Willow Glen News

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Willow Glen Wags (Churro)

Churro too

One of the great appeals of the Willow Glen area is that it is such a pedestrian-friendly and canine-friendly neighborhood! Resident dogs enjoy strolling the downtown sidewalks with their owners and sniffing noses with friends old and new. If they get to linger at the table of one of the many sidewalk cafes, or step into a shop with a bowl of water by the door and a jar of dog treats on the counter, that's even better! The adorable Churro is one of those resident dogs. This Chihuahua/Dachshund mix is five years old and started her puppyhood in an animal shelter before her forever family found her.


Did you know that both the Chihuahua and the Dachshund are listed in the top ten dog breeds for children by the American Humane Society? So it's perfect that Churro now belongs to youngsters Sora and Lucas and their doting parents. One sunny but cold spring day, little Churro visited the Willow Glen Branch Library with her family, showing off a pink jacket which protects her from the weather. Pets are not allowed inside the library, but they do occasionally accompany their people here. It's not unusual to see a dog leashed to the bike rack on a sunny afternoon while a customer runs inside to pick up a request--maybe something to read relaxing at a Lincoln Avenue cafe or Willow Street Frank Bramhall Park.

Classic Literature with The League!

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


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


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

A Long Way From Chicago

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

Poetry in Willow Glen

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


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


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

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

Meet Mary Ann Singleton

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


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


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

A Lengthy But Worthwhile Read

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


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

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

Start Here!

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


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


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


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

Stay Connected Through NeighborwebSJ!

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


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


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

The Magic Half

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

ESL Conversation Clubs at YOUR Library!

Why is practicing English a good idea?


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


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


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


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