Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Library Patron and Staff Sestina Contest

What's involved: write a sestina exploring the theme of change/rebirth/resurrection/tranformation/metamorphosis (for Spring!) and then post it in the comments section of this entry (you will need a Blogger account). The deadline for entries is Sunday, May 31, 2009, after which our fair and impartial judge will select winners- who will be notified via Blogger within one week. Prizes include Esteban's and Kolache Factory gift certificates!

I hear you thinking "Ok, sounds fun- but what the heck is a sestina?" Well, that is the fun part- it's only just about the most complicated poetry form in the English language....

A sestina (also, sextina, sestine, or sextain) is a highly structured poem consisting of six six-line stanzas followed by a tercet (called its envoy or tornada), for a total of thirty-nine lines. The same set of six words ends the lines of each of the six-line stanzas, but in a different order each time; if we number the first stanza's lines 123456, then the words ending the second stanza's lines appear in the order 615243, then 364125, then 532614, then 451362, and finally 246531. This organization is referred to as retrogradatio cruciata ("retrograde cross"). These six words then appear in the tercet as well, with the tercet's first line usually containing 1 and 2, its second 3 and 4, and its third 5 and 6 (but other versions exist, described below). English sestinas are usually written in iambic pentameter or another decasyllabic meter. (

more information:
from the Academy of American Poets

Humorous sestinas from McSweeney's Internet Tendency

and finally, an example:

Sestina of the Tramp-Royal
by Rudyard Kipling
First published in The Seven Seas (1896).

Speakin' in general, I 'ave tried 'em all,
The 'appy roads that take you o'er the world.
Speakin' in general, I 'ave found them good
For such as cannot use one bed too long,
But must get 'ence, the same as I 'ave done,
An' go observin' matters till they die.

What do it matter where or 'ow we die,
So long as we've our 'ealth to watch it all —
The different ways that different things are done,
An' men an' women lovin' in this world —
Takin' our chances as they come along,
An' when they ain't, pretendin' they are good?

In cash or credit — no, it aren't no good;
You 'ave to 'ave the 'abit or you'd die,
Unless you lived your life but one day long,
Nor didn't prophesy nor fret at all,
But drew your tucker some'ow from the world,
An' never bothered what you might ha' done.

But, Gawd, what things are they I 'aven't done?
I've turned my 'and to most, an' turned it good,
In various situations round the world —
For 'im that doth not work must surely die;
But that's no reason man should labour all
'Is life on one same shift; life's none so long.

Therefore, from job to job I've moved along.
Pay couldn't 'old me when my time was done,
For something in my 'ead upset me all,
Till I 'ad dropped whatever 'twas for good,
An', out at sea, be'eld the dock-lights die,
An' met my mate — the wind that tramps the world!

It's like a book, I think, this bloomin' world,
Which you can read and care for just so long,
But presently you feel that you will die
Unless you get the page you're readin' done,
An' turn another — likely not so good;
But what you're after is to turn 'em all.

Gawd bless this world! Whatever she 'ath done —
Excep' when awful long — I've found it good.
So write, before I die, "'E liked it all!"

(This work is in the public domain in the United States because it was was published before January 1, 1923)

Thursday, April 16, 2009

Home Affordable Modification Program

Many find it hard to believe, but before I was a librarian I worked in the mortgage business. Therefore, I have been following the housing crisis with some interest and have heard references to the President's plan to help homeowners facing foreclosure. However, references were all that I heard- I kept seeing "the program" mentioned on television and online, but no one gave details or even called it by its official name. I thought "I would find this pretty frustrating if I were one of the people this program was meant for," so I decided to do some Googling and see what I could pull together in terms of details.

For the basics, I found the original Treasury Department press release:
Home Affordable Modification Program Guidelines,
March 4, 2009

To find out if you are eligible, go here:

For context I also read some articles in national newspapers, like The Wall Street Journal, and The New York Times

And, finally and sadly, I learned that scammers are already coming out of the woodwork: information about that can be found here, and local scam reporting resources can be found here. I hope this helps!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

National Library Week

Helen Hall Library is celebrating National Library Week, April 12 - 18. We have a whole slate of activities, including storytimes, Discovery Zone Science for elementary school aged children, a Basic E-Mail class for adults, and the "Pocket Puppeteer" on Friday morning. An additional special event is a reception on Thursday to honor the "Outstanding Ike Responders," the city employees who went above and beyond and the ones who served on the Ride Out Team. The library staff greatly appreciates these individuals and departments who kept us safe and informed during the storm and who quickly got essential city services up and running after the storm.

We invite you to participate in all the activities this week. Most of all, we want you to keep on visiting us and using all our services. We are here for you, and that is what National Library Week is all about!

Wednesday, April 8, 2009

Fun Library Facts

I am going to periodically post interesting facts about the library on this blog. First up is the fact that in March 2009, the library checked out over 61,000 books, CDs, DVDs and other items. This is the first time in history that this many items were checked out in a non-summer month. We love breaking records like this at the library, and we hope it means that we are providing you with what you want from us!


Eccentric Wordsmith

If you fit the profile of a wordsmith, you enjoy challenges.
Maybe you play scrabble or work crosswords. There are three
nonfiction books about eccentric wordsmiths and the genius of
their lives. Loanlady is enthusiastic about recommending them
for a slow satisfying read. Rich vocabulary and absorbing.

BY Simon Winchester 423 w759P Second Floor Nonfiction
413.092 R 732ke
BY Simon Winchester 423.09 W759m

From Loanlady

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Celebrate National Poetry Month

Did you know that April is National Poetry Month? Shower your mundane world with splashes of delight and joy through the language of poetry! Come on! Indulge yourself! What’s your mood?
For laughter, try The Old Dog Barks Backward or The Best of Ogden Nash by Ogden Nash; I’m too Young to be Seventy: and other Delusions by Judith Viorst
For fun, how about Poemcrazy: Freeing your Life with Words or Wham! It’s a Poetry Jam!
For inspiration, try the Persian poets Hafiz and Rumi: The Subject Tonight is Love or Rumi: Gardens of the Beloved
Come visit upstairs and sample original poems by local poets, too! Browse through the poetry section to find your favorite poet!
From The Poetry Lady

Books for the anime lover

This post is based on the book talk I did for the teens during All-Day Anime a couple of weeks ago!

We have a big selection of manga graphic novels in the teen section, which are the basis for a large amount of popular anime series, but some people may not know that there are also anime shows based on books! Here are a few good ones that can all be found in the teen section.

Moribito: Guardian of the Spirit by Nahoko Uehashi
This book is the basis of the anime Moribito that ran on Cartoon Network. It's a story about a woman bodyguard named Balsa who has sworn to save lives to atone for lives she has taken in the past. She is an independent woman who does not like to get involved in the affairs of others, but she finds herself saving the life of a young prince while she is passing through a foreign city and ends up becoming his bodyguard. The prince is in trouble because he holds within his spirit an egg that will hatch into a water spirit that will revive the land from the drought it is suffering through. She must protect him from an evil creature that seeks to eat the egg (which would kill the prince as well) as well as the prince's own father.

The book is not set in Japan, but in an imaginary world that shares many traits with feudal Japan and China. Some of the settings might seem familiar to those of you who are fans of Inu-Yasha. There's a lot of action, as there are so many people out to get the prince. If you liked the anime, you should definitely check out the novel for the whole story! Also, it's the first book of a series, and the second one will be coming out in May and continues the adventures of Balsa.

Brave Story by Miyuki Miyabe
This book has not only been adapted into an anime movie, but you can also find the manga version over in the graphic novels section. But the original is the best! Wataru is a ten year old who is currently facing some problems at home. His parents' relationship is on rocky grounds, and finally they decide to get a divorce. His mother does not take this well and grows depressed to the point where she tries to commit suicide. Wataru wants to find a way to change events and alter his fate, and he finds it when he unexpectedly stumbles upon a parallel world called Vision.

In Vision, Wataru is a hero, known as a Traveler and respected by the inhabitants of the world, which includes beast people and dragons. His objective is to collect the five gemstones, and he is given a sword and armor in order to succeed. Once he has the gemstones, he can ascend the Tower of Destiny and ask the goddess of fate to change his fate. But he is not the only one who wants to change his fate, and he must face his rival Mitsuru, who has magic powers and will stop at aboslutely nothing to reach the Tower of Destiny first.

Anyone who likes fantasy RPGs should love this book, as the entire world of Vision is supposed to be an RPG made real for Wataru. He even undergoes a test to see if he will be a magic user or a sword user!

The Twelve Kingdoms: Sea of Shadow by Fuyumi Ono
This book is similar to Brave Story in that the main character, a teenage girl named Youko, finds herself drawn into a different world. In her case, though, it is because she belonged to that world in the first place, having been blown into our world accidentally before she was born. She is carried into the other world by Keiki, a mysterious man who turns out to be a kirin who is searching for the next ruler of the kingdom of Kei (one of the titular Twelve Kingdoms). Unfortunately, when she lands in the world of the Twelve Kingdoms she is lost in the wilderness. Her bright red hair betrays her as an outsider, and she meets hostility from both humans and demons. However, Keiki gave her a sword that gives her fighting skills, and she develops a strong determination to survive until she is reunited with Keiki.

This book is the basis for the Twelve Kingdoms anime that was really popular a few years ago. It is an excellent book, full of action. Youko faces a lot of adversity on her way to becoming the Empress of Kei, not knowing who she can trust and who will betray her as well as being set upon on all sides by demons. She gets into a lot of trouble, but she also gains some close allies and friends, including an anthropomorphic rat named Rakshun. The world of the Twelve Kingdoms shares a lot of similarities with ancient China, though, like the world of Moribito, it is entirely fantasy. This book is also the first in a series, and if you enjoy it I recommend checking out the second, Sea of Wind as well as the third, The Vast Spread of the Seas, which just came out this month.

Mmmmm, yummy! HQN Paranormal Romances...

Helen Hall Library owns these titles in the HQN Paranormal Romance series:

Lord of Legends
Krinard, Susan.
He is Arion, King of the Unicorns. Powerful and seductive, he could possess any female he desires--until he is condemned to life as a human. Only the innocence of the enchanting Lady Mariah Donnington can release him from his curse.

Come the Night
Krinard, Susan.
The Great War has ended, and Gillian Maitland is to marry a werewolf of her father's choosing—ensuring the purity of their noble bloodline. Still, she can't forget Ross Kavanaugh, the American whose forbidden touch unleashed a passion she'd never known. And when Ross returns unexpectedly to England, he's no longer the man she remembers, but a hard-boiled ex-cop who harbors a dark secret.

Chasing Midnight
Krinard, Susan.
By day, Allie Chase lives among the artists and eccentrics of 1920's Greenwich Village, in search of adventure. By night, she haunts the city's back alleys and seedy speakeasies, driven by a more primal hunger.
Here, amid the glitz and unrestrained morals of jazz-age society, even a vampire can fall prey to the temptations of the flesh. One look into the golden eyes of the dashing Griffin Durant, and Allegra knows she's not dealing with just a man....

Dark Rival
Joyce, Brenda.
A Highland warrior sworn to protect innocence through the ages, Black Royce is a battle hardened soldier of the gods. Then he is sent to New York City to protect a healer from those who would use her powers for themselves.

My Favorite Earthling
Grant, Susan
Keira, warrior-queen of the galaxy, is as famous for her beauty as she is for avoiding marriage. But when an upstart little planet called Earth threatens her world with its fleet of spaceships, the fate of her people lies in her hands. She must bind herself to a barbarian from the rogue world...or face the destruction of her own!

Dark Seduction
Joyce, Brenda.
Malcolm of Dunroch has been chosen by the secret Brotherhood, a nameless society of pagan knights sworn to defend mankind. He is a novice to his extraordinary—and dangerous--powers. But he has already broken his vows--for an innocent woman’s death is on his hands. Malcolm is determined to fight his dark sexuality, denying himself all pleasure…until fate sends him another Innocent, the beautiful bookseller, Claire Camden.

Playing With Fire: Tales of an Extraordinary Girl
Showalter, Gena.
Average, ordinary Belle Jamison becomes the guinea pig for an experimental formula that allows her to control the elements, which should be cool but really isn't. Because sexy, cool government agent Rome Matthews has been ordered to hunt Belle down and neutralize her.

Preschool Picks

Are you bored with the books you are reading to your three to six-year-old? Do you and your child have a sense of humor and enjoy laughing together? Why not read some of these books:

E WIL Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus! by Mo Willems
Pigeon begs, pleads, and wheedles to drive the bus.

E WIL Don’t Let the Pigeon Stay Up Late! by Mo Willems
Pigeon gives many reasons why he shouldn’t go to bed.

E CRO Click, Clack, Moo by Doreen Cronin
Using a typewriter, the cows demand electric blankets or they will go on strike.

E CRO Giggle, Giggle, Quack by Doreen Cronin
Farmer Brown goes on vacation not realizing the animals have special plans while he is gone.

E STA Saving Sweetness by Diane Stanley
When little Sweetness runs away from Mrs. Sump, the mean woman who runs the orphanage, the kind hearted sheriff goes to rescue her from the dangerous Coyote Pete. The question is who is rescuing whom?

E STA Raising Sweetness by Diane Stanley
The kind sheriff has adopted eight orphans, but his ideas about housekeeping and cooking, such as spaghetti with peanut butter, lead Sweetness to find a wife for the sheriff.

F WAT Scaredy Squirrel by Melanie Watts
Scaredy Squirrel is a afraid to leave his tree, but something changes his outlook. (Be sure to read the fly leaf where it gives the reader a warning before reading the book.)

F WAT Scaredy Squirrel Makes a Friend by Melanie Watts
Scaredy sets out to find the perfect friend, preferably one with no teeth, and who is germ-free and predictable.