Tuesday, October 27, 2020

Staff Picks: From an Animal's Perspective

Have you ever wondered how another species thinks? Do they have feelings similar to humans? I am not trying to anthropomorphize other animals or tell you what your dog is thinking. However, it is interesting to consider how the world around us reacts to things compared to ourselves. The following books are all by authors who closely studied varied animals, some scientifically and others on a more personal level, and considered what they may feel or be going through from the animal's perspective. Humans may never fully understand the minds of other animals, but it is fun to think about.

The Soul of an Octopus: A Surprising Exploration into the Wonder of Consciousness by Sy Montgomery

Sy Montgomery is a prolific author and naturalist who has traveled the world learning about species as varied as the octopus, Golden Moon Bear, Pink Dolphins, and the ordinary pig. In this book, she retells her experiences following the lives of a number of octopuses housed at the New England Aquarium. She was so intrigued by her first exposure to an animal species so different from our own that she continued researching them. Likewise, the title of this book intrigued me and did not disappoint. It will provide you with a new understanding of the octopus beyond where its mouth is and how it eats, including how it senses people and the world around it. Sy Montgomery has also written many titles for younger readers who have an interest in researching animals.

H is for Hawk by Helen MacDonald

The author, a falconer, decides to try to train a goshawk after losing her father. This is a detailed account of her trials and tribulations of working with the bird as she works through her grief. She often refers to T. H. White's book, The Goshawk, and the challenges he faced in doing the same. The goshawk, Mabel, turns out to be the perfect mix of challenge and responsibility the author needs to move on with her life. Regardless of how animals perceive us, they often provide us with what we need. The author just published her second book, Vesper Flights, which is a collection of essays on various aspects of bird life.

The Book of Eels: Our Enduring Fascination with the Most Mysterious Creature in the Natural World by Patrick Svensson

As the publisher describes the book: "Part H is for Hawk, part The Soul of an Octopus, The Book of Eels is both a meditation on the world's most elusive fish - the eel - and a reflection on the human condition." The Book of Eels was recently published and received much acclaim. The author shares the history of the European eel from the days of Aristotle to today, as well as his own experiences fishing for them while growing up in Sweden. You will follow their elusive path from the Sargasso Sea to Europe and back again. Amazingly, little has been known of eels and their life cycle until the past century, despite being familiar to mankind throughout history.

The Genius of Dogs: How Dogs are Smarter Than You Think by Brian Hare and Vanessa Woods

This book takes a look into the behavior and biology of dogs and how science is trying to better understand them. Dogs have been a part of our lives for so long, yet only recently have we realized their multi-faceted potential for helping us. Their potential lies far beyond seeing eye dogs and therapy dogs as they can detect not just drugs or bombs but identify medical conditions and alert owners to a pending event or the need for a diagnosis. I was fortunate enough to get to hear the author, Brian Hare, speak about his book in person at the Decatur Book Festival a few years back. Brian Hare works with the Duke Canine Cognitive Center based out of Duke University. He is truly passionate about his work... a true calling!

And speaking of dogs, on the fictional side I just finished a novel entitled Good Dogs Don't Make It to the South Pole, by Hans Olav Thyvold. The book is set in Norway and the author uses a dog, Tassen, as narrator. Tassen describes his new relationship with a widow, Mrs. THorkildsen, after his master, Major Thorkildsen, passes away. A dark yet hilarious and sentimental read for anyone who has ever owned a dog. As Mrs. Thorkildsen was a former librarian, they bond by reading books about Roald Amundsen and his expedition to the South Pole. Be forewarned of a less than pleasant fate for man and dog on the expedition. Nonetheless, the book is an enjoyable read and makes it difficult not to wonder what your dog is thinking or trying to tell you.

Information Services Supervisor

Monday, October 26, 2020

Staff Picks: The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe

Once upon a midnight dreary, while I pondered, weak and weary.

So begins one of the most famous poems by an American writer – The Raven by Edgar Allan Poe.  

Here are a few facts about this well-known and creepy rhyme. 

Edgar Allan Poe was born in 1809 and died in 1849 at the age of forty. Though officially the cause of his death is unknown, historians have theorized that disease, alcoholism, substance abuse, or suicide are all likely causes. 

Edgar Allan Poe is famous for Gothic fiction like The Cask of Amontillado, The Tell-Tale Heart, The Masque of the Red Death, and many other well-known works.  

It is true that ravens can mimic human speech and some can perform even better than parrots. Poe even considered using an owl or a parrot as the subject for his poem. 

Poe's poems like The Raven and Annabel Lee allude to lost love. In fact, Poe’s wife Virginia was suffering from tuberculous while he was writing The Raven. She passed away two years after its publication. (Speaking of Poe’s wife, young Virginia Clemm was only thirteen when she married her cousin, twenty-seven-year-old Edgar.)    

Though Poe was one of the first American writers to make a career of writing, copyright laws at the time kept him near poverty. On January 29, 1894 The Raven first appeared in print in The New York Evening Mirror.  Poe earned $9 for its publication but after that initial publication, periodicals across the United States reprinted the poem without compensating the author. Poe tried to capitalize on his success by teaching poetry writing techniques that he claimed to have used in creating The Raven, though the claim is widely disregarded.       

Check out FCPL’s rendition of The Raven shot by staff members at the Sharon Forks Library in our virtual Halloween program, The Haunted Library.  

Or read more of Poe’s works in these books. 

Great Tales and Poems of Edgar Allan Poe by Edgar Allan Poe

All the classic spooky stories and poems! 

A manga graphic novel version of Poe's classic tales, including the poem The Raven. 

His Hideous Heart: Thirteen of Edgar Allan Poe's Most Unsettling Tales Reimagined Edited by Dahlia Adler  

A version for today's teens. 
Mystery Writers of America Presents In the Shadow of the Master by Edgar Allan Poe

Sixteen works from the master, accompanied by essays from contemporary writers. 

Alicia Cavitt
Information Specialist

Kids' Book Spotlight - Easy Collection Staff Favorites from Sharon Forks

The Youth Services staff at Sharon Forks branch wants to share their favorite books with you! Here are our favorite picture books and early readers. Stop by and let us know how you enjoyed them!

Picture Books

by Jules Feiffer

A mother dog tries to teach her pup how to bark, and is surprised at why he wasn't learning.

~Ms. Amy

Duck on a Bike
by David Shannon

A duck decides to ride a bike and soon influences all the other animals on the farm to ride bikes too.

~Ms. Steph

by Eric Carle

The very hungry caterpillar celebrates some of the things it's thankful for.

~Ms. Anu

Guess Again!
by Mac Barnett

For each round of guessing, readers are presented with a page of illustrations opposite a rhyming quatrain. The unexpected conclusion of the verse's final line is revealed on the next page.

~Ms. Cleo

by Diane Alber

This story is about a little boy who keeps hearing, "Never let a dinosaur scribble!" But in his heart believes that people just don't understand how beautiful scribbling can be. He wonders what would happen if he just gave him one crayon to scribble with, and realizes that the dinosaur had other ideas in mind! 

~Ms. Stephani

by John Himmelman

Six days a week the chickens help the Greenstalk family and their animals recover from mishaps that occur on the farm, but they need one day to rest.

~Ms. LeAnne

Early Readers

by Jan Thomas

Despite the objections of Pig and Mouse, Duck insists on adding a special ingredient to the cake they are making to celebrate Cow's birthday.

~Ms. Amy and Ms. LeAnne

What is Inside THIS Box?
by Drew Daywalt

Monkey has a big box, which he tells Cake has a cat inside, but only when the box is closed; Cake suggest that maybe it is a dinosaur instead, and the two friends puzzle over how they can solve the problem of finding out what is in the box, if it is always empty when opened.

~Ms. Cleo

by Jan Thomas

Duck's imagination gets the best of him when he asks his critter companions for help escaping a mysterious pursuer.

~Ms. Steph

by Mo Willems

Gerald the elephant has a big decision to make, but will he make it in time? 

~Ms. Anu

by C. L. Reid

Eight-year-old Emma is excited about her best friend Izzie's birthday party, but she is also a little worried because she is deaf and communicates through sign language, and her cochlear implant does not work well in noisy crowds.

~Ms. Stephani

Yellow Bird has found a button and wants to share it with Red Bird and Blue Bird. This is just an ordinary button. It does not do anything when you press it. But when Red Bird and Blue Bird give it try, they are delighted to find that the button does not do nothing, and that is something!

~Ms. LeAnne

Stephani Lindsey
Youth Specialist
Sharon Forks Library