Monday, April 28, 2014

April 2014 Staff Book Recommendations

April 28, 2014

Bloody Jack: Being an account of the curious adventures of Mary "Jacky" Faber, Ship's Boy
By L.A. Meyer

It’s 1803 and Jacky Faber, orphan and London street urchin, volunteers to be a “ship’s boy” on a British Royal Navy ship to escape the violence and poverty of being homeless. It’s an exciting life, fighting pirates on the high seas and visiting exotic ports. Jacky loves learning the ropes (literally) and sails, and climbing to the crow’s nest with his mates. He especially likes being fed every day. The only problem is Jacky is actually a girl, Mary, and she has to hide her gender for fear of being put off the ship. Her secret must be maintained even from her beloved James Emerson Fletcher, another ship’s boy.

Bloody Jack is the first in a series of adventure novels about Jacky, stories that take her from Boston to the Mississippi, and even to China. Along the way she comes in contact with sailors, spies, slaves, sunken treasure, and sovereigns. But the most relevant “s” in that list is Survivor. Jacky , and her virtue ,survive endless brushes with death: by drowning, by hanging, by runaway kite, by cannonball, by jealous rivals, and in battle. Jacky is clever, intrepid and philosophical. She survives it all - but fate seems to ever be keeping her from Jaimy.

The Bloody Jack books are well-researched. For those readers who are interested, there’re all sorts of facts about sailing ships, life in the early 19th century, and the Napoleonic Wars. Jacky is a delightful and complex persona, and, in fact, nearly all the characters have depth. The author skillfully weaves Jacky’s story in with the most important historical events of her time. Although Jacky is a small child when her story begins, these books are not recommended for younger readers due to some adult-themed material. However, middle-school-aged through adult readers will find themselves on the edge of their seats in anticipation of Jacky’s next escapade.

The series comprises these individual novels, all of which can be read on their own:

As good as these books are, the audio versions are even better. Actress Katherine Kellgren is the voice of every character: young and old, aristocrat and slum-dweller, American teacher and Irish bard, English lord and Boston Brahmin, Spaniard tattooist and French general; she is the master of all accents and both genders, and the full panoply of human emotions. Bloody Jack books and CDs are available at the WPL or through Interlibrary Loan. On the web, see:


April 14, 2013

American Mirror: The Life and Art of Norman Rockwell
By Deborah Solomon

American Mirror is a very interesting and detailed look at Norman Rockwell’s artistic development and career. Solomon’s book is controversial due to her consistent and puzzling hunt for clues to prove that Rockwell was a closet homosexual which are “stretched” so far as to, in the end, prove to be comical and call into question Solomon’s motives for doing so. She describes Rockwell’s childhood in upper Manhattan when Norman started copying battleships from cigarette trading cards. In 1905, Rockwell, 11 years old, won first prize in a New York Herald drawing contest. The family moved to Mamaroneck where he attended high school while also taking classes at the New York School of Art and the National Academy of Art. Later, in 1911, he enrolled in the Arts Student League of New York.

It is important to note that Rockwell grew up during the golden years of the Age of Illustration in America. Howard Pyle was his idol. However, Rockwell also always felt torn between illustration and fine art, even as the borders between the two began to blur (ironic, given that very recently Sotheby’s announced that an auction of a Rockwell painting of the Boston Red Sox, “The Rookie”, might bring $20 - $30 million dollars!). However, the starkly commercial aspects of magazine illustration always nagged at him.

Rockwell’s career spans nearly a century of American art. He did not change his particular style of painting and survived criticism and the vacillating tastes of both the public, art critics, and artists themselves. Not many know of the devastating fire in his studio in Vermont where many paintings and drawings were forever lost. He also had three marriages, all to teachers. He supported war efforts with his art but was strongly against the Vietnam War. He did purport to admire abstract art and even did some work in that area. However, in the end, his lasting legacies are his Saturday Evening Post covers and depictions of small town rural America.

Solomon’s book is well worth reading. It is an in depth account of an iconic American artist, although it is more of a socially than artistically critical appraisal of Rockwell’s years. Her book also contains a little bonus for any readers with a Worcester “bent”: there are two interesting local connections, one on page 215, and another on page 389 – I won’t say more than that. Check them out. In the end, one thing is certain: there won’t be another Norman Rockwell and I think many of us miss his great talent and humor.


April 7, 2014

The Martian
By Andy Weir

A human being should be able to change a diaper, plan an invasion, butcher a hog, conn a ship, design a building, write a sonnet, balance accounts, build a wall, set a bone, comfort the dying, take orders, give orders, cooperate, act alone, solve equations, analyze a new problem, pitch manure, program a computer, cook a tasty meal, fight efficiently, die gallantly. Specialization is for insects.”--Robert A. Heinlein

In Andy Weir’s first novel, The Martian, astronaut Mark Watney doesn’t slaughter any pigs, but he shows his self-sufficiency in many other ways. After a freak accident leaves him nearly dead on the Martian surface, his teammates abandon their habitat and what they believe to be his lost body, and begin the long journey back to Earth.

Watney needs to figure out how to survive for four years until the next Mars mission from Earth arrives, and how to get to their planned landing spot, thousands of kilometers away across the mountainous and cratered Martian surface. But he only has food and water designed to support a team of six for 30 days. The temperature outside the habitat averages 80 degrees below zero, the atmosphere is almost completely made up of unbreathable carbon dioxide, and the accident that almost killed him destroyed the communication equipment so he can’t call NASA for help.

Every astronaut on his team was an expert in at least two disciplines; Watney is a mechanical engineer and a botanist. His cleverness while trying to survive is reminiscent of the old TV show MacGyver, where the title character comes up with astonishing but perfectly reasonable solutions to what appears to be intractable problems.

Most of the story is told from his point of view, until an alert NASA technician sees evidence of change in images of the Martian surface at the location of the aborted mission. Mission Control wants to help but time and physics is working against them…

-- Melody

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Teen Zone

June 1, 2014

June 9th begins our Summer Reading Program: Spark A Reaction! You can sign up online to log time spent reading and attending library programs this summer, and win prizes for doing so. For every 500 minutes you read, you can win a prize, with a chance to win an IPad Mini at the end of the program!
Teens (and other YA lit lovers) can join us at the WPL to kick off this year's Summer Reading Program with a visit from author Julie Berry, who recently published her newest YA novel, All The Truth That's in Me. Julie will hold a book talk followed by a writing workshop on Tuesday, June 17th from 5 - 7pm at the Main Library. Check out a copy of one of her books before the event!

May 1, 2014

Teens, join us for one of our programs this May! On May 28th from 6-7:30pm in the Children’s Program Room our Spilled Ink writing group will be joined by poet and educator Jennifer Freed. Jennifer will conduct a workshop for teen writers and poets focusing on the John Green novel The Fault in Our Stars. She will also answer your questions about life as a writer and give advice on becoming one. If you are interested in improving your skills, please join us for this free event! Also, don’t forget to check the Teen Event Calendar to see all of our other free programs this May!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

"True Detective" Reading List

Your friendly WPL librarians don't only read books; we also love TV shows like HBO's "True Detective"!

Now that the show is over, if you (like us) find yourself anxious for more from Rust and Marty, we have some books you might enjoy. Click here for a list of 16 titles; you will find call number information and can place a hold with your library card if it's unavailable. The list includes Southern fiction for those most attracted to the setting; hard boiled detective stories for those interested in mysteries; tales of the macabre and magical; and philosophy books similar to Rust's own views.


"True Detective" is one of the few TV dramas written entirely by one person, Nic Pizzolatto. Before he wrote the episodes, he wrote the 2010 novel Galveston, whose protagonist could be easily  mistaken for a civilian version of Rust. The novel takes place in Texas and Louisiana, and includes just as much murder and mayhem as the show.

The disturbing Biblical imagery from "True Detective" is reminiscent of British romantic poet and artist William Blake. This collection is a great introduction to his work and includes many images.

This Chilean author said that he would probably have been a homicide detective if he didn't become a writer. He blends magical realism, government corruption, love and mystery in The Skating Rink, originally published in Spanish in 1993.

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

From the Children's Room

Hooray for Spring! April brings to mind many of our favorite things here in the Children’s Room -- National Poetry Month, National Library Week, April Vacation, Earth Day, and El Día de Los Niños/El Día de los Libros. On a more serious note, it is also Holocaust Remembrance Month. We’ll be celebrating and reflecting in turn, and we would love to have you join us.

Celebrate art with Saori weaver Bayda Asbridge on April 5th or with graphic novelist Jamie Buckmaster on April 11th and April 25th. Celebrate diverse heritages with storyteller Laura Partridge on April 12th or during our day-long festival for “El Día” on April 30th. Celebrate the Earth during school vacation with the DPW&P on April 22nd (Earth Day!), a marigold planting on April 23rd, and our second annual Rustic Petting Zoo on April 24th.
We celebrate the library every day, but during National Library Week, April 13-19, we will have a special photo booth, and we want you to help us spread the word (psst...the word is read!) Drop by and have your picture taken!
All programs are free and open to the public. For more details, including ages, times, and registration details, keep an eye on our calendar and on Facebook. We hope to see you in April!

April in the Teen Zone

It’s all about the arts this month in the Teen Room! Join us for lots of programs that will get your creativity flowing and inspire you to create. On Fridays April 4th, 11th, and 18th from 4-5pm, we will be having our first sessions of Studio Art 101, taught by local artist Nancy McBride. Nancy will teach students over the three-week course about painting with acrylics. This class requires registration and students are asked to attend all three sessions. Register at the Teen or Children’s Room Desk by April 3rd.
April is also National Poetry Month, so we will be welcoming back poet Alex Charalambides for a Poetry Slam on April 16th from 6-7:30pm in the Banx Room. Come listen to other teens perform their poetry, or prepare something of your own to share in this friendly and supportive environment. All teens are welcome!
On April 25th from 3:30-5 in the Teen Room we will be crafting with recycled materials to celebrate Earth Day. Recycling whiz Carmen Barbosa will teach us how to upcycle used materials into awesome new items, including earrings, wallets, and purses. She will also give insight into the importance of recycling, so make sure to thank Mother Earth this month by coming to this crafty program!
If you are in the mood for something a little more palatable, come to our Edible Art program on April 18th at 4pm in the Teen Room. Everyone can create a work of art using some very tasty ingredients, and then eat it! And don’t forget about our Learn to Draw Manga classes on April 11th and 25th from 3-4pm in the Banx Room. These classes are taught by talented graphic artists Andy Fish and Jamie Buckmaster, and open to all teens for free and without registration. Join us!
And, of course, don’t forget about our other ongoing programs including Level Up: Video Gaming on Wednesdays from 4:30-6, Chess Club on Thursdays from 3-5, Teen Reads Book Club on April 15th from 5:30-6:30, the Teen Advisory Group meeting on April 8th from 4-5:30, the Spilled Ink writers club on April 30th from 6-7:30, and more! For more information about any of these programs, please email Teen Librarian Samantha at or call 508-799-1671.