by Stacy McAnulty and illustrated by Julia Sarcone-Roach
Published by Knopf
All of the children in the Ellis family (Elaine, Edith, Emily, Elmer and Ernie) are excellent at something – but the family dog, Ed is desperate to find what he excels at. Ed wants to be allowed to do everything that the children do – eat at the table, ride in the van, sit on the couch and use the indoor bathroom. While the children all excel at things like ballet, cooking, soccer and math – Ed just can’t find his place. He attempts to excel at less than excellent behaviors like breaking things, forgetting and losing things. The poor dog begins to believe that he isn’t good enough for the Ellis family. But the family loves their dog and they see what he is good at. They remind him that he is excellent at cleaning the floor of crumbs, welcoming the family back home with tail wags and kisses and keeping feet warm. The illustrations perfectly depict a warm and loving family. The illustrations are mixed media with a lot of warm yellows. Ed is shown with his tail in constant motion.
Ed shows us that everyone can be excellent at something! This book will be loved by dog lovers everywhere.
It’s women’s history month, and our featured film has lots of women and quite a bit of history–the well-researched and visually gorgeous Daughters of the Dust by writer/director Julie Dash.
Set in 1902 on St. Helena Island off the coast of South Carolina, the story is ostensibly about a family reunion that takes place just before a faction of the family moves North, but as the late great, Roger Ebert observed, in a review dated 25 years ago today, “…there is the sense that all of them are going…and all of them are staying behind, because the family is…a single entity.” Indeed, the ancestors are present at the picnic, as well as children yet to be born.
The Peazant family is descended from the Ibo people of West Africa, and like others on the Sea Islands, their isolation has allowed them to maintain many of their traditions and rituals. They speak Gullah, which is mostly English in vocabulary but West African in its cadences and intonations. Nana Peazant, the matriarch, fears that the language, the traditions, the family history will be lost when the family assimilates into mainland culture.
It is rare to find a film set in these islands, focused on these people. In addition, Dash has researched and recreated authentic period hairstyles and exquisitely detailed costumes, and used the device of a visiting photographer to create beautiful tableaux. Check out Daughters of the Dust, and enjoy a unique cinematic experience.
Throughout 2017, some of our partners will share their perspective on PPL in honor of our 150th anniversary celebration.
Today’s contributor, Jamie Ritter, was selected by the Maine Library Commission in December 2014 to serve as Maine State Librarian. He is currently reading Virtual Unreality by Charles Seife.
Happy 150th Birthday, Portland Public Library!
You are an incredible resource to your community and serve as a model public library in Maine and across the nation. Bravo!
For 45 years and counting, PPL has been a foundational partner of the Maine State Library in providing, at no charge, “access to quality library collections at accessible locations for all citizens regardless of economic means or accident of geographic location.”
This regional service is critical to all Mainers and enshrined in law. At its heart, it ensures “equal and free access to the state’s great literature collections and informational resources.”
The crux of Maine State Library’s ongoing partnership is our collaborative approach and significant sharing of resources as we serve both individual citizens and other libraries.
Such a partnership requires dedication and perseverance. It’s easy to collaborate and share resources when times are great, budgets are flush, and organizations are fully staffed. When times are more challenging, the test of the partnership relies on the core values we all hold dear: to do all we can do to ensure that free access to library materials remains uninhibited.
This requires trust –trust between us as partners, and the trust we build with our communities so they know we stand at the ready to make sure public libraries remain sacred places that cherish the values of free access, privacy, enlightenment, and intellectual freedom.
Portland Public Library embodies these values and so much more. It’s a special place, embedded in the heart of the greater Portland community. PPL welcomes all, serves as a place of pride for the community, and preserves the best of our democratic values.
Keep up the great work, Portland Public! We are so honored to be your partner in bringing essential library services to Maine people. May your next 150 years be as exciting and terrific as the first.