One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest

GF 54.5.g46 1990.  GF 1-900 classes works on Human ecology and Anthropogeography.  (The Free Online Dictionary defines Anthropogeography as “The science of the human species as to geographical distribution and environment. Broadly, it includes industrial, commercial, and political geography, and that part of ethnology which deals with distribution and physical environment.”)

Series Title: One Day Series

Author: Jean Craighead George
ISBN-10:0690047673 ISBN-13: 978-0690047677
City and Publisher: New York: HarperCollins
Copyright Date: 1990
Author’s Website:

Notes: Includes bibliography and index

Reader’s Annotation: Tepui lives in a tropical rainforest, alongside a plethora of animals and plants.  Can he find an undiscovered butterfly and help save everyone’s home from certain destruction?

Plot Summary: Tepui lives near the Tropical Rainforest of the Macaw.  He is assisting scientists studying the vast range of animals and plants.  The rainforest is scheduled for demolition, but if Tepui can help find an undiscovered butterfly, he may be able to save countless lives.

Critical Evaluation: One Day in the Tropical Rain Forest is stuffed to the gills with detail about plants and animals that thrive in the unique environment of a tropical rainforest.  The over-arcing plot is extremely straightforward, the book’s complexity is derived solely from the level of scientific detail on the life and habits of rainforest creatures.  Therein lies the problem with this book.  The vocabulary and details describing these creatures is on or above the reading level of 9-12 year olds.  These details are not very well integrated into the plot however, and the resulting storyline is extremely simplistic.  I am skeptical that this book will appeal to any but the most dedicated rainforest fans.  And those may prefer a more straightforward, non-fiction approach.

Reading Level/Interest Age: 9-12
Curriculum Ties: biodiversity, rainforests, ecology, native peoples
Booktalking Ideas: Rainforest specimens would help bring this book to life.  Stuffed or live animals, or even pictures, would help bring this story into a more emotional reality.  Booktalkers may also wish to open up the floor first for discussion of what “endangered” means, or personal experiences with conservation or animals in the wild.

Genre: Fiction – environmental, adventure

Challenge Issues: Tepui is referred to as an Indian, which may not be the height of political correctness.  The book also deals with nature on a deadly level – a jaguar is eaten by army ants, and creatures fight and die for survival.  There is a brief description of sloth bodily functions (#1 and #2).  There is a strong bias towards preservation/ecological concerns.

About the Author: Jean Craighead George is perhaps most renowned for her Newberry award winning Julie of the Wolves, although My Side of the Mountain is also present on many curricula, and is a Newberry honor book.  She has a degree in Science and Literature from Penn State university.  Her life has encompassed a wide variety of pets and nature treks (as a child and then later with her own children), and these experiences are apparent in her work.  More detail at:

Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature

PZ7.B735 – PZ is Fiction and Juvenile Belles lettres, PZ(1)-(4) is Fiction in English. Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature is on the 2008 YALSA Best Books for Young Adults list (and also on the YALSA 2008 Selected Audiobooks for Young Adults list).

Author: Robin Brande
ISBN-10: 037589165X ISBN-13: 9780375891656
City and Publisher: New York: Alfred A. Knopf
Copyright Date: 2007
Author’s Website:

Reader’s Annotation: Mena’s friends all hate her, and her first day of high school couldn’t be worse.  But when she’s paired with a brilliant, funny lab partner, she has no idea what she’s about to get caught up in.

Plot Summary: Mena Reece did what she thought was the right thing but ended up being ostracized by her church and all her friends.  In biology, her brilliant, slightly eccentric teacher pairs her with a brilliant, slightly eccentric guy.  During the unit on evolution, her old church friends launch a protest.  Mena, meanwhile, must discover how her beliefs reconcile with science, as she and her crush-inducing lab partner get caught up in the controversy.  And what will she tell her parents?

Critical Evaluation: Evolution, Me & Other Freaks of Nature tackles issues of morality, ethics, teenage doubt, and high school crushes, not to mention conflicts between science and religion, in a balanced, thoughtful, and entertaining fashion.  Mena is an extremely well-written character, whose confusion is balanced by strong beliefs.  This novel is about navigating the world within your own framework; how ideas and actions reflect who you want to be and what you believe in.  It examines how new thoughts are not the enemy, although they do bring new challenges.  Mena has a great cast of supporting characters, who help her learn how to speak up, and how to evolve.  The story, especially the romantic plot line, develops very sweetly in spite of some very difficult and ugly events.  For me, especially at the beginning, it echoed Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, but ended up being far less stark.

Reading Level/Interest: 12 & up
Curriculum Ties: Evolution, Religion, Separation of Church and State, Freedom of Speech, Ethics & Morality
Booktalking Ideas: Discuss real-life instances of controversy between evolution and Christian beliefs.

Genre: Realistic Fiction, Coming of age

Challenge Issues: Fundamental Christians may take issue with the book’s stance on the theory of evolution.  However, Mena remains a Christian character, and reconciles her beliefs with her new love of science.  Mena also lies to her parents throughout a good portion of the book, but ends up coming clean and committing to honesty.

About the Author: Brande has published one other novel, Fat Cat, and has a new work, Parallelogram, which is forthcoming in 2011.  She has worked as a trial attorney and yoga instructor, among other things.  More at

Golden Gate Park

F 869.S37 – F is History of the Americas, F 1-975 is United States Local History, and F 856-870 is California.

Author: Helen Ludwig
ISBN-10: n/a ISBN-13: n/a
City and Publisher:
[Shenzhen, China]: Interprint
Copyright Date: 1984
Author’s Website: n/a

Reader’s Annotation: What can you do in Golden Gate Park?  Find out from an artist (in English and French).

Plot Summary: An artist draws and writes about Golden Gate Park.  Sketches of people and park locations are accompanied by semi-poetic text in English and French. See the museums, the landmarks, and learn a little bit about park history.  Includes a short essay by park historian Raymond H. Clary.

Critical Evaluation: Golden Gate Park is a charming, beautifully rendered book which provides an artistic impression of a day in the life of the park.  Written in 1984, some park features have changed or disappeared, but this only adds to the book’s historical feel.  The text is in English and French, and translation reveals that the meanings are similar but not exact.  This book will appeal to the imagination of readers of all ages.

Illustrations: Ludwig sketches rather than drawing in detail.  The feel of the images is of movement captured, and the persons depicted have both emotion and character.  The illustrations may have originally been water colors.  The palette is slightly muted, with most images in black and white or splashes of blue and red.

Reading Level/Interest: 6 & up
Curriculum Ties: Local history, Golden Gate Park, Art
Booktalking Ideas: Ask people to draw their favorite scene from their favorite park

Genre: Picture books, art books

Challenge Issues: n/a

About the Author: Helen Ludwig was an artist who lived in San Francisco from 1957 until her death in 2009 at the age of 98.  She worked with the Works Progress Administration Mural Project and Teaching Project.  She also taught art to children with disabilities.  She was profiled in the San Francisco Chronicle in 2002 here and has an obituary in the New York Times here

Cheese Plate Detour: Aged Italian Goats

My new old love?  Aged Italian goat cheese.  These are not your dried out chalky French monstrosities which pucker the back of your throat.  These are slightly oily, complex, subtle lovelies.

Pantaleo: Have you ever had Fiore (aka Pecorino) Sardo?  Pantaleo is basically the same cheese, only made with goat’s milk.  Firm and slightly oily, Pantaleo is well suited to shaving or grating as well as snacking and eating.  Pantaleo shows off some of goat’s excellent characteristics.  It is slightly lemony and peppery.  It would also make an excellent next step for someone who has been through a few gateway goats such as Cypress Grove’s Midnight Moon or Humbolt Fog.

Capra Valtellina: While similar in goat intensity level, Capra Valtellina has a slightly softer, less oily texture, and leans more towards the pine than the peppercorn.  It is also aged a little longer, at four to six months, rather than 100 days.  It hails from the opposite end of Italy; Capra Valtellina is made in Lombardy, where the Swiss cheesemakers peer over the border.  The goats eat some of that fabulous Alpine pasturage, and you can taste it in this cheese.

Hot Jobs: NYPL Copyright Clearance Analyst


The New York Public Library seeks an extremely organized, detail-oriented person to serve as the Library’s Rights Clearance Analyst.   The successful candidate will work closely with the Library’s permissions office, attorneys, curators, and collections strategy department to: (i) assist the Library in its efforts to make its myriad collections more broadly available to researchers and to the public at large via a Rights Management Database and (ii) develop and implement the Library’s guidelines regarding the use of materials in the Library’s collections.

I haven’t seen anything like this before – and it’s an aspect of digital libraries I hadn’t thought about.  The NYPL is looking for a candidate with a JD or an MLS.  This might be a good move for a law librarian looking to change it up a bit.

Yes mi Lion!

Potatoes, history, truth, and a reference.

When you’re married to an Englishman, you can always use a recipe for potatoes.

Listen to the path this one followed:

I had LA Ink on as background noise while doing homework.  I looked up because I heard “Bobcat Goldthwait” and I have a little fondness for strange funny dudes.  He was getting a tattoo of a Salt Potato.

Salt Potatoes!  Potatoes are always a win, and anything that raises blood pressure is a total flavor bonus.  Wikipedia then led me to:

A New York Times Recipe for Salt Potatoes

Canarian Wrinkled Potatoes (Papas Arrugadas)

Both recipes are at heart instructions to boil potatoes in ridiculously salty water.

Both recipes have stories which relate the food to the surroundings:

“The salt potato, an iconic central New York side dish, got its start in the late 1800s, when salt was distilled by boiling water from marshes around Syracuse, N.Y. Workers, many of them Irish, would dump potatoes in the boiling vats and then have lunch.”

“in the past the Canarians used sea-water”

I love that this is the same food, which originated in two different places and two different cultures, which uses the same natural resources with varying human mediation.

It also illustrates, in a round about way, the difficulties of tracing the origins of foods or recipes.  Food doesn’t get invented, it gets developed.  Or messed around with.  Or serendipitized (that’s not a word, but you know what I mean).   Authenticity is a pretty big concept, especially to foodies, but I’m beginning to think there is no such thing under the sun.

Today’s reference:  Check out  Food Timeline for an interesting and comprehensive take on food research.  And yes, it was developed by a librarian.