Book review: Odd one out: a spotting book

By , April 18, 2014

Odd one out: a spotting book
by Britta Teckentrup
Mothers who read to their children are to be praised, certainly.

Mothers who stifle yawns upon reading and re-reading Brown Bear, brown bear are to be admired.

Mothers who admit to being bored with cookie cutter, sickly sweet pictures books are to be celebrated.

Odd one out: a spotting book  by Britta Teckentrup is a brand spanking new picture book classic. The German born artist illustrator presents simple repetitions in new ways that will intrigue both the child and the parent (or sibling or aunt or whoever has the pleasure of sharing this book with little ones).

Patterned prints avoid the predictable practice of oversimplifying the search for the “hidden” object.  This is one smart and savvy picture book to be celebrated! At least for the first five hundred re-readings.


“When I say to a parent, “read to a child”, I don’t want it to sound like medicine. I want it to sound like chocolate. “  — Mem Fox

Oh, boy! New kids’ books!

By , April 12, 2014

Boys are notoriously picky readers. They hit a certain age and don’t want to read stories about “girl stuff,” whatever that is.  

Enter Wimpy Kid and Captain Underpants. These curiously named favorites are hard to keep on the library shelf, and have engaged all kids of late – picky boys especially. Readers of these doodle-heavy books have made it clear they like funny stories about average kids finding themselves in zany predicaments.

I recently read these two new(ish) chapter books, and immediately thought of those choosy readers. The stories are engaging and funny, and will hold the attention spans of even the most easily distracted. While those certain hard-to-please young men came to mind first, I’d stand behind these recommendations to anyone looking for a couple good reads.

Game Over, Pete Watson by Joe Schreiber

Pete Watson sells his dad’s old CommandRoid video game (think Nintendo – your childhood technological marvel is now fodder for old guy jokes) to a nefarious character. Chaos ensues and Pete realizes his dad is now trapped in an old school video game. Will Pete be able to use his modern day gamer skills to rescue his dad and save the world from obliteration? Read, laugh, and find out. Video Game lovers in Grades 2-5 will really get into this book. As of this blog post, it’s currently available from NPL through Overdrive only.


Tesla's Attic

Tesla’s Attic by Neal Shusterman and Eric Elfman

This is the story of Nick Slate – a 14-year-old Colorado transplant who gets hit in the head by a toaster, thus changing the course of his life and the fate of the world. 

Okay. Clearly I’m not going to be able to explain this in a way that sounds remotely normal, so maybe you can just trust me on this?  In this book, the characters feel inexplicably drawn to various inventions, and I felt inexplicably drawn to keep reading. Conspiracy? I think so. Unless it was the great writing, exciting plot, and fascinating characters. This is book one of a forthcoming trilogy. Hook readers now and they’ll be lining up for the next one.  Best for fifth graders and up.


Helping Nashville Grow: NPL Seed Exchange

By , April 11, 2014

When the staff at Nashville Public Library tell you books are only half the story, we’re not joking.  Check out seeds from your favorite library.  That’s right gardeners – seeds!  We launched the Nashville Public Library Seed Exchange just a month ago, and over 200 Nashvillians have already “checked out” seeds to plant in their spring and summer gardens.  It’s not too late for you to put your green thumb to use.  Read on to find out how!

Seeds are available for checkout (with your NPL library card-best card in your wallet!) from the Bellevue, Bordeaux, Edmondson Pike, and Inglewood branches. At the end of growing season, you’re encouraged to give back to the NPL Seed Exchange by returning seeds from your strongest, county fair prize-winning plants to one of our seed exchange locations, becoming a supporter of NPL Seed Exchange  2015!  But if your garden is attacked by a family of zombie rabbits, no worries.  There are no fines in Seed Exchange.

Perhaps you’ve never tried to grow plants from seeds before.  NPL has many wonderful  gardening books  to check out with those seeds. Workshops are also being offered at every Seed Exchange location.

  • Bellevue: Seed Starting 101 for Kids. Saturday 4/26 @ 1:00 p.m.
  • Bordeaux: Raised Bed Workshop.  Saturday 4/26 @ 9:00 a.m.
  • Inglewood:  Seed and Seedling Swap.  Saturday 5/3 @ 1:00 p.m.
  • Bordeaux:  Square Foot Gardening. Tuesday 5/20 @ 6:00 p.m.
  • Edmondson Pike:  Wise Watering. Tuesday 6/24 @ 6:00 p.m.

NPL Seed Exchange librarians tell me they have plenty of seeds left:  beans, squash, okra, spinach, carrots, peppers, melons, turnips, and every backyard gardener’s favorite – tomatoes!  They also send a big shout-out to community partners who donated this year’s seed collection:  Bells Bend Farms, Delvin Farms, Hands on Nashville, and the Davidson County Master Gardeners.

Be sure to like and follow NPL Seed Exchange on Facebook for all the latest information on upcoming workshops and more.  We are working to win a $20,000 grant from Seeds of Change but we need your help!   Vote for Nashville Public Library Seed Exchange once per calendar day until April 21, 2014.  And tell all your family and friends about the latest totally awesome reason to get a library card!


Book review: Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft

By , April 10, 2014

Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft

Compiled by Laura Heyenga


If you have ever wanted to try your hand at the art of paper cutting then this book is for you! Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft complied by Laura Heyenga features 27 artists creating artwork of such ethereal beauty that it is hard to believe that it was created using a simple pair of scissors.

Some of the featured artists are Cindy Ferguson, a graphic designer influenced by traditional German paper cutting, she creates beautiful silhouettes inspired by nature.  Thomas Allen, who describes himself as “an artist, illustrator and gentleman farmer,” he uses images from vintage pulp fiction covers to make his altered books come alive. And Juken Teruya, a Japanese artist who uses everyday objects like toilet paper rolls and fast food paper bags to create delicate and intricate sculptures of distinct beauty.


This book will amaze you!


- Karen


If you like Paper Cutting: Contemporary Artists Timeless Craft then you may also enjoy:

1   Scherenschnitte- Susanne Schlapfer-Geiser

2   Mexican Papercutting-   Kathleen Trenchard

3.  Paper Cuts: 35 Inventive Projects – Taylor Hagety




Book list: Movies that Made Me Want to Read the Book

By , April 9, 2014

Usually it works the other way around, but here are some films that left me thinking, “man, I bet the book was good.” Maybe only a librarian would ever think that.


Ryan Gosling in that satin scorpion jacket is the sexiest thing I’ve seen since… well, maybe it is the sexiest thing I have ever seen. Tension sears between golden boy (Gosling) and pretty girl’s husband (Oscar Isaac), between frenemy mob boss 1 (Albert Brooks) and frenemy mob boss 2 (Ron Perlman), and between golden boy and the born to lose mechanic (Bryan Cranston) that gets him gummed up with frenemy mob bosses to begin with. Christina Hendricks is in it too. That’s cast magic and pretty much the film’s appeal. High-on-sincerity-low-on-realism sultry silent type takes on mob for sake of pretty girl is territory we have all explored before. Nicolas Winding Refn’s style is all about absence and what’s left unsaid. It’s kind of like Hal Hartley (remember him?) directed a crime movie. What gets abstracted into silence on screen is more often than not potent interiority on the page – the kind of stuff that won’t translate without resorting to regrettable voice over. I desperately want to get inside James Sallis’ novel. There is always the possibility that Sallis’ prose are as stripped and spare as the script and the film is a worthy adaptation. I still want to read the book. Every time golden boy doesn’t say anything I’ll get to imagine Ryan Gosling standing there in that jacket.

The Paperboy

It would be hard to get more sexual but less sexy than Nicole Kidman in The Paperboy. With big hair, a bigger libido, and a fetish for prison inmates, her character Charlotte seems transplanted from a John Waters movie. Kudos to Kidman for not shying away from extreme roles in recent years; e.g., Rabbit Hole, Stoker. Though Charlotte is a car crash that is hard to ignore, I’m more fascinated by Ward (Matthew McConaughey) the “paperboy” in question. He’s a big city newspaper writer who comes back to his small town to break the story of a lifetime. In tow is his “associate” Yardley (David Oyelowo). Their relationship has sinister undertones. This backstory feels de-emphasized in favor of Charlotte’s Jerry Springer antics. Maybe their story is fleshed out more in Pete Dexter’s novel? I hope so. From a producer’s point of view I can see how Kidman going bimbo cougar is money in the bank but perhaps they should have heeded the words of Morrissey, “stop me, stop me, stop me, if you think you’ve heard this one before.” Oh yeah, what happens? All these people have weird Southern Gothic obsessions and everything blows up in their faces. I bet the book is great.

The Fellowship of the Ring

Just kidding. I read this a hundred times before I reluctantly saw the movie. Peter Jackson’s adaptation of the Lord of the Rings trilogy transcended everyone’s expectations but if for some unknowable, inexcusable reason you have not read J.R.R. Tolkien’s world changing fantasy classic you’ll get to experience the devilish wonderment that is meeting Tom Bombadil for the first time. Take a beloved character and cut them from the movie! Go Hollywood! Besides, this excellent book will take the bad Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey taste out of your mouth.

Have you ever watched a movie that made you want to read the book it was based on?


Music Faceoff: Lea Michelle vs. Karmin

By , April 8, 2014

Battle of the March 2014 Releases
Lea Michelle’s Louder vs. Karmin’s Pulses

It’s a nail bitter folks. Who is going get your weekly freegal downloads? Will it be the latest release from the Glee diva? Or will the underdog hip-hopster steal the glory? What would P Diddy tell Barbra Streisand to do? Let’s go to the chart shall we?

Ok, so the chart, while fun, was absolutely no help. I guess you’ll just have to download them both from freegal and have your own sonic duel. If you’re feeling more introspective and schmoopy, Lea would be a better bet. I’ll save a Kleenex for you. If you just wanna dance, definitely rock the Karmin – my head’s bobbing with you right now.

Happy downloading…isn’t freegal awesome?

:) Amanda

Oh PS…you can listen to both albums by streaming them on freegal before downloading anything if my highly non scientific chart didn’t help you decide either.

Popmatic Podcast April 2014: Cherry Blossom Festival and All Things Japan

By , April 6, 2014

In honor of Cherry Blossom Festival, we celebrate all things Japan. Greg has been there. If you are Japanese, please to go to town in the comments. And what is tickling our fancy.


The guy that married a pillow could be considered an extreme example of otaku. Read about it here.

Cookpad featuring the recipe family favorite meat miso

Japanese Soul Cooking by Tadashi Ono

Sonobana Grocery

Akira Kurasawa movies

The Films of Akira Kurasawa by Donald Richie

Love. Angel. Music. Baby. (CD | Hoopla) by Gwen Stefani

Harajuki Girls

Gothic & Lolita Bible

Gothic Lolita Punk by Rico Komanoya

Maneki-neko or “Lucky Cat”

Ascendacies: The Best of Bruce Sterling by Bruce Sterling featuring the short story “Maneki-neko”

The Cat Returns

“Cat Heaven Island”

Nyalan and Deshi feline travel mascots

cat cafes

Haruki Murakami books

Japanese: The Game


Raid: Redemption

Raid 2 official website

Future Islands

Future Islands performing their song “Seasons (Waiting On You)

Two Ten Jack

Izakaya: the Japanese Pub Cookbook by Mark Robinson

Veronica Mars movie

Godzilla featuring Japan and U.S. versions

Bambi Meets Godzilla


A transcript of the show is available upon request.

Big Ears Festival Wrap-Up

By , April 4, 2014
This past weekend, fans of experimental music gathered for the third ever Big Ears Festival in Knoxville, myself included.  Rolling Stone has called it “the most ambitious and avant-gard festival to emerge in America in more than a decade.”   Its first year in 2009, offered a diverse line-up of rock, electronic, ambient, noise, and minimalist composers and performers.  After a more commercially driven follow-up, it took a long 3-year hiatus.  When asked why they kept festival fans waiting for so long, its founder Ashley Capps replied that they were waiting for this year’s lineup:
Headlining the festival was Steve “Kind-of-a-big-deal” Reich. While many of Reich’s pieces were performed throughout the 3-day festival, his presence provided more of a focal point.

Perhaps no other living composer has influenced the direction of both classical and popular forms of music.  Reich was one of first musicians to experiment with sampling, which he claims to have discovered by accident. For more on Reich’s use of sampling, check out his introduction to the book Sound unbound : Sampling Digital Music and Culture

Among the host of musicians influenced by Reich is the band Radiohead, specifically guitarist Jonny Greenwood who both performed at and attended the festival.  Greenwood began his music career studying viola at Oxford, but dropped out to become a rocker.  In recent years he has returned to the classical world, scoring films like There Will Be Blood and The Master.  While these scores hearken back to earlier composers, Reich’s influence on Greenwood, I find, is more evident on recent Radiohead releases (see: In Rainbows).  Greenwood paid homage to this influence at Big Ears with a performance of Reich’s Electric Counterpoint on electric guitar.

Reich returned the complement by arranging a suite of Radiohead music, titled Radio Rewrite, also performed at Big Ears by an ensemble of strings and pianos.  In his talk with festival-goers, the great composer seemed, at times, dismissive of the popular forms of music he has helped create.  My question, left unanswered, was what had led him to single out Radiohead for the distinct honor?  For me, Radiohead served as an introduction to more experimental music.  Did this homage validate the musical depths of the band, or was Reich just trying to appeal to folks like me?

Other Big Ears Performers found at your library:

Music of Steve Reich

Buke and Gase excellent, and accessible jangly pop

John Cale : a major songwriting force of Velvet Underground, etc.

Dawn of Midi : jazz instrumentation evoking electronic composition

Glenn Kotche : drummer from Wilco’s recording of Reich’s ”Clapping

Bryce Dessner : from the band The National

Tim Hecker

Kim Gordon of Sonic Youth

John Adams’ Shaker Loops

Book review: Life in Motion:An Unlikely Ballerina

By , April 1, 2014

Life in Motion by Misty Copeland

Life in Motion: An Unlikely Ballerina 
by Misty Copeland, with Charisse Jones

Many young girls aspire to dance like a ballerina. For a good proportion of these girls, the expense of dance class will deter them from the start. Out of those lucky enough to take classes, many will be betrayed by their own bodies, which break down under the demands of ballet or grow curves that alter their straight line. The truth is that out of those many young girls who dreamed of twirling across the stage, an infinitesimal percentage will ever dance professionally.

And then there’s Misty Copeland, who would go on to become the first African American soloist for the American Ballet Theatre in twenty years. As a quiet, anxious little girl, Misty was drawn to movement. At seven, she was able to teach herself Nadia Comanechi floor routines by watching them on VCR. By the time Misty was thirteen, her intuitive understanding of movement and her spectacularly flexible body had captured the attention of Cindy,  a ballet teacher at the local Boys and Girls Club. Within a couple of months, Misty donned her first pair of point shoes. Cindy tells Misty, “The perfect ballerina has a small head, sloping shoulders, long legs, big feet, and a narrow rib cage.”  That was Misty.

But hers is not a fairy tale story. While all of this is going on, Misty is living with her mother and six siblings in a motel room. There is absolutely no money for ballet. And why would a black girl want to participate in what was clearly a white dancer’s art form?

In her autobiography, Misty explains why. She also tells of the hard work and sacrifice that went into realizing her dream ofdancing with the prestigious American Ballet Theatre. For those who have followed her career, the opportunity to read the story behind the legend is alluring. But readers looking for dirt on the infamous custody battle involving young Misty, or on the internal working of ABT, or any other kind of scandal will be disappointed. Misty demonstrates as much grace revealing her personal story as she does when executing a perfect grand jeté; her words uplift and inspire.

Once readers have finished the book, they will certainly want to see Misty Copeland in action. Below is an excerpt from a documentary film, A Ballerina’s Tale, directed by Nelson D. George.

Jerry Schatzberg: Legends of Film Podcast

By , March 31, 2014

During this episode of Legends of Film we talk to Jerry Schatzberg, director of Scarecrow, The Panic in Needle Park, and Movie’s @ Main’s upcoming feature, Sweet Revenge. Mr. Schatzberg discusses casting Morgan Freeman in his breakthrough role, the importance of improvisation, and problems that occur when your lead actor is also your screenwriter.

Come see Schatzberg’s film Sweet Revenge on Saturday, April 12, 2014 at the Main Library downtown.

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