From the Adult Library: reviews by Friends of the Library members
“Catherine the Great” by Robert K. Massie; review by Grenda Ernst
The soap opera that was life in the imperial Russian court reached a high point during the life of Catherine the Great: court intrigue; a succession of “favorites” to ease the pain of a loveless marriage; an overbearing and sometimes cruel mother-in-law; murder. But Catherine was not made of victim material. After she became empress by usurping the throne from her hapless husband Peter III, she continued the modernization of Russia begun by Peter the Great and initiated reforms, including a failed reform to free the serfs. Catherine oversaw the emergence of Russia as an important political and military force, and she was recognized by the western powers for her diplomacy. In this fine 2011 work, Massie weaves the fascinating biography of Catherine with the history of her times.
“Cutting for Stone” by Abraham Verghese; review by Marguerite Pulley.
California surgeon Verghese’s novel is a tale of twin brothers. Marion is the protagonist; his brother Shiva, named after the Hindu god of destruction, is Cain to his Abel. The duality established by their relationship carries over to the practice of medicine in two worlds: Addis Ababa, Ethiopia in the 1950s, and the Bronx, N.Y., in the 1990s. Both are beautiful but dangerous places.
Duality is also reflected in two perspectives on family: one biological and one based on affection and responsibility. Where these many dualities intersect, we begin to find the answers to fundamental questions: who is a real father and who betrays whom? The characters will walk off the page and into your heart.
“Then Again,” by Diane Keaton; review by Eileen O’Grady
I’m not a big fan of celebrity memoirs. But this is iconoclast Diane Keaton — an actor whose blend of independence and insecurity is legendary. Yes, she describes her relationships with Woody Allen, Warren Beatty and Al Pacino, but her principal focus is on her loving mother. Keaton’s unique perspective redefines fame, motherhood (she became an adoptive parent at age 50), and authenticity. “Then Again” is part diary (her mother’s), part tell-all, part tribute — all delightful.
The World Book Encyclopedia: now available online
For those who have always enjoyed the print version of “The World Book Encyclopedia,” the library now offers on online version called the World Book Web, accessed through the library’s website at www.slolibrary.org. At the home page, choose “Research” and select the “Online Databases” option. Then scroll down to the “World Book Web” option. After you click on the link, type your library card number in the prompt box. You now have the online version of the encyclopedia with rich multimedia content and useful links — and with the clearly written articles the print version is known for.
There are three databases to choose from: World Book Info Finder, World Book Online for Kids, and Enciclopedia Estudiantil Hallazgos (Student Encyclopedia in Spanish). World Book Info Finder is a database with 40,000 article entries. This database has links to videos, pictures and interactive maps, assistance for topics such as science fair projects, a biography center with 10,000 entries, and links to news articles from around the world. World Book Online for Kids offers more multimedia content and articles written at a lower reading level. This database also offers motivational tools, such as learning games for children.
Paws to Read Program — Reading to Rover
Fridays, July 13 and July 27, 3:30 to 4:30 p.m.
Captain, a tan and white rough-coated Jack Russell terrier, and his human friend visit the library every two weeks. Captain loves to be read to, and young readers (age 4 and older) will enjoy a friendly canine audience.
From the Children’s Library: reviews by the library staff
“Homer the Library Cat” by Reeve Lindbergh (Ages 4-7)
Frightened by a loud noise, a striped kitty named Homer jumps out the window and begins a series of adventures in search of a nice place to curl up. After exploring the post office, the fire station and the train station, he discovers the “quiet lady” who lives in his house reading in the bustling children’s room of the library. He quickly becomes everyone’s favorite library cat. Told in a rhyming, sing-song text and illustrated with bright watercolors by Anne Wilsdorf, this charming story is “purr-fect” for lovers of cats and libraries!
“Otto the Book Bear” by Katie Cleminson (Ages 3-7)
Otto is a storybook bear who comes to life when no one is looking. After being left behind on moving day, the tiny bear sets out to find a new home. Just as he is beginning to feel downhearted, Otto sees the public library, “a place full of light and hope.” He knows he has found a new home when he meets another storybook bear and other book creatures that have come to life. This picture book celebrates reading and libraries in a sweet and simple text complemented by ink drawings and softly colored illustrations. Book lovers of all ages will be delighted by this magical and gentle story.
July Program Highlights:
Story Fest for Families — Tuesday evenings, July 10 to July 31, 6:30 to 7 p.m.
Parents, grandparents, and friends are invited to bring their youngsters, age 3 and older, to the library for stories and music. Each session will feature a special guest appearance. Children can come in pajamas and to bring a stuffed cuddly toy or “blankie.” Signups are not required.
Performing Artists Series on Thursdays at 11 a.m.
On the dates listed below, delightful musical programs for ages 4 and up are offered at Colony Park Community Center, 5599 Traffic Way. These programs are sponsored by Friends of the Atascadero Library and the City of Atascadero, Department of Community Services.
July 12: Take a musical journey with singer/songwriter Craig Newton.
July 19: Enjoy an original puppet show with puppeteer Tom Knight.
July 26: National award-winning recording artist/performer Pam Donkin will lead participants in a session of music-making enhanced by percussion, movement and colorful scarves.
August 2: Singer/songwriter Ivan Ulz, the famous “Firetruck” song guy, now living on the Central Coast, will perform songs from his newly released album “This is my School.”
It is not too late for adults, teens, and children to register for one of the summer reading programs. Stop by the library for details.
“Bookmarks” appears on the last Friday of each month — usually. Send questions or suggestions to Eileen O’Grady at email@example.com.