Covid questions and answers

On April 28, we partnered with our local health organization, Chesprocott, to host an educational conversation about the Covid-19 vaccine. Dr. Henry Anyimadu and Dr. Sarah Banks from Hartford Healthcare volunteered their time to give us the latest information and answer any questions we had. We furiously took notes for those who weren’t able to make it to the program. Here’s what we learned:

What’s the current positivity rate for Connecticut?
As of late April, our positivity rate was 8.8-9% positivity rate, but it’s difficult to get a good number on community activity. The state calculates positivity by looking at PCR tests done in labs, but it doesn’t count home tests. The rate could be much higher.

How many people in Connecticut are vaccinated?
2.7 million people are vaxxed, which translates to 75% of the population.

What are the benefits of the covid vaccine?
The risk of death from covid is three to four times higher in unvaccinated people, and the risk of hospitalization is four times higher. The vaccine doesn’t protect you 100% from severe illness, hospitalization, or death, but it dramatically reduces your risk.

What about the fourth dose?
Currently a fourth dose is recommended for immunocompromised people and those at high risk.

What treatments are available for covid?
Antivirals such as Paxlovid and monoclonal antibodies are effective at fighting covid. They must be prescribed early in the illness, within five days of the onset of symptoms. Typically, they are given to folks 65 years old and older and to people with other risks. Your primary care practitioner can figure out if you are eligible for antiviral treatment. It’s very important that antivirals are prescribed early, as they are lot as effective in later stages of the illness.

Why are cases spiking?
There are a number of reasons. Mask mandates have gone away and people are just plain tired of wearing them. People are going out and traveling more often. We don’t have herd immunity yet. And most people were vaccinated six months ago and their antibodies are starting to wane. The numbers of cases are expected to continue rising until the middle or end of May. The good news, though, is that our high level of vaccination does mean that most of us have some level of immunity against covid.

What’s going on with the vaccine for kids younger than five years old?
Pfizer retracted their application for emergency use when their data showed it wasn’t as effective against omicron. Now that they have better omicron data, they are closer to submitting an application. Moderna just submitted an application on Thursday, April 28 for use in children under five. We are still waiting for a lot of data, but young children should have an approved vaccine soon. In the meantime, Remdesivir was just approved for treatment of severe illness in younger children. It’s also true that children generally do better than adults with viral illnesses, so they are not getting as sick as adults when it comes to covid. We don’t know yet if the covid vaccine will join the group of required childhood vaccine.

What’s in the future for the vaccine?
Companies are trying to come up with variant-specific vaccines. It’s easy to manipulate mRNA vaccines like those offered by Pfizer and Moderna, so we are expecting to see mRNA vaccines become responsive to evolving variants.

 

If you’re looking for more information on covid-19 or other health topics, we recommend the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Connecticut Department of Public Health, or the local Chesprocott Health District. Why, you ask, are library professionals recommending websites instead of books? Well, even when we don’t have global supply chain issues slowing down every aspect of our lives, websites can be updated way faster than books – especially with the covid pandemic, when information changes daily. Websites are our first choice when it comes to timely health topics!

 

Re-Covery

They tell you not to judge a book by its cover, but a book cover can make or break a book’s success. While browsing a used bookstore decades ago, I fell utterly in love with the covers of a book series I’d never heard of before – DragonLance, by Margaret Weiss and Tracy Hickman. I had to buy them, even just to look at the covers. The cover paintings were done by Larry Elmore, one of the premiere fantasy artists of the time. I’d never gotten too much into sword and sorcery books, but I devoured these. The second trilogy was still being written, and it was agony waiting for the next book in the series. I love those books to this day; they influence my own writing and imagination, and all because I had to have that book cover.

And nothing, of course, is more infuriating than when they change that book cover you know and love, and not usually for the better. Have you read this book? The title looks familiar, but not the cover … and then you start to read and find out yes, you’ve read it before, they changed the cover on you. Why?

There are many reasons a book gets a new cover. It may have changed publishers. It may be the paperback edition of a hardcover, or a school edition, or an audiobook – and audiobook companies, who often have a middleman, don’t always get permission to use the same cover. It may be a new printing – if a book contract agrees to a run of 5,000 copies, and 6,000 are ordered, the book may get a new distribution run, resulting in a new cover. The book may have been sold to a new publisher – such as Bantam Books being sold to Random House. Random House will then reissue a strong seller with their own brand of cover. If a movie or TV series is made from the book, a new edition will be released with a cover that reflects the new media, as happened with Lord of the Rings and Ready Player One. Sometimes the publisher gets flack because the cover has absolutely nothing to do with the story, and they rework it.

Sometimes, it’s hard to keep up, and sometimes, the cover art makes you scratch your head. Take, for example, the book Alas, Babylon, a 1959 novel of nuclear apocalypse that, if it’s not still my absolute favorite novel, it’s in my top three. First below is the cover I read it with – sensible, with the red/orange color of disaster and warning and nuclear fire, and people walking out of it. Compare that with the many covers it’s had since 1959:

The current one, number two above, a fourth edition by Harper Collins, to me, is puzzling – small font, an empty boardwalk, and a hand? This is not a cover that invites me to read, tells me a single thing about the story. Perhaps, after so many editions, they run out of ideas. Another fact: it’s very rare an author gets to choose the cover of their book – or have any input at all. You may submit your perfect dream cover along with your manuscript, and the publisher will toss it and give the work to one of their contracted artists. This is how you wind up with a blonde, blue-eyed heroine on the cover when the main character has short black hair.

Book covers also reflect what seems to be popular – a few years ago it seemed every book had a girl rolling around on the ground. If one sells, then everyone wants to copy that success. The bottom half of a face? Those are popular. Romance novel covers were almost interchangeable – how many were based on the model Fabio?  This year, pink is supposed to be “in” for covers again, as well as layered graphics and bold lettering.

Don’t like a book cover? Let the publisher know! Editors read the books, not the artists, or the publisher. If they’ve missed the mark, tell them. Authors depend on good covers to grab readers; if the cover isn’t intriguing, it’s wasting money.

What book covers have hit the mark, reached out and grabbed you so you had to read it?

What types of covers make you walk away?

Has a book cover ever made you angry?

Let us know!

Teen Book Reviews: Anna and the French Kiss & Twelve Steps to Normal

Teens: did you know that you can earn community service credit for writing a book review and submitting it to us? Today, we’ll hear from two teens who did just that. Find out more about how to earn community service hours from home at cheshirelibrary.org/teens/.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins. Reviewed by Lily S.

Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins is a Young Adult contemporary romance. It takes place in a prestigious boarding school in Paris, France called the School of America in Paris, A.K.A. SOAP. Anna, the main character, was forced into entering the school by her father, although she’d rather stay in Atlanta with her friends, and soon-to-be boyfriend, Toph. When she arrives, she feels a bit homesick, but soon meets a great friend group. In her friend group are St. Clair, Meredith, Josh, and Ramishi. St. Clair catches Anna’s attention, a result of his great personality, looks, and charming English accent, but Anna has to suppress her feelings for St.Clair because he has a girlfriend. On top of this, Anna struggles to actually speak French. St.Clair frequently asked to show Anna Paris, and Anna finally relented. They begin to get along and get closer and closer.


To start, Stephanie Perkins has a very great way of writing. Her writing was made for a very fun read, all while really toying with my emotions. This story was not just a simple frivolous romance novel, but it also dealt with serious issues that really make you feel for the characters and you find your subconsciously feeling so many emotions for them. Perkins’ writing made me feel so connected to each character. She also nailed it when it came to describing Paris. I’ve always wanted to go to Paris, and this book made me feel like I was there. It was honestly a form of escapism for me. I felt as though I was there with Anna and St. Clair, walking around Paris, seeing vintage movies, and eating delicious food. I fell in love with Paris and it is now my dream place to visit. I especially loved the characters in this book because they each had such powerful personalities and said words that really stuck with me. Because they were so real and had real problems, I felt like I could really relate to them which contributed to the connection I felt with each character. I especially felt this with St.Clair because he was so genuine and he had a fun personality, but also said heart-warming words that had me feeling so many emotions. I felt so bad for him while he experienced family- problems. I found myself worrying about him in a really deep way. I also really loved Anna. She was so relatable and honest. Anna was such a great person and friend, so much that she makes decisions while taking into consideration how her friends will benefit. She was overall such a good narrator. It was so cute how she loved movies and reviewed them.

The next aspect of this book that really stuck with me was Anna and St.Clair’s relationship. It was so pure and innocent and then quickly escalated to a very romantic relationship. I loved how St.Clair convinced Anna to leave her room and show her Paris. I absolutely loved how they helped each other feel better and overall made each other better people. It was so sweet how they were best friends and in love. There was a lot of slow burn in the book, which was nice, but it got slightly annoying that they kept hiding their feelings. But when they admitted the love, it was so nice because of all the tension that was previously there. I think Perkins wrote their story so well and really included the very real long hill of falling in love. The other characters, Ramishi, Josh, and Merideth were written equally as well. I didn’t really like Ramishi though. I loved Josh and how he was a very talented artist. I hated Meredith at first, and how she “claimed” St. Clair, but I ended up feeling bad for her.


Overall, the story was very beautiful. Reading about Anna and St.Clair’s friendship and how it escalates made for such a great read. Anna and The French Kiss is definitely one of the best contemporary romance books I read. It had such a beautiful setting, excellent storyline, and simply had everything and more of what the perfect romance book should have.

5 stars.

Twelve Steps to Normal by Farrah Penn. Reviewed by Sarah F.

The main character Kira, had her whole life ripped away because of her dad’s alcoholism. She had to move away from her boyfriend, friends, her home, and basically everything she knew. After almost a year of being away, her father is sober and she’s moving back home. Kira is determined to fix her lost friendships and forgive her father or in her case, go back to her “normal life”. However, that is all ruined when Kira returns home to find three recoveries that her father brought home from rehab. Now another thing on her list is to get rid of them.

Without spoiling I would like to say most characters are very likable except Whitney and Jay, what they did is unforgivable in my opinion and how come Whitney is avoiding Kira and not the other way around? Some things Kira did were extremely confusing to me at least since I didn’t grow up in a household of recovery from substance abuse but, knowing her father’s past I don’t understand why she did what she did (page 342 if you want to know what I’m talking about). Kira can also be a huge brat sometimes but she isn’t too bad. I understand her temper for things and I think she blames a lot of her own issues on her father. I did enjoy the small romance between Kira and Alex I feel it lightened the mood of Kira in the book, I think Alex also really helped her accept and change the way she sees things. Nobody is perfect and I think the author purposely made Kira this way not to show that she’s a brat but, to show that nobody is perfect and feeling that way (how Kira feels) is normal.

The story was pretty good however the ending felt extremely rushed. Everything happened too quickly, there were like 5 things happening at once. Overall this book is decent, I wouldn’t say it’s the best thing I’ve ever read but it’s pretty good. I would recommend this book to those with similar experiences or as a light read(I am a relatively quick reader though).

4 stars.

What’s Happening at Cheshire Library in May

May we interest you in a program or two this month? Tons of programs are on the May calendar for kids, teens, and adults, here’s a sampling:

The Art of the Scandal: Thefts, Vandals and Forgeries

Monday, May 2, 2022, 7:00 – 8:15pm

This ONLINE program explores some of the most brazen criminal acts in the art world and features works by artists including da Vinci, Michelangelo and Rembrandt. Learn more about works that were targeted and how they were recovered and restored for our enjoyment today. Presented by Jane Oneail of Culturally Curious. Registration is required.

Bitcoin and Other Market Trends

Tuesday, May 3, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Have you been scratching your head about Bitcoin? What is it? How does it work? Join us for an interesting evening and we will explore cryptocurrency and other trends in the marketplace. Bring your questions! Presented by Tim Baker, CFA, Founder & CEO of Metric Financial, LLC. Registration is required.

Food Explorers – cooking for kids

Wednesdays from 4:00-5:00pm

Kids will create their own delicious after school snack each week, while learning all about food and nutrition with a Registered Dietitian. Recipes may contain gluten, dairy, and/or eggs. For children in grades 2-6. Please register for each event in the series.

Open Art Studio

Fridays from 1-3pm, May 6, 13, 20, 27

Bring your works in progress and supplies to this weekly drop-in art program. This is an opportunity to create in a collaborative environment with other artists. No formal instruction will be provided, but informal critiquing for those who want it is encouraged. Table covers will be provided. There is a sink in the room for basic cleanup (please do not bring turpentine). Registration is required for each session.

Cat Tales Writers Group

Thursday, May 12, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Join us for a monthly open writing group that can help answer your questions on writing, editing, grammar, and publishing. Read a selection of your work to the group for general constructive feedback, or discuss a book you’ve read that might help someone else. Registration is required.

West Main Music Academy’s Spring Showcase

Saturday, May 14, 2022, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Join us to enjoy performances from the West Main Music Academy’s talented and hard-working students, on such instruments as guitar, piano, violin, viola, ukulele, drums, vocal performances, and more. These music students and their teachers have put a tremendous amount of dedication, practice, and passion into honing their skills. Please join us to enjoy their performances and celebrate their accomplishments!

Creating a Compelling College Application

Tuesday, May 17, 2022, 7:00 – 8:00pm

This virtual program will cover the college application process including current admissions trends, writing the personal statement essay and supplemental essays, teacher recommendations and how students can position themselves to increase their chances for admission. Registration is required for this online program, participants will receive a Zoom meeting link 1 hour prior to the event start time.

Loft Knitters

Wednesday, May 18, 2022, 6:30 – 8:00pm

Our monthly knitting group. Come socialize, learn, share your techniques with other knitters.  All levels of adult knitters’ welcome, please bring your own yarn and knitting needles. Registration is required.

Teen Advisory Board (Grades 6-12)

Thursday, May 19, 2022, 4:00 – 4:45pm

Teens – share your ideas and thoughts about upcoming programs, materials, and general improvements to help make the Cheshire Library an even better place for you and your friends. You will earn 1 hour of community service credit for attending. If you want to make a difference in the library and your community, then TAB is for you! Registration is required for this in-person program – click here to see the latest mask policies in town buildings.

Housing Choice for the Whole Life Cycle: Opportunities and Benefits

Thursday, May 19, 2022, 7:00 – 8:00pm

Come listen to experts Dwight Merriam (Fellow and Past President of the American Instituted of Certified Planners) and Sean Ghio (Policy Director of Partnership for Strong Communities) and join in this discussion of housing and one potential solution to our housing shortage and cost crisis – accessory dwelling units (ADUs.) Registration is required.

Saturday Storytime

Saturday, May 21, 2022, 9:30 – 10:00am

An interactive storytime for children to learn through talking, singing, reading, writing,and playing!

Registration is required: Cheshire Residents: Cheshire residents will be allowed to register starting on May 7. Non-Residents: Non-residents may register starting on May 14.

Medicinal Herb Gardening

Monday, May 23, 2022, 6:30 – 7:30pm

Imagine growing your own medicinal herbs for your own herbal remedies! “. . . but where do I begin? How do I even start growing a medicinal herb garden?” This ONLINE program is presented by the mother/daughter team “The Grounded Goodwife, who will teach you 11 of their favorites that are all easy to grow, do well in virtually every climate, and have a variety of medicinal benefits. Registration is required.

FEA Storytime

Tuesday, May 24, 2022, 3:45 – 4:45pm

Join the Future Educators of America from Dodd Middle School for a special read aloud and crafts in commemoration of Memorial Day. The Future Educators of America is an organization that offers opportunities for young teens in exploring careers in education. For children in grades K-2. Please register to make sure we have enough supplies for everyone.

MAY BOOK CLUBS:

Many Stories Book Club: The Leavers

Monday, May 16, 7:00 – 8:00pm

Murder by the Book Mystery Book Club: The Stranger Diaries

Thursday, May 19, 2:00 – 3:30pm

Art League Book Club: Exploring Auguste Rodin and Camille Claudel

Friday, May 20, 11:00am – 12:30pm

Natural Selections Book Club: Finding the Mother Tree

Saturday, May 21, 2:30 – 3:30pm

Books Over Coffee: America for Beginners

Wednesday, May 25, 12:00 – 1:30pm

The Scandalous World of Art

Edvard Munch, The Scream

 On May 1, CPL is hosting a program on The Art of the Scandal: Thefts, Vandals and Forgeries.

 Well, that’s nice, you say, but art doesn’t interest me.

Are you sure about that? Everyone loves a good mystery, and high art is probably the most mystery-filled subject there is. Anything with that much crime circling around it means there is a bank vault of money involved. 

There are many sides to fine art – the talent side (no one disputes a da Vinci, but you can start a fight over Pollock), the artsy side (the use of light and dark in paintings creates mood and movement that symbolizes man’s desire to control the universe: discuss), the history side (Phoenician art of the 18th century BCE shows a developing amalgamation of influence of the entire Mesopotamian region), and the rarity side (there are more Roman statues than there are da Vincis). We can discuss the purpose of art, of man’s desire to create, of the abstractness of art that leads back to man as the only animal who creates art for art’s sake, despite our knowledge that apes will draw and paint for pleasure, and that elephants, dolphins, and rabbits can be taught to paint as a behavior. It often boils down to one thing: 

Money.

The price of fine art (paintings and drawings, as opposed to jewelry work, sculpture, enamelwork, etc) has a few things going for it. First is rarity – many of the greatest paintings are hundreds of years old. They are one-of-a-kinds, and not a lot of them have survived. There are only 15 authenticated da Vincis known – as opposed to 400 Rembrandts. A second consideration is fragility – light, moisture, and age can cause ancient paintings to crack, flake, and fade (Van Gogh liked using red lake pigments, which fade rather quickly). The Mona Lisa is not painted on canvas, but an old board. A third thing is authenticity, and here is where the art world goes to pieces.

Salvator Mundi, by da Vinci

Because of the money involved in fine art (Da Vinci’s Salvator Mundi sold for $450 million dollars), as in too many movies, everyone is out to steal or fake originals. Forgery rings have been around for hundreds of years – one of the biggest was by Han Van Meegeren in the late 1930’s, a talented artist who sold more than $30 million in fake Vermeers to the Nazis. In 2004,  Xiao Yuan, the Chief Librarian at an academy of fine arts, stole more than 140 paintings in his care by carefully replacing them with his own copies – only to find some of HIS copies stolen and replaced with less-skilled replacements. Forgeries (actually, they’re called counterfeits, since legally only documents can be forged) are so rampant (about 50% of the market), Sotheby’s bought their own forensics lab to weed out fakes

Modern fakes are often easy enough to spot – today’s paints and canvases and even brushes aren’t the same as the 1500’s, and simple chemistry will find them. But what if the work copied is of modern origin – say, a Picasso, or a Warhol? Because of the modernity of materials, it is incredibly difficult to prove authenticity. 

Conan the Barbarian, by Boris Vallejo

Questions still arise, though, as to what constitutes an authentic work of art. That 450 million dollar da Vinci has had so much restoration that there is more paint by restorers than by da Vinci, so is it still genuine? If a student of an artist (Rembrandt, Renoir, Reubens, etc) is so talented that a professional art historian/critic cannot tell the difference, how are you defining fine art and value? Where does the value lie – in the skill, the history, the age, or the subject matter? Why do we so value Edvard Munch’s The Scream (of which four originals exist, two of which were stolen), yet not value Boris Vallejo?

Art, by its very interpretational nature, is a scandal.

Art of the Scandal is an on-line program sure to peak your interest. You can sign up for the attendance link here.