A Royal Panoply

Royal Wedding of William & Kate 114

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Congratulations to Prince William of Wales and Katherine Middleton on the occasion of their marriage in Westminster Abbey this morning!  Many have described the wedding as a “fairy tale come true” because Kate entered the Abbey a commoner and left it a royal princess.  Today, let’s celebrate princes and princesses and the British royal family with some great books!

The last major royal wedding in Britain was that of William’s parents, Prince Charles and Lady Diana Spencer.  See photos from the wedding and the rest of Diana’s life in The Diana years by People Magazine (921 Diana), or learn more about her and her relationship with her sons in Diana’s boys: William and Harry and the mother they loved by Christoper Andersen (920 And).

Of course, William’s grandmother is the reigning monarch, Queen Elizabeth II.  You can learn about her reign (one of the longest in British history) in Queen and country: the fifty-year reign of Elizabeth II by William Shawcross (941.085 Sha).

 There’s more British royalty lurking in the biography section: The unruly queen: the life of Queen Caroline by Flora Fraser (921 Caroline) – wife of King George IV;  Eleanor of Aquitaine: a life by Alison Weir (921 Eleanor) – wife of King Henry II and mother of King Richard the Lion-heart;  Henry VIII: the King and his court by Alison Weir; Behind the mask: the life of Queen Elizabeth I by Jane Resh Thomas (921 Elizabeth).

Moving over to historical fiction, try:

  • Nine days a queen: the short life and reign of Lady Jane Grey by Ann Rinaldi (FIC Rinaldi): A fictional autobiography of Lady Jane Grey in which she tells the story of her life, from age nine to sixteen when she was executed after being Queen of England for only nine days.
  • Mary, Bloody Mary by Carolyn Meyer (FIC Meyer) – Mary Tudor, who would reign briefly as Queen of England during the mid 16th-century, tells the story of her troubled childhood as daughter of King Henry VIII.
  • The daughter of time by Josephine Tey (FIC Tey) – Alan Grant, an injured policeman currently hospitalized and bored, searches for the truth behind the belief that Richard III murdered the little princes in the Tower.

All the history and historical fiction can get a little … dramatic.  Lighten up with some fictional princes and princesses like these:

  • The princess bride: S. Morgenstern’s classic tale of true love and high adventure: the “good parts” version by William Goldman (FIC Goldman) – The most beautiful girl in the world marries the handsomest prince in the world.
  • Pulling princes by Tyne O’Connell (FIC O’Connell) – Hoping to become more popular at her English boarding school, 15-year-old Californian Calypso Kelly invents a fake boyfriend, until she realizes that her wit and skill at fencing may be enough to attract the attention of a real-life prince.
  • The princess diaries series by Meg Cabot (FIC Cabot) – Fourteen-year-old Mia, who is trying to live a normal life as a teenage girl in New York City, is shocked to learn that her father is the Prince of Genovia, a small European principality, and that she is a princess and the heir to the throne.

This is just a taste of the “royal” books in our collection.  Enjoy!

Mutiny!

The mutineers turning Lt Bligh and part of the...

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Today is the 222nd anniversary of the mutiny on the HMS Bounty, one of (if not the) most famous mutinies in history.  The Bounty’s crew, led by the first mate, Fletcher Christian, mutinied against Captain Bligh, claiming he treated them inhumanely.  Bligh and a handful of supporters were set adrift in one of the ship’s boats and managed to make it to safety.  The mutineers sailed to Tahiti, with most of them staying there.  A few, including Christian, continued on to small Pitcairn Island where they were safe from the British navy.  Their friends who had stayed in Tahiti were not so lucky … three of them ended up being hanged in England.

The descendants of Fletcher Christian and his fellow mutineers still live on Pitcairn Island, which has a population of about 50 people.  I’m sure the following books would be popular on the island:):

H.M.S. Bounty by Alexander McKee (910.4 M15)

The Bounty trilogy: comprising the three volumes, Mutiny on the Bounty, Men against the sea, & Pitcairn’s Island by Charles Nordhoff (FIC Nordhoff)

There have been two film versions of the Mutiny on the Bounty, one in 1935 starring Charles Laughton and Clark Gable, the other in 1962 starring Marlon Brando, Trevor Howard and Richard Harris.

The Sultan of Swat

Babe Ruth, full-length portrait, standing, fac...

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Today is Babe Ruth Day.  One of the greatest baseball players of all time, Ruth had many nicknames, including “The Bambino,” “The Sultan of Swat” and, of course, “Babe.”  His real name was George Herman Ruth, Jr.  He set a record of 60 home runs in one season in 1927, a record that stood until 1961.  His career spanned 21 years, from 1914 to 1936, and he played for the Boston Red Sox, the New York Yankees and the Boston Braves.

Ruth died in 1948 of throat cancer but is still remembered today as one of the greatest athletes of the 20th century.

Learn more about Babe Ruth by reading Babe Ruth by Norman L. Macht (921 Ruth), Babe Ruth: a daughter’s portrait by George Beim (921 Ruth), Home run kings by Michael V. Uschan (796.357 Usc) or Top 10 baseball legends by John Albert Torres (920 Tor).  For fun, try Babe & me: a baseball card adventure by Dan Gutman (FIC Gutman) over in the fiction section.

The Bird Man of America

“White Gerfalcons” Falco rusticolus

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Birds are fascinating creatures.  They are all around us and we see them every day.  Here on campus I’ve seen gulls, starlings, house sparrows, house finches, black phoebes, crows, rock doves, bush tits, mockingbirds, Anna’s hummingbirds and other common birds.  Keep an eye (and ear) out for our feathered friends today, in honor of John James Audubon, who was born on this day in 1785.

Audubon was born in France but came to America, like many others, to make his fortune.  He didn’t exactly make lots of money but he created one of the most beautiful and treasured works of art in the world: his life-sized paintings of the birds of North America.  He was the first artist to paint birds in life-like poses, showing not only what they looked like, but what they did in the wild.  He also included “biographies” of the different species of bird, so that his book The birds of America (598.2 A91) was a work of science as well as art.

To learn more about Audubon, read the excellent biography John James Audubon: the making of an American by Richard Rhodes (921 Audubon).

You can see a copy of the double-elephant folio of The birds of America at the Huntington Library in San Marino.  “Double-elephant” refers to the huge size of the paper used in the book: 39.5 inches by 28.5 inches.  To learn more about book and paper sizes, click here.

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Climb the Mountains and Get Their Good Tidings

John Muir, American conservationist.

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Today is the birthday of one of the most important environmentalists in American history, and of of the most famous Californians of all time: John Muir.  Although he was born in Scotland and grew up in Wisconsin, Muir spent much of his life in California and most of his writings were about the Golden State, especially the Sierra Nevada and Yosemite.

Muir’s essays and books helped to create Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks and he was one of the earliest preservationists (those who wanted to preserve the wilderness, as opposed to the conservationists who wanted to manage it for multiple uses).  He influenced President Theodore Roosevelt and many others, and fought against the building of the dam that flooded Hetch Hetchy Valley to provide drinking water for San Francisco.  Muir also helped found the Sierra Club, and served as its first president.

To learn more about Muir’s life, read John Muir: my life with nature by John Muir; compiled by Joseph Cornell (921 Muir, J.) or John Muir: nature’s visionary by Gretel Erlich (921 Muir, J.). 

Once you are familiar with his life story, read some of his nature writings in To Yosemite and beyond: writings from the years 1863-1875 (508.794 Mui) and Nature writings (508.74 Mui), which includes the books The story of my boyhood and youth, My first summer in the Sierra, The mountains of California and Stickeen as well as selected essays.

At the very least, enjoy some of my favorite quotes by “nature’s priest”:

Climb the mountains and get their good tidings. Nature’s peace will flow into you as sunshine flows into trees. The winds will blow their own freshness into you, and the storms their energy, while cares will drop off like autumn leaves.

When we try to pick out anything by itself, we find it hitched to everything else in the Universe.

Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.

In God’s wildness lies the hope of the world – the great fresh unblighted, unredeemed wilderness. The galling harness of civilization drops off, and wounds heal ere we are aware.

This grand show is eternal. It is always sunrise somewhere; the dew is never all dried at once; a shower is forever falling; vapor ever rising. Eternal sunrise, eternal sunset, eternal dawn and gloaming, on seas and continents and islands, each in its turn, as the round earth rolls.

Thousands of tired, nerve-shaken, over-civilized people are beginning to find out that going to the mountains is going home; that wildness is a necessity; and that mountain parks and reservations are useful not only as fountains of timber and irrigating rivers, but as fountains of life.

I only went out for a walk, and finally concluded to stay out till sundown, for going out, I found, was really going in.

Happy Earth Day tomorrow!! :)

Doppelgangers

Illustration for The Changeling by Helena Nybl...

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Today is Look Alike Day, so we’re featuring some books about look-alikes (also known as doppelgangers).

First, two books about changelings — children who have been stolen by the fairies and replaced by look-alikes:

  • The stolen child by Keith Donohue (FIC Donohue) – Henry Day, a boy stolen by changelings at age 7,  and the look-alike hobgoblin sent to replace him, both grow up feeling out of place in their respective worlds — and their search for answers about their pasts puts them on a collision course decades later.
  • The waters and the wild by Francesca Lia Block (FIC Block) – Thirteen-year-old Bee realizes that she is a fairy who has been switched at birth with another girl who now wants her life back.

Both of these books take their titles from a W. B. Yeats poem, “The Stolen Child,” which includes the chorus:

Come away, O human child! / To the waters and the wild /With a faery hand in hand, / For the world’s more full of weeping than you can understand.

This poem was set to music by one of my favorite artists, Loreena McKennitt on her album Elemental.  Take a listen, especially if you are a fan of Celtic music.

Now, some books about identical twins:

  • Three black swans by Caroline B. Cooney (FIC Cooney) – When 16-year-old Missy Vianello decides to convince her classmates that her cousin Claire is really her long-lost identical twin, she has no idea that the results of her prank will be so life-changing.
  • Identical by Ellen Hopkins (FIC Hopkins) – Sixteen-year-old identical twin daughters of a district court judge and a candidate for the United States House of Representatives, Kaeleigh and Raeanne Gardella desparately stuggle with secrets that have already torn them and their family apart.
  • The thirteenth tale by Diane Setterfield (FIC Setterfield) – Aging, reclusive writer Vida Winter, having given out multiple versions of her life story over the years, decides to finally set the record straight and engages Margaret Lea, a London bookseller’s daughter, to write her biography, drawing the young woman into a tale of a governess, a ghost, a willful woman, feral twins, and a gothic mansion.

And one book about conjoined twins:

  • Chang & Eng by Darin Strauss (FIC Strauss) – Chronicles the lives of Chang and Eng Bunker, Siamese twins who were joined at the chest.

This one is based on the true story of the famous conjoined twins who, having been born in Siam (now Thailand), gave the world the term “Siamese twins.”

The End is Near!

The end of the school year, that is!  Yes, there are only 26 days of school left in the 2010-2011 school year!  Lots of things are happening regarding the library, so here’s a heads up:

  • AP Testing will take place in the Library during the weeks of May 2nd and May 9th.  We will be CLOSED during the exams but will open up as soon as they are finished, with the exceptions of Monday 5/2, Monday 5/9 and Wednesday 5/11 when we will have morning AND afternoon exams.  On those days, the library will NOT BE OPEN AFTER SCHOOL FOR TUTORING.
  • The last day the Library will be open this year is Friday, May 13th. ALL LIBRARY BOOKS will be due back by that day.  NO EXCEPTIONS!  We need to get all the library books back in BEFORE we begin textbook returns on Monday, May 16th.  The last day of after school tutoring in the Library is Thursday, May 12th.
  • After May 13th, computers will NOT be available for student use.  The Library reading room will magically transform into a textbook storage facility that evening. :)
  • Textbook returns will begin on Monday, May 16th.  Please DO NOT return textbooks before that date, because we just don’t have room to store them.  Teachers will sign up classes to return books during the last two weeks of school (May 16 – 25), but we will also accept returns from individual students before school, during lunch and after school until 3:30 pm.
  • Seniors may clear charges, return overdue textbooks and get their clearance papers stamped before school, during lunch or after school ONLY.  Sorry, NO EXCEPTIONS! 

We’re getting close to SUMMER — let the countdown begin! :)