Four years ago I discovered the Going Native Garden Tour and was inspired to redesign my front yard to feature California native plants. If the idea of waterwise, low maintenance, and bird and butterfly gardening appeals to you, sign up on the California Native Plant Society, Santa Clara Valley Chapter's website for their upcoming April 17th garden tour. It's a great opportunity to peek into expert gardener's front and back yards and to get advice on plant selection and growing techniques. Once you're inspired to try native plants, checkout the SJPL's collection of California native plant books, buy some new plants, and grab your shovel!
Enriching the Lives of Children with Autism, Inc. or ELCA, Inc., has wonderful summer programs at the end of summer for children on the spectrum. Since most children with special needs attend summer school, these camps fall during the peak period when the child might be getting bored with their summer.
Attend the Recess Skills Camp, which explores different games elementary school-aged children play during their recesses and the social skills required to navigate those games. There is also a School Readiness camp for the younger preschool set, who are just getting ready to dip their toes into the lake called "elementary school"!
ELCA, Inc. specializes in the ABA method. To learn more about the Applied Behavior Analysis method, check out these books:
Success Strategies for Teaching Kids With Autism by Wendy Ashcroft
Applied Behaviour Analysis and Autism: Building a Future Together edited by Mickey Keenan
This is Autism Awareness Month! If you have any summer camps to suggest, add a comment to this post. Watch for future posts about other kinds of summer camps. If you would like a particular kind of summer camp (theater, science, etc.) explored, mention this in your comment.
Hey Harry Potter movie fans! Get first dibs on the first part of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows....at the LIBRARY???? Yes, HP fans, rejoice! You can see the movie two days before it's wide release on tax day, April 15! Wow!
Of course, we always encourage reading the book first! There are several differences from the book. Most significantly, Kreacher's "breakthrough" is not developed on film. It was one of the most uplifting scenes in the book, IMHO.
This is all leading up to the movie finale on July 14th! Read the whole series again before that time, though:
Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (Meet all of the characters for the first time)
Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets (Learn about the first horcrux here!)
Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban (Sirius!)
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire (The nail-biting Triwizard Tournament)
Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix (Harry, the angry outcast)
Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince (Romance is in the air)
To keep up with the wizarding ways, visit some fun HP sites, including:
Jonathan Franzen's long-awaited novel Freedom lives up to the promise shown in his last novel, The Corrections, which won the National Book Award in 2001. Freedom focuses on the Berglund family of St. Paul, Minnesota. The first 25 pages of the book lay out the family’s story and set up the book’s conflicts. Patty Berglund is a Volvo-driving, home renovating, stay-at-home mom who may focus too much of her attention on her son Joey. Walter Berglund is a bicycle-commuting 3M employee who, we learn in the first paragraph of the book, eventually gets into trouble for working with the coal industry. Joey chafes at his mother’s attention and rebels by taking up with a girl whose mother is Patty’s nemesis while Jessica, the Berglund’s daughter, seems to fade into the background of the story. After all these stories are laid out, Franzen dives into each one, filling in the details of each. I enjoyed each story and though many of the plot twists were out of the realm of believability, it is still a good read.
Freedom has been out for several months and though I had to wait a long time for my hold to come in, there are now copies available at the San José Public Library. You might even be able to check it out and renew it if you need to. And you might need to; this book clocks in at 562 pages.
Anyone who eats in restaurants should find Garlic and Sapphires by Ruth Reichl entertaining, and a bit shocking. The author tells of her years as food critic for the New York Times and her efforts to hide her identity as she visits some of the city's most famous restaurants. With the help of friends and associates, she creates a variety of disguises, and assumes a particular identity with each one, in order to find out how some of these restaurants treat ordinary customers. It's incredible how badly she is treated in some of Manhattan's most well-known and priciest restaurants when she shows up in some of her disguises.
Available at San José Public Library as an audiobook, a downloadable ebook, and in print.
April 12, 2011 will mark the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the U.S. Civil War, or The War Between the States. On April 12, 1861 at 4:30 A.M. the first shots of the war were fired by Confederate forces on Fort Sumter in South Carolina. And so began a terrible conflict between the North and South that lasted four years. To commemorate the 150th anniversary of the onset of the Civil War, many events and exhibits will be held throughout the United States. Check out these outstanding Civil War documentaries and books that the library has to offer.
Popular historical fiction based on the Civil War include the following novels :
Alison Arngrim, the actress who played Nellie Oleson in the TV series Little House on the Prairie, has written a biography. In Confessions of a Prairie Bitch she tells with snide humor about life with her wacky family, her time on the set, and her life afterwards, living with the dubious notoriety of such an iconic character. But she is strong enough and smart enough to survive this onerous responsibility (and much more) and laugh about it in the meantime!
It is time to plan your summer vacation. If you have old friends and siblings in a foreign country, visiting that country will make it a meaningful trip. A great place to go is Taiwan, which has the most exotic scenery you can experience. To start planning and preparing for your trip there, be sure to visit the San José Public Library and get a few books and DVDs about Taiwan.
When I went to visit friends near Las Vegas, they took me to see Hoover Dam. I was astounded by its size, location, and beauty. I couldn’t imagine who had thought of it, and how it was built. Fortunately, I discovered a great book about those things. Colossus: Hoover Dam and the Making of the American Century is written by Michael Hiltzik, a Pulitzer Prize winning author. The book is a history of the dam, its impact on the American West, and its impact on the entire country. This is an informative, well-written, and highly recommended book available through your local San José Public Library. Check it out!
Welcome to the world of tomorrow! We may not have moving sidewalks yet, but did you know that there is an international olympics held every year...just for robots?! That's right, it's almost time for RoboGames 2011, coming to San Mateo County Event Center on April 15-17. From their website: RoboGames is the olympics of robots - we invite the best minds from around the world to compete in over 50 different events: combat robots, fire-fighters, LEGO bots, hockey bots, walking humanoids, soccer bots, sumo bots, and even androids that do kung-fu.
Sounds like a fun way to enjoy science and innovation with the whole family! It'll be an exciting precursor to the all-out blast that is the annual Maker Faire, which will be coming soon to the San Mateo Event Center, May 21-22. If you are a young person with a budding interest in robotics or an adult who just loves to tinker, check out the many items we have to offer for beginner to advanced robotics, including these:
Robot Building for Beginners by David Cook
You can start reading this eBook right now on your computer to explore the basics of robot building before you head out into the garage.
How Robots Work by Tony Hyland
This is a nice little book to share with younger children, with easy-to-follow facts and pictures about robots of the past, present, and future.
This may be an older book, but the fundamentals taught in these projects are great for kids, teens, or adults seeking to build their very own robot with exciting (and moving!) results.
This fascinating 4-part documentary that aired on the Discovery Channel explores various recent technological advances in the world of robotics.
With so many robots increasingly among us, perhaps we should also start reading up on all of those science fiction stories about robots...