April 3

We Bought a Zoo – Matt Damon, Thomas Hadden Church

When his teenage son gets into trouble, Benjamin Mee gives up a lucrative newspaper job to move his family to the most unlikely of places: a zoo! With help from an eclectic staff, and with many misadventures along the way, Benjamin embarks on a fresh beginning to restore the dilapidated zoo to its former glory, while uniting his family. PG

War Horse – Emily Watson, David Thewlis

Set against a sweeping canvas of rural England and Europe during the First World War, this movie begins with the remarkable friendship between a horse named Joey and a young man called Albert, who tames and trains him. When they are forcefully parted, the film follows the extraordinary journey of the horse as he moves through the war, changing and inspiring the lives of all those he meets; British cavalry, German soldiers, and a French farmer and his granddaughter. PG 13

April 10

Happy Feet Two – Eljah Wood, Robin Williams

Mumble, the Master of Tap, has a problem because his tiny son, Erik, is choreo-phobic. Reluctant to dance, Erik runs away and encounters the Mighty Sven, a penguin who can fly! Mumble has no hope of competing with this charismatic new role model. But things get worse when the world is shaken by powerful forces. Erik learns of his father’s ‘guts and grit’ as Mumble brings together the penguin nations and all manner of fabulous creatures. PG

Iron Lady – Meryl Streep

A surprising and intimate portrait of Margaret Thatcher, the first and only female Prime Minister of the United Kingdom. One of the 20th century’s most famous and influential women, Thatcher came from nowhere to smash through barriers of gender and class to be heard in a male-dominated world. PG 13

April 17

Mission Impossible – Ghost Protocol – Tom Cruise, Jeremy Renner

Blamed for the terrorist bombing of the Kremlin, IMF operative Ethan Hunt is disavowed along with the rest of the agency when the president initiates ‘Ghost Protocol.’ Left without any resources or backup, Ethan must find a way to clear his agency’s name and prevent another attack. To complicate matters further, Ethan is forced to embark on his mission with a team of fellow IMF fugitives whose personal motives he does not fully know. PG 13

April 24

Contraband – Mark Wahlberg, Lukas Haas

Chris Farraday long ago abandoned his life of crime, but after his brother-in-law, Andy, botches a drug deal for his ruthless boss, Tim Briggs, Chris is forced back into doing what he does best, running contraband, to settle Andy’s debt. Chris is a legendary smuggler and quickly assembles a crew with the help of his best friend, Sebastian, to head to Panama and return with millions in counterfeit bills. Things quickly fall apart with only hours to reach the cash. R

Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close – Tom Hanks, Thomas Horn

Oskar is convinced that his father, who died in the 9/11 attacks on the World Trade Center, has left a message for him hidden in the city. Feeling disconnected from his grieving mother and driven by an active mind that refuses to believe in things that can’t be observed, Oskar begins searching New York City for the lock that fits a mysterious key he found in his father’s closet. His journey through the five boroughs takes him beyond his loss to a greater understanding of the world around him. PG 13

 

 

While I know some Big Ten fans that might argue the “last great”, there’s no question that one of the greatest games in the history of college basketball took place on March 28, 1992, the final of the NCAA East Regional, Duke vs. Kentucky. The 17,848 at the Spectrum in Philadelphia and the millions watching on TV could say they saw the greatest game and the greatest shot in the history of college basketball. But it wasn’t just the final play of the game – an 80-foot inbounds pass from Grant Hill to Christian Laettner with 2.1 seconds left in overtime – that made Duke’s 104-103 victory so memorable. The Kentucky and Duke players and coaches arrived at that point from very different places, each with a unique story to tell.

In The Last Great Game , acclaimed ESPN columnist Gene Wojciechowski tells their stories in vivid detail, turning the game we think we remember into a drama filled with suspense, humor, revelations and reverberations. The cast alone is worth meeting again: Mike Krzyzewski, Rick Pitino, Bobby Hurley, Jamal Mashburn, Christian Laettner, Sean Woods, Grant Hill, and Bobby Knight. Celebrating the game’s 20th anniversary, The Last Great Game isn’t a book just for Duke or Kentucky or even basketball fans. It’s a book for any reader who can appreciate that great moments in sports are the result of hard work, careful preparation, group psychology, and a little luck. (description from the publisher)

The popularity of Suzanne Collin’s Hunger Games, got me thinking about apocalyptic books I’ve read. Alas, Babylonby Pat Frank was on school reading lists- years ago. Originally published in 1959, the novel is about the survival of a community in Florida after the United States has been hit by  nuclear missiles.

What is satisfying about this books is how the extended family of Randy Bragg gets back to nature in order to survive – using local plants, fruits and trees to eat and to re-build. And eventually they thrive and learn to appreciate their new-found lifestyle.

The story has alot in common with that of  Swiss Family Robinson. Like the Pat Frank book, the characters respond to adversity with ingenuity. Both books take place in tropical settings, which give the families a definite advantage. They don’t have to cope with cold weather and are surrounded by abundant sources of food and fuel.

Shipwrecks, nuclear war and other disasters have always been  catalysts to the imaginations of novelists. How do you think you would fare in those circumstances?

What happens when an adventure travel expert – who’s never actually done anything adventurous – tries to re-create the original expedition to Machu Picchu? That’s exactly what Mark Adams does in Turn Right at Machu Picchu and lucky for us, we get to ride along vicariously.

July 24, 1911, was a day for the history books for on that rainy morning, the young Yale professor Hiram Bingham III climbed into the Andes Mountains of Peru and encountered an ancient city in the clouds: the now famous citadel of Machu Picchu. Nearly a century later, news reports have recast the hero explorer as a villain who smuggled out priceless artifacts and stole credit for finding one of the world’s greatest archaeological sites.

Mark Adams has spent his career editing adventure and travel magazines, so his plan to investigate the allegations against Bingham by retracing the explorer’s perilous path to Machu Picchu isn’t completely far- fetched, even if it does require him to sleep in a tent for the first time. With a crusty, antisocial Australian survivalist and several Quechua-speaking, coca-chewing mule tenders as his guides, Adams takes readers through some of the most gorgeous and historic landscapes in Peru, from the ancient Inca capital of Cusco to the enigmatic ruins of Vitcos and Vilcabamba. Along the way he finds a still-undiscovered country populated with brilliant and eccentric characters, as well as an answer to the question that has nagged scientists since Hiram Bingham’s time: Just what was Machu Picchu? (description from the publisher)

Choosing Civility by P.M. Forni is the basis for initiatives by cities and libraries across the county. A slim volume, it has concrete ideas for individuals and for the community at large.

The author talks about the difference between manners and civility, and makes the case that good manners are the tools to promote civility. Manners have gotten a reputation as something that are phony and ineffectual,  but, in fact, the purpose of good manners is to show that you think the best of those you encounter and you assume they have only the best motives. You can’t control the rude and callous behavior of those around you, but you can choose to do everything you can, large and small, to make the world a more positive place. This philosophy, in fact, has been shown to increase one’s own happiness.

Being able to have some control over one’s daily interactions is a powerful idea.

The website of the American Library Association promotes Civility & Diversity: “When it comes to finding information and instruction for how to become more civil, there is probably no better source … than Emily Post’s Etiquette. ” In the workplace, a civil atmosphere promotes customer satisfaction “when co-workers work together, they work better, enriching our users’ experiences.”

Hey, Arrested Development fans! Ever wondered what would happen if Tobias Fünke had a brother who was accidentally mistaken for a shrewd businessman and gets sent to England by a strung-out Gob Bluth to sell a toxic energy drink with the help of a sweet cafe owner and a cheeky young bloke? Me, too! Thank goodness David Cross answered our pleas and created The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret starring himself and Will Arnett.

Hey, people who love both American and BBC comedies! Ever wondered what it would be like if a TV show combined the American sensibility for outrageousness with snarky British dialogue? Me, too! I absolutely adore fish-out-of-water stories, especially when they compare the differences between Americans and Britons. (Remember in Downton Abbey when Lord Grantham told Lady Cora “If you’re turning American on me, I’ll go downstairs” while arguing their daughter’s marriage? I giggled for days over that.) The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret manages to perfectly blend the cross Atlantic comedic styles so that I cannot decide if the show is more a British show starring an American or an American show set in Great Britain.

Hey, viewers who like shows with short seasons so they aren’t that big of a commitment! The first season of The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret is only 6 episodes long. However, there is a giant cliffhanger at the end, so be prepared to have to wait for the release of season 2 on DVD.

Due to some mature language/situations and offbeat humor, The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret isn’t a show for everyone, but I recommend giving it a chance if you are looking for some familiar funny faces in a fresh setting.

Time to brush off those shovels and start thinking about sprucing up your yard and planting your vegetable garden. Here are some recent titles to inspire you.

The Beginners Guide to Growing Heirloom Vegetables by Marie Iannotti – Are heirloom vegetables more difficult to grow than conventional hybrids? This book debunks this myth by highlighting the 100 heirloom vegetables that are the easiest to grow and the tastiest to eat.

Decoding Garden Advice: the Science Behind the 100 Most Common Recommendations by Jeff Gillman – Assess gardening recommendations related to soil, water, pests, diseases, weed control, mulch, annuals, perennials, bulbs, trees and shrubs, vegetables and fruit, and lawn care.

Landscaping for Privacy by Marty Wingate  shows homeowners how to landscape their yards, balconies, and rooftops to enhance privacy by creating buffers to noise, pollution, sun, wind, kids, and dogs with berms or groups of small trees; barriers that deter invasion like living and permanent fences; and screens that will block unwanted sights using hedges

Container Garden Idea Book from Taunton Press – Containers are wonderful accents anywhere in the landscape; this book is an amazing visual clip file with more than 300 photos, plant recipes, and eye-catching designs for container gardens of all shapes and sizes.

Sugar Snaps and Strawberries: Simple Solutions for Creating Your Own Small-Space Edible Gardenby Andrea Bellamy gives you the dirt on growing gorgeous organic food with very little square footage. Simple, straightforward, design and growing advice can help you transform just a snippet of space into a stylish and edible oasis.

Complete Idiot’s Guide to Seed Saving and Starting by Sheri Ann Richerson – Covers all of the essential techniques- harvesting, drying, disease and pest control, testing and germinating, and sowing

According to Chase’s Calendar of Events, March is International Ideas Month – dedicated to all ideas – large or small, great, and  not-so-great.

I used to have a colleague at Davenport Library who was known for her enthusiasm for “ideas.” It was infectious and fun – sometimes they worked and sometimes they didn’t get very far at all.

What’s the best idea you ever had – at work or in your personal life? Maybe an idea for a patent? The Davenport Public Library is now the official Patent & Trademark  Resource Center  for the state of Iowa. If you have an idea for a revolutionary mousetrap, or toothbrush, you may want to check out Davenport Library’s patent resources.

 

It is inevitable that librarians would jump on Quiet by Susan Cain. This bestseller traces the role of introverts in American society. Having a good character and reputation was once the highest goal one could aspire to. That is, until the cult of personality gradually began to take over  – with the rise of Dale Carnegie and commercial advertisements.

The book (and audiobook) is an empowering treatise for those who have grown up with teachers, relatives and strangers criticizing the natural tendencies of the non-extrovert.

Cain says their reserve and solitary nature are qualities that brand them as those possessing  “a second-class personality trait, somewhere between a disappointment and a pathology.” It turns out that these are actually strengths, and they should be celebrated, rather than be regarded with suspician. Introverts have the ability to concentrate for long periods of time, making them good inventors, researchers, musicians, scientists and writers.

The American Library Association blog, Shelf Renewal, blogged about Cain recently. In the post, Introverts Rising, they categorize literature’s most famous characters as either introverts or extroverts. (Howard Roark is an introvert; Tom Sawyer is the ultimate extrovert).

What happens when a classically-trained New York chef and fearless omnivore heads out of the city and into the wild to track down the ingredients for her meals? After abandoning Wall Street to embrace her lifelong love of cooking, Georgia Pellegrini comes face to face with her first kill. Realizing that the only way we truly know where our meat comes from is if we hunt it ourselves, Pellegrini embarks on a wild ride into the real world of local, organic, and sustainable food in Girl Hunter: Revolutionizing the Way We Eat, One Hunt at a Time.

Teaming up with veteran hunters, she trav­els over field and stream in search of the main course-from quail to venison and wild boar, from elk to javelina and squirrel. Pellegrini’s road trip careens from the back of an ATV chasing wild hogs along the banks of the Mississippi to a dove hunt with beer and barbeque, to the birthplace of the Delta Blues. 

More than a hunting narrative, Girl Hunter also teaches you how to be a self-sufficient eater. Each chapter offers recipes for finger-licking dishes like: wild turkey and oyster stew stuffed quail pheasant tagine venison sausage, fundamental stocks, brines, sauces, and rubs suggestions for interchanging proteins within each recipe Each dish, like each story, is an adventure from begin­ning to end.  An inspiring, illuminating, and often funny jour­ney into unexplored territories of haute cuisine , Girl Hunter captures the joy of rolling up your sleeves and getting to the heart of where the food you eat comes from. (description from publisher)