A short list of books read and reviewed in 2009.
Zombies invading a Jane Austen classic? Sea monsters churning the waters of a beloved tome? Abraham Lincoln, a vampire hunter? Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina the subject of an upcoming mash-up? What’s a reader to do? What’s a librarian to do?
Have some fun as the classics are re-imagined in today’s mash-ups, and encourage readers to sample the original works.
Published in 1976, One Potato, Two Potato contains a wealth of information on children's folklore, songs and chants. The authors, Mary and Herbert Knapp, have researched rituals and games passed along in schoolyards and street corners. Some are offensive, some are disgusting, and all are interesting. Chapters include "The Games Children Play," "Prestige and Power" and "Coping with the Here and Now." Each section is devoted to different subject matter. There are telephone jokes (such as the well-known "Prince Albert in a can" inquiry), riddles, clapping games, and parodies of vintage advertising jingles. This is a useful sociological work, but it's also a delight to browse.
With Labor Day approaching, it is a perfect time to delve into some novels that explore the lives of working men and women. A great place to begin, of course, is John Steinbeck’s Grapes of Wrath, his heartfelt tale of the challenges facing the Joad family as they leave their dustbowl home during the Depression in search of work as migrant fruit pickers in California. The depth of characterization and the pure passion Steinbeck brings to the novel is amazing. Also try his earlier novel In Dubious Battle for a portrait of a young man involved in labor disputes between migrant workers and apple orchard owners.
Sam Keen's Faces of the Enemy presents illustrations of the opposing side during wartime. Readers can browse posters, cartoons, and advertisements to find the different ways in which the enemy has been portrayed for the past century or so. Color plates show propaganda posters from WWI, WWII, and beyond. One such image portrays a 1940s-era German Poster of the British Empire as Lady Macbeth, scrubbing blood off of her hands. A section on "The Enemy as Beast Reptile or Insect" pictures Hitler as a rat, cornered by a Soviet soldier with a bayonet. A German poster shows the Nazi party as a snake, threatening innocent looking civilians. The book is fascinating to peruse, and deserves to keep its place in the ROPL collection. Place a hold on it today!
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