March 27, 2017
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Celebrate the Irish this St. Patrick’s Day

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Each March we take up the pleasures of the Emerald Isle as we celebrate St. Patrick’s Day, the cultural celebration of all things Irish. Ireland has much to offer the world and you can find some of it at your Kenosha Public Library.

Born in Dublin, Oscar Fingal O’Flahertie Wilde was a keen observer of society. This informed all of his writing, particularly his plays. “An Ideal Husband” and “The Importance of Being Earnest” are two of his finest comedic social satires.

Wilde employed humor to win over the very society he criticized. His plays contain intrigue and romance, and were a hit on the London stage. Both plays have an Oscar Wilde type character, a man in society who acts outside of the accepted Victorian norms. You can enjoy the witticism of Wilde’s written words in “The Plays of Oscar Wilde” as well as in other collections of his work. Both plays are available as movies on DVD, lovingly adapted for the screen and directed by Oliver Parker, with the excellent Rupert Everett in both Wilde roles. To enjoy the plays in audio format performed by L.A. Theatre Works in crisp, professional readings, go to the library’s digital branch, the website at mykpl.info.

Picture books can help children learn to handle difficult situations

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I love finding children’s picture books that can help a child in need learn what to do in certain situations that life throws at us. Today, I am sharing with you some newer picture books that include helping a child dealing with the death of a loved one, getting a first pair of glasses, what to do in a fire and how to look for the positive in things that happen everyday.

* “Something Very Sad Happened: A Toddler’s Guide To Understanding Death” by Dr. Bonnie Zucker

Books for children celebrate all that winter has to offer

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“Wonderful Winter and All Kinds of Winter Facts and Fun,” by Bruce Goldstone is a nonfiction picture book about the most wonderful season of all. With simple explanations, this book provides fascinating facts about winter, like how animals survive in the cold, why some trees lose their leaves and others remain green all winter and just how amazing snowflakes and snow are. In addition to fun facts, there are craft projects about winter and snow. This is a visually appealing book that explores all the things the season of winter brings.

Author April Pulley Sayre is an award-winning children’s book author of more than 55 natural history books for children and adults. Her new book, “Best in Snow,” describes the beauty of winter using very few words and stunning photography. With close ups of nature and wildlife, this nonfiction picture book illustrates what happens when snow falls and the science behind it. Additional information regarding snow is provided at the end of the book along with other titles about snow she recommends for further reading.

Endangered snow leopards make for interesting reads, beautiful pictures

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High in the rugged Central Asian mountains, a big cat watches from a ledge. About 30 feet below a bharal or blue sheep scrapes moss from the surface of rocks. Silently the big cat waits for the bharal to come closer. The big cat’s natural camouflage and quick movements keep the watchful bharal from sighting it. At just the right moment the big cat pounces. It drags its larger prey further up the mountain and buries it in the snow for a meal that will last for several days.

The snow leopard is a mighty hunter. Its shorter front legs and long powerful back legs allow it to leap more than six times its body length. Its lush thick tail acts as a rudder for accuracy when leaping as well as a scarf to keep its face warm when at rest. I found this information and so much more in “Snow Leopards” by Melissa Gish in the “Living Wild” series. This is a larger format book with great photographs throughout. It is full of facts about the snow leopard’s physical characteristics, behaviors and even how it has influenced the cultures of Asia. Included in this book is the Siberian folk tale about the origin of the snow leopard and the mystery of a buried ancient mummy.

Explore the mystery, comedy and wit of ‘The Thin Man’

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“How they can expect a woman to still have any mystery left for a man — after living in a place like this for three days, I don’t know.” (Nora Charles packs her undergarments in a stateroom on a train).

“You don’t need mystery. You’ve got something better and more alluring,” her husband, Nick Charles tells her.

Need help sticking to those resolutions?

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It’s that time of year when we’re all trying to stick with our New Year’s resolutions. Now that we’re heading into the third week of January, some of us may have already given up on our resolutions because we don’t know how to achieve our goals, while others might still be trying but need some guidance. If you’re like me, one of your New Year’s resolutions is to finally get your finances in order.

Figuring out the right approach when dealing with your finances can be difficult, especially with tax season upon us. If you feel overwhelmed with where to start, the Kenosha Public Library has many resources to help you with your finances, including a few books that will help simplify your financial troubles, so you can check one resolution off your to-do list.

‘Gunslinger’ offers solid bio of Favre

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“Gunslinger: The Remarkable, Improbable, Iconic Life of Brett Favre” by Jeff Pearlman; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt (448 pages, $28)

It was the afternoon of Sept. 17, 1992, when the Pittsburgh Steelers — off to a 3-0 start that season — ran headfirst into history at Lambeau Field.

These authors make modern theories accessible

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Black holes. Dark energy. String theory. Ever wonder what’s going on with modern physics? What the heck are these folks talking about?

Standing on the shoulders of such giants in the field as Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking are Lisa Randall and Brian Greene, who shed light on this otherwise obscure subject in an engaging style that is readily understandable to the interested layperson.

Putting our thoughts on paper

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Despite the 21st century’s dependence upon electronic media to communicate and convey information, we must remember that the world’s first and still most important technology for the broad dissemination of knowledge is simply paper.

Material to write on, made from wood, grasses or fabric, has been an important part of civilization, from ancient China, Egypt and Greece to the invention in the 15th century of moveable type and the boom of cheap printing during the Industrial Revolution. We can page through the history of this vital commodity in two new books: “The Paper Trail” by Alexander Monro and Mark Kurlansky’s “Paper.”

Why do we love cats?

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“The Lion in the Living Room: How House Cats Tamed Us and Took Over the World” by Abigail Tucker; Simon & Schuster (237 pages, $26)

I read much of Abigail Tucker’s “The Lion in the Living Room,” appropriately, with a cat on my lap. And though I sat quietly, she did not: sometimes perching on the arm of my chair, staring vaguely but fixedly into space while her tail blocked the pages; sometimes jumping out of my lap and noisily racing around the room for no apparent reason; sometimes launching into an impromptu round of claw-sharpening on the upholstery, despite having been told NO eleventy-billion times.

These books on tiny homes may make you want to sell your house

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I hate cleaning my house, also sometimes I just feel overwhelmed by all my stuff. I think this is the contributing factor on how I recently got hooked on a couple of crazy concept TV shows about Americans who have decided to try extreme downsizing and move into “tiny” houses. “Tiny house” is a specific term for a dwelling less than 400 square feet and some tiny houses are built onto a trailer to provide maximum mobility and freedom.

* “Tiny House Living: Ideas for Building & Living Well in Less than 400 Square Feet” by Ryan Mitchell is perhaps the best selling book on the subject. This book is sure to inspire anyone considering the options of paring life down to the most important basics. The essence of this book is to live well with less. It’s a call that is ringing true with different types of people across the country. Young people, baby boomers, do-it-yourselfers and environmentalists have all taken to the idea of a simple, yet well-lived lifestyle. This book explores the reasons why people have chosen to go tiny: time, freedom, finances, environmental concerns, uniqueness. Pages of beautiful color photos are included along with tours of 11 unique tiny homes, plus worksheets and practical strategies to help you decide if living tiny could work for you.

Great fiction writers can sometimes make for great fiction

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Avid readers can get as excited by the biography of their favorite writers as by their written works. A good work of fiction can also add insight and understanding to dry biographical information and make for an entertaining and informative read.

Paula McClain’s hugely popular “The Paris Wife,” based on the first of Ernest Hemingway’s four marriages, paved the way for several new imaginative books that put a new spin on a writer’s biography. Nancy Horan explores the personal life of Robert Louis Stevenson and his talented wife Fanny in “Under the Wide and Starry Sky.” Popular author Stewart O’Nan reveals the final days of F. Scott Fitzgerald in “West of Sunset” while Susan Scarf Merell puts an ominous spin on the life of novelist and short-story writer Shirley Jackson, in “Shirley.”

Picoult novel tackles thorny subject of race

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“Small Great Things” by Jodi Picoult; Ballantine (470 pages, $28.99)

Jodi Picoult is at it again. The author of 25 enormously popular novels, including “Leaving Time” and “My Sister’s Keeper,” is adept at taking on thorny issues — medical ethics, mass shootings, the death penalty — and recasting them on a relatable human scale. Her latest plunge into the current, “Small Great Things,” arrives at a pointed time when institutional racism — its violence and the entitlement it confers on some — is the subject of near daily commentary.

These books for children may help them cope in different situations

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Life can be challenging at any age, even when you are a child. The following are some children’s books that might generate some discussion and help your child through situations that they might encounter in life.

* “Yard Sale” by Eve Bunting

These books are not your grandpa’s Westerns

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If you’re reading “True Grit” by Charles Portis along with the rest of Kenosha for this year’s Big Read, then you might find yourself with a hankerin’ for more tales of the West, and the Kenosha Public Library can help!

Even if you don’t think you’re a Western fan, some of these newer novels might appeal to the mystery, romance, or historical-fiction lover in you. If you haven’t read “True Grit” yet, we can help with that too — just stop by any library location and we’ll round up a copy.

Leavitt’s latest set in off-kilter ’60s America

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“Cruel Beautiful World” by Caroline Leavitt; Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill (357 pages, $26.95)

For fans of Emma Cline’s best-selling debut, “The Girls,” Caroline Leavitt’s “Cruel Beautiful World” offers another opportunity to spend time in the wild, off-kilter America of the late 1960s, the period when peace-and-love idealism began to curdle into something far less wholesome, a period reigned over in the collective imagination by Charles Manson. Leavitt’s title — and lovely period book cover — get it just right.

Books for youngsters make the list for statewide literacy program

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Read On Wisconsin is a statewide literacy program that promotes high-quality books for children and teens with an annual list of recommended titles from the Cooperative Children’s Book Center at the University of Wisconsin — Madison. Here are a few more favorites from their recommendations of books for toddlers and preschoolers for the coming year.

* “Bulldozer’s Big Day” by Candace Fleming and Eric Rohmann — It’s a big day for Bulldozer and he can’t wait to celebrate. He zooms across the construction site, eager to share his news with all of his friends. He runs into Digger Truck first and says, “Guess what today is!” But Digger, busy at work, says, “Today is a scooping day.” Undaunted, Bulldozer rolls on. He finds that all of the other construction vehicles are similarly busy at work, sifting, stirring, filling, and lifting. Bulldozer’s blade droops lower and lower as he realizes that no one seems to remember his special day. Just when all hope is lost, Bulldozer hears the construction whistle blow and finds a big surprise awaiting him. The block print illustrations feature an inviting assortment of cheerful construction vehicles, complementing the sweet earnestness of the story.

Books to celebrate International Dot Day

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I hadn’t heard of International Dot Day until a co-worker mentioned that we should celebrate it at the Kenosha Public Library.

International Dot Day began in 2009 when Terry Shay, a teacher in Iowa, had Peter Reynolds share his book “The Dot” with his students. This year more than six million people representing 133 countries have been inspired by this book and are participating worldwide.

Books help children learn to deal with different social situations

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Children often have to deal with confusing and different social situations in life. Sometimes the right book will make a difficult topic more approachable and lead to a helpful discussion about the emotions the child is feeling.

The picture books listed here — geared toward children ages 4 to 8 — deal with understanding some of the problems happening in families, like when a loved one has dementia, is facing hunger and poverty or has gender issues.

Celebrate 100 years of National Parks with guidebooks, DVDs

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Writer and historian Wallace Stegner called our national parks “the best idea we ever had. Absolutely American, absolutely democratic, they reflect us at our best rather than our worst.”

This year marks the centennial anniversary for the National Park Service. For 100 years, the NPS has been entrusted to preserve the natural and cultural resources and values of the National Park System for the enjoyment, education and inspiration of this and future generations.

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