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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

All Fairfax Reads: Little Princes

September is a day away and as All Fairfax Reads winds down, we’ve planned a series of programs for all those who have read (or plan to read) the 2011 selection, Little Princes: One Man’s Promise to Bring Home the Lost Children of Nepal by Conor Grennan.

Here is the line-up:

Expeditions to Nepal: Beyond Everest, Sept. 13, 7 p.m. Sherwood Regional Library. National Geographic adventurer Peter Athans describes his travels, archaeological discoveries and humanitarian work in Nepal. Sign up online or call 703-765-3645.

Little Princes Discussion, Sept. 14, 7 p.m. Reston Regional Library. Cosponsored by the Fairfax Library Foundation. No registration required.

Himalayan Religion and the Culture of Nepal, Sept. 15, 7 p.m. Kings Park Library. Georgetown Professor Benjamin Bogin talks about the religion and culture of Nepal. Sign up online beginning Sept. 1. Or call 703-978-5600.

Conor Grennan, Sept. 21, 7:30 p.m. Harris Theatre on the campus of George Mason University. The All Fairfax Reads author discusses his book. No registration required. Cosponsored by Fall for the Book.

Check out the All Fairfax Reads page on the library’s website for more info on the author, the book, discussion questions and additional reading, including the books

The Places In Between by Rory Stewart
Murder in the High Himalaya by Jonathan Green
Snow Leopard by Peter Matthiessen

Pay It Forward by Catherine Hyde
The Sunflower by Richard Paul Evans
Arresting God in Kathmandu by Samrat Upadhyay

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

When the Earth Shakes

Well, it was a new experience for me and my colleagues at the Fairfax County Government Center when the floor under my feet began to shake. At first I thought it was some construction work on the floor below me. Then as I followed others out the building I considered an explosion. It wasn’t until we completely evacuated and started to browse Twitter feeds and Facebook pages, that I learned it was an earthquake. It certainly doesn’t compare to the devastation earthquakes have caused in other parts of the world, but for a native East Coaster it was definitely disorienting.

While there is much online about yesterday’s uncommon event, I was curious about the history of earthquakes in the Old Dominion and found a few websites to enlighten me. They include:

Earthquakes in Virginia

Virginia's Largest Earthquakes

Historic Earthquake - Giles County, VA 1897

Got a quake story? Feel free to share.

Wednesday, August 17, 2011

Choosing an E-Reader

In a recent New York Times “Personal Tech” column, writer Nick Bilton explored the reading experience on a variety of devices, ("Deciding on a Book and How to Read It," Aug. 10, 2011). Bilton chose one book, The Alienist by Caleb Carr, and read a chapter at a time on a Kindle, a Nook, both iterations of the iPad, an iPhone, an Android phone, an Android tablet, a laptop computer and even a paperback book! His conclusion: “I was torn between the Kindle and the iPad 2 . . . But if money is tight, go for print. My used paperback cost only $4.”

Whatever your choice – and e-readers do have some advantages – they can store a lot of reading material for that trip to the beach or flight across the country – the library offers an extensive collection of free downloadable eBooks and other e-formats through Overdrive and several other vendors.

For those new to e-reader technology, staff at several branches are offering one-on-one sessions or specific classes:

Tysons-Pimmit Regional Library offers ongoing personalized eBook/e-reader instruction with a trained staff member. Call 703-790-8088 to make an appointment.

Oakton Library will offer eBook/e-reader instruction on Sept. 15, 22 and 29 at 7:30 p.m. to help you learn about e-book/e-reader options and/or your e-reader. Call 703-242-4020 to make an appointment.

Reston Regional Library will offer "Discover EBooks" on Oct. 8 at 11 a.m. to celebrate a generous gift from the Friends of the Reston Regional Library to increase our eBook collection with a live demonstration on how to download eBooks.

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Babar Turns 80

With the publication of Babar’s Celesteville Games, the endearing, yet sometimes controversial elephant turns 80. Few may know that the pachyderm had two creators. In a profile of Laurent de Brunhoff, son of Babar’s first creator Jean de Brunoff ("Down Memory Lane With Babar the Elephant," Aug. 8, 2011), USA Today writer Bob Minzesheimer chronicles the series that is still popular with young readers.

The newest book is 42nd in the series that began when Laurent de Brunhoff was five and his mother made up a story about an unnamed young elephant who was playing in the jungle when his mother was shot by hunters. When de Brunhoff and his younger brother told the story to their artist father the next day, he decided to illustrate it and the series was born. Histoire de Babar: Le Petit El├ęphant was published in 1931 and appeared in the U.S. two years later, Minzesheimer writes.

Jean de Brunhoff created five Babar books before he died of tuberculosis 1937. His son, Laurent, was only 13. He later attended the same art school as his father and became an abstract painter, but at 21 found himself drawing the elephant he had once loved.

While some praise the books, others have criticized them, especially those written during France’s colonial period. Toni Morrison, a Random House editor in the 1960s, criticized the depiction of natives in the 1949 book Babar’s Picnic. The author agreed to allow the publisher drop the book and let it go out-of-print. He admits to being embarrassed at some of his father’s early books, as well as his own, Minzesheimer says.

Times have changed, but the classic pachyderm seems to have endured. In Babar’s Celesteville the African elephant’s daughter, Flora, meets and marries an Indian elephant at some Olympic-style games with international animal athletes.

Want to read more about Babar? Here’s a few books to try:

The Story of Babar, the Little Elephant by Jean de Brunhoff

Bonjour Babar! The Six Unabridged Classics by the Creator of Babar by Jean de Brunhoff

Babar Comes to America by Laurent de Brunhoff

Babar’s Busy Year by Laurent de Brunoff

Should We Burn Babar? Essays on Children’s Literature and the Power of Stories by Herbert Kohl

Wednesday, August 03, 2011

Barbara Kingsolver Wins Literary Peace Prize

Author Barbara Kingsolver will receive the Richard C. Holbrooke Distinguished Achievement Award, formerly known as the Dayton Literary Peace Prize for Lifetime Achievement, on Nov. 13, reports the Associated Press ("Ohio Literature Award Renamed for Holbrooke," Aug. 2, 2011). The award was originally named for the 1995 Dayton peace accords on Bosnia held near the Ohio city and brokered by negotiator Richard Holbrooke. Holbrooke died in December 2010. The $10,000 prize is supported by corporations, schools, arts groups and private donors.

“I love that the organization is honoring this sort of higher value of literature to create empathy,” Kingsolver told the AP. “You can't bang anyone over the head with a stick and make peace; you only do so by convincing people that strangers' lives are valid and equal to their own; that's what literature does.”

Kingsolver, who now lives in southwestern Virginia, is the author of such bestselling novels as The Bean Trees (1988), Pigs in Heaven (1993) and The Poisonwood Bible (1998). Her nonfiction Animal, Vegetable, Miracle (2007) also topped bestseller lists.

Some other books by Kingsolver include:

The Lacuna (2009)

Small Wonder (2002)

Prodigal Summer (2000)

High Tide in Tuscon: Essays From Now or Never (1995)

Animal Dreams (1990)