Ahh, yet another use for duct tape – making handbags!

Fun, whimsical, fresh Simply Sublime Bags by Jodi Kahn has 30 great ideas for no-sew or very-little-sew bags of all shapes and sizes. Use of unusual and unexpected materials is emphasized, from hardware store finds to placemats to pillowcases to candy wrappers, and creativity is encouraged. They range in size from coin purses and makeup bags to totes for the beach. Directions are clear and straightforward and, as promised, require little or no sewing (not all of them call for duct tape, but a few do!)

The great thing about this book is that the results are practical and pretty and are not only fun to make, they’re fun to use!

Although it’s stated purpose is to give you ideas for play and creativity with your children, The Creative Family also functions as a gentle parenting guide with projects that are designed to encourage active participation for child and parent together. Emphasis is on the handmade and imperfect; the goal here is shared experiences.

Although a wide variety of projects are given here (drawing and painting, sewing and embroidering, putting on a play, making music) you’re encouraged to be spontaneous, have fun, explore the world around you.

Included are ideas for celebrating family holidays and events, creating rituals, preserving memories with photos, transforming children’s art into personal displays for your home, and exploring the natural world season by season.

The Appalacian Trail (AT), a continuous hiking trail spanning the eastern United States from Georgia to Maine, has been the source of many adventures and stories but by far the funniest (and arguably the best) is A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson.

Bryson, middle-aged and overweight, decides to reconnect with nature and America by hiking the often arduous AT. He recruits long-time friend Stephen Katz who is even less athletic than Bryson (he packs for the hike by filling his backpack with candy bars – and nothing else) and sets off optimistically. What ensues is both laugh-out-loud funny and thoughtful, beautiful and provocative. Although the pair end up hiking only parts of the trail (the beginning and the end plus several day hikes in the central section), their experience is no less authentic than those of a thru-hiker.

Along the way Bryson (one of our best writers) fills you in on the history and lore of the trial, the varied accounts of the towns scattered along its length, the unique and beautiful landscape and wildlife of the areas crossed (although the chapter on bears is likely to keep you awake at night whether you’re in a tent or at home), insights into human nature and the value of keeping your friends – even those that drive you nuts.

But most of all, you’ll laugh. A lot.

written by Tana

It’s hard to believe that it’s been seven years. Still, we remember. We remember those horrifying images: the second plane flying into the World Trade Center, it’s Twin Towers later falling into a roaring cloud of dust, the attack on the Pentagon, and the remains of United Flight 93 littered across a field in Pennsylvania. We especially remember those who lost their lives.

These titles can help.

Above Hallowed Ground: A Photographic Record of September 11, 2001 by the photographers of the New York City Police Department. This volume has haunting aerial photographs with very limited text, proving that a picture really is worth a thousand words.

Women at Ground Zero: Stories of Courage and Compassion by Susan Hagen and Mary Carouba. This collection features many first-person accounts of survivors but also includes reflections about others who were not so fortunate.

Heroes: 50 Stories of the American Spirit by Lenore Skomal. These are short, easy reads presented in a respectful manner, making it a worthy tribute.

Set in England the years surround World War I, The House at Riverton by Kate Morton follows the decline and fall of a once-proud English family. Devastated by the ravages of the war, torn apart by secrets, disgraced by a very public scandal, the family unravels against a backdrop of war and the Roaring Twenties.

David, Hannah and Emmeline grow up in an idyllic, privileged atmosphere at the beginning of the century. When Grace Reeves begins service as a housemaid at Riverton, she becomes witness and confidant to the siblings and keeper of their secrets. Told in flashback many years later, an elderly Grace relives the tragedy that changed them all forever.

Part Upstairs Downstairs, part Brideshead Revisted and even a little Sense and Sensibility, The House at Riverton will keep you guessing with it’s twists and turns until its shocking end.

One of the hottest trends in crafting today is the influence of various Japanese crafts and styles. This is showing up especially in knitting, crocheting, fabrics and hand sewing. “Zakka” is the Japanese term for “household goods”, specifically hand-crafted domestic items such as tableware, kitchenwear, containers and even articles of clothing. Zakka Sewing by Therese Laskey is an excellent introduction to the craft – and all the translating has already been done for you!

Projects in this book reflect the Japanese aesthetic – love of nature, of simplified shapes, of careful details, of making even the humblest object into something beautiful as well as functional. You’ll find pot holders, tote bags, coasters, placemats, house slippers, even a squirrel shaped tea cozy! Quick facts about Japanese culture and crafting are sprinkled throughout. Directions are clear and detailed, although some prior knowledge of sewing is helpful. A shopping guide for supplies in both Japan and the US is included.

Spice up your crafting with some international flair!

Today is International Literacy Day! What better way to celebrate than to teach someone to read?

At the Davenport Main Library, we have two special sections which can help you do just that. Our ESL (or English as a Second Language) area is located on the second floor in the southwest corner. If English is not your native tongue, this is a good place to start. Picture dictionaries are an example of the material found here. If you can’t remember the word, you can always point to the picture of it!

Another area located in the same corner at Main is the Learning Center, which deals primarily with literacy issues. Most of the items here help those with limited reading abilities who want to master basic life skills. For example, there’s a whole series called Life Skills Literacy which includes titles such as Things to Know About Personal Paperwork or Things to Know About Spending and Saving Money, all by Richard Kimball. Come to think about it, even some very literate people could use these books!

Ever wonder which wine to have with a meal? Ever debate the pairing of different beers with specific foods? Ever argue with your SO about which is better, beer or wine? He Said Beer, She Said Wine by Sam Calagione and Marnie Old will not only educate and entertain you, it’ll provide you with fresh issues to debate.

Written by two acknowledged experts in their field, this book starts with an overview of each beverage, the basics of how each is produced, a discussion of varieties and styles and how to taste and evaluate each one. The heart of the book discusses pairing wine and beer with different foods such as cheese, vegetables, sandwiches, pizza, fish, pasta, chicken and desserts.

The final section is the fun part – bringing the debate home. Calagione and Old describe how to have a wine versus beer party, including giving you ideas on how to set up voting, sample menus and wine/beer pairings, and recipes.

Smart but never stuffy, this lavishly illustrated book is sure to encourage lots of friendly debate – and might even have you believing in the value of the other beverage, no matter what side you’re on.

Cheerleaders are usually portrayed as air-headed and dumb, the sport is often the butt of jokes and in this age of equal rights, it’s considered anit-feminist to be part of a squad. The truth, of course, is very different.

It wasn’t that long ago (before Title IX in the 70s) that cheerleading was often the only organized sport available to high school and college women. Today, competitive cheerleading (not the silly dance steps performed by squads at professional football and basketball games) is a scholarship sport at hundreds of colleges, with National Championships held each year in April that are shown on ESPN. Like any college sport, it requires rigorous practices, learning specific skills, staying in excellent physical condition and game day situations. It is also plagued by the same problems – illegal drug use, often serious injuries and eating disorders.

Just in time for opening of college football. Cheer! by Kate Torgovnick takes you through a typical season with the squads from Stephen F Austin, Southern University and the University of Memphis. You’ll go behind the scenes, experience the hard times and the fun times and come to love the people of each squad. Well-researched and detailed, Cheer! will give you new insight into – and respect for – the world of cheerleading.

To be filed under the category of “where does it come from” is Richard Ellis’s Tuna: A Love Story. There are all kinds of fish facts to amuse your dinner company, including:

* What you’re eating out of the can scientifically isn’t tune per se, but a member of the family called skipjack.

* The largest fish market in the world is in Tsukiji, Japan. Every day, this icebox is loaded with catch from around the world and millions of dollars are exchanged. One fish brought $173,600 US in 2001.

* The purse seining method of tuna fishing leads to the deaths of thousands of dolphins per year. If a can is labeled “tuna safe”, it merely means a good faith effort is made to rescue as many as possible, and these regulations are far from a global standard.

* A highly-prized bluefin tuna (a rich dark red meat unlike our Starkist, Bumblebee, and Chicken of the Sea) can fetch upwards of $400 a pound. The sushi restauranteur marks up from there.

* Around one in 40 million tuna eggs will make it to adulthood. Once they do, however, few species can compete physically with a quarter-ton fish that can swim in excess of 50 mph.

* The insatiable appetite and unlimited finances of the Japanese for this delicacy may very likely result in the species’ extinction in the future.

Sorry Charlie!