Saturday, December 27, 2008

The Pioneers An American Family Portrait by Jack Cavanaugh

Jesse Morgan grew up on the lower east side of New York City. He and his mother had struggled to live since his father died in a fire. For years now she has been sewing piece work in her home and Jesse works at a glass factory which employs many children. When not at work he is aggravated by bullies on the streets. It was during an altercation with those bullies that Jesse met Emily Barnes. When she gave several blasts on her whistle they thought the police had arrived to grab them.
Emily has wanted to become a reporter. Her job using a typewriter and her unofficial research into unlawful practices by local companies were good experience for this. So when Jesse met her again on a steamboat she was interviewing the captain for an exciting newspaper article about him.
Actually, Jesse left N.Y. on the run from the police. So began his journey west. Whatever jobs were available, he did. He travelled by foot, raft, steamboat, covered wagon, horse and railroad. A hero of dime novels was his "guide" when he met with a challenge or decision to make. What would Truly Noble do? Jesse's aunt was the author of these stories which he had been reading and enjoying when not working or running from neighborhood thugs.
Jesse's reason for leaving home was his secret. Emily's secret was her identity. Because of her parentage, she and Jesse found themselves running from a kidnapper. The secret of all this, ironically, involved a Utopian community. These many secrets finally must come to light as Jesse grows along with the country.

Friday, December 26, 2008

Connecting Families @ the Library

Watch the video from the Pentagon Channel Report about the new Connecting Families Project.
Alabama has launched a new effort to help military families communicate with loved ones deployed overseas and Homewood Public Library has been chosen to participate in this great service!

Go to Homewood Hotcast to see it.

Monday, December 15, 2008

The Gift by Richard Paul Evans

Nathan Hurst works security for a music store chain as a house detective only not the kind that walks around watching for shoplifters. He watches the transactions in over 300 stores and catches employees stealing from the company. In so doing he travels to other cities to complete investigations and have employees arrested. Some people are surprised when arrested. Some are shocked that they would be caught. So Nathan has saved the company lots of money and even has had some merchandise returned by the thieves. It was in the airport when returning from one of his business trips that he met Addison, Collin and Elizabeth. The weather was awful with ice, snow, wind and bone chilling temperatures shutting down air travel. The prospect was time spent sleeping on the floor in the airport until flights would resume. When Nathan met Addison and saw her son, a chemo patient with surgical mask and very pale skin, he was moved to share his hotel suite with these desperate people. This was the beginning of an amazing relationship. Collin was not even ten but was wise for someone so small. Through his years of sickness and treatments for leukemia he had acquired an understanding of listening to other people and caring about them. He also was given the gift of healing. As he put it he could make life better for people. Sadly he was unable to heal himself and each time he touched someone transferring his healing energy to them he was sicker for days. Nathan continued his job of catching bad employees and travelling around the country. When the story of Collins' gift was in the newspaper, people flocked to his home, trying for a touch of his hand. Addison called Nathan and the police. Until someone broke the law the police could only keep the crowds off Addison's property. So Nathan helped them go elsewhere until the madness subsided. But it only got worse. Addison's ex husband tried to sell Collins' gift. He had approached several wealthy people who were in need of healing. Though he had been told what each episode did to Collin, he wanted the money and chose to ignore the warning. Early in the book Nathan says this is not a Christmas story. But it tells so much about the spirit of giving on several levels that I think it is a story about love and caring. And who doesn't need a good dose of both?

Friday, December 12, 2008

Firefly Lane by Kristin Hannah

Tallulah Hart was left with her grandmother by her mother when she was four years old. The next time her mother came by was six years later. Then she took Tallulah and left her in a crowd of strangers. When the grandmother died Tully had to live with her mother which wasn't a loving or supportive family situation. She didn't know who her father was or where and her mother, Dorothy, was a pothead who preferred being called Cloud.
On this street called Firefly Lane lived Kate Mularkey with her parents and eight year old brother. Kate's family was loving but she was in eighth grade and feeling alone. Then she met the new girl on the block who wanted to be called Tully. They needed each other and this was the beginning of a friendship that would last more than thirty years. Two girls from very different family beginnings promised each other to be there for the other through everything. Early on they rode bicycles together and watched the stars and listened to crickets and the popular music of the day.
Tully introduced Kate to makeup, parties and sneaking out of the house and getting arrested by the police. Kate introduced Tully to parents who cared and gave guidance and love.
Tully realized her dream was to be a news anchor and she wanted Kate to do the same. The 'Firefly Lane Girls' began their journeys. Tully was tireless working long hours and sometimes working as a volunteer when she began her broadcasting career. Being in the spotlight and on camera really made her happy.
Kate worked in broadcasting, too, writing and producing. But it just did not give her the same fulfilling feeling that Tully experienced. She wanted to fall in love and have a family of her own. So even though the 'Firefly Lane Girls' took different paths to happiness they remained 'friends forever,' in happy and sad times.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

NBC Nightly News with Brian Williams - Hard Times: A Nightly News Survival Guide

The library business is booming during these hard times.

A Very New York Christmas watercolors by Michael Storrings, foreword by Cynthia Nixon

Each page of this book displays watercolors by Michael Storrings. These depict landmarks in and around New York City which we have heard of through the years. The text gives a brief history of places such as St. Patrick's Cathedral and Rockefeller Center, Lincoln Center and Radio City Music hall. Events that we have seen on television such as the Thanksgiving Day Parade and Time's Square on New Year's Eve are painted for our enjoyment. Storrings uses much color and many memorable signs and symbols of the Christmas season in these places so familiar to people living there and those of us who have seen Christmas movies set in the area such as Miracle on 34th Street and the Home Alone series. Below the text for the various watercolors are appropriate quotations by authors, mayors, lyricists and Kris Kringle. This is a thoroughly enjoyable visit to a place that is highly decorated and celebrated during the holidays.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Homewood High School Band in the Homewood Christmas Parade 2008

We at Homewood Public Library loved this video so much that we just had to post it on our podcast blog!

Friday, December 5, 2008

Crossing Midnight: Cut Here

By Mike Carey
Art by Jim Fern

Here’s a graphic novel that is different from my usual super hero fare. It’s a mix of horror and fantasy set in modern Nagasaki, Japan. For film fans, think of Miyazaki’s Spirited Away given a Ringu twist. Which is a warning: this is not a graphic novel for kids. The horror is, well, pretty horrifying.

The covers are in the flattened style of Japanese wood block prints, but with the rich decorative touches of Klimt. Which, considering his influences, makes sense. The interior art, however, is more realistic, drawn with clean lines. The colors, while probably applied digitally, look like watercolor washes. All in all, Jim Fern's artwork is appropriate for the tale and a pleasure to view.

The protagonists are an unusual pair of twin teenagers. Toshi Hara was born a minute before midnight, while her twin brother Kai Hara was born a minute after midnight. Though the timing of their births is a symptom of their cursed heritage, rather than the source of their problems. Because of the actions of her ancestors, Toshi can’t be cut by edged weapons, and on her birthday is visited by a supernatural being named Aratsu, the Lord of Knives. Aratsu wants Toshi to be his servant, and he does not take her refusal well. He tells her he will return and ask her again, after she has seen the grisly results of his displeasure.

The rest of the book relates Toshi and Kai’s struggle to escape Aratsu’s demands. As might be expected, some of their actions involve the supernatural and other kami, like Nidoru who presides over the Needle and the Pin, and a dragon of shadows. But other more mundane avenues are explored too, which involve school bullies and, of all things, an unexpected Yakuza connection to their family. It’s not as complicated as it sounds, but I don’t want to give too much away. I really enjoyed this graphic novel and discovering a mythology I’m not familiar with. My only complaint is that we don’t have Volume Two on the shelves.

You can reserve Crossing Midnight by clicking here.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Cool video featuring HPL on the Talk of Alabama Morning Show

Tracy Haynes of the Talk of Alabama Morning Show on the local ABC 33/40 TV station featured this video on their website showing all that Homewood Public Library has to offer for FREE!
(If you're using Firefox and can't see it, try IE or click here.)

Monday, December 1, 2008

A free and EASY way to say "Thank You!" to our troops!

Click the picture of the card in the box below to select the card you'd like to send.
You can pick out a thank you card and Xerox will print it and it will be sent to a soldier that is currently serving in Iraq. You can't pick out who gets it, but it will go to a member of the armed services.
How AMAZING it would be if every soldier received one!!! It is FREE and it only takes 10 seconds.