Peter Seeger, iconic folksinger and political activist, has died

Pete Seeger, as beloved for his enduring folk songs as for his principled political activism for six decades, has died.

Seeger began his singing career as part of the Weavers in 1948, performing tunes of peace. Just seven years later, McCarthyism caught up with Seeger. The singer refused to testify. After years of legal wrangling, Seeger was convicted of contempt in 1961. A year later that conviction was overturned on a technicality.

For years, Seeger was blacklisted and banned from performing in schools and concert venues. He refused to be silent, writing and demonstrating whenever he could.

He was the inspiration for many folksinging giants, including Joan Baez who said of Seeger: "We all owe our careers to Pete Seeger." and Peter, Paul, and Mary who made famous Seeger's If I Had a Hammer. Other long-enduring Seeger classics are Where Have All the Flowers Gone and Turn! Turn! Turn!.

In 1994, the National Endowment of the Arts bestowed on Seeger the National Medal of Arts. In 1996, he won his first Grammy and was inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. Twelve years later, he won his second Grammy. And just one year later, in a stunning moment of political validation, he performed at a celebratory concert in Washington, D.C. two days before President Barack Obama's first inauguration.

Seeger stayed politically active until the end of his life. In 2011, he marched in New York City with the Occupy Movement. He performed in last year's FarmAid concert and, as a lifelong environmentalist, this past November he asked Russian President Vladimir Putin to release the Arctic 30 who were granted their freedom the following month.

In 2012, Seeger published Pete Seeger: In His Own Words.

Seeger, who was 94, died of natural causes.

Pete Seeger is no stranger to area music lovers. He made several trips to perform here. His benefit concert for the Ark is fondly remembered. Check out these Old News articles on this beloved muscian.

Announcing the 2014 Printz Award for Teen Literature

The 2014 Printz Award Winner is: Midwinterblood by Marcus Sedgwick! Midwinterblood is a novel spanning several genres, including drama, mystery, romance and horror. It begins with the story of Eric and Merle, whose path together tragically ends. The following stories unfold backward in time in a gripping tale of love and loss.

YALSA, or the Young Adult Library Services Association, chose four Printz Honor books as well: Eleanor and Park, Kingdom of Little Wounds, Maggot Moon, and Navigating Early.

The Printz Award is given in appreciation of excellence in young adult literature. AADL also has several award winners from previous years.

National Bread Machine Baking Month

January is almost over, but it's not to celebrate National Bread Baking Month.

Whether you're the owner of a new bread machine, or whether you have one that you might want to dust off, Bread Machine Magic can get you started. That book isn't your only choice, you might find something you like in The Complete Guide to Bread Machine Baking, The Breadman's Healthy Bread Book, or The Bread Lover's Bread Machine Cookbook.

You don't have to have a bread machine, though, to get into the spirit of bread making.

Artisan Bread in 5 Minutes a Day is a great book for those who are interested in making bread at home, but are less interested in developing a mastery of broad bread-making techniques. Jim Lahey's, My Bread is another good book for those who want the bread, but not the kneading.

Vegans and people who can't eat gluten don't need to be left out either! Gluten Free & Vegan Bread is the right book for people with those particular dietary restrictions.

Maybe you're intrigued by the idea of spending some time with grains in the kitchen, but not quite sure that you're ready to take the next step. In that case, you might check out Video Bread Basics. Sometimes a DVD can deliver a blast of information in a short amount of time.

Maybe your bread making adventures will inspire you to embark on a journey to make the perfect loaf. William Alexander did just that, and you can read about it in 52 Loaves: One Man's Relentless Pursuit of Truth, Meaning and a Perfect Crust.

Austenland

Austenland is a new movie based on the novel written by Shannon Hale. The novel’s protagonist is Jane Austen obsessed Jane Hayes. Jane is in her 30's when her great aunt dies leaving her a large amount of money. The catch is that the money must be spent on a vacation involving an English resort that panders to the Austen lovers of the world. During her vacation Jane searches for a Regency era gentleman to fall in love with and hopes to rid herself of her dreams of Mr. Darcy by the end of the vacation. The goal is to return to her life without comparing all men to Mr. Darcy. Will she succeed or will the insanity of this absurd vacation only further her obsession?

The twelve year old girl living inside of me giggled manically when she saw the preview for this movie. It has received mixed reviews and the negative ones are generally written by significant others who were dragged to a screening against their will. It will most likely be overly cheesy, but what can you expect from a movie centered on Jane Austen obsession. At that point isn’t the cheesiness part of the fun?

A Hilarious Pirate Adventure – With Magic!

I am so excited about this new pirate adventure, Magic Marks the Spot by Caroline Carlson. Two years ago, I had the chance to hear an excerpt read from the pre-published manuscript and have been looking forward to its release ever since. After reading it, all I can say is this book completely lived up to my expectations. I loved it!

Hilary Westfield wants nothing more than to be a pirate, but when she submits an application to the Very Nearly Honorable League of Pirates, things don’t go quite as planned. After discovering that Hilary is a girl, the league decides to forward her application to Miss Pimm’s Finishing School for Delicate Ladies. Soon Hilary and her pet gargoyle are packed off to finishing school, but you can bet it isn’t long before they escape to the high seas and join in the hunt for a magical treasure.

Fans of Diana Wynne Jones or Patricia C. Wrede will definitely want to check out this first book in a planned trilogy.

You can find out more about this debut author by visiting her website: http://carolinecarlsonbooks.com/

Once Upon a Winter's Day 2014

Once Upon a Winter's Day 2014Once Upon a Winter's Day 2014

Being caught in the clutches of another polar vortex is no fun. So let's liven things up.
Come to the family storytime Once Upon a Winter's Day, 2014 version. It will be at
the Pittsfield Branch on Sunday, January 26, 2014 at 2:00 p.m.
We'll tell snow stories, polka like penguins, sing songs, sip hot chocolate and do a craft that's perfect for our sub-zero
temperatures.
Bring the whole family for an afternoon of winter fun.

Wild Swan Theater: Under the African Sky

Mark your calendar for Wednesday, Feb. 12 at 1 pm, when Wild Swan Theater presents Under the African Sky in Towsley Auditorium. The other three performances already are sold out. The play is a humorous collection of well- known African tales including Why the Sky is Far Away, The Talking Vegetables and Tug-of-Vine. Performers will use acting, storytelling, and drumming, with instruments including a balaphone, a djembe, and a talking drum. The show is for children age 4 to third grade and there will be plenty of chances for audience participation.

On the NEW SHELF for Kids - Folktales!

My new FOUND Faves on the NEW non-fiction Shelf in January 2014:

PRINCESS TALES includes 10 classic "Once Upon A Time" Princess tales told in one-to-two-page text with elaborate "Seek-and-Find Pictures" in each tale. Each Illustrated tale is sumptuously set in a variety of world cultures from South America to Russia to Africa to Japan. Allow time to enjoy the pictures after the tale is read.

WEE RHYMES: Baby's First Poetry Book is a perfect book for babies and toddlers who love a cozy laptime in a comfy good BIG chair. Every rhyme is perfect, in my opinion. I see many new and unusual rhymes in this book, after viewing nursery rhyme books for many years.
What Fun! If you have a little one, grab them and read this one! .... AND don't forget the rockking and singing ...

MAMA LET'S MAKE A MOON is a new original folktale written and illustrated by Clay Rice. Clay Rice sets each tableau of crisp black silhouette against a watercolor backwash of hand-mixed pastels. I can't say it better than the book jacket ... Clay Rice "has perfected the art of blending rhythmic poetry with stunning detailed silhouettes ... to create a true work of art." The tale gives you an original recipe ... to make a moon.

The MAGIC BOJABI TREE is a fresh take on the classic Rumpelstiltskin tale. In this tale, the African Plains animals need to identify the name of a new unusual tree that is fully guarded by Python. The fruit is huge and tantalizing, but the animals cannot have the fruit until they find the name of the tree. How the problem is solved, is always the delight of a good folktale!

Mo’s Mustache

What a cute picture book! Ben Clanton’s beautiful illustrations introduce us to Mr. Mo Joe in Mo’s Mustache. Mo has just received the most fabulous, wonderful, dapper mustache in the mail. But soon all of his monster friends are wearing dapper mustaches too. Why is everyone copying him? Is it because he’s the coolest guy around? Maybe. Check out this book featuring some friendly funny monsters with big, beautiful, squiggly, long mustaches with a nice little lesson in the end. For more mustache fun, check out these picture books.

A long time ago, in a galaxy far far away, a star exploded and you can see it today!

As reported yesterday, astronomers have detected what appears to be a Type 1a supernova - an exploding white dwarf - in nearby galaxy M82, the closest to us in 40 years. Supernova 2014J, as it's been named, is a little hard to see in small scopes right now, but it's predicted to grow significantly brighter over the next two weeks before it fades away - easy enough to spot in the library's 4.5-inch telescope and even binoculars.

M82, also known as the "Cigar Galaxy" because of its shape, is part of a popular galaxy pair (M81-M82) in a relatively dim region of the constellation Ursa Major, about a fist's width above the bowl of the Big Dipper in the northeastern sky. It's visible by 7:00 or 8:00 p.m. in our region and will be visible throughout the night.

Sky & Telescope has some additional information and star maps to help you find Galaxy M82.

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