Saturday, December 12, 2009

Children's Author Highlight 1: David Wiesner

So, working at the library is kind of amazing. I get to people-watch, eavesdrop on conversations, get followed around by little kids who try to help me put books back on the shelves (they're not so good at it, but their effort is commendable), and best of all -- I get to read children's books and not feel judged by it. How else could I help patrons find what they are looking for unless I myself have read some of these books? Yes, I could chalk it up to just that-- research.

Or... I could admit that I am still obsessed with children's books. So much so that I take home 10 at a time and sometimes read them aloud to my mom. The tables have turned! She's a good sport though. Honestly, children's books are some of the most interesting and intricate books you can find. Of course, this doesn't apply to all, but some artists/writers have gotten really creative with these things. And so this is why I have decided to pick out a few of my favorites-- some for their art, and some for their new ideas, or new ways of presenting them. Either way, enjoy. And please leave comments with recommendations of your own! Thus begins my Children's Author Highlight Reel, featuring many writers/illustrators who I think deserve special recognition for their work.

Here is the first author I have decided to highlight-- and my new favorite.

DAVID WIESNER: I really like authors who illustrate their own books because they have complete control over how the entire project turns out. David Wiesner is someone who doesn't even have to write to tell a story, and he has several books which contain no words at all. It's beautiful. In addition to writing several of his own books, he has done illustrations for many books by other authors, putting his creativity and skilled artistic abilities to great use.

Tuesday by David Wiesner -- Caldecott Medal Winner
  • I laughed aloud at this one. A lot. If you ever wondered what you're missing while you sleep, this could make you want to stay up a little bit later....
The Three Pigs by David Wiesner -- Caldecott Medal Winner
  • This starts out as a retelling of the classic fairy tale... but then the characters turn the tables.
June 29, 1999 by David Wiesner
  • I initially picked this up because June 29th is my birthday. If you like oversized foods floating through the air (like in Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs), then this book is for you.
Flotsam by David Wiesner -- Caldecott Medal Winner
  • Imagine being on a beach and finding an underwater camera washed up on shore. When the pictures are developed, what will the pictures show? What do sea creatures do when the scientists aren't watching?
Free Fall by David Wiesner -- Caldecott Honor
  • This beautiful narrative takes you through a dream sequence that would make M.C. Escher proud. I couldn't believe this didn't win the Caldecott Winner Medal, but I guess they've got to give someone else a chance.
Sector 7 by David Wiesner -- Caldecott Honor
  • Again, no words. This time his story takes you into the clouds and might explain why you see things in them.

Alright-- so there is the first Children's Author Highlight for this blog. There will be more to come, so check back with me. Next up (though not necessarily in this order) are: Chris van Allsburg, Jane Yolen, Jan Brett, and Bill Peet!

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Projects at the Fluvanna County Historical Society

Projects at the Fluvanna County Historical Society:

It's true that now that I have a new job, I will have less time to spend at the Historical Society, but I can't seem to stop cold turkey. So I'm going in with whatever time I have because I've taken on a number of projects that I'm not willing to hand off just yet. Such as...

I'm working on an awesome little exhibit on the School Systems in Fluvanna. I'm unsure of when the exhibit will be put up, but the research is turning up some pretty cool things. The focus is mostly on the 19th century schools-- the private schools and the start of the first public schools in the South after the Civil War.

So I was trying to flesh out this exhibit-- deciding what would make this interesting to the school-aged kids, and thinking of ways to get them really involved. This was especially important to me after a mom and her 3 year old came through the Old Stone Jail Museum for a tour one afternoon and he kept tugging on her arm and saying, "I want to go home." This sounds like it would be annoying, but it was totally excusable because they were British, and it just didn't come off as bratty that way. I'm such a sucker for accents...

Anyway, Judy and I decided to add Discovery Boxes to the exhibit where kids could try writing in the same style and with the same materials--like quill pens and ink-- that they used in the 19th century. We're thinking of other kinds of Discovery Boxes to make too! Suggestions welcome!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

The AFI Top 100 Project

I am 22 and have seen 32 of the 100 movies on the American Film Institute’s list of all-time greatest movies, and there are at least seven more of which I have seen partially. This list intrigues me, and I plan on investigating.

It is my mission to watch every single movie on this list: the good, the bad and the ugly. I have always enjoyed watching classic movies, but this goal to see all of these movies started when I saw AFI’s countdown of these movies on television, and from there on in it became almost an obsession.

The list is composed of all different genres, although there are few comedies and horror films. I guess they don’t typically meet the qualifications which “enrich and nurture the art of film in America", which AFI lists on its website as the reason for the Institute’s founding. I've got the list of movies here, and although I don't know if I agree with all of them, I'm going to try to look at the reasons they might have been placed where they are-- including the shots, the scene setup, the acting, the music, the costumes, and then, of course, the story line. Strangely enough, some of the movies I began watching after I saw this list surprised me as to how they made the list based on the story line alone (A Streetcar Named Desire...).

Here's the list-- I put a mark next to the ones I have seen completely:
1. Citizen Kane, 1941.
2. The Godfather, 1972.
3. Casablanca, 1942. *
4. Raging Bull, 1980. *
5. Singin' in the Rain, 1952.
6. Gone With the Wind, 1939. *
7. Lawrence of Arabia, 1962.
8. Schindler's List, 1993.*
9. Vertigo, 1958.*
10. The Wizard of Oz, 1939. *
11. City Lights, 1931.
12. The Searchers, 1956.
13. Star Wars, 1977.*
14. Psycho, 1960.*
15. 2001: A Space Odyssey, 1968.
16. Sunset Blvd., 1950.
17. The Graduate, 1967.*
18. The General, 1927.
19. On the Waterfront, 1954.
20. It's a Wonderful Life, 1946. *
21. Chinatown, 1974.
22. Some Like It Hot, 1959. *
23. The Grapes of Wrath, 1940.
24. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial, 1982. *
25. To Kill a Mockingbird, 1962.*
26. Mr. Smith Goes to Washington, 1939. *
27. High Noon, 1952.
28. All About Eve, 1950.
29. Double Indemnity, 1944.
30. Apocalypse Now, 1979.
31. The Maltese Falcon, 1941.*
32. The Godfather Part II, 1974.
33. One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest, 1975.
34. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs, 1937.*
35. Annie Hall, 1977.
36. The Bridge on the River Kwai, 1957.
37. The Best Years of Our Lives, 1946.
38. The Treasure of the Sierra Madre, 1948.
39. Dr. Strangelove, 1964.
40. The Sound of Music, 1965.*
41. King Kong, 1933.
42. Bonnie and Clyde, 1967.
43. Midnight Cowboy, 1969.
44. The Philadelphia Story, 1940.*
45. Shane, 1953.
46. It Happened One Night, 1934.
47. A Streetcar Named Desire, 1951.*
48. Rear Window, 1954.
49. Intolerance, 1916.
50. The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, 2001.*
51. West Side Story, 1961.*
52. Taxi Driver, 1976.
53. The Deer Hunter, 1978.
54. M-A-S-H, 1970.
55. North by Northwest, 1959.
56. Jaws, 1975.*
57. Rocky, 1976.
58. The Gold Rush, 1925.
59. Nashville, 1975.
60. Duck Soup, 1933.
61. Sullivan's Travels, 1941.
62. American Graffiti, 1973.
63. Cabaret, 1972.
64. Network, 1976.
65. The African Queen, 1951.*
66. Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1981.*
67. Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, 1966.
68. Unforgiven, 1992.
69. Tootsie, 1982.
70. A Clockwork Orange, 1971.
71. Saving Private Ryan, 1998.
72. The Shawshank Redemption, 1994.*
73. Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, 1969.
74. The Silence of the Lambs, 1991.*
75. In the Heat of the Night, 1967.
76. Forrest Gump, 1994.*
77. All the President's Men, 1976.
78. Modern Times, 1936.
79. The Wild Bunch, 1969.
80. The Apartment, 1960.
81. Spartacus, 1960.
82. Sunrise, 1927.
83. Titanic, 1997.*
84. Easy Rider, 1969.
85. A Night at the Opera, 1935.
86. Platoon, 1986.
87. 12 Angry Men, 1957.
88. Bringing Up Baby, 1938.*
89. The Sixth Sense, 1999.*
90. Swing Time, 1936.
91. Sophie's Choice, 1982.
92. Goodfellas, 1990.
93. The French Connection, 1971.
94. Pulp Fiction, 1994.*
95. The Last Picture Show, 1971.
96. Do the Right Thing, 1989.
97. Blade Runner, 1982.
98. Yankee Doodle Dandy, 1942.
99. Toy Story, 1995.*
100. Ben-Hur, 1959.
That's all for now. When I watch a few more of these, I'll tell you what I think about them. And don't hate on me for never having watched Rocky and The Godfather parts I and II, and 2001: A Space Odyssey-- I get enough of that from my brother. I know I have seen parts of each of these movies, but I can't say for certain whether I saw the entire thing. These will probably be the first on my list to get scratched off-- based solely on the fact that Travis keeps pestering me to watch them with him. Stay tuned!

Friday, August 28, 2009

I would make a terrible bloodhound.

If my mind always stayed on target when I was involved in a task, I am sure I would be a much duller person for it. I've often found that when I ignore the gentle urge to digress when I'm doing something, I've shut out some potentially juicy information. This creates a dilemma for me.

Although undiagnosed, I am fairly certain that I have some sort of attention disorder. My mind constantly buzzes with new ideas, new ways to use them, observations, and the general jetsam left behind in the wake of my day. I've decided to combat this and make a fun project out of my mind's wanderings in two ways:
  1. I've become a bag lady. I often carry around a small notebook which allows me to record little snippets of thoughts I have throughout the day so that I don't have to interrupt what I am doing to follow a new lead. And sometimes I take the little brochures, cards or ads for events that relate to my digressions... making my purse an incredible collection of scrappy paper, haphazard notes on gum wrappers, and an assortment of writing utensils, making it impossible to find things when I need them-- like my cell phone. [I have also been known to carry around purple markers, after-dinner mints, and broken sunglasses which I think I might like to fix-- and yet often misplace my phone, ultimately driving my friends into a mild rage when we are trying to meet up for dinner.] Although, it does make cleaning out my purse feel like I'm treasure hunting-- every cloud has a silver lining, doesn't it?
  2. I've started this blog, so that I might organize my thoughts on at least part of the random but thoughtful tangents I have during the day.
Although the purse needs work, I like the idea of the blog more, and so will spend more time improving upon it.

Here are some of my current projects:
  • Watch every movie on AFI's top 100 list.
  • Post my books onto
  • Read the incredible amount of books that I have collected throughout the years but haven't read which I remembered I own after posting them on
  • Continue reading old civil war letters from the unpublished letters at the Historical Society.
  • Continuing Latin
  • Studying for the GREs
  • Learning Italian
  • Painting

So there it is. The world is my oyster, and information is my pearl.