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Discover Your Inner Artist

Thu, 09/18/2014 - 7:13am
Pallet Party

Wylam Library, 4300 7th Avenue, Birmingham, AL 35224

Wednesday, October 7 at 10:00 am

Light refreshments will be served

RSVP 785-0349

You're invited to paint your masterpiece at Wylam Branch Library. Artist Cherie Hunt will help you paint a picture you can frame and hang or give away as a gift. If you would like further instruction, Birmingham Public Library has many resources you can check out. Here is a sampling.

The complete artist's manual : the definitive guide to painting and drawing / by Simon Jennings

Design dynamic paintings [videorecording] : how fundamental design and composition principles can improve your paintings / by Ed Labadie

Just paint it! / Sam Piyasena and Beverly Philp


Drawing for painters / text, Gabriel Martín Roig ; translated from the Spanish by Michael Brunelle

Welcome Back, Pratt City Library

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 3:03pm

The September/October 2014 issue of American Libraries, the magazine of the American Library Association, features interesting innovative architectural designs. Pratt City Library is featured as a newly renovated library under Disaster Recovery. The library re-opened February 10, 2014.

The tornado that spread through the Pratt City community three years ago presented an opportunity to rebuild a shiny new light of hope in its new library. The library retained its history and restored faith to the community. The newly rebuilt library is a feeling of "coming home." Patrons are enlightened with what they see and happy to return to a revolving door that is uniquely theirs.

From the BPL Blog archives:
A Look Inside Pratt City Library after the Tornado

Alabama Humanities Foundation Gifts Pratt City Library with New Books

Pratt City Remembers: Special Tornado Anniversary to Be Held Saturday, April 26, 2014

Pratt City Library's Reopening Scheduled for February 10

Deborah Drake
Pratt City Library

Read It Forward 2014 - The Giver by Lois Lowry

Wed, 09/17/2014 - 9:10am

You're invited to join Birmingham Public Library's 2014 Read It Forward program. This year's book is Lois Lowry's The Giver.  Here's how to participate:
  1. Visit any BPL location and pick up a free copy of The Giver by Lois Lowry (while supplies last).
  2. Read the book.
  3. Go to the library's Read It Forward page, enter the book's tracking identification number, and leave a comment.
  4. Pass the book forward for someone else to read.
  5. Log onto the library's website often to track your book as it travels from reader to reader. See what others have to say about this book.

Book Review: Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can't Stop Talking

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 2:19pm
Quiet: The Power Of Introverts In A World That Can’t Stop Talking
Susan Cain

Garrison Keillor once did a humor piece called “Shy Rights: Why Not Pretty Soon?” If you think that’s funny, you’ll probably like this book. If you just happen to know someone who’s introverted and want to know how they work, you’ll probably like this, too. (By the way, shy isn’t necessarily the same thing as introverted. That’s covered here.)

Do you prefer one-on-one talking to group activities? Do you prefer solitude over parties? Do you tend to avoid risk? Dislike conflict? Work better on your own? Feel wiped out after being around people all day? If so, you may be introverted. There’s a test in the book which can help you to be reasonably sure. Introverts make up at least 1/3 of all Americans, and may constitute much more. And yet American culture is an extroverted one, with extroversion often held up as an ideal. How can introverts, who sometimes feel left out, learn to thrive? How can extroverts learn to embrace them? Author Susan Cain calmly and persuasively guides us through these and other topics, and suggests that a revolution (albeit a quiet one) may be in order. Any healthy society, she maintains, will have a balance between extroverts and introverts. What she has to say is provocative, revelatory and will come as a relief to the introverts (and, to a lesser degree, extroverts) among us. She’s summarized a very large amount of research, research that’s been done because the existence of introversion/extroversion is about the only thing personality psychologists agree on. Even animal societies, including fish and insects, show introvert and extrovert traits. Evolutionists have come round to the idea that these societies have to have both types in order to survive. At base, introversion and extroversion are biological far more than something we choose. If Cain occasionally missteps (shyness is not “inherently painful”—now there’s evidence of the dread extroversion bias she keeps warning us about if there ever was one) she is usually on target, demonstrating compassion, common sense, and good judgment.

An introvert myself, I was struck again and again at how the researchers and Cain seem to know me without ever having met me. Me, and seemingly all the introverts I know. The sheer bulk and range of the research accounts for some of this, as does the consistency of traits among most introverts. If you’re an extrovert, you’ll probably see yourself in here, too.

As important as anything here is the promise Cain holds out of a more balanced, stronger and wise society, one that embraces the inner- as well as outer-directed, one that is less neurotic than ours because introverts will be able to accept themselves instead of try to prove they’re someone they’re not. We’re talking about a radical change here, even a revolution, and some significant changes in this direction have already occurred. In the end we’ll be a lot healthier. Sound too difficult? We did it with left-handedness, and gay rights has already won the historical moment. So this isn’t a pipe dream. It’s a self-help book for America as well as for individuals. Shy rights, indeed. Why not now?

Richard Grooms
Fiction Department
Central Library

Bank on Birmingham Financial Program Scheduled for North Birmingham Library, September 23

Tue, 09/16/2014 - 9:48am
A sound understanding of banks and banking plays an important part in assuring one’s personal financial health. Acquiring such an understanding, however, takes some time and effort. In the world of banking, there exist different kinds of institutions offering a variety of accounts, products, and investment opportunities. But it is not a matter of one size fits all; which banking services are suitable for you depends upon your particular circumstances, needs, and goals. Therefore, in order to make good decisions about banks, you should try to get good, solid information about what is available so that you can compare their offerings with your priorities.

Bank on Birmingham (BoB) is a local non-profit organization that was created to provide information to the public about banking products and services. The membership of Bank on Birmingham, which consists of both local financial institutions and community organizations, is particularly interested in reaching low and moderate income consumers who have been underserved by the banking industry. Through advocacy, education, and outreach, BoB strives to make better banking awareness a catalyst for increasing the financial self-sufficiency of individuals and families in the Birmingham area.

As part of its educational initiative, Bank on Birmingham is holding a series of Snack and Learn events at several locations of the Birmingham Public Library during September and October of 2014. Two similar events will be held at Community Education South. These events are scheduled to last about an hour and BoB representatives will be available to share their knowledge on a variety of topics including banking, credit, budgeting, identity theft, home ownership, and small business finance. Light refreshments will be served. Both adults and older youth are encouraged to attend.

The Snack and Learn events are free but registration is required. You can register online on the Events Calendar page on Bank on Birmingham’s website or at the library location where the event is being held:

North Birmingham Library
Tuesday September 23, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Community Education South
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Central Library 
Monday October 6, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Avondale Library
Tuesday October 14, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Community Education South
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Bank on Birmingham Program Scheduled for Five Points West Library, September 9

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:55pm
A sound understanding of banks and banking plays an important part in assuring one’s personal financial health. Acquiring such an understanding, however, takes some time and effort. In the world of banking, there exist different kinds of institutions offering a variety of accounts, products, and investment opportunities. But it is not a matter of one size fits all; which banking services are suitable for you depends upon your particular circumstances, needs, and goals. Therefore, in order to make good decisions about banks, you should try to get good, solid information about what is available so that you can compare their offerings with your priorities.

Bank on Birmingham (BoB) is a local non-profit organization that was created to provide information to the public about banking products and services. The membership of Bank on Birmingham, which consists of both local financial institutions and community organizations, is particularly interested in reaching low and moderate income consumers who have been underserved by the banking industry. Through advocacy, education, and outreach, BoB strives to make better banking awareness a catalyst for increasing the financial self-sufficiency of individuals and families in the Birmingham area.

As part of its educational initiative, Bank on Birmingham is holding a series of Snack and Learn events at several locations of the Birmingham Public Library during September and October of 2014. Two similar events will be held at Community Education South. These events are scheduled to last about an hour and BoB representatives will be available to share their knowledge on a variety of topics including banking, credit, budgeting, identity theft, home ownership, and small business finance. Light refreshments will be served. Both adults and older youth are encouraged to attend.

The Snack and Learn events are free but registration is required. You can register online on the Events Calendar page on Bank on Birmingham’s website or at the library location where the event is being held:

Schedule of Events:
Five Points West Library
Tuesday September 9, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Springville Road Library
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

North Birmingham Library
Tuesday September 23, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Community Education South
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Central Library 
Monday October 6, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Avondale Library
Tuesday October 14, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Community Education South
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Learn More About Your Banking Options at Bank on Birmingham Events to Be Held at Birmingham Public Library Locations in September and October

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:54pm
A sound understanding of banks and banking plays an important part in assuring one’s personal financial health. Acquiring such an understanding, however, takes some time and effort. In the world of banking, there exist different kinds of institutions offering a variety of accounts, products, and investment opportunities. But it is not a matter of one size fits all; which banking services are suitable for you depends upon your particular circumstances, needs, and goals. Therefore, in order to make good decisions about banks, you should try to get good, solid information about what is available so that you can compare their offerings with your priorities.

Bank on Birmingham (BoB) is a local non-profit organization that was created to provide information to the public about banking products and services. The membership of Bank on Birmingham, which consists of both local financial institutions and community organizations, is particularly interested in reaching low and moderate income consumers who have been underserved by the banking industry. Through advocacy, education, and outreach, BoB strives to make better banking awareness a catalyst for increasing the financial self-sufficiency of individuals and families in the Birmingham area.

As part of its educational initiative, Bank on Birmingham is holding a series of Snack and Learn events at several locations of the Birmingham Public Library during September and October of 2014. Two similar events will be held at Community Education South. These events are scheduled to last about an hour and BoB representatives will be available to share their knowledge on a variety of topics including banking, credit, budgeting, identity theft, home ownership, and small business finance. Light refreshments will be served. Both adults and older youth are encouraged to attend.

The Snack and Learn events are free but registration is required. You can register online on the Events Calendar page on Bank on Birmingham’s website or at the library location where the event is being held:

Schedule of Events:
Five Points West Library
Tuesday September 9, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Springville Road Library
Tuesday, September 16, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

North Birmingham Library
Tuesday September 23, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Community Education South
Tuesday, September 30, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Central Library 
Monday October 6, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Avondale Library
Tuesday October 14, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Community Education South
Tuesday, October 28, 2014
5:30-6:30 p.m.

Book Review: The Impossible Knife of Memory

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 12:14pm
The Impossible Knife of Memory
Laurie Halse Anderson

After years spent on the road outrunning bad memories, blue-haired teen Hayley Kincaid and her troubled, army veteran father return to their hometown in New York. Having been home-schooled for the last five years, Hayley cautiously re-enters the world of traditional learning, a repulsive realm populated by high school "zombies" (the in-crowd) and a few rebellious "freaks" like herself. Although she impresses few at first with her snarky attitude, she slowly becomes accustomed to her new life, and even gathers a handful of friends (other "freaks" like herself). In the back of her mind, though, is a fear that no teen should have to worry about: the constant, sickening fear for her father's declining mental health. While the prose lacks the gritty, lyrical beauty found in Anderson's previous novel, Wintergirls, this newest offering succeeds in painting a touching, realistic, and perilous portrait of a new era of social issues. Recommended for Ages 15-Up.

Liz Winn
Microforms/Government Documents
Central Library

Renasant Offers Entrepreneurial Success Series

Mon, 09/15/2014 - 10:00am
 
Renasant Bank is reaching out to help small businesses succeed with a free six-part entrepreneurial success series. Series topics include Financial Management, Networking and Relationship Building, Social Media, Tax Information, Business Plan Components, Human Resources and Access to Capital.

Renasant staff and local experts are leading these valuable learning sessions throughout the Birmingham and Shelby County communities. The event is co-sponsored by the Birmingham Public Library System and Trudy Phillips Consulting. Complementary refreshments will be served.

Tracey Morant Adams, Senior Vice President Small Business and Community Development Director said of the series, ‘This free series is part of Renasant Bank’s continuing commitment to further the success of small business owners and entrepreneurs in our area. We are pleased to provide valuable tools and insight to help our local community businesses thrive and flourish.”

To register for any of the sessions, please visit: http://movetogreaterservice.com/smallbiz

Sessions:

How Do I Make Money with My Website
Central Library
September 18, 2014
9:30-11:00 a.m.

Financing, Lending Sources and Credit
Pratt City Library
October 23, 2014
9:30-11:00 a.m.

Self-employed & Small Business Tax Workshop
Woodlawn Public Library
November 20, 2014
9:30-11:00 a.m.

One-Page Business Plan with Financial Projections
Alabaster City Hall
January 15, 2015
9:30-11:00 a.m.

Contract Employees vs. Full Time Employees
Avondale Public Library
February 12, 2015
9:30-11:00 a.m.

Civil Rights Authors Chervis Isom and Nick Patterson Head Panel Discussion on Race and Reconciliation at Central Library, September 12

Thu, 09/11/2014 - 9:39am

The Birmingham Public Library will present a panel discussion on race, redemption, and reconciliation on Friday, September 12, at noon in the Central Library's Arrington Auditorium as part of the city's Empowerment Week. The event is free and open to the public.

The speakers will be Chervis Isom and Nick Patterson, authors of recent books that examine Birmingham during the civil rights movement. Though one author is white and the other is black, the men's stories carry similar messages of change and moving forward.

Isom once held racist views as a child growing up in a segregated Birmingham in the 1950s and 1960s. But his opinions eventually changed when a married couple on his newspaper route taught him that it's wrong to judge people based on skin color. He shares his coming-of-age story in The Newspaper Boy.

Patterson had always felt that stories of the movement's foot soldiers were ones of struggle and perseverance that needed to live on for generations to share. Through research and extensive interviews, he delved deep into the past to tell their stories in his book Birmingham Foot Soldiers: Voices from the Civil Rights Movement.

Come learn about the city's past and how it prepares people for the future. Isom, an attorney, and Patterson, a writer, will sell and sign copies of their books after the discussion and Q&A session.

Birmingham's Empowerment Week, set for September 11-15, will include a day of service, speakers and festivals.

Let's Talk Nails

Wed, 09/10/2014 - 3:00pm
Getting a manicure or pedicure was once only thought to be in the world of celebrities. But in the 21st century women and men consider getting a pedicure or manicure as a part of their biweekly pampering regimen. The nail industry is growing by leaps and bounds, and new techniques blossoming by the minute. A new reality show on Oxygen called Nailed It will be premiering this fall. The industry has introduced an array of colors, shapes, and techniques to choose from such has Acrylic, Gel, Shellac, French tips, and 3D Nail art. Below are some resources to assist in selecting the best method and style for you.

Books
Cool Nail Art 

DIY Nail Art: 75 Creative Nail Art Designs

Totally Cool Nails: 50 Fun and Easy Nail Art Designs for Kids

Nails, Nails, Nails!: 25 Creative DIY Nail Art Projects

Polish You Pretty 

Pro Nail Care: Salon Secrets of the Professionals


Websites
NAIL IT! 

Essie 

NAILPRO 

Nail Gallery Art on Pinterest 

Nail Designs on Pinterest 


Yolanda Hardy
Smithfield Library

Free Workshop on How to Make Money with Your Business Website Set for September 18 at the Birmingham Public Library

Tue, 09/09/2014 - 3:12pm

A free workshop to help businesses boost sales through their website will be held on Thursday, September 18, at the Central Library. The session will be from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m. It’s free but registration is required at http://movetogreaterservice.com/smallbiz.

“A lot of small businesses don’t have the money to do advertising and ad campaigns, so (this workshop) will really be for how to use content marketing and social media to attract the right kind of customers they are looking for,’’ said Andrea Walker, a Birmingham digital strategist and start-up marketing expert scheduled to teach the class. “At the end of the day, I want people to walk away learning something they haven’t learned before and knowing they can do it.’’

Her session will address several topics, including the importance of content marketing, which is how to create and share free content on the web with the goal of attracting potential customers and turning them into repeat customers. The workshop is part of an entrepreneurial series presented by Renasant Bank, Trudy Phillips Consulting Service, and the Birmingham Public Library. Sessions on financial management, business plans, and more are planned now through February 2015 at Birmingham libraries and Alabaster City Hall. All classes will be held from 9:30 to 11:00 a.m.

"This free series is part of Renasant Bank’s continuing commitment to further the success of small business owners and entrepreneurs in our area,'' said Tracey Morant Adams, Renasant Bank’s senior vice president small business and community development director. "We are pleased to provide valuable tools and insight to help our local community businesses thrive and flourish.”

Dates and locations for sessions include:

How Do I Make Money with My Website
September 18, 2014
Central Library

Financing, Lending Sources and Credit
October 23, 2014
Pratt City Library

Self-Employed and Small Business Tax Workshop
November 20-2014
Woodlawn Library 

One-Page Business Plan with Financial Projections
January 15, 2015
Alabaster City Hall

Contract Employees vs. Full-Time Employees
February 12, 2015
Avondale Public Library

Chariot Races, Gladiators, and Film

Mon, 09/08/2014 - 11:59am
Visages of gladiatorial battles and chariot races often fill the minds of modern audiences with wonder. Ancient Roman sport and spectacle have long-since been an inspiration for popular culture- from books and plays to television and moves.

Chariot races were quite popular in much of the ancient Mediterranean for over a millennium. Roman chariot races were much like modern NASCAR/stock car driving, with both standard regulations and variances in tracks, as well as excitement at both wins and crashes! Perhaps best known for its thrilling chariot race, Ben-Hur (1959) is considered by many to be one of the best films of all time. This historical epic starring Charlton Heston follows a prince who was sent into slavery, and later seeks revenge on the race track. The film is actually based upon a book written in 1880 by Lew Wallace of the same name. Perhaps even more surprising, the 1959 film is neither the first nor the last screen adaptation, with a 1925 silent film and a remake currently in progress, due out in 2016!

Gladiatorial combat reached its popularity in late 1st CE century Rome. While its origins remain murky, they were noted by Roman historian Livy as existing by the 2nd century BCE and became an essential feature of political and social life, continuing through the 6th century. Gladiators were typically- although not solely - slaves, often from military backgrounds. They were most frequently male, although there is evidence of female gladiators, especially during Nero's reign. We do know that  female gladiators were formally banned in 200 CE.

Gladiator (2000) directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe is one of the most appreciated depictions of recent years. In the film the fictional general Maximus, after being betrayed by the emperor Commodus and swept up into slavery, must fight as a gladiator to seek vengeance for himself and his family. The film is also known for its soundtrack and received five Academy Awards, including Best Picture. Gladiator : the making of the Ridley Scott epic has more about the making of the film. Though the film plays a bit loose with the history, it is an entertaining film for 21st century audiences.

Perhaps slightly more realistic, and loosely based on historical events, are the many iterations of Spartacus. Spartacus was a Thracian gladiator and was one of the slave leaders in the Third Servile War in the first century BCE. Books, novels, movies and television shows have continuously elaborated on the tale of which historians know relatively few details. Howard Fast's 1952 book Spartacus served as the inspiration for Stanley Kubrick's 1960 film starring Kirk Douglas. More recently, the television show Spartacus: Blood and Sand ran for three seasons to a relatively positive reception.

The Colosseum in Rome is the best known location of ancient gladiatorial battles which can still be visited. Started in 70CE and completed in 80, the Colosseum could seat 50,000-80,000 and was the first permanent amphitheater in Rome. Repaired multiple times in the third, fourth, and fifth centuries, the ruins are adjacent to the Forum Romanum, both of which are popular tourist destinations.

Big Gifts Come in Small Packages

Sat, 09/06/2014 - 11:40am
Tess Barton and Mrs. Eve
“Give” as defined by the World Book Dictionary is “to provide something to another, usually without receiving anything in return.” Recently one of Avondale’s youngest patrons demonstrated this very definition in an extraordinary way.

What is your name?
“Tess Barton”

How old are you? 
“6”

How long have you been a Girl Scout? 
“About 2 years now.”

I understand that you have a very special reason for visiting the library today; will you please tell me about it?
“I need to give Mrs. Eve $5.00 that I earned in Girl Scouts so she can use it to help in the library; to help teach the babies how to read.”

When you were younger, did you use to come to Mrs. Eve’s Tot Time program?
“Yes.”

What was your favorite thing about Tot Time?
“Being with Mrs. Eve”

Thank you Tess for showing us all that true giving comes from the heart, and you are never too young to start.

Carla Perkins
Avondale Library

Laura Ingalls Wilder's New Autobiography Reflects Less Rosy View of Her Pioneer Days

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 1:13pm
When I was nine years old, I loved the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. I read every book, several times. I went to the Children's Librarian in my local library and told her how much I liked the books and that I wanted to read more like them. The librarian gave me a book by Rose Wilder Lane, Laura's daughter. It was an adult book and I couldn't get into it.

Well. many years later, my dream will finally come true. Even though Laura died the year I was born, a new book by Laura Ingalls Wilder is coming out on November 20. Pioneer Girl is Laura's autobiography, the true story of life on the Prairie, not the version of her life as romanticized in her children's series, but the real hardships that molded her into the teller of stories that millions of young girls have grown up loving.

Thank you, Laura, for this last gift.

Links of interest: 
"The 'Pioneer Girl' Project: The Long Road to Bringing Laura Ingalls Wilder's 1930 Autobiography into Print"

"Publishing Laura Ingalls Wilder's Autobiography"

Laura Ingalls  Wilder Historic Home & Museum

Lynn Piper Carpenter
Five Points West Library

Master Gardener Richard Healey to Lead Free Workshop on Caring for Orchids, September 9

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 10:11am
Master Gardener Richard Healy will lead a free workshop on how to care for orchids on Tuesday, September 9, 6:30 p.m., at the Springville Road Library.

There are more 2,000 orchid species, including several that thrive in Alabama climate and in the home. Healy, who has about 80 orchids in his own greenhouse, will give tips on which orchids do well in this area. He’ll also have orchids on display.

“If you take care of them properly, you can get months of blooms out of an orchid,’’ said Healy, a member of the Alabama Orchid Society. “I’ll even give people tricks to get a second set of blooms after that first bloom.’’

Some of his other tips will include:
How to look for bargains when shopping for orchids
How to drop the fear of caring for orchids
How to avoid killing an orchid

“The biggest thing that causes orchids to die is over watering them,’’ Healy said. “When people feel like something is wrong, they water it.’’

For more information, contact the library at 226-4081. Also, check out the Alabama Orchid Society’s Facebook page and the Alabama Orchid Society’s 30th Annual Orchid Show and Sale on September 19-21 at the Birmingham Botanical Gardens. Free to the show and sale.

Birmingham Stories of Race, Redemption & Reconciliation Panel Discussion, September 12

Fri, 09/05/2014 - 9:38am

The Birmingham Public Library will present a panel discussion on race, redemption, and reconciliation on Friday, September 12, at noon in the Central Library's Arrington Auditorium as part of the city's Empowerment Week. The event is free and open to the public.

The speakers will be Chervis Isom and Nick Patterson, authors of recent books that examine Birmingham during the civil rights movement. Though one author is white and the other is black, the men's stories carry similar messages of change and moving forward.

Isom once held racist views as a child growing up in a segregated Birmingham in the 1950s and 1960s. But his opinions eventually changed when a married couple on his newspaper route taught him that it's wrong to judge people based on skin color. He shares his coming-of-age story in The Newspaper Boy.

Patterson had always felt that stories of the movement's foot soldiers were ones of struggle and perseverance that needed to live on for generations to share. Through research and extensive interviews, he delved deep into the past to tell their stories in his book Birmingham Foot Soldiers: Voices from the Civil Rights Movement.

Come learn about the city's past and how it prepares people for the future. Isom, an attorney, and Patterson, a writer, will sell and sign copies of their books after the discussion and Q&A session.

Birmingham's Empowerment Week, set for September 11-15, will include a day of service, speakers and festivals.

Children's Book Review: The Mysterious Benedict Society

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 12:25pm
The Mysterious Benedict Society
Trenton Lee Stewart

 Reynard Muldoon is a brainy misfit at the Stonetown Orphanage. He has no friends or family to confide in aside from his tutor, Ms. Perumal. One day, during his lessons with Ms. Perumal, Reynie spies an ad in the newspaper that reads, "ARE YOU A GIFTED CHILD LOOKING FOR SPECIAL OPPORTUNITIES?" For him, the answer is a resounding “YES!” he responds to the ad with nothing to lose. He and a crowd of hopeful students are subjected to a series of bizarre and strenuous mental and physical tests. All of the other students are pared down rather quickly, leaving Reynie and three other children as the only candidates fit for the so-called “Special Opportunities.” Bald and bespectacled Sticky Washington has a nervous disposition and a photographic memory, Kate Wetherall is practically an acrobat and is always prepared with a bucket full of supplies tied to her waist, last but not least is tiny and stubborn Constance Contraire. This band of exceptional kids has been recruited by Mr. Benedict to infiltrate and act as spies at the very prestigious Learning Institute for the Very Enlightened. The head of the school, Mr. Curtain, is up to some large-scale shenanigans. The kids are deployed and accepted into the school where they use their special skills to get to the bottom of Mr. Curtain’s plan for world domination.

This book showcases clever writing by an author who never talks down to young readers. It’s a smart book about smart kids that is crackling with adventure, mystery (it’s in the title!), humor, and heart. It’s a great book for voracious middle grade readers. Weighing in at almost 500 pages it’s likely that only the most insatiable young readers will want to take it on. However, younger or less experienced readers shouldn’t turn away because of the page count. The story is appropriate for kids of all ages and the audiobook is a superb alternative to the print version. This title is the first of a series, so if you like it there are more many other adventures to enjoy. Luckily, this title wraps up the story quite nicely so there are minimal cliffhangers.

Mollie McFarland
Springville Road Library

Learn More About the Dalai Lama at the Birmingham Public Library in October

Thu, 09/04/2014 - 8:29am
The Dalai Lama and Mayor Bell at the Mind and Life Institute, Kyoto, Japan, April 2014
Photo courtesy of Office of Tibet
To help the public learn more about the Dalai Lama prior to his Birmingham visit in late October, the Birmingham Public Library will offer several free programs and resources.

Spiritual leader Lama Deshek of the Tibetan Buddhist Center in Birmingham, who's a student of the Dalai Lama and has traveled with him, will give a talk about the Dalai Lama on Tuesday, October 14, 6:30 p.m., in the Arrington Auditorium, Central Library. A question and answer session will follow.

The following locations will feature free screenings of the documentary 10 Questions for the Dalai Lama:

Wednesday, October 15, 12:00  p.m., Central Library
Tuesday, October 21, 12:00 p.m., Avondale Library
Tuesday, October 21, 6:30 p.m., Springville Road Library
Wednesday, October 22, 6:30 p.m., East Lake Library
Thursday, October 23, 10:00 a.m., Smithfield Library
Thursday, October 23, 11:00 a.m., Titusville Library

A resource list about books and DVDs on His Holiness will be available at Birmingham library locations in October.

The 14th Dalai Lama of Tibet will appear at Regions Field on Sunday, October 26, at 2 p.m. as part of Birmingham’s Human Rights Week, which will be October 22-27. For tickets to see the Dalai Lama at Regions Field, please visit www.birminghamhumanrights.com.

Dreamland Bar-B-Que and Birmingham Public Library to Host K-8 Classroom Recipe Contest

Wed, 09/03/2014 - 12:31pm

Dreamland Bar-B-Que and the Birmingham Public Library invite K-8 classrooms to put on their chef hats and create a kid-friendly Dreamland recipe. One winning classroom will be treated to a Dreamland classroom party for submitting the most creative and delicious recipe.

The Jr. Pitmasters Cookbook Recipe Contest is open to all K-8 classes and homeschool programs within Jefferson County. The contest is part of the Birmingham Public Library’s Eat Drink Read Write Festival, set for October 3-10, 2014.

Each classroom may submit one or more recipes using Dreamland Bar-B-Que Sauce, Dipping Sauce, Seasoning Shake, and/or Rub. These items are available for purchase at Dreamland Bar-B-Que restaurants, local grocers, and online at www.dreamlandbbq.com. The recipes can be for appetizers, main courses, side dishes, or desserts. The recipes should be easy to make for kids.

Recipe submission forms can be found at Dreamland and the Birmingham Public Library’s website. The deadline for submission is September 17, 2014. Classroom recipes should be sent to contactus@dreamlandlandbbq.com. To find applications, visit www.bplonline.org/eatdrinkfest and click on “contests.’’

Along with the recipe contest, all children in grades K-8 are invited to submit their own original works of art to be considered for the cookbook cover and inside illustrations. One piece of art will be selected as the cover for the Jr. Pitmasters Cookbook. Works may feature Dreamland Bar-B-Que or The City of Birmingham. The grand prize for the art contest is a $100 Dreamland gift card. Parents and children may submit art for consideration at the Central Library's Youth Department, second floor. The deadline is also September 17.

Winners will be honored during a family-friendly reception at the Central Library on October 6, 2014, 6:00-7:00 p.m.

For more information about the contest or the Eat Drink Read Write Festival, visit Dreamland Bar-B-Que on Facebook or www.bplonline.org/eatdrinkfest.