Surprise book of the month

New York Pigeon. Behind the feathers. By Andrew Garn

In our urban landscape, pigeons are scorned as feral, dirty pests. Dedicated pigeon fancier, author and photographer Andrew Garn sets out to destroy this misconception, presenting the noble pigeon as beautiful, intelligent and a friend to the human race. The population of pigeons in New York City exceeds one million. These are their stories…

New York Pigeon 2

This book is something different. Amazing and comprehensive, it is full of superb photographs which highlight the beauty of these birds, the luminosity of their feathers, jewel toned eyes and their majesty in flight.

In the first section of his book Andrew Garn examines the history behind the pigeon and how they have been an integral and valued part of human society – a bird whose remains have been discovered in archaeological digs dating back to the Ancient Egyptian and middle eastern civilisations “It might be surprising that a plump, multi-hued bird that wanders our sidewalks, perches on our buildings, and flutters all about, could have the bloodlines of a dinosaur, and be a gourmet food. Also used in religious sacrifices, this bird has been both a war hero and the focus of Charles Darwin’s experiments on natural selection.” (Page 17, Garn, Andrew, The New York Pigeon. Behind the feathers, 2018).

We have heard stories of homing pigeons carrying coded messages during World War II. But did you know, that using positive reinforcement, pigeons were trained to guide US Navy missiles with an accuracy surpassing human ability? Or that they also have much better sight than us. A pigeon can see five colour spectrums from infrared to ultraviolet.
Garn examines the physiology of the pigeon (Columba livia domestica) to explain how these birds are perfectly efficient flying machines with sustained speeds of around 50mph. They can outperform any other bird in aerial acrobatics and survive in a variety of environments. He also explains how pigeons hatch and grow.

3-pigeon_baby-walks_garn

Baby pigeon takes its first steps.  Image by Andrew Garn

Pigeons flying

In flight.  Image by Andrew Garn

The second section of this book features stories about birds who have been rescued and rehabilitated at the Wild Bird Fund in New York. It is easy to tell how much the author values pigeons, from his stunning portraiture that captures their individual expressions perfectly, to the accompanying captions which relate each bird’s name and courageous journey. Garn’s striking work is reminiscent of a photoshoot in a fashion magazine.

Humans are not left out. Garn volunteers at the shelter. He relates his experiences treating birds and the dangers that they face living among us. You will feel empathy for these creatures. “They are struck by cars and bicycles, attacked by our dogs and cats, removed from the nest when the air conditioner is cleaned, entangled in our litter, sickened by toxins, particularly lead, which we put in the environment, and suffer abuse at our hands,” Rita McMahon, executive director of the Wild Bird Fund. (Page 143, Garn, Andrew, The New York Pigeon. Behind the Feathers 2018).

Pigeon 3

Brooklyn. Image by Andrew Garn

 

Marilyn

Marilyn.  Image by Andrew Garn

pigeons

Apollo. Image by Andrew Garn

Elmer

Elmer.  Image by Andrew Garn

We also read about the dedicated staff and other volunteers who care for the sick or injured pigeons and other city birds. And there are also New Yorkers who keep pigeons as pets, with coops in the city neighbourhoods, even raising them in apartments.
Lastly the book features a series of photographs which centres on the daily lives of pigeons set against the backdrop of the buildings and skyline of New York City.

pigeons

Image by Andrew Garn

You can reserve The New York Pigeon. Behind the Feathers online. Or enquire next time you visit the Library.

Did you know…about Frankenstein?

wp_20180626_14_25_24_proDid you know that this year, 2018 marks the 200th anniversary of the publication of the novel Frankenstein?

Written by Mary Shelley and published when she was just 20 years old, the novel grew out of a writing challenge proposed by Lord Byron when Mary and her future husband Percy Shelley were staying with him at Villa Diodati on Lake Geneva. This challenge would also produce the first modern vampire story (The Vampyre by John Polidori, published in 1819). Encouraged by Percy, Mary expanded her short story into a full novel, which was published as Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus in 1818 with a first print run of just 500 copies. Curiously, it was published annonymously and Shelley’s name would not appear on the novel until its 1823 printing.

Regarded as one of the break out Gothic Horror novels and one of the first Science Fiction stories, the book has been adapted to both stage and screen numerous times, including the 1931 Frankenstein (and its two sequels, The Bride of Frankenstein and Son of Frankenstein) staring Boris Karloff as the monster and a series of films by British studio Hammer Films which stared Peter Cushing as the infamous Doctor Frankenstein.

A common mistake is the belief that the name Frankenstein refers to the creature itself, something perpetuated in some adaptions (for example: the the Japanese film Frankenstein Conquers the World and the animated Hotel Transylvania film series). In truth it is actually the name of the main character: Doctor Victor Frankenstein.

Why not celebrate the bicentenary of this classic by reading the novel or perhaps enjoying one of the many film adaptions or even read about the author and the books impact on literature.

Way back when, Wednesdays

Book drought makes history

The Tea Tree Gully Library service has always been popular! As featured in a previous Way back when, Wednesdays post the official opening of a new public library made front page news in the North East Leader, a Messenger newspaper, on 5 March 1969. The Library, which operated out of a mobile bus, had moved its service into the building which was formerly the Modbury Primary School and headmaster’s cottage, now designated as 561 Montague Road, Modbury. On page 3 of the edition dated 9 April 1969, the North East Leader reported on a possible book shortage after only one month, as the new library service had proved so popular with local residents.

Library fines

As stated in the Messenger article above, since the new library had opened, memberships had soared to over 4000 and nearly 10,000 books were on loan. Unfortunately many of the Library’s avid readers were not particularly conscientious when it came to returning their items and the Library’s book stock had become depleted.  Members had also failed to return 1,600 books which had been issued to them on the old mobile library.  When you think about it, for a building of its size, the Montague Road library actually had quite a substantial book stock.

The Librarian in charge, Mr. W. Bustelli thought that introducing a system of fines would motivate library members to return books on time. We don’t have information about whether library fine were introduced in 1969. We would love to hear about your experiences if you remember using the library on Montague Road!

Fortunately, in 2018 the City of Tea Tree Gully Library has considerably more items available for loan than in 1969. The Library holds approximately 64,000 books for adults, 25000 for children and adolescents, 4,500 magazines and 17,000 audio visual materials (this includes DVDs, CDs and audiobooks). You can now also access audio and e-books and take advantage of approximately 4 million items through the SA Public Libraries One Card Network. In 2017 the Library lent out an average of 73,210 items per month.

 

Boca Chica bar

The old schoolhouse building at 561 Montague Road, Modbury is now the home of Sfera’s ‘Boca Chica’, a Spanish inspired concept restaurant and bar.

 
#waybackwhenwednesdays

 

 

 

 

 

High School texts that had a long-lasting impact

Do you remember what books, plays, or films you had to analyse for school or university? While most of us would rather forget the stressful times of homework, study, and cramming before a big test or essay, there is something to be said for casting your mind back to that period.

For me personally, I remember the frustration of getting through the seemingly never-ending Othello. However, in a sea of boring or dry texts I had to read for school, there is a particularly great one that far outweighs the bad ones. I asked myself, and fellow Library staff, about what high school texts we read that really had an impact on us, whether it be a positive or negative one.

Eleanor (me!)

cosi

“I had to read the Australian play ‘Cosi’ by Louis Nowra for year 12 English. The play was set in a mental hospital, where the lead character Lewis directs a play that the patients star in – so it’s a play within a play!

The morals of the story were: there is no ‘normal’, everyone is ‘crazy/different’ in their own way, and that friendship, love, and understanding bridges the gaps and differences between people.

I really enjoyed the play at the time, and as much as we students hated to admit it at the time, we thought it was really clever and funny. I still have Cosi in my bookshelf at home. It is apparently intended to be the sequel to one of Nowra’s previous plays, ‘Summer of the Aliens’, but Cosi works perfectly as a standalone.

Cosi was made into an Australian movie starring big Australian names such as Ben Mendelsohn, David Wenham, Toni Collette, Rachel Griffiths, Barry Otto, Jacki Weaver, and Colin Hay – of Men at Work”

 

Symon

wuthering

“I read Wuthering Heights, by Emily Bronte  in Year 11.

It ruined classic English literature from that period for me. I found it to be the most boring book I’d ever read at that stage of my life, and felt it was barely a step up from TV soap operas. That being said if I think of dysfunctional relationships I sometimes think of this book. And whenever I think of English moors. Which isn’t often”

 

 

Hayley

z for zac.jpg

“In year 9 I was allowed to read the novel Z for Zachariah as a reward for finishing my assignments early. The book was knocked the wind of me and planted the seed a life- long love of dystopian sci-fi. After a nuclear war teenager Anne lives alone in an isolated valley until one day a stranger in a radiation-proof suit arrives.

The book is tense and frightening. As a reader I couldn’t put this book down”

 

Penny

conrad.jpg

“For me it would be ‘Heart of Darkness’ by Joseph Conrad.

It is truly a painful book to read – in every sense. It is long-winded and tedious to start with, you really have to push yourself to get through it. And then it drops – you are in, and it is so wild and lush and sick, you want to stop reading but you can’t because it is so gripping. It’s about a voyage up the Congo River in Africa, where the main character, Marlow, is on a mission to meet the ivory trader Kurtz. Kurtz initially has great plans to colonise the natives and make a better life for them, but in time he succumbs to jungle fever and develops a ‘win at all costs’ mentality. Marlow is mesmerised by Kurtz, who is eloquent and articulate. And yet a barbarian, a total monster.

It’s really painful stuff to read, even today, as you think about what it has taken to have the clean, safe and aesthetically pleasing world we live in here in Australia, and those who have suffered for it”

 

David

mock

For David, high school was a boring time, so it took something special to stand out to him. He was always complaining to the teacher about the books on the syllabus, so his teacher assigned him a few books off the syllabus: To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee, and Catch-22 by Joseph Heller. Looking back, these were monumental moments.

Catch-22 became David’s favourite book of all time, and To Kill a Mockingbird had a lasting significant impact on him too: his daughter is even named Jean-Louise, after the narrator, who goes by the nickname Scout.

 

Katy

good

“I first came across the play Our Country’s Good by British playwright, Timberlake Wertenbaker,  in my high school drama class. We had only ever performed Shakespeare plays at high school level but our new and energetic Drama and English teacher was keen to do something different. He opened the class by quoting one of the parts in the play;

“A play should make you understand something new. If it tells you what you already know, you leave it as ignorant as you went in.”

The play depicts the harsh realities of settlement for a group of convicts and British soldiers after transportation from England and is an adaption of the novel ‘The Playmaker’ by Australian author Thomas Keneally (which is available to borrow for our library – click here to place a hold). Whilst there are some comedic and romantic aspects to keep the play light and lively for the audience, it was the clever dialogue and powerful themes that particularly intrigued me. As we studied it more, it made my peers and I really think about the concept of law, order and justice and who holds the moral compass of a society.

My favourite character was the convict, and proud Englishman wordsmith, Mr John Wisehammer, who although considered inferior by the British officers was more often the voice of reason and justice over any of the law makers and enforcers in this new colony. He delivers a closing monologue which highlights the double meaning of the play’s title, ‘Our Country’s Good’ to not only refer to the beauty and bounty of their new country but also the sense of benefit colonialists gained by trading human beings, even its own citizens, across the seas; “true patriots all, for be it understood, we left our country, for our country’s good.”

 

Adrienne

Sartre

“I have not forgotten the play Huis Clos by Jean Paul Sartre, which I read while studying French at University.  Huis Clos is often translated into English as In Camera, which is a legal term referring to a discussion held behind closed doors.

In this play three evil and unrepentant people die and go to Hell.  I love the theatre and I remember Huis Clos because I thought Sartre’s concept of Hell was simple but strikingly original.  There are no devils with pitchforks, fire or showers of brimstone raining down on the damned.  Yet, Sartre manages to create a powerful image for his audience.  All of the action in this play takes place on one set, in just one room.  The three characters enter the room at different stages.  They gradually come to realise that they have gone to hell and admit why they are there. Joseph, Estelle and Inez are in this room to torment each other emotionally and mentally for eternity.  The Valet comes into the room periodically during the first part of the play but there is no escape for our principal characters.  That is their punishment.

Jean Paul Sartre was an atheist and an Existentialist who believed that we define ourselves and our sense of morality by our choices and actions.  Our torment is that we may rely too much on the judgement of others.  I think the appeal of this play is that most of us like to think that there is some form of justice awaiting those who make other peoples’ lives miserable; we say that “what goes around, comes around.”  The characters do not and cannot change their shallow natures as they are already dead.  This is not a play about redemption or forgiveness”

 

Which novels, plays, poetry, or films did you have to study in school that have left a mark on you? 

Tips on how to choose a book to read – by Jamie

Have you ever wasted time reading a book that leads you nowhere? Hoping it ‘gets better’ somewhere along the way – except – it doesn’t?
Work experience student Jamie has a formula for selecting books and genres to make reading a pleasurable experience every time.

Reading is a pastime enjoyed by people of all ages, but sometimes the novels that look interesting at a glance are only filled with disappointment. In this post, I am going to attempt to help you decipher whether a book is worth reading after only a chapter or two. This is only going to refer to fictional novels because there is an entirely different way of determining the quality of non-fiction, and of course children’s picture books can’t be held to the same standards. Please take what I say with a grain of salt as I am only 16 and obviously have not experienced as many books as some other people.

Before you can even begin to examine whether a book is worth reading, you need to understand what kinds of books suit you the best. If you read a lot then you won’t need any advice finding a genre, because you probably know already. If not, I’ll try to help you choose a genre or two.

Small (2)

An easy way to start discovering what kinds of books best suit you is to look at the other media you consume (movies, TV shows etc.) and find out what genres they are. Most of the time the kinds of books that you enjoy are the same as the other things you enjoy. Another way to find what is best suited to your tastes is to ask friends and family to recommend books they think you’ll like. People close to you will be good at finding things you like because they spend so much time in your company. If this isn’t helpful, you could try reading short stories online to see what attracts your attention. I found myself suddenly interested in Steven King after reading a short story, called Suffer the Little Children, which he wrote.

Suffer the Little Children by Stephen King

Suffer the Little Children by Stephen King Image credit: http://www.mymbuzz.co

 

Now you have (hopefully) found a genre, you need to decide what you want in a book. Different people are attracted to different books for different reasons. This means that while an author may fall short in one way or another, it might not be an area that interested you anyway. An individual can enjoy a book purely because of the characters. Personally, I like books to be well-rounded and to focus on characters and plot development, so I find myself abandoning many books. If you can determine what aspects of reading you enjoy, it will be easier to decide if it will let you down in the end.

From the first chapters in a book it is usually clear what problems are going to persist. You might be used to continuing a book in the hope it might get good later, but I can confidently say it won’t. There isn’t enough time to read all of the good books in the world, so don’t waste time on the bad ones. I have never read a book that I found extremely boring in the beginning get better later. I’ve also discovered many books start out promising but go downhill. Books that seem promising in the beginning but later get worse are sometimes difficult or nearly impossible to identify. I will attempt to give you some tools to spot books that will disappoint you later.

girl reading.jpg
You may believe the most important part of a novel is the premise – but you are indisputably wrong. I enjoy it when a book has an exciting and engaging premise but it isn’t the most important thing. I have read books where the premise was interesting and showed amazing potential but was a letdown because of boring characters or lazy writing. I have also found books that had a seemingly boring premise to be written in a way that made the story engaging and interesting. It’s best not to judge a book solely on the potential it has, although it’s a good start. The skill of the author is what makes a novel memorable, not the basic idea behind the novel. Even if the author has the most amazing idea for a story, they can still fall flat if they don’t possess the skill that is needed. Reading reviews of your chosen novel will tell you how other people felt after reading it and can stop you wasting your time.

The dialogue between the characters in a book is a very important part of any novel. If a lot of the conversations between characters in the beginning of a book exists purely for exposition or has statements which no real person would ever say, then this is a sign of lazy writing. You can also tell if the characters are boring after only a few chapters. If a character has one trait or hobby that completely defines them and they don’t have multiple aspects to their personality, then they aren’t thought through very well. Boring characters are not good! The characters are part of what connects the reader to the action, so if they have no personality, then you, the reader, won’t relate to them or understand them. Having an abundance of scenes where the characters are sitting down and talking is also incredibly boring. It is fine occasionally but too many scenes where nothing happens is a bad sign. The author isn’t creative enough if the only time and place where characters interact is seated around a table.

boring conversation is terrible in a book

Boring! How you feel after reading pointless conversations in a book

Plot is another important part of any story. The plot can be simple or complicated as long as it is easy enough to understand and doesn’t leave large unanswered questions. If there is no hint of a plot within the first few chapters, then the novel probably isn’t worth reading. If there is no hint of plot, the entire first part of the book will be pointless. The plot also has to be interesting. I have read books with basic plotlines which take no originality to create and have no unique aspects to them. A good book should be unique so that it isn’t interchangeable with other books of the same genre. Having a predictable or overused plot is a sign of a book poorly made. There is no point in reading something that has nothing unique about it. If you even suspect the novel you are reading is going to be exactly like any number of other things you have read, then it probably won’t be worth your time.

a good book

You know you’ve found a book you like when thinking about the story makes you happy

 

I believe I have given you a sufficient amount of tools to help you decipher the quality of what you’re reading. Now that you know how to pick a genre that suits your personality and keep you engaged it should make choosing a book much simpler. You also know a few indications of a poorly written or poorly thought-out book. You can use this information to improve your enjoyment of the things you read but in the end, it’s your choice to take my advice so feel free to do whatever you like with the information I have provided.

Harry Potter, the illustrated editions

You can now borrow the wonderful illustrated editions of the first three Harry Potter stories through the One Card Library network:  Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone, Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban.

HP trilogy

These books are illustrated in full-colour and are accompanied by J.K. Rowling’s original text. We have grown used to picturing the novels’ characters as played by the actors in the Harry Potter films. British artist and illustrator Jim Kay presents the reader with a new, unique interpretation of the magical world we love.

 

22248756805_496fe1d7a8_h Owl post

The Owl Post

 

Jim’s style appears fresh, spontaneous and sometimes whimsical. However when you examine his captivating pictures, you discover how Jim achieves an amazing amount of detail and texture through brushstroke. Jim’s images could even be used as the foundation for an animated version of the Harry Potter films.

SortingHat-large

The Sorting Hat

jim-kay-1_759

Buckbeak the Hippogriff

Peruse and enjoy some excellent features such as the Marauder’s Map, portraiture and detailed schematics of magical creatures, such as the Phoenix and the Grindylow.

snape

HP2_Phoenix_layers_edit

The illustrated editions offer readers a wonderful way to revisit the Harry Potter stories or introduce new young readers to the series. Read them as a family or to yourself, curled up in your favourite armchair, in the company of your magical familiar.

Reserve the Harry Potter illustrated editions through the Library’s online catalogue.

kitty cropped 2

On the Pottermore website you can  read a fascinating interview with Jim Kay, in which he discusses how he is inspired by real people to depict the characters in the Harry Potter books.

 

 

Twenty years of Harry Potter

Work experience student Tiah is a Potterhead. She has seen all of the Harry Potter movies and continues to work her way through the books. Tiah has definite opinions on her favourite and least favourite characters – read on to see who they are. 

This year marks 20 years since the first Harry Potter book was published, so I thought ‘why not blog about it?’ My name is Tiah and I came to Tea Tree Gully Library for my Year 10 work experience for school. 

I am going to tell you about my favourite character Draco Malfoy. Now you may hate me for this, but I am also going to talk about my least favourite character Dolores Umbridge. I think most of us will definitely agree that she is one of the least favourite characters.

Draco Last Year

Draco Malfoy: my favourite character Image: Wikia

Yes in the first five movies and books, Draco is really mean to pretty much everyone at Hogwarts, but in the last three movies and two books you start to discover why he is that way. He doesn’t really have a choice on being nice to Harry and his friends, seeing as his parents are Death Eaters who serve Lord Voldemort. They killed his parents and are trying to kill Harry.

Honestly, I have not read all of the books yet, so I don’t know all that much (the books have more details than the movies) but Draco has always been one of my favourite characters. He is a siriusly misunderstood character (pun intended).

After realising he has been a jerk to everyone, Draco decides he does not want to raise his son, Scorpius, the way his parents raised him. He didn’t marry a Death Eater and he didn’t make his son believe everything his parents made him believe about muggle-borns and half-bloods.

Draco Year 1

Draco in his first year at Hogwarts – evil from an early age – yet still my favourite character Image: myharrypotterlovestory.wordpress.com

Even J.K. Rowling has a soft spot for Draco. She has said: “I do not discount the appeal of Tom Felton, who plays Draco brilliantly in the films and, ironically, is about the nicest person you could meet.” 

However Dolores Umbridge did have a choice on the way she behaved.
She is not a Death Eater, nor was anyone else in her family, with her father being her only other magic relation. She is just really rude to anyone who is not a pure blood. She didn’t let her students use spells for learning how to defend themselves during her class Defense Against The Dark Arts (aka DADA). Eventually in the end, after The Dark Lord’s final battle, Dolores was arrested, tried and sent to Azkaban for crimes against humanity.

Umbridge

Dolores was just plain rude. Image: thisgeekymommy.com

Stephen King told J.K Rowling, that he described Dolores Umbridge as  ‘the greatest make-believe villain to come along since Hannibal Lecter.’

Umbridge (2)

J.K. Rowling describes Dolores as ‘fat, short, ugly and toad-like’ in Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix Image: storyofcamelcow.wordpress.com

J.K. Rowling will always be one of my favourite authors and people in this world and if you didn’t know already, there is a website she has made about the wizarding world that is easy to use pottermore.com

You can find out everything about the characters, creatures and professors, discover your patronus, find out what house you’re in, what Ilvermorny house you’re in, find out what wand you would have, locations such as Diagon Alley and Hogsmeade Village, and there’s even things on Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them and Harry Potter and the Cursed Child. You can also shop for J.K. Rowling’s books, ebooks and audiobooks on the website.

PS I think Tom Felton and Imelda Staunton were perfect for the roles of Draco and Dolores.