19th Century British Authors: English Romanticism

    Nineteenth Century English Literature is remarkable both for its high artistic achievement and for its variety. The greatest literary movement of its earlier period was that of romanticism. It was born in the atmosphere of the violent economic and political turmoil that marked the last decades of the 18th and the first decades of the 19th century. The outburst of political activity brought on by the Great French Revolution of 1789 and the bitter wars with Napoleon's France that ravaged Europe for almost 25 years were the dominant political forces at work. The hardships of the industrial and agrarian revolution whose joint effect was a gradual change of all aspects of social life in England made the situation rife with class hatred.

    Great distress was caused by large landowners enclosing millions of acres of land for their own purposes and thus dispossessing labourers who were reduced either to slaving on  the fields of their masters or to migrating in search of the means to support themselves by working 12—14 hours a day for wages notoriously below subsistence level. The labouring poor, in town and country alike, suffered the utmost misery from underpayment and overwork and from crowding in hugely overpopulated industrial areas. This, briefly, was the background for the English Romantic Movement.

    Two authors whose writings reflected these tumultuous changes were Thomas Hardy and Charles Dickens. Hardy chose to evaluate the changing patterns of relationships within the framework of upper middle class society with his drama, (Tess of the D’urbervilles and The Mayor of Casterbridge). Dickens focused more on the culturally depressed and the downtrodden with satire (Oliver Twist and A Christmas Carol), and with the legal and social injustices of the day (A Tale of Two Cities). I will begin with Hardy’s fourth novel, “Far From the Madding Crowd”, and then reflect on Dickens novel, “The Pickwick Papers”, later in the month.



 Thomas Hardy

       One of Hardy's central concerns in all of his writing was the problem of modernity in a society that was rapidly becoming more and more industrial. His project as a writer was to create an account of life in the swiftly changing Dorsetshire as it had once been. He was particularly interested in the rituals and histories of that part of England, as well as the dialect of its locals. The title Far From the Madding Crowd suggests avoidance of the life of a city, modernized government, crowds and industry; in it, Hardy tries to fashion a portrait of what he saw as an endangered way of life .

      At the beginning of the novel, Bathsheba Everdene is a beautiful young woman without a fortune. She meets Gabriel Oak, a shepherd, and saves his life one evening. He asks her to marry him but she refuses, because she is not in love with him. Upon inheriting her uncle’s prosperous farm, Bathsheba moves away to Weatherbury.

      In one of the most dramatic scenes (rife with metaphor) Gabriel befalls a tragic misfortune as his dog goes mad and drive’s his sheep off the edge of a cliff. (This is a great metaphorical symbol for the changing landscape of the agrarian society,set against the development of Industry). Oak becomes destitute as a result and travels to Weatherbury looking for work.

   After rescuing a farm from fire, he asks the mistress if she needs a shepherd . It is Bathsheba and she hires him. But he becomes much more than a shepherd with the needed skills of managing a prosperous farm to his impetuous mistress. His humble ways and loyalty bail her out on more than one occasion. Oak becomes integral to her prospects. However, Bathsheba then falls for a dashing but immature young soldier in his Red Uniform, Sergeant Troy (only after teasing a middle aged wealthy neighbor on a whim with a valentine sent to him that reads, “Marry Me”.) That man becomes obsessed with her. And now with Oak and Troy; she has a 3rd suiter. But her true love is the Sergeant.

    Within a series of social accidents, Troy has empregnated a girl (Fanny Robin) right before he falls for Bathsheba. Fanny dies in child birth and Troy leaves the area grief stricken and Bathsheba heartbroken. But the neighbor/suitor is enraged with Troy’s action and kills him. He is then arrested by Oak (who is now also a bailif) and is sent away to prison. With only one prospect left, the durable but whimsical Bathsheba finally consents and marries Oak at the end of the novel. They are seen sitting by a fireplace quite comfortable together. But on the mantle sits a music box with a figurine attired in a red soldier’s uniform; unrequited love on two fronts in an age of Romanticism, Madness and changing prosperities.

Guest Blog - Story time with Celeste

Storytime with Miss Celeste

 Fe fi fo fum, It's time for us to have some fun!

 Did everyone have a great time this last Tuesday? I sure did!  I do hope that you parents/caregivers are enjoying Storytime as much as the littles and I do.  If there are songs or stories that you would like us to do, please share them with me.  It helps if you can write them down for me, or go on over to the E.P. Foster Facebook page and leave a comment. 

 I see a lot of you making connections with each other and I love that.  Parenting is hard (and wonderful) and our connections help.

 So this week our Letter of the Week was O. We had TWO kidlets with O names; Olive and Oscar.  Olive spoke up (kinda ;-)) but I did not know about Oscar til later.  By the way, if you wanted to check out a book with characters named Olive or Oscar - EP has some!

 The O is probably one of the easiest letter signs of them all -you just put all your fingers on your thumb and make an O!

Here is a link to some beautiful ASL fingerspelling art. This ( is a fabulous website if you are interested in learning sign. 

Our theme this last Tuesday was 'Cold Weather Critters'.  We read 'Playtime Penguins' by Tony Mitton and 'Over in the Arctic' by Marianne Berkes.  Don't you just love books that read with rhythm?  I thought that the Arctic book would be too long for our group, but they loved it!  :-) I will definitely be reading more from her 'Over in' series.

 EP has many more books with cold weather critters, here are just a few;

 A Penguin Story by Antoinette Portis

Little Polar Bear series Hans de Beer (there are about 9 or 10 in the series, EP has around 7 AND a bunch in Spanish!)

Whale is Stuck by Karen Hayles

Snow Bear by Jean Craighead George (might be a bit old for the toddler group, but this is an awesome author)

Penguin Pete & Little Tim by Marcus Pfister (of Rainbow Fish fame)

Arctic Song by Miriam Moss

In Arctic Waters by Laura Crawford

A splendid Friend, Indeed by Suzanne Bloom

Baby Beluga by Raffi (I wish that I had remembered this one in time to re-learn it, it is a great story-song).

 Author Website of the Week

Guess what? The Authors of BOTH of the books that we read this week have websites, so we are going to have TWO this week. Why?  Because I just could not decide which one to pick. ;-)

And while these sites do not have all the bells and whistles (or videos or coloring pages) that last weeks site did, I am sure that you will find some lovely books to add to your list of 'must reads'.

 Next Week (February 5th)

Our Letter of the Week will be P, so think up some great P words (I am thinking Pizza!) and if we have anyone whose name starts with P, Please speak up!

 Our theme is going to be Chinese New Year.  This is the Year of the Snake, so of COURSE we must read books about snakes! If anyone has a stuffed snake, please bring it!

 Until next week,

Miss Celeste

Computer Classes @ Foster

Computer Classes @ Foster

The staff of Foster library is happy to present computer classes every Monday. The classes are free and open to the public, no registration or sign-up necessary. Classes should last about 45 minutes, and will always start at 11:00 a.m. Here’s a quick run-down of this month’s classes:

2/4 Basic Training – Doug takes you through the five basic steps of using the internet. Teaching you how to search, how to navigate, and much more.

2/11 Gmail – Staff will show you how to create a Gmail account, add a contact and send an email.

2/18 Library closed

2/25 Q&A – a drop in class where you can ask whatever you want. Individual instructors will be available to assist you with almost anything! Setting up a blog, uploading a picture, or working on a resume, all questions are welcome.

Call us for more info! 648-2716

ReferenceUSA training on job searching, business tips and more!

ReferenceUSA will be offering six different classes available online February through March 2013. ReferenceUSA is a great database for job hunters as well as those looking to start a new business. These hour-long sessions will cover the basics of getting started and the essentials of using ReferenceUSA for a variety of subjects:

   * Search Essentials - Fridays at 9am
                    Registration required
   * Career Search Strategies - Weds. at 12:30pm
                    Registration required
   * Start, Manage & Grow Your Business - alt. Mon. at 12:30pm
                    Registration required
   * People Who Seek People - alt. Mon. at 12:30pm
                    Registration required
   * Consumer & Lifestyle Data - alt. Tues. at 12:30pm
                    Registration required
   * ReferenceUSA Mapping - alt. Tues. at 12:30pm
                    Registration Required

This is also a great opportunity for current users to learn some new tips, tricks and techniques. Lots of time will be reserved at the end of the session for questions.

To explore ReferenceUSA - see the eLibrary under Subjects "Business", "Careers & Jobs" or "Phone Books".

Perfect Poundcake


First off, I would like to wish Ina Garten a slightly early happy birthday, Ina’s birthday is February 2nd.
Ina’s recent cookbook Barefoot Contessa foolproof: recipes you can trust is a gem, stunning photos and interesting recipes make this a foodie’s dream. One of the many highlights of her book is the 10 foolproof tips for cooking, abide by these tips and you will be the envy of all your foodie friends. The gist of the tips is stick to therecipe the first time and experiment latter. Personally I recommend reading cookbooks from cover to cover, many authors sneak some great information in unexpected places. I poured over Ina’s wonderful tome and fell in love with the perfect pound cake recipe, and the hunt for a vanilla bean began. I went into gatherer mode  and found all of the ingredients and had at it. One warning, be prepared to do lots of flour sifting, but in the end the outcome of all the sifting will be the most perfect pound cake you have ever tasted!  The cake was a smash hit itdisappeared from the table in less than 45 minutes. Three cheers for the birthday Contessa! *****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.

February is African American History Month

February is African American History Month. Ventura County Library joins the Library of Congress and many others in paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society.

See Biography In Context (in our eLibrary under "Biography") for articles about famous figures in African American history, including Martin Luther King, Jr., Rosa Parks and Barack Obama.

Or, try U.S. History In Context (in our eLibrary under "History & Social Studies") to get information for things like Abolition and the Underground Railroad, Brown v. Board of Education and the Civil Rights Movement.

It's all free with your library card!

A new Library Lad!

Grab your favorite beverage and sit down to enjoy the latest Library Lad, which comes out every other week or so.

Need to catch up? Find past Library Lad columns in the Library Lad's Blog Archive. Of course, you can be sure to get each blog by subscribing!

Happy reading!

Parenting 101

Ten benefits of Reading Aloud to your baby from day one:
1 - Read alouds promote listening skills
2 - Read alouds increase the number of vocabulary words baby hears
3 - Read alouds develop attention span and memory
4 - Read alouds help babies learn uncommon words
5 - Read alouds help babies learn to understand the meanings of words
6 - Read alouds help babies learn concepts from print
7 - Read alouds help babies learn to get information from illustrations
8 - Read alouds promote bonding and calmness for both baby and parent                                           
9 -  Read alouds stimulate the imagination and all senses
10 - Read alouds instill the love of books and learning
From Baby Read-Aloud Basics by Caroline J. Blakemore (372.4)



The Ventura Pier

The Ventura pier was originally constructed in 1872 and was 1,200 feet in length. In 1914 it was cut in half by the SS Coos Bay and was rebuilt with an addition of 500 feet by 1917.  By 1938 it reached its longest length of 1,958 feet and was, at the time, one of the longest wooden piers in California (Santa Cruz Municipal Pier, built in 1914, is the longest wooden pier in California at 2,745 feet).  The pier has been burned or destroyed by storms numerous times throughout its history.  It was rebuilt in a shorter form in 1993 but, in December of 1995, a storm removed 423 feet and the pier was partially closed until  it was rebuilt using steel pilings for extra support. Its current length is approximately 1,620 feet, making it the 8th longest pier of any pier construction in California over the Pacific Ocean and the 6th longest primarily wooden pier. 

Find more information on Ventura History at the Foster Library Catalog.

- Resident Photographer Aleta Rodriguez

Guest Blog - Story time with Celeste

HELLO Everyone!

It was GREAT seeing all the faces at Storytime Tuesday;  both our 'old' friends and our new!  In case you do not know, since I do not always remember to introduce myself, my name is Celeste and I am the Storyteller most Tuesdays.  Most of my kidlets (and their folks) call me Miss Celeste :-)

Our Letter of the Week was N.  Perhaps you would like to teach your littles some N words?  We all know that kids looove noodles – but what is/are your favorite 'N' words? 

I did a quick image search on Google and just found a ton of fun 'N' coloring pages.  There were even some super detailed ones for you grups (grown-ups), like me, that love to color! So those are out there and easily accessible if you are looking.

Going along with our 'weather' theme for January, our books yesterday were about the snow.  While we only read two (what a lively group we had!) there are a LOT more with that same theme at our fabulous library.

We read:

Froggy Gets Dressed by Jonathan London and Duck Skates by Lynne Berry

Did you know that there is a whole series of Froggy books?  And they are all just as fun as the one that we read. I think that my personal favorite is 'Froggy Bakes a Cake,' but then I liked to bake with my kidlets when they were small!
Other Snow themed books available at E.P. Foster:

Mouse's First Snow by Lauren Thompson (there are about 8 or 9 Mouse books - YAY!)

Snowy blowy winter by Bob Raczka

Little Bea and the Snowy Day  by Daniel Roode

Snow is my Favorite and my Best (a Charlie & Lola book) by Lauren Child

Snow by Cynthia Rylant (if you haven't been introduced to Cynthia Rylant's books, yet – Go Forth and find them - for she is amazing!  My  family particularly loves her 'Mr. Putter & Tabby' and her  'Henry & Mudge'  books.

Snowball Soup by Mercer Meyer Yep, one of those silly, fun 'Little Critter' books! How can you resist?

These were just a few that H.P. has.  Do you & yours have a favorite snow-themed book? Please share!

Author Website of the Week:

Mercer Meyer's Website is just packed full of fun! Not just the usual list of books and a coloring page or two, oh no! Mr. Meyer's website has apps, games, movies, Sing-a-longs and so much more!  I hope that you all enjoy our very first Author Website of the Week

This Week:

Our Letter this week is 'O'.  Octopus, orangutan, orange...Does your little one have a favorite 'O' word or thing?
Our Theme will be 'Cold Weather Critters'.  Does your little one have a stuffed 'Cold Weather Critter'?  Please feel free to bring it.

If you have song, book or Storytime theme suggestions, I would love to hear them. 

Until next week,

Miss Celeste

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