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Between Bookcases

I want to let you in on a little secret.Bookstacks

There is a tradition that has been practiced on the grounds of colleges and universities across the country since long before webpages, Wikipedia, and apps existed.

If done right it can lead to new discoveries, stimulating ideas, diverse perspectives, groundbreaking realizations, and a newfound appreciation for how the past influences the present.

In fact, there is almost a guarantee that practitioners will be different at the end of their undertaking the tradition than they were at the beginning, for the opportunities to broaden one’s worldview, sensibilities, and knowledge are nearly endless.

Here at Wheelock, the secret tradition is practiced between the bookcases at the Library and it involves nothing more than taking the time to browse the treasures that have been collected over the years and continue to be collected today to capture and make available the intellectual output of the scholars, authors, and visionaries in the various disciplines taught here at the College.

This simple act of walking through the stacks and interacting with the contents not only provides a welcome escape from the various screens constantly demanding our attention, but it lets one engage in the joyful discovery of information without distraction, defined purpose, or specific need. Indeed, it trains one to embrace one of the most worthwhile activities possible, which is to pursue knowledge for its own sake.

To help facilitate and encourage this tradition, we here at the Library are in the midst of changing the labels on the end of the stacks throughout the collection by replacing the simple call number designations with descriptions of the disciplines each call number range represents. Soon, everyone will be free to identify and roam the ranges of their favorite discipline or a discipline that has piqued their curiosity.

I leave it to you, the reader, to take advantage of these new labels and this tradition and explore our collections. With any luck, you will come to how enriching this simple activity can be for the mind and soul. Lastly, don’t forget to share your experiences in the comments!

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Eat Your Books

I love books. I love food. I love books about food. Food isn’t just a vehicle for the nutrition we require to survive as living organisms. It can do anything. Salt just about wrote the history of mankind. Nothing brings back my childhood memories more vividly than a bowl of rice cake soup and a handful of cherries. And there’s a reason why when you throw a party, everyone ends up in the kitchen no matter how comfortable your couches are. Here are a few of my favorite books in which food plays a starring role. They all include recipes so that you can recreate the food in the story and relive your favorite moments in a whole new way.

tangle

A Tangle of Knots – Cady is an eleven year old orphan living in a world where everyone has a Talent. Cady’s Talent is that she can determine and bake a person’s favorite cake even if they themselves don’t know it. This is a sweet story told from various viewpoints and each chapter brings you one step closer to unraveling the mystery of how all these different characters are connected. Recommended recipe – Cady’s Chocolate-Almond-Cherry Cake

sweetlife

The Sweet Life in Paris: Delicious Adventures in the World’s Most Glorious and Perplexing City - David Lebovitz is a professional cook/baker with a wildly successful blog and several cookbooks on his resume. He moved to Paris to start a new life and The Sweet Life in Paris is a hysterical ode to The City of Light and its inhabitants. If you ever take a trip to Paris, this book should be in your suitcase. All the recipes he shares are made with easy to find ingredients and have been tested in a kitchen so small that dishes must be cleaned in the bathtub. Recommended recipe – Hot Chocolate and Lemon Madeleines.

TheGirlWhoChasedtheMoon14702_f

The Girl Who Chased the Moon – I’m a huge fan of Sarah Addison Allen. In my opinion, she writes the best beach reads and food plays a major role in most of her books. There are two main characters that drive this story. Emily is a teenager adjusting to life in Mullaby, North Carolina after the death of her mother. She hopes that coming to her mother’s hometown will answer some of the riddles in her life but all she uncovers are more mysteries. Emily’s neighbor Julia can’t stop baking cakes. Her cakes contain all her dreams and, she hopes, the ability to bring back lost loves. Recommended recipe: Hummingbird Cake

relish

Relish: My Life in the Kitchen - Lucy Knisley is one of my favorite cartoonists and Relish is her food-themed graphic novel memoir. Her life lessons are learned through food and cooking and she shares how food has played a key role in shaping who she is today. You’ll envy her delicious life and then think back and recall your own food memories. It may also inspire you to start writing your recipes in illustration form. Recommended recipe: Huevos Rancheros

twinkie

The Truth About Twinkie Pie – GiGi (short for Galileo Galilei) is a brainy twelve year old being raised by her sister DiDi (short for Delta Dawn). DiDi wins a national cooking contest with their mother’s recipe for Twinkie Pie and uses the prize money to move themselves from a trailer park in South Carolina to New York City. Armed with her Recipe for Success, GiGi tackles a fancy new school, new friends and enemies, and a sparkling new identity. It’s a smart, warm and fuzzy feeling story about family and friendship. The recipes help set the mood and express characters’ emotions while satisfying your craving for comfort food. Recommended recipe: Mama’s Famous Twinkie Pie of course!

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Play with your Food!

91df2c88d25db8ce28e57367eb545918 Saxton Freeman and Joost Elffers are masters at playing with food. In their hands oranges get frustrated, strawberries give kisses, and kiwi’s mug for the camera. In their many books, including Food Play, How are you Peeling?, and Food for Thought, the pair use the natural shapes of fruits and veggies to create dynamic characters and clever scenes.GR-130_6_2_3

 

The images in the books tell their own stories without words, making them work for kids of all ages–even adults will get a kick out of the creative ways fruits and veggies are turned in to recognizable faces and transformed into other objects.

screamingorange

Using the creativity demonstrated by Freeman and Elffers, teachers, parents, and other caregivers and fun-thusiasts can encourage kids to make their own fun and silly faces from fruits and vegetables. Finding inspiration in the foods that are best for young people can make them both fun to play with and fun to eat. What characters are hiding in your fruit bowl? Get creative and find out!

 

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Did you know today is National Take a Chance Day?

And did thou know’st today is National Talk Like Shakespeare Day? Or National Lost Dogs Awareness Day?

One thing I like to do from time to time is look at the website, nationaldaycalendar.com, which lists national day-long celebrations of events and things beyond the official holidays. Some are highly-recognized and reflect important issues, like the National Day of Silence last week.   Others are completely obscure and have dubious or unknown origins, like National Peanut Cluster Day back on March 8.

Here are a few upcoming national days and some Wheelock College Library items you may want to pick up (or just stay online and access since this is 2015 and we have ebooks and streaming videos) in recognition:

Ascruffypril 30: National Adopt a Shelter Pet Day
The Scruffy Puppy by Holly Webb; illustrated by Sophy Williams
Bella’s excitement over her new shelter puppy, Sid, is slightly dampened by her friends and their snooty attitude towards shelter dogs. Bella enters Sid into a dog show to show her friends that dogs are wonderful no matter if they’re pedigreed or from a shelter.

saharaspecialMay 5: National Teacher Appreciation Day
Sahara Special by Esmé Raji Codell
Sahara is heartbroken and struggling in school after her father left and her only solace is writing.  After she loses her motivation to turn in schoolwork, she has to repeat the 5th grade, which sounds awful at first.   However, she gets a new and unconventional teacher who supports and inspires Sahara and her fellow students.

Teachers Know What Works Experience, Not Statistics, Confirms What Will Work by Keen Babbage
There are many books out there about improving schools.  This particular one brings the focus to teachers and how based on their experiences, teacher input is invaluable in discovering what works in the classroom with and for students.

May 9: National Lost Sock Memorial Day
A Pair of Socks by Stuart J. Murphy; illustrated by Lois Ehlertapairofsocks
A sock searches the house for its lost mate. This children’s book is perhaps the only one out there told in the point of view of a sock!

Not a book about lost socks, but one of my favorite moments involving a sock separated from another occurred in Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets.

closingfoodgapMay 9: Stamp Out Hunger Food Drive Day
The Red Wagon (DVD): Facing Hunger / Directed by Dave Raizman and Jim Ritvo ; Producer, Jim Ritvo.
This documentary tells the story of individuals and families in rural Vermont struggling every day to feed their families and having to rely on the charitable food system of food banks, soup kitchens and food shelves.

Closing the Food Gap  : Resetting the Table in the Land of Plenty by Mark Winne
Not really a book about hunger, but author and food activist, Mark Winne examines the issue of poverty and its effect on on food choices.

May 15: National Endangered Species Day
Endangered Animals by Ben Hoare and Tom Jackson
This book takes a look at creatures around the world that are currently threatened with extinction, along with the ways that we can help them survive.atlasofendangered

The Atlas of Endangered Species by Richard Mackay
This atlas profiles species lost, threatened and surviving today through full-color maps and graphics.  It covers the environmental impacts of human development including climate change and damage caused by deep-sea trawling and mining.

May 22: National Vanilla Pudding Day
puddingComplete Allergy-Free Comfort Foods Cookbook Every Recipe Is Free of Gluten, Dairy, Soy, Nuts, and Eggs by Elizabeth Gordon.
The definitive reference for recipes free of gluten, dairy, soy, nuts, and eggs.

Pudding a Global History by Jerry Quinzio
No specific coverage on vanilla pudding, but still an interesting read about pudding!

May 25: National Tap Dance Day
happyfeetHappy Feet (dvd)
Mumble is unlike other emperor penguins.  Instead of singing a heartsong to attract mates, he tap dances to the tune.   After he is cast out of his penguin community, he meets an unorthodox group of penguins and they embark on a series of adventures.

Where the Action Is: Tap Technique, Part 1
Learn how to tap dance!  Seriously, the above is a link to a tap dancing instruction video provided by our streaming video subscription, Academic Videos Online.

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Literary Cosplay

After 10 years of living in Boston, I finally went to my first Anime Boston.  Anime Boston is an annual convention that celebrates and promotes Japanese animation, comics and pop-culture. I don’t keep up with anime as much as I used to but part of the appeal of an event like this is just immersing yourself in the culture. And one of my favorite parts of this culture is cosplay. Cosplay is a type of performance art in which participants dress up as a character often from video games, anime, or comics. Many cosplayers create their elaborate costumes by hand – sewing, gluing, molding and piecing together ideas that existed only in an imaginary or virtual world. The art of cosplay has grown over the years and has created celebrity cosplayers and even a reality show! And as we all know, once you have a reality show, you’ve really made it in this world.

Cosplay isn’t just limited to anime and comics. Some of my favorite literary characters have been brought to life by cosplayers. As I read, I form images in my mind as to what the characters and the setting look like. It’s one thing to see it in my head, but to see it brought into the real world is truly incredible.

mistborn

Mistborn cosplay by Ellen Hyde of Hyde Designs

Mistborn – I love the Mistborn series written by Brandon Sanderson. He is a master at creating rich and detailed worlds. In this series, Allomancers are people who are born with the ability to “burn” metals which give them special abilities such as increased strength, speed or the ability to influence the emotions of others. While Allomancers can only burn one kind of metal, giving them access to only one special ability, Mistborn can burn all metals which makes them especially powerful. To distinguish themselves from regular Allomancers, Mistborn wear special cloaks that enable them to blend in with the night mists. See more of Ellen Hyde’s work at her website, Hyde Designs.

A Surprise Pride and Prejudice Engagement

A Surprise Pride and Prejudice Engagement

Pride and Prejudice – This Jane Austen cosplay is just beyond words. A family planned an elaborate Pride and Prejudice surprise engagement in which they put on hand sewn Regency dresses and acted out various scenes from the novel ending, of course, with Mr. Darcy proposing to Elizabeth Bennett. It also helps to have family members who look as if they’ve stepped out of a BBC period drama.

Moaning Myrtle at Dragon Con 2013

Harry Potter – With the end of the books and movies, some of us may be experiencing a little Harry Potter withdrawal.  Thankfully, there are other ways to revisit Hogwarts. While it may seem pretty easy to cosplay as a Hogwarts student (Sweater, white collared shirt, tie, done.), these people definitely took it to another level. By the way, there’s an entire convention dedicated to Harry Potter!

Marauder’s Map dress by Ali

Marauder’s Map dress by Ali.

The map on this dress was hand drawn using a fine point Sharpie! See more details on Ali’s Tumblr.

Steampunk Rowena Ravenclaw by Aleta Pardalis

Steampunk Rowena Ravenclaw by Aleta Pardalis

Aleta Pardalis is a genius at creating steampunk interpretations of well known characters. See more of her work on her website!

Who would you like to cosplay as? Are you a cosplayer? If you are, we would love to see your creations! Share links in the comments!

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