Monday, April 25, 2016

Garden books

New books are always a joy to peruse for library folks, especially garden books for this reader. These titles can be found on the Peter White Public Library’s new non-fiction shelves in the circulation lobby.

This is the perfect time of year, while your garden awakens after a long winter’s nap, to browse for new landscape ideas. Plenty of inspiration can be found in Garden Design: A Book of Ideas by bestselling writer Heidi Howcroft and award winning photographer Marianne Majerus.  Sumptuous photos accompany the clear and helpful text of innovative ideas on how to tackle that problem spot in your own yard in a creative and innovative way. New non-fiction: 712 HO   

A donation to the library to purchase a special book in memory of a loved one is a fitting tribute. Recently the University Women Garden Club members donated funds in memory of Marsha Preston to add to the library’s collection. Women Garden Designers: 1900 to the Present by Kristina Taylor was a perfect way to honor Marsha’s love of plants. The book recounts the contributions of female designers in a primarily male dominated field. From Gertrude Jekyll to Beatrix Farrand to Rosemary Verey and Haruko Seki, female landscape designers from around the globe are highlighted. Full of fascinating information on how these women broke the gender barrier to create lasting and scenic gardens, historic black and white’s accompany full color photos illustrate the work of these, literally, ground breaking women. New non-fiction: 712.082 TA

Gardens that thrive while withstanding diminishing rainfall and increasing temperatures are the focus of Planting in a Post-Wild World by Thomas Rainer and Claudia West. A how to guide on sustainable landscaping, the team of landscape architect and garden designer showcase gardens that utilize native perennials and grasses. These natives help to restore natural plant communities that do well under less-than-ideal growing conditions, helping us all to cope with an ever changing climate. New Nonfiction: 712 RA

Taking a bit of a different tact, Good Garden Bugs by Mary M. Gardiner, PhD is a well-illustrated reference for beneficial insects that help a garden grow. Battling harmful insect infestations with biological controls, Gardiner gives the low down on how to avoid pesticides and use natural insect predators to control damage to your plants. The author focuses her writing on identification and tips on how to enhance your space by promoting a thriving population of “good” bugs. New Nonfiction: 635.0495 GA

Getting out of the backyard and traveling to other places opens our eyes to a world of new environments and climates to experience. Distant Neighbors edited by Chad Wriglesworth highlights the letter exchange between environmental activists and writers Wendell Berry and Gary Snyder. Berry, age 81, lives on his grandfather’s farm in Port Royal, Kentucky and Snyder, age 85, resides in the Sierra Foothills of Northern California. The two friends exchanged 250 letters from 1973 to 2013 discussing their common work on stewardship of the land. Their wide ranging views on religion, community, politics and aging make this book a fascinating glimpse into the minds of two important writers and thinkers of our day. New Nonfiction: 818.5409 BE

With the arresting title of How to Cook a Moose, author Kate Christensen explores the world of food and sustainable farming in the harsh cold climate of northern Maine. Residents of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula will be able to draw many parallels between living in the Pine Tree state and life up here in the Wolverine State. Christensen writes about food, drink, life and books for publications such as the New York Times  Book Review, Food and Wine, and the Wall Street Journal. She is the author of Blue Plate Special: An Autobiography of My Appetites and six earlier novels.  New Nonfiction: 641.5974 CH

Plenty of food for thought on the New Book shelves at the library while you wait for the soil to warm. Happy gardening!

--Margaret Boyle, Programming Coordinator

Thursday, April 21, 2016

Immigration stories

            Immigration is a hot topic during this election year.  Explore the immigration experience by checking out these and other recent books from the Peter White Public Library.
            Whether escaping religious persecution, political oppression, the violence of war, or looking to further their economic standing, millions of immigrants have come to America. Destination America: the Peoples and Cultures that changed America by Charles Wills gives a detailed look at why immigrants leave their homelands, how they travel to America, and what they do once they arrive. It includes personal accounts, letters, diaries, photographs, statistics, maps and charts.  You can also find the accompanying PBS series Destination America at the library.
The Irish-American story, with all its twists and triumphs, is told through the improbable life of one man in The Immortal Irishman: the Irish Revolutionary who became an American Hero by Timothy Egan. A dashing young orator during the Great Famine of the 1840s, in which a million of his Irish countrymen died, Thomas Francis Meagher led a failed uprising against British rule, for which he was banished to a Tasmanian prison colony. He escaped and six months later was heralded in the streets of New York--the revolutionary hero, back from the dead, at the dawn of the great Irish immigration to America. Meagher's rebirth in America included his leading the newly formed Irish Brigade from New York in many of the fiercest battles of the Civil War--Bull Run, Antietam, and Fredericksburg. Twice shot from his horse while leading charges, left for dead in the Virginia mud, Meagher's dream was that Irish-American troops, seasoned by war, would return to Ireland and liberate their homeland from British rule. The hero's last chapter, as territorial governor of Montana, was a romantic quest for a true home in the far frontier.

             When the United States entered World War I in 1917, one-third of the nation's population had been born overseas or had a parent who was an immigrant. At the peak of U.S. involvement in the war, nearly one in five American soldiers was foreign-born. Many of these immigrant soldiers--most of whom had been drafted--knew little of America outside of tight-knit ghettos and backbreaking labor. Yet World War I would change their lives and ultimately reshape the nation itself. Italians, Jews, Poles, Norwegians, Slovaks, Russians, and Irishmen entered the army as aliens and returned as Americans, often as heroes to produce a sea change that affected the nation ever after.  In The Long Way Home award-winning author David Laskin follows the lives of a dozen of these men.
            The "friendly invasion" of Britain by over a million American G.I.s bewitched a generation of young women deprived of male company during the Second World War. With their exotic accents, smart uniforms, and aura of Hollywood glamor, the G.I.s easily conquered their hearts.  But for girls like Sylvia, Margaret, Gwendolyn, and even the skeptical Rae, American soldiers offered something even more tantalizing than chocolate, chewing gum, and nylon stockings: an escape route from Blitz-ravaged Britain, and an opportunity for a new life in affluent, modern America. Through the stories of these four women, G.I. Brides: the Wartime Girls who Crossed the Atlantic for Love by Duncan Barrett and Nuala Calvi illuminates the experiences of war brides who found themselves in a foreign culture thousands of miles away from family and friends, with men they hardly knew. Most persevered, determined to turn their wartime romance into a lifelong love affair, and prove to those back home that a Hollywood ending of their own was possible.

        Vietnamerica is superb graphic memoir in which an inspired artist/storyteller G.B. Tran reveals the road that brought his family to where they are today: Born and raised in South Carolina as a son of immigrants, he knew that his parents had fled Vietnam during the fall of Saigon. But even as they struggled to adapt to life in America, they preferred to forget the past--and to focus on their children's future. It was only in his late twenties that Tran began to learn their extraordinary story of survival, escape, and reinvention--the gift of the American immigrants' dream--passed on to their children. . When his last surviving grandparents die within months of each other, Tran visits Vietnam for the first time and begins to learn the tragic history of his family, and of the homeland they left behind.

            Kao Kalia Yang of the Southeast Asian Hmong people, was born in a refugee camp in Thailand in 1980. Her family was forced to flee the Pathet Lao, of Laos, who singled out the Hmong in retribution for their aiding of the Americans during the Vietnam War. With no homeland to return to and not necessarily welcome in Thailand, Yang's family took the opportunity to come to the United States and make a new life. In The Latehomecomer: a Hmong Family Memoir, Yang, a natural storyteller, chronicles her family’s journey as her family settled in St. Paul, MN.

            Son of a pastor and grandson of a voodoo priest, Wyclef Jean was born in the slums of Haiti but grew up in New York and New Jersey, eventually bringing his immigrant experience and multicultural background to a gritty hip-hop sound. As a child, he'd enhanced his poor English skills by learning to rap. He later went on to join the Fugees and gain musical acclaim with one of the best-selling hip-hop albums of all time. By 2010, dealing with his frustrations with the growing clownishness of hip-hop music, he was working to get back to the roots of hip-hop in expressing injustice when he learned that Haiti had been hit by a devastating earthquake. In Purpose: an Immigrant’s Story Jean tells how he rose from poverty to wealth, from obscurity to multiplatinum fame, and channeled his social consciousness by founding Yele, an aid organization that eventually garnered controversy as he considered a run for the presidency of Haiti. 

 --Caroline Jordan, retired librarian

Thursday, April 14, 2016

Shakespeare inspired titles in honor of the Great Michigan Read

This April, Peter White Public Library is celebrating the 2015-2016 Great Michigan Read selection, Station Eleven by Emily St. John Mandel. The Great Michigan Read is a book club for the entire state with a focus on a single book and is sponsored by the Michigan Humanities Council.

Station Eleven is a novel about a traveling Shakespearean theater company after a flu pandemic has killed most of the world’s people. The theater company travels in a wagon along the Great Lakes shoreline of Lower Michigan performing Shakespeare’s plays, guided by a line from Star Trek, “Because survival is insufficient.” The book opens at a Toronto performance of King Lear just before the pandemic hits and follows several of the people involved with the play as they either fall ill or struggle to survive the aftermath. The story weaves back and forth in time from before the pandemic through the following years and connects the various players and their family members in unexpected ways.

A public book discussion of Station Eleven will be led by the Transition Marquette Book Group on Thursday, April 14 at 7:00 in the Peter White Conference Room on the main floor of the library. CineArts Film Series will host a special movie presentation of Ran, Akira Kurosawa’s retelling of King Lear, set in 16th century Japan, at 6:00 on Friday, April 15 in the Community Room. Kenneth Branagh’s Henry V will be shown at 6:00 on Thursday, April 28, also in the Community Room. These events are free and all are welcome.

In The Year of Lear: Shakespeare in 1606, author James Shapiro portrays the year 1606 which was disastrous for England but extraordinarily creative for Shakespeare. The plague reoccurred. Guy Fawkes was tried and executed for the Gunpowder Plot, an attempt on the life of King James and members of the Royal Court and Parliament. England was ruled by a Scottish king and struggled with religious and political divisions. This upheaval inspired Shakespeare to finish King Lear which revolves around dividing a kingdom, and to write Macbeth which is about the murder of a Scottish king, and Antony and Cleopatra, a story of empire and greed. Shapiro’s book explores how Shakespeare wove the beliefs, fears and cultural events of his time into these three great tragedies and, in the doing, shows why Shakespeare still matters.

Jeff Abbott’s fourth Sam Capra thriller, Inside Man, draws on King Lear. Sam, a former CIA agent, runs a Miami bar. His friend Steve Robles is working security for Cordelia Varela, a daughter and heiress to her father’s global transportation company based in Miami. When Steve is killed outside his bar, Sam poses as Cordelia’s boyfriend to get inside the family compound to find Steve’s killer and help Cordelia. Rey Varela, Cordelia’s father, is suffering from dementia. With the help of his blind assistant, Kent, Rey is attempting to divide his shipping empire among his three children, playing one against the other in this fast-paced story wherein Sam faces his own failures as a son and father.

Pop Sonnets: Shakespearean Spins on Your Favorite Songs by Erik Didriksen is a very smart and very funny reimagining of 100 classic pop songs as Shakespearean sonnets. Topics, always relevant, include love, despair, the passage of time, rogues, wanton women, and heroes. Songs by Celine Dion, Red Hot Chili Peppers, Johnny Cash, Katy Perry, Bon Jovi, the Beatles, Bruce Springsteen, MC Hammer, Michael Jackson, and Aretha Franklin are included. This is a great collection of inspirational humor for parties, English papers, and cozy occasions. –“And so, good sir, do not my heart neglect; when thou com’st home, pray show me some respect.”

Originally broadcast on PBS, each episode of Shakespeare Uncovered tells the story behind one of Shakespeare’s greatest plays. Episodes are hosted by a celebrated actor such as Derek Jacobi, Morgan Freeman, Joseph Fiennes, and Hugh Bonneville, each of whom shares his passion for Shakespeare. The host covers the play’s history, biographical information, most memorable actors, the cultural, political and religious influences on Shakespeare’s writing, and recent analysis of the play. PWPL owns two series of Shakespeare Uncovered on DVD, each with six episodes.

Dr. Laura Bates teaches courses on Shakespeare at Indiana State University where she is an assistant professor. For years, she has also taught Shakespeare to inmates at Indiana’s Wabash Valley Correctional Facility focusing on critical thinking, interpretive analysis, and creative rewriting. She began by teaching freshman English to the general prison population. When one of her students failed to show up for class, Bates found out he had been sent to Supermax, a highly restricted unit where there was no education. Concerned and intrigued, Bates won permission from the warden to begin a voluntary program bringing Shakespeare to prisoners in solitary. Her memoir, Shakespeare Saved My Life: Ten Years in Solitary with the Bard, focuses on her friendship with one of the prisoners, Larry Newton, and what Bates learned by teaching at the prison where the students responded remarkably well to Shakespeare who, literally and figuratively, saved lives there. Available in print and audio at PWPL.

In the fall of 2015, the Hogarth Shakespeare project launched a series of novels reimagining Shakespeare’s work.  Each novel will be written by a notable contemporary author who will modernize one of Shakespeare’s works. The first book in the series is Jeanette Winterson’s The Gap of Time, based on A Winter's Tale. Both the play and the new novel explore themes of love, jealousy, loss, remorse and forgiveness within families. The Gap of Time is set in London after the financial crisis of 2008 with an exiled baby daughter who is raised in a storm-ravaged American city, New Bohemia. This new telling is intelligent, powerful and insightful.

Happy April 23rd Birthday, William Shakespeare!

--Cathy Seblonka, Collection Development/Reference Librarian

Monday, April 11, 2016

Women of Michigan

March is Women’s History month.  This column will focus on titles about Michigan women that are located in the Michigan Nonfiction and Adult Nonfiction section.  
Annie Clemenc & the Great Keweenaw Copper Strike, by Comstock, Lyndon.  2013. 
Lyndon Comstock writes about a young Slovian woman who was instrumental leader in early 20th century. Annie Clemenc was a young heroic female activist who had an active leadership role in organizing support for miners during the copper mining strike in Michigan’s Keweenaw Peninsula, 1913-1914.  Supporters of the strikers often referred to Annie as the Joan of Arc of Calumet and her actions support this claim. Newspaper reports about this heroine include being arrested numerous times, an altercation with the Michigan Militia and carrying the American flag in posting parades. This biography provides an interesting read for those who like historical reflections about the copper mines. 
Recovering Ruth, A Biographer’s Tale, by Root, Robert. 2003.  
This Michigan Notable title is one author’s attempt at editing and annotating a nineteenth-century diary of time spent on Isle Royale written by Ruth Edgerton Douglass, wife of Columbus C. Douglass who assisted in the first geological survey of Michigan and was very active in exploring the Keweenaw Peninsula. Root writes an essay about the journey of dissecting and interpreting the nineteenth century woman’s life through books, historical papers and by foot, car and canoe, becoming entangled in her life almost as if he were a time traveler.
Remarkable Michigan Women, by Pferdehirt, Julia. 2007.
This title profiles the remarkable lives of twelve historical women born before 1915. Those profiled include Laura Haviland who was an abolitionist and Underground Railroad activist; Civil War veteran Sara Emma Edmonds, a solider, nurse, and spy; Magdaleine la Frambois a Metis fur trader and prominent business owner who played a vital role in the establishment of Mackinaw Island as a community.
The Sound the Stars make rushing through the Sky by Schoolcraft,  Jane Johnston. 2007. 
This collection of writings comes from the first American Indian literary writer, Indian woman writer, and Indian poet, Jane Johnston Schoolcraft who was born in 1800 in Sault Ste. Marie, Michigan with a native name of Bamewawagezhikaquy. An interesting aspect of the collection is the ability of the author to interpret these writings when there are no apparent organized manuscripts of her works. Superbly written, Schoolcraft’s writings are deep and meaningful for those readers seeking her cleverly arranged clues within the writings. 

--Diana Menhennick, Reference Department