A New Book by John Green (finally!)

New York Times bestselling author,  vlogger, movie producer,  do-gooder. A man with many hats, but a pretty simple name: John Green.

If you read YA fiction, you already know this guy.  Looking for Alaska, An Abundance of Katherines, Paper Towns,  and the meteorically popular The Fault in Our Stars – it can be hard to find these books on our shelves because they’re constantly checked out. And he hasn’t written a new book in five long years. Finally it was announced that a new John Green book, Turtles All the Way Down, would be released October 10,  2017.

Why the long drought since 2012’s The Fault in Our Stars? One reason is he was involved in the film adaptations of both TFIOS and his earlier book, Paper Towns. He’s also involved in multiple online projects. He’s the frontman for the Mental Floss  and  Crash Course YouTube channels, co-creator of VidCon, (an annual conference for the online video community in that takes place every year in the Los Angeles area), and heads the Project for Awesome, a project in which YouTubers dedicate two days to make videos promoting charities or non-profit organizations.

Not to mention the online project that started it all, a little something called Vlogbrothers. John and his brother, Hank, started the project as an experiment on YouTube back in 2007 with an experiment to only talk to each other via video blogs for a year. This lasted from January 1 until December 31, but they’ve continued posting to the vlog twice every week, and have over 3 MILLION subscribers.  The Vlogbrothers channel was the first in what would become a larger network of YouTube channels created and developed by the Green brothers, creating a flourishing community of fans known individually as Nerdfighters, with the motto DFTBA (Don’t Forget To Be Awesome).

Add in that he has two young childen, and one can see that it might have been challenging to find the time to write recently. About his new book, he’s said: “This is my first attempt to write directly about the kind of mental illness that has affected my life since childhood, so while the story is fictional, it is also quite personal”. Green has talked about dealing with OCD and anxiety in his own life, and in the new book , 16-year-old Aza Holmes grapples with mental illness as she investigates the disappearance of a billionaire.

Place your holds now – and DFTBA!

 

Resources:

http://www.johngreenbooks.com

https://www.youtube.com/user/vlogbrothers

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/John_Green_(author)

http://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2014/06/09/the-teen-whisperer

It’s National Keep Kids Creative Week

September 24st – 30th, 2017 is “National Keep Kids Creative Week”. The holiday was started in 2003 by author/illustrator Bruce Van Patter to restore children’s innate ability to “think outside the box, not “in front of the box.”

 

During National Keep Kids Creative Week, parents are encouraged to eliminate or at least cut down on kids’ screen time, and help them brainstorm creative activities instead. Write a story or create a recipe together. Challenge them to come up with their own superhero, cool invention, or fun game to play.  Bruce Van Patter’s website has some great ideas to get the ball rolling.

Cheshire Library has a lot of resources to encourage creativity, too, as you might imagine. Let’s get those creative juices flowing!

Art Lab for Kids : 52 creative adventures in drawing, painting, printmaking, paper, and mixed media by Susan Schwake

The Artful Parent : simple ways to fill your family’s life with art and creativity by Jean Van’t Hul

You Can Write a Story! : a story-writing recipe for kids / by Lisa Bullard

150+ Screen-free Activities for Kids : the very best and easiest playtime activities from FunAtHomeWithKids.com! by Asia Citro, MEd

Tinkerlab : a hands-on guide for little inventors by Rachelle Doorley

365 Things to do with LEGO Bricks by written by Simon Hugo

ChopChop : the kids‘ guide to cooking real food with your family by Sally Sampson

Reliability is Overrated – 10 Books With Unreliable Narrators

Recently, I was discussing two of my favorite television series’ of the past year, “Mr. Robot“, and “Legion“, when it occurred to me what I found compelling about both of them – they are both told by unreliable narrators. The narrative characters in each show have major difficulties perceiving reality, which means the viewer sees the story through their skewed lens, often having to puzzle out what is real and what is not.

It’s a challenging concept, relatively uncommon in television, but more often used in literature. In the literary device of the Unreliable Narrator, the character who leads the reader through the story cannot be taken at face value. The reason could be because this character is lying, insane, or simply seeing events from a very limited viewpoint. In every case, though, it leads the reader to form conclusions beyond what is being disclosed in the narrative. A puzzle of sorts, where questioning what everything really means becomes part of the reading experience.

As I thought about it, I realized that many of the novels that have stayed with me long after reading them have had some kind of unreliable narrator. I remember finishing some of these books, and immediately starting them over again, looking for the “tells” that would have clued me in to the real truth of the tale if I had recognized them the first time. Here, with as few spoilers as possible, are some of my favorite unreliable narrators, (and a few whose heads I could not wait to get out of):

1. Silver Linings Playbook – When we meet the  point-of-view character Pat,  he’s being released from a mental facility into the care of his parents. That’s the first indication that situations in the story may not be exactly as they seem. As Pat’s repressed memories start to come forward, we’re able to piece together exactly why Pat was institutionalized in the first place.

2. Flowers for Algernon –  Charlie Gordon is a learning disabled man who undergoes an experimental operation to increase his intelligence. The novel is told through entries in Charlie’s journal, and the reader is able to see the improvements in self-awareness and intelligence through those entries. Then, too, we witness his deterioration as the long-term effects of the operation make themselves known. Bring a hankie.

3. Life of Pi – A fantastical tale of a boy set adrift after a shipwreck, with a tiger sharing his life raft. It’s a beautiful and uplifting story, until it is revealed that it may be what the narrator’s chosen to believe rather than what actually occurred.

4. Room Told from the very limited point of view of a five-year-old boy, Jack,  who has spent his entire life in an 11-square-foot soundproofed room with Ma, his mother. When Ma devises a plan for Jack to escape, we experience the exhilaration and confusion the world for the first time along with him.

5. The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime – The engaging narrator of this book is an autistic teen, so we perceive the events in the story the way he would. When he comes across a neighbor’s dog stabbed with a fork, his obsession with Sherlock Holmes takes over to help him solve the mystery.

6. Fight Club – Whether you’ve seen the movie or read the book, the twist that’s revealed about the identities of characters in this story packs a real punch (sorry, I couldn’t resist).

7. Shutter Island – In this gripping psychological thriller, nothing is quite what it seems. It starts out as an investigation into the escape of a mental patient, and well,  to say more  would be too spoiler-y.

8. Lolita – A compelling and beautifully written book told by a pedophile who is as charming as he is perverse. His justifications and attempts to win the reader’s sympathy are as fascinating to read as they are icky.

9 & 10.  The Girl on the Train  & Gone Girl – I’ve lumped both of these together even though they both contain different types of unreliable narrators (a blackout drunk and just plain liar) because they came out close together, are both murder mysteries, and if you’ve read one, you’ve probably read the other. I couldn’t wait to close the covers on both of them, though, the characters were just too unlikable for me to want to spend much time with.

Graphic Novels That are Not Kid’s Stuff

Do you think you’ve outgrown comic books? Then you haven’t explored today’s Graphic Novels. Mature themes, a wide variety of subject matter, and barely a superhero to be found. There’s a Graphic Novel for every type of reader.

The Memoir Reader: Fun Home by Alison Bechdel. This cult favorite comic artist offers a darkly funny family portrait that details her relationship with her father–a funeral home director, high school English teacher, and closeted homosexual.

The Sci-Fi/Fantasy Fan: Saga by Brian K. Vaughan. When two soldiers from opposite sides of a never-ending galactic war fall in love, they risk everything to raise their child in a dangerous world.

The Foodie: Relish: My Life in the Kitchen by Lucy Knisley.  This recipe-complemented memoir describes the author’s food-enriched youth as the daughter of a chef and a gourmet, key memories that were marked by special meals and the ways in which cooking has imparted valuable life lessons.

The Humor Reader: Hyperbole and a Half by Allie Brosh. Blogger Allie Brosh showcases her unique voice, leaping wit, and her ability to capture complex emotions with deceptively simple illustrations.

The “I’d Rather Watch TV” Guy: The Walking Dead series by Robert Kirkman. Unless you ARE a member of the walking dead, you probably already know the premise.  An epidemic of apocalyptic proportions has swept the globe, causing the dead to rise and feed on the living. In a matter of months society has crumbled: no government, no industry, and very few survivors.  In a world ruled by the dead, the survivors are forced to find ways to start over in this terrifying new world.

The Sequel-ist: Fight Club 2: The Tranquility Gambit by Chuck Palahniuk.  Ten years after starting Project Mayhem, Sebastian lives a mundane life, but it won’t last long, the wife has seen to that, soon he’s back where he started, but this go-round he’s got more at stake than his own life.

The Film Noir Buff: The Fade Out by Ed Brubaker and Sean Phillips. An epic graphic novel of Hollywood in the early days of the Blacklist, The Fade Out tracks the murder of an up-and-coming starlet from studio backlots to the gutters of downtown LosAngeles, as shell-shocked front man Charlie Parish is caught between his own dying sense of morality and his best friend’s righteous sense of justice.

The Big Book Reader: Ode to Kirihito by Osamu Tezuka. It may or may not be contagious. There seems to be no cure for it. Yet, Monmow Disease, a life-threatening condition that transforms a person into a dog-like beast, is not the only villain in this shocking triumph of a medical thriller by manga-god Osamu Tezuka.

The “Stranger Things” Fan: Paper Girls by Brian K. Vaughan. Supernatural mysteries and suburban drama collide in the early hours after the Halloween of 1988 for four twelve-year-old newspaper delivery girls.

The Samurai Warrior: Vagabond series by Takehiko Inoue. Adventure abounds in this fictionalized account of the life of Japanese swordsman Miyamoto Musashi, based on Eiji Yoshikawa’s novel Musashi.

 

Eclipse Tips

The eclipse is coming! A total solar eclipse will take place on Monday, August 21, the first to appear over the mainland United States in nearly 40 years. But what does it all mean?

First of all, what is an eclipse? Here’s how NASA explains the phenomenon:

An eclipse takes place when one heavenly body such as a moon or planet moves into the shadow of another heavenly body. There are two types of eclipses on Earth: an eclipse of the moon and an eclipse of the sun. A Lunar (moon) Eclipse occurs when Earth moves between the sun and the moon, blocking the sunlight that normally is reflected by the moon. (This sunlight is what causes the moon to shine.) Instead of light hitting the moon’s surface, Earth’s shadow falls on it. It lasts a few hours, and it is safe to look at a Lunar Eclipse.

A Solar (sun) Eclipse occurs when the orbiting moon moves in between the sun and Earth. When this happens, the moon blocks the light of the sun from reaching Earth. This causes an eclipse of the sun, or solar eclipse. During a solar eclipse, the moon casts a shadow onto Earth, temporarily blocking out the sun.  It lasts only a few minutes and it is definitely NOT safe to look directly at a most phases of a Solar Eclipse.

The solar eclipse should only be viewed directly using ISO-approved “eclipse glasses” or welding goggles with a shade number of 12 to 14. Use the filtered shades during the hour-long partial phase before totality and then again afterward for an hour. Only if you are in a location where you will experience total coverage of the sun (here in CT we are not in the path of totality) are you able to  watch the event for the duration of totality (only about  2 minutes!) with naked eyes or through binoculars.

Here’s the path of totality for Monday’s Solar Eclipse:

Connecticut is in the 68% region, which means eye protection must be used when viewing for the entire duration of the eclipse.

If you aren’t able to get properly filtered lenses to view the eclipse directly, it is relatively easy to view the eclipse indirectly by making a pinhole viewer out of card stock / posterboard, or out of a cardboard box.

But you don’t even need to even build something. Any object with tiny holes that will let light through works. A kitchen strainer, for example — or just closing your fist to barely let a point of light through — can make for a proper pinhole camera. The important thing to remember is to stand with your back to the Sun, positioning your pinhole device so that the sun projects an image onto a white or light surface in front of you.

 

 

NEVER look through the pinhole at the sun!

Cheshire Library will have an Exploring the Eclipse program at Bartlem Park on  Monday Aug 21, 2017 at 1:00 PM.. We’ll have science demonstrations and activities for kids, a telescope, and special glasses for viewing the eclipse when it begins here in Cheshire. Glasses will be distributed to children and families attending the program on a first-come, first-served basis, 1 pair to be shared per family.

Here in CT, we will only be able to see a partial eclipse with 68% coverage of the sun, but you can view the total eclipse by following the livestream from NASA.

For more information:

https://eclipse.aas.org/

https://eclipse2017.nasa.gov

https://www.almanac.com/content/total-solar-eclipse-2017-guide-and-map