Author Archive

There’s a YouTube Video for That?

Monday, April 15th, 2013

Have you ever wanted a quick overview of a topic? Are you cramming for a big test? Check out the Crash Course Channel on YouTube. Started in 2012, the channel is hosted by brothers John and Hank Green, who present educational videos on a variety of different subjects. John covers history and literature, while Hank tackles science. Each episode lasts 7-15 minutes, and the content presented is clever, fast-paced and entertaining while acting as a supplement to subjects covered in many high school and college courses. The channel has over 100 videos and more are being added.

Here’s one of the channel’s more popular videos, which discusses the agricultural revolution:

 


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Grammy Awards

Thursday, February 14th, 2013

This past Sunday was the 55th Annual Grammy Awards. Over 80 separate awards were presented to the best artists in the music industry. Many of the songs and albums featured in the Grammys can be found at your nearest Kent District Library branch. Here are some to keep an eye out for:

Making Mirrors

Record of the Year

“Somebody That I Used to Know” from the album Making Mirrors by Gotye, featuring Kimbra

 

 

BabelAlbum of the Year

Babel by Mumford & Sons

 

 

 

Some NightsSong of the Year

“We Are Young” from the album Some Nights by Fun featuring Janelle Monáe

 

 

 

For many of the winners and as well the award nominees, be sure to look for them through KDL’s Freegal Music service in addition to checking them out from your local branch library.

 


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Stories from the Dust Bowl

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

I recently had the opportunity to watch “The Dust Bowl,” the latest documentary by filmmaker Ken Burns that was initially broadcast this past November on PBS. The series chronicles the environmental catastrophe that swept through the Great Plains during the 1930s. Farmlands were destroyed by drought as massive, deadly dust storms enveloped the plains, reducing the grasslands to barren deserts. It is considered the worst man-made ecological disaster in American history.

In part of his film, Burns follows the journeys of Sanora Babb, a reporter who grew up in the Great Plains and later moved to Los Angeles with the hopes of working for a big-city newspaper. After the stock market crash effectively ended her career dreams, Babb would return to her hometown in 1934 during the height of the drought and dust storms. She recorded much of the destruction she witnessed while in the Great Plains. Returning to California in 1938 to work for the Farm Security Administration, Babb helped many of the refugees who migrated from the regions hit by the Dust Bowl. She continued to document her experiences with the hopes of publishing a novel about the Dust Bowl refugees she encountered.

Babb completed her manuscript in 1939; however, publishers refused to print her novel because a book covering the same subject had already been published. The book they are referring to: The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck (which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize the following year). Babb would go on to write other publications throughout her life based upon her childhood on the southern Plains. It wouldn’t be until 2004 (only a year before she died) when Babb’s novel, Whose Names Are Unknown, would finally be published.

If you are looking for a book to complement “The Dust Bowl,” I would certainly recommend Whose Names Are Unknown. It follows a family living in Oklahoma that makes its way to the migrant labor camps in California. Struggling to survive the drought and Depression, the story of Julia and Milt Dunne gives us a glimpse into the lives of those most directly impacted by the disaster. How does it compare with The Grapes of Wrath? I’ll let you be the judge of that :-)

 

 


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2013 ALA Youth Book Awards

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

The American Library Association announced yesterday the yearly awards for youth books and media for 2013. The complete list can be found on the ALA site. The book awards were as follows:

 

The 2013 Newbery Medal for the most outstanding contribution to children’s literature was awarded to The One and Only Ivan, written by Katherine Applegate (it should be noted that Katherine grew up in Grand Rapids!). Three Newbery Honor Books also were named: Splendors and Glooms by Laura Amy Schlitz, Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin and Three Times Lucky by Sheila Turnage

 

 

The 2013 Caldecott Medal for the most distinguished American picture book for children was awarded to This Is Not My Hat, illustrated and written by Jon Klassen. Five Caldecott Honor Books also were named: Creepy Carrots! illustrated by Peter Brown, written by Aaron Reynolds; Extra Yarn, illustrated by Jon Klassen, written by Mac Barnett; Green, illustrated and written by Laura Vaccaro Seeger; One Cool Friend, illustrated by David Small, written by Toni Buzzeo and Sleep Like a Tiger, illustrated by Pamela Zagarenski, written by Mary Logue.

 

Lastly, the 2013 Printz Award for excellence in literature written for young adults was awarded to In Darkness, written by Nick Lake. Four Printz Honor Books also were named: Aristotle and Dante Discover the Secrets of the Universe by Benjamin Alire Sáenz, Code Name Verity by Elizabeth Wein, Dodger by Terry Pratchett, and The White Bicycle by Beverley Brenna.

 

 

 

Be sure to look for these books at your local KDL branch!


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Staff Picks for Teens

Monday, December 24th, 2012

Looking for a great read this winter season? Check out KDL’s new Staff Picks for Teens booklist! Chock full of drama, fantasy and adventures into the past, here are a couple favorites enjoyed by KDL staff members:
Staff Teen Picks

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The Graveyard Book
Neil Gaiman

Nobody Owens is a normal boy, except that he has been raised by ghosts and other denizens of the graveyard.

 

 

 

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The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Carrie Ryan

Through twists and turns of fate, orphaned Mary seeks knowledge of life, love and especially what lies beyond her walled village and the surrounding forest, where dwell the unconsecrated, aggressive flesh-eating people who were once dead.

 

 

 

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The Scorpio Races
Maggie Stiefvater

Nineteen-year-old returning champion Sean Kendrick competes against Puck Connolly, the first girl ever to ride in the annual Scorpio Races, both trying to keep hold of their dangerous water horses long enough to make it to the finish line.

 

 

Full Booklist

 

 


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State Census News for Genealogy Buffs

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

SeekingMichigan.org

State census records often prove to be an invaluable resource for anyone researching their family history. Many states, (including Michigan), periodically conduct their own internal censuses between the years of the decennial U.S. Census. While not all manuscript records have survived, state census records that still exist are incredibly useful for genealogists.

Michigan conducted many censuses following its admission as a state. The 1884 and 1894 records are the most complete.

Up until this point, the records were only available through microfilm or the occasional print index. Last month the Archives of Michigan released over 62,000 records from the 1884 and 1894 censuses on its SeekingMichigan.org website. All the records are searchable and accessible for free to either copy or print. The combination of both censuses helps fill a gap in the federal record due to the unavailability of the 1890 U.S. Census (mostly destroyed in a 1921 fire). They are also a great complement to website’s already heavily-used collection of Michigan Death Records, 1897-1920. Happy researching!

 


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