It’s International Cake Day!

July 20th is International Cake Day! Here’s a low-calorie way to celebrate the day.

The Particular Sadness of Lemon Cake by Aimee Bender
Being able to taste people’s emotions in food may at first be horrifying. But young, unassuming Rose Edelstein grows up learning to harness her gift as she becomes aware that there are secrets even her taste buds cannot discern.

 

 

Lots of Candles, Plenty of Cake by Anna Quindlin
In this irresistible memoir, the #1 “New York Times” bestselling author writes about her life and the lives of women today, looking back and ahead–and celebrating it all–as she considers marriage, girlfriends, our mothers, faith, loss, all that stuff in our closets, and more.

 

Wedding Cake Murder by Joanne Fluke
Hannah is marrying Ross Barton, her college crush, but not before she can solve the murder case of nasty celebrity chef Alain Duquesne found stabbed to death in the Lake Eden Inn’s walk-in cooler.

 

 

Eat Cake: A Novel by Jeanne Ray
Ruth draws on her talent for concocting delectable cakes and desserts when her family begins to disintegrate around her–her husband loses his job, her mother moves in, and her long-estranged father shows up at the door with no place to go.

 

 

Have Your Cake and Kill Him, Too by Nancy Martin
When the tycoon owner of a spectacularly tacky sports bar is killed, Nora Blackbird suspects a secretive politician, a shady former rock star doubling as a pastry chef, and a dangerous aristo-brat on the verge of stardom.

 

Smart from the Start

Let’s face it. Toddlers are adorable, but they’re a pain in the kneecaps when you have to keep getting up to chase them. Like an overcaffeinated octopus in a waterpark, they get into EVERYTHING. Once a baby starts to creep, your time to sit and relax evaporates. So what do you do to keep them busy long enough to check your email without having to hold them, yet manage to keep them from banging on the keyboard?

The worst thing you can do is plug them in. No child under the age of two should be parked in front of a TV or – and I see this every day in one store or another – a cell phone. Babies and toddlers need to DO. They need to use their bodies – crawling and climbing and running for gross motor, and touching, poking, pulling, pushing to develop not only fine-motor skills, but tactile, sensory integration, mental mapping, visual-motor integration, social expectations, and spatial memory – things they cannot develop from passive observation of a flat screen.

And that is not an easy task. Walk through Toys я Us or Walmart and almost every toy is merely a piece of plastic that beeps or flashes when you push a button. Maybe it sings a song or says the ABCs. Cute, but useless, really. Learning without context is gibberish – it has no meaning. If I suddenly switch to кириллица alphabet, and give you no explanation, ქართულად წერა, most of you will never clue in to my meaning*. These are no better than a cell phone or endless Dora. But the toys that ARE geared for actual learning are not usually found in stores but educational catalogs, and those are  often overpriced because they expect a school system to pay for them – like these awesome 32-pc clear plastic magnet builders, for $53. My favorite toddler toy is the Bilibo chair, an artfully designed piece of plastic that has endless imaginary uses: a chair, a stepstool, a rocker, a doll bed, a helmet, a bucket, a turtle shell, and it creates a vortex really well – but at $30, these two toys alone are close to $100 without shipping, making Christmas a stretch.

One of the memes making the rounds of the internet is one Dad’s solution, which is genius. Give the kid all those things he wants to explore, but in one safe location: a real-life busy board. Phones, switches, calculators, all those forbidden things, right in reach, and no one yelling. Finding myself the unexpected guardian and caretaker of an infant and starting all over again, I wanted one of those. As she started to crawl, I built one, too. Wheels for spinning, latches, jingly keys (and old dog license tags), a push-on closet light, a light switch that turns on an actual LED, a small baking sheet for magnets (we use photos of relevant family and friends), interchangeable carabiners with a pacifier, a fun keychain, a small measuring tape that retracts, a mailbox flag that goes up and down, a brush for sensory input, Velcro dots for sticking pictures to (and they feel fun), a light-up keychain, numbers for counting and matching clothespins, an old TV remote, and most importantly – the springy door stoppers that go BOING when you whap them. Fastened to the wood, they make a very satisfying sound. Another important item was a small grab bar fourteen inches off the ground. This allows the beginning stander and walker to hold on and pull, and feel secure while standing and playing. All this, on a 2  by 3 foot piece of plywood attached to the dining room wall. The only other thing we did was add three mirrored tiles at baby height on a different wall.

Now, raiding your garage or your family’s may land you half these items, but to buy them all from scratch is not cheap – easily in the $100 range, as the plywood section alone was $20, and all those $5 items add up. Of course, you can start off with just a few and add on. A toddler’s toy that can’t be thrown, lost, and actually occupies them over and over while letting them explore and learn? Priceless.

Today it’s building the busy wall; tomorrow the treehouse, then the race car, the playhouse, and the sandbox. Are you game? Then check out these books on simple building projects, and things to keep your toddler busy.

        

 

* by the way, the above is the word Cyrillic in Russian, and the words writing in Kartuli, which is Georgian Russian.

Keeping a Reading Log

Do you keep a reading log? People who read a lot inevitably find themselves at the point where they pick up a book and wonder, “Did I already read this?” I know I do! If I had to rely on my memory, I’d be in trouble.

What are the best ways to keep track of your reading? Some write down titles in a notebook, others use index cards. The trouble with those is that it can be cumbersome carrying a big notebook or box or cards around the library or bookstore. That’s why I prefer a digital log.

There are several good ones to try. The following are available as mobile apps as well as desktop sites. That way you can always have your reading log with you!

GoodReads [mobile apps available for Apple & Android devices]. This is the one everyone knows. A free “social cataloging” site where you can search people’s shelves, participate in book discussions, etc.

LibraryThing [mobile app available for Apple devices]. LibraryThing is a little more serious than GoodReads. The social aspect takes a back seat to your bookshelves. Free for up to 200 books, then there is a fee.

aNobii [mobile apps available for Apple & Android devices]. A community for readers allowing you to catalog your books, share reviews, and connect with other book lovers.

Libib [mobile apps available for Apple & Android devices].  A free cloud service that will let you store up to 100,000 titles for free. If you have more than 100,000 books in your home library, better get the paid version.

You can also keep an automatic log of the books you check out from Cheshire Library. Sign in to your account from our website, then select Reading History, then “Save Reading History” from the options in your account. You can sort the list by title or author, even export or print it out.

Brief Histories of Everyday Objects

Brief Histories of Everyday Objects by Andy Warner is a hilarious non-fiction graphic novel that describes how many of the items that we take for granted have interesting, unusual, and sometimes downright silly origins. The author guessed when it came down to deciding what people looked like and what they said (unless they were quoted), but the facts are all true! Once you read this book, you will never look at the things you use on a daily basis in the same way again. The next time you go to a party, you’ll be able to tell people about the story behind the pull tabs on their soda cans.

Did you know that the woman who invented flat-bottomed paper grocery bags had to fight for her right to the patent when a man tried to steal it? She became the first woman to win a patent lawsuit.

Did you know that Earl Tupper invented Tupperware, but Brownie Wise made it sell? In fact, she was so successful that she became the face of the product. This greatly angered Mr. Tupper, so he fired her, sold the company, and purchased an island where he lived for the rest of his life.

Did you know that postcards were the results of an elaborate prank?

Did you know that roller skates were first invented in 1760 when John Joseph Merlin, a prolific inventor, built a pair so he could show off at a masquerade?

Genre: Non-fiction graphic novel

Setting: All over the world, throughout different times

Is this good for a book club? Only if the book club is interested in discussing previously unknown facts regarding everyday things.

How long is the book? 206 pages

Objectionable content? Barely. There are some references to bathing, bras, excrement, and violence, but there is nothing explicit. There are some illustrations of women wearing sports bras.

Can children read this? The humor and information are enjoyable for all ages, as long as they have a good vocabulary.

Who would like this? Anyone with a good sense of humor and a good appreciation for learning about how everyday objects were created.

Rating: Five stars

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My BEA Wishlist – New Books I Can’t Wait to Read

I recently attended Book Expo America, an annual conference for booksellers, librarians, and others in the book industry. Held in New York City at a giant convention center, it’s a book lovers’ wonderland of authors and publishers showcasing their upcoming books. For someone like myself who rates authors right up their with rock stars, it’s an intense couple of days of fangirling and serious listmaking of new books that I simple MUST READ! Some of these just came out recently, some are due out later in the year, all look awesome. Let me spread the wealth by sharing a few so you can put them on your list:

Children’s Books:

YA Books:

Adult Books:

Many of these books are listed in our catalog and can be placed on hold right away, some of them are too new to be in our catalog yet, but will be soon!