Dewey: the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World by Vicki Myron

One frigid winter morning in Spencer Iowa, Vicki Myron opened the public library’s book drop to discover an abandoned kitten. Starving and nearly frozen to death, Myron rescues the kitten and changes both of their lives forever.

Named Dewey Readmore Books, the kitten quickly settles into life at the library. Myron, who eventually becomes the director of Spencer Public Library, takes care of him and becomes his closest pal, but Dewey quickly makes friends with anyone that comes to the library, from the shyest child to the most preoccupied businessman. His story spreads far and wide – Japanese television made a documentary about him and his obituary ran in more than 200 newspapers when he died at age 19. Dewey: the Small-Town Library Cat Who Touched the World is Myron’s loving tribute to this charming and friendly cat, but it’s also the story of Spencer struggling through difficult economic times, and about Myron who faced several personal and health crisis’. It’s also a love letter to libraries and their place in a community.

Davenport Library had it’s own library cat many years ago, also named Dewey. A stray kitten that walked in the front door at the Annie Wittenmyer Branch (where the doors were often propped open because of lack of air conditioning), our Dewey made himself right at home. We kept him for almost two years, until we found him a forever home where he lived (and ruled) for the rest of his 14 years.

Escape by Carolyn Jessop

Escape is an amazing true story about a young woman who belonged to the fundamentalist polygamist sect of the Mormon church. Carolyn Jessop tells how at the age of 18 she was chosen to marry a 50 year old man with three existing wives.

The underlying question for me is what makes a woman have 8 children in 15 years and live in a house with 50 others (6 sister wives and 45 + children) but only one husband? Carolyn Jessop truly helps me understand (albeit not agree with) how her situation could possibly exist today – being a third generation in this “cult” as she calls it, is all she’s ever known.

After years of abuse from husband, sister wives and the sect in general, Carolyn secures a plan of escape with her 8 children ranging in ages from 15 yrs. to 18 months. This is the same FLDS controlled by Warren Jeffs that has recently been all over the news.

Her story is organized and told objectively. It also made for some awesome conversations!

General Election 2008

In just under two months it will be over. You can a) duck and cover until the smoke clears, or b) eagerly watch how these races are unfolding.

But, you don’t need a network talking head to monitor the gallons of ink and glowing pixels expended on the elections until November 5th…you can check on them yourself in mere seconds.

Zogby and Pollster are impartial data-gatherers with simple and interactive maps refreshed every time new numbers come in.

When the fated day comes, the library receives many calls about where to go to cast a ballot. The answer is found by typing in your address on the Scott County Auditor’s site.

Here are the local contacts for the McCain and Obama Campaigns:

McCain Eastern Iowa Victory Office
1880 E. 54th Street
Davenport, IA 52807
Contact: Amanda Sebastian

Scott County Obama HQ
901 E. Kimberly St
Davenport, IA 52807

5 Phrases for International Talk Like a Pirate Day

Today is, believe it or not, International Talk Like a Pirate Day. The purpose of the day is, simply, fun and silliness in the spirit of great pretend pirates (think Long John Silver in Treasure Island and Captain Jack Sparrow in Pirates of the Caribbean) To help you join in on the fun, here are some standard pirate phrases, suitable for most situations.

1. “Avast, me hearties!” Not sure what it means, but it sounds good.

2. “”Shiver me timbers!” When something surprises or frightens you.

3. “Ahoy!” Hello.

4. “Back, ye scurvy dogs!” Keeping the neighborhood dogs (or whatever) in place.

5. “Arr, matey, it be a fine day.” General pirate greeting.

Be sure to check out the ITLAPD website which has everything you could possibly need to know to celebrate the day including lesson plans for children, party ideas, pirate games and songs and much more. Pirate participants are encouraged to raise money for their favorite philanthropic causes such as Marie Curie Cure Cancer and Doctors Without Borders, so you can do some good while you’re having fun.

Now get out there and plunder some bounty!


Eddie’s Bastard by William Kowalski

A story of growing up and searching for one’s identity, Eddie’s Bastard by William Kowalski is bound to grab you from the first sentence and not let go until the end.

Abandoned on his grandfather’s doorstep with the note “Eddie’s Bastard” pinned to the basket, Billy Mann grows up without parents but surrounded by the love and family stories of his grandfather Thomas Mann. Living mostly in isolation on the decaying family homestead (Thomas lost the family fortune when he invested it in ostriches in the 1940s), Billy faces the ups and downs, tragedies and joys of growing up with humor and a positive outlook. There are lively subplots about the family curse, the identity of Billy’s mother, and the diary of Billy’s great-great-grandfather but the relationship between Thomas and Billy remains central to the story.

Beautifully written – you will feel as if you are part of the Mann family – Eddie’s Bastard is bittersweet yet surprisingly uplifting. This is one book you’ll wish would never end.

Cake Love by Warren Brown

Who doesn’t love cake? Sweet, moist, delicious – a piece (or two) of cake makes the perfect final touch to a great meal – or a great late night snack! And a homemade, made-from-scratch cake? Divine. But not everyone has the time or skill for homemade cakes. If only we had our own personal bakery chef….

Warren Brown comes to the rescue with Cake Love, demonstrating the how and why of baking a cake (the best ingredients, the essential skills, the most useful pieces of equipment) and then provides lots of inspiration. Baking a cake from scratch isn’t really very difficult and can become a canvas for a lot of creativity. Brown encourages experimenting with flavors and techniques and to not get hung up on perfection – homemade cakes always get respect. Because, who doesn’t love cake?

As well as clearly illustrated instructions on baking techniques, Cake Love includes a wide range of recipes for all kinds of cakes from the familiar (Chocolate Pound Cake) to the innovative (Sassy, flavored with orange, mango and cayenne-pepper), frostings, glazes and fillings, and tips on how to assemble and decorate the finished cake. The cakes here are all about flavor and texture, not about being fancy, and are meant to be made with love and eaten with gusto.

Because, who doesn’t love cake?

Simply Sublime Bags by Jodi Kahn

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!

The Creative Family by Amanda Soule

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.

A Walk in the Woods by Bill Bryson

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.

We Remember….9/11/2001

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.

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