Esther Stutzman, storytellerStorytelling is an ancient art form of connecting cultures, passing down customs, and preserving history. Religious leaders share spiritual stories with their congregation; politicians share historical moments with their constituents; grandparents share traditions with their grandchildren. For historians, it was a way for us to make sense of and explained events of the past.

Stories have been told and retold, passing down from generations to another, as myths, legends, ghost stories, epic adventures, fables, and fairy tales. Oral tradition is part of every culture throughout history and it continues to be a part of our community today.

Tellabation!™ is a night of storytelling celebrated world-wide during the month of November. Throughout the county, you can find storytelling performances and workshops celebrating our oral history.  

Multnomah County Library offers storytelling programs for Native American Heritage Month in November, as well as for other communities all year long. Can’t go to one of our events at the library? You can find other Tellabration events at Portland Storyteller's Guild and City Club of Portland.  

Chances are you’ve thrown up at least once in your life, a biological process called vomiting, regurgitation, and a whole bunch of slang nicknames. But what is it, exactly?

In humans regurgitation happens for a variety of reasons: a case of the stomach “flu” and food poisoning can look a lot alike. Or maybe your brain and your eyes can’t agree and you’re motion sick. Or you might even have a food allergy, or something completely different.


It’s fun to know that a lot of animals besides humans regurgitate and some animals do it as a normal, healthy part of their behavior. Some birds do it to get rid of the things they eat they can’t digest like bones or fur. Some animals called ruminants swallow and regurgitate their food several times to help with digestion. Animals such as wolves partially digest food and then bring it back up to feed babies too small to digest their own food fully. Bees regurgitate from a special stomach used to make honey. But animals can get sick, too, so it’s always good to check with the veterinarian if your pet starts throwing up.


There are some things you can do to limit your possibilities for throwing up. Take this quiz to see if your handwashing game is strong, one of the best ways to prevent stomach viruses.  Find out different causes of food poisoning and play this game or this game to figure out how to beat food poisoning.


And you can always contact a librarian for even more info!

Zardoz dvd coverAh, Zardoz (1974). A film venerated on local heavy rock t-shirts and adult soapbox derby cars alike (I saw one on Mt. Tabor)! There’s even a Zardoz belt buckle on Etsy, if you should feel so inclined. Why yes, that is Sean Connery in the thigh-high boots, orange loincloth, and thick ‘70s stache. He plays Zed, a Brutal Exterminator, whose band of thuggish horsemen terrorize other Brutals and take their grain. They offer it to their god, Zardoz, a giant flying stone head who vomits guns at them in return. But Zed is not your average brute, and one day he hitches a ride in the old stony noggin. He inadvertently kills his God… and discovers who’s really Sean Connery in Zardozpulling the strings. This is what happens when you make a lot of money off Deliverance, and then try too hard to make intelligent SF full of Big Concepts and Existential Themes. If you have somehow missed this up till now, well, it’s time for you to ride with the Brutals.

Next, The Visitor (1979). I’m telling you, this is worth setting up a Hoopla account for. I saw this at the Hollywood theater about a year The Visitor movie posterago and laughed all the way through. It’s about a little girl who’s the spawn of a cosmic power known as Sateen. She has telekinetic powers, a pet hawk, and can shoot lasers out of her eyes. This leads to a priceless ice skating scene where she uses her powers for ill… very ill (move over, Tonya Harding!) An awkward peroxide-blond Christ figure warns us of Sateen’s evil and sends a Visitor to combat the ancient menace and prevent it from fathering more children and taking over the world. Somehow Lance Henriksen, Shelley Winters, John Huston, Sam Peckinpah, and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar all got themselves mixed up in this debacle. It’s their loss, and our gain.. oh is it ever.

It’s hard to do justice to the sheer wacked majesty of these films with the written word… instead, feast your eyes upon the trailers (note that both films have some edgy moments):

And if you just can’t get enough, try these.

With Halloween approaching there are lots of skeletons to be seen, but did you know that you have a skeleton hiding inside of you? Human beings have 206 bones to be exact! Your skeletal system is the body system made up of all of your bones, joints and cartilage. Along with your muscular system, it makes it possible for you to walk, run, sit, stand, swim and move around the world.
To learn more about the skeletal system check out this article from or for teens at You can also check out the library's databases, a trusted source for homework help available free with your library card. Kids InfoBits has some great articles for kids in grades K-5 about the skeletal system. Simply log in with your library card then search for “skeletal system,” “bones,” or “skeleton” to find lots of information.  Two great resources for middle schoolers and high schoolers are eLibrary and InfoTrac Student Edition.  Both databases are free to use with a library card and provide access to electronic reference books, journal articles, newspapers and media. 
Check out this video about the Skeletal System from KidsHealth:

If you want to explore this topic more, or if you have more questions about any of this, Ask a Librarian! We’ll be happy to talk more about it.

Book jacket: Peanut Butter and Brains by Joe McGeeI don't know for sure how my son became aware of zombies.  I can only assure you that no, we haven't been letting my first grader watch The Walking Dead. And yet in much the same way that he's fascinated by mummies, he's intrigued by zombies. He's not alone either. Zombie tag is all the rage on my son's elementary school playground. Not all the players know what zombies are exactly (and who does really?), but they do know that zombies are slow and they carry their hands up straight in front of them and moan. All of which makes for a really long game of tag, but one that is really amusing to witness.
So what to do when your young elementary school kid is way into zombies?  Well, I suppose you could turn them on to mummies or plenty of other things if you prefer, but if you're willing to go there, there are thankfully lots of gentle and really fun reads to satisfy your little one's affinity for the undead.
We recently enjoyed a new picture book: Peanut Butter and Brains by Joe McGee, about an unusual zombie named Reginald. While all the other zombies in Quirkville have brains on the brain, all Reginald wants is a delicious and sticky peanut butter and jelly sandwich. When he finally gets his hands on one, rather than keep it to himself, he shares it with his horde, who quickly find that pb&j beats brains hands down.
Now when I make my son lunch I can offer him pb & brains; to which his reply is "no mom, that's just gross."
Check out this list for more kid-friendly zombie books to share with beginning readers.

For a lot of people, the pleasure of reading is enhanced when they can discuss books with friends or family. But children, teens and adults can't always read the same books. If you'd like to amp up the conversation at your dinner table, explore some of these titles grouped by themes and subject.

To begin, if your family enjoys stories about real people, here's one that is available in formats for beginning readers to adults. William Kamkwaba is a Malawian innovator. As a teen living in poverty, he devised a windmill that provided first electricity and then drinking water to his community.

Talking about animal welfare can be a challenge, for both kids and adults. Here are three stories for varying age levels that examine our treatment of animals.

If you're off on a camping trip this summer, what better time to discuss wilderness, courage and the will to survive?

Are you waiting with bated breath for Go Set a Watchman? Read, (or re-read) To Kill a Mockingbird, while younger readers get engrossed in The Lions of Little Rock, and then talk about civil rights and the power of friendship to bring people together.

In the early 1900's, Edward Curtis traveled North America taking photos of Native people, an obsession that almost destroyed his life but left us with an amazing historical record. Here's his story told for both adults and kids.

Looking for some creative inspiration? Syllabus is essentially a college course on connecting to your inner artist; My Pen encourages artists of all ages to draw. Just add blank paper.

Happy reading and discussing!

"Come with me and you'll be in a world of pure imagination." -- W. Wonka

 Multnomah County Library Golden Ticket

First graders of Multnomah County, welcome to the library! 

If you attend a school in the Portland Public, Corbett, Parkrose, Reynolds, David Douglas, Gresham-Barlow or Centennial School Districts, you and your family should receive a Golden Ticket at your school's fall conference, directly from your teacher.

Learning to read is a very exciting time, and Multnomah County Library can help you on your way to becoming a stronger reader. Bring your Golden Ticket to any Multnomah County Library location to choose a free book to keep and learn about all about what the library has just for you! Parents of first graders, fill out the information on the back of the ticket and you will be entered into a drawing for a family smartphone. The library has a lot to offer you too.

If your first  grader goes to a  public school in one of the districts listed above and didn't get a Golden Ticket at fall conferences, be sure to ask your teacher or principal.

Golden Tickets can be redeemed for a free book until January 4, 2016. You can come in any time to experience the magic of Multnomah County Library!

Made possible by gifts to The Library Foundation, a local nonprofit dedicated to our library's leadership, innovation and reach through private support.

Did you know that the process of photosynthesis helps us to survive?  Here’s a basic description to get you started understanding how this works.  Watch the video, take the follow-up test, and then try the karaoke song.

If you’d like to be sure you’ve mastered the basic concepts of photosynthesis, this site tests you frequently as you work your way through the information, and won’t allow you to progress until you’ve passed each test.

Let’s move on to more detailed information, including the “recipe” for photosynthesis and a description of the “teeny tiny pigment pancakes”.

With your knowledge of the basics about photosynthesis,  you can understand even more clearly how important plants are to life on earth.  Watch this thought-provoking vimeo and think about the impact of plants on our world.

Bring on the music!  It’s time to celebrate the amazing process of photosynthesis!  You may find that one or two of the following selections will help you to remember the facts about photosynthesis.  This song has a catchy tune, and will have you singing, “Every plant can do this fundamental process, and we can call this photosynthesis.”  Join in on this rap music video, or try this song from "They Might Be Giants".

Want to know more about photosynthesis?  Contact a librarian through your computer or at your local library.

I am enjoying Amanda Brooks latest book Always Pack a Party Dress. It seemed like good advice, so I had to read it. And it is true that when you are traveling you never know when you might need that party outfit. Brooks had a sudden invitation to Madonna’s birthday party. And no party dress! The book covers her fashion highs and lows with thoughtful insights.

Have you had a fashion low? What was your high? My fashion high may have been my red wedding dress. Money played a part of my fashion low. I thought I couldn’t afford nice things. I had forgotten the thrifting days of my childhood. I find the best way to feed my desire for clothes and being able to afford them is a trip to a thrift store or an estate sale, - What about you, are you a thrifter?

When I was younger, I worried about about a good winter coat and shoes. Sometimes the rain doesn’t stop here in Portland. So a backup pair of winter shoes are important to have while the other pair dries out. Now I worry do I have time and money for thrifting? And do I need to clean out my closet?

I used to have a love-hate relationship with the September Vogue issue. It is the biggest issue of the year.  Aspiring fashionistas know to get it or look at it at their local library. Do you love Vogue? I think for us working stiffs it’s an exercise in fantasy or daydreaming. Need a good fashion daydream? I have the list for you.

cover image of complete mausI was not a reader of comics as a child or teen, with the exception of the funnies in the paper. My first formal introduction to the format was Maus I and Maus II by Art Spiegelman in a college class. I remember it being a challenge to follow the illustrations and felt it a distraction from the words. And I am a words girl. Then I watched Persepolis. It was so beautifully done it made me want to read the book by Marjane Satrapi. cover image of complete persepolis

This is her memoir of growing up in the midst of the Iranian revolution. I realized that perhaps I should reevaluate my stance on comics and begin reading more. I stumbled upon Lucy Knisley, who combines food and travel and includes real snapshots and recipes. And then the funny, I shouldn’t be laughing at this because it’s about aging and death and depression but I am, ones like those by Allie Brosh and Roz Chast. I've found I like mostly memoirs. I like them because of the voyeuristic aspect and because they go so quickly. I can read a book in one sitting and sometimes that's just what I feel like doing. So if you’re like me and a bit hesitant to venture into graphic territory, take a look at this list and see if there’s something there to make the transition a smoother one.


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