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Maureen

Celebrating Jane Austen

posted by: July 18, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Pride and PrejudiceTwo hundred years ago today, Jane Austen died and the world lost a beloved author. An English novelist known primarily for her six major novels, Austen wrote of the world she knew in a witty, critical style that resonates today. All of her major novels have been adapted for the big and small screen, including Pride & Prejudice, which has had numerous incarnations with the inimitable Mr. Darcy played by notable actors including Laurence Olivier, Matthew Macfadyen and Colin Firth. Who’s your favorite onscreen Darcy?


 
 

The Outsiders Turns 50

posted by: April 19, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover Art for The OutsidersFifty years ago this month, The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton was published. This classic in teen literature tells the story of young men in two competing gangs, the Greasers and the Socs. Set in Tulsa, Oklahoma, it is a gritty, raw look at a teenage rivalry which turns deadly.

 

The novel inspired a 1983 film adaptation directed by Francis Ford Coppola. It starred unknown young actors who would go on to great fame, including Tom Cruise, Rob Lowe, Patrick Swayze, Diane Lane, Emilio Estevez, C. Thomas Howell, Ralph Macchio and Matt Dillon.

 

The Outsiders remains a cultural touchstone. Since 1967, over 15 million copies have been sold. It is a regular required read for middle and high school students and has been translated into 30 languages. According to fanfiction.net, there are 8,100 stories based on the book. And Instagram has more than 300,000 posts which use the hashtag #staygold, an inspiration from a Robert Frost poem that appears in the book.

 

Hinton was 16 when the book was published and had no idea the impact her novel would have on generations of teens. Hinton told Entertainment Weekly last year, “I was 15 when I started writing the book, but I was even younger when I first started thinking about the story, so The Outsiders has been a significant part of the majority of my life.”


 
 

Patricia McKissack, 1944-2017

posted by: April 11, 2017 - 10:20am

Cover Art for Goin' Someplace SpecialPatricia McKissack, award-winning author of more than 100 books for children, died at the age of 72 in her hometown of Chesterfield, a suburb of St. Louis. Born on August 9, 1944 in Smyrna, Tennessee, Patricia was inspired by her mother’s poetry reading and her grandparents’ storytelling to become a writer. Her family moved to Nashville where she graduated high school at age 16. She studied English at Tennessee A&I State University and also met her future husband and writing partner, Fredrick.

 

The pair shared a “missionary zeal” to write about African American characters “where there hadn’t been any before,” their eldest son Fredrick McKissack Jr. said yesterday. The McKissacks were at the forefront of creating diversity in children’s literature in race, geographical setting and social consciousness. Young readers of all ages are able to travel the world with Patricia’s books, which take children from the Deep South in America to Africa and span centuries. McKissack wrote in a wide range of genres, from historical fiction to science fiction, poetry to biography, all in an attempt to provide every young reader with a book which would spark interest and appeal.

 

Patricia’s work was popular with readers and also critically lauded. Her awards included a Newbery Honor and nine Coretta Scott King Author and Honor awards. In 2014, Patricia and Fredrick’s work was recognized for its lasting contribution to literature with the Coretta Scott King-Virginia Hamilton Award for Lifetime Achievement. A lifelong library lover, Patricia’s picture book Goin’ Someplace Special is a semi-autobiographical story of her weekly visits to her public library as a girl. In an interview about this beautiful book, she reflected, “The library was the doorway to freedom, to free thought when you're being told, ‘You can't, you can't, you can't, you can't.’ The library said, ‘You can, you can, you can, you can,’ and I did!” Be sure to check out some of her memorable books from this dedicated and important author in children’s literature.


 
 

Eight Flavors

posted by: April 10, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Eight FlavorsSarah Lohman is a historical gastronomist who immerses herself in her work. In Eight Flavors: The Untold Story of American Cuisine, Lohman selects eight flavors found most frequently in American recipes. (She found 10, but excluded coffee and chocolate because she felt so much had been written about each.) Beginning in archives and searching through economic and scientific records, Lohman studies cookbooks and manuscripts dating back to the 18th century to discover when each of the flavor profiles first appeared in American kitchens and why.

 

The eight flavors uniting our vast melting pot of a country are black pepper, vanilla, curry powder, chili powder, soy sauce, garlic, MSG and Sriracha. Lohman introduces the explorers, merchants, farmers and chefs who influenced our culinary story. Unknown figures dot this fascinating history. John Crowninshield was a New England merchant who traveled to Sumatra in the 1790s in search of black pepper. Edmond Albius was a 12-year-old slave who lived on an island off the coast of Madagascar and discovered the technique still used to pollinate vanilla orchids today. Sriracha was the creation of David Tran, a Vietnamese refugee who combined elements of French and Thai cuisine and, using peppers grown on a farm north of Los Angeles, produced a hot sauce whose sales now exceed $60 million.

 

Recipes, research and illustrations all serve to illuminate the reader on the history of the flavors, each of which comprise a chapter in the book. Lohman also shares her personal adventures with the ingredients, and readers will be compelled to try some of the recipes (updated to modern tastes) such as Thomas Jefferson’s French Vanilla Ice Cream or the Rosemary House Garlic Carrot Cake. In an interview, Lohman noted that researching the book "really upended my idea of these flavors that always stood on the shelf in my kitchen. I would always pick up a pepper grinder or a bottle of vanilla extract and would never think about what it was and where it came from."

 

Meet Sarah Lohman at the Arbutus Branch on April 13 at 7 p.m. Copies of her book will be available for sale at a book signing following the program. Don’t come hungry! This program is just one of the many events scheduled for BC Reads: Eat Up!, BCPL’s month-long community discussion promoting reading and the arts.

 


 
 

Truffle Boy

posted by: April 6, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Truffle BoyIan Purkayastha’s background is unusual for a powerful player in the world of fine dining. He shares his remarkable story and the crazy adventures along the way in Truffle Boy: My Unexpected Journey Through the Exotic Food Underground. The son of an Indian immigrant father and a Texan mother, Ian was 15 when his family left Houston for rural Arkansas. While he'd always loved cooking and eating well, it was his uncle, an avid outdoorsman, who taught him how to forage for wild mushrooms. When he first tasted a black truffle ravioli dish with foie gras sauce, he was instantly obsessed with the earthy, unusual truffle flavor.

 

Truffle Boy is part coming-of-age story, part elite restaurant tell-all, part travelogue. Readers journey with Ian from Manhattan to Oregon, from Serbia to Hungary. The characters met along this adventure are larger than life, ranging from shady businessmen to raving chefs to colorful gypsies. Despite setbacks and failures, Ian rebounds and achieves astonishing success at a young age in a ruthless world. He now owns Regalis, a specialty food company, which sells not only truffles but also caviar, wild mushrooms, Wagyu beef and other nearly unobtainable ingredients demanded by his Michelin-starred clients.

 

In a recent interview, Ian encouraged those who haven’t tried this delicacy to do so. “I would say if someone is wanting to try an ingredient that literally smells like nothing else you've ever had, then the truffle is the ingredient for them. Truffles have been, you know, lustful and highly regarded for centuries for having this intoxicating aroma and flavor. So I would definitely encourage interested, adventuresome eaters to seek out truffles.”

 

Meet Ian Purkayastha at the Towson Branch on April 9 at 2 p.m., where he will be in conversation with Doug Wetzel, the executive chef at Gertrude’s at the BMA. This program is just one of the many events scheduled for BC Reads: Eat Up!, BCPL’s month-long community discussion promoting reading and the arts.


 
 

Cook Korean!

posted by: April 4, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for Cook Korean!Even novice chefs won’t be intimidated by Korean cooking thanks to Robin Ha’s inventive and colorful introduction to the basics behind this challenging cuisine. In Cook Korean!, Ha instructs the readers in a charming and unique graphic novel format containing recipes and ingredient profiles narrated by a lively character named Dengki.

 

Vibrant, humorous comics illustrate all the steps and ingredients necessary for 64 recipes. Her presentation is concise, with no more than two pages devoted to any one recipe. The book is divided into 10 sections with subjects ranging from snacks to street food to, of course, kimchi. Even those unfamiliar with Korean food have probably heard of kimchi, which Ha calls "an indispensable part of any Korean meal." This cookbook stands out from others because of the illustrations, but also because Ha shares cultural context in an introduction to each section, in addition to listing recipes.

 

Ha, a professional cartoonist and amateur chef, gained online popularity for her Tumblr, Banchan in Two Pages, a weekly comic with illustrated instructions on how to make specific Korean dishes. Ha spent more time drawing comics for Marvel than in the kitchen and is not a graduate of culinary school. She started cooking as an adult when friends asked her to cook Korean food for them. She wants you to know if she can cook Korean, so can you. "I know what it's like to be afraid of cooking, because I was like that most of my life," she says.

 

Meet Robin Ha at the Catonsville Branch tonight, April 4, at 6:30 p.m., where she will talk about her book, her art and her love of food. This program is just one of the many events scheduled for BC Reads: Eat Up!, BCPL’s month-long community discussion promoting reading and the arts.


 
 

The Strivers' Row Spy

posted by: February 22, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for The Strivers' Row SpyJason Overstreet’s suspenseful debut transports readers to the dazzle and excitement of the 1920s Harlem Renaissance in The Strivers' Row Spy, the first entry in a promising mystery series. Sidney Temple is a recent college graduate on the brink of opportunity that even his bourgeois family could not have imagined. His impulsive marriage to artist Loretta brings him great happiness, but even more is in store for this bright young man.

 

J. Edgar Hoover, head of the FBI, hand-picks Sidney to be the FBI’s first African-American agent, and Sidney knows this is his chance to make a change and work for justice. The FBI is intent on bringing down Marcus Garvey, prominent head of the back-to-Africa movement. Sidney uses his previously unknown skills at deception and undercover work to thwart the Bureau’s investigation. And by giving renowned leader W.E.B. DuBois insider information, Sidney gambles on a change that could mean a fair future for all Americans.

 

As Sidney and Loretta climb into the most influential Harlem circles, the stakes become more perilous. Tragedy threatens to shatter Loretta’s trust in her husband, and Sidney’s double-life is dangerously precarious. Overstreet does a marvelous job of capturing the heady atmosphere of 1920s Harlem, and is so convincing in his storytelling that readers may forget this is all fiction and Sidney Temple never existed. Overstreet peppers his story with real historical figures from the ‘20s. Besides Hoover, DuBois and Garvey, Sidney also has encounters with James Weldon Johnson, Adam Clayton Powell and Max Eastman. Readers who enjoy spy stories or historical fiction will definitely find a new author to follow in Jason Overstreet.

 

Are you doing BCPL’s Reading Challenge? This would be a great one for February’s challenge. Don’t forget to take a picture of yourself with the book and submit your entry by visiting Facebook, Twitter or Instagram and post or tweet the photo with the hashtag #bwellread. Camera-shy participants may post a photograph of the book they’ve chosen.

 


 
 

I’ll Be Damned

posted by: February 14, 2017 - 7:00am

I'll Be DamnedYou don’t have to be a fan of The Young and the Restless to appreciate this honest memoir from one of that show’s biggest stars, Eric Braeden. In I’ll Be Damned: How My Young and Restless Life Led Me to America’s #1 Daytime Drama, Braeden shares his life story, including his almost four decades on the number one daytime television show as the charismatic Victor Newman.

 

Braeden was born in 1941 in a dark, airless hospital basement in Kiel, Germany. Allied bombs sounded in the air and the ground shook with repeated explosions. Days after his birth, the hospital was destroyed in yet another Allied attack. But Braeden’s childhood was a happy and privileged one. His parents were loving, he had brothers to play with and developed a love for sports, especially track and field. His father’s sudden death when he was 12 changed his life forever. The family was forced to sell their beautiful home and possessions and move into a house with no central heating, no hot running water and no showers or toilets that worked.

 

While struggling through these hard times, his family never gave up, and Eric continued his education and his track and field prowess. He jumped at the opportunity to go to America when he received a partial track and field scholarship to Montana State University (now University of Montana). While there, he and his friends participated in the filming of a documentary film, which led him to Los Angeles and his destiny as a television star. This rags-to-riches immigrant story is an uplifting tale that takes us from Nazi Germany to modern Hollywood. It is the story of one man shaped by war and deprivation who dedicated his life to his art, his family and humanitarian work.


 
 

Between the Covers with Elinor Lipman

posted by: February 7, 2017 - 7:00am

Cover art for On Turpentine LaneA new Elinor Lipman novel is always a must-read for me, and On Turpentine Lane certainly lived up to expectations. Filled with relatable, funny characters, sharp dialogue and fast-moving stories, Lipman writes wonderful romantic comedies that bring the reader into the world she creates.

 

Faith Frankel moves from Brooklyn back to her hometown of Everton, Massachusetts, and falls in love with a cupcake of a house on Turpentine Lane. She has a job in fundraising at her alma mater and a solid boyfriend in Stuart. Her life is starting to take shape. But when Stuart leaves for a cross-country hitchhiking expedition, her job is threatened and the police start ripping up her basement looking for bones, her world is torn upside down. Through it all, Faith’s family is supportive, as is her colleague and soon-to-be roommate, Nick.

 

Elinor has been called the Jane Austen of America and I was thrilled to be able to talk to her about her inspiration, her favorite authors and Colin Firth, who we both agreed was the best Mr. Darcy ever!

 

Between the Covers: I am so thrilled to be talking to one of my favorite authors! You never disappoint, and On Turpentine Lane was wonderful with sparkling characters, sharp dialogue and laugh-out-loud comedy. Who or what was your inspiration for this novel?
Elinor Lipman: Thank you! The inspiration was a dark, creepy house on my childhood street, in a thicket of overgrown trees and shrubs and weeds — the whole thing looming large in my memory. The owner had been a reclusive widow, always dressed in a long black, witchy dress, rarely seen. I used to cross the street rather than walk past her house and certainly never trick-or-treated there.

 

Fast forward 40-plus years, and I found out that my best childhood friend had bought the house and had moved in. I was astonished. I was going to write an essay about visiting a house as an adult that had spooked me as a child, but then it struck me as not only a setting for a novel, but a character in the story.   

 

BTC: Faith Frankel is delightful! She’s gutsy and loving, yet honest and sometimes immature. How did Faith come to you? Is she based on anyone you know?
EL: Naïve, yes, but I'd argue with immature in case that made her sound bratty. She's not based on anyone I know. I start with an opening sentence or a line of dialogue and then develop the character as I go along.  She's her own person…though probably has a lot of me in her.  

 

BTC: Your dialogue in this one, as in all of your novels, is snappy and smart and your supporting characters are quirky, realistic and well-developed. Are the dialogue or characters based on real conversations or people?
EL: That's a hard one to answer because while dialogue isn't based on real conversations or people, I'm always trying to make it sound right, natural, crisp. No speechifying. No planting information in the dialogue. I don't want everyone to sound the same, and since Faith is half my age, I ran a few expressions by younger people. (One I remember was "didn't sleep a wink." Was that from another era? My son said no, it's fine.)

 

I'm constantly paring sentences down and following something David Mamet said, quoting the screenwriter William Goldman: "Get into a scene as late as possible and leave it as early as possible." To me, that means cut out the "hello, how are you?" and the "okay, good-bye, see you next time." Sometimes I cover the opening dialogue with my hand to see how far and late I can start an exchange.

 

BTC: Can you give us a sneak peek at what you’re working on next?
EL: Sure. I'm more than half-way through, and it centers around a heavily notated high school yearbook that a woman bequeaths to her daughter. Why was the original owner so obsessed with this class? Complications ensue! No title yet.
 

BTC: Were you always a reader? What was your favorite book as a child? Who are some of your favorite contemporary novelists?
EL: Yes, always a huge reader, especially as a child, aided by the no-TV-on-school-nights rule. I re-read my favorites literally dozens of times. Most beloved was Daddy-Long-Legs by Jean Webster. I adored Anne of Green Gables, Pollyanna and read every Nancy Drew.

 

Contemporary favorites: Stephen McCauley, Anita Shreve, Maria Semple, Stacy Schiff, Jill McCorkle, Laura Lippman, Tom Perrotta, Maggie O'Farrell, Philip Roth. I love memoirs; two recent ones I flipped over (as audio books) are Trevor Noah's Born a Crime and All Who Go Do Not Return by Shulem Deen.  

 

BTC: I know your first novel Then She Found Me was made into a charming movie starring Helen Hunt and Colin Firth. First, did you get to meet Colin Firth? How was the process of having your book turned into a movie? Are any of your other novels being made into movies? Who would be your dream cast if On Turpentine Lane was made into a movie?
EL: I didn't get to meet Colin Firth — the only star of Then She Found Me I didn't meet!

 

I loved having the book made into a movie, even though the plot departed greatly from the novel. I'd been prepared for that. "Think of it as a movie based on a character suggested by the novel," a Hollywood-savvy friend told me. (I wrote about the experience in my essay collection, I Can't Complain.) It took 19 years from first bite, the option, to the screen in 2008, so I was very inclined to love it.

 

My dream cast for On Turpentine Lane would be Emma Stone and Mark Ruffulo…well, Mark Ruffulo at 35. Or how about if Jessica Chastain turns to romantic comedy? She lives in my building, and I'm going to give her a signed copy ASAP.


 
 

ALA Youth Media Awards

posted by: January 23, 2017 - 11:08am

Cover art for Radiant ChildCover art for The Girl Who Drank the MoonCover art for March Book Three

 

The most prestigious awards for teen and children's literature were announced by the American Library Association in Atlanta earlier this morning. Awards were given in a wide range of categories that covered all formats and age levels. A complete list of awards, winners and honorees can be found in this morning's press release from the American Library Association.

 

The Caldecott Medal is awarded annually to the artist of the most distinguished American picture book for children. This year’s winner is Radiant Child: The Story of Young Artist Jean-Michael Basquiat written and illustrated by Javaka Steptoe. Basquiat was a Brooklyn-based artist in the 1980s and, while the book does not include any of his work, Steptoe brings the art of that era to the page by layering paint, paper scraps, paint tubes and photos on found-wood panels. Caldecott Honor winners include Leave Me Alone!, written and illustrated by Vera Brosgol, Freedom in Congo Square, written by Carole Boston Weatherford and illustrated by R. Gregory Christie, Du Iz Tak?, written and illustrated by Carson Ellis and They All Saw a Cat, written and illustrated by Brendan Wenzel.

 

The oldest of the medals, the John Newbery Medal, is awarded to the author of the most distinguished contribution to American literature for children. This year’s medal recipient is Kelly Barnhill for The Girl Who Drank the Moon, an epic fantasy that The New York Times Book Review said was “impossible to put down...as exciting and layered as classics like Peter Pan or The Wizard of Oz." The three books selected as Honor winners are Freedom Over Me by Ashley Bryan, The Inquisitor’s Tale by Adam Gidwitz and Wolf Hollow by Lauren Wolk. Baltimore County Public Library’s own Jamie Watson served on this year’s Newbery Committee and she shares her thoughts on the process and some of her favorite past winners in this Between The Covers interview.

 

The Michael L. Printz Award annually honors the best book written for teens, based entirely on its literary merit. This year’s winner is March: Book Three, written by John Lewis and Andrew Aydin and illustrated by Nate Powell. Congressman John Lewis, a living icon of the civil rights movement, brings his honest and unflinching account of the movement’s most tumultuous years in this graphic conclusion to his dynamic trilogy. Printz Honor awards went to Asking for It by Louise O’Neill, The Passion of Dolssa by Julie Berry, Scythe by Neal Shusterman and The Sun Is Also a Star by Nicola Yoon.

 

The Coretta Scott King Awards are given to outstanding African American authors and illustrators of books for children and young adults that demonstrate an appreciation of African American culture and universal human values. It was a big day for Javaka Steptoe, who received the Coretta Scott King Illustrator Award to add to his Caldecott Medal for Radiant Child. And more honors were heaped upon John Lewis and Andrew Aydin, who won the Coretta Scott King Author Award for March: Book Three, which also won the Robert F. Sibert Informational Book Award for most distinguished informational book for children and the YALSA Award for Excellence in Nonfiction for Young Adults.

 

BCPL has many of these titles in our collectionplace a hold on one or more today!


 
 

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