Tuesday, April 26, 2016

The Buried Giant

While I have seen the movie Remains of the Day, I had never read a book by Kazuo Ishiguro until I picked up The Buried Giant on audiobook. With no idea of what to expect, I plunged into the post-Arthurian world of an elderly couple, Axl and Beatrice, who live on the outer perimeter of an underground warren. Their intimate conversations reveal a mental confusion that at first seems age-related, but it turns out their whole village forgets events that happened in the recent past. 

Axl and Beatrice grasp at memories as though through a fog, and faintly remember that they have a son who lives far away. They begin a journey to find him, and are joined by Wistan, a Saxon warrior, and Edwin, a boy rescued from ogres. Wistan is on a quest to slay Querig, the dragon whose breath fills the land with a mist of forgetfulness. When they meet the ancient Sir Gawain, the only remaining knight from King Arthur’s realm, a sense of foreboding seeps into the narrative.

The Buried Giant can be enjoyed for the poetry of its language, for its mythological elements, and for its allegorical presentation of the value and danger of memory. Are forgotten wrongs best left in the past, or should they be remembered and avenged? 

The audiobook is narrated by David Horovitch, a British actor whose sonorous and steady cadence lends a tone of gravitas to the tale.


Thursday, April 14, 2016

Feral Child

My childhood was spent without a t.v. set.  Maybe this wasn’t uncommon in the late 50’s, early 60’s.  Our bedtime was reserved for books, and reading lasted sometimes through two chapters of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe or The Hobbit.  By the time we did have a set, I was eight and my media socialization began.

To this day I cannot reliably participate in trivia contests, but am very comfortable with the thought of being raised by wolves thanks to Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book, and stories about Mowgli with reminders from Akela, the head wolf, intoning the mantra, "Ye Know the Law," whenever the pack strayed from a firm moral footing.

I will be going to see the 2016 movie, even though my deeply held impressions of Mowgli, Baloo, Bagheera and Shere Khan were savaged by their Disney portrayals in 1967. Previews of this newest version are heartening.

But I also definitely recommend you delve into our collection of Kipling before launching into the newest iteration of an old classic at the local theater.

Sunday, April 10, 2016

Elementary, my dear Watson

Sherlock Holmes is a cultural icon, and our image of him spans generations, from Basil Rathbone in the 1940's to today's Benedict Cumberbatch.  Our Literary Flick for April, the 1959 version of The Hound of the Baskervilles, stars Peter Cushing in the coveted role.  The film shows at 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 12 in the McEntee Meeting Room.

Legend has it that centuries before, Sir Hugo Baskerville was killed by a "Hound of Hell" while walking on the moor near his estate. His descendant, Sir Henry Baskerville (Sir Christopher Lee) believes his family is cursed, and hires Sherlock Holmes and Doctor Watson (AndrĂ© Morell) to investigate. Cushing's Holmes is vivid, dynamic and arrogant, exactly as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote him. It's a performance of steely integrity and terrific skill, one of the greatest Holmes performances ever. 

Friday, April 8, 2016

Beverly Cleary's 100th Birthday Celebration

Newport Public Library Celebrates Children’s Author Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday!

It’s coming up. Children’s author Beverly Cleary’s 100th Birthday. April 12, 2016 marks her 100th Birthday and what a birthday it will be, with many celebrations nationwide at schools, libraries, public performance spaces, bookstores, and I am sure Ms. Cleary will be having a private birthday celebration too (of which am not privy to the details, except that she wants a slice of carrot cake).

Here at the Newport Public Library we will be celebrating with activities Monday through Friday. Look for self-directed activities in the “Juvenile Fiction” area downstairs, behind the reference librarian’s desk. On Tuesday, Ms. Cleary’s actual birthday, we will have some activities in the McEntee room after school starting at 3:45 until 5:00 p.m.

A native of McMinnville, Oregon, Cleary attended grade school and high school in the Portland area. Beverly loved books, thanks in part to her mother securing books through the Oregon State Library. Yet, in her early days as a reader and writer she struggled until a much adored second grade teacher gave her the boost she needed. By age eight she was a more accomplished reader and was inspired by her third grade teacher’s encouragement to read and write, and she was urged by her school librarian to try writing.

Cleary’s experiences as a late budding reader helped her empathize with young readers when she became an author. Young readers supplied Cleary with ideas for characters, characters who would represent regular kids. In addition to winning over a huge fan base, Cleary is the winner of many honors and awards, including being named a “Library of Congress Living Legend”, and receiving the prestigious Newbery Medal, she even has a K-8th grade school in Portland named after her. If I had to guess how many of Beverly Cleary’s books I own, I would say, “All of them!” So, like a good librarian I did a quick search and found out that Cleary has written over 40 works. Okay, so I don’t own ALL of her books, (I only own 15), mostly those in her “Ramona” series.

Although the last one was written in 1999, Cleary’s Ramona books have lasting appeal for children. Perhaps that is why they have sold in more than 20 different languages in 20 plus countries. Cleary says, "In 50 years the world has changed, especially for kids, but kids' needs haven't changed. They still need to feel safe, be close to their families, like their teachers and have friends to play with." Well said, and oh so true, as we well know being in the biz of early literacy, children’s programming and early childhood development.

In one of Cleary’s popular books, Ramona Quimby, Age 8, the concept of DEAR (“Drop Everything And Read”), was introduced. In this 1981 book Ramona and her classmates were given class time to stop what they were doing and read silently to themselves. This delighted Ramona, although she thought that “Sustained Silent Reading” sounded more grown-up than DEAR. If you are interested in the concept of DEAR visit the website www.dropeverythingandread.com.

We hope you will join us here at the library to read, celebrate and thank Beverly Cleary for all she has done for the readers, librarians, parents, teachers and citizens of the world!

Now, don’t you think it’s DEAR time!

Wednesday, April 6, 2016

Poetry and Music @ the Library

The chamber jazz duo PoetryMusic will bring their unique talents to the Newport Public Library on Sunday, April 10, at 2:00 p.m. Chris Lee and Colleen O’Brien perform poems that have been set to music, music that has been set to poems, and music by some well known writers who were also accomplished composers.

Lee plays the vibraphone, box drum and frame drum, while O’Brien plays the cello, and sings with a deep resonant voice perfect for jazz-style vocals. Their lyrics are poems, everything from Maya Angelou to Robert Frost to Li Po to Shakespeare. Their multi-media performance includes a slide presentation of the poems being sung, and photographs. 

Here is a sample of one of their songs, I Think of Dean Moriarty by Jack Kerouac.

Lee and O’Brien met in 1980, and have been together since. They have led their own band, produced five recordings, and continue to actively pursue their musical vision with their duo Primal Mates and their evolving Poetry Project.

Sponsored by the Newport Library Foundation, this program is free and open to the public.