Monthly Archives: June 2007

Cafe Parlez for June

This month’s book was “When the Emperor was Divine”, by Julie Otsuka. The crowd (and thunder storm) is gathering. Tonight’s menu is: rice balls, strawberry Pocky, chocolate covered strawberries, jelly munchkins, rice crackers, lemonade, and coca-cola. The rice balls are yummy!

Discussion starts: Some people are surprised about how little they knew about the incarceration of the Japanese-American people during WWII. M is showing us illustrations about the camps. She is also showing us “Dear Miss Breed” about a San Diego librarian who supported the children in the camps with letters and sending packages. MC is showing us “Baseball Saved Us”, a great children’s book about conditions at the camps; and “So Far from the Sea”, about a family that goes back to Manzanar, where the father was incarcerated.

M is asking about the fact that the characters seemed to have no faces, as well as having no names. She is asking what information that we got about the people from the incidents in the book. The mother is middle-aged, doesn’t always follow the rules, attractive, strong. As the time went on, she became shyer, more introverted. Each character had something from their old life that they held onto.

Water: M is saying that water is prominent. The first thing the mother did when they got back home was turn on the faucet. The son is always thirsty. Someone else says that trees, flowers, and growing things are also prominent, probably because they are in the desert.

The mother blamed herself for the father getting arrested, as did the son.

The daughter: vain, pretty, athletic, artistic.

L is bringing up the other side. At the time, the Japanese were seen as the enemy; they had killed Americans, tortured their prisoners. It all comes down to fear. The government reacted out of fear. Someone has brought up the racial profiling aspect, especially after 9/11.

How much of this was human nature? Should we be above profiling? L thinks this is human insinct, “fight or flight”. Is it survival instinct? Are we taught to be racist?

The boy missed his father very much, and he doesn’t really get his father back. That was the worse thing that happened to that family. Everyone in the family lost something, but the father lost the most. The mother was a fighter. She didn’t sink down into oblivion. Some didn’t like the part where the mother had to kill the dog, which showed the incredible strength of the mother.

Names: most of the characters were named, but none of the family was (not even the pets). M is reminded of William Carlos Williams’ poetry, as his use of simplicity and color is similar to the author’s. The style of writing was simple, poetic, journalistic. Not emotional. The author gives you the picture, and lets you make up your own mind about it. Rather like a bonsai.

When the family looked at themselves, they saw the enemy, too. How can they think good of themselves, when everyone around them is calling them names? They were Americans!

The Emperor: is it the Japanese emperor, or the dad? The narrator changes and very subtly. The boy’s chapter has the same title as the book. When they pick up the father at the train station, she asks, “Did you?”, and the father answers, “Yes, every night.” Many think it’s about thinking of the family, but L thinks it may be praying to the emperor.

Where did the turtle go? He’s in a box, as are they.

Everything Japanese had to be washed from their lives, their bonsai, kimono. They tried to fit in at school. Now Japanese things are in vogue.

Last chapter: The Confession. G thought it was the most powerful section in the book. What did the father go through to say all these things? His experience must have broken him to make him say these things.

Japanese treatment in America/Jews’ treatment in Germany in the 1940’s: the motivation was not on the same level, neither was the treatment. Hitler came along at the right time and said the right things.

Someone makes the point that you can’t tell who’s who now, not like in the 1940’s when the Japanese stood out. She says that you should talk to someone in that generation. People haven’t changed since then, they still jump to conclusions about a people. Some of us think things have changed since the ’40’s and ’60’s. There is now a BIG discussion of tolerance or acceptance and how we think we are so great and want to change everything in the world.

Is it Pollyanna to want everyone to react with acceptance and tolerance? Life is very global these days. Business does it, approach other cultures with sensitivity and acceptance. How can we make it a perfect world?

Discussion’s winding down! See you on July 26 for the summer party for “Bridget Jones’s Diary”.

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Harry Potter Party at Plumb!

Go to fullsize image The 7th (and last!) Harry Potter book will be released at midnight on Friday July 20th!!! We’re throwing a bit of a bash to celebrate. There wil be games, contests, fortune reading, snacks, and lots of costumed fun! Come and join the magic as we await the midnight bell. Registration is required…come into the library as soon as you can (the limit for the program is 30 people). The Friends have also arranged to have 15 copies of the book available for pre-order, purchased on the evening of the party. The sorting hat awaits you at 9:00pm and the fun continues until the bewitching midnight hour.

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New books for kids and teens

For kids:

Fooled You!: Fakes and hoaxes through the year, by Elaine Pascoe

Purple Death: The mysterious flu of 1918, by David Getz

The Beastly Arms, by Patrick Jennings

The Crow-Girl, by Bodil Bredsdorff

The History Puzzle: How we know what we know about the past, by Susan Provost Beller

Silk Umbrellas, by Carolyn Marsden

Something Wicked’s in Those Woods, by Marisa Montes

Queen Sophie Hartley, by Stephanie Greene

What I Call Life, by Jill Wolfson

Sea Surprise, by Leo Landry

Lawn Boy, by Gary Paulsen

For Teens:

The Misadventures of Maude March, by Audrey Couloumbis

Full Service, by Will Weaver

Pinned, by Alfred C. Martino

Shelf Life, by Robert Corbett

Only You Can Save Mankind, by Terry Prachett

What I Believe, by Norma Fox Mazer

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Summer Reading 2007…”Catch the Beat!”

the-book-beats.jpgtree  Summer Reading Sign-Up Begins Monday June 18th in the library, or go online to www.plumblibrary.com  now and click on “Catch the Beat” to register online! Keep track of reading hours, write reviews, and link to great sites for fun. We’re looking forward to seeing you this summer!

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Staff Recommendations: A Thousand Splendid Suns

I just finished the new book by Khaled Hosseini, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and it was very powerful.  Maybe not as emotional as The Kite Runner, but still it packed a punch.  Hosseini is a wonderful storyteller.  He immediately places you firmly in Afghanistan before the Russians invade, following the childhood of Mariam, the illegitimate daughter of a wealthy Herat movie house owner.  When Mariam visits her father’s house, she sets off a series of events that end in her getting married to a shoemaker from Kabul.  He brutalizes her, then marries a younger, more educated woman, Laila, who is orphaned by the Afghanistan revolution.  Mariam and Laila develop a strong relationship against the grimness of life under the Taliban and their abusive husband.  I spent the better part of two nights absorbing  this fascinating book.  I truly could not stop reading it.  Highly recommended!

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More new books

They’re coming in thick and fast!

Fiction for adults:

Three Bags Full: A sheep detective story, by Leonie Swann

Woman in Red, by Eileen Goudge

City of Fire, by Robert Ellis

Vineyard Stalker, by Philip R. Craig

The Broken  Shore, by Peter Temple

All for Love, by Dan Jacobson

Spare Change, by Robert B. Parker

Robert Ludlum’s The Bourne Betrayal, by Eic van Lustbader

The Case of the Missing Books, by Ian Sansom

Birds of a Feather, by Jacqueline Winspear

Non-Fiction:

Fun and Fashionable Curtains to Sew

Silence of the Songbirds, by Bridget Stutchbury

World Party: The Rough Guide to the world’s best festivals

Cape Wind: Money, celebrity, class, politics, and the battle for our energy future on Nantucket Island, by Wendy Williams

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New Items from the Friends

Starting today, the Friends are selling two book journals: Books to Check Out: A Journal (for adults) and Books to Check Out for Kids.  The adult journal has space to write titles of books you want to read, a section to list favorite books, and a space to note down who you loan a book to, or who you borrowed a certain book from.  There is also a handy pocket section in the back for notes.  I have one and use it all the time.

     The Journal for kids has  a “Books I read” section, where you can note the title, author, any thoughts, and space for a rating.  There’s a fun section where you can write imaginary letters to the author, or book reviews, including suggestions of words to use.  The third section is titles “Books I Really Really Really Want to Read, and the last section is a place to write down what you’ve read and how much time you spent reading it. (VERY handy for the summer program!)

Both journals are for sale at the library for $10 each.  (They sell for $10.95 on Amazon.)

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