Blogs

And if historical fiction of a food writer is not your thing, try some of her essays.
Start with How to Cook a Wolf.
Joan Reardon's biography is also a good one: Poet of the Appetites.

Inspiration StruckVolunteer Iggy Peterson

by Sarah Binns

At twenty-five, Iggy Peterson has lived in many places and read many books, but he keeps coming back to Portland and the Woodstock Library. “I started volunteering there when I was 17,” he says, “but then I moved across town and stopped for a few years.” He returned to Woodstock last year and was quickly selected for a 2016 Multnomah County Citizen Involvement Award. As a search assistant (the same position he held when he was a teenager), Iggy processes a list of nearly 250 books to pull from Woodstock’s shelves to fulfill holds for patrons. “It turns out I really enjoy clerical work,” he says with a laugh. “I like that everything is in its place and that there’s a right way and a wrong way to do it.”

Before the clerical work, though, Iggy was in a bit of a quandary. Born in Portland, Iggy and his family lived in Washington state and D.C. before returning to the Eastmoreland area. Growing up, he read a lot, especially sci-fi and fantasy books, but waning interest in school and complications at home meant that he dropped out of middle school. Shortly after this, he remembers thinking, “Hey, I like books! Maybe I’ll work at a bookstore!” But then he passed the Woodstock Library and inspiration struck: he started volunteering there two days a week.

Over time, Iggy has given approximately 350 hours to Woodstock. While he works one day a week now, thanks to a full-time job, his love of books and that “clerical work” encouraged him to apply for a recent access services assistant position with MCL. “Hopefully I can get past the lottery!” he says.

When not volunteering Iggy works as a line cook at local favorite Scottish pub Rose & Thistle, reads, plays video games, and hangs out with friends. When I ask if he wants to stay in Portland he nods. “It would be hard to move away from somewhere where I’m happy,” he says. Here’s to another 350 hours at Woodstock -- and beyond!  


A few facts about Iggy

Home library:  Gregory Heights, “But I usually grab books from Woodstock.”

Currently reading: On Blue’s Waters by Gene Wolfe

Most influential book: Hard to say, but possibly The Dispossessed by Ursula K. Le Guin. “It made me think a lot. How she made an anarchist society work… it was well done.”

Guilty pleasure: Older 60s sci-fi

Favorite browsing section: Fiction

E-reader or paper: Paper

Book that made him laugh or cry: The Last Unicorn by Peter S. Beagle.

Favorite place to read: “My room."

Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! Read last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

 

PashminaPri is an Indian-American teen living a pretty ordinary life: she loves drawing comics, eating Indian food, and watching Bollywood films with her family. One thing isn’t ordinary in Pri’s life, and that’s how her mom absolutely refuses to talk about India or Pri’s father -- whom she left there before Pri was born.

One afternoon, an old trunk tumbles out of Pri's closet, and in it she finds a beautiful sari that she wraps around her shoulders. And in that second, her world turns from a dull black and white to gorgeous technicolor. This sari transports her to the India of her dreams, filled with delicious dosas and breathtaking scenery. But a dark shadow begins to follow her there, and not everything is what it seems. Pri will have to be braver and bolder than she’s ever been before to track down the sari’s secret, and her family’s history. This heartwarming graphic novel about the power of our choices is a great read for strong young girls, and for those in need a bit of strength. 

Children with little or no preschool have the hardest time starting kindergarten. And their parents may be unsure how to help them.

The Early Kindergarten Transition program helps these families tackle the challenges kindergarten will bring. It’s held before school starts, over two to three weeks in late summer.

A kindergarten teacher leads a class for the kids each day during the program. Once or twice a week, parents attend a class, too. They learn what to expect from school and how to help their kids succeed.

The library has been a dedicated partner in these parent education classes ever since Portland Public Schools started the program seven years ago. The program today includes 43 SUN schools in six districts. Multnomah County librarians are active at all of them.

We model reading aloud to kids with an interactive storytime, and we introduce parents to the library and all the ways we can help — such as homework help, English classes, family programs, and books in their native languages.

This year, in addition to partnering on parent education classes, the library provided about 2,000 gently used books for child care locations at every site. (Child care is provided during parent education classes.)

We also signed up people for library cards and Summer Reading, and gave a free book to each of roughly 600 families.

From one PPS educator: "I know all of our parents that attended the library session were happy about our librarian. I myself enjoyed her way of reading the book to children  — showed us how easy it can be to read to any child. Everyone enjoyed all the takeaways from that session."

What do authors Mac Barnett, Ta-Nehisi Coates and Claire Messud all have in common? Any guesses?

If you guessed that they’ll all be at Wordstock: Portland's Book Festival presented by Bank of America on Saturday November 11, you were right! Prefer books by Gabrielle Bell, Jenny Han or Matthew Zapruder? You’re still in luck! The list of authors coming to Portland’s book festival is sure to provide something for everyone.

Make sure to bring the young readers and writers in your life along, because everyone under 18 gets in for free. The rest of us get in for a mere $15 ahead of time or $18 at the door. Either way admission includes a $5 voucher to use toward the purchase of a book. Not sure which book to buy with your voucher? Come chat with us at the library booth and we’ll help you sort it out.

You’ll also want to catch librarians facilitating author panels throughout the day. We’re getting pretty excited to meet our favorite authors! We’ll be using Twitter and Instagram to share our experiences at Wordstock. Follow along with #wordstalking and #PDXBookFest.

If you can’t come this year or if you want to prepare by doing some last minute reading, check out our lists of Wordstock books below.

 

Lemony Snicket, photo: Meredith Heuer

Daniel Handler is the author of the novels We Are PiratesThe Basic Eight, Watch Your Mouth, Adverbs, and Why We Broke Up, a 2012 Michael L. Printz Honor Book. As Lemony Snicket, he is responsible for many books for children, including the thirteen-volume sequence A Series of Unfortunate Events and the four-book series All the Wrong Questions. He is married to the illustrator Lisa Brown, and lives with her and their son in San Francisco. His most recent novel is All the Dirty Parts. You can catch him at Wordstock, or at the pre-festival variety show on Nov. 10th.

What books are on your nightstand? 

Our Dead World by Liliana Colanzi, translated by Jessica Sequeira,  Something Sinister by Hayan Charara,  and Theft by Finding, David Sedaris's diaries.

What authors, films, music, illustrators inspire you? 

Lately?  Novels by Junichiro Tanizaki, poems by Morgan Parker, Duke Ellington's Latin American Suite, rewatching Twin Peaks with my wife, and the odd tones of Beaks Plinth.

What’s the most exciting part of the work you do?

All of it is exciting. Right now I am on the road talking about my new books, and occasionally jotting some notes in the very beginning phases of thinking about a new novel.  I am meeting people who are saying interesting things about my work, and I am staring into space where the beginning of a story is maybe, maybe appearing.

What are you looking forward to at Wordstock 2017?

I'm hoping to catch Kaveh Akbar — his poetry is very exciting to me.  But I like the serendipity of a festival.  You wander around and before you know it you are hearing words you never thought you would encounter.

Last month the library introduced a set of updated rules for public feedback. We heard and read hundreds of your comments, questions and suggestions. This was valuable input, and we revised the library rules that take effect November 1 as a result.

While most of these rules have been in place for years, people took this chance to reflect on how they think of and use their library. Our community’s feedback centered on access: for children and families exploring a new world of reading and learning and for those with the fewest resources and the most challenging circumstances.

Based on this feedback, we removed the proposed limit on beverage sizes, changed policies around restroom use, clarified wording regarding service animals and improved language to better support the library’s commitment to inclusion.

Each day, 19 Multnomah County libraries are open to serve everyone with a focus on exceptional customer service. We work hard to create a welcoming environment. The library’s rules serve as a foundation for maintaining this environment. We will continue our work, listening and learning how we can improve library service.

On behalf of the more than 600 people who work for the library, I thank you for your engagement, for your support and for your patronage of Multnomah County Library.

Vailey
 

Irie Page is about to turn 14. Instead of, say, a birthday sleepover, she has planned a gift for her community, a free event featuring Mike Domitrz, the founder of the Date Safe Project and a consent educator for kids, teens and adults.  The funny, interactive presentation that he gives to teens and adults is called "Can I Kiss You?", which is also the title of his book. It focuses on how to have healthy, safe relationships and how to both avoid sexual assault and avoid sexually assaulting someone else. Her family raised money online to pay Domitrz's speaking fee, and after the story was covered on the local news, they got all the funding they needed. The event will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, November 9th in the Lincoln Recital Hall at Portland State University. PSU has waived the rental fees in support of Irie’s event.


I first met this remarkable young woman at the reference desk at my library when she was just a little kid signing up for our Read to the Dogs program. We book lovers who work at the library always notice the passionate readers, the ones who leave with huge stacks of books they’re obviously eager to dive into, and that was Irie. When she was old enough, I suggested that she volunteer for our Summer Reading program, giving out prizes to kids for reading, and she brought huge enthusiasm to this as well. When she told me last summer about the event she was planning, we decided to put together a book display. Irie chose all the books herself. If you can’t get in to see the display, here’s the list.

“After I saw Malala speak, I was inspired to do something for my community,” Irie told me. She originally wanted actress and feminist Emma Watson. "That's not going to happen," her mom told her, and then suggested Domitrz. When Irie happened upon a book here at the library about philanthropy parties, her idea took off.

“I’ve always seen things in the world and thought, ‘That’s messed up. I want to change that,” said Irie. Like Malala, the Pakistani advocate for girls’ rights to education, she decided she could make a difference. She chose to start here, in her own city. 

 

Liz Crain by Malte Jager

Liz Crain is the co-author of the Toro Bravo cookbook and author of Food Lover’s Guide to Portland and Grow Your Own: Understanding, Cultivating, and Enjoying Cannabis. She is a cofounder of the annual Portland Fermentation Festival. Her most recent work is Hello! My Name is Tasty.  Catch her at Wordstock at A Literary Dinner Party.

What books are on your nightstand?

Fasting and Feasting: The Life of Visionary Food Writer Patience Gray by Adam Federman which will be published this fall. The book's publisher, Chelsea Green, sent me a copy and I've been really enjoying getting to know more about this rest-in-peace British food and travel writer born in 1917. Patience is known among other things for her love of foraging, her fierce independence and for living the last 30 years of her life in a remote area of southern Italy with her Belgian sculptor husband, Norman Mommans. They had no electricity, modern plumbing or even a telephone.

I'm about to start the debut novel Marlena by Julie Buntin. My friend Jess and I just started a book club of two. I've never been in a book club because I find the larger groups with several members challenging and just not for me. She and I are going to take turns choosing a book by a woman writer every month and then when we meet up to discuss the book at the end of the month we'll meet somewhere for  food and drink that the narrative somehow inspires. I also always have a bunch of cookbooks and magazines that I subscribe to around that I'm reading — Food & Wine, The Believer (it's back!), The Sun, and Koreatown: A Cookbook.

 What's the most exciting part of what you do?

 All of my writing projects are passion projects so choosing what's next is always a rush. I had three books come out over the course of three months this summer so I was pretty dang busy. Too busy to give much thought to what next. Now that those launches have all passed and those books are out in the world I'm getting energized about what next. The ideas sticking at the moment are a cookbook on pressure cooking, a hard cider book, a cookbook for Shalom Y'all and finishing (finally!) my novel.

 What are you looking forward to at Wordstock (at the Festival, pop-ups, and/or Lit Crawl events)?

I'm really looking forward to the Literary Dinner Party panel that I'm on, of course, but also to hanging out with my boss and dear friend Rhonda Hughes and talking with folks and selling books at the Hawthorne Books table. I've worked there as an editor and publicity director since 2009. I always really enjoy visiting with friends at various publishing houses that I love, particularly Sasquatch Books, Tin House and Catapult/Counterpoint/Soft Skull. Julie Buntin, the author of Marlena, is going to be at Wordstock this year. I really hope I get to attend the panel that's she's doing with my friend Rachel Khong who edited Toro Bravo and also has a debut novel out that I loved — Goodbye, Vitamin.

Will you give us some  food/restaurant recommendations in Portland?

I actually wrote about that last year for Wordstock. One spot that I love that got cut off from that list is Maurice.  Oh and I'll also add that the previous location of Pollo Bravo is now Shalom Y'all which I also highly recommend. 

In 1990, former President George H.W. Bush signed the proclamation declaring the month of November as Native American Heritage Month. The proclamation celebrates and recognizes the accomplishments of the peoples who were the original inhabitants, explorers and settlers of the United States of America.

Looking for somewhere to start finding information about a specific tribe? The library has book recommendations and databases that provide historical information about Native Americans including daily life (language, food, shelter, clothing, culture etc.), for readers and researchers of all ages.

Perhaps you want to search an online map with state by state information, or browse a list of tribes to learn about native languages and culture?

Interested in researching your own Native American ancestry? The American Indian Records in the National Archives provides information on how to get started with your research. We also invite you to visit your local library branch to use the genealogy database, or contact the library for individualized booklists or to make a one on one appointment with one of our friendly staff members.

The library will also be hosting programs for all ages throughout the month to celebrate the rich history of the original inhabitants and settlers of the Pacific Northwest.

  • Exploring Ancient Native American Techonology - Try out your own engineering skills while discovering technologies designed by Oregon's first engineers.
  • Native American Indian Storytelling and Drumming - Listen to traditional stories and songs of the Kalapuya people of the Willamette Valley.
  • Dream Catcher Weaving - Participate in a workshop to learn about the history and mystery behind the dreamcatcher while weaving your own.
  • Meet DASH'KA'YAH and COYOTE - Shoshone-Bannock poet and storyteller Ed Edmo will be be sharing stories of DASH'KA'YAH and COYOTE that will delight all ages.
  • Personal Totems - Listen to traditional Native American stories and poems while you create a totem pole that represents aspects of your personality.
  • Native American Jewelry Making - Use traditional items such as bone beads and leather to create one-of-a-kind jewelry.
  • Columbia River Native Basketry - Join Pat Courtney Gould as they discuss and present the timeless artform of twined baskets.
  • Stinging Nettle for Cordage - Learn about sustainable nettle harvesting methods to make cordage or yarn.
  • A Lens on Contemporary Indigenous Art & Culture - Meet contemporary Klamath Modoc artist Ka'ila Farrell-Smith as they share their art practice and philosopy. They will also give a overview of intersectional Indigenous, people of color (POC) artists and collectives.  
  • Ethnobotany of Kalapuya - Learn about the traditional plants and cultural heritage of the local Kalapuya and Chinook tribes.
  • Columbia River Native Women - Learn more about the lives of Columbia River Native Women and their roles in both traditional and modern Native American Indian society.
  • Edible Native American Food Plants - Learn about which berries are edible when you are out hiking, and how Native Americans used food plants like huckleberry, cedar, sweetgrass and other plants for basketry and medicine.

por Donna Childs
Volunteer Elizabeth Cobos
Imagínese venir a un país donde no conoce el idioma, las sensibilidades, la geografía o las costumbres, y tomar la decisión de ofrecer servicios de voluntariado en la biblioteca local. Hay que tener valor, ¿no?

Elizabeth Cobos llegó a los Estados Unidos desde Oaxaca, México, hace ocho años. Ella superó su temor a lo desconocido y fue a la Biblioteca de St. Johns con la intención de convertirse en un gran ejemplo para su hija pequeña, Allison, y por su deseo personal de aprender, de ayudar a los demás y de ser útil.

Elizabeth es una asistente de búsquedas en St. Johns, adonde se dirige semanalmente para ayudar a buscar los materiales que están reservados. Aun cuando desconozca el significado de todas las palabras en un título, ella puede encontrar en el estante el libro que corresponde a la lista, lo cual la ayuda a familiarizarse con palabras nuevas. Aunque todo le resultaba extraño al principio, su trabajo le ha gratificado y le complacen las ocasiones cuando ha podido ayudar a hispanohablantes a utilizar los recursos de la biblioteca. Según uno de los bibliotecarios, Elizabeth ha ofrecido recomendaciones útiles para mejorar los servicios y programas en español de St. Johns. Ahí valoran sus contribuciones y ella le está muy agradecida a la biblioteca por darle esta oportunidad para desempeñarse de manera profesional y poder ayudar a otros miembros de la comunidad.

Deseosa de aprender inglés y participar en la vida de su hija y de la comunidad en general, Elizabeth asistió a una clase para madres e hijos en el prekinder de su hija y a una clase de inglés como segundo idioma (ESL) en Portland Community College; ella trabajó de voluntaria como asistente de maestro en un programa de Head Start bilingüe durante dos años y piensa trabajar como voluntaria en el salón de clase de kindergarten de su hija. También espera comenzar pronto en Mount Hood Community College el programa Transitions/Transiciones, que alienta y prepara a los estudiantes a comenzar o seguir sus estudios profesionales (ella cursó tres semestres universitarios en México). El objetivo final de Elizabeth es hallar un empleo que le permita trabajar con niños o en una biblioteca. Este parece un objetivo muy apropiado, dado su enfoque en la familia y la comunidad, así como su ánimo y determinación.



Algunos datos interesantes sobre Elizabeth

Su biblioteca local: St. Johns.

Lectura actual: a Elizabeth le gusta leer libros ilustrados para niños junto con su hija porque las imágenes la ayudan a aprender inglés, mientras que ayudan a su hija a aprender a leer.

El libro más influyente: El alquimista (The Alchemist) escrito por Paulo Coelho.

Libro favorito de su niñez: el libro infantil favorito de su familia es Un beso en mi mano (The Kissing Hand).

Su sección favorita de la biblioteca: libros de no-ficción y autoayuda o autoestima como Un corazón sin fronteras (A Heart without Borders), escrito por Nick Vujicic.

¿Prefiere libros electrónicos o en papel? En papel. Además, los videos de libros como El principito (Le Petit Prince), la ayudan a aprender palabras desconocidas.

Lugar favorito dónde leer: en cama con su hija y su esposo, o sola en el sofá a la luz de una vela.

Headed to the Macular Degeneration and Vision Expo on Saturday, October 28 at the Doubletree Hotel? In between learning about new adaptive technology options, stop by the library table to check out an audiobook or large print book and learn about our free online content. If you show us your library card (or sign up for one) we’ll give you a prize!

Can’t make it to the event? Learn about the accessibility resources we have for the blind and people with low vision on our website. Check out our large print and audiobook collections. Need some reading suggestions to help you narrow down those choices? We've got you covered. Prefer to access your books online? Learn how to use the Libby App to download ebooks (it's easy to make the font bigger!) and audiobooks. Just ask if you need any help.

 

 

Elly Blue photo by Amanda Lucier

Elly Blue is a writer and bicycle activist. Her previous books include Everyday Bicycling, Bikenomics, Pedal Zombies, and more. She tours annually with the Dinner and Bikes program that she co-founded, and is co-producer and director of Groundswell, a series of movies about people using bicycling to make their communities better. She is co-owner and marketing director at Microcosm Publishing. Catch her pop-up talk with Cynthia Marts at Wordstock.

What books are on your nightstand?

The Hidden Life of Trees by Peter Wohlleben -- the coolest, kookiest, most wonderfully sensitive book about nature and empathy; How to Relax by Thich Nhat Hanh, because I often struggle with this basic life skill; my journal; oh, and Dog Boy by Eva Hornung, which I just bought from Fred Nemo at Black Hat Books. He recommended it to me on the condition that I not read the blurbs before finishing the book, and taped over them to make sure I wasn't tempted.

What authors inspire you?

Rebecca Solnit has a voice and scope that is aspirational for me as a nonfiction writer. As for fiction, the most recent novel I loved was Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie -- it reads like having a deep conversation with a brilliant friend about race, class, countries, and of course hair... but every time you come up for air you realize she's casually doing these incredible literary feats on every page.

What’s the most exciting part of the work you do?

In my publishing work, it's helping authors find their voices and connect with readers. As a writer and editor, producing feminist bicycle science fiction anthologies like Biketopia is especially satisfying. So much of our experience of the world is stories, whether it's the ones we're told on the news or those we tell each other on social media. Science fiction is so powerful because it lets us really push the limits of our imagination in ways that can liberate us from some of the thinking traps in everyday life. If we can imagine a world where we're more free, then it's easier to find the choices and paths that make us actually more free.

What are you looking forward to at Wordstock 2017?

I'll be spending most of my time behind the Microcosm table in the exhibit area, talking about books with people who love books, and that's one of my favorite things to do.

Any tips for biking to Wordstock and/or around Portland?

Yes! I find driving and parking downtown super stressful, but biking is relatively easy.  If you don't have a bicycle, the orange Biketown ones can get you there from anywhere central.  My main advice for biking downtown is to take the lane—that means, ride right in the middle of the rightmost lane that doesn't have train tracks in it. Since the lights are timed to encourage everyone to go about 10 miles per hour, you'll be going pretty much the same speed as car traffic and there's no reason to put yourself in the car door zone off to the right.

Card catalog drawer reading "murder"

 

Something strange in your neighborhood? Bumps in the night? No meddling kids around to help?

Who you gonna call?

We may not have proton packs, containment units or sweet jumpsuits, but your friendly library staff have a few tricks up our cardigan sleeves to assist with your ghostly inquiries.

 

 

Before breaking out your electronic voice phenomena (EVP) recorder, here are a few things to think about:

  • Sometimes you find things. Sometimes you don’t. Sometimes you find things you don’t want to find.

  • Research takes time. Did you know you can book an appointment with a librarian to get you started?

  • Get organized. Create a system that works for you, and be prepared to take notes.

Start with the facts:

  • Was your neighborhood considered part of the city when your house or apartment was built? Check out the City of Portland’s annexation map for more information.

  • How old is your home? Property information records can be found at the City of Portland’s Portlandmaps.com.

  • Was it built before 1933? Your address or street might have changed!

  • Who lived in your home? Our city directories and phone books can get you started. Ask us how.

Into the upside down (and other Stranger Things):

While we may not be able to confirm nor deny the existence of paranormal phenomenon in your home, library staff are here and ready to help with your ghostly research. Armed with facts and your not-so-unbelievable electromagnetic field (EMF) detector, it’s time to dig into the paranormal.

Here’s some more resources that may help. Also don’t forget to contact us with any questions you may have.

 

Boo!

 

 

 

Library Volunteer Building a New CommunityVolunteer Elizabeth Cobos

by Donna Childs

Imagine coming to a country where you don’t know the language, sensibilities, geography, or customs, and deciding to volunteer at the local library. Pretty brave, eh?

Elizabeth Cobos came to the U.S. from Oaxaca, Mexico, eight years ago. She overcame her understandable fear of the unknown, and walked into the St. Johns Library, because she wanted to be a strong role model for her young daughter, Allison, and because of her own desire to learn, to help others, and to be useful.

Elizabeth is a Search Assistant at St. Johns, coming in weekly to look for items on paging lists. Even if she doesn’t know the meaning of all the words in a title, she can match the list with a book on a shelf, and it helps familiarize her with new words. Although everything was strange at first, she has found the work rewarding, and is delighted on the occasions when she has been able to help Spanish-speaking patrons connect with resources at the library. According to one of the librarians, Elizabeth has made helpful suggestions for improving Spanish language services and programs at St. Johns. They value her input, and she is very grateful to the library for giving her this opportunity to feel professional and to help fellow community members.

Anxious to learn English and to be involved in her daughter’s life and the larger community, Elizabeth took a class for mothers and children at her daughter’s nursery school, as well as an ESL class at Portland Community College; she volunteered as an assistant to the teacher at an English-Spanish Head Start program for two years; and she plans to volunteer in her daughter’s kindergarten classroom. And soon, she hopes to begin the Transitions/Transiciones program at Mount Hood Community College, which encourages and prepares students to begin or continue college. (She had three semesters of college in Mexico.) Elizabeth’s ultimate goal is to find a job working with children and/or in a library. This seems like a great fit, given her family and community focus, courage, and determination.


A few facts about Elizabeth

Home library: St. Johns

Currently reading: Elizabeth likes to read picture books with her daughter because the pictures help Elizabeth learn English while helping her daughter learn to read.

Most influential book: El Alquimista (The Alchemist) by Paulo Coelho

Favorite book from childhood: Their family’s favorite childrens’ book is Un Beso en Mi Mano (The Kissing Hand).

Favorite section of the library: Non-fiction self help, or self-esteem, books such as Un Corazon sin Fronteras (A Heart without Borders) by Nick Vujicic

Which do you prefer, E-reader or paper book? Paper. Also, videos of books such as Le Petit Prince help her learn unfamiliar words.

Favorite place to read: In bed with her daughter and her husband, or by herself on the sofa with a candle

Thanks for reading the MCL Volunteer Spotlight. Stay tuned for our next edition coming soon! Read last month's Volunteer Spotlight.

 


 

 

12-year-old Sunny is taunted by classmates for looking different (her pale skin, yellow hair, and hazel eyes mixed with West African features cause her to stand out) and for being from a different place (New York-born to Nigerian parents, her family has moved back to West Africa… but neither country feels completely like home). In Akata Witch, Sunny discovered that she was one of the Leopard People -- those with magical abilities -- who live among regular folk. She and three friends used their powers to catch a ruthless serial killer who planned to awaken a monster fromAkata Warrior the spirit world.

Now she is back, in a sequel filled with African magic that I have long been waiting for: Akata Warrior. Sunny is stronger, a year older, and many years more fierce. She has been hard at work studying with her demanding mentor, Sugar Cream, and working to unlock the secrets that lie within her powerful Nsibidi, or spell book. But time waits for no one, and Sunny must travel through worlds both visible and invisible to find the mysterious town of Osisi -- where she will meet her destiny and fight a looming and apocalyptic battle to save humanity. Maybe it is the way Nnedi Okofore weaves Nigerian folktales into her magic, or how that magic is so seamlessly drawn into modern-day Nigeria -- but you’ll believe this original fantasy world really could exist.


 

I fell in love with Katherine Roy’s first book, Neighborhood Sharks, because it was as informative as it was beautiful -- exploring the lives of great whites that live in the waters of California’s Farallon Islands, its cover blooming with the (watercolor) blood of a seaHow To Be An Elephant lion that met an unfortunate fate.

In her latest book, How to Be An Elephant, the author looks across the globe -- to the extraordinary lives of African Elephants and the unique skills a baby elephant learns as he grows into a majestic adult. Illustrated in lush grays, blues and blush tones, we follow a baby elephant from his birth beneath a star-filled savanna sky and into the welcoming trunks of his mother and aunts. Readers will find out just how a baby elephant takes his first steps, “sees” his world by following his nose, playfully explores, and stays in touch with family members miles away by feeling vibrations through the delicate, padded soles of his feet. This richly-illustrated, scientifically accurate book is a sweet exploration of family, community, and love as one elephant herd marches its way across the savanna.

Drawing on the latest scientific research and her own trip to Kenya, Katherine Roy has done another extraordinary job of bringing a unique animal -- and its pivotal place in our ecosystem -- to life for young readers.

Now that we're leaning into fall, we at the library are anticipating Wordstock: Portland’s Book Festival presented by Bank of America on November 11. What are we looking forward to the most in this confection of literary culture?

  1. Librarians love book people — not sure if that’s out there? The idea of being surrounded by thousands of people who revere reading — well, that’s just our happy place. Then plop the whole festival down in the middle of the Portland Art Museum, a place we don’t get to nearly enough, and there just aren't enough superlatives to describe this bookish perfection.
  2. Nancy Pearl, our guru of all things readers’ advisory (a fancy way of saying "talking to people about books") will be in attendance, plugging her first novel. She’s so famous in library world, there’s even an action figure of her. We hesitate to guess how many Nancy Pearl action figures live on library desks around the country — we suggest the numbers are brobdingnagian. (Oh, we like words, too.)
  3. A lot of us bike to work and have been following Elly Blue since her early days at bikeportland.org. We love what she has to say about feminism and riding, and the positive economics of biking.
  4. A few of us are moderating panels, and youth librarian Tasha says, “I am super stoked about attempting to wrestle my inner fangirl to the ground while moderating a panel of some of my favorite illustrators and authors in an attempt to not have my interaction with the panelists devolve into a repeated refrain of "I love your work, I just love your work, like, I love your work so much. So much."
  5. Everybody has 5 bucks to spend on books; but what books should you buy? With so many inspiring authors, and a bounty of small press booths, it's a difficult decision. Meet up with one of our My Librarian team and get some one-on-one advice about where to spend your Wordstock dollars — we love the effervescent exchange of good reads with book lovers (not sure if we made that clear before?).

Rainbow flag Photo Credit: Benson Kua  - Creative Commons

October 11 is National Coming Out Day.

Every coming out experience is unique. For some it’s a hesitant whisper; for others, it’s a scream when you are in that “right now” moment. Regardless of volume or location, coming out is about sharing personal identity, being proud and, most importantly, being visible. As the Human Rights Campaign says, Coming Out Day is “a reminder that one of our most basic tools is the power of coming out."

Whether you self-identify as LGBTQAA+ or know someone that does, whatever your connection is to Coming Out Day, Multnomah County Library is a welcoming place for information and book recommendations.

 

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