Saturday, August 29, 2020

Weekly Reads Episode Twenty-One

Join Librarians Devon and Joy for another episode of Weekly Reads. This week's suggestions include an historical fiction set in Russia, the history of a kidnapping epidemic during the Great Depression, a novel about a woman who can taste emotions, a book of Indigenous knowledge, and of course a coming soon title! Tune in next week for another round of Weekly Reads.

Featured Titles for Episode Twenty-One:

Thursday, August 27, 2020

Tenniel and Rackham: Two Great Artists of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland

If you caught our Facebook Live Read-Along of Lewis Carroll’s Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, you probably saw a variety of illustrations relating to the story done by various artists. However, in this librarian’s opinion, the two biggest artists to illustrate Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland were John Tenniel and Arthur Rackham. 

If you missed our Alice's Adventures in Wonderland Read-Along, you can start it here.

Tenniel was the first illustrator for the published versions of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Many believe that the continued success of Carroll’s two books are due in part to Tenniel’s illustrations. However, Tenniel and Carroll did not get along, and when Through the Looking Glass was completed Tenniel declared that his inspiration was gone and that he was done with children’s books. Originally known as a political cartoonist for the magazine Punch, Tenniel continued working there until his retirement at age 80.

Many people imagine Tenniel's
illustrations when thinking of Alice.
The next big illustrator for Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was Arthur Rackham. His illustrations were featured in the 1907 reprinting of Carroll's book, and at that time Rackham was considered to be a prominent illustrator. However, when the 1907 version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published, many Tenniel fans were furious and felt that Rackham was erasing the perfection of Tenniel's work. Despite the controversy, the reprinting with Rackham's illustrations were a commercial success.

Whether you like Tenniel's or Rackham's style best, we have books depicting both illustrators' work, as well as a version of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland that contains illustrations by various artists. See below for a list of book recommendations, and don't forget you can watch our read-along of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland through the library's YouTube page.

Rackham's watercolors are considered
ethereal and otherworldly.

Suggested Reading

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Carroll
This book tells of a girl named Alice falling through a rabbit hole into a fantasy world populated by peculiar, anthropomorphic creatures. The tale plays with logic, giving the story lasting popularity with adults as well as with children. It is considered to be one of the best examples of the literary nonsense genre. Its narrative course and structure, characters and imagery have been enormously influential in both popular culture and literature, especially in the fantasy genre.

The Annotated Alice by Lewis Carroll
For over half a century, Martin Gardner has established himself as one of the world's leading authorities on Lewis Carroll. His Annotated Alice, first published in 1959, has over half a million copies in print around the world and is beloved by both families and scholars—for it was Gardner who first decoded many of the mathematical riddles and wordplay that lay ingeniously embedded in Carroll's two classic stories, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass.

Alice's Adventures in Wonderland, Decoded by David Day
Alice's Adventures in Wonderland--published 150 years ago in 1865--is a book many of us love and feel we know well. But it turns out we have only scratched the surface. Scholar David Day has spent many years down the rabbit hole of this children's classic and has emerged with a revelatory new view of its contents. What we have here, he brilliantly and persuasively argues, is a complete classical education in coded form--Carroll's gift to his "wonder child" Alice Liddell.

Arthur Rackham is regarded as one of the leading illustrators from the golden age of British book illustration, which went from 1890 until the end of World War I. The acclaim for the artist's wealth of color illustrations has overshadowed the merit of his first-rate ink work, a genre deserving of individual attention. This original volume, the first available collection of Rackham's line art, features images from throughout his career, including illustrations for Alice in Wonderland, Peter Pan in Kensington Gardens, A Midsummer Night's Dream, and some rare periodical work. 

Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Featured September Releases

Did one of the book covers on our homepage catch your eye? They are all new titles being released in September 2020, and all are well-reviewed and anticipated. Read below for a description of each, and click the linked title if you'd like to request a copy or get your name on the wait list. And don't forget to watch for more featured releases next month!

Featured Fiction Titles for September:

Anxious People by Fredrick Backman
Looking at real estate isn’t usually a life-or-death situation, but an apartment open house becomes just that when a failed bank robber bursts in and takes a group of strangers hostage. Each of them carries a lifetime of grievances, secrets, and passions that are ready to boil over. None of them is entirely who they appear to be. And all of them—the bank robber included—crave some sort of rescue. As authorities and the media surround the premises these reluctant allies will reveal surprising truths about themselves and set in motion a chain of events so unexpected that even they can hardly explain what happens.

The Lying Life of Adults by Elena Ferrante

Giovanna’s face is changing, turning ugly, so her father thinks. Giovanna, he says, looks more like her Aunt Vittoria every day. But can it be true? Is she turning into Aunt Vittoria, a woman she hardly knows? Is there a mirror in which she can see herself as she truly is? Giovanna searches for her reflection in two cities that detest one another: Naples of the heights, which assumes a mask of refinement, and Naples of the depths, a place of vulgarity. She moves from one to the other in search of the truth.

Transcendent Kingdom by Yaa Gyasi

A novel about faith, science, religion, and family that tells the deeply moving portrait of a family of Ghanaian immigrants ravaged by depression and addiction and grief, narrated by a fifth year candidate in neuroscience at Stanford school of medicine studying the neural circuits of reward seeking behavior in mice.

Featured Nonfiction Titles for September:

Solutions and Other Problems by Allie Brosh
Solutions and Other Problems includes humorous stories from Allie Brosh's childhood; the adventures of her very bad animals; merciless dissection of her own character flaws; incisive essays on grief, loneliness, and powerlessness; as well as reflections on the absurdity of modern life.

How I Built This: The Unexpected Paths to Success from the World's Most Inspiring Entrepreneurs by Guy Raz

Award-winning journalist and NPR host Guy Raz has interviewed highly successful entrepreneurs to uncover their amazing stories. In How I Built This, he shares tips for every entrepreneur’s journey: from the early days of formulating your idea, to raising money and recruiting employees, to fending off competitors, to paying yourself a real salary. This is a must-read for anyone who has ever dreamed of starting their own business or wondered how trailblazing entrepreneurs made their dreams a reality.

Real Change: Mindfulness to Heal Ourselves and the World by Sharon Salzberg

In today's world we're flooded with breaking news that causes anger, grief, and pain. People are feeling more stressed than ever and in the face of this anxiety they get so overwhelmed that they can't do anything. In Real Change Sharon Salzberg shares sage advice and indispensable techniques to help free ourselves from negative feelings and actions. She teaches that meditation is not a replacement for action, but rather a way to practice generosity with ourselves and summon the courage to break through boundaries, reconnect to a movement that's bigger than ourselves, and have the energy to stay active. 

Saturday, August 22, 2020

Weekly Reads Episode Twenty

Join Librarians Devon and Joy for another episode of Weekly Reads. This week's suggestions include a psychological thriller, a memoir of Silicon Valley, a classic horror novel, the story of an African American woman who co-owned a baseball team, and of course a coming soon title! Tune in next week for another round of Weekly Reads.

Featured Titles for Episode Twenty:
His & Hers by Alice Feeney
Sisters by Daisy Johnson
Carrie by Stephen King
Queen of the Negro Leagues: Effa Manley and the Newark Eagles by James Overmyer
Uncanny Valley by Anna Wiener

Monday, August 17, 2020

Exploring the Economic Impact of COVID-19



There is a fascinating data platform that was developed by Opportunity Insights, based at Harvard University, that demonstrates the economic impact brought on by the pandemic since January 2020. The Economic Tracker looks at key economic indicators including consumer spending, small business revenue, small business openings & closings, job postings, employment data, the unemployment claims rate, online math education rates by income, and public health data. This information spans the national level, by state, county, and metro area. Charts and graphs show how these metrics have changed since January and are updated regularly. To learn more about the Economic Tracker please go to -

"Small Business Strong" Free Webinars Presented by the Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce

The Worcester Regional Chamber of Commerce is presenting two free webinars (one in English and one in Spanish) on August 18th highlighting Small Business Strong,  an effort to support small businesses across the Commonwealth. Learn about free services that are intended to help small business, especially women and minority-owned enterprises, during these economically challenging times. You do not need to be a member of the Chamber to participate. To register and learn more, please click on the following link -

Saturday, August 15, 2020

Weekly Reads Episode Nineteen

Join Librarians Devon and Joy for another episode of Weekly Reads. This week's suggestions include an historical fiction set in 1963 Germany, a history book on an attempted assassination of President Lincoln, a paranormal thriller, a popular science book on butterflies, and of course a coming soon title! Tune in next week for another round of Weekly Reads.

Featured Titles for Episode Nineteen:

Wednesday, August 12, 2020

Adult Summer Reading Patron Reviews: Fantasy

It's the final countdown for Summer Reading! Saturday, August 15th, is the last day to log all of the books you've read this summer-and we know you've read a lot! Click here to get started. Since our Summer Reading theme is  "Imagine Your Story", we thought we'd give you more fantasy reviews. Read about the places our patrons have traveled to on the page, including the underworld and the ocean. 

The Library of the Unwritten by A.J. Hackwith

Although this book had a slow start with a little confusion of where it was going, it soon became a book that was hard to put down. In fact, I almost feel as if that fogginess at the beginning was just a way to put me in the right state of mind-between stories and realms. Every time I thought I knew where the book was going to take me, the characters had a different idea and took me down another path. Hackwith keeps the reader guessing until the very end, fleshing out each character with each new revelation. I look forward to the next book in the series.  ~Colleen J. 

The siren was a good book. Nice twist on the legend of sirens. I love Kiera Cass! 
~ Jasmine A. 

The Stepsister's Tale by Tracy Barrett

A retelling of Cinderella focused on the stepsisters and the simple pleasures and joys of life. ~ Eun Sol L. 

Dearest Ivie by J.R. Ward 

A short but sweet story set in the world of the Black Dagger Brotherhood. Recommended for those who are interested in trying the series and want a preview of Ward's writing style and the vampire world she created.  ~Tara J. 

Monday, August 10, 2020

Weekly Kanopy Picks

Grab the popcorn! WPL has movie night covered. It might be hard to pick a movie to watch when there are so many options out there. Also, many of those options aren`t free. With your WPL card, you can stream 3 movies per month through Kanopy using your "play credits."

How play credits work

To use a play credit, you must press play on a video and have the video play for at least 5 seconds. Once a play credit is logged, you will have a full 3 days (72 hours) to watch the video as many times as you would like without using another play credit, even if a new month starts and your credits reset. Your viewing history will show any video that is still available to view in your 3 day window. After the 3 day window has expired, another play credit will be used if you press play on the video again.

If you do not have a Kanopy account, you can create one. Click here for instructions.

Miss Juneteenth 
Rating: PG-13
Run time: 100 minutes

A former beauty queen and single mom prepares her rebellious teenage daughter for the "Miss Juneteenth" pageant.

Rating: R
Run time: 98 minutes

A young woman is involuntarily committed to a mental institution where she is confronted by her greatest fear - but is it real or is it a product of her delusion?

Meet the Patels
Rating: PG 
Run time: 98 minutes 

An Indian-American man who is about to turn 30 gets help from his parents and extended family so he can start looking for a wife the traditional Indian way.

Rating: NR 
Run time: 126 minutes 
Language: German

In the summer of 1979, the Strelzyk and Wetzel families try to flee East Germany in a self-made hot-air balloon.

The King
Rating: R 
Run time: 109 minutes

Driving a Rolls-Royce once owned by Elvis Presley - with a revolving crew of musicians in the backseat - director Eugene Jarecki embarks on a cross-country road trip to explore how Elvis lost his authenticity as America lost its soul.

Saturday, August 8, 2020


Today, with the internet and social media, we say we live in a connected world, but would it surprise you to learn that this has always been the case?

Sometimes there are surprising connections between events or persons or objects that we might think are totally unrelated. In fact, nothing happens in isolation.

In 1978, the BBC Science and Features Department produced a new TV show called, simply, "Connections". Each episode explored how scientific discoveries, world events, and inventions were affected by one another, often in non-intuitive ways.

Sociologists speak of “unintended consequences”; some of these are beneficial, others not so much:

  • Think of aspirin, developed as a pain reliever, working also as an anti-coagulant which can prevent heart attacks and lessen the severity of strokes.

  • When the Australian state of Victoria passed a law requiring the use of bicycle helmets to ensure the safety of riders, what actually happened was a reduction in the number of cyclists. Research showed that young cyclists found the helmets unfashionable so they stopped exercising altogether, leading to a decrease in public health.

  • And, speaking of bicycles, did you know that a massive volcanic eruption of a volcano on Sumbawa Island in the Indian Ocean in 1815 led directly to the invention of the bicycle in Germany?

  • The arrival of COVID19 resulted in the rise of the face-mask industry, and the subsequent rising demand for elastic bands. Elastic bands use rubber, the procurement of which affects our trade balance. COVID is also responsible for the concurrent downfall of science fiction conventions and music festivals. And let’s not forget the significant drop in air pollution levels when commuter traffic went on hiatus, leading to the Himalayas being visible from 100 miles away for the first time in decades, leading perhaps, to renewed optimism and national pride.

  • Think how, with so many young men serving in the military during World War II, women were given opportunities to fill jobs they were not previously considered for, and how that might have jump-started second-wave feminism by the daughters of these women, twenty years later.

  • Think of the murder of a black man by a police officer leading to the tearing down of an 80 year-old statue of Theodore Roosevelt from its pedestal in front of the Museum of Natural History in New York City. This empty pedestal may be the future home of a piece of art by a struggling artist or of one who is a POC, leading to new opportunities and new voices heard.

The BBC TV show had as its subtitle “An Alternate View of Change”. It ran for three seasons, consisting of 40 episodes, and was hosted by its creator, Englishman James Burke. The show was an amalgam of commentary, historical reenactments, and demonstrations.

For example, episode 2, “Death in the Morning", examined how the discovery that pure gold left a different mark on a "touchstone" from that of alloys, led to the greater acceptance of gold in commerce in the ancient world. This then stimulated trade from Greece to Persia, ultimately causing the construction of a huge commercial center in Alexandria, Egypt and the building of the Great Library, which is said to have housed a 1/2 million scrolls.

This library, now lost to us, had catacombs. When the library burned, the materials in these subterranean chambers were preserved, including the 13 volumes of Claudius Ptolemy's star tables. Created around 150 A.D., these charts showed over 1000 stars, their relative position, the constellation they appeared in, and their magnitude (apparent brightness).

This astronomical and navigational resource, ignored during its own time, helped ship captains and pilots during the Age of Discovery. During these voyages of exploration and profit, mariners discovered that a compass's magnetized needle did not actually point directly north. For mercantile, ocean-navigating empires, this was devastating. Wondering why this disparity existed led to investigations into the nature of magnetism, which led to the discovery of electricity.

And research into in atmospheric electricity, in modern times at a meteorological station on Ben Nevis mountain in Scotland, led to the invention of the particle detection chamber, which in turn allowed development of nuclear weaponry...and the dropping of the A-bomb on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Japan in August,1945.

The show was very popular and a similar show, "The Day the Universe Changed", was created in 1985. And "Connections" led to "Connections2" in 1994 and "Connections3" in 1997. In 2004, viewers could slake their curiosity with "Re-Connections", which consisted of excerpts from the original show.

Some meta-lessons to be learned:
Over-specialization can lead to missed opportunities.
Siloed individuals don’t think in the interdisciplinary ways that lead to innovation.
We should all remember that actions have repercussions, and sometimes these are unfathomable at the time.

More about "Connections" show

Borrow the "Connections" DVDs

Book about "Connections" available at WPL

Why global crises are the mother of invention

More about unintended consequences

Statue of Theodore Roosevelt

More about Ptolemy

Weekly Reads Episode Eighteen

Join Librarians Devon and Joy for another episode of Weekly Reads. This week's suggestions include a romance with Latinx characters, a Pulitzer Prize winner, a collection of short stories about libraries and librarians, the true story of climbers who scaled the Himalayas, and of course a coming soon title! Tune in next week for another round of Weekly Reads.

Featured Titles for Episode Eighteen:
And Their Children After Them: The Legacy of Let Us Now Praise Famous Men: James Agee, Walker Evans, and the Rise and Fall of Cotton in the South by Dale Maharidge and Michael Williamson (title can be found in Hoopla)

Thursday, August 6, 2020

You may be eligible for an Economic Impact Payment from the IRS - Apply by October 15

Many people are not aware that even if they do not make enough income to file a tax return, or have a permanent address, they are eligible to receive an Economic Impact Payment from the IRS.

If your annual income is below $12,200, or $24,400 if you're married, you probably don't file a tax return. But, even if you aren't normally required to file a tax return, you may still be eligible for a $1,200 per person Economic Impact Payment and $500 per qualifying child.

You must be a U.S. citizen, permanent resident or qualifying resident alien and have a work-eligible Social Security number. You can't be claimed as someone else's dependent.

You won't owe taxes on the payment and it doesn't affect eligibility for federal government assistance or benefits.

Register for a payment by using the IRS's free tool through October 15. Register for this benefit at