Get Informed, Take Action: The CT State Budget

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It’s no secret that our country has seen a surge in political awareness and activism after the last election, and we’ve been getting reference questions about how to get more involved on national, state, and local issues. Some of the biggest rumblings lately deal with Governor Dannel Malloy’s state budget for the 2018-2019 fiscal year, which is under review right now and contains millions of dollars’ worth of cuts for many municipalities, local and state agencies, and state-funded programs. If you’d like to get informed and take some action on the proposed budget, read on!

GET INFORMED

If you only have time to read one article on the new budget, though, the CT Mirror wrote an informative overview last month that hits some of the big parts of the budget.

TAKE ACTION

You can also send letters to the editors of local newspapers like the New Haven Register, Cheshire Herald, Hartford Courant, and Meriden’s Record-Journal.

Tom Colicchio – Chef Extraordinaire, TV Host, and Author

tomTom Colicchio is a well-known American chef.  He co-founded the Gramercy Tavern in New York City and was the executive chef.  He also is the founder of Crafted Hospitality, which includes Craft, Riverpark, Fowler & Wells, Craftbar, Craftsteak, Beachcraft and Heritage Steak restaurants.  He is the recipient of five James Beard Foundation Awards.   I was introduced to him via the Emmy award winning television show on Bravo, Top Chef.  That I would be watching a cooking show is very funny because I don’t, and I can’t, cook.  I can read a recipe, but executing it becomes an inedible, unsightly disaster no matter how hard I try.  You would think I’d get frustrated or bored watching a cooking show, but Mr. Colicchio is the perfect host for this fast-paced competition among a varied collection of American chefs.

Mr. Colicchio has come out with a new cookbook that will appeal to the hearts of sandwich lovers.  It is listed below, along with a few other cookbooks he has had his hand in.  Also listed, a powerful documentary film he produced on hunger in America.

wichwichcraft: craft a sandwich into a meal…and a meal into a sandwich –  Shares the secrets behind the ‘wichcraft restaurant group’s spin on the sandwich, with recipes for their most popular offerings,essays on stocking the sandwich pantry, and an interview with the owners.

 

eatEat Like A Man: the only cookbook a man will ever need – “So long, dude food. Most men who love food have a roasting pan and a decent spice rack, but they’re still looking for that one book that has all the real food they love to eat and wish they could cook. Esquire food editor Ryan D’Agostino is here to change that with his unapologetically male-centric Eat Like a Man–a choice collection of 75 recipes and food writing for men who like to eat, cook, and read about great food. It’s the Esquire man’s repertoire of perfect recipes, essays on how food figures into the moments that define a man’s life, and all the useful kitchen points every man needs to know. Satisfying, sexy, definitive, and doable, these are recipes for slow Sunday mornings with family, end-of-the-week wind-down dinners with a lady, Saturday night show-off entertaining, poker night feeds, and game-day couch camping. Or, for when a man is just hungry”–

smartSmart Chefs Stay Slim: lessons in eating and living from America’s best chefs – Celebrity chefs including Michelle Bernstein, Eric Ripert, Tom Colicchio, and Giada de Laurentis provide answers to the often-asked question of how they stay so thin and fit when their occupation clearly is based on their love of indulging in food.

 

tecTen: All the foods we love and ten perfect recipes for each – Identifying thirty-two of our favorite foods, from roast chicken and burgers to mashed potatoes and cakes, a innovative cookbook presents ten variations of each food in a collection of more than three hundred recipes, many contributed by such leading chef s as Jean-Georges Vongerichten, Tom Colicchio, Anthony Bourdain, and others.

placeA Place At The Table (DVD) – 50 Million Americans—1 in 4 children—don’t know where their next meal is coming from. A Place at the Table tells the powerful stories of three such Americans, who maintain their dignity even as they struggle just to eat. In a riveting journey that will change forever how you think about the hungry, A Place at the Table shows how the issue could be solved forever, once the American public decides—as they have in the past—that ending hunger is in the best interests of us all.

What is the Next Book in This Series?

whats-nextIt is extremely frustrating to read a book only to discover it is part of a series, and there is no clear list of reading order. While some series are loosely tied together and allow for skipping around and reading out of order, others can only be fully enjoyed when read in order. To help ease your frustration, I am going to share the tools that I use to help determine the correct reading order. There are several routes to find the answer to this question, some are simple and easy, others require a little work.

The first way to find the answer of reading order is to find the author’s website. Many internet savvy authors, or their publishers, maintain websites with series listings in order and, in the case of multiple series, the suggested reading order for everything. Not all authors do this, but some have very helpful lists to help out their readers. Many include printable lists so you can easily keep track of titles you have read and what you should read next.

Some examples of authors that offer comprehensive lists or tools on their websites to find the reading order include Nora Roberts, Gail Carriger, James Patterson, Janet Evanovich, Charlaine Harris, and many more. I highly suggest checking with the author’s website first before branching out and trying other avenues, because who better to explain the best reading order than the person that wrote them?

goodrdsIf the author fails you, do not lose heart! My second choice for series order, and further reading suggestions, is Goodreads. If you search for a book title, Goodreads will give you a wonderful amount of information. On the book’s page you can follow links to the author page or a list of book in that series (both published and sometimes books that have not been released yet) in order. The bonus is you get suggestions for books that might appeal to you because some authors list what they are currently reading or their own recommendations. For instance, on the author page for one of my current favorites, Maria V. Snyder, you can see her books listed by series, in order, and what she is currently reading.

There are also a few websites dedicated to helping readers find the next book in a series, or the complete reading order of any given series.  One website that I often use is well titled as: Book Series in Order which you can search by author or character name.  Order of Books is a second site that can help you find the reading order of different authors and series. This site allows you to search by author or main character. If you are looking specifically for children’s series check out Juvenile Series and Sequels, and if you need young adult series listings I would suggest using Series and Sequels. whats-next-in-series1

If  you still are not sure about the series order of the books you are reading or want to read, please stop in and visit our Welcome Desk or give  the library a call. We are here to help.

Why We Need Diverse Books

screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-5-07-57-pmIn your wanderings around the internet, you may have seen references to “diverse books”, maybe even noticed the hashtag #weneeddiversebooks. What, exactly, is this all about, and how did it become a “thing”? In a Twitter exchange in 2014, YA authors Ellen Oh and Malinda Lo discussed their frustration with the lack of diversity in children’s and YA literature. Several other authors, bloggers, and others in the book industry joined the conversation, and a movement was born.
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 This is not a new subject. In Nobel Prize- and Pulitzer Prize-winning American jacket-aspxnovelist Toni Morrisson’s debut novel, The Bluest Eye (published in 1970), the character of Pecola Breedlove prays every day that she will wake up with white skin, blue eyes, and blonde hair, despite the fact that she is an African-American girl. She reads “Dick and Jane” books, plays with white-skinned dolls, etc., and gets the subliminal message that white is normal, better, best. Percola didn’t see herself reflected in the books she read, which lead to her assumption that she was less-than.
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Why has diversity in literature (in particular, children’s lit) become such a cause? It has long been established that the world of fiction is a lot whiter than the real 20141021193246-wndb_infographic_squareworld. Today, so many kids and teens learn about the world through the media they consume: books, movies, magazines, etc.  As our country gets more and more diverse, shouldn’t our reading material follow suit? And it’s not only children of color,  physical challenges, or atypical family situations that benefit from diverse books. It’s a well know fact that fiction reading increases empathy in the reader, and reading about primarily white characters and culture can contribute to “otherness” and preconceived notions that turn into prejudice. How much better to foster empathy and understanding early in all children with diverse books.
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Where to begin? Here are some books recommended by WNDB to get you started. Let’s make 2017 a diverse reading year!
Young  Adult Books:
screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-46-46-pmX : a Novel by Ilyasah Shabazz with Kekla Magoon
The Weight of Feathers by Anna-Marie McLemore
Killer of Enemies by Joseph Bruchac
Shadowshaper by Daniel José Older
Middle Grade Books:
screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-55-56-pmBlackbird Fly by Erin Entrada Kelly
The Red Pencil  by Andrea Davis Pinkney
The Way Home Looks Now by Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Picture Books:
screen-shot-2017-02-06-at-4-56-52-pmBeautiful Moon by Tonya Bolden
The Twins’ Blanket by Hyewon Yum
Tutus Aren’t My Style by by Linda Skeers
Red: a Crayon’s Story by Michael Hall

Chocolat by Joanne Harris

chocolatIn Chocolat, Vianne is trying to break  away from her mother’s nomadic way of life. Determined to make a new life for herself and her daughter Anouk, Vianne settles down in a French village and opens a chocolate shop. However, the villagers and priest are less than thrilled with her presence since she has very different ideas on life. She does not attend the local church, she was never married to Anouk’s father, and she seems set on bringing about changes that will affect everyone’s lives.

This book was well-written and very enjoyable. It mostly takes place from  Vianne’s point of view as she becomes a driving force in the changes that come to the town. The writing style keeps you involved from the beginning, and the characters are fully developed. As you progress through the book, you delve into the pasts of the characters, learning how they came to the positions they currently occupy. You learn why Vianne wants to settle down, why Jacqueline is trapped in her marriage, and why the priest is against everything Vianne stands for. In addition, the protagonist is an intelligent woman who is very independent and strong-willed, which is part of what makes this book so interesting. Note: You will crave chocolate while reading this.

Genre: Fiction, but it is not truly a romance, despite the cover.

Setting: Twentieth-century French village called Lansquenet.

Is this good for a book club? Yes. It is a good length and allows for plenty of discussion, including character analysis, recurring themes, and what could potentially happen to everyone after the book ends.

Is there a movie version? Yes, but it is different enough from the book that it would provide a good comparison. Personally, I did not enjoy the movie because I felt that it took the characters and overall tone in directions that the author did not intend. However, you should watch it to see what you think. Click here for the movie version.

Themes: Including, but not limited to, letting go and moving on with life, overcoming feelings of powerlessness, retaining one’s morality, religion, and friction between people of different classes and walks of life.

Objectionable content? Very little, and nothing explicit. Some people may not like that the antagonist is a Catholic priest. However, despite being the antagonist, he is not a villainous character.

Can children read this? Teens would enjoy this.

 Who would like this? Anyone who enjoys reading fiction that involves good character development and a non-traditional protagonist.

Rating: Five stars. I highly recommend Chocolat.