It’s time for August staff picks! We’re not quite done with summer yet, and we’re still being inspired by exploration and discovery. So as Dumbledore didn’t say: “Let us step into the blog post and pursue that flighty mistress, Adventure.”
1. Not-For-Parents South America: Everything You Ever Wanted to Know by Margaret Hynes is part of the newest series for children from Lonely Planet. Adults who loved the Lonely Planet guides as they roamed around the world in their youth will be delighted to share colorful photos and fun facts with their young citizens of the world. With a small kid friendly format and pages bursting with action photography, art, and fascinating facts, these guides are sure to be a hit with families preparing for an upcoming adventure or simply interested in learning more about the far corners of our world.
2. Family Science Backpacks make adventuring easy and fun for the whole family. Six backpacks, with themes ranging from Star Gazing to Water Wonder, give families real tools to use as they explore their world. Binoculars, bug nets, butterfly guides, magnifying glasses, and lists of Citizen Science connections take learning beyond the book. Family Science Backpacks check out from the Children’s Desk for one week and encourage children to explore their world and share what they learn. Whether your adventure takes you to you to your backyard, local park, or beyond!
Child of Light by Ubisoft, Inc.
Available for PC, PS Vita, PS3, PS4, Xbox One, Xbox 360, and Wii-U
Why? Because this is the closest I will ever get to being a red-headed princess floating through a fairy-tale landscape while wielding a sword and defeating the forces of darkness with my rag-tag friends and amazing powers of light-magic.
Be prepared to lose yourself (for hours) in Aurora’s quest through the haunted land of Lumeria. Perfect for a stormy day when you can’t go to the beach or tend to your garden. Child of Light features a strong, kind and (very important here) playable female protagonist, which is a gem in the gaming world. The story isn’t just a series of quests but a coming-of-age for Aurora, who not only grows stronger and more powerful throughout the game, but also more world-wise.
- We currently only own this game for PS Vita at the library but I hope to make it available for the other platforms.
Sailing Alone Around the World by Joshua Slocum. This book recounts Slocum’s epic solo voyage around the world and has inspired many – myself included. While I did not sail alone around the world, I did spend a few years crewing on sailboats. I would often revisit this title when we were on a long, offshore journey not seeing land for days at a time. In 1899, after three years at sea, he completed his around the world trip aboard his S/V SPRAY. With this feat he proved not only that one could sail solo around the world but that he could write a captivating story.
I also would like to recommend Travels with Charley, In Search of America by John Steinbeck (I highly recommend the audiobook version available via Mainecat). In the 60′s John Steinbeck felt he had lost his understanding of America. So he and his beloved dog, Charley, set off on a road trip across the states. Their travels sent them through forty states, including Maine where he travels Rte One, heads to Deer Isle and meets a disillusioned waitress outside of Bangor. This book reads as a poignant love letter to America, and also give deep insight to Steinbeck’s thoughts in his later years.
The Sisters of Sinai: How Two Lady Adventurers Discovered the Hidden Gospels by Janet Soskice
The riveting story of the adventures and scholarship of two extraordinary Scottish sisters, Dr. Agnes Smith Lewis and Dr. Margaret Dunlop Gibson. Daring and dedicated linguists and explorers, the two tracked down ancient manuscripts in Sinai, Jerusalem, and Cairo, discovering a palimpsest of some of the earliest versions of the gospels recorded in ancient Syriac.
First published in 1939, Always a Little Further by Alastair Borthwick is the tale of the author’s adventures hiking and climbing in Scotland in the 1930s. He writes with humor and a sprinkling of philosophical musings. And, because it is an older book (a book of a certain age, as my mother would say), it is also a chance to travel back in time, to days when adventurers clambered around, clad not in high tech materials but in “breeches” that froze solid in the snow, toting lightweight eiderdown sleeping bags (that usually dried out by the end of a journey) and rucksacks stuffed with biscuits.
Yet such is the peculiar constitution of man that winter mountaineering is a disease both infectious and chronic. There are two reasons why this should be so. First, man is an optimist: yesterday was filthy, but tomorrow the sun may shine … And second, the reasoning powers of man are obscured by an inability to distinguish between things he enjoys doing, and things he enjoys having done.
(My favorite adventure of all time feels a little dusty and dated, but it’s true: The Princess Bride is still the best! An old love is a true love).
Epic space opera and graphic novel fantasy Saga, written by Brian K. Vaughan and illustrated by Fiona Staples, is a much more gritty, futuristic adventure for 2016. Alana (she’s got wings) and Marko (he’s got horns) are in deeply star-crossed love—and they’re on the interplanetary lam. Two soldiers from the opposite sides of a galactic war, they’re just trying to protect each other and their daughter Hazel. Brilliantly bizarre worldbuilding, complex relationships, and non-stop plot twists, plus key characters like a robot prince with a television for a head, a lie-detecting cat, and a wisecracking-yet-fearsome ghost babysitter make the initial volumes in this series sound lively and cute, yet the themes besides love, friendship, and family are harrowing, adults-only, a ferocious commentary on the very darkest sides of the universe. (Slavery. Addiction. Endless war). It’s tough out there in space…even when the plot is sprinkled with the stardust of blazing hope. Will love survive? Saga has won the Hugo Award for Best Graphic Story and several Harvey and Eisner awards for art and writing. Access it online through Hoopla or find it in our Adult graphic novel section—again, be advised that the series contains (very) mature content. For adults. The exploits of Prince Humperdinck and Count Rugen pale.
Thanks for reading, everyone! Hope you have many adventures in the rest of August…
Over the past week or so, many of us have been glued to our televisions, radios or computers rooting for our favorite Olympians. Many of the commentators are former Olympians themselves and have steeped themselves in the sport and its vocabulary. The rest of us can probably barely differentiate from a remise or a riposte or may just not understand why the runners are jumping over hurdles and small bodies of water. We are here at PPL to help you broaden your sports horizons and maybe even provide you with a few new words for your sports vocabulary or your next crossword puzzle clue. This incomplete list consists of various terms used in sports or games played in the Summer Olympics.
fletching: (also called vanes), feathers near the end of the shaft. The fletching, which may be actual goose or turkey feathers or, especially in target arrows, may be made of plastic, make an arrow spin in flight. The spinning motion steadies the arrow and keeps it flying straight. Most arrows measure between 25 and 28 inches (63 and 70 centimeters) long.
From the Britannica Library Reference Center
For more information on Archery, check out Precision Archery
steeplechase: is an obstacle race, run usually over a 3000-m course containing hurdles, water jumps, and other hazards.
From Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia
Before you put on your sneakers and head out onto the track, check out The New Rules of Running
shuttlecock: traditionally a cork ball fitted with stabilizing feathers that is now sometimes made of nylon, is hit back and forth over the net with lightweight rackets. With the shuttlecock traveling at speeds up to 260 km/hr (162 mph), badminton is considered the world’s fastest racket sport.
From Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia
Check out the Funk & Wagnalls’ article on badminton to learn about battledore, which sounds like a lot more fun or check out Better Badminton from 1939 to see if women were still required to wear skirts at that time.
Cycling and Rowing:
repechage: a second-chance heat in cycling or rowing in which losers of the first round of competition are matched against each other for another chance to qualify for the final heat.
From Webster’s Sports Dictionary
Also check out The Boys in the Boat
dressage: In dressage, the riders guide their horses through a series of movements. There are two types of dressage, a championship test with predetermined movements and a freestyle test in which athletes choose the movements and music. In addition, there is a team test. Both men and women compete.
From Funk & Wagnalls New World Encyclopedia
remise: a second thrust at the target while still in the lunge position and with the arm still extended after an initial attack has missed that is made immediately after the opponent has parried the initial attack but before he makes a riposte or before he is able to complete the movements of a complex riposte.
riposte: a counterattack immediately following a successful parry.
From Webster’s Sports Dictionary
Also check out By the Sword
keirin: created in Japan in 1948, this event features nine racers competing over a distance of 2km. Each racers starts in his own lane. At the starting signal, the racers struggle to catch up to a lightweight motorcycle that is already running. The motorcycle sets the pace of the race, which lasts 3 to 5 laps. When the motorcycle leaves the track at the start of the second last lap, the racers sprint to the finish.
From Sports The Complete Visual Reference
For a step back in time, come to the Portland Room at the Main library and take a look at the 1895 book, A Road Book for Cycling and Carriage Driving in Maine
This list barely scratches the surface of athletic terms used in the Games, but hopefully this list will give you a better understanding of what’s going on when your rooting for your favorite team or Olympian!
We’ve noticed that the library is just chock full of stories built upon stories. Books become films. Comic books become films. Films become films. Also: fairy tales are fractured, classics are reborn, characters evolve, one story inspires another wholly new. At worst, the old made new is a little awful, and leaves us wistful for the original. At the very best, though, remakes and reworkings offer bold and creative new worlds at play with the old. Our July staff picks explore the idea of everything old made new again.
Case study: The Haunting of Hill House. Shirley Jackson’s unsettling novel was made into the 1963 black-and-white film The Haunting, in which super-scary wallpaper (uh-huh) and terrifying sound effects psychologically mangled me every Halloween of my childhood. So good! Then The Haunting was remade with cheesy CGI (no subtlety = no fear) in 1999. I felt an incredible sense of loss and dismay. Would anyone ever know how great the original film remake of the original book was?
Haunting aside, there’s hope, and endless reboots to check out. The Princess Bride swashbuckled straight into The Princess Bride. Roald Dahl’s fantastic Fantastic Mr. Fox morphed into Wes Anderson’s fantastic Fantastic Mr. Fox. Like Water For Chocolate? Like Water for Chocolate. Orlando became Orlando: Annie became Annie. The Namesake became The Namesake. In the near future, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks will become The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lacks. Why change the names? Meanwhile, classic folk and fairy tales, myths, and legends can be revisited again and again. Catherynne M. Valente’s Deathless is a brilliant re-telling of the Russian fairy tale The Death of Koschei the Deathless. The One Thousand and One Nights are wonderfully retold by Hanan Al-Shaykh, Naguib Mahfouz, and Renée Ahdieh, among others. The Odyssey re-envisioned becomes Love in the Time of Global Warming or The Penelopiad or O Brother Where Art Thou? How to choose between all these exciting versions? And then there’s our favorite comics…as Marvel remakes a version of the Avengers for the umpteenth time this summer, let it be known: I’d love to see Kamala Khan on the big screen.
Which brings us to July 2016…as Ghostbusters just became Ghostbusters! I’m looking forward to catching this newest of remakes this week. I’m sure it won’t be as scary as The Haunting, but I bet the blazing comic talent of Leslie Jones, Melissa McCarthy, Kristen Wiig, and Kate McKinnon will truly shine. Like ectoplasm.
The Lunar Chronicles by Marissa Meyer – Science fiction meets classic fairy tales in clever ways. One of my favorite YA series of the past five years (and I’m not alone); if you haven’t read these yet, you’re in for hours of addictive adventure, romance, and one seriously evil queen.
Wildwood Dancing by Juliet Marillier – the Twelve Dancing Princesses has been my favorite fairy tale since childhood, and this adaptation is just lovely inside and out. It’s clear from the sweeping text to the glossary in the back that the author did some serious research into Transylvanian folk tales and customs. A classic.
Howl’s Moving Castle – Diana Wynne Jones (book), Hayao Miyazaki (film) and a dreamy, brooding wizard voiced by Christian Bale. This adaptation sure has my number.
Beauty! Life! Poetry!
One of my favorite novels, Zadie Smith’s On Beauty, is a homage to E.M. Forster’s Howard’s End, which was also made into a fantastic movie with Anthony Hopkins and Emma Thompson. Forster’s writing (along with the work of luminaries like Kazuo Ishiguro and Henry James) provided Ruth Prawer Jhabvala, James Ivory, and Ismail Merchant with inspiring film fodder for years.
Old-fashioned as this choice may be, my picks for a book-and-film-original-and-remake-duo are the lovely and irrepressible A Room with a View and A Room With A View (the Merchant Ivory version) which both make me beam, whether I am re-reading or re-watching. Forster’s heartwarming chapter titles show up in the book (of course), but also helpfully turn up onscreen in the film as the scenes change. Chapter 13: How Miss Bartlett’s Boiler Was So Tiresome. Chapter 14: How Lucy Faced the External Situation Bravely. Chapter 15: The Disaster Within. In the film, you also get to see George climb up a tree in Italy and shout “Beauty! Life! Poeeetrry!” in a deeply beautiful and silly and life-affirming scene, while Daniel Day-Lewis is wonderful as a mustachioed and stuffy Cecil. Poor Cecil.
Back to the book. In one of the best chapters in literature (Chapter 19: Lying to Mr. Emerson), you really get to sink into Mr. Emerson’s sweet advice to Lucy Honeychurch as she’s trying to sort out her life and her heart. I would quote his kindhearted wisdom here, except it’s scattered over eighteen pages. It has to do with not getting stuck in a terrible muddle, making the wrong choice, and ruining your life. You should read it, because the whole scene is much better in the original: the book. (But how nice it is to have to choose between the good movie and the good book).
Hamlet on Harleys
It may not fit the quiet, thoughtful librarian stereotype to admit this: I love the FX show Sons of Anarchy. It is loud and filled with mayhem, but man… is it good! So good. The acting is spot on and the story line is intense (to say the least).
Here’s the twist: SoA is based on Shakespeare’s Hamlet. Show creator Kurt Sutter has admitted it is not a version of Hamlet, but it is definitely influenced by it. “I don’t want to overplay that but it’s there. It was Jax’s father who started the club, so he’s the ghost in the action. You wonder what he would have made of the way it turned out.”
The show includes a discontented prince (Jax), a treacherous stepfather and an honorable dead father whose voice we hear guiding Jax throughout the series. There are further theme similarities regarding external symbols vs. internal truth. Numerous episode titles refer to Hamlet including Burnt and Purged Away, To Be, Act 1, and To Thine Own Self.
So for the more erudite library users, you can feel A-OK about binging on the tales of this outlaw motorcycle club because it is based on the Bard, after all.
When you finish, get back to me on which character you think best exemplifies Ophelia.
We have all seven seasons on DVD at PPL.
Infernal Affairs vs. The Departed
It seems as if Hollywood spends a considerable amount of time remaking perfectly good shows and films. Such as Broadchurch, a British miniseries starring David Tennant. I didn’t watch the US remake, Gracepoint, starring David Tennant (see what they did there?) because I wasn’t too keen on the original. Aside from television, Hollywood just can’t seem to come up with original blockbusters (that aren’t based on comic book heroes).
A few years ago, my uncle (a PI turned nurse) told me of this fantastic movie based on the life of Boston gangster Whitey Bulger.
“Martin Scorsese is a GENIUS!” he shouted. “Martin Scorsese is a thief,” I retorted. The Departed, by all accounts, is actually a decent movie. However, it is not a work of genius. It is almost a shot for shot remake of the brilliant Chinese movie Infernal Affairs starring Andy Lau. Any implication that this is the story of Whitey Bulger’s life is purely coincidence. A few weeks after our initial conversation, my uncle and I sat down and watched Infernal Affairs. “Holy Cow! That’s a much better film,” he yelled with his thick Boston accent. I had finally won my argument.
Now I’m not saying, that Hollywood CAN’T make decent remakes. The Departed really is a great film. You just have to remember that it’s not original. I’m just saying: sometimes you really should see the original… Now just don’t get me started on the remake of The Wicker Man starring Nic Cage.
Rear Window and Planet of the Apes, Simpsons-style
Rear Window, the Hitchcock film starring Jimmy Stewart and Grace Kelly, was remade in 1998 as a TV movie starring Christopher Reeve as the wheelchair-bound hero. The movie was remade again in 2007 as Disturbia starring Shia LeBeouf as a young man under house arrest. My favorite remake was done by The Simpsons, in Season 6, Episode 1, titled “Bart of Darkness.”
The Simpsons have remade, referenced, or spoofed dozens (hundreds? thousands?) of stories (including the Ghostbusters) from classic and popular culture. Another favorite Simpsons remake is Planet of the Apes as a musical starring Troy McClure (Phil Hartman), featuring the lyrics, “I hate every ape I see/ From chimpan A to chimpan Z.”
As always, thanks for reading! For more suggestions from the PPL collections, check out our booklists for Adults, Kids and Families, and Teens.