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Friday, May 29, 2015

MLC Reads: May 29, 2015

It's time for our weekly update on what MLC staff have been reading this past week.
The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch
written by Chris Barton and illustrated by Don Tate
five stars

Growing up in Mississippi, we remember learning about John Roy Lynch in history class. We wish this book had been around then, because it is truly amazing. Representative Lynch came to life on these pages. The illustrations by Don Tate perfectly sync with Chris Barton's simple but enlightening text. The Amazing Age of John Roy Lynch is a great introduction to some hard subjects-slavery and Reconstruction-for upper elementary and middle school readers. The back of the book has a timeline, a map, and a further reading section. Highly recommended.

 Vision in Silver: A Novel of The Others
Anne Bishop
five stars

This book is everything a fan of Anne Bishop's work has come to expect from her stories.  It's intelligent, unique, fun, and funny. We can't wait for the next one in the series, Marked in Flesh, to be published.

The Invention of Wings
Sue Monk Kidd
five stars

Sue Monk Kidd has outdone herself with this masterpiece of historical fiction. Based on real-life people, Sarah and Angelina Grimke, and painstakingly researched, The Invention of Wings, spans several decades of the abolitionists' and feminists' lives. Equally compelling is Sarah's slave/companion, Hetty. If you loved The Secret Life of Bees, be prepared to be swept away by Wings.

This week we've added some new books to our "reading pile":
  • Dead Wake: The Last Crossing of the Lusitania by Erik Larson
  • March: Book Two by  John Lewis (with illustrations by Andrew Aydin and Nate Powell)
  • Ship of Dolls by Shirley Parenteau
Until next week, happy reading!

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!

Thursday, May 7, 2015

New Graphic Novels at MLC

The Mississippi Library Commission just received a huge book haul and we wanted to showcase some of our new graphic novels.  Be sure to stop by to pick up one of these new titles or to check out some of our other new books.

By Raina Telgemeier
Color by Gurihiru

 Bone Out From Boneville
By Jeff Smith
Color by Steve Hamaker

A Game of Thrones Volume 1
Adapted by Daniel Abraham
Art by Tommy Patterson
Colors by Ivan Nunes

 The Rise of Aurora West
Written by JT Petty and Paul Pope
Art by David Rubin

Ms. Marvel
Written by G. Willow Wilson
Art by Adrain Alphona
Color by Ian Herring 

Happy reading! 

Wednesday, May 6, 2015

And the Winner Is...

The awards ceremony for the winners of the state level competition for Letters About Literature was held yesterday afternoon at the Mississippi Library Commission. In this annual contest, students in grades 4-12 read a book, poem, or speech and then write a mock letter to the author. The first place winners for Mississippi will continue on to the national level and learn whether they've won in mid-May. The national winner in each age group wins a $1,000 award and each national honorable mention winner wins $200.

This year, Mississippi's winners wrote to the authors about the following books:
Level I, upper elementary grades 4-6
The first place Mississippi winner wrote to Christopher Paul Curtis.
Both the second and third place winners wrote to R. J. Palacio.

Level II, middle school, grades 7-8
The first place Mississippi winner wrote to Russell Freedman.
Second place wrote to Lois Lowry and third place wrote to S. E. Hinton.

Level III, high school, grades 9-12
The first place Mississippi winner wrote to Kathryn Lasky.
Second place wrote to Margaret Mitchell and third place wrote to J. D. Salinger.

Congratulations to all our winners! Check back this Fall for information on participating in the next Letters about Literature competition.

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Libros Cinco For Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo! Did you know that Cinco de Mayo commemorates a victory of General Ignacio Zaragoza's Mexican forces against Napoleon III's French troops on May 5, 1862? Now Cinco de Mayo is a national holiday in Mexico. It is also celebrated by the Mexican diaspora in the United States. While you can certainly celebrate with some tacos and churros, we guarantee that you and your children will enjoy learning about Mexican culture with some of these books:

Uno, Dos, Tres; One, Two, Three
written by Pat Mora, illustrated by Barbara Lavallee
This simple counting book follows two sisters in Mexico as they shop for
a birthday present for their mother in the marketplace.

Niño Wrestles the World
written and illustrated by Yuyi Morales
Niño is a fierce wrestler, or luchador. He takes on one mighty opponent
after another until he must defeat the biggest of them all,
his little sisters. For a special treat, watch Ms. Yuyi read it herself
Diego Rivera His World and Ours
written and illustrated by Duncan Tonatiuh
This picture book follows the course of artist Diego Rivera's
life, exploring his art, Mexican culture, and what
Rivera might paint if he were living today.

Becoming Naomi León
written by Pam Muñoz Ryan
 In this book for middle grades, Naomi and her brother
Owen go with their great-grandmother to find their father
in Mexico after their alcoholic mother reappears in their lives.

What the Moon Saw
written by Laura Resau
In another great choice for older middle school students,
Clara goes to Mexico to visit the grandparents she's never met.

Enjoy reading these books and enjoy Cinco de Mayo!

"Cinco De Mayo." Holidays, Festivals, and Celebrations of the World Dictionary. Eds. Helene Henderson , Helene Henderson , and Helene Henderson . Detroit: Omnigraphics, Inc., 2010. Credo Reference. Web. 5 May 2015.

Monday, May 4, 2015

"Old Friends/New Friends" Exhibit Opens at the Mississippi Library Commission

The Mississippi Library Commission is hosting a two-month exhibition by Mississippi artists Mary Lane Reed, Steven Moppert, Laura Tarbutton, and Jackie Messer. The exhibit, entitled “Old Friends/New Friends," opens Monday, May 4, and continues through Monday, June 29, 2015. An opening reception is set for Thursday, May 28, from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., at the Mississippi Library Commission, which is located at 3881 Eastwood Drive off Eastover Drive on the grounds of the Education and Research Center in Jackson.

Old friends, Mary Lane Reed, Steve Moppert, and Laura Tarbutton, met at Art Supply Headquarters in the 1980s. Jackie Messer, the new friend, joined the friendship eight years ago. All four will share the Library Commission’s venue to display their work.

Portrait artist Mary Lane Reed was smitten by art at the age of five. Her father stood her in a window to watch a rare Mississippi snowfall and asked her to draw a picture of the scene. She promptly complied and never stopped drawing after that.

Her approach to the creation of art is direct and intuitive. She feels the tone of the painting should be determined by the personality of the subject. The backgrounds of her oil portraits may be interior scenes or outdoor settings. She enjoys the painting challenges of both, but admits a bias for the outdoors. "I love the challenge of capturing dappled sunlight," said Reed.

Steve Moppert, also a portrait artist and winner of the National Portrait Competition Grand Prize for Best in Show in 1981, will share the Library Commission’s venue with Reed. Moppert has successfully balanced an active career as a portrait artist with one as a painter of landscapes, still lifes, and figurative works for more than 45 years. Always holding himself to the highest standards both in the polishing of his skills and production of his work, he has consistently attained distinction in the mastery of his art.

Moppert’s paintings are included in the permanent collections of the Governor’s Mansion, the state historical museum, Mississippi College, the University of Mississippi Medical Center, and the Louisiana State University Medical Center. His subjects have included leading educators, scientists, physicians, and clergymen. His paintings have been featured in Colorado Homes and Lifestyles, Mississippi Magazine, and International Artist Magazine.

Artisans Laura Tarbutton's and Jackie Messer's works complement each other. Tarbutton began The Beach House Studio with a group of friends who loved to create beautiful jewelry. “I love to create beautiful and unique jewelry from various forms of metal." It gives her an outlet to express herself through the design and creation of her own jewelry. Tarbutton strives for an organic feel in her work--a feel where textures abound and her love of nature shines through. Textures, whether lamp work beads, PMC, pottery, enameled PMC and copper, or mixed media jewelry, are all prominent in her pieces. She fabricates jewelry using copper, fine silver, precious metal, clay, and enamels. Messer began chaining in 2007.“The shine of the silver got me hooked! I love how putting on one ring at a time can make such beautiful accessories!” she said.

The exhibit is open for viewing Monday through Friday from 8 5 p.m. Both the exhibit and reception are free and open to the general public. For additional information about the exhibit or the Mississippi Library Commission, call 601-432-4111 or email Gloria Washington.

Friday, May 1, 2015

Flashback Forty-One

Time: July, 1941
Place: Liberty, Mississippi
Status: What's Yours is Mine aka the Borrowing Neighbor
Dear Mrs. Stratton: I saw in Southern Herald where you answered a question for some one, so I want you to answer one for me. For years I have loaned my cake pans, sizzors, needles, dishes and various other articles to a neighbor. This neighbor will not return anything. She is good and I do not like to refuse, but Mrs. Stratton, sometimes I have to walk one half mile to get my wash tubs. Please tell me what I should do. - A Reader
I saw this small-town advice column while scrolling through a microfilm copy of The Southern Herald and just about died. Have you ever walked around in July in Mississippi? While carrying wash tubs? Here's the response for this saint:
Page Solomon! Dear Lady! Why did you not ask me to work a hard arithmetic problem for you? Well, I think after your years of neighborliness, I would tell my friend that I was willing to loan, but she must return, and if she failed to do so, next time I would tell her what she wanted to borrow was being used.
I should say so! Invest in your own pair of sizzors, neighbor lady. I wonder if she read this heartfelt plea in the paper...

Time: July, 1941
Place: Liberty, Mississippi
Status: Porcine King
L. D. Causey, the sausage king, reports progress in his section and a good sausage prospect for next winter.
My interpretation: Mr. Causey has a "champeen" size pig. Also, would you want to be referred to as the "sausage king"?

Time: July, 1941
Place: Liberty, Mississippi
Status: Chicken Rustlers Beware
The chicken rogues are busy again and showing much activity in this neighborhood. Plans are being made to find identity of some, so if they don't fail will tell you next week the name of the guilty party.
I didn't see anything about the chicken thieves in the next issue. It seems the editor's pessimism was well-founded.

I hope you've enjoyed this "flashback" to Liberty, Mississippi, in 1941. Old newspapers can be fascinating to read. They contain so much information about the lifestyles of the people and communities. Have a question about one of your ancestors? Remember, Mississippi Library Commission staff are available to search our microfilmed newspapers for you.

The Southern Herald. Liberty, Mississippi. July 1941.
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