Fun at Foster's blog

"The House of the Scorpion," by Nancy Farmer

Matteo Alacrán is not like other children. He lives in Aztlán, a country carved from the southern United States and northern Mexico and ruled by drug lords. Aztlán itself is divided into several smaller territories, and Matt lives in the largest, wealthiest, and most powerful one, controlled by “El Patrón” and the “House of the Scorpion” for over a century. But amidst all this power and wealth, Matt lives in hiding with Celia, an old cook from the big house, never going outside of her home and never daring to let himself be seen through the window. However, times begin to change, and once he is older the rules and systems by which he has lived as a child fall apart.

People hate and fear him. He learns that to them he is less than a dog. They consider him an affront to their very humanity and by law he should be rendered a mindless vegetable, kept around only for spare parts. Celia loves him, but his only true protector is El Patrón, a man renowned for ruthlessness and cruelty.

El Patrón loves no one but himself, and for that reason he loves Matt toofor Matt is his clone, a younger version of himself. Through Matt, he can explore how life might have been, encouraging Matt in school, in the arts, and in music, delighted in how he grows and fiercely protective. But El Patrón is oldvery oldand the protection that he has granted Matt all his life withers along with his condition.

Matt must fend for himself, finding few friends and many enemies.

The House of the Scorpion is the winner of multiple awards, including the National Book Award for Young People's Literature, and was a Michael L. Printz honor book and a Newberry Honor recipient. It is available on our shelves at E.P. Foster Library and at several other branches, and is even available as an audio disk. I recommend this book for any lovers of science and speculative fiction, young or old, and thoroughly enjoyed it myself.


Alan Martin, Your Friendly Reader

The Lost Boy

Children are blessed with the gift of imagination, and often pretend that animals can talk, dolls are alive, and another world lies just beyond their front doorstep. In Greg Ruth’s The Lost Boy, this isn’t just imagination. It’s a world that is very, very real.

The Lost Boy begins with a young boy named Nate, who discovers a tape recorder beneath the floorboards of his new house. What he hears on that recorder will plunge him into the mystery of another young boy who went into the woods and never returned. Now, with the help of his friends Tabitha and Haloran, Nate will discover the secret of the woods beyond his house, and come face to face with the Vespertine, a strange tree-like creature who bears more than a passing resemblance to the Silence (fans of Doctor Who will know who I’m talking about). The Vespertine is an agent of the Shadows, and he is desperately searching for a key—a key he believes Nate has.

What is this key? Who are the Shadows, and what do they want? Who, or what, is the Vespertine? Where have all the missing neighborhood dogs gone? How does this all tie in with the missing boy, Walter? Well, I won’t be giving any spoilers here. Let me just say that by the end of the book, these questions will be answered—although the book certainly implies that these are just the beginning of Nate’s adventures in the woods.

I really enjoyed The Lost Boy. It’s a clever and original story that doesn’t dumb things down or portray children as wide-eyed and innocent. The kids in this book, Nate and Tabitha included, are not surprised at the goings-on in the woods. To them, it’s all perfectly acceptable, but that doesn’t mean they’re naïve. They may be aware of the woodland creatures, but they see them for the curious—and perhaps dangerous—things they are.

If you’re looking for a unique adventure, check out The Lost Boy. You won’t be disappointed.

 

Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess

Ethics, Culture, and Biotechnology @ Foster

On Sunday, November 9, E.P. Foster Library will be hosting the first of two talks on bioethics to take place this month.

This first talk is entitled "Mixing Species: Is it Kosher?" It will focus on biblical perspectives relating to biotechnology as it pertains to diet and more.

This event begins at 3 p.m. in the Topping Room. For more information on other talks in this series, call or drop by the library!

A Ghost Town Cemetery, Bodie, California

 

 

As we celebrate Halloween, All Souls’ Day, and Día de los Muertos, your resident photographer thought she would share some photographs relevant to the season. On a recent sojourn, I decided to explore the cemetery in the ghost town of Bodie, California.

While wandering among the ruins of the town and the headstones in the cemetery, yours truly ran into one of the rangers who works in the park. He told me that the cemetery used to be in the lower-lying area where the entrance kiosk is currently located. Unfortunately, that area is swampy in the spring, which had unfortunate consequences for the inhabitants of the old cemetery. The cemetery was moved to its current location on a hill, where the interred have a lovely view overlooking the town of Bodie. Right outside the graveyard there is a brick building which used to house the hearses used for the funerals. It was also where they stored bodies during the winter when the ground was too frozen to dig graves.

One of the most poignant stories involves the “Angel of Bodie,” three-year-old Evelyn Myers, who died when she was accidentally hit in the head with a miner’s pickaxe. Some people have reported that she haunts the cemetery, looking for other children to play with. Her grave is marked by a sculpture of a child angel. There have also been reported sightings of a woman seen looking out a window on the second floor of the Cain House, an old woman seen rocking in a chair in the Gregory House, and the smell of cooking coming from the Mendocini House, as well as other unexplained occurrences.

If you are interested in visiting the ghost town of Bodie, Foster Library has books available to assist you in planning your next ghost hunt, as well as information about the history of Bodie. There are also a number of items by our own local ghost hunter, Richard Senate, if you want to limit your spectral searches to Southern California.


 

Keep in mind, though, if you do decide to visit Bodie, do not remove any artifacts, even if they don’t look like they will be missed. The story goes that the ghostly residents of Bodie protect the site, and anyone who removes anything from the town is doomed to misfortune until they return what they have taken. The rangers routinely receive items in the mail that remorseful visitors have removed, so it is quite possible there is some substance to the “Bodie Curse.”

 

Resident Photographer Aleta A. Rodriguez

A Wrinkle in Time @ Foster

Thursday, November 6, will mark the opening of a special art exhibit at E.P. Foster Library!

Caregivers: Volunteers Assisting the Elderly is partnering with the library on this exhibition, and the opening will be marked with a reception.

The reception begins at 2 p.m., and refreshments will be provided by the Friends of the Library. We hope to see you there!

Ken McAlpine @ Foster

On Sunday, November 2, there will be a special reading by local author Ken McAlpine at E.P. Foster Library.

Ken has experience writing for magazines and will be talking about his latest release, Juncture, and about the craft of writing in general. He has traveled far and wide and has used much of this experience to fuel his writing.

This event is free and open to the public. It all starts at 6:30 p.m. in the Topping Room. We'd love for you to stop by!

Jade’s Sci-Fi & Fantasy Minute: “The Diamond Age,” by Neal Stephenson

Even in a world full of nanotechnology and incredible advances in science, there can still be strife and unrest. Such is the setting of Neal Stephenson’s novel The Diamond Age. We follow Nell, an orphan girl from the lowest phyle, or class. She receives a stolen Primer, an educational book written for young women of high society which prepares them for “an interesting life.”

As with many of Stephenson’s novels, the plot almost becomes overshadowed by the engaging universe he creates. In The Diamond Age he has created a Neo-Victorian society filled with technology. The novel has many interesting themes, including post-scarcity economics, hive consciousness, artificial intelligence, and cultural and racial relativism. Written in 1995, it poses an interesting question: what role does technology play in the education of children? It may be almost twenty years since its original publication, but I find The Diamond Age as relevant now as it was then. With the growing popularity of eBooks, studies are being done around the world to try to answer this same question. I love sci-fi novels that engage on an intellectual level, and Neal Stephenson does that wonderfully.

You can request a copy of The Diamond Age online, over the phone, or by dropping in at the library. For more sci-fi and fantasy titles, check out E.P. Foster Library's Adult Science Fiction section on the first floor.

 

Yours Truly

"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!

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