January 4, 2009 marks the 200th anniversary of Louis Braille’s birthday. This influential inventor was blinded at age 3 and went on to develop the Braille writing system, patterns of raised dots that can be read by touch. These books for kids tell Braille’s inspirational life story and describe what life is like for those who are blind.
For younger children, David A. Adler’s A Picture Book of Louis Braille introduces the life and work of this important Frenchman. With watercolor illustrations, the story moves from Braille’s childhood accident to his career at the National Institute for Blind Children and his development of the Braille writing system.
An ideal biography for kids in grades 3-8, Out of Darkness: The Story of Louis Braille by Russell Freedman tells the life story of Louis Braille, as well as presents the world of the blind before the invention of Braille writing.
These are just some of the favorites that appeared on DVD during the past year, and are now available at the Library for you to place on hold.
4 Months, 3 Weeks,and 2 Days
A dark, thoughtful Romanian film (is there any other kind?), set in the final days of the Ceausescu regime which revolves around the subject of abortion in a repressive environment.
Burn After Reading
The Coen brothers feed the paranoia about what happens within the Beltway, and do it in their typically grisly/funny fashion.
The Dark Knight
The late Heath Ledger isn’t the only reason to see this take on the Batman story, but he’s one of the main ones.
Discussing plays in reading groups is both rewarding and frustrating. It’s rewarding since readers can go back to the stage directions and descriptions and speeches and reread them slowly or with more focus. It’s frustrating because sometimes no matter how often a passage is reread, the only way to understand it is to see it performed.
This week, let's look at books by master illustrator David Macaulay. Macaulay is best known for books that explain complex things—like buildings and bridges and bodies—in a simple, visual way.
Macaulay was born in England, but spent some of his teenage years in the United States, where he went to college. He trained as an architect, but never worked as one, instead trying his hand at interior design and teaching. His first book was Cathedral, followed by City: A Story of Roman Planning and Construction, and Pyramid. He writes stories, too, such as Baaa (my personal favorite as a barnyard fellow), which tells how human beings vanished from the earth and are replaced by sheep who make the same mistakes.
Macaulay has said that the world would be a better place if everyone drew pictures because it would help them to learn to see things, and how things work, more clearly. Will one of these books change how you see the world?
Yours with snorts,
With the snow and ice swirling outside, curl up with one of these cozy holiday mysteries.
Award-winning children’s author Kate DiCamillo discussed her book The Tale of Despereaux, a delightful story of a mouse in love with music, stories, and a princess named Pea, at the Plaza Branch on January 9, 2009. Discover the wonder of her acclaimed fiction for kids or check out a few literary mice scampering across the pages of other children’s novels.
In our current financial situation, it’s still important to focus on celebrating the holidays, and doing it cheaply is all the more crucial. These non-feature DVDs are available through your Kansas City Public Library. Have a great holiday!
Amahl and the Night Visitors
This Gian Carlo Menotti opera has long been a holiday favorite. It tells of a handicapped shepherd boy and his mother visited by the Three Wise Men on their way to Bethlehem.
The Brian Setzer Orchestra Live: Christmas Extravaganza!
The orchestra gives its unique take on such seasonal fare as “Dig that Crazy Santa Claus,” “Winter Wonderland,” and “Everybody’s Waitin’ for the Man with the Bag.”
Classic TV Christmas
Enjoy classic Christmas episodes from such early television favorites as The Red Skelton Show, The Jack Benny Show, and Ozzie and Harriet.
The Kansas City Public Library is hosting events with three authors in January 2009 who have written cultural food histories. On January 6 at the Central Library, Ken Albala discusses Pancake: A Global History. Culinary historian Andrew Smith discusses Hamburger: A Global History on January 13 at the Plaza Branch. And on January 27 at the Central Library, Pierre Laszlo discusses his book Citrus: A History. Read one of these fascinating accounts of the pancake, hamburger, or citrus or check out another historical exploration of the food we eat.
Pancake: A Global History
By Ken Albala
Round, thin, and made of starchy batter cooked on a flat surface, it is a food that goes by many names: flapjack, crepe, and okonomiyaki, to name just a few. The pancake is a treasured food the world over, and now Ken Albala unearths the surprisingly rich history of pancakes and their sizzling goodness.
Do your digital devices, video games, and web surfing alienate you from the world or create new connections? On January 8, 2009, Eugene Halton will discuss his new book The Great Brain Suck and Other American Epiphanies which argues that Americans know less and less as our world becomes more saturated with media messages, materialism, and mobile devices. Here are a few other books on the topic.
The Age of American Unreason
By Susan Jacoby
Combining historical analysis with contemporary observation, Susan Jacoby dissects a new American cultural phenomenon---the addiction to infotainment, from television to the Internet, which she argues has resulted in a lazy and credulous public.
Author William Graebner will talk about his latest book, Patty’s Got a Gun: Patricia Hearst in 1970s America, on January 21, 2009 at the Central Library. These books include historical accounts of the Patty Hearst story, explorations of 1970s America, pictorial works of life at the time, as well as novels set during the 70s.