"A library book, I imagine, is a happy book." Cornelia Funke

"Everything puts me in mind of a story." Ben Franklin

Monday, March 31, 2014

Thing 12: Books, Books and More Books

YALSA Teen Book Finder:

"ALA’s Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) has produced an iPhone app (which will work as well on an iPad) to help teens, parents, librarians and library staff, educators, and anyone who loves YA literature access to the past three years’ of YALSA’s awards and lists on their smartphone."

Wow, my experiences with these recent apps are disappointing me. This looks like a fun and useful app and I'm sure that it is, but when I tried to begin my favorites list, I already ran into a snag. I searched for Susann Cokal's amazing book Kingdom of the Little Wounds, which won a Printz honor this January, only to find that it is not listed. A quick search of the Printz winning titles showed that the latest winner, Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick was also not yet included. I would have expected the titles to be more current! Oh well, soldiering on, I began my favorites list anyway.  Here's what some of that looks like:

On a positive note, I like the Hot Picks feature. Everyday it suggests three titles for you. Here is today's menu:

In spite of my criticism of title currency, I would recommend this app for its possibilities with Reader's Advisory.

"iStoryBooks is an app that contains 25 free children’s story books, both text & audio. There are books in the following categories: fairy & folk tales, animals, educational, and Ramayana (Hindu stories). According to the company, they publish new books every two weeks and they will appear automatically on the app. The app does provide access to premium content as well."
"My Library" opened up with 36 books, some of them premium (pay to read). They are:
  1. The Incredible Growing Plant
  2. From Root to Flower
  3. Food from the Sun
  4. My Busy Body
  5. The Hare's Liver: a Folk Story From Korea (Premium. Darn! Seriously.)
  6. What Every Organism Needs
  7. Food Chain
  8. B- and the Case of the Missing Doll (Premium)
  9. Chicken Little (Premium)
  10. The Leap Frog (Premium)
  11. Cars
  12. The Amazing Life of Helen Keller
  13. Violet's Gift
  14. Kumba Am and Kumba Amul: a Gambian Folk Tale
  15. Sea Animals
  16. The Fish Snatcher: a Wolof Tale From Gambia, West Africa
  17. Cock-a-Doodle-Moo!
  18. Cinderella
  19. The Ugly Duckling
  20. Little Red Riding Hood
  21. Things That Go
  22. The Little Red Hen
  23. Stone Soup
  24. The Three Little Pigs
  25. Four Clever Friends and a Hunter
  26. The World of Dinosaurs Big and Small
  27. Cenicienta (Cinderella-Spanish)
  28. The World of Trucks Big and Small
  29. A to Z Fruits & Vegetables: Preschool
  30. A to Z Fruits & Vegetables: Junior
  31. A to Z Fruits & Vegetables: Yummy Riddles
  32. A to Z Animals
  33. The Blue Fox
  34. El Zorro Azul
  35. The Crow, the doves and the Mouse
  36. El Cuervo, Las Palomas y El Raton
The first book I listened to/looked at was The Three Little Pigs. The pigs live in an orphanage until they are too old to stay, and thus they need to build their own homes. The first two pigs are characterized as messy/silly and greedy/gluttonous. The final pig has only good qualities. It is sort of a mediocre version of the story, but it is still the story, if you see what I mean. The only thing that really is a problem is that the first pig is called Brownie and described as being mud colored, but is illustrated as a pink pig like his siblings.
Next, I naturally went for Kumba Am and Kumba Amul: a Gambian Folk Tale. I enjoyed this more. It is a tale in the vein of "Toads and Diamonds" or "The Talking Eggs" where there is a favored daughter ("bad" sister) and a mistreated stepchild ("good" sister) who when sent to perform a chore meet a mysterious old crone who punishes or rewards them as they deserve.
I  think that this would be a reasonably good app to recommend to patrons, primarily because it is free. I will probably only use it to read the free folktales and then will delete it.

Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look & Meilo So

Brush of the Gods by Lenore Look & Meilo So, 2013.

This is another story about a painter so talented that his works come to life.  ( See also Lord of The Cranes, Liang and the Magic Paintbrush, The Magic Horse of Han Gan and The Boy Who Drew Cats. It is the imagined story of Wu Daozi, a great Chinese painter that actually lived during the T'ang dynasty (618-907). Calligraphy was considered the highest form of art, but Wu Daozi painted lifelike figures with moment such as hair, scarves and robes swinging and blowing in the wind. Lenore Look based her tale in part on information found in T'ang poetry and essays.

In our story, young Wu Daozi tries to learn calligraphy from his monk instructor, but instead of characters, he paints plants and animals. As his canvas expands to city walls, he draws scenes with Buddhas and earns the nickname "Flying Sleeves." He paints all day long and collects food for the poor through his admirers' gifts. Until one day, when he draws a butterfly so full of life that it flies away and he has nothing to show at nightfall. Wu Daozi loses all of his followers except the faithful children, and when he has grown up, he receives a commission from the emperor himself. This allows Wu Daozi to create his masterpiece and maybe even to sidestep death itself!

Meilo So provides the book's watercolor, ink, gouache and colored pencil illustrations.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Thing 11: Library and Reference

For this Thing, I decided to look at the ELM mobile website at:


Here is the page as it appears on my IPhone:

ELM is neatly arranged and easy to navigate. There were no databases that my library doesn't have (because of ELM, I imagine), but it was handy to be able to access them without a library card. For kicks, I searched for "wild leopard cat" in Ebsco Academic Search Premier and came up with satisfactory results.
 However when I searched for the library that I work for in the "Find Your Library" feature, nothing came up, although I filled in the city, county and name keyword. This was tiresome. If I, as a librarian who is used to having to persevere in a search was discouraged, imagine how other people feel! When I searched again for the closest library to my house (in Hennepin county), by name in the keyword box, I did find the information for that library. So, I don't know what the glitch for my Dakota county library is.
Still, it is important to know that this is a mobile friendly resource for patrons, if needed.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Thing 10: Sharing Photos

Instagram: "Instagram is by far the most popular photo sharing app at the moment. And unlike some of those websites who developed a mobile version, Instagram was born mobile and developed a website afterwards. Simple and straightforward, it allows you to either take photos directly with the app or use one in your Gallery and crop, add a filter, and share with the world."

I know that I'm coming really late to this. My husband and friends already use it, so when I signed up, there were lots of people to follow. Instagram seems straight forward and easy to use. I don't know how much I will use it, though. I don't usually share too many pictures, and when I do, it's on Facebook.

For kicks, here is a picture of our other dog, Jack, as of now my only Instagram content:

Monday, March 17, 2014

Thing 9: Taking & Editing Photos

The first app that I tried was Color Splurge:

"Color Splurge lets you do selective coloring on your images, which is where you can choose to change the color of just one or many things in your image. You can change your photos to black and white and make just one color stand out, or you can completely change the color of clothing in a photo. Color Splurge is all about messing with your photos colors."

It was easy to work with and you can see my results above. I can't imagine that I'll use this a lot, but it's nice to know that I have the option if I want it.

Next up was Line Camera:

"With LINE Camera you can jazz up your photos in a lot of different ways. You can apply filters to your pictures, choose from hundreds of frames, add text on your photos with a variety of fonts, and so much more. It’s an easy way to quickly have fun with your photos or to make some promotional materials for the library."

Here is a photo of my husband and our dog Zoe. I played around with it, and I think the filter that I used was "Romance." :) I'm not likely to use stickers or cartoony frames, but the filter options were fun.

On a scarier note, here is a morning snap of me, before and after. On the right, my skin has been brightened and smoothed, my face has been slimmed, my eyes have been enlarged and my hair has been volumized. And guess what? It's not really me anymore. I disapprove of this kind of editing. It's one thing to take breakouts off your face, but come on, my left side picture is reality.

I have two more apps to try for this entry, but I have to upgrade my software first. So, more will follow.

For St. Patrick's Day: Fin M'Coul by Tomie de Paola

Fin M'Coul: The Giant of Knockmanyhill by Tomie dePaola, 1981.

In honor of St. Patrick's Day and the fact that I'm somewhat Irish, let's take a look at the Celtic tale of Fin M'Coul and his clever wife Oonagh!  Although he is a fine giant himself, Fin has spent years running from the nasty Cucullin, a giant bully with magical strength provided to him by a brass finger. Cucullin has beaten every other giant in Ireland, and that is why he is coming for Fin. Luckily, Fin's lovely wife Oonagh has an ingenious plan to fool Cucullin, one that involves twenty one iron frying pans, fresh cheese, white stones and Fin all dressed up in baby clothes and lying in a huge cradle. Readers of all ages will love this funny and fantastic story of a bully's comeuppance and girls and women especially will appreciate the crafty Oonagh.

According to his website (http://www.tomie.com/) Tomie dePaola has written and/or illustrated almost 250 books and been published for 40 years. His books are classics, and this one is no exception. The art is colorful and playful, and dePaola's characters are very expressive and child pleasing. Readers will enjoy seeing the giants surrounded by smaller creatures such as tiny sheep, fairies, leprechauns and a bitty kitty cat. They will also get a laugh out of  bearded Fin dressed in his frilly pink bonnet, gown and baby booties.

Friday, March 14, 2014

Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong

Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong, 1993.

In this cheerful tale, the elderly and poor Haktaks survive  on what is grown in their tiny garden. One day, Mr. Haktak unearths an old brass pot that is too large to cook in and too small to bathe in. Fortunately though, it has the magical ability to double anything that is put inside it! The Haktaks soon have plenty of money and more than they need. Then, a small accident causes Mrs. Haktak to fall into the pot. What will the couple do with another Mrs. Haktak?

Lily Toy Hong's airbrushed acrylic and gouache paintings perfectly suit the jolly mood of the tale. The Hakataks look like friendly dolls with their plump bodies and round cheeks. Even so, they are anything but static, whether they wear bemused smiles, furrowed brows or matching expressions during sleep.

Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Lost Horse: a Chinese Folktale

The Lost Horse: a Chinese Folktale by Ed Young, 1998.

The Lost Horse may remind older readers of Fortunately by Remy Charlip (which I believe was published in 1964) because of the twists and turns of fate. Ed Young tells us that the story is a proverb in China with variations throughout the Middle East. In Young's expanded version, Sai, the wise man, is able to recognize that when something happens, it is difficult to judge whether it is good or bad without getting some perspective on the whole situation. When his strong and fast horse runs away during a thunderstorm, people are sorry for Sai, but he knows that it may not be such a bad thing after all, and is proven right when his horse returns a few days later, accompanied by a fine mare. Yet, Sai realizes she may not be a wholly good gain...

This book was published as a book and puppet set, but sadly, the library copy that I'm reading no longer has the puppets. Apparently, three were included so that kids could tell their own stories. Young's illustrations are pastel and watercolor paint and collage and once again use warm earthy tones. At the book's beginning, he has included Chinese calligraphy telling the original Chinese story.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Runaway Wok: a Chinese New Year Tale

The Runaway Wok: a Chinese New Year Tale by Ying Chang Compestine, Illus. by Sebastia Serra, 2011.

You may be expecting a variation on "The Gingerbread Boy" tale, but that is not the case with The Runaway Wok. It is actually based on the Danish folktale "The Talking Pot." On Chinese New Year's Eve, young Ming is sent to market to trade his family's eggs for a bag of rice. The local rich man has no intention of providing a New Year's feast and although Ming's parents are poor, they plan to make fried rice to celebrate and share with the neighbors. Instead of getting rice, Ming trades for a rusty, one-handled, singing wok. Once the wok has been cleaned up, with a "skippity-hoppity-ho!" it heads off to the rich man's house, returning with plenty of food. It repeats this three more times, bringing back gifts and improving the lives of the poor folk of Beijing. Readers will enjoy seeing the selfish and spoiled receive their due from the cheerful and tricky wok! A recipe for "Festive Stir-Fried Rice" follows the story.

Serra's colorful Beijing is bustling with people of all ages and animals like camels, oxen, cats, dogs and a monkey. His characters are very expressive,  such as the rich man's snooty wife with a small pursed bow of a mouth and one lowered arched eyebrow. One glance tells the reader the nature of her character.  Serra also shows us the happy festivity of Chinese New Year, with fireworks, strings of lanterns and a merry Dragon Parade.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Folktales of the Dragon King and His Sons

Legend of the Chinese Dragon by Marie Sellier, Illus. by Catherine Louis, Calligraphy by Wang Fei, 2006.

In ancient China, tribes lived under the protection of local animal spirits, such the bird of the mountains and the serpent of the high plains. But, because the people fought each other in the names of their spirit protectors, the children of China decided to create an animal that would watch over everyone, putting together the best qualities of each tribe's animal spirit. They came up with: a dragon! When the adults saw the beautiful creature, they vowed to end wars, and so the Chinese dragon became a symbol of peace.

Louis' art appears to be woodblock prints tinted with strong rainbow colors.

The Sons of the Dragon King: a Chinese Legend by Ed Young, 2004.

The uniting dragon mentioned above is here called the Dragon King and in this story he has nine sons who are each given a purpose. Every son has a habit that is judged to be unbecoming in the son of a king. The king is ready to scold, but then wisely finds a way that each behavior can be channeled for the benefit of the people. His noisy son Pu-Lao learns to become as musician, and his image decorates the musical instruments of China. Sixth son Ba-Sha frolicks all day in the water, but as he is a strong swimmer, the Dragon King recognizes that he can protect water travelers, and his face is used on China's bridges. Disruptively angry Ya Zi is pegged for military service and adorns the country's weapons. Therefore, the Dragon king is satisfied as each of his children learns and settles into his appropriate role.

Ed Young's illustrations of the dragon sons contrast their activities before and after parental guidance: indulging in their inappropriate behaviors and in their noble symbolic forms.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Thing 8: Social Meda Management Tools

My social media is Facebook and LinkedIn, but honestly I only really check Facebook. I used to do Twitter, but I didn't feel that I had anything really urgent to say and frankly it was more information than I needed about most people. Most days, I kind of view my social media use as an interesting bad habit and time waster. Since, I'm doing this thing, I thought that I should try something new, so I added the app for tvtag:

"tvtag (formerly GetGlue) is a social network where you can connect with others who like the same television shows and movies. Check in to shows you’re watching, connect with other users, and earn badges."

This actually doesn't seem like anything that I need and I don't know if it will be useful, since I don't watch TV in real time, only as it comes out on DVD. Still, it's usually fun to set up this kind of thing, since it involves doing some self-inventory. I loaded this last week. When I opened the app today, I got the message :"Fatal error. Reloading app." Not a good beginning. I'm kind of ready to scrap the whole thing, but I'll see what happens now.

I got notification that six people are following me, but I don't know if it's of their own free will or because they are my Facebook friends. Under my profile, it lists my four recent top shows as The Gilmore Girls, Sex and the City, Once Upon a Time and Desperate Housewives. Again, I think that it got that from my Facebook likes. I added some series that I'm still watching (when the next season comes out): Glee, Grimm, CSI, Call the Midwife, Downton Abbey, Major Crimes, NCIS, Orange is the New Black, Murdoch Mysteries, Sherlock, Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries and Nurse Jackie. Geez, I still do manage to watch a lot of TV.

For the Social Meda Management Tools part of this thing, I added Cloze:
"Cloze is a social media organizer that allows you to keep track of the people that are important to you. This focus on the people is really at the heart of this app. As it states on the Cloze website, “With Cloze people come first, everything else is secondary.” Cloze brings together Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and your email into one interface."

I'm assuming Cloze means close. I never approve of cutesy spellings, but maybe I'm missing something. I suppose that it's difficult to judge this app in one day, but here goes. It's working with my Facebook, LinkedIn and Gmail contacts. From this, it rounded up my "Key People" from mail and social and showed me their messages/postings. From mail, it pulled my husband. From social, it pulled 21 messages from 5 of my Facebook friends. It also brought me a list of people that I am "losing touch" with and I was amused to see my husband, who I spent all last evening/night/this morning with. Or maybe I should be dismayed? This app may be too much of a good thing for me. I just don't think that I'm so busy and swamped with friends and contacts that I can't keep track by myself.

Lord of the Cranes retold by Kerstin Chen

Lord of the Cranes retold by Kerstin Chen. Illus. by Jian Jiang Chen, 2000.

Tian is a wise old mountain dweller whose friends are the cranes. One day, he decides to disguise himself as a beggar and test the people below to see if they are remembering to be kind. Unfortunately, most people ignore him until he meets the owner of an inn who freely gives him food and drink every day. In order to repay him, Tian paints three magical cranes on the inn 's wall. They spring to life and dance for the innkeeper's customers. Because of this, the generous man also becomes a rich and successful one, who thereafter encourages others to share and be kind as he is.

Jian Jiang Chen's bright and bold paintings bring the tale to life. Sunset colored skies of orange, pink and purple contrast with the white winged cranes. Brush strokes highlight the birds' movements in flight. Old Tian appears dignified and serene.