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Friday, May 22, 2015

More Graphic Novels from MLC

The Mississippi Library Commission's graphic novel collection is growing.  Stop by MLC to check out these new titles and many more!

Trickster: Native American Tales: A Graphic Collection
By Matt Dembicki

The Bloody Benders
By Rick Geary 

Trinity: A Graphic History of the First Atomic Bomb
By Jonathan Fetter-Vorm

The Gettysburg Address: A Graphic Adaptation
By Jonathan Hennessey

 March: Book Two
By John Robert Lewis and Andrew Aydin

Happy reading!

Friday, May 15, 2015

MLC Reads: May 15, 2015

Each week, the Mississippi Library Commission staff share some of the books that we've been reading. Last week, we read:
The Buried Giant
Kazuo Ishiguro

three stars

Although we've really enjoyed some of Kazuo Ishiguro's previous novels, like The Remains of the Day and Never Let Me Go, The Buried Giant fell a bit short. What started out as a fascinating premise--mist has fallen over the island and corroded people's memories--devolved into a tedious journey wherein little happened. There is, of course, some beautiful writing, like:
"If a thing is not in God's mind, then what chance of it remaining in those of mortal men?"
If you're a fan of allegorical fantasy, you might want to give this one a try. 

A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel
Madeleine L'Engle
adapted and illustrated by Hope Larson

five stars

This is Hope Larson's graphic novel adaptation of Madeleine L'Engle's beloved classic novel A Wrinkle in Time. Larson's illustrations perfectly complement the story we all know and love. Fans of the original novel are in for a special treat. Those new to the story will be blown away by the timeless tale and its fantastically done graphic novel treatment.

Deborah Wiles

five stars

We've been fans of Deborah Wiles ever since reading her Aurora County trilogy, three wonderful books for kids in middle school which focus on family and friends in small town Mississippi. She's done it again in Revolution, where we found the same type of strongly drawn characters and places, with the added bonus of the backdrop of Mississippi's Freedom Summer. Revolution was actually published at the fiftieth anniversary mark of this historic and groundbreaking event. The book contains a multitude of 1960s cultural references; quotes, music, headlines, and the like, all pull the reader back in time to Greenwood, Mississippi in 1964. It was sobering to read about the events that shaped our state only fifty short years ago, but the protagonists, Sunny and Raymond, were a joy to meet. This one is a definite must for your to-read pile!

Check back with us next Friday to find out what MLC staff thought about the books they're reading now:

  • Luckiest Girl Alive, written by Jessica Knoll
  • Mississippi Sissy, written by Kevin Sessums
  • The Arrival, written/illustrated by Shaun Tan
Happy reading!

Thursday, May 14, 2015

All About Percy

William Alexander Percy was born on this day, May 14, in 1885 in Greenville, Mississippi. Perhaps most well-known nowadays for his memoir, Lanterns on the Levee, he led a rich and varied life.
  • His father was LeRoy Percy, a U.S. Senator from Mississippi and a hunting buddy of Teddy Roosevelt.
  • Percy went to Harvard Law School and practiced law in Greenville, but he also spent much of his time writing poetry. He produced four volumes of poetry before writing his memoir.
  • During World War I, he was awarded the Croix de Guerre and bronze and silver stars.
  • Percy was appointed as the head of the Washington County Relief Committee during the Great Flood of 1927. To learn more about the flood, we highly recommend Rising Tide by John M. Barry.
  • When their parents died, he became the guardian of his cousins Walker, LeRoy, and Phinizy Percy. Walker Percy, another great Mississippi author, actually began his friendship with future author Shelby Foote in Greenville.
  • He even wrote a hymn that was adopted by the Episcopal Hymnal 1982. Hymn number 661 by Percy starts with the words: They cast their nets in Galilee just off the hills of brown...
  • The public library in Greenville is called the William Alexander Percy Library.
  • William Alexander Percy passed away January 21, 1942 in Greenville, Mississippi.
If you would like to read William Alexander Percy's poetry or to find out more about his life, stop by the Mississippi Library Commission or your local public library!

Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Tubman on the Money

The nonprofit organization Women on 20s has announced the winner of their online election to see who America thinks should be the first woman on United States paper currency. They announced the winner as Harriet Tubman yesterday and have petitioned the President to recommend to the Treasurer that the change be made by 2020, the 100 year anniversary of Women's Suffrage in America. Harriet Tubman was a fascinating woman who:
  • Was born with the name Araminta. She changed her name to Harriet, possibly in homage to her mother Harriet Ross, after she escaped slavery.
  • Was hit on the head when trying to help another slave avoid punishment. The resulting injury troubled her the rest of her life, bringing seizures, headaches, and blackouts.
  • Made at least nineteen trips on the Underground Railroad and helped nearly 300 slaves reach freedom in the North. She was never caught.
  • Was a nurse, laundry woman, cook, and spy during the Civil War. Once, she even led a raiding party!
  • Helped former slaves and orphans after the Civil War, starting schools and a home for the aged.
For more information, check out these excellent resources on Harriet Tubman and her life at your local public library or the Mississippi Library Commission:
Harriet Tubman
written by Marion Dane Bauer
Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom
written by Carole Boston Weatherford
illustrated by Kadir Nelson

Minty: A Story of Young Harriet Tubman
written by Alan Schroeder
illustrated by Jerry Pinkney

Harriet Tubman, Secret Agent: How Daring Slaves
and Free Blacks Spied for the Union During the Civil War
written by Thomas B. Allen
illustrated by Carla Bauer
Harriet Tubman: The Road to Freedom
written by Catherine Clinton
"Tubman, Harriet Ross." Encyclopedia of Women Social Reformers. Santa Barbara: ABC-CLIO, 2001. Credo Reference. Web. 13 May 2015.

Tuesday, May 12, 2015

On Runcible Spoons and Owls and Pussy-Cats

The Owl and the Pussy-Cat was one of my favorite poems growing up. I have always been a cat lover, and the sweet and lyrical courtship between the pussy cat and the owl warms my heart to this day. One can't help falling in love in time to the jaunty words:
The Owl and the Pussy-cat went to sea
   In a beautiful pea-green boat
Pussy said to the Owl, "You elegant fowl!
   How charmingly sweet you sing!
It was first published in 1871 in a collection called Nonsense Songs, Stories, Botany, and Alphabets. If you have never read the poem in it's entirety, you can do so here. It's quite a treat!

Edward Lear, the poem's author, was born on this day, May 12, in 1812 in Holloway, England. Here are a few nuggets about Lear and The Owl and the Pussy-Cat:
  • Lear was the twentieth of twenty-one children.
  • He was an epileptic.
  • As an adult, Lear was a prolific letter-writer, sometimes writing as many as 35 friends before breakfast.
  • Lear loved to coin new words and phrases. He first used the term runcible spoon in The Owl and the Pussy-Cat. It is now defined in the Oxford English Dictionary as a kind of fork, curved like a spoon and typically having three broad prongs, one of which has a sharp edge. (Does this sound like a spork to anyone else? It's not quite how I dreamed a runcible spoon would look.)
  • Beatrix Potter wrote a prequel to The Owl and the Pussy-Cat called The Tale of Little Pig Robinson in which Piggy-wig travels to the Land where the Bong-Tree grows. It was published in 1930.
 Be sure to check out more on Edward Lear and his poetry at your local library!

De Jong, Mary. "Edward Lear." Critical Survey Of Poetry, Second Revised Edition (2002): 1-5. Literary Reference Center. Web. 12 May 2015.
"runcible, adj." OED Online. Oxford University Press, March 2015. Web. 12 May 2015.

Monday, May 11, 2015

Cicada Call

Have you been hearing a strange vibrating sound lately? Perhaps you've run across some bugs that seem a little alien? Our neighborhood cat has been incredibly intrigued by the recent visitors, although actually catching one would be way too much work for him. Periodical cicadas are out in Mississippi again and they are a wonder to see. (And to hear!)

According to the Mississippi State University Extension Service, "there are only three broods of 13-year cicadas in the world and Mississippi is the only state where all three broods occur." They are notable for their black bodies, orange tinted wings, and red beady eyes. These guys have spent the thirteen years of their lives underground, feasting on tree roots, and only appear above ground to molt, mate, and die. The loud humming noise we all hear is the males calling to the females. MSU says that in an ideal environment, there could be over one million cicadas in one acre. No wonder they're so loud!
If you're a B-horror movie fan, we recommend watching The Beast Within while the cicada songs are in full swing. The movie was actually filmed in Bolton, Jackson, and Raymond, Mississippi, and it features a rampaging cicada-man-beast. It was based on the book The Beast Within by Edward Levy. Unfortunately, there are no rampaging cicada-man-beasts in the book.

Check out the MSU Extension Service for more detailed information on cicadas. We hope you enjoy this cicada season. If the noise gets to be too much, maybe we can all invest in some earplugs.

Friday, May 8, 2015

MLC Reads: May 8, 2015

Each week, the Mississippi Library Commission staff share some of the books that we've been reading. Last week, we read:

Under the Dome
Stephen King

five stars

Stephen King's novel Under the Dome follows a small town in Chester's Mill, Maine, that has been sealed off from the rest of the world by an invisible force field. Now it's a race against time to find a way out of the dome, but some citizens don't want to leave. With the dome comes power and some will stop at nothing to keep this power. A strong offering from Stephen King, but you don't have to be a Stephen King fan to enjoy this novel.

Cat Sense: How the New Feline Science Can Make You a Better Friend to Your Pet
John Bradshaw 

three stars

Do you love cats? Cat Sense explores the evolution and history of cats, from their earliest encounters with humans to the present day. Bradshaw also discusses cat psychology--just why does your cat do the things he does? An enjoyable read, a bit redundant in sections, that will satisfy any cat lover's need to learn more about their feline friends.

The Last Days of California
Mary Miller
five stars

The family road trip is a quintessential American experience. Moms, dads, brothers, and sisters sit cramped together in cars for days on end, passing America by while attempting to bond as a family unit. What if, however, the family road trip you're on isn't just a visit to the Grand Canyon, or the mountains, or the beach? What if it's a race to California to beat the Rapture? (They want to be the last one chosen, don'tcha know.) Miller examines a family of fundamental Christians who are fundamentally flawed; each grapples with his or her problems while they draw nearer and nearer to their final destination. The family dynamics are exquisitely drawn, as are the characterizations of the two teenage daughters. There are some scenes containing sex, underage drinking and drug use, and language, so if you object to these, you probably won't like this book as much as we did.

Tune in next week to find out what MLC staff thought about the books they're reading now:

  • The Buried Giant written by Kazuo Ishiguro
  • A Wrinkle in Time: The Graphic Novel written by Madeleine L'Engle, illustrations by Hope Larson
  • Revolution written by Deborah Wiles
Happy reading!
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