Fun at Foster's blog

"Zom-B," by Darren Shan

For Halloween, try out this creepy YA series!

Readers Beware

A lot of characters die in this series, and even the main character is not immune as Darren Shan spins a tale of horror that leaves no one unscathed.

The book starts by letting the reader get to know the main character, “B.” B comes from a troubled home in a working-class community of London and spends time hanging out with friends, getting in trouble, going to school, and trying to avoid problems at home. Generally, B performs poorly in school, but suddenly things change a bit. Inspired by a teacher, B begins to challenge the ideas of a cruel and racist father, and one day during a museum visit saves a small child that was kidnapped by two men with horribly disfigured faces. B is hailed as a hero for a while, but nothing is easy in B’s life, and even as things seem to drift back to the way they were…

The world ends.

Suddenly, everything is different. EVERYTHING. And B must adjust to a world full of the shambling, brain-eating dead and worse. B is changing too, and nothing makes sense anymore.

What caused this? Who caused it?

What is happening to B?

Is B even alive anymore?

Zom-B is available to borrow as part of E.P. Foster Library's Young Adult Fiction collection on the second floor, along with several other books in this series.


Dia de los Muertos @ Foster

Stop by E.P. Foster Library on Wednesday, October 29, for a Spanish-language talk on Dia de los Muertos, or the Day of the Dead.

This talk will be presented by the Mixteco/Indigena Community Organizing Project, and will discuss the history of this popular celebration.

Twenty headsets will be available for those interested in hearing an English translation of the talk. This free event starts at 7 p.m. in the Topping Room; we'd love to see you there!

Should I Start My Own Business? @ Foster

On Sunday, October 26, Business Coach Deborah Gallant will host a workshop for aspiring entrepreneurs at E.P. Foster Library.

This free event is designed for anyone who has thought about starting their own business. Deborah Gallant has helped hundreds of people decide whether they have what it takes to attract customers!

Stop by the Topping Room at 4 p.m. if you'd like to take part in this workshop, and come ready to ask questions!

Jade’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Minute: The “Black Jewels” Trilogy, by Anne Bishop

Author Anne Bishop has created a breathtaking, beautiful universe in her Black Jewels trilogy. Saetan SaDiablo has waited centuries for the daughter of his soul, Witch, to be born. There is a taint of evil spreading through the Blood, between the ones who would honor the ancient codes of protocol ensuring that the powerful serve and the members of the Blood, who want the powerful to dominate. War is coming, and only Witch can hope to stop it.

These novels are the best kind of novel; while reading, you feel time slip away as you become invested in the lives of the characters. I revisit these novels from time to time and find that the story pulls me in every time, despite knowing what is to come. Bishop captures the raw emotions of family, loyalty, and love so clearly that I recommend having tissues nearby. The characters leap off the page and the lands seep into your bones.

If you crave magic, romance, and unforgettable characters, Anne Bishop’s Black Jewels trilogy will transport you to a realm where your dreams can come true. There are mature themes throughout the books, so be warned: these are books for adults.

An omnibus of all three novels, Daughter of the Blood, Heir to the Shadows, and Queen of the Darkness can be found at E.P. Foster Library.


Stronghold Schools @ Foster

On Wednesday, October 22, Paul D. White, director of Ventura's Stronghold School Systems, will be speaking at E.P. Foster Library.

This talk will focus on White's fundamental principles which he has used to work with the most challenging cases he has come across in his career.

This free event is open to the public and will take place in the Topping Room at 6:30 p.m. Call or drop by the library for more information!

David's Dish: Macaroni Soufflé

A car backfiring, a loud yell, maybe a deliberate act of sabotage, or possibly Clara Oswald from Doctor Who have caused massive failures in creating this dish: soufflé. Yes, soufflé, long regarded as the one of the trickiest concoctions to prepare in the foodie world. The “Dish” decided to confront this recipe head on.

I perused the stacks at E.P. Foster Library and came up with the ultimate recipe for macaroni soufflé. I chose the recipe from Melt: the Art of Macaroni and Cheese, by Stephanie Stiavetti. Win, lose, or flopping soufflé, the “Dish” would present the results to his hungry readers.

In preparation, I meditated for about five minutes; this cleared all flopping-soufflé thoughts from my mind, and I then headed speedily for the kitchen. Most of the ingredients I had on hand, but the cheeses required for this recipe were quite dear. Fortunately, I had ramekins from my madly successful molten chocolate babycakes, so the cost of this preparation would not put me in the poorhouse.

The soufflé-making commenced. Things were going wonderfully. I peeked at the soufflé through the glass window in the oven door; a gorgeous, puffy soufflé was in formation. Suddenly, my neighbor pulled into his driveway with his radio blaring one of my favorite songs—“Low Rider”—with no shortage of window-rattling bass. I mean, I love that song, but just not now, with my delicate soufflé forming. So, with “Low Rider” blasting, the windows shaking, and me sweating bullets worried about my precious soufflé, the door slams. I’m not sure who slammed the door, but I felt the third strike coming. I crept up to the oven door, slowly opened it and what appeared before my eye was the most beautiful macaroni soufflé I have ever seen in my life. No third strike; success in spite of all the obstacles!

As a side note, we have the CD album Anthology 1970-1994, by War with the song “Low Rider,” and we have the album Evolutionary by War, which also includes “Low Rider,” available through Hoopla Digital. Take a little trip and see…

 

*****David’s Dish

 

Check out the book at Foster Library, or put a hold on it—we will send it to you! If there are any cookbooks in Foster Library’s collection that you would like me to try out, please leave the title on our Facebook page and I’ll get cooking.

Font to Film: “Shrek”

When Font to Film looked at Roald Dahl’s Fantastic Mr. Fox, we saw that a successful film can be produced even when the source material is less than a full-length novel. This month we follow that concept even further by examining William Steig’s Shrek! (1990), a slim picture book that served as the inspiration for the 2001 DreamWorks film that spawned a decade’s worth of sequels, with the last one, Shrek Forever After, being released in 2010. Despite the widespread success of the Shrek franchise—which includes spin-off movies, video games, and even comic books adaptations—many viewers remain unaware of its humble origins.

Readers might be more familiar with some of Steig’s other works, such as the Caldecott Medal-winning Sylvester and the Magic Pebble (1970) or Doctor De Soto (1982), which won him a 1983 National Book Award. Shrek! is a relatively simple tale, following an ogre’s journey from his swamp home as he leaves his parents to experience the world. He encounters a witch who delivers a prophecy, telling Shrek that he will meet a stupendously ugly princess who will be his bride. As he heads off to meet this destiny he encounters a peasant, a dragon, a talking donkey, and an armored knight, each of whom either helps or hinders him somewhat on his way. In the end, Shrek and the princess find each other and live “horribly ever after.” The main hook for the story seems to be the value reversal—embraced by the narrator and Shrek himself—whereby traditionally negative terms (such as “ugly” and “horrible”) instead hold a positive connotation. Shrek, whose behaviors and characteristics others find terrifying, finds these things comforting and even attractive. Though overshadowed by Steig’s other works, Shrek! was named the best children’s book of the year by Publishers Weekly and the School Library Journal.
The 2001 film version of Shrek, directed by Andrew Adamson and Vicky Jenson, also played with the idea of relative beauty and societal norms, albeit in a more nuanced way. And while it imports some characters similar to those in the book—including the talking donkey and the dragon—it is otherwise radically different. For starters, all of the characters are greatly fleshed out, with Mike Myers providing the voice of Shrek and Eddie Murphy, Cameron Diaz, and John Lithgow in supporting roles. The movie is heavy on referential humor, poking fun not just at fairy tale clichés but filmmaking tropes in general. The story still begins with Shrek forced to leave his swamp, but includes an entirely new main plot built around the beautiful Princess Fiona and her arranged marriage to main antagonist Lord Farquaad. Themes of persecution, isolation, and inner and outer beauty are artfully addressed all while maintaining the movie’s overall comedic tone. Shrek was a huge financial and critical success, winning the first ever Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and proving to be an incredible feather in DreamWorks’ hat.

William Steig’s Shrek! is available to borrow as part of E.P. Foster Library’s children’s picture book collection on the second floor of the library. Adamson and Jenson’s film version can also be found on the second floor, in the children’s DVD area. If you are interested in the book, the movie, or any of the various sequels, stop by the library or place a request either over the phone or through our online catalog. If Foster doesn’t have the title you want, you can always request that it be brought in from another branch!

 

Scared up by Ronald Martin.

CAPS Make a Video Series @ Foster

On Saturday, October 18, CAPS TV will be presenting a workshop at E.P. Foster Library.

This event will center on creating movies from start to finish. You will have the chance to learn the basics of recording and editing your own videos!

No reservations are required for this free event, which begins at 9 a.m. in the Topping Room. Stop by if you've ever wanted to learn more about filmmaking!

Pretty Deadly

“Attend the song of Deathface Ginny, and how she came to be
A wraith of rage for men who’d cage and harm what should be set free.
It all began when the Mason man took Beauty for his bride.
He quick turned a fool and made her a jewel in the crown of his glittering pride.”

 

Thus begins the intriguing tale of Pretty Deadly. A pair of unusual characters come to an unnamed town to perform their tale of Beauty, Death, and their daughter, Deathface Ginny. One is a blind man, who plays more than just the part of storyteller in this strange tale. The other is a young girl dressed in a cloak of vulture feathers, with one blue eye and one brown, who is the key to Death’s undoing. To say any more would spoil the story, but let me just say that by the time they meet up with Ginny, and eventually Death himself, questions will be answered.

Pretty Deadly is what you get when you cross a western with Neil Gaiman’s Sandman. It’s something akin to a paranormal western, a distant cousin perhaps. There’s just no easier way to describe this book. That’s not to say that I didn’t like it, because I did, immensely. It’s smartly conceived and unique in the western genre. I love how each main character has a part to play, and a secret identity waiting to be discovered. It’s all cleverly brought together by the end.

Pretty Deadly is a worthwhile read, but definitely for adults. It’s a well-thought-out story that’s not to be missed.

 

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

Into the Unknown

When I was growing up the movie distribution situation was such that once a film had played its first run in the downtown and neighborhood theaters it was pretty much gone forever. There were a few re-issues of certified classics but generally the avid (i.e., obsessed) fan was left hanging with only memories of his vanished film favorite (today I still can hardly believe it when I see a VHS copy of FANTASIA for 50 cents in the Foster book store!).

That’s one reason I am constantly amazed at the accessibility of movies today. So sometimes I find it interesting just to choose films about which I know absolutely nothing.

Here are a few DVD surprises I’ve come across recently.

Wreckers (2011): Benedict Cumberbatch is so all over the place these days (Sherlock, Star Trek Into Darkness, August: Osage County, 12 Years A Slave) it’s surprising to find him in a small indie film from an emerging British director/writer. This somewhat enigmatic film deals with a young married couple starting out in a country cottage in rural England. Their bucolic idyll is interrupted by the return of the repressed, in this case the husband’s disturbed brother, and complications, of course, ensue.

In her first feature, director/writer Dictynna Hood infuses the slight plot with visually beautiful images of the English (Norfolk) countryside, and in that respect and in the emotionally-intense, conflicted relationships the film reminded me of a modernized Thomas Hardy. A lyrical score adds to the mysterious impact, as do the rural accents and a very muffled sound mix which makes the dialogue sometimes incomprehensible. And be warned, there are no subtitles.

Mako Mermaids (2013): This was a real wild card, an Australian young adult series about mermaids interacting with a “land guy” who has accidentally acquired merpeople powers and occasionally turns into a merman himself. How the trio of mermaids, each a distinctive personality, deal with the situation on land keeps the plot interesting and amusing.

An attractive cast and rather good special effects and underwater location (Gold Coast, Queensland) cinematography create a colorful fusion of reality and fantasy. A cool techno/pop score, sometimes suggestive of the tiki exotica of Les Baxter—and in stereo—and a few tween-friendly pop tunes (one of the mermaids sings) add to the bubbly appeal. BTW, Mermaids is a spin-off of another show, H20: Just Add Water.

Ice Soldiers (2013): A kind of retread of the 1950s classic The Thing, but in this case the trio of hunky blond “things” are not aliens but genetically-enhanced Russian soldiers bent on invading Cold War America. After they trash a remote arctic outpost and escape we skip ahead several decades and they’rrree back, with predictable results.

It’s a low-key but fairly engrossing thriller with some striking wide-screen cinematography of the frozen landscapes (shot in Ontario, Canada). As one review put it, “Don’t take it too seriously and you will enjoy being entertained by Ice Soldiers.”

 

Retro Ross, Foster

Syndicate content