Holiday Break

Happy Holidays readers, bloggers, and librarians! Please excuse the lack of posts this month, holiday travel and family time has taken me away from the site temporarily. New reviews will be coming in the New Year!

In the interim, you can still send in your reviews, recommendations, photos, and more to submissions@steampunklibrary.net and follow updates (including last minute gift ideas) via Twitter @SteamLib.

Enjoy your winter celebrations everyone!

P.S.

Need something to break-up the Twelve Days of Christmas? My suggestion is modern classical string sounds with pop-catchiness. Can’t be done? It can! This mix of modern and classical is perfect for setting the holiday feel without having to hear “Santa Baby” ever again. Contemporary chamber music is also the perfect soundtrack for your next Steampunk tea date or for your book clubs post-meeting-mingle-music.

Vitamin String Quartet, Dallas String Quartet, Apocalyptica, and 2Cellos all do classical style covers of everything from Lady Gaga to Kansas to Metalica. Their music is available via YouTube, Pandora, and iTunes. For a great Holiday mix you don’t have to monitor hook Pandora up to some speakers and add a mix of these classic-covers into an incredible, crowd-pleasing channel.

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Steam Themed Halloween pt2

Who can live with just one Halloween post? In honor of the best (if not best, at least most colorful) holiday here are more ideas for brining steam into your Halloween plans and a review of the Gail Carriger short story The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar (part of the Parasol Protectorate series).

Don’t forget to share your own Halloween costumes and concepts at submissions@steampunklibrary.net and via Twitter @SteamLib.

Music playlists are a staple of every party no matter where it’s hosted. While the classics like “Ghostbusters” and “Werewolves of London” will always hold a place in our hearts it never hurts to add some new pieces into the mix. I put together a small list highlighting some of my favorites from steampunk bands and pop-musicians:

Other suggestions include Abney Park, The Clockwork Dolls, Professor Elemental, and Jonathan Coulton.

Is your library in an area that hosts a large cosplay community?

Image: the librarian as a steampunk gender-bent Sherlock Holmes
Your Librarian as Sherlock Holmes circa 2012

Invite local groups to come and show off their costumes on Halloween and maybe do a Q&A on costume creation. If you’re lucky enough to live near a convention (you can check the Airship Ambassador Convention Listing ). You also might be able to find local artisans/crafts people who would be interesting in coming with some of their steampunk works (tiny hats, gloves, jewelry) to display and sell last-minute costume pieces.

Who doesn’t love coloring?

Image of my personal copy of Brian Kessinger's Coloring With Your Octopus
The best birthday present from The Boyfriend (aka The Project’s IT guy)

Artist Brian Kesinger (author of Walking Your Octopus) has a matching coloring book out now! You can find Coloring With Your Octopus at Amazon and Barnes&Noble. Pages can be distributed throughout October in the Children’s (and Teen, and Adult) sections to bring some steampunk whimsy to your tables. There’s also the Steampunk Coloring and Activity Book, the Creative Haven Steampunk Designs Coloring Book, and the option to make your own coloring pages off of Google or with the help of a crafty coworker. These are great for having out the whole month and at the kid’s table at events.

Last but not least a review of a Gail Carriger Parasol Protectorate story, my recommendation for a quick read for book groups or to curl up with while you binge on candy.

Title: The Curious Case of the Werewolf That Wasn’t, the Mummy That Was, and the Cat in the Jar: An Alessandro Tarabotti Story
Author: Gail Carriger
Series: Parasol Protectorate side story

Age/Audience: Teen/Adult

Genre/Style: Adventure, Short Story

Read If You Like: The Parasol Protectorate series, mysteries,

Summary:

Ever wonder where Alexia got her sass? Search no further: in this short story originally published in the “Book of the Dead” anthology edited by Jared Smith we get our first full glimpse of Alexia’s father, the adventuring Alessandro Tarabotti.

When the Templars need a job done then expect it to be done quickly, discretely, and completely. When Mr. Tarabotti arrives in Egypt he knows these expectations and with the assistance of his trusted valet (and to the only level Mr. Tarabotti seems about to attempt, his friend) Mr. Floote he hopes to carry out his mission regarding a man and a mummy. However when an embalmed cat, an old ‘yoo-hoo’-ing acquaintance from England, and a blushing young Leticia Phinkerlington appear, things get unexpectedly complicated.

Bottom Line:

Great for a little read while waiting for trick-or-treaters.

Find It:

The Curious Case on Amazon

The Curious Case on Goodreads

Banned Books Week

2014 ALA BBW Image
2014 ALA BBW Image

Every year the American Library Association promotes a week-long series of displays and events to draw attention to censorship in schools and public libraries. Simply called Banned Books Week, these events highlights items that have been banned/censored, or otherwise branded as immoral or unfit for circulation.

According to the ALA a challenge “is defined as a formal, written complaint, filed with a library or school requesting that materials be removed because of content or appropriateness.” A breakdown of terminology can be found here.

In 2013 307 formal challenges were reported by the ALA , down from 464 in 2012. That’s more than a challenge a day for every day in 2012. It should be noted that because of the specific definition of “challenge” and “banned” the ALA has limited means to keep statistics on what books are being targeted and why. The ALA estimates that for every challenge they count “four or five remain unreported.”

Public and academic libraries across the country show their support for the right to read through displays, activities, and speakers. These events vary is scope from highlighting the irony of banning some books (for example, banning Fahrenheit 451 ) to promoting conversation about what themes are deemed unreadable and why (like this display ).

The ALA and other library organizations across the country have supportive materials from posters to display templates to t-shirts. Bellow I’ve compiled some of my favorite ideas for displays and activities to draw attention to censorship and promote thoughtful discussion about what we censor.

Share your own favorites in the comments bellow, or on Twitter @SteamLib #BannedBooksWeek.

displayProgram Type: Book Display

Audience: All

Time Frame: Week of BBW

Space Needed: Single display shelf, visible from library entrance

Budget Considerations: Staff time and paper

Description: Cover selected historically challenged books in yellow paper. On the paper you can choose to represent the attitude towards the challenge of your choice (thought provoking, fear mongering, sarcastic, and so on). Options include:

-Ironic list of reasons it was challenged (ie Anne Frank being sad, Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian as racist, or Perks of Being a Wallflower as unsuited to age group)

– Excerpts from court cases/media interviews about the book

– Warning sign for reasons banned (ie “contains descriptions of nudity” or “parental guidance strong language”)

Online Resources-

http://hotlibrarytech.wordpress.com/2010/11/03/banned-books-week/

http://www.unshelved.com/2010-10-20/Awesome_Banned_Books_Week_Display!

Name: Banned Book Mug Shot

 From the Oak Park Public Library Flicr
From the Oak Park Public Library Flicr

Program Type: Interactive display

Audience: All

Time Frame: Week of BBW

Space Needed: Wall for display, cleared area to allow all users access, space for camera/printer/screen

Budget Considerations: Backdrop creation, staff time to supervise users, camera rental (if not owned by the library) paper/ink for printing the pictures

Description: Have patrons pose with their favorite banned book in front of a decorative police mug-shot styled back-drop. Include the height chart, a sign which includes the name of your library, and an “I Read Banned Books”/ “Caught Reading Banned Books” sign. Print a copy of the photo for your patrons to take home with them. For budget reasons this might be set as the ending of an event or workshop.

Online Examples:

http://www.citylit.org/BannedBooks.htm

Name: Character Monologues

Program Type: Event/Presentation

Audience: Children/YA/Classroom

Time Frame: Week of BBW, best suited for story-time or book groups

Space Needed: Presentation space

Budget Considerations: Costumes & props (if provided by the library)

Description: Have book group members/story-time participants/your class read a banned book and perform a monologue from their favorite character’s point of view. Have them address the reasons they have been banned and how they feel as a character or what they believe the person making the challenge miss understood about their book.

Online Examples:

http://donnakaybryan.hubpages.com/hub/Banned-Books-Week-Activities

Steampunk Coloring & Activity Book

Rainy weekend plan
Rainy weekend plan

Title: Steampunk Coloring and Activity Book
Author: Phoebe Longhi

Age/Audience: All

Genre/Style: Activity and coloring books

Read If You Like: Coloring, word search, 10 minute activities

Summary:

Though aimed at youth this steam-themed paperback activity book appeals to anyone with a box of crayons at hand. Connect-the-dot images, word searches, and ‘complete the picture’ style pages are then paired with cooking recipes and riddles. This variety allows the thin volume to appeal to a wide audience, all with a combined steampunk/anime style.

Example page
Example coloring page

Bottom Line:

Great for a rainy day or travel activity for any age, artistic skill entirely optional.

Find It:

http://www.amazon.com/Steampunk-Coloring-Activity-Book-Illustrations/dp/1933149639