Check out our new Virtual Book Club!

It’s Sunday. What day of quarantine is it? Who knows – we’ve all been stuck inside for what seems like forever.

We librarians know that you miss all of our face-to-face library programs, but especially our beloved book clubs. So, good news, everyone: we are hosting a virtual book club! And the first book is… drumroll please… Little Fires Everywhere! (Click that title for a direct link to the book in our Overdrive e-book catalog).

Set in our very own Shaker Heights, Little Fires Everywhere by Celeste Ng is a gripping drama of the complicated relationships between Mia Warren, a wandering artist, her daughter Pearl, and the rich family of socialites that are their landlords. The streaming service Hulu also just released their adaptation of the book, starring Reese Witherspoon and Kerry Washington.

We’ll be talking about this book through the month of April and will post a few questions to discuss each week on Sunday. If the quarantine continues, we’ll announce a new book at the beginning of May, and so on.

We invite you, our lovely patrons, to make your voices heard in the comments below. Tell us if you think Mia is a scam artist, or if Elena is a crazy stalker! We want to hear it all, but please keep your comments courteous.

Our first questions are: 

  • How would you describe Mrs. Richardson and Mia, the two mothers in this novel? In what ways are they different? Why might the former always be referred to as “Mrs.” rather than Elena, while Mia is always referred to by her first name? Clearly it is done purposely by the author: how does it shape the way we feel about the two women? 
  • Talk about the four Richardson children, Lexi, Trip, Moody, and Izzy. Are any of the four more sympathetic than others? What is their relationship to one another? How does their affluence shape their outlooks on life?

Questions from litlovers.com.

Check back next Sunday for more discussion questions!

Your Library Staff at Home – Making & Crafting

I have always bemoaned my lack of time to do many of the things that I really like to do, like knitting, drawing, sewing and baking. Now, during this challenging time, I’ve no excuse; I’ve got the time, plus making is soothing and helps with the anxiety.

First, I’ve got a shawl to finish. I started it, I’m embarrassed to say, about a year and a half ago for a trip to Iceland. My sister Barb and friend Lynn also began their shawls for our trip, but they completed theirs. Mine, on the other hand, is still on the needles. Here’s a shot of Barb and Lynn in their lovely shawls while we were in Iceland and a shot of my unfinished shawl with some bonus pet shots! The bright colors were to help i.d. our bodies in case we fell down a volcano or iceberg – lol. 

The pattern is a traditional Icelandic shawl called Skakki by Helene Magnusson and uses traditional Icelandic wool. I’ll share the finished product next week – I promise!

As I’ve been knitting, I’ve been watching TV, a few movies, and have been listening to books and podcasts. I’ve signed up for Acorn TV through RBDigital and watched all of Agatha Raisin, a funny, tongue-in-cheek murder mystery series set in a small town in England based on the books by M.C. Beaton. I’ve also started an Irish mystery series called Blood, which is much more serious, so I’m taking that one slowly. 

I’ve watched  Jojo Rabbit, which I liked a lot more than I was expecting to, and Ad Astra, which is a deep dive with Brad Pitt into outer space. 

Knitting and listening to audiobooks is an A+ combination. My latest listen is Himself by Jess Kidd, because I wanted an Irish narrator for the St. Patrick’s season. It’s available on the Libby app, which I’m addicted to! Don’t have a library card? It’s not a problem; you can create an instant digital card to access titles. 

As far as podcasts, I really love the BBC Series In Our Time which covers historical events, famous people, science and nature – it’s fascinating. For these times, I enjoy the soothing voice of Krista Tippet at the On Being Podcast and it’s many offshoots. 

creativebug

If you could use some crafting inspiration, check out Creativebug. Log in using your library card and you get access to all kinds of video tutorials. They’ve shared a 7-week Home Crafting Guide to provide inspiration to begin a variety of projects, from easy to complex, with projects for children and adults. Week 1 includes a Kid’s Weaving Lesson and Color Meditation. These suggestions, however, are just the beginning; sign up and explore Creativebug to find something that speaks to you!

I’d love to hear what you’re making, so comment below. Stay safe and stay home!

~ Dori

 

Your Library Staff at Home – Book Recommendation

My favorite genre is historical fiction but occasionally I will step out of my reading comfort zone. A regular library patron suggested I try something different; he recommended Deep State: A Thriller by Chris Hauty. This is Hauty’s first novel.

In this novel, we are dealt situations of political intrigue. First, the White House Chief of Staff is found dead supposedly from a heart attack; his intern, Hayley Chill, who found the body, is suspicious of the cause of death. Soon after, a series of other deaths connected to the White House follow. Who can she trust?

There are lots of twists and turns and I did not see the end coming. Hauty is an accomplished screenwriter, so the book feels like a novel version of an exciting Hollywood thriller. Historical fiction is still my favorite genre, but this was an enjoyable dalliance in something else.

~Emma

Your Library Staff at Home- Arts and Culture Online

Hello All! Greg here, Cowan Pottery Museum Curator and Local History Librarian. During this time many museums and cultural institutions have expanded their already substantial online presence to give patrons remote access to their resources. Each week we will be highlighting a different institution and all of the free resources they offer. Whether you are looking for new educational opportunities, entertainment, inspiration for your own creative practice, or research resources for remote academic resources.

The first institution we will be highlighting is a local one:

The Cleveland Museum of Art.

Home

The Cleveland Museum of Art will be be coming to RRPL with the new speaker series:


Exploring the Collections

Celebrating over a hundred years (founded in 1916) this museum already offered many online and remote resources. Recently they have made it very easy to find all they offer by creating their Home Is Where the Art Is resource page.

On this page you will find links to search and explore their vast collections online. You can choose different stylistic periods, limit results by medium, artists, and culture. Some objects have video that allow for a more dynamic appreciation of sculptural pieces and information on the history of the piece.

Learn about their 30,000 public domain artworks and how they are being used in commercial and non-commercial ways. This resource also has 3D models that can be downloaded via Sketchfab.

Looking for some direction? You can hear from their staff with their Blog and new Video Series. A great resource when you are looking where to start.


Parents and Educators

Additional they offer some amazing resource for learners at any age with their:

And

Patrons can search these resources by grade level and topics to create engaging lessons about the history of art as well as connecting them to STEM.


Research

11 paintings
Artist: Frederic Clay Bartlett
11 paintings Artist: Frederic Clay Bartlett, 1918, Negative 00057, Cleveland Museum of Art Archives

The Museum’s library, Ingalls Library, has some amazing remote resources for researchers. I have personally used these resources when researching the artists of the Cowan Pottery Studio. Specifically their May Show Archive has been especially valuable to my research of Cowan Artists’ careers. When researching my talk for last year’s Cowan Pottery Symposium I was able to use their Entry Card Database to find the handwritten entry cards from artists like R. Guy Cowan, Edris Eckhardt, Thelma Frazier-Winters, and many more!

Cowan, Reginald Guy–1919 May Show, Cleveland Museum of Art Archives

To get familiar with these resources a great place to start is their Digital Collections. This page highlights their digitized resources and allows users to become comfortable with the interface.

The Editorial Photography collection gives you the opportunity to see exhibition’s from the museum’s past. You get the chance to see previous exhibits as well as how the museum’s appearance has changed over the years.

Gallery 27 - Year in Review

Gallery 27 – Year in Review, 1961, Negative
32720J, Cleveland Museum of Art Archives

Your Library Staff at Home- Reader’s Advisory

March has proven to be quite a surreal month, and I hope all of our Read it Or Weep readers are staying safe and healthy amid the current global COVID-19 crisis. Rocky River Public Library might be closed until further notice, but rest assured that you can still access an amazing array of great titles from home through our digital library. One positive outcome of social distancing and staying home is that you can really dive into that pile of to-read books that has been beckoning you for weeks! Perhaps there is a classic you’ve wanted to read for years or a favorite you’ve been wanting to re-read- now is the time! (Am I the only one who always has at least 6 books waiting to be read?!)

So what have I been reading while camped out at home? Scroll on!

Zone One by Colson Whitehead

Yes, this is a zombie story, but it isn’t your typical flesh-eating undead story thanks to amazing literary writing from Pulitzer Prize-winning novelist Whitehead. I had been re-reading through this book as it was (somewhat ironically) the title I had chosen for my next Novel Scares Book Club meeting in April (which has since been cancelled due to COVID-19). If you are looking to lean in to current events with your fiction reading, I highly recommend Zone One. After a pandemic has ravaged Earth, the living must attempt to rebuild among the living dead. Focusing on life in New York City and the characters who are struggling with Post-Apocalyptic Stress Disorder, this horror novel is a great read.

The Boatman’s Daughter by Andy Davidson

This is Davidson’s second book, but the first I’ve read by him, and I have been absolutely amazed with his writing. This haunting and beautiful Southern Gothic novel takes readers to a town deep in the bayous of Southwestern Arkansas where we meet many complicated characters, including the main protagonist plucky Miranda. Having lost her father as a child one mysterious and tragic evening, she’s been making ends meet ferrying contraband on the river for a corrupt sheriff and a deluded preacher, all the while harboring some serious secrets involving a witch and a rescued child. The story has the feel of a dark fairy tale, and is filled with magical realism. I haven’t finished this book yet, but already it reminds me of one of my favorites: Sing, Unburied, Sing by Jesymn Ward.

I Like to Watch: Arguing My Way Through the TV Revolution by Emily Nussbaum

I read this collection of essays slowly over the past month, processing each essay and thinking it over, before moving on, because it was such a fun book. Reading this felt like having a fabulous conversation with a smart friend and I didn’t want it to end! Nussbaum, winner of the 2016 Pulitzer Prize for criticism, writes with such an insightful, witty, and conversational tone, providing astute perspectives but still making this accessible to a broad audience. Included in this collection are her profiles of well-known showrunners Jenji Kohan and Ryan Murphy, as well as feminist takes on shows like Sex and the City, True Detective, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel, and more. Also, it was great to have my endless love of Buffy the Vampire Slayer validated by Nussbaum! Recommended for anyone who loves watching television and a great choice for readers looking for a book that allows them to read short pieces here and there.

Dead Astronauts by Jeff Vandermeer

I adore all of Jeff Vandermeer’s books (if you like weird fiction/ sci-fi/ horror/ speculative fiction you must read his Southern Reach trilogy!) and tore through Borne earlier this year, which is a related story to Dead Astronauts, though not necessarily a prequel read. In this story, the all-powerful bio-tech corporation known only as the Company returns as we once again see the destruction they have inflicted upon the unnamed City. Three rebels are introduced who seem to be traveling through time and various dimensions over and over in an effort to thwart the evil Company- but seem to always fail. A mysterious blue fox who can also travel time and space seems to be an important piece of the puzzle, and monstrous genetically engineered creatures are around every turn. I have no idea where this book is going, but that is part of the fun. Vandermeer’s strange and hallucinatory world building keeps me turning the pages with curiosity!

What are you reading at home? Are you reading happy, cozy novels or are you finding entertainment and comfort in stories of post-apocalyptic futures (like me)?

Keep your eyes peeled right here for more updates on what your library staff is reading, watching, listening, and creating at home!

Call of the Wild

Harrison Ford in The Call of the Wild (2020)

I’m always a bit hesitant when I go and to see a movie about a dog as they can often be too silly or too tragic. Based on the trailers, I thought it might have a similar story to Balto, which seemed appealing to me. While most of the film is set in a cold climate, it’s not a film about diverting disaster. This film is about the development of the dog Buck. While it had a slow start, it’s overall an enjoyable film that I think most children would enjoy barring a few intense scenes.  

The film starts off somewhere in the American South at an unspecified date. We see Buck roaming the town and then he returns home to his master’s home. Buck ruins a feast they were preparing and so Judge Miller (Bradley Whitford) has Buck sleep outside. A stranger arrives in the middle of the night and lures Buck with food. Buck climbs into the back of their wagon and is trapped. Buck is transported via train and boat, while taught to fear his captors. Buck is brought to be sold in the Yukon area of Canada.  

As Buck is lead around the town, he bumps into a John Thornton (Harrison Ford). Buck sees John dropped his harmonica and breaks free long enough to return it to him. Buck is soon sold to a new master named Perrault (Omar Sy) who uses a dog sled team to deliver the mail along with his wife Françoise (Cara Gee). Buck doesn’t understand how to pull a sled at first, but he starts to see some sort of inner wolf that leads him to follow his instincts. Buck comes to help the other dogs as he sees the current pack leader leads out of fear. One day Françoise falls into some ice and Buck races to save her. Saving Francoise amongst other changes shows that Buck is ready to be a valuable member of the pack.

I didn’t know this film was based on a novel called Call of the Wild by Jack London. That helps to explain to me why Buck’s life is told like a series of adventures rather than just being a singular conflict. I do find it appealing that it’s told as a self-exploration story from Buck’s perspective and we see how much the character changes from beginning to end. I would recommend this film to people who want to see a story about the adventures of a dog. While it does have some intense scenes, I do think most children would enjoy it. The story has a few silly moments, but it’s mostly a film about the character exploration of Buck. Rated PG. 

Ryan 

Dolittle

Robert Downey Jr., Emma Thompson, Marion Cotillard, Octavia Spencer, John Cena, Selena Gomez, Rami Malek, Kumail Nanjiani, and Tom Holland in Dolittle (2020)

Based on the initial reviews I expected this movie to be boring or reliant on juvenile humor. I didn’t find this to be true, I’d in fact say it is an adventure movie primarily.  I’ve not read any of the novels, so my experience with the series is limited to Eddie Murphy’s movies of Dr. Dolittle. I found the trailers didn’t tell much about the movie other than the Gorilla was scared, which helps elucidate a concept of the film. Dr. Dolittle (Robert Downey Jr.) isn’t just a medical doctor, he’s a person interested in the world around him and helping those in it. 

 The film starts with an animated backstory narrated by Poly (Emma Thompson) about the early life of Dr. Dolittle. We learn about the untimely death of his wife Lily Dolittle (Kasia Smutniak) and the self-imposed isolation of Dolittle. We then see a boy with his family called Tommy Stubbins (Harry Collett) hunting against his wishes. He tries to miss a duck only to injure a squirrel. Poly the parakeet sees Tommy distraught by this and leads him to Dr. Dolittle’s wildlife reservation. Tommy gets caught in a trap, meanwhile we see Lady Rose (Carmel Laniado) also finds the reservation. 

Dr. Dolittle was going about his daily routine with the animals with a large unkempt beard when he sees Tommy hanging from the net outside. Poly tries to persuade him to help Tommy, but Dr. Dolittle decides to send Chee-Chee, the gorilla, (Rami Malek) to scare Tommy and Rose despite being scared of the humans himself. Rose isn’t scared and walks right past Chee-Chee. Rose tells Dr. Dolittle that the Queen Victoria of England (Jessie Buckley) is unwell and has specifically requested Dr. Dolittle to which he refuses the request. After Tommy brings in the squirrel, Dolittle reluctantly agrees to help it. The animals overhear during the surgery that if the Queen dies, that the reservation that was granted will no longer be Dr. Dolittle’s.  

This film was an enjoyable adventure that was made for the whole family in mind, though it does have some scary scenes for younger audiences. The special effects of the animals are done well enough that you feel they are present in the scenes, but they still have some human characteristics to add to the experience. There are several characters within the movie who have well-developed personalities with relatable flaws. One of the concepts that really made me laugh was Dolittle speaks to the animals in their languages. In Eddie Murphy’s version we’re told that he speaks like the animals, but we never see him talk like the animals. The whole concept is well done, and I hope there will be a sequel. I could imagine each film focusing around a few of the animals introduced in this film to create a deeper connection with the characters. Rated PG. 

Ryan