Archive | June, 2012

Cut That Paper!

My favorite kind of paper art is cut paper.   Relatively young kids can cut snowflakes,  kirigami figures, papel picado and all kinds of holiday crafts.  I, as an adult, love elaborate red Chinese paper cutouts  and Jewish cutouts for the Sabbath – but those are FAR too complex for kids – or me – to attempt!  Let’s just stick with simple paper cuts for the moment.

Nancy Poydar’s Snip Snip…Snow! is a good place to start if you want to learn.  It’s the story of a little girl who can’t wait for it to start snowing – and at the back of the book, it contains instructions for cutting snowflakes out of regular paper.

Colored tissue paper can be used for papel picado, the paper used in Mexico to make banderitas (“little flags”) for the Day of the Dead, Cinco de Mayo, Independence Day (Sept. 16), and village fiestas.  Carmen Lomas Garza is a well-know local artist who has made many examples of papel picado that have been displayed in museums such as the Mexican Museum at Fort Mason in San Francisco.

One of my favorite illustrations is the cover of her book, Making Magic Windows.  The book shows how to make papel picado, and the illustration on the cover shows her teaching her niece and nephews how to make them – and every design displayed on the cover can be made by following the directions in the book.

The individual designs – Flowers, Twinkling Stars, Four Cardinal Points, Tiles, Hummingbirds, and so on – are easy to do, and she shows how to fold the paper and how to cut it.  She also gives directions for a large sun face, either out of tissue paper or other colored paper.

In another of her books, a bilingual one entitled Magic Windows, she shows a wall-sized ofrenda (something to be placed on a family altar for the Day of the Dead); it is a 5-foot by 8-foot picture of her grandfather Antonio watering his garden.  She has also made paper cut-outs of horned toads, fish and deer, and an eagle with a rattlesnake, the national emblem of Mexico.

Origami (=folded paper) can be very enjoyable or exceptionally frustrating for kids, but kirigami (cut paper) tends to be much easier.  Joyce Hwang’s Kirigami series begins with simple paper folding and cutting, and advances to “Sweetheart” symbols, “Lucky” symbols and “Classic Designs:”

Hwang uses origami paper – solid color on one side and white on the other.  Or there’s paper with colored patterns on one side and white on the other (the patterned paper is better for simpler designs). Like Lomas Garza, Hwang shows how it should be folded and cut.  The folding may be a little more complicated that that of Making Magic Windows, but it’s still do-able with scissors and just a few folds. 

Cindy Higham’s Snowflakes For All Seasons contains 72 designs for snowflakes, and they are all lovely (I wonder if the fact that they’re all blue and the pages are white has anything to do with it?  blue is my favorite color!).  The snowflakes are not just for winter – there are Frankenstein snowflakes and owls and cat snowflakes for Halloween, Pilgrim and turkey snowflakes for Thanksgiving, and of course hearts for Valentine’s Day.  Here is a paper Valentine heart for someone you love.

The folding is easy.  The hardest part of this one, I think, is drawing something asymmetrical, cutting it out carefully, and having faith that it will end up looking like the beautiful pattern that Cindy Higham shows!

All I can tell you is that paper cutting is tremendously fun, and you really CAN start with the easy designs that elementary-age children can learn to do with a scissors.  And if doesn’t turn out the way you imagined it would, look at it to see if you like it the way it did turn out – or just start another one!





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Love my new e-reader!

GlowlightI finally made the leap and bought a Nook Simple Touch with Glowlight.  I had resisted buying an e-reader for quite some time; after all, I work in a library and have books at my fingertips every day.  But when Barnes & Noble came out with the Glowlight feature, I began to see possibilities.  I was a little concerned about buying books since that is something I rarely do.  So, I justified my first purchase by starting with a relatively hard-to-find book by an older author, Nevil Shute, titled No Highway.  It’s a great book, by the way, especially if you’re the engineering type.  And that’s when I fell in love with my Nook.  I could read it anywhere!  No longer was I bound by having to sit near a light.  I could read out on the patio, camping,  in the car or in bed at night.  No more reading by flashlight as I have been known to do in the past.

As soon as I finish No Highway, I will turn to the Overdrive collection offered by the library.  I’ve already spent time exploring Overdrive since the other librarians and I are asked about it often.  There are long waiting lists for newer titles, but I checked the box labeled “show only available copies” and found many books that I could read right away.  There are a few steps to take to prepare your e-reader to download these books, but once that’s done, sign in and you’re on your way.  The help page on Overdrive is quite good and we have a short video tutorial that is helpful as well.  (Scroll down the “How do I…?” page to find the tutorial.)

Is this the end of the printed book for me?  I don’t think so, at least not yet.  My Nook is great for reading novels, but I’m not so sure how I would like it for books on decorating, cooking, or knitting. Another problem is that some of the major publishers are not giving libraries access to their new titles in digital format.  The American Library Association is quite concerned about this and some libraries, such as Sacramento Public Library have been very  proactive about the situation.  We will be watching  closely to see how it all plays out.

One last thing, if you haven’t taken a look at our e-reader petting zoo and tried out the other e-readers on the market, you should take a minute to do so.  They are all just a little bit different and just as I think the Nook with Glowlight is perfect for me, you will find one that is perfect for you.  And of course, stop by the Info Desk and let us know what you think.


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Summer Reading is Here!

Summer Reading

Children’s Summer Reading 2012 has begun.  This is an exciting time in our department — kids are filling out their reading logs, plans for school-age craft and game sessions are underway, and the much-anticipated summer performer series will soon begin.  On Tuesday mornings we welcome favorites Mary Lee Sunseri, Nancy Cassidy and Pam Donkin as well as newcomers Alison Faith Levy and Greta Pedersen.   Wednesdays are filled with jugglers, puppeteers, comedians and magicians.  Always popular, the wild California critters from Wildlife Associates return in August.  Because these Tuesday and Wednesday programs are very popular and fill up, we again will issue FREE tickets so we do not exceed room capacity.   These tickets can be picked up from the Children’s Desk beginning on the Thursday preceding each event.

For the school-aged set, we offer a variety of afternoon programs.  Kids can connect with nature, learn to make origami, celebrate the City’s Centennial, and read one-on-one with a teen volunteer.  Board games become even more exciting with a MONOPOLY tournament and a live (and life-sized!) CANDYLAND game.  These school-age programs do not require tickets, but preregistration is required for MONOPOLY and CANDYLAND.

If this all sounds enticing, stop by the Children’s Desk or go to to sign up and get more information.  We look forward to having you aboard for Summer Reading 2012!

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An interesting place to visit… Alcatraz!

Like many residents of the bay, I have lived in the area for a long time, yet had never visited Alcatraz, that infamous island in the middle of the San Francisco bay. That is, until a week ago. I finally got a chance to go to the island with visiting relatives and it was quite interesting. Sure, I had gleaned some if its history over my years of living here, reading about it in the newspapers, and from classes in school. For instance, although it was no longer a prison by the time I moved to California, I do remember the Native American occupation that came later — do you?

Heart of the rock : the Indian invasion of Alcatraz / by Adam Fortunate Eagle.




The library has a number of books about Alcatraz and its many different uses, from fort, to prison, to park:

Alcatraz : the gangster years / by David A. Ward.




Ghosts of Alcatraz / by Kathryn Vercillo.




Alcatraz screw : my years as a guard in America’s most notorious prison / by George H. Gregory.





You can also find movies placed there:

Birdman of Alcatraz [videorecording] / a Norma production ; produced by Stuart Millar and Guy Trosper ; directed by John Frankenheimer ; screenplay by Guy Trosper.




The rock [videorecording] / Hollywood Pictures ; directed by Michael Bay ; A Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer production.




Perhaps, it is time to visit Alcatraz yourself!


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What Goes Around, Comes Around

It seems only in the past couple of years that people are “dis-repecting” each other.   I don’t remember ever hearing this growing up.   Now, I am hearing it everywhere.   Everywhere – or so it seems.   It downright offends me.   So sure was I that dis-respect used as a verb was just wrong,  I  consulted Webster’s.   I’m sorry to admit that I am going to have to get with the program. Not only Webster’s but the OED validate that dis-respect was used in the verb form in the 1400′s.  I am close to distraught with the idea that I am going to have to add this ressurected grating form of dis-respect to other words and phrases that irritate me:   tummy, veggie, and goodies come readily to mind.   Now this!   She dis-respected him.   He dis-respected her in return.

I consulted Strunk & White as a last resort.   Elements of Style, bastion of good form, always there to check my run-on sentences, mis-use of gerunds, and prepositional mishaps,  would they, at least, admonish that while the form is technically correct, it is ”questionable.”  If one wants to talk about someone not getting respect, one would find a way to get the point across thusly:   He or she was shown disrespect.   He or she was not treated respectfully.

In my grammatical fantasizing,  Strunk & White would make it a hanging offense to so dis-respect this noun.  Not likely, sigh.   Prepared or unprepared as I am,  dis-repect as a verb has snuck back into the language.  And it’s here to stay, again, for awhile, anyway.

Long live our amazingly versatile anglo saxon language!  Not to mention resilient!




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