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!

Whisper Down The Lane

How many times does a lie need to be told before it becomes the truth? If more than one person tells it then it must be true, right? If it is a child and the lie is outrageous then it is has to be true because a child could never make something up like that would they?

Imagine a fib you told as a child. A little white lie. Now imagine it taking on a life of its own and you have no control over it. It consumes everyone around you.

This is what happened to Sean as a young boy in Whisper Down the Lane by Clay McLeod Chapman. He told his mom a fib, she told the authorities, who then told the school, who then told the other parents. The parents then asked their kids questions in such a way that the fib was planted in their minds and confirmed. Kids being kids, they wanted to please adults and tell them what they think they wanted to hear. The next thing you know people believed the lie and lives were ruined!

Fast forward many years. Richard starts working at an elementary school. The kids in his class are great. They have a classroom routine. Study, read a story and after lunch they have “circle time” and everyone naps. The children are happy and all are doing well.

It isn’t long before the routine gets broken and things take a turn for the worse. Richard finds a threatening note written in a child’s scrawl. The schools pet rabbit is killed. There are rumors around town and in the school about “devil worship.”

Soon Richard is under suspicion for something so terrible he can’t believe anyone would think of him, or anyone, doing such things. He especially can’t believe that the rest of the school staff are even considering he could have any part in it.

This book is a gripping story that could have been torn from the headlines. It filled me with fear to see how easily lies could be spread and that any one of us could bear the brunt of it. You’ll be reading late into the night to see what happens and how it will all end. Get your fingers in shape to turn these pages as fast as you can!

Did You Know? (Toilet Edition)

The flush toilet was invented in 1595 by John Harrington?

Without running water, his system wasn’t very popular. People have given plumber and engineer Thomas Crapper the credit, but it was Alexander Cummings who created the “s-bend” and modern flushing in 1775.

I found this information on pages 8 & 9 in The Technology Behind Everyday Appliances by Nicolas Brasch. This was a fun book, and I also learned that the screw as a fastener was invented about 300 years before the screwdriver!

You never know when you will have to do a little home repair on your toilet. Ultimate Guide: Plumbing by Merle Henkenius gives you step by step instructions for working on your toilet, sink, dishwasher, garbage disposal and much more. There are lots of ‘smart tips’ offered which can save you lots of money, trouble and even help you avoid calling a plumber.

Poop Happened! A History of the World from the Bottom Up by Sarah Able tells us that even the bible talks about excrement. In the book of Deuteronomy, God, through Moses, tells the Hebrews to carry a paddle (shovel) “and cover that what comest from thee.” The Romans were the first to build sewer systems and aqueducts and some of them are still in use today. Another interesting fact I learned is that the “powder room” really was a room for powdering wigs in the eighteenth century. There are lots of other very amusing facts in this book as well.

One of the most important issues involving toilets is the process of becoming potty trained! We have a large selection of books in our parenting section about this. The Complete Guide to Potty Training by Michelle D Swaney gives step by step techniques and ideas that will make the process much easier. We also have many other books to read to your child and DVD’s such as Potty Time that they can watch.

Kids especially love any kind of bathroom humor. It’s a Bird, it’s a Plane, it’s Toiletman! by Nancy Krulik is a very exciting tale that kids will love. You can read about another bathroom superhero in Captain Underpants by Dav Pilkey. There are many different adventures that the kids will laugh about as they read, and some very nasty archenemies such as the purple potty people and bionic booger boy!

I’m always amazed to see the selection of reading material in people’s bathrooms. I know I do a good part of my reading there! It would be kind of ironic to read this in your lavatory: The Bedwetter: Stories of Courage, Redemption, and Pee by Sarah Silverman. This work is an autobiography of Silverman’s life, and the adversities she overcame as a child being a bedwetter. I personally applaud her bravery for admitting such a thing. It cannot have been an easy secret to share with the world!

While working on this blog, I realized there is no shortage of material about this subject. I guess when ya gotta go, ya gotta go!  Just keep in mind the lovely indoor plumbing we have today, and how our ancestors had a much more difficult time getting their business done.

Did You Know? (Pearl Edition)

The world’s largest pearl weighing in at 14.1 pounds was discovered in a giant clam off the coast of the Philippines in 1939?

I found this on page 46 of The Secret Life of Clams by Anthony D. Fredericks. I always thought that only oysters made pearls.

But the author tells us about a kind of giant clam, Tridacna gigas, that grew the largest pearl: “The Pearl of Lao Tzu” which is privately owned and valued at $93 Million! He also tells us that clams were on earth about 510 million years ago and some of these oldest clam fossils were found in late Cretaceous rock in Kansas and had actually grown pearls.

Razor clams are native to the Pacific Northwest. I couldn’t even begin to tell you how many times we dug clams when I was a child. My family loves clams and my mom cooked them so many ways. Razor Clams: Buried Treasure of the Pacific Northwest by David Berger shares similar stories of clamming with the family. He also shares many recipes that highlight these tasty critters. David doesn’t mention pearls, but I know in all of my time clamming, we never found any!

Many famous people loved pearls. Elizabeth Taylor owned a fantastic pearl, but it came from an oyster and previously belonged to Mary I of England, and then Elisabeth of France. Eleanor Roosevelt was famous for wearing her pearl necklaces as well. They were as smart looking on her as she was, and she was a strong and accomplished first lady. Eleanor Roosevelt: Fighter for Justice by Ilene Cooper has great stories about all the things she accomplished.

A completely different take on pearls are the Pearls Before Swine comics by Stephen Pastis. They are quite humorous, but not what one would necessarily call “pearls of wisdom.”

There are lots of mystery stories of stolen pearls and pearl necklaces. Geronimo Stilton stars in a fun series of books for kids. Cavemice, Paws off the Pearl is just one of many adventures that Geronimo and Thea Stilton have. Nancy Drew, The Thirteenth Pearl by Carolyn Keene has Nancy and her friends trying to find a stolen necklace.

Oysters: A Celebration in the Raw by Jeremy Sewall and Marion Lear Swaybill have done for the oyster what Anthony D Fredricks did for the clam. They show different varieties and explain the characteristics of each kind. If you are a fan of oysters, this will make you want to travel the world and try them all! They describe oysters like a fine wine with different hints of flavor depending on where they are from.

Lastly, don’t forget the rule of only eating oysters during a month with a “R” (September to April). This helps replenish oyster supplies by allowing their breeding in the summer and eating them in the cooler months gives them better flavor as well. But you can enjoy clams all year long!

Anxious People

Anxious People by Fredrik Backman is a story about – – a LOT of different things! All throughout the book you are told that this is a story about a bank robber, or a real estate agent, or a bridge, or a police officer, or a pregnant woman, or a hostage situation. Or a list of other things. Indeed, this was a great story about all of those things, but really, it wasn’t about any one of these people.

It is so interesting in life how no single item is the same for everyone. What may be my favorite aspect of something could very well be the part you hate the most about it. Things that are no big deal for me could be the most tragic thing to you. I guess what I’m saying is that everyone’s threshold for being anxious is different, and we must all remember to be patient with others.

Basically, in this book a bank gets robbed and the robber flees. In trying to escape, they run into an open house for an apartment that is up for sale and everyone attending gets held hostage. UNbasically, there are twists and turns to what should be a straightforward story.

I very much enjoyed this book! I adored the characters and their interactions with each other. I loved how there could still be a happy ending after such a traumatic event. Anyone who is a Fredrik Backman fan is sure to love it as well.

Did You Know? (Moon Edition)

In 1609 the Italian astronomer Galileo first pointed a telescope at the moon and noted that the orb had terrain including mountains, flat plains and craters? Therefore the moon was solid and it’s surface might be walked upon.

Galileo’s discovery is talked about on page 10 in the book Space Stations: the Art, Science and Reality of Working in Space by Gary Kitmacher, Ron Miller and Robert Pearlman.

Galileo is known as the father of modern physics – indeed, of modern science altogether. His discoveries were based on careful observations and ingenious experiments that contradicted conventional wisdom and the views of the church at the time. The new book Galileo and the Science Deniers by Mario Livio looks at Galileo’s theories and accomplishments, and how he arrived at them – as well as why they are relevant now. This is a must read if you love science!

Astronauts by Thomas K Adamson is a book for children that shows how astronauts work in space on a space station and walk on the moon. I used to imagine what it would be like to walk in space and now you can see exactly how it would be.

Imagine winning a chance to go to space! 172 hours on the Moon is a novel by Johan Harsted. Mia, Antoine, and Midori are selected by lottery to join experienced astronauts on a NASA mission to the once top-secret moon base, while an old astronaut in a nursing home tries to warn them of the danger there. Perhaps it will be a trip in a lifetime, literally.

There is a little treat we had while I was growing up nicknamed Moon Pies, but they were actually Whoopy Pies. Whoopie Pies by Viola Goren is full of recipes for a variety of flavors of these delicious snacks. They look like little planets on a platter!

We have all heard that the moon is made of cheese, but it is unknown where this saying started. There is a really cute song on the children’s CD Inside I Shine by Danny Weinkauf called “The Moon is Made of cheese.”

Moon is also a company that publishes travel guides. While you may not be able to take a vacation right now, you can plan a trip or watch a travel show and take a virtual trip… of course, you probably won’t need a guide if you are sitting in your living room. 

Finally, how can you talk about the moon without mentioning stars? Paper Stars by Karen-Marie Fabricius gives directions for origami, quilled and folded stars. You can make these and turn your house into the great outdoors on a starry night. The directions are well laid out and easy to follow. Enjoy!

Two New Book Reviews for You

The Postscript Murders by Elly Griffiths

A pensioner by the sea. What a way to spend retirement! It is something I know many of us long for.

Peggy is a happy retiree and spends her time watching everything that goes on – – and writing notes about it in her little journal: 7 people walking the beach (3 couples and a single) 4 people with dogs, how many cyclists, joggers etc.

She has a number of friends and neighbors that call on her to visit and they are murder mystery buffs. And I mean really, who doesn’t enjoy sitting around thinking of ways to bump people off? Peggy is even acquainted with a few authors that ask her for advice on killing people for their books, and they always give her an acknowledgement ‘This is for Peggy.’ Peggy also suspects she is being watched.

There is a dark spot in her history that not many people know about, however. Her friends Edwin, Natalka, and Benedict have all heard some stories about her time in Russia, but never realized they could be true.

So, when Peggy is found dead of natural causes, it is only understandable that her friends suspect foul play even though the police do not. When a postcard falls out of one of Peggy’s book that says “We are coming for you,” DS Harbinder Kaur from CID gets involved. Then an author Peggy had helped ends up murdered so DS Kaur decides to question the trio of friends. With an author’s event coming up, the trio decides to go and follow up on some clues.

I absolutely adored the bumbling investigation techniques in this book where everything gets solved and tied up in a big bow almost by accident! I also enjoyed the subtle clues and connections and trying to solve it myself before the characters (I did NOT solve this one). This was a fun book and a pretty fast read. I highly recommend it!

One Step to You by Federico Moccia

Babi is a popular girl from a well-to-do family. Step is your typical ‘bad boy’ on a motorcycle. Step first sees Babi when he pulls up next to her car while Babi’s dad drives her to high school. You can almost hear the zap as Step is instantly hit by Cupid’s arrow.

Babi has always been a well behaved, proper young woman….  Until Step convinces her to just go for one ride with him on his motorbike. She falls for him but doesn’t want to admit it to herself or anyone else.

There are no parents screaming at her to “keep away from that boy” because they have no idea the things she has been doing. Skipping school and sneaking out. Babi knows what she’s doing is wrong, and that being with Step is dangerous, but it’s LOVE! What can you do?

You have to read all the way to the last page to find out what they do…  you’ll never guess!

Did You Know? (Newt Edition)

That all newts are salamanders but not all salamanders are newts?

I found this information on the Facts About Newts page from the Live Science website.

Tree Frogs, Mud Puppies and other Amphibians by Daniel Gilpin is a good book for beginners interested in amphibians. It has a lot of very detailed pictures and fun ‘gross’ information.

The California newt and the rough-skinned newt excrete a toxin from their skin that can be deadly to humans or other animals. The toxin excreted by the California newt (Taricha torosa) is known as tetrodotoxin (TTX), the same neurotoxin found in pufferfish.

Pufferfish, also called blowfish, live in tropical waters. They are prepared as a delicacy called fugu in Japan. You need to have a special permit and training to prepare this potentially deadly dish. It is also illegal to serve to the Emperor of Japan, as one fish has enough poison to kill 30 adults. The Puffer Fish by Alicia Z. Klepeis tells us there are about 120 different kinds of pufferfish.

There are many other animals that can be toxic: spiders, snakes, jellyfish, bees, wasps, scorpions and even the platypus!  They can use their teeth, fangs, stingers, spines or spurs to introduce their venom into you. The book Venom by Marilyn Singer tells all about them.

Eye of Newt and Toe of Frog, Adder’s Fork and Lizard’s Leg by Marty Crump gives the lore and mythology of amphibians and reptiles. One well known example is the snake in the garden of Eden. Other examples would be the rod of Asclepius (the snake on a rod) used to represent the Western medical profession and the Caduceus (2 snakes entwined on a staff with wings) for commerce and negotiation and also used by the U.S. Army and some other medical organizations. For the play Macbeth Shakespeare wrote of three witches around a cauldron using animal parts as ingredients (see the title of this book) which spurred the world’s imagination.

If eye of newt and toe of frog are basic ingredients for witch’s brew, it makes me wonder where they get their ingredients? And what do they do with the rest of the newt? We have spell books at the library, to help you find out: Spells for Peace of Mind: How to Conjure Calm and Overcome Stress, Worry, and Anxiety by Cerridwen Greenleafor and The Big Book of Practical Spells: Everyday Magic that Works by Judika Illes use ingredients such as salt, candles, crystals, and a whole list of herbs.

Of course, stories about witches and wizards make for popular fiction reading as well. The Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling is a prime example of that!  Another fun series is Bella Broomstick by Lou Kuenzler.

Newts make me think of Newton. Isaac Newton discovered the first law of motion: an object at rest tends to stay at rest and an object in motion tends to stay in motion. Isaac Newton and Physics for Kids by Kerry Logan Hollihan tells about Isaac Newtons’ life and discoveries with twenty-one science experiments kids can recreate. We have many other books about him such as Isaac Newton: The Asshole who Reinvented the Universe by Florian Freistetter who tells us that Newton wasn’t always a nice guy.

And while we are talking about Newton, THAT reminds me of Fig Newtons! They are a favorite “healthy” cookie. I mean, they have fruit, right? How bad can they be for you? A Fistful of Fig Newtons by Jean Shepherd – best known for his story/movie A Christmas Story where Ralphie Parker wants a BB gun – is a collection of short stories based on his life…. Like the cookies, just one won’t be enough. You’ll want to read the whole book!

Did You Know? (Brick Edition)

That the world-famous Indianapolis Motor Speedway is nicknamed the Brickyard?

The Speedway was originally paved with more than 3 million bricks in 1909. I found this in the DK Smithsonian book Drive on page 63. It says on the cover “the definitive history of driving,” and that pretty much says it all. There are pictures of every car imaginable, the making and racing of automobiles, early advertisements and even renditions of possible future cars. We even learn that the first speed limit was 4 mph, and some of the first vehicles had a whopping 12hp engine!

Assuming the bricks were 6-inch in length, 3,000,000 million bricks laid end to end would reach 284.09 miles or the equivalent of the distance from Newark, NJ to Buffalo, NY. With the Indianapolis speedway being 2.5 miles long, this would be about 113 ½ laps altogether.

Nowadays, when you say ‘bricks’ the first thing people think of is Lego bricks. The eBook A Million Little Bricks by Sarah Herman talks about the Lego company’s history and the phenomenon of this amazing and popular toy. She reminisces about old Lego sets and talks about the new sets available. Beautiful Lego by Mike Doyle has some of the most amazing Lego figures, buildings and characters I have ever seen! This is definitely art, and worth checking out just to see the creativity.

The Taj Mahal is a building complex that is truly artistic. Construction started in 1632 and was completed over an 11-year period. They used white and black marble (bricks and blocks) with inlays of precious stones and intricately carved marble flowers. The book The Taj Mahal by Lesley Dutemple is part of the series Great Building Feats that shows a variety of different structures and the building techniques used to make them.

The feature film The Last Brickmaker in America shows what the art of brickmaking used to be. In this heartwarming movie, starring Sidney Poitier, he teaches a young troubled boy his craft, and the pride of making something worthwhile. You don’t have to make your own bricks, but you can do your own building with bricks with the assistance of the book Masonry Homeowner Survival Guide. It shows how to prep an area, measure what supplies you need, and shows the techniques that will make you look like a master.

Lastly, one thing I always think of when thinking ‘bricks’ is the Pink Floyd song “Brick in the wall”. We have this on CD so “brick on!” OK, that doesn’t have the same ring to it as “rock on”, but you get the idea.

Did You Know? (Doll Edition)

Raggedy Ann and Andy were first made in 1915, and their creator then went on to write 25 books about them starting in 1918?

I found this information in the Warman’s Companion Collectible Dolls by Dawn Herlocher. Johnny Gruelle was the original creator and his family made the dolls. They eventually sold the rights, and the dolls have been made by many other companies since then, but they are still around.

We have quite a few of the Raggedy Ann and Andy books by Johnny Gruelle. Hooray for Reading, Old Friends, New Friends and School Day Adventure are just a few of them.  My Raggedy Ann doll and I enjoyed these books when I was little.

Raggedy Ann and Andy are great dolls for younger children, with their soft bodies and candy hearts. You can make your own soft dolls using the patterns in Topsy-Turvy Knitted Dolls by Sarah Keen. They have a doll on one end, flip the dress up and there is a different doll on the other. One of them is Red Riding Hood/Big Bad Wolf. They are so cute!

I think after these, young children progress to Barbie dolls. The Good, the Bad, and the Barbie: a Doll’s History and Her Impact on Us by Tanya Lee Stone tells how Ruth Handler and her husband Elliot started the company Mattel. They first made jewelry and furniture, then made doll house furniture with scraps before moving on to making Barbie Dolls and marketing other toys.

Older children enjoy doll houses and miniature furniture. Making Dolls’ House Furniture by Patricia King is full of hundreds of small miniatures and complete directions for making the pieces using things that are upcycled and probably just laying around your house. Making Doll’s House Miniatures with Polymer Clay shows how to shape clay into many pieces that would be great furnishings. Both of these would work for dioramas as well.

Another very popular ‘rag doll’ is the breed of ragdoll cat. The Encyclopedia of Cat Breeds by J. Anne Helgren tells an interesting story of how the breed was created and genetically altered in a secret government experiment. If you are looking for a pet cat, this would be a great reference book as it tells about each cat breeds’ activity levels, docility, health, compatibility and other pertinent information.

My mother used to dress her cat up in baby clothes and push it up and down the street in her little doll stroller! Whether you are playing with a doll or your cat, you can rest assured there have been generations of children, and some adults, doing this for centuries. The oldest doll discovered is from 4500 years ago. This rare discovery of pre-historic toys was made at the Itkol II burial ground in the Republic of Khakassia, southern Siberia.

She Lies Close

A lot is going on for Grace in the novel She Lies Close by Sharon Doering.

After her husband has an affair, Grace buys a house in a new neighborhood with her two young children Wyatt and Chloe. As they are getting settled in and starting to meet people, she begins to hear rumors that her new neighbor Leland is suspected in the disappearance of a young girl. Is she really living next door to a kidnapper and murderer?

Grace can barely sleep, and becomes obsessed with the case of sweet, missing Ava. In the wee hours of the night she repeatedly watches a video that was posted of Ava singing and dancing, desperately looking for clues to her disappearance..

After she discovers that Chloe has a pocket full of tootsie rolls that she got from Leland while she was playing in their adjoining back yards, Grace begins having nightmares and sleepwalking, with reality and dreams blurring the fine line of sanity.

The police have no leads in Ava’s disappearance, and Grace continues to talk to the neighbors, asking questions to try and find the truth of what happened. Then, a body is found, and everything changes. Grace finds herself on the other end of the investigation.

I got to the last 60 pages and could NOT put the book down.

If you like a good page turner, you will really enjoy this book!