Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Dog On It by Spencer Quinn A Chet and Bernie Mystery

Bernie is a human private investigator with a canine partner named Chet. Chet narrates this story from his perspective. He idolizes Bernie and is proud to be his partner. His job is security and, of course, sniffing out clues and trails. Much of what is said by Bernie and other humans Chet does not comprehend.
But he observes and tells us about it anyway. In Dog On It Bernie and Chet are hired to find a girl, Madison, who has disappeared. There hasn't been a ransom demand but she is no where to be found by her parents. The clues seem to lead Bernie and Chet in multiple directions but Chet is pleased to report that Bernie is determined and persistent in finding what happened and returning Madison home. Then suddenly she appeared in Las Vegas and folks were told she was on her way home. But she didn't make it and the case continues. Now the clues take in Las Vegas and the surrounding little towns and desert areas. Madison's father is a real estate developer who seems nervous when talking with Bernie and Chet and whose business appears to be in a holding pattern. Chet was snatched by Russian mafia and tortured. He actually saw Madison but couldn't tell anyone. He was befriended by bikers and had some wild rides with them but then was taken to a shelter. We know what happens to unclaimed dogs in those places. While Chet was missing Bernie was frantic. Chet got back with Bernie using his cunning and personality. Bernie disappeared, too. What was going on? Who took Bernie and where did they go? Chet went to work sniffing out the trail and followed it. With Chet and Bernie on the job Madison would be returned to her family.

unabridged on 8 cds narrated by Jim Frangione

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Holes by Louis Sachar

Overweight and unlucky Stanley Yelnats IV is on his way to a juvenile detention camp for a crime he didn't even commit! As always, Stanley blames his "no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather" who placed a curse on the family generations ago in their homeland of Latvia. Mr. Sir, a cantankerous camp counselor, promises life at Camp Green Lake is no Girl Scout camp and he is true to his word. Despite the name, Camp Green Lake is situated in a dry and inhospitable desert with no moisture for miles around. The campers are forced to do only one activity from morning to night: dig holes. Supposedly the task is set to build character. The reader may find that hard to believe as the book delves into the tale of Kissin' Kate Barlow, an outlaw from the 1800s who's buried treasure has yet to be discovered. None of this matters to Stanley when he arrives, he simply wants to make it through his sixteen month sentence. It matters much more when Stanley secretly uncovers the mystery of the treasure while he and his friend, Zero, fight for survival in the desert.
Holes ingeniously intertwines three stories. In addition to the story of Stanley and Kissin' Kate Barlow readers learn the secret of the Yelnats family curse from the story of Elya Yelnats, the"no-good-dirty-rotten-pig-stealing-great-great-grandfather". This book provides a splendid mixture of irony, humor, adventure, and wisdom that is sure to appeal to readers of varied ages and interests. I would recommend this book for readers 10 and over. It will especially appeal to people who enjoyed The House of the Scorpion by Nancy Farmer, Hoot by Carl Hiaasen, or Freak the Mighty by Rodman R. Philbrick. I would also heartily recommend seeing the movie after reading the book. Very few movies stay true to the content and mood of the books they're based on, but Holes is definitely an exception. With summer camp just around the corner, kids are sure to enjoy Holes. Stanley's adventures at Camp Green Lake are sure to make readers truly appreciate their own camp experiences!

Click here if you would like to place a hold on this book.

Click here if you would like to place a hold on the movie.

Miss Mollie

Time To Ditch Windows XP

How to make the switch to Windows 7. From
Time To Ditch Windows XP


Monday, March 29, 2010

IE9 Platform Demos

Microsoft has released the Internet Explorer 9 Platform Preview for developers. You can try it out at This IE9 release is recommended for developers or serious geeks only, and will run side by side with your current IE version. One caveat however, this release WILL NOT run on XP, so you must have Windows Vista or Windows 7 to test it out.


Dinotrux by Chris Gall

“Millions of Years Ago
Prehistoric Trucks roamed the earth.
They were Huge.
They were Hungry.
But they weren’t helpful like they are today.
They rumbled, roared, and chomped.
And they did Not get along well with others
They were called….DINOTRUX!”

In the world of children’s literature, what do kids love more than Dinosaurs and Trucks? Chris Gall, author/illustrator of Dear Fish and There’s Nothing to Do on Mars, decided to combine these two genres and create the amusingly creative Dinotrux. The storyline is pretty simple; the trucks that we see today are descendants of monstrous dinotrux, which roamed the Earth millions of years ago. But unlike the trucks today, which are helpful, dinotrux were destructive and quite ferocious. For a child’s imagination, the stretch between trucks and dinosaurs is not that far-fetched. And as the author writes, your child will never look at Dad’s rusty old pickup truck the same again!

With names like Garbageadon and Digasaurus, this 32-page picture will soon become a popular favorite among children’s book. Gall’s industrial illustrations are what really make the story though. His dinotrux possess characteristics of dinosaurs, while still looking like trucks. Dinotrux, which is recommended for ages 4 to 8, is a great pick for children who are fascinated dinosaurs, especially boys. DreamWorks Animation, the same company that created Shrek and the newly released How to Train Your Dragon, obtained the rights to Dinotrux to create 3D-animated movie, which will definitely skyrocket the popularity of Dinotrux. The publisher even created a YouTube trailer for the book - Dinotrux Trailer!

~Miss Judith~

Monday, March 22, 2010

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead

When You Reach Me by Rebecca Stead is the winner of the 2010 Newbery Award. Set in New York in the late 1970s from the point of view of Miranda, a classic latchkey kid. When Miranda’s best friend, Sal, is beaten up by a strange boy on their walk home from school their friendship is destroyed for what seems like no good reason. Miranda is forced to widen her circle of friends and face all the usual complications involved in being a sixth grader. As if this weren't enough to deal with Miranda starts to receive a series unsettling and mysterious notes. Notes that only an omnipotent observer could write. The anonymous author promises "I am coming to save your friend's life and my own". Miranda must unravel the mystery of the penman, prepare for the impending danger, and help her mother prepare for a long-awaited stint on $20,000 Pyramid. Miranda’s fixation on Madeline L'Engle's A Wrinkle in Time causes her to think about this problem in a whole new way as she ponders the possibility of time travel. At the end of the book Miranda comes away with a new empathy for others, a supportive group of friends, and a mind that is wide open to the most unlikely of possibilities.
This book will give children a feel for a different, more independent way of life in the big city. It's a gripping tale that is difficult to place in any particular genre. It’s a coming-of-age story with compelling elements of historical science fiction all wrapped around an overarching mystery. Because of the complex plot and themes it would be best appreciated by readers over 10 years of age. If you enjoy books like Harriet the Spy by Louise Fitzhugh, A Wrinkle in Time by Madeline L’Engle, or From the Mixed up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler by E.L. Konigsburg you are sure to love this award-winning novel.

Click here if you would like to place a hold on this book.

Miss Mollie

Princess Hyacinth (The Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated) by Florence Parry Heide

“Princess Hyacinth had a problem.”

This first line in Florence Parry Heide’s tale about a princess with an unusual problem sets the stage for Princess Hyacinth’s witty adventure. In Princess Hyacinth (the Surprising Tale of a Girl Who Floated), poor Princess Hyacinth is stuck inside the palace everyday. She cannot run outside, go swimming, or play with other children. If Princess Hyacinth was to go outside she would simply float away. Her parents try everything to keep her grounded, even placing a heavy bejeweled crown upon her head and sewing jewels to her socks. She even has to wear a seatbelt with her swimsuit! Everyday, Princess Hyacinth dreams of running outside and playing with her kite-flying friend named Boy. Until one day, Princess Hyacinth decides that she is tired of being weighed down and wants to fly high like a balloon. What happens next is quite comical and cute.

Florence Parry Heide (author of The Shrinking of Treehorn) creates a magical fairytale with a unique twist that will simply have children fascinated by the story. The oil and watercolor illustrations are fabulously done by Lane Smith (illustrator of James and the Giant Peach and The Stinky Cheese Man and Other Fairly Stupid Tales), but it is the design and the placement of the text that will enthrall children (Molly Leach is credited with the design of the book). Since Princess Hyacinth has the unusual problem of floating, it makes perfect sense that the text float as well. This bright idea fits perfectly with the story and definitely adds a little something extra. This quirky picture book will soon become one of your family’s favorite stories!

~Miss Judith~

Success! The new Black Gum tree is in its new home at the library

Success! The new Black Gum tree is in its new home at the library
Originally uploaded by HomewoodPix

Ann Damsgard (Edgewood Garden Club), Debbie Fout (library Director), and the planting crew.

Edgewood Garden Club of Homewood, Alabama is pleased to plant their 2009-2010 Ida Burns Memorial Tree at the Homewood Public Library. Ida Burns was a long time Homewood resident and centenarian. Mrs. Burns, a selfless community naturalist and supporter of the Birmingham Botanical Gardens from its inception, has made it possible for the Edgewood Garden Club to grace our city with a tree each year. This tree and others that the club has planted in her memory and honor will help sustain the environment for years to come. Edgewood Garden Club is a member of the Federated Garden Clubs of Alabama.

Friday, March 19, 2010

Starch in Their Petticoats: Stories of Strong Women Who Settled the West with storyteller Dolores Hydock and the music of Bobby Horton

Make your plans NOW to attend!

Friday and Saturday, May 14 and 15, 6:30 - 9 p.m.
Homewood Public Library Auditorium
1721 Oxmoor Road
Homewood, AL
Phone 332-6624 for more info

$20 ticket includes hors d'oeuvres buffet and program
See reservation details below!

They were tough, resourceful, and ready for anything! Storyteller Dolores Hydock brings to life stories of women of guts and gusto who settled the American West. They were pioneers, homesteaders, pistol-packin' card sharks, entertainers, and "upstairs girls," but they all played a part in putting the shine in the Golden West of the 1800s. Award-winning musician Bobby Horton adds a musical heartbeat with songs and tunes of the times.

The program is at the Homewood Public Library Auditorium, 1721 Oxmoor Road in Homewood, AL. Tickets are $20, and include an hors d'oeuvres buffet starting at 6:30 p.m. and the program from 7:30 - 9 p.m. Advance ticket reservations are required, and can be made from April 5th through May 10th by calling the library at 332-6625.

Dolores Hydock is an actress and storyteller, whose work has been featured at concerts, festivals, and special events throughout the United States. For information about her work, visit

Bobby Horton is a multi-instrumentalist, composer, and music historian. He has performed with Three On A String throughout the United States and Canada for more than 35 years. He has also produced and performed music scores for ten PBS films by Ken Burns including “The Civil War," and “Baseball.” His series of recordings of authentic period music has been acclaimed by historical organizations and publications throughout the United States and Europe. For information about his work, visit

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Actor Will Stutts performs Mark Twain-themed show at The Hoover Library Theatre

HOOVER, Ala. – The community is invited to a free performance by nationally renowned actor Will Stutts in his one-man show, “Mark Twain’s America.” The show will be at the Hoover Public Library on Friday, March 19, at 7 p.m. Seating is limited and available on a first come, first served basis.

“Master of the one man show”
--Philadelphia Inquirer

Stutts has performed one-man plays more than almost any other actor in the world over three decades. He has also appeared in Off-Broadway shows and acted in major American regional theaters. A native of Alabama, Stutt’s second cousin was the legendary actress, Tallulah Bankhead. He attended Yale University’s School of Drama.

The performance is in collaboration with the statewide campaign, The Big Read: Alabama Reads, which is designed to encourage library usage and literacy in the state by encouraging citizens to read the Mark Twain classic. Alabama Reads is an initiative inspired by the national reading campaign, The Big Read. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Big Read supports libraries across the country in reading a book of the NEA’s choice.

Contact: Amanda Bonner, 444-7830,
Or Gloria Repoleski, 444-7830,

Contact your local public library for more information, and visit

A Poetry Handbook

Pulitzer prize winning poet Mary Oliver held the Catherine Osgood Chair for Distinguished Teaching at Bennington College until 2001, and her A Poetry Handbook is so warmly written you feel as if you're sitting in one of her workshops.
A Poetry Handbook deals primarily with the mechanics of poetry, but is a surprisingly easy, as well as inspiring read. Oliver does not at all water down the use of poetic device, but brings out the proper uses and effectiveness of the devices in examples of excellent poetry. Oliver covers basic devices like alliteration, assonance, & onomatopoeia, but never just for theory's sake, and device is never divorced from example after example of effective use in great poetry by Millay, Dickinson, Frost, Blake, and many more.

Oliver stresses imitation as key to developing your own poetic voice. Just as an art student can be found copying a Van Gogh, so should the poetry student copy the rhythms and forms of their masters, and as styles and devices become "second nature", the poet's own original voice begins to emerge.

Oliver emphasizes the most important tool for the poetry student which is reading, reading, and reading good poetry.

A Poetry Handbook qualifies both as a wonderful guide for beginning poets, as well as an invaluable reference for writers and teachers.


Musician Bobby Horton performs at Alys Stephens Center to support statewide reading campaign

The Big Read: Alabama Reads The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain comes to the Alys Stephens Center this month. A Musical Afternoon with Bobby Horton and Mark Twain will be featured on Sunday, March 14, from 2 to 3:30 p.m.

Popular musician Bobby Horton will entertain audiences with music and stories of Twain’s years growing up along the Mississippi River. A collaborator with musical-comedy trio, Three On A String, Horton has also produced and performed music scores for ten Ken Burns films, including a documentary on Mark Twain.

The performance is designed to promote the statewide literacy campaign, The Big Read: Alabama Reads, which encourages citizens to read Mark Twain’s classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The book was chosen to correspond with the Alabama Department of Tourism’s Year of Small Towns and Twain’s 175th birthday. The statewide literacy campaign launched in February and will conclude in April.

Tickets are available now at the Alys Stephens Center by visit or phone at 205-975-2787, as well as online. Tickets for adults are $10, and tickets for children under 13 are $5.

The Big Read is an initiative of the National Endowment for the Arts in partnership with the Institute of Museum and Library Services and Arts Midwest.

Friday, March 5, 2010

Birmingham Museum of Art showcases artwork from local high school students, inspired by The Adventures of Tom Sawyer

  • Art exhibition: every Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays from 12-5 p.m. until May 23.
  • Lecture by Dr. Graham C. Boettcher: “Bullies, Scamps and Whippersnappers: Childhood Mischief in American Art,” Sunday, March 7 from 2-3 p.m.

The Birmingham Museum of Art will display art created by area high school students inspired by Mark Twain’s classic, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. The Big Read: Tom Sawyer Exhibition began Sunday, Feb. 28, and will be on display every Tuesday-Saturday from 10 a.m.-5 p.m. and Sundays from 12-5 p.m. until May 23. 

The artwork is based upon the idea that The Adventures of Tom Sawyer established America’s vision of childhood and reminded adults that children were not angels, but fellow human beings. The exhibit is in coordination with The Big Read: Alabama Reads The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, a statewide campaign designed to encourage library usage and increase literacy rates. 

In addition to the exhibition, the museum will be presenting “Bullies, Scamps and Whippersnappers: Childhood Mischief in American Art,” on Sunday, March 7, from 2-3 p.m. It will bring Mark Twain’s characters to life through images of mischievous children in 19th century American visual culture. 

Dr. Graham C. Boettcher, curator of American art at the Birmingham Museum of Art, will explore the subject of the “bad child” in American art and examine how such images played a role in cultivating and promoting new attitudes in child rearing. After the lecture, the museum invites the audience to join in a reception honoring students who participated in The Big Read: Tom Sawyer Exhibition. 

Alabama Reads is an initiative inspired by the national reading campaign, The Big Read. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, The Big Read supports communities across the country in reading one book.  


The Adventures of Tom Sawyer in a Read it Forward event!

Inspired by the book Pay it Forward by Catherine Ryan Hyde about an 8th grader who decides to change the world by passing on good deeds for others, the 40 public libraries of Jefferson County invite you to participate in the Read it Forward event on Tuesday, March 9. Participants are asked to read a copy of The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, pass it forward to a friend and log on to the JCLC website to comment on the book. Tracking registration can be found by clicking on Read it Forward at

The kick-off will be held at the Regions Harbert Plaza, Tuesday, 12:00 p.m. A limited number of free books will be given out. Books will also be dropped in coffee shops, laundry mats, malls, gyms, prisons, offices and the public libraries, so go to a location nearest you. Read it Forward is in collaboration with The Big Read: Alabama Reads The Adventures of Tom Sawyer by Mark Twain, a campaign to encourage library usage and literacy throughout the state of Alabama.

Contact: Pat Ryan, Jefferson County Library Cooperative, 205.226.3615, for more information.

Thursday, March 4, 2010

The Eternal Hunter by Cynthia Eden

Erin Jerome, the new Assistant District Attorney of Baton Rouge, has a past that she's desperately trying to conceal - and run from. But her stalker won't let her escape that easily. And his gifts - the murders - keep coming. Out of necessity, Erin hires sexy bounty hunter Jude Donovan to keep her safe and to find the thing who tracked her to Baton Rouge to terrorize and "claim" her as his mate. Though she's never seen him, she knows the stalker is a powerful Other. Donovan may be the only Other who can match his strength. Because Donovan's beast is rare. And the rarer the beast, the more powerful it is. Donovan will need every bit of his power to tackle this assignment, and all of his control to keep from falling for Erin. She's Other as well, but he can't quite figure out what...

This erotic supernatural thriller was riveting. The mystery was well crafted and the suspense kept me on the edge of my seat. It's been a long time since I was so wrapped up in a story that I couldn't stop reading, but this was one that I just couldn't put down until I was done. I recommend it to fans of J.D. Robb, Heather Graham, Laurell K. Hamilton and Christine Feehan.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

100 Picture Books Every Child Should Read

I read The New York Public Library's web site, which has a list of 100 Picture Books Everyone Should Know. I went to the site to see if I agreed with their selection, and I did.

There are a few titles I might delete so I could add a personal favorite, but it is a good list. Everyone should know these books, experience them read aloud, and the best place to find them is at your public library.

A few of my favorites that made the list:
Bark, George by Jules Peiffer
Don't Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
Martha Speaks by Susan Meddaugh
Miss Nelson is Missing! by Harry Allard

Online Alternatives to Microsoft Office

Did you know that there are some very good alternatives to Microsoft Office that do not need to be installed on your computer? And that offer online storage, so you don't even have to take a drive with you when you go out?

I am going to give a quick rundown on two of the better known ones. Google Docs and ZOHO.

Google Docs and Spreadsheets is an offering from Google that allows you to store and edit Microsoft Word compatible documents and Excel compatible spreadsheets online at Google. The good thing about Google Docs, is that if you already have an account with Google, you do not need to sign up again, as your current Google or Gmail login will work fine. The downside is that they only do documents and spreadsheets.

Zoho on the other hand does so much more. Word processor, spreadsheets, slideshow presentations, project management, planning software, invoicing, business reporting and the list goes on. All of which are free to use. They also offer free storage of your data. Signing up is easy, as you can either setup an account with Zoho or you can sign in using either your Yahoo account or your Google account. Personal use of the word processor, spreadsheets and presentations are free and include 1gb of storage. Additional storage is available for a fee. Most of the other applications are limited in some way, some, such as the project manager, only allow you to have one project for free. Others have different restrictions, such as you only get to do the first 5 invoices for free.

Main Website:


Are these a full replacement for Microsoft Office or another desktop oriented Office style application suite? Not totally, but they cover 90% of the functions of Microsoft Office and most people do not use the last 10% of functions anyway. They also offer the advantage of being available from any internet connected computer and your documents are stored "in the cloud", so you don't have to worry about carrying around discs or flash drives. Another significant advantage is cost. Let's face it, Microsoft Office is expensive, while these services are basically free for personal use.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Dolores Hydock presents "Dead Cats & Spunkwater: Superstitions & Strange Logic in the Writings of Mark Twain"

You don't want to miss this:

Dead Cats & Spunkwater
Wednesday, March 17th at 12:15 pm 

in the Large Auditorium at Homewood Public Library

Join local storyteller Dolores Hydock for her presentation of Dead Cats & Spunkwater: Superstitions & Strange Logic in the Writings of Mark Twain. 

Bring your lunch--we'll supply the drinks and dessert!
There is no charge for this program. 

The Big Read: Alabama Reads program (NEA)

Monday, March 1, 2010

Cherries in Winter: My Family's Recipe for Hope in Hard Times by Suzan Colon

When Suzan is laid off she starts economizing - which means, among other things, less eating out and more home cooking. Her mother's suggestion is to "look in Nana's recipe folder," buried somewhere in the basement. When she finally digs out the folder Suzan finds much more than recipes for sturdy comfort food. She also discovers a recipe for living a full life during lean times.

This memoir not only relates Suzan's life in 2008 when she is laid off from her dream job, but also the story of her grandmother's life during the Depression and World War II, and her mother's life as a single mother in the 1960's. The comparisons are hopeful, focusing not on what they lacked but on what they had and how they overcame the hard, lean times they faced. This is a wonderful, quick, timely read and I highly recommend it.