"There's gold in them thar hills!"

On January 24, 1848, James W. Marshall noticed some flakes of gold in the American River while building a sawmill. That discovery started what became known as the California Gold Rush, the frenzied migrations of thousands to California to strike it rich. At that time, California was still technically part of Mexico. Only a week later, The United States purchased land that later became California and other southwestern states for only $15 million. If Mexico had only knwn.

The Gold Rush caused an increase in California's population from 2,700 to 200,000 in two years. Few people actually became wealthy from panning gold but revenue increased enough to help expand the American West.

One person who did become wealthy was Levi Strauss, an immigrant from Bavaria who was a traveling merchant specializing in trousers made from sailcloth held together with copper rivets. These, of course, were the precursors of modern jeans.

The Story Prize finalists are announced

The Story PrizeThe Story Prize

The Story Prize, a three-year old award that recognizes excellence in short fiction, has announced its three finalists from titles published last year.

The finalists are:

Rick Bass's The Lives of Rocks
The Stories of Mary Gordon, by Mary Gordon
In Persuasion Nation, by George Saunders

Edwidge Danticat is one of the three judges.

The Story Prize purses ($20,000 for the winner; $5,000 each for the two runners-up)will be awarded on February 28 in New York City.

Beat the cold with hot homemade food!

What could be better on a chilly winter day than a steaming helping of homemade chicken pot pie? (Perhaps a slice of apple or cherry pie for dessert?) In the NPR article, "Restoring Humble Potpie to Its Rightful Place," you will find not one, but two delicious recipes to warm up any winter day. You can also check out our assortment of Cook's Illustrated cook books, or my personal favorite, the America's Test Kitchen cook books.

What Can Fiction Teach Us?

Yesterday I started reading The Historian by Elizabeth Kostova. What I find so interesting about the book is the amount of research that has gone into the story. The author spent 10 years working on this, her first novel. The story revolves around a group of people who are studying Vlad the Impailer aka Dracula. Much of the information is given to the readers in the form of letters written by various researchers, from primary and secondary sources. As I've been going through the story I keep asking myself how much of the information is real and how much the author invented. Some people may find the amount of detail slows the story down. I found it provides added depth to the story, making it more real. I hope you enjoy it.

Baby Bits - Kitchen Band

Sittin' in my chair, my chair, high chair, sittin' in my chair, bang my spoon! Kitchen stories for babies can begin with bright pictures, rhythm and rhyme, and songs, because babies LOVE to hear your voice. Try Lunch by Denise Fleming; Tickle Tum by Nancy Van Laan; One Little Spoonful by Aliki; and Cows In The Kitchen by June Crebbin. If you are ready for a "real story" don't forget the classic, In The Night Kitchen by Maurice Sendak.

History Bits - African-American Artists

Introduce kids to African-American history through visual arts. Two books that overview African-American artists since slavery are In Praise Of Our Fathers And Our Mothers: A Black Family Treasury and Wake Up Our Souls. Three youth level biographies with color illustrations of the artist's work are Romare Bearden a collage artist; Don't Hold Me Back with poetry by Nikki Giovanni and art by Winfred Rembert; and Faith Ringgold.

If you wish to find names of African-American artists you can use our database called Biography Resource Center and use the "biographical facts search".

Booklist Editors' Choice 2006: Non-fiction

Booklist joins Library Journal, the New York Times Book Review, and Michigan Notable Books with their list of the year’s best books.

Annotations are from Booklist

Arts and Literature

Brothers, Thomas. Louis Armstrong’s New Orleans.
Exploring how a boy from the poorest of the poor became the central figure in the most significant musical development in U.S. history, Brothers reveals the uniquely deep and broad musical culture of the historically most multicultural American city.

Klinkenborg, Verlyn. Timothy; or, Notes of an Abject Reptile
Popular New York Times nature writer Klinkenborg writes with mischievous wit from the point of view of an observant and skeptical tortoise living in the garden of the eighteenth-century British curate and author Gilbert White.

American Born Chinese is 2007 Printz Award winner

The first graphic novel to win the Printz Award is American Born Chinese by Gene Yang. Announced today in Seattle, the 2007 Printz Award winner “focuses on three characters in tales that touch on facets of Chinese American life. Jin is a boy faced with the casual racism of fellow students and the pressure of his crush on a Caucasian girl; the Monkey King, a character from Chinese folklore, has attained great power but feels he is being held back because of what the gods perceive as his lowly status; and Danny, a popular high-school student, suffers through an annual visit from his cousin Chin-Kee, a walking, talking compendium of exaggerated Chinese stereotypes.” (Booklist review)

Printz Honor books are:

Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation: Taken From Accounts by his Own Hand and Other Sundry Sources by M.T. Anderson
Abundance of Katherines by John Greene
Surrender by Sonya Hartnett
The Book Thief by Markus Zuzak

2007 Caldecott and Newbery Awards Announced

The highest awards in the field of children's literature were announced in Seattle this morning at the midwinter conference of the American Library Association.
The Caldecott Award, a prize for illustration, was given to David Wiesner for the picture book Flotsam. This is the third Caldecott for Mr. Wiesner. He won his first award in 1992 for Tuesday and his second in 2002 for The Three Pigs.
Caldecott honor books are Gone Wild by David McLimans and Moses: When Harriet Tubman Led Her People to Freedom by Carole Boston Weatherford, illustrated by Kadir Nelson.
The Newbery Medal, for the "most distinguished contribution to American literature for children" goes to Susan Patron for her book The Higher Power of Lucky.
Honor books are Penny from Heaven by Jennifer Holm, Hattie Big Sky by Kirby Larson and Rules by Cynthia Lord.
For a complete list of all the award winners announced by the American Library Association, go to this site.<--!break-->

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Best Sellers List (1/21/07)

It is no longer surprising to find the latest books in series by popular genre writers on the List. This week is no exception. There is, however, also a new book by the critically acclaimed young writer, Dave Eggers. His book A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius announced the arrival of a serious writer with a sense of humor (and a bit of hubris). In that memoir, he explored his family's tragedies and triumphs and indeed did cause readers to weep. This time Eggers struggled to write another aching story of loss and found he could only tell the truth of the story by making it a work of fiction. (Check out this interview with him on McSweeney's website).

At #2 is The Hunters by W.E.B. Griffin: "An Army officer seeks the killers of a shady American diplomat murdered in Uruguay; follows from Griffin’s “Hostage.’’

At #10 is The Cat Who Had 60 Whiskers by Lilian Jackson Braun: "The columnist Jim Qwilleran and his cats probe a mysterious death in the 29th “Cat Who” book."

At #16 is What is the What by Dave Eggers: "The fictionalized autobiography of one of Sudan’s “Lost Boys,” refugees from its civil war."

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