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!

Did You Know? (Penal Colony Edition)

That penal comes from the Latin word for pain?

Poenalis means pain or penalty in Latin. The use of the word to mean “appointed as a place of punishment” began in the mid-19th century according to The Oxford Dictionary of Word Histories.

Turns out, there were penal colonies all over the world. Frequently the prisoner’s family was sent with them. It wasn’t like a prison term: serving your time and going home. Being sent to a penal colony typically meant being sent away for the rest of your life. It didn’t matter how petty or serious the crime happened to be. Many prisoners were sent away due to their political views.

Australia is one of the best known former penal colonies. A Commonwealth of Thieves: the Improbable Birth of Australia by historian/novelist Thomas Keneally talks about the beginnings of the penal colonies in Australia. This book is based on the personal journals and documents of those involved. England shipped their ‘criminals’ there, and just like that, England was rid of their ‘problems!’ The thousands of convicts’ journeys were just the beginning of their ordeal though, as they started new lives in this unknown land.

The House of the Dead: Siberian Exile Under the Tsars by Daniel Beer is a story of the Tsars and how they exiled prisoners to the Ural mountains of Siberia. It is also the tale of how these exiled unruly criminals became revolutionaries who would one day rule the Soviet Union.

Gould’s Book of Fish: A Novel in Twelve Fish by Richard Flanagan is a fictional story about William Buelow Gould being sentenced to life imprisonment at the Sarah Island penal colony in what is now Tasmania. William is a talented art forger and he begins painting pictures of fish to help the prison doctor get into The Royal Society. But the tales are as much about life on the island as they are about his art and the fish.

It can be devastating for a family that is left behind when a member of that family is in prison. The Night Dad Went to Jail by Melissa Higgins is a very useful book for young children with a parent in jail. They need to be reassured that it is not their fault and their parent still loves them. 65% of men in prisons are fathers and 75% of incarcerated women are mothers.

All of these penal colonies and jails are meant to punish. We know that positive discipline and boundaries are a much more desirable way to reap good behavior. Raising Respectful Children in a Disrespectful World by Jill Rigby is full of wonderful anecdotes/scenarios demonstrating healthy ways to deal with tough situations when raising a child. Here at the library we have a wide array of parenting books to help you if you have specific discipline issues that you need to deal with. Hopefully, none of us will have to worry about our loved ones being put in jail!

Did You Know? (Hotcake Edition)

That the difference between pancakes, griddlecakes, johnnycakes and hotcakes depends mostly on if they are made with flour or corn meal?

In researching for this blog, every time I thought I had it figured out I’d find another recipe that contradicted it! Mostly from what I’ve seen, pancakes and johnnycakes (more about them below) are made with corn meal and griddlecakes and hotcakes are made from flour. That excludes buckwheat pancakes which are made with buckwheat, which is also known as Kasha.

Buckwheat, with its origins in China, was produced in Europe in the 1900s and was used in traditional crêpes (pancakes) and galettes (flat cakes) according to The Story of Food (page 239) from DK publishing.

In the UK, flapjacks are made out of sugar, butter, oats, and honey, but in the US, they are synonymous with hotcakes.

I think pretty much anywhere in the world you will find some version of hotcakes. Some are sweet and others are savory. Some are topped and others are filled. Here is a list of a few of the options:

Asian nonya spring roll pancakes

Brazil’s panqueca de carne moida are meat-filled crêpes.

Chinese bao bing (a thin pancake)

Dutch poffertjes (made with a yeast-raised recipe)

French crêpes (crêpes is French for pancake)

Korean hotteok sweet stuffed pancakes

Korean seafood pancakes are reminiscent of egg foo young.

German pfannkuchen (crêpe)

Hungarian palacsinta (crêpe)

Japanese okonomiyaki is the savory, saucy single pancake meal of your dreams.

Nigerian diet are gorgeous, spicy, chewy pancakes.

Spanish panqueques rely on fluffy whipped egg whites to make them incredibly light. (crepe)

Thai roti cooked with egg and drizzled with sweetened condensed milk. Thai roti are folded over and over to get beautiful layers when you bite into it. It looks like baklava.

Vietnamese Bánh Khot are tiny, crispy, savory seafood pancakes that are perfect two-bite morsels.

The website What’s Cooking America has a great article all about johnnycakes. They are made with cornmeal and are the New England equivalent of tortillas. They are known under a variety of names: Johnnycakes, johnny cakes, jonnycake, ashcake, battercake, corn cake, cornpone, hoecake, hoe cake, journey cake, mush bread, pone, Shawnee cake, jonakin, and jonikin. They are all regional names for this cornmeal flatbread.

The origin of the name johnnycakes is something of a mystery and probably has nothing to do with the name John. They were also called journey cakes because they could be carried on long trips in saddlebags and baked along the way. Historians also think that “janiken,” a Native American word that means “corncake,” could possibly be the origin.

Waffles, Crêpes and Pancakes by Norma Miller has all kinds of recipes for the titled items. I can’t wait to try the Tiramisu Pancakes!

Paul Bunyan Swings his Ax by Dell J. McCormic has a story about Paul Bunyan’s logging camp and the 10-acre griddle used to make hot griddlecakes so large that it took 5 men to eat one!

So the next time you are having a short stack, think about all the different things people call them, and the fact that around the world there are probably thousands of people eating a hotcake right now.

The Chain by Adrian McKinty

The Chain by Adrian Mckinty is the kind of book I find very frightening. No zombies or vampires, but the kind of stuff that can REALLY happen!

With a regular chain letter, if you don’t pass it on either something “bad” will happen or you are promised great things if you do pass it on; but there is no real incentive to pass it on. In this story, the masterminds behind the chain letter make sure that something really bad happens and in order to make it better you must “pass it on.”

Imagine that you get a phone call saying your child has been kidnapped. In order to get your child back, you must pay a ransom and kidnap another child! Only after the parents of the child you kidnap pay the ransom and kidnap another child will you get your own child back. And that’s where it ends…..or does it?

After contacting past abductees families, Rachel realizes that her family will forever be part of the chain, unless she can find a way to keep herself and her family safe.

Read this exciting story of single parent Rachel and her daughter Kylie. Rachel’s brother-in-law helps her do the bad deeds she needs to do to get Kylie back, because, obviously, you cannot go to the police. As they end up getting deeper and deeper into the kidnapping they realize that even if they wanted to go to the police, they are now criminals. This tale becomes even more exciting as they try to not just break the chain, but take it apart link by link.

I must add that I was very disappointed that I took this to read on my three-week vacation…. as I couldn’t put it down and finished it in four days!

The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt

In The Last List of Miss Judith Kratt by Andrea Bobotis, Miss Judith Kratt is getting old…. and decides it is time to take an inventory of the belongings in her home. She still lives in the house she grew up in (located in Bound, South Carolina) with Olva, her dearest friend. Daddy Kratt owned the local mercantile where many of the items on her inventory originated, and the townspeople both revered and feared him.

If a picture is worth a thousand words, every item in the house has a history behind it worth many thousands of words. As Judith makes the list, she tells the stories of the items and the memories that intertwine between the store, the employees (namely Charlie), and the house and family.

Her brother Quincy, Daddy Kratt, Olva, her mother, and sister Rosemarie all have large parts to play in the tales. Miss Judith thought that she knew them all. After years of separation from the family, however, Rosemarie comes back and we all find out that things were not as they seemed.

This is a great book to read if you like to find out secrets. There were twists that I didn’t see coming until the very end. Who knew a Tiffany lamp could have such an impact on a family!

Did You Know? (Breathing Edition)

That softshell turtles can breathe through their bottom?

Turtles have a cloaca. It is an orifice on their bodies that they urinate, defecate, lay eggs, and (in some species) can absorb oxygen from. While it is not their main way of breathing, it helps while they are eating, laying eggs and especially when they are submerged for extended periods of time.I found this information on page 151 of The Totally Awesome Book of Useless Information by Noel Botham.

You will learn more details about this ability on page 208 of Turtles, Tortoises and Terrapins by Ronald Orenstein. He also tells us there are about 30 breeds of soft shell turtles. One example is the Fitzroy River Turtle which lives in fast running water where it can remain submerged for days, or even weeks at a time. Mr. Orenstein’s book has wonderful photographs of all aspects of these amazing animals. It also explains the differences between turtles, including the different ways they pull their heads into their shells: the Pleurodira, which translates to “side neck”, fold their necks sideways while the Cryptodira, known as hidden-necked turtles,pull their heads straight back into their shell.

Sea turtles can be amazingly large. A sea turtle can weigh as much as a water buffalo! Mission Sea Turtle Rescue by Karen Romano Young is full of fun facts, photos and valuable information about conserving the species. This is a must read for anyone planning on vacationing near a tropical beach. Another great book is Sea Turtles by James R. Spotila.

Turtles aren’t the only ones with shells! Shell by Alex Arthur tells about all kinds of shells: sea shells, egg shells, fossilized shells and many others are all in this book.

Lastly, turtles “cry.” This is their way of forcing the extra salt from their bodies that they ingest from drinking sea water. I don’t think that “turtle tears” will catch on nearly as well as “crocodile tears” but who knows?

Ruff vs. Fluff by Spencer Quinn

Ruff vs. Fluff is the first title in the Queenie and Arthur series of children’s books by Spencer Quinn.

Arthur the dog and Queenie the (perfect and beautiful) cat have a family that consists of twins Harmony and Bro and their Mom. They all live at the Blackberry Inn. Generally life is good, until a man checks into the Inn and involves the kids in a mystery from the days of prohibition. He also happens to get murdered in the hills behind the Inn.

Harmony and Bro’s cousin, Matty, ends up being the prime suspect for the man’s murder. Arthur and Queenie help the twins sniff out the clues to clear Matty’s name, in addition to assisting the police in solving the crime.

Ruff vs. Fluff is narrated by Queenie and Ruff. Spencer Quinn has another children’s books series titled Bowser and Birdie and an adult series called Chet and Bernie. Both are told from the animals point of view and are very enjoyable!

Did You Know? (Curly Hair Edition)

Curly hair is caused by having flat hair follicles?

Page 10 of the Encyclopedia 2017 World Book Commemorative Edition (Volume # 9 H) tells us:

The texture of hair depends largely on the shape of the hair, which can be seen in a cross section under a microscope. Straight hairs have a round shape, and wavy and curly hairs are flat. The flattest hairs are the waviest or curliest.

Vera Peiffer wrote Regrowing Hair Naturally after she lost her hair to alopecia and nothing the doctors prescribed seemed to work. After doing much research, she has helped many people who have lost their hair for a variety of reasons re-grow it! Even if your hair has been gone for quite a while, you may want to try her techniques.

Curls, Curls, Curls! by Samantha Harris is a wonderful reference that helps you recreate many different hairstyles. Each hairstyle has step by step photographic instructions to help you easily recreate these classic styles.

A Century of Hairstyles by Pamela Church Gibson is a wonderful walk down memory lane, looking at famous hairstyles and the people who made them famous: Jean Harlow and her platinum blonde, the “Farrah Flip” in 1976 from Farrah Fawcet Majors, James Dean’s famous look and many more. I was amazed how many I could actually identify!

Every fairy tale aficionado knows that Rapunzel is famous for her super long hair. Kate Forsyth is an Australian author best known for her historical novel Bitter Greens, which interweaves a retelling of the Rapunzel fairy tale with the true life story of the woman who first told the tale: the 17th century French writer Charlotte-Rose de Caumont de La Force. I haven’t had a chance to read it yet, but can’t wait until I can.

But, the most famous “Curly” is the one from the Three Stooges. Jerome Lester Horwitz was the ‘baby’ of 5 brothers. Curly: an Illustrated Biography of the Superstooge by his niece Joan Howard Maurer tells his story. This is such a fun book, full of pictures and anecdotes. Any true Stooges fan will love this book!