Ballroom dancing sizzles on screen

When pre-teens from New York City schools learn and compete in ballroom dancing, the visual results are magnificent. Simply the expressions on the kids' faces make this film worthwhile, but there also are plenty of rich, human stories. On a winter night at home, this DVD could provide family entertainment for children about 8 and older. Enjoy Mad Hot Ballroom!

This children's music engages the brain

Some music created for children puts my brain right to sleep. But What kind of cat are you?! by Billy Jonas, is one of the many good ones. The title song asks questions and answers them with challenging words. Later on, the disc offers songs such as "Alien in my lungs" and "Bear to the left." If you're running low on stimulating music for your car or home CD player, this one is lively and fun.

Calling all quadrillion-dollar bills

What if a boy in Flint stumbled on a quadrillion-dollar bill, and the government wanted it back? And what if the face on that hot bill was soul father James Brown? Well, then you would have a rocking fun book for children age 9-12, a book that is so clever that you can read it aloud to the entire family. Christopher Paul Curtis also wrote The Watsons Go to Birmingham - 1963 and Bud, Not Buddy, both award winners, and both great choices for young readers.

Dangerous Mining

Mining and mining accidents have been very much in the news lately, with four separate accidents claiming lives in the past weeks. As NPR’s Morning Edition discussed this morning, some critics of mining industry regulations are beginning to wonder about the industry regulators’ efficacy. The Federal Mining Safety and Health Administration is charged both with ongoing industry regulation and supervision as well as rescue efforts in mine emergencies. However, as the film Salt of the Earth explores, it takes a lot more than a federal agency to make real changes in miners’ lives.

Edna Lewis, Queen of the Southern cooking revival, 1916-2006

Edna Lewis

Edna Lewis, author of four cookbooks that renewed national interest in Southern cuisine, died Monday, February 13, 2006 at the age of 89.

Ms. Lewis's second book, The Taste of Country Cooking (1976) highlights recipes and cooking techniques she learned as a child on the family farm, given to her grandfather, a former slave. It is considered a must-have on the shelf of the best chefs in America.

Her last cookbook, The Gift of Southern Cooking: Recipes and Revelations from Two Great Southern Cooks (2003), was co-written with Scott Peacock, a chef who has taken care of Ms.

Michael Gilbert, creator of Patrick Petrella mysteries, has died

Michael Gilbert

Michael Gilbert, universally regarded as the master of the classic English murder mystery", died Friday, February 8, in England.

A fantastically prolific writer who penned his mysteries on his commute to and from his full-time job as an English solicitor, Gilbert reveled in intricate plots, meticulous detail, and a web of red herrings. His first novel, Close Quarters (1947), launched him firmly into the golden age of the British mystery.

Gilbert's beloved character, Patrick Petrella, was a Sergeant when he first appeared in the 1950s in short stories in Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Petrella worked his way through the ranks to Detective Superintendent in a series of titles, including Young Petrella, Petrella at Q, and Roller-Coaster.

Mr. Gilbert, who was 93 when he died, had served at one point as legal adviser to Raymond Chandler.

Humble Masterpieces

Guitar picks, Q-tips, Post-it Notes, Earplugs, Chupa Chups lollipops, Wiffleballs, Rubik's Cubes, and M&M's.....what do all of these things have in common?

According to Paola Antonelli, a curator at The Museum of Modern Art in New York, all of these everyday objects are masterpieces of the art of design. Originating from a 2004 exhibition at MoMA, Humble Masterpieces: Everyday Marvels of Design features striking close-up photography and insightful short essays to present the history, beauty, and functionality of 100 of these humble masterpieces.

So, take a look around you...what objects in your everyday life are marvels of design?

Porcupining: A Prickly Love Story

As it is Valentine's Day, check out this story about a porcupine's search for love.
Cushion lives in the petting zoo but never gets any pets or pats because he's so prickly. He makes up a sad, sad song about how lonesome he is and finally goes out to find a wife. But all the other animals reject him!
With whom does Cushion finally find love? Read and find out!
Lisa Wheeler has created a sweet love story that's a great read aloud and Janie Bynum's illsutrations are adorable.
Enjoy Porcupining: A Prickly Love Story!

Salman Rushdie sentenced to death 17 years ago

On this day, in 1989, the Iranian leader Ayatollah Ruholla Khomeini called on Muslims to execute Salman Rushdie for his book The Satanic Verses. The book was banned by many countries at its release because its contents were seen as “blasphemous against Islam”. Upon the issuance of the ‘fatwa’ (an Islamic religious law, in this case calling for the execution of Rushdie), Rushdie went into hiding where he remained until the death sentence was rescinded in 1998 by the Iranian government.

New Fiction Titles on the New York Times Bestseller List (2/12/06)

Literary works are rare sightings on the List. Just barely making it this week at #16* is one that was shortlisted for the 2005 Booker Prize. It joins three other new titles.

At #1 is Cell by Stephen King: all your worst nightmares about cell phones and what they are doing to our brains.

At #2 is Memory in Death by J.D. Robb: Eve Dallas investigates murder and blackmail in this latest futuristic thriller from the author aka Nora Roberts.

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