Thursday, June 26, 2008

Good Reads: The Plain Janes

Title: The Plain Janes
Writer: Cecil Castellucci
Artist: Jim Rugg

After a bomb explosion forces her family to move from Metro City to the suburbs, Jane has trouble fitting in at her new school. When she meets three other Janes (all of whom are as out of place as she is), they form a group called P.L.A.I.N. that tries to create simple art around town to make people happy. Unfortunately, not everyone in town loves their work and officials begin cracking down to prevent more "art attacks."

Castellucci creates a believable set of characters, each unique and enjoyable. Her straight-forward story meshes well with Rugg's art. The art stays away from the over-exaggerated superhero style and presents the characters in a clean, normal look that enhances the story.
Keep an eye out for Janes In Love, which is released in August.
The Plain Janes is located in YA non-fiction: 741.5983 Castellucci

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

Music Spotlight: Flight of the Conchords

Artist: Flight of the Conchords
Album: Flight of the Conchords
As musical comedy acts go, it is much easier to come by a group or performer that really hits the mark with one song and fills an album with mediocre tracks to sell that single good one. Flight of the Conchords , however, is much more than one or two funny songs. In actually, their entire self-titled album is full of hilarious moments.
Flight of the Conchords is made of the duo Bret McKenzie and Jermaine Clement, who stake claim as "formerly New Zealand's fourth most popular guitar-based digi-bongo acapella-rap-funk-comedy folk duo." After a handful of features on HBO, the duo landed a TV series called, surprisingly enough, Flight of the Conchords, which received critical acclaim and allowed them the chance to showcase their unique music.
That music is collected here and shows an impressive array of musical parodies, from hip-hop spoof "Hiphopopotamus vs. Rhymenoceros" and the reggae-inspired "Boom" to the Pet Shop Boys-like "Inner City Pressure", they mimic the stylings of various genres perfectly while laying down humorous lines over and over. The 70's message songs are hilariously skewered on "Think About It" (Killing each other using knives and forks/ And calling each other names like dork), as is David Bowie on "Bowie" (Is it lonely out there in space man, or is there life on Mars? /Wouldn't that be weird coz you wrote that song, 'Is There Life on Mars'. /You could write a follow up tune and call it 'And There Is' ).
To get the full effect of Flight of the Conchords, you can also check out the first season the TV show on DVD. The songs on are mixed in throughout each episode and the dry, witty humor is in good supply.
Flight of the Conchords (music) is located in Rock Music: MR Flight
Flight of the Conchords (DVD) is located in fiction movies: F (Humor)

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Music Spotlight: Panic at the Disco

Artist: Panic at the Disco
Albums: Pretty. Odd., A Fever You Can't Sweat Out

Anyone familiar with Panic at the Disco's first album, A Fever You Can't Sweat Out, may not recognize the same four guys on the band's follow-up, Pretty. Odd. Where Fever is a fairly straight-forward collection of emo-pop that doesn't stand out among the countless other bands out there, Pretty. Odd. is a leap forward in songwriting and production that is both memorable and noteworthy.

From the outside looking in, Pretty. Odd. almost looks like a hodge-podge of songs thrown together to fill an album - from Brit-pop to folk to almost pure pop. Listening to it, however, produces an smoothly flowing collection of songs that make for an utterly enjoyable experience. From the opening introduction where they pronounce that they are the same band they always were, Pretty. Odd. moves along at a steady pace that does a masterful job of balancing the up-beat tunes like "Nine in the Afternoon" and "That Green Gentleman" with the slower "Behind the Sea" and "She Had the World". Of course, Panic at the Disco never takes itself too seriously, but that sense of humor helps make Pretty. Odd. an album that makes you sit up and take notice of a band that previously was almost interchangeable with so many others.

Panic at the Disco is located in Rock Music: MR Panic

Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Good Reads - Baltimore

Title: Baltimore, or, the Steadfast Tin Soldier and the Vampire
Authors: Mike Mignola & Christopher Golden

During World War I, Henry Baltimore led a sneak attack on Hessian soldiers to try and gain an advantage for the Allied Forces. The attack failed. With his soldiers around him gunned down and his own leg severely wounded, Baltimore finds himself confronted with a terrible evil which will alter his life forever.

This sets the table for the book Baltimore, the story of a vampire hunter and how his life is changed on that fateful day. What makes Baltimore intriguing is how Mignola and Golden unveil the title character through the recollections of three of his associates. The tale alternates between flashbacks and the present as all three characters divulge more and more insight into not only Henry Baltimore but also the supernatural creatures he is committed to destroying.
Those of you familiar with the Hellboy books and movie should recognize Mignola - he is the creator of the character and his illustrations fill out Baltimore, giving it an additional ominous touch. The story moves quickly and almost reads like a collection of short stories that make up a larger tale. Either way, it helps makes Baltimore a good read.
Baltimore is located in YA fiction: YA Mignola

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Bubble Wrap Bash!

There was a whole lot of popping going on at the Bubble Wrap Decathlon yesterday - and a lot of medals were awarded for it. We had a lot of fun, even though we didn't get to all 10 events.

The big winner of the day was Matt, who walked away as the most decorated bubble wrap decathlete with 3 gold medals (iron man, sprint and javelin) and a bronze medal (sprint relay). Other gold medals went to April (hurdles), Shane (shot put), Rebecca (long jump), and the winning relay team of Katie, Claire, Shae and Macaila.

Check out the photos of some of the medal winners below. And don't forget to let us know what you thought of the decathlon - did you like it? Should we do it again (there is still plenty of bubble wrap to be popped), what should we change? Post your comments and let us know!

Shot put winners display their hardware

The hotly contested sprint

Bubble wrap + jump ropes = hurdles?

Monday, June 16, 2008

Updated Wii leaderboard

With Friday's Battle of the Boxes tournament in the books, we have an updated leaderboard for our top competitors. Unfortunately, we ran out of time before the Tennis bracket was completed, but the other four games are posted below. The next tourney date is set for July 11 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Dance, Dance Revolution
Dan Rosenow 21,245,450
Zach Schuette 12,454,200
Shane Hailer 6,797,580
Bryce Williams 6,022,500
Paul M. 5,850,750
Ryan Brandes 5,767,155

Guitar Hero III
Michael DeBauch 297,338
Dan Rosenow 283,000
Alex Grant 165,377
Max Kaczkowski 160,078
Sam Von Arx 123,508

Michael DeBauch 387
Max Kaczkowski 258
Ryan Brandes 235
Bryce Williams 207

Super Smash Bros. Brawl

Bryce Williams 15 points
Sam Rouse 10 points
Michael DeBauch 7 points
Eric Hernandez 6 points
Daniel Homben 3 points

Friday, June 13, 2008

Who's the top Decathlete (with Bubble Wrap)?

The Library's YA Summer programming rolls on with the first of our Olympic events: the decathlon. In the real Summer Olympics, the decathlon is a ten-event competition to determine the best track and field athlete. At the Library, the decathlon is all about testing your prowess in one thing and one thing only - popping bubble wrap!

Come in on Monday and test your mettle in all ten bubble wrap popping events:
Sprint Relay
Long Jump
Shot Put
Hurdle Relay
Timed Intermediate Race
The Iron Man

Want to know what each event consists of? You need to stop in the Balkansky Room at 2 p.m. on Monday to find out. For a hint, let me tell you they involve throwing books, throwing bubble wrap, jumping, and an awful lot of finger squeezing. As for the Iron Man...well, that is going to be up to you.

The top finishers in each event will score gold, silver, and bronze medals with chocolaty goodness in the middle.

Remember that attending the Bubble Wrap Decathlon counts towards your reading hours this summer. It's not too late to sign up, either.

The decathlon gets underway with opening ceremonies at 2 p.m. in the Balkansky Room on Monday, June 16.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Great Big Fun!

Thanks to everyone who came out for our summer kickoff and the return of Paul Merklein's Great Big Faces! If you didn't make it here, you missed out on a lot of fun, including Paul's drawings of Mark Twain, The Cat in the Hat, Elvis Presley, and two audience members (Jared and Macaila).

As they were leaving, I received a number of comments on Paul's show, including:
"The program was entertaining and funny. His drawings were really good!"

"This program was really great! I loved it! I liked how interactive he was with the audience and his humor!"

"His drawings were awesome! So much fun to watch! Do it again next year."

"Awesome Elvis face!"

"This guy rocks!!!"

Five people summed it up as "Great"

and my personal favorite: "Wicked Sweet!"

So a Great Big thank you to Paul Merklein, who will be out and about Wisconsin this summer, so check out his website to find out where he will be. And keep an eye out for the new faces around the library this summer.

You can still sign up for the Summer Reading Program at the Reference Desk through the end of July. Don't miss our next program: The Bubble Wrap Decathlon on Monday, June 16 at 2 p.m. in the Balkansky Room. To borrow a phrase, it will be a "wicked sweet" event!

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Music Spotlight - They Might Be Giants

Artist: They Might Be Giants
Album: The Else

In the early 90's, They Might Be Giants were definition of quirky, indie music, with their odd humor and strange yet appealing mix of vocals, guitar and accordion. They built up a huge cult following with their Dial-A-Song (callers could listen to a song recorded on an answering machine) and on early alternative radio stations with "Don't Let Start", "Birdhouse in Your Soul", and "Istanbul, Not Constantinople."

In recent years, the band has shifted to children's music (with great success). The Else is their return to the rock music scene and there are definite signs of what made them an underground success. The Else starts slowly, almost as though the band is getting reacquainted with their old ways. By the time the first strains of "With the Dark" come over the speakers, all the things that made They Might Be Giants popular before seem to snap into place. The entire second half of the album takes on a comfortable feel and really makes The Else worth the listen. "Bee of the Bird of the Moth" is vintage Giants music, while "The Mesopotamians" and "Withered Hope" demand to be listened to over and over. While the first half may be forgettable, the latter part of The Else makes this disc worth checking out.
They Might Be Giants is located in Rock Music cd's: MR They

Monday, June 9, 2008


School is out and summer is here (in spirit if not in the weather) so that means it is time for the Library's YA Summer Programming.

Don't miss our Big kickoff with the Great Big Faces program on Wednesday at 2 p.m. You can sign-up for the reading program, grab a sub, then sit back and try and guess the faces that Paul Merklein will be drawing. It is a fun program and it may result in you having your own face posterized in the Great Big format.

We are following that up with the Bubble Wrap Decathlon - 10 events set to test your bubble popping skills. From sprints and hurdling to shot put and the wild Iron Man, we will see who reigns supreme in this Bubble Wrap beat down. Gold, silver and bronze medals (re: chocolate) will be awarded to those with the fastest thumbs. The decathlon gets underway at 2 p.m. on Monday, June 16.

Even if you can't make the programs, you still need to sign up for the YA Reading Program, which could net you some prizes, like books, Cd's, DVDs, gift cards, and other cool stuff. Just count up the hours you spend reading and turn in books slips so we can keep a tally. Top readers are guaranteed to walk away with cool swag while others can turn their hours into bidding chips in the Finale auction. As a bonus this year, attending programs will get you additional hours (each program you attend will earn you five hours toward the reading program).

Sign up at the Great Big Faces program on Wednesday, or at the Reference Desk to get your summer off and rolling!

Friday, June 6, 2008

Good Reads - Dream Factory

Title: Dream Factory
Author: Brad Barley & Heather Hepler

What would happen if the workers at Walt Disney World went on strike? Who would put on the character costumes? In Dream Factory, they are filled by teenagers, including the two main characters: Ella (who is the stand-in Cinderella) and Luke (the Dale part of Chip and Dale). In what sounds like a dream job, Ella and Luke find the work less that dream-like, due in no small part to their own personal issues that led them here. Ella finds herself working alongside the gorgeous Prince Charming while Luke is partnered up with his seemingly perfect girlfriend in the Chip costume. All is not well in either relationship as Ella and Luke find each other more interesting than their significant others. How will their friendship affect their relationships?

Dream Factory is located in YA fiction: Barley

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Kickoff the Summer with Great Big Faces!

Just a reminder that our summer programming gets rolling in a BIG way next Wednesday with Great Big Faces. Artist Paul Merklein is back for the second straight year to show off his artistic skills and entertain us as he draws great big faces. You've seen his handiwork from last year - the big Harry Potter, Count Olaf and Abe Lincoln faces are hanging from the second floor. Paul will be doing new faces this year and one of them might be your face!
Our Great Big Faces kickoff is at 2 p.m. on June 11. We will have free subs and pop and you can sign up for our YA Summer Reading Program. As a bonus, attending programs during the summer count toward your reading hours, so you will earn a bonus 5 hours just for coming in and watching Paul work while you eat.
You can check out Paul's website here.
As for the rest of the summer, we have something going on almost every week through July. Here is what we have on tap:
June 16 - Bubble Wrap Decathlon
July 2 - Paint the Library Red, White and Blue
July 7 - Star Wars Movie Marathon
July 14 - Wii Olympics
July 21 - Scavenger Hunt Relay
July 28 - Finale & Karaoke Competition
Each program will start at 2p.m., except for the Star Wars Marathon, which will start at 10 a.m.
Check back here for more info on these programs and be sure to stop in at the Reference Desk to sign up for the YA Reading Program.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Good Reads - Happy Kitty Bunny Pony

Title: Happy Kitty Bunny Pony
So, Happy Kitty Bunny Pony may be better classified as an interesting read. This one really depends on your sense of humor and how twisted it is.
Using cute animal illustrations from advertisments over many decades, the odd folks who put this book together combined them with the humor of Mike Nelson. Nelson provides a running commentary on the images, adding insight into the lives of various creatures such as bears, lambs, and horses in addition to the title creatures.
To really describe Happy Kitty Bunny Pony doesn't do it justice. Instead, here is an example:
Under a picture of a kitten seated next to a Christmas Tree it reads - Buying a gift for a cat is hard, because cats only have the dimmest awareness of their surroundings. Give them a bell, or if that is too extravagant, a clump of earth. It will hardly matter.
How interesting you find this book is solely up to what makes you laugh. If you are looking for a more twisted quality to your reading, this is the place to look.
Happy Kitty Bunny Pony is located in YA non-fiction:
704.9432 Charles

Valders Book Talk

Thanks to all of you Valders Vikings who sat through my book talks today. You had lots of great questions and were great to talk to (at). The following is a list of books I brought in with me today, though I didn't get a chance to talk about all of them. They should be on the display to the left of the stairs or on the shelf under the author's last name. If you need help tracking down a book, ask at the Reference Desk and we will try and find it for you:

Wintersmith by Terry Pratchett
Peak by Roland Smith
The Absolutely True Diary of a Part-Time Indian by Sherman Alexie
Skulduggery Pleasant by Derek Landy
Shark Girl by Kelly Bingham
Repossessed by A.M. Jenkins
Evil Genius by Catherine Jinks
Dream Factory by Brad Barkley
Traitor by Gudrun Pausewang
Last Shot by John Feinstein
Best Foot Forward by Joan Bauer
The Actual Real Reality of Jennifer James by Gillian Shields
Heaven Looks a Lot Like a Mall by Wendy Mass

Graphic Novels:
The Plain Janes by Cecil Castellucci
Planet Hulk by Greg Pak
Persepolis by Marjane Satrapi

The Awakening (Quantum Prophecy) by Michael Carroll
The Wizard, the Witch and Two Girls From Jersey by Lisa Papademetriou
Magyk by Angie Sage

Born on a Blue Day by Daniel Tammet