About Linda S.

I have been with the library since 1996 and look forward to blogging for many years to come! I enjoy trivia, writing, reading, knitting, crocheting and other crafts. Also TALKING.... and sharing information. My blog has been perfect for me!

The Lost Queen by Signe Pike

The Lost Queen by Signe Pike is a work of historical fiction with a lot of real world research behind it.

Signe Pike found a book in England titled Finding Merlin by Adam Ardrey. It presented compelling evidence that Merlin was based on Lailoken, who had a twin sister Languoreth . After doing lots of research, Ms. Pike pieced together the tale of the twins, and their hardships in the sixth century in Scotland. Lailoken became a Wisdom Keeper, and Languoreth was married off to Rhydderch to strengthen the bond between the two kingdoms.

Languoreth became a great Queen of Strathclyde, but history has forgotten her (hence the title of the book). This story shows the intricacies of the politics of the time and all the behind the scenes intrigue that they both had to live with. Parts of the story were heart wrenching, but for the most part it was an exciting and riveting tale. I really enjoyed it and fell in love with the characters.

This is the first book in a trilogy, and I can’t WAIT for the next one!

Did You Know? (Jack-o-Lantern Edition)

The original jack-o-lanterns were turnips?

I found this information on page 31 in the book Death Makes a Holiday by David Skal. Skal explains how ‘Jack’ was a trickster who offended both God and the Devil and was not allowed into Heaven or Hell upon his death. The Devil grudgingly tossed him a piece of coal. Jack then put it into a carved turnip to light his nightly walk on earth awaiting judgment day, hence, he was Jack-o-the-lantern.

The children’s book The Story of Halloween by Carol Greene tells the story of Jack-o-the-lantern as well and explains how colonial Americans used pumpkins to carve instead of turnips, because they were more plentiful and easier to carve.

Halloween began as Samhain which means ‘summer’s end.’ The Celts celebrated Samhain by putting out their fires and taking embers from a huge bonfire the Druids would make, believing the new fires would protect them during the coming year.

While this is different from the way we celebrate now, our celebration traditions are steeped in history. Bobbing for apples honors Ponoma, the goddess of fruits and was a way to thank her and encourage a good crop for the coming year. Costumes were worn to hide the faces of children playing pranks and children begging for soul-cakes door to door were the beginnings of trick-or-treating.

Trick-or-treaters still go out every year looking for their share of goodies. Sweet by Claudia Davila tells about the history of candy. You will probably find that your favorite treat is older than you are!

Sweet Home Alaska by Carole Etsby Dagg tells the story of a little girl named Terpsichore whose family moved to Alaska during the great depression. She sets out to win a contest for growing the largest pumpkin. Her pumpkin turns out to weigh 293 pounds! Wouldn’t that be something to carve!

Extreme Pumpkin Carving by Vic Hood and Jack A Williams gives this endearing art form a whole new twist. Even if you don’t care for their designs, you will definitely want to try some of their techniques.

Finally, Jan Brett wrote a wonderful little story called The Turnip. Badger Girl finds a turnip that is so big no one can pull it up. All the animals in this story have their own recipes they want to make with the turnip. In the end, they all share it. If I was going to carve a turnip, this is the one I would choose!

Did you Know? (Crocodilian Edition)

That the jaws of most crocodiles and alligators can be held closed with a rubber band?

Their jaws close with tremendous force and sink into prey with tons of pressure (alligator = 2,980 psi [pounds per square inch] –Crocodile = 5,000 psi), but the muscles that open the jaws are weak. I found this information on page 14 of the book Incredible Crocodiles by Barbara Taylor. I also discovered that we mostly only have alligators in the United States, because they are the only crocodilians that can survive cooler temperatures and live outside of the tropics. But, as with everything else, there are always exceptions. The American Crocodile lives in zoos and the wild in southern Florida, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The book Alligator and Crocodile Rescue by Trish Snyder talks about the differences between crocodilians. One of the most visible differences are their snouts: crocodiles have a pointy snout and an alligator has a rounded one. If one of them starts swimming after me, however, its snout is the least of my concerns! In this important book we find out what is being done to protect crocodilians and their habitats.

A billabong is one place you might see a crocodile. A billabong is an Australian term for an oxbow lake, an isolated pond left behind after a river changes course. Billabongs are usually formed when the path of a creek or river changes, leaving the former branch with a dead-end…. And I thought a billabong was only a brand of surfer clothes!

‘See you later alligator, (after ‘while crocodile)’ was written by Louisiana songwriter Robert Charles Guidry and first recorded by him under his professional name “Bobby Charles” in 1955. Star Rocks for Kids has a cute version to listen to, and we have the book The 1950’s that has the lyrics printed out.

The rubber band was invented on March 17, 1845 by Stephen Perry. He initially sold them to newspapers that put them on before delivery and then they really caught on. I’ll bet they never thought a rubber band could be used on a crocodile! Now, we use rubber bands all the time and never think much about them. But Lance Akiyama does. He wrote Rubber Band Engineer which has plans for a catapult, a crossbow and many other contraptions.

Anyway, it doesn’t matter what kind of contraption you build, I highly recommended that you DO NOT try it on a crocodilian.

Did you Know? (Cockroach Edition)

That 300 million year old fossilized cockroaches have been found?

This means they were on earth 100 million years before the dinosaurs! I found this information in the book 501 ½ Horrible Facts.

This information is also in the book Insects: Their Natural History and Diversity by Stephen Marshall. It is hard not to admire a creature that has that kind of tenacity! Cockroaches are in the order of Blattodea.

“La Cucaracha” is a Mexican song that almost everyone knows. It is a cute song about a little cockroach that is missing a leg, but she only wants to dance. Check out World Sing-along by Putamayo Kids to listen to a fun version of it.

Night of the Living Dead is a zombie movie, but a cockroach can live for a week without its head before if finally dies of thirst. Nature’s Minibeasts: Cockroaches by Clint Twist has a whole page of cockroach facts. I think I would still rather encounter headless cockroaches than zombies!

100 million years ago was during the Cretaceous period. Asteroid Impact by Doug Henderson tells how during that period an asteroid impacted the earth and caused the dinosaurs to become extinct. It tells us that many living things were able to survive and the cockroaches, being hearty little critters, were among them.

Chariot on the Mountain by Jack Ford

I very much enjoyed Chariot on the Mountain by Jack Ford! Based on the true story of Kitty who was the daughter of a slave woman and Samuel Maddox, the “Master” in Virginia. Samuel’s dying wish was that Kitty and her children be set free. The entire estate is left to his wife Mary, with his nephew and namesake Samuel Maddox named to inherit upon Mary’s death.

Mary helps Kitty and her children escape on the Underground Railroad to Pennsylvania and freedom. A few months later, nephew Samuel kidnaps Kitty and her children from Pennsylvania claiming that because the estate will eventually go to him, he has a say in its operation and that they are his property.

Mary and her friend rescue Kitty and her kids from Samuel and a groundbreaking lawsuit ensues. I was not able to read fast enough to get to the end and find out how it all ended! The book is a touching story of forgiveness, as Mary comes to terms with her husband’s betrayal. It is also about deep friendships that both endure politics and overcome racism.

Did You Know? (Thorn Edition)

Roses have prickles and not thorns?

A thorn is a sharp modified stem that grows out of the woody stems of many kinds of trees and shrubs such as honey locust and hawthorn with a short growth period that ends with a formation of a sharp, hardened tip. Prickles, which grow on roses, are simple outgrowths of the surface of the stem and spines are the thorn-like structures that are actually modified leaves on plants such as cactus, black locust and barberry. I found this in Volume 19, for the letter T, of the 2017 World Book Encyclopedia.

Ortho’s All about Roses will tell you about the planting, pruning, feeding and selection of the best roses for your gardening needs. It also has plenty of informative pictures of proper pruning as well as information about possible insect damage and control.

Encyclopedia of Roses by Charles & Brigid Quest-Ritson is just that, over 2000 beautiful pictures of different roses including information on hardiness zones, sizes and scents. The Rose: A True History by Jennifer Potter, a horticultural historian, gives us the history of the ‘Queen of Flowers’ from all over the world. You will know more about roses than you ever thought possible!

Whether it has prickles, thorns or spines, many plants make great decorations. Beautiful Winter by Edle Catharina Norman and Branches and Blooms by Alethea Harampolis and Jill Rizzo both have some beautiful ideas for wreaths, garlands and table decorations using all sorts of branches, flowers and natural materials.

Thorns, prickles, and spines are confusing enough, but let us add spikes to the mix! Dracaena, or spike plant, was traditionally considered a houseplant for years. However, it is finding favor in annual container gardens where the spiky upright leaves provide height and textural contrast to bushy and cascading annual flowers.

A prickle also describes an experience of a tingling sensation, especially as a result of strong emotion or to have a creeping sensation. Oh! I think just reading that gave me a prickle up my spine! Mr. Prickles: a Quill fated Love Story by Kara LaReau is a story about a porcupine with no friends because he is prickly, until he meets Miss Pointypants. There really is someone for everyone!

Did You Know? (Lightning Edition)

That when lightning strikes, the air around it becomes five times hotter than the surface of the sun?

I found this information on page 79 in the book 501 ½ Horrible Facts.

According to Isaac Asimov’s book The Solar System: the Sun the temperature of the sun is about 11,000 ˚F on the surface and about 27,000,000 ˚F at the center. This means that the air around a lightning strike would be about 55,000 Fahrenheit. In other words, there isn’t enough sunscreen on earth to make a trip to the sun possible! The sun is the nearest star to earth. It takes light from the sun about 8 minutes to get to earth, for the next nearest star the light takes over 4 years to get here!

Cumulonimbus clouds are the thunderclouds we see before and during a lightning storm. They are huge masses of air, water, and ice. Inside of these clouds violent air currents cause ice crystals to smash into each other, causing static electricity. Ice crystals at the base of the cloud become negatively charged while the top of the cloud and the ground are positively charged. The difference becomes so great that electricity starts leaping back and forth in the cloud causing sheet lightning or between the cloud and the ground causing fork lightning. I learned this and so much more about all kinds of weather events in the DK book Weather .

Thunder and lightning always reminds me of Zeus, the sky and thunder-god in ancient Greek religion, which makes me think of mythology! Check out one of our mythology books to read stories about gods and goddesses in Greek, Roman and Celtic Mythology.

Tap Tap Boom Boom by Elizabeth Bluemle is a nice story about people escaping into a subway to avoid the thunder and lightning from a storm. People share smiles and umbrellas as they all wait out a storm together.