Fun at Foster's blog

College Planning @ Foster

On Wednesday, September 3, special guest speaker Linda Kapala will be visiting E.P. Foster Library for a discussion on planning for college.

At this free event you will learn how to choose the right college, finance a college education, fill out applications, and much, much more!

The talk begins at 6:30 p.m. in the Topping Room. Stop by if you'd like to learn more about continuing your education!

The Plant Lover's Guide to Dahlias, by Andy Vernon

This summer I ventured to try something different on my tiny patio container garden and decided to go with a small species of dahlia. To my surprise they have taken off and even eluded the voracious snails for which dahlia leaves seem a gourmet treat.

I have always admired these beautiful plants since I saw an amazing display of HUGE ones in Kew Gardens outside of London many years ago. So I was especially pleased when I saw that Andy Vernon's book was part of a series produced "in association with Kew Royal Botanic Gardens."

Vernon admits from the start that he is "not an exhibition or professional grower" but proudly professes himself to be a dahlia lover. "I think it's important we get this right from the start. I don't just like dahlias. I LOVE THEM." He is also delighted that after years of being looked down upon by "the gardening good-taste brigade a resurgence of interest in these dazzling blooms is well underway."

The book opens with three chapters on everything you might want to know about dahlias and more (I was interested to find out they originated in Central and South America and that there are 36 species).

There are also, of course, tips on selecting and growing, and some curious bits of dahlia trivia (dahlia tubers have had a somewhat disappointing side career as an edible vegetable, and the species is a type of daisy).

But for me the glory of this volume is an illustrated chapter on "200 Varieties for the Garden." This is prepared for by the preceding chapter, which lists both the forms and species. The former include (among others) single, peony, cactus, and water lily, and the latter a lot of big names you can check out for yourself…

Or, just enjoy the glorious color photographs.


Ross Care

DAHLIAS; Kew Gardens, London; Photograph by Ross Care from a Kodachrome Transparency

David's Dish: Tuna Chowder

We seem to be getting some terrific new cookbooks here at E.P. Foster library, and one that really stood out to me was Soup Night: Recipes for Creating Community around a Pot of Soup, by Maggie Stuckey. I love soup and truly believe if one can make homemade soup and homemade bread one can survive just splendidly. The funny thing is I was craving tuna casserole when I checked out this book, and low and behold I stumbled upon a tuna chowder recipe. Yes, a tuna chowder recipe. Being an open-minded soul I proceeded to make my first tuna chowder. I have made clam chowder and corn chowder, but this was my first experience making tuna chowder.
Milk, cream, and cheese were called for in this recipe, so I knew this would be a terrifically rich soup. Time was of the essence, so I prepared the soup swiftly, and instead of making the bread I purchased a wonderful baguette at my favorite little corner bakery. I did feel a twinge of guilt about not making my own bread, but my social duties beckoned and I knew I could not disappoint my associates. When the soup finished simmering and the baguette was sliced and buttered I ladled the deliciously rich and creamy tuna chowder into my bowl. This chowder does not disappoint; it was scrumptious! I know the idea of a tuna chowder sounds a bit strange, but it will win your guests over on soup night.


*****David's Dish


Check out the book at Foster Library, or put it on hold—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!

"The Alchemyst: The Secrets of the Immortal Nicholas Flamel," by Michael Scott

Sophie and Josh Newman are ordinary fifteen-year-olds (twins), spending their summer vacation working part-time jobs and living with family in San Francisco while their parents go off to oversee an archeological dig. Suddenly their dreams of saving up enough money to buy a car at sixteen are shattered when a strange man named Dr. John D. enters the used book shop where Josh works, owned by a Nick Fleming (Nicholas Flamel). Chaos and magic spills out into the streets, alerting Sophie, who works at a small coffee shop across the way, and also Nicholas’ wife Perry (actually Perenelle). The strange man desperately wants a book, the Codex—or Book of Abraham the Mage—and in the confusion rips it from the hands of Josh, leaving behind two of the last pages in the boy’s hands. Together the teens and Nicholas flee the store, forced to leave behind the powerful sorceress Perenelle to hold back the nefarious John D. Nicholas then reveals his identity to the teens, telling them that he and Perenelle are actually over 500 years old, kept alive by mixing a magical potion of immortality found within the Codex, kept financially comfortable by using the Philosophers Stone formula also found within to transform copper and lead into gold and coal into diamonds.

What follows is an adventure of intrigue and magic, where one exciting turn leads to another. Sophie and Josh manage to stay just ahead of Dr. John D. while Nicholas Flamel attempts to find a way to release their latent powers. Beneath it all, there is a millennia-long war between ancient, powerful, and terrible beings called the Elders and known by humans as the many gods and heroes of myth and lore. Dr. John D. serves a particularly malicious group known as the Dark Elders, who want to use the Codex to return themselves to prominence and dominate the earth once more.

Michael Scott mixes factual characters from history, magic, a variety of ancient myths, and locations on continents around the world into the adventures of his teen heroes. This first book, The Alchemyst, is especially exciting because all of the locations are in California, eventually even leading the characters to Ojai, a location that many Ventura County residents know quite well. I loved this book and any readers familiar with young-adult series like J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan, and Rick Riordan’s Percy Jackson saga will love to discover this exciting series here at E.P. Foster Library, or any of our other library locations in either audio or text format (I especially enjoyed the reading by actor Denis O’Hare).


Alan Martin, Your Friendly Reader

Saturday Matinee @ Foster

Next week on Saturday, August 23, E.P. Foster Library will host the last Saturday Matinee of the summer!

Join us for the conclusion of the film serial about a supervillain and a counter-atomic device, followed directly by a classic film starring Boris Karloff.

This free screening will be held in the Topping Room. The first film begins at 4 p.m. on Saturday; we hope to see you there!

Bunny Drop

Bunny Drop is a slice-of-life anime based on the manga by Yumi Unita. It’s the story of Daikichi, a single, 30-year-old man who works long hours, drinks, smokes, and lives only for himself. However, his life takes a sudden turn when he attends the funeral of his grandfather.

Unbeknownst to the family, his grandfather has a six-year-old daughter, Rin. Shocked by this discovery, Daikichi’s family ostracizes the girl. When he learns that they plan on putting her in an orphanage, Daikichi, on a whim, decides to raise the child himself.

Bunny Drop follows their first year in this new life as they become a family. He gives up old habits as he learns to live for someone besides himself. He befriends other parents, getting advice and learning how to be a dad. Most of all, he discovers how much he truly loves this little girl, and that he needs her as much as she needs him.

The slice-of-life genre in anime and manga is pretty self-explanatory. There are no car chases, dueling robots, or magical animals. What it does have is a story that many of us can relate to: a father (or, in this case, a father figure) raising a child on his own, stumbling a bit as he goes but nevertheless working hard to care for this little girl that has come into his life. From her first day of school to her first cold, Rin becomes the center of Daikichi’s world, and he doesn’t mind it a bit. He may not have started out as father material, but by the end of the series you won’t see him as anything else.

At only 11 episodes, Bunny Drop can easily be watched in a weekend. There are also four mini-episodes included as bonus features. It’s a family-friendly series than anyone can enjoy, especially parents.


Heather, the Graphic Novel Goddess @ Foster

Local artists will be showing off their work at our monthly installment of at E.P. Foster Library.

Join in as community members give a demonstration of machine sewing and show off some stuffed toys and modified clothing.

There will also be a demonstration of acrylic painting, including images of completed works and small pieces for display.

This free event will be on Tuesday, August 19, at 7 p.m. We look forward to seeing you there!

Font to Film: “The Help”

When authors write what they know the result can have a certain weight, a sense of authenticity that allows a reader to feel the truth of what’s on the page. Interestingly, though, writers in these situations don’t always produce stories that are in line with what we might expect, such as those writers who find a dark humor in the horrors of war. The thing to remember is that every author is also an individual, and there are often as many points of view on a situation as there are individuals experiencing it. If we are open to it, we may find that each point of view—even those that seem strange to us—has something valuable to offer.

Kathryn Stockett’s The Help (2009) is set in Jackson, Mississippi, in the early 1960s and alternates between three first-person narrators: a young white woman named Eugenia (Skeeter) Phelan and two black maids, Aibileen Clark and Minny Jackson. Stockett explores the ways in which black women doing domestic work—hence the novel’s title—were dehumanized and oppressed by their white employers and naturally expands into a commentary on race relations throughout the South. Skeeter provides a window into the experiences of Aibileen and the other maids through her desire to write a book about them. Aibileen and Minny both attempt to impress upon Skeeter the very real danger that telling their stories places them all in, a point reinforced by descriptions of racial violence throughout the novel. For her part, Skeeter contends that the only way the South will change is if people begin talking openly about racism and inequality. In the afterword to The Help Stockett admits that she wrote the novel in part as a way of exorcising some of her own guilt at having been emotionally close to her family’s maid while never truly considering the arrangement from the other woman’s perspective.
There has been some criticism of The Help suggesting that it focuses too much on its white characters, an accusation directed even more strongly toward Tate Taylor’s 2011 film adaptation. Starring Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer, the film in many ways effectively captures the emotional lives of these women as they struggle to make a living in the Jim Crow South, but it does feel like something of a sanitized version of the novel. Many scenes from the book, particularly those featuring Minny, are played for laughs, which feels uncomfortable at times given the context and makes the viewer wonder whose story is ultimately being told. Both black actresses received high praise for their roles, but many commented that this was in spite of their otherwise tangential treatment; the film places heavy focus on Stone’s Skeeter and her interactions with her friends and family. Nonetheless, Taylor’s version proves to be heartwarming—if a bit too much of a “feel good” movie given the subject matter—and can serve as a means for starting a conversation about race even if it neglects to do the heavy lifting itself.

Kathryn Stockett’s novel is available to borrow from E.P. Foster Library’s adult fiction collection, and can also be found in eBook and eAudiobook format through the Ventura County Library’s OverDrive collection. Tate Taylor’s film version can be requested from a number of other branches in the Ventura County Library system; if the film or novel is not on the shelf at your branch, you can request a copy in person, over the phone, or online through our catalog.


Authored by Ronald Martin.

Summer Reading for Adults: Our Grand Prize Winner!

Congratulations to Kate Curtin, winner of the grand prize drawing of our Summer Reading for Adults contest! Her prize was an Amazon Kindle Paperwhite... perfect for borrowing eBooks from the library!

Our staff had a lot of fun running the contest this summer, and we're already looking forward to next year and thinking about how we can go even bigger!

We'd like to thank everyone who entered, and we hope that whether you won a prize or not that you were able to read something great this summer.

The Soldiers Project @ Foster

Next Monday, August 11, E.P. Foster Library will be hosting The Soldiers Project.

This organization offers support for post-9/11 veterans and their loved ones.

Stop by the Topping Room at 6 p.m. to learn more about this organization and what it does for those who have served our country.

We hope to see you there!

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