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    Make Lemonade cover

    An oldie but goodie, I decided to review this book because I like publicizing children's and young adult literature, new and old, that highlights diversity (whether through characters and/or plots).

    Make Lemonade, by National Book Award winning author Virginia Euwer Wolff, is a realistic fiction children’s book about making sweet “lemonade” with bitter lemons. The novel is the winner of a Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Book Blue Ribbon and named a 1993 School Library Journal Best Book. Written in  free verse, Wolff poetically shares LaVaughn and Jolly’s stories. LaVaughn, a fourteen year old college bound young lady, looking to raise funds for school, replies to a babysitting job posting by seventeen year old single mom, Jolly. Jolly is struggling to make ends meet raising her two children alone in a dirty apartment where “even the roaches are driven up the wall.”  LaVaughn, already mature for her age, grows with Jolly as she no longer accepts money from the cash strapped teen mom. She genuinely takes care of not only Jolly’s children but of Jolly as well. 

    Virginia Euwer Wolff shows restraint as she tells the women's stories without a judgemental voice.  Jolly and LaVaughn are not only great characters but believable, a literary element important in realistic fiction. Characters like Jolly and LaVaughn “often determines whether a book stays with the reader over time.” Children and tweens will particularly enjoy this novel as the language is simple but powerful.Teens will like the novel for its relatable content that isn't stereotypical. Friendship, abuse, support and self love are just a few of the themes Wolff touches in this encouraging work. This story is endearing and I recommend this title to all ages.

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    Happy birthday, Thomas Pynchon! In honor of the author's dazzling literary headrushes we've put together a crossword that only a real fan can conquer.  So put down your muted post horn and show us your Pynchon puzzling know-how.

    Pynchon Crossword

    Fill out the crossword online, or download the PDF to print. (Stumped? We'll post the answers on Monday.)

    4. The "Pirate" of Special Operations Executive
    6. Number of cameos on "The Simpsons"
    8. Vibe born Beef
    9. The O in Doc's MICRO
    10. Nickname of Doc's LAPD nemesis
    11. Peter Pinguid Society proselytizer
    12. Evil Duke of Squamuglia
    13. Institute that translates to mean "golden fang" in Greek
    17. Man's best friend and a Chum of Chance
    20. Writer with whom Pynchon shared the 1974 National Book Award
    22. State where Pynchon's first published short story is set
    23. Occupation of Mason & Dixon narrator
    25. Agency for which Brock Vond works
    26. The most balletically named character of Gravity's Rainbow
    27. Job title of Pynchon's NBA acceptance stand-in

    1. Prize for which Gravity's Rainbow selection was rejected by jury
    2. Phoenix's last name in Pynchon film adaptation
    3. 2003 Radiohead song inspired by a passage from V.
    5. Part 3 of Against the Day
    7. Band of Hope's surf rocker husband
    14. A coolly run computer security firm
    15. A backwards curse; the employer of Mucho Maas
    16. Title of Slow Learner story first published in the Kenyon Review
    18. Utterance of frustration and Bigfoot's favorite section
    19. Acronym for association through which Maxine meets Reg
    21. Pynchon's fourth novel
    23. Pynchon's alma mater
    24. Location of Profane's subterranean alligator hunting

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    Maya Wali Richardson is a student at NYU’s Gallatin School of Individualized Study. This blog post is derived from her work in Shelley Rice’s class "Aesthetic History of Photography."

    No. 10. Ancient ruins in the Cañon de Chelle [Chelly], N. M. in a niche 50 feet above present cañon bed. Image ID: 416631

    Seen on view in The Public Eye: 175 Years of Sharing and Photography is one of Timothy O’Sullivan’s photographs: Ancient ruins in the Cañon de Chelle, N.M. in a niche 50 feet above present canon bed, from 1873. O’Sullivan was employed as the chief photographer for the Wheeler Survey, a government sponsored organization headed by George Wheeler from 1871 to 1879.  The purpose of the survey was to chart the settling of the American West and it conducted topographic and scientific research by mapping and recording information on the terrain and natural resources of California, Nevada, Utah, Colorado, New Mexico, and Arizona. The incredibly stunning image depicts ancient architectural structures embedded within a cave of a large cliff. The image is  often on view in art museums, even though the image was first created for a topographical survey. It is fully embedded with photography’s complex relationship to science and art.

    The scientific objective is evident in Ancient Ruins. The perspective the camera takes is head-on with the bottom of the image being parallel to the ground with no tilt upwards, and the sides of the image being parallel to the vertical walls of the structures. This gives the image a methodical impression. The full title of the photograph includes information on the exact location and height of the cavern. In addition, when looked at closely, two figures can be seen standing on one of the structures. The scale of the ruins is experienced through those small human figures, as well as the fact that the cliff side continues on past the frame of the photograph.

    In 1937 Beaumont Newhall decided to include Ancient Ruins in his photography exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. It is not hard to understand why Newhall would include the photograph; the tones and contrast of the image that emphasize the sediment layers make the image visually striking and captivating. While the addition of the human figures may function as an informative tool, it also draws attention to the immensity of the natural environment. The architectural structures and the humans seem minuscule in comparison to the power and enormity of the natural rock, and create feelings of vulnerability within the viewer. The tones, contrast, and framing of the image turn the photograph into an abstraction of textures. 

    In the context of one of the large Wheeler Survey albums, the photograph was merely a part of a collection of maps, sketches, journals, and topographical and meteorological records. The photograph existed as a supplemental instrument to confirm the findings of the report. Though O’Sullivan’s original intentions may have been in a purely topographical realm, the interpretation of the image within the museum sphere reshaped it. Matted, framed and put on the wall of a museum, Ancient Ruins is placed in the realm of art. The focus shifts from the content to its form. In delving into the multiple ways this one photograph can be contextualized and analyzed it becomes evident that while meaning and significance may be inherent, it is not necessarily fixed.

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    The barn on Caton Place was built in 1930. They provide riding lessons, pony rides, parties, and carriages for special events. Gallop, a therapeutic riding program, helps people with disabilities improve their lives through contact with equines.

    All of the ponies are named after candy, such as Tiramisu, S'mores, Chocolate Chip, Fudge, Snickers, Oreo and Marshmallow. Chip is the cutest black Shetland pony that you ever saw. I used to love to take him for walks down Caton Place. Tonka is a big black horse that was named for the toy truck. Tinkerbell is a mammoth sabino Clydesdale mare. She is the sweetest thing, and she has very large movement. Fergus loves to pull carriages, and Walker loves to drive him.  

    The illustrations of Kensington Stables in Brooklyn and the people and horses that work there are uncanny. I was able to pick out The Professor, a bay Thoroughbred gelding, down to the Pelham bit that he wears. The illustrations of Ryka, a children's riding instructor, and Walker, the owner, are terrific in their detail and likeness to the actual people. Also, each of the horses that lives at the stable were pictured on the last double-spread illustration of the book. This is a remarkable book in terms of its accuracy, and I love the illustrations.

    Stable by Ted Lewin, 2010

    Kensington Stables is one of five stables in New York City. The capital of the world is also the mecca of urban horseback riding. We love the stables that allow us to ride through the beautiful parks in three of the five boroughs. Also, the horse carriages that tourists ride on through Central Park are mesmerizing in their quaint beauty. I volunteered at the stable which is the subject of this book for a few months several years ago. I had fun with the horses and leading people around the lovely Prospect Park. The author lives near the stable in Brooklyn.  

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    Addison Group will present a recruitment on Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 10 am2 pm for Customer Service Representatives (P/T Seasonal) (10 openings), at the  Bronx workforce 1 Career Center, located at 400 E. Fordham Road, Bronx, NY 1058.

    New Partners, Inc. will present a recruitment on Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 10 am1:30 pm for Home Health Aide (five openings) at Flushing Workforce 1 Career Center, located at 138-60 Barclay Avenue,  2nd Floor, Flushing, NY 11355. 

    GoodTemps will present a recruitment on Tuesday, May 12, 2015, 12 -4 pm, for Senior Computer Operator (Temp 10 openings), Administrative Assistant (Temp 10 openings), Call Center Reps (Bilingual Eng./Span.) (Temp 10 openings) at New York State Department  of Labor, located at 9  Bond Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

    Addison Group will present a recruitment on May 13, 2015, 10 am2 pm, for Customer Service Representatives (P/T Seasonal) (10 openings) at the  Brooklyn Workforce 1 Career Center, located at 250 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201.

    Security Industry - Mini Career Fair will be held on Thursday, May 14, 2015, 10 am2 pm, for Professional Security Officer, Field Training Supervisor, Fire Safety Director, Fireguard, Security Technology Administrator, Security Officers (including part time and opportunities in Manhattan area) at New York State Department of  Labor, located at 250 Schermerhorn Street, Brooklyn,  NY 11201. 

    The New York City Employment and Training Coalition (NYCE&TC) is an association of 200 community based organizations, educational institutions, and labor unions that annually provide job training and employment services to over 750,000 New Yorkers, including welfare recipients, unemployed workers, low-wage workers, at-risk youth, the formerly incarcerated, immigrants and the mentally and physically disabled. View the  NYCE&TC Job Listings.

    Digital NYC is the official online hub of the New York City startup and technology ecosystem, bringing together every company,  startup, investor, event, job, class, blog, video, workplace, accelerator, incubator, resource and organization in the five boroughs. Search  jobs by category on this site.

    St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development provides Free Job Training and Educational Programs in Environmental Response and Remediation Tec (ERRT).  Commercial Driver's License, Pest Control Technician Training (PCT), Employment Search and Prep Training and Job Placement, Earn Benefits and Career Path Center.  For information and assistance, please visit St. Nicks Alliance Workforce Development or call 718-302-2057 ext. 202. 

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    Brooklyn Workforce Innovations helps jobless and working poor New Yorkers establish careers in sectors that offer good wages and opportunities for advancement. Currently, BWI offers free job training programs in four industries: commercial driving, telecommunications cable installation, TV and film production, and skilled woodworking.  

    CMP (formerly Chinatown Manpower Project) in lower Manhattan is now recruiting for a free training in Quickbooks,  Basic Accounting, and Excel. This training is open to anyone who is receiving food stamps but no cash assistance.  Class runs for eight weeks, followed by one-on-one meetings with a job developer. CMP also provides Free Home Health Aide Training for bilingual English/Cantonese speakers who are receiving food stamps but no cash assistance. Training runs Mondays through Fridays for 6 weeks and includes test prep and taking the HHA certification exam. Students learn about direct care techniques such as taking vital signs and assisting with personal hygiene and nutrition. For more information for the above two training programs, email:, call 212-571-1690, or visit. CMP also provides tuition-based healthcare and business trainings free to students who are entitled to ACCESS funding.

    Nontraditional Employment for Women (NEW) trains women and places them in careers in the skilled construction, utility, and maintenance trades. It helps women achieve economic independence and a secure future.  For information call 212-627-6252 or register online.

    Grace Institute provides tuition-free, practical job training in a supportive learning community for underserved New York area women of all ages and from many different backgrounds.  For information call 212-832-7605.

    Please note this will be revised when more recruitment events for the week of May 10 become available.

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    Homeroom Headhunters Cover

    Clay McLeod Chapman author of The Tribe Book 1: Homeroom Headhuntersis coming to KidsLIVE! May 13 at the Stapleton Library. We asked him a few questions about himself as a reader.

    When and where do you like to read?

    The subways are my favorite reading time. I live deep in the armpit of Brooklyn, so if I ever have to travel into Manhattan, I bring along a good book… Sometimes I’ll miss my stop because I’ve lost myself within whatever I’m reading!

    What were your favorite books as a child?

    I loved loved loved Scary Stories To Tell In The Dark by Alvin Schwartz. Stephen Gammell’s original illustrations kept me awake for countless nights. When I first started reading on my own, I plowed through the Encyclopedia Brown books by Donald J. Sobol. Also, The Valley of the Far Side by Gary Larson. I was amazed at the stories he could tell within a single panel comic—absurd and nerdy and hilarious! By 7th grade, I stumbled upon Stephen King and uh-oh… That was the end of everything. I think I spent the next couple years of my life reading all of his books!

    How have libraries impacted your life?

    I spent a lot of time with my grandparents growing up—and one of my benchmark memories as a kid was my grandma taking me to the library every week. She’d let me check out two books at a time. It didn’t matter what the books were—as long as I read them. Once I was done with those two, she’d take me back to the library and check out two more for me. It was this glorious race to read through whatever pair of books I had in order to return to the library and get more. I became an avid reader because my grandmother gave me the freedom to choose whatever I wanted… Novels, picture books, comics. The sky truly was the limit on those shelves.

    Would you like to name a few writers out there you think deserve a wider audience?

    Yeesh. That’s a tough one. Coming from a writer who wishes he had a wider audience himself, I think I’d have to say… How about this? Some of my favorite books over the last couple of years have been The Wrenchiesby Farel Dalrymple, I Hate You, Kelly Donahue by Mark Svartz and The Southern Reach trilogy by Jeff VanderMeer. I don’t necessarily think these gentlemen are living in obscurity per se. But in a weird way, when I find a book that I really love, I imagine they’ve written it just for me and I turn into Gollum trying to keep my lovely little precious to myself. 

    What was the last book you read? Tell me what you liked about it!

    I just finished reading Deadly Class, Vol. 2: Kids of the Black Hole by Rick Remender, Wesley Craig and Lee Loughridge. I’m a semi-big comics fan and this is all about a group of high school kids who go to an elite prep school for assassins. It’s pretty crazy stuff. It gets the feel of what it’s like to be a teenager navigating all the cliques and bullies and societal pressures of high school while tossing in a lot of ninja skills. Basically just like my high school experience.

    Middle school is a jungle in Homeroom Headhunters. We can definitely see inspiration from Lord of the Flies here. As a pre-teen, did you see your own school as this jungle type atmosphere? Which character do you identify with most, and why?

    This is a total true story… The original idea for Homeroom Headhunters came about one day when I was sitting in 6th grade English. I wasn’t paying attention to my teacher as much as I should have been, daydreaming about something-or-other, when—all of sudden, just above my head, I heard this shuffling sound. Like a ffft ffft fft sound. It could’ve been a squirrel or an air conditioner kicking in, but for the rest of the day, all I could think about was—There’s somebody up there! I started to imagine what it would be like to crawl from class to class above everyone’s head, just on the other side of those ceiling tiles. So—fast forward 20 years later, when I’m sitting down with a book editor. She asked if I had any ideas for a new book—and that’s when the memory of that day in 6th came back to me.

    I had a hard time finding my place in middle school. It was tough to fit in. I had friends, but we were always on the periphery. The cool kids were over here and the tough kids were over there and the athletic kids were over there—and me, I was just kinda over here. With Homeroom Headhunters, you have a group of kids who never felt like they found a place to belong in school—so they go ahead and create a secret society that’s solely there own. They feel ostracized from the rest of the cliques at school, so they’ve made an even more exclusive clique. Membership into this club is pretty steep. Too steep.

    Another true story… When I was in the 6th grade (again—what’s up with 6th grade?!), I mustered up the courage to enter our middle school’s talent show. I performed an awful stand up comedy routine in front of hundreds of my fellow students. Nobody laughed. But guess who won? Me! For bravery, I was told. Well, needless to say, this didn’t make the 8th grade dance squad for happy. For the rest of the school year, these dancers made it their mission to make my life miserable. If I ever passed them in the hallways, they’d call me names… So—if I had to say which character I identify with the most, I might, might say Yardstick. I used my talent show experience and reworked it into Homeroom Headhunters.  But sssh. Don’t tell anyone. I don’t want those 8th grade dance squadders to come after me! 

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    Are you my mother? Cover

    For Mother's Day, we asked our staff to tell us something about their mothers and share her favorite book, or a book they remember reading with her as a child. Here is what they had to say:

    My mother Julia lives in upstate New York, about five miles away from the house she was born in.   She has lived in four houses throughout her life and she has had the same telephone number ever since I can remember.  Reading books and watching old movies are particular pleasures of her (which is a habit that I have gratefully inherited).  She doesn't have a favorite book, but she will admit that Ken Follett's Eye of the Needle is one that she has enjoyed reading (several times in fact).  Her review: "It was very suspenseful. It had a great lead female character. It was set during the war. I also enjoyed the movie with Donald Sutherland."  What else do you need to know? —Wayne Roylance, Selection Team

    My mom splits her year between Florida and the house where I grew up, in the suburbs of NYC. She loves to play tennis and to do the New York Times crossword puzzle.  A book we both love from my childhood is Virginia Burton's classic The Little House about a country house that gets engulfed by the encroaching urban sprawl.  I always loved how the windows on the house were her eyes, and the door was her mouth, and how her expressions changed—as she got sadder and sadder. Burton's expressive illustrations truly make that little house come alive.  —Ronnie Krasnow, Morningside Heights

    Our favorite book to read together, my mother and me, was Robert Louis Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. My memories are linked to the poetry and the illustrations and also to the stories she would tell me when I asked questions about the meaning of the poems. "My bed is a boat" would be in my thoughts as I went to sleep, with covers tucked under my chin against the cold and starry night, for more years than I can remember. My chest would fill with joy when we read "The swing." And my heart always broke with "The land of counterpane" when I thought of all of the other little children who never rose from their beds. My mother survived scarlet fever and had once had a positive test for tuberculosis. She never forgot those of her playmates who were not as fortunate. We still have the book, and when I want particularly to remember her I take it down from the shelf. —Virginia Bartow, Cataloging

    Go, Dog. Go! by P. D. Eastman was one of the very first books I read all by myself as a little girl. I contribute it all to my mother's unlimited patience and encouragement. Note: this 64-page young reader book can turn into a nightly 2-hour reading ordeal. Thanks, mom! —Anna Taylor, Children’s Programming

    My mom, Cheryll, lives near the beach in a suburb of Charleston, SC and spends a great deal of her time at those beaches of Isle of Palms and Sullivan's Island in a chair with a book. Lately she's been watching Game of Thrones and reading a Song of Ice & Fire,and since I've read them through already, I've been giving her teasers for what's to come. She was very upset about the fate of the King of the North and the events of the Red Wedding.  —Carmen Nigro, Milstein Division

    Little House Cover

    My mother Diane was born in Middle Village, Queens and has lived all over the U.S., but now resides in Salt Lake City. She is an amazing cook and a tech wiz and that is great because despite the distance, we get to share our daily lives through Twitter and Instagram. She loves the book My Antonia by Willa Cather, which she gave me for my high school graduation. I had to laugh because it reminded me so much of the more mature version of the Little House on the Prairie  series that she shared with me when I was a child.  —Lauren Bradley, George Bruce

    My mother, Eileen made me a lifelong reader through regular nightly read-alouds until I was fifteen. Charlotte's Web was the first long chapter book she read me, and I remember sitting there and listening raptly as Fern saved a runty pig from certain doom. My mother is a preschool teacher who loves sharing books and discoveries with her young students (and grandchildren!).  She's always identified with the quote that "wonder is the beginning of wisdom." —Stephanie Whelan, Seward Park

    My Mom's name is Cookie Fitch (yes, Cookie… and my Grandmother's name is Kandie… you can't make this stuff up!). She lives in Clemson, South Carolina and is an architect. She loves to go to auctions and antique stores. As a child she used to read the Winnie the Pooh books to me and do all the voices. When the new one came out several years ago (the one authorized by the family), she bought it for me, came to Connecticut and read me stories from it. Dawn Zimmerer, Wakefield Library

    My mother Dorothy has been gone for 15 years, and I'd say I miss her every day if it didn't still feel like she is always with me. My mother developed severe rheumatoid arthritis by the time I was 3 1/2 years old so it wasn't easy for her to run around after three children under 4 years old. But she could read to us and always said that I would listen until she lost her voice and couldn't read anymore. She read me picture books and recited nursery rhymes, of course, but I had a special love for the novels because my younger siblings couldn't listen that long so I had her to myself! Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland is one I strongly associate with her, and I always hear Jabberwocky in her voice. My mother gave me the gift of story and a love for language. —Danita Nichols, Inwood

    My Mom, Alice, is 81 and lives in the Catskill Mountains. She was a recovery room nurse, served in the Air Force and loves to hike and travel. She climbed Mt. Fuji and adventured all over Asia in her twenties. She inspired me to set the goal of filling my passport by age 25, which I did. When I was young, she would toss me, my sister and our Chinese Pug, Charlie, in our car and we would drive all over the U.S. to "educational" places with a giant Merriam-Webster dictionary for company. Alzheimer's has made her reading choices quite difficult in the past two years as she is unable to follow complicated story lines. I gave her I Wasn't Strong Like This When I Started Outessays about becoming a nurse, and she loved them.  —Maura Muller, Volunteers Office

    Nancy Drew Cover

    My mom, Dana, lives in rural Pennsylvania. She's a voracious reader and loves mysteries and WWII era historical fiction. I think the former stems from her love of the Nancy Drew series, which she passed on to me at an early age. I'll never forget when she brought home a dusty box of Nancy Drew books and we both spent that summer reading each and every one! —Alexandria Abenshon, Countee Cullen

    My mom, Elizabeth, lives in a small colonial village in Virginia.  She's an avid reader, a dedicated Latin teacher, a devoted grandma, and a wonderful mom. She's partial to mysteries by Dorothy Sayers, Agatha Christie, and P.D James, and memoirs like Julia Child's My Life in France, though she enjoys all kinds of books. One of the great pleasures of my adult life is that she and I often recommend books to each other (I just gave her Lunch in Paris and Picnic in Provence by Elizabeth Bard).  As a child, I remember her reading aloud The Secret Garden and A Little Princess.  At the end of every school year when I was growing up, she'd give my sister and me a special book inscribed with a message about our year.  But I think my favorite book memory of my mom is of her sneaking downstairs in the early morning hours to read Watership Down amid boxes and boxes from my family's move from Ohio to Virginia—she says it was the only thing that got her through the chaos of unpacking! —Susie Tucker Heimbach, Mulberry Street

    My mom, Debbie, is an incredible single mom who is the hardest working person I know. She balances two jobs and running a household, and still finds time for weight lifting classes, DIY projects, and, most importantly, shopping with her daughter. As a children's librarian, she inspired me to become a librarian myself. Her favorite children's classics are StellalunaGoodnight Moon, and Are You My Mother? —Megan Margino, Milstein Division

    I have two wonderful women I get to recognize every Mother's day, my mom Nora and my step-mom Shellie, who both live in Washington. My mom loves taking trips to the Pacific coast. She cooks up some of the best traditional American cuisine to share with anyone who shows up. She's the kindest, most thoughtful person I've ever met and she continues to inspire and encourage me. My mom's favorite book Let's Pretend This Never Happened (a Mostly True Memoir) reminds her of her own bizarre rural upbringing and the silly parts of her childhood. It is a match for her slightly twisted sense of humor—a characteristic we share. Shellie is very much a “work hard play hard” type. Shellie taught me how to politely stomp out rules that don't work for me and settle only when you've reached your goals. It's fitting her favorite book (at least one of them) is Aztec by Gary Jennings.  —Jaqueline Woolcott, AskNYPL

    The Little Prince

    The Little Prince is representational of all things my mom, Livia, and happens to be the book she holds closest to her heart. A constant source of inspiration, never giving up and maintaining that great balance that is remaining a free spirit while being an "adult," there is hardly a person I can respect more than her. Even with the challenges that life has thrown her she remains a constant source of not just positivity—but also a confidant, a sage, and a wonderful human. Born and raised in Chicago, she has that Jewish mom care, and an adventurous heart, which can find a source of pleasure in a simple walk or in the depths of her friends and family, she knows the matters of great importance. —Ian Baran, Yorkville

    My mom loves spending time with her grandchildren and striking up conversations with everyone she meets.  She is an inquisitive person.  I grew up in NJ and my mom was always taking us on day trips into "The City."  Washington Square Park, Central Park and the American Museum of Natural History were favorites.  I remember reciting nursery rhymes, reading lots of picture books and listening to music. I never tired of Peter, Paul and Mary tunes, especially "Puff, The Magic Dragon." —Melissa Scheurer, Mid-Manhattan

    My mom lives in Chicago. She read to me a lot as a child. Whereas my dad likes history books and textbooks, my mom has always been up on the latest fiction titles, and very opinionated about them. I remember her liking Joyce Carol Oates's Blonde. She's an avid newspaper and magazine reader and still sends me clippings of articles that she thinks I might enjoy. —Jenny Baum, Jefferson Market

    My mom’s name is Peggy; she was born in Brooklyn in 1937 and is from the “Silent Generation.” Right now, she lives in a continuing care retirement community in Newton, NJ near my oldest sister. She contracted polio when she was 13 years old; this was instrumental in the formation of her character. She is an extremely meticulous, hard worker who possesses endless compassion and generosity, particularly for children and animals. She worked at Long Island College Hospital as a nurse and then got then married and had four daughters. She was a proud homemaker and a true jack-of-all-trades who could put together, repair and install almost anything around the house. She loves sewing, knitting, crocheting, doing crafts and baking. She has an innocent, tender heart and is an incurable optimist who always watches the Hallmark Channel. She loves reading anything by Debbie MacomberSherryl Woods and Danielle Steel. She always read to me at night when I was a child. The Little Red Hen by Paul Galdone was one of the many books she read to me and has stayed with me. She has always read her own novels before going to bed. When I was too old to be read to, I read my own books in the bed right next to hers before going to my own bed in the next room. Even though her and I have different reading tastes, she instilled a love of books and reading in me from an early age by her loving example.  —Margaret Siggillino, St. George

    The Secret Garden Cover

    My Mom Cathy grew up in the small town of Carthage, Illinois (she now splits her time between Seattle and Mexico) and learned early how to make her own fun. A natural born storyteller, she loves to read, travel, laugh and meet new people. She's always been one of the kindest and most interesting people I know. She gave me a love of stories, Broadway musicals and the ability to find humor and absurdity in even the darkest times. She used to read to me every night doing all the voices and sound effects. One of our favorite authors is/was Frances Hodgson Burnett and her books A Little Princess and The Secret Garden. Even when we didn't have the books with us she could tell me those stories and many others from memory. To this day, my father and I sometimes rather my mother tell us a book's story than read it ourselves.  —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

    I come from some serious literary stock! My mom, Carol, is an English professor turned college academic advisor in Syracuse, NY. When she's not making sure that all of her "kids" are doing everything they need to in order to graduate, she's meeting with the James Joyce Society of Syracuse--she's been a card-carrying member for 19 years. Her love for Ulysses stems from a year abroad in Ireland that she speaks of fondly to this day. I also have to give her a special shout-out because on June 1st she is retiring after a lifetime of educational service, so congratulate her if you run into her at Wegmans! —Charlie Radin, Inwood

    Another life-long learner and reader, my mother was born and raised in the East End of London. She was a pianist and choral singer, but had been a teacher in England during World War II, one of those responsible for evacuating London children to the country. She was a socialist and made sure that we read the children's books by Fabian Edith Nesbit shipped over by her mother or sister. My favorite is The Magic City. She also started me on reading British mysteries, especially Dorothy L. Sayers Wimsey novels, and tracking down the sources for the quotations that start each chapter and Peter and Harriet's constant references to books and poems. —Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, Exhibitions

    My mom is an avid lifelong reader and New Yorker too, and apparently as a teenager once cut school just to go to the library and botanic gardens (all one needs, according to Cicero) She currently enjoys reading several fun period mystery series, notably the ones starring Jane AustenNero Wolfe, and 11 year old argumentative chemist Flavia De Luce, as well as anything to do with embroidery or crazy quilts (not! to be confused with stodgy traditional quilts, she is quick to explain.) The long lasting impressions of the most remarkable, wonderful, (and slightly odd) chapter book my mom read to me already inspired a blog post. My favorite picture books we read over and over featured the charming mini-adventures of best friends George and Martha (hippos. the girl has a bow.) by James Marshall. One of my favorite lessons in friendship will always be the pea soup story. The stories are concise, very witty (especially with the illustrations), and resonating, in the way you want kids to relate to hippos learning about life and friendship in sophisticated yet hilarious early-reader vignettes. —Jill Rothstein, Andrew Heiskell 

    Jabberwocky Cover

    I vividly remember my mother reading books of poetry with me as a child. The Jabberwocky by Lewis Carroll and Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein were my introductions to verse. Thanks Mom! —Judd Karlman, City Island

    My mom, Marie also known as Ree, was a NYC public school guidance counselor for over 20 years. Now retired she enjoys spending time reading, especially mysteries, thrillers, and The Outlander series, going to the theatre, and gardening. She instilled a love of books in me at a very early age when she read The Wonderful Wizard of Oz to me and took me on weekly trips to the Bloomingdale branch. My mother also taught me the importance of community and equality, all of which led me to becoming a librarian. My mom is wonderful and I love her. —Annie Lin, Mulberry Street

    My mom, Lidia, still lives in Mexico and visits often. Growing up, she would always buy the daily newspaper and Reader's Digest, and read them both from cover to cover. She loves to do crossword puzzles! She made sure I was always surrounded by books and encouraged my love of reading, as well as my love of comic books.  Comic books/strips of Archie, Little Lulu and Nancy bring back memories of us reading them together. Mother's Day also makes me think of my grandma, Ramoncita, who also inspired my love of reading and told me her favorite book when she was a child was "Corazon, el diario de un niño" (Cuore : libro per   ragazzi / Edmondo De Amicis), and then gifted me my own copy which I still treasure. —Adriana Blancarte-Hayward

    I am very lucky to have two lovely ladies in my life in the role of "mom." My mother, Terri, lives in New Jersey and is a Disaster and Emergency Preparedness Manager. On my 4th birthday, she gave me a copy of Animalia by Graeme Base, which I read (and re-read) on a regular basis. My mom, Cecilia, married my dad when I was 10 years old. She lives in Dallas, Texas and is the Parent Coordinator at my brothers' elementary school. She is an avid baker; one of my fondest memories is paging through her extensive cook book collection  and volunteering to be her taste tester.  —Amalia Butler, Mulberry Street

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    Narrative or creative nonfiction is somewhat newly recognized genre. Naturally, as librarians we have a great appreciation for the research, the primary source documents and interviews, but it is the narrative, the skillful pacing, the phrasing, and the insight that make it read like a thriller that set these books apart from other nonfiction. For this week's readers advisory practice we decided to pay tribute to the talented authors who do this well. We received such a strong response to the call out for favorites that we divided the list into four categories: journalism and social science, travel and adventure, science, and memoir. This is the journalism and social science edition of our salute to great narrative nonfiction.

    The first author to pop into my mind is Ryszard Kapuscinski, who called his own work "literary reportage."  Through such eloquent books as Another Day of Life, about Angola in the 1970s, Imperium, about the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and The Shadow of the Sun, about Africa in the late 1950s, Kapuscinski transforms journalism into literature. His insatiable curiosity and great compassion for the struggles of ordinary people earned him a well-deserved international reputation. —Jennifer Craft, Mulberry Street

    This is one of my favorite genres. I did my B.A. in History, so you can imagine all of the dry accounts I had to read, so someone who writes compelling narrative nonfiction is a true treasure. Ones that I have read and really enjoyed are Truman Capote's In Cold Blood—a great combination of investigative journalism and storytelling, Midnight in the Garden of Good & Evil—I saw the Lady Chablis perform once and she's captivating, so of course I had to read a book featuring her. —Carmen Nigro, Milstein Division

    "Los Angeles Police Det. John Skaggs carried the shoebox aloft like a waiter bearing a platter. The box contained a pair of high-top sneakers that once belonged to the black teenage boy named Dovon Harris. Dovon, fifteen, had been murdered the previous June, and the shoes had been sitting in an evidence locker for nearly a year." Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America isn't a mere police procedural. Leovy's narrative is absolutely spellbinding and story, suspenseful and wholly sympathetic. —Miriam Tuliao, Selection Team

    In What is the What: The Autobiography of Valentino Achak Deng: A Novel, Dave Eggers tells the harrowing and compelling story of Valentino Achak Deng, one of the Lost Boys of the Sudan, and in doing so he contradicts the title of his very own book! This isn't an autobiography. This isn't a novel. But because it is creative nonfiction, it is what it says it is, and that is what What is the What is about. —Billy Parrot, Mid-Manhattan

    Kate Summerscale's The Suspicions of Mr. Whicher takes us inside the mind of famed Scotland Yard detective Jack Whicher as he tries to discover who slit the throat of three-year-old Saville Kent and threw him down a well in the middle of the night outside a rural country house in 1860 England. Full of wonderfully lurid details about the crime itself and delves into the history of detection and the history of the detective novel. It's a story you won't soon forget. —Anne Rouyer, Mulberry Street

    I have several recommendations in the category of narrative nonfiction: Dispatches by Michael Herr deals realistically with the Vietnam experience for soldiers (and an embedded journalist) whose everyday life around the DMZ is fraught with harrowing violence, demoralization, fear, and boredom. In Nicholas Baker’s experimental Human Smoke human history during the rise of World War II is recounted using nothing but a series of selected primary source documents, to devastating effect. Dave Eggers's poignant and unique biographical Zeitoun tells the story of a Syrian-American's journey through the New Orleans Katrina ordeal. The Hot Zone by Richard Preston is a spellbinding account of the 1990s Ebola and Marburg outbreak, a true nonfiction thriller. Finally, Erick Larson's Devil in the White City is a detailed account of the drama of the making 1893 Chicago World's Fair, which works in the freely dramatized but true story of a serial killer on the loose in this atmosphere of a city during modernization. —Jeremy Megraw, Billy Rose Theater Division

    John Krakauer's work, such as Under the Banner of Heaven chronicles an isolated community of Mormon fundamentalists practicing polygamy and Into the Wild recounts the mysterious disappearance of a young hiker in the Alaskan wilderness. —Ronni Krasnow, Morningside Heights

    A Little History of the World by E.H. Gombrich is a charming book, and a great intro to the world of nonfiction for readers of all ages and skill levels. Written for children, it has the easy cadence of a fairy tale, but packs a big punch with its many interesting facts and clever connections. —Nancy Aravec, Mid-Manhattan

    In The Golden Spruce: A True Story of Myth, Madness and Greed by John Vaillant, we learn the story of a sacred tree, honored by the Haida people and revered for more than 300 years. More than sixteen stories tall it is a botanical anomaly, an environmental treasure, until an angry survivalist sets his sights on it. A nail-biting mystery interwoven with poetic passages that make you feel as if you can get lost in and smell the gorgeous aroma of one of North America's last, great wildernesses. —Maura Muller, Volunteers Office

    Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail '72 is the best book on American politics that I have ever read: a bilious, nakedly partisan fever-dream that could only have hatched out of the head of Hunter S. Thompson.  From the man who invented "gonzo journalism" this is the supreme example.  His spittle-flecked contempt for Nixon (except for when the talk turns to football) and Hubert Humphrey is mitigated by his reluctant, but genuine belief in George McGovern, knowing full well that, in the end, his heart would be broken. —Wayne Roylance, Selection Team

    The Electric Kool Aid Acid Test stands as the definitive account of the Sixties counterculture. Thom Wolfe embeds himself with Ken Kesey's Merry Pranksters as they discover the mind-altering effects of LSD. They add in color, light, sound (and people!) until the infamous Acid Tests explode into a collective happening that still influences our culture today. The Pranksters visit with Timothy Leary, the Beats and the Hell's Angels themselves in this very madcap romp. —Charlie Radin, Inwood

    For my money, the king of current narrative nonfiction is Michael Lewis. If he needed an assistant, I would go in a heartbeat. What impresses me is the variety of topics he writes about and makes you actually understand. Who knew I would ever understand flash trading or the 2008 financial crisis in such robust and human ways. The Big Short and Flash Boys will change your mind and your life. Flash Boys is one of my top picks for new books that were published in 2014. I honestly think Michael Lewis should be required reading for all Americans. The most meaningful nonfiction book of my entire life is Reviving Ophelia by Dr. Mary Pipher. It's old now, but I read it as a tween and read it once a year through young adulthood. It's not a super heavy-hitter like Our Bodies, Ourselves or The Feminine Mystique but it still addresses societal pressures on young women and the toll it can take. —Leslie Tabor, Assoc. Dir. for Neighborhood Libraries

    I loved Behind the Beautiful Forevers by Katherine Boo, which follows the stories of several people living in a slum next to the airport in Mumbai, from an enterprising teen collecting the garbage of rich people, to a ruthless, unofficial, slumlord. Although Boo is a journalist, her moving narrative reads more like fiction than fact. It's a story of families striving for a better life, and about the injustices and tragedies along the way. —Rabecca Hoffman McDonald, Kingsbridge

    My recommendation is Rubbish! The Archaeology of Garbage by William Rathje and Cullen Murphy. An interesting narrative of all that can be learned about a person, a neighborhood or a society by just going through their garbage over a period of time.  You never thought garbage can be so fascinating! —Jean Harripersaud, Bronx Library Center

    The first chapters of Barbara Tuchman's The Guns of August are as dramatic as any family epic. However, her story's dysfunctional family took out millions of on-lookers. The author brings to life again the people and events that led to World War I. —Barbara Cohen-Stratyner, Curator of Exhibitions Library for Performing Arts

    I enjoyed Bomb: The Race to Build—and Steal—the World’s Most Dangerous Weapon by Steve Sheinkin. This book is geared towards young adults, but I would definitely recommend it to adults of any age. Author, Steve Sheinkin, provides information on the development of the atomic bomb, and he tells about the key individuals who are involved. The book is very informative, but what makes it stand out is that the information is presented like a thriller novel. There is intrigue, suspense, and chapters that end on cliffhangers! —Madeline Crosby, Dongan Hills

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    black gold

    U-see-it is small, but what she lacks in size, she makes up for in heart. After a few jaunts on the race track, the little filly captures Al Hoots's eye. He is smitten with her, and he immediately starts scheming up a plan to buy her. Once she is safely under his care, the trainer puts her in the field for a year to grow up. She frisks and bucks and generally has a great time enjoying the sun, grass, and gamboling around. After her year of freedom, Al puts her to work, and she gradually is molded into a strong, competent race horse.

    U-see-it has fun on the track, but the career of racing is fleeting for a horse. Soon, Al starts planning for the next generation. He breeds her to a talented stud, and she is soon in foal. When she is ready to give birth, U-see-it does not realize what is going on. Frantically, she bucks around the field in a vain attempt to relieve the pain in her side. After she lies down from sheer exhaustion, a black mass plops to the ground.

    Black gold is born. He frolics and plays next to his mother. Will he grow up to be a champion racehorse? Only time will tell.

    Black Gold by Marguerite Henry, 1957

    I loved reading a book that was written in a simpler time and place.

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    Vincent's Colors

    yellow sky and sun

    blue and white jug

    grey-green trees and pink sky

    yellow buttercups

    green vase and window shutters

    black clothes

    silver leaves turning green

    stars sparkle many colors

    violet irises

    blue and yellow starry night

    Vincent's Colors by Vincent van Gogh, 2005

    It was awesome to see a famous painter's work displayed in a picture book for kids.

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    Interested in what makes individual baseball seasons so special for certain teams? There are a multitude reasons why writers write books about solitary years. Maybe the amount of historic happenings in one particular season are so great, it warrants a book to summarize everything. Maybe it's because one player has such an incredible campaign, it's only right he receives a book out of respect. Or maybe events surrounding a season are just so unexpected, the story practically writes itself. Whatever the case may be, there are plenty of baseball books out there that help out with your history by just covering one year. Here's a list to help you get started!

    1. 1954: The Year Willie Mays and the First Generation of Black Superstars Changed Major League Baseball Forever by Bill Madden: Know what the most notable thing about the 1954 World Series was? It marked the first time the representatives from both the American League and the National League had African Americans on their rosters. The NL Champion New York Giants, led by the '54 NL MVP Willie Mays (the first of 2 MVP Awards he'd wind up winning), enjoyed a cool 97 win season, besting their rival Brooklyn Dodgers by 5 games. They also had other African American stars in Monte Irvin and Hank Thompson dominating for them. And as for the AL Champion Cleveland Indians, Larry Doby paved the way, leading the Junior Circuit in both home runs and RBIs. The Tribe won 111 games that season, while the second place New York Yankees, who'd won the last 5 World Series prior to '54, couldn't get by with their 103 wins. Madden follows the 1954 season, and how the game's first batch of true African American stars emerged in this year. There was perhaps no greater exclamation point than Mays' famous over-the-shoulder catch to rob Vic Wertz in Game 1 of the World Series. 

    2. Summer of '68: The Season That Changed Baseball—and America—Forever by Tim Wendel: As we've outlined before on this blog, 1968 was a year primarily known for its civil unrest. The assassinations of both Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert F. Kennedy will forever be what 1968 is remembered for. However, Wendel does his best to try and steer our minds to more pleasant memories from that year, which is known in the baseball world as "The Year of the Pitcher". The incredible 1968 pitching displays by Bob Gibson, Denny McLain, Don Drysdale, Mickey Lolich, and Catfish Hunter are all well known, and are celebrated in this work. He also puts a special focus on the eventual World Series winning Detroit Tigers, He recounts what it was like for the ballplayers to live in a city that was just one year removed from the 12th Street Riot, which occurred alarmingly close to Tiger Stadium. Wendel also profiles one of the more unknown players from that championship club, a rookie pitcher named Jon Edgar Warden who I may never have heard of if it wasn't for this book. His career was an interesting, yet unconventional one to say the least, but you'll have to read the book to find out why I find it so.

    3. Stars and Strikes: Baseball and America in the Bicentennial Summer of ‘76 by Dan Epstein: Dan Epstein, who penned the amazing 1970s baseball guide Big Hair and Plastic Grass: A Funky Ride Through Baseball and America in the Swinging '70s, returned in 2014 with Stars and Strikes. This time, he keeps the spotlight solely on 1976, but drives home what a zany season it honestly was! We had the amazing rookie campaign of Mark Fidrych. We had the "Junkman" Randy Jones put together an absolutely incredible campaign. We had Chicago White Sox owner Bill Veeck dressing his ballclub up in shorts for a game instead of typical baseball pants. We had Billy Martin in his first full year as the skipper of the Yankees. We had Rick Monday saving the American flag during a bizarre incident at Dodger Stadium. We had all of that. All that and more. And Epstein's book will guide you along the way. Read it! 

    4. Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx is Burning: 1977, Baseball, Politics, and the Battle for the Soul of a City by Jonathan Mahler: The amount of characters that were on the 1977 New York Yankees, I'm telling you, you could write a great book about them. Oh wait, Jonathan Mahler already did that. 1977 was an odd one for New York City. The Son of Sam was running rampant. A blackout consumed the bulk of Manhattan for a spell in July, and the mayoral race between Ed Koch and Mario Cuomo was heating up. On top of all that, you had the "Bronx Zoo" New York Yankees, where the personalities of manager Billy Martin, newly-acquired Reggie Jackson, and team captain Thurman Munson clashed consistently. Take noteworthy moments such as the 1977 All-Star Game being held at Yankee Stadium, Martin and Jackson going at it in the dugout during a nationally televised tilt, and Jackson hitting 3 home runs in the final game of the '77 World Series. Add in other notable players such as Willie Randolph, Ron Guidry, Sparky Lyle, Mickey Rivers, and Graig Nettles to name a few, and this book's an instant triumph. Mahler gives you a superb look into what life was like in 1977 New York, which really should be synonymous with the wild west.  

    5. The Bad Guys Won! by Jeff Pearlman: People around the country honestly only know two things about the 1986 New York Mets: they were very very good at playing baseball, and very very good at causing trouble. Some of the stories may have been exaggerated for effect as Mookie Wilson one time suggested, but still, Pearlman takes us on one heck of a ride. From the 108-win regular season campaign that featured Rusty Staub and Bud Harrelson 's inductions into the Mets Hall of Fame, to the electrifying National League Championship Series against the Houston Astros, culminating with the classic World Series victory over the Boston Red Sox, The Bad Guys Won will have you thoroughly entertained with its wild tales from what was undoubtedly a fun summer in Flushing, New York.

    For more great baseball reads, please visit our catalog.

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    Diane von Furstenberg, when asked to describe herself in seven words, provided a resounding statement on her identity: "Woman, woman, woman, woman, woman, woman, woman." Best known for popularizing the wrap dress, the designer and former princess published a memoir The Woman I Wanted To Be in 2014. This week The New York Public Library Podcast features von Furstenberg in conversation with Rhonda Garelick on confident women.

    Diane von Furstenberg and Rhonda Garelick
    Diane von Furstenberg and Rhonda Garelick

    What does it take to become Diane von Furstenberg? She explained her self-realization as one part good fortune, one part vision, and another part the American Dream:

    "I became my own. I went into this a little bit by accident, and I did not know what I wanted to do, but I knew the kind of woman I wanted to be. I wanted to be liberated. I wanted to be free. I wanted to be financially independent. Fashion happened to be my door. At that time, I don't know why, because I met this man. He had a factory, whatever. That was my door. I went into it, and I was very lucky. I came to this country and I lived an American Dream."

    Perhaps because her vision of women's fashion is so lucid and identifiable, many consider von Furstenberg an artist. The designer doesn't think of herself in these terms, however. She calls herself "the friend in the closet":

    "I am not an artist. I am not an artist, and I never thought I would be an artist. One day Christian LaCroix told me, he said, 'Men designers make costume. Women designers make clothes.' And I make clothes. I never, ever thought I was an artist. I never thought I was even making a fashion statement in this sense. And yet, forty years later, last year when I saw the exhibition, I said, 'I didn't make a fashion statement, but I ended up making a sociological statement.' So there was much more importance. So my goal is the woman. My role in fashion is I am the friend in the closet. You wake up in the morning. Your eyes are swollen. You have your period—not me anymore—but anyway, you don't feel well. You go for your friend, and you feel secure. You go in and you wrap it. You don't feel that great but over the day you feel better and better."

    DVF has become, in many ways, more than a designer of clothes. Both her design repertoire and personal narrative have entered a larger cultural discussion, and she spoke about the way that she sees herself in a conversation with women that has mutually amplified confidence:

    "Now when I talk to young women, I always say, and when my granddaughters—I have two granddaughters; one is going to be sixteen tomorrow and the other is fifteen—I say, when you go to sleep at night, first you should say thank you for what you have. And then you have to think about the woman you want to be, because if you think it, you will be it. And I really, really mean that, and I really feel that, and the older I am, the more that I feel it. And that's my message, and that's why I got into fashion. I got into fashion, and I started a dialogue with women, and as I became more confident, I was going all around the country doing personal appearances and selling confidence through that dress to other women. So they gave me confidence, and I gave them confidence. And so there was an extraordinary dialogue that started with me and women, and then because people looked at me, and they'd say, 'Who is this?' So some people would write, you know, journalists would write about how they felt about me, and so I felt like I had to say how I feel about me. And then I became very open, you know, I was then getting divorced and I talked about. A single mother and all of these things. I spoke the truth, and therefore, the dialogue continued."

    You can subscribe to the New York Public Library Podcast to hear more conversations with wonderful artists, writers, and intellectuals. Join the conversation today!

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    Hester Street, N.Y. City.
    Hester Street, 1905. Image ID: 837001

    New York City encompasses over 400 neighborhoods of varying size and structure. With notoriously murky boundaries, the city’s neighborhoods are continuously growing, declining, and resurfacing anew.

    Ancient view of the present junction of Pearl Chatham Sts., Chatham Square Bowery.
    "Ancient view of  Chatham Square and Bowery." Image ID: 800081

    Despite the nostalgia and favoritism New Yorkers might feel for their native neighborhoods, these communities are perpetually transforming. Redefined by the city’s growth, changing populations, and the plans of real estate developers, New York City neighborhoods are ever-evolving entities.

    As precursors to neighborhoods, New York first saw community distinctions in the late 17th century through the adoption of wards. Over time, residential differences began to emerge among these wards and the outwardly expanding boundaries of the city.

    Many iconic neighborhoods once began as villages and towns, independent of nearby New York City. Their unique histories and identities predate their absorption into larger cities, boroughs, and eventually the greater New York City that we know today.

    Facing increasing population growth and land development, neighborhoods came to be defined by the clustering of different ethnic, economic, and racial groups, each fostering a unique culture and community.

    New York City neighborhoods, from their formation to present day, can be researched through the collections of NYPL and other institutions. Useful materials include neighborhood and borough-specific histories, NYC guidebooks, city agency reports, local newspapers, clippings, statistical data, and maps, among many other resources.

    Street scenes - A summer day on a lower east side street [in the heart of ghetto.]
    A summer day on a Lower East Side street "in the heart of ghetto," 1930. Image ID: 733326F

    Background Research

    A useful resource for all NYC related topics, the Encyclopedia of New York City provides concise overviews of neighborhoods, including histories, geographic boundaries, land use and development, population details, social atmosphere, name changes, and includes suggestions for further research. The ‘neighborhoods’ entry in this encyclopedia also provides useful information on the establishment of neighborhoods and geographic boundaries throughout New York City’s history.

    The New York Family History Research Guide and Gazetteer includes background information of the formation of NYC and each of its boroughs. Featured are timelines for the settlement of towns, villages, and wards for the five boroughs, along with descriptions of neighborhood names and boundaries. Also included are notable repositories, local history collections, and resources located throughout the city.

    Neighborhood Names

    Because of the changing nature of neighborhoods, it is helpful to begin by researching neighborhood names. Neighborhood names often change over time, and are sometimes renamed in an effort to improve their image. E.g., Yellow Hook became Bay Ridge in 1853 to disassociate with a recent yellow fever epidemic, and Hell’s Kitchen was promoted as Clinton in the 1950s to distance itself from gang violence.

    113 Rochester St., Brooklyn, New York.
    113 Rochester Street, Brooklyn, 1900. Image ID: 1212156

    As the New York Times explains, “neighborhood names and the coining thereof is a quintessentially New York activity.” Identifying communities’ past, alternate, and collective names will expand research options and provide historical details.

    The following resources also provide information on NYC name origins:

    Wikipedia can also be a good starting point for neighborhood research. In addition to being a quick way to learn background information on NYC neighborhoods, articles also list references for further research. References might include resources such as newspaper and magazine articles, landmark designation reports, books, and scholarly articles. Materials referenced in Wikipedia can be searched in the library catalog and databases.

    Increasingly viewed by the academic community as a useful source for background research, the library has hosted Wikipedia Edit-a-thons, including those focused on New York City topics. NYC related articles edited through these events include information on neighborhoods, historic districts, roadways, subway lines, and more.

     Harlem River Drive - Dyckman StreetBicyclists on Harlem River Drive, formerly Harlem River Speedway, 1897. Image ID: 720335F

    Neighborhood Histories

    General histories of NYC and neighborhoods include details on the establishment of towns and cities, population growth, and how land was used and developed throughout the five boroughs. The following resources discuss the history of neighborhoods, including their foundations, cultural distinctions, geographic boundaries, and evolution within the greater context of NYC:

    Additional resources can be found by searching the catalog for the subject, Neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- New York.

    Avenue C and E. 8th Street
    Avenue C and East 8th Street, c. 1992-1998. Image ID: 5211667

    Neighborhood-Specific Resources

    Search the catalog for materials which provide historical information on particular neighborhoods. Resources include both contemporary and historically written books, pamphlets, speeches, clippings, newspapers, reports by NYC agencies, interviews, archival material, and more.

    Search by subject through the format: [neighborhood name] (New York, N.Y.) -- History.

    e.g. Lower East Side (New York, N.Y.) -- History, Flatbush (New York, N.Y.) -- History, Jamaica (New York, N.Y.) -- History, etc.

     Hester Street - Clinton Street
    Hester and Clinton Streets, 1901. Image ID: 720401F

    Also search by keyword for neighborhoods’ current, former, and alternative names to locate any additional materials in the library catalog.

    Borough histories may also provide information on specific towns and neighborhoods:

    Among the neighborhood histories available in the library’s collections are the Neighborhoods of New York City series, including Brooklyn, Queens, and Harlem, and neighborhood history guides from the Brooklyn Historical Society.

    New York Neighborhoods Study Guides from the library’s Teaching and Learning Division also provide teaching resources and activities for The Lower East Side and East Harlem. Included in these guides are historical overviews, activities, and questions using the library’s primary source collections.


    The Milstein Division’s collections include over 1,000 New York City guidebooks. These guidebooks span many neighborhoods, time periods, and topics, and provide an interesting insight into the culture of neighborhoods over time. Browse guidebooks by a particular time period using the catalog’s “Limit Sort Search" feature.

    Neighborhood Land Use and Development

    The library holds a variety of materials related to NYC land use, community development, and neighborhood planning. Resources include reports from the NYC Department of Planning and other city agencies. Spanning a range of years and locations throughout the city, reports and related items can be searched through the following subjects:

    64th Road at Woodhaven Blvd. and , to Northwest, Queens
    New home advertisements, 64th Road and Woodhaven Boulevard, Queens. Image ID: 485985

    Clippings Files

    The collection of New York City Clippings Files contains articles from a wide variety of NYC newspapers and magazines, from the 1950s-present. For a list of NYC neighborhoods represented in these files, search the catalog for “Villages & Sections.” Also search the catalog for neighborhood names by keyword.

    Local Newspapers

    Local newspapers reflect the culture of specific communities and offer views of neighborhoods’ daily life and events. The following are a sampling of neighborhood newspapers available on microfilm in the Milstein Division:

    Lenox Avenue, Harlem
    Lenox Avenue, Harlem, 1938. Image ID: 720868F

    Additional communities represented in the Milstein Division’s newspaper holdings include the East Village, Murray Hill, SoHo, and the West Bronx, among others. Many larger NYC newspapers are also accessible through the library. For more information on searching historical newspapers, refer to the guide: Conducting Genealogical Research Using Newspapers.

    Boundaries of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District
    Boundaries of the Brooklyn Heights Historic District, Landmarks Preservation Commission

    Historic Districts

    Certain neighborhoods are designated as New York City historic districts. Historic districts have been deemed to hold special historical, cultural, or aesthetic value to the city, and include a collection of landmark buildings.

    The Landmarks Preservation Commission issues designation reports for historic districts and landmarks, which detail their historical significance. View all NYC historic districts and landmarks, and designation their reports through the Historic Districts Council. Also locate historic districts through the Landmarks Preservation Commission, and search for designation reports through the Neighborhood Preservation Center.

    The library’s collections also contain landmark designation reports and other information on NYC historic districts. Search the subject Historic districts -- New York (State) -- New York for more details. Also explore historic districts and NYC landmarks through The landmarks of New York : an illustrated record of the city's historic buildings.

    To research the histories of individual buildings throughout NYC, refer to the guide: Who Lived In a House Like This? A Brief Guide to Researching the History of Your NYC Home.


    Neighborhood changes such as evolving boundaries, land use, and area characteristics are often depicted through maps. The library’s Map Division ( holds a significant collection of NYC maps and atlases, from New Amsterdam to the present.

    Plate 1 [Map bounded by Liberty St., Maiden Lane, East River, Hudson River]
    G.W. Bromley & Co. Atlas of Lower Manhattan, 1891. Image ID: 2021207

    Read the following guides for more details regarding NYC map research at the library:

    Digital Collections

    Many maps and atlases of NYC are available through the NYPL Digital Collections. Collections include:


    Locate New York City maps through searching the catalog. Search by subject for maps of the city’s boroughs:

    Search for particular neighborhoods by keyword and subject: [neighborhood name] (New York, N.Y.) -- Maps.

    e.g. Williamsburg (New York, N.Y.) -- Maps, Greenwich Village (New York, N.Y.) -- Maps, Harlem (New York, N.Y.) -- Maps, etc.

    Additional neighborhood maps can be found through the subject, Neighborhoods -- New York (State) -- New York -- Maps.

    Auction Sale of Morris Park Race Trac, Bronx Borough, New York City. Consisting of 3019 Lots, Several Dwellings and other Buildings under Approval of the Supreme Court by agreement with the Banking Department of the State of New York, Liquidators of the Carnegie Trust Co. and the North Bank of NY
    Advertisement for the auction of the Morris Park Race Track land in the Bronx, 1913. Image ID: 5086081

    The Map Division’s Land Auction Catalogs also illustrate neighborhood development in NYC. As advertisements to auctions off the city’s undeveloped lots, these pamphlets can be used to explore changing land use in the Bronx, Manhattan, and Brooklyn from the 1860s-1920s.

    More Map Resources

    OASIS provides an interactive map of NYC, searchable by neighborhood, community district, zip code, and other geographic boundaries. Maps can be customized to include a variety of information, such as transit, parks, environmental characteristics, land use, social services, population, and many others.

    The NYCity Map Portal can be searched by address, block and lot, or intersection for links to a variety of neighborhood information, including community district websites. The NYC Department of Planning and NYCdata also offer maps that show neighborhood boundaries.

    Neighborhood Data

    Because neighborhood boundaries are informally defined, the geographic boundaries for communities are determined in different ways by different sources. Use this Baruch College guide for details on how neighborhoods are defined by different city and federal agencies.


    Land Use Map, Bronx
    Land Use Map of Bronx Community District 8, NYC Department of Planning

    The InfoShare Online database, accessible at the Science, Industry and Business Library, provides census data for New York City and New York State. Data for NYC is available at the local level (e.g. community district, health district, police precinct) and includes topics such as population, immigration, land use, public assistance, and public schools among other factors. Selected neighborhoods can be profiled and compared through maps and tables.

    New York City Department of Planning

    The NYC Department of Planning provides a wealth of information for neighborhoods throughout the five boroughs of NYC. Explore a variety of demographic, social, economic, and housing data for recent years. Access neighborhood profiles, maps, land use data, current population statistics, future projections, and Department of Planning reports, including the NYC Census FactFinder, the American Community Survey, and the Community Portal. The Newest New Yorkers also provides neighborhood data through immigrant populations. Search the library catalog by author, New York (N.Y.). Department of City Planning, to find a variety of reports and maps from this NYC agency.

    U.S. Census Bureau

    American FactFinder, available through the U.S. Census Bureau, is the primary way to access data from the U.S. Census, American Community Survey, and other federal surveys. Users can focus on specific NYC locations and construct and download tables for a wide range of demographic characteristics.

    NYU Furman Center

    NYU Furman Center Data Search Tool
    NYU Furman Center Data Search Tool, showing data for "mean travel time to work," 2010.

    The State of the City’s Housing and Neighborhoods is an annual report by the NYU Furman Center that provides data on NYC’s housing, land use, demographics, and quality of life for the city’s five boroughs and 59 community districts. The Furman Center’s Data Search Tool allows users to create customized maps, downloadable tables, and track NYC demographic and housing trends over time. The State of the City's Housing and Neighborhood reports are also available through the library.

    Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center

    The Center for Urban Research at the CUNY Graduate Center provides an archive of U.S. Census datasets and related statistical information via the CUNY Data Service. Visual representations of NYC data are also accessible through interactive maps from the CUNY Mapping Service.

    For insight into NYC neighborhoods of the 1940s, explore the 1943 New York City Market Analysis. This report includes neighborhood profiles, 1940 Census data, color coded maps, photos, narratives, and borough maps and statistics.

    Baruch College

    NYCdata features a wide range of data related to New York City via the Baruch College Zicklin School of Business. Discover NYC statistics for topics including population, education, income, housing, social services, government, culture, sports, and more. This New York City Data research guide also highlights many different resources for obtaining NYC demographic data.

    Gold Street at Flatbush Avenue and , to South, Brooklyn
    Gold Street and Flatbush Avenue, Brooklyn. Image ID: 485827

    More Resources

    The Citizens Housing and Planning Council’s Making Neighborhoods project illustrates neighborhood-level changes from 2000-2010 through a variety of characteristics, and includes an interactive map and detailed report.

    The New York City Department of Health also provides health data and statistics for neighborhoods throughout NYC. Search the library catalog for a wide range of reports by this agency.

    Oral Histories

    The Community Oral History Project documents New York City neighborhood histories through the stories of people’s experiences. These interviews provide an insider’s perspective on what it was like to live in a particular neighborhood through a certain time period. Learn about the daily life, culture, and historic events as told and experienced by NYC residents from different neighborhoods and eras. These interviews are available for listening through the NYPL website and will eventually be annotated for research use.

    Social conditions - [New York's lower east side.]
    Social conditions in the Lower East Side, 1930. Image ID: 732966F

    Local Historical Societies

    Search local historical societies for further collections and resources relating to NYC neighborhoods.

    Bay Street, looking North, Stapleton, Staten Island [trolley tracks, lots of people on street, horses with carriages, shops]
    Bay Street, Stapleton, Staten Island. Image ID: 105075

    Five Boroughs:

    Local history collections at public libraries include the Brooklyn Collection of the Brooklyn Public Library and The Archives at Queens Library.

    Also search for historical societies that exist for particular neighborhoods throughout NYC.

    e.g., Bayside Historical Society, Kingsbridge Historical Society, Weeksville Heritage Center, etc.

    Neighborhood Blogs and Websites

    Search for neighborhood blogs and community associations for insight on the atmosphere, culture, and history of a particular region.

     164th Street - Edgecombe Avenue
    New homes in Flushing, Queens, 1928. Image ID: 725946F

    e.g. Morris Park Community Association, South Brooklyn Network, Tribeca Citizen, etc.

    Many community and block associations, civic councils, neighborhood alliances, historical societies, local museums, and other societies throughout NYC are listed as neighborhood partners of the Historic Districts Council.

    Also refer to Community board websites for neighborhoods throughout New York City. These portals provide information on local government issues such as land use and zoning, budgets, and public hearings, as well as background information about the community.


    Photos of New York City neighborhoods can be found through a variety of NYPL collections. Details on locating photos can be found through the guide: How to Find Historical Photos of New York City.

    Visit the Milstein Division in room 121 of the Stephen A. Schwarzman Building, or email for more information on researching New York City neighborhoods.

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    This Spring, everything is coming up foodie! On Friday April 10 and Saturday April 11, The New School hosted the Gotham on a Plate: Food in New York City conference, with Mimi Sheraton, former food critic for the New York Times, as keynote speaker, and author of 1000 Foods to Eat Before You Die: A Food Lover's Life List. The Gotham on a Plate conference targeted the scholarly, historical, and business aspects of foodways in NYC. I attended the session on Writing About Gotham's Plate, moderated by Andrew F. Smith, author of New York City: A Food Biographyand professor at the New School, and featured authors William Grimes (Appetite City: A Culinary History of New York), Molly O'Neill (New York Cookbook) , Jonathan Deutsch (Gastropolis: Food and New York City), and Gabrielle Langholtz, editor of Edible magazine and author of The New Greenmarket Cookbook. They encouraged aspiring authors to immerse themselves in the subject , be exacting in their research, and to spend time learning their craft or subject firsthand (if you want to write about cheese, learn to make it!). They also urged food bloggers eager to make the jump from blog to book and magazine writing never to forget: spelling and grammar counts.

    Concurrently, the Food Book Fair took place from April 10-12 at the Wythe Hotel in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where you could rub aprons with celebri-chefs-cum-authors such as April Bloomfield and Martha Rose Shulman, attend the Foodie-odical magazine fair, meet food book publishers and authors, all the while sipping on a Death & Company mixologist's concoction. As a volunteer, I mostly checked wrist bands at the door, but I did get to sit in on a tempting talk called Sugar and Sweets, featuring Nicholas Morgenstern of Morgenstern's Ice Cream, pastry chef Brooks Headley, and Joanne Chang, owner of the Boston-based bakery Flour.


    Sous Chef by Michael Gibney
    What a natural writing talent Gibney has! He brings you behind the scenes into the fast-paced world of a NYC fine dining kitchen in incisive detail, without the hubris present in so many chef's memoirs. Gibney's recollection respects the food, the preparers, and brings the reader closer to the Zen of the Sous Chef.

    Restaurant Man by Joe Bastianich
    From page one, Bastianich, the son of Italian culinary legend Lidia Bastianich, gives you the low-down on restaurant math—the price of wine by the glass is marked up four times, steak might cost you 50% of the price on the menu, desserts are pure profit. Much of the tone of the book presents the hard-hitting, number-crunching reality of managing a top restaurant in NYC (Babbo and Del Posto are some of the author's flagship restaurants), also utilizing his Wall Street smarts to run a successful business. But the story isn't just told in numbers, but in fond recollections of Bastianich's childhood in Queens, helping out at the family restaurant, and his indoctrination in the joys of Italian cooking with his mother Lidia Bastianich and through extensive travel to Italy.


    Essential Pépin: More than 700 All-Time Favorites From My Life in Food by Jacques Pépin
    I only had time to make two of his 700 all-time favorites, compiled by the esteemed French chef over a lifetime of cooking both professionally and writing for the home cook. Growing up during WWII, Pépin was influenced by the thriftiness of his mother and aunt, where you don't throw anything away. Pépin strives for simplicity, taste, and fresh ingredients over presentation and originality in his cuisine. Enjoy classics such as Pains au Chocolat, Vichssoise, Rilletes, crepes with jam and a ton of other fruit-oriented desserts ( Pistachio Floating Island with Strawberry-Black Currant Sauce, Braised Pears in Caramel Sauce). Comes with an instructional DVD on cooking techniques enacted by Pépin himself.

    Simply Delicious Amish Cooking: Recipes and Stories From the Amish of Sarasota, Floridaby Sherry Gore
    Amish and Mennonite communities settled in Sarasota, Florida beginning in the 1920s, and with it evolved their unique blend of Penn Dutch and Florida Strip Mall cuisine. Enjoy such treasures as Florida Salad (featuring miniature marshmallows , bananas and canned pineapple), Yumesetti ( a noodle dish tumbled with ground pork, canned mushrooms and tomato soup), Underground Ham Casserole (?), Pineapple Cheese Salad (??), Ginger Ale Salad (!!!). Where this book really excels is in the cookie, cake and pie repertoire. There are Chocolate Whoopie pies to die for, Shoofly Pie, Key Lime Pie of course, but I'm afraid I'll have to overlook the Chocolate Mayonaise Cake...

    Grains + Greens: Recipes for Deliciously Healthful Cooking by Molly Watson
    Grains, greens, yes, I should really be eating more of these things... This book makes you want to do that. With a very helpful forward to the book that gives a thorough anatomy of a variety of greens and greens, and how they should best be treated with regards to selecting, washing, stemming, and cooking time. Watson presents a lovely variety of salads, soups, breads, and mains such as Wild Rice Salad with Kale, Pecans, and Blueberries ( a fiesta of flavor!), Chilled Watercress Yogurt Soup with Wheat Berries that glows a sublime green, or try the Polenta with Dandelion Relish and Soft-Boiled Eggs for a whole new take on comfort food.

    The I Hate Kale Cookbook: 35 Recipes to Change Your Mindby Tucker Shaw
    I don't exactly hate kale, but it's just become this pithy "it" vegetable in recent years. See them all dressed up as kale chips, like it just threw on a casual jean jacket made of spices and crunch, or see it wearing black tie as a lacinato kale 'Caesar' salad. Let's face it—kale is the Brooklyn of vegetables. Tucker Shaw's cookbook draws from the same fountain of snark that oft informs kale hating, with cleverly drawn illustrations reminiscent of Lucy Knisley. Try the Kale Smoothies for breakfast, Penne with Kale, Bacon, & Goat Cheese (mmmm), or a Kale, Chicken, and Chorizo Shepher'd Pie. Lighter fare/ "on the side" sides shine with lemon-roasted Kale, or Kale Slaw. Kale: Relationship Status—"it's complicated."

    Staten Italy: Nothin' but the Best Italian-American Classics, From Our Block to Yours by Francis Garcia and Sal Basille
    Cousins and best friends Fran Garcia and Sal Basille left their family restaurant business in Staten Island to start pizzaria Artichoke Basille in Manhattan in 2008, but they didn't leave their Staten Island pride behind the wake of the ferry ride...Garcia and Basille share family stories and pictures, and tips on how to stock an Italian pantry (though I raised an eyebrow at Ronzoni being their go-to pasta brand). Try some Mortadella and Eggs for breakfast, the eggplant caponata, or Scungilli Salad with Kalamata Olives for Lunch. The Sicilian Pizza is the star, and the cousins will walk you through the dough, the pizza sauce, and wash it all down with some homemade wine...

    Queens, A Culinary Passport: Exploring Ethnic Cuisine in New York City's Most Diverse Borough by Andrea Lynn (e-book)
    Queens is my favorite foodie borough due to the myriad diversity of ethnic cuisines, and Andrea Lynn has written a personable guide to some of the most notable restaurants, groceries, food carts, and fish markets the borough has to offer. Let your mouth travel to Greece, China, Peru, or Afghanistan with just the cost of a subway ride.

    Afro-Vegan: Farm Fresh African, Caribbean & Southern Flavors Remixedby Bryant Terry
    Bryant Terry is a national leader in healthy, delicious and soulful vegan and vegetarian cuisine, and his latest cookbook goes way beyond most in that he adds music and even literary suggestions to go along with the meals. Try a little Erykah Badu while whipping up a batch of Chipotle-Banana Pepper Sauce, or contemplate Songs in the Key of My Life: A Memoirby Ferentz Lafargue while nibbling on Strawberry-Watermelon Salad with Basil-Cayenne Syrup. One of Terry's motivators for writing the book was to bring foods of the African-American diaspora closer to a greater culinary consciousness. Artfully photographed and thoughtfully articulated, this book is a true pleasure to leaf and eat through.

    Genius Recipes: 100 Recipes that will Change the Way You Cook by Kristin Miglore
    The editor of the popular Food52 website compiled this chef's "best of" cookbook that will improve your culinary acuity with a number of both classic and innovative recipes. Perfect your Crispy-Skinned Fish straight from the technique used by the chef's at Le Bernadin, get perfect Grilled Cheese sandwiches every time courtesy of Prune's Gabrielle Hamilton, or flip a flawless crepe according to the dictates of legendary NYC restaurateur Kenny Shopsin. Truly drool-worthy.


    The Complete Wine Course by Tom Forrest
    This is a thorough, comprehensive, and handy (as in—it's a handful of information in a petite package) introduction to wines of the world. The introduction cuts to the nitty gritty of wine production in accessible language, and offers tips on how to taste (yes you really SHOULD swirl that glass around to release the volatile elements). There are over 100 pages of text on the main grape varieties, and the author gives special attention to the Holy Grail styles such as Bordeaux, Port, and Champagne that are emulated by winemakers throughout the world. The bulk of the book however gives an intimate portrait of the best wines by geographic region of the best wines each part of the world has to offer. This kind of a book is a great reference work for the home library—a real keeper.

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    Mother's Day Brunch at Park Lane. Image ID: 3883791

    Mother's Day turned 101 this year. While we associate this holiday with cards, gifts, and more, Director of Women's Bureau at the Department of Labor, Latifa Lyles points out  that there are other ways we can value mothers. In Hold the Flowers: 3 Mother's Day Messages that Matter, she presents three messages that we probably won't find in any greeting cards but would mean a lot to working moms.

    Latifa Lyles also presented My First Mother's Day while she was  the Acting Director of the Women's Bureau. She wants our nation's daughters to know that the world is full of opportunity. Her work will help ensure that her daughter will grow up in a world where women have the same opportunities as men.

    To see more resources for mothers, view the Department of Labor's Resources for Women:

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    Harvard Class Day Exercises, Seniors entering Sanders Theatre, Memorial Hall, Cambridge, Mass. image ID: 68835

    My favorite season has returned, breathing new life into so many aspects of creation.  May and June are months that are replete with beginnings in the arena of nature as well as in human affairs.  Communions, confirmations, weddings and graduation ceremonies abound.  This May retains added significance for me, as my nephew, Charles, is graduating college.  His college sweetheart and now fiancée, Melissa, is also scheduled to graduate in the same ceremony as Charles.  As the lyricist Sheldon Harnick so eloquently and poignantly penned in the Fiddler on the Roof song, “Sunrise, Sunset,” “Is this the little girl I carried?  Is this the little boy at play?  I don’t remember growing older.  When did they?”  I am beyond proud of my nephew and future niece-in-law.  I am “bursting buttons,” “kvelling,” “swelling with pride,” (and yes, I am well aware that there are those who would quip that I am always "swollen" with cellulite!) etc.  Pursuing and attaining a college degree in a world laden with so many more distractions than were in existence when I was a jejune being represents no small achievement.  While the remainder of my blog is addressed directly to Charles and sometimes Melissa as well, the sentiment and advice contained therein should prove highly relevant and beneficial to many similarly situated as Charles and Melissa. One of the books that was the subject of one my book discussion groups was Gabrielle Zevin’s The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry.  In that book (a modern day Silas Marner in many respects), the title character writes notes to his adopted daughter, recommending certain books in order to stress the lessons contained therein, and this strikes me as an impressive strategy to convey wisdom to one’s loved ones, worthy of emulation in my instant blog.

    To further quote Mr. Harnick’s Sunrise, Sunset, “What words of wisdom can I give them?  How can I help to ease their way?”  First, I hope you, Charles, always remember the quote appearing on a card I purchased for you last year at the The Library Shop, a quote attributed to Solomon, “You are always perfect to me." Second, the song “Love of My Life”, written and beautifully sung by the superbly talented  Carly Simon for her children, encapsulates and expresses my sentiments for you and your sister exactly, for always.

    As a doting aunt, I can state with complete veracity that one of the utter frustrations in life facing parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, godparents, etc. is the rather limited ability to imbue one’s hard-earned wisdom of life to one’s younger loved ones (I used to drive your paternal grandfather to distraction with my naivete). Learning vicariously is not a talent that many are adept at utilizing, especially while still in the first flush of youth.   Additionally, I am (painfully) mindful of the fact that you and Melissa, as (impossibly!) young people, will be disinclined to accept advice and bits of wisdom from your antediluvian aunt.  I am mystified as to why, but the vast majority of the young fail to accredit the life acumen one of my chronological standing has accumulated after very nearly a half century on this planet.  While it is inarguable that different generations possess different values on many issues, some advice remains timeless.  One bit of advice that your paternal grandfather used to exhort me to pay proper heed to is contained in the Bible, “Beware of wolves in sheep's clothing.”  I would like to also cite the highly applicable Biblical injunction, “Be wise as serpents, yet innocent as doves.” I cannot stress sufficiently, Charles and Melissa, the need to be vigilant concerning the avarice, jealousy, deceit, deviousness, envy and conceit of others in this world.  However, please do not permit your conscious awareness of the immediately aforementioned vices in others to provide you with license to abandon your values.  While I admonish you to never allow yourselves to be victimized by the cruelty, greed, jealousy, etc. of others insofar as possible, always remember that the achievement of being a good person in a sometimes rotten world is no small feat. As Shakespeare (who your paternal grandfather was also fond of quoting) penned in The Merchant of Venice, “So shines a good deed in a naughty world.” Integrity is one of the few “things” in this world that no one can take from you without your consent.  And, compassion is one of the highest virtues.  The Desiderata poignantly expresses this and similar advice.

    Next, please know that one of the greatest forms of armor against life’s misfortunes and adversity is, in addition to fortitude and faith, a sense of humor (as you have often heard me quip over the years and as I expressed in my December 2014 blog post, attending my high school for four years honed this ability in me to a fine art!).  Obviously, I am not referring to caustic wit aimed at decimating another, but the mirth and recognition of irony that accomplishes much in the manner of retaining one’s sanity.

    The writer Norman Cousins credited laughing at humorous movies as a major factor in his recovery from a debilitating illness in his work, Anatomy of an Illness, As Perceived by the Patient. So, if laughter can assist in reversing the course of a degenerative ailment, just think what it may accomplish in the face of an unreasonable supervisor (albeit I recommend striving to refrain from expressing said humor aimed at a supervisor in the workplace, maintaining the mirth within your cranium and your writing tablet at home!)

    On the topic of your upcoming nuptials, I am well aware that your father (grrr) and future-father-in-law, respectively, has admonished you both that you are purportedly “too young for marriage.”  Author Susan Spencer-Wendel wrote her book, Until I Say Good-Bye, My Year of Living with Joy, after receiving a diagnosis of the horrific illness, Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis ("ALS," aka “Lou Gehrig’s Disease”).  (If you are ever afflicted with dry eyes, reading a few pages of this poignant albeit heart-wrenching book will quickly solve that problem for you!)  Realizing that she would not be present for her then-fourteen year old daughter’s future wedding, she wrote, “As long as that person makes her happy and treats her well, I support her.”   The immediately aforementioned words accurately depict my sentiments regarding your pending marriage.  And, although this may sound odd emanating from a woman who resides with other living beings of solely the feline variety, for marriage advice, I recommend reading Shakespeare’s Sonnet 116. 

    There are so many tomes replete with a literal plethora of wisdom that it is not a facile task to narrow my choice down to a final one.  However, Dr. Seuss’ Oh, the Places You’ll Go!most definitely represents a top contender for sagacious advice.  The penultimate worded page expresses my final words of advice and encouragement to you both: “And will you succeed?  Yes!  You will, indeed!  (98 and ¾ percent guaranteed.)  KID, YOU’LL MOVE MOUNTAINS!”

    Well done, my Sunshine!








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    Using The New York Public Library can be one of the central most powerful and inexpensive ways to familiarize yourself with and develop an informed opinion on any number of controversial, complex and relevant ideas of the day.

    The concepts of Genetic Engineering, Genetic Modification, and Genetic Enhancement are as closely related and intertwined as the DNA and the genes themselves. Genetic concepts and terminology can readily be found in today’s headlines and conversation. These phrases and concepts are often used interchangeably, but have distinctive meanings and emphasis.

    Generally speaking Genetic Engineering would be the larger concept of manipulating DNA at the molecular and cellular level within genes. The debate on Genetic Modification seems to place the emphasis on enhancing, changing or amending the outcome or the produce/product of a living organism, as opposed to the building of a chimera or an entirely new organism. Conceptually there appeared to be very little difference between engineering and modification. The use of "modification" might be viewed to be a public relations attempt to literally make the term more palatable and less controversial. During my research, I’ve encountered the terms used interchangeably. Genetic Enhancement can be conceptualized in less invasive ways, through breeding, farming, and conservation management.

    Pisum, hortense majus, flore fructuque albo = Pisello bianco = Pois. [Garden pea]. Image ID: 1130784

    If one had to broadly divide the idea of genetic manipulation or modification, we could use the term “traditional” versus “cellular.” Early agricultural farming and the domestication of animals both dating back to the Neolithic period, about 10,000 years ago gave rise to refinement of techniques used for the selective breeding of plants and animals. In the “traditional sense” we would mean selective breeding of plants, such as Gregor Mendel's work on breeding pea plants to establish the traditional rules of heredity, often referred to as “Mendelian inheritance.” The earliest traditional work on genetics generally speaking does not include work or manipulation of at the cellular or gene level. Many examples of genetic modification in the breeding of animals can manifest itself today in our homes and in our sport. Our pet dog or cat might be considered walking examples of traditional genetic selection. Surprisingly, all thorough-bred horses are descended from only three sires: Darley Arabian, the Goldphin Arabian, and the Byerley Turk. Understandably there are ongoing concerns about the ethical and social considerations of genetic modification. Crippling malformations of various dog and horse breeds as well as other societal concerns, long term consequences and cost have opened heated debate for caution and concerns for safety. Indeed, the debate regarding what it means to be human, may be at stake.

    The power and controversy surrounding genetic engineering rivals that of nuclear arms and global pollution. In the most basic sense, humans and civilization have been practicing genetic modification for thousands of years.

    Genetic Engineering is a relatively modern invention, first starting in the 1970s. Scientists discovered that recombinant DNA could be used to produce Insulin and Interferon. In 1988 Harvard University received the first patent for an animal. The “oncomouse” was developed and patented for its ability to acquire cancer, thus the oncomouse’s utility as a tool in the research into cancer was established. In 1996 scientist in the Roslin Institute in Scotland carried out the first cloning of a mammal using the cells of an adult sheep. Some critics of Genetic modification express deep concern over the purposeful shrinking or reduction of the gene pool, and introducing organism and animals that have never existed According to counter-argument Genetic Engineering can result in limiting species variety and introduce possible increased risk of wide-spread extinction, disease or possible unforeseen consequences to what took several millennia to naturally develop. In Beth Shapiro's book, How to Clone a Mammoth, the author gives details and serious discussion on genetically engineering a enhanced Mammoth from recovered DNA extracted from a tusk, or fossil. Should we book our seats to Jurassic Park?

    Wooly Mammoth
    Wooly Mammoth. Image ID: 1679667

    Today's Genetic Engineering activities and experiments require large social and economic structures and the wisdom to build and govern wisely. The importance of an educated and civically involved populace is necessary, lest we forget the lessons of history and repeat the conjuring of the hellish nightmare experimentation and torture committed by Joseph Mengele and atrocities of the Nazis.

    Solomon commands the spirits of the world to submit to his will.
    Solmon's Command. Image ID: 1704089



    I relied heavily upon Credo Reference and this article in particular: Gunn, A. (2011). Genetic engineering. In Green ethics and philosophy: An A-to-Z guide. Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications.

    The Opposing Viewpoints Resource Center is an excellent database to research and develop familiarity with controversial concepts.

    If you don't like the future you see, build one in its place, and if you don't see a title in our catalog, please suggest it. Live Long and Prosper.

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    Sophie's in the Congo for the summer, where she helps the bonobos at her mom's sanctuary. Bonobos are an endangered species, and mothers get killed in the wild so that the locals can sell the babies as pets. That is how Sophie meets Otto. The ape is in horrible shape, and he pulls at her heartstrings. She resolves to give him a better life. 

    It is supposed to be back to Miami and her dad in time for school in September, but those plans get shattered when the Congolese president is assassinated. Anarchy ensues, and the rebels take over the town with their guns and machetes. They steal anything and everything they can... even bonobos, for food. Sophie and Otto's lives are at stake.

    Survival demands their complete attention. Avoiding aggressive bonobos and humans, finding leaves, insects and manioc to eat, and finding safe drinking water fills their days. Sophie also wants to ensure that her family is safe, and she would like to return to a peaceful civilization. 

    Otto and Sophie hold each other close, and it keeps them going.  

    Endangered by Eliot Schrefer, 2012

    I loved learning about bonobos and reading a story about a girl who clearly loves the apes. They say that bonobo society is peaceful because food is plentiful in their habitat. Chimps, by contrast, must compete for food. Supposedly, that is why they murder and rape each other.

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    It is Asian-Pacific American Heritage Month, so to celebrate these writers we asked our staff to name some of their favorites for kids, middle grade and YA readers. Here is what they had to say:


    You can't go wrong with the books of Grace Lin. Beginning readers will love Ting and Ling's quest to prove their individuality in Ting and Ling: Not Exactly the Same. Another "don't miss" author is Lenore Look. I love Ruby Lu: Empress of Everything! The irrepressible 8 year old and her adventures introducing her cousin from China to her American school friends will make even the most jaded grown up laugh out loud. —Danita Nichols, Inwood

    Climb! Jump! Crawl! Want to learn the art of Kung Fu? Take on a mission: milk and cookies with Maxwell in Ninja! by Arree Chung. Action’s not your thing? Learn about the world of grown-ups with a sibling duo as they tackle a summer together. Rules of Summer by Shaun Tan includes the consequences of leaving your one red sock on the clothesline, forgetting the password, and eating the last olive at a party. If you are yearning for more, Shaun Tan has plenty more to offer.  —Anna Taylor, Children’s Programming

    I love Bee-bim Bop! by Linda Sue Park, a rhyming story about making the traditional Korean dish that translates as "mix mix rice" (and includes a recipe!).  I also love the irrepressible, funny, scaredy cat Alvin Ho, a young boy growing up in Concord, Massachusetts, in the young reader series by Lenore Look. —Susie Tucker Heimbach, Mulberry Street

    Here are some notable and thoughtfully done picture books that use popularized Buddhist philosophies to help kids learn helpful ways to view life events and handle emotions: Anh's Anger by Gail Silver teaches kids about accepting anger and sitting with it in order to get through it peacefully. In Zen Shorts by Jon J. Muth, three children meet a neighborly talking panda that introduces them to traditional thought-provoking zen parables. The book won a Caldecott honor for its colorful and scenic watercolor illustrations. —Jill Rothstein, Andrew Heiskell

    Middle Grade

    Middle grade readers who love fantasy and magic will enjoy Minli's quest for the Old Man in the Moon in Where the Mountain Meets the Moonby Grace Lin. The way this story—part mystery, part proverbs—snaps together in the end is incredibly satisfying.  —Danita Nichols, Yorkville

    The author who immediately comes to mind is Laurence Yep who has written a wide range of fantasy, realistic fiction and historical fiction.  One of my favorites is the Tiger's ApprenticeA Chinese American tween learns that magic really exists--and that he's responsible to keep an ancient artifact safe from the forces of evil. Another great read from last year was Secrets of the Terra-Cotta Soldier  this mother and son authored historical fantasy takes place in Maoist China, and gives us a classic adventure tale involving secret tombs, dangerous traps, a little magic and a friendship that spans across the ages. —Stephanie Whelan, Seward Park

    Young adult

    I can think of no better subject to read 3000 pages of manga on than the story of Siddhartha Gautama, Buddha. Author Osamu Tezuka, the father of modern manga, starts with historical facts and expounds deeply into the world of imagination in this eight-volume set. Tezuka takes some liberty with the historical record--we learn that Siddhartha roots for the Yomiuri Giants during baseball season, and enjoys Coca Cola! He presents the story as a terrific, absurdist ensemble script, and a deeply moving epic of one man's life coming to embody the struggles and pain of millions. —Charlie Radin, Inwood

    For teens, I would recommend checking out the graphic novels by Gene Luen Yang.  He's written several books with Asian protagonists, but my personal new favorite is The Shadow Hero. It's an historical fiction about the first Asian superhero, a boy who just wants to have a normal life and keep working at his family's grocery store in Chinatown.  But his mother decides that she wants him to be a superhero, and she won't take no for an answer. —Andrea Lipinski, Kingsbridge

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    Throughout the month of May, as part of Reader's Den at New York Public Library, we will be discussing Nick Harkaway's 2014 novel Tigerman.

    Harkaway is a London-based writer (born Nicholas Cornwell) who has previously published two novels, The Gone-Away World (2008) and Angelmaker (2012), as well as a work of nonfiction on the subject of technology, The Blind Giant (2012).

    He also happens to be the son of David John Moore Cornwell who is better known as the spy fiction maestro John le Carré.

    If you need a copy of the book, you can request  both the print and ebook versions of Tigerman through the NYPL catalog:

    Tigerman (print)
    Tigerman (e-book)

    To give us a loose structure for the discussion, I've listed a schedule below, but please feel free to comment on notable sections of the book in any of the following posts:

    Week 1: Introduction
    Week 2: Chapters 1-6
    Week 3: Chapters 7-14
    Week 4: Chapters 15-21

    Perhaps the best place to begin discussing the book is at its very beginning (or even a few pages before). The novel is prefaced by a curious epigraph from the celebrated Argentine writer, Jorge Luis Borges:

    My father had formed one of those close English friendships with him (the first adjective is perhaps excessive) that begins by excluding confidences and soon eliminate conversation.
    —Jorge Luis Borges, Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius

    For any interested readers, the quote above comes from a short story, which is included in many, different compilations of Borges's work available from New York Public Library:

    Borges, A Reader
    Everything and Nothing
     (print) / Ficciones (e-book)
    Labyrinths: Seleted Stories and Other Writings

    Below are some general questions to get us started:

    1. Have you read any other books by Nick Harkaway?
    2. What kind of story do you expect purely based on the (exceptional) cover art?
    3. Why does the novel begin with an epigraph by Jorge Luis Borges?

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