved it. This online exams database is a wonderful supplemental tool for the many job seekers who come to the library every week and it's available 24/7. LearningExpress not only gives the user an opportunity to practice the materials before the test, it simulates the pacing of the real examination.


How do you get to the database and navigate it? Please view this video clip.




Posted by Chieu Nguyen on Nov 8, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

If You Like Harry...Change in Time Warner Policy Allowing Libraries to Purchase Major DVD Releases

San José Public Library likes Harry Potter, too! However, we have received news that the Young Adult DVD Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, will not be available for libraries to purchase in the DVD format going on sale to the public November 11, 2011. The production company has withheld the sale of some theatrical release movies, including the latest Harry Potter, to libraries and rental agencies. Other popular titles not available for libraries to purchase are Crazy, Stupid Love, Contagion and The Hangover, Part 2.


"Rental versions" of these titles--with no extra features--will be offered for sale to rental agencies and libraries at some point, but SJPL does not buy "rental" products.* The full DVD version of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2, and possibly other unavailable titles should be available to libraries for purchase in 6 months or so. We will keep you posted!


*UPDATE!  SJPL now will be buying selected "rental" DVDs--  Rental DVDs are the same as those sold to rental DVD outlets 50+ days after the release of the theatrical release DVDs (with extra features) which are offered for sale to the public on the announced release date.  This will at least allow SJPL customers access to the movies!

Easy to Read Teen Boy Book!

Cover of Flat BrokeHave you ever wanted to start your own business? Well, here's the tale for you of an aspiring young entrepreneur, who, being flat broke, is compelled to start his own gambling business. That's right! Pass out the chips; set up a fine table, and pass out the cards. We're ready for business, and the owner receives a cut of the winnings. Sounds sweet? It is.


Kevin, the smart aleck, has found the perfect business to help him through his financial woes, for his mom and dad have taken away his allowance. The sequel to Liar Liar, Flat Broke is an intriguing story by an old author, Gary Paulsen, who wrote Hatchet, Lawn Boy, Mudshark, Brian's Winter and Brian's Return.

Who Was "Shakespeare"?

Image of William Shakespeare in sunglasses superimposed on the U.S. flag with the caption Shakespeare Comes to LAThe new movie Anonymous fictionally advances the notion that William Shakespeare didn’t write the plays that history has attributed to him. So who did actually write these plays, according to the movie? Today’s most popular alleged Shakespeare ghost-writer, Edward de Vere. Why has Shakespeare been considered the author for so long and not the rightful de Vere, according to the movie? Apparently because of a conspiracy begun during the cloak-and-dagger regime of Queen Elizabeth I.


The question “Who wrote Shakespeare?” has been written about since the early 1800’s but seems to be increasingly embraced by a conspiracy-craving popular culture (this movie Anonymous, PBS Frontline's Much Ado About Something, novels such as Chasing Shakespeares, etc.). Candidates alleged to be the real Shakespeare are de Vere, also known as the Earl of Oxford; Francis BaconChristopher Marlowe; and a host of others, including Elizabeth I.


If you are interested in this question, I can recommend two entertaining books on the subject —


Cover of the book Contested Will: Who Wrote Shakespeare?Contested Will by James Shapiro — also available via Link+ request (what is Link+?)

This book is a good starting point for those who are as yet uncommitted on the question of Shakespeare authorship. 

The book examines why there is a question of authorship, why many think a theater man incapable of writing the plays, the nature of conspiracies, why the question has persisted for such a long time, and many other topics.
It is a good introduction that covers in detail the claims of Oxford and Bacon. But Shapiro is a Shakespeare scholar, and this book does not hide his opinion that William Shakespeare of Stratford-on-Avon wrote the plays and poems attributed to him.



Cover of the book Who Wrote Shakespeare? by John Michell

 Who Wrote Shakespeare? by John Michell

This book is a fine introduction to popular as well as seemingly lesser candidates to the real Shakespeare that have been proposed by conspiracists over the past two centuries.
Michell opens with an analysis of the characteristics possessed by the author of the Shakespeare plays and then marshals evidence for each candidate, including William Shakespeare, with regard to these characteristics in an even-handed, objective but enjoyable way. Some of the author's conclusions might not be as definitive as we would prefer, but this is because the question is not an easy one.



Of course, the library contains many more titles about this subject, including books written in support of an individual candidate such as de Vere or Marlowe.


For a quick online overview of this subject, see Wikipedia’s article on the Shakespeare Authorship Question.


For more authoritative and in-depth articles on the subject, see Shakespeare Authorship articles via EBSCOhost. Note: you will need to log in with your San José library card/PIN.


Finally, and perhaps most importantly, what do you think? Take our poll and/or drop us a comment.


Charlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading by Tommy Greenwald

Book cover of Carlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not ReadingCharlie Joe Jackson's Guide to Not Reading (AR 5.0, Level 5.4) by Tommy Greenwald is a tribute to the author's three sons, who are all NOT fond of reading. This title is in the format of the Diary of a Wimpy Kid: black and white cartoons, snarky main character, and offbeat secondary characters. While I read the book, I found it difficult to believe that Charlie Joe was able to get away with not reading for so long. However, after seeing his inventive genius, one can easily believe that he talked his way out of doing many things.


Charlie Joe's characterization is quite different from Greg Heffley, Nate Wright, etc., however. Charlie Joe is one of the popular kids who has a nice family and friends. The amusement in Charlie Joe's life derives from his list of ways that one can avoid reading.


The book is sure to reach reluctant readers in addition to avid readers who will find Charlie's tips hysterical. This book will reach readers who did not care for the uglier aspects of Greg Heffley's or Nate Wright's personalities.  Charlie Joe is a good kid; he is just misunderstood. 

Home Repair Assistance Program

roofer, painter and man with hammer working on a houseThe City’s Housing Department is pleased to offer a special home repair assistance program for eligible San José homeowners who live in the City’s Strong Neighborhood Initiative (SNI) areas. The repairs can include roofing, electrical, heating, plumbing and accessibility modifications. Income-qualifying households may receive up to $150,000 in assistance to fix up their homes depending on the amount of eligible repairs. Visit the City's Housing Department Home Repair Assistance webpage for more information or contact the City’s Housing Department by phone at (408) 975-4440 or by email.

More Historical Fiction for Kids

Book cover of Take Me With YouTake Me With You by Carolyn Marsden


Susanna and Pina, both eleven years old, live in an orphanage in Italy. The story takes place years after the end of the Second World War, while the country is still recovering from the devastation caused by the battles. Some of the girls living at the Istituto di Gesu Bambino (Institute of the Baby Jesus) are actually orphans, others have parents or relatives who could not care for them.


The nuns at the Instituto care for the children as best they can under difficult circumstances. There is little money. The nuns seek donations from the Allies who now occupy the city. The girls sing at funeral services and they crochet berets and baby blankets for the nuns to sell.


Things slowly begin to change at the Instituto when visitors come to watch the girls, some of whom are then adopted. Pina finds out she has a mother, here in Italy. Susanna learns that her own Italian mother died, but her father is an American! Will one of them be leaving soon? As Susanna and Pina learn more about their birth parents, each of them must find a way to accept that reality and realize that they may soon go their separate ways.


A glossary at the end of the book provides translations for the Italian words used throughout the book.


Book cover of My Name Is Not AngelicaMy Name Is Not Angelica by Scott O’Dell


Raisha and five other members of her African tribe are kidnapped by a rival King and taken to a ship called “God’s Adventures.” Misnamed for sure, the ship is taking them from their home in Africa to the West Indies island of St. John. During the six month long trip, Raisha learns to speak Danish from the ship’s captain. Many of the captives die along the way, some from illnesses, others due to the poor food, still more washed away by the violent storms. But Raisha survives.


Upon arrival in St. John, Raisha and two fellow captives, Konje and Dondo, are sold to a Danish land owner. All three are given new names, Raisha is now known as Angelica, Konje is named Apollo and Dondo is called Abraham.  And so begins Raisha's new life.


Mr. O’Dell based this novel on events surrounding the 1733-1734 slave revolt on the islands of St. John and St. Thomas.

Teen Fantasy Picks of the Week

Enjoy the following popular teen fantasy titles at your library today!

* indicates Series


Cover of The Alchemyst


The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel* by Michael Scott

Sophie and Josh are caught up in a deadly struggle between two rival alchemists over the possession of an ancient and powerful book containing the secret formulas for alchemy and everlasting life.



Cover of Graceling


Graceling by Kristin Cashore

Katsa, a young warrior lives in a world where some people are born with unique special skills called "Graces". Katsa however has a dreaded skill of killing and in this adventurous story, she goes on a journey of self-discovery and redemption by trying to save her land from a depraved king.


Cover of Maximum Ride: The Angel Experiment


Maximum Ride* by James Patterson

An exciting adventure and science fiction series about six genetically enhanced children being imprisoned in a laboratory. Eventually, a sympathetic scientist helps them escape and they use their special abilities to survive on their own.



Please see a librarian at your library for more teen fantasy suggestions.

Free eBook Sites

There are a number of sites that offer eAudioBooks for free.


Books Should Be Free and LibriVox provides free audiobooks from the public domain.  

eJunto was created to bring historical and philosphical audiobooks to the public domain. has a number of classics titles, and the site also takes requests.


What are your favorite resources for free eAudioBooks? Please share them in the comments!

Posted by Mana Tominaga on Nov 1, 2011 | Comments: 0 |

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