Monday, August 18, 2014

Summer Readers still have time to earn their t-shirts

These special t-shirts are sponsored by the Umpqua Bank.
Newport’s young readers who set a Summer Reading goal at Newport Public Library have until August 31 to reach that goal and receive a Fizz! Boom! Read! T-shirt.

Summer reading is a long-standing tradition at Newport Public Library. Some families still have t-shirts from their children's participation in the late ‘80’s, and now their grandchildren are earning their t-shirts.

Don't miss out on this year's shirt. Read on!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

National Geographic Kids

Books, magazines, and pictures! Thanks to the Oregon State Library, the National Geographic Kids Database is now available for free through our library’s website.

National Geographic Kids includes the complete issues of National Geographic Kids magazine from 2009-present, over 200 National Geographic Kids books, and hundreds of downloadable images. 

Its simple layout makes it easy for children to use, and the bright, colorful pages will pique their interest.

(National Geographic Kids magazine article on puffins)

The book collection includes reference books as well as nonfiction books on history, biography, science and technology and the National Geographic Readers, which cover wildlife, pets, nature and other topics.

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Quick by Lauren Owen

My first reaction to Lauren Owen's The Quick, a gothic suspense novel, was pure enjoyment—the evocative writing casts you into the pace of another time, when a young gentleman poet might frugally make his way in Victorian London, subsisting on the meager earnings of his dwindling estate. It really drew me in, and I stayed up far too late to finish reading the darn thing.

But when I finally reached the end, I realized I didn’t like the story. Or rather—I liked the story of two neglected children growing up in the wild gardens of an overgrown English manor. And then I was rather charmed by the story of the isolated young poet who never dared to dream that his flat-mate would defy social and familial expectations and love him back. And then, I was crushed when, quite suddenly, the plot veered through a random murder and into a horror story of vampire politics and wasted lives. And finally, I felt let down by the end, which I will resist telling you. I guess, as a reader, I prefer an elegant melding of genres rather than a serial visitation, and if a childhood is included, it should prove to have a great deal to do with the overall plot, not just a coincidence of settings.

The reviews of this book are glowing, with cover quotes by wonderful authors like Tana French and Kate Atkinson, and it has over a thousand reviews on Amazon averaging four stars. (Interestingly, it also has over a thousand reviews on Goodreads, averaging out to 3.4—do people who review on Goodreads have different standards than those who review on Amazon?)

Anyway, my negative reaction puts me in a minority, as it did in the case of Jonathan Strange and Mr.Norrell, another overly long book with paranormal elements set in 1800’s London, which also struck me as being poorly edited rather than cunningly crafted. Meaning—if you’re drawn to Victorian tales of gothic suspense, definitely give The Quick a try. Chances are, you’ll like it better than I did!

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Joy Luck Club

We'll provide the popcorn; you bring the hankies. Tuesday, August 12 at 6:30 p.m. we'll be showing the 1993 film, The Joy Luck Club.

Based on Amy Tan's 1989 novel, the movie tells the story of four Chinese mothers and their American born daughters, and the chasm between generations. Flashbacks of the mothers as young women reveal the startling events and conditions that shaped their lives -- and how these experiences affected the dreams they each hold for their children.

The late Roger Ebert gave the film a five star review.   He said "These stories are about Chinese and Chinese-American characters, but they are universal stories. Anyone with parents or children, which is to say, everyone, will identify with the way that the hopes of one generation can become both the restraints and the inspirations of the next....The Joy Luck Club is like a flowering of talent that has been waiting so long to be celebrated. It is also one of the most touching and moving of the year's films."

The Joy Luck Club will be shown at no charge in the McEntee Meeting Room.

Monday, August 4, 2014

Electrified Puppet Show at Literacy Park

Puppet shows are an audience favorite in Newport and one of our favorite puppet companies is Dragon Theater Puppets from Portland. Jason Ropp and his cast of characters come to Literacy Park this Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. for You're Electric, an original show written especially for this summer's Fizz! Boom! Read! library program. All children and families are invited to attend this free program.

You're Electric brings the history, science, invention and safety of electricity to life using puppets and props designed and constructed by Jason. Show topics include the light bulb, how batteries work, how to stay safe around electricity, and how our own bodies use electrical responses. Featured characters are Thomas Edison, Nikola Tesla, Albert Einstein and more!

Jason is a very talented performer who writes the scripts, makes all of his puppets and performs all the roles. Something this librarian appreciates about him is the time he takes after his shows to talk with the children and show them how things work behind the scenes. If folks have young visitors in town, this is a great show to bring them to.

This is the last show in Literacy Park for this summer. Young readers still have until August 31 to finish their reading contracts and get their t-shirts, courtesy of Newport's Umpqua Bank.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Two for the Road...and Cake!

Jane and Michael Stern are something else. After receiving their MFA’s from Yale and deciding they didn't want jobs remotely related to their degrees, they racked their brains for ideas about what to do with their lives and managed to come up with a career no one had ever heard of before: professional roadfood critic. For over 30 years they have been taking the back roads hither and yon across the United States in search of sublime local eats.  They now report back to a drooling herd of foodies who visit their well-maintained website,, and listen to Lynn Rosetto Kasper’s NPR program The Splendid Table, where they have a regular segment.

Their book Two for the Road: Our Love Affair with American Food details the highs and lows of their time on the road together. They would eat as many as twelve meals a day before passing out in a low-budget hotel room to nurse their indigestion. Talk about devotion. 

At the end of each chapter they share a recipe or two gleaned from their travels. I had the bright idea of making their “Pepsi-Cola Cake with Broiled Peanut Butter Frosting” and sharing it with volunteers and staff here at the library. My husband watched me disbelievingly as I made it late at night, mixing butter with coke and mini-marshmallows. When I handed it around the next day, it disappeared into mouths that were at first doubtfully nibbling but in no time at all were avidly munching. Here it is. Only attempt it if you have plenty of people to share it with so you don’t end up eating it all yourself! 

Pepsi-Cola Cake with Broiled Peanut Butter Frosting 

2 cups flour 
2 cups sugar 
2 sticks butter, melted 
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa 
1 cup Pepsi-Cola (with fizz) 
1/2 cup buttermilk 
2 eggs, beaten 
1 teaspoon baking soda 
1 teaspoon vanilla extract 
1 1/2 cups miniature marshmallows 

6 tablespoons butter 
1 cup dark brown sugar 
2/3 cup smooth peanut butter 
1/4 cup milk 
2/3 cup chopped peanuts 

Cake: Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 9 x 13 x 2-inch sheet cake pan. Combine flour and sugar in a large bowl. Combine melted butter, cocoa, and Pepsi and pour over flour and sugar mixture. Stir until well-blended. Add buttermilk, beaten eggs, soda, and vanilla. Mix well. Stir in marshmallows. Pour into prepared pan. Bake 40 minutes. Remove cake from oven and frost while still barely warm. 

Frosting: Cream butter, sugar, and peanut butter. Beat in milk. Fold in nuts. Spread over cake. Place frosted cake under broiler about 4 inches from heat source. Broil just a few seconds, or until topping starts to bubble. Watch constantly and be careful not to scorch frosting! Let cool at least 30 minutes before serving. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Reptile Man Returns

Turtles and lizards and snakes, oh my! The Reptile Man returns to Literacy Park this Wednesday at 1:00 p.m. His perennially popular show focuses on the science of herpetology, the study of amphibians and reptiles, and is perfect for this year’s summer reading science theme, Fizz! Boom! Read!

Richard Ritchey has been the Reptile Man for over 20 years. He brings unique insights, observations and a great sense of humor to his science based shows which are always highly entertaining and educational. Some of the snakes and lizards he’ll bring with him are a king cobra, rattlesnake, monitor lizard and, perhaps, an alligator snapping tortoise along with many more. My personal favorite is the deadly coral snake which he handles with skill and verve. His amazing creatures can be seen on his website.

Video of the Reptileman in action is on YouTube.