>The book Looking at Totem Poles by Hilary Stewart is an eye-opener. First of all I assumed that the totem poles you see in books and on television are all old totem poles. Not true. In fact just the opposite.
I was flipping through the book, checking out all the wonderful totems, when I noticed that the carving dates for the poles in this book are fairly recent dates. Luckily, the author does a fantastic job of explaining why this is so.
Like most native peoples in North America, as soon as white settlers decided they wanted an area, the residents of that ancestral land were forced to move on and to deny their culture as well. In the case of totem poles it meant that quite a few of them were stolen and placed in national museums around the world, thus denying access to these important spiritual creations.
As most people know, totems tell a story. The totem pole tells a detailed story of a particular family’s history. As the totems disappeared from the landscape, so did the stories and those who knew how to carve them. Luckily, past mistakes by the U.S. and Canadian governments were realized, and the traditional peoples of the Pacific Northwest were once again able to enjoy the rich spiritual traditions of their ancestors. Also extremely lucky was the fact that some native peoples had continued on the tradition of totem pole carving (if only in miniature) and were able to pass these skills along to a younger generation. This younger generation of carvers quickly began the work of recreating the totemic scenery of the Pacific Northwest and its native peoples.
The ink drawings and photographs of the totem poles are amazing, as well as, the author’s description behind what these poles mean.
>Although it sounds hard to believe, the NCAA Basketball tournament (a.k.a.- March Madness) is once again upon us. Time to fill out those basketball brackets, scratch them out, and then rip them up. I think my favorite thing about March Madness is that even the casual fan becomes caught up in the excitement of going from 65 teams to 1 in a matter of a few weeks. Will Florida make it three in a row? Can KU and UNC meet in the finals? Are KU and KSU going to play a third time this year? Lots of questions and lots of basketball to be played.
For help in filling out those brackets we have two really awesome reference books available at MPL:
ESPN Sports Almanac 2008
Sports Illustrated Almanac 2008
Find average margins of victory for your teams, road wins, rpi ratings, etc.
So be ready to bring the knowledge and GO CATS!
>Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers. For me the name brings back memories of cruising around in the summer time with the windows rolled down and the radio blasting rock and roll. For those fans of rock in the 70′s and 80′s, Tom Petty was the essential roots based rocker, who wrote number one hit after number one hit.
This book is full of pictures of Tom and his band from his early days as a 15 year old touring musician, to his first known band “Mudcrutch”, and culminating with his years spent as the frontman for the Heartbreakers. Personal favorite pictures are Tom as a young rocker, and Tom recording with Johnny Cash.
Read the book with your favorite Petty record on, flip through the pages, and remember how it felt the first time you heard a Petty song cutting through the airwaves.
>With Fort Riley just down the road and more than a few soldiers who will decide to call this area home when their time is up, the public library has the information to help you navigate your post active duty life.
For the last 72 years, the Veterans Information Service has released a directory of information especially tailored for those who have served in our countries armed forces. The book What Every Veteran Should Know 2008 contains information such as:
-Health care benefits
-VA regional offices
-Eligibility requirements for Veteran’s benefits.
The book is located in our reference collection on the second floor. It is an item that cannot be checked out, thus assuring all that this information will be readily available when they come into the library.
The Story of Measurement by Andrew Robinson
Sometimes in this biblioblogosphere (the world of blogging librarians) you see a book that just screams “I am going to blog this.”
As someone who enjoys nonfiction, maps, and miscellany, this book is such a book.
Full of very nice pictures and graphics, this book explains the history and potential future for all things measured. We go on a tour from the subatomic particle to the vastness of space and ALL things in between.
They even have a section on “Book and Library Classification” for those needing a goodnight book.
Don’t look for it on the shelf just yet, I am taking this one home!
>Ever since George Romero brought us the film “Night of the Living Dead”, people have been fascinated with zombies. Whether in film, such as the “Return of the Living Dead” series, or more recently “Shaun of the Dead”, or in books such as “The Zombie Survival Guide”, our culture cannot seem to get enough of the “walking undead”.
World War Z: an oral history of the Zombie War by Max Brooks is the latest addition to the Zombie Lexicon. While a lot of the typical zombie stuff is in here, such as moaning zombies with a thirst for fresh humans, what sets this book apart is the style in which the book is told.
For fans of the books “Spoon River Anthology” by Edgar Lee Masters or “Winesburg, Ohio” by Sherwood Anderson, you will instantly recognize the particular method Brooks uses to tell this story.
Instead of a linear retelling of the events surrounding the Zombie War, in which humanity must save itself from the unstoppable moaning hoards, we are told of the events through the first person stories of the war’s survivors.
Gripping, tragic, and at times humorous, World War Z is not only a must read for zombies, but for fans of good literature as well.
>Cartographia: mapping civilizations by Vincent Virga and the Library of Congress is my new favorite book. Why? Because I am a map nut. Atlases, road maps, globes, you name a type of map and you can be pretty sure I have spent considerable time gazing upon it with informational wonderment.
This large collection of historical maps features the premiere maps in the Library of Congress and the story behind their creation. We learn of the map makers themselves and the incredible journeys of how these particular maps have come into existence.
This book is not only a masterpiece to the mind,
but to the heart as well.
Here are some of the neat maps included:
- The Waldeseemuller Map of the World from 1507, the first to include the designation “America”
- Pages from Ortelius’s Theatrum Orbis Terrarum of 1570, considered the first modern atlas
- William Faulkner’s hand-drawn 1936 map of the fictional Yoknapatawpha County, Mississippi
- A 2001 map of the human genome
Don’t take a wrong turn in Albuquerque! Check it out!
>Wonder what us librarians are thinking about all day? Ever thought about what goes on behind the scenes at your local library?
Well, then I have the book for you: Free for All: Oddballs, Geeks, and Gangstas in the Public Library by Don Borchert.
This book is a delightful read for those who frequent libraries and for those who work in them. Granted our library is not quite as exciting as the branch library in California that is the setting for this book, but the passion we have for our patrons, the library, and the community is the same.
The best part is that Borchert doesn’t engage in any sugar-coating of what he experiences from day to day. This lends considerable credibility to this his first book effort, and I for one can’t wait for the sequel; the puns are endless.
“Overdue” “3:10 to the Book Drop” “The Good, the Bad, the Graphic Novel.” “The Cat who went to the library.” “L is for Library.”
You get the idea.
>Today marks the anniversary of the death of one of my favorite poets T.S. Eliot. Below is a one of my favorites
They are rattling breakfast plates in basement kitchens,
And along the trampled edges of the street
I am aware of the damp souls of housemaids
Sprouting despondently at area gates.
The brown waves of fog toss up to me
Twisted faces from the bottom of the street,
And tear from a passer-by with muddy skirts
An aimless smile that hovers in the air
And vanishes along the level of the roofs.
The rockabilly legends : they called it rockabilly long before they called it Rock and Roll / Jerry Naylor and Steve Halliday.
Whether you are a fan of rockabilly music or just want to learn what put the fire in rock and roll, this book is a wonderful collection of stories and pictures about the beginning of foot-stomping rock.
This book covers, for the most part, the careers of six rockabilly giants: Jerry Lee Lewis, Buddy Holly, Elvis Presley, Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, and Roy Orbison. Not only do we get the story of each man’s rise to fame, we also are enlightened with the personal stories of thier families and friends.
And as if the wonderful layout and pictures in the book were not enough, there is an accompanying DVD Documentary on Rockabilly in the back of the book.
A must read for the casual music lover and the aficionado.
>Today’s Graphic Novel Grab Bag covers two music-based novels, but that is where the similarities end.
The “metal” part of today’s grab bag is Black Metal volume 1 by Rick Spears and Chuck BB. The story follows two young boys with a love for the darkest of heavy metal music: Black Metal. Life would be one rock adventure after another if not for an over-protective mother and a snot-nosed little brother, and there is that thing about having to go to junior high school everyday.
It makes you wonder how they ever find the time to battle the dark forces of evil. This is volume 1 in what I hope is the first of many. Wonderful action shots and a pretty amusing story make Black Metal a fun read.
The “blues” portion of today’s grab bag is the Bluesman
by Rob Vollmar and Pablo G. Callejo.
This three-volume series follows the journey of a blues musician in the deep south and his struggle to make a living. Wandering from juke joint to juke joint, the main character finally catches a lucky break. The only problem is when he and his partner find themselves in a situation in which the Bluesman is the only survivor. Who killed who and whose fault it is , are questions left for the local sheriff, who has to figure the whole mess out before his town erupts in a race war.
On the run and still dreaming of pressing that first single, we follow the Bluesman on his road to vindication. The surprise at the end is bittersweet and tear inducing.
There you go. Perfect reading for those with not only a love for music and of graphic novels, but of a good story as well.
>Books that put the “bleeding” back in Kansas!
This week’s graphic novel selections are of a darker variety than I am used to writing about, but both have some things in common: Murders in rural Kansas and authors that have considered Kansas home at one time or another.
The first selection is Capote in Kansas: a drawn novel. The author of this book is Ande Parks and the artist is Chris Samnee. Unlike the book In Cold Blood by Truman Capote, this book concentrates almost exclusively on the personal life of Capote as he investigates the murder of the Clutter family in Holcomb, Kansas in November of 1959.
It feels weird to say you have a favorite part of a book that covers such a tragic event, but the interaction between Capote and the murderers in this story offer some very compelling reading. We don’t ever really find any reason for why the murder was committed, but we do start to understand why Capote felt that this story needed to be told. A very fine book by Ande Parks.
The second selection is The Saga of the Bloody Benders,
with Rick Geary as artist and author. This story takes place in the year 1870 in Labette County, Kansas.
This book follows the Bender family as they strike out to make a living on the Kansas prairie. They start by running a grocery story that provides a place to sleep for the weary traveler. The only problem is visitors check in but they seldom, if ever, check out. Whereas in the Capote book the murderers are found and brought to justice, no one ever really knew what happened to the Bender family. Some have speculated that they weren’t even really a family, just a bunch of outlaws out to make some money off unsuspecting travelers.
My favorite part of this novel is the amount of historical detail that has gone into the drawing of each frame and into the telling of this macabre tale. The hard part is remembering that such an awful group once called the beautiful prairie lands of Kansas home.
Great book for learning about this infamous family in Kansas history.
Check both of these books out if you have the chance. But be warned, you might find yourself pulling the blankets up a little higher and checking the locks in the middle of the night.
>This weeks Graphic Novel Grab Bag covers three different stories and three different art styles.
The first graphic novel is entitled James Sturm’s America: God, Gold, and Golems. This is actually a collection of three previously published stories by James Sturm. As stated by the title all three stories focus on events that appear uniquely American: the gospel tent revival, a gold rush, and a traveling baseball team from the turn of the century. As bright and sunny as the cover might appear, all three are cautionary tales about prejudices, hatred, and racism. Ultimately, each story has a somewhat bright ending, much like the Sun poking out behind the cloud on the cover.
The second novel in today’s grab bag is Plastic Man: On the Lam by Kyle Baker. Plastic Man is a very humorous take on the action-hero comic. All the cliches are here: dimwitted sidekick, beautiful partner, working for a clandestine organization, and saving the world from destruction. The artwork in this novel is very vibrant, and in contrast to some of the darker comics I have read lately, this one is all about the slapstick. Probably my favorite part of this novel was all the different ways Plastic Man transforms himself, Scooby Doo one moment and Sherlock Holmes the next.
The third and final novel in today’s grab bag is WE3 by Grant Morrison. I am relatively new to the graphic novel format, but Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely are two names that I keep seeing over and over. Having had the pleasure to read a few of Grant Morrison novels, I would say that you really can’t go wrong with any title.
This story is somewhat tragic. A secret government program to turn everyday animals into lethal killing machines, the hope being that modern warfare will take place in remote locations without the loss of human life. As you can see from the cover, these animals are a far cry from the family pet sitting at your feet.
Everything seems to be okay, until these animals escape from the lab. That is when all hell breaks loose. The artwork in WE3 is what helps set this novel apart from its peers. With an ending that brought a tear even to this grizzled face, WE3 has gained a spot as one of my all-time favorite graphic novels.
>I have been reading a lot of graphic novels this week. Mainly because my friend Mickey convinced me that there is nothing wrong with a grown man reading graphic novels.
This week I had the pleasure of reading three really good graphic novels that cover the spectrum of what the medium has to offer.
by Jean-Philippe Stassen is the story of a young boy on the verge of manhood in Rwanda days before the genocide of 800,000 Rwandans. Told in flashbacks, the story provides glimpses into the life of Deogratias in the moments leading up to this global tragedy. Touching, sad, and ultimately heartbreaking, this story displays the depth of emotion the author is able to invoke with not only his words, but with his artistic vision as well. This story has adult themes and is meant for an adult audience.
, I needed a book like Graphic Classics: Ambrose Bierce
to put a smile back on my face. The graphic novel format is a perfect fit for Bierce. All the classic Bierce stuff is in this book: An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge
, Bierce’s Fables
, and of course The Devil’s Dictionary
. I remember the first time I picked up The Devil’s Dictionary
, I was about twelve years old and was expecting a book of spells. I was of course surprised, but upon further reading, Ambrose Bierce became one of my favorite humorists. The beauty of this book is the variety of artists and artistic styles utilized to inform the modern reader of the amazing wit and cynicism of Mr. Bierce. My grandpa would call this one a “side-splitter”.
Every now and then, a book comes along that has a cover that requires you to read the book. Man with the Screaming Brain
is just such a novel. Granted this probably happens a lot more with graphic novels since the cover gives you a general idea of the artwork. The story is written by Bruce Campbell best known for his roles in the Evil Dead comic-horror movies. The camp of those movies shines through brilliantly in this story as we follow a business couple on a trip to Russia. Gypsies, mad scientists, criminals, all come together in this send-up of 1950′s sci-fi horror movies. This novel is a quick one and only takes about twenty minutes to get through, but it is well worth the surprise ending.
Our graphic novels are on the second floor. We also have graphic novels in our Young Adult area, and in our children’s library. Ask a librarian for assistance if you need help finding them.
Read a book!