Archive for the 'The Library' Category

Some Summer Library Books

Here are some books that I have been reading recently. Mail-order Mysteries is a book where they take the ads from old comic books and send-away for what’s being advertised. When they get it back, they compare it with the description in the ad. Most of them, like the giant seven foot ghost and the “thousand toy soldiers” were nothing like the ad. It was written by a guy who collected things from comic books when he was a kid. The book in the middle, Fantastic Voyage, is about a small group of people who go inside a scientist’s body in a shrunken submarine in an attempt to clear a blood clot from his brain. It was a very descriptive book, especially when they are being shrunken down. The Time Pirate is the second book in the Nick of Time series. The book starts in 1940 on the British Channel Islands. Nick, a 13 year old boy, will end up fighting pirates, bombing Nazis, and meeting George Washington. All three of these are good books but I really liked the Time Pirate, especially the description of Nick fixing his dad’s Sopwith Camel.

Norse Mythology

Runemarks by Derringdos

I was recently searching for a new book to read and came across Runemarks by Joanne Harris. I enjoyed it immensely and it is now one of my favorite books. It centers on a fourteen year old girl named Maddie who lives in a village in a sort of fantasy world five hundred years after Ragnarok. Because of the magical symbol, or runemark, on her hand which marks her as one who can use magic, she is an outcast and rumored to be a witch. The book follows her story as she meets various figures from Norse mythology and discover her destiny. I love mythology of any sort so I really liked meeting all the characters and learning more about their back-stories and laughing at all of the little jokes the author has slipped in. I can’t wait to read the sequel! After finishing Runemarks, I still craved more Norse mythology, so I dug out our old copy of the d’Aulaires’ Norse Gods and Giants to read up on my myths and draw several of the gods and goddesses. Above you can see Loki and baby Hel, Odin and Frigg, and Bragi and Idunn. Even after all this I was still hungry for more, so I began to watch one of the most entertaining shows I have ever seen: “The Mythical Detective Loki Ragnarok,” an anime that focuses on Loki, exiled to Earth by Odin in the form of a young boy, where he must evade being killed by various Norse gods and monsters while simultaneously running a detective agency to try to return to Asgard. It is super fun to watch, although lacking in a few respects, mainly female empowerment, but hopefully that will change as I continue watching (on Hulu). I’m so glad I found Runemarks and rediscovered my love of Norse mythology!

Lodge log books

When you’re on an overnight trip with 30 fourth and fifth graders (see Peabody’s earlier post), it’s a pleasure to find a safe place for a bit of peace and quiet. At the Clair Tappaan Lodge in the Sierras, that place is the Library, a medium sized reading room with a cozy wood stove and eclectic collection of donated fiction, travel and natural history books. On one of the lower shelves, are large Tupperware containers filled with visitor log books dating back to the 1930s. The oldest books simply list names and dates. But many are packed with the personal accounts of the Boy Scout troops, nature clubs, families, couples and individuals who have used the lodge as a base for exploring the area. My favorites were illustrated with maps and pictures or random doodles. Check out a few pictures here.

What we are reading

We love the cover of Tom Swift and his Repelatron Skyway. The book, which we found at Pegasus, is one in a series of 1960’s sci-fi stories staring the son of the original Tom Swift. Like his father, Tom Jr. is a young inventor with a spirit of adventure. This one took him to Africa where he and his friend Bud confront a reclusive scientist, an evil mining company executive and dinosaurs! We’ll be looking for more of Tom’s Atomic Age adventures. Nettie has just finished Theodosia and the Last Pharaoh, the fourth book in the Theodosia Thockmorten series by R.L. LaFevers. And we’ve just started reading the fourth book in her Beastology series, The Unicorn’s Tale. All highly recommended.

Good Finds at CPS Book Fair

This is the weekend for the College Prepatory School Book Fair. Annabel and Nettie worked the opening hours reorganizing the stacks, following the wake left by the pros – used book salespeople with big blue Ikea bags. We left with our own treasures: Peabody found a DK lego book and Nettie took home a first edition Nancy Drew and “What People Wore” a big book of clothing illlustrations from ancient Egypt to the 1920s.

UK mag: How it Works

On my return trip from the GamesCom game convention in Cologne, I picked up some chocolate treats and magazines for the Derringdos. In Germany I found the new Kinder Joy egg. It has a white chocolate cream filling that you scoop out with a plastic tab (picture here). During my brief layover at Heathrow, I found my new favorite (or should that be favourite) magazine, How it Works. It covers almost 1000 individual science and technology subjects, in a concise and straightforward style. This issue’s short articles included Super Earths, laser power, massive mining machines and the IKAROS solar sail. Directions on how to mod a Nerf Maverick increasing its range by 60% sold me on a subscription. They have a special offer for US subscribers at the moment. Check it out here.

Travel Books vs. Travel Apps

Saturday’s Financial Times had a feature on the downturn in the guidebook publishing and the rise of travel applications. The FT likes “augmented reality” tools that let you scan the horizon with your phone’s camera and see hotels pointed out over the screen or take a snapshot of a museum’s painting to get its history. I’ve played with some of these apps and found them slow and finicky. And the the information provided isn’t usually what I’m looking for. My iPhone’s GPS map and web browser are the only apps I regularly use for travel help. Even with those, we still carry a traditional map and usually a walking tour book or two. On our summer trip to London we used Andrew Duncan‘s Favourite London Walks (we have been using his books for years) and an old copy of Walks in London, written in the late 19th century by Augustus Hare.

Theodosia Throckmorton Tour of London

While we were in London, I was finishing the third book in my new favorite series written by R.L. LaFevers about Theodosia Throckmorton, an eleven-year-old girl living in turn-of-the-century London. She has the special ability to detect vile curses on the Ancient Egyptian artifacts brought to the museum her parents run (The Museum of Legends and Antiquities), and, while working to remove them, gets caught up in many exciting adventures involving secret societies, mummies, and valuable antiquities. Since the books note many specific sites in London, I decided to find out if I could visit them while on our trip. I won’t put in any spoilers, but my sites do include the second and third book. Here are the places I visited:

  1. The Seven Dials: The scene of an exciting chase in the first book, “Theodosia and the Serpents of Chaos”. In the book, the Seven Dials is in a crime-ridden, seedy neighborhood, but today, it is a nice, friendly section of town. No people getting stabbed here!
  2. The British Museum: Theodosia visits this rival museum once in “Serpents of Chaos”, and again in the third book, “Theodosia and the Eyes of Horus”. It’s also just a really big, interesting museum that we go to every time we’re in London.
  3. Cleopatra’s Needle: Scene of a large battle between two secret societies that want something (I’m trying to not give anything away!) in the end of ” Eyes of Horus”. It is so cool to see an Egyptian obelisk just standing in the middle of London!
  4. Chesterfield Street: is where Theodosia lives. It is also the location of the Embassy of the Bahamas! The street is filled with old townhouses, exactly as described in the books.
  5. Charing Cross Station: The main train station used by Theodosia’s family and enemies. I’m afraid it doesn’t look quite as it used to.
  6. The Alcazar Theater: is now called the Phoenix, but looks pretty much the same. Theodosia first visits in the beginning of “Eyes of Horus”, and continues to visit throughout the book. It is at Charing Cross Road.
  7. Somerset House: The former inhabitance of the Society of Antiquaries, and also, in the Theodosia series, the Brotherhood of Chosen Keepers. It is now “an inspiring space for art, culture and creative exchange”. It looks very grand, and you can just imagine Theo visiting here. It is located on the Strand.
  8. Burlington House: The current location of the Society of Antiquaries. Not in the Theodosia books, but I wanted to see where the Society was now. It IS a really pretty building, and you can eat lunch in the courtyard… You can find it at: 31 Burlington Arcade.

I didn’t go to any sites particular to the second book: “Theodosia and the Staff of Osiris”, but there are plenty. This was a really fun tour to do: one of my favorite parts of our London trip. I loved being able to actually SEE the places that are in the books.

Cherry Ames, Department Store Nurse

Recently I have been reading the Cherry Ames mystery series, about a young nurse in the 1940s. The pink hardcover on the far left of the photo is “Cherry Ames, Department Store Nurse”, the last in the series, the first one I read, and the funniest so far (the department store Santa frequently visits her for aspirin). In the book I just finished, “Cherry Ames, Army Nurse”, Cherry is in the army, making new friends (and enemies) and saving lives. “Cherry did not know what new life she would find [in the Pacific], what new challenges she would face. But whatever it was, she was ready for it!”

Worst Witch is the Best!

I have just finished rereading “The Worst Witch in Trouble” which is one of the books in a series about a witch named Mildred Hubble who goes to Miss Cackle’s Academy for Witches. This may sound like Harry Potter, but was published before Harry, and is much much better. One confusion, though, was about the latest publishing putting two books in one. For anyone who is insanely confused (as I was) here is the book order: The first book is “The Worst Witch at School” which has “The Worst Witch” and “The Worst Witch Strikes Again”. The second book is “The Worst Witch in Trouble” which has “A Bad Spell for the Worst Witch” and “The Worst Witch at Sea”. The third book is called “The Worst Witch Saves the Day” and the fourth book is “The Worst Witch to the Rescue. Hope this helps!