Friday, January 31, 2014

Family projects: or how to trick your kids into spending quality time with you

If you’re stuck in a rut where it seems all you do with your children is nag about homework and chores, chauffeur their personal limo, and torture them until they tell you how their day was, try breaking the cycle with a cool project you can do together.

Granted, this sounds like the setup of a lame sitcom where Dad and Jr. end up cheating in the go-cart race, or Mom over-helps Jr. with his science project, and hijinks ensue until everyone learns it’s easier just to watch TV together. But in real life, projects can be a fun, cooperative, learning experience for the whole family. (Don’t tell the kids that last part. Just say it will be cool, or, you know, whatever.)

So what does the library have to support you? Oodles of stuff, adaptable to either gender. Following are the first seven ideas from the top of my head, but there are many more possibilities.

1. The Obvious. You can still read together, even if your child has grown out of picture books and bedtime stories. You could takes turns reading chapters aloud, or you may both read the same book to yourselves, in your own time, and then talk about it over hot chocolate. We have lots of books with reading suggestions, like Book crush for kids and teens by Nancy Pearl and Some of my best friends are books by Judith Wynn Halsted.
We also offer Novelist, an online database full of reading suggestions which you can access from home with your library card.

2. Sewing. Yes, sewing. My cousin’s mom taught him to quilt when he was in middle school, and now he’s selling his own clothing line. No kidding. The boy is a genius. Newport Library has beginning quilting books, and also books about how to sew simpler items like curtains and pillows. Making a
quilt takes many hours, but other sewing projects might be just one or two.

3. Woodworking. We have a nearly infinite number of books about woodworking, some specifically for parents and kids working together. It’s not just birdhouses anymore, but if you want birdhouse, we got birdhouse. Personally, I can barely hammer a nail in straight, but I always thought it would be great to learn.

4. Explore Science! For kids who can’t get enough science experiments at school—we have SO MANY books. Excellent books, fun books, silly books, gross books. Some intended for science fairs, sure, but many intended for home, using household supplies. This stuff can be fascinating for a kid with the right frame of mind, and might be just the extra nudge they need to  
consider a career in science.
5. Cooking. Have you seen the TV program MasterChef Junior? Those kids are amazing. Each and
every one of them has me completely beat. And where did they get their start? At home! If you manage to instill an appreciation for the creative joys of cooking while your kid is young enough, you could be reaping the rewards until they’re old enough to win an appearance on reality TV!

6. Computers. You may think your child is a “digital native” and no doubt, they are—but there’s always more to learn. Kids who love computer games might be eager to learn some programming. There are great resources on the web, like MIT’s Scratch site , which teaches programming logic in a simple, fun, visual style, and a kid-friendly environment. We’re also getting a book for kids about Raspberry Pi, which is a $35 super-versatile bare-bones mini-computer. It’s intended to help kids get a grasp not only on programming but on hardware. The Siletz library system has a couple books on this, Raspberry Pi for the Evil Genius, and Raspberry Pi for Dummies, which we can borrow easily if you let us know you’re interested.  (The book we've ordered, Adventures in Raspberry Pi by Carrie Anne Philbin should be in soon!)

Our current computer programming books, like  Sams teach yourself HTML, CSS, and JavaScript all in one / Julie C. Meloni are more suitable for older children and adults.

7. Hiking. Not only do we have books to help people learn how to hike safely, and where to hike—we have the supercool OregonQuest book that contains local mini-adventures, short hikes complete with
clues to follow.

A stroll through our nonfiction stacks will yield even more possibilities. Come check it out, and leave the nagging behind—or at least put it off until later.

Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Adventures on Oregon's Pacific Crest Trail

The Newport Public Library Foundation announces Cascade Summer: My Adventure on Oregon's Pacific Crest Trail, by Oregon author Bob Welch, as the community read for 2014.

People have two months to read the book and be ready to participate in events scheduled for April. Copies of Cascade Summer are available at the library and in local book stores. This year's program includes something for everyone: kids, families, hikers, history buffs, and cocoa drinkers.

On Tuesday, April 8, at noon in the library's McEntee Room, the Reading Circle will discuss Cascade Summer and compare it to Cheryl Strayed's Wild, another book by an Oregon author on hiking the Pacific Crest Trail. Bring your lunch and share your thoughts.

On Sunday, April 13, at 1 p.m. at Mike Miller Park, local naturalist Linda Brodeur will lead a short and easy family hike, enlivened with fun and educational facts. The hike will end at the Community Room of Oregon Coast Community College with trail mix, hot cocoa, and cookies.

At 2:30 p.m. on April 13 in the OCCC Community Room, hikers and history buffs will enjoy a presentation by Stephen R. Mark, National Park Service historian, titled "John Breckenridge Waldo Oregon's Own Thoreau." Judge Waldo was an early preservationist who hiked most of the mountains and trails of the Cascades in the early 20th century. Pages from his hiking diary are featured in Cascade Summer.

On Thursday, April 24, Bob Welch will speak at three venues: 
  • He will begin the morning with a writing workshop with Newport High School students. 
  • At 2:00 p.m., he'll share his picture book, The Keyboard Kitten : An Oregon Children's Story, with students at Sam Case Elementary. This event is hosted by the library foundation and the Sam Case Booster Club. 
  • At 7 p.m., in the auditorium of the Hatfield Marine Science Center, Welch will discuss Cascade Summer and highlights of his trek. Copies of the book will be on sale. A question-and-answer session and a book signing will follow his presentation.
Bob Welch, the award-winning writer of 15 books and nearly 2,000 columns for The Register-Guard, is Oregon's storyteller extraordinaire. Cascade Summer was released to rave reviews in 2012. Principal Researcher at Sunriver Nature Center says, "This is no travelogue of a trail, but a human adventure that brings into play unexpected challenges, unexpected heroes, and an unexpected ending. A gold-star read."

The Newport Public Library Foundation supports community programs for the Newport Public Library, 35 NW Nye. More information is available by calling 541-265-2153 or going online at

Monday, January 27, 2014

Grappling with Alice

A Town Like Alice by Nevil Shute, originally published in 1950, is one of those books that I’ve heard about for years. A lot of people have recommended it, all of them women.

The library recently got a handsome new copy of the book, so I picked it up.

It’s the story of Jean Paget, an apparently ordinary young Englishwoman, who turns out to be far from ordinary after all. She endures three traumatic years as a POW of the Japanese in British Malaya during the Second World War. She develops a friendship with a male prisoner from Australia, who tries to help Jean and the other female prisoners, and who is brutally punished for it.

After the war, in England, Jean unexpectedly receives a tidy inheritance from a distant relative. She returns to the Malayan village that helped her during the war and spends some of her money there, building a needed well. Then she journeys to the Australian Outback, hoping to find out what happened to the Australian man she met during the war.

It’s hard not to love a book in which people similar to you are described warmly and positively. Jean is a very strong, graceful heroine. In fact, a theme throughout the book is that women exhibit extraordinary courage, resilience, and resourcefulness in crises. There’s a wonderful sequence describing the response to a man missing in the vast Outback. A network of female dispatchers calmly marshall and organize search-and-rescue parties over the radio.

But if I liked the way A Town Like Alice depicts women, I did not enjoy its depiction of nonwhite people. Aboriginal Australians are described as childishly primitive, amusingly unreliable, and dumbly content in their proper, subordinate place. Indeed, there’s a neck-cracking whiplash moment in which a man gives the suntanned Jean a nickname, “Mrs. [offensive racial slur].” She likes it, signalling that neither she nor the author found the word offensive at the time.

That seems to be the key to appreciating a book like A Town Like Alice. It is of its time, and it seems wrong to hold it to social standards of today. When Jean opens up an ice cream parlor, she naturally plans for a separate counter for the black customers - it was 1950. That’s what ice cream parlors did.

And yet, I’m a 2014 reader.  That separate counter, and all the racial assumptions that are packed into it, still bother me.

How do you react to books written in times and places different from your own? When you encounter different moral standards in a novel, do they spoil the experience of an otherwise-good book to you? Or can you accept them as part of the millieu of the book?

If you have thoughts on this topic, or just want to talk about A Town Like Alice, post a comment below!

Friday, January 24, 2014

When the stork is coming...

Pregnancy and babies are on my mind a lot these days, since my daughter is expecting her first baby within the month. Working in a library, I often see books that I think would be helpful to her, books on baby names, books on home birth, and books on getting through those first few weeks of joy and sleeplessness!

If you or someone you know is considering parenthood, you might be surprised at the variety of books and videos you can find at the library to help you along the way!  Below is a sampling of what is available:

028.16 ODEAN
Great books for babies and toddlers : more than 500 recommended books for your child's first three years / Kathleen Odean

305.231 NUGENT
Your baby is speaking to you : a visual guide to the amazing behaviors of your newborn and growing baby / Kevin Nugent, Abelardo Morell 

Baby signing time! Vol. 1, It's baby signing time [videorecording (DVD)] / Two Little Hands Productions

618.178 MURKOF
What to expect before you’re expecting : the complete preconception plan / Heidi Murkoff.

The business of being born [videorecording (DVD)] / Red Envelope Entertainment ; directed by Abby Epstein ; produced by Amy Slotnick, Paulo Netto, Abby Epstein ; executive producer, Ricki Lake

618.2 DRICHT
The essential homebirth guide : for families planning or considering birthing at home / Jane E. Drichta and Jodilyn Owen ; with foreword by Christiane Northrup

618.2 MARGUL
The business of baby : what doctors don't tell you, what corporations try to sell you, and how to put your pregnancy, childbirth, and baby before their bottom line / Jennifer Margulis

618.2 OGLE
Before your pregnancy : a 90-day guide for couples on how to prepare for a healthy conception / Amy Ogle and Lisa Mazzullo

Pregnancy [videorecording (DVD)] : from conception to caring for your newborn baby / Educouch

618.4 GASKIN
Ina May's guide to natural childbirth : discover the proven wisdom that has guided thousands of women through childbirth with more confidence, less pain, and little or no medical intervention - whether in a hospital, birthing center, or the comfort of a home / Ina May Gaskin

618.92 LINDEN
Preemies : the essential guide for parents of premature babies / Dana Wechsler Linden, Emma Trenti Paroli, and Mia Wechsler Doron

Bebe y niño / Penelope Leach ; traducción de José Manuel Pomares

649.122 ACREDO
Baby minds : brain-building games your baby will love / Linda Acredolo and Susan Goodwyn

649.122 GREENE
Raising baby green: the earth-friendly guide to pregnancy, childbirth, and baby care / Alan Greene, M.D.

649.122 JANA
Heading home with your newborn : from birth to reality / Laura A. Jana, Jennifer Shu

649.122 KARP
The happiest baby on the block: the new way to calm crying and help your newborn baby sleep longer / Harvy Karp, M.D.

649.122 MURKO
What to expect the first year / Heidi Murkoff ; Sharon Mazel, Arlene Eisenberg & Sandee Hathaway

649.122 WELLS
The survival guide for rookie moms : things you need to know that no one ever tells you / Erica Wells & Lorraine Regel

649.144 SCALIS
Twin sense : a sanity-saving guide to raising twins--from pregnancy through the first year / Dagmara Scalise

649.3 LINARD
Homemade baby food: pure and simple / Connie Linardakis

649.33 WOMANL
The Womanly art of breastfeeding / La Leche League International

649.4 SCHNEI
Massaging your baby : the joy of touch communication / Elaine Fogel Schneider

649.5 GARABE
Itsy bitsy yoga : poses to help your baby sleep longer, digest better, and grow stronger / Helen Garabedian

649.62 GROSS
The diaper-free baby : the natural toilet training alternative / Christine Gross-Loh

746.432 DANGER
Knit a monster nursery : practical and playful knitted baby patterns / Rebecca Danger

746.434 JENSEN
Candy crochet : 50 adorable designs for infants and toddlers / Candi Jensen

797.21 DOMAN
How to teach your baby to swim / Douglas Doman

929.4 WATTEN
The baby name wizard : a magical method for finding the perfect name for your baby / Laura Wattenberg

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Ten Books: A personal list

It was one of those little games that get passed around on Facebook. The rules were these:

List 10 books that have stayed with you. Don't take more than a few minutes; don't think too hard. They don't have to be great works, just the ones that have touched you.

Here are my ten books, with explanations:

  • Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH by Robert C. O'Brien. My favorite book as a child, this story of a courageous field mouse and the amazing secrets she uncovers is still marvelous reading. This book also brought me my first taste of that disappointment that sometimes comes with the movie version.
  • The Magician's Nephew by C.S. Lewis. I loved the Narnia series. Why does this one linger in my memory? That tray of gleaming green and yellow rings. The Wood Between the Worlds. The comeuppance of Uncle Andrew. The glorious reward of Strawberry the cab horse.
  • Watership Down by Richard Adams. Like many of the books on this list, a tremendous adventure story. The perfect summertime read.
  • Emma by Jane Austen. Every Austen fan has a favorite, and this is mine. The comic matchmaking escapades of the intelligent, rich, beautiful, obnoxious Emma Woodhouse never fail to make me smile, and I love it when she gets the reward she basically doesn't deserve in the end.
  • Gaudy Night by Dorothy L. Sayers. Sayers was a serious scholar who, as a sideline, wrote the best mystery novels in the world. This one takes Harriet, a character who is very similar to Sayers herself, to a college reunion, where she reconnects with her past, helps Lord Peter solve a fascinating mystery, and falls in love.
  • The Forever War by Joe Haldeman. One of two science fiction novels on this list, The Forever War is a reflection on the banal dehumanization of war; the author wrote it a few years after his tour in Vietnam. It deserves all of the many awards that have been heaped upon its brawny shoulders.
  • Memory by Lois McMaster Bujold. Another science fiction novel, in a very different vein. Part of the addictive Miles Vorkosigan series of space operas, this is the one in which Miles is cruelly banished from the only place in the universe he thought he belonged, and discovers he was wrong about that.
  • The Ladies of Mandrigyn by Barbara Hambly. I read a lot of fantasy in the '80s, when the genre was strongly in the thrall of Tolkien and Robert E. Howard, which often meant that female characters didn't have much to do. Hambly's sword-and-sorcery adventure is action-packed and tremendous fun, and has an unusual feminist point of view as well.
  • Dog Years by Mark Doty. A beautiful memoir of the way the author's relationship with two dogs sustained him through the most grievous losses of his life. I cried for a week.
  • We Have Always Lived in the Castle by Shirley Jackson. This powerful, angry, weird little novel defies any attempt to summarize, but I’ll try. It's about an extremely unusual young woman who wants to protect, or maybe control, her agoraphobic sister. Just as shocking as the author's famous short story, The Lottery.

And who could actually narrow it down to only ten books? Here are two honorable mentions:

  • A Prayer For the Dying by Stewart O'Nan. Still one of the most frightening books I've ever read.
  • Mink River by Brian Doyle. A strange and wonderful novel of life on the Oregon Coast.

Do you have a list of favorites you'd like to share? Or do you have any thoughts about mine? Comment below!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Murder in Amish Country

Sworn to Silence is the first book in Linda Castillo’s mystery series featuring Kate Burkholder, Chief of Police in Painter’s Mill, Ohio. Painter’s Mill is a small town where modern day America coexists with the world of the Amish, who adhere strictly to the plain-living tenets of their faith.

Kate grew up Amish before leaving the community after her Rumspringa, the time teenagers are given to choose whether or not to remain in the church. Her experience of both cultures makes her uniquely qualified to work with both groups of citizens, and her eight tough years as a city cop allow her to truly appreciate the peaceful community she loved as a child. But the truth is, way back when, she gave up her family, her church, and her whole way of life for a reason. And that traumatic event is no longer safely buried in the past. The Slaughterhouse Killer seems to be killing again, and only Kate and her brother and sister know why that’s impossible.

Two things make this series stand out—the setting, with its portrayal of Amish life and beliefs—and Kate herself, who carries out her duties as Chief of Police with independence, intelligence, and confidence. The gritty contrasts between our romanticized expectation of what the Amish ‘simple life’ means versus Castillo’s more realistic portrayal, plus the darkness of the crimes, give the books a stark tone, softened by the characterizations and the inevitable difficult love story subplot.

Weaknesses include an occasional jarring cliché, and a really annoying neglect to give names to the murdered daughters of Kate’s love interest, who are mentioned over and over and over again in their father’s thoughts as “the girls.” But judge for yourself—this series is well worth a try. The books are all in our catalog, or if you prefer audio, the first two are available from Library2Go.

 Sworn to Silence
 Pray for Silence
 Breaking Silence
 Gone Missing
 Her Last Breath

Monday, January 13, 2014

A small death in Texas

I’m always excited to introduce readers to a promising new mystery series. Well, if A Killing at Cotton Hill is anything to go by, the Samuel Craddock series by Terry Shames is going to be really good.

Samuel Craddock is an old man, a small-town widower with lots of time on his hands. When he learns that his longtime friend, Dora Lee Parjeter, has been murdered, he heads over to her place immediately to find out what’s what.

Samuel was the chief of police in Jarrett Creek, Texas, back when it was an elected position. Now the chief is appointed by the county sheriff, and the job has gone to a man Samuel thinks is completely incompetent. Samuel just doesn’t trust anyone to look into Dora Lee’s murder better than he can himself.

And who would kill a little elderly lady like Dora Lee? Samuel soon discovers that Dora Lee’s life was more complicated than it seemed. There’s her grandson, who wanted money to go to art school; her in-laws, who wanted money to pay off their debts; and her shady neighbors, who had been pestering her with lowball offers to buy her land. But is Dora Lee’s little patch of farmland really worth anything? And where is her estranged daughter?

A Killing at Cotton Hill has a folksy, comfortable tone with a clever mystery at its heart. If you like writers like Craig Johnson and Steven Havill, give this one a try, too. The second book in the series, The Last Death of Jack Harbin, will be coming out soon.

Friday, January 10, 2014

William Stafford Centennial

Everyone is born a poet—a person discovering the way words sound and work, caring and delighting in words. I just kept on doing what everyone starts out doing. The real question is: Why did other people stop? 
-William Stafford 

2014 marks the 100 year anniversary of the birth of renowned Oregon poet William Stafford. In keeping with the year-long celebration, the Oregon Library Association’s Everybody Reads 2014 program will focus on Stafford’s work, highlighting four titles: Ask Me: 100 Poems; Early Morning: Remembering My Father, William Stafford; Down in My Heart: Witness in Wartime; and The Osange Tree. (William Stafford’s son Kim Stafford,also a professor at Lewis & Clark, came to Newport Library in 2011 to speak about Down in My Heart, the book chosen for the 2011 Newport Reads program.) 

Stafford’s second published collection of poetry, Traveling Through the Dark, won the National Book Award for Poetry in 1963. His poems, described by some as “plain-spoken,” often invoke the natural world and the process of exploration and discovery at the periphery. Stafford noted that the houses he lived in during his boyhood in Kansas were usually on the outskirts of town, and further on existed "adventure, fields forever, or rivers that wended off over the horizon, forever. And in the center of town was a library, another kind of edge out there forever, to explore." Come to the Newport Library, our very own edge of forever, to discover or revisit the work of an important voice.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Newport Library's Annual Magazine Giveaway!

Newport Library's annual magazine giveaway will take place tomorrow, Thursday January 9, 2014 between 10 AM and 6 PM in the McEntee meeting room.

This is a great opportunity for crafters, artists, teachers and students to pick up a variety of recent edition titles in a wide variety of topics, from general interest and news magazines, to arts and crafts, gardening and religious titles.

Magazines are available on a first come, first serve basis. And please bring your own bags and/or boxes. There is no limit to the number of magazines you may take.

Monday, January 6, 2014

Misguided: The Meek Cutoff

“I hope that no other emigrants will ever be gulled as we have been,” wrote John Herren in his journal on Monday, September 1, 1845.

He and the other members of his wagon train were headed deep into the hot, waterless expanse of what is now Harney County in eastern Oregon. Guided by a well-known mountain man named Stephen Meek, they had left the established Oregon Trail on an attempted shortcut. It's become infamous as the Meek Cutoff.

As his diary shows, Herren and the others already regretted their decision to follow Meek into the high desert. Their guide proved to be considerably less familiar with the territory than he let on, and the party’s ordeal had just begun.

In The Meek Cutoff: Tracing the Oregon Trail’s Lost Wagon Train of 1845, author Brooks Geer Ragen assembles all the diary entries composed by members of the Meek party. Then, aided by GPS, metal detectors, and other modern technology, he attempts to trace the party’s exact route across Oregon.

Each section of the book is one day of the Meek party’s ordeal, with the diary entries, maps, and large color photographs of modern-day location. The result is a book that is both fascinating and poignant, a detailed day-by-day portrait of the party’s agonizing journey, and of the modern-day researchers’ attempt to follow in their footsteps.

The fate of the Meek party is not as well-known (or as horrific) as the Donner party, but it was bad enough: approximately 25 people died on the trek, many of them women and children, who succumbed to thirst and fever in the desert.

If you’re interested in this chapter of Oregon history, you’ll find Ragen’s The Meek Cutoff to be a well-researched, beautifully-illustrated resource. Check out Terrible Trail: The Meek Cutoff, by Keith Clark and Lowell Tiller, too.

Friday, January 3, 2014

Oregon’s FREE Talking Book and Braille Services

Do you know someone who is unable to read printed material comfortably for extended periods of time? Oregon residents who have visual disabilities (like glaucoma, macular degeneration, or total blindness) or physical conditions (like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis) are eligible to receive FREE audiobooks and Braille from the state of Oregon’s Talking Book and Braille Services (TBABS). There is no age requirement and, again, it is absolutely free.

Each TBABS patron receives a special audiobook player. If the player breaks, it will be either replaced or fixed at no cost. Materials are sent through the mail and can be returned for free. There is also an option to go online to download audiobooks or braille books through what’s called BARD (Braille and Audio Reading Download).

To get a TBABS application, download and print one here or come to the library to pick one up. The fourth page of the application must be completed by one of the following: a professional librarian (an MLIS or MLS holder), doctor of medicine, doctor of osteopathy, ophthalmologist, optometrist, nurse, therapist, or other professional staff of a hospital, institution, or social welfare agency.

To learn how Newport Library can help, call Alice MacGougan at the library (541-574-5467) or email her at