Fun at Foster's blog

2015 Haiku Writing Contest @ Foster

April is here, and that means that E.P. Foster Library is hosting its annual Haiku Writing Contest!

Visit our first-floor book display if you're looking for inspiration; we have a collection of haiku-themed materials to help get you started. You can enter the contest at the library or by filling out our online entry form.

Entries must be received by Friday, April 17, 2015. Each submission will be judged and the top three will receive prizes, so get your haiku in early!

Some Hidden Gems from the UK

With the current success of The Theory of Everything, The Imitation Game, and Mr. Turner, and actors such as Eddie Redmayne, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Kira Knightley, it’s become fairly obvious that some of our most interesting current films and stars are coming from the UK.

Even British films that have achieved less exposure are certainly worth looking into. I was not familiar with The Edge of Love (2008), but it turned out to be one of the most intriguing films I’ve seen in years. Edge is a free bio of the pacifistic Welsh poet Dylan Thomas (Matthew Rhys), and his dual relationships with his wife Caitlin (Sienna Miller) and his childhood sweetheart Vera (Knightley). Eventually Vera’s new husband William (Cillian Murphy), a soldier, is reluctantly drawn into the ménage.

Oh What A Lovely War: Dylan Thomas (far left) and friends

Set in World War II and the London Blitz, the film also provides a vivid evocation of urban life in wartime with Vera, an aspiring singer, performing for audiences sheltering in the London underground, and the populace attempting to carry on as usual in London pubs. But the focus of the film always remains on the complex web of volatile personal relationships fired up in a tempestuous era.

The film’s narration includes voiceovers of Thomas’ rhapsodic writing, which somehow managed to emerge from the poet’s chaotic lifestyle. As one review noted: “Incredibly, those years of alcohol and bad behavior also produced some remarkably good poetry.”

A past article from The Telegraph includes a more in-depth account.

An effective and lesser-known thriller is Last Passenger (2013), a white-knuckle opus set on a runaway London train headed for the coast and possible disaster. How the minimal cast of varied characters, including a small boy and his father, deal with the situation provides ample suspense in a claustrophobic but effectively-utilized setting and generates some believable chemistry along the way.

For some good-natured comic relief, check out several new releases from the classic series of British “Carry On” comedies. The discs come as double-features, two films per disc for double the fun.

Carry On Screaming

So far I’ve only seen Carry On Cowboy (1965), obviously a campy western satire, and what may well become my favorite, Carry On Screaming (1966), a spot-on spoof of the old dark house/horror genre. The cast may be mostly unfamiliar to American audiences, though the spirit of Benny Hill is often in evidence. But the young Jim Dale should be a somewhat well-known name, now familiar to legions of fans as the reader of the Harry Potter audio books.


Ross Care

BRATS: Our Journey Home @ Foster

On Wednesday, April 8, E.P. Foster Library will hold a screening of the film BRATS: Our Journey Home.

This film by Donna Musil examines what it's like to grow up in a military family, and explores questions of family, identity, and the concept of home.

This free screening will take place in the Topping Room. The doors open at 6 p.m.; we look forward to seeing you there!

Dress Up for Storytime @ Foster

E.P. Foster Library is bringing something new and exciting to storytime on Tuesday, April 7, and Wednesday, April 8.

On these special mornings, come to storytime dressed as your favorite character! Be as creative as you'd like; we would love to see a mix of new and classic costumes.

Early literacy storytimes begin at 10:30 a.m. on the second floor of the library. We hope to see you there!

Amgen Biotech @ Foster

Join us on Sunday, March 29, for another STEM presentation at E.P. Foster Library.

Kathy Simpson and Carol Fujita will present their talk, "Biotechnology in the Classroom: Bringing Hands-on Labs to Middle School." Come and learn about genetic engineering techniques, tools, and products as a component of STEM education.

It all starts at 1:30 p.m. in the Topping Room. Stop by to learn about how schools are rising to meet this generation's educational needs!

David’s Dish: Tarragon Green Peppercorn Butter

A Celebration of Herbs: Recipes from the Huntington Herb Garden, by Shirley Kerins and Peggy Park Bernal, is an absolutely gorgeous cookbook. Ensconced in this tome is an eight-step program for learning to cook with herbs. I found the eight-step program extremely informative; lavish illustrations are paired with incredible recipes, making the book a visual delight.

I was in the mood to create something simple but different. My decision was to make herb butter—simple enough, but in all my years of cooking I had never made one. Now I warn you, this book has many herb butters, so making a choice may be difficult. I went with the Tarragon Green Peppercorn Butter. The butter had a few very interesting ingredients, one being brandy. I guess the big question is what will I do with the leftover brandy?

It was an easy recipe and I completed the butter in no time. I tossed a couple slices of bread in the toaster and awaited the familiar pop indicating the toasted bread was ready for the butter. I spread the lovely-looking butter on my lightly-browned toast and the butter immediately melted into the bread. The taste was fantastic; it just made me wonder why I had not tried making herb butter sooner.

Besides learning about herb butter this book made me aware of the herb garden at the Huntington Library. I must go one of these days!


***** 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!

Origami Math Genius @ Foster

Are you interested in teaching or learning math in novel ways? Then join us at E.P. Foster Library on Saturday, March 28, for a special STEM presentation!

Speaker BiJian Fan will talk about OMG (Origami Math Genius), a curriculum built around origami math developed to integrate art and science into K-12 education. This program integrates fun, hands-on activities into learning.

This free event begins at 11 a.m. in the Topping Room. Stop by to learn more about this innovative system!

Ventura County Library Week, 1952


Librarians Exclaim: “Something For Everyone!”

-Official Slogan of First “Library Week,” March of 1952

On February 26, 1952, the Board of Supervisors passed a resolution proclaiming March 10 to 16 as “Library Week,” celebrating the contributions of libraries in Ventura County. A week later, Mayor Edwin Lee Gardner II of Ventura County released the official announcement to the right, appearing in the March 8 edition of the Ventura County Star Free Press.

Saved clippings from this paper remain in our archives, proudly displaying the accomplishments of the Ventura County Library System in 1952: unveiling new technologies, gadgets, and collections; the previous year’s statistics; highlighting various employees and little-known positions; giving special attention to the book mobile; and describing many exciting activities and events that would be happening over the week to come.

“Something For Everyone” is the declared slogan and special collection displays are prepared, the doors to back-building operations are opened and tours are organized to demonstrate every aspect of library operation, including a 7:30 evening tour on Monday to kick off the celebrations.

Holdings: 217,983
Circulation: 379,148
Miles traveled by Bookmobile: 45,000
Branches: 19

Now as we approach the end of the sixty-third anniversary of Ventura County Library Week I can reflect on how many things have changed and how many have stayed the same. Then, as now, we celebrated our Spanish language and special media collections (though now including DVDs), we continue to promote and innovate with adult and children's programming, and while the dearly-beloved bookmobile is no more, our daily deliveries of requests taken from branch to branch combined with special digital archives freely available through our eLibrary continue in spirit much of the bookmobile's purpose. 

Sixty-three years later we can still proclaim our old slogan with pride, that indeed there is “Something For Everyone,” but more, as our new services continue to grow, “Take Your Library Home With You!” seems equally apt. So grab a book, eReader, or laptop, and wherever you are celebrate with us this special occasion and remember a unique and essential part of our city: your public library.

Alan Martin, Your Friendly Reader

Minute to Win It @ Foster

On Friday, March 27, the Teen Advisory Group (TAG) at E.P. Foster Library will host a special event on the second floor of the library.

Minute to Win It will include a series of minute-long games that’s sure to include something for everyone. There will be prizes for the winners in addition to the thrill of participation!

This event begins at 5 p.m. on the second floor. Stop by for some excitement and good times!

Novelties: “The Girl on the Train,” by Paula Hawkins

When it comes to memory, what is real and what is imagined can be difficult to distinguish, particularly when we find ourselves in times of great stress or emotion. Our minds take what we encounter and build narratives around the facts, narratives which make sense to us or that we find interesting or comforting. This phenomenon can be immensely useful for an author who wants to keep the reader in suspense; the use of an unreliable narrator is one of the best ways to keep an audience guessing—and turning the page. This month Novelties takes a look at three titles which carry the reader along on a bumpy ride full of mysterious disappearances and stunning revelations.

  The Girl on the Train (2015) is Paula Hawkins’ debut novel, and it has already generated enough buzz that many expect it will be adapted into a film in the near future. Her main character is Rachel, an alcoholic who is struggling to keep her life together after losing her marriage and her job. Rachel, in a desperate attempt to experience a type of vicarious bliss, constructs a vivid backstory for a couple she sees during her morning commute, imagining them as a “golden couple” reminiscent of Rachel and her husband prior to their divorce. The couple lives a few doors down from Rachel’s former home, where her husband and his new wife, Anna, are happily raising their new baby. But Rachel’s fantasy is upended when she witnesses the golden woman, Megan, kissing another man. Megan goes missing shortly thereafter, and Hawkins begins to reveal how Megan and Anna, both seemingly living ideal lives, each have their own demons to struggle with. Rachel becomes involved in the ensuing investigation into Megan’s disappearance, with her alcohol-addled narration combining with sections from Anna and Megan’s points of view to form a complex but riveting plot. A rich psychological thriller full of twists and surprises, The Girl on the Train promises to be well worth the read.
Reviews of Hawkins’ novel almost uniformly compare it to our second title, Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn. This 2012 sensation made an incredible splash, so much so that by 2014 it had been released as a feature film starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck. Gone Girl likewise deals with a failed marriage from multiple points of view: the somehow both charming and boorish husband Nick and the picture book-perfect wife Amy (who is literally the subject of a series of books, Amazing Amy, written by her parents). Amy’s disappearance shocks their community, but the sympathy directed toward Nick swiftly turns to suspicion as his lack of alibi and evasive answers to police questioning increasingly paint him as a man with something to hide. Present-day narration by Nick alternates with diary entries from Amy that detail the history of their relationship from its charmed beginning to its ugly demise, ending with Amy so scared for her life that she tries to purchase a gun for protection. Flynn reveals the truth behind the crime in a manner which may feel predictable and yet still manages to deliver some serious reveals. Although it wasn’t her first novel, this dark portrait of a twisted marriage put Flynn on the map as a master of multiple perspectives and unreliable narration.
Losing You (2005) by Nicci French (actually married writing duo Nicci Gerrard and Sean French) rounds out this month’s trio. In it we meet Nina Landry, a divorced mother trying to rebuild her life. She has a new boyfriend and a new home, though the speed of life in the remote Sandling Island—far from the bustle of London—gives ample motivation to escape to more exciting locales. That’s exactly what Nina and her family are planning to do when her daughter, Charlie, goes missing after a party. At first the police are slow to act, believing that Charlie’s absence is the result of normal teenage rebellion and assuring Nina that she will turn up soon. As Nina learns that her daughter had been keeping certain secrets from her, her instincts lead her to push the investigation forward, even when it means acting on her own. The case plods on until evidence surfaces suggesting that Charlie may have been the victim of foul play. French manages to artfully convey Nina’s helplessness in the face of unsympathetic authority, as well as the panic and frustration of a mother who knows in her gut that her child is in danger. The narrative is undivided by chapters, which some readers found annoying but many felt contributed to their inability to put the book down until its thrilling conclusion.

The Girl on the Train is available as part of E.P. Foster Library’s New Fiction collection. Flynn’s Gone Girl and French’s Losing You are each available as well in the Fiction section. You can also check out NoveList Plus in the Reading Suggestions section of our eLibrary for more titles like these—or for something completely different! If the title you’re after isn’t on the shelf, check our catalog for additional copies at other branches or place a hold online or by calling the library. 


Puzzled out by Ronald Martin.

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