Popmatic Podcast for September 30, 2015: Banned Books Week

By , September 30, 2015

Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton TrumboBanned Books Week is an annual celebration of the freedom to read. Intellectual freedom is one of the library’s core values so on this episode we tell you about our favorite banned or challenged books. And comics, duh. Plus—what is tickling our fancy this week besides banned books.


Comic Legal Defense Fund

Sex Criminals by Matt Fraction & Chip Zdarsky

Bone by Jeff Smith

Drama by Raina Telgemeier

In the Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak

TTYL by Lauren Myracle

Johnny Got His Gun by Dalton Trumbo


The Lonely and the Brave

Lord of the Flies by William Golding

Bless Me, Ultima by Rudolfo Anaya

Concerning Violence: Nine Scenes from the Anti-Imperialistic Self-Defense

The Wretched of the Earth by Frantz Fanon


Great British Baking Show

From Beyond the Grave part of Movies @ Main

Harmontown podcast

Fifth Business by Robertson Davies

Bargainville by Moxy Fruvous featuring “King of Spain” and “My Baby Loves a Bunch of Authors” aka ‘the literature song’


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Minecraft: Full STEAM Ahead

By , September 29, 2015

Minecraft Game Screenshot

Minecraft, a computer game where everything is made of blocks, is sweeping the nation. Everywhere you look you can find children playing the game, reading the books, or begging adults to buy them Minecraft merchandise at the store. There are many benefits to playing the game, and they can all be summed up in five letters – STEAM.

But wait, what is STEAM?

STEAM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Art + Design, and Math.

How does STEAM apply to Minecraft?

Science: Players use their knowledge of materials to create different objects, tools, homes, or cities. For example, at the start of the game, players are automatically tasked with digging in order to find the material they need to create with – iron. Then, players smelt their iron – a process of placing iron ore into a forge, heating it up, and waiting for the final product: an ingot. Players can then make tools and other items out of their ingots.

Technology: Minecraft requires some kind of computer device whether it be a desktop, a laptop, a tablet, or a phone. You can access Minecraft anywhere! The benefit of playing Minecraft on different devices is that players learn new technological skills. Players become more adept at using keyboards and mice when playing on a computer. They can also develop their hand-eye coordination by playing on an Xbox or a tablet. Some advanced players may even become proficient at “hacking,” “modding,” or changing the code of the game.

Engineering: There are different game modes that children and young adults can play in, such as Sandbox style and Inventor style. In Sandbox style, players can create different environments and structures. In Inventor style, players can figure out how to build working objects, like elevators and cannons.

Art + Design: When children and young adults play Minecraft, they will likely spend hours creating the perfect design. They will decide on colors, sizes, placement, etc. for their blocks based on their mined items. Creating their world will help develop architectural skills as they put their blocks together and create different structures and equipment.

Math: Mathematics encompasses more than just using numbers to calculate amounts. It also incorporates logic and reasoning skills. Using logic and reasoning, players determine how to build their world inside Minecraft. Minecraft also helps players understand the concept of graphing because the Minecraft world operates through grids, and it helps them understand geometry using and creating different three-dimensional shapes.

Schools are beginning to acknowledge the many benefits of Minecraft, and the developers of the game have responded by offering a bundle pack available specifically to schools called MinecraftEDU. Some schools are even implementing Minecraft labs for students to use during the day to focus on and build STEAM skills. Dan Thalkar, a Los Angeles Charter School teacher, believes that Minecraft is successful in classrooms because you can use it for pretty much anything:

“If you want to use it for something for math or for science you can, either just by using the game itself or by modifying it.”1


Minecraft Handbooks for Kids (and Adults)

Minecraft Redstone Handbook

Minecraft Redstone Handbook

Minecraft Combat Handbook

Minecraft Combat Handbook

Minecraft Construction Handbook

Minecraft Construction Handbook

Minecraft Essential Handbook

Minecraft Essential Handbook


Minecraft Chapter Books Encourage Reading

The Skeletons Strike Back: an Unofficial Gamer's Adventure

The Skeletons Strike Back: an Unofficial Gamer’s Adventure

Last Stand on the Ocean Shore: an Unofficial Minecrafter's Adventure

Last Stand on the Ocean Shore: an Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure

Escape from the Overworld: an Unofficial Minecraft Gamer's Quest

Escape from the Overworld: an Unofficial Minecraft Gamer’s Quest

Battle for the Nether: an Unofficial Minecrafter's Adventure

Battle for the Nether: an Unofficial Minecrafter’s Adventure

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month with Wilson!

By , September 28, 2015
One of the lithographs created by Robert Motherwell for Three Poems.

One of several lithographs created by Robert Motherwell for Three Poems.

Between what I see and what I say, between what I say and what I keep silent, between what I keep silent and what I dream, between what I dream and what I forget: Poetry.”
~ Octavio Paz

Hola Mis Amigos!

It’s National Hispanic Heritage Month and that means it’s that time of year dedicated to celebrating the histories, cultures, and contributions of American citizens whose ancestors came from Spain, Mexico, the Caribbean, and Central and South America. And there’s no better way to celebrate this month than by discussing some of the amazing books that we have in the Wilson Limited Editions Collection by Latin American authors.

The Wilson Collection includes a diverse variety of authors and artists from many different countries around the world. This includes several well-known Latin American authors such as Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra, Jorge Luis Borges, Octavio Paz, Alejo Carpentier, and many more. Here’s just a small selection of books from the collection:

The Alienist by
The Alienist

Author: Machado de Assis
Artist: Carroll Dunham
Published by Arion Press: 1998

Peculiar and bordering the avant-garde, The Alienist is a story that is both about madness and full of madness. The author, Joaquim Maria Machado de Assis, is more commonly known by his surname – Machado de Assis and is considered to be one of the greatest Latin American novelists of the 19th century. During his lifetime, he was not commonly known outside his country of Brazil but has since gained the accolades that he deserves for his writing. The Alienist is only one of his many works of literature and represents one of his most unique stories as well.

The Alienist

One of the drawings for The Alienist by Carroll Dunham.

Originally published as The Psychiatrist but later translated as The Alienist, the novella follows the storyline of Dr. Simon Bacamarte as he is working to discover a universal method to cure pathological disorders and to distinguish sanity from madness. In a small town in Brazil, Bacamarte opens an asylum named “The Green House” where he is conducting his research. Not only does the doctor take in mentally ill patients, but also healthy citizens that he believes will soon develop some form of mental illnesses as well. I don’t want to ruin the rest of the story for you, but I can assure you that the book One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest came to mind when I was researching this book. 

The illustrations were created by American artist, Carroll Dunham. And as a fun fact, Carroll Dunham also happens to be the father of actress Lena Dunham. I’m reminded of Picasso when I look at his work and also, the old Nickelodeon cartoon, Aaahh!!! Real Monsters. They’re definitely both related, right? Well I’m reminded of Picasso because of the lines and disorder in his work. And the cartoon came to mind in the way that Dunham illustrated each human being. It’s just odd but definitely cohesive with the story line.

LEC_Sight and Touch

One of the many color woodcut prints by Balthus for Sight and Touch.

Sight and Touch 
Author: Octavio Paz
Artist: Balthus
Published by the LEC: 1995

A man of many words and awards including the Miguel de Cervantes Prize and Nobel Peace Prize, Paz is also famously known to have written Luna Silvestre (1933), Piedra de Sol (1957), and Salamandra (1962). Yale professor Gon-zales Echevarria said that Paz “was able to cull from the language of the avant‑garde the very best to create a Latin‑American poetic language.” This is demonstrated well in Sight and Touch. The poem is about light, which Paz describes as “a wavering river that sketches its doubts and turns them to certainties” and “Light is time thinking about itself.”

LEC_Sight and Touch_2

Sight and Touch was signed by both author and artist. A rare find among the Wilson books.

FrancoPolish artist and dear friend of Paz’s, Balthus, created 3 illustrations for the poem. He has illustrated several other books for the Limited Editions Collection including Wuthering Heights and Cosi Fan Tutte. Like several other recognizable artists in the collection such as Barry Moser, Jim Dine, and Thomas Hart Benton (and so many more that I could fill this page), his complete work in the collection is fluid but also unique. The LEC copy of Wuthering Heights is one of my favorite books in the collection because of the artwork. It’s honest, beautiful, and above all – cohesive with each story. There are only 3 illustrations in Sight and Touch, but 3 is all you need to match Paz’s brilliance.

The LEC published another work of Paz’s - Three Poems. I won’t go into full detail about what this book includes, but I can say that it also includes more than one translation, including the original Spanish version. Well-known artist and friend of Paz’s, Robert Motherwell, created 27 lithographs for the book. And another fun fact – it happens to be the largest book we have in the collection at 22-1/2” x 23-1/2 inches.


LEC_Kingdom of this world

The Kingdom of This World
Author: Alejo Carpentier

Artist: Roberto Juarez
Published by the LEC: 1988

Though I already raved about how much I like Balthus’ artwork, the beautiful etchings created by Roberto Juarez for The Kingdom of this World are completely out of this world…ha, see what I did there! They’re my favorite because they provide a delicate and cultured supplement to the story line, which is essentially the story of Haiti before, during, and after the Haitian Revolution as seen through the eyes of the main character  - Ti Noel.The story does not have a conventional, continuous plot but is rather more of a series of vignettes of descriptive moments throughout the character’s life.

Carpentier was inspired to write this novel after taking a trip to Haiti, where he became fascinated with the history of the country. For his research, he explored the island’s museums, libraries, and church archives. The novel was originally published in 1949 in Mexico, and translated into this English version by Harriet de Onís in 1957.

Along with Borges and Neruda, Carpentier is considered to be a founder of modern Latin American fiction. His background in other literature and culture is diverse, however, having been born in Havana and eventually moved to Paris for 11 years. Though he returned to Cuba in 1939, he also traveled throughout Europe, the United States, and South America – providing him with a wide range of cultures to explore and combine.

How Juarez created this unique look that almost appears to be velvet: He used combined methods to have both a sharp and feathered look. He first drew on copper plates with a power tool that was equipped with a bit used for jewelers. He then drew straight line etchings where the lines are drawn through an asphalt ground and etched in acid.

How Juarez created this unique look that almost appears to be velvet: He used combined methods to have both a sharp and feathered look. He first drew on copper plates with a power tool that was equipped with a bit used for jewelers. He then drew straight line etchings where the lines are drawn through an asphalt ground and etched in acid.

Cool stuff, right?! Well the Wilson Collection is filled with many treasures like these. Be sure to make an appointment to come view them for yourself. Click on the link “make an appointment” and fill out the info box with the date and time of when you would like to make an appointment for the Wilson Collection. Be sure to include that you are requesting a tour of the Wilson Collection as well.


Several of the books are always on display in the Wilson Room on the 3rd Floor of the Downtown Library. Everyone is welcome to come visit the collection at any time, and an appointment will allow you to look at any of the books up close! Stayed tune for next month’s special post!

Upcoming Events related to the Collection:

  • Stay tuned for the art exhibit displaying several of the books and pieces of artwork from the Wilson Collection! Coming around the beginning of October and will be on exhibit in the first floor art gallery at the Main Downtown Library.
  • The Handmade & Bound Festival and Marketplace takes place this weekend at Watkins College of Art & Design. It’s from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and guess what, I’LL BE THERE! Come visit because I will have a few Wilson Books on hand with me as well as Library Card applications so that you can sign up on the spot.
  • Our next #Throwback Thursday with the Wilson Collection is next Thursday (Oct 8th) from 3:30-5:00 in the Teen Area (at Main). Come visit, I’ll have a special Halloween-related craft this time!

Book Review: The Girl in 6E

By , September 27, 2015

The Girl in 6E by A. R. TorreThe Girl In 6E by A. R. Torre

1. Don’t leave the apartment.

2. Never let anyone in.

3. Don’t kill anyone

These are the rules that Deanna Madden lives by.

She has not stepped outside of her apartment for three years, for fear of doing harm to others. She supports her hermit lifestyle by becoming Jessica Manchild, one of the highest paid camgirls in the country. Everything she needs is either contained in her apartment or delivered to her door. Deanna’s only interactions with people are either from behind a locked door, over the phone, or through a computer.

Deanna is afraid that she is a terrifying person because she has the impulse to kill people. She then meets someone who appears to be a genuinely terrifying person, and is not only forced to take action, but is also forced to confront the things that lead her to this point. Along the way, she meets someone who is truly decent and understanding. The only question is will she give into her murderous impulses or not?

Family Folk Tales: The Terrible Head

By , September 26, 2015

Listen to “The Terrible Head.” In this retelling of the myth of Perseus, a young man goes adventuring before fulfilling a prophesy.

Subscribe to Family Folk Tales

Imagination and Illustration

By , September 24, 2015

“All you need is your imagination…”  Christopher Myers

This year we are blessed with children’s books by two masters of illustration, Marvin Bileck and Christopher Myers, who provide glimpses into extraordinary, imaginary worlds. Check them out!

A Book 40 Years in the Making

By Trolley Past Thumbledon Bridge 
Illustrated by Marvin Bileck, words by Ashley Bryan and Marvin Bileck

Marvin Bileck illustrated one of my favorite childhood books, Rain Makes Applesauce by Julian Scheer. His colorful drawings are flights of visual fancy, filled with tiny characters and scenes that inhabit dream-like worlds. Partner him with Ashley Bryan, a consummate storyteller and poet, and you have a children’s book for the ages.


Blue cloth and story-thread weave together ten poems. An old woman embroiders these stories in a land reached by a bridge a “merry mile long” on a magical trolley, the landscape springing to life around her as she dreams.

The woman is at once a fate, a wind-witch and an old auntie who reels images from her spool and sets the world spinning; drawing out rabbits and baby does, hyenas and antelope. The pictures prance across the page, bits and pieces drawn into sharp focus, as others swirl faintly in the background.

The Story Behind the Story

By Trolley Past Thimbledon Bridge almost didn’t see the light of day.  The story behind the story is as fascinating as the book itself.

One of Bileck’s little drawings includes a cheeky dig (Who’s afraid of Virgina Woolf?) at the Virginia Woolf Estate.  Woolf’s Estate first commissioned the illustrations for a children’s story, Nurse Lugton’s Curtain, written by Virginia Woolf for her niece, Ann Stephen. The estate dropped the artist after a ten year wait.

Bryan and Bileck preserved these amazing illustrations, creating the text specifically for them. It’s been almost a 40-year process to see it through to publication.

Take Time to Enjoy

This is not a book to read quickly. My grandson and I spent a long time examining each page.  He was fascinated with spinning his own stories from the glorious pictures.

The poetry is great to read-aloud for any age group.  Although for me, the best experience was to share it with a child on my lap, lingering over each word and image.

The last few pages are filled with small drawings and an invitation to weave your own story…

We’ve circled back home

From the start to the end.

I took the first turn

Now it’s your turn, my friend.


 The Power of the Pen

My Pen
by Christopher Myers

This book is for anyone whose heart sings with a pen in hand and a blank piece of paper!

Christopher Myers invites us into his imaginary world where anything is possible…tap dancing on the sky, wearing satellite sneakers with computer laces and putting elephants in teacups. His pen can travel to faraway places, provide thrill rides, play hide and seek, and fully express love and fear.


Inspiring Art With Heart

Myers illustrations are suffused with emotional truth, where sparse pen and ink drawings touch deep chords of love and sadness. Several pictures pay tribute to Myers’ father, beloved children’s author Walter Dean Myers who died last year.

I love so much about this book! The end pages are mostly scribbles & splotches, and that feel achievable for anyone.  Ink get thrown around a lot.  Atmosphere and environment play an important part, as do family and friends. Pens can worry, and  faces can be renewed every morning. However, what I love most is the reminder that there are a million stories contained in every pen.

What wonderful possibilities!

Excuse me….I need a blank piece of paper!


Popmatic Podcast for September 23, 2015: We’re Heading for Mars

By , September 23, 2015

Mars Attacks!Ridley Scott’s new film The Martian is getting stellar (intra-stellar?) reviews. The book it is based on, The Martian by Andy Weir, is back on the bestseller list. It was Mike’s pick for best book of 2014. So we’re heading back to the red planet. Bring an oxygen tank.


Total Recall

Mars Attacks!

Mars Attacks: First Born by Chris Ryall & Sam Kieth

Mars Attacks: The Complete Collection by John Layman & John McCrea

Candy Girl: A Year in the Life an Unlikely Stripper by Diablo Cody

The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler

The Children of the Days: A Calendar of Human History by Eduardo Galeano


Catching Hell

The Reach of a Chef: Beyond the Kitchen by Michael Ruhlman

Hark! A Vagrant by Kate Beaton

The Princess and the Pony by Kate Beaton

Redheads Die Quickly by Gil Brewer

Laibach played shows in Pyongyang


Transcripts of the show are available upon request.

Book review: The Bourbon Kings

By , September 22, 2015

The Bourbon Kings
By J.R. Ward

I have been a fan of the Warden for a while now. When her Black Dagger Brotherhood series came out, I thought it was awesome. Now that it has a few years on it, I’m starting to get a little annoyed with the Brothers and their quirky language, true? And don’t even talk to me about her Fallen Angels series. I could do 14 separate posts on what was wrong with it. I was never so happy that something came to an end and I don’t think I’m alone in this.

My colleague, Sharra, posted about the book release a month or so ago, and I’ve been intrigued ever since. A Southern family dynasty romance? I’m so in. I have a real soft spot for Southern literature and family sagas, so to put those together was very exciting. Plus, I had a feeling that the characters wouldn’t talk like drug-dealing morons (come one BDBers, you know I’m right).

Ward sets her story in the fictional town of Charlemont – which sounds a whole lot like Louisville, Kentucky. The Bradford family is world-renown as the best producers of bourbon, and they like to show off their wealth. But like many uber-wealthy families, theirs is completely dysfunctional. It’s derby time and somehow the whole clan finds itself together again for the big race day. Will everyone survive all this wonderful family togetherness?

It’s a good thing I grew up watching soap operas, because is this ever one. For a minute I thought we were in Dallas and someone was gonna shoot JR. My only real complaint is that if you are going to write a book about a city like Louisville, at least do us the courtesy of calling it Louisville. In the BDB, she invented the city of Caldwell just outside of New York City. She could have done the same thing here just as easily. Every time they refer to Charlemont, it pulled me out of the story because I knew they really meant Louisville. It’s not like it’s trademarked or anything.

But overall, I would say this was a pretty good book. It definitely grabs you and you don’t want to put the book down. Plus, there’s a big scene with a thunderstorm and honestly, she had me at the boom! All it needed was an evil cloned twin who was stolen by Russians at birth to be perfect.

It looks like this is going to be her new series, and I’m in to see what happens to the Bradford family. (Insert creepy soap opera music here…dun dun dahhhh!)

Happy reading…

:) Amanda



Read Banned Children’s Books

By , September 21, 2015

Next week is Banned Books Week – a holiday with which you may not be familiar, but trust me, it’s big news around libraries. You see, libraries promote the Freedom to Read – read whatever you want, even if other people don’t like it. Just as importantly, don’t read whatever you don’t want! If you don’t like a book, that’s perfectly fine – just don’t tell anyone else they’re not allowed to read it.

There’s a lot to Banned Books Week, probably more than I can cover in a blog post written from the Children’s Department. For more information, feel free to read a Banned Books Week primer here. For parents, I encourage you to take away this: talk to your kids about what they’re reading! It is your right to monitor content and protect your children from things they’re not ready for. But you probably wouldn’t want someone else making rules for your child, so no one person should try to declare a book inappropriate for all. Ask what your kids are reading, and ask how they feel about it. Be involved, and be open-minded.

In honor of Banned Books Week, here are a few of the most challenged children’s books of the last 15 years, along with the reasons for the challenge, according to the American Library Association. Read them! Or don’t! Whatever you do, know that the choice is yours alone.

And Tango Makes Three, by Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell. Recommended for Pre-School – 2nd grade

An illustrated retelling of the true account from the Central Park Zoo: Two male penguins are tasked with hatching an abandoned egg and raising the baby penguin as their own. Reasons for challenge include: “anti-family,” “homosexuality,” “political viewpoint,” and “religious viewpoint.”

The Captain Underpants SeriesCaptain underpants, Book 1, by Dav Pilkey. Recommended for 3rd – 5th grade.

Fourth-graders George and Harold hypnotize their mean principal to become Captain Underpants – the superhero protagonist from the comic series the boys write. Reasons for challenge include: “offensive language,” “violence,” and “unsuited for age group.”


My Mom's Having a BabyMy Mom’s Having a Baby!: A Kid’s Month-by-Month Guide to Pregnancy by Dori Hillestad Butler. Recommended for Kindergarten – 4th grade.

A soon-to-be big sister takes a scientific look at a baby’s development, from conception to labor. Reasons for challenge include: “nudity,” “sex education,” “sexually explicit.”

Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's StoneThe Harry Potter Series, by J.K. Rowling. Recommended for grades 4 and up.

Everyone’s favorite orphan-turned-boy-wizard makes a life for himself at Hogwarts School of Withcraft and Wizardry (this is admittedly the lamest description of this series ever, but how on earth do you condense all that magic into one sentence?! It would take actual magic!) Reasons for challenge include: “occult/Satanism.”


Scary Stories to tell in the DarkThe Scary Stories series, by Allen Schwartz. Recommended for grades 4 and up.

These adopted urban legend stories have been around and scaring readers since the 1980s, and have recently been reissued with new (tamer) illustrations. Reasons for challenge include: “occult/Satanism, religious viewpoint, and violence.”


Uncle Bobby's WeddingUncle Bobby’s Wedding
by Sarah S. Brannen. Recommended for Kindergarten – 2nd grade.

An illustrated tale describing Chloe’s insecurities surrounding being replaced by her uncle’s new spouse. As the story goes on, Chloe realizes that she’s not losing her Uncle Bobby, she’s gaining her Uncle Jamie. Reasons for challenge include: “homosexuality and unsuited to age group.”


Will you make an effort to read banned books? If you do, why not take a “shelfie” and share it on Social Media, #NPLbannedbooks. Posting before October 3rd (with the hashtag!) qualifies you to win Banned Books Week prizes from NPL!


Legends of Film: Kevin Connor

By , September 19, 2015

From Beyond the grave
During this episode we talk to Director Kevin Connor. Mr. Connor’s credits include Motel Hell, The Land That Time Forgot, At the Earth’s Core, and our upcoming Movies at Main feature, From Beyond the Grave. Connor discusses his career in film, including the making of From Beyond the Grave, directing the legendary Peter Cushing, and editing Richard Attenborough’s historical drama, Young Winston.

Join us for a free afternoon screening of From Beyond the Grave on Saturday, October 3, 2015 at 2:00 PM in the Nashville Public Library (Main) auditorium.

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